Flax buns (that happen to be Low carb and gluten-free)

Intrigued by the writings of Peter Attia on well-formulated ketogenic diets for cycling performance, not to mention the collective works of Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek, I decided it was time at last to give low carb a try.

A few days into a low carb experiment I was browsing the cavemanketo website for some dinner ideas and came across this incredible flax bun recipe.  I want to emphasize that you do NOT need to be on a gluten-free or ketogenic diet to thoroughly enjoy these flax buns!  Here’s how they looked as a breakfast sandwich:

Low carb flax bun breakfast sandwich

Low carb flax bun breakfast sandwich

They turned out great, but I wanted to modify the recipe a bit.  After several attempts, here’s my final recipe:


  • ¾ cup Flax Meal
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1.5 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • ½ Cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp melted Coconut Oil or Butter
  • 2 Large Eggs


  1. Combine dry ingredients, then add eggs/oil/water and mix
  2. Portion onto pan, using 4” baking ring to form perfect circles
  3. Bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees
  4. Let cool on wire rack

Makes 8, or enough for 4 sandwiches/burgers.

Portion onto your pan and press into 4" cooking ring

Portion onto your pan and press into 4″ cooking ring for a consistent shape

Some added coconut flour holds some more moisture into the buns and allows them to hold their form better given that I don’t have those muffin top pans that cavemanketo uses.

Prep time is minimal.  With a bit of practice you should have everything ready by the time your oven has preheated.  I baked mine for about 18min, but you can throw the broiler on towards the end if you want yours to brown a bit more than those shown above.

Need to get rid of some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving?  Flax bun turkey burgers of course!

Turkey burgers

Turkey burgers

Here’s the 3rd batch as a burger, slightly more toasted this time:

Flax bun burgers!

Flax bun burgers!

They are gluten-free of course, and if you’re looking for a low carb recipe these will fit that bill as well.  Here are the approximate numbers for 1 serving (2 halves), if you’re into that:

Fat    19.3g
Protein      9g
Net Carbs     1.7g


Gluten-free Pancake Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday preceeds the 1st day of Lent.  A longstanding tradition is to have pancakes as a meal.  Growing up we always had them for dinner on Shrove Tuesday.  For those not participation in Lent it is still a great excuse to eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.  So I skipped breakfast and had my pancakes for lunch today with a huge onion and spinach omelette.


Here’s a whole grain gluten-free pancake recipe if you’re interested in trying something new.  To start things off you’ll need:

1/2 cup quinoa (red quinoa adds some nice colour)
3/4 cup short grain brown rice
Soak the grains overnight with enough water to cover and add 1tbsp lemon juice.

In the morning, rinse the grains in a colander and place in a blender.

quinoa and brown rice

quinoa and brown rice

Add 1/2 can of coconut milk and blend until smooth (a few tbsp of water may be needed to get the blender going, depending on how thoroughly you strained the grains).
Mix in:
1 egg
1Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1/4tsp sea salt
2Tbsp shredded coconut or brown rice flour or tapioca flour  ( optional )

Finally, briefly stir 1tsp baking soda into vortex.

Cook on medium heat with a small amount of oil in the pan and enjoy.  Makes a dozen 3.5″ pancakes.


Part 3/3: Today’s ride – The Bakery

Sometimes you just need an excuse to go for a ride.  This wasn’t going to be a long ride, or a hard ride, just a little tour of town as I head for Bunner’s Bakery.  Bunner’s is a gluten-free (and vegan) bakery located on Dundas St West in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto.  I knew they had plenty of choice offerings, but I had just one thing in mind, their gluten-free cinnamon bun!

I arrived soon after they’d opened and the cinnamon buns were still warm.  Sweet, sticky and mouth watering just like they’d promised.  It did not disappoint.

Mmmmmm still warm 🙂

At just over $5 this certainly isn’t going to be a regular treat, but it’s nice to know that you can still indulge once and a while even while going gluten-free.

So there you go, another great excuse to go for a bike ride.

Jell-o for adults

I’ve been looking for some gluten-free desserts lately and I got to thinking about Jell-o.  It was always a childhood favorite.  Looking back I think the real attraction was that it was the only food you were allowed, even encouraged, to play with, or maybe it was just the neon colours and all of the sugar.  Over the last few years I’ve been learning of the many health benefits from the gelatin contained in Jell-o so I was excited to see it on sale last week for just $0.59 a box.  Then I read the package on the strawberry flavoured Jell-o:

Ingredients: Sugar, gelatin, adipic acid, sodium phosphate, sodium citrate, artificial flavour, fumaric acid, colour (E010B).

Okay, to be fair, you could do a lot worse when selecting a dessert but there is a lot of sugar and have you seen how “artificial flavour” is broken down?  Listing all of the chemicals involved would fill the side of the box.  I believe I first saw the break down in the book ‘Fast Food Nation’ and it looked a little something like this for the artificial flavour in a strawberry milkshake from a popular fast food restaurant:

“Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenyglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerbate, heliotropin, hydroxyphrenyl-2butanine (10% solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenythyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, y-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.”

I really don’t want to consume all of those chemicals even if they are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) by those that produce them.  So my ‘jello for adults’ is not made with vodka or shaped into something that you have to hide from your kids ’cause they “won’t understand until they are older”, it is simply a jell-o dessert with less sugar and less additives, a recipe that puts you in control of its contents, of how potent the flavour may be, of how sweet it is, a slightly more natural version and perhaps one you will appreciate if you are trying to avoid some chemical exposure while minimizing your sugar intake.

Okay fine I still bought eight boxes of the $0.59 J-ello, but now I’m moving on…

You’re going to need some gelatin (vegans can find vegan sources, I went with Knox gelatin), some juice and some water.  I chose Kedem’s Concord grape juice because it seems to be the most pure.  Just two ingredients, Concord grape juice and a preservative (if you can find a better one, use it).

Directions: Bring 2 cups of grape juice to a boil, stir in 3 packs of Knox gelatin until dissolved.  Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup cold water (or cold juice if you want a more concentrated flavour), carefully pour into the serving container(s) of your choice and chill until it sets.  This could take a couple of hours to set completely in your refrigerator.  You can use any juice that you like just don’t use fresh pineapple or the gelatin won’t set.

Want to know about the health benefits of gelatin?  Or how it can contribute to healthy joints, skin, bones, digestive track and a healthy immune system?  I was going to write about it here but I would just have to quote the heck out of my favorite article on the subject, so instead I’ll encourage you to go straight to the source, the article “Why broth is beautiful” from the Weston A Price Foundation:


Now go ahead – play with your food and feel like a kid again (while appealing to your adult sensibilities).  Enjoy!

DIY Energy Bars

I can remember many a cool fall ride in the mid to late 90s, coming over a rise on a beautiful country road, as I neared the half way mark of a 100+km ride, the birds overhead flying south for the winter, the sun low in the late afternoon sky, as I tried in vain to gnaw my way through a cold Powerbar that had been in my jersey pocket.   They were hard as a rock and about as palatable.  The only thing worse than their texture was the effort required to open their space-age mylar packaging, with gloves on, as you rode!   Powerbar was the go-to brand though.  They sponsored everything on two wheels and they were about all you could find at the bike shop, I even acquired a taste for them after a while.  Seriously!  I’m not sure exactly when Clif bars came out, but I was quick to convert.  They offered chewy ‘chocolate chip’, ‘oatmeal raisin walnut’ and ‘carrot cake’, among others!   They were like cookies that you could believe were good for you.  As the years, and the miles, passed, my nutritional perspective began to change and I sought to get away from the carb dominant bars and soy protein isolates.   By this time, around 2005, I wasn’t riding much, except to get to work, but I was looking for a convenient bar to fuel the longer sessions in my outrigger canoe that tended to take me from the TSCC in Toronto to Port Credit and back (about 34km depending on the line taken), or from the TSCC to Ashbridges Bay (also about 35km), or for a quick post workout recovery snack after my favorite loop around the Toronto Islands.  Around this time MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) products were becoming better known amongst endurance athletes, and while I wasn’t about to drink MCT oil from the bottle, I did look for lower carb bars that were higher in fats, especially these medium chain fats from coconut oil.  My favorite became the Cocochia Bar by Living Fuel.  It happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free so it’s ideal for those looking to remove these common allergens from their diets too.  The flavour is mild, and it provides sustained energy, just like the wrapper claims!  In fact I liked them so much I became one of their Trusted Advisors, or distributors, a few years ago.   The only problem, other than all of the chia seeds that will be stuck in your teeth and the fact that no one will tell you, would be the price, about $35 +tax for 12, or about $3.25 per bar.  The price is actually a bargain given the quality of the mostly organic ingredients, but it does add up after a while.  Still a favorite I tend to pack one in my jersey occasionally now that I’m back to cycling regularly  and covering longer distances again.  Here’s a link if you’d like to learn more:  http://www.livingfuel.ca/en/products/Original_CocoChia_Bar/index.html

But this isn’t about Cocochia bars, this is about my bar, or your bar, this is about making your own and packing it to go!

I was inspired about a month ago have a go at making my own bar so I looked for recipes online.  Many of them used oats as their base.  I have been on a gluten-free diet since March, and while oats are a gluten-free grain, they are pretty much all contaminated with other cereal grains, and thus gluten, during shipping, processing and packaging, so I decided to go with toasted Buckwheat instead, and hoped for less contamination.   Yes, despite having wheat in the name Buckwheat is one of the few gluten-free grains.  It has a rather strong flavour though, compared to oats, so I wasn’t sure how it would work out in a bar, but I figured if I mixed in enough dark chocolate chips it would all even out 🙂

So with some online recipes in mind to serve as a guideline I took a trip to the Bulk Barn at Yonge and Carlton and picked up a pile of things that I hoped would go well in a bar;  Toasted Buckwheat (often labeled Kasha), raisins, shredded coconut, walnuts, semi-sweet dark chocolate chips etc and some brown-rice syrup to help bind it all together.  The most expensive ingredient would be the walnuts, but even then, the price per bar comes in under $2 and for that price I know what’s in it, and I get exactly what I want.  Actually I would prefer to use almonds instead of walnuts but my partner may be allergic, so I made the change in case she’d like a sample.  Baked ahead of time, these chewy, nutritious walnut-buckwheat bars are the perfect companion for long rides or your favorite canoe route. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give them a try, or make a few substitutions and come up with your own:

Chocolate-Walnut-Buckwheat Energy Bars (okay I may need to work on the name)

Homemade energy bars

1 1/2 cups Toasted buckwheat (kasha)

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup semi-sweet dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (unsalted)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
2 tbsp packed light brown sugar (to help balance the bitterness of the cocoa powder)
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In food processor, or coffee grinder, grind all or most of the walnuts into a coarse flour.

In large bowl thoroughly mix together all dry ingredients, add oil and brown rice syrup and mix thoroughly.

Pat mixture evenly into a parchment-lined cookie sheet until it reaches desired thickness. Bake about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to cutting board to cool.

While still warm, shape edges if necessary.

Once cool cut into rows, 2×5.  Makes 10 bars (obviously).

Enjoy and let me know how yours’ turn out!