January 13th, 2012

By Jennifer Hwang, Contributing Writer

I love breakfast. From a bowl of oatmeal to eggs benedict to bacon and hashbrowns, I love it all. Unfortunately, my breakfasts often include something that has gluten in it—toast, ham and cheese croissants, scones and even cream of wheat. I’m also a person who likes a lot of variety in my meals so right about now (week two) is when I start trying to come up with new and tasty breakfast items. I mean, I can only eat omelets and smoothies so many times a week!

Think Globally

When I start craving variety in my morning meals, I often turn to the breakfasts I’ve had while traveling—or even from when I was kid.

Growing up in a Chinese family, my weekend breakfasts were often “Asian-style.”  Which basically involved rice (or rice porridge) along with a few accompaniments, including salted, roasted peanuts; pickled vegetables; and cold raw tofu with green onions, sesame oil and soy (you can use tamari to avoid the gluten and sugar in soy). Sometimes there was a preserved egg. Sometimes a stir-fried vegetable. I will still make this at home – it’s tasty and a bit nostalgic for me.

My other favorite global, go-to breakfasts come from my trips to Mexico. I love that you can use corn tortillas as the “bread” for many gluten-free, tasty Mexican-style breakfasts here at home, including huevos rancheros or breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs and whatever else you want to add. You can also make chilaquiles—corn tortilla chips simmered with onions and your favorite Mexican salsa (green or red), topped with cheese and sour cream. I’ve also found that a tamale makes an excellent breakfast, too. It’s time-consuming to make your own, but Primavera, a food purveyor from Sonoma, has good vegetarian tamales that you can find at your local markets around town.

The Internet is Your Friend

Sometimes, though, what I really want for breakfast is something “bread-like.” This is when I turn to my favorite cookbook while I’m on the cleanse—the Internet. It’s truly amazing how many gluten-free blogs are out there on the web offering all sorts of amazing-sounding, cleanse-friendly, breakfast recipes.

I woke up earlier this week with a craving for pancakes or crepes. Which, to be honest, is weird because I almost never eat either of those regularly. But I’m not going to argue with a craving!  So I started researching viable recipes until I found one that looked good. Turns out, it is good! The recipe is from the Tartelette blog written by a French ex-pat in South Carolina who has a gluten-free diet:

Gluten-free crepes with honey lavender roasted persimmons

You do need to make the batter ahead of time (the night before seems to work best), and you may need to fiddle with it a little (cook it longer, add more liquid, etc. etc.). I had a blender malfunction so my crepes didn’t turn out perfectly, but I fiddled with the heat, liquid, butter and they came out tasty anyway. I made and ate a batch of these this morning with my own accompaniment (not the persimmons)—cut up berries mixed with meyer lemon juice and honey. They were delicious. I imagine you could use these for savory fillings too—if you come up with something good, please share with the rest of us. Now, go forth and breakfast!

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Snack Attack

January 6th, 2012

By Jennifer Hwang, Contributing Writer

Happy 2012 everyone, and welcome to the new year! Hope you’ve had a smooth transition into this year’s yogic cleanse diet. I’ve heard through the grapevine that many of you are struggling with the same thing I always do when I start:  what do I do for snacks? And it just so happens that is the topic of this first blog post for 2012.

Stock up in the bulk food aisle

I find my craving for snacks seems to increase whenever I start the yogi diet so I’ve become very familiar with the bulk food aisle at my local Whole Foods. Of course, fresh fruits and vegetables can serve as great snacks, but I usually want something a little more substantial—with a little more taste “oomph” than a few carrots can offer me. Nuts, olives, dried fruit (especially figs) and even dried vegetables (kale in particular) are all great mid-day snacks that can take the edge off a craving for me.

I’m also partial to apples with cheese, yogurt with honey—and even chips, salsa and guacamole are cleanse-friendly snack items. Just make sure your chips aren’t processed and your salsa and guac are fresh.

Have a little popcorn

And then there’s popcorn. Popcorn is great as a snack. Dress it up with some butter, salt and brewer’s or nutritional yeast. Or add a little salt, truffle oil and parmesan cheese for something fancier. My latest favorite involves butter, salt, parmesan cheese and lots of black pepper. You can even make a “dessert” version using butter, agave syrup and lots of cinnamon—just make sure to mix the agave and cinnamon in with the hot, melted butter first before you add the popcorn, or you’ll end up with a goopy mess!

Try something new and something old

I actually love to experiment with new snacks. I just made one today that involved roasting chickpeas (garbanzo beans) until they were crispy. The recipe actually comes from Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Everyday cookbook, which is a fantastic vegetarian cookbook by an SF local. A great variation of the recipe can be found on the healthycrush blog. Try your own version—mine included smoked paprika, cayenne and a longer roasting period.

Probably my favorite snack during the yogi diet is a recipe I shared last year for cheese crackers. For me, the crackers are really satisfying, plus they are high in protein and monounsaturated fats, which are associated with reduced risk of heart disease. And they’re a great protein snack after a hard workout.

I hope this gives you some new ideas for snacks during these next 40 days. And if you have any yogi diet-friendly favorites, please feel free to share them with the rest of the group—you can never have too many options for healthy, tasty snacks.

Looking forward to going through this year’s 40-day reset with all of you!

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Biscuits! Well, close enough. . .

January 28th, 2011

By Jenn Hwang, Contributing Writer

Can you believe that we’re more than halfway through the 40 days? Hope you’re all feeling great!  I must be craving baked goods because I seem to be experimenting a lot with baking. Which is actually odd since I normally never bake.  That’s always been my brother’s specialty, not mine. But somehow, here I am with this week’s recipe—biscuits.  I think I just wanted something to put peanut butter on other than carrots—or even better, something to help me use up the little bowl of honey butter in my fridge.

I struggled a bit trying to come up with a good recipe for diet-friendly biscuits. And then I got some advice from a friend of mine, who found out as an adult that she has celiac (gluten intolerance) disease.  She said to me as I was trying to recreate the “perfect” biscuit, that if I change my expectations then I can really enjoy the gluten-free baked goods.  Funny—I realized that what she said actually applied not just to my baking experiments but to my overall experience on this diet.  And I have to admit I do really enjoy these biscuits, even though I know they aren’t anything like the southern style biscuits I usually love. They aren’t even necessarily like any biscuit I’ve had, but they’re good, whatever you want to call them. Hope you enjoy them!

Yogi Diet-friendly “Biscuits”

½ cup brown rice flour

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup teff flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

3 ½ TBSP cold butter, unsalted and cut into small cubes

½ cup buttermilk

1 egg white

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients and mix well.  Add butter and work into the flour mix using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture has a crumbly texture (similar to if you were making pie crust).

In a separate bowl, beat together the egg whites and buttermilk until thoroughly mixed. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and work with a fork until just combined.  At this point you can make drop biscuits by dropping equal amounts of dough (about ¼ cup) onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.   These biscuits hold up better if they are slightly smaller than your average biscuit size – plus they tend to spread out when they bake.  So don’t make them too big.

If you want to use a biscuit cutter (use a small size), go ahead and pour the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper (or other nonstick surface).  Form into a 1 inch-1 ¼ inch disk.  Cut as many biscuits as you can from the disk and put onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Reform the remaining dough and keep cutting biscuits until dough is gone.  It’ll make 8-10 small biscuits.

Place biscuits into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 400 degrees.  Bake about 15 minutes until bottoms are golden brown.  Serve immediately with honey butter (2 TB butter + 1 tsp honey) or peanut butter honey butter (1 TB butter, 1 TB peanut butter, ½ tsp honey).  Or use them to make your own breakfast biscuit (egg, cheese, spinach, etc.).

For a dessert option, make berry short cake. Split a biscuit in half.  Top the bottom with fresh whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup.  Add berries (any kind you like). Put the top half back on and sprinkle a few more berries around.  Mmmm.

NOTE: These will keep in the fridge for about two days before they go completely stale.  Reheat them lightly in the oven (heat oven to 325 and then warm for 5-7 minutes).

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A Little Something Sweet

January 23rd, 2011

By  Jenn Hwang, Contributing Writer

I admit it—I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I really missed sweets during the first few days of the diet.  But after a few days, the cravings went away. I thought I was in the clear but no such luck.  Last week, the sweet cravings came back.  I think I even dreamed about pie one night. Mmm, pie. And while I’m not beyond eating a little honey just to kill the craving (hey, it’s good for you), it’s not the same.  So after a few failed attempts at cleanse-friendly cookies and muffins, I decided to try something that wouldn’t normally involve a lot of wheat flour. . .an apple crisp.  It may not be exactly like your usual apple crisp, but it’s not bad. . .and not too bad for you either. Let me know how you like it, and if you’ve come up with your own sweet treat, please share!

Apple Crisp

1 Granny Smith apple

3 ½  TB of cold unsalted butter

1 ½  tsp of honey

¼ tsp of cinnamon (or more if you really like cinnamon)

A pinch of salt

¼ c of almond meal

¼ c of oatmeal

¼ c of date sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Slice apple into thin slices. Melt 1 ½ TB of butter, add honey and mix over heat until liquid and mixed. Add cinnamon and a pinch of salt, mix well.  Take off heat and add apples. Stir to coat apple slices and pour everything into an ovenproof baking dish. Use a dish small enough that the apples overlap a bit.

In a separate bowl, mix almond meal, oatmeal and date sugar with butter.  Using your fingers work the butter through mix until it all forms small clumps. Cover apples with topping. Cook for 20-25 minutes until topping is toasted and apples are tender.  Let sit 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with whipped cream, crème fraiche, greek yogurt—or just eat it plain!

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Soup is good food

January 11th, 2011

By Jenn Hwang, Contributing Writer

It’s week 2—how did everyone’s first week go?  After a couple days of not eating quite enough, I managed to get into a good groove towards the end of the week.  So I woke up today feeling pretty good.  Hope you’re all feeling good, too!

It’s been really cold lately, and they say it’s going to rain this week.  A perfect time for soup!  To make soup, it helps to start with a good veggie broth. Of course, you can buy veggie broth, but it’s simple enough to make your own and then use it as a base for all sorts of soups and sauces.  There are a lot of variations, but here’s my version for a simple, all-purpose veggie broth.

Veggie Broth

10 cups cold water

2 medium leeks (use only the white and light green parts)

3 medium carrots or 2 large carrots

3 stalks of celery

1 onion

3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

½  sprig of fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf


Chop leeks, carrots, celery and onion into chunks. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté vegetables and garlic over medium-high heat until onions and leeks soften – about 10 minutes or so.  Add 10 cups of water, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.  Add 3 big pinches of salt (don’t overdo it, you can always add more).  Bring to a boil then lower heat and let simmer uncovered.  After 30 minutes, give it a stir and taste it. Add more salt at this point if you want, but this is meant to be used as a base for other things so it’s better for it to be undersalted than oversalted. Simmer for another 15-30 minutes depending on how flavorful the broth already is after you taste it. Strain broth. You should have about 5-6 cups, give or take a cup. You can refrigerate the broth for a few days or freeze the extra to use later.

Now that you have veggie broth, make soup!  Some ideas:

Cauliflower soup: Add 3 cups of cauliflower cut into 1-inch pieces and a cube of pecorino romano or parmesan cheese to 2 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender (about 20 minutes). Puree the soup until smooth (in a blender or with a hand blender). Return to pot and add some cream for a richer soup or more broth if you need to thin out the soup.  Add a dash of truffle oil if you have it, and enjoy.

Vegetable soup: Sauté diced carrots, zucchini, onions, garlic, potatoes in a pan until onions soften.  Add broth (as much as you need), a can of diced tomatoes with their juice, chopped chard, some herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc.), salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until vegetables are tender.  Add frozen peas and ½ can of cannellini beans (rinse before adding).  Heat through, sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired and serve.

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I need a snack.

January 6th, 2011

By Jennifer Hwang, Contributing Writer

Normally, I’m a once a day snacker.  Sometime after lunch I’ll have a small snack to keep me going until dinner—ok, maybe sometimes that “small snack” is a cupcake.  But really, only sometimes.

What I found last year on this diet was that I really wanted more snacks throughout the day.  So in addition to fruit, yogurt, nuts, cheese, etc., I started making these savory crackers to munch on until meal time. They’re made of almond meal so they’re high in protein as well as monounsaturated fats, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease.  That said, they do still contain more calories and fat than your average cracker—so snack in moderation (especially the cheese version!). Luckily these will keep for awhile in an airtight container so you can eat one batch over a period of days.

The original recipe for these came from a great, gluten-free recipe blog called Elena’s Pantry—check it out at  She has some good recipes on there.  I modified her recipe for rosemary crackers slightly to create these cheese crackers.

Cheese Crackers

1 ½  cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear off two pieces of parchment paper the size of a baking sheet.

Mix together almond flour, salt and cheese.  In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil and egg until frothy. Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Mix until thoroughly combined, and the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If the mix is a little too wet (is really sticking to the bowl rather than to itself) add a little more almond meal until it starts to come together.

Roll the dough into a ball, flatten slightly and place between the 2 sheets of parchment paper.  Roll the dough out as thin as you can without making holes in it.  Try for less than 1/8 inch thickness in order to get really crunchy crackers. If you’re using a small baking sheet, you may need to do this in two batches.

Remove the top parchment paper and put the bottom one with the dough onto the cookie sheet. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares (whatever size you want). Bake crackers in the oven for 13-18 minutes until golden.  Remove and let cool for 15-20 minutes.  Store in an airtight container.

NOTE: If your crackers aren’t as crunchy as you like, you can rebake them in small batches for a few minutes (I use the toaster oven) before you eat them and that will usually crisp them up.  Be careful not to burn them though!

Substitutions and Additions: Instead of the cheese, add ½ cup of sesame seeds or 2 TB of finely chopped fresh rosemary.  Make your own variation and share with the rest of us!

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