lifestyle, Recipes

Vegan Gluten-Free French Toast

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Hey hi hello, Tiana the brunch lover here. You know what’s so frustrating? Going to gluten-free friendly brunch spots but they don’t EVER have gluten-free french toast, and it’s definitely not vegan.

I’ve been experimenting with flaxseed meal as an egg replacement for a while now, using it for everything from cupcakes to pizza crust. I was craving french toast the other day and decided to try using flax meal as an egg replacement for french toast. GUESS WHAT! It actually worked, and it was delicious.

Here’s how I did it! You will need:

  • 1-2 packages Schar Deli Style Bread
  • Flax Meal (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
  • Almondmilk
  • Vanilla flavoring/extract
  • Vegan Butter

The key with using flaxseed meal as an egg replacement is always using one part flax meal to three parts water. To make one “egg,” you would typically do one tablespoon flax meal and three tablespoons warm water. You then let it sit for about five minutes, mixing in between, until it forms an egg-white texture. For this recipe, using only one package Schar bread, I did 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal and 3/4 cup warm water. After it began forming an eggy texture, I mixed in about half a cup of cold almondmilk.

Whisking the mixture, I then added a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring to cover up the flax taste (vanilla almondmilk will help with this too!).

From there, you simply dunk the bread in the mixture, being careful to not let it sit because the gluten-free bread will crumble easily, and slap it on a hot, buttered frying pan.

You will use A LOT of butter, as the flaxmeal coating on the bread is very sticky. It might be better on a non-stick pan, but we use stainless steel over here.

Add butter to the pan as needed, and cook to desired browning level. Remember – you don’t have to worry about cooking the egg-soaked bread to the right temperature because it’s eggless!

We topped ours with blueberry preserves and powdered sugar! The blueberry spread compliments the buttery taste of the toast so well! If you’re a plain butter and syrup kinda person, try Walden Farms calorie-free pancake syrup.

Let me know how it works for you! ALSO – comment below with your favorite french toast topping!

 

lifestyle, Personal

Half of my heart is in Atlanta…

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If you’ve been following along on my instagram, you probably know I recently had a brief visit to Atlanta to see my brother graduate basic training for the National Guard! Staying on an army base was a whole new world, but it was so much fun finally getting a glimpse into Mike’s life over the past several months. We were shown videos about what the new soldiers had gone through to graduate from basic, and we visited the massive infantry museum on base and learned about his potential future, as well as some of our country’s past.

It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I got to witness him become an American Soldier. We are beyond proud of him, as I’m sure you know! After getting some much-needed quality time with Mike, he had to head back to his college, and we were left with an evening and one full day to explore Atlanta. It was my first time, so I had done some thorough research for the best spots (lots of thanks to PLIG aka Poor Little It Girl and her Atlanta Travel Guide).

One of the spots I knew I needed to check out was Ponce City Market.

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Outfit:

Identical White Beaded Tassel Earrings: Baublebar (40% off right now!)

Sheer Chiffon Smocked Off-the-Shoulder Top: $12 at F21 (40% off)!

AE High-Waisted jeans (All jeans are BOGO 50% off!)

Bracelet: Kate Spade Logo Cuff (found on Mercari and Poshmark!)

Similar brown peep-toe mule heels: ShoeMango or lulus ($35 or less!)

Ponce City Market is like a mini mall, with high-end shops like Madewell, Anthropologie and Lululemon, combined with a next-level food hall. I love shopping more than anyone, but the food hall is the highlight of the Market.

“At the heart of Ponce City Market, the Central Food Hall is becoming the most vibrant food hall and market in the Southeast. James Beard Award-winning chefs the likes of Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins, and Sean Brock join Atlanta’s most exciting young purveyors and restauranteurs to offer everything from Georgia and Carolinas-caught seafood, to classic burgers, cold-pressed juice, house-made pasta and freshly milled heirloom grain bread.

Similar to the legendary food hall at Chelsea Market in Manhattan—also owned by the developers of Ponce City Market—the Central Food Hall is a culinary gathering place within a revamped historic space, but with the distinct character and flavors of Atlanta.” – poncecitymarket.com

The food hall features places like Batter Cookie Dough Counter, Farm to Ladle, Root Baking Co., Spiller Park Coffee and Pancake Social. Every spot has a fresh, conscious and modern feel.

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As if PCM didn’t sound cool enough, it also features a rooftop carnival. I’m not even joking. It’s a carnival, complete with a long row of carnival games and a full mini-golf course, on a rooftop overlooking the ATL skyline.

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The rooftop is kid-friendly unless it’s on the weekend after 5:00, because then it turns into a rooftop party! But no worries, alcohol is served all day 😉

One spot I KNEW I wasn’t leaving without going to was bartaco, because I had seen them all over social media as a must-hit spot. We don’t have bartaco up north, so we drove to the northeast side of ATL to test it out. And, my goodness, was it freakin DELISH.

I ordered their classic bartaco marg, and I’m not kidding you when I say, it was the best-tasting marg I’ve ever had (and I drink a lot of margs. I’m a marg connoisseur, if you will). Everything, including the marg, is SO. FRESH.

“bartaco is inspired by the beach culture of brazil, uruguay and southern california. we are upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment. we are freshly-squeezed juices, specialty cocktails and beer out of a bottle. bartaco evokes a visit to a stylish beach resort and creates an unforgettable experience.” – bartaco.com

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I am all about good food, but adding a good atmosphere to that makes the food taste even better? It’s science.

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Absolutely, 100% hit them up while you’re in ATL. You will not regret it!

On my last note about food, (if you can’t tell, I’m all about food when I travel) we randomly ended up at Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria because we saw they had gluten-free pizza. I will say this: my favorite pizza before being diagnosed with Celiac disease was Sbarro’s. I loved the thin, soft crust, the greasy cheese… Everything about it. This was the closest I’ve tasted to it since I went gluten-free. I nearly cried, it was so delicious. I am down for any pizza place that actually MAKES their crust instead of using a cardboard frozen gluten-free crust. If you’re looking for a family place downtown where you can also grab a beverage, hit up Max’s. Also, if it’s just adults, there is a kickass sports bar right next door. The easiest dinner and drinks set-up right in the heart of downtown ATL! Perfect for that first night in town when you’re settling in.

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Credit: @maxspizzaatl on instagram

I didn’t expect to have as much fun as we did with a basically 24 turnaround, but we soaked it up and I can’t wait to go back. Have you been? Drop a comment with your favorite spot in ATL!

Recipes

GF Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Salad

I am a huge fan of buffalo anything. One of my favorite things to make for football Sundays or any kind of event that warrants finger food snacking is buffalo cauliflower “wings.” Also – I eat chickpeas ALL THE TIME. You’ve probably seen my chickpea salad on my blog or instagram feed before. Consider this a major flavor upgrade from that!

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What you need:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Spring mix/greens of your choice
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Red onion
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • Daiya Vegan Homestyle Ranch
  • Sea salt or pink himalayan salt
  • Black pepper

Step one: Spray frying pan with a good amount of coconut oil spray, or begin liquifying about 1 tbsp coconut oil in pan. Add drained can of chickpeas, 2 pinches of salt, and a dash of black pepper.

Step two: while the chickpeas are cooking and crisping, prep the cold salad base. Use spring mix, halved cherry tomatoes, slices of avocado and cucumber, and a few slices of red onion.

Step three: Once the chickpeas have gotten a little crispy, with partial blackening, add the buffalo wing sauce. You want enough to coat all the chickpeas. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens and the chickpeas have a good coating of buffalo sauce.

Final step: top the cold salad with the hot buffalo chickpeas, and top it off with vegan ranch.

Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Gluten-free Chicken Penne

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If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m all about quick, easy, but YUMMY dinners. No one likes to come home from a long, hot sweaty day at work and spend an hour+ slaving away in the kitchen. But I do know one thing… I come home with an enormous appetite. SO, I’ve learned to find a balance between saving time, making dinner easy, and making it yummy and filling!

Here’s one of my favorite dishes to make: Gluten-free penne with Gardein’s Chick’n Scallopini w/ spinach, tomato and vodka sauce.

For the pasta, I prefer Barilla gluten-free penne because it is the absolute best gluten-free pasta I’ve tried yet. The texture isn’t weird, it doesn’t cook weird, and it tastes just like the real gluten-filled yummy stuff!

Boiling Barilla GF pasta in a pot, add olive oil to a frying pan. Add the Chick’n Scallopini to the frying pan, add seasonings, and cover. The seasonings I used were thyme, Italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper and a pinch of salt.

When the Chick’n Scallopini is thawed through the middle, remove and slice into strips. Put back into the frying pan when sliced. Next, add a few handfuls of fresh, rinsed spinach and cook that down until the spinach is dark and shrunken. Finally, add freshly cut roma tomatoes and add more seasonings to taste.

Once I have all that in the frying pan, I like to crank up the heat to get a little sear on my Chick’n and tomatoes!

Add the cooked Chick’n, tomatoes and spinach to the drained, cooked pasta and add vodka sauce. Make sure to check that your vodka sauce is gluten-free! (I use Classico!) If you want to make this dish but VEGAN, choose a different sauce with no animal products. The vodka sauce has milk, but the Chick’n Scallopini is totally vegan!

AND NOW, enjoy with a glass of wine… Or two 😉

To find out where you can pick up some of Gardein’s amazing products, click HERE!

The Barilla GF pasta is at most of the grocery stores around me. Check your local grocery store for their products! If they don’t supply Barilla’s GF pasta, make sure to request it! 🙂

 

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5-Day Juice Cleanse

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Happy Monday everyone!

I’ve been juicing on-and-off at home for a couple months . I bought a cheap juicer to see if, MAYBE, this could be something that works for me. Turns out, it’s the only thing that stuck in regards to living a healthier lifestyle. Since I started my juicing expedition, I’ve done a lot of research on juicers, vegetables and fruits that are best for juicing, what each vegetable and fruit has to offer for your health, and additives for your juices that can make drastic changes in your daily life.

Today I’m starting my very first actual “cleanse” and I’m aiming to make it last five days. That means no food til Saturday, just nutrient-rich juices! I’ve experimented with many recipes and I’ll be using the ones that I like the most (obviously) because it will be easier to stick to. If I can stick to it, I’ll be doing a blog at the end of the week detailing how I felt throughout the five days.

Right now, I’ll be sharing my 4 favorite recipes that I’ll be using each day, Monday through Friday. I will not include amounts for some of the ingredients because each juicer is different and uses different amounts of produce to make a glass of juice.

  1. Breakfast Greens (breakfast) – spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, 1 lemon, 1 orange, locally produced honey, chia seeds, turmeric.
  2. Skinny Jean (lunch) – 2 grapefruits, 2 lemons, 1″ fresh, peeled ginger root, locally produced honey, fresh-picked basil.
  3. Snack juice (snack) – Watermelon & 2 limes
  4. Tomato juice (dinner) – Roma tomatoes, peeled carrots, 1 fresh bell pepper (orange, yellow or red), 1 lemon, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, thyme.

If I get hungry after dinner, I will be making a variation of the breakfast greens with pineapple for my splash of citrus rather than the orange and lemon.

A few notes on some of my chosen ingredients:

  • Locally produced honey is said to help with seasonal allergies because it contains the local pollens and allergens of your area. One spoonful a day may help your daily struggle! Check your local farmers markets or local farmstands to find some close to your home!
  • Chia seeds are packed with nutrients and are associated with multiple health benefits, including lower cholesterol, stabilized blood sugar levels, improved digestion, higher energy levels, reduced risk for diabetes, increased fiber intake, stronger teeth and bones, improved insulin response, and appetite regulation.
  • Turmeric! My dad calls this one the magic cure-all spice. It contains a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps reduce enzymes in the body responsible for pain and swelling of arthritis. My nifty juicing bible also cites studies that say turmeric may help prevent colon cancer and Alzheimer’s!
  • Ginger, while best-known for its anti-nausea properties, also helps stop the production of free radicals. It also is associated with decreased blood pressure, reduced cancer risk, and relief from arthritis pain.
  • Cayenne pepper is derived from a pepper that is known to contain high levels of Vitamin A. The pepper is also linked to pain reduction and congestion relief.
  • Cumin is a great source for your iron needs, which is essential for your immune system! It has also been linked to improve digestion and prevent cancer.
  • Thyme is a great source for Vitamin K, and has been historically used as a natural remedy for respiratory illness. My nifty book also states that it may also provide antioxidant and antibacterial benefits! Lacking calcium? Thyme is also a great source for it!
  • Basil: my awesome book cites a study where a tea made from basil leaves may have helped shrink tumors in mice. How cool! It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may also help protect cells from free radical damage.

If you’re thinking about getting into juicing, I highly recommend you snag the book linked above! It’s my go-to for everything juicing! It even breaks down the difference between types of juicers!

As a side note: obviously fruit juices taste better than vegetable juices. The problem with juicing too much fruit is that your juices will be very high in natural sugars and calories! Try to do vegetable juices, but counter the taste with a little citrus, as you’ll see in my juices above.

Comment with any questions you have about juicing!! I’d love to put this knowledge to use outside my own kitchen 😊

 

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Gluten-free Cast Iron Deep Dish Heaven

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I’m an Italian with Celiac Disease.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

I was so devastated when I finally figured out what was making me so sick, because that meant my normal diet of bread, pasta, and pizza was going to change drastically. No more Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish downtown, no more Olive Garden breadsticks…

Even though my options of eating out at my favorite Italian places are still limited, I’ve learned to adapt and use my kitchen to recreate all the things that I miss. Some things I make from scratch, others I use gluten-free kits to help me out. One of my favorite lines is the Betty Crocker Gluten Free line.

The Betty Crocker Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix is my favorite. It’s only like, $3.99 max, unlike the other overpriced GF alternatives (that don’t even taste good).

I decided to try and recreate my vision of the perfect Chicago deep dish with the Betty Crocker crust and a cast iron pan, and I was amazed at how close I got to the real thing! Here’s how I did it:

  • Prepare Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix according to box directions. You’ll notice that the last step says to bake the crust for 13-18 minutes or until golden brown before you add your toppings. I skipped this step because I was cooking a deep dish in a cast iron pan.
  • Use olive oil to grease the cast iron pan and spread the dough in the pan, making sure to cover the inside of the pan’s sides with dough as well!
  • Use an entire package of sliced mozzarella cheese and layer on top of the dough.
  • Place any toppings you’d like on top of the cheese. I used sliced roma tomatoes, sliced red onions, and fresh spinach.
  • Cover with pizza sauce. Make sure you check that the sauce you’re using is gluten-free! (If you’re new to the gluten-free life, here’s a handy list of ingredients to watch out for).
  • Add spices on top to taste. I used thyme, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and fresh-picked basil leaves from my basil plant.
  • I cooked mine for 30 minutes at 425 degrees and I loved how it turned out! It’s the closest I’ve gotten to Lou Malnati’s or Rosati’s since I realized I had Celiac Disease.
  • ENJOY YOUR LITTLE SLICE OF HEAVEN!

I checked the Betty Crocker website to see if I could find stores that have this product, but I couldn’t find it in their list of GF products yet! By google search, I found it should be at Walmart and Hyvee. I found mine at my local Butera. You can always talk to your local grocery store and request products as well! This would definitely be one to request if you’re GF!