gluten free pancakes, dairy free, vegetarian, summer white

NYC Vegan & Protein Powder Zucchini Pancakes

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It's tough being a vegetarian foodie, while getting fit for wedding, and living in New York! Maybe you can't imagine it being so, but the options really are endless. For me, moving to a new city is like adapting to a new culture and although I have certain limitations I'm gleefully open to exploration (and frankly, the same brand of my favorites in La, like sweetgreen, are just not up to par here in NYC and I need a new best of list).

Vegetarian fare is not always healthy; it's often smothered in marinades and loaded with starch.  I want to eat all the lentil burgers, cashew cream pastas, and black bean quinoa taco bowls but I was steady packing on the pounds and so my first weeks go-to, By Chloe, is now a fling of the past. Now don't get me wrong, this plant-based fast food joint is deliciously satisfying but I must abstain from gluten, processed vegan cheeses, and refined high fructose sugars (agave sauces) lest I ruin my vision of a bloat free belly on my big day.

The first weeks in NYC I was hotel-bound and craving a home-cooked meal. I desperately despise undercooked eggs, and a few mornings went south when 45 minutes of waiting for room service produced runny egg white omelettes.  I needed an escape! So I set out to find an approachable option (where I could show up in sweats) that calmed my fears of getting salmonella poisoning. Enter Blossom.  This casual vegan restaurant in Chelsea was actually built in a historic townhouse. Both needs met! And although I thoroughly enjoyed the tofu scramble 'country breakfast' with apple sage seitan sausage, my dining companion gave less than stellar reviews on his soy ham Blossom Benedict.   I was quickly reminded that neither gluten nor fake meat, in general, serve me well...and seitan, the wheat meat, is just that.

Next up was Dirt Candy - a self proclaimed vegetable-forward restaurant that accommodates not only vegans & vegetarians, but also those with allergies and dietary restrictions, seemingly right up my alley. I went for brunch and was pleased with my selection of the zucchini pancakes with squash blossom butter, even though I rejected the maple syrup.  After scanning the menu, I settled on it being a few months before my next visit. Food here was heavily fried and, although not big on fake meat and vegan cheeses (they serve real dairy), not really in line with my current goals.

So what's a girl to do?? I continue my quest for additions to the Soma Fit List and I've definitely found a few. But with watching my waist line comes the necessity to know what's in my food, as well as tracking my caloric intake, so off to the kitchen I go to recreate and custom tailor the dishes that have moved me. I cook another day.

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1 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour
1/4 tsp Now Foods xanthan gum
1/2 cup organic oat flour (I blended rolled oats into flour)
1/2 cup Sun Warrior classic vanilla
2 1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp Wholesome organics stevia powder
2 eggs (I used Vital farms pasture raised)
3/4 cup Califia unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp raw honey, melted
1 tbsp Bai Congo apple pear (can sub with apple cider vinegar)
1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini


Grate zucchini with a medium sized grater. Wrap in paper towel and press to remove liquid, and set aside. Mix first seven ingredients (the dry stuff) in a medium sized bowl. In a separate medium sized bowl whisk the next 5 ingredients (the wet stuff), then once thoroughly combined add in the zucchini.  Whisk together wet and dry ingredients and let stand for 10 minutes.

Preheat an un-greased, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spoon out 1/4 cup of pancake batter onto the hot and gently smooth out into a round shape. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until bubbles begin forming on the top. Flip then cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, adjusting temperature as needed so the pancakes don't burn.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 pancake Calories: 101 Fat: 1.8 g Saturated fat: 0.3 g Carbohydrates: 16.2 g Fiber: 2.4 g Sugar: 2.7 g  Protein: 6.5 g  Sodium: 217 mg Potassium: 52.5 mg


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Gluten-free Dairy-free Berry Muffins

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These muffins are my dream come true!!!!

I used to get so jealous of folks that posted photos of those 2 minute mug muffins.  They looked so light, fluffy, moist and quick!  A few years ago I didn't eat eggs, switched from whey to vegan plant based protein powders, and I've never touched milk, so those recipes were out for me.

Here is a bit of science - rice based vegan protein powders, like the Sun Warrior Classic that I love, generally lack casein or lecithin and therefore don't easily form emulsions with liquids. You'll notice that plant based protein powders are often quite clumpy and require high speed blenders and a little almond butter or nut milk for that smooth mouth feel.  Some plant based proteins have xanthan gum as the emulsifying agent, which helps when baking flourless treats, but you'll need applesauce, banana, chia seeds, ground flax meal, eggs, agar, or starch to help further emulsify the batter, and give support and fluff, for the best textures.

I've worked tirelessly on perfecting my own morning muffin recipe, and I knew I had to keep them protein-packed, low-sugar, and gluten-free.  They needed to be as delicious as Trader Joe's Bran muffins, but on the level of Questbar's Blueberry Muffin macronutrient ratio. I know, my taste and dietary preferences are insufferable!

I use a whopping 4 scoop serving of Sun Warrior classic vanilla, for a substantial serving of protein, for every 7 large muffins. The rice based powder acts as my flour substitute, and I just use gluten-free oat bran to balance out the carbs and fiber. A pinch of Himalayan pink crystal salt provides strength to the dough, but also a nice dose of minerals.  I've tried this recipe with a combo of gluten-free Hain brand baking powder and baking soda, but I find the baking soda alters the taste of the muffin so I've omitted it altogether.

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I had run out of olive oil, and was too lazy to go downstairs (there is literally a Whole Foods a few hundred meters away) to buy more, so I melted a bit of Earth Balance plant based spread in its place. I love the purity and richness of extra virgin olive oil, but the Earth Balance provided a buttery taste that I had to share. Unsweetened almond milk, 1 whole egg from Vital Farms pasture raised hens, and unsweetened apple sauce (to help replace the missing oil and sugar from this recipe) round out the list of wet ingredients. Make sure to whisk the egg well into the other wet ingredients so each muffin is uniform in texture. I added the softened earth balance after mixing the wet and cold ingredients, as I know coconut oil can tend to firm up in cold temperatures and the egg and almond milk had just come out of the fridge.

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I always have frozen organic berries on hand, for smoothies, and compotes. When I use them in my baked recipes, I rinse them with warm water in a strainer and will either let them air dry (blueberries) or thaw out in warm water (larger berries like strawberries and blackberries) while I'm mixing up the batter.  Once the wet and dry have been mixed thoroughly I add the berries, stir, and ready the liners in the muffin tin.

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I like my muffins large and in charge, and since these lack flour a little batter does not go a long way. I fill my muffin liner nearly to the top so they cook up slightly and form muffin tops!  I let these cook at 350 for 25 minutes or more to really firm up.  I have never tried the toothpick test on these muffins, but I do make sure the top doesn't have any moist or soft spots.  Let them cool for about 5-10 minutes and they are good to go. I use a spoon and scrape the muffin liner clean because even the crumbs are too tasty to throw away!


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Gluten-free Mixed Berry Muffins
serves 2

1 cup gluten free OAT BRAN
1 tsp baking powder
5 packets (or teaspoons) organic stevia powder
1/8 tsp Himalayan sea salt
1 whole egg
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
2 tsp softened Earth Balance butter
1/2 cup blackberries (organic frozen, run under water/strain/dry)


Preheat oven to 350. Put first 5 ingredients in medium bowl, mix well. Whisk egg, milk, and applesauce in a small bowl. Add dry to wet ingredients, and mix well. Melt butter and add to batter. Mix berries and butter into batter. Place muffin liners in muffin tin, and using a spoon fill with batter until about 1/8" from top rim. Place in middle rack of oven and bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool and enjoy!


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Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Seed Pesto


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Last week was Snowmageddon 2017 with Winter storm Stella making its way to New York City, where I currently reside. We were told to expect between 2 to 4 feet of snow in a 24 hour period, in a blizzard that would be noted in NYC history. A state of emergency was declared, flights were grounded, and many workers were told to stay home.

So on Monday evening around 10:30 pm, in preparing to hunker down for a few days, Jake and I decided to hit our neighborhood Whole Foods. When we walked in, it was like a scene from Supermarket Sweep (i'm a true child of the 90s)! The store would be closing in 30 minutes, but crazed shoppers were running to and fro grabbing what was left of the produce, prepared foods, frozen goods, and canned items. I was shocked to find only 5 single broccoli crowns, 6 mangled carrots, 3 wilted onions, 2 spaghetti squash, 2 yellow bell peppers, 2 heads of red cabbage, and a handful of triple washed spring mix cartons.  I took nearly all, save the spring mix.

Let me digress for a minute. I absolutely hate spring mix. I find that blend to consistently have slimy baby leaves that were likely too small to sell with their adult counterparts.  When I order a salad from a restaurant that serves spring mix, I'm literally sitting for 20 minutes inspecting and picking rotten leaves from my salad.  It drives Jake nuts, but me so even more! I can't stand it, and to make a point I place all the stinky little leaves on a napkin and disingenuously smile at the server when they ask how I'm enjoying my salad.

So anyway, I'm back at Whole Foods walking though the canned food aisle and I see a sad and limp bunch of kale; I grab it nervously like a $20 bill I find in a gutter, keeping it hidden from any other spring mix hater!  I then head straight to the vegan cold food section and feel a sense of relief rush over me.  There sat several packages of organic tempeh, tofu, miso paste, kimchi, sauerkraut, and all the other undesirable items that make my little plant based heart smile.  I knew in that moment that I'd be ok, America doesn't like fermented or vegan yet and I'd eat like a queen another day!

Most of the lines to the cash registers were at least 50 people long. This Whole Foods has a pretty organized way of zooming people through the check out, but the lines were daunting and the store was short on staff as it was officially closed for the evening.  Back near the bulk food section, hidden in the back of the store, the juice bar had decided to open its register to help with those inundated at the front. This line was about 20 people long, and much more doable.  Jake was ready to throw in the towel but we persevered.  While we waited near the nuts, seeds, and grains, I flipped through old photos and inspiration hit me.


A few years ago, we attended a wedding in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I had been some years before, staying with the same couple I'd be celebrating, when I worked for their company Familiar with the lively Gastown area Jake and I wanted to see their new restaurant scene, before the weekend's festivities began.  My favorite happened to be Chill Winston that was serving up some mean spaghetti squash with what I remember to be a sunflower seed pesto.  I've only ever made pesto with pine nuts and walnuts, and that's what I planned to do last week, but alas Whole Foods was out of both options, and sunflower seeds were the last remaining option that night. So here we have it folks.  

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Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Seed Pesto
(serves 4 as main dish, or up to 8 as side dish)

1 whole spaghetti squash, cutting crosswise into 1" round slices
8 tsp Himalayan crystal salt

Sunflower Seed Pesto
1 cup fresh basil, washed and chopped
2 cups organic kale, washed, stem removed, and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp juice from fresh squeezed lime
1-2 tbsp water

Preheat over to 400 degrees F.  Cut ends off squash. Cut squash crosswise in 1" rings. Scoop out seeds and discard. Place squash on baking sheet covered with aluminum or parchment paper and sprinkle each ring with salt on both sides. Let sit 15 minutes. Wipe away salt and bake for 30- 40 minutes (I like my squash to have a few burnt pieces for added taste).  Let cool while making the pesto. 

Place first 4 ingredients into blender or food processor, then pulse until well combined. Add oil and lime juice, and blend on low, scraping down the sides as necessary. If pesto is very chunky, add water slowly teaspoon by teaspoon until it has desired consistency. Season with salt, to taste and serve with spaghetti squash.

For any remaining pesto, save in an airtight container with a teaspoon or more of olive oil drizzled on top to preserve.

*The cut of the squash was inspired by squash guru, Beth, over at