Welcome

Melissa-profile This is more than just a recipe blog. I am not a chef. I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or anything else. I am a mom of a 4 year old daughter with celiac disease, wife of a Crossfit junkie, and healthy food lover. I love learning about and cooking new, healthy and delicious gluten free 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 Love} by Melissa.

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Paleo Dinner Rolls

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These dinner rolls are pretty simple to make, great with some drizzled honey, and fits into a grain free or paleo diet. It took a while to wrap my head around the idea that I could use ground nuts to make “breads”. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, all kinds of possibilities and variety have opened up.

These dinner rolls are filling because they are packed with protein instead of refined carbohydrates. You can serve them warm from the oven or freeze them for later.

Paleo Dinner Rolls

Makes 1 dozen rolls

1 cup almond flour, sifted

2/3 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder (gluten free and aluminum free)

1/2 tsp. ground Himalayan pink salt

4 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp. coconut oil, warmed until turns to liquid

1 tbsp. honey

1/2 cup almond milk

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Preheat the oven to 350.

Sift the almond flour to get a smoother finished product. You can take the left over almond bits after sifting and grind them again in a nut grinder then add them to the bowl.

Stir together all the dry ingredients then add in the wet.

Once everything’s combined use an ice cream scoop to plop the dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet or  into a muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and spring back when gently pressed with a finger.

Serve warm as a side to a healthy meal.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

Clean Eating Taco Soup

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From the get-go I knew it was going to be a busy day, so I pulled out my trusty Crockpot and started throwing in ingredients for taco soup. I got a recipe for taco soup from one of those neighborhood recipe exchanges years ago. I can’t find it anymore, but I remember it was really simple – cooked ground beef, canned vegetables and beans with a taco seasoning packet in a slow cooker and you’ve got yourself some taco soup. I thought about that recipes as I rummaged through the fridge and pantry.

The taco soup I was making wouldn’t involve quite so many cans, it may have taken a few extra minutes to slice vegetables and blend spices, but it would be gluten free, clean eating, healthy, and tasty.

“Clean eating” is a kind of a funny term for food if you think about it. I mean, I assume any edible product is made in a clean facility with proper sanitary regulations practiced. That’s not what clean eating means though.

What is Clean Eating?

It means the food is as unprocessed as possible and free of artificial ingredients or production methods that drastically alter the original form (man-made, chemically altered,  or genetically engineered/modified). In other words grown organically. This doesn’t just mean that you stick with whole foods, but also that the source of your whole foods has been grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides, animals are grass-fed, free-range, and not given growth hormones or antibiotics. Our clean eating list also includes gluten free too.

In other words that packet of taco seasoning with it’s preservatives and, yes, gluten fillers isn’t clean eating.

Does that seem like a lot to remember to you too?

It did to me at first too. So I just started paying attention more to labels (something that I already did anyway when shopping for gluten free food). Here’s my Clean Eating & Gluten Free Costco Shopping List to help narrow down some of the confusion at everyone’s favorite warehouse store.

I made my taco soup for our meatless Monday meal, but you can add some ground beef to yours if you like.

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Clean Eating Taco Soup

1 lb. ground beef, opt. (organic, grass-fed)

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium zucchini, cubed

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 cup frozen corn

2 – 1/2 cups soaked black beans (rinsed and drained) or 2- 15 oz. canned black beans, drained

1 – 15 oz. can organic diced tomatoes

1 cup salsa (homemade bottled, fresh, or store bought)

2-3 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. ground Himalayan salt or sea salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

Cook ground beef in a skillet with onions and garlic until cooked through. While that cooks chop and prepare veggies, measure out spices, etc. If you’re enjoying this soup meatless, then don’t worry about precooking anything. Combine all ingredients a crockpot, stir, cover and set to low. Cook for 4-6 hours. Serve with corn chips and toppings.

Top it with any combo of:

sliced green onions

sliced black olives

lime juice

fresh cilantro

grated cheddar cheese

 

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

Spiced Apple Cider Chicken

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“So long as you have food in your mouth you have solved all questions for the time being.”  - Franz Kafka

Amen, Franz. Amen.

It’s so easy to be swept up in the extraordinarily mundane or struggle for composure during the turbulent times of life. But both routine and stress melt away for just a moment when you’re enjoying a homemade meal. For me, the preparation is part of my release. I’ve learned to love the process.

Sure it’s nice to throw everything into a crock pot once in a while, but more often than not I truly unwind when I spend a half hour and just cook. I savor the smells, often sniffing as I go until it’s just right. I kind of get in a zone where I don’t mind the little 1 year old at my feet pulling every pot and pan out of the cupboard and filling them with plastic cups from the other cupboard, or the kitchen table covered in homework, artwork, and puzzles.

I sometimes turn on my favorite Pandora station (The Piano Guys) and let myself get carried away. You know the rat on Ratatouille? I must look just like that when I cook.

Tonight I lost myself in the smells and tastes of this Spiced Apple Cider Chicken. It’s savory with a hint of sweet that my whole family devoured. And while our mouths were full all the questions were solved…if just for that moment.

Spiced Apple Cider Chicken

 

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast, or 6-8 thighs
Himalayan pink salt & black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 – 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1. In a small bowl combine dry spices – clove, nutmeg, paprika, and rosemary if using dried.
2. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper chicken and lay aside. Slice onion.
3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the garlic until it starts to sizzle then reduce heat to medium and add the onions and chicken.
4. Cook the chicken about 8-12 minutes if using chicken breasts or 6-8 if using thighs, rotating the chicken every few minutes to be sure it browns evenly. Onions will caramelize as the chicken cooks.
5.  Half way through the cooking pour in the apple cider vinegar over top of the chicken.
6. When the chicken is almost done pour in apple cider or apple juice in. If using fresh rosemary toss it in now. Allow the chicken to simmer on low in the juices for a several more minutes, until the liquid is slightly reduced, scraping the bits off the bottom.
7. Serve it up nice and hot with the caramelized onions piled on top next to some simple mashed potatoes and steamed carrots or a big green salad.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

 

 

Which Diet Should You Be Following?

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Saying there are a lot of diets out there, is an understatement. You’ve got everything from vegan to the meat-loving paleo diet and whatever falls in between.

I’ve been wondering, postulating, and otherwise supposing about how diet affects people so differently. Since my daughter’s diagnosis with Celiac I’ve had lots of people say things like, “my 40-something-year-old mother was just diagnosed with Celiac too. Why? Why are so many people suddenly becoming allergic, intolerant, or having an auto-immune reaction to food?”

Here’s how I answer such questions…I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, dietitian, or researcher so I really can’t say definitively one way or another why so many people are developing such aversions to certain foods or what the best solution is. However, I don’t have to have a doctorate degree or decades of clinical studies to know my own body. And really, in my opinion, that’s what it comes down to - knowing your own body.

Paying attention to your body –  how’s your poop (yes, that’s a telltale sign), health of your skin, weight issues, and mood are some of the surface indicators of your body speaking to you. Other things like infertility, heart disease, and diabetes may all be your body your body trying to talk to you. Registered dietitians agree that many diseases can be prevented through healthy eating, Read more here.  Here’s another great article about what your body is trying to tell you from Experiencelife.com

For the purpose of this discussion I’m going to define Diet as what a person habitually eats on a daily basis.  So no, I’m not talking about a a crash diet that claims to make you lose 10 lbs. in 3 days, or a detox. These kinds of “diets” are not something that are healthy to follow for a long period of time. And before we go further, it’s a good idea to check with a health care professional before making any major diet changes.

My family (all four kids included) strive to follow a diet that is as diversified in healthy, whole foods as possible. Some people call it “clean eating”, many nutritionists and dietitians call it a low glycemic diet.

Following a Low Glycemic Diet 

Diets that fall into the low glycemic category will have some important things in common. They will emphasis foods that are whole, unprocessed, unrefined, raw, organic, not genetically enhanced or modified, including healthy fats, and a low sugar intake. Overall this diet can help to regulate blood sugar levels and balance hormones, which in turn can cause a domino effect of positive health results.

The endocrine system (the system of the body that produce hormones) manages all the organs, releasing the right chemical hormone to spur the other systems of the body to work properly. When the hormones are balanced and the endocrine system is functioning optimally the result may be a higher metabolism, clear skin, fertility, improved digestion, and not surprisingly, a great impact on emotional well being.

Let’s take the Paleo diet for example -it’s the Crossfit community’s go-to weight loss and muscle building diet. Our family has loosely followed the Paleo diet for several years – and by loosely follow, I mean that many of the meals I prepare qualify as paleo. We enjoy fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean protein, however, we also enjoy a moderate amount of starches like rice, beans, potatoes, and the occasional dairy…okay, so very loosely. This kind of diet, and other low glycemic diets are very beneficial for those who have an intolerance to wheat, dairy, have diabetes, or struggle with controlling weight.

Although many low glycemic diets allow for whole grains like wheat, barley, rye, rice, and other whole grains, if a gluten sensitivity is the problem be sure to stay away from the gluten-filled grains. Here’s my 6 Must-Know Gluten Free GrainsI try to incorporate a large variety of grains in my families diet and find myself baking a gluten free bread at least once a week.

Trying a new diet should be an entire lifestyle change when it comes to what’s happening in your kitchen. Give yourself a break! Ease into it. If a certain way of eating works with your body and your life, then run with and enjoy more happiness and health.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Squares

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The leaves are changing colors in the mountains, the nights are getting cooler….it must be time for pumpkins! As October approaches there’s a few things that you just can’t help but notice. 1) Halloween costumes and decorations have taken over every store. (Seriously? Pretty soon they’re going to start pushing Halloween right after the 4th of July!)  2) Everyone starts craving warm comfort food like bread and soup, and 3) pumpkins are finding they’re way onto front porches and into our dinner and dessert dishes.

Speaking of dessert, my mom makes the best pumpkin squares. Every fall she busts out a can of pumpkin puree and whips up this yummy dessert. We already know how good pumpkin is for you with those antioxidants and vitamins found in dark orange fruits and vegetables. Since my mission in the kitchen is to create gluten free food that also has no refined sugar, and will overall be something healthy to fuel my family, I had to make a few changes to mom’s original.

I wanted a similar look, feel, and taste that I love about mom’s pumpkin squares, just without the flour and sugar. This grain free version is dairy free, gluten free, and Paleo. After a little time in the oven these pumpkin squares come out soft, spongy, and won’t dry out easily like so many other gluten free desserts.

*If you have pumpkin on the brain too, here’s my recipe for a gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Here’s how I converted this classic dessert into a sweet, healthy, and grain free treat:

The Original                                              The Conversion 

1 – 2/3 cup granulated sugar —————> 2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup vegetable oil ——————-> 1 cup almond butter

2 cups white flour ——————-> 1/3 cup coconut flour

milk chocolate chips —————-> dark chocolate chips

Pure maple syrup (not maple-flavored syrup) is full of vitamins and minerals that can boost your immune system, but also packs a kick of natural sucrose (yes that’s sugar). Fortunately, you can cut your sugar intake by using half as much maple syrup in place of regular cane sugar. I used even less than that and this dessert still tasted just as sweet!

Almond Butter that has been ground using raw, unsalted almonds will provide you with protein, fiber, and healthy fat. In this recipe I used almond butter to replace not only the vegetable oil, but also a majority of the flour. The consistency of almond butter allows it to be very versatile in baking. I tried these with peanut butter as well and my husband went crazy for them! Either kind of nut butter works.

Coconut Flour gives this recipe that spongy quality. Coconut flour is simply dried coconut meat that has been ground and is an excellent gluten free flour substitute. Although coconut and wheat flour CANNOT be swapped in a 1:1 ratio, coconut is great to add to a flour blend, especially one that includes a nut flour or nut butter.

When using coconut flour remember this simple rule: 1/4 cup coconut to 1 cup wheat flour ratio + extra eggs.

This isn’t an exact science, as you can tell, I didn’t use a full half cup coconut flour to replace the 2 cups wheat flour called for. Since nut flours/nut butters play so nicely together with coconut flour, you have a little more leeway in your measurements when you combine the two.

Alright, enough talk. On to the recipe!

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 Grain Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup almond butter or peanut butter

1 – 16 oz. can pumpkin puree

1/3 cup coconut flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. finely ground sea salt or pink salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine all the ingredients using an electric mixer. Pour the pumpkin mixture into a parchment paper lined 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting into squares. Store in a container in the fridge.

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Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

Gluten Free Muffin Tin Rolls

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I am forever in pursuit of easy, tasty, and healthy gluten free baked goods. My obsession is partly because I love bread, but mostly it’s because of my 4 year old daughter with Celiac disease. Following a gluten free diet may suddenly make enjoying baked goods seem like a long lost dream, or at the very least, way too complicated to bother with. Instead of using a cup of one kind of flour, now it takes a handful of different “flours” ranging from rice, to tapioca, to beans!

It seems like way too much work and fuss over a little roll. Yep, I know exactly how you feel. However, I have some good reasons for why I pull out my gluten free flour blends at least once a week and bake…

#1 Health Benefits

Despite all the hype right now for grain-free and Paleolithic diets (which I’m totally for!) there are still some major benefits of consuming a variety of healthy grains. Organic, non-GMO, whole grains that contain the protein gluten, like wheat, rye, and barley can be a very healthy and beneficial way to get nutrients…if you don’t have an autoimmune response to gluten that is. Still, many people suffer from a sensitivity to these types of grains. Whether you can enjoy whole wheat, are gluten sensitive, or have celiac disease it’s important to get a variety of grains in your diet. If you’re gluten intolerant it’s even more important as gluten free grains help promote a healthy digestive system. Grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oatmeal also helps to speed up metabolism which may help maintain a healthy weight. Here’s my list of 6 Must-Know Gluten Free Grains.

#2 Energy to Burn

If you’re a runner or play any kind of high intensity sport, then you’ll understand the difference in your energy level when consuming some healthy carbohydrates as opposed to not. Please note I said healthy carbs – as in unrefined, organic whole grains without tons of added sugar. Sorry, Twinkies won’t cut it. Whole grains can be turned into energy very quickly in the body. Make that a high protein grain like quinoa, add to that a high protein grain substitute like bean flour, and you’ll have energy to burn! Not to mention you’ll stay full much longer.

#3 Comfort Food

Let’s face it, grains are comfort foods. Nothing compares to a slice of homemade bread – it just gives you warm fuzzies. It’s something to soak up soup broth, spread some homemade jam on, or just enjoy along with any meal.

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Gluten Free Muffin Tin Rolls

makes 1 dozen

1 cup gluten free flour blend, make your own blend or click here for my favorite ready made blend

1 cup bean flour, I like this brand of sprouted garbanzo bean flour

1 cup gluten free whole grain, rolled oats, pulsed in food processor until flour consistency.

1 tsp. finely ground sea salt or pink salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 baking powder (aluminum and gluten free)

1/4 cup apple sauce, no added sugar

2 tbsp. unfiltered honey

2 eggs, beaten

1 – 1/2 cup milk (almond milk, soy, rice, or organic dairy milk)

Preheat the oven to 350 while you combine all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine all the wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix together until everything is blended. Pour into a lightly greased muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops turn golden brown and spring back when gently pressed. Cool on a rack and enjoy warm, or cool completely then seal in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Pop it in the microwave for 10 – 20 seconds or let thaw at room temp whenever you want one.

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Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

Chicken Tikki Masala & Coconut Mint Yogurt Sauce

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There’s a little restaurant tucked away in the middle of town called the Bombay Cafe. The hubby and I enjoyed some delicious coconut curry and tikki masala, along with some very friendly service. A week later and I’m craving Indian food again. Some people shy away from ethnic food when they’re preparing a meal for their kids. Not me. I figure the more flavors I expose them to now, the more willingly they’ll enjoy a variety of cultural cuisines all throughout their life. Now I just need to come up with a gluten free naan bread recipe…mmmm. Anyway, there are some fantastic health benefits to curry spices.

Take turmeric – a traditional Indian spice that gives the classic yellow tint to curry. Turmeric not only makes your curry taste good, but is also a super spice (no that’s not one of the spice girls).
It’s an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, as well as boosts brain function, regulates blood pressure, combats depression, and may inhibit cancer cells from multiplying (with the help of black pepper to aid in absorption).

Didn’t know your tikki masala could do all that did ya?

So I went to my spice cupboard and started pulling out spices. I needed some Indian curry in a hurry using what I already had in the kitchen – some coconut milk, chicken tenders, garlic, and spices. You can buy curry powder already blended, but making it yourself really doesn’t require much more effort and you can adjust the spice and flavor to your liking.

spices

Homemade Chicken Tikki Masala:

1 – 1/2 lb. chicken tenders, cubed

Salt and pepper

1-2 tbsp. organic coconut oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 -1/2 cans full fat coconut milk

curry seasoning blend (recipe below)

Coconut Mint Yogurt Sauce (recipe below)

2 cups organic brown rice, cooked in 4 cups water + some salt and pepper

small handful cilantro, leaves trimmed and finely chopped for sprinkling over everything

Start the brown rice while you cut and prepare the chicken. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet, add garlic and simmer for just a minute. Throw in the chicken and lightly salt. Brown the chicken on all sides for several minutes. Once it’s browned pour in the coconut milk and curry blend. Stir to incorporate all the spices. Now just sit back and let it simmer on low to marry all the flavors while the rice finishes.

Curry Seasoning Blend:

1-2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground clove

2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1-1/2 tbsp. turmeric

2 tsp. chili powder or ground red chili peppers

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground Himalayan pink salt or sea salt

1 tsp. coconut sugar

Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl. I only added 1 tsp. black pepper for a nice mild flavor the kids could enjoy too. You can adjust the heat by upping the black and red chili pepper amounts.

Coconut Mint Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup prepared coconut yogurt or Greek yogurt (plain)

1 tbsp. lime juice

2 leaves fresh mint, finely chopped

2 sprig fresh cilantro, leaves trimmed, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. pink salt

Stir together and drop a dollop of yogurt on each plate.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

Gluten Free Apple Strudel Cinnamon Rolls

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Fall is on it’s way, apples are coming into season, and everyone is craving some warm comfort food that reminds them of home. At least I am. It can be frustrating though, attempting to indulge in some reminiscent baked goods when more recent food allergies have kind of put a halt on “bread”. Well this bread is gluten free with no refined sugar. Instead I made my own bean flour blend and used coconut sugar, no sugar added apple sauce, and real maple syrup to make this delicious treat. Yummy!
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Beans are full of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and other vitamins. Whether baking gluten free or not, adding bean flour to a recipes will not only add some healthy benefits, but added moisture. As far as breads go, it can also add some consistency that helps to bind the flours together while you’re working with it.

Start by mixing your gluten free bean flour blend:

1-1/4 cups garbanzo bean flour, I use organic, sprouted garbanzo bean flour

3 cups gluten free all-purpose baking mix (this all purpose baking blend is my favorite)

1/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin or 1 tsp. guar gum

In a large bowl stir together all the ingredients until well blended.

 Gluten Free Apple Strudel Cinnamon Rolls

3 cups GF bean flour blend

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1-1/4 cup warm milk, around 110 degrees F (organic dairy, almond, rice, or coconut milk all work)

2-1/2 tsp. yeast

1/2 tbsp. finely ground sea salt or Himalayan pink salt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 organic butter, room temperature

1 cup apple sauce (no sugar added) + 1/2 apple peeled, cored, and chopped

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped

In a separate bowl combine sugar, warm milk, and yeast. Stir to dissolve sugar and yeast, then let it rest for 5 minutes or until frothy bubbles begin to form on top.  Add the egg and salt and stir until it’s well incorporated. Stir in the GF flour until the dough forms a ball.

Using the extra flour, dust a large clean cutting board or counter. Get some flour on your hands and/or coconut oil to keep the dough from sticking to everything as you gently fold and kneed it a few times. Now start pressing it out into a large square. I actually used a large square serving tray to help contain the mess and keep the thickness uniform. Generously sprinkle more of the flour blend as needed.

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Spread the softened butter all over the top of the dough. Plop spoonfuls of the apple sauce and cinnamon mixture on and spread around. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Now roll.

Rolling this bad boy is probably the trickiest part, but slow and steady gets the cinnamon rolls (isn’t that how the saying goes?) It’s only tricky because it can stick and tear easily. Make sure to use more of the excess flour as you go, and remember, there’s no gluten to make this dough stretchy so be gentle.

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Here’s a trick I learned recently – use the cinnamon flavored dental floss to cut the roll into 2-3 inch sections. Brilliant! Carefully move each section to a lightly buttered 13 x 9 inch pan. I wasn’t thinking and used a 9 inch round pan. You’ll have more room for the rolls to rise and they won’t be so squished if you use the larger pan.

Preheat the oven to 450 F. I just put the pan of rolls right in the oven as it was preheating, helping the rolls to rise slightly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove from oven to cool.

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Now you can top them with a simple No Refined Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. Beat ingredients together on high until smooth. Spread the frosting over the warm rolls…then eat them!

1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

a splash or two of milk until it’s as thick or runny as you like

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

What Are Fermented Vegetables & How To Make Them

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I was never a huge fan of sauerkraut, and the closest I’d ever come to eating fermented vegetables were pickles. Then I found out some incredible health benefits to eating these sour veggies. I’ve already tried my hand at homemade Greek yogurt and dairy free coconut yogurt/kefir, but for whatever reason I was worried about attempting fermented vegetables.

You may be wondering what fermented vegetables are exactly.

Fermented vegetables have been a part of many cultures around the world for centuries- sauerkraut in Eastern Europe and China, and kimchi in Korea. Unlike pickles that go through an anaerobic fermentation, these vegetables undergo lacto-fermentation.

What’s the difference between fermenting and pickling?

When you buy a jar of pickles you’re getting cucumbers that have been preserved using an acidic medium (a.k.a vinegar). There are no added health benefits and in many cases the pickles have undergone excessive heat during the bottling process which further strip them of nutrients. On the flip side, fermenting vegetables is accomplished by placing fresh vegetables in brine (which kills off the bad bacteria like E. coli) while the beneficial bacteria (otherwise known as lactobacillus) feed off the sugars in the vegetables, producing lactic acid.

3 Reasons You Should Be Eating Fermented Vegetables

1. Probiotics!

The process of lacto-fermentation creates probiotics, or good bacteria, that go to work in your body. These microorganisms make it easier to digest and absorb food. They do this by breaking down the food and balancing the digestive enzymes. This is a very good thing, especially for those with gastrointestinal diseases like Celiac. Being able to properly digest and absorb the food you eat will allow your body to reap all the benefits of a healthy diet.

Besides, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a happy gut is a happy person. It also supports the health of the liver by breaking down fats and proteins. The liver, which is the filter for toxins in the body, gets a big boost from probiotics. A healthy liver could potentially improve skin conditions like acne, boost metabolism, and help improves digestion as well.

Let’s recap…benefits of probiotics include: improved immune system, digestion, detoxification, absorption, bowel health, and even the potential to reverse some diseases.

2. Preserves Food

There’s no special utensils or equipment to use when preparing fermented vegetables, aside from a good shredder and some glass canning jars with lids. In fact, the whole process of fermenting actually enhances the nutrients in the vegetables. Boosting vitamins like c, b vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. When kept in a cool, dark, dry place (like a fridge), fermented vegetables can last anywhere from 4 to 18 months. That’s much longer than fresh vegetables will last and with much less effort than canning. Also they’ll still retain the slight crispness of fresh, but with an added boost of nutrients.

3. Cost Effective

It doesn’t cost much to shred some veggies and put them in a jar. Traditional homemade fermented vegetables consist of vegetables (usually cabbage), water and some salt. Put it in a jar and set it on the counter for a few days, then stick it in the fridge to slow the fermentation process.  That’s it! I didn’t want to use a lot of salt, so I made mine with a celery juice brine. (If using celery juice you will need to use a juicer. If you don’t have one, using a quality blender and then straining the pulp from the juice is the next best thing.) See my recipe below.

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Make Your Own Fermented Vegetables

Since I was a little apprehensive about this whole process, I did lots of research to be sure. Here’s the best video tutorial I found on making fermented vegetables at home. I followed their suggestion to use celery juice as a brine, but with a little added salt for flavor. It turned out really good! Since I also added a couple beets from the garden it ended up being a pretty pinkish orange color.

The best part about making your own is, not only will it be full of healthy probiotics, but you can also change up the ingredients to whatever you prefer. Add some heat with a jalapeno, change the flavor with 1 inch ginger root, or throw in some chopped herbs  like dill, parsley, cilantro, or basil.

* For the best results and healthy benefits, use organic produce. Be sure to rinse and scrub the veggies clean before shredding.

2 heads cabbage (reserve a couple whole leaves for later)

1 lb. carrots

2 red bell peppers

2 beets

1 apple

2-3 cloves garlic

1 jalapeno or red pepper flakes to taste (opt.)

1 tsp. salt. To add more healthy minerals and detox benefits, I use Himalayan Pink Salt

1 bunch celery juiced, yields about 3/4 – 1 pint liquid

1 packet culture starter, I used Culture Starter by Body Ecology

Start by finely shredding all the ingredients, except celery. Toss all the shredded vegetables and any added herbs in a large bowl. Juice the celery, and to that add the salt (if using) and starter packet. Stir until the salt and starter dissolve. Pour the celery mixture over the veggies and stir.

Now pack it into some clean canning jars. You’ll need 4 or 5 quart jars. Use a potato masher or whatever you can fit to really pack those veggies in tight. Once the jar is full with an inch or so at the top, place a piece of the cabbage leaf into the jar over the veggies before putting the lid on. Don’t tighten the lid down too tight. Trust me. The gas that’s produced from the fermentation process will build up and it needs some room to escape.

Set on the counter or pantry shelf for about 4-5 days then move them to the fridge. Enjoy a couple scoops on scrambled eggs in the morning, with lunch, and dinner for the best benefits.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

 

 

Coconut Yogurt Overnight Breakfast Bowl

This breakfast is a gluten free, clean eating, Paleo, refined sugar free, protein packed, super food studded…(inhale over exaggeratedly)…very filling, simple, and yummy bowl of goodness!

coconut-kefir-soake-breakfast-parfait1

“What the heck is Kefir? Cultured what? Fermented vegetables? I’ve made homemade yogurt, but what’s all this other stuff?”

Those may or may not have been my exact thoughts when I first heard about these strange terms. After some research, trial and error, and a little taste testing, this topic suddenly has my undivided attention.

Still don’t know what I’m talking about?

I’m talking about bacteria. (dun dun dun!) Don’t panic, these microorganisms are the good guys. For a long time western culture has had it out for bacteria in any form – antibiotics when you get the sniffles and antimicrobials in the form of hand sanitizer and cleaners. But, just like cholesterol can be divided into good (LDL) and bad (HDL), so can bacteria.

The thing is, our gut needs the good kind of bacteria, called bifidobacteria and/or lactobacilli. And chances are you’ve already had some cultured microorganisms…yogurt anyone? Ongoing research shows that these kinds of beneficial bacteria support a healthy digestive system, boosts the immune system, and greatly improves the health of the whole body. This is even more important for those with gastrointestinal diseases. I have first hand knowledge from before my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease and we went gluten free that when the gut is not working properly, overall health and well-being goes down the toilet. Seriously, happy intestines make a happy and healthy person.

If you’d like to read more about healthy bacteria, here’s a great article.

Ok, so what’s this about kefir, cultures, and fermentation?

These are all methods for consuming (in a yummy way) the good bacteria our bodies need to enjoy optimal health. Basically, you’re making your own probiotics. Fermented vegetables recipe and how-to coming soon!

Kefir is traditionally a creamy milk-based drink that has been cultured at room temperature, while yogurt is cultured at a temperature around 110 F and has a thicker consistency. Depending on whether you have a yogurt maker or not, you can make this overnight breakfast bowl with coconut kefir instead of coconut yogurt.

I cultured mine in a yogurt maker instead of at room temperature. Details, details. Call it whatever you want. It’s a dairy free, superfood, that’s great in this simple breakfast.

Coconut-kefir-soaked-breakfast-2

 

To Make Coconut Yogurt/Kefir You’ll Need:

Yogurt maker or a quart jar

2 cans full fat coconut milk (NO added ingredients like emulsifiers or thickening agents)

Freeze Dried Yogurt Starter or a good RAW Probiotic (two capsules emptied)

Heat coconut milk in a medium sauce pan until it reaches a temperature between 107-112 F. Use a candy thermometer to check. Add in the yogurt starter or empty two capsules of probiotics in to the milk. Stir until it’s incorporated.

If culturing in a yogurt maker:

Pour coconut milk into yogurt maker. Turn it on and come back in 7-10 hours. Remove from yogurt maker and set in the fridge for 4-5 hours to set up and thicken. Since coconut milk is chemically very different from dairy milk you may not end up with a very thick yogurt consistency. Try putting the cans of coconut milk in the fridge before and only use the cream, leaving the watery liquid out. Prepare the coconut cream as directed above.

If culturing at room temperature (kefir):

Make sure the cans of coconut milk are room temperature. Pour into a quart jar and stir in the starter or probiotic. The lid should be just barely tightened to allow the gasses from the fermentation process room to move. Set the jar in a warm (68-78 degree F), dark pantry. In 7-9 hours move the jar from the pantry to the fridge and allow it to cool and set up for 4-5 hours.

Coconut Yogurt Overnight Breakfast Bowl:

In a bowl combine any or all of the following to suit your fancy until it reaches 1 cup:   gluten free oats, quinoa, roughly chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, you get the idea), Chia seeds, and/or hemp heart seeds.

Pour 1 cup Coconut Yogurt/Kefir over dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Cover and set in the fridge overnight.

The next morning drizzle in some raw wild honey over top and plop some fresh berries in.

Enjoy!

Food Lamor by Melissa

 

 

Gluten Free Quick Rolls

Gluten-Free-Quick-Rolls

I should have waited to tell the kids until the day of. I should have just packed for them and let it be a surprise, instead of answering the same question over and over of, “how many more days till we go?”

No we’re not going to Disneyland…yet.

No cross country road trip. Done that.

We’re going to The Cabin. This place is almost sacred to my husband and his family. A cabin built by his grandfather and father, tucked up in the mountains among the pines and aspen trees with a cool river running almost under the back porch. A natural spring – real, unbottled mountain spring water – bubbles up from the ground where the evergreens meet the dirt road, cold and refreshing. A mama moose and her new twins like to bed down in the long grass and wild flowers, just behind the tack shed where the old horse saddles and push mower are stored. Each night there’s a roaring fire in the stone fireplace and the sound of the river and woods lulls you to sleep.

The Cabin is a magical place where fairies really come to the fairy houses the girls make each summer, and where little boys can built forts, collect rocks, and get as dirty as they please without ever being told to stop. I don’t want to miss a single second of this magical place, or be too busy to see the excitement in my children’s faces when they catch a trout or see a deer peeking at them through the trees.

So I’m doing some baking ahead of time for the drive and for when we’re there. Our gluten free, clean eating diet takes a little advanced planning sometimes, but it’s worth it. I didn’t want to spend all day working on food to bring though. So I just threw together these little gluten free quick rolls.

Gluten free and quick rolls together in the same title? Yes, but I’ll admit these are gluten free rolls. Meaning, as much as I’d love to figure out how to inject the same pillowy light, yet chewy consistency that the protein gluten gives to wheat and rye breads into a blend of gluten free flours…I just can’t mimic it perfectly.

It’s kind of like eating one of those watermelon flavored candies. Sure it tastes good, but the “watermelon” flavor is seriously nothing like the flavor of actual watermelon. Sorry Jolly Ranchers fans. Likewise, however tasty and filling, these quick rolls are a little more like a biscuit – yummy nonetheless. It’ll do the trick when you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to make a loaf of gluten free bread or you want something to put your Apple Turkey Burger Sliders on. There’s really only a couple tricks to getting these simple little rolls tasty and looking good.

GF-Rolls

Trick #1    Rub some olive oil on your hands before rolling them into balls. It will keep your hands from being covered in dough and the rolls will be smooth (as opposed to those guys in the back that are looking a little rough around the edges. Note to self: re-apply oil to hands every few rolls as needed.)

making-GF-rolls Trick #2    Baste the rolls before baking them with an egg white wash. This will give them a nice golden brown color on top and…and that’s it. It just makes them look prettier.

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Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

Apple Turkey Burger Sliders on Gluten Free Rolls

Seasoned-Turkey-burger-sliders

Anything that can pack a full-sized punch of flavor into a miniature fit-in-one-hand package is bound to be a hit. These seasoned turkey burger sliders with caramelized onions and apples over melted provolone cheese on homemade gluten free rolls are perfect for a Labor Day barbeque or to kick off a new season of football. Making the rolls before hand makes this bitesized meal come together even quicker, too.

Serve them along with some Fresh Veggie Southwestern Salsa and corn tortilla chips, Cantaloupe Caprese or Watermelon Bruschetta With Marinated Basil Cucumbers & Feta, and some GF Double Chocolate Brownies for dessert.

“Wait. Wait. Is this healthy party food you’re suggesting?”

YES! We humans are social eaters, but wouldn’t it be awesome if no one had to make compromises when they got together with friends? Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy one anothers company while eating yummy food, and not feel sluggish, bloated or otherwise exhausted from the simple act of digestion?

I didn’t think I had any problem with how I ate until my daughter’s diagnosis of celiac disease. Our house is gluten-free now, and although I can and do eat wheat when I’m out on a date with the hubby or with friends, I’ve found that eating refined, bleached wheat and sugars makes me feel kind of sick. I never knew how much that stuff was effecting me until I stopped eating it.

The point is, eating clean (unprocessed/unrefined) while accommodating food allergies doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste or make 10 different meals. You can have the best of both worlds, trust me!

GF-Rolls

For starters, having some gluten free rolls in the freezer ready for whenever is just a good idea. Gluten Free Quick Roll recipe coming soon! 

Now for the sliders…

apples-and-onions

Using a nonstick skillet works best for turkey burger. I made the mistake of using my stainless steel pan and ended up scraping the bottom a lot. A nonstick will help eliminate that issue. Also I didn’t bother coring the apples. I just rinsed, sliced, and popped out the seeds. Steaming them over the onions helps to soften any tough middle parts.

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Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

Zucchini Paleo Pizza Crust!

paleo-pizza-crust

PIZZA! I may be wrong, but I think even the most health conscious person still harbors a secret love of pizza. Whether you’re uber-healthy – following a gluten free, Paleo, or clean eating diet – you can still have your pizza! This is especially true for families like ours that follow such a diet. My kids LOVE pizza. This healthy and simple crust curbs our pizza craving for sure!

All you need is 3 main ingredients – Zucchini, Almond Flour, & Eggs

Add a little sea salt, pepper, and garlic to that and you’ve got yourself a simple and healthy way to enjoy pizza again! (Too many exclamation points? Sorry. I sometimes get overly excited about food.)

*The trick to this crust is in the zucchini. After you’ve grated the zucchini, place it in cheesecloth or a clean dish towel and squeeze all the liquid out. You want the zucchini as dry as possible. No soggy pizza crust, please. I also advise using parchment paper to cook it on so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

making-paleo-pizza-crust

Once the crust has cooked then you can add whatever toppings suit your fancy. Pretty simple right?

paleo-pizza-slice

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Enjoy!

P.S. I’m trying out this new recipe plugin. What do you think?

Melissa-Signature

Got Essential Oils? Healing Oils: The Ins & Outs

Coconut-Oil

How many times have you heard about the health benefits of essential oils? Coconut oil? Well, there’s a good reason – oil is AMAZING!

I’ll admit, I was once a skeptic about oil – confused by all the misinformation. The more I’ve learned the more I understand how beneficial a little oil can be in healing, preventing, and curing the body. The cool thing about oils is that many can be used internally and externally.

However, if you would have asked someone 20 years ago about, say, coconut oil you may have heard a different story. Did you know that coconut oil was once used to make movie theater popcorn in place of butter? Outraged movie-goers, and I’m sure more than a few industries whose sales margins were dropping, claimed the fattening oil was unhealthy and should no longer be allowed in U.S. concessions food. Coconut oil has made a comeback, but I’m sure it won’t be the last time that the debate over healthy vs. unhealthy oils is discussed.

It’s not just coconut oil that’s getting accolades for being healthy. Essential oils, like Doterra Essential Oils are produced by distilling the potent oils from organic healing plants and herbs from around the world. These types of oils have been used for thousands of years to heal and support the health of the user.

Using healthy oil to cook with can add flavor and nutrients to any dish. Here’s my top 4 picks for healthy oil to use in everyday cooking and their healing capabilities.

Healing-oils-for-cooking

But did you know you can also use essential oils when you cook? Here’s some recipes I use essential oils, like Doterra Wild Orange, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Rosemary, and Lavender to boost flavor and add healthy benefits:

Paleo Cinnamon Orange Pancakes

Healthy {Homemade} Hot Cocoa

Gluten Free Stir-Fry With Zucchini Noodles & Spicy Peanut Sauce

Peachy Herb Quinoa Salad With Rosemary-Lavender Scented Dressing

Gluten Free Sweet Biscotti Trifle

Citrus Ginger Green Smoothie

How else do you use essential oils?

Essential-oils

One of the best ways to use essential oils other than taking them internally is topically. (*Always read precautions and usage for each oil to know how to use it safely. Not all essential oils are safe to use internally and some need to be mixed with a carrier oil, like coconut oil. For more information on essential oils, uses, benefits and where to get them go here!)

My daily routine with the essential oils goes something like this…On Guard blend on the bottom of the kid’s feet before school (immune support), a drop of Frankincense on the back of everyone’s neck for focus and mental clarity, Clary Calm blend on the bottom of feet or abdomen for me when it’s that time of the month (hormone balancing blend), Citrus Bliss blend diffused into the air throughout the day (happy magic!), Deep Blue Rub on the Hubby after a Crossfit WOD, and Lavender on the bottom of the kid’s feet before bed.

Healing-oils-for-the-skin

I’ve also discovered how amazing combining coconut oil and essential oils are for my skin. I went through a pretty rough patch with acne a few years back. All those expensive treatments I bought did nothing or made it worse. Then I discovered oils and I love my skin again! My face is clear and if I start to get a breakout, it clears up 10x faster. Lavender soothes skin and combats all those bacteria that can cause pimples. Frankincense heals scars, wrinkles, and is another anti-bacterial/anti-fungal kick to acne’s butt.

Now each night before bed I rub some of my specially-made coconut oil/essential oil concoction onto my face while I run hot tap water over a wash cloth. Take the wash cloth and hold it over my face. Give it a good steam, then gently rub it off. If I need more moisture I take a dab of the oil blend, rub into my hands and then onto my face and neck. If my face seems too oily then I take good old Corn Starch and lightly dust some onto my face with a clean makeup brush to absorb the excess. If I’m having some breakouts I take a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in a separate jar and add to it the Melaluca, Lemongrass and Geranium. Then I just dab it onto the blemish, or I use the Doterra Clear Skin Topical Blend. 

Bottom line; adding healthy oils to your daily regimen can prevent and heal, keeping you and your family healthy and happy.

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

3 Ingredient Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

grain-free-PB-cookies

 

I made these last night in celebration of the last week before the kids go back to school! Maybe it’s a little more of a celebration for me and just sympathy sweets for the kids. Either way, they are chewy and yummy and so easy to make.

Years ago Alex’s grandma showed me how to take a couple eggs, a cup of peanut butter and a cup of sugar and make it into simple little peanut butter cookies. They are so good, but you have to make them really little so they don’t fall apart and there’s a lot of sugar. So I decided to take her classic recipe and alter it just enough to make it healthier, yet just as simple and good.

The trick is replacing the whole eggs with whipped egg whites and the refined white sugar with a less refined sweetener like coconut sugar or honey.  

* Okay, so actually there are 4 ingredients if you count the chocolate chips, but you get the idea. 

2 egg whites, whipped until peaks form 

1 cup organic peanut butter

1 cup coconut sugar or 3/4 cup honey

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 350. Whip egg whites several minutes with an electric mixer until peaks form. Add in the coconut sugar or honey and continue whipping until it’s blended together. Fold in room temperature peanut butter until everything’s well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips in and plop onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the tops are golden. Cool on a rack.    

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature