Lemon Almond Muffins

 Muffins were always a regular snack or dinner side at my house growing up. I mean, how can you not love sweet little mounds of bread. Even though my family doesn't do refined wheat, that doesn't mean I still can't share my love of muffins with my family. So here's some gluten free after school snacks, grab-and-go breakfast, dessert in the kiddos lunch box, or side to a light dinner. As a family we go through a lot of eggs. So whenever possible I like to leave out the eggs in my baked goods so I can save them for things like Bacon Broccoli Quiche  or in bread that does need them like {Homemade} Sandwich Bread. These muffins aren't missing any protein though since I used a garbanzo bean flour blend. They are sweet, light, and fluffy and you probably wouldn't even guess they were eggless, gluten free, and refined sugar free. 

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Make Your Own Gluten Free Flour Blends

Buying gluten free flour blends is not cheap! For anyone who has been restricted from eating gluten, this is something you probably already know all too well. Do you forgo eating baked goods or go over your grocery budget so you can? I had the same struggle after my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Read Our Story to understand why our whole family eats gluten free. After a lot of experimentation with different kinds of gluten free flours, research, and taste testing - lots of taste testing ;)  Here's some of my favorite blends and links for where to buy them for the best price. Because let's face it, eating gluten free isn't cheap! Don't worry, I promise you can have your bread, muffins, and cake...and eat it too, all while saving some money and staying on budget!  I buy all my flours in bulk online. As soon as they're delivered I make my blends right in a gallon-sized bag. Shake it up to blend it, label, and stick it in the freezer. (As you can see I've been using my bean blend and need to make another blend batch). P.S. If you have Amazon prime you'll get free shipping for orders over a certain amount. Once you have your blends prepared you can simply swap out cup for cup either the bean blend or GF flour blend with a recipe that calls for regular flour. You just may need to add an extra egg or 2 and reduce the liquid by 2 tablespoons. It's always a good idea to try the converted recipe once before you make it for a crowd. The quinoa flour is in a bag too, because if you follow my link at the bottom for how to bake with quinoa flour you'll see that I baked it in a 215 degree oven for 2 hours before cooling and storing in the freezer. Baking quinoa flour before using it gets rid of the bitter taste, but makes it more susceptible to rancidity, so into the freezer it goes. In general, it's a good idea to keep all these flours in the fridge or freezer to allow them to keep longer.  Light Gluten Free Flour Blend *  This is the blend I use to make bread and waffles, but really it's a good all-purpose blend.  2 cups Gluten Free Brown Rice Flour 1-2/3 cup Potato Starch 1-1/3 cup Tapioca Flour 1 cup toasted Quinoa Flour (Read here for how to toast it) 1 cup Gluten Free Corn Starch 3 tsp. Gum Xanthan Combine all the ingredients for the flour blend in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Seal it and shake until it's well mixed. You'll end up with 6 cups of this blend so you could make two batches of bread or put the remaining blend in the freezer for next time. Bean Flour Blend * This blend is perfect for sweet breads and muffins.  2-1/2 cups Sprouted Garbanzo Bean Flour 2-1/2 cups potato starch 1-1/2 cups tapioca starch 2 cups brown rice flour 2-1/2 tsp. xanthan gum   Other Gluten Free Flours  *These flours you don't need to blend ahead of time, but are great to use in cakes, cookies, or tortillas. It's important to eat a variety of grains and proteins, especially if you need to be gluten free (gluten is a protein). By eating lots of different "flours" it will provide you with all the necessary vitamins and proteins your body needs without overdoing it with one or two kinds exclusively. These flours are great for making things like these breakfast fruit tarts or pumpkin pecan pie. Almond Flour/ meal Coconut Flour quinoa flour  (Here's some great tips for how to bake with quinoa flour) *I put links to all the flours that I purchase and use. It took some time going through the different brands, but these are the ones that I've found work good and taste great! Happy and healthy baking!!! -Melissa    

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Bacon Wrapped Shrimp In Sweet and Tangy Sauce

 It's super bowl time! Okay, so I'll admit I really don't care who's playing in the super bowl, but tradition demands that we get together with family or friends and watch it while eating yummy finger food. My hubby does care, though.  So I asked what he wanted for some super bowl appetizers. His response, bacon.  I knew exactly what he was thinking. At his brother's wedding reception they had bacon wrapped shrimp. Let's just say, I think the server carrying those around felt a little stalked and not just by my guy. So here's my version of bacon wrapped shrimp with a simple sweet and tangy sauce! Bacon doesn't exactly have a good rep for being healthy and it isn't just because of its high fat and sodium content. Most bacon, although not made using gluten has been cross contaminated with gluten. That's bad news for my daughter with Celiac. And bad for everyone is that most bacon has been cured using nitrates, which is known to cause cancer. Why do they still use this KNOWN carcinogen in food? I have no idea, but until it's illegal we, as consumers need to be aware and avoid these toxic chemicals. So in this bacon-lover's appetizer I used uncured bacon (which is still technically cured, but done so without the use of nitrates).  Since chemicals, growth hormones, and all that other yucky stuff likes to take up residence in the animal's fat, I used gluten free, organic, uncured bacon. *Just another side note. I wanted to use some kind of fruit juice as the natural sweet part to the sweet and tangy sauce, but since I was fresh out of apple juice I used some apple sauce I had hanging around. And you know what? I really liked that it thickened the sauce without me having to use a thickening agent like cornstarch. 

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Citrus Ginger Green Smoothie

Having a baby six months ago on top of everything else had put a bit of a damper on my workout habits. Oh, who am I kidding, they came to a screeching halt! It hasn't been easy or convenient, but I'm back to running again (which is the best de-stressing, mind clarifying, boost of endorphin ever! It's like a shot of happy!) and I've joined a gym and am loving trying out all the different classes they offer. You know what, having that hour a day of exercise back in my routine is not only making me feel better physically, but I'm telling you it makes me a better mom.  Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm way more able to handle the daily challenges that being a mom brings and feel more relaxed so I can enjoy this time with my crazy kiddos. Speaking of feeling good and doing good stuff for yourself...how about a green smoothie?! This smoothie is creamy and filling while still refreshing and super good for you. My kids love green smoothies too and they gave it a thumbs up. Even my hubby who prefers his greens non-pureed thought it was yummy!

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

We were getting ready to go to grandma's 90th birthday party when I realized that there probably wouldn't be any gluten free treats available there for my daugher. So I found a big ripe banana in the basket of fruit in my pantry, some dark chocolate chips in my freezer, and came up with these delicious gluten free, egg free, paleo, refined sugar free AMAZING cookies!

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Cinnamon Coconut Sugar Popcorn

Valentine's Day is coming up! It's nice to tell people you love and appreciate them all year long, but it's fun to have a good excuse to do something extra special. This easy, healthy popcorn is so simple to make and so tasty. It's perfect for a little surprise in your kiddo's lunch box with a note that says,

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Jamaican Jerk Mahi Mahi with Coconut Quinoa

 

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Peanut Butter & Honey-Caramel Dipped Apples

I have a confession to make. I have owned a candy thermometer for close to 8 years and I've never used it...until now.  I had set out to make a gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free peanut butter fudge. After the fourth attempt I was ready to give up. Oh don't get me wrong it tasted great, but it was just too soft to call fudge.  Then I had a moment of inspiration while cutting an apple for my daughter and Peanut Butter & Honey-Caramel Dipped Apples were born!If you're planning on entertaining guests, need a treat for the neighbors, or just want something to satisfy your sweet tooth that won't go against your New Years resolutions -- this is it! This clean-eating caramel is made with only THREE INGREDIENTS! A candy thermometer isn't absolutely necessary, but is very helpful if you have one.

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Herb Pork Chops with Apples, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onion

After all the intensity of this last year it really has made me stop and realize how precious each moment is. Not to sound like a Hallmark card, but for Christmas all I really wanted was not to worry too much about meaningless things that fill our time and instead give the gift of an experience together. Memories last much longer than that cute pair of boots or a toy that will break next week. If I didn't appreciate my family before then this last year certainly put all that into perspective.Even though Christmas is over I'm still loving the holidays, the prospects of a crisp new year, and being around lots of friends and family. If you're planning on entertaining over New Years this dish will impress! Caramelized onions and mushrooms, juicy herbed pork chops and apple slices...mmmm. Not only is it good, but it's healthy. No breading or cream of anything. 

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Healthy {Homemade} Hot Cocoa

 

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...a cup of {Homemade} Hot Cocoa! I love this time of year, but I will admit that in years past I've indulged in the excessive festive goodies that always abound during the holidays. Over the years I've become more aware and informed and consequently have started making some different choices in what I feed my family. Does that mean we can't enjoy some holiday treats? No way!!This hot cocoa is made with unrefined coconut sugar, coconut milk and cacao (cocoa) powder. As a bonus the natural coconut oil from the sugar and milk will leave your lips super soft after each sip. Which may come in handy if you find yourself under the mistletoe (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

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Cinnamon Apple Crockpot Quinoa

 

I've been on a breakfast kick lately, but breakfast can get mundane with the same old things. So I like to switch it up. This healthy and delicious breakfast is super easy - as in throw it in the slow cooker the night before and forget about it, kind of easy.  This would be a great alternative to oatmeal. 

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Paleo Cinnamon Orange Pancakes

On most weekday mornings, breakfast at our house is a messy free for all. Yep, that's what happens most mornings. But sometimes - I single handedly (single handedly because I'm holding the baby in the other) make breakfast to a chorus of "I'm hungry! Is it ready yet?!" As I tenderly respond, "Relax! You'll get it when it's done!"Just keeping it real.I'm telling you how my hectic morning went to give you assurance that making a healthy breakfast, without using any prepackaged, preservative and who-knows-what-else filled mixes is possible and just as quick as the packaged stuff.  The patience part is something I'll have to get back to you about.This will make about 6 pancakes. These guys are very filling. If you have leftovers, just put them in a baggy and freeze for later.

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{Homemade} Gluten Free Granola Bars

 

You know what the worst part about feeding my entire family gluten free and as organic and chemical free as possible? The COST! $6 for a box of 5 gluten free snack bars?! Really?! So yes, making my own snacks from scratch does take up some of my time, but no more time than it'd take to make a batch of cookies, plus it saves me $$$ - like $.25 for .$50 per bar and I know exactly what's in them. So I take the time, and you know what? It's worth it. This recipe makes approximately 16 bars and the variations are endless.

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Harvest Chicken Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dijon Dressing

Okay, I had a hard time naming this beauty. I wanted to call it Harvest Greens & Chicken Salad with Bacon, Toasted Pecans, Pomegranates, Apple, and Caramelized Onions with Sweet Garlic Balsamic Dijon Dressing....but it seemed a little long. Don't you think? This salad was so yummy I made it two nights in a row and no one even complained! It's hardy enough to stand alone as a meal or you could leave out the chicken and serve it as a side salad next to the turkey on Thanksgiving. It's a crowd pleaser so prepare to make a lot of it!Harvest Chicken Salad4-6 chicken breasts (about one per person)4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbledsalt & pepper1 onion, yellow or purple works fine, thinly sliced1 glove garlic, minced1 head red leaf lettuce1 bunch kale, stems removed1 apple (I like Fuji or Gala), cored and cubed1/2 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberrieshandful pecans, toastedcrumbled feta cheese (optional)Sweet Balsamic Dijon Dressing1 clove garlic, pressed2 tbsp. dijon mustard2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar1 tbsp. honey1/2 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. pepper1/3 cup olive oilHeat a large skillet. Lightly toast the pecans until they are warm and fragrant. Put them in a bowl for later and start cooking the bacon. Once the bacon is good and crispy, remove from pan to a paper towel. Drain off most of the bacon grease, leaving just a little bit in the pan to brown the chicken in. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss in the garlic along with chicken breasts. Once the chicken is browned and cooked through, pull them out of the pan and slice them into strips. Now toss the sliced onion into the hot pan (you may need to add a little olive oil). Turn on medium low and let them caramelize while you chop and prepare the rest of the salad. Combine all the dressing ingredients and shake until well mixed.Now put it all together. Toss the lettuce, kale, apple, pomegranate seeds, toasted pecans, and bacon together. Place chicken strips and some caramelized onion on top and drizzle with the dressing. Sooo yummy!Enjoy!

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Avocado Chicken Salad

 

Lunch is so hard for me. Oh, don't get me wrong I'm always hungry for lunch, but I usually end up alternating between staring into the fridge and pantry for a while trying to decide on what to have. The situation becomes even more frustrating if I'm out of the house running errands during lunch time. Having a child with a special diet means that we just don't eat out, order out, or pick up a pizza when we're in a rush and need sustenance. So this has become one of our go to quick lunch or dinner options. This recipe will feed 2-4 hungry people.

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{Homemade} Gluten Free Waffles

Here's another gluten free bread recipe that is yummy and will hit the spot at breakfast. Keeping this recipe healthy with egg whites and applesauce also helps give these waffles a light crisp outside and soft inside. Make a batch or two and freeze, then go straight from the freezer to the toaster and have gluten free waffles even on the busiest mornings.

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{Homemade} Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

As far as the Paleo diet goes (which we have loosely followed for some time now) even the word "bread" is a big no no. However, when it comes to my gluten free 3 year old, bread is a must! She has done an amazing job of adapting to a gluten free lifestyle and is very good about asking me before she eats something to be sure it's gluten free and not eating food when she's over at friends houses. However, she's still a 3 year old! And when her cousins pull out their PB&Js for lunch and she looks at me with those big brown eyes I will experiment and test until I get the best tasting gluten free bread I can come up with so she can have her PB&J and eat it too!

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{Homemade} GF Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Since making my kitchen 100% gluten free there are a few things that my kids (and by my kids I mean ME) have not been willing to let go of, namely yummy breads! This will be the first of several yummy and healthy breads in the Food L'amor GF Baking Series. After lots of trial and error I've found that gluten free bread can taste amazing and doesn't have to be super fattening either! What?! This delicious Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread will hit the spot during the holidays or freeze and save for any day. I used a light gluten free flour blend, dark chocolate chips, cut out the refined sugar and replaced it with less than half the amount of 100% pure organic maple syrup. Don't worry it will appease that sweet tooth and you'll get a healthy dose of dark chocolate in each bite!F.Y.I - I always double this recipe to make two loafs since my family will take down the first loaf in a matter of minutes before it even cools!Preheat oven to 3502 eggs + 1 egg white1/4 cup coconut oil, warm jar under hot tap water to liquify1/4 cup apple sauce1 tsp. pure vanilla extract1/3 cup organic pure maple syrup1 - 15 oz. can pureed pumpkinCombine wet ingredients in a bowl until well blended. In another bowl combine dry ingredients. You can make your own flour blend or use a store bought prepared flour blend. I've used both and it turns out good either way.)Gluten Free Flour Blend:3/4 cup brown rice flour or GF oat flour1/4 cup potato flour5 tbsp. + 1 tsp. tapioca flourCombine the flour blend with...1 tsp. baking soda1 tsp. cinnamon1/2 tsp. ground allspice1/2 tsp. salt1/8 tsp. baking powderMix the wet and dry ingredients together until well incorporated along with...1/2 cup dark chocolate chips  *I may have used a little bit more than this just cause ;)

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{Homemade} Pomegranate Jam

  

When I think of fall, of course the traditional apples, pumpkins, and savory soups immediately come to mind and make my tummy growl in anticipation, but only a second behind that craving is my love of freshly picked pomegranates. My in-laws have a couple trees that are weighed down each fall with these delicious pink-seeded fruit that are packed with vitamins C, B5, E, and could rival carrots for its beta carotene and bananas for its potassium. On their own they're a healthy yummy snack, but when you have buckets of them you need to get come up with something other than having one for a snack or even freezing them for later. Thus we have {Homemade} Pomegranate Jam made with low or no-sugar needed pectin and coconut sugar. Coconut sugar because it ranks lower on the glycemic index and won't leave you with a rush and crash after eating, plus it's usually far less processed.

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Quinoa Pasta Broccoli Salad

Spring is in full force!  The blossoms on my enormous cherry trees in the back yard cover the branches and litter the grass beneath and the crab apple tree in front is the brightest fuchsia pink I've ever seen.   That means that people are uncovering the grills and firing them up once more. This gluten free, dairy free version of broccoli salad is a  yummy and filling side to serve at your next barbecue along side some Fired Up Pork Ribs! This salad can go together in a snap if you have planned ahead.  Make your own {Homemade} mayonnaise the day or two before for an even healthier, preservative free dish.  

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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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