Pork Chops with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Pork Chops with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

We don't always have meat with dinner. Usually twice a week we skip the meat and fill up on plant-based proteins like beans or maybe when dinner is rushed I throw together a simple gluten free pasta something. But when it's not a meatless night, we like our meat! (and veggies).

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Barbecue Chicken Chili {clean eating & gluten free}

Barbecue Chicken Chili {clean eating & gluten free}

The weather has been a little bipolar lately. Warm and spring-like, followed by a fluke snowstorm, and now rain for three days straight. It's the perfect weather for chili! I have this chili recipe I've made forever - whenever we've stayed at our family cabin or on a rainy day at home, but it calls for things like prepared barbecue sauce, ketchup, and brown sugar. Hello? Can we say sugar overload. I love the smokey, spicy, sweet flavors of barbecue sauce, but I don't so much love high fructose corn syrup or the artificial colors and flavors. Even ketchup has a bunch of corn syrup in it.Now that we eat clean, gluten free, mostly dairy free, and refined sugar is pretty much non-existent in our home, I needed a new chili recipe.This made from scratch Barbecue Chicken Chili is a great one pot or Crock Pot meal. And it has bacon. Who doesn't love bacon?!FYI when shopping for ingredients:*It's important to use SMOKED paprika to get the right flavor. You won't get the same taste with regular, sweet, or spicy paprika.*Uncured bacon is actually cured but done so without the use of nitrates or nitrites. It's usually cured with celery powder and/or sea salt which makes it much better for you. 

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Citrus-Basil Coconut Chicken

Citrus-Basil Coconut Chicken

I love meals that involve one or two utensils and a skillet. They are so versatile and can be easily adjusted for however many seats are filled at the table - this is one of those meals. It's not just any old skillet chicken dinner though. This meal is Paleo worthy, gluten free, dairy free, and oh my goodness, so tasty! Tropical flavors come together in a unique way that makes this a dinner kids and adults will love! It's only 10 ingredients too (8 if you don't count the salt and pepper. Does S&P count as an ingredient or just a given in a dish like this? Your thoughts?).  Another bonus is that this dinner is ready in under 30 minutes, which is great for entertaining dinner guests or just entertaining your kids (gotta love that on a busy weekday). Serve with rice or quinoa and some veggies and you're done!

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Clean Eating Taco Soup

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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Stuffed Smashed Potatoes

Stuffed Smashed Potatoes

I love eating whole, unprocessed, real food. Eating gluten free and subsequently discovering all the wonderful benefits from eating food that is as close to it’s natural, original state has been an enlightening and …but let’s be honest here…sometimes I mourn for the loss of my ignorance.  (*Beware: venting in process)

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Slow Cooker Carnitas!

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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Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli

I hate being rushed, but especially when it comes to dinner time!  It may not be this way in your home, but at my house from about 4:00 till dinner time is usually hectic...with my little guy coming home from school, homework for him and my little miss kindergartner to get done, everyone needs snacks, my littlest (2 1/2 year old) who has decided to forego naps is miss cranky pants (boo), everyone wants my attention at the same time and hubby isn't home yet!  I'm sure no one else has experienced this scenario before (insert sarcasm here), but these are the nights when mom's tend to throw up their hands in exasperation and order fast food for dinner just to make life a little less crazy.  Been there.  Done that.But since I'm on a mission to, as much as possible, feed my family healthy, home cooked meals without all the unpronounceable ingredients I turn to my slow cooker when I know it's going to be a busy day.  This beef and broccoli look-a-like is better than takeout from your favorite Chinese restaurant because you know exactly what's in it and that makes it taste even better at the end of a long day!  Serves 62 round steaks about 2-3 lbs. total. I had a couple chuck eye steaks in the freezer that worked just fine2 tbsp. sesame seed oilsalt & pepper1 onion, chopped2 clove garlic, minced1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced2/3 cup apple cider vinegar1/2 cup coconut aminos2 tbsp. honey2-3 cups fresh broccoli florets or thaw frozen broccoli1 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained1/2 cup cashews, chopped (opt.)2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package directions or quinoaSalt and pepper steaks on both sides then in a hot skillet pan sear in the oil until browned on both sides. Transfer steaks to slow cooker, but leave the drippings in the skillet to cook the onion, garlic and ginger root until soft and the onion begins to caramelize around the edges.  Add the apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and honey.  Scrap up all the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan and pour everything into the slow cooker along with the meat.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  The meat will shred easily at this point.  The last 15-20 minutes of cooking time add in the broccoli, water chestnuts and cashews if you like.  Serve over rice.

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Thai Coconut Curry with Shrimp

Thai Coconut Curry with Shrimp

I think I may be on a bit of a Thai food kick, but can you blame me?  It's so stinking good!! This dish is so delicious I just can't make enough of it.  And making it {homemade} means you can have seconds and leftovers (assuming it doesn't all get eaten in one sitting) for way cheaper than you could get it at your favorite Thai restaurant.

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Chicken Pad Thai

Chicken Pad Thai

I had my first taste of Pad Thai years ago and ever since, every now and then I get this NEED to have some!  This remake of the Pad Thai favorite is made with a sauce inspired by a traditional Pad Thai recipe , but that is so simple without all the specific Asian foods that I just don't have hanging around my house all the time. Make this meal gluten free by using gluten free rice noodles. Prepare noodles according to package directions. 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders 2 tbsp. sesame seed oil couple pinches red pepper flakes 3 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 tsp. grated ginger 1 leek, rinsed and chopped Cut up chicken into bit sized chunks.  Heat oil in large wok or skillet along with the red pepper flakes, garlic and ginger.  Cook chicken until cooked through and beginning to brown on the outside. Remove from pan, set aside and add leek.  Saute for a few minutes while you prepare sauce, stirring occasionally. In a bowl whisk together: 1/2 cup chicken broth 3 tbsp. rice vinegar 1 tbsp. lime juice 2-3 tbsp. honey 2 tbsp. gluten free soy sauce Pour sauce over leeks and cook for another few minutes, until leeks are tender.  Add chicken and noodles back into the skillet and toss together.  Remove noodles to serving bowls and top with: grated carrots raw unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped chopped green onions (opt.)

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Dijon Chicken & Rice with Italian Crookneck Squash

Dijon Chicken & Rice with Italian Crookneck Squash

Having my brother's family over for dinner is always eventful, especially when I have to consider food allergies and picky eaters.  So I came up with a dinner that took care of everyone.  This Dijon Chicken & Rice doesn't require a whole lot of fuss and won't cause much fuss even from the pickiest eaters.  Then my mom suggested some Italian Crookneck Squash to round things off.  I think it was a success :)

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{Homemade} Southwestern Chili

{Homemade} Southwestern Chili

 

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Herb-Crusted Chops & Apples with Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Herb-Crusted Chops & Apples with Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

It seems like the cooler it gets the more comfort food I crave.  These savory pork chops crusted with herbs and topped with sweet sauteed apples and paired up with creamy garlic mashed potatoes is perfect for when family comes for a visit or just for a night at home. Pork Chops4-6 center cut pork chops (one per person)Salt and pepperthymerosemarysage1 tbsp. olive oil1/4 cup chicken broth 1/4 cup lemon juiceSeason pork chops on one side with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and sage (just sprinkle until it looks good to you).  Heat olive oil and chicken broth in large skillet.  Lay chops, seasoned side down into skillet.  Only 3-4 at a time so they don't get over crowded.  Squeeze some lemon juice on top of the chops in the skillet and sprinkle more salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and sage on.  Cook on both sides until no longer pink inside (cook time will depend on thickness of chops.)  Repeat for remaining pork chops.Garlic Mashed Potatoes3-5 lbs. small red potatoes (adjust for how many hungry people you've got. * Cream sauce amount is for 3 lbs.)1/4 cup fat free cream cheese1 1/2 - 2 cups skim or 1% milk1 tsp thyme1 clove garlic, grated1 green onion, chopped.  Reserve green tops. (I forgot the tops for the picture...oops!)Boil potatoes in salted water.  Just leave the skins on, but remove any eyes or blemishes before. (Eww, that just sounded like I was describing a head.  It's just potatoes peoples!).   While potatoes boil combine in a small sauce pan cream cheese, milk, garlic, thyme and white ends of the green onion.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until cream cheese is melted and steamy.  Dump water off potatoes once they are easily pierced with a fork.  Pour garlic cream sauce over top and, using a hand mixer or potato masher, mash potatoes and incorporate cream sauce. Top with chopped green onion tops.Sauteed Apples4-6 apples, sliced (about one per pork chop)2 tbsp lemon juice1 tbsp Smart Balance butter2 tbsp apple juice2 tbsp oat flour (place about a 1/4 cup of plain instant oatmeal in food processor until about the consistency of flour)1 tbsp agave nectar or 1-2 tsp stevia powderCut up apples and squeeze lemon juice over top.  Melt butter in small skillet, add oat flour and whisk together until it makes a paste.  Pour in apple juice, sliced apples and agave or stevia.  Saute until apples are a tender crisp. Put it all together So everything gets done about the same time, here's probably the best order to do things.  First slice up your apples, pour lemon juice over top, cover and set aside. Put oats into food processor and pulse until as close to a flour consistency as you can get.  Rinse pork chops and pat dry.  Rinse potatoes (you can half or quarter if they're big) .  Start by boiling potatoes while you prepare chops.  While first shift of chops are cooking prep another skillet for apples. While second shift of chops are cooking make garlic cream sauce for mashed potatoes.  Cover chops when done and set aside. Mash potatoes and blend with garlic cream sauce.  Cover and set aside. Cook apple in skillet. Now stack it up.  A mound of mashed potatoes, a pork chop on that, and topped with a scoop of apples.  Savory food l'more! * By just making a few simple adjustments I made this savory and potentially very fattening dish a little less fattening, but still just as savory. 1: Instead of using a ton of oil to fry the pork chops I just used a little oil and replaced the rest with chicken broth and lemon juice. 2: By using fat free cream cheese and skim or 1% milk I cut out a bunch of fat and calories.  3:  Instead of using regular butter I used Smart Balance butter with Omega-6, ground up oats instead of using bleached white flour, and if you replace sugar with agave or stevia  you're cutting out calories and adding nutrients to your savory and HEALTHY meal.

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Stuffed Chili Rellenos

Stuffed Chili Rellenos

I always liked the idea of a chili relleno, but the usual deep fried poblano pepper stuffed with cheese just doesn't do it for me.  So here's my healthy version of a chili relleno, only this time lets stuff it with seasoned brown rice, veggies, and some ground turkey cooked up in a mango pico de gallo...then we'll top it with cheese.  Hold the deep fryer please!

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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

My parents came into town for my super adorable little girl's 4th birthday.  After all the little girls went home,and the pink frosting and princess mess was cleaned up I made these Stuffed Zucchini Boats.  My family jokes about my "exotic" culinary talents, but once they tasted it they couldn't say much else (their mouths were busy) :) 

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Walnut-Mint Pesto Shrimp Pasta

Walnut-Mint Pesto Shrimp Pasta

This is a perfect summer (or fall, winter, spring...whenever!) dish as it's light yet still hardy enough to fill you up.  I've never tried seafood that I haven't liked yet and shrimp is on my top 5 favs!  When this shrimp is poached in broth, paired up with gluten free linguine and tossed with this minty pesto it is so good!1 box  (1 lb.) gluten free linguine pasta (like this Paleo pasta)

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Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken fajitas seem to be one of those throw together meals when you've got a few bell peppers laying around (left over from Stuffed Roasted Bell Peppers ) This {homemade} throw together is quick, easy and so yummy!

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Summer Sausage Jambalaya

Summer Sausage Jambalaya

I had some left over beef summer sausage from a recent camping trip. Normally I stay away from any processed meats since most contain loads of artificial preservatives like nitrates and nitrites, gluten fillers, and MSG. But, I found a great summer sausage that was uncured, gluten free and organic. So, I turned it into a simple jambalaya.  I used quinoa -my favorite food to cook with because of it's short cooking time and super food qualities, but you can use brown rice instead.  Just up the cooking time an additional 30 minutes.

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Moroccan inspired Quinoa and Salmon

Moroccan inspired Quinoa and Salmon

I must be feeling a bit exotic because I'd been eying this bag of strange tiny balls with the name I couldn't pronounce for weeks at Costco.  I'd heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) but had no clue how to prepare or what to serve them with.  So on a whim I bought a bag.  To me quinoa looks like couscous, so in my cookbook perusing I discovered that couscous originated in Morocco, which brings me to tonights dinner!

  Quinoa with vegetables1 tbsp olive oil1 small onion, quartered & diced1 zucchini, sliced1 carrot, chopped1/2 cup frozen mixed red, yellow and green bell peppers 1 - 14.5 oz. can chicken broth (no MSG added)1/4 cup water1 cup whole grain quinoa 1/2 tsp turmeric 1 pinch saffron 1-2 bay leafsdash curry powderdash cayenne pepper Salmon4 salmon fillets, thawed if frozen1 tbsp olive oil1 tsp turmeric1/2 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp cayenne pepper1/2 tsp garlic salt1 tbsp lemon or lime juice Heat olive oil in a deep skillet or wok.   Cook onions on medium high for a couple minutes until they begin to soften and caramelize.  Add zucchini and carrots and cook for another couple minutes.  Pour in chicken broth and water followed by the quinoa.  Add all the spices to your pan, stir together and simmer on medium heat for 12 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid.  Remove bay leafs. While quinoa is cooking prepare salmon. In separate skillet heat olive oil.  Combine turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne and garlic salt.  Rub seasoning mixture onto fish and place seasoned side down in heated olive oil then pour the lemon or lime juice over top of the other side of the fish. Cook 5 minutes then turn over and cook another 3 or until the salmon flakes easily with fork. Place salmon on quinoa and veggies.* Check out the Creamy Saffron Soup for all about saffron. *Quinoa is actually a seed that was a staple food in the ancient Inca's diet.  You don't have to just use it when your feeling exotic either :)  Substitute in place of brown rice, couscous or barley in your favorite recipes to change things up and add tons of nutrients. Nutritionists call quinoa a super food!  Here's how it brakes down: 220 calories (70 percent carbs, 15 percent fat, 15 percent protein) 40 grams of carbohydrates (13 percent daily value) 8 grams of protein (16 percent of daily value) 3.5 grams of fat (5 percent daily value with no saturated fat) A glycemic load (blood sugar spike) of only 18 out of 250 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of daily value) 20 percent of daily value of folate (various forms of Vitamin B) 30 percent of magnesium daily value (beneficial for people with migraine headaches); 28 percent daily value of phosphorous; iron (15 percent); copper (18 percent); and manganese (almost 60 percent)http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/quinoa-nutrition-facts* Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that your body needs, plus lots of other vitamins and minerals (too many to name without feeling like a textbook).  All that good stuff benefits things like muscle, tissue, hormones, cardio-vascular system (i.e. reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, etc.), metabolism by lowering blood sugar, eyes and brain. Here's some other nice side effects of making salmon part of your diet: " Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation of the arteries and digestive system, reduce chances of cancer of colon, prostrate and kidneys etc., improve skin texture, add shining to eyes, skin, hair and nails and help in the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. The fatter the salmon, the more nutritious and healthy it is."http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/animal-product/health-benefits-of-salmon.html    
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Smokey Southwestern Rice Wraps

Smokey Southwestern Rice Wraps
    Tacos for the win! My kids go crazy for tacos and just keep eating, and eating, and eating. Maybe it's because its so hands on and they get to control what goes on it. Well, this Southwestern version is a yummy variation to add to you taco Tuesday repertoire.    Smokey Southwestern Rice Wraps4 strips bacon1 garlic clove, pressed2 ½ cups chicken broth1 cup brown riceRed pepper flakes to taste1 cup frozen corn1 can black beans, drained and rinsed1/2-1 cup {Homemade} Salsa2 green onion, chopped6-8 corn  tortillas, heated in a non-stick pan1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese1 ripe avocado Combine broth, rice, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil then turn down and let simmer on medium low.  Start the rice about 45 minutes before you want to eat.  Chill out while the rice works.  When rice has about 10 more minutes start cooking the bacon till crispy. Crumble bacon and set aside. Drain excess grease (leave just a little).  In the same pan that you cooked the bacon, pour in the rice (its okay if there’s still a little water in it)   Scrap the bottom of the pan to get all the bits up.   Add salsa, black beans, and corn.  Simmer till water is completing gone.  Stir in crumbled bacon and onions. Top with fresh avocado and cheese.   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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