Modifying Original Recipes to Fit Your Needs!

A blog about healthy eating, healthy living and happiness. Join me and I'll show you how easy it is to substitute, modify and enhance your favorite recipes to accommodate your special diet, all without missing a thing!

December 16, 2012

Oat Free Quinoa Apricot Granola

I've come to a realization lately. Well, really more of a re-realization.

Granola, some sort of fruit be it fresh or dried, and yogurt, is a breakfast that I'm sort of... obsessed with. I guess it's really not that bad seeing as how granola can be made in a variety of ways, showcasing a multitude of flavors and textures all depending on the ingredients chosen. It's a healthy snack, a filling breakfast, something that may just become my everyday fall-back.

Anyway... during this re-realization I thought about the many people who are intolerant to oats... *gasp!* How sad it must be to go to your local grocer and not be able to pick up your weekly batch of granola, simply because, the sweet little oats don't act so sweet when settled in your belly. Naturally, I was just not okay with this fact. And thus... the oat free granola was born!

This recipe still follows closely to my many others, packed with nutrition and protein, a hint of sweetness and the perfect crunch to accompany your smooth and creamy yogurt of choice. The best part? It takes about 15 minutes to make, start to finish. I'm sensing you're ready for the recipe, am I right?

Oat Free Quinoa Apricot Granola
3/4 c quinoa flakes
1oz raw pumpkin seeds (just under 1/4c)
8 dried apricots (cut into small pieces)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c Perky's Crunchy Flax Cereal

2 tbsp cashew butter (I used Artisana)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Combine quinoa flakes through cinnamon in a medium bowl. Slowly heat cashew butter, maple syrup and vanilla in a small saucepan until stirred to a smooth consistency. Add wet ingredients to the quinoa flake mixture, start the mixing with a spoon but you'll need to get dirty for this yummy granola, using your hands to finish off the mixing process. Place mixture in the oven for 6 minutes, remove and stir. Place back into the oven for 2-3 more minutes (at this point the granola should be golden and slightly brown at the edges). Remove from oven and add in the Crunchy Flax Cereal. Let granola cool, place into a mason jar and store on the counter.

Enjoy this oat free granola over yogurt, with a banana and almond milk for a delicious non-traditional cereal treat, or munch for a portable snack any time of day. It's delicious, it's oat free, and it's packed with good for you nutrients!

Let's take a look at the nutrition facts, shall we?

Per 1/2 cup serving
34g carbs
4g fiber
6g protein
10g sugar

Eat up and enjoy, and maybe keep a secret stash away from the public eye of your kitchen... it just may disappear faster than you'd like!

December 6, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Bread, a Cutie and a Giveaway!

Quite the title, right? Let me explain...

Today, I'm going to do things a little different... less words... more pictures!

a cutie!!! 

My adorable cousin I finally got to meet! He's a ball of energy with smiles all the time... love you Tyler!

and a giveaway!

Rocky Mountain Popcorn Co. wants to give one lucky winner a Holiday Notta Tin! And let me tell you... it is quite a wonderful holiday gift!

Alright... let's get back to that simply divine pumpkin bread pictured above... I had been craving something full-on-fall, melt-in-your-mouth, something with loads of pumpkin flavor. Well my friends, thanks to an incredible gluten free blogger, and really, one of my favorites - Gluten Free Goddess... mission accomplished. I followed this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Bread, and made only a few minor substitutions...
  •  I used oat flour in place of the buckwheat flour
  • reduced the brown sugar to 1/2 cup
  • used only 1/2 tsp. of xanthan gum
  • *I did use 2 real eggs for this one and truly, I think it makes all the difference
This bread is soft, moist, yet somewhat crumbly - just enough to have you licking the plate for every last taste [just be sure to do this with class ;-)]. The flavor is unbelievable, just sweet enough with a prominent pumpkin flavor, yet not overwhelming. Perfect with a lovely cup of coffee, or as an afternoon snack, or perhaps, heating this up with a dollop of dairy free ice cream would be a magnificent way to round out a meal. Any way you eat it, all will love it and be begging for more (I have proof!)

And now... drum roll please... the giveaway! I mentioned this in the last post but want to emphasize the great gift you will receive! I personally received my Notta Tin a few days ago and the bags well... they are starting to run a little low ;-)

It's so simple to enter, but act fast, this giveaway is almost over!

Each of the following will count as one entry (and yes, each person can do all of these, that's up to four entries!)

  1. Become a follower of It Really Works! and leave a comment below telling me what you plan on doing this holiday season to stay healthy!
  2. Follow us on on Facebook and mention the giveaway to your friends, tagging It Really Works!
  3. Follow me on Twitter @melainadaniel and tweet about this great contest! (You could say something like, "Check out this great #gf popcorn giveaway by #melainadaniel of It Really Works!" - (be sure to include the link to this post!)
  4. *Extend the joy and tell your friends! I know, I can't really count this one but in the spirit of giving, give your friends a chance at this great prize! 

November 30, 2012

A Healthy Holiday Giveaway - Rocky Mountain Popcorn!

Happy Friday foodies!

We are in the full spirit of giving here at It Really Works!, so much in fact that I'd like to give something to you!

Yes, we are still celebrating the season with Health For The Holidays, but this tasty treat is one that I would say still fits the bill.

My friends at Rocky Mountain Popcorn Co. would like to give one lucky winner a free Holiday NottaTin! While some popcorn tins are filled with fake ingredients, gummy textures and loads of sugar, Rocky Mountain Popcorn Co. is an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional popcorn tin. It includes White Cheddar, Jalapeno, Caramel (which recently won San Francisco Chronicle's "Top Caramel Corn",) Butter, Naked, Cinnamon Sugar, and Kettle flavors, which are not only delicious but also all natural, gluten-free, nut-free, and use non-GMO corn. The Holiday NottaTin holds 15 delicious bags of assorted popcorn flavors packaged in a festive design. What better way to share the holidays your loved ones?!

Now, who's ready to win some popcorn!?

Here is how you can enter this fabulously fun holiday giveaway...

Each of the following will count as one entry (and yes, each person can do all of these, that's up to four entries!)
  1. Become a follower of It Really Works! and leave a comment below telling me what you plan on doing this holiday season to stay healthy!
  2. Follow us on on Facebook and mention the giveaway to your friends, tagging It Really Works!
  3. Follow me on Twitter @melainadaniel and tweet about this great contest! (You could say something like, "Check out this great #gf popcorn giveaway by #melainadaniel of It Really Works!" - (be sure to include the link to this post!)
  4. *Extend the joy and tell your friends! I know, I can't really count this one but in the spirit of giving, give your friends a chance at this great prize!
Last but not least, here are the important details...

The giveaway starts today, Friday, November 30th - entries will be accepted for one week. The winner will be announced Friday, December 7th!

Happy snacking and remember, stay healthy and happy this holiday season, enjoying all the joy this season brings.

November 26, 2012

Yoga and Chocolate Truffles


Sometimes there are moments in a day that bring such joy. Moments that make you stop and think how sometimes, the simplest things make you the happiest. Simple things that make you realize how great life is and how precious it really is. 

This happened for me yesterday while in a yoga class. It was a 75 minute heated class, with a room full of various people, each and every one of them there to let their worries go and treat their bodies to health and wellness, to treat themselves to 75 wonderful minutes to themselves. 

I can't quite remember at what point it was, if I realized this feeling while walking to my car afterwards, or if it was the last few moments on my mat... Simplicity came to my mind.  I know, I know, you may be a bit confused... well, let's dig a little deeper shall we?

It came to mind that the simplest things in life can be our greatest pleasures. That no matter what your day is like or the events that occur - no matter where on earth you live or what is happening around you, you should always have one simple thing in the back of your mind that you can reflect on to appreciate and recognize as being a constant joy and source for happiness. If you have this, well my friends, you are well on your way to a fulfilled life.

And so, it was after a morning of yoga, simple thoughts and appreciating my life that I made truffles.

Care to know more?

I thought so ;-)

I happened to have a jar full of prunes in my pantry that were needing to be used.. I wanted something snack-like, chocolatey and rich, somewhat sweet yet still healthy. Here is what I came up with... 

Coffee Coconut  Truffles

1c prunes (20-22 prunes)
4 tbsp  cocoa powder (unsweetened) + more for rolling
2 tbsp room temperature coffee (leftover from the morning is fine)
1/4 c (or less) unsweetened shredded coconut for rolling
Combine first three ingredients (prunes, cocoa powder & coffee) in a food processor until combined. The consistency will be very thick and sticky - this is what you want. Prepare a plate covered with plastic wrap, plus another piece of wrap to cover it. Grab two more small plates - coat one with the coconut, lightly sprinkle cocoa powder onto the other. Slightly wet your hands and fingers and use a wooden spoon to pull out about 1 tbsp (a little smaller than a golf ball) of the dough, set onto the plate with coconut and coat until no longer sticky (you can now pick up the "blob" and roll it into a nice smooth ball). Now roll the ball in the cocoa powder, just enough to coat the outside (tap off any excess cocoa) and place it onto your plastic wrap-covered plate. *This is where I decided to leave some of the truffles without the extra cocoa, purely for comparison reasons. My result? Both versions are delightful, you can decide for yourself how "chocolatey" you want your truffles to be. 
Once all truffles have been made, cover the plate with your extra piece of plastic wrap and place into the freezer. I checked at about the one-hour mark and while they were cold, they weren't quite solid - yet still delicious! Continue to freeze (or remove at this point) to reach your desired texture.

And for your holiday fulfillment... here are the miniscule nutrition facts for these little treats of joy...

Per (one) Truffle: 

54 calories
11g carbohydrates
1.75g fiber
0.85g protein
6g sugar

That's it folks!

Enjoy these little gems for a moment to yourself, or share with your loved ones. Either way, keep one thought in mind this holiday season - always remember to count the little things, for the simpler the appreciation, the more fulfilling it will be.

November 23, 2012

Health For The Holidays - Thanksgiving Wrap Up!

Welcome back to another happy and healthy day on It Really Works!

Being the day after Thanksgiving, I thought it was only appropriate to share some of the best and most beautiful Thanksgiving dishes from all around, and also a few tips and tricks on how I managed to still be "mostly comfortable" after two Thanksgiving dinners and dessert!

Now... if that didn't real you into read this post.. I'm not sure what will ;-)

Enjoying a festive and delicious Thanksgiving at two houses (with my family and the boyfriend's), would be sure to make anyone happy. However, if you stop to think about the amount of food that is served at any one Thanksgiving affair - you might realize that eating twice is quite a lot of food.

I have a feeling that I'm not the only one who splits their holiday, which is why I decided to share a few of my own tricks to avoid that "I-ate-WAY-too-much-and-now-just-want-to-sleep-it-off" feeling.

Take a gander at the food offerings before you start to pile it on your plate. If there is a dish you absolutely love and one that you could do without, skip the 2nd and splurge on that once a year item you dream about. People tend to think that just because there are extra side dishes, you have to take a spoonful of each one.. well my friends, that just isn't true. Take a few bites of each dish that you know you'll enjoy (healthy or not) and know that this isn't how you eat every day of the year. Suppressing your cravings when they are right in front of you will leave you more fulfilled and not needing to go back for seconds. 

Revisiting the multi-side dish extravaganza... I have a theory about why we overeat on this special day. My theory, is that people take the same amount of a side dish they would take at any other meal, not thinking about the fact that there are three to four times more side dishes than would be at a regular dinner. So, rather than taking smaller amounts of each dish to account for the plethora of offerings, we tend to stick to our habitual portion sizes for all of those glorious sides, soon to find our plate overflowing and our mouths watering. Now, if you fell into the trap this year, have no fear, you'll have a chance to practice moderation next year and the many more Thanksgivings to come!

We've talked about the main meal and shared two helpful tips, but what about dessert? That's right, the sugar laden pecan pie (of which I must admit... I am guilty of making this delectable treat), the classically creamy pumpkin pie, apple or berry pie with crusts to die for... get the picture? Dessert is one thing we have a hard time turning down, even when we already feel like we've eaten enough food for the next three days. My trick for this one? INDULGE. You heard me, take a small slice of each or an adequate portion of your ultimate favorite and treasure every single bite. Like I said, it is not every day that we eat in this way, and it's definitely not every day that we have multiple pies to choose from. Eating a little out of the ordinary, or out of your typical healthy habits for one day isn't going to cause any harm. If you want some pie, by all means, have some pie.

 Alright... enough tips and tricks for one day, let's take a look at the dishes that were enjoyed and highlight a few that I'll definitely be adding to my "must-make" list for next year...

My aunt cooks a mean turkey.. I mean, look at that color!
Dad's homemade gravy, nothing will ever top it.
Cranberry Pear Sauce from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen - the second year I've made it... truly delicious.

Salad with homemade dressing, pears, cranberries, candied pecans and blue cheese - need I say more?
Turkey (white and dark meat), stuffing cooked in the bird, stuffing cooked separately, fresh green beans, creamed onions, mamma's homemade mashers, lovely cranberry sauce, and my sister's to-die-for orange sweet potatoes. A feast it was, and it was all DELICIOUS.
Last but not least... my very own, homemade, Gluten Free Triple Berry Pie... I based the filling off of a recipe from, and followed this recipe from Simply Gluten Free for the crust-

½ cup unsalted butter or solid, all vegetable non-dairy shortening
2 to 4 tablespoons cold water (used 3T)
*1¼ cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend plus more for rolling (King Arthur)
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
dashes of almond extract

“Cut” shortening into flour; add salt and sugar and “cut” again; then add water and extract and mix.
Press between 2 layers of parchment paper with extra flour top and bottom.  Transfer to pie plate and press into sides and bottom.

Bake 20 minutes before filling.

Not that you aren't already wanting more, but here are a few recipes I plan to make next year, or perhaps, within the next week just for fun!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Ginger Snap Biscotti by Dixie Crystals Bake It Forward
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Bread by Gluten Free Goddess 
Gluten Free Stuffing Rolls by Living Without Magazine
Maple Pumpkin Blondies by Chockohlawtay

What recipes were your favorite this year? How about a recipe you'd love to turn into being gluten free!? If you share I ust might give it a go... :)

Happy eating!

November 22, 2012

Health For The Holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A time of year for family, food, laughs and of course... thanks!

Be thankful for the the people who surround you, the world you live in, and the love that abounds. And certainly, do not forget to be thankful for the person that you are and the health that you have.

This year, I'm doing something special, a big endeavor that I've never done before... Here, on It Really Works! we'll be celebrating the season with...

drum roll please...

 That's right! Beginning today, we will be sharing recipes, health tips, ingredient substitutions, guest bloggers, giveaways and more - all to help you enjoy the holidays to the fullest, while keeping in mind the importance of health. 

To start things off, tell me what you plan on doing for the holidays! What plans or goals do you have to live the happiest, healthiest holiday season yet!?

In the meantime, have a beautiful holiday, eat well, enjoy good company and most of all, be thankful.

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow! We'll take a look at some of the tastiest meals and share the recipes that brought us all together.

Happy Holidays!

October 6, 2012

Foodie Friday Recap


I've decided something... since Friday's are such an amazing day... the end of your work week, the start to your weekend, a night than can be spent out on the town followed by a lazy morning or a night than can be spent vegging out with a little R&R.

With all of this.. how could a Friday be any better?

Well, if your a fellow foodie like myself, you might suggest... a recap of delicious food consumed throughout the week... excuse me, a recap by pictures of course!

This being the first It Really Works FFR [c'mon folks, follow along... Foodie Friday Recap... a.k.a FFR ;-) ], I've decided to include a wealth of photos for your viewing pleasure. A little bit of "eye candy" if you will...

But first, let's lay down some ground rules. These FFRs will consist of only food-studded photos, a tid bit of author commentary and perhaps a little teasing to get you to come back for more. Did I miss something? Oh, yes, the recipes. That is one thing that will be left out... that's right, you'll be reeled in by mouth-watering images and left to wonder just how that creation came to be. I know, a little cruel... but I did warn you of the teasing, remember?

Foodie Friday greetings... check
FFR description... check
ground rules... double check

Okay, now that we've recapped this recap... let's check out that eye candy!

Big Banana Muffin with Chocolate Chips & Walnuts
Plum, peach & almond smoothie
Banana Pumpkin Spice Granola
You bet that jar is already empty!
Girls night appetizers... Bacon Wrapped Dates w/ Maple Olive Oil Dressing, Homemade Garlic Hummus, Homemade Pita Chips, and Italian Sausage Bites
A closer look at those Bacon Wrapped Dates... mouth-watering delicious!

September 19, 2012

Creamy Crunchy Salami Grape Salad

I have a new obsession... Sistema tupperware. Yea, I think I've officially crossed the line into "house-wife"status (although, let's be clear, I'm not actually a "wife" at all - making this transition that much more comical).

Yup. It's true. My simple pleasures in life include cooking and baking on rainy days (or sunny days for that matter), reading cooking light with my morning breakfast, cutting coupons and bookmarking recipes on foodgawker in my spare time. And now, to add to the mix, a love for innovative tupperware to suit all your on-the-go needs. (Wow, am I eighty?)

To justify this tupperware affection, let's take a look at the most amazing salad container I have ever seen. Sistema Klip It Salad-to-Go Container.