Homemade Greek Yogurt

My parents have always been very health conscious ever since I could remember. Not just health conscious, but very frugal and thrifty as well. Yeah, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. So when my parents said they'd cleaned out their kitchen and were bringing over some things they thought I might like, I was intrigued. When they started unloading a juicer, blender, and yogurt maker I was like a kid on Christmas! Woohoo!   Making your own yogurt is super simple, super economical ($1.43 for 24 oz. of yogurt. Savings of $2.55), and you're sure to not have any added sugar, colors, or chemicals. We normally don't eat much dairy, unless it's raw organic cheese for sprinkling on tacos, but yogurt is a great source of probiotics.

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Gluten Free Lemon Bars: Tricks To Converting Your Gluten-Filled Favs into Healthy & Gluten Free

Okay, this may be revealing some of my secrets, but if you've recently been diagnosed with celiac disease, have a gluten intolerance, or just want to change up the grains in your life, then knowledge and know-how are your best friends. When my daughter was first diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder I was so worried about messing up that I just didn't make anything unless I used a gluten free mix. It didn't take me long to realize that more often than not this method was way too expensive, the ingredients were crazy fattening and unhealthy (despite being gluten free), and a lot of the time it just didn't taste good...at all! So I started experimenting and yes, messing up. The result, however, has been that now I can make up my own recipes that are gluten free, healthy, and taste super yummy! 

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Gluten Free Spanish Pork Paella

 Ah, Spain! Warm Mediterranean breezes, siestas in the middle of the day...okay, so I've never been to Spain. In fact, I've never even left the country! Ugh, lame! Man, I need a vacation. It doesn't matter who you are there is nothing like getting away from the routine of everyday life and experiencing something new. Alex and I would love to do some serious traveling. Honestly, if I could, I would live in a different country every year. How amazing would it be to immerse yourself in Italian, Irish, or French culture for a whole year? (I hear there is a lot of gluten free awareness in Ireland.) But the reality is...that's not going to happen any time soon...or ever.So how do you break up the norm? Keep your enthusiasm and a sense of adventure? If you would have asked me that a year ago I probably would have told you lots of great things that all would have begun with the word "I". "I need...", "I want..." Yes, taking care of your own needs and wants is very important - I absolutely need some time to myself to pray, to read, to workout, to get lost playing the piano, to think, to just sit still and breath. Now, however, I think my answer would also include serving others. There is so much joy, and self-fulfillment when you help others fulfill their needs and wants. It seems like a counterintuitive notion doesn't it? But I've been on the giving and receiving end of selfless service and no matter how you slice, service is key.So even though I hope to one day, I won't be going to Europe in the near future. I can, however, keep my passion, adventurous spirit, and excitement for life alive and encourage my kids to do the same. Dream big. Hope. Aspire. Work for it. Until we get there though, there is one way to experience a taste of it. Eat it!    So last night we visited Spain ...at least during dinner (gluten free, Food L'amor style!) Fancy right?! No, this wasn't a dinner for two. I wish! This Spanish Pork Paella has a easy going mild, all-around, tasty flavor and the kiddos liked it too. Even without the peaceful siesta's and ocean breezes it was perfect!Paella is just the Spaniards version of comfort food using meat, veggies, and rice. There are a ton of different ways to make it and you could still call it paella. So here's my gluten free version...

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Bottle Your Own Chicken Broth

All right, for those who really know me you know that I'm kind of a rookie when it comes to canning. In fact, I recently found a jar of mystery mush that I think may have been an ill-fated attempt at apple butter from a few years ago. There were air bubbles in it, it looked like a science experiment, and...oh yeah, it wasn't even sealed! I've come a long way since then, as far as canning goes (and in other areas I hope) and have found that I actually really like canning. And not just because I know exactly what's in the food I'm preparing, that it's 100% gluten free, or even that it's way healthier, but because it's WAY cheaper! I made the equivalent of 10 pints of broth for...(drum roll, please)...$0.

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{Homemade} Walnut Cocoa Butter

 I made the mistake of buying nutella recently. Mistake, you ask? Oh, don't worry it's gluten free, that's not the problem. The problem is when I come into the kitchen to find my kids with spoonfuls of nutella that they're licking clean, with more of it all over their faces, suggesting this isn't their first spoonful. And no, they won't admit how many spoonfuls they've snuck in the last 20 minutes while I was putting the baby down for a nap. They "forgot".I really can't get too mad at them since I may have been caught doing the same thing just the other day! There are worse things than nutella covered faces, but if they - and by they I mean WE - are going to eat cocoa flavored nut butters by the spoonful it might as well be without tons of sugar, emulsifiers, and artificial flavors. So I made us some {homemade} walnut cocoa butter!I chose walnuts because that's what I had, but I'm sure it could work with most other nuts: cashew, hazelnut, almond, etc. All you need is a good heavy duty blender or food processor. You could also use already made nut butters like almond butter and just whip it together with the remaining ingredients. There are some health food grocery stores where you can grind your own fresh nut butter. Otherwise, use  organic walnuts and enjoy a gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, all-natural, healthy treat! If you want some more how-to advice on making nut butter here's a great post from Beth at Tasty Yummies.P.S. It's so yummy spread on top of my Paleo Chocolate Chip cookies. I was fresh out of chocolate chips so I just replaced the coconut flour with the walnut cocoa butter for a Paleo chocolate cookie! And then topped it with a little more...just for good measure.

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Marinated "Rockstar" Drumsticks (gluten free)

  Is chicken part of your weekly diet? Ours too.  I like to change it up and have chicken one night, pork, fish, or beef another (organic, free of hormones and antibiotics if you can)- except 1-3 days a week when I prepare a meatless meal. This saves money (because meat can be $$$), plus it's healthy to give it a rest and just eat veggies, beans, rice, or other gluten free grains once in a while.

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Gluten Free Flaxseed Bread

So I've been doing a lot of experimenting with gluten free flour blends and trying to come up with one that doesn't require any xanthan gum. So far I've experienced fail and epic fail! But, out of those failures I've learned what doesn't work and have come up with this very yummy gluten free flour blend that I used to make this hardy flaxseed bread. I think there's a life lesson hidden in there somewhere. This bread's nice and sturdy and may even replace my old gluten free sandwich bread as my new sandwich bread recipe!

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5 Philosophies for Raising Healthy Eaters

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Double Chocolate Brownies (gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free)

With the warmer weather, we've been having more and more get-together's with family and friends lately. My parents were in town and instead of trying to come up with an entire dinner for my family, my parents, and my sister's family we decided to eat separately and join up after for dessert, a mean game of backyard badminton, and card games. Needless to say, my kids were so excited about dessert they didn't "feel very hungry for dinner". I needed to make something that was not only going to be gluten free, but wasn't going to give my kiddos a sugar rush and crash. Oh, one other requirement...it had to be chocolate (per the hubby's request). What does this look like a specialty bakery!? Well, chocolate does sound pretty good right now....so I gave in and made these yummy, refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free Double Chocolate Brownies!  

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Spring Herb Quinoa Salad

 Eating with the seasons doesn't just save you money, it's good for you too. There are lots of yummy springtime fruits and veggies that I personally am going to start enjoying right now! Lemons, cherries, peas, green onions, and fresh herbs are all combined with warm toasted quinoa, cooked in broth for a flavorful, light, healthy, gluten free, yummy salad that can be eaten warm or cold. This is perfect for your first barbeque of the season, Easter dinner, a get together, or whenever and since it tastes just as good warm or cold it's great to eat for lunch the next day. 

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Shamrock Mint Shake

  I love spring! Here in my desert home the trees are starting to blossom and big billowy clouds bring cool rain, turning the sagebrush a lovely shade of green. The inevitable and always inspiring rainbow is bound to show up whenever the sun peeks out. 

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Poached Salmon Indian Curry with Quinoa

  Eating out with kids is always an adventure. And by adventure I mean the poor restaurant staff probably breathe a sigh of relief when we leave. It's not always that dramatic, but anyone with young kids know what I'm talking about. It can get a little hairy. So, even though I love to give my kids the the experience of eating out every once in a while sometimes it's just as fun to make an ethnic restaurant style meal at home. It's fun to really go all out and have a whole themed dinner. The kids get to experience something new, learn about another culture, and I don't go all mama bear while interrogating the chef about their "gluten free" menu. 

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Tex-Mex Gluten Free Turkey Burgers

 Have you ever had a turkey burger? It's not just about the burger, it's about the toppings -- tomato, avocado, mango, sauteed onions and bell peppers! I kept mine dairy free, but you could certainly melt a slice of pepper jack cheese on top. 

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Almandine Green Beans

 Sunday dinner at family's house is such a great tradition. It's nice to visit and all, but seriously - I won't lie - it's really nice to not have to cook. Alright, I can't really just sit back and relax, I do have four kids after all. This simple dish was part of one Sunday dinner menu and it was so yummy and simple I just had to share. I also learned something new; almandine means "garnished with almonds". It's sound fancy and smart too. ;)*This recipe serves four, but it's pretty easy to double for more hungry dinner guests.

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Swiss Chard Citrus Salad (Gluten Free)

  Staying on a budget while feeding an entire family healthy, gluten-free food is an art form. Okay, maybe more like a necessary obsession. I've found that the most convenient and inexpensive way to get quality, organic produce is from my local farmer's market or a food co-op where I can contribute a certain amount and then go pick up a big basket of fruits and vegetables at the end of the week. The co-op option is great, especially in the winter months. It's also pretty fun since I never know what surprises I'll find in my basket.

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Gluten Free Chocolate-Filled Macaroons

  Most of the time I would consider myself a planner. I usually prepare and think ahead, but every now and then I'm a "What?! It's already Valentines?" kind of person.  So here's to anyone else who's been caught off guard by this lovable holiday. These {Homemade} gluten-free, chocolate-filled, pink and simple macaroons are the perfect Valentine's Day treat for your someone special...or yourself -- who is also very special. ;) With only 5 ingredients, these macaroons can be whipped together in no time and are sure to impress way more than store bought chocolates. (hint, hint fellas) I made mine bite-sized, but you can make them bigger if you'd like. Here's how you do it... 4 egg whites, whipped 1/2 cup sifted organic coconut sugar or honey (I did half and half) 1-1/2 cups coconut flour

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Healthy Gluten-Free Snack Ideas for Kids (and everyone else)

This has been a subject that I've been thinking about for a while and get asked about a lot. I know for most kids and adults alike, a snack isn't always healthy and rarely gluten free -- chips, crackers, soda, and sugary treats. There are all these misconception that it takes a lot of work and planning to prepare a healthy snack. As a mom of four kids who love to eat, and as a family who have all committed to a gluten free diet in support of one of our littles with an autoimmune disease, I'm sharing a few of the simple snack possibilities my family likes to nibble on. Fresh fruits and veggies are an obvious easy snack idea, but sometimes you need something a little more filling than just a few carrot sticks. Have it with some gluten free store bought or homemade Rosemary Hummus (I'm still perfecting my traditional chickpea hummus, but I came up with some yummy Hummus Soup in my attempts). Dip carrots, celery, or sweet peas in hummus for a healthy, filling, protein, and fiber packed snack.  This snacky submission is by my oldest who has followed in his mom's footsteps and loves to create things in the kitchen. He calls this is "secret recipe" (so don't tell anyone). Just cut a slice of gluten free bread, spread some almond butter on it and a drizzle of honey. He also likes to mix it up by topping it with raisins or sliced banana. It's just something simple that he can make on his own.This may seem so silly, but this snack is my girls' favorite. Yep, just frozen peas! Buy a bag of organic frozen peas, dump in a cup or small bowl and let them nibble to their hearts content. It's a nice cool snack on a hot day and it's so good for them! Okay, I don't know about all of you out there, but this was the best snack EVER growing up -- Ants On A Log! My kids like a lot of "ants". It's just celery, peanut butter, and raisins and it's fun to watch my kids use their imagination while eating them.   Who doesn't love popcorn? We skip all the preservatives and additives in the bags of microwave popcorn and use an air popper instead. Then just melt some coconut oil, drizzle over the top and sprinkle with salt or if you have a sweet tooth make Coconut Sugar and Cinnamon Popcorn.   Trail mix is always a good healthy snack, but because most trail mixes are contaminated with gluten we just toss together our own. I like to make it with 2 parts raw, unsalted nuts to 1 part anything else. My youngest daughter's favorite is just almonds and dark chocolate chips, but throwing in some dried fruit, and shredded coconut just makes it even yummier to me.Here's some more ideas: Cheese and apples (a piece of each, put them together and bite. Yummy), a spoonful of peanut butter, plain greek yogurt with fresh fruit and honey -- you get idea. How's that for quick, simple, and healthy? Of course, I also like to make things like Lemon Almond Muffins or Gluten-Free Granola Bars too. 

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Gluten Free Creamy Hummus Soup

 So you know when you have all these good intentions for making something homemade and yummy and it just doesn't turn out? Yeah, that happens to me all the time. I've had to learn to improvise so I don't waste food that didn't "turn out". That's what happened today with the hummus I was trying to make. Maybe it was because I was distracted by a fussy baby or the kids that were arguing over the rules of the board game they were trying to play. Whatever the reason the hummus was too garlicky and not the right consistency.

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{Homemade} Quinoa Tortillas

 I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit of a nerd. I love reading National Geographic magazine, watching a special on ancient civilizations, or reading articles on the latest health research. So I could probably sit here and tell you all about the amazing benefits of including quinoa in your diet. This ancient seed - yes seed, closer to spinach and beetroot than grain- was the staple diet and sacred food of the Inca's and today has been called a superfood, high in complete proteins as well as other vitamins and minerals. It's also naturally gluten free and easy to digest.Really all I should say is how easy and quick these healthy and delicious tortillas are! 

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Slow Cooker Carnitas!

Looking for a game day dinner that will feed a crowd? When it comes to feeding a big group, anything you can stuff into a corn tortilla is going to be convenient. Anything you can throw into the slow cooker and forget about until you're hungry is better. Not to mention that everything is made from scratch so you'll know it's gluten free and it's still pretty quick and simple to put together before everyone gets there.I first made these carnitas when my grandma came for a visit all the way from Arkansas. Of course, my parents, siblings and their families, and my hubby's family all came for dinner too! It was great to have everyone together and have my grandma meet her tenth great grandbaby. These carnitas were a hit and I got to enjoy myself without being stuck cooking instead of visiting. If you've got a crowd coming over for the big game, these carnitas have been tried, tested, and approved. I used a dry rub on the meat and then braised it before putting it in the slow cooker.The Rub:

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Melissa Cornwall has spent years researching and implementing nutritionally-based approaches to health and wellness. Her lifelong love of food and health evolved from a hobby to a passion when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease.

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