Clean Eating Peanut Butter Cups

 

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Poached Egg on Orange Quinoa & Greens

Something simply satisfying is what I need right now. This week of CrossFit workouts has left me questioning what in the world was I thinking even showing up. But then, after some hectic errands and preschool drop off, I go home and enjoy some quiet during naptime. So, I cooked up something special just for me. It fits right in with my nutrition plan for this crazy CrossFit challenge I got myself into.Come back tomorrow for the details on what my 8 week CrossFit challenge nutrition plan looks like! My after-workout lunch included some dark green kale and sauteed mushrooms with orange, thyme, and parsley quinoa, and a poached egg on top. It may seem like it should have taken me a lot more effort and energy to prepare my fancy meal-for-one, but really it only took about 15 minutes.  A tall glass of water to go with it and the frustrating morning at the gym is a distant memory...well until I see what tomorrow's WOD will be.

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Paleo Dinner Rolls

 These dinner rolls are pretty simple to make, great with some drizzled honey, and fits into a grain free or paleo diet. It took a while to wrap my head around the idea that I could use ground nuts to make "breads". Now that I'm getting the hang of it, all kinds of possibilities and variety have opened up.These dinner rolls are filling because they are packed with protein instead of refined carbohydrates. You can serve them warm from the oven or freeze them for later.

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Clean Eating Taco Soup

 From the get-go I knew it was going to be a busy day, so I pulled out my trusty Crockpot and started throwing in ingredients for taco soup. I got a recipe for taco soup from one of those neighborhood recipe exchanges years ago. I can't find it anymore, but I remember it was really simple - cooked ground beef, canned vegetables and beans with a taco seasoning packet in a slow cooker and you've got yourself some taco soup. I thought about that recipes as I rummaged through the fridge and pantry.The taco soup I was making wouldn't involve quite so many cans, it may have taken a few extra minutes to slice vegetables and blend spices, but it would be gluten free, clean eating, healthy, and tasty."Clean eating" is a kind of a funny term for food if you think about it. I mean, I assume any edible product is made in a clean facility with proper sanitary regulations practiced. That's not what clean eating means though.What is Clean Eating?It means the food is as unprocessed as possible and free of artificial ingredients or production methods that drastically alter the original form (man-made, chemically altered,  or genetically engineered/modified). In other words grown organically. This doesn't just mean that you stick with whole foods, but also that the source of your whole foods has been grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides, animals are grass-fed, free-range, and not given growth hormones or antibiotics. Our clean eating list also includes gluten free too.In other words that packet of taco seasoning with it's preservatives and, yes, gluten fillers isn't clean eating.Does that seem like a lot to remember to you too?It did to me at first too. So I just started paying attention more to labels (something that I already did anyway when shopping for gluten free food). Here's my Clean Eating & Gluten Free Costco Shopping List to help narrow down some of the confusion at everyone's favorite warehouse store.I made my taco soup for our meatless Monday meal, but you can add some ground beef to yours if you like.

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Spiced Apple Cider Chicken

"So long as you have food in your mouth you have solved all questions for the time being."  - Franz KafkaAmen, Franz. Amen.It's so easy to be swept up in the extraordinarily mundane or struggle for composure during the turbulent times of life. But both routine and stress melt away for just a moment when you're enjoying a homemade meal. For me, the preparation is part of my release. I've learned to love the process.Sure it's nice to throw everything into a crock pot once in a while, but more often than not I truly unwind when I spend a half hour and just cook. I savor the smells, often sniffing as I go until it's just right. I kind of get in a zone where I don't mind the little 1 year old at my feet pulling every pot and pan out of the cupboard and filling them with plastic cups from the other cupboard, or the kitchen table covered in homework, artwork, and puzzles.I sometimes turn on my favorite Pandora station and let myself get carried away. You know the rat on Ratatouille? I must look just like that when I cook.Tonight I lost myself in the smells and tastes of this Spiced Apple Cider Chicken. It's savory with a hint of sweet that my whole family devoured. And while our mouths were full all the questions were solved...if just for that moment.

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Grain Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Squares

The leaves are changing colors in the mountains, the nights are getting cooler....it must be time for pumpkins! As October approaches there's a few things that you just can't help but notice. 1) Halloween costumes and decorations have taken over every store. (Seriously? Pretty soon they're going to start pushing Halloween right after the 4th of July!)  2) Everyone starts craving warm comfort food like bread and soup, and 3) pumpkins are finding they're way onto front porches and into our dinner and dessert dishes.Speaking of dessert, my mom makes the best pumpkin squares. Every fall she busts out a can of pumpkin puree and whips up this yummy dessert. We already know how good pumpkin is for you with those antioxidants and vitamins found in dark orange fruits and vegetables. Since my mission in the kitchen is to create gluten free food that also has no refined sugar, and will overall be something healthy to fuel my family, I had to make a few changes to mom's original.I wanted a similar look, feel, and taste that I love about mom's pumpkin squares, just without the flour and sugar. This grain free version is dairy free, gluten free, and Paleo. After a little time in the oven these pumpkin squares come out soft, spongy, and won't dry out easily like so many other gluten free desserts.

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Gluten Free Muffin Tin Rolls

I am forever in pursuit of easy, tasty, and healthy gluten free baked goods. My obsession is partly because I love bread, but mostly it's because of my daughter with an autoimmune disease. Following a gluten free diet may suddenly make enjoying baked goods seem like a long lost dream, or at the very least, way too complicated to bother with. Instead of using a cup of one kind of flour, now it takes a handful of different "flours" ranging from rice, to tapioca, to beans!

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Chicken Tikki Masala & Coconut Mint Yogurt Sauce

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.

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Gluten Free Apple Strudel Cinnamon Rolls

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!

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Coconut Yogurt Overnight Breakfast Bowl

"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.

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Gluten Free Quick Rolls

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Apple Turkey Burger Sliders on Gluten Free Rolls

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 I did a little purification. Our house is gluten-free now, and although I can and do eat wheat when I'm out 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!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...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.Enjoy! 

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Zucchini 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!

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3 Ingredient Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip 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. 

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Seared Balsamic Chicken (Paleo)

 

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

I love Asian cuisine, especially sushi...mmmm, sushi...

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How To Cook The Perfect 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...

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Chilled Tomato Basil & Roasted Squash Soup (Gluten Free)

Soup seems like a silly thing to make in the heat of the summer...but not this soup. This soup 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 that had been given to me. 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.I paired it up with some Seared Balsamic Chicken for a filling and healthy dinner. Yummy!

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Fresh Fiesta Salad & 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 re-energized 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. 

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Gluten Free Zucchini Fritters

  Summer and excessive amounts of zucchini go hand-in-hand! This time of year my kiddos are bound to find things like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini hidden somewhere in their meal. The sneakier I am at hiding them, the better they are at eating them. Like in gluten free zucchini bread. So I decided to make some Gluten Free Zucchini Fritters and guess what? They didn't seem to notice that they were eating zucchini cakes! I had made zucchini fritters years ago before going gluten free and as far and I can tell when making fritters there are two ways to go about it - sweet or savory. I chose savory, which involves flavors like fresh basil and parsley, parmesan cheese and garlic. Traditional fritters usually call for bread crumbs or flour to help hold everything together. So I used the next best, gluten free thing...oat flour. Oat flour (made from gluten free oatmeal that has been ground into a flour-like consistency) acts just like wheat flour in most recipes. Unlike other gluten free flours you don't have to make an elaborate blend or add gums like guar gum or xanthan gum to make it stay together either. Plus, oats are full of fiber, antioxidants, boosts immune system, and so much more. If you're a nerd like me, you can read all about oats, one of world's healthiest foods here.  Now for the fritters! (Makes 12+ zucchini fritters. About 3-4 inches across) 4 cups zucchini shredded, drained and squeezed dry 1 cup oat flour 2 eggs 2 tsp. sea salt 1/2 tsp. black pepper 2 clove garlic 1/3 cup parmesan cheese 4-5 fresh basil leaves 3-4 sprigs fresh parsley, stems removed 2-3 tbsp. coconut oil Grate the zucchini and place in a strainer in the sink or set in a bowl. Allow the water to drain off the zucchini for about 10 minutes. While it's draining you can pulse the oats in a food processor or blender until it becomes oat flour. Take a clean dish towel and squeeze out all the remaining liquid out of the zucchini. Add the zucchini, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan, basil, and parsley to the oat flour in the food processor. Blend everything together until it's nice and evenly chopped and mixed. Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle (preheated to 325) and drizzle on some of the coconut oil. Once the oil's hot take a spoonful of the fritter paste, shape into a patty (it will be sticky, that's okay), and get it cooking. It should only take about 5-6 minutes per side. Once both sides are a nice golden brown set them on a plate to cool. Serve warm. Eat them as a side to some grilled chicken for dinner or place a slice of tomato and mozzarella in between two fritters and have a fritter bruschetta sandwich for lunch! Enjoy!         

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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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