A Well Balanced Blog

Fruit & Feta Kabobs with Balsamic Glaze

Fruit & Feta Kabobs with Balsamic Glaze

Fruit & Feta Kabobs with Balsamic Glaze

These were just something I threw together for a 4th of July party, aren't they cute and pretty? I'm not gonna lie, I'm not one for fancy food that takes a lot of time to assemble. But these were worth the extra bit of effort.

Feel free to mix up the fruit choices, but I encourage you to keep the feta! The combo of the feta and basil with the balsamic glaze is OH SO GOOD with the sweetness of the fruit. And I can guarantee you people will be impressed if you bring this colorful dish to any gathering.

Ingredients

  • Fresh organic blueberries, rinsed and dried
  • Watermelon cut into 1-inch cubes (or use a cookie cutter for special shapes)
  • Block of feta cheese (not the crumbles!)
  • Basil leaves
  • Long toothpicks or short skewers
    For the balsamic glaze:
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. Cut the watermelon and feta cheese into cubes. I prefer the watermelon cubes to be a bit larger than the feta, I think it looks prettier when stacked.
  2. Assemble the skewers: basil leaf, blueberry, feta cheese, then watermelon. This is why you need the longer toothpicks! Pierce the pieces gently so they don't fall apart -- especially the cheese!
  3. Place the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Liquid should reduce by about half.
  4. Let sit for about 10 minutes so it will cool and thicken.
  5. Drizzle on top of skewers or place in a small bowl for people to drizzle themselves.
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Grain Free Double Chocolate Loaf Cake

Grain Free Double Chocolate Loaf Cake

Grain Free Double Chocolate Loaf Cake

I'm not gonna lie, I like all the pretty baked goods in the glass cases at Starbucks. And aside from those little mini vanilla scones (OMG I love those!), the loaf cakes are my favorites. I've already created a paleo version of the pumpkin loaf, and this is my take on the Double Chocolate Loaf Cake.

This recipe isn't difficult at all, but you do have to be a little patient when it comes to letting the icing cool in the refrigerator. But it's SO worth the wait! It slices up so beautifully and no one will ever guess that the cake is actually gluten free, grain free, and dairy free. And just a reminder that the majority of the sweetness comes from the icing -- you can add more sweetener to the cake but I don't think it needs it.

I really need to invest in those little brown paper sleeves that Starbucks uses to serve their treats ... maybe have my logo put on them. Whaddya think???

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fine almond flour
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • Dash of vanilla extract
    For the chocolate icing
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • *You can double these ingredients for a thicker icing on top

Instructions

  1. Properly grease your loaf pan, this is so important! I melt 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil and swirly it around in the loaf pan to make sure the bottom and sides are well coated. Use a napkin to get any nooks and crannies. Pour out any excess.
  2. Add dry ingredients together in bowl (almond flour, arrowroot powder, coconut flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In large bowl, add eggs, melted fat, maple syrup, coconut milk, and vanilla. Use mixer to combine well.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into greased loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean and edges are starting to pull away from sides of pan. (I'm always a fan of the lower baking times). Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  7. FOR THE ICING: Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in double boiler over medium heat. Stir often and remove from heat when chocolate is smooth. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  8. Pour melted chocolate over top of loaf cake. Use spatula to make sure all surface area is covered. No worries if it slips into the sides! It actually makes the cake prettier AND tastier.
  9. Put loaf cake in refrigerator until icing hardens. This usually takes mine about 2 hours or so.
  10. Remove cake from refrigerator and carefully remove from pan. Even though the icing is a bit hard, the cake should slice easily. Store in refrigerator.
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Gluten Free Overnight Oats

Gluten Free Overnight Oats

Gluten Free Overnight Oats

I know it's weird, but I love oatmeal. Not the instant kind in the little brown packets, but the real deal thick stuff with lots of toppings. And I love ordering it at an upscale breakfast place because it comes out with all the little containers of nuts, fruit, brown sugar, maple syrup, and real cream. Fancy place oatmeal is my jam.

When I was in college until about the time I had my older son, I would go to breakfast with my Dad every trip I made home. We would go to Le Peep, order the French roast coffee, chat about the amazing menu, and then order oatmeal ... with a side of extra crispy bacon for my Dad. And then we would talk for hours about any and all crazy plans I had in mind for my future endeavors. How I wish I had done that more in the past decade or so, but life got busier and the grandkids became more of the priority. But I'll always think of my Dad when I make or eat oatmeal.

So anyway, this stuff is yummy! No wonder everyone's been raving about it. I just want to give everyone a heads up -- if you do not make the effort to add fat and protein to this meal, it is an easy way to throw your blood sugar levels way out of whack. Without the fat and protein, this is just a big load of carbs and sugar that would have been touted as super healthy in the 90s. I personally add full fat coconut milk, collagen peptides, and some raw nuts to mine. You can heat it up, but I typically eat mine cold and it's delicious! And since we almost always have cooked bacon in our fridge, I like to have a piece of that on the side as a little morning shout out to my Dad. I miss him.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup milk or milk alternative (I ALWAYS use full fat coconut milk!)
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, or other favorite natural sweetener
  • 1/2 scoop of Vital Proteins collagen peptides
  • 1/4 tsp of spices (cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice are my faves)
  • Toppings of choice: berries, fruit, nuts, seeds, nut butter, chocolate chips, more sweetener, etc.

Instructions

  1. Place oats, milk, sweetener, spices and collagen peptides in container and gently mix to combine. (I use small mason jars for convenience!)
  2. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.
  3. Remove from refrigerator and uncover. Heat if desired.
  4. Add toppings of choice and devour!
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Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Yield: 16 brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Y'all, it's chocolate and peanut butter. What else is there to say?

One of the awesome things about this recipe is you most likely have all these ingredients in your kitchen right now. Staple ingredients thrown together that result in total yumminess. This is also one of those recipes that people devour and just can't believe there isn't any flour in them. And I don't know why, but that makes me SO HAPPY.

I really advise using the parchment paper as a liner and taking that extra step of refrigeration time before slicing these babies up! Especially if you want to surprise people with the whole "oh hey guess what these are gluten free AND grain free AND dairy free AND refined sugar free brownies" thing. Muahahahahaaaaa (that's my evil laugh).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter (I use smooth)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp ghee or melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the peanut butter, maple syrup, egg, ghee/coconut oil and vanilla in a bowl. I like to use a mixer because the peanut butter is a bit tough to stir by hand.
  2. Stir/mix in the cocoa powder and baking soda. Mixture will be on the thick side.
  3. Pour batter into a 8x8-inch square baking pan coated with oil/spray or lined with parchment paper. (I prefer parchment paper for easier removal from the pan!) Because the batter is thick, you can use a spatula to press it into the corners and even it out.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. I prefer mine on the softer and gooier side, so i always go for the shorter baking time.
  6. Remove from pan (yay, parchment paper!) and let cool before cutting into squares. I like to put them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before cutting because the brownies slice so well this way!
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Grain Free Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes

Grain Free Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes

Yield: 12-15 cupcakes

Grain Free Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes

So these don't have to be birthday cupcakes ... but they're definitely delicious and pretty enough for a celebration!

You know, sometimes you just really need a cupcake. And not one of those healthy tasting cupcakes -- the REAL DEAL. So that's what I set out to do ... make a cupcake that has the taste and texture of a good old fashioned cupcake. And I think these are pretty darn close!

A few things about this recipe. The espresso powder is optional, but I promise it gives that chocolate a really rich and decadent taste. It's totally worth it. Also, you can add more maple syrup (or other sweetener if you would like) ... but I like my cupcakes slightly sweet with a really sweet icing on top. And lastly, dipping the cupcakes in the melted chocolate makes them absolutely beautiful! They don't need any other toppings ... but sprinkles make me happy. And they make the cupcakes more legit, especially for birthdays.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fine almond flour
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • Dash of vanilla extract
    For chocolate icing:
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • *Sprinkles are a fun topping! I like Color Kitchen Foods for a safer option.

Instructions

  1. Place parchment paper liners in muffin tins (this recipe usually makes me about 15 cupcakes).
  2. Add dry ingredients together in bowl (almond flour, arrowroot powder, coconut flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In large bowl, add eggs, melted fat, maple syrup, coconut milk, and vanilla. Use mixer to combine well.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until smooth. You might need to taste the batter at this point to make sure it's ok ...
  5. Fill lined muffin cups with batter about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. (I'm always a fan of the lower baking times). Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  7. FOR THE GLAZE: Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in double boiler over medium heat. Stir often and remove from heat when chocolate is smooth. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  8. Take each cupcake and turn upside down, then swirl it around to coat the top in the chocolate. Let chocolate drip off before flipping right side up.
  9. Add sprinkles if desired. Don't wait too long before doing this because the icing will begin to harden. The upside to this is the sprinkles stay on really well!
  10. Time to celebrate!
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Gluten Free Mini Corndog Muffins

Gluten Free Mini Corndog Muffins

Gluten Free Mini Corndog Muffins

So before you do anything, I want you to head over to Amazon and buy the following cookbook: Fast and Simple Gluten-Free by Gretchen Brown, R.D. Because she's one of my bestest friends ever (we met in 6th grade), and the basis for this recipe is from her book! Check out the Butter Rolls on page 115.

Gretchen is basically the better and more glamorous version of me. She's tall and statuesque, has this long, thick and stunning brown hair, is a military spouse doing the single parent gig while her husband is deployed for the year, has a straight up GORGEOUS blog (www.kumquatblog.com) and honed her skills working in the Southern Living test kitchens. For real, you guys. SHE IS THE REAL DEAL. I'm like the watered down and much shorter version stumbling along as I go. But I'm totally ok with that because I love her so much -- she's always there for me. Always.

So back to the recipe. When G was writing her cookbook, this was the recipe I received for early testing! And I've been making it ever since. It doesn't really have corn in it and I've added a bit of sweetness to it, but it's always reminded me of sweet corn muffins. Add some hot dogs and you've got some kid-friendly treats that work great for lunches, snacks, or anytime yummies. My boys are ALWAYS asking for more food, so these are great to have on hand. I like mine with some good old fashioned mustard to really make it feel like I'm at the fair munching on a corndog. Because junk food is good, y'all.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten free flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or milk alternative
  • 1/2 cup organic sour cream
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • About 3-4 hot dogs cut into 1/2 inch slices (I use Applegate Grass Fed All Beef Hotdogs)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  3. In separate bowl combine melted butter, milk, sour cream, egg, and maple syrup. Blend with mixer.
  4. Add in flour mixture and blend into wet ingredients until smooth.
  5. Add spoonfuls of batter into mini-muffin tins coated with cooking spray or melted coconut oil. (Use the good stuff! I use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Spray) Make sure muffin cups are only about half full at this point -- adding the hotdog will fill it up a lot more!
  6. Take cut up hotdogs and push into batter until just the top is showing. This should cause the muffin mixture to raise up to the top of the muffin cup.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Pretend you're at the fair and enjoy! (P.S. This recipes makes about 24 corndog muffins.)
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Gluten Free Snickerdoodles

Gluten Free Snickerdoodles

Gluten Free Snickerdoodles

I've been thinking long and hard about this, because it's really important. I'm pretty sure snickerdoodles are my most favorite cookie of all time.

I've always been a sucker for anything with cinnamon sugar. On the rare occasion I find myself in a donut shop, I always go for the cinnamon twist. And I don't know if Einstein Bagels still exists, but I used to eat the mess out of their cinnamon sugar bagels back in the day. YUM. The 90s were just one giant carbfest, am I right?

Back to snickerdoodles. There are a lot of grain free recipes out there with very little variation (seriously, google it). I think that's just because it's a fairly simple taste. The standard almond flour with a bit of coconut flour, butter, sugar, and either baking powder or cream of tartar. Variations are typically based on whether or not you're doing strict paleo ... otherwise bring on the butter! And of course there's cinnamon and sugar. I also like to throw in a little nutmeg for that extra bit of spice.

The BEST thing about this recipe is the dough isn't sticky at all, so it rolls into dough balls super easily. No, that's not true. That's the second best thing. The absolute BEST thing about this recipe is they have perfect consistency and flavor. My 90s self would have eaten these by the dozen.

*I've added notes for substitutions if you choose to do a paleo version.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, room temp (can use coconut oil for paleo)
  • 1/4 or 1/3 cup organic sugar, depending on preference (can use maple syrup for paleo)
  • 1 egg
  • Dash of vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
    Spice mixture for rolling cookies:
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar (can use coconut sugar for paleo)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Combine butter and sugar together in a bowl. Use mixer to cream together. Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  2. Mix in almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir together until smooth batter forms.
  3. Separate batter into equal pieces and roll into balls (I usually get about 16 cookies).
  4. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Roll each dough ball in sugar mixture and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Use the bottom of a glass (or a flat surface) to slightly flatten cookies.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack. Cookies will harden slightly while cooling.
  7. I dare you not to eat more than one.
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Paleo Beef Stew

Paleo Beef Stew

Paleo Beef Stew

First things first. This is not my recipe ... it's flat out Mel Joulwan's recipe from her amazing blog known as Well Fed. Head there right now and marvel in all the goodness. I've made a lot of beef stews over the years, and this is hands down the best. I switched up the seasoning a bit and made my version a bit thicker and chunkier, but it's that red wine and tomato paste combo that gives it an amazingly rich taste. Everything about this just feels so decadent.

Now listen. I know it's spring and everything, but I will eat soup or stew any day of the year. It's just comforting and oh so good! There's just something about letting those flavors simmer for hours on a stove. Did you know digestion actually begins in the brain? We have all that time to see and smell the food, and it stimulates the brain to get ready for this delicious meal. And this recipe is chock full of nutritional goodness. Grass fed beef, lots of root veggies, bone broth, healthy fats .... oh and there's red wine. Did I mention the wine?

Y'all, make this. And if you have one of those people in your life that thinks anything paleo is tasteless or boring, serve them this for dinner. I bet they'll be eating their words ... along with a second bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 - 2 pounds grass fed beef stew meat
  • Cooking oil/fat of choice (I used ghee)
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder or tapioca starch
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 rounded teaspoons + 1 tablespoon Trader Joe's Herbes de Provence (poultry seasoning can be substituted)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups bone broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 pound new potatoes, cut into halves or quarters
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix arrowroot, 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Add the stew meat and toss until well coated.
  2. Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the cooking fat and allow it to get quite hot, then add the beef and brown on all sides. Let a little crust form each piece. Then remove the meat and set it on a separate plate. (If the meat sticks to the pan, the oil is not hot enough!)
  3. Once the meat is browned and set aside, add the onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms, and garlic to the same pan. (I usually add a bit more cooking fat to the pan for this). Sauté the vegetables until they’re soft and golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, bay leaf, and 2 teaspoons of herbes de provence. Cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the wine and broth and stir to combine. Lastly, add the beef and accumulated juices to the pot. Cover and simmer 1 hour.
  5. Cut the new potatoes and toss them with 1 tablespoon of the herbes de provence. Once the stew has simmered for one hour, add the potatoes to the pot and simmer for another hour. Beef and potatoes should be fork tender.
  6. Uncover and stir 1/2 tsp of arrowroot powder into the stew. Let simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes.
  7. By this point, your kitchen smells like heaven! Serve in soup bowls and enjoy that amazing flavor. It's seriously so delicious.
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Hey Girl, Hey!

I’m Amanda! I’m a Pilates & Barre Master Trainer, Nutritional Therapy Consultant, Director with Beautycounter, military wife, and mother of two very energetic boys.

I’ve given up the unrealistic notion of being awesome at everything and embraced the idea of just keeping the important stuff well balanced.

My life is not nearly as cool as my Pinterest boards, you guys. But I do try to live a healthy life and make better choices for my family. If you have any interest in doing the same, please stick around! Read More…

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