If you're just starting to cut grains and sugars from your diet, a little bit of coaching and guidance in the kitchen can go a long way. I'm going on 10 months and I'm still discovering satisfying replacements to old comfort food favorites like Sunday morning pancakes. I recently asked one of my favorite bloggers and podcasters to share a few of her top tips for preparing old favorites in a new way.
Anna Vocino develops healthy recipes for her blog Gluten Free Anna that are first and foremost gluten free and mostly fall under the no sugar no grains (or NSNG) lifestyle, the way of eating that she and her podcast partner Vinnie Tortorich focus on during their wildly successful Angriest Trainer Podcast. She's a valued resource for recipes and I'm counting the days until her cookbook launches in November. Anna's got some great tips for adjusting your pantry and your palate to a grain- and sugar-free lifestyle.
You've been working on an NSNG cookbook and testing recipes for months. Can you recommend a few of your favorite grain-alternative ingredients that everyone should have in their pantry for a healthy breakfast?
I rely heavily on almond flour (the same as almond meal), coconut flour and flaxseed meal to substitute for most baking and coating applications. Then I'll use arrowroot flour or tapioca starch for thickeners.
What's your favorite go-to breakfast?
I mostly alternate between egg cupcakes, the pancake recipe below, or I do an Energy Shake. I put lots of packed greens (like raw kale or spinach), a cup of frozen organic berries, a tablespoon each of chia seeds and coconut oil, a handful of raw almonds, a dollop of full fat Greek yogurt and two cups of water into the Vitamix. It makes the smoothest, most filling shake! My husband and I split it, but the proportions above could make up to four smaller smoothies for the family.
Eggs make a great grain-free breakfast staple, but what do you whip up when you (or your family) is craving something else?
My husband and daughter never met a pancake they didn't like, so I had to come up with a grain-free alternative that didn't require syrup (no additional sugars, thank you very much). So I invented these Flaxseed Blueberry Walnut Pancakes. They are incredibly rustic and filling since they're mostly made from flaxseed meal and coconut flour. Blueberries amp up the sweetness, and walnut pieces give a crunch, all of which tastes delicious cooked in Kerrygold butter. The key with working with grain alternatives is figuring out textures and proportions in order to make a suitable substitute that keeps the family happy with how it tastes.
What's your family's favorite dish from the cookbook or blog so far?
I have so many recipes that I'm excited about that are coming out in this cookbook! One that's on my blog is the best chili recipe ever — one I've perfected over the past 15 years of marriage. I call it Pittsburgh Five Way Chili (I married a man from Pittsburgh), but it's technically a Cincinnati-style chili. I usually make it with ground turkey, but feel free to sub your meat of choice. Make a side of rice with it, and layer on the cheese… yummy, comfort food goodness!
Sweet potato pancake
Adapted from Dr. Peggy Malone
Makes 8-10 pancakes
- 2 small sweet potatoes, or 1 medium
- 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1/2 vanilla pod, split with seeds scraped out and set aside
- Coconut oil for cooking
- Whole fat Greek yogurt, creme fraiche or fresh whipping cream
- Fresh seasonal fruit
- Peel and dice sweet potatoes. Combine with cardamom pods and scraped vanilla bean in a pot of boiling water. Once sweet potatoes are tender, strain the water and remove the pods and beans and mash until the contents are very smooth. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Whisk egg whites to firm peaks and set aside. Gently mix egg yolks and set aside.
- Once sweet potato mash is slightly cooled, add almond butter, egg yolks and spices and mix well. Fold in egg whites just prior to cooking.
- Heat coconut oil and spoon in pancake mixture. You may need to spread the mixture around to create an even pancake. Serve hot with a healthy dose of grass-fed butter, Greek yogurt and sweet berries.