Saturday, November 26, 2011

How to Make Gluten-Free, Vegan Pancakes and Waffles

In June, I decided to take on a challenge I felt completely unprepared for. Writing a guide to gluten-free baking. Thankfully, my co-author was much more adept in the kitchen, and I just prayed I would catch on. I had asked The Assistant at the time if he thought it was a good idea. I believe my exact words were, "Do you think I'm crazy?" And he told me that taking on any project was a wonderful thing because no matter what, I would learn. And learn I have. Through trial and error, and lots of flops, I've created over 40 gluten, dairy and soy-free recipes since June. Almost 6 months later, I am astounded at how much I've learned. When I started making recipes for the book in June, I spent days and days on each recipe, often giving up in disgust and accepting a mediocre result. Now, I can go back and look at those recipes, and immediately pick out what I did wrong and how to fix it. I know how to avoid gums in recipes now, I know which flours work best with eggs and which work without, and I know that my waffle how-to guide that I wrote last year was not perfect. I also know that a lot of the recipes on this blog need reworking, and I plan on spending time this year updating my older recipes.

(Most of my pancakes came out fluffier than the ones in this picture...but they got eaten before I could take a picture...the pancakes in this picture were actually my failed pancakes)
The first recipe I wanted to rework was indeed my waffle guide. After realizing my ratios were slightly off (and I apologize to anyone who used that guide and was unhappy with the results!), I decided I wanted a recipe that would work for ANY flour, that was vegan, and that could be used for pancakes AND waffles. Three days and over 24 batches of pancakes/waffles later (seriously...), I have a recipe that makes me happy.

I tested this recipe out on:
Blanched Almond Flour
Millet Flour
Teff Flour
Buckwheat Flour
Quinoa Flour
Sorghum Flour
Amaranth Flour
Garbanzo Bean Flour
Sweet White Rice Flour
White Rice Flour
Brown Rice Flour
Coconut Flour
Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Mix

I tested it on potato starch and tapioca starch.

I tested it using cups and using grams.

I have never seen so many pancakes in my life. But the last thing I wanted was to post another guide only to realize it wasn't right! So I got out my OCD tendencies, made a chart, and went to work. Here's the recipe, and please read below for my notes on which flours have the best texture and flavor, and which ones weren't so pleasant. Take note that this recipe WILL NOT work for coconut flour. Don't even try it...I did, and it was a huge waste of flour.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Pancake & Waffle Recipe (Please scroll down and read the tips before making these!) (Print-Friendly Option)

1 1/4 cups or 158 grams flour (or mix of flours)***
1/2 cup or 86 grams starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 to 1 3/4 cups liquid

*** I know that cups and grams are different for each flour. HOWEVER, I tested this recipe out with EACH FLOUR with cups AND grams. Whether you measure your flours by cups or the gram measurements given, your pancakes/waffles will work. If you use almond flour, you'll only need about 1/2 cup of liquid. If you use a thick liquid like full-fat coconut milk, you'll need more (up to 1 3/4 cups). Otherwise, you'll need about 1 cup of liquid (milk, water, juice, etc.) regardless of the flour. 

1. Whisk together your dry ingredients.
2. Whisk together the applesauce, oil, and 1/2 cup of liquid. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir. Add more liquid slowly (I do it by the tablespoon so as not to pour too much) until you've reached the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Always start with less liquid and test the batter on one pancake or waffle first. If it's too thick, you can add more liquid, but you can't take liquid away once you've added it!
  • To make waffles, make sure to oil the iron frequently and keep the batter thick. It won't spread on the iron, but you can use a spoon to spread the batter out evenly on the iron. If the batter is too thin, it is much more likely to stick. (See note at end of post from a reader on sticking waffles before making.)
  • To make pancakes, you can use a little more liquid than with waffles (about 2-4 tablespoons more), depending on how thick you prefer your pancakes. 
Tips (Read These Before Making):
  • Potato starch is the best starch to use in these recipes. You can use tapioca, arrowroot, or cornstarch, BUT potato starch makes the insides fluffier. (Update: A few readers have tried using arrowroot and found the results to be gummy, so be forewarned. If you can use potato starch, do!)
  • Almond flour makes the best pancakes, hands down! They taste buttery and sweet. The batter should be equally thick for pancakes or waffles. HOWEVER, this recipe DOES NOT work with only almond flour. You have to use the starch, and you'll get amazing pancakes. If you try using just almond flour without starch, your pancakes will be horrible excuses for pancakes that will make a mess of your pan. If you can eat almonds, I highly recommend you make this your go-to pancake mix.
  • Millet flour pancakes taste somewhat like biscuits, and are my second favorite flour to use. However, millet does tend to have a bitter aftertaste, so beware. 
  • I love the flavor of buckwheat and teff. For a hearty mix, try either one or both. 
  • Coconut flour DOES NOT work. AT ALL. BUT, you can add a few tablespoons to your mix if you want. You'll just end up increasing the amount of liquid needed.
  • Sweet white rice flour, amaranth flour, and white rice flour all tended to be a little gummy inside, so I wouldn't recommend using these. Brown rice flour had a nice texture and was good for a basic mix, although a bit bland for my liking.
  • Quinoa, sorghum, and garbanzo bean flour all made pancakes and waffles with great textures. The flavors aren't my personal favorites, but they can be jazzed up with the addition of other flavors. 
  • If using an all-purpose mix like Bob's Red Mill, skip the starch (the mix already has starch in it), and use 1 3/4 cups of mix or 244 grams. I didn't use an all-purpose mix with xanthan gum in it, so I can't say how it will work if your mix has gums. I recommend buying a mix without gums, or better yet, skip the mix and just buy your favorite flour and starch.
  • For the sweetener, you can use 2 tablespoons of any granulated sugar. OR you can use 2 tablespoons of a liquid sweetener. Just add it to the wet ingredients instead. I personally thought the granulated sugar gave the best texture to the pancakes though. 
  • For the applesauce, you can try using any puree...try banana, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, etc. I liked applesauce best in terms of texture though. 
  • I tested these recipes with water and I liked the flavor. But any liquid can be used. If you use something like full-fat canned coconut milk (which I like to do), you'll need more liquid than if you use water or milk. Using water or milk, almond flour only needs about 1/2 cup of liquid, whereas most of the other flours need closer to 1 cup. 
  • Many readers have commented that their batter stuck to the waffle iron and this is what one reader, Carol Ann Rowland, told me in her comment below: One thing I would comment on is that, with a nonstick waffle iron, it is best to never grease it. If you do, you end up with a sticky residue that just ends up being a little gummy which makes it harder to clean and subsequent waffles just stick all that much more. If your waffles are sticking, you need to add more oil to the batter, or bake them slightly longer. It's the oil in the batter than needs to keep it from sticking. I didn't oil my waffle iron at all (never have, replaced a previous waffle iron because I hadn't known about this and had gummed it up) and they came out perfectly and my waffle iron looks completely clean without even having wiped it down yet.
That's all! If you test this out and like it, I'd love for you to come back and post how you made your pancakes/waffles in the comments for other readers to try!


This post is linked to Inspire Me Mondays. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cinnamon Chocolate Cookies (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free)

This was not the recipe I meant to post today. I meant to post this one.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cookies. But despite having made these cookies many times, I apparently have never written down the complete instructions. So I'll have to make them again to be sure I tell you everything exactly right. In the meantime, I'm going to leave you with a new recipe that only came about because I ran out of sweet white rice flour. I was planning on making my vegan snickerdoodles, but didn't have enough flour. So I improvised. I used less sweet white rice flour, added in some unsweetened cocoa powder, and took out the gums. The results were a hit. My friend actually told me she lost her taste for her favorite Pamela's chocolate cookies after she had mine. She also said they reminded her of chocolate teddy grahams. I think that's a pretty good reason to give these a try, don't you?

Cinnamon Chocolate Cookies (Print Friendly Option)

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1 tablespoon whole psyllium husks
6 tablespoons boiling water

1 cup sweet white rice flour (156 grams) (see note below)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (60 grams)
1 cup potato starch (153 grams)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup shortening (sub: coconut oil)
1 cup liquid sweetener (I used half brown rice syrup, half coconut nectar; you can use honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup, all of which will yield a slightly different flavor)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets. 
  2. In a small bowl, stir the boiling water into the flax and psyllium mixture. Let sit for 5 minutes. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, starch, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sweetener. Whisk the flax and psyllium mixture in completely (don't leave any clumps or your cookies will come out in weird shapes). Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring until completely mixed. 
  5. Drop by the spoonful onto cookie sheets and bake for 9 minutes. Let sit for a minute before removing to a cooling rack.
Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies. 

Note: Sweet white rice flour is also called glutinous (not glutenous) rice flour or mochiko. It's usually found in Asian grocery stores or the Asian section of your local grocery store (that's where I get mine). It is NOT the same as white rice flour, and if you try subbing in white rice flour in this recipe, you'll end up with something more like a chocolate biscuit. Which could be tasty if that's what you're going for, but since I haven't done it myself, I can't vouch for it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Squash Pie (Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan)

With Thanksgiving around the corner, and having recently realized that I feel best on a grain-free diet, I've been a bit of a curmudgeon. A grump, if you will. Although I'm hosting a Thanksgiving potluck on Sunday, I really haven't been in the mood to attend the holiday festivities on Thursday and watch everyone else eat. Oh, I know the holidays are about family, friends, and being together. And of course, giving thanks. And I give thanks every day for these crazy health problems that have fueled my passion for nutrition. Seriously, I do. Even when I'm simultaneously cursing them.

But. Yes, there is a but. But, I really want to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal that I, being now grain-free, nut-free, sugar-free, egg-free, and dairy-free, can eat! Is that too much to ask? (Did you hear the whiney little curmudgeon come out there for a second?)

While Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I've been busily holed up in my kitchen baking for the cookbook. This hasn't left a whole lot of time for nourishing myself, but I'm doing my best. And this week, that meant taking the time to make myself a pie. A butternut squash pie, to be exact, with pumpkin pie spices and a hint of orange zest. I loved it. In fact, I ate almost the whole thing in just a couple of days. I had to give away my last piece today after I decided enough was enough. Despite the lack of sugar in this recipe, it's extremely rich and chock-full of healthy fats, like coconut oil and chia seeds. Is it as good as the original? Well, it certainly did the trick for me, but then again I'm an avid fan of stevia. If it had an aftertaste, I couldn't tell you since I don't really notice that anyway. Those of you who don't love stevia might want to choose your own sweetener for this, perhaps honey, coconut nectar, or maple syrup. You'll have to play around with the amount and just add a little at a time until the flavor is right for you. As for the crust, I can't say I was elated. I found this idea on, and while I like it okay, I definitely want to play around with it. But considering my restrictions these days, I was still pretty stoked. After all, when's the last time I ate pie, felt like I was eating something sinful, and didn't suffer a reaction afterward!? I don't even know...

Squash Pie (Print-Friendly Option)

I made this pie with a butternut squash, but you can easily use any type of squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato. If you use pumpkin, you may need to add more stevia, while sweet potato would require less.

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

3 tablespoons chia seed meal
1 cup full fat canned coconut milk
2 cups baked squash (canned or homemade both work)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
20 drops liquid stevia
Zest of half an orange

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a pie pan. Process your crust ingredients in a food processor for a few minutes. When the coconut sticks to the side of the food processor (you'll know when this happens), it's done. Press into the pan pie and bake for 20 minutes. It won't cover the sides, just the bottom of the pan, and it's difficult to press since it's so sticky (use some melted coconut oil or light olive oil on your fingers to make it easier). 
  2. While the pie crust is baking, make your pie filling. Start by putting your chia seeds and coconut milk in the food processor and letting them sit for a few minutes. Then put the rest of the ingredients in the food processor and blend until it's completely smooth. This will take a few minutes, and when you think it's blended enough, give it another minute. It gets creamier the longer to blend it. 
  3. Once the crust is done, allow it to cool completely before pouring the filling into the pan. Chill overnight or at least a few hours in the fridge. It will hold up within a couple of hours, but is best if allowed to set up in the fridge overnight. 
This post is linked to:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chocolate Sweet Potato Smoothie

The world is supposed to end in 2012, right? Or the world as we know it. Some people think it will be some sort of catastrophic disaster. Others believe humanity will enter into a higher level of consciousness. And many believe it's all hogwash. With all of the political shifts and Occupy movements, I think it's easy to feel a sense of excitement. That there's change in the air. I certainly feel it.

But then again, it's November. I feel a shift with every season. And I wonder if every generation feels that something big is coming. I'd like to believe this movement in our internal psyches is happening right now, that the collective unconscious is undergoing a subtle grinding of gears that will leave us facing the world with a new understanding.

On a personal level, this past year has been a tumultuous upheaval of all I know and I have on occasional felt literally pushed into my present. In the last two years, I started a tradition of making a vision board in January. Everything I want in that year, I put smack dab in the middle of that board. I tack it to my wall. I stare at that board, during yoga or meditation, and focus on a word. This year, the words that have popped out at me the most have been "let go," "release," and "expand." And in the crazy way that only comes from a place of deepest desire and simultaneous fear, I have seen my vision boards come to life. Yesterday, I took out my 2010 vision board and stuck it on the wall next to my 2011 board. Side by side, it's like seeing a metaphorical storyboard of the last two years of my life. Well, the triumphant parts at least. What is missing is all the heartache that sits in the valleys when you try to climb mountains. But it's there, and I feel it as deeply as I feel the joy.

This is simply to say, whatever happens in 2012, I'm rooting for the shift in consciousness. Call me an optimist, a dreamer, or a romantic, but I feel the movement. I'm ready. And I have a feeling you are too.

What's coming for me this year?
  • Brittany and I officially signed our cookbook contract with Triumph Dining yesterday. Triumph Dining is the publisher of my favorite gluten-free dining out guides (see the link on my sidebar?), so being a part of their "Essential Gluten-Free" series is beyond exciting. By the end of December, I'll be done with this project that has taken on a life of its own this year, and I could not be more proud of anything I've done in my life. (So far...?)
  • I'll be following my passion and going back to my first love soon by taking on private weight-loss clients. I'm waiting until the cookbook is finished and sent off to the printers, but then I'll be pumped to start the new year doing what I love: helping women get back to the place they're meant to be; feeling awesome and loving themselves and their bodies. Why not take on 2012 from a fabulous place of peace and happiness!
  • In January, I'll be starting classes at Bastyr again, this time around taking it slow and not worrying about rushing through classes. Instead of graduating in 2012, I'll be finishing in 2013, which gives me time to pursue my other loves: this lovely little blog, weight loss counseling, and a few other projects I've got up my sleeves. 
Let's take 2012 by storm, beautiful people!

This chocolate Sweet Potato Smoothie is for the shifter in all of us. It's a nutrient-dense breakfast that leaves you feeling light...which is exactly what you need to be present and ready for whatever comes. 

Chocolate Sweet Potato Smoothie (Print-Friendly Option)

1 1/2 tablespoons raw hemp seeds
1 cup ice cold water
1 cup pureed sweet potato
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa*
1 tablespoon coconut oil (room temperature)
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
1/2 cup packed fresh kale (or spinach)
10 drops liquid stevia
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus extra for sprinkling on top
unsweetened coconut flakes for garnish (optional)

  1. Blend the hemp seeds and water first, until they look like milk (about 30 seconds). Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until completely smooth. Sprinkle cinnamon and coconut flakes on top if desired. 
* Extra cocoa can be used if you want a stronger chocolate taste. I only use a small amount because cocoa is high in amines, so I need to tread lightly. If you add more, you might need to add more stevia to counter the chocolate bite! And if you can't do chocolate, just leave it out. It will taste just as good!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Perfectly Cooked Onions

That's quite a claim, isn't it? I was going to call this post "Caramelized Onions," but after looking at a number of pictures online, I decided my onions aren't cooked long enough to be caramelized. But I did cook up an onion with kale for lunch today, and after eating it, was so in love that I immediately sliced another onion, cooked it and ate it on its own. I also walked around with my bowl, asking all my housemates, "Want to taste a perfect onion?" Silly, I know...

But I'll tell you something about onions. If you cook them on a higher heat with extra virgin olive oil (as I'm often guilty of doing), the olive oil will smoke and create free radicals, which are highly inflammatory. Not so good for a gal with an autoimmune inflammatory disorder like Hashimoto's. Not so good for anyone really. Cooking onions at a lower temperature with fats that can withstand heat is a much better option. Butter would be my fat of choice since it gives onions a wonderful flavor, but I can't do dairy these days. However, ghee (clarified butter) seems to be fine for me. Coconut oil is another fat that can handle heat well. But I don't love the taste of vegetables cooked in plain coconut oil or ghee. Vegetables with coconut oil taste too much like...coconut. And ghee tastes like I'm almost having butter, but not quite. It just tastes a little off. But mix coconut oil, ghee, and olive oil together, add salt, and you get the perfect flavor, slightly sweet and salty, just like butter. If you prefer not to cook with olive oil at all, you can always use just coconut oil and ghee, but I like the melding of all three flavors. And since I'm cooking at medium-low heat, I don't worry too much about the olive oil.

Health Benefits of onions:
  • High in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, like quercetin
  • May help protect against certain cancers and heart disease
  • High in vitamin C
  • May promote bone health (so important for women!)

    Perfectly Cooked Onions (Print-Friendly Option)

    I sprinkle my onions liberally with salt. Since I don't really eat processed foods, I don't worry about consuming too much salt. If you need to watch your salt intake, use less. And if you can eat dairy, go ahead and just use 2 teaspoons of butter instead of the ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil here!

    1/2 teaspoon ghee
    1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    1 small to medium yellow onion, sliced
    sea salt, to taste

    1. Heat ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil in a pan on medium-low heat. Add onions, sprinkle liberally with salt (I use about 1/4 teaspoon) and allow to cook for about 8 minutes, until the onions become translucent. 
    2. Turn the onions, and cook another 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
    Serves 1

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Halloween Treats Giveaway Winners

    Thank you to everyone who entered last week's Halloween Treats Giveaways! I wish I could send you all treats, but alas, I only have eight to give away. For those of you who didn't win, I'll be back soon with something much better...a recipe I can actually eat! I just have to come up with one first...

    My goal for November is to only post recipes I can eat - as opposed to my cherry pie, which tasted amazing, but wasn't exactly headache friendly for me. So this means no gluten/grains/dairy/eggs/peanuts/tree nuts/nightshades... I'm sure there's more, but you get the picture. Time for me to get creative again!

    The winner of the Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil is:
    Heather Collea

    The winners of the NuNaturals Stevia are:
    The Mommy Bowl 

    The winner of the Kettle Cuisine Soup giveaway is:

    The winner of the Gluten-Free Goodie Box and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cookies is:

    The winner of Go Dairy Free is:

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Detox for a Good Cause!

    My mom is a family day care provider, and playing with the kids after school was always one of my favorite activities. When I was in college, my friends and I drove home one week to spend a few days with my family. While my best friend and I thoroughly enjoyed convincing our guy friends to play my old Sweet Valley High board game (and taking pictures for future blackmailing purposes), we had the most fun playing with the kids.

    This little one in particular stole all of our hearts.

    Baby Gwen charmed all of us from the first moment. When my mom called and told me she had suffered a seizure, of course we were both worried. It took many hospital trips and sleepless nights for Gwen’s family before the doctors were able to diagnose her. And that was just the beginning of a long journey, one only made possible by the love and care of Gwen’s parents and sister, and Gwen’s own optimism and bright spirit. Diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease, Gwen was not able to eat and had to receive IV nutrition. She has spent as much of her young life in the hospital as out, and was the recipient of a multi-organ transplant, which included a new stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, and spleen. Today, as always, she and her family are fighting to help her live a healthy life and allow her to do as many of the things young kids like to do as possible. A while back, my mom told me how excited Gwen was to be able to have a bite of banana. As a food blogger, I live and breathe food, and I realize that Gwen will never take for granted the ability to enjoy a piece of fruit or a bite of cake. Her delight in something as simple as being able to taste a banana for the first time reminds us all of the power of food, and of the strength we all have within us to live each day with love and happiness.

    D-Tox e-Cookbook Now on Sale!
    One cold January, 20+ bloggers came together for 31 days to share 31 nourishing and detoxifying smoothie, juice, and soup recipes. The blogosphere buzzed with great new ways of increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables to start the year off right.

    This January D-tox event was so well received that these 20+ bloggers decided to write and publish an e-cookbook—capturing these fantastic recipes, tips and tricks in one place.  You’ll find one of my smoothie recipes in the book!

    And so without further ado, we announce the release of Eat Fresh and D-Tox Your Life: A Collection of Smoothies, Juices, Soups and Tips for the Whole Family. Not only will this book provide you with inspiration to increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, but it also benefits others. All proceeds from this e-book go directly to MitoAction.

    MitoAction and Their Mission.
    MitoAction is a Boston-based nonprofit helping children and adults with mitochondrial disease navigate the complex journey of managing the disease. MitoAction’s mission is to improve the quality of life for everyone affected by mitochondrial disease through support, education, outreach, and advocacy initiatives. You may read more about MitoAction here.

    What is Mitochondrial Disease?
    Mitochondrial disease is a genetic, neurodegenerative disorder that occurs when the mitochondria fail to produce enough energy for cell or organ function. More common than cystic fibrosis, mitochondrial disease can develop in both children and adults and is often misdiagnosed. Mito symptoms are varied and progressive, and can include stroke, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, and organ failure. Mitochondrial disease is related to many other conditions, including autism, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

    Download Your e-Cookbook Today!
    To download your PDF e-cookbook Eat Fresh and D-Tox Your Life and support the efforts of MitoAction, click here.

    In this e-cookbook you will find:
    Tips like “How to Hide Greens” & “Smoothies and the Color Wheel”
    9 Kid-Friendly and Beginner Smoothie Recipes
    19 “Now I’m Feeling Braver” Smoothie and Juice Recipes
    A handful of soups, Detox Tips and More!
    Personal stories from, and hyperlinks, to each blogger’s website
    $10 suggested donation. Click here to download.

    Dedicated with love to Gwen

    Thank you to Lexie and Nicola for putting this book together!

    Join the Effort.
    If you would like to promote and sell this e-cookbook on your site, please feel free to do so. Use the content of this post freely (copy and images) and grab the badge below and link it to this url. And THANK YOU for your support!


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