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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Chicken Tikki Masala & Coconut Mint Yogurt Sauce

Chicken-Tiki-Masala

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

GF-Apple-Strudel-Cinnamon-Roll1

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!
GF-Apple-Strudel-Cinnamon-Rolls-3

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.

making-cinnamon-rolls-2

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.

making-cinnamon-rolls

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.

GF-Apple-Studel-Cinnamon-2

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

3-reasons---fermented-vegetables

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.

fermented-vegetables-3

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.

GF-quick-rolls

 

Gluten Free Quick Rolls

Yield: Dozen rolls

Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten free flour blend + 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (if not included in the blend)
  • 4 tsp. GF, aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1-1/3 cups milk (organic dairy milk, almond, coconut, or rice milk all work)
  • 4 tbsp. softened organic butter or ghee
  • 4 egg whites + 1 egg white with a splash of water separated for egg wash

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients.
  3. Combine wet ingredients, except the extra egg white, in a separate bowl.
  4. Now combine the wet and dry ingredients together until a soft ball of dough forms.
  5. Rub some oil on your hands before rolling dough into palm-sized balls.
  6. Place rolls on parchment paper lined baking sheet
  7. Using a basting brush, brush the tops of the rolls with the egg white.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  9. .
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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.

seasoned-turkey-burger-sliders2

Apple Turkey Burger Sliders on Gluten Free Rolls

Yield: a dozen sliders

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. ground turkey burger (don't use extra lean or you'll end up with very dry burgers.)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried ground sage
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley or 5 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 small apples, sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • provolone cheese, sliced

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl combine the turkey burger, eggs, garlic, sage, parsley, salt, and pepper. Blend together well.
  2. Form into meatballs and then flatten into mini patties.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet with olive oil. Because turkey burger is low in fat it can stick and fall apart easily on a grill. If using the grill, drizzle the olive oil onto a hefty piece of aluminum foil, lay patties on the foil and place foil on the grill.
  4. Cook each patty 3-5 minutes per side or 165 degree internal temp.
  5. While the mini burgers are cooking slice apples and onions.
  6. Lay an onion ring on the grill or hot skillet and top with an apple slice. The onion will caramelize and the apple will steam. I lifted the apple off and turned the onion over and laid the apple back on top after a few minutes to get both sides.
  7. Cut rolls in half
  8. Place a mini turkey burger patty, followed by a slice of provolone cheese (I used a round cookie cutter to cut the cheese to fit), topped with the onion and apple.
  9. *Honey mustard on the table for everyone to spread on their rolls.
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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

Zucchini Paleo Pizza Crust!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups grated zucchini, liquid drained
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Pour Paleo pizza dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Use a spatula or spoon to begin working it into an even layer, about 1/4 inch thick
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 425
  6. Broil for for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  7. Top it with any combo you love best:
  8. cooked gluten free sausage and onions
  9. tomato slices
  10. fresh basil leaves
  11. pineapple
  12. cooked gluten free bacon
  13. sliced bell peppers
  14. Once it's topped to perfection, you can pop it back under the broiler for another minutes or two, or just enjoy it as is!
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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

Seared Balsamic Chicken (Paleo)

 

 

Paleo, gluten free, worry-free, simple seared chicken.
Seared-Balsamic-Chicken

“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.” And yet, as mom’s we worry anyway. When I was younger I couldn’t understand my mom’s constant worry over everything I did. 

Then I became a mother and suddenly my mom’s behavior became totally transparent. And I realize now, what I didn’t understand then, that the culprit which turns a balanced, sane woman into a worried, micromanaging over-reactor…is LOVE. 

Now, I sometimes lie awake at night with an ache in my chest – worrying. Am I doing the best things for my children? What can I do to help them reach their full potential? Realize their great worth and embrace the good in others?  These are the worries that will last long after diapers and bedtime stories – which is an entirely different kind of ache. Then there’s the everyday worries like: Is this gluten free? Cross-contaminated?  

Making homemade meals that are naturally gluten free takes out the guess work and the worry. Like this simple Seared Balsamic Chicken I made to go along with my Chilled Tomato Basil & Roasted Squash Soup. It was a yummy summer evening meal, but this chicken is so simple, worry-free, and  versatile it’s good all year long. 
Seared-balsamic-chicken-1

4 chicken breasts, patted dry

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. ground mustard

2 tsp. honey

2 tsp. dried parsley or a few sprigs fresh parsley, chopped (opt.)

In a large skillet heat olive oil and garlic until it sizzles. Pat dry, salt and pepper chicken breasts. Lie chicken in the hot skillet and let it sear one side for about 5-7 minutes. Don’t touch it or move it. If it sticks when the time’s up, then it’s not ready. Let it cook another minute longer. While it’s cooking whisk the vinegar, mustard, honey, and parsley together. Flip the chicken over, drizzle the vinegar mixture over top and let it sear on the other side for another 5-7 minutes. You can use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken to make sure it’s done (160-165 F) or make a small cut to make sure it’s no longer pink and fully cooked through. Move the chicken to a plate and set a lid over top to keep them warm while they rest. Serve it with soup or a veggie side

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

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

Asian-Stir-Fry-with-Zucchini-Noodles

This dish is great for a light dinner when you’re craving some Asian take out without the take out. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to eat. The trouble is, what you usually get with the American version of Asian food is a whole lot of MSG laden fried meat and vegetables that are definitely not gluten free. 

That is, unless you’re like me and my hubby and go for sushi…ahh sushi! It’s healthy and delicious and when you find a good sushi place it’s like heaven! One roll is never enough and…sorry, I’m drooling…

But this isn’t about sushi! This is about a fridge full of  veggies that weren’t going to last much longer and needed to be eaten. So I made this simple Asian-style stir fry with zucchini noodles in a spicy peanut sauce for dinner. It was way cheaper to feed the entire family this meal than to have gone out and bought something just for two. You can make it with chicken, pork, or leave out the meat and have it as just a veggie side. This dish is healthy, gluten free, and grain free, but mostly it’s super tasty!

Don’t think your kids will eat it?

Maybe they won’t, but mine certainly did. In fact they had no idea that the “noodles” they were devouring were actually zucchini! I didn’t add much spiciness to mine either which helped them down it that much faster. 

Asian-Stir-Fry-with-Zucchini-Noodles-2

1 lb. chicken breast, patted dry and cut into cubes (opt.)

sea salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. sesame seed oil

1 small head cabbage, shredded or chopped

2 medium zucchini, use a carrot peeler to peel the entire thing into strips (a.k.a zucchini noodles)

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1 cup snap peas

2 green onions, sliced on a diagonal

2 stalks lemongrass, rinsed and sliced on a diagonal (use only if you’re not using lemongrass oil)

Heat the sesame seed oil and garlic in a wok or large skillet. Prepare chicken with salt and pepper and add to the hot oil. Stir fry for several minutes until the outside is lightly browned and the inside is no longer pink. Scoot them to the side of the pan and add in the cabbage and carrots. Once the cabbage has wilted and the carrots are crisp tender add in the remaining peas, green onions, and lemongrass if using fresh. Sautee several minutes until tender. Turn the heat to low and add in the zucchini noodles along with the sauce. Toss everything together. Cover with a lid and allow to steam on low  heat for about 5-8 minutes – that’s all the time it takes for the zucchini noodles to cook.  

Sauce:

1 tbsp. honey

1 heaping tbsp. Organic Peanut Butter, unsalted

1-2 tsp. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce(According to Huy Fong Foods, Inc. it is gluten free as of 2014, but check back often to see if there has been any changes in the manufacturing process or ingredients.)

1/2 inch ginger root, grated

2 drops lemongrass Doterra essential oil (only use if not using fresh lemongrass)

5 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped 

Whisk together honey, peanut butter, sriracha sauce, grated ginger root, and lemongrass oil (if using oil). Pour over veggies and toss to coat. Toss in the basil just before putting the lid on. Serve it warm with Gluten Free Soy Sauce.

 Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

How To Cook The Perfect Spaghetti Squash

making-spaghetti-squash 

If you haven’t figured out how awesome spaghetti squash is, now is the time. If you want or need to eat gluten free, are following the Paleo or Fodmap diet, or just want to eat healthier in general, the trusty spaghetti squash is your friend. Once cooked it comes out like…well, spaghetti noodles. Not only are you upping your vegetable intake, but a spaghetti squash in season will probably be cheaper than a box of gluten free noodles (yay!)

Funny enough, most of the time I hear the reason people don’t eat more of this amazing squash is because they’re not really sure how to prepare it. Yes, I’ve watched the tutorials too on how to cook one, but it wasn’t until I accidently did it different that it turned out perfect and delicious. Now I prepare it like this all the time. 

How did it happen, you ask? Well, it all started a few years back when I tried cooking my first spaghetti squash to use in place of pasta. I may have skimmed the how-to a little too quickly that said I was supposed to cook the squash face down. I cooked it face up. After painstakingly scraping the tasteless, dried squash noodles from the skins I decided that next time I would add a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. So I did. And that turned out much better. Then one day when I was distracted with nerf gun projectiles and the endless struggle to find the matching Barbie shoe, I accidently set the oven hotter than usual. Halfway through cooking I realized my mistake and to alleviate the possibility of dried out squash noodles again, I turned it face down and lowered the heat. And….it turned out to be perfectly roasted, flavorful al dente squash noodles! 

And the moral of the story is…sometimes an accidentally mess up isn’t a mess up at all, but the path to the perfection who’ve been seeking. (Pretty deep, I know.) Here’s how to cook the perfect spaghetti squash…

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Step 2: Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds and fibers.  

Step 3: Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Place the two halves of the squash face up/cut side up and drizzle with a little olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. 

Step 4: Bake for 10-15 minutes on the center rack until the edges and top turn golden brown. 

Step 5: Pull the squash out of the oven and turn them over so now they are face down/cut side down. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 and stick them right back in. 

making-spaghetti-squash2

Step 6: Bake for another 10-15 minutes. 

Step 7: Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes. Then, using a fork, carefully (because it’s still hot) scrape the squash noodles out into a bowl or serving dish. 

Step 8: Eat it! Top it with marinara or white sauce, meat, vegetables, cheese etc. Like this Spaghetti Squash Noodles with Lemon Pepper Marinara and Herb & Veggie Meatballs 

Speghetti-Squash-&-Herb-veggie-meatballs

Enjoy!

Melissa-Signature

 

Chilled Tomato Basil & Roasted Squash Soup (Gluten Free)

Creamy-tomato-basil-squash-soup

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.

soup-and-balsamic-chicken

I paired it up with some Seared Balsamic Chicken for a filling and healthy dinner. 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

 

Great Value Gluten Free Granola Bars Review

Great value Gluten Free Bars

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

Fresh-Fiesta-Salad-with-Salsa-Dressing

 

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