Clean Eating Teriyaki Salmon

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Chili Lime Tilapia with Garlic Lime Butter


The 4th of July is approaching fast and while everyone is gearing up for parades, county fairs, and late night firework shows you're probably also already wondering what you'll be grilling up before you head out for the festivities. Hotdogs and hamburgers are the standard and can be good in their own right, but I'm in the mood for some fish.

Fish provides omega-3 fatty acids which has been proven to boost brain function, maintain healthy arteries, is low in calories and high in protein, but it also may help those with autoimmune diseases since it's easy to digest and full of all the rich vitamins, minerals, and natural goodness our bodies can't make on their own. You should be eating at least 3 servings of fish or shellfish per week. So, maybe it's time for everyone to get in the mood for fish more often.

I used some wild caught Tilapia fillets for this savory yet light fish dish. However, any white ocean fish would work. Fresh trout or base would be just as delicious (or more so if you caught it the day of. It doesn't get fresher than that!)

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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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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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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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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 Chops
4-6 center cut pork chops (one per person)
Salt and pepper
thyme
rosemary
sage
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
 1/4 cup lemon juice

Season 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 Potatoes
3-5 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 cheese
1 1/2 - 2 cups skim or 1% milk
1 tsp thyme
1 clove garlic, grated
1 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 Apples
4-6 apples, sliced (about one per pork chop)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Smart Balance butter
2 tbsp apple juice
2 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 powder

Cut 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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Rosemary Citrus Salmon & Kale


So this turned out to be the yummiest dish!  I had to pat myself on the back :) This meal is so packed with vitamins, antioxidants, omega 3's and flavorful goodness it's crazy!  The trick to this incredibly moist, flavorful salmon is to pan sear it in some coconut oil and then loosely wrap it in tin foil with the edges pinched tightly closed.  Place it right on the burner to steam in all the flavors of the sweet citrus Oro Blanco grapefruit and earthy rosemary.  Set it on top of some garlic and citrus infused kale and oh my heavens!  Have I talked it up enough?

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Creamy Saffron Vegetable Soup

 
 
 
 
I first made this soup almost a year ago and after making it for dinner recently I knew I had to give it the spot light.  This soup is light yet so savory.  And here's my tricky little secret...it's creamy without using any cream.  So good for you and good tasting!
  
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
4-5 cups chicken stock (however thick you want it)
2 bay leafs
1 tsp turmeric
1 pinch saffron threads, about a quarter of a teaspoon
2 carrots, chopped
2 red potatoes, cubed
1 can great northern beans, pureed
1 small yellow crookneck squash, sliced
chopped parsley
 
Heat olive oil in pot.  Add onion, garlic and celery.  Saute until onions are caramelized then pour in your chicken stock, bay leafs, turmeric, carrots and potatoes.  Bring to a low boil and let cook for about 5 minutes while you puree the beans (you may need to add some of the stock from your pot into the beans in the food processor) Mix pureed beans in until well blended.  Add squash and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and top with fresh parsley.
 
*I'll just say if up front, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, about $800 a pound!  Don't worry you don't need near that much.  You'll probably pay about $13 for a packet of these tiny red threads, but the flavor and benefits may make it worth it. 
 
  • The active components present in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines since long time ago as anti-spasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic.
  • Research studies have shown that, safranal, a volatile oil found in the spice, has antioxidant, cytotoxicity towards cancer cells, anticonvulsant and antidepressant properties.

  • Αlfa-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the spice its characteristic golden yellow color, has anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer properties.
 
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{Homemade} Chick 'n Noodle

Chicken noodle soup is kind of the universal cure all.  It's the soup your mom gave you when you were sick and no matter what's wrong it just makes you feel better.  In my gluten free interpretation of this classic I've added some pureed cannellini beans as a thickener and to add that extra boost of flavor and make it a little more hardy.

2 cans chicken broth
4 cups water
2 chicken breasts
2 bay leafs
1 carrots, sliced
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery rib, sliced
3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 can cannellini beans, drained and pureed
2 cups gluten free egg noodles or prepared quinoa stirred in just before serving

In a large pot pour in broth, water and add chicken breasts, bay leafs and parsley.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breasts) until chicken is cooked through. While chicken cooks, cut up vegetables.  Remove chicken and set aside.  Keep the heat on while you add sweet potato,carrot, onion and celery.  Boil for another 5 minutes until veggies are a crisp tender.  Add egg noodles and salt and pepper.  Cook for another 6-7 minutes then turn down the heat and let it simmer.  While that works drain and puree beans in a food processor.  Stir beans into soup once noodles and veggies are done.  Serve hot with crackers.

*  As it turns out mom was right about chicken soup being the best thing for when you're feeling under the weather.  "Pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA school of medicine, Dr. Irwin Ziment notes that chicken noodle soup contains drug-like agents similar to modern cold medicines.  Basically the amino acids released during the process of cooking the chicken resembles that of a drug called acetycysteine which is prescribed for those with bronchial problems."

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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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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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Thai Coconut Carrot and Corn Soup (Gluten Free)

 

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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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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 vegetables
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, quartered & diced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup frozen mixed red, yellow and green bell peppers 
1 - 14.5 oz. can chicken broth (no MSG added)
1/4 cup water
1 cup whole grain quinoa 
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1 pinch saffron 
1-2 bay leafs
dash curry powder
dash cayenne pepper
 
Salmon
4 salmon fillets, thawed if frozen
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 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)
* 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."
 
 
 
 
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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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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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Hobo Dinner

My mom made "hobo dinner" regularly when I was growing up.  I think it's called that because you usually make it when you haven't had time to get to the store and you just have a bunch of odd veggies laying around that need to be eaten.  I remember my mom putting the hamburger patties, potatoes, carrots and whatever frozen vegetables she could find into a casserole dish, topping it off with cream-of-"something" and putting it in the oven for an hour and a half or so.  Here's my recreation of her classic meat and potatoes meal.

6-8 big red potatoes (about one per person), sliced
2 carrots, chopped
Boil potatoes and carrots in salted water until just tender. While that's cooking start thawing whatever frozen veggies you got taking up space in your freezer (i.e. corn, green beans, peas)

2 lbs. organic hamburger or turkey burger
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried tarragon leaves
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 parsley sprig, chopped
2-3 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix seasonings and Worcestershire sauce into hamburger or turkey burger.  Form into patties and cook in large skillet until browned and cooked through.  Remove and set aside. Into the same skillet you just cooked the meat in add:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
6-8 mushrooms, sliced

Cook onion first for a couple minutes before adding your mushrooms.  Let sizzle away for a few minutes.  While that's busy whisk together:

1 can beef broth (or chicken broth if using turkey burger)
1 tbsp cornstarch
 

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Round Steak Basil Rolls

The main course for our father's day feast was ingenious and yummy, and very beefy and manly for the men in my life. 
 
Round Steak Basil Rolls
2 boneless beef round steaks
McCormick Montreal Steak Grill seasoning
20 basil leafs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
 
First thing you need is a couple boneless beef round steaks.  They look like giant thinly cut steaks.  Cover meat with plastic wrap to avoid splattering then using meat mallet hammer them until tenderized. Grind some of the grill seasoning over top (how ever much you want) followed by 10 basil leafs per steak and finally 1/2 cup mozzarella per steak. Starting at one end begin rolling steak up like a burrito.  
Disclaimer:  tuck your ends in other wise you'll lose lot of cheese and moisture out the sides.
Secure with meat string. (notice how we did not secure ends...don't do that.  Remember roll it up like a burrito, tucking the ends in as you go).
 
Rub olive oil all over outside of steaks then salt and pepper.  Bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 30  minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 and finish baking another 45 minutes.  
 
Enjoy!
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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 6

2 round steaks about 2-3 lbs. total. I had a couple chuck eye steaks in the freezer that worked just fine
2 tbsp. sesame seed oil
salt & pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut aminos
2 tbsp. honey
2-3 cups fresh broccoli florets or thaw frozen broccoli
1 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup cashews, chopped (opt.)
2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package directions or quinoa

Salt 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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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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Melissa Moore 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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