Coconut Flaked French Toast and Salted Caramel Sauce (V + GF)

After finals, all I wanted to do was eat comfort food.  And after seeing one of my friends enjoy their french toast at a bakery, I realized that I hadn’t eaten french toast in the longest time… So, I realized that it was time for me to make french toast (vegan and gluten-free) with an innovative coconut twist and a 5-ingredient salted caramel sauce to top it off.

A question some of you may be thinking is, Why am I hungry after taking a test?  When cortisol levels are high, so is appetite.  Harvard Health Publications explains that when you’re stressed, the brain produces a corticotropin-releasing hormone, which suppresses appetite, and your kidneys pump out adrenaline; the adrenaline puts your body in a “fight-or-flight” position that pauses the need to eat.  It’s not until the stress persists that your adrenal glands release cortisol, which ultimately increases appetite.  To reduce cortisol levels, try eating foods with Omega 3 fatty acids like flax seeds and nuts.  I added in flax seed meal to the french toast batter, and incorporated nuts in the mixed nut butter, one of the ingredients for the salted caramel sauce.

Crunchy and flakey outside, and doughy inside with coconuty flavor throughout, this french toast is super decadent and quite frankly, tops the traditional french toast.  The coconut gives the french toast a summery vibe, and with the simple salted caramel topping, it tastes just like cake (but without the super rich ingredients).  It hits the spot – whether you’re having it to recover from a big test, or just enjoying it for a relaxed Sunday breakfast 🙂

Coconut Flaked French Toast and Salted Caramel Sauce (V + GF)
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
Toast
  • 10 pieces of gluten-free bread slices (I used Schär)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup gluten-free flour blend
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch (or potato starch)
  • 1½ tbsp flax seed meal
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2.5-3 tbsp mixed nut butter (Trader Joe's)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
Toast
  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the toast (minus the bread slices and coconut flakes). Soak the bread slices in the batter.
  2. On a plate, level out the shredded coconut. Place the soaked bread slices on to the shredded coconut on both sides.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a pan (greased with coconut oil) on medium heat. Place the soaked and "breaded" slices on the pan to cook for approx. 4 minutes on each side. Repeat with the other slices.
Salted Caramel Sauce
  1. Mix the ingredients for the sauce.
Notes
You can refrigerate them for roughly a week.

Vanilla-y, coconut-y, and caramel-y, this coconut flaked french toast is delicious, and a perfect way to start off your summer breakfasts.

Works Consulted

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

http://main.poliquingroup.com/articlesmultimedia/articles/article/1260/top_10_foods_that_help_balance_cortisol_for_optima.aspx  

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, NYC

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Shop @ 48 E 7th St, NYC

When ice cream pops into your head, aside from Summer, you’re probably thinking cream.  While Van Leeuwen’s Artisan Ice Cream offers dairy-jul ice creams, they also have amazing, out-of-this-world vegan ice cream.  Even better, they have flavors that are typically made of dairy-like salted caramel 🙂  Interested yet?

Board of current flavors

Van Leeuwen really caters to all the different types of foodies – from classic ice cream flavor people to more adventurous ones like Turmeric Palm Sugar Cookie, non-vegan or vegan, and glutenful or gluten-free – this is the place to go to satisfy everyone’s ice cream wants (or more appropriately, needs).  Plus, with an awesome list of toppings like Cacao Nibs and Vegan Whipped Cream, it’s a fun place to mix and match modern flavors and toppings to create the perfect ice cream.  Not feeling ice cream?  They have a small glass display of delicious desserts like Carrot Apple Muffin (gf + vegan) and Sugar Cookies.  Oh, and they have milkshakes too, and you can always take home a pint of ice cream!

Vegan Matcha Green Tea and Salted Caramel

After negotiating with myself to narrow it down to 2 flavors, I came to the decision to order the Vegan Matcha Green Tea and Salted Caramel.  I was blown away, the green tea was fresh and the salted caramel tasted like real caramel (think Häagen Dazs’s Dulce de Leche).  My brother ordered the Vegan Mint Chip, and my dad ordered the Chocolate Caramel Cookie Crunch (with dairy), that was apparently really good as well.

I was happy to learn that not only did Van Leeuwen have delicious ice cream, but that they make their ice cream with simple ingredients.  For example, their normal ice cream has a base of fresh milk and cream, cane sugar, and egg yolks; their vegan ice cream has a base of housemade cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter, and organic carob bean.

Check out their shops (and trucks) all around NYC and Brooklyn!

P.S.  It’s definitely a splurge, but worth every penny 🙂

Project Fabricland: Diva Inspiration

My mom and I

In January, I participated for the fifth time in Project Fabricland, a sewing competition, similar to Project Runway.  Each week, students meet for three hours to sew garments based on a theme.  This year, the theme was Divas.  This included style icons such as Marylin Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Cher, among others.  Sophia Loren has been my personal favorite icon in all aspects ever since I saw her in one of my favorite movies, Houseboat (1958).  In Houseboat, Loren plays a young Italian lady who helps a widower (Cary Grant) raise his three children; they end up forming a relationship after Grant sees Loren providing the care that his children so deeply craved, and being the charismatic person she is.  Like all Loren movies, she is feisty and an individual, and does not play a woman who falls at the needs of a man – she’s willing to through a slap here and there :).  After seeing her speak at an event, I was inspired by her honesty, boldness, humor, and dashing beauty, and therefore crafted a dress that I believe to capture who she is. Continue reading

Vegan Mocha Cheesecake (Gluten-free and Refined Sugar-free)

mocha cheesecake

When my cousin’s birthday was approaching, I knew that I had to make a “wow” dessert – one that could stand by itself, and every one would enjoy.  Inspired by my cousin’s everlasting love for coffee and cheesecake, as well as my family’s obsession with chocolate, I decided to combine these key foods to make a mocha cheesecake.  And did I mention that it’s raw, vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free (and they didn’t even notice!)?

mocha cheesecake

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Vanilla Bean Hazelnut Cheesecake Bites

Vanilla, hazelnuts, chocolate; these are a few of my favorite things.

So when it came to creating a cheesecake recipe, I wanted it to involve all of these ingredients in the most harmonious way possible while tasting like an actual, real cheesecake.  These vanilla bean hazelnut cheesecake bites are decadent, smooth, creamy, and not to mention gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free (oh, and no-bake!).

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The Best of Smorgasburg, Prospect Park

Last week, my friends and I went on a foodie adventure to Smorgasburg in Prospect Park, an outdoor market full of small pop-up restaurant stands.

Walking in, Smorgasburg appears to be its own bustling metropolis centered purely on food from local vendors.  It was truly a wonderland; I talked to fellow food enthusiasts on line, met the chefs of the stands, and best of all, I had the chance to try out innovative food with my friends.  There are over 75 stands, each with their own unique menu.  Below, I’ve put together the 5 best stands (including dairy & gluten-full ones my friends enjoyed).

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Peanut Butter Chickpea Energy Balls

Both peanut butter and chickpeas are fantastic sources of protein, but together in sweetened bites may not sound the most appetizing.  That is, until now with the most delicious Peanut Butter Chickpea Energy Balls!  I was tired of those store-bought energy bars whose taste resembled that of a cookie: I needed something that would fill me up, with ingredients as simple as possible.  Typical energy foods have a long list of weird dehydrated vegetables, and the sugar levels can exceed 20g easily.

Not these.

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Simple Green Smoothie (sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan)

Hello soon-to-be-smoothie lover!  You may have already seen all over Instagram cute pictures of leafy smoothies, and wonder to yourself why anyone would drink that.  I have to admit, that was my reaction to them until this month.  Going from activity to activity, you need something that’s quick and will power you through – and smoothies are the perfect way to do so.  They’re easy, and the most convenient way to pack in your fruits, veggies, protein, and healthy fats.  For smoothie skeptics like me, along with smoothie enthusiasts, this simple smoothie recipe is the tastiest there is :).

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Sweet Potato Coconut Waffles (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

My latest obsession has been sweet potato.  People may think of them as only a Thanksgiving type food, but they’re actually quite versatile, and bring the most subtle natural sweetness to any dish.  What better way to celebrate sweet potatoes than make it into a waffle?

These waffles keep you full, satisfied, and are quite the guilt-less morning treat.  I like to refrigerate them, and pop them in the grill during the week.  Yes, you may be thinking that waffles are all around bad for your – and yes, sometimes they can be, especially when they’re gluten free; manufacturer’s might add unnecessary ingredients like natural flavor, or other heavily processed like corn syrup.

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