SRC: Pumpkin French Toast Bake

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again. Actually, it’s my last time. I made the tough decision to quit doing Secret Recipe Club. 2013 is a year of letting go of obligations and being as true to myself as possible. And, while I have enjoyed Secret Recipe Club, it feels like the right time to walk away.

This month I was assigned Angels Homestead - a lovely blog that goes way beyond just recipes – to cleaning tips (if only she could teach my child) and ideas to save money (something I can always get behind) and menu planning (something at which I completely fail). And, in a true bit of irony, Angels Homestead is owned and operated by April – the founder of Secret Recipe Club. I guess there’s nothing like going out with a bang, eh?

I gave the kiddo several options, and let him choose this month’s recipe. Monkey French Toast was high on his list. But, he eventually settled on Pumpkin Pie French Toast Bake. I made only the slightest of changes, subbing in gluten-free bread, almond milk, and palm sugar.

Gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin french toast bake

Gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin french toast bake

I think the gluten-free bread soaked up the liquid a little more than regular bread might have, as the end result was a wee bit dry. But, the flavor was much-loved by the kiddo.

Thanks to April, for her wealth of recipes and for starting Secret Recipe Club. Best wishes for the future!

Check out all of Group D’s Secret Recipe Club reveal recipes:


Posted in Blogger Community, breakfast, pumpkin | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Quick Bite: Sweet Potato Basil Soup

Some recipes I spend a lot of time on. Some recipes I throw together with whatever sounds good at the moment (or whatever is about to go bad in the fridge). Sometimes, that second kind of recipe yields a winner. And, when the kiddo says, “You have to make this again!” I know it’s time to write down what I did, snap a quick photo, and post it to the blog – even if it’s just so I can make it again another day. Those recipes? Those I’m calling Quick Bites.

So, here’s the first of what I hope to be many Quick Bite recipes. Beware – approximations and “to taste” are the standard with these. But, perhaps they’ll whet your appetite and inspire you to make your own quick bite meals.

Tonight’s offering owes everything to 2 organic sweet potatoes threatening to sprout on the kitchen counter, and a raging desire for anything that tastes light and fresh in the midst of this cold, dark winter.

Sweet Potato Basil Soup - topped with steamed broccoli and GF French Bread

Sweet Potato Basil Soup – topped with steamed broccoli and GF French Bread

Sweet Potato and Basil Soup

1 T. (eyeball it) olive oil
1 small yellow or sweet onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 medium-small sweet potatoes, diced
3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 t. salt, a few good grinds of fresh pepper)
basil (I have frozen summer basil, which means it’s been blanched and chopped and in that form it amounted to about 2 T. Fresh from the package I’d say 1/4 chopped. Again – to taste.)
juice of 1 lime

In a 2 quart sauce pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the onions and cook slowly until caramelized – about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and toss for 30 seconds. Add the water, sweet potatoes and salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to high and cook until the sweet potatoes are falling apart tender. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender. Stir in the basil and lime. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

I served this topped with some steamed broccoli, and a slice (or three) of The Daily Dietribe’s soon-to-be-published gluten-free, vegan French bread. She sent the recipe to me today for some testing. And, oh boy, you are going to want to make this. You can see the heel of the loaf in the picture above, and here’s a shot of the loaf itself. Is that gorgeous, or what? (Not the photography – the bread. Ignore that big ol’ shadow, k?)

Daily Dietribe's Gluten-Free Vegan French Bread

Daily Dietribe’s Gluten-Free Vegan French Bread

Want more great healthy recipes? Check out Wellness Weekends. You can also find more recipes with 5 ingredients (the olive oil, salt & pepper, and water don’t count) or less and 5 ingredient Mondays.

Posted in basil, grain-free, main dish, Quick Bites, soup, sweet potato, vegan | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

How “Natural” Is Your Peanut Butter?

Growing up, there were always 2 jars of peanut butter in the cupboard – one small jar of Skippy creamy, and one giant jar of Jif crunchy. I was a Jif girl. It wasn’t because I liked crunchy better than creamy. Actually, I preferred creamy. But, Jif was sweeter than Skippy, at least back in the day, and I had the most massive crush on all things sweet. These days, both Jif and Skippy sport 3 grams of sugar per serving. They also both contain hydrogenated vegetable oils, and Jif has the added bonus of mono and diglycerides. Yum!

When I first started eating a more natural diet, I discovered that peanut butter really only needs  2 ingredients – peanuts and salt. Now, I’m no longer tied to a brand. I’m tied to an ingredient list. Peanuts and salt – whether it’s ground fresh by me at the food cooperative or bought in a jar, my go-to peanut butter is nothing but peanuts and salt.

Except when it isn’t.

You see, there are one or two traditional family recipes that still tug at my apron strings that simply must be made with a Jif-like peanut butter. And, thankfully, now you can get Jif-like peanut butter with a less scary ingredient list – typically, peanuts, palm oil, sugar, and salt. Okay, still not spectacular. But, better than the chemical nastiness.

After the holiday baking this year, I had some of the “nearly natural” peanut butter left, so I decided to do a little experiment and bake the same recipe twice – once with each kind of peanut butter. My theory was that most of my baked good recipes work with either, but that the natural PB might result in a looser dough and more spreading.

I was a little surprised by the results. For the most part, the differences were not huge. The natural peanut butter cookie is darker in color, has a more pronounced peanut flavor. But, what really surprised me was that it spread less. The “nearly natural” cookie was a little sweeter due to the added sugar. But, not radically so.

In a head-to-head comparison, the kiddo picks the nearly natural cookies. But, I swear it’s because they look bigger. Seriously.

I’ll be sticking with the natural peanut butter most of the time. How about you?

Top spoon and cookie are a natural peanut butter. Bottom spoon and cookie are a nearly natural peanut butter.

Top spoon and cookie are a natural peanut butter. Bottom spoon and cookie are a nearly natural peanut butter.

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup (56 g) coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup (128 g) peanut butter
1/3 cup palm sugar
1 t. psyllium powder + 3 T. hot water (mix and let sit for a minute)
1 t. vanilla
2 T. almond milk
1 packed cup (128 g) almond flour
1/2 cup (56 g) tapioca starch
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, beat the coconut oil and peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in the sugar. Add the psyllium mix, the vanilla and the almond milk and beat well. Beat in the flour, starch, baking soda and salt. The dough will be greasy and crumbly. Keep beating until it starts to come together. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Posted in chocolate, cookies, grain-free, nightshade-free, peanut butter, vegan | 3 Comments

Sweet Potato & Swiss Chard Sauté

Lest everyone think that I live on things like Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake, and lest anyone fear that I will no longer be posting healthy vegan food, today’s offering is both vegan and healthy. In fact, it will fit into most of your New Year’s resolution restrictive diets, cleanses, resets, and what-have-you’s.

I just think it’s yummy.

A local Tex-Mex place combines sweet potatoes and swiss chard and Mexican spices and serves it as a taco filling. And the kiddo actually eats it. So, this is our at home version. We switch out the seasonings on a fairly regular basis. Feel free to season and spice in whatever way you want.

Vegan steamy sweet potato and Swiss chard

Vegan steamy sweet potato and Swiss chard

Sweet Potato & Swiss Chard Sauté

2 T. coconut oil
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 t. seasoning blend (I used Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle)
1 bunch Swiss chard, cut off the stalk, cleaned, and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, melt the coconut oil and sauté the onion until slightly soft. Add the sweet potato and seasonings and continue to cook until sweet potato is tender and some pieces are browned. (By this time the onion will be brown and crispy. Yum!) Add the Swiss Chard and toss over heat just until Swiss chard is wilted.

Serves 1 very hungry momma as a main dish, or 2 as a side dish.

Want to find more allergy-friendly recipes? Check out Allergy Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekends.

Posted in grain-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, side dish, sweet potato, vegan | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake (grain-free)

I’ve had this recipe figured out for months. I’ve made it for family, for friends, and for my 1st annual Halloween Zombrunch (with a bloody cherry sauce drizzle). Everyone that’s tried it has loved it, including my gluten-eating friends.

But, I haven’t posted it to the blog yet.

Why not? Because it has refined sugar and eggs in it. And, that’s against “the rules.” I hate rules. They’re sucking all the fun out of blogging.

So, here’s the new blogging rule – there are no rules. That doesn’t mean you’re going to start seeing gluten and dairy and soy stuff here. Those are things I just don’t eat. No rules there. I just don’t even consider those things “foods” anymore. But, eggs, sugar (and other high glycemic sweeteners), chicken, turkey, yeast, fake Daiya cheese, even neon-colored sprinkles (egads!) – those all appear in my kitchen and on my plate from time to time.  And, now, if they’re yummy enough, they’re also going to appear on my blog from time to time.

Please don’t complain. The food police make me so sad.

The upside is that if blogging becomes fun again, you just might see more recipes.

It’s a trade-off.

Oh, and I LOVE a good challenge. So, if there’s a certain thing you really want to see, feel free to let me know. A friend just planted the seed in my head for a nightshade-free chili. Challenging, yes, but also could be very fun and delicious.

Got a challenge for me?

Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake (grain-free)

Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake (grain-free)

Sugar Crunch Coffee Cake

This is an adaptation of a recipe from my grandmother’s old church cookbook. It has a lot of ingredients and dirties multiple bowls and it’s worth it anyway. I’ve tried it with coconut sugar, but I didn’t like it as much. Feel free to use your favorite granulated sweetener and let me know how it works.

Yeast Mixture
2.5 t. dried quick-acting yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 t. sugar

Wet Ingredients for Cake
1/2 cup (96 g) palm shortening
1/2 cup (112 g) Earth Balance Soy Free
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. almond extract
1 t. psyllium powder

Dry Ingredients for Cake
2.5 cups (300 g) blanched almond flour
1/2 cup (72 g) tapioca starch
1/2 cup (56 g) sifted coconut flour
4 t. baking powder

Sugar Crunch Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 T. (7 g) sifted coconut flour
1 rounded t. cinnamon
1.5 T. (21 g) Earth Balance Soy Free
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans best)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Mix yeast mixture ingredients together and set aside to proof.

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and Earth Balance together until creamy. Beat in the sugar. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Mix together the almond milk, extracts, and psyllium powder. Add to other ingredients and beat. Don’t worry if it separates. It will be fine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Add half the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth. Add half the yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Repeat with the remaining dry and yeast mixtures. Be sure to scrape the bowl occasionally. The end result should be smooth and fluffy.

Scrape dough into prepared pan and spread evenly.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, coconut flour, cinnamon and Earth Balance for the sugar crunch topping. When fully mixed, stir in the chopped nuts. Sprinkle mixture over the dough in the pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool before cutting.

Posted in breakfast, cinnamon, desserts, grain-free, nightshade-free, nuts | Tagged | 29 Comments

Pina Colada Smoothie

Creamy, comforting, and full of vitamin C, this is the perfect smoothie for the cold and flu season.

Or so says the sick kiddo.

Pina Colada Smoothie

Pina Colada Smoothie

Pina Colada Smoothie

1 very ripe banana
1 small handful frozen pineapple
1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut milk (depends on how much you like coconut)
juice of 1 orange

Blend all ingredients until creamy. Add ice or cold water if too thick.

Posted in bananas, coconut, drinks, grain-free, raw, vegan | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Savory Squash Galette

Simple, scrumptious, and seasonal – this recipe is easy enough for a weeknight dinner (with a little prep work) and special enough for those vegan holiday celebrations.

I used Brittany’s excellent grain-free, vegan pie crust. I’ve made the crust a couple of times now, and it’s a joy to roll and shape. But, be aware, once I made it with arrowroot starch and once I made it with tapioca starch. It was drier and more crumbly with the tapioca starch. Though, because the recipe does not use precise measurements, it could entirely be because my measurements were different each time. But, the recipe seems fairly flexible. So, roll with it. (Ha – get the pun?)

A slice of savory pie

A slice of savory pie

Savory Squash Galette (vegan, grain-free)

1 recipe grain-free, vegan pie crust
1/2 butternut squash
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 T. full-fat coconut milk (from a can)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 roughly chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350º. Rub cut half of butternut squash with olive oil, and pour remaining oil in the cavity of the squash. Put the 2 garlic cloves in the cavity of the squash. Place the squash on a cookie sheet and bake until soft – about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make your pie crust.

When squash is soft, remove from oven and cool enough to handle. Scoop squash, garlic and olive oil into the bowl of a food processor. Add nutritional yeast, coconut milk, and salt. Process until smooth. (Note: Squash can be made ahead of time.)

Roll out the pie crust into a large, rough circle. Scoop prepared squash onto crust, leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle squash with pecans. Roughly fold the edges up and over the squash, pinching to hold the crust together.

Bake for 25 minutes. (The crust will not brown unless you brush it with some milk or egg wash.)

Savory squash galette - vegan and grain-free

Savory squash galette – vegan and grain-free

Want more healthy, vegan recipes? Check out Wellness Weekends.

Posted in grain-free, holiday, main dish, nightshade-free, nuts, vegan | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment