Vegan, oil-free raisin bread
Raisin bread! I can eat raisin bread! Vegan, oil-free raisin bread that can easily be altered to include maple syrup, or not; to have raisins, chopped dates, or something else; to be a little denser or a little lighter. And oh, have I been enjoying finding all the ways.
Since I never actually couldn't have raisin (or date/whatever) bread exactly, I guess the zealous enthusiasm is a little unfounded. But I have been limiting yeast intake by choice in recent months. Not wholly, or to any great extreme. I've had peanuts and peanut butter, soy sauce and vinegar, grapes and bananas. But I've been imposing some new, not outlandish, diet rules since late January in the name of a personal experiment. What that means is, no (or very limited) yeast breads and no added sugars five days a week. On the weekends, I'll eat my "normal" way, which continues to be plant-rich and health-focused, but probably sneaks in some dark chocolate and a cheat treat or three. When I'm really in the mood for something along the lines of comfort bread, this quick concoction can be summoned any day of the week.
Have I ever mentioned my dental hygiene routine? Yeah, it's dull, but it's relevant, really. It's the main reason for the past quarter's ongoing experiment, so in brief, here it is: flossing twice+ daily, water pik flossing twice+ daily, sonicare toothbrushing twice+ daily, rinsing whenever possible after eating anything, and rinsing with a baking soda solution or an all natural, dentist invented Oral Essences mouthwash twice daily. Also, sleeping with a mouthguard, and voluntarily going to the dentist for three annual cleanings versus two. That's the nutshell. I had reduce to the brief bullets, because there is nothing actually brief about my dental rituals.
I do all of the above faithfully because despite all of it, for years I've had chronic inflammation in my gums...bleeding, susceptibility to tartar...enough work to get numerous hygienists to break out in a sweat. But in January, my amazing hygienist for several years now whom I adore, got me thinking about what the big picture might suggest in terms of overall health. I had always presumed my gums were difficult because of genetics, but no one should accept chronic inflammation, and I started questioning other possible root causes. I already eat well, exercise vigorously, am overall tuned in to every opportunity to build and enhance health. So what else might be going on?
I remembered how years back, I had seen an allergist because of chronic, severe sinus infections. I was born with a hole in my diaphragm and had immediate surgery that was later correlated with respiratory sensitivities. Growing up, I was habitually on round after round of antibiotics, every fall and spring. Ironically, things calmed down a bit after getting a dog and getting into running. I decided that I loved our family dog so much, my heart was able to mobilize my body into fending off some of the allergens better than before. And running, that gave me strength, joy and freedom. But, though things were improving, I still got walloped with sinus infections on a regular basis.
The allergist conducted classic skin tests and found I exhibited a high sensitivity to yeast. Off the charts he described it. He recommended 6-18 months of a restrictive candida diet. At the time however, once again I'd just come off a slew of antibiotics, and my doctor was skeptical of the advice, which I ended up disregarding and forgetting. Later, when we went dairy-free, the sinus infections instantly all but disappeared. Only the gum inflammation didn't.
Talking with my hygienist back in January, I thought back to the yeast sensitivity. It seemed to make sense that, after so many years of pounding my body with antibiotics, my microbiome would have taken a lasting beating. And who knows, but a few simple, purposeful changes could help give it a reset?
A few weeks ago, after four months of dedicated, mindfully low-sugar, low-yeast diet, I went back to the dentist's office for one of my three cleanings, and kinda blew my kind hygienist's socks off. Night and day, she said. There was no bleeding, except one slight area; my gums weren't swollen, and they were a lighter, pinker color. I've noticed over the past weeks and months, too, they are far less sensitive than I can remember them being before, ever.
Why am I telling you all this in a post about bread? I guess it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, except this bread has been a go-to for a yeast free option that can be played with when I'm really longing for one. In that way, it's been kind of personally symbolic. And I just like it. Is cutting sugar even further and pulling back on yeast the real reason for the positive change in gum health? I have no idea. The water pik was also new as of January, so success may well come down to that alone. Besides that, I took a probiotic the whole way through, also something new. So, a lot of things. But regardless, I really do like this bread, and hope you might find a version that works just right for you, too. :)
Yeast-free vegan raisin bread
- 2 1/2 cups flour (I like sprouted whole wheat or your favorite gluten-free blend)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup aquafaba (drained chickpea water)
- 1/3 cup coconut milk plain yogurt (unsweetened), optional (adds a richer consistency)
- 1/3 cup orange juice (increase to 1/2 cup if not using yogurt)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare an 8 1/2 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add vinegar, aquafaba, yogurt if using, orange juice, and honey, and stir or blend with a mixer to combine. Stir in raisins.
- Spread batter in loaf tin and bake 45 minutes to one hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.