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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Oriental Chicken Salad & Sesame Dressing

oriental chicken salad 1

I saw a picture once with the caption, “gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free, and vegan“….it was a sad looking piece of lettuce with a tomato slice on top. I had to laugh! (1. because it was clever, and 2. because it was so wrong!)

This salad is based off one of my all-time favorite salads! The salad that made me love salads when I was young. The one that I always went hunting for at every pot-luck or barbecue and ordered on every date to Applebee’s in high school. You know what I’m talking about, right? The oriental chicken salad! (Leave off the chicken to make it vegan.)

oriental chicken salad2

The original salad recipe usually calls for iceberg lettuce, breaded chicken, a can of mandarin oranges, maybe some slivered almonds and chow mien noodles, and a dressing of white vinegar, sugar, canola oil, and soy sauce.

My version is just as delicious and simple, but with a few tweaks to make it much healthier and clean eating: broccoli and cabbage instead of iceberg lettuce, grilled chicken instead of breaded, extra veggies, cashews for crunch, and fresh plumb slices! Using apple cider vinegar in place of white adds more health benefits, a little honey for sweetness, and sesame seed oil for amazing flavor without all the over processed risks of canola oil.

The homemade sesame dressing has no refined sugar and none of the preservatives that you’ll find in store-bought dressings. But even better than that is the Coconut Aminos I used in place of the soy sauce. Coconut Aminos are basically just the sap from the coconut tree, blended with mineral rich sea salt that has been aged. This tasty seasoning gets it’s name because of the 17 amino acids, minerals and vitamins naturally found in the ingredients. It tastes a lot like soy sauce and can take the place of soy sauce in most recipes, but is soy free. This is my favorite gluten free, non-GMO, organic brand of Coconut Aminos.

Why soy free? First, of all most soy sauces aren’t gluten free. They are made by fermenting wheat. Second, soy is one of the most genetically modified and pesticide-riddled plants in the world. If you want to read more, Wellness Mama has a very comprehensive article about the health risks of consuming soy products.

oriental chicken salad

Oriental Chicken Salad & Sesame Dressing

Oriental Chicken Salad:

  • 1 lb. organic chicken, grilled
  • 12 oz. broccoli salad mix or 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 12 oz. coleslaw mix or 1/2 head Napa or purple cabbage, chopped
  • 4 oz. snow peas or snap peas
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 – 4 plums, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews; lightly toasted

Sesame Dressing:


Rinse, chop, and prepare all the vegetables for the salad. Toss together in a large bowl. Prepare dressing by adding all the ingredients in a jar, put the lid on, and shake until everything is blended or pulse in a food processor. Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the salad and stir to evenly coat. Cover and set in the fridge to marinade for 10 – 15 minutes while the chicken cooks. Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper and put on the grill. Remove from heat when cooked through (internal temp of 160 – 165 degrees). Once the chicken has cooled slightly, slice with the grain into strips and lay on top of the salad. Drizzle the remaining quarter cup of dressing over the chicken salad and serve.


Food Lamor by Melissa

Crock Pot Sloppy Joe’s {Gluten Free & Vegan}

GF vegan sloppy joes


Sloppy Joe’s are such a simple go-to dinner. Most kids and adults make and enjoy these deliciously messy sandwiches with hamburger meat seasoned from a packet mix or a can of sauce. Too bad those packets and cans have gluten fillers, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. Homemade sauce and organic beef would be a huge step up! But I’ve found that, especially as Americans, the amount of meat (more especially red meat) consumed on a daily basis is way higher than necessary. There’s a great article in the Washington Post by Roberto A. Ferdman about this very topic.

It’s not as hard as you might think to cut out meat and processed food, even it it’s just a few nights a week. It’s even possible if you follow a gluten free and/or Paleo diet. This is how we feed our family so I know it’s possible, along with going meatless 3 or 4 times a week. It not only saves us money on groceries, helps reduce our carbon foot print, and maybe saves a few animals, but is also really healthy. Our bodies naturally need less meat in the hot summer months anyway and never need the toxic overload of processed foods.

crock pot sloppy joe

So when I wanted a classic Sloppy Joe dinner, I did a little tweaking to make it vegan (hello, quinoa!)…while still being super filling and yummy. I also added some beans for more filling protein. I piled the filling on my GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE, & PALEO HAMBURGER BUNS – recipe coming soon! It was a hit! And what made it even easier was that I threw everything in my slow cooker – I love my Crock Pot, BTW.

GF Vegan Sloppy Joes2

Crock Pot Sloppy Joe’s

When shopping for ingredients, organic is always best!


Sloppy Joe Sauce:

  • 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic ( about 1 – 2 tsp. minced) or 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 8 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable, beef or chicken broth (*only add 1 cup broth if using meat)

Sloppy Joe Filling:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 15 oz. beans, drained and rinsed (black, kidney, or pinto work)
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped red, green, orange, or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • *Optional: 2 lbs. organic roast beef in place of the quinoa and beans if you want a meaty meal.


In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Sloppy Joe Sauce. Put all the ingredients for the filling in the Crock Pot and pour the sauce over. Stir to combine. *If using meat, season with additional salt and pepper before topping with the sauce and veggies. Shred with a fork after 4-5 hours in the slow cooker.

Cook in the Crock Pot on low heat for 4 hours (6 – 8 hours if using meat).


Food Lamor by Melissa

12 Week Marathon Training Schedule!



I’m sorry. Did you say a 12 week full marathon training schedule? 

Yes, I did.

Maybe I’m a little crazy or maybe it’s something else, but a few weeks ago when I found out that I had missed the registration deadline for the St. George marathon in October – the race I had been dreaming of and planning for – I was devastated. I was furious! I’m pretty sure my husband thought I was a little crazy too, though he didn’t say it, for being so upset that I didn’t have to run 26+ miles. But I was absolutely not going to accept my oversight as anything except an obstacle that needed to be navigated. I am going to run a marathon this year…no matter what!

So I went searching for another race. It had to be within a reasonable traveling distance and not too late in the year. I found one. The Desseret News Classic in Salt Lake City. There was just one thing…the marathon was in 12 weeks!


Ladies and gentlemen, at this point the farthest I’d ever ran in my life at one time was 9-ish miles…once. But let me tell you, whatever it is that is driving me toward completing this goal has so much more to do with life than running. It’s about the process. What I’ve found as I’ve had to commit in a way I hadn’t before is a depth of understanding of myself, my purpose, and my potential. That’s pretty deep for a post about running, but true none the less.

I’ve done 3 things that I can tell you right now have increased my strength and capabilities at a rate much quicker than I could have done otherwise:

    1. Join A Running Club – Find a mentor(s) and run with friends. Runners are some of the nicest people! Not only will you have a community of support, but you will also have expert training. The weekday track workouts and tempo runs have been invaluable in building up my endurance and confidence. (If you’re in the area or training for the St. George marathon I highly recommend the St. George Running Club. Find it on Facebook or ask Steve or Kendra Hooper about it at the St. George Running Center.)
    2. Follow a Running Schedule - There are a lot of books (the Hansons Marathon Method is a good one) or online programs (Hal Higdon Training Program) that will help you train to run a great race. Most training schedules, however, require 18 weeks…I didn’t have that long. So after looking at several training programs I had to come up with my own.
    3. Enjoy the Journey – Any worthwhile goal will involve some ups and downs (and I’m not just talking about hills). Embrace the process. I’ve found that I’ve felt more gratitude for the little accomplishments and had more optimism during the struggles as I’ve accepted the process of growth – sore muscles, early mornings and all.

*Don’t over do it! The weekday runs should be geared toward shorter distances at a quicker pace. I made the mistake of doing a CrossFit WOD along with my running workouts during the week and have been paying for it since. The schedule I’ve come up with is pretty intense, especially for the first time marathoner (umm…me) so go easy on yourself and only do what you can. I suggest only yoga and/or Pilates in between your weekday runs.  I am not qualified to train athletes so please follow this schedule only with the advice of your doctor and experts.

12 Week Marathon Training Schedule

My 12 week training schedule focuses on the long weekend runs. While the weekdays are for yoga/palates and twice a week speed and tempo workouts with the running club. 

Week #                                               Weekend Miles

Week 1 — 6 miles

Week 2 — 8 miles

Week 3 — 10 miles

Week 4 — 15 miles

Week 5 — 12 miles

Week 6 — 18 miles

Week 7 — 14 miles

Week 8 — 20 miles

Week 9 — 12 miles

Week 10 — 10 miles

Week 11 — 8 miles

Week 12 — Marathon!

Happy running!

Food Lamor by Melissa

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Beets


The colors in this dish are so amazing! The more vibrant the natural colors of your fruits and veggies, the more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they hold.

Dark oranges from the sweet potatoes means your getting lots of bete-carotene (vitamin A), along with vitamin C. flavanoids, lycopene, and potassium. The deep purple-red of the beets provides vitamins like A, B & C,  and minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. Roast them together with sliced sweet onion, oil, and seasoning and…hello beautiful!



Another great thing about this simple dish is that it’s great for camping! What?! Yep. Instead of the usual tin foil potatoes for your family camping trip, try wrapping some of these babies up and roasting in the coals.

Tin foil Sweet Poatoes and Beets

The fun part of doing the tin foil dinner is that each person can season their potatoes and beets how they like – sweet or spicy, simple herbs or a little bit of everything.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Beets


  • 3 – 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 large beets, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 vidalia onion, sliced
  • 3 tbsp oil (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee)
  • 1 – 2 tsp.  ground Sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Seasoning Options: Use dried or fresh herbs and spices to make it just the way you want. Here’s a few ideas…

  • The Sweet version – ghee or organic butter, cinnamon, all-spice, and fresh mint leaves
  • The Savory version – olive oil, caraway seeds, thyme, tarragon or basil, and parsley
  • The Spicy version – coconut oil, cumin, smoked paprika, and extra black pepper


Rinse, peel, and slice all the root vegetables to the same thickness. If possible slice the beets a little thinner since they take longer to cook. Toss together to coat them with the salt, oil and seasonings of choice. Stack the veggies in rows (because it looks prettier). Either wrap in tin foil and roast in the hot coals of your camp fire (about 20 minutes or until fork tender) or in a 425 degree oven for 35-45 minutes.


Food Lamor by Melissa

{Dairy Free} Chocolate Banana Creamies


Summer showed up out of nowhere! The kids and I have been cooling off by playing in water wherever we can get it along with snacking on some cool treats. As a kid, a special treat in the summer was a Creamy. Have you ever had a Creamy? The originals are made of milk, some sugar and corn syrup, with flavors like chocolate, banana, and orange. Now of course there are probably a few more flavors added to the list, but my favorites were always the originals.

My normal homemade popsicle recipe usually is just some blended fresh fruit and/or juice in a popsicle mold, but sometimes I like to go all out. With the strict diet we follow thanks to my youngest daughter, coming up with clean eating, gluten free, dairy free, simple, and yummy substitutes can be tricky.

I was so excited when I came up with the recipe for Dairy Free Orange Creamsicles, but I still wanted chocolate or banana Creamies too!  Which got me thinking…why not Chocolate Banana Creamies!? No stove top prep time with these either. Just a blender, some popsicle molds, and a freezer.

{Dairy Free} Chocolate Banana Creamies

Makes about a dozen popsicles



  1. If using the cacao nibs, you can grind them into a powder before mixing them with everything in the blender, or if using dark chocolate chips (I recommend 50% or higher for the most health benefits) then just quickly melt them before adding them to the blender.
  2. Combine the coconut milk, bananas, honey, cacao, and vanilla in a blender until everything is smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds and set in the freezer for several hours.
  4. Once they’re frozen, run some warm water over the outside of the mold to loosen and make it easier to get the popsicle out.


Food Lamor by Melissa