Gluten-Free or Not, You’ll Want To Try Sarah Lynn’s Desserts

by Nako Kobayashi

Gone are the days that having food restrictions means you have to resort to eating lesser versions of your favorite treats. Gluten-free dessert cookbook author Sarah Lynn develops dessert recipes that are both food restriction- friendly and delicious. The Sprout sat down with this Boston-based Instagram influencer to learn how she developed her successful food business.

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Sarah Lynn, owner of BakeToBeFit, with her donuts from one of her healthy dessert eCookbooks (Photo: Instagram @sarahlynnfitness)

When someone asks what she does for a living, Sarah Lynn, a Boston-based food entrepreneur, never really knows what to say. “For most people, it’s a really short answer, but I don’t really know what I am.” That’s because Sarah singlehandedly develops and photographs recipes, writes cookbooks, maintains the blog, and runs the social media accounts for her healthy dessert cookbook company, BakeToBeFit. “I’m kind of an author, kind of an Instagram influencer, kind of a blogger, kind of a photographer,” she explains.

Sarah graduated from the University of Richmond in 2015 with a degree in Studio Art and a minor in Business. She never imagined that she would own her own gluten-free cookbook company. Having always loved cooking and baking, Sarah always dreamed about managing a food blog, but she had no idea where to start. After learning that many bloggers use Instagram to develop a following and gain exposure, she decided to start her own Instagram account during her senior year of college, with the handle @sarahlynnfitness. She began by posting daily meals, workouts, and the occasional recipe.

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You don’t have to be gluten-free to want to eat this cake! (Photo: Instagram @sarahlynnfitness)

The summer after graduating from college, Sarah was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Although she was relieved to find out why she had been feeling ill, she was also devastated that she would no longer be able to consume gluten – a key component of many of the things she loved to cook. Not wanting her diagnosis to keep her from pursuing her food dreams, Sarah started experimenting with gluten-free recipes. She found that the gluten-free versions of some of her favorite baked goods were also lower in calories and more nutritious than the traditional versions. This is due to the use of some ingredients such as oatmeal and coconut flour in the place of traditional white flour.

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A re-post of a photo taken by someone who tried out a #baketobefit recipe
(Photo: Instagram @baketobefit)

Sarah’s Instagram followers loved the photos of her new gluten-free recipes. The most popular were the photos of gluten-free desserts. This led her to write the first of her four eCookbooks, available for purchase online, the Healthy Cake Cookbook. Initially, Sarah didn’t intend on making her cookbook a business. It was simply a way to put all the recipes in one place for her followers. The book quickly gained popularity, however, and she soon wrote her next book, the Healthy Cookie Cookbook. @baketobefit was born when Sarah decided she wanted a second Instagram account to share photos taken by people who had tried her recipes. Around this time, a reporter from Business Insider requested to make a video about her. The exposure she gained from this video allowed Sarah to start focusing on her food business as a full-time job.

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Sarah’s Instagram account will leave you drooling (Photo: Instagram @sarahlynnfitness)

Currently, @sarahlynnfitness has 148 thousand followers. Scrolling through the endless feed of desserts, it’s easy to see why. I personally can’t help but drool every time I visit Sarah’s Instagram page, and that is exactly what she says she wants. “I try to make [the desserts] look like the most indulgent things ever, but they are actually made with healthy ingredients [compared to the traditional versions].” Sarah boosts the nutrition profile of tasty desserts while also making them consumable for people with food restrictions. For Sarah, this kind of creative challenge is more fun than developing recipes for food that already looks nutritious.

Sarah is often inspired by photos of really decadent desserts. Other times, she tries to recreate “copycat” versions of her favorite childhood treats. A lot of experimentation is involved in getting the right taste and texture. “I do it by feeling, and what the dough looks like,” Sarah says. Keeping a notebook next to her while she experiments, she writes down what she added or tweaked to a recipe at each step. This way, when the dessert turns out the way she wants, she knows exactly how to recreate it.

healthy high-protein gluten-free donut

This fun donut has 8 grams of protein in it! (Photo: Instagram @sarahlynnfitness)

Not only are all of the recipes in Sarah’s BakeToBeFit eCookbooks gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and vegan-friendly, they are also packed with protein so they will keep you full for longer and can also be used as a post-workout snack. She accomplishes this by using ingredients like unsweetened apple sauce, gluten-free flour substitutes like oat and coconut flours, and her go-to protein powders (details in her FAQ page) which use minimal ingredients and are free of artificial sweeteners and flavors.

Most importantly, Sarah’s desserts taste amazing. “I feel like there are a lot of diets that are really strict, and they make you feel miserable. I don’t think that’s actually healthy. I think it’s great when you can incorporate food that is still pretty healthy but tastes really good and uses good ingredients.” More than the calorie or nutrient content of her recipes, Sarah is concerned with how her desserts make you feel. Sarah’s dessert recipes use healthier ingredients than their traditional counterparts and are relatively low in sugar so you can indulge in these desserts knowing that they will also help fuel your body.

healthy dessert chocolate instagram food porn

Sarah’s recipes always come with many substitution recommendations so anyone can try them!
(Photo: Instagram @sarahlynnfitness)

Because Sarah has Celiac Disease, she is very considerate of the various food restrictions and preferences her audience might have. The FAQ page on her website thoroughly discusses the content of her recipes and her suggestions for substitutions so that anyone can feel comfortable purchasing her books. In addition, each of her eCookbooks has an “Ingredients and Substitutions” page where she details how the recipes can be adapted to meet individual needs.

While all of Sarah’s recipes are gluten-free, she emphasizes that she wants her recipes to be for everyone. She feels that a lot of people who are not gluten-free tend to avoid gluten-free products and recipes. “I used to be like that,” she explains, “if I saw gluten-free bread at the supermarket, I wouldn’t buy that. I would feel like I didn’t need to.” As someone who has no food restrictions, I can personally attest to the fact that you do not have to be gluten-free to want to devour one of Sarah’s desserts. One of the best brownies I have ever had, gluten-free or not, was one of Sarah’s.

healthy chocolate chip cookie dessert food porn

“These cookies are completely oil/butter-free, gluten-free, grain-free, vegan friendly, no sugar added, and super easy to make” (Photo and caption: Instagram @sarahlynnfitness)

Be sure to check out Sarah’s amazing desserts on her Instagram @sarahlynnfitness and the @baketobefit account. Be warned: soon you won’t be able to think about anything but her brownies, donuts, cookies, and cakes. If you find yourself drooling uncontrollably, visit her website baketobefit.com or youtube channel for access to her four eCookbooks as well as some free recipes!

Nako Kobayashi is a first-year AFE student who is always insatiably hungry. She would like to say that her favorite pastime is cooking but in reality, she spends much more time endlessly scrolling through photos of food on Instagram.

Curry Salmon and Cauliflower Rice: A Yummy Way to Get Omega 3s

By Katherine Pett

Having purchased a bunch of individually wrapped, frozen salmon fillets at the grocery store, I was searching for a way to cook them that would be both delicious and out of the common way.  Having read earlier posts on the benefits of turmeric and hoping to maximize my intake of health omega-3’s, I experimented with a curry recipe for salmon.  After a couple months of tweaking, this is what I came up with!  Try it out and let us know how it goes!

Curry Salmon

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 bag (about 8 oz) of frozen spinach
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (the full-fat kind)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsps paprika
  • 1.5 tsps curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 pinch black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 pinch salt (or more to taste)

Instructions:

1. Mix all your spices thoroughly and set them aside.

2. Add ginger (peeled) and garlic cloves to food processor and pulse until fine.  Then add frozen spinach and mix all ingredients til they are finely chopped.  If you don’t have a food processor, a blender works fine.

(If you’re working light on kitchen tools, buy frozen chopped spinach beforehand, then just chop ginger and garlic as finely as you can).

3. Heat your tbsp of coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.  When melted, add your spinach mixture to the pan.  Saute until the ginger and garlic are becoming a clear consistency and frozen spinach is fully thawed and hot to the touch.

4. Add in your bowl of spices and mix thoroughly in the pan.

5.  Add coconut milk, fish sauce, and lime juice and mix.

6.  Once the mixture is simmering, add your fish.  Then bring to low heat, cover the pan, and cook for up to 10 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Cauliflower Rice

This is a nice way to serve your curried dish and get another serving of non-starchy veggies into your day!

Ingredients:

  • One head of cauliflower
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Cut cauliflower into manageable chunks, then process in a food processor until it is the approximate size and shape of rice.

2. Then, heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan on the stove, add your cauliflower rice and stir until the cauliflower is cooked through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you don’t have a food processor, your best bet is to make a mashed cauliflower and use that as a base instead.  Instead of processing the chunks of cauliflower, steam them in a large pot first.  Once pieces of cauliflower are very soft, mash them in a large bowl.  It won’t be grainy like the rice, but it will taste just as good!

I like to serve my curry salmon over the cauliflower rice for a meal that’s high in vegetables and healthy fish!

This recipe should make 5 servings.

Here are some (non-artistic) photos of the process!

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What you need to get started.  I cut those salmon down until they were in cubes.

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Add your spices to the mixture before the coconut milk (although I’ve messed up and added it after and that was fine, too!)

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This is what it looks like with the salmon added!  Once salmon is cooked through, serve it over cauliflower rice (or the starch of your choice) and enjoy.

Katherine Pett is a first-year student in the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition program at The Friedman School.  She can be reached at katherine.docimo@tufts.edu and on Twitter @smarfdoc.