Warm Italian Vegetable Salad


 

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Chickpea & Spinach Salad


Chickpeas, spinach, some spiral cut carrots, sliced purple onion, chopped almonds, orange segments, and a simple dressing makes this salad...well, simple...and kind of addictive! It's so easy to keep munching on it and goes great with almost any dinner. Add some grilled chicken strips to turn it into a light dinner or just as is for lunch.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) have a great creamy texture and are really filling. If you're like me and love salad but no matter how much you pile on you're still not full, then this legume should be your go-to. Adding chickpeas to salads will help you feel full and satisfied, not to mention adding lots of extra vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.


This is also a great side to bring to a get together because the dressing it already on top...and because it looks so pretty! The dressing won't make it soggy either so it's okay to sit in the fridge for a couple days once it's dressed.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Beets


The colors in this dish are so amazing! The more vibrant the natural colors of your fruits and veggies, the more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they hold.

Dark oranges from the sweet potatoes means your getting lots of bete-carotene (vitamin A), along with vitamin C. flavanoids, lycopene, and potassium. The deep purple-red of the beets provides vitamins like A, B & C,  and minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. Roast them together with sliced sweet onion, oil, and seasoning and...hello beautiful!


 
Another great thing about this simple dish is that it's great for camping! What?! Yep. Instead of the usual tin foil potatoes for your family camping trip, try wrapping some of these babies up and roasting in the coals.


The fun part of doing the tin foil dinner is that each person can season their potatoes and beets how they like - sweet or spicy, simple herbs or a little bit of everything.

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Oriental Chicken Salad & Sesame Dressing


I saw a picture once with the caption, "gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free, and vegan"....it was a sad looking piece of lettuce with a tomato slice on top. I had to laugh! (1. because it was clever, and 2. because it was so wrong!)

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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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Dixie Salad

I love fall for many reasons, but one of them is the pomegranates.  I had seen and heard of this peculiar fruit growing up, but never got my first taste until I met my hubby.  My in-laws have two out of control pomegranate trees in their back yard and every fall my mother-in-law makes Dixie Salad.  There's always plenty more pomegranates to take home and share with neighbors and friends too.

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"Good Morning!" Green Smoothie

 


They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Now that summer is coming to a close and school is gearing up to start it's the perfect time to power you're little learners and yourself with a power smoothie.  My dad is a religious green smoothie maker and since we recently moved closer, he's got me and my kids hooked on green smoothies too.  Yes, my kids LOVE this and look forward to their green smoothie every morning.  Even my 2 year old asks for her "dreen smoovie".   My dad likes to add carrots, broccoli and dried cranberries to his. Make yours with as many veggies and fruit as you like, but this is how I put mine together for a nice smooth smoothie...

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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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{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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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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Homemade Applesauce (No Added Sugar)

 

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Healthy Homemade Fruit Snacks

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10 Delicious & Gluten-Free Ways to Enjoy Watermelon


For me, celebrating Independence Day is almost as exciting as Christmas! I love the fireworks, the stirring reminder of patriotism, and the feeling of unity as citizens of a nation I am proud to be part of. I don't know about the rest of you, but the smell of fireworks and summer just isn't complete without watermelon.

I'm a purist when it comes to watermelon. Big slices of cold deep pink goodness sitting on a piece of newspaper to catch the seeds and juice dripping off your chin - it's bliss. But sometimes it's fun to take this fruit and dress it up, blend it up, and otherwise use it to make everything it touches taste sweet and fresh. 
I guess what I'm trying to say is...it's summer - let the watermelon madness begin! 
Here I've collected 10 unique, gluten free, and delicious ways to enjoy everyone's favorite melon!....I'm going to need more watermelon.

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Persimmon Salad with Lemon Fennel Dressing


 
It's almost a new year, new resolutions, why not try something new too. Now that the holidays are past and everyone has sufficiently stuffed themselves, I felt the need for something a little lighter. I was gifted a half dozen persimmon fruits and some garlic dill cheese curds that were just screaming to be put together.


 
This was my first time eating this unusual tomato-look-alike fruit. Their soft peach-like texture and sweet, mild apple-ish flavor make them very versatile. I tossed mine together in a simple, light salad with a warm fennel, lemon, and olive oil dressing. The sweet from the fruit and the salty from the dressing and cheese blended together so nicely. Persimmons are usually in season between September and December so I must have gotten the last of the season.

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Chia Seed Fruit Leather: Energy Snack

 

 

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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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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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