Sunwarrior Plant-Powered Protein Bars

Sunwarrior Plant-Powered Protein Bars

Protein bars are a great way to have a snack, satisfy your sweet tooth, and fill your quota of protein. Have you ever noticed how, often, the commercial protein bars readily available are merely glorified candy bars with all that sugar they have to add to make them taste decent? Don't get me wrong, I have totally bought and devoured said protein bars during a long hike or when I'm in a hurry and need something to fill me up. But, I'd much rather make my own with quality ingredients.

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Surf N' Turf Veggie Fajitas

Surf N' Turf Veggie Fajitas

Meal prep dinner #2 coming at you. This bad boy goes from the bag into a hot skillet and is done so quick. It took me a few extra minutes since I made some Homemade Quinoa Tortillas to go along with it, but you could just as easily make some cauliflower rice or quinoa to go along with it...or just enjoy as is. I don't know who said healthy eating doesn't taste good, because it totally can. This meal is great for anyone following the Paleo or Keto diet, and even simply leaving out the meat and shrimp makes it vegan. So, it's versatile and yummy too. 

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Episode 2: Barriers to Health + Healing

Episode 2: Barriers to Health + Healing
Nutritional Connections PodcastEpisode 2: Barriers to Health + Healing

The never-ending debate about what diet plan you should be following is...well, never-ending. Perhaps, the focus could be shifted to simply understanding where our food comes from and why the growth, harvest, and manufacturing of some well-loved foods can either support health and healing, or prevent it.  What we fuel our body with is all our body has to work with to make new cells. We literally are what we eat. So, let's talk about what we eat. The 3 staple ingredients in the U.S. diet: wheat, dairy, and sugar. It may surprise you, but I'm not going to tell you that everyone should cut these three foods out of their diets forever. 

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10 minute Shrimp Scampi

10 minute Shrimp Scampi

I love plans, but to be honest, I think I love being spontaneous even more. I love the challenge of taking whatever ingredients I have on hand in the house and making something right on the spot. Now, having said that I am also a mother of four busy, hungry, and sometimes picky kids (lest you think I'm not a human), my joyful spontaneity in the kitchen is sometimes less than joyful and far more stressful. It's moments like this (and they happen far more often), that I am very grateful for meal prepping and my Instant Pot.  Thanks to a little prep ahead of time and the best invention ever, this dinner was ready to eat in about 10 minutes!

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Double Chocolate Cake {Gluten Free, Dairy Free, No Refined Sugar}

Double Chocolate Cake {Gluten Free, Dairy Free, No Refined Sugar}

Birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, Wednesdays... there are so many good reasons to eat chocolate cake. In fact, this recipe came to be this week as we were celebrating my birthday. Earlier this week I had hastily jotted down a recipe for chocolate cake to bring for me and my sister's double birthday party happening later that evening. I love it when it turns out alright on the first try, but love it even more that my family is so patient with my cooking experiments. It still needed a little tweaking.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash with Orange Spiced Pecans

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Orange Spiced Pecans

 Hello beautiful!Yes, you...and this dish!If there's anything that makes me feel fed, both body and soul, it's healthy beautiful food. Have I mentioned that I love this time of year and it's bounty of produce? Fall is the ripe pinnacle of a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that are all ready to be eaten. Harvesting the summer's spoils and getting our first taste of the winter crop too.Instead of the traditional brown sugar and butter baked into my acorn squash, I used a less refined sugar option of real maple syrup to make a sweet and tangy balsamic reduction baked into the squash. Then I topped it with some sauteed kale, onion, uncured bacon Orange Spiced Pecans, and raw sunflower seeds. Drizzle a little more of the sweet reduction over everything and...so satisfying. Just omit the bacon to keep it vegan and plant-based.My kids poured extra balsamic reduction on theirs. It's always fun to let them try something new and watch them discover that they actually like it. Of course, my philosophy is anything drizzled with balsamic reduction is going to be fabulous. Period. It's nice that my kids agree. Well...other than my 2 year old. He was not as open to the idea of something new and strange on his plate. However, if it came off my plate it tasted good. Haha! Oh well, whatever works, right? (P.S. you may want to double the balsamic reduction recipe in case you want extra too.)

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Grain Free Apple Crisp

Grain Free Apple Crisp

 

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Meatballs & Mushroom Marinara Sauce

Meatballs & Mushroom Marinara Sauce

The kids are starting school and schedules are set with sports, music lessons, and whatever else keeps us busy. No matter what's going on in our lives I always make sure we sit down to eat dinner together. It may have to be a little early or a little late to accommodate everyone's schedules, but dinner as a family is not negotiable for me. I mean, where else would you find out about everything that happened at school, share our latest "knock-knock" jokes, or just enjoy the quiet of one another's company?

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Cherry Chocolate Energy Bites

Cherry Chocolate Energy Bites

These bite-sized balls of yum are packed full of natural protein and fiber, and will give you a kick of energy! They're grain free, gluten free, clean eating, and are easy to make, freeze or refrigerate, and have ready for whenever you need them.I have been experimenting with energy bites for a while now. The inspiration started with my 10 year old son announcing after doing a kid's CrossFit class with his dad that he needed to eat more protein. Haha! I guess the lean and lankiness he inherited from me isn't as much appreciated for a boy.I tried making them out of my Homemade Protein Powder and with different ingredients blended together (which turned out really yummy by the way), but I needed to make some energy bites that were completely grain free as well - in other words, no oats. This inspiration came after realizing that in order for my youngest daughter to enjoy one I had to make a oat-less batch just for her (we've found that with her possible Crohn's and/or Celiac that she feels much better without any grains at all). The inspiration for the flavor came from my husband's birthday cake he requests every year....cherry chocolate!I guess another inspiration is that I'm running my first marathon! A bite of energy to get me started will definitely come in handy on race day.Anyway, regardless of where or how these bad boys came about, now they can be enjoyed by everyone!

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Crock Pot Sloppy Joe's {Gluten Free & Vegan}

Crock Pot Sloppy Joe's {Gluten Free & Vegan}

 Sloppy Joe's are such a simple go-to dinner. Most kids and adults make and enjoy these deliciously messy sandwiches with hamburger meat seasoned from a packet mix or a can of sauce. Too bad those packets and cans have gluten fillers, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. Homemade sauce and organic beef would be a huge step up! But I've found that, especially as Americans, the amount of meat (more especially red meat) consumed on a daily basis is way higher than necessary. There's a great article in the Washington Post by Roberto A. Ferdman about this very topic.It's not as hard as you might think to cut out meat and processed food, even it it's just a few nights a week. It's even possible if you follow a gluten free and/or Paleo diet. This is how we feed our family so I know it's possible, along with going meatless 3 or 4 times a week. It not only saves us money on groceries, helps reduce our carbon foot print, and maybe saves a few animals, but is also really healthy. Our bodies naturally need less meat in the hot summer months anyway and never need the toxic overload of processed foods.So when I wanted a classic Sloppy Joe dinner, I did a little tweaking to make it vegan (hello, quinoa!)...while still being super filling and yummy. I also added some beans for more filling protein. I piled the filling on my GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE, & PALEO HAMBURGER BUNS - recipe coming soon! It was a hit! And what made it even easier was that I threw everything in my slow cooker - I love my Crock Pot, BTW.

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Grain-Free Banana Muffins & Pancakes

Grain-Free Banana Muffins & Pancakes

  The kids are home for the summer (sigh of relief and dread). Now the fun begins with playing outside all day, staying up late, sleeping in, playing in water wherever you can find it, camping, barbecues, vacations....and everyone's always hungry!

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Frozen Blueberry Tart

Frozen Blueberry Tart

Remember those delicious Orange Creamsicles I made a while ago? I shared them with my friends on Good Things Utah. Well, when Miah asked me for a "Frozen" cake for her birthday those creamsicles sounded like they might, with a little tweaking, make an easy and yummy (and literal) frozen cake. It would need a crust on the bottom, so I guess it's more of a frozen tart than a cake.

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Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies

  Valentines was one of my favorite holidays as a kid. I loved making secret gifts for everyone, getting love notes from mom, flowers from dad, and little special things from my friends. Inevitably, as you get older some valentines celebrations won't be as sweet- not every valentines, but at least one just to chalk up to experience. Not as a kid though! As a kid valentines is about sweets, heart shaped construction paper cut-outs, kindergarten crushes, and love notes. Here's a little something sweet to send to school in their lunch box along with that love note or to enjoy with whomever you love.

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Asian Sweet Pork Salad & Tangy Basil-Lime Dressing

Asian Sweet Pork Salad & Tangy Basil-Lime Dressing

The best thing about crock-pot dinners (besides the obvious low-maintenance) is that you usually end up with leftovers. One of the easiest and tastiest things to throw in a slow cooker is meat. The longer it cooks the more tender and flavorful it gets and my favorite for the crock-pot is pork.

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Grain Free Crepes!

Grain Free Crepes!

Want to know how long it's been since I made crepes? Years!!! My oldest son had to be reminded what a crepe was. Shameful, I know. Since our family started eating gluten free the idea of crepes was just a distant happy memory. I mean seriously, how do you make soft, pliable, delicate, delicious crepes with gritty gluten free flour blends or nut flours?

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Soft Grain-Free Gingersnap Cookies

Soft Grain-Free Gingersnap Cookies

Run, run as fast as you can...to eat some soft gingersnap cookies that are gluten free, grain free, dairy free, super healthy, and delicious! Hmm, that doesn't quite have the same ring to it as the original.

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Spiced Pear Pie with Hazelnut Crust

Spiced Pear Pie with Hazelnut Crust

I have to say I find it funny when people say things like, "oh, I'm not a good cook", not because I don't believe them, but because I used to say the exact same thing. 

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Poached Egg on Orange Quinoa & Greens

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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Grain Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Squares

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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How To Cook The Perfect Spaghetti Squash

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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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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