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Driving around a city you’ve never visited before can be a little daunting; throw in an out of date GPS map and an epic crap-ton of construction, and you have the makings for a truly frustrating adventure. Our journey to track down Gnome Cafe was probably the worst part of our time in Charleston. Finally, we broke down and called the cafe, and the owner, who is such a sweet person, helped us make sense of all of the detours and construction and guided us safely to their parking lot.
I felt so optimistic just standing outside of this place. Everything was clean and crisp, inviting, and a touch whimsical. I knew it was going to make all of the driving drama worth it. Something you have to understand about people with dietary restrictions is that we don’t often have more than two or three options to choose from when dining out. So when you find a place that has a menu where you can eat anything you want, your brain short circuits a bit. This was the glorious situation we found ourselves in at The Gnome.
Everything on the menu was vegan, and let me tell you it felt down right decadent to leisurely peruse and decide how we wanted to start our day. On our way to the table, we were distracted by the baked goods. After a very short discussion, we decided that we would in fact be getting dessert to go and quickly purchased a Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oreo Cookie and a piece of their Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. *Spoiler Alert* They were AMAZING!!!! While sipping my London Fog (Earl Grey Latte with Almond Milk), I took mental stock of the decor, loving the contrasting black and white theme that continued inside the restaurant and appreciating how they softened what could have been a very cold color combo with tons of green plants and bowls of fresh produce. When our food arrived… man, it was so difficult to remember that we needed to take picutres before diving in. We both went for an Everything Bagel Sandwich with scrambled tofu, shitake bacon, and the most delicious melty vegan cheese I have ever encountered. The potato hash was awesome, cheddar grits were some of the best I’ve ever had. We cleaned our plates and thanked God that we’d had the foresight to wear yoga pants. I didn’t want to over do it with the pictures, but we also went back the next morning just to try the Southern Grit Bowl and the house made Sausage Biscuit. Just as delicious as what we’d had the day before. The other thing I thought was cool was that the place wasn’t just full of vegans: the gentlemen behind us in line were discussing meat lover’s pizza, and the couple at the next table were talking about getting BarBQ later. It’s a true testament to the quality of the food. I would hit this place for breakfast every morning if I lived in Charleston.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always found the idea of making waffles a little intimidating. It’s a bit silly really, if you have a waffle iron it really isn’t all the different than making pancakes, but alas my waffle iron sits lonely on the shelf collecting dust. This weekend, I found this post on Merry Thought for 10 ways to top your waffles, and it has inspired me to reconsider my stand on making waffles. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all….
4. Banana Split
Keep it classic with an old school banana split. Cut up some bananas, scoop a few generous scoops of vanilla ice cream and add chocolate syrup, a few peanuts and mini chocolate chips, and whipped cream. And don’t forget the cherry on top!
7. The Lumberjack
This loaded waffle is sure to satisfy the hungry lumberjack in your life. Mix some cooked sausage into your waffle batter and cook it. Add generous helpings of sausage gravy, hashbrowns, a couple fried eggs and some crispy bacon.
8. Kiddie Sundae
A waffle that the kids are sure to love! Drizzle some chocolate syrup over your waffle and let the kids throw on some of their favorite snacks – whipped cream, chocolate chips, gummy bears, sprinkles…whatever their little heart desires!
For those that enjoy huevos rancheros, top your waffle with seasoned black beans, eggs, avocado, salsa, sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese.
Maple Cream Sauce*:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
1-2 drops maple extract
In a medium saucepan, combine the syrup and butter and cook over low heat until butter is melted. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved and remove from heat. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, soften the cream cheese until it can be stirred smooth by hand. Gradually pour the maple butter mixture into the softened, stirred cream cheese, mixing well as you add the maple mixture. Add a drop or two of maple extract (or as much as you would like to taste) and stir until combined.
Leftover sauce should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator. To use, heat in the microwave until it reaches desired consistency.
Images and recipe from here.
Perfect for the lingering cold weather, this recipe from the article How To Eat Vegan For A Week & Love It is a slightly more sophisticated take on the instant oatmeal I like to eat for breakfast. While I can’t say I’m willing to go through the whole 20 minute process all the time, it is more than worth the effort on the days when my mornings are a little less hectic.
*Just to clarify, I am not going vegan for at least the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean I am going to miss out on amazing recipes that just because they happen to fall in the “vegan” category.
2 cups water
1 cup rainbow quinoa, (hs note: rinse quinoa)
2 cups fresh berries (I used strawberries since they were already in my fridge)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
2 teaspoons clover honey
Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in berries and cinnamon; transfer to two bowls and top with toasted pecans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon clover honey over each serving.
*While the quinoa cooks, roast the pecans in a 350F degree toaster oven for 5 to 6 minutes or in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
It’s so good, I swear. The only thing I want to caution you about is the sound the quinoa makes when it’s cooking – every now and again there may be a popping sound, sort of like the sound popcorn kernels make. And if you’re not expecting it, you might jump or duck or something the first time it happens. Not that that happened to me…twice. But it was totally worth it because it scared the crap out of Octavian too, and he literally ran out of the kitchen and into the bathroom where the litter box is when it happened.
Original recipe and photo from 101 Cookbooks
Ahh breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. Unfortunately, i’m not much of a morning person so until I married Andy my breakfast usually consisted of coffee and whatever I could grab on my way out the door.
Now, my very wonderful husband makes me breakfast every morning before we head our separate ways (lately I can’t seem to get enough oatmeal with orange blossom honey!). On the weekends I do my best to return the favor, I love the variety that breakfast offers. You can go light or heavy, savory or sweet, there is a little something for everyone. As soon as things quiet down a bit at the office (only a few more days of tax season left!) I am going to persuade Andy to take a day off so we can sleep in, make some pancakes and a hot cup of tea and have breakfast on the couch in our pajamas surrounded by furry little beggars.
Images from here.
One of the most difficult parts of dieting is trying to figure out how to incorporate some of your favorite dishes into your new limited calorie allowance. I am a huge fan of breakfast for dinner. There was a six month run my senior year of college where my roommate Rebecca and I made pancakes at least twice a week. My pancake intake has gone way down since then, and I have been lucky enough to find some caloric short cuts that still allow for the occasional short stack. A few weeks ago I received the monthly newsletter from The Foley House (the B&B where Andy and I honeymooned) and it included a decadent recipe for lemon ricotta pancakes topped with buttery spicy apples. The topping alone was almost half my daily calories so I set the recipe aside, out of sight, but unfortunately not out of mind. So I made some healthy substitutions, ditched the topping and here is what I came up with.
- 1 cup egg beaters
- 1 cup egg white beaters
- zest from 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp of Splenda
- 1 1/3 cup low fat Ricotta
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flower
- Non-stick cooking spray
In a bowl whisk together the egg beaters, the ricotta, the sugar, and the zest, add the flour, and stir the mixture until it is just combined.
In a separate bowl use an electric beater to beat egg white beaters and a pinch of salt at high speed until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg whites into the first mixture.
Heat your griddle until it is hot enough for water droplets scatter when dripped on the surface. Use a 1/3 measuring cup to pour batter onto the griddle, cooking pancakes 1-2 minutes per side.
Serve pancakes plain or with sliced fresh berries.
Makes 15-20 pancakes
The verdict: Delicious, the egg whites make these pancakes taste more like thick crepes than a traditional pancake, but I will most assuredly be making these again. Maybe next time with blueberries added to the batter.