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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{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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Spring Herb Quinoa Salad


 
Eating with the seasons doesn't just save you money, it's good for you too. There are lots of yummy springtime fruits and veggies that I personally am going to start enjoying right now! Lemons, cherries, peas, green onions, and fresh herbs are all combined with warm toasted quinoa, cooked in broth for a flavorful, light, healthy, gluten free, yummy salad that can be eaten warm or cold. This is perfect for your first barbeque of the season, Easter dinner, a get together, or whenever and since it tastes just as good warm or cold it's great to eat for lunch the next day. 

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Peachy Herb Quinoa Salad with Rosemary-Lavender Scented Dressing


 
I'll take a bunch of fruits and vegetables fresh from the garden or the orchard over store-bought any day. This is by far the most cost effective way to get cheap organic produce. I didn't get a garden planted this year so when my sister-in-law told me that one of her co-workers had a large overly abundant garden and chicken eggs, I said, "absolutely!" I ended up with fresh eggs, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, fresh basil leaves, and peaches.  I may have also helped myself to some fresh mint and tomatoes from grandma's garden as well. ;)

I can't even begin to express how appreciative I am for cheap or free produce. When you choose to follow a healthy, clean eating, gluten free diet you are going to go through LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies. Now, times that by four kids and the health food foodie (me) and that can add up to be LOTS of green (no I'm not talking about spinach). Especially if you choose to buy organic. Which I do as much as possible. (If you don't have a farmer's market or friendly garden growers near you here's my list for the best organic and clean eating deals from Costco
Organic produce {produce that has been grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or genetic engineering} ends up being full of flavor and nutrients, but not always an award winning size or shape. Like the peaches I got that were closer to the size of an apricot, but that still packed a delicious punch of peachy flavor. 
I could go into a whole monologue about the metaphor of life....(insert moving, wistful music)

Life is like a garden. Each fruit and flower is a product of the care and  attention given to it. It doesn't matter how much miracle grow or bug repellent is used, it could never change the nature of the seed. A peach seed can never become anything other than a peach. It won't bloom into an apple or grow vines and sprout tomatoes. The peach's inborn, divinely inherent characteristic allows the seed to develop into just what it was meant to be.....unless of course it's genetically modified from it's original state and enhanced until it's the size of a grapefruit....

Okay, that monologue didn't quite go the way I'd hoped. Needless to say I'll take my produce in the most natural form I can get. 

This Mint, Basil & Lavender Scented Quinoa Salad has a subtle sweet and savory flavor that is enhanced by the ever so slight hint of lavender. It was even better the next day. You could make this salad in the morning before work and have it ready to go for a light side to dinner or to take along to a picnic.

Serves 4

Mint and Basil (Herb) Quinoa Salad
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth 
1 cup red, white, or black quinoa (I mixed red and white). Rinsed.

1 large or 2-3 small peaches. Rinsed, pitted, and sliced into wedges

1 green onion, chopped

3-4 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped or torn

4-5 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn

Rosemary and Lavender Scented Dressing
1 tbsp. raw honey

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp. sea salt

pinch black pepper

1 tsp. dry rosemary or half a sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped

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Quinoa & Roasted Vegetable Salad


 

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Guest — Julia
Great recipe Melissa! Looks delicious! What restaurant have you had the best salad? Remember to add it to your Besty List! http://... Read More
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 19:34
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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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Stuffed Roasted Bell Peppers

This meatless wonder is so fresh and perfect for summer or fall when peppers are right in season.  I decided to stuff these guys with some herb seasoned quinoa followed by sauteed veggies topped with cheese.

Couscous Stuffing:
1 cup organic quinoa
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 1 1/2 cups for couscous, reserve remaining
1 bay leaf
basil leafs, finely chopped
3 parsley sprigs, stems removed and finely chopped

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{Homemade} Southwestern Chili

 

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Clean Eating Taco Soup

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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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Simple Pickled Mint Cucumber Beets

Having things prepped and ready to just grab out of the fridge, freezer, or pantry is so essential when you eat a clean, preservative free diet. One of the best ways to naturally preserve food, especially all the fresh summer produce, is by pickling them. This simple recipe can be tossed together into a jar and set in the fridge to use whenever you need a kick of tart pink goodness!

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Guest — Nicole
Mmmm I love beats. I did not know you could continue growing the greens like that! Very interesting. Thanks for sharing
Monday, 17 August 2015 17:59
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Chicken & Shrimp Lime Soup

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Grain Free Apple Crisp

 

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Guest — Nicole
This is really good! We made it a couple weeks ago and then just made it a second time while camping and put it in the dutch oven.... Read More
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 03:14
Guest — Kay Yingst
Very nice article, just what I was looking for.
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 01:43
Guest — Melissa
Thank you! Tell me how it turns out when you make it.
Friday, 06 May 2016 22:46
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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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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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