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Going Beyond Trying To Make Industrial Foods Out of So-Called “Good” Ingredients

Debra Redalia


Meghan Telpner’s Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns (Vegan)

I just received a recipe in my email that I had to tell you about because it’s such a beautiful example of what I’m NOT doing on this blog.

I’m on a lot of mailing lists for food blogs just to see what’s going on in the world of food—particularly if they claim to be healthy—and also to get ideas for flavor combinations I can use in my wholefood cuisine.

This recipe is from Meghan Telpner. I’m not trying to pick on Meghan. She’s a blogger who has made more than a million dollars selling her concept of natural, nutritious foods. I’m just using this as an example because it’s the recipe that prompted me to write this post. But many other so-called “healthy” bloggers are doing the same thing. And so is the natural food industry.

Here’s her recipe for Gluten-Free and Vegan Cinnamon Buns.

First she gives you a long ooey-gooey story about loving cinnamon buns as a teenager and how bad Cinnabon cinnamon rolls are and then you get the Meghan version, which you assume to be completely healthy because Meghan developed it and it’s gluten-free and vegan. Oh, and there’s a photo of happy Meghan holding a bouquet of helium balloons next to the recipe.

I will admit that about fifteen years ago, I used to develop recipes just like this. That’s where I was at the time.

OK. Here are the ingredients:

  • chickpea flour
  • brown rice flour
  • arrowroot starch
  • oat flour
  • psyllium
  • sweet potato
  • applesauce
  • coconut oil
  • maple syrup
  • more coconut oil
  • coconut sugar
  • raisins
  • coconut butter
  • more maple syrup

I would have happily eaten these cinnamon rolls fifteen years ago, but I won’t eat them today. They are certainly better than industrial cinnamon rolls, but I want to be eating Life.

For me, today, there are three things wrong with this recipe, and others like them.

  1. There is way too much fat. Yes, it’s coconut fat, but there’s just too much of it. Yes, it’s less than Cinnabon, but still way too much for me.
  2. It is basically flour that will cause your blood sugar to go up when you eat it, for sure.
  3. This recipe is trying to solve what I call a “fractionated” problem. It’s trying to be gluten-free. It’s trying to be vegan, and it is, but it’s not WHOLE. It’s made mostly from foods that are not in their whole natural state. This recipe tries to say, “You can eat the industrial junk food you love and do it in a healthy way!”

The message in this recipe encourages us to continue to eat junk food rather than learning about wholefoods, by making the cinnamon rolls using so-called “good” ingredients sold in natural food stores, by the natural food industry.

What I’ve evolved toand hence this blog—is to start with the whole food as it appears in Nature, and then make something tasty and interesting from those wholefoods.

I focus on flavor. So if I want the flavor of “cinnamon roll,” I’ll start with a half cup of cooked organic brown rice in a small bowl and sprinkle it with cinnamon and date sugar. This completely satisfies “sweet and cinnamon.” No spike in blood sugar and I’ve had a happy taste experience. And it costs less.

[While I was editing this post I was so inspired when I read this I had to jump up and make it. This is organic brown rice that I always have cooked in my refrigerator, sprinkled with cinnamon and cardamon (my current favorite spice) and topped with crunchy date sugar. So good! Took me about three minutes to make this from ingredients I had on hand.]

This is a 180-degree difference in how we eat, I know. But it works. Our bodies are part of the natural systems of life on Earth. They are designed to eat foods provided by Nature.

When we start with wholefoods, and not industrially processed ingredients or ideas about industrial foods we are accustomed to eating, we can create dishes that our bodies love, as well as  delight our taste buds.