Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweet Potato French Toast With Coconut Quickbread (Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan)















Call it bragging (and it is), but I've just got to say it: I'm a food rock star! Okay, now that I've written that sentence out and feel sufficiently obnoxious, I'd like to erase it.  But I'll leave it there for you all to see and laugh at me. It's true though. Diane at The Whole Gang is featuring me today as part of her Food Rock Star series.  Since her lineup includes some of the hottest names in gluten-free baking today, I'm feeling pretty special. I'm also feeling like I have a lot to live up to, so I'd better finish this post, get back in the kitchen, and work on my recipes! While I'm doing that, if you'd like to know what my wildest dream is, check out The Whole Gang for my answer to that and other questions.  


But wait! Come back, there's more. 


The point of this post was not just to tell you about my newfound rock star fame, but to share a recipe with you. A few weeks back, I saw that Hallie of Daily Bites was planning a post featuring healthy breakfast recipes. As the fates would have it, Maggie of She Let Them Eat Cake also decided that breakfast was on the menu this month. Or brunch actually. Maggie is hosting Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free (the monthly series started by the original food rock star, Naomi Devlin), and the theme is Spring Brunches. Luckily for me, I happen to love brunch. Pancakes, crepes, quiche, french toast...I love it all! 


Of course, being a laid-back West Coast kind of gal (cough...liar...cough), I missed Hallie's breakfast deadline. I was sure I was going to miss Maggie's brunch deadline too, but when she called me out on Facebook with an "Iris, you can do it," I knew I had to finish this recipe in time to be included in the lineup. So I scrapped my attempt at being a relaxed Seattleite and made myself an hour-by-hour to-do list. Somehow, I could finish my case study, do an herb report, a recipe writing assignment, go to Toastmaster's, get in a good hour of yoga, trouble shoot this recipe and write up the post, and still be in bed by 10pm tonight. 


Ha. You're laughing, right? I know I am. Actually, I could probably have managed all of that if it wasn't  so sunny out today. I had to take a break and go sit on my deck and soak up that rarest of Seattle phenomena: sunlight. 


So now I'm running late. But all that means is I'll get a little less sleep tonight, or do a little less yoga, or just put off the herb report until tomorrow (I didn't want to do that one anyway). You still get your french toast recipe. Maggie still gets brunch. And I'll even give you the link to Hallie's breakfast post because I'm feeling magnanimous. Mostly because I remembered how to spell magnanimous. But even more because Hallie is showcasing some amazing breakfast recipes, and I think you should check them out. 


So first, make this Sweet Potato French Toast with Coconut Quickbread recipe. (Do you think I could have picked a longer name?)


Second, stop by The Whole Gang to see my answers to Diane's Rock Star questions.


Third, go to Daily Bites for breakfast ideas. 


Fourth and finally, hop on over to She Let Them Eat Cake for a bevy of beautiful brunch recipes.  

Sweet Potato French Toast with Coconut Quickbread 
Inspired by this Vegan Banana French Toast at Cook It Allergy Free
Print-Friendly Option

Coconut Bread:
2/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup quinoa flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup Spectrum Organic Palm Shortening (sub: butter or Earth Balance)
3 Tbsp. flaxseed meal plus 2/3 cup water
3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon liquid stevia 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

"Egg" Wash:
1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or your favorite alternative)
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1/4 - 1/2 cup pureed sweet potato
1 tablespoon orange zest
dash each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
10 drops liquid stevia (optional)

  1. To make the bread: Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease bread pan.
  2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Cut in shortening with a fork.
  3. In a small bowl, stir flaxseed meal and water. Whisk in milk, apple sauce, vanilla and stevia.
  4. Beat the wet mix into dry.
  5. Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. 
  6. Once the bread comes out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack and let cool another ten minutes. Slice into approximately 10 slices. 
  7. To make the french toast: Whisk together the milk and flaxseed meal in a wide plate or pie pan. Whisk in the rest of the "egg" wash ingredients. Start with 1/4 cup of sweet potato, but you can add another 1/4 cup if you like a thicker coating on your french toast. 
  8. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat with a teaspoon of your fat of choice (Earth Balance, coconut oil, etc.) to grease the pan. Dip a slice of bread in the wash, coating both sides. Cook the bread about 2-3 minutes on each side, allowing it to get golden brown before flipping. 
Makes approximately 10 slices of french toast

Note: The coconut quickbread also makes a delicious bread on its own, and is a great basic recipe to have on hand. You can easily add in whatever extras you want (coconut flakes, chocolate chips, fresh or dried fruit, etc.) like I did with my banana chocolate bread.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April In The Raw: Italian Artichoke Salad

April in the Raw is a month long collection of raw recipes from mostly gluten-free bloggers. I say mostly because I'm not positive if we all blog exclusively gluten-free, but I know that all of the April in the Raw recipes have been so. The gluten-free and raw blogging worlds often collide (or should I say, kindly nudge each other) because raw food is often also naturally gluten-free.

Of course, when I think of Easter, I don't generally think of raw foods. Well, maybe fruit salad, but that's about it. I think ham (not that we ate it growing up, but I hear that's what a lot of people eat for Easter dinner), hard-boiled eggs, Easter bread, and artichokes. Why artichokes? Well, that's what we ate growing up. Eventually we realized that my little sister didn't like artichokes, so we started incorporating other foods, but for years, artichokes were the main attraction on this holiday.

We often steamed the artichokes and served them with melted butter (how could you not like something that comes with a little bowl of melted butter?); other times we cooked them in a creamy sauce for pasta. For April in the Raw, I thought a salad would be a nice contribution to add to the amazing dessert recipes we've seen so far. So I give you a raw artichoke salad, full of oregano, basil, sundried tomatoes, and other flavors that have been missing from my diet for way too long. It's not a low-amine salad, I'll tell you that. But it's gluten-free, raw, and frankly, too good to let a few amines stop me!

Raw Italian Artichoke Salad
Print-Friendly Option
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 8.5 ounce jar sundried tomatoes in olive oil (keep the tomatoes and the olive oil)
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 artichoke
1 1/2 organic lemons or 1 conventional lemon (organic tend to be smaller)

  1. Stir vinegar, herbs, garlic, and olive oil (from tomato jar) together in a large bowl. 
  2. Add in the tomatoes, onion, olives, and toss well. Add salt and pepper and set aside while you prepare the artichoke. 
  3. To prepare the artichoke, juice the lemons and have the juice ready in a small bowl. You'll want to toss the artichoke pieces in the lemon juice as soon as you've diced them to prevent them from browning.
  4. *Wash the artichoke and slice the brown end off the stem. Peel off the artichoke leaves until you reach the tender, yellow-green leaves. At this point, you can slice off the pointy ends. Cut off the pretty purple leaves and use a sharp spoon or knife to cut out the fuzzy choke. What you'll be left with is the heart, the stem, and the inner tender leaves (with the pointy ends cut off). Very thinly slice or dice all of these and quickly toss them in the lemon juice. They'll start to brown quickly otherwise! Let the artichokes sit in the lemon juice for a few minutes, then transfer them with the juice to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Toss in and let marinate for approximately 30 minutes. 
  5. Enjoy!
I wanted to photograph the process to make this more clear, but I was running short on time. If my instructions aren't clear, you can read these instructions here, which is how I learned how to cut a raw artichoke.

Serves 4.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What's In A Lunchbox?

Today, I'm happy to be sharing my tips on packing a lunchbox over at City|Life|Eats. Valerie is the reigning queen of fabulously healthy lunchboxes, but even she occasionally gets bored and needs some new ideas. Hop on over to see what I'm sharing.

And come back on Sunday for my April in the Raw post! I still have yet to figure out what I'm going to make, although with all the fabulous April in the Raw desserts I've seen, I'm probably going to go with a savory dish...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sweet Coconut Biscuits (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Sugar-Free)

Some recipes require a big introduction. Others introduce themselves. These biscuits walk straight onto your plate and announce, "Hello, I am here and I am fabulous." They strut their stuff, knowing that they can stand up to the ultimate competition. Pillsbury biscuits. Remember those? Tender, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits. Now you no longer have to glance longingly at those packages as you walk by them in the grocery store. Walk with your head held high, and your nose in the air, knowing that you now have your own tender, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, and gosh darn it, they're a lot healthier than what you'd pick up at the grocery store.

Whether you've been avoiding those ready-made biscuits because you're gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free or just plain don't like the ingredients list, you can now feel confident that you can have your biscuit and have your health too.

Sweet Coconut Biscuits
Print-Friendly Option

3/4 cup sorghum flour 
2/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup sweet white rice flour 
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum 
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. flaxseed meal + 2/3 cup water 
1/4 cup grapeseed oil 
1/4 cup Earth Balance (sub: butter, Spectrum Organic Palm Shortening)
3/4 cup coconut milk (regular, not lite)
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. orange zest (optional) 
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. liquid stevia 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Set aside. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flaxseed meal and water. Let sit for a minute, then whisk in the rest of the ingredients. 
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until completely mixed. 
  5. For baking, you have two options. You can put the batter in greased muffin tins (which is what I did for these photos) or use a spoon to put them on a greased cookie sheet, like drop biscuits. If you use the muffin tins, this recipe will make 8 large muffin biscuits, which will take approximately 20-40* minutes to bake. If you choose to separate the batter into 8 drop biscuits, you can use the same cooking time. If you want to make smaller biscuits, reduce the cooking time accordingly, checking your biscuits with a toothpick or fork to test for doneness.  
*The first time I made these, they took 20 minutes. Since then, I've made them twice and found the baking time to be closer to 40 minutes. So start with 20 and then check every ten minutes until they just begin to become a light golden brown on the outside. 

p.s. These would be wonderful for an Easter Brunch! The mix of stevia, coconut, and orange zest lend a mild sweetness that would go perfectly with a fruit salad and a tofu or egg scramble. 

 Check out The Spunky Coconut for more gluten-free Easter recipes. 

Stop by Pumpkin's Pantry to see how Eryn made strawberry shortcakes with my biscuits!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Momentary Pleasures

First, I have to start this post by thanking everyone who participated in the Help Japan Vegan Blogger Bake Sale: by baking, by bidding, or by telling people about it. And of course, the biggest thanks goes to the other Ms. Higgins for organizing it all. It took a lot of work, and I know she's still busy coordinating and making sure everyone gets their donations in and their goodies delivered to their door. Although I don't have an official number yet, I've heard that we raised $3177! Not so bad for a day and a half, huh?

As for me, as for today, I'm feeling nostalgic. Or perhaps that's not the right word. I had a lot of dreams last night, and I woke up before I had the chance to glean their significance. Dreams of moving back to New York, of making cakes out of whipped cream, of playing Scrabble with my stepdad. So many dreams, and perhaps that's what I'm feeling today. The subtle haze of that sleep world is more immediate than my reality. And with the rain droplets decorating the tree outside my window and smoke billowing from the chimney across the street, I think I'm content with that.

For you all, I've included an excerpt from an old friend's e-mail. Something that sounded beautiful to me, a bit sad, more haunting as it reminded me that life is simply a collection of moments. When we look back, more than stories, we remember moments and the people who shared them with us. Some that defined us and changed our lives, others with little significance to anyone else, but that have stayed in our hearts long after they passed. It is these moments, it seems, that make up our tapestries.

"You said everyone has a beautiful story...maybe....maybe some people's stories are more beautiful to some people than others..."

"They come into your life and leave and some you remember on certain occasions and are shocked you knew someone so surprisingly unique...that they knew you....that you shared such luminous moments that are now all but forgotten save for late night memories."

"I wrote once looking at the stars, the sunrise, or out on some hike, what could one hope to accomplish that could compare to these experiences? And in that struggle to do something really 'worthwhile' how many sunrises will I miss..."

"It was raining you remember, then one time it was snowing...there was a bench and trees, then there was yellow light and an iron railing. I think perhaps kicking the soccer ball or that rainy night with that bench.....those are like sunrises."

"Eventually ambition will take me away...I'll go back to school and better myself, maybe accomplish something deemed worthwhile by most...."

"But my greatest accomplishments will be those peoples' beautiful stories..."

"Though gone they sustain me, they are the me I meet from time to time and recognize warmly..." 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Help Japan Vegan Blogger Bake Sale Today!

I want to write something meaningful. Something that will stop and make you think, that will bring the reality of Japan's recent disaster home for you, and make you feel that you must do something.

But I have no words.

The truth is, when something awful like this happens, I tend to freeze. Rather than let the enormity of the suffering wash over me and make its way into my heart, I numb myself and tune it out. Sure, people are still in pain. But they're far away, and there's nothing I can do to help. So I might as well go about my business.

I wonder how many others feel the same. I wonder who would be feeling that way about my plight were the same thing to happen in Seattle today. And I wonder why it's easier to ignore what happened than to allow myself to feel sad about it.   

This post is my small way of sending my love out to those affected by the recent earthquakes, and allowing some of their sorrow in. It is my way of acknowledging, at least to myself, that we are all on this planet together, and we can only succeed or fail as one. This is my way of reminding myself that while I can't do much, I can always do something. And the first step in being an active member of this world in which we live, is stopping long enough to see the people around us. Including those we can only see through the TV, internet, or newspapers. In this technologically advanced world, our community is no longer just the people who live near us. Our community no longer has boundaries.

So just as the PTA always held bake sales in school, we're having our own bake sale to help our community. I'm baking my gluten-free, vegan snickerdoodles, but there are over fifty options to choose from. I'm asking you - and I hate to ask anything of you, my lovely readers, but this is one time I'll step out of my comfort zone and do so anyway - I'm asking you to go to Chocolate Covered Katie and bid on an item. Ask yourself what you could afford to give to help your neighbors, and bid on your favorite snack or dessert. Your donation will go directly to The Red Cross. Now, you can have your treat sent to you as a thanks for your donation, or you can ask that it be sent to a loved one whose day will be brightened by a little bit of vegan deliciousness at their door. 

Please, go to Chocolate Covered Katie now and make your bid.

Update: The bake sale is now closed, but you can still donate directly at The Red Cross by clicking here

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quinoa Pizza Heaven

This was my breakfast. Let me clarify. This was one fourth of my breakfast. (The photo you're seeing is on an appetizer plate...I didn't eat 4 dinner plates worth of pizza!) I had my own little personal pizza, and I was in gluten-free, low-amine heaven. Unless I'm reviewing another blogger for Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger, I generally don't post recipes unless they're my own. But this quinoa pizza was such a revelation that I had to share it with you all. Of course I'm not going to actually post the recipe since it's not mine. That credit goes to Charity of For Life! Personal Chef. I found her recipe when I was searching for a way to adapt my pizza crust to eliminate the starch. While I have yet to figure that out, I came upon Charity's quinoa pizza, and I have to say, it's so good it might just replace my own recipe for my go-to pizza crust.

This pizza requires only 4 ingredients: quinoa, water, olive oil, and salt. Of course, with such a basic recipe, the possibilities for adding spices and herbs are endless. I added fresh parsley to the crust, then topped it with homemade pesto and leftover chicken and broccoli from my dinner last night. The olive oil lent a sinful crisp to the outside, while the inside had the comforting chewiness of pizza crust.

And the best thing? The actual prep for this recipe takes about 5 minutes. You have to know you're making it ahead of time so you can soak the quinoa. But once that's done, all you have to do is blend the quinoa with water and salt, and you've got your batter. Then just bake and you're done! The only thing I did differently than the recipe called for was to add my toppings before putting the crust in for the last ten minutes of baking, rather than adding them after. Aside from that, I followed the recipe exactly.

Click here for Charity's quinoa pizza, and if you start soaking your quinoa now, you can make this for a late dinner, as I just convinced my mom to do!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring Mint Salad Plus Some Fun Announcements

Spring has finally arrived, and with it, the cold. While we're experiencing April showers over here in Seattle (what else is new?), my hometown of Florence, Massachusetts is under a winter alert. Spring has brought with it an expected six to ten inches of snow. Go figure!

So while I made this spring mint salad a few weeks back on a sunny day, I'll probably actually be eating soup today while wishing for warmth. My parents will certainly be needing some cozy, snow day dishes, so for my rainy and/or snowbound readers, you can stop by The Gluten-Free Homemaker for this month's roundup of Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free Soups.

If you're lucky enough to live where the sun shines year round (like my sisters in San Diego and Los Angeles), you'll be more in the mood for a light salad flavored with fresh mint and the hint of citrus. This salad is delicious as a side dish, but can also double as a main dish if you add some wild rice and your protein of choice (hint: I would go with shrimp or tofu).

Just be aware that this salad has apple cider vinegar, so it's best eaten in a day or two. It doesn't go bad after that...rather the vegetables start to pickle, which tastes delicious to me, but might not be the flavor you're going for. On the other hand, it might which case, let it sit in the fridge for a few days!

Spring Mint Salad
Print-Friendly Option
1/2 red cabbage, chopped (approx. 4-5 cups)
1/2 green cabbage, chopped (approx. 4-5 cups)
1 apple, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup packed fresh mint, chopped
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 tsp. powdered stevia (sub: 1 Tbsp. honey)
1/2 tsp. sea salt

  1. Toss the vegetables together in a large bowl. 
  2. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, stevia, and salt. 
  3. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. 
  4. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld*. 
*This salad will taste delicious the next day, but if it stays in the fridge longer than that, the vegetables will start to pickle. The pickling is very mild, and I really enjoyed it, but eat within a day if you want it to retain its original fresh flavor.

And now for some fun announcements: 

April means it's the official start of April in the Raw. All month long, my fellow bloggers and I will be posting raw-inspired dishes to welcome the Spring harvest. Brittany starts us off today with a fabulous recipe at Real Sustenance. I'll be posting my raw recipe on April 24th, which is coincidentally, Easter Sunday. Of course, that means I've got all month to come up with a raw Easter recipe...and if the blank I'm drawing is any indication, I'll need the whole month to figure it out! But while you're waiting, you can check out some of my older raw-inspired recipes:

Raw Pumpkin Cheese Pie
Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Coconut Cashew Frosting 
Fruit and Nut Truffles
Banana Ice Cream with Blueberry Sauce
Coconut Banana Sundae 
Raw Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce 
Garbanzo Bean Guacamole
Simple Cucumber Salad and Cabbage Smoothie
Blueberry Smoothie
Green Power Smoothie
Pineapple Smoothie

"Help Japan" Vegan Blogger Bake Sale
When a traumatic event occurs, whether it's on a small-scale or something larger like the earthquakes in Japan, we're all left with a sense of helplessness and uncertainty. How can we possibly help when we're so far away? It oftens feels easier to tune it out and do nothing. Yet if there's one thing I've noticed, it's the amazing ability the blogging community has to step in and be proactive. We have a voice, and some of us have the potential to be heard around the globe. One blogger in particular that is always stepping in to help is the darling Katie of Chocolate Covered Katie. With often up to 20,000 readers daily, Katie can make a difference, and she's asking us to be a part of it. On April 5th, Katie will be hosting a vegan blogger bake sale to benefit The Red Cross efforts in Japan.

How can you help? If you have a delicious vegan recipe you'd like to make and donate, you can check Katie's post here for details on how to join in on the bake sale. I'll be making a batch of my vegan cinnamon snickerdoodles (gluten-free of course), and sending them to the highest bidder. So on April 5th, please stop by Chocolate Covered Katie and peruse all the options you could bid on. Your money will go directly to The Red Cross, and the food will come directly to your house. It's a win-win situation!

And finally, I have to mention my excitement at having my pizza crust reviewed by Gluten Free Gigi this week! I made this crust a little over a year ago, and spent countless hours on different variations until I was satisfied. When Alea of Gluten-Free Flavorfull told me my crust was a staple at her house, I was shocked. (Despite doing this for two years, I usually think that no one actually tries my recipes). This week, Gigi gave me the ultimate compliment that her husband had said he wouldn't have known it was gluten-free. I'm pretty sure that's as good as it gets!

p.s. This recipe calls for eggs, but I made a vegan version recently if you're not feeling the whole egg thing.

And that's all for today's announcements. If you can, please spread the word about Katie's vegan bake sale via twitter, Facebook, a blog if you have one, or that old-fashioned way, word of mouth.


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