The Chocolate Mousse Diet

Lush chocolate mousse with a healthy surprise inside
That bowl of summer corn chowder is long, long gone and it’s about time, too.

My personal chef work is keeping me busy, and putting me in touch with all sorts of people, each with their own set of dietary needs, likes and dislikes. But what I’m hearing most often when planning meals for clients is their desire to eat a healthy diet. It can be hard to distinguish what “healthy” really means when you see the word pasted on all sorts of processed food in the grocery store, from boxes of cereal to packaged frozen entrees.

What do most people perceive to be a healthy way of eating? My sense is that we all know that the more real, unprocessed food we eat the better, but it’s still a full time job to keep track of all the information out there about what’s good for us or not.

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Gluten-Free Almond Waffles

A waffle for everyone
We invited some friends over for brunch over the weekend who are fish-eating vegetarians with a child who has Celiac disease and is on a gluten-free diet. My husband T doesn’t eat any dairy products, and my own kids want nothing but pancakes and bacon for breakfast on Sunday mornings.

What to do? Trying to find the perfect menu on occasions like this is challenging, to say the least.

But I take it on with relish (no, not the kind with pickles). Figuring out the right formula of foods that will please everyone can be like solving an intricate puzzle, kind of like completing the Sunday New York Times crossword. Not that I ever attempt crosswords; my own problem-solving skills come directly from the right side of my brain.

I felt satisfied with my choice to make Belgian waffles, because everyone likes them, but I needed to make them acceptable to those avoiding wheat and dairy.

Because I’m now in the business of cooking for people, (look at my new DinnerStyle website!) catering to each of their personal dietary needs, restrictions and desires is also my business. So I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to test a recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free waffles.

Fellow blogger Sheltie Girl at Gluten A Go Go recently posted a recipe for hazelnut waffles that looked delicious – I decided to give them a whirl.

I ended up playing with the recipe quite a bit (which always manages to drive T a little crazy – he’s a left-brained instruction-follower sort of guy), because I didn’t have exactly the ingredients that Sheltie Girl calls for in her recipe.

There was a spine-tingling moment just minutes before our guests arrived when I thought the experiment was a dud – I was this close to sending T out for bagels, but the batter came together and baked up into big, beautiful waffles with a crisp outside and tender inside. Success!

I served them with warm maple syrup and a big bowl of fresh fruit.

Gluten-Free Almond Waffles

Makes about 6 Belgian-style waffles

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour ( I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
1/2 cup almond flour or meal
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat waffle iron to medium-high and spray with nonstick spray if necessary.

Mix flours, flaxseed, baking powder, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Stir in the egg yolks, soy milk, oil and extracts and whisk until smooth. Let batter stand 5 minutes to allow flaxseed to gel.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer or with the whisk attachment of an immersion blender (my favorite method for beating small amounts of egg whites) until soft peaks form; fold egg whites evenly into batter.

Pour batter onto waffle iron and bake about 5 minutes, or until steaming stops. Remove waffle carefully and transfer to a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven to keep warm.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

Black-Eyed Pea and Soybean Salad with Lime and Avocado

It’s hard to stop eating this simple salad

I saw a recipe recently – the first-place winner in the Vegetarian Times Reader Recipe contest – that inspired me to make this salad for lunch yesterday. It was delicious! This is a recipe to satisfy any number of your vegan, high-fiber, low-carb, low-fat desires. My only problem is that I wanted to eat the whole bowl myself.

Black-Eyed Pea and Soybean Salad with Lime and Avocado
adapted from Greens (aka Vegetarian Times) magazine October 2007

makes 6 servings
1 (14-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can soybeans, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or red onion
1 serrano chile pepper, finely chopped (You could use a jalapeno, but I love serranos because they have a dependable heat level, unlike jalapenos which are sometimes very bland)
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium teriyaki sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. In a large bowl, layer the peas, beans, bell pepper, avocado, tomato, cilantro, shallot, chile pepper and garlic.

2. Whisk together the lime juice, oil, vinegar, teriyaki, sugar, salt and cayenne in a small bowl.
Pour dressing over the bean mixture and toss gently to avoid smashing the avocado.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food