About a year ago, Keith happened to be looking at the ingredients and nutrition information on a package of flour tortillas and discovered that some brands of tortillas actually have trans fats in them. Generally, we eat pretty well and since we don’t buy a lot of packaged foods, we don’t spend much time reading labels (that’s the great thing about fresh fruits and veggies! You don’t need a label to tell you they’re good for you!). We were both very surprised when he saw this. Luckily not all brands include trans fats so we learned to pick the ones that didn’t.
But it got me to thinking about why we bought them at all. I’m quite serious when I say that we don’t eat much packaged or pre-made food. Our meals generally consist of a piece of meat, a vegetable (salad usually) and on occasion potatoes or rice. Or sometimes the other way around, a big salad and some home made fries (huge staple for us). We barely visit those ‘centre aisles’ at the grocery store where packaged foods lie (except the baking aisle of course!).
Now I am not speaking from a high horse, I think everyone knows that even though we don’t eat store bought junk food, we still eat some junk (and if you need proof check out this, this or this!). And I’m not trying to say that nothing that is packaged is unhealthy, because that certainly isn’t true! But I have found an easy way to cut down on one more packaged item that you might eat…tortillas!
When we first found out about the trans fats we just bought that package that didn’t have them and called it a day. But then I started looking up recipes to check if there was another option. My first try was a bit of a flop. They were more like thin-ish pizza crusts and didn’t bend or roll at all like store bought tortillas. My second attempt was better, but I still knew that there was room for improvement. I thought for sure there was some secret that I was missing, and it turns out I was right!
A couple of weeks ago we hadn’t had anything with wraps for a while, so I decided to try my hand at them again. I started looking around on blogs for recipes and came across one that looked promising. It talked about the fat in the recipe needing to be a solid fat, not like olive or vegetable oil.
And the fat that it suggested was coconut oil! Keith bought some coconut oil in the fall after visiting a friend in Vancouver studying to be a naturopathic doctor. She raved about how versatile it was and how you could use it for anything from skin care to in baking to on toast! I have to admit I was skeptical because I don’t really like coconut. And while I definitely won’t eat it on toast, and still prefer butter on popcorn, I’ll admit that it is a great staple to add to the kitchen.
These wraps do take a little bit of patience, mostly because you have to stand over the stove for a long time cooking them (each one cooks quickly but I like to make a big batch), but if you get 2 or 3 frying pans going it doesn’t take long. Plus, if you make a big batch you can throw half in the freezer and take them out a few weeks down the road — JUST as if you’d grabbed them off the shelf at the grocery store!
Homemade Tortillas (adapted from The Prairie Homestead)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 cup warm milk
Measure the flour into a big bowl adding the salt and mixing. Heat the milk slightly, or use powdered milk and warm water as the base (that’s what I did because we don’t always have milk in the house). Measure the coconut oil into the flour and, using your hands, pile the flour over top of the oil.
There really is no two ways about this, you have to use your hands. But since it’s such a large quantity of flour and small quantity of oil, your hands don’t get too dirty (plus, it’s just like moisturizer anyways!). Mix the oil into the flour rubbing the flour between your hands and breaking up any big clumps. There will be some small clumps, and that’s ok, but make sure there aren’t too many.
Gradually add the milk continuing to mix with your hands until it all comes together in a nice ball. Don’t feel that you need to use all the milk if it comes together without all of it. If you dump too much in it will become a stick mess and you might need to add more flour. Knead the dough for about two minutes.
Cover and let stand for about 20 minutes while you prepare your pans and rolling surface (don’t leave them in much longer because they get tough to roll out).
Heat two large pans over medium heat. Clean a big area on your counter and cover with a sprinkling of flour. Get the dough out and split it into about 16 equally sized balls. Take one and roll it out using more flour as needed so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin. Make the dough as thin as possible without breaking through it. This will take some patience, but you will get used to it and eventually it moves along quite quickly.
Once the pans are hot, place one tortilla in the centre and let cook for about 2 minutes. You can tell it’s done when the edges look a little dry. Flip tortilla and let cook again for up to 2 minutes. You need to keep a close eye on the first couple to get an idea of how long they will take. I find that mine take about 90 seconds give or take. They should be slightly browned and may have puffed spots, which is just fine.
Remove from heat and place on a cooling rack. Once they are totally cool, store them in a ziplock bag with a piece of paper towel in it. I like to throw half in the fridge and half in the freezer and take them stuffed with lettuce, peppers, cheese and mustard for my lunch at school!