30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 26- Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 26- Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Welcome do day 26 of 30 Days to a Food Revolution.  Today’s guest blogger is Amy.  Amy Green, M.Ed., authors Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free, a blog about eating well, eliminating refined sugars and gluten, and maintaining a healthy weight.   She has been living free from refined sugars and wheat since 2004 and, as a result, is maintaining a 60+ pound weight loss.  Over the years she’s learned that eating healthier doesn’t equal deprivation.  A former elementary teacher and small business owner, Amy is currently a full time culinary arts student.  She lives with her husband and four dogs in Dallas, TX where she teaches local sugar-free, gluten-free cooking classes.

Amy’s Recipe:  Apple & Carrot Breakfast Cake

Amy’s Tip: Progress, Not Perfection

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 26- Simply Sugar and Gluten Free I’ve heard so many people tell me that they give up eating healthier because they can’t do it perfectly. Progress is so much more important.  And, believe me, after six and a half years I’m still making progress.

When I had to eliminate wheat and white sugar from my diet in early 2004, I was not only devastated but had no idea what or how to eat.  Everything, it seemed, included sugar and wheat.  I remember coming out of the grocery store with my head spinning, a few apples, cottage cheese, and nuts.  I bought 4 premade salads from a local restaurant so I wouldn’t have to think about lunch or dinner for a couple of days.

Eventually I could deftly shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  Gluten-free wasn’t a hot topic nor did our local grocer carry any gluten-free products.  It might have made my transition easier, but I’m grateful I was forced to take what I think was a more difficult road.
30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 26- Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Quinoa, Black Bean, & Butternut Squash Salad

I learned to nourish my body with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and lean meats.

It’s taken a long time for my diet to get where it is today.  For the first few years, I still ate artificial sweeteners and drank diet sodas.  I tried ‘giving them up’ many times and failed.  Eventually my body no longer wanted them.

Along the way, I’ve learned to love the flavor of fresh spinach, taste the slight sweetness in swiss chard, and  enjoy the natural tones of coffee and tea with nothing added.

Processed gluten-free food isn’t a part of my regular diet today, either.  I’ve been eating whole foods for so long that I don’t care about store-bought pretzels, crackers, or candy.  Six years ago I couldn’t have said that.

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 26- Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Parmesan Quinoa with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, and Carrots

Someone wise once said to me, “I try every day to be perfect, but, oh, how I pray for progress.”

I’ve made immense progress over the last 6 years.  My diet still isn’t perfect.  Instead, it’s evolving and growing along with me.  I celebrate my progress along the way.

My favorite Progress, Not Perfection Tips:

  1. Start with what you know. If you are familiar with broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower then start there.  Buying a cart full of unfamiliar products will only leave you feeling defeated and most of it will probably go to waste.  I know from experience.
  2. Try one new dish or food at a time. Failure is guaranteed if you try to make three entirely new dishes for dinner.  Even professionals struggle with this.  Instead, pick a new recipe or food and give it your full attention.
  3. Find ways to make familiar foods healthier without sacrificing flavor or texture. Add fruits, veggies, reduce the sugar, or add whole grains.  Replace up to half the oil or butter with yogurt or unsweetened applesauce in baked goods.
  4. Don’t compare your diet to anyone else’s. You are the only one who knows what works for your body.
  5. Celebrate your progress. You are bound find improvements to celebrate if you keep moving in the direction of a diet with more whole foods.

30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 26- Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Apple & Carrot Breakfast Cake

This is one of my favorite recipes to use when we have company for breakfast. There’s no oil or butter and it’s filled with carrots and apples.  This cake stays moist for days and is so much healthier than most breakfast cakes.

Apple and Carrot  Breakfast Cake
serves 6 – 9
adapted from The VitaMix Cookbook

2 cups sorghum flour

1/2 cup palm sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

3/4 cup egg white substitute or 6 egg whites or 3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 apples, quartered (leave the peels on)

1 cup of carrots, peeled and chopped (about 3 medium carrots)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together sorhgum flour, palm sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and xanthan gum until evenly combined.

Place egg whites, vanilla, apples, and carrots into the VitaMix.  Start on low and quickly increase to Variable 10 while using the tamper to push the apples and carrots into the blades.  Switch to High and blend for 20-30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.  It will be thick.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients by hand.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean.

For more recipes today visit Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free.

Don’t forget:

In order to be entered to win one of 7 cookbooks, here’s what you need to do to gather entries into the drawing.  The more you do, the more chances you have to win!

  1. Leave a comment on this blog on as many of the 30 guest food bloggers as you like.  Each comment is an entry.
  2. Sign up for The W.H.O.L.E. Gang newsletter.
  3. Visit that guest blogger’s site and leave a comment there too.
  4. Tweet about this project using both of these in your tweet so I’ll find you  #30days2 #foodrevolution

When the initial 30 days of guest posts are over on June 4th, we’ll pick the winners.

32 Responses to 30 Days to a Food Revolution Day 26- Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

  1. Zoe @ Z's Cup of Tea May 31, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    Great post, Amy! You are a continual inspiration to me and so many people! I agree with your tips, especially the first and second ones. Overwhelming yourself will never help, in any new, personal endeavour or decision. The trick is to start a little at a time and slowly transition yourself instead of diving in head first or going cold turkey.

  2. Iris May 31, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    I love that motto, Amy! We use that at work too…no one can expect to be perfect. All you can ask of yourself is to keep improving and using your mistakes as learning experiences.

  3. Sam May 31, 2010 at 3:55 am #

    looks delicious!!

  4. jenn May 31, 2010 at 4:05 am #

    I lied, I have another question. I have tried quinoa several different ways. I couldn't stand the taste. Am I doing something wrong? Do you rinse it/ soak it prior to cooking it? What brand do you like best? I want to love it, so I'm willing to give it another go 😀

  5. Hallie @ Daily Bites May 31, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    These recipes look mouthwatering! (Also went to Amy's blog and left a comment on her recipe for brownies…yum!)

  6. Ellen (I Am Gluten F May 31, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    Amy – great job! And sage advice. Progress not perfection has helped me transition to a gluten free lifestyle. It's been 4 1/2 years for me, and no looking back.


    P.S. To Jenn – rinsing the quinoa several times is key. I use either Ancient Harvest or Trader Joe's brand. I make it in a pressure cooker – SO EASY!!! Takes just a couple of minutes to come up to pressure and then one minute to cook and ten minutes to naturally release the pressure. And if you bake with quinoa flour, if the recipe contains chocolate, you can't even detect it.

  7. Janette May 31, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    Great words of advice; it's a constant work in progress, isn't it? I love the cake recipe. I can't wait to try it.

  8. Maggie May 31, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    Oh my goodness, I really want to reach through the screen and steal that cake. It looks delicious Amy! Another great post – I absolutely love your philosophy. You make your diet work for you and that's what's so important. I've found the same thing about sugary treats and pop. My body just doesn't want it anymore. Thanks Diane and Amy!

  9. Amy @ Simply Sugar & May 31, 2010 at 5:56 am #

    Zoe – You are an inspiration to me as well. Keep cranking out delicious food, my dear.

    Erin – Yes, wasn't it a blessing to not have gluten-free foods readily available? It opened so many doors that otherwise may have stayed closed.

    Jenn – Like Ellen said, you have to rinse quinoa. It has a natural protective coating that is bitter. Use a fine mesh strainer and rinse it until the water no longer foams. I often use chicken or vegetable stock to add flavor. You can also add herbs to the water. I cook mine in the stove top -1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. I buy it in the bulk section but recently Costco started carrying it in 4 pound bags for $10 and I bought that. It's delicious and a much better price.

    Cake frosting – it's just whipped cream with a little stevia and vanilla. Quick and simple, no fuss. One of my favorites go-to 'frostings.' Everyone loves it.

    Hallie – thanks for mentioning my brownies. They are delicious. 🙂

  10. Erin Elberson May 31, 2010 at 6:17 am #

    Wonderful advice Amy. Constant and never ending improvement, patience, and recognition of the small successes are so key.
    We were diagnosed approximately the same time-no wonder we have such similar outlooks on eating gluten free!
    Thanks for sharing-I think quinoa will b e cooked today!

  11. Michelle May 31, 2010 at 6:32 am #

    wonderful post, thanks for sharing. The cake looks wonderful, I have to try it this week!

  12. Renee May 31, 2010 at 7:34 am #


    Your tips are right on! They are very similar to what I would tell newly diagnosed celiacs when I was a support group leader. Start simple and with what you know and then add in more items as you get comfortable.

    Great post!


  13. jenn May 31, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    Sounds great, and I can’t wait to try it. One question, what did you use for icing?

  14. Jenna May 31, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    This sounds great. I don't usually make cake for breakfast but it could be a great snack. I bet you could add some chopped nuts or zucchini which I enjoy in cake.

  15. kelly May 31, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    I already follow and love Amy's blog. That quinoa salad looks delicious and I am writing down the ingredients for that breakfast cake to make with my vitamix. =0) The common phrase is "practice makes perfect." I homeschool our kids and it can be frustrating to think you are practicing to be perfect, but we say in our home: "practice makes progress." Same is definitely true with gf baking and eating healthy whole foods. Great post!

  16. Sarah P May 31, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    I love this recipe and so glad to find another blog that is based on whole foods! Question: I've never used palm sugar – what other nonrefined sugars would make a good substitute?

  17. Heather May 31, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Great article, Amy. I can really appreciate the gradual, progressive approach. I find myself still looking for ways to eat healthier, and I still have setbacks, too.

  18. MaryAnne May 31, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    So encouraging! We discovered my husband needs to be gluten free.

    A perfectionist mindset has defeated me too many times to count.

    Neat to see how far you have come…

  19. Christa May 31, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Amy, thank you for the advice about making progress. I have learned so much about eating gluten-free and sugar-free since I started last year. This is a great article to share with friends who are starting out. I enjoy reading your blog!

  20. Karen@Cook4Seasons May 31, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I am one of your biggest fans…love all your recipes, and your practical tips on keeping us 'successful.' Ironically, I made two carrot cakes this weekend, neither of which rocked my world…so I can't wait to try yours with apple in the mix. I think I'll use Diane's (The WHOLE Gang) fabulous coconut frosting on top:) http://bit.ly/9PGPu3

  21. mama May 31, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    I can't wait to try the breakfast cake. yum.

  22. Alta May 31, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Great advice, and I love that cake! I too have worked towards gradual progress with my healthier diet and lifestyle. Going gluten-free was a more recent part of that transition – but incremental changes are those that are lasting. Besides, making changes over time also allows you to adjust your tastes, and like you said, your body eventually doesn't want that junk food.

  23. gfe--gluten free eas May 31, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Great post, Amy, and of course, I love both recipes. For jenn's benefit, I usually get the quinoa from Ancient Harvest that's ready to go–no rinsing required. Mr. GFE is not a big fan of quinoa so I don't cook it that often. Rinsing I'm sure is no big deal, but I don't mind skipping that step. 😉 It is more expensive, but still okay in my book. Your breakfast cake makes one want to get a Vita-mix immediately. I remember when you first shared it … I'm certain I would love it.

    I struggle with perfectionism. I'm good about encouraging others to let go of it, but harder on myself. I can quote perfectionism quotes with the best of them, and they are all so valid, but still it's something I need to work on … that progress thing, right? 😉

    "Perfection is the enemy of the good." Voltaire (rough translation)

    afraid of doing something wrong, that we don't do it at all.

    "Perfection is the voice of the oppressor." Anne Lamott

    Thanks so much for this reminder, dear! As others have said, you're an inspiration to us. Thanks for all the very helpful tips, too. So much is common sense, but we all need those reminders.


  24. Bettie@wineablegifts May 31, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    Hi Amy,

    That Apple & Carrot cake looks yummy. I definitely want to try it, but I am not familiar with cane sugar. Is it better than agave and where do you buy it?


  25. Linda Capeloto Sendo May 31, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Thank you for your insiteful comments. I started going gluten free about three weeks ago. I am certainly not perfect yet and the sugar is the hardest thing for me to give up. My stomach aches have decreased and just that is enough to encourage me to keep it up. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  26. Kelly June 1, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    I love this advice. I never thought of it, but now that you bring it up, I'm sure perfection is an issue that keeps people from cooking. Actually someone asked me a while back how I deal with having recipes that don't turn out, and I didn't know what to say. This would have been perfect 🙂

    And the recipes look delish!

    xoxo, Kelly

  27. Amy @ Simply Sugar & June 2, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    Bettie and Sarah – I get palm sugar from iHerb.com. I have a coupon code on my blog and you can get $5 off your first order. If there's a well-stocked Whole Foods near you, you can get it there too.

    Kelly at The Spunky Coconut did a great job of explaining what palm sugar (a.k.a. Coconut Sugar) is so I suggest you read her post – http://www.thespunkycoconut.com/2010/04/lets-talk

    Karen – You're really too kind. I often look at what you create and think to myself – Wow. Just wow.

    Kelly – I have had so many recipes not come out. I think the most important thing is that I try to learn something from it. There must be something inside of us that makes us want to bake a cake 6 times to get it just right.

    And, a big thank you to everyone for all their support and kind comments. I am completely overwhelmed with gratitude. And, Diane, thank you for making the huge effort to put this wonderful event together. It's been an amazing month!

  28. Kelli June 3, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    I am always looking for quinoa recipes! Thanks.

  29. Breanna - Allergic A June 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    thanks for this post, I really appreciate your tips. I've found that cooking for my son, who has multiple allergies, that there were foods we were already eating that he could have, or very little alterations could be made to accommodate him. So your first tip has been key for us, especially because of how overwhelming it can be when allergies/intolerances are first diagnosed!

  30. Aubree Cherie June 6, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    Thanks for this Amy! 6 years is a long time. I haven't even hit the 1 year mark yet, so its encouraging to know that you had many of the same struggles I'm having when you started out.

    ~Aubree Cherie


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