Welcome

Melissa-profile This is more than just a recipe blog. I am not a chef. I am a mom of four children, one of whom has an autoimmune disease, wife of a Crossfit junkie, and healthy food lover. I love learning about and cooking new, healthy and delicious food. This is simply me sharing the ways I take care of my family by being aware and mindful of the food I feed them and as a result making lots of Gluten Free & Paleo Recipes by Melissa.

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Grain-Free Banana Muffins & Pancakes

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The kids are home for the summer (sigh of relief and dread). Now the fun begins with playing outside all day, staying up late, sleeping in, playing in water wherever you can find it, camping, barbecues, vacations….and everyone’s always hungry!

This recipe is super versatile. I’ve made this banana baking mix into mini muffins for a quick, portable snack or pancakes for breakfast. It freezes well so it’s perfect to make ahead and keep in the freezer, and just as easy to whip up right when you want it. It’s also not only gluten free, but grain freedairy free, and refined sugar free as well – so it’s Miah approved!

 

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The sweetness all comes from the ripe bananas, vanilla, and cinnamon. No sugar needed. If I’m making them into mini muffins I may add a couple teaspoons of honey to the mix, but not always. I also use a blend of coconut and arrowroot starch (a seed) that makes them light and fluffy.

*I suggest only mini muffins for this recipe instead of regular sized to be sure they get fully cooked through. If you make them too big you may end up with gooey insides and crispy outsides.


 

Grain Free Banana Baking Mix

Dry ingredients

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup arrowroot starch

1.5 tsp. baking powder (gluten free, aluminum free)

1 – 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. sea salt

Wet ingredients

4 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 – 1.5 cups almond milk

2 tsp. honey (opt.)

  • Preheat a pancake griddle or the oven to 350. In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients until blended together. Now just add in the wet ingredients one at a time, stirring together as you go. You should be able to pour the batter easily, but not too runny.
  • Pour into mini muffin molds and bake for 20 minutes. Cool and enjoy or freeze for a quick snack or breakfast on the go.

OR

  • Pour onto a pancake griddle (about a 1/3 cup per pancake) and cook on both sides until browned and cooked through. Makes a dozen.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

I’m going to be “that” mom.

 

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It’s probably fair to say that I’m already “that” mom. I’m the mom who some roll their eyes at when I show up at the park with an assortment of colorful and homemade healthy food for my kids to eat. Not because I’m judging them when I give a sideways glance at their $5 pizza or chicken nuggets they brought, but because I sometimes envy how easy it was to just grab some lunch.
I’m “that” mom who questions everything about a meal and how it was made, or asks what’s being served before so I can prepare a similar gluten free, grain free, healthy alternative to bring along. Not because I’m trying to be rude or question your cooking ability (me and most of my family will enjoy every bite), I’m just trying to see if it’s okay for one of my daughters to eat. Consequently, I’m “that” mom who has a cart full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and expensive organic stuff and never enough grocery money.
However, I won’t ask that the entire menu for a group, the class, the party, be altered to my strict dietary specifications. I won’t ask everyone to make exceptions just for us. My daughter understands that too. She understands that she’s different. She can’t quite figure out why she’s different, she just knows that she can’t eat what everyone else eats because it makes her really sick. That’s hard for a five year old to accept sometimes.
It’s even harder now. Because, now I’m “that” mom who doesn’t really know the answer or how to accept it either. I’m just hoping and praying after the doctors told us, “it might not be Celiac disease after all…it’s possibly Crohn’s disease…it could be both…it could be neither…we don’t know”,  that there’s another answer besides medication for the rest of her life.

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However, I’m going to be “that” mom who shows my children – all four of them – that faith, family, humor, hard work, and choosing the right is more important than being like everyone else. That keeping our bodies healthy and our hearts turned to God should be an individual and life-long mission. I’m going to be “that” mom who messes up, forgets, fails, forgives, and tries again and hopefully my children will learn to do the same.
I’m going to be “that” mom who steps out of her comfort zone. Who is understanding and helps other. Who keeps working toward a goal until I reach it. Who makes a difference. Who chooses the right. I’m going to be strong and courageous, funny and adventurous, inquisitive and thoughtful. That mom who smiles and laughs, finds the positives in every situation, teaches truths, and loves unconditionally.
I’m going to be “that” mom who will not be overcome with anxiety because I am partners with an amazingly strong and faithful husband and we are partners with God.
Yes, I’m going to be “that” mom

Chia Seed Fruit Leather: Energy Snack

 

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Apple-Blueberry Chia Seed Fruit Leather

Strawberries, raspberries, pear, apricot, peach, mango…really any fruit in season would work for this recipe. In fact, this recipe is so easy it only calls for two ingredients. Which doesn’t sound like much of a recipe so much as a “hey, here’s an idea!”

Hey, here’s an idea!

I’ve talked about 5 Reasons You Should Be Eating Chia Seeds before. One of those reasons is that it may benefit endurance athletes by helping to sustain their energy and provide a lot of the same benefits as sports drinks, but with more nutrients and less sugar. So, I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to bring chia seeds along with me on long runs. As much as I love chia seeds I don’t particularly love them just mixed with water (or picking them out of the front of my teeth).

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Chia seeds are good. Fruit leather is good. Why not Chia Seed Fruit Leather?!

Chia seeds mixed with pureed fruit will give you natural sugars for a quick burst of energy plus all the benefits of chia seeds for long lasting energy. Once it’s dehydrated, Chia Seed Fruit Leather is also very portable which was really what I was going for.

P.S. you can also pour any leftover pureed fruit and chia seed mixture into a container and put it in the freezer….HELLO! FREEZER JAM!

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Like I said, this healthy and yummy recipe only calls for two ingredients: pureed fruit of your choice and chia seeds! (Depending on the kind of fruit you may also need to add a little honey and lemon juice)

I love my food dehydrator and use it for lots of things. You can purchase one here.  However, you don’t need a food dehydrator to make fruit leather. You can use your oven. Don’t worry I’ll tell you how to make it both ways.

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Chia Seed Fruit Leather

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups pureed fruit (it should equal 3 cups after it’s been pureed)
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1  tbsp. honey (opt.)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice (if using fruit that may brown, such as apples & pears)

*Fruit combo ideas:

apple-blueberry……..2 cups applesauce to 1 cup blueberry

peach-mango…………1- 1/2 cups each

strawberry-banana…2 cups strawberry to 1 cup banana

pear-nectarine……….1 – 1/2 cups each

pineapple-guava…….2 cups pineapple to 1 cup guava

Preparation:

Wash, core, peel, seed, and whatever else is applicable to the fruit you use. For the strawberries I just cut off the green tops and rinsed them, but you could make it as simple as buying a jar of applesauce (with no added sugar) and just using that. Put the fruit in a food processor and puree along with honey or lemon juice if needed. Stir in the chia seeds.

  • Dehydrator Method:

* This is the preferred method. Even if you have a small kitchen a dehydrator can be stored out of the way until in use. This method is the healthiest and most cost effective (having your oven on for hours during warm months will up your utility bill!)

Pour pureed fruit and chia seed mixture onto the plastic insert in your dehydrator. You may need two shelves, depending on the size of your dehydrator. Use a plastic spatula or spoon to spread the mixture out evenly. Set the dehydrator to 135 F (or follow directions for fruit leather for your particular model) and let it go for about 6 hours. Test to make sure it’s no longer sticky, but not so dry that it cracks.

When it’s done, gently peel it from the tray onto a piece of parchment paper. Cut the parchment paper and fruit leather together into strips and roll up. Store in an airtight container.

  • Oven Method:

*Unless you have a confection oven with a fan this method will actually cook the fruit instead of drying it.

Set your oven temperature to as low as it will go. Some go as low as 150 others only down to 200 degrees. Just remember that the lower the temp the longer it will take, but the lower the temp the more nutrients you keep in tact. Here’s a general guild to go off, but overall it’s the feel that you’re looking for. Just touch the top of the fruit leather with your finger. If it’s sticky or indents when lightly pressed, it’s not done. It needs to be dry.

  • 150 F/65 C      4-5 hours
  • 175 F/80 C      3-4 hours
  • 200 F/95 C     2 – 2  1/2  hours

Line an 18″ x 26″ baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread prepared mixture onto the parchment until it’s an even 1/4 inch thick, leaving a couple inches around the edge. Bake for the appropriate time, checking every couple hours. Again, it should not be sticky when done. Allow to cool, before cutting into strips and rolling up. Store in airtight container.

Grab some Chia Seed Fruit Leather on your way out the door for your Saturday morning run, toss them in your bag before a hike, or into the kids’ lunchboxes. It’s a healthy and yummy way to stay full and energized.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

 

Healthy Grape Lime Rickey

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A cool drink on a hot day doesn’t have to come from a can of carbonated corn syrup or a soda fountain. There has been so much already said about the health benefits of reducing or eliminating carbonated and sugary beverages from our diets that I don’t really feel like I could say more to add to the conversation.

I will simply say this – I have never been a soda drinker. I was raised on water or at the very worst Kool-Aid. The only reason my mom kept a few cans of Sprite or Coke around was for medicinal purposes (settling an upset stomach). I realize though that for some the love of soda is real!

However, I will also say as a young teen I remember going to Warren’s Burger Bar just to order a Grape Lime Rickey. The original Lime Rickey usually consists of soda water or a lemon lime or grape soda with a syrupy flavoring added in. But I didn’t know or care what was in it then. It just tasted good.

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So, this Healthy Lime Rickey was a treat for my kids and brought back some good memories for me too.

I’ll show you guys the shortcut version and the slightly more labor intensive, yet healthiest version. Both ways taste great and is a huge step up health wise compared to the original.

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5-Minute Grape Lime Rickey

Makes about 1  liter

  • 2 cups frozen grapes (Put in the freezer at least 2 hours before)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp.)
  • about 6 ice cubes
  • Stevia to taste (liquid or powder)

Combine the frozen grapes, water, lime juice, and ice in a blender. Blend on high for several minutes. Add stevia 1/2 teaspoon at a time – pulse with blender to stir – until the sweetness is to your liking. You can pour the drink through a mesh strainer to collect any grape skins that didn’t get blended. Garnish with a lime and enjoy!

Super Healthy Grape Lime Rickey

  • 1 quart kefir water
  • 1/4 cup 100% organic grape juice (purple or white)
  • 1 lime sliced
  • ice for serving

You can purchase Water Kefir Grains (here) or at your local health food store. You may also be able to buy water kefir already made. If you can find it be sure it doesn’t have any added flavor, unless of course it’s grape, then that just made this super healthy drink a lot less labor intensive. If that’s the case you can skip to the end of this post.

How to Make Water Kefir

  1. 1 cup hot filtered water
  2. 1/4 cup organic, raw sugar (no honey as it has antibacterial properties and we’re trying to grow some good bacteria – probiotics)
  3. cool filtered water to fill a quart jar
  4. Water Kefir Grains

Warm about a cup of filtered water and stir in the sugar until it dissolves (What?! Sugar? Yes, this feeds the bacteria and by the time you drink it the sugar has been eaten up.) Pour it into the quart and finish filling the jar with cool filtered water. Add in the kefir grains. Place a clean dish rag or cheesecloth over the top and wrap a rubber band around it. Place the jar in a dark pantry or on the counter (some place where it won’t be disturbed) and allow it to ferment for 1 – 2 days.

After about 2 days pour in the grape juice and replace the cloth and rubber band and return the jar to it’s spot for another 2-3 days. This will give the drink a grape flavor and a nice “fizzy” effect, just like soda!

Place the jar of grape kefir water in the fridge for a day to stop the fermentation. When you’re ready to serve just pour the grape kefir water into a pitcher, add some slices of lime, and lots of ice. You’ll get that soda effect with tons more health benefits.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

 

 

5 Runner’s Rules Before You Race

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I heard there was a 5k with an entry fee of a can of food for a local food drive. It was the perfect excuse to drop the kids off at my sister’s and go for a run. It was a last minute decision and I had just long enough to throw on my running shoes, shorts, and drop the kids off.

All I really knew before getting there was the start time, location, and distance of the run. It was a very fun, family oriented, unofficial, and non competitive event.

I just wanted to beat my previous 5k record of 26 minutes and enjoy a quiet run. It didn’t take me long to start thinking of a list of things one should do before and during any race. Why? Because I had managed to check off all the “do not’s” of a race. Even a short one like this.

  • I was totally unprepared - no water bottle (I was unaware that there would be no water station other than a drinking fountain at the start/finish), forgot my armband for my phone and earbuds, and no sunglasses or hat.
  • This was a problem because I hadn’t really thought too much about the weather. The event was at 6 p.m. in 90 degree heat on a cloudless day with barely a breeze. I was mildly concerned about having a heat stroke.
  • I arrived just as they were getting ready to start so I didn’t have time to go to the bathroom before. This became an even bigger problem as I was approaching the finish when I saw the bathrooms and blessed drinking fountain. I’ve had four children mind you so the half run, half cross-legged dance I performed as I ran right past the handful of balloons at the finish line to the bathroom was comical.
  • Even though it wasn’t a long run I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch and realized I was starving after only a mile. The heat and exertion sapped my energy quick.
  • I also had thrown on a new pair of running shorts that I had only worn once before. Maybe it was the heat and sweat combined with the fact that I was wearing all black, but everything was riding up and twisting weird. Whatever it was my cloths felt super uncomfortable!  

After slurping as much water as I could get from the drinking fountain, then splashing it on my face to stave off heat stroke, and trying to recover some dignity after peeing myself a little, I sat on the grass in the shade and thought of these 5 Runner’s Rules that anyone who plans to run a race – 5k to a marathon – should follow.

*These rules have been gleaned from runner friends and family members as well as my own experiences.


      1. Get Ready, Get Set

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Running a race requires being prepared. Obviously, you can’t show up to run a marathon if you’ve never ran more than 5 miles. Follow a training schedule. Be as physically prepared as possible. Drink plenty of water and the right food in the days before and morning of to help power your body through a long run. Knowing a little of what to expect before you arrive on race day helps a lot with any pre-race jitters as well. If you can run the course, or at least get a preview before the race, that’s great and can give you a boost of confidence just knowing the terrain.

Not only knowing the track, but knowing what to expect from the racing venue itself is valuable. Where to be and when are important. Is there a shuttle? Do you need someone to drop you off? Pick you up? Make sure you are at the starting line with time to spare so you can get your bib number pinned on right, stretch, set your play list, do a ritualistic good luck dance, whatever to be ready to run.

2. Weather it’s hot or Weather it’s Cold

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This is part of being prepared, but mostly just common sense: dress appropriately for the weather. Be sure you have gear and outerwear to match. Also, be aware that depending on how long it takes you to complete the race may mean you started the race at 40 degrees, but will end it at 70. (P.S. Once you get running it may feel anywhere between 10 – 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature.) If you wear sunglasses, be sure they are ones meant for sports. There’s nothing more obnoxious than glasses bouncing around on your face.

Sometimes complementary things like gloves or hats will be provided the day of the race, but they may not. Bring what you need, but also be prepared to shed some layers as you go. Those complimentary gloves can be handed to a volunteer at a drink station and you won’t have to worry about tracking them down later. If you have to use your own stuff then be sure to write your name on the tag, hand it to a friend or family member cheering for you along the race course, find a comfortable way to carry it with you, or make peace with the fact that you probably won’t see that article of clothing again.

3. Taking Care of Business

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Excuse my potty mouth, but this topic must be covered. Try to take care of your business before you run. With all that water you’ve been drinking to properly hydrate yourself before the race you wouldn’t want to forget to use the bathroom before setting out on a long run. Nothing is more uncomfortable than trying to hold it and run at the same time.

However, having said that, for longer races you should be replacing your lost fluids and calories throughout the race. There’s a good chance that you’ll have to go again during the race. Get comfortable doing your business in a portable toilet along the race course…or I have a few friends (men and women) who prefer to just veer off the road for a minute to the nearest bush. Although there are the diehards who don’t stop running for anything; be it vomit, poop, pee, or a menstrual period. Adjust your gross factor until you’re comfortable while you pursue your goal.

4. Snack Attack

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If you’re running in any kind of official race you can be sure there will be at least one drink station. You can survive shorter distances like 5k – 10k without an energy boost, but anything longer will require you to refuel during the race. Pack a snack. A good protein bar will replenish your energy (my favorite gluten free and Paleo brand is G2G protein bars; Almond Butter and Chocolate Chip. You can find them here). An electrolyte gel is another great way to keep yourself hydrated in addition to water. Here’s a highly recommended brand. Or my favorite is some chia seeds added to water or an electrolyte drink.

At the end of the race course you’ll probably be provided with a post race snack and/or water. My husband ran a 10k where all they handed out at the end was a small cup of chocolate ice cream and water. I ran one where I got a brown paper bag full of things like a banana, granola bar, chips, peanuts, and a water bottle.

After the race you may get something, but if you have diet restrictions be sure to bring your own post-run snack. A banana is a great recovery snack along with a recovery drink like this one. Or you could just drink some chocolate milk. The chocolate milk has the perfect ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and sugars your body needs to replenish the electrolytes and fluids lost. (Organic dairy milk if you can, or chocolate almond or cashew milk work almost as good). Ask a friend or family member to have it ready for you at the finish line.

5. Try it Out 

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There are so many running accessories on the market. Your running friend may love their waist pack, but it may drive you crazy after mile 4. Those shorts might be adorable, but they may chafe like mad. Ask your friend if you can borrow her waist pack for a long run to test it out before you buy one for yourself. Make sure those adorable shorts ride comfortably.

And by all means, don’t break in a new pair of shoes on race day. On the flip side, you should change your shoes out twice a year if you’re running 3 or more times a week. Plan to spend at least a couple weeks running in your new shoes before you try a race in them. And as a side note, duct tape works great to avoid blisters. Put a small piece of duct tape on your heel or toe where blisters are prone to form.


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Well, I didn’t beat my best time, but I matched it despite all the things I didn’t do right…and I didn’t even get heat stroke. Happy running!

Food Lamor by Melissa