Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vegan, Gluten-Free Finnish Pancakes

Thanks to our sweet friend Sarah, from Edmonds (WA), we enjoyed a Sunday breakfast of Finnish pancakes. Sarah shared her recipe with friends on Facebook, and being one of her friends, I jumped at the opportunity to give her recipe a try to compare with the Dutch Babies (pancakes) I make. I found the Finnish pancake to be just as delicious, but slightly thicker with a bit of a custard texture (more on that later).

While baking, rather than the batter raising up on the sides to form a bowl like the Dutch Babies, the  vegan, gluten-free version of Sarah's Finnish pancakes I made domed in the center. Both types of pancakes settle down and flatten once out of the oven, as the start to cool.

I served our Finnish pancakes with a choice of real maple syrup or agave nectar, and slices of fresh mango and lichee on the side. If I had an assortment of fresh fruit in the house, I would have served a medley atop the pancakes with a dollop of coconut yogurt.

I'm sharing with you Sarah's original recipe, then give your my vegan, gluten-free version.

Sarah's Finnish Pancakes


4 Eggs
2 cups Milk
1 cup Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
4 Tbsp Butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. Whisk eggs with the milk, flour, sugar and salt, until well blended.
  3. Melt the butter in an 9x12 baking pan.
  4. Pour in pancake mixture.
  5. Bake for 20-23 minutes.
Lee's Vegan, Gluten-Free Finnish Pancakes


4 large Eggs
2 cups Rice Milk (try using Almond, Coconut or Hemp)
1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Mix
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Dried Lemon Peel (or fresh lemon zest)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 TBSP Butter Substitute (I suggest Earth Balance or Smart Balance)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put two glass pie dishes in the oven to heat.
  2. Whisk eggs with the rice milk, gluten-free flour, sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon peel, until well blended.
  3. Carefully open the oven door, slide the rack out a bit and place 2 Tbsp of the butter substitute into each pie plate. The plates are so hot, the butter substitute melts very fast.
  4. Carefully remove the pie plates with melted butter substitute from the oven, and pour half of the pancake mixture into pie dish.
  5. Return the glass pie plates to the oven and bake the Finnish Pancakes for 22-24 minutes.
Note: I cooked our Finnish Pancakes for 21 minutes. The very center had a custard-like texture, but yummy! Next time, I will bake them one to two minutes longer. I might suggest reducing the milk just a bit, as I did add a little vanilla extract.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Effie's Gluten-Free Flour Recipe

I finding myself meeting more and more people who have discovered they have a problem with gluten. In chatting with them, sometimes I mention that my daughter, Effie, came up with a no-fail All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix. When interested in giving it a try, I've emailed it to them. 

Shortly after being seated for lunch at a restaurant in La Conner, I had a conversation with Kim, the hostess, wanting to know if certain dishes were gluten-free, which led her to say that she understood, recently having changed to a gluten-free diet herself. I said that I'd like to share Effie's recipe with her.  

But even better than emailing, I thought it would be good to post it on my blog, so it's also quick access to the rest of my gluten-free recipes I've posted thus far. Here you go! 

Effie's All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix

2 c. white rice flour

2/3 c. potato flour/starch

1/3 c. tapioca flour

Makes 3 cups.

Double or triple the batch and store in an airtight container to keep flour on hand for cooking and baking.

Every time we experiment converting a recipe to gluten-free using her flour, it works just as well, if not better! Let me know if you've enjoyed baking and cooking with it, too. Post a comment.

Here's a photo from the tulips fields - the reason stopped in La Conner.

Which reminds me - if you like foreign films, we recently watched the Italian film Bread & Tulips. A charming, quirky love story with English subtitles. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Home-crafted Vitamin Water

I don't know where these vitamin water recipes originated from, as they came from a post that went viral on Facebook. I'm sharing them, because it makes sense that we make our own "vitamin water", which is far more refreshing and nutritious than anything we could buy off the grocer's shelf.

Just as important as eating healthy foods, it's absolutely critical to stay hydrated, especially when exercising. How do we know when we are dehydrated?
  • Confusion
  • Dry Mouth
  • Extreme Thirst
  • Feeling Dizzy or Lightheaded
  • Headache
  • Little or No Urine (or urine that is darker than usual)
  • No Tears (when crying)
  • Sleepiness or Fatigue
I've experienced all of these symptoms. You? Let's not wait until we notice symptoms, which are often hard to recognize at the time, often masking as other problems. 

Let's hydrated, drinking plenty of water, enhancing our enjoyment of staying hydrated with vitamin rich, home-crafted flavors made from organic fruits and herbs. Here are eight recipes:

1) The Classical : Lemon/Cucumber:
Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water + 1 cucumber and a lemon, thinly sliced + 1/4 cup fresh finely chopped basil leaf + 1/3 of finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

2) The Granite : Strawberry/Lime or Raspberry/Lime
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 6 strawberries / 0r Raspberries and one thinly sliced lime + 12 finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

3) The Digestive : Fennel/Citrus
First: infuse 1/4-3/4 teaspoon of dried and crushed fennel in 2/3 cup of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool. Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water + lemon juice (put the leftover lemon in the mix) + a small thinly sliced orange + 12 fresh chopped mint leaves + the infusion of fennel seeds. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

4) The Anti-OX : Blackberry/Sage
Note that a part from the berries, sage leafs is the herb that has the highest antioxidant content.
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of blackberries that have been very slightly crushed + 3-4 sage leaves. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

5) WATER-melon : Watermelon/Rosemary
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of watermelon cut into cubes + 2 rosemary stems. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

6) The Exotic : Pineapple/Mint
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of pineapple cut into cubes + 12 fresh mint leaves finely chopped. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

7) The Traditional : Apple/Cinnamon
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of apple cut into cubes + 2 cinnamon sticks + 2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

8.) The Zingiber : Ginger/Tea
In advance: heat 1 teaspoon of ginger in two cups of tea, let it cool down. Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water with two cups of the ginger tea + 4-5 pieces of fresh ginger cut into cubes. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hooked on Salt, Sugar and Fat

I like to listen to books on tape, especially when I'm driving, exercising, knitting or busy about the kitchen or office. I still have a couple of hours left listening to the fourteen and a half hours of Scott Brick narrating Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. But, before I get caught up with this coming week's schedule of work and projects, I have to tell you about this book, so you can order it or download the audio book for yourself!

Similar to food documentaries such as Food Inc and Forks Over Knives (see the sidebar for a list), the insights you will get from reading the book Salt Sugar Fat will forever change how you think about the foods you are tempted to, craving to eat. What you glean from the author's research may be the information you need to change your eating habits, which in turn may ultimately save your life and the lives of those you love.  

As a Pulitzer Prizing-winning investigative reporter at the New York Times, Moss uses his experience and skill to digs deep to uncover the marketing strategies and chemical formulations that transform real foods into cleverly disguised and packaged food items that lack real substance, nutrition and are harmful to our heath. The ever increasing rise in diabetes, especially among children, directly correlates with diets high in sugar and fats from processed foods. We've been systematically manipulated, hooked if you will, by ramping up our cravings through taste, texture and eye appeal for highly salted, sugary and high fat content food-like products that appeals to convenience and are fast, cheap, easy and fake.

It's far, far worse than we thought friends. The length to which the processed food industry giants go to in their mission to manipulate and change consumer habits to crave the foods they make is astounding.

I encourage you to read the March 8, 2013 msnbc article ‘Salt Sugar Fat’: How food companies put profits ahead of public healthMorgan Whitaker interviews Michael Moss.

Ever heard of the "bliss point"? I hadn't until I read Salt Sugar Fat. The food scientists employed by the big food and beverage manufacturers have dialed in on our "bliss", and proven through taste testing that the myriad of foods engineered do hook us and keep us coming back for more, continuing to pull in billions upon billions of dollars for their employers. Job security as long as we keep craving!

Confession - As a young mother back in the 80's, who mostly cooked healthy foods for our kids, I too fell into the trap of foods that catered to convenience and my kids' cravings - serving our children Kraft Mac & Cheese with hotdogs on date nights,  Jello Jigglers and Instant Pudding as treats, Lucky Charms and other sugary cereals, and Lunchables to take to school. Yuck! My cravings were for the salty "Os" - Fritos, Cheetos, tacos. I still tend to crave salt in the form of gluten-free pretzels and corn chips with salsa.

Although I've been blogging for some time now, sharing healthy gluten-free recipes, I've continued to use some dairy in my recipes, including homemade gluten-free Mac & Cheese - loaded with cheese. After what I've just learned about the dairy and processed food industries, I'm going to be digging deeper  into the foods I tend to crave and eat. I'm also going to take label-reading to the next level, and not just dairy, dairy substitutes and their salt, sugar and fat levels.

Of course, once we realize why we keep craving certain foods and take back the control of what we put into our bodies, in time the level of salt sugar and fat we think we need to be happy and satiated will continue to decrease. Hopefully, you are coming to this understanding early in life rather than later. However, it's never to late to change habits, though old habits die hard. If we think of food as either being medicine or poison, it's easier to choose what we put in our body. In the place of ingesting foods to sustain those high levels of tastes we've come to consider the norm in processed foods, restaurant cuisines and even meals prepared at home, we will find more and more satisfaction in every bite of the healthy foods we eat with less salt, sugar and fat. Now that's true bliss!