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

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Stuffed Acorn Squash with Orange Spiced Pecans


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Hello beautiful!

Yes, you…and this dish!

If there’s anything that makes me feel fed, both body and soul, it’s healthy beautiful food. Have I mentioned that I love this time of year and it’s bounty of produce? Fall is the ripe pinnacle of a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that are all ready to be eaten. Harvesting the summer’s spoils and getting our first taste of the winter crop too.

Stuffed Acorn Squash2

Instead of the traditional brown sugar and butter baked into my acorn squash, I used a less refined sugar option of real maple syrup to make a sweet and tangy balsamic reduction baked into the squash. Then I topped it with some sauteed kale, onion, uncured bacon Orange Spiced Pecans, and raw sunflower seeds. Drizzle a little more of the sweet reduction over everything and…so satisfying. Just omit the bacon to keep it vegan and plant-based.

making stuffed acorn squash

My kids poured extra balsamic reduction on theirs. It’s always fun to let them try something new and watch them discover that they actually like it. Of course, my philosophy is anything drizzled with balsamic reduction is going to be fabulous. Period. It’s nice that my kids agree. Well…other than my 2 year old. He was not as open to the idea of something new and strange on his plate. However, if it came off my plate it tasted good. Haha! Oh well, whatever works, right? (P.S. you may want to double the balsamic reduction recipe in case you want extra too.)

Stuffed Acorn Squash1

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Orange Spiced Pecans
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 - 6 servings
A healthy twist to baked acorn squash, stuffed with kale and topped with some simple orange spiced pecans.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • 2 medium acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scraped out
  • 1 bunch kale, stems trimmed and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ lb. uncured bacon (opt.)
  • handful Orange Spiced Pecans
  • raw sunflower seeds
  • Balsamic reduction
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
Balsamic Reduction
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
Orange Spiced Pecans
  • Handful shelled pecans halves
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice + ½ tsp. zest
  • a dash of each or to taste: ground nutmeg, ginger, clove, and cinnamon
Balsamic Reduction
  1. In a small sauce pan bring all the ingredients for the reduction to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced and thicken to a syrup consistency. (You can make this ahead of time and store in the fridge for 2 weeks or more. It will thicken more as it cools, so if it gets too thick simply heat it on low with a splash of water if necessary.)
Baked Acorn Squash
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place squash halves in a glass baking dish cut side up.
  3. Drizzle half the balsamic reduction sauce. Reserve remaining for later.
  4. Bake the squash for about 25 - 30 minutes.
  5. While that bakes, cook the bacon until crisp, drain most of the grease then saute the onions, garlic, and kale. (if making vegan, use olive oil to saute.) Salt and pepper to taste.
Orange Spiced Pecans
  1. In a small skillet dry roast the pecans until fragrant, drizzle the orange juice in. Let it sizzle until most of the moisture is gone. Dust the pecans with spices to your liking and sprinkle with orange zest. Set aside to cool.
Put it all together
  1. Remove the squash from the oven and spoon a big scoop of the kale stuffing into each half. Sprinkle spiced pecans and raw sunflower seeds over top. Drizzle remaining reduction sauce over top everything.

Food Lamor by Melissa


Feeding the Soul


kids and horses

Feeding your body and feeding your soul seem to go hand in hand. If one portion is sick the other needs just as much attention and care. I spend a lot of time feeding my family foods that will help their bodies be healthy, and have been really trying to feed their souls as well. It’s funny how you never forget to eat, but you don’t realize how starved your spirit is until you get a drink of something that quenches your inner thirst or fills a hunger you didn’t realize you had.
I attended a general woman’s conference a few days ago. It’s part of a semi-annual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Rosemary Wixom of the general primary presidency said this beautiful phrase that touched my heart.


Now that Miah is gaining weight and feeling a little better again – thanks to a feeding tube and an even more restrictive diet designed to help her intestines heal, as well as some medication to calm down her immune response – it’s now our turn to cope and recover. No one talks much about how hard it is for the parents or siblings when a child is chronically sick. Okay, maybe they do tell you, but you never really understand unless you’ve been there.

reading a book

There will be lots more recipes coming since fall is my favorite season (not just for the colors and cool crisp air, but for the food!). However, there will also be lots more snuggles, laughing, hikes through nature, dates with my hubby, and time to feed my family’s bellies…and souls.

Food Lamor by Melissa


Grain Free Apple Crisp


Grain Free Apple Crisp2
When everything feels a little uncertain and the normal step of life has a bit of a limp, it’s best to take a step back, simplify, and find a little balance. That’s certainly how I’ve felt lately. So I’m embracing the basics to find a little balance through exercise, purposeful eating, and nurturing my spirit.

Grain Free Apple Crisp

When it comes to the purposeful eating part, healthy desserts are not only encouraged, but for me are sometimes medicinal! Like this Grain Free Apple Crisp – tender warm apples and spices with a crunchy sweet crumble on top makes me feel like all is right in the world and reminds me that a change of season is just around the corner.

making apple crisp

This only took me a grand total of 5 minutes to prep (thanks to having my apple filling already canned and waiting in the pantry, but it would probably only add another 15 minutes to the total prep time if you sliced up some fresh apples instead). It was yummy just as it was, but would also be delish with a scoop of homemade dairy free ice cream.

making apple crisp2


Grain Free Apple Crisp

Apple Filling: (Fills one 9″ pie pan)

  • 8 – 10 medium apples; peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. Organic butter or Organic Ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
In a large skillet or pot heat butter or ghee, add apple slices, lemon juice, cinnamon, and honey. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Continue stirring occasionally until the apples are crisp-tender. Pour into a 9″ round pie pan or individual ramekins and sprinkle generously with topping.
* If you want to bottle the apple filling, then quadruple ingredients above and add these additional ingredients before processing in a water bath or pressure cooker (fills about 10 – 12 quart jars):
Apple Filling quadrupled: 35 – 40 medium apples; peeled, cored, and sliced, 2 tbsp. cinnamon, 1 cup honey, 6 tbsp butter, plus….
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1  quart filtered water
Check with the National Center for Home Food Preservation and follow guidelines outlined for proper canning methods.  

Apple Crisp Topping:

  • 1  1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup almond flour or sunflower seeds, blended into a flour consistency
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. honey or pure maple syrup
Stir together all the dry ingredients, followed by the wet ingredients until the mixture begins to stick together slightly. Sprinkle over apple filling.
If using freshly sliced apples preheat oven to 350 and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. If using canned apples, preheat oven to 400 and bake for 20 minutes.



Our Story: Autoimmune Enteropathy

I could not write this post without testifying of the faith I have in a loving Father in Heaven who has been in the details. During the process of unfolding this disease to us and in giving guidance and assurances all along the way.  Still, what little information I’ve been able to find on this rare disease  just doesn’t seem like enough. After all, only a little over 1% of people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with it. As of today, Autoimmune Enteropathy is just a working diagnosis until further specialized tests confirm it, but understanding it has suddenly become very important to our family…

Autoimmune EnteropathyAutoimmune enteropathy is a rare disorder characterized by severe and protracted diarrhea, weight loss from malabsorption and immune-mediated damage to the intestinal mucosa, generally occurring in infants and young children… As occurs frequently in autoimmunity, subjects with autoimmune enteropathy may be affected by other autoimmune disorders,…

Management of autoimmune enteropathy patients is based on nutritional support and adequate hydration to ensure optimal growth and development, together with immunosuppressive therapy.

-US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health


My five year old daughter Miah – the only one of my children who inherited my dimples and her grandma’s red hair and fair skin, has possibly also inherited Autoimmune Enteropathy.  As a baby, although the sweetest and most mild-tempered redhead you could ever imagine, she was never “well”. She always had a cold, ear infection, was bloated and gassy, constipated or prone to huge diaper blowouts.
When doctors or even the dentist would shrug their shoulders and remark how “unusual” it is to see such and such a reaction to this or that we almost laugh, but normally just knowingly nod our heads. That’s been the often frustrating and confusing, yet at the same time interesting and enlightening part of this sequence of discovering just how “unusual” she is.
Well, I know this much…Miah was not born to be ordinary. She is extraordinary! 
Miah’s extraordinary qualities have become more and more apparent as the months and years have passed since 2012 when her life was threatened by what we were told was a “celiac crisis” and this whole journey started. The measures to get her to “recover” were drastic and we almost lost her. Thankfully, she bounced back on a gluten free diet and though she still had small relapses they were few and far between.
However, the symptoms have steadily grown more often and the harsh effects causing her to digress quicker with each episode. Though her silly dimpled smile, infectious laugh, and sweet little self still peeks through despite all this, it’s getting harder. She just doesn’t feel good. Even though she wants to play and do things her siblings do, she usually doesn’t have the energy or feel well enough to do it. The new un-diagnosis as of spring of 2015 was possibly Celiac and/or Crohn’s disease with unusual onset…or something more rare.
Everything I studied about Celiac, Crohn’s, and other gastrointestinal diseases said that a diet rich in chemical free foods that are easily broken down (monosaccharides), with plenty of good bacteria to repopulate the intestine (fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and kefir) should allow the digestive system to heal and possibly put the disease in remission. I highly recommend this thorough and extremely helpful book for anyone with a gastrointestinal disease by Elaine Gottschall called Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet

During the last 6 months or so of repeated and worsening symptoms I have done all in my power to fend off the disease. I have narrowed down the gluten free diet to completely exclude all grains (gluten grains obviously, rice, corn, oats, and highly starchy foods like white potatoes), dairy, and refined sugar.  I have tried to make sure everything she ate was organic and that there was no gluten cross-contamination.  I have used essential oils and given foot massages to stimulate her intestines to function properly. And I’ve prayed. My husband and I have prayed a lot.
On our recent visit to the specialist at Primary Children’s (fall 2015), the doctor was encouraged by her growth – it was normal, despite the fact that she was losing weight rapidly from this most recent episode. He biopsied Miah’s intestines during an endoscopy and colonoscopy. His initial findings were positive. Her intestines looked normal! Far better than they had looked even 6 months ago. Then why was she pale, hunched over in pain, tired, with no appetite, moody, having severe (and might I add clear-a-room, sickeningly smelly) diarrhea and occasionally vomiting?
The biopsies told the real story…under a microscope her intestines were just as bad as they had been in 2012. So, yes the diet and all my efforts are helping – she is growing and it has allowed for some healing. However, her own body is fighting against itself. The doctors don’t know why…and there’s really nothing I can do about it.
So, now we have decisions to make. Pharmaceuticals and their side effects are really the only “treatment” that is known to manage such a rare disease. Even though I should feel discouraged and disheartened, for some reason I feel inexplicably hopeful! I feel hopeful that Miah’s extraordinary condition is part of her mission…and mine. I feel hopeful that we can pioneer a treatment plan that doesn’t involve a lifetime of medications. I feel hopeful that our prayers will be answered and she can be healed.
And for now that’s enough. 


Food Lamor by Melissa

Homemade Applesauce (No Added Sugar)


We spent some time in the mountains over Labor Day weekend (as well as at the Children’s hospital for some more tests and procedures to hopefully determine a clear diagnosis and how to manage it for our little Miah, but that’s a post for another day).
The cool crisp air made me crave all things fall! However, lest I overwhelm my family and Food L’amor friends with an overload of pumpkin, spice, and everything nice too prematurely, I went with the most versatile and year-round useful thing to make in the fall….Applesauce!


I use applesauce in lots of sweet treats and as a replacement for oil in baked goods. Not only does it sub for oil, dairy milk, and sugar in lots of recipes, it’s also just great for the little ones to snack on. Although for most recipes the following substitutions work, it doesn’t work for all.
If you’re making gluten free and grain free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Squares for example, substituting applesauce for the eggs would only leave you with a pan of mush. If the eggs are there to replace the stability of gluten in binding the ingredients then replacing them with applesauce won’t work.
Here’s a tip: If the base ingredients are nut flours without much if any starches, such as arrowroot, tapioca, corn starch, rice flour, oat flour, or gluten flours like wheat, then the eggs are a necessity! However, for just about anything else applesauce is your golden ticket to a healthy, fluffy, and delicious bread or dessert.

Baking With Applesauce Substitution Guide:


I got a big box of Fuji apples at my local market and went to work. I made sure to add a healthy dash of ground cinnamon to a couple batches…because it’s just delicious! It took a couple days and a few batches to get through all the apples, but since I bottled the applesauce I know all that work will last up to a year in a cool dry pantry and we’ll be enjoying healthy baked treats naturally sweetened with applesauce.

Homemade Applesauce

(No Sugar Added)

  • Fill an 8-quart pot about 2/3 full with peeled, cored, and sliced apples. (If you have a food mill like this one then you can skip the peeling part and simply run the apples through the mill once they’ve softened. It will save you a ton of time and also give you a nice rosy pink color to the finished applesauce.)
  • Add about 1.5 – 2 quarts filtered water to the pot of apples.
  • Bring to a boil and allow the apples to simmer until softened, stirring occasionally – about 15 minutes.
  • Add juice of 1 lemon, about 4 tbsp.
  • Add 2 – 4 tsp. ground cinnamon (opt.)
  • Carefully scoop the apples into the food mill or blender.
  • Blend or mill until smooth (or if you prefer you can leave a few apple chunks)
Canning the Applesauce:
  • While the apples are simmering, place new canning lids in a pan with water and bring to a low boil.
  • Begin heating water in a large canning pot or preparing pressure cooker.
  • While the applesauce is still hot pour into clean, hot quart or pint jars (I just run my  jars through the dishwasher to prep them. Pull one jar out at a time as you fill it and keep the dishwasher closed to keep the others hot.)
  • Put a lid on and either use a pressure cooker or the water bath method to process. Here’s a link to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for times and the proper ways to process the applesauce.
  • Set on the counter for at least 24 hours before storing in the pantry for up to 1 year. Once opened, store in the fridge.

BeFunky Collage


Food Lamor by Melissa