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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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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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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Jamaican Jerk Mahi Mahi with Coconut Quinoa

 

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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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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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{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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{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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Garlic Herb Tapioca Rolls

  Everyone has been so helpful and concerned about our little family since the whole "Celiac crisis" took place and I am so grateful for good people who really care.  Like my amazing neighbor - who just so happens to be an accomplished chef, who caters at places like the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.  She came over one afternoon with a miniature tea set for my girls to play with, her youngest son for my son to play with, and ready to teach me how to make these super yummy and addictive tapioca rolls.  These gluten free, dairy free little guys go fast in this house, especially when I season them up to taste like the cheddar bay biscuits at Red Lobster!  The tapioca flour gives the inside a gooey cheesy effect that is so good! Garlic Herb Tapioca Rolls1 -1/4 cup milk (almond or rice milk)1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil1 1/2 tsp. sea salt 3 cups tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)1/2 cup amaranth flour or coconut flour2 eggs, tempered1 clove garlic, grated or finely mincedFresh herbs, about 3-4 leafs or sprigs of each or any other combination you'd like, chopped:thyme, parsley & basil Heat milk, oil, and salt in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and immediately pour over tapioca and amaranth flour. Temper eggs in a little of the boiled milk combo before adding to the bowl.  You don't want scrambled eggs in your rolls.  The dough should form into a sticky ball and don't worry if it takes the eggs a minutes to be incorporated, just keep stirring switching to a fork if that helps.  Stir in the garlic and chopped herbs.  Put the dough into the fridge to cool. It will thicken more as it cools.  Preheat oven to 400.  After it's cooled drop by the heaping tbsp. onto a lightly greased baking sheet or into a mini muffin tin.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown and has formed a crust.  The inside will still be a little gooey, but that's okay.  They're best eaten right out of the oven.  If you won't eat them all in one sitting, then freeze the rest. Enjoy! 
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{Homemade} White Bean Chili

"Is it spring yet?"  My kids and I are going a little stir crazy with all this wintry weather that just won't end! So to stay warm, full and healthy, why not heat things up with a little chili. Using whatever yummy leftover chicken you have hanging out in your fridge means you save money on your grocery bill and add even more yummy flavor. It's so fast and  easy to throw together, this chili may turn into one of your go-to dishes when you don't have much time, but a big appetite.

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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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Butternut Sage Soup with Toasted Pine Nuts

Happy Halloween everyone!  This holiday is so much fun with kids- the decorations, fall leaves and dressing up! It's the aftermath of Halloween that gets hairy though -the sugar crashed, sleep deprived kids the next day is what's really scary! So to help counteract the inevitable I always make a yummy and veggie filled soup to fill up on before the trick or treating begins.  We have a tradition of making our soup extra scary by turning it into "eyeball" soup! Just set a hard-boiled egg in the middle and an olive half on top! Healthy and simple.This soup is perfect for any busy day since you do all your prep in the morning and then let it simmer in your slow cooker all day. You and your little monsters will love it!

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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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