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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Chilled Tomato Basil & Roasted Squash Soup (Gluten Free)

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Soup seems like a silly thing to make in the heat of the summer…but not this soup. This soup is clean eating, gluten free, Paleo, and utilizes fresh vegetables from your summer garden. And the best part is, it can be served chilled. I know what you may be thinking, “Umm, I don’t do cold soup.” Well, I used to think the same thing. Then, as I was enjoying some catered appetizers at a wedding reception recently I picked up a little bowl of cool tomato basil soup. And what do you know? I really liked it! 

So I set out to recreate my version of this cool summer soup that can also be served warm on a crisp fall night. The problem was I had eaten all but 4 of the fresh tomatoes I’d gotten from grandma’s garden. As I paced around my kitchen, taking inventory of what I had to work with, I passed by for the upteenth time this week a huge banana squash given to Alex from someone at work. Hmmmm….this could work. I had been wondering how to get my kids to eat up this squash. Hiding it in a tasty soup could be just the trick. Turns out it, that was a good choice!

* If you don’t have a banana squash you could also use any other year round squash like butternut or cushaw. Or if you’re making this in the fall try pumpkin or acorn squash. No matter what squash you use, follow the same roasting directions.  

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I paired it up with some Seared Balsamic Chicken breasts for a filling and healthy dinner. Recipe coming soon…Yummy!

2 cups roasted banana squash 

(1 large banana squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed. Preheat oven to 400. Lay squash on foil lined baking sheet, skin-side down. Lightly drizzle olive oil over squash and liberally salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top and edges become golden brown. Turn down the oven temperature to 350 and turn over the squash so the skins are face up. Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes. Scoop out squash from the skins – about 2 cups worth and add with remaining ingredients.)

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 sweet onion, chopped

4 tomatoes, quartered

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk (unsweetened almond milk or organic whole milk)

1 – 6 oz. can organic tomato paste

1 cup packed fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Take the excess olive oil from the roasted squash and dump it into the pot to sautee the onions and garlic in. Cook onions and garlic until the onions are caramelized and the garlic is fragrant. Add in the scooped-out roasted squash, tomatoes, broth, milk, paste, and basil. Bring the pot to a simmer, stirring in the paste. Simmer for at least 10 minutes. Now puree it up. An immersion blender (like this one) works well, or you can carefully pour everything into a blender until it’s smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat it warm or cover and set in the fridge to eat later when it’s nice and chilled.

Serves 4-6

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

Gluten Free Product Review: Great Value GF Granola Bars

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If I always had the time and resources to make something from scratch I would, but let’s be real…sometimes you just need a quick snack to grab and go! If my youngest daughter wasn’t so severely allergic to gluten (Celiac disease) I may keep some “gluten” snacks hanging around for the other kids, but no can do. What I buy for one I buy for all.

I’ve been impressed with how many more gluten free products are finding their way onto grocery store shelves. It’s irritating that the motivation for producing all these products has been to appease a gluten free fad diet instead of the actual medical condition that requires eliminating gluten. Whatever the reasoning though, I’m grateful that it’s easier now to find relatively affordable gluten free snacks when you need it.

One of the stores that I haven’t been able to shop much at since our family went gluten free is Walmart. However, I’ve been impressed to find that they’ve jumped on the gluten free bandwagon and now have things like GF granola bars. So I picked some up to try them out.

Here’s how it breaks down on cost, ingredients and the taste-factor…

Cost- For one box of Great Value Gluten Free Granola Bars you’ll pay around $2.48 for five bars less than 1 oz. each. That’s about $.50 a bar. Compared to Udi’s Gluten Free Granola Bars which cost nearly 75% more per bar. Making homemade gluten free granola bars is still more economical. Even though homemade costs a little less than a dollar per bar they are nearly double the weight and density of the store bought ones. Even so, as far as quick and convenient, buying the Great Value bars is a great price. The down side is you can’t purchase them online yet. They’re only available in-store. If your Walmart doesn’t carry them yet, you can request them. 

Ingredients-The base for these bars is made from multigrain flakes of rice, corn and millet.  Since many people with celiacs have a hard time digesting oats even if they’re gluten free this is really nice. If you’re trying to cut out refined sugar then again, homemade is best, since the first ingredient in most store-bought bars is some form of sugar sweetener. Some of the flavors contain nuts and milk products and all of them may have trace amounts of nuts. If you have dairy or nut allergies be sure to read the allergy warning. If you’re trying to watch your calories they are 100 calories per bar.

Taste-They taste good! Very comparable to many of the 100 calorie “gluten” granola bars. There are several flavors like Dark Chocolate and Trail Mix depending on what the Walmart in your area carries.  My kid’s favorite are the Dark Chocolate. They’re not very filling though because they’re so small, which means everyone’s still hungry after eating one, but it’s something to hold them over. I don’t buy the Great Value Granola Bars often, but when I need them they’re an affordable, convenient gluten free snack for the kiddos.

What gluten free products would you like me to review? Leave a comment with a gluten free product you’d like me to do a taste test and an ingredient/cost breakdown on. 

Melissa-Signature

 

  

 

Fresh Fiesta Salad & Salsa Dressing

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I love summer rain storms. They don’t roll around often enough where I’m at, but when they do it’s like heaven. In fact, I’m almost certain heaven smells like a summer rain. I take a deep breath and feel reenergized despite the sleepless night of a baby who’s teething and an early morning because the kids want to find a good spot to watch the parade. Now that the blazing sun has evaporated any traces of the curling clouds and it’s cooling rain and we’re all tired from the parade starting 20 minutes late, I’m in need of another pick-me-up. Instead of caffeine or sugar I choose to nourish myself with fresh from the garden veggies. 

A fresh summer salad goes well with just about anything (like maybe some Fired Up Pork Ribs for dinner) or as a stand-alone lunch. Eating organic, raw vegetables is one of the best ways to glean all those beneficial nutrients. However, cooking tomatoes increases the bodies ability to absorb a nutrient called lycopene in tomatoes. Luckily, you can have the best of both worlds. You can have your tomato raw and cooked in the same salad. 

My sister calls it my “exotic tastes”, but in a salad like this one with corn cut from the cob, and garden tomatoes, peppers, and green onions, I’ve found that by replacing the typical preservative-filled salad dressing with a little of my favorite salsa and a drizzle of olive oil I’ve suddenly got a tasty salad that’s still good for me.

P.S. The avocados were all eaten by the time I got to them, but do add one in yours. Yum!

 

Serves 4

Fresh Fiesta Salad

1 head romaine lettuce 

2 pieces corn-on-the-cob; boiled, steamed or grilled

1 large tomato, seeded, cut into eighths 

1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced

1 bell pepper, seeded, cut into strips

2 green onions, chopped

1 avocado, pitted and sliced 

Salsa Dressing

homemade salsa or homemade mango salsa

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare veggies for the salad. On a plate, stand the corn cob on it’s end and run a knife down to remove the kernels. Set out the jar of salsa, olive oil and the salt and pepper. And now, the hardest part….let everyone scoop a spoonful of salsa onto their salad, and drizzle a little oil on top. Then salt and pepper to their liking. It’s scary how easy that was huh?

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature  

Gluten Free Zucchini Fritters

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Summer and excessive amounts of zucchini go hand-in-hand! This time of year my kiddos are bound to find things like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini hidden somewhere in their meal. The sneakier I am at hiding them, the better they are at eating them. Like in gluten free zucchini bread. So I decided to make some Gluten Free Zucchini Fritters and guess what? They didn’t seem to notice that they were eating zucchini cakes!

I had made zucchini fritters years ago before going gluten free and as far and I can tell when making fritters there are two ways to go about it – sweet or savory. I chose savory, which involves flavors like fresh basil and parsley, parmesan cheese and garlic. Traditional fritters usually call for bread crumbs or flour to help hold everything together. So I used the next best, gluten free thing…oat flour.

Oat flour (made from gluten free oatmeal that has been ground into a flour-like consistency) acts just like wheat flour in most recipes. Unlike other gluten free flours you don’t have to make an elaborate blend or add gums like guar gum or xanthan gum to make it stay together either. Plus, oats are full of fiber, antioxidants, boosts immune system, and so much more. If you’re a nerd like me, you can read all about oats, one of world’s healthiest foods here

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Now for the fritters! (Makes 12+ zucchini fritters. About 3-4 inches across)

4 cups zucchini shredded, drained and squeezed dry

1 cup oat flour

2 eggs

2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 clove garlic

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

4-5 fresh basil leaves

3-4 sprigs fresh parsley, stems removed

2-3 tbsp. coconut oil

Grate the zucchini and place in a strainer in the sink or set in a bowl. Allow the water to drain off the zucchini for about 10 minutes. While it’s draining you can pulse the oats in a food processor or blender until it becomes oat flour. Take a clean dish towel and squeeze out all the remaining liquid out of the zucchini. Add the zucchini, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan, basil, and parsley to the oat flour in the food processor. Blend everything together until it’s nice and evenly chopped and mixed.

Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle (preheated to 325) and drizzle on some of the coconut oil. Once the oil’s hot take a spoonful of the fritter paste, shape into a patty (it will be sticky, that’s okay), and get it cooking. It should only take about 5-6 minutes per side. Once both sides are a nice golden brown set them on a plate to cool. Serve warm.

Eat them as a side to some grilled chicken for dinner or place a slice of tomato and mozzarella in between two fritters and have a fritter bruschetta sandwich for lunch!

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

      

 

The Power Of…

There’s been so much going on in my little world lately. I just learned that I will be doing a regular monthly cooking segment on Good Things Utah and I’m loving sharing recipes and what I’ve learned with my readers and friends here on Food L’amor! All this on top of a healthy, busy family has made me feel so grateful and more motivated. I find myself wanting to stop and tuck myself away in a quiet corner to read an inspired book or two, listen to inspired speakers, and meditate on my own thoughts. I’ve come to better understand some powerful things lately…

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Food for one. Food is powerful! On a molecular level we literally are what we eat. Each system in the body is connected and interdependent on the others for growth, maintenance and renewal. And it all begins with what we put into our mouths. I witnessed the power and effect of the gluten my daughter was eating before the doctors knew she was experiencing a celiac crisis. I’ve felt and seen the difference in myself since cutting out all the over-processed foods from my own diet. I’ve discovered that how one chooses to treat the body day in and day out can ultimately result in how well and how long a life can be. Aside from outside factors, the day by day choices of what is put into the body and if it’s exercised or not will yield a constant result. Just like falling off a roof will always result in hitting the ground. The laws that govern our bodies are just as sure. Food is powerful!

My second realization is that women are powerful! Not in the “I can do or be anything” kind of powerful. I’m not initiating a discussion on equality or a battle of the sexes. I believe there are divine characteristic that are specific to men and women. Women seem to have an natural compass that points North. A magnetism. Almost like a gravitational pull that can (if she is in tune with it) keep herself, her husband, her children, her friends, all centered on what’s most important. The influence and insight a good woman can provide is immeasurable and not because she can do or be anything, but because she doesn’t have to in order to have her influence felt.

E.T. Sullivan wrote in his book The Treasure Chest, “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts, Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home out of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.”  And I might add, the woman who took the time to cultivate herself enough to respond to her inner compass and the whisperings of the spirit. Women are powerful! 

These two powerful forces have been on my mind lately and have led me to a decision that I had originally determined to put off for later. I’m going back to school! (Insert excited, anxious cringe). I put off finishing my degree when we started our family because I knew then what I still know now – that a mother’s influence on her children is vital not only to the child, but to the society in which that child must grow to be part of. However, now with so many more options for online programs I’ve suddenly found that I can do both…slowly…I’ll be taking it nice and slow so I can be sure to keep that internal compass pointed due North and everything in balance.

Besides, Nutrition Communication sounds like a perfect fit for me don’t you think? Aside from my own personal accomplishment and growth, hopefully I’ll be able to learn new and better ways to make the healthy, gluten free food I love and then share it with all of you! It’s a win-win!

How many of you have attempted an undergraduate program with young kids? Any tips or good advice? I’ll need it!

Thanks for your support everyone! Watch Good Things Utah August 4th and 29th for some new, yummy, gluten free goodies and as always check back often for lots of {gluten free love} by Melissa!     

summer-food Melissa-Signature

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

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Maybe it has something to do with sensory development or something, but seriously what is it about  finger foods and kids? I’m not complaining, I’m just wondering why my children opt to use their hands to eat instead of their forks (and I’m not just talking about my 1 year old). Most of the time I demand table manners and the use of modern eating utensils, but to curb whatever primal need they have to use their hands to eat, I make finger food. Like these Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with the super simple Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce. 

On the list of most children’s top ten favorite foods I would guess that 80% of them are things that don’t require a fork or spoon – pizza, chicken nuggets, fries…hmmm, doesn’t sound very healthy either.

Over the last several years we’ve come a long way in teaching our children how to make good, healthy food choices. (Here is our family’s 5 Philosophies for Raising Healthy Eaters). No more mystery meat chicken nuggets or bleached wheat flour pizza dripping with cheese. Now-a-days I make made-from-scratch, gluten free finger food that tastes good and is good for you too! Having fun eating it is a bonus ;)

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Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders

1 lb. organic chicken tenders, rinsed and patted dry

1 cup pecans, pulsed in food processor (You can use any nut you love – almond, cashew, or hazelnut would work too.)

1/2 cup coconut flour or tapioca flour

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. ground mustard

1/2 tbsp. dried parsley

1-2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 425. Get out three small pans or large shallow bowls. In the first combine the salt, pepper, ground mustard, and parsley with the tapioca or coconut flour. The middle bowl will have the beaten eggs and the last bowl will be for the ground pecans. Dredge chicken tenders through the tapioca mixture. Dip in the beaten eggs and finely, roll them through the ground pecans until they are coated. Lay on a foil lined and lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes turning over halfway through the cooking time. 

Roasted Red Pepper Marinara Sauce

Roasted red peppers, about 3-4 pieces + a few onions from the jar (Jeff’s Naturals Red Pepper Caramelized Onions is my favorite gluten free brand)

1/4 cup organic tomato paste

1 cloves garlic

3 basil leaves

1tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

splash of water if too thick

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until it’s smooth and creamy. Warm in a saucepan. Pour into little bowls for everyone to dip and double dip their chicken to their heart’s content.

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature  

 

Peachy Herb Quinoa Salad with Rosemary-Lavender Scented Dressing

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I’ll take a bunch of fruits and vegetables fresh from the garden or the orchard over store-bought any day. This is by far the most cost effective way to get cheap organic produce. I didn’t get a garden planted this year so when my sister-in-law told me that one of her co-workers had a large overly abundant garden and chicken eggs, I said, “absolutely!” I ended up with fresh eggs, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, fresh basil leaves, and peaches.  I may have also helped myself to some fresh mint and tomatoes from Alex’s grandma’s garden as well. ;)

I can’t even begin to express how appreciative I am for cheap or free produce. When you choose to follow a healthy, clean eating, gluten free diet you are going to go through LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies. Now, times that by four kids and one hubby of the health food foodie (me) and that can add up to be LOTS of green (no I’m not talking about spinach). Especially if you choose to buy organic. Which I do as much as possible. (If you don’t have a farmer’s market or friendly garden growers near you here’s my list for the best organic and clean eating deals from Costco

Organic produce {produce that has been grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or genetic engineering} ends up being full of flavor and nutrients, but not always an award winning size or shape. Like the peaches I got that were closer to the size of an apricot, but that still packed a delicious punch of peachy flavor. 

I could go into a whole monologue about the metaphor of life….(insert moving, wistful music)

Life is like a garden. Each fruit and flower is a product of the care and  attention given to it. It doesn’t matter how much miracle grow or bug repellent is used, it could never change the nature of the seed. A peach seed can never become anything other than a peach. It won’t bloom into an apple or grow vines and sprout tomatoes. The peach’s inborn, divinely inherent characteristic allows the seed to develop into just what it was meant to be…..unless of course it’s genetically modified from it’s original state and enhanced until it’s the size of a grapefruit….

Okay, that monologue didn’t quite go the way I’d hoped. Needless to say I’ll take my produce in the most natural form I can get. 

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This Mint, Basil & Lavender Scented Quinoa Salad has a subtle sweet and savory flavor that is enhanced by the ever so slight hint of lavender. It was even better the next day. You could make this salad in the morning before work and have it ready to go for a light side to dinner or to take along to a picnic.

Serves 4

Mint and Basil (Herb) Quinoa Salad

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth 

1 cup red, white, or black quinoa (I mixed red and white). Rinsed.

1 large or 2-3 small peaches. Rinsed, pitted, and sliced into wedges

1 green onion, chopped

3-4 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped or torn

4-5 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn

Rosemary and Lavender Scented Dressing

1 tbsp. raw honey

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp. sea salt

pinch black pepper

1 tsp. dry rosemary or half a sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped

1 drop lavender essential oil or 1 tsp. dried  lavender bud (follow the links to find and learn about culinary quality lavender and lavender essential oil) 

Rinse the quinoa. Heat a medium saucepan and dry roast the quinoa for just a couple minutes before adding the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, place a lid on it and led it cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and allow it to cool.

While the quinoa is cooking and cooling make the dressing. Bring the honey and vinegar to a simmer in small saucepan. Add the olive oil, rosemary and lavender. Whisk together with the salt and pepper. Pour into a glass jar and set aside to cool. 

Once the quinoa has cooled add in the mint, basil, green onions, and peach slices. Pour the dressing onto the quinoa through a small strainer to catch the rosemary and lavender (if using dried lavender). Toss to coat and set in the fridge to cool and for the flavors to marry together. 

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Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

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Gluten-Free Sweet Biscotti Trifle

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“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must…undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” 
   - Thomas Paine 

The kids and I ventured out to the library the other day. Partly out of sheer boredom with the stifling heat that’s been baking the desert for the last week and partly because when given the opportunity my children devour books like a dessert. I relish each night as we sit together with an open book while little heads try to find a place on my shoulder or lap to lie down and listen.

My 9-year-old son was stumped on what book to pick since we’ve already finished the entire series of The Chronicles of Narnia and he’s read nearly all of the Magic Treehouse books. Then I found a book that looked perfect, not only for his interests, but for the season as well. George Washington’s Socks by Elvia Woodruff. It reminded me of The Goonies combined with a mesmerizing history lesson via time travel. I highly recommend it. 

It was a fun yet wonderful reminder of the blessings I enjoy thanks to the founders of the United States. With the celebration of America’s independence and the great sacrifice those first patriots gave and the continued sacrifices of present patriots, I realize that another red, white, and blue dessert may seem trifle in this context (pun intended). Despite that, though, I made a trifle anyway ;) 

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But not just any old trifle mind you! This one is made with crunchy, crumbly sweet gluten free biscotti and layers of sweetened coconut cream, bananas, blueberries, and cherries!

(F.Y.I. Did you know that whole story of young George Washington chopping down his father’s cherry tree and the – “I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down your cherry tree…then run to my arms dear boy for you’ve paid for it in full with your honesty” – bit was made up to teach kids honesty. As in, the story is not true. Seriously?! However, I have no doubt that George Washington was an honest man. Okay, sorry. Back to something a bit more trifle. Oh man, I’m on a roll today!)

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I found that cutting the biscotti dough into slices before baking worked best to create that crusty texture without it crumbling to pieces. Here’s how I made it:

Gluten Free Sweet Biscotti

2 cups gluten free oat flour. Oatmeal pulsed in food processor until flour consistency

3/4 tsp. baking powder, aluminum and gluten free

1/8 tsp. fine sea salt

1/4 tsp. coconut oil

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

3-5 drops wild orange essential oil or 1/4 tsp. orange extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. In separate bowl warm the syrup, oil, and extracts together. I just stuck it in the microwave for about 10 seconds. This will ensure that you don’t have chunks of solid coconut oil. Blend the wet and dry ingredients together. As you stir it should begin to form a ball. Set it on a cutting board and shape into a loaf. Using a sharp knife (you may need to rub a little extra coconut oil on the knife so that it slides through easily) cut 1 inch thick slices and lay them on a lightly greased baking sheet. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they begin to brown slightly and form a crisp outer shell. Turn down the oven to 200 and continue baking for another 15 minutes. This will essentially dry out the biscotti so they are crisp through out. Cool on a rack while you prepare the ingredients for the trifle.

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Gluten Free Sweet Biscotti Trifle

1 can full fat unsweetened coconut milk, set in refrigerator for 15 minutes, white cream skimmed.

1/8-1/4 cup coconut sugar

Whip skimmed coconut cream and sugar with an mixer until it’s…well, whipped cream. Nice and light and fluffy. Set in the fridge to set while you prepare fruit.

1 large banana, sliced

1/2 pint blueberries, rinsed

handful cherries, halved. Stems and pits removed. 

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Layer the biscotti, coconut cream, banana, cherries, and blueberries in a glass dish. I took the crumbs from my first loaf of biscotti and used it as a layer as well. So yummy! (I baked this loaf whole first then sliced it. Saying it was crumbly would be an understatement. Always slice before you bake, but it did make the best crumbs!) You can eat the trifles right away or cover and let them sit in the fridge for an hour or so to let the biscotti soak up the coconut cream. Put a cherry on top and serve cold.

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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It was my handsome hubby’s birthday and even though he didn’t want to do much in the way of celebrating, we did! Plus, I had a sack of the first garden zucchini of the summer and I knew just what to do with them!

My oldest daughter (6 years old) especially loves to make birthdays special. For my birthday several months ago she was so bent on making sure I had a party that she walked around to all the neighbor’s houses inviting everyone over, then banished me from the living room while she directed her Daddy in decorating. She wouldn’t let her Daddy’s birthday pass without some proper celebrating. After pooling her and her siblings money they got him a little gift and then the girls helped make these deceptively healthy Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins/Bread!

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I didn’t use a regular gluten free flour blend (partly because I need to restock my blends), but mostly because the unique blend I ended up using makes this bread just dense enough to be filling, but still light enough to be easily mistaken for cake. 

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The original recipe was adapted from an old cookbook given to me by a friend that I no longer even own, but that I’ve used as a jumping off point for this recipe as well as my Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

GF-chocolate-zucchini-bread-2This recipe makes enough for two loaves or one loaf and a dozen muffins. Preheat your oven to 350, line muffin tin with paper liners, and lightly grease bread pan. 

Blend together wet ingredients:

3 eggs plus 1 egg white

2/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup applesauce

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 – 1/4 cup raw honey

3 cups grated zucchini

In separate bowl mix together dry ingredients:

1 cup garbanzo bean flour

1 cup GF corn starch

1/3 cup amaranth flour

1- 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin (1 envelope)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

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Combine wet and dry ingredients and blend together for just a couple minutes. Divide it up evenly among the muffin tin and bread pan and bake. The muffins should take 18-20 minutes and the bread a bit longer. Around 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

 

 

10 Delicious & Gluten-Free Ways to Enjoy Watermelon

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For me, celebrating Independence Day is almost as exciting as Christmas! I love the fireworks, the stirring reminder of patriotism, and the feeling of unity as citizens of a nation I am proud to be part of. I don’t know about the rest of you, but the smell of fireworks and summer just isn’t complete without watermelon.

I’m a purist when it comes to watermelon. Big slices of cold deep pink goodness sitting on a piece of newspaper to catch the seeds and juice dripping off your chin – it’s bliss. But sometimes it’s fun to take this fruit and dress it up, blend it up, and otherwise use it to make everything it touches taste sweet and fresh. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is…it’s summer – let the watermelon madness begin! 

Here I’ve collected 10 unique, gluten free, and delicious ways to enjoy everyone’s favorite melon!….I’m going to need more watermelon.

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 Watermelon Lemonade

By Food L’amor

Red-White-Blue-Watermelon-Cake-Real-Sustenance 

Red, White, and Blue Watermelon Cake

By Brittany at Real Sustenance 

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Tangy Watermelon Salad

By Taste of Home

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Watermelon Ice

Shared by Deborah at Taste and Tell Blog

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Watermelon Fire & Ice Salsa

By Ali at Gimme Some Oven

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Watermelon-Pineapple Sorbet

Food L’amor By Melissa

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Grilled Watermelon with Balsamic Dressing

By Lucy at Craftberry Bush

salad

 Simplest Red Fruit Salad

By Meet The Shannons

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Watermelon Bruschetta with Marinated Basil Cucumbers & Feta

By Food L’amor

Cilantro-Lime-Grilled-Watermelon

Cilantro-Lime Grilled Watermelon

By Rachel at The Stay At Home Chef

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

Italian Roasted Potato Salad

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Without fail, you can almost always find potato salad at the dinner table at some point during the summer. So why not change it up and try a different version of potato salad that doesn’t require globs of mayonnaise. This simple roasted potato salad is an Italian inspired version of your typical American classic. Of course, it’s also gluten free and can be dairy free as well. 

It’s funny how this dish came to be since I originally was going for a warm spinach salad with potatoes and other yummy veggies and herbs. But when I got it all done and started dishing it up I realized I’d forgotten the spinach! Turns out, it was pretty good without it. You could toss in a couple handfuls of fresh spinach, though. I’m sure it would be just as yummy as I originally thought.

If you have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance be careful about using some manufactured products. Always check the labels, or better yet, check on the manufacturers site to be sure they are gluten free. I’ve added links below to the brands that I’ve researched, tried, and trust to feed my daughter. 

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6-8 medium russet potatoes, washed and cubed

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut in Olive Oil + a little more of herbie olive oil for drizzling

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2-3 tsp. coarsely ground sea salt

1 tsp. black pepper

2 tsp. Capers

5-8 baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into thirds

2 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1 sprig fresh rosemary, stem discarded, leaves chopped)

1 tbsp. dried parsley (or 3-4 sprigs fresh parsley, roughly chopped)

1/2 tbsp. dried basil (or 3-4 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped)

parmesan cheese (opt.)

Preheat the oven to 425 while you chop, slice, and dice all your ingredients. Toss the onion, potatoes (I just scrub the skins good and leave them on) with the sun dried tomatoes + oil, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and give them about 10-15 minutes by themselves to roast. You can use this time to finish chopping.  

Remove from oven and toss in the capers, mushrooms, and asparagus. Continue baking for another 8-10 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove from the oven and toss in the herbs and sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle with extra olive oil from the sun dried tomato jar and serve warm.

 Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

Watermelon Bruschetta With Marinated Basil Cucumbers & Feta

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 Okay, don’t these just look pretty? You could serve them up as a side to some Hawaiian Pork Shish Kabobs or Fired Up Pork Ribs or as an appetizer. I’m thinking a 4th of July picnic or barbecue may feel just a bit fancier and be a bit healthier with these Watermelon Bruschetta with Marinated Basil Cucumbers & Feta in place of a bag of chips.  Just because they look fancy and have a long fancy name doesn’t mean you have to be an experienced chef to make them though (i.e. Me!) But, if you need to eat gluten free, are trying to eat healthier, reduce processed foods and refined sugars, or are just a foodie at heart ( Me again!) Then these my friend, are for you!

My sweet neighbor brought us over a couple big cucumbers last night and with a watermelon sitting on my counter just begging to be sliced up I knew the two were meant for each other. Then as things were coming together I looked over at my poor little basil plant holding onto its last five leaves. It’s untimely demise was due to my neglect while I was away road tripping across the country. It lived well and those basil leaves were exactly what I needed! 

FYI: Just as fair warning, these yummy appetizers are, not surprisingly, a little messy between the watermelon juice and the cucumber marinade. Be sure to serve on a plate with adequate napkins. 

Start with your bruschetta. You’ll need approximately one quarter of a medium-sized seedless watermelon, rinds removed and sliced into small 3/4 inch thick rectangles.

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Basil Cucumber Marinade 

1 large or 2 small cucumbers quartered and chopped. About 2 cups worth

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped (I used a Vidalia onion, but a sweet red onion works too) 

1/4 cup raw honey

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. ground mustard

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 black pepper

1 garlic clove,  minced

3 sprigs parsley, chopped (or 1 tbsp. dried parsley)

5 basil leaves, roughly chopped (chopped extra if you have it for garnishing)

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Chop the cucumber and onion. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade and whisk together. Pour over the cucumber and onion and stir. Put a lid on and set in the fridge for 1-3 hours to marinate. 

When you’re ready to serve, set the watermelon bruschetta out on a plate and top each with a tablespoon of the cucumbers. Sprinkle a little crumbled feta cheese and the extra basil on top. This can serve a crowd, but is best cold so only put it all together when you’re ready to eat. 

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

Cajun Chicken Kabobs

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The deep South is known for it’s great barbecues and after my visit to Arkansas I got inspired to make some Cajun-style kabobs! This dinner was light, flavorful, fun (cause my kids love finger food), and yummy. Plus, this dinner just has summer written all over it! I made my own blend of Cajun spices so there was no worry about it not being gluten free or wondering if it was cross-contaminated. And my crazy Crossfit training hubby devoured it when he got home from the gym, along with the seasoned quinoa I paired it with. 

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Veggies for skewering:

large red, orange, and yellow bell peppers (one of each, sliced)

4 medium-sized corn on the cobs, boiled for 3-5 minutes and cut into 1-1/2 inch sections

1 pint mushrooms, halved

The only problem with kabobs is getting the meat done without cremating the vegetables. So I did some pre-cooking to make sure everything was done at the same time, without being over or under cooked. I placed the corn in a pot of water to boil while I chopped the other veggies. I also preheated the oven to 425. If you can prepare the chicken with the oil and spices at least an hour or more before you’re ready to cook and grill then all those flavors will infuse into the meat and make it even tastier and more tender. 

Cajun Chicken:

2 lbs. organic chicken breast (hormone & antibiotic free), cut into 1-1/2 to 2 inch cubes

1 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. sea salt

4 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 tsp. wild honey

2 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil

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In a bowl stir together all the dry ingredients. Place chicken in a separate bowl or baggie and drizzle with the oil, honey and dust 3/4 of the seasoning blend. Reserve a little seasoning to sprinkle on the veggies before grilling. Stir to coat the chicken. Allow it to marinade for at least 20 minutes or overnight. 

Before your grill, make a foil steamer by taking two pieces of tin foil and after putting the marinaded chicken in the bottom one, place the other on top. Fold and pinch the sides together.  Bake (425) for around 5-8 minutes. Basically, you’re quick steaming the chicken to lock in moisture, flavor, and making it so they are already mostly cooked before getting them on the grill. 

Now just skewer the chicken and veggies onto a bamboo skewer (don’t forget to soak the skewers for a good 10 minutes before grilling so they don’t burn). Grill just until everything has some nice tan lines and eat right away.

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

Fresh Paleo Peach Pie

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Fresh peaches are showing up at farmers’ markets and grocery stores everywhere now that summer is well underway. I love the smell and taste of a perfectly ripe peach. Mmmm, there is just something about them that requires you to relax.  I love to sink my teeth in and let the juice run down my chin, but there are lots of other delicious ways to serve and enjoy all those summer peaches too….Peach Meringue and Maple Vinegar Glazed Nectarines (or peaches) are some of my favorites for a quick dessert. Making it Paleo (gluten free, grain free, sugar free) eliminates the worry about whether you’ll be able to shimmy into your swimsuit after eating it.

Since it was Father’s day I knew I would have to make something special for this wonderful guy I’m married to. I had a little help from my little helpers and between all of us…we really made a mess, but had fun doing it! With pecans from our road trip to grandma’s house and fresh peaches I was ready to make this Fresh Paleo Peach Pie!

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I made the mistake of adding a little too much water to the filling so it didn’t set up quite as well, but it was still so yummy! Don’t worry I’ve revised the recipe to make sure yours turns out. 

Pecan Crust:

1 cup pecans ground into pecan meal (don’t grind it too much or you’ll end up with pecan butter)

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 tbsp. ground flax seed

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup

1 tbsp. water

1 tbsp. coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine all the dry ingredients together then add in the wet and stir with a fork until it’s all incorporated. Press the mixture into a pie pan, working it up the sides until it’s even. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the edges and center begin to brown. 

Peach Pie Filling:

4-5 large peaches; peeled, pitted, and sliced

2 tbsp. arrowroot starch or GF cornstarch 

1 tbsp. water

1/2 tbsp. lemon juice

3/4 cup wild honey

dash cinnamon 

Reserve all but 1- 1/2 cups of the peach slices and cover remaining until you’re ready for them. Take the pre-measured amount of peaches and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. In a separate bowl whisk together the water, lemon juice, and starch. Combine the pureed peaches with the honey and the starch mixture in a small sauce pan. Stir in the cinnamon and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir for about 5 minutes while it bubbles. Then turn off the heat and allow it to cool. 

By now your pecan crust should be out of the oven and cooling down as well. Once everything’s warm (not hot), stir the fresh peaches together with the thickened pureed peach mixture. Pour it all into the crust and set in the fridge to cool completely and to finish setting up. Serve cold with some whipped coconut cream or just as is.

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature 

 

Gluten Free Road Trip: Success!

farmers-market-2Onions for sale at the Farmer’s Market in Little Rock, Arkansas

Twelve days, nine states, more than 3000 miles, one tired mom, and one successful gluten free road trip! What an adventure! After a short stay in northern Utah we made it to my grandma’s house in Arkansas two days later. My poor baby was not loving his car seat, but did great considering. 

It had been almost a decade since I’d been back to the deep South. Where, according to my nine year old, the air always feels like rain. I grew up working every summer with my grandparents at the farmer’s market in Little Rock and everything about this trip took me right back to my childhood. I was so thrilled to be able to share all these wonderful memories with my own children.

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It’s not just the smell of grandma’s house or the fact that I start to talk with a little twang when I’m there, it’s also the Southern comfort food. Many of my favorite memories revolve around grandma’s kitchen table. Everything was just as good as I remembered it.

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Hunting is part of the lifestyle there and my grandma rarely, if ever, buys meats from a store (aside from bacon and sausage). My uncle does most of the hunting, but grandma was just as good a deer hunter as anyone else…possibly better. I don’t think she’s been hunting since grandpa passed away, though. Any vegetables we eat are fresh from her garden or bottled from the previous year’s crop and each morning we enjoy fresh eggs from her chickens out back.

We were treated to all the comfort foods I remembered so fondly: deer steaks in gravy with mashed potatoes, fresh sliced tomatoes, and grandma’s bottled green beans; wild hog with rice, fried cornmeal-breaded okra, corn on the cob, and fresh cucumbers; catfish with pan-fried fries, homemade coleslaw, and grandmas pickled beets. And you can’t leave grandma’s house without having her “banana pudding”: layers of vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, vanilla pudding, and cool whip.

Wow. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. There was just one problem with all this delicious food. My grandma doesn’t cook gluten free. But, really it wasn’t an issue at all. It just meant I got to be in the kitchen with grandma while she cooked. She’d let me have first pick of the meat before so I could prepare Miah her own gluten free version of grandma’s classics.

Gluten free remakes of some of my favorite Southern dishes will be coming soon! 

 I used separate dishes and a cutting board I brought from home to cut Miah’s veggies on to reduce the risk of cross- contamination. I made sure I covered anything of hers with a lid so nothing was accidentally dropped in or dusted onto it. Cooking in my completely gluten free kitchen at home meant I really had to be on my toes to remember things like washing my hands after touching something gluten-y and being sure to wipe down any surfaces I used to prepare food or that Miah would eat off of. 

I also made sure that whenever we left to go somewhere like to visit the market or spend a day at Magic Springs theme park that I had a dedicated gluten free cooler with food that was safe for Miah. I was caught off guard once, but thankfully found a smoothie place and Miah was perfectly happy to enjoy a fruit smoothie for lunch. Whew! Crisis averted.  

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Standing on the “Big Dam Bridge” (yes, that’s really what it’s called) looking at the Arkansas river.

It wasn’t exactly what I’d call a vacation, since I felt like I was working waaaay harder than normal (especially to keep 4 kids entertained in a van for days and dealing with a little tornado warning! Ahh!) Regardless, it was one of the most memorable trips ever and I’m so glad my kids had the chance to get to know their great-grandma a little better and experience it with me.

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Meet Burt, the craw-dad (craw fish). Grandma caught it to show the kids. Freaked them out! My girls thought it was a giant cockroach!

 

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