Non-gluten baking

Joy Cutrone, Wellness & Certified AIP Coach, FMCHC-Candidate
clean eating family

Baking with non-gluten foods

You can get impressive baked-good results using non-gluten food for ingredients. You do definitely need to follow an informed recipe. You also need to be prepared for some different ingredients to go in the mix. So, unless you’re already accustomed to cooking and shopping for an anti-inflammatory diet, you’ll need to plan ahead some, or stock up some staples that are consistent with your diet so that you can be ready. Once you do, you’ll be in a position to bake so that, if you do want a cookie, bread, or even granola and “oatmeal” that’s AIP or Paleo, you can have it — using not substitute grains, but substitute, higher-nutrient, non-gluten foods.

Guiding principles

Just remember this central theme: when you’re eating whole foods, choose non-gluten meals as a RULE, and consume Paleo and/or non-inflammatory treats as an EXCEPTION on the whole. Then you don’t need to worry so much about gluten-free additives and junk, nor spiking your blood sugar, nor setting a pattern that will drive temptation later, when you may not have your own kitchen to hand.

Making treats once in a while using Paleo- or AIP-compliant ingredients is a much more sustainable plan for long-term health than eating gluten-free manufactured foods. In fact, it can also be deeply nourishing for the whole family to be able to share a treat, which helps with compliance, and also feels like what everyone else does normally.


In ancestral-tradition recipes like the Paleo and AIP diets, the whole food, with its naturally-sweet properties, provides the sweetness instead of sugar or sugar substitutes. Examples include cassava, plantain, bananas, berries, fruit puree like applesauce, and more. Some Paleo recipes use honey, where AIP recipes do not.

Note, also, that as you eat less sweets (1)  transitioning to a more wholesome, healing diet, your craving for sugar will decrease. And then those sweet things lose their appeal (2), confirmed when one gets into your mouth by accident, so that the cravings themselves wane over time.

Binders in place of gums and emulsifiers

AIP recipes do not use a gum or emulsifier additive. If you do encounter a not-quite-compliant Paleo recipe that calls for a gum, you can substitute in Pixie Dust (3) instead (learn more about it here (4)). Pixie Dust is made of several types of seeds, such as flaxseed, chia, and psyllium, which have a gel-like action when mixed with liquids. Where nuts and seeds are avoided in the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet, it’s an option for people who can tolerate seeds, or search for an AIP recipe if you have something in mind. You can, for example, make AIP banana bread (5), no sweat. AIP recipes often include pure gelatin as a binder in place of egg, which provides a bonus nutritional burst along with deliciousness. To find AIP recipes, you can even just search for the recipe you want and add the acronym “AIP” to it and you’ll get a good list of results – or see the Resource Directory for a list of AIP recipe bloggers.  It’s fortunate for us that the Paleo and AIP communities work hard to come up with safe alternatives to commercial gluten-free foods if you really do have a “baked good” craving.

Separately, but related: you might also notice that AIP recipes use gelatin in place of eggs for a “binding” effect when you’re avoiding eggs.

Good oils and fats

Some of the ingredients selected for their sweeter properties also double as the primary component of a recipe – the flour, for example, might be made from cassava, or the pancake from a slice of plantain – or the moisture, traditionally achieved through fat. Here, the moisture from fat is achieved through ingredients like applesauce and/or healthy fats for baking, like coconut oil or butter.

Nutritionist Mickey Trescott has a good guide to good fats (6):

  • Fats Suitable for Cooking(Saturated)
    • Coconut Oil, Lard, Tallow, Duck and Goose Fat, Palm Oil
  • Fats Suitable for Eating Cold(Monounsaturated)
    • Olive Oil, Avocado Oil
  • Otherwise Healthy Fats Avoided on the Autoimmune Protocol:
    • Butter, Ghee, Nuts, Nut Oils, Cold-Processed Seed Oils (sesame, flax)

Saturated fats are the best kind of fat to cook and bake with.  This is because saturated fats, such as butter, coconut oil, and bacon fat, don’t oxidize at higher cooking temperatures, meaning they don’t go rancid and create free radicals (7). Recent publications such as Dr. Catherine Shanahan’s 2017 book, “Deep Nutrition” and Harvard physician Dr. David Ludwig’s book, “Always Hungry?” and even in the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines. Yet what is typically found in gluten-free packaged foods are unsaturated, easily-oxidized fats such as processed oils, hydrogenated oils, and industrial seed oils (canola, cottonseed, corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, peanut, and grapeseed oil.  Add to this the long shelf life of these foods and you have oxidized or “rancid” oils can cause that cellular and immune damage.

A sampling

Among the delicious options you might try is a carrot cake. Or pancakes. Or a muffin. Or Paleo pumpkin pie. One of the active AIP chefs I enjoy, Samantha Jo Teague, a.k.a. the “Unskilled” Cavewoman, posts new recipes often enough that I look forward to finding out what she’s been baking or cooking – it seems to be just what I want next (AIP-compliant flatbread, anyone, if you’re missing crackers, or Collagen Lemon Zingers – cookies with a gut-healing twist?). You don’t have to tell your family that what you’re serving is made of non-gluten ingredients when it’s delicious. Win-win. (Seriously, you can find AIP brownies. Just sayin’. You can input that search term in your browser and get any of a number of good results. Pick one, get your brownie fix, and know you’re doing something good for your body at the same time. Now that’s comfort food!


  1. David Perlmutter, “The right kind of sugar.”
  2. com, “How your taste buds “get used to” less sugar” interpreting “Reduced dietary intake of simple sugars alters perceived sweet taste intensity but not perceived pleasantness” by Wise PM, Nattress L, Flammer LJ, Beauchamp GK in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January, 2016.
  3. Pixie Dust recipe in
  4. Learn more about Pixie Dust from
  5. Google search results, AIP banana bread. Lots of good choices.
  6. Mickey Trescott, The Autoimmune Protocol Guide to Fats.
  7. Judy Thalheimer, RD, LDN, Environmental Nutrition, “Oxidized oils in food may be harmful to health” in The Detroit News, January 20, 2015. For further reading, see Dr. Catherine Shanahan’s 2017 book, “Deep Nutrition” about traditional dietary protocols that support health, and Harvard physician Dr. David Ludwig’s book, “Always Hungry?” which, although in the context of weigh management, teaches about healthy fats to support overall wellness in a departure from the Standard American Diet (SAD).

See Also

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