Meatball Appetizers with Tomato Vinaigrette

Appetizers are great because they're so versatile!  You can serve these savory meatballs at your next get together or as part of "finger food" night with your kids along with a Rosemary Hummus Snack Platter!  Plus, your kids and guests may not know how good for you these cute little meatballs are since they're blended with sweet potatoes which are naturally packed full of vitamins C and A, folate, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals.

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Caprese Portabella Bruschetta


There's a little restaurant tucked into an old building off Main street in St. George called Cappalletti's.  The food was authentic and amazing!  As an appetizer I had the caprese bruschetta on a crispy baguette, which was the inspired for this delicious recipe!  An Italian classic served in a guten free way.

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{Homemade} Cranberry Sauce

 
Okay, yes, it does take slightly more effort to make this cranberry sauce than opening a can, but only slightly and it will taste so much better!  These beauties are made without any granulated sugar so pile it on the turkey and then save some for your turkey sandwiches later :)
 
1 - 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, rinsed and quartered
3/4 cup raw honey
 
All you have to do it throw it all in the slow cooker first thing thanksgiving morning on low.  Let it simmer for about 5 hours and fill your house with the smells of the holidays. After 5 hours turn the cooker up to high for the last hour so the juices will reduce and the berries will fall apart.  Remove orange pieces and cinnamon sticks when you're ready to serve.  That's it!  It's a little more involved than just using a can opener, but as in life, anything worthwhile takes some effort :)  Happy holidays everyone!  
 
Enjoy!
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Bacon Wrapped Shrimp In Sweet and Tangy Sauce


 
It's super bowl time! Okay, so I'll admit I really don't care who's playing in the super bowl, but tradition demands that we get together with family or friends and watch it while eating yummy finger food. My hubby does care, though.  So I asked what he wanted for some super bowl appetizers. His response, bacon.  I knew exactly what he was thinking. At his brother's wedding reception they had bacon wrapped shrimp. Let's just say, I think the server carrying those around felt a little stalked and not just by my guy. So here's my version of bacon wrapped shrimp with a simple sweet and tangy sauce! 
Bacon doesn't exactly have a good rep for being healthy and it isn't just because of its high fat and sodium content. Most bacon, although not made using gluten has been cross contaminated with gluten. That's bad news for my daughter with Celiac. And bad for everyone is that most bacon has been cured using nitrates, which is known to cause cancer. Why do they still use this KNOWN carcinogen in food? I have no idea, but until it's illegal we, as consumers need to be aware and avoid these toxic chemicals. So in this bacon-lover's appetizer I used uncured bacon (which is still technically cured, but done so without the use of nitrates).  Since chemicals, growth hormones, and all that other yucky stuff likes to take up residence in the animal's fat, I used gluten free, organic, uncured bacon
*Just another side note. I wanted to use some kind of fruit juice as the natural sweet part to the sweet and tangy sauce, but since I was fresh out of apple juice I used some apple sauce I had hanging around. And you know what? I really liked that it thickened the sauce without me having to use a thickening agent like cornstarch. 

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Plum Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

 

The first little sunburn of the year after an afternoon playing at the park reminds me that spring is coming to an end and summer is almost here. It also reminded me of this time a year ago, right after Miah was released from Primary Children's Hospital for Celiac crisis. They had just removed the PICC line that had been sending nutrients straight into her veins and she was finally gaining weight and eating again. My sweet neighbor at the time, Guilma - who also happened to be a chef and mother of a child with Crohn's disease - invited us over for a tea party and to teach me how to make some yummy gluten free dishes. She walked me through making tapioca rolls and spring rolls. We ate them all as we sipped raspberry tea sweetened with big globs of honey.  

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Cantaloupe Caprese


 
I get asked the question when people find out our family eats gluten free and minimal refined sugars, "So what do you eat? Vegetables?" Yes. Yes, we eat a lot of vegetables, but I promise there is so much more to food than wheat flours and sugar. There are so many more healthy options than "just vegetables" (although I do love me some vegetables.)

Sometimes I have to get creative, but a lot of the time I just go with what's really simple. Here is my really simple, healthy, gluten free, sugar free, delicious snack or appetizer....Cantaloupe Caprese! 

It's the best when the cantaloupe is cold and sweet, the mozzarella is a little cooler than room temperature, and the basil is freshly picked.

 
Skewer the cantaloupe, basil, and mozzarella onto a large toothpick or trimmed bamboo skewer. Bring to your next barbecue or get together for a yummy, healthy, and simple appetizer.

Enjoy!

 

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Watermelon Bruschetta With Marinated Basil Cucumbers & Feta


 Okay, don't these just look pretty? You could serve them up as a side to some Hawaiian Pork Shish Kabobs or Fired Up Pork Ribs or as an appetizer. I'm thinking a 4th of July picnic or barbecue may feel just a bit fancier and be a bit healthier with these Watermelon Bruschetta with Marinated Basil Cucumbers & Feta in place of a bag of chips. 

FYI: Just as fair warning, these yummy appetizers are, not surprisingly, a little messy between the watermelon juice and the cucumber marinade. Be sure to serve on a plate with adequate napkins. 
Start with your bruschetta. You'll need approximately one quarter of a medium-sized seedless watermelon, rinds removed and sliced into small 3/4 inch thick rectangles.


Basil Cucumber Marinade 
1 large or 2 small cucumbers quartered and chopped. About 2 cups worth

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped (I used a Vidalia onion, but a sweet red onion works too) 
1/4 cup raw honey

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. ground mustard

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 black pepper

1 garlic clove,  minced

3 sprigs parsley, chopped (or 1 tbsp. dried parsley)

5 basil leaves, roughly chopped (chopped extra if you have it for garnishing)


Chop the cucumber and onion. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade and whisk together. Pour over the cucumber and onion and stir. Put a lid on and set in the fridge for 1-3 hours to marinate. 
When you're ready to serve, set the watermelon bruschetta out on a plate and top each with a tablespoon of the cucumbers. Sprinkle a little crumbled feta cheese and the extra basil on top. This can serve a crowd, but is best cold so only put it all together when you're ready to eat. 
Enjoy!


 

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Apple Turkey Burger Sliders on Gluten Free Rolls


Anything that can pack a full-sized punch of flavor into a miniature fit-in-one-hand package is bound to be a hit. These seasoned turkey burger sliders with caramelized onions and apples over melted provolone cheese on homemade gluten free rolls are perfect for a Labor Day barbeque or to kick off a new season of football. Making the rolls before hand makes this bitesized meal come together even quicker, too.

Serve them along with some Fresh Veggie Southwestern Salsa and corn tortilla chips, Cantaloupe Caprese or Watermelon Bruschetta With Marinated Basil Cucumbers & Feta, and some GF Double Chocolate Brownies for dessert.

"Wait. Wait. Is this healthy party food you're suggesting?"

YES! We humans are social eaters, but wouldn't it be awesome if no one had to make compromises when they got together with friends? Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy one anothers company while eating yummy food, and not feel sluggish, bloated or otherwise exhausted from the simple act of digestion?

I didn't think I had any problem with how I ate until I did a little purification. Our house is gluten-free now, and although I can and do eat wheat when I'm out with friends, I've found that eating refined, bleached wheat and sugars makes me feel kind of sick. I never knew how much that stuff was effecting me until I stopped eating it.

The point is, eating clean (unprocessed/unrefined) while accommodating food allergies doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or make 10 different meals. You can have the best of both worlds, trust me!


For starters, having some gluten free rolls in the freezer ready for whenever is just a good idea. Gluten Free Quick Roll recipe coming soon! 
Now for the sliders...


Using a nonstick skillet works best for turkey burger. I made the mistake of using my stainless steel pan and ended up scraping the bottom a lot. A nonstick will help eliminate that issue. Also I didn't bother coring the apples. I just rinsed, sliced, and popped out the seeds. Steaming them over the onions helps to soften any tough middle parts.



Enjoy!


 

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Mango Guacamole


Want something simple, healthy, and and quick to make? I made some yummy crock pot enchilada chicken with homemade enchilada sauce for dinner one night and this guacamole was the perfect topper for it. It's really great for any taco Tuesday night special and comes together in minutes.

 I like mine with big chunks of mango and avocado, but if you prefer your guacamole more blended then just use a fork and mash them up a bit.


Be sure your mango and avocado are nice and ripe. The mango should give a little when you gently squeeze and have a nice sweet smell. If it smells like a pine tree it's not ripe yet. You can tell if an avocado is ripe by this same method. The avocado pit should come out easily by using a sharp knife. Act like you're going to chop right into the pit with your knife and when it gets stuck in the hard nut just pull up the knife and out will come the pit with it.

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Spinach Mushroom Frittata

 

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Stuffed Baked Apples

 

 This is a camping favorite, wrapped in tin foil and set in the fire coals. It also is a yummy oven baked dish on any night. The apples are soft, but still with a slight crisp and the stuffing is caramelized and crunchy.  Yummy!

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Berry Balsamic Spinach & Arugula Salad

I had this amazing salad at the Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas once while dining at the restaurant there.  I'm sure the waiter was giving me strange looks, but I wouldn't have known since my face was buried in my plate and the only time I came up for air was to tell him that I had fallen in love with my lunch.  I actually don't remember much of what else was in the salad except that it had this incredible smoked salmon in it and was drizzled with a sweet and tangy balsamic vinaigrette.  I still crave it to this day.

Thus was born this amazing salad which you could easily top with smoked salmon for extra protein or go without.

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Cool Cucumber Salad

 

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Chocolate Coconut Dream...

Awww, chocolate :)  It makes you smile just saying it.  Can you believe that this delectable dessert contains no flour, eggs, vegetable oil, butter, milk or sugar? It's not even cooked.  In fact this cool treat is practically ice cream (without the cream). 

First you'll need a good blender or food processor.
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup raw, unfiltered honey

Blend until walnuts and honey stick together and look sort of like crumbs then add remaining ingredients one at a time.  Blending as you go until smooth and creamy.  You're going for pudding consistency.

2 tbsp organic peanut butter, almond butter, or sunbutter

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Lemon Poppy Seed Drenched Fruit 'n Nut Salad

This salad is very earthy and you can't help but feel healthy while you're eating it.  The fruit in this concoction is actually some plums from my in-laws backyard fruit trees that the kids and I picked, dehydrated and then sprinkled with stevia powder.  Any kind of dried fruit would work though.  Here's some suggestions: dried figs, cranberries, dates, golden raisins, apricots...you get the idea.

Fruit 'n Nut Salad
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
2 green onion, sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup dried fruit (figs, dates, etc.)

Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tbsp water
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp dried parsley, or 1 sprig chopped fine
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Combine dressing ingredients into bowl or bottle and mix thoroughly.  Assemble salad and drizzle dressing over top.

Enjoy!

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Fired Up Pork Ribs!

It's the last hurrah of summer so why not go out with some hot, fall of the bone pork ribs.  And I mean HOT! These baby-backs were part of our Labor Day BBQ and they were a big hit.  This spicy rub will cover two large racks of pork ribs.

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Balsamic-Maple Grilled Nectarines

 
 
I love desserts, but they don't always have to be puffed pastries and chocolate (although that is nice ;)  Sometimes you need something sweet and fruity!  The nectarines looked so good in the grocery store so I decided to adopt them, grill them, and top them with  some maple balsamic reduction (a.k.a sticky, goodness).  So yummy!
 
The nutrient content of real maple syrup is higher than that of imitation syrup, which is composed mainly of sugars with no vitamins or minerals.  Real maple syrup has manganese and zinc, minerals that can boost immune health. It also contains small amounts of other beneficial minerals and vitamins, including calcium, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, potassium and magnesium.

Balsamic-Maple Grilled Nectarines

  • 4 nectarines or peaches
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. 100% pure maple syrup (no corn syrup flavored substitute!)
And that's all :)
 
Begin by cutting your nectarines in half and removing the stone inside.  They need to be a firm ripe, but not ripe enough that they're squishy or you'll just end up with a mushy, albeit tasty, mess.  Place nectarines cut side down onto your grill or griddle. Grill for only a couple minutes
 
Meanwhile pour the vinegar and REAL maple syrup into a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow the reduced maple vinegar to thicken as it cools.  The nectarines are probably done at this point. Place nectarines on a plate, drizzle with maple vinegar and enjoy your sticky guilt-free dessert!
 
Enjoy!
 
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Orange Chicken Curry

 

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Butternut Pumpkin Soup

I would eat soup all year long, but soup + fall = heaven!  Especially this Butternut Pumpkin Soup.  For the full effect put on a sweat shirt and take a bowl full out to the porch on a crisp October day when the leafs are exploding with color. 

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"Spaghetti" with Lemon Pepper Marinara and Herb & Veggie Meatballs

I never liked the term diet or the phrase, "I should really start doing that" (even though I am as guilty as any of saying it). However, I love new years resolutions.  I love the idea of having a fresh start, a whole new year and a new found resolve to make more of the coming year than I did of the last or to simply stay consistent with the things that make me happy.  So here's to new years resolutions and here's a delicious recipe that with start your year off healthy and satisfied.

This spaghetti and meatballs redo is full of flavor.  The fresh lemony sauce with a kick of pepper is a perfect blanket for the slightly sweet flavor of the squash and topped with the herb and veggie stuffed meatballs adds even more layers of flavor and yum!

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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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