There are many flaws in our food system today and I believe a large part of the way we think about and view food is broken. Not to call out any one company intentionally, but there is a motto that's been sticking out in my mind lately.
"America Runs on Dunkin'"
And it got me thinking. A lot of our population does run on fast food fuel. Our society is largely dependent on the convenience of fast-foods, and short on food knowledge. Dependent on caffeine, sugar binges and eating what they grew up on or what surrounds them. And again, short on nutrients, taking the time to do the research on our food industry, labels and ingredient sources and true nourishment.
One of the reasons I became a nutritionist wasn't just to help people navigate their food intolerances, lose weight or improve nutrition overall. It was to change the mindset that you must eat what's there. I love showing people that they can make a meal for the same price or cheaper that's healthier. I love helping people fall in love with cooking again and appreciate where our food comes from and I LOVE taking "traditional" comfort food and revamping it into something that can feed us more and harm us less.
When I had to cut out pretty much EVERYTHING I was eating in 2011, it hit me hard. And I know it hits hard with a lot of clients who have yo go gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, nightshade-free, low histamine, low-sodium, no sugar.... etc. overnight. The list is endless to the changes that could arise. The beauty is, there is hope and healing in it. God put beautiful, natural, clean food to nurture, nourish and heal our bodies. Slowly navigating back to that when you've healed can be such a fun experience.
For me I did Whole 30 and lean meats and veggies for months and I was missing traditional "comfort foods". Knowing I didn't want the processed packaged foods, food dyes, chemicals, GMO's, preservatives and white sugar I started experimenting. A large part of our health depends on psychology as well. So, while I shunned all "comfort treats" in the beginning, I've been in many conversations with Naturopaths and nutritionists, therapists and fitness minds that agree, that when done healthier, instead of cut all-together, its better for not only our minds, but our bodies as well. (However, if you do suffer from an eating disorder, or are unable to control portions when enjoying these "comfort" options, please speak to your doctor.)
Some of my examples of "comfort food made healthier" recipes I've made in the past include my Burger, Fries and Shake combo, my dairy-free Lasagna and my Banana Bread French Toast. All gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and made with organic, whole food ingredients that nourish the body.
Do note, these are not the staples or mainstays of our diet at home. For breakfast we primarily eat eggs, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, green smoothies and oatmeal throughout the week. Lunches are usually Paleo wraps and salads, while dinners are lean meats on the grill with vegetables. These recipes are reserved for leisurely weekend brunches, dinner with friends and special occasions, but it's nice to have them as options. Life is about balance, experiences, joy and tastes that can be enjoyed by many.
1 1/4 C. Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp. Corn-Free Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/4 Cocoa Powder
1/4 c. Coconut Sugar (add more to up sweetness, I prefer less sugar)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 C. Almond Milk (or other non-dairy milk for nut-free)
1/4 C. Avocado Oil (olive oil or coconut oil also work)
2/3 C. Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Maple Syrup (optional but adds complexity to the flavor)
1/8 C. Almond Milk
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease your donut pan or pans lightly with coconut oil.
I use one regular size donut pan for 6 donuts and a mini donut pan for the leftover batter with this amount of mix. For a dozen regular size donuts you will need to double the recipe.
Mix all dry ingredients until blended well. Add wet ingredients and stir or mix with a hand mixer until batter consistency. Add more milk of choice if needed.
Add batter to piping bag to pipe into pan (easiest method for perfect circles, or spoon batter into pan evenly. Fill to top for fluffiest donuts.
Bake regular sized donuts for 12 minutes, mini donuts for 7. Check for doneness and remove to allow to cool for 15-20 minutes on a wire rack.
Start by warming a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add chocolate chips and coconut oil until they start to melt.
Add vanilla and maple syrup (optional), mix.
When mixture is completely melted together, add dairy-free milk of choice until desired frosting consistency is achieved.
Pour immediately into a wide, ceramic bowl and dip cooled donuts to frost. Allow to set and cool for another 15 minutes and enjoy!
I made mine for a brunch event so I added dye-free, preservative-free sprinkles. Companies such as King Arthur and Natural Candy Store offer healthier alternative decoration options for special occasions.
These also store beautifully. I put mine single layer in a Tupperware container and they last up to a week.
Life is about balance, experiences, joy and tastes that can be enjoyed by many. - Mandi Pimental, N³
Can I say, again, how much brunch is my favorite thing in this world? Well maybe not my favorite thing in the WORLD, but I adore brunch. Sipping hot Crio Bru with a plate of gluten-free, refined-sugar free breakfast food goodness surrounded by people I love is just the best.
I actually made two variations on this waffles last weekend with Mr. Charming and they were both so good I couldn't decide which ones would go up first. But these, with a little coconut whip and berries were just too yummy and too pretty not to debut right away.
Mr. Charming and I received a waffle iron for our wedding, in 2011, and we JUST now broke it out to use it. I know, I know, terrible. But we were blessed with so many awesome kitchen gadgets, it's taken us some time to get through trying them all out. I am so glad we did! And now that it's been broken in, these baby's will be a staple in our home on weekend mornings and friend and family brunches.
The recipe is also super simple even though it looks like a long list of ingredients. Once you get it all in a bowl you just whip it up and pour it in the hot waffle iron and within minutes you will have fluffy Belgian waffles that are crunchy and golden on the outside and just perfect with any topping you choose.
Serve and enjoy with fresh berries, dairy-free whip, maple syrup, jam, applesauce, honey, vegan butter or plain!
The baby has been kicking like crazy lately.
There are no words for what their little exploring hands and jabby feet mean in mine and Mr. Charming's life.
Each little movement means life. It means Gods favor. It means a blessing, a miracle from the ashes when I thought for so long I was broken. We were broken. Persevering through the enemies lies that we are broken, that we are incapable, that we are not meant for something can be a challenge. A really hard, overwhelming, burden of a challenge.
But when we turn our eyes upward, as tear filled as they may be, we can be at peace knowing anything meant to harm us can be turned to good. That there is truth in the fact that maybe we are broken or incapable, but God isn't. He is whole. He is capable. He can create miracles. Rest in Him, be patient in Him and let Him write your story.
I'm so glad I turned my pen and paper over a few years ago and just asked Him to take this. He wipes away tears, He mends heartache, He fills voids and most importantly, He gives peace. Peace in situations that have the potential to drown you.
And then this baby. October 2015, our doctor had given up. Three years, one loss, she decided we needed to move on to specialists. As she deemed us infertile and it was time to go for more invasive tests and speak to clinics that our insurance wouldn't cover.
Then by God's grace and miraculous blessing, we found ourselves pregnant ONE DAY before we had scheduled the appointment with specialists that we were going to have to cancel because of it's cost. Our doctor was elated to say the least, and when people ask me if it was a vitamin, a supplement, my diet....? I have no answer other than God. This was all God.
So when I feel each tiny kick. When I hear each quick heartbeat. Or when I stare endlessly at his or her perfect little ultrasound photos... I am reminded what He is doing and working in our lives. And there are no words. We are just so grateful.
And being grateful means celebrations. And celebrations often bring about delicious eats, as does pregnancy, haha. So I've been experimenting in the kitchen a lot lately. Breakfast and brunch have become my favorite time of day because the baby loves eggs and protein and I have most of my energy from around 9 am until noon. Plus the light is great for shooting photos, so win/win/win.
I had been CRAVING French Toast for DAYS. Something I haven't eaten since Pre-2011, because gluten-free bread leaves much to be desired most of the time. I whip up Oat Pancakes and from time to time & I enjoy Van's waffles, but I really wanted French Toast. Piping hot French Toast with a drizzle of pure maple syrup. #NomNomNom
Then an idea hit me. An idea I want to hug and squeeze and love on because these came out tasting like little pieces of banana heaven. My goodness you guys. These should be a Sunday staple in EVERY home. Just saying.
I decided to whip up my Banana Bread muffin recipe, but instead of muffins, I'd throw it in a loaf pan to make bread. I made this the night before and sliced it up so that it wouldn't be as moist and soft when I coated it in my egg wash.
The next morning I woke up and took the sliced pieces from the refridgerator and coated them GENEROUSLY in my cinnamony-vanilla infused egg wash and voila! Epic french toast that is gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar free and delicious.
1 Loaf of my Oat Flour Banana Bread (ideally made the night before, cooled and sliced for morning)
4 Organic Eggs
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 C. dairy-free milk of choice (I used almond for its flavor, but any will work)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 C, pure maple syrup (Optional)
Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil (For Coating Pan)
Coat a ceramic frying pan with a dairy-free butter or coconut oil. Preheat your pan over medium heat.
In a shallow, medium sized bowl mix eggs, cinnamon, milk and vanilla until blended well.
Take pre-sliced bread slices or sticks (I chose to make thick sticks from my loaf) and dip GENEROUSLY in egg wash mixture on both sides. Place in pan and cook until golden and crispy on each side.
Warm pure maple syrup just before serving and serve the french toast warm with vegan butter, maple syrup or other topping of choice.
*As a treat for the weekend, I did dust ours with corn-free confectioners sugar, because it reminded me of my childhood & I wanted that familiar taste. DO keep in mind if you do so, it is no longer refined-sugar free.
And then enjoy! Because, YUM.
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.