Cinnamon Sugar Collagen Bars

I often get asked why I don’t eat gluten.  Some people assume that I have a gluten allergy or intolerance, but I don’t…at least not that I’m aware of.  The truth is that I don’t think gluten is healthy.  I don’t think it belongs in the human diet, at least not the way gluten-containing grains are grown and manufactured today.

Full disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian, nutritionist, doctor, health coach or anything of the sort; I have no formal education in any area of health or nutrition but I have done a lot of my own research.  I’m [obviously] fond of the Paleo lifestyle and so that does have a large influence on my health beliefs but I also use myself as a guinea pig to determine whether or not certain foods work with my body.

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Gluten, sugar, alcohol and highly processed foods don’t work with my body.  I feel sluggish, retain water, my face gets puffy, my sleep suffers, my digestion is off and my hormones just feel out of whack when I eat these foods.  Now, that’s not saying I eat “perfectly”.  I will consume sugar, alcohol and processed foods from time to time but gluten is something I really try to avoid.  I never crave it, and these days there are so many gluten-free options that I never feel deprived.  (If you’ve been following my blog or Instagram for a while you know that I love my gluten free treats 😉 )

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Seed Crackers

Why are crackers so tasty?  Or is it just me (and like every kid on the planet) that thinks this?  Now, I haven’t tried every cracker out there, but rarely do I find a brand or flavor that I dislike.  My children are a bit pickier than me, but crackers are one of their favorite snack foods too.

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My favorite way to eat crackers are on/with salads – a great crouton alternative.  They add just the right crunch and a bit of saltiness to any leafy green bowl.  I have a lot of cracker recipes on my blog, but considering the quantity my 3 year old eats there shouldn’t be any surprise.  Since I opt for gluten-free, organic brands crackers can be quite the expense!  Making your own is cheaper; granted it does take a bit of extra work, as anything homemade does, but the fresh ingredients, numerous flavor options and cheaper cost is worth it…at least from time to time.  Plus, kids love getting in the kitchen and making their own food.  Or at least that is my experience.  And since kids already love crackers, then baking them will be 10x’s as exciting 😉

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These Seed Crackers are pretty self explanatory – they’re mostly made from seeds with a little seasoning and tapioca flour (helps with texture).  They are Paleo, Vegan and allergy friendly (no nuts, egg, dairy, gluten or grains).

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Curry Crusted Chicken Tenders

I made these Curry Crusted Chicken Tenders three times within two weeks for my family (which amounted to about 15 meals shared among the three of us)!  We all liked them SO much (seriously, we weren’t sick of them during those two weeks) that I decided putting them on the blog was a must.  So, I actually took out my measuring cups and spoons and wrote down specific measurements so that I could share with all of you; which is something I rarely do when cooking savory dishes.

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I very rarely measure the ingredients in a savory meal unless I’m creating a recipe.  That’s one of the things I love about cooking (rather than baking): it’s not an exact science.  When cooking, I enjoy looking at recipes to get a general idea for flavor combinations but I like using my own palate to determine quantities.  It does take some practice, but once you’ve played with enough spices, seasonings and sauces it’s easy to just eye-ball it.

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So, although the recipe for these Curry Crusted Chicken Tenders has specific measurements, I urge you to play around with the quantities.  Even add or subtract spices as you see fit!

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These simple chicken tenders are Paleo friendly, Whole 30 approved and free of most allergens.  If you don’t or can’t eat nuts then swapping out the almond flour for ground flax seed is an option. Read More

Almond Banana Bread

Banana bread recipes appear to be very popular.  I’m by no means complaining, as I too love a good banana bread or muffin.  I think the most appealing part is that banana bread can be naturally sweetened just by the bananas, making it a pretty healthy bread option so long as the other ingredients make the grade.

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I’ve experimented with quite a variety of flour blends which have resulted in various banana breads and muffins: gluten free, grain free, Paleo, high protein and Vegan.  I love them all, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be a close tie between this Almond Banana Bread and my Grain Free Ginger-Banana Bread.  Both are grain free, Paleo friendly, only sweetened with bananas and have a soft, moist and slightly dense (but not too dense) texture.

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I’ve noticed that a lot of banana bread recipes on the internet use added sugar or sweeteners and I find that completely unnecessary.  I think bananas are sweet enough!  So (obviously) this Almond Banana Bread recipe just uses bananas for sweetness 😉  This loaf is Paleo friendly, only 9 simple ingredients and free of: gluten, grains, dairy, soy and refined sugar.

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Paleo Grain-Free Oatmeal

For me, oatmeal brings back memories of college; as I went through a “oatmeal for breakfast every morning” phase.  I used to eat my oats very plainly.  I would add rolled oats and flax seed to my coffee grinder, grind them up, pour them into a dish with water and then microwave.  If I was lucky enough to have cinnamon on hand, then I would add some of that too.

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I’m not saying how I ate them back then was “wrong”, in fact, I think I did pretty well for a college student living in a sorority with access to only a microwave for cooking!  These days, although I do still rely on my microwave, I like to think I’ve stepped things up a notch.  I still like to grind up my oats because I think that makes them thicker and in my opinion, the thicker the better (kinda like my take on smoothies)!  But when I make oats now I add cinnamon, ground ginger, a pinch of pink salt, sometimes almond milk, sometimes water and then I top them with nuts and seeds and often berries.  They are heartier, more filling and more nutritious than my college version.

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Another thing I like to do is nix the oats completely and eat grain free oatmeal; otherwise known as Paleo oatmeal 😉  I created this recipe after trying some Wildway Grain Free Hot Cereal.  My husband tried it too and loved it!  Their product inspired me to create my own and the result was just as delicious.

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This Paleo Grain-Free Oatmeal is made using nuts, seeds and coconut and is sweetened with dates.  It is a healthy oatmeal option and great if you are trying to lower your grain intake or have an oat allergy/intolerance.  This recipe makes 5 servings, so excellent for meal prep!

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Allergy-Free Mini Carrot Muffins

You know, sometimes I think I should be ashamed of the lack of carrot recipes on my blog, haha!  I mean, carrots ARE my favorite vegetable but when it comes down to it, I very rarely include them in my baking.  The reason why is mostly because I eat so many carrots that I feel like adding them to my baked goods is a bit too much.  (My hands are orange enough as it is!)

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Fun fact: did you know that my husband hates carrots.  Well, plain carrots.  He’ll eat them in baked goods or when I add them to savory dishes like burgers or pizza.  He did approve of these muffins, although reluctant to do so knowing carrots were involved!

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So if you know someone who isn’t too fond of carrots, give these muffins a try 😉 These mini muffins are a fun way to sneak some veggies into your kid’s (or husband’s) diet.  They are allergy free (free from gluten, dairy, nuts, peanuts, corn, soy and eggs) and can be made Vegan by substituting the honey for maple syrup.

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Coconut Butter Bars

Sickness has hit us hard this winter.  My 3 year old has been sick on and off all season and although I don’t usually tend to be affected by what my kids get, I haven’t managed to escape the runny nose, fever, chills and worst of all sinus issues.  3 weeks; that’s how long my lingering cold lasted!  It started as a runny nose, slight fever and just feeling overall yucky, but developed into major sinus pain and the loss of my sense of taste and smell and eventually turned into a relentless cough.  The worst part was the sinus pain, but losing my taste was pretty awful too, especially as someone who enjoys cooking and baking like I do.  Have you ever lost your sense of taste?

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I couldn’t taste or smell anything for about a week, but when those senses finally started re-emerging I was all too eager to return to the kitchen and whip up something sweet.  Insert: Coconut Butter Bars.

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These bars were just what I needed to satisfy my sugar cravings once I could finally enjoy food again.  They are absolutely amazing; a nutty crust, layers of coconut butter and date caramel and topped with extra dark chocolate and flaked coconut.  These Coconut Butter Bars are Paleo and Vegan friendly, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free and don’t require any baking!  Needless to say, my taste buds were in heaven after not having been able to taste for a week.

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Summer Sausage Breakfast Rolls

I was walking into the gym with my kids the other day when the lady at the front desk asked what my son was eating.  He was snacking on one of Paleovalley’s grass fed beef sticks and I told her such.  She went on to say something along the lines of: “Ah, okay.  I thought it looked like a Slim Jim, but I figured you guys ate healthier than that!”  I laughed at the comment, not because it was false but because it is completely true – my family doesn’t eat highly processed snacks, especially when it comes to animal products.  I was also surprised that she guessed as much, but I suppose when you show up to the gym nearly every weekday morning people assume you’re healthy 😉

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Have you ever looked at the ingredients in conventional meat sticks or jerky?  They are often filled with soy, corn syrup, caramel color, “natural flavors”, sugar, wheat flour and preservatives; not to mention the meat comes from conventionally raised cows.  When it comes to feeding myself and my family, I just cannot buy products like that.  But I recently discovered Paleovalley’s grass fed beef sticks and was amazed by their quality, taste and texture.  I was expecting a hard, jerky-like texture, but these beef sticks are tender like sausage and easy to eat.  I love having them around as a convenient snack or quick lunch addition for both myself and my family, but I also couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen and find a way to creatively incorporate Paleovalley’s beef sticks into a recipe, like these Summer Sausage Breakfast Rolls.

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