Jennifer Leigh


Recipe: Weekend Cashew Snack Bars

Congrats, we all made it halfway through Monday! I hope you had an amazing weekend celebrating the start of summer. We made new friends and enjoyed a private concert, by Ricky Vacca, in our neighborhood during this month’s Front Porch Friday. After an evening outside, we walked back to the house craving a late-night snack. Thankfully, I had made a batch of my Cashew Snack Bars. They were waiting all nice and chilled in the refrigerator.

These bars have been taste approved by friends of all dietary habits. That means, there is a BIG chance you will LOVE these bars!

cashew snack bar recipe gluten free paleo whole30This recipe is perfect for summer as the only baking equipment you need is a food processor. That means, no hot oven heating up your kitchen and home! Three organic, good-for-you ingredients make up this recipe. You might find you need to make two or three batches at a time.

gluten free cashew bar recipe

Cashew Snack Bar

A paleo friendly snack that also transforms into a delectable dessert! Dates, coconut and cashews are the only items from your pantry you will need for this amazing recipe.
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Paleo, Whole30

Recipe: Gluten Free Paleo Blueberry Banana Bread

I am sending you your Monday recipe one day late! My apologies, dear friends. Life just runs a bit slower now that I’m 35. Just kidding. Yesterday, was a total Monday. One of those days where nothing goes right and you long for a new day to begin. So, it’s Tuesday and all is well with the world again.

The recipe for today is an easy to make bread. It is paleo friendly, gluten free and dairy free. I had all the ingredients at home, minus the fresh fruit. I love when that happens! Try out this Blueberry Banana Bread and let me know what you think.

Just a little tip…make sure to bake this a little longer than you might think. It is a moist bread and quite tasty if cooked all the way. 🙂

gluten free dairy free paleo blueberry bread recipe

Gluten Free Paleo Blueberry Banana Bread

A fresh take on breakfast bread! The flavors of banana, blueberry, coconut and almonds are the perfect combination for an on-the-go snack or warmed in the oven for breakfast.

Recipe: Paleo Skillet Meal

I am posting on Thursday this week, rather than my usual Friday morning, because tomorrow is my 35th birthday! Nick is taking me out to breakfast so I’m sure you’ll see evidence of all the foodie goodness on my Instagram feed.

Breakfast is my FAVORITE! Anyone else feel the same way?  I’ve cut back on my coffee habit over the past couple weeks and I can’t wait to sip a glorious cup of caffeine with my eggs, sausage and fresh fruit. Enough about my food daydreams. I want to share my recipe from today’s lunch with you: Zucchini Beef Paleo Skillet Meal.

I prefer lunch to be as easy as possible. No one needs to slave in the kitchen for hours just to have a healthy lunch. Leftovers are the best meal option; however, I was completely out today. This paleo skillet meal came to my rescue. The main ingredients are grass feed ground beef, organic chunky salsa and fresh, organic zucchini. You mix it, cook it in a skillet with a few seasonings and you are done!

The best part about this recipe is the salsa. I use Earth Fare’s Organic Mild Salsa. It is fresh, chunky and tastes amazing in this dish.

paleo dinner recipe beef zucchini skillet gluten free

Paleo Skillet Meal: Zucchini Beef

This easy to make Paleo skillet recipe is ready to devour in 30 minutes or less! What makes this meal one of our favorites, is Earth Fare's Organic Mild Salsa.
Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free, Paleo Friendly

Recipe: Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding

I’m halfway through my birthday week and the cravings for birthday cake have already started! When making a big change in your life, like a healthy diet, having alternatives to fill the gap can help you be successful. For instance, removing processed sugar from your diet is a tough, courageous yet totally worthwhile change to make. However, if you remove everything sweet in your life, you may find yourself binge eating. For this reason, I prefer to have sweet, healthy alternative snacks in my home. When those cravings come, I am ready for them!

Last night, I baked one of our favorite snacks, Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding. This is an extremely simple recipe with only four ingredients. If you are new to a healthy diet, your brain will tell your taste buds to expect a creamy, milk chocolate dessert. However, this chocolate pudding is made with 100% cacao beans. It may be a bit bitter to you. Do not fear. Re-training your taste buds is a process and you will find this pure form of chocolate is quite satisfying!

dairy free, gluten free chocolate pudding recipe

Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding

A dairy free, guilt free snack perfect for those hot summer days or late night cravings! Only 4 ingredients make up this sweet dessert and it's ready in 15 minutes or less.
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-Free, and Paleo friendly.

Recipe: Protein Power Bars

Wow! How did another week pass me by?! Started my Friday a little rushed today. Ever have one of those mornings where your alarm doesn’t go off because your iPhone decided to run updates during the night? My gym buddy and I woke up 30 minutes late and rushed out the door to the gym.

Friday is leg day and it is so important to have a good mind-muscle connection. Otherwise, it is too easy to pull a muscle or worse, injure yourself. We warmed up with a 20-minute cardio session and started the workout with squats and deadlifts. I’ve been reading The Body Sculpting Bible for Women and learning about proper weight lifting form. I put the tips I learned into good use and was able to increase my weight across all my sets! Those extra 30 minutes of sleep and proper form made a huge difference.

To prepare for another weekend at the pool, I decided to make Protein Power Bars this morning. These are stored in the refrigerator, which make for a nice cool snack. I figure, if I keep my stomach full, I can say no to all those pizza cravings that much easier! Have a safe and healthy weekend everyone.

almond walnut gluten free dairy free protein bar recipe

gluten free paleo friendly protein bar recipe shinewithjl

Protein Power Bars

Three step recipe with no oven required! Get out your food processor and make these healthy protein bars today. They are the perfect in-between meal snack. These bars are a nutty mixture of almonds and walnuts combined with the sweet, refreshing flavor of coconut. As these energy-packed bars are stored in the refrigerator, they make a cool summer snack.
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-Free, and Paleo friendly.

Recipe: Gluten Free Lemon Cookies

It’s the first week of June and things are starting to heat up down here in North Carolina. When it gets hot, I crave refreshing foods. Lemon flavored desserts not only clear the palette but perfectly end any meal. I recently found a recipe for Gluten Free Lemon Cookies that have been a hit with my husband. They don’t last long and I think I’ll be baking double batches next time!

What I love about this recipe is the simple ingredient list, how fast these cookies are ready to eat and the fluffy, moist texture. We keep these in the refrigerator for a fresh, chilled dessert. They are great straight out of the oven as well. You can’t go wrong with these cute cookies!

gluten free paleo lemon cookie recipe

Gluten Free Petite Lemon Cookies

These fresh, lemon cookies are prepared in less than thirty minutes and yield a dozen or so cookies. A perfect snack or dessert that is Paleo friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free and egg-free!

Kite Hill Dairy Free Cream Cheese Review + Crockpot Recipe

Memorial Day weekend, I learned my lesson. Never walk into a weekend unprepared. I was coming off of a week of traveling and had not properly planned meals. This left us watching everyone at the pool eating pizzas, drinking sodas and snacking on chips. We were craving everything that’s terrible for you. Then we made the mistake of venturing to the grocery store.

While falling off the healthy diet wagon looks quite different from individual to individual, for us it equates to binging on chips, cashew ice cream, gluten free pizza and cookies. We were not off to a great start after our holiday weekend. I was determined to do better.

The neighborhood pool has opened up for the summer season. We enjoy spending Saturday and Sunday morning soaking up a little Vitamin D. This means I need to plan healthy pool snacks and have lunch ready for when we walk home.

Friday morning, I got the crockpot out and made Chicken Enchilada Chili. As you know, Mexican recipes are full of dairy and I am always on the lookout for tasty alternatives. This recipe called for 8 ounces of cream cheese. I haven’t had cream cheese in years and I wasn’t aware of any dairy free options on the market. During my weekly visit to Earth Fare, I noticed Kite Hill had a few flavors. We love their yogurt so I had a good feeling about their cream cheese.

I picked up the Kite Hill Plain Cream Cheese Style Spread for my chili recipe and the Kite Hill Chive Cream Cheese Style Spread with a few gluten free bagels as a treat for myself. The next morning, after a pretty intense leg workout, I decided to reward myself with a bagel. The chive almond milk cream cheese spread smoothly and the consistency was similar to dairy cream cheese. The spread was packed with flavor but the chives and white pepper were not overpowering! If you are on a Paleo diet, I know this cream cheese would pair well with veggies rather than my Udi’s bagels.

The Chicken Enchilada provided easy meals all weekend long and it was super creamy thanks to Kite Hill’s plain cream cheese! My husband loved this recipe and I am adding it to my rotating meal schedule. We topped the chili off with Kite Hill’s Plain yogurt as our sour cream alternative paired with our favorite guacamole.

dairy free gluten free chicken enchilada chili

Crockpot Gluten Free Chicken Enchilada Chili Recipe

Crockpot Gluten Free Chicken Enchilada Chili

This chili takes about 15 minutes to put together, cooks all day and leaves you with meals that last all weekend!

Gluten Free, Dairy Free

2017 Spring Trip to NH + Skillet Recipe

Morning, Ya’ll! I’m back from spending a week in my home state of New Hampshire. There is something special about spring in New England. The beauty of the crisp morning air, birds singing, ombre shades of green everywhere you look and all the locals smiling at the sun as they soak in its warmth! Even though I’m a Southern gal now, I still remember how good it felt to have the snowy, winter months behind me and summer days at the lake awaiting me.

Where i ate

Today was my second day back at the gym after a week of rest and traveling. I managed to stay on my Paleo, gluten free diet almost the entire trip. My first morning in the Lakes Region, I took my grandfather and brother out to eat at Kitchen Cravings. I had my usual plate of scrambled eggs, fruit and sausage with a much needed cup of coffee. This restaurant is my go-to for gluten free breakfast when I’m visiting NH.

Kitchen Cravings Gilford NH Gluten Free Breakfast
Kitchen Cravings of Gilford, NH

Family Together Drinking Coffee at Kitchen Cravings NH

I had to share a portrait of my grandfather and I. We have been going to to breakfasts together at Kitchen Cravings for years now. It’s “our place”. I loved how we even had matching coffee mugs. On a side note, this was day 2 of my curls refreshed with my handy-dandy spritzer bottle I packed with me. This was the first time I traveled “curly”. Much thanks to Controlled Chaos Curl Creme!

On day 2 of my trip, I allowed myself to split a vegetarian, GF pizza with my mom at Giuseppe’s in Meredith, NH. We sat outside, listened to the roaring waterfall behind us and chatted about our day spent with my niece and nephew. It was perfect.

Mill Falls Marketplace Where to Eat Gluten Free
Mill Falls Marketplace

When I visit my family, I try to be a good influence by cooking a meal or two. This trip I made one of my favorite skillet meals. It is pretty simple and easy to remember. The main ingredients are sweet potato, asparagus and chicken! This is also a fabulous weight training meal and is dairy free, gluten free and grain free.

Sweet Potato asparagus chicken skillet

sweet potato chicken skillet with calphalon serving utensils

Sweet Potato Asparagus Chicken Skillet

An easy to make and perfectly balanced meal consisting of:

  • Protein: Chicken
  • Complex, Starchy Carbohydrate: Sweet Potato
  • Complex, Fibrous Carbohydrate: Asparagus.

Controlled Chaos Curl Creme Product Review

This blog is for all my curly girl friends out there. The daily struggle of hoping our curls play nice, stay frizz-free and look naturally beautiful is quite stressful. I am guilty of spending hours and hours of my life straightening my mane as it was the only way to control it. I have tried hundreds of products and have thrown out most of them. Nothing solved my daily routine woes until I tried Controlled Chaos Curl Creme.

curl cream product review controlled chaosThe first time I heard about this curl cream miracle was on Shark Tank back in January of 2016. I wasn’t too interested in the price tag and continued to use my drugstore products. When I decided to take the plunge and purchase the product, they were sold out. I finally received my Controlled Chaos Curl Creme a few weeks ago. That is over a year since seeing the pitch on Shark Tank!

I prefer to use a product for a good amount of time before giving my feedback. I’ve tried so many curl products that worked great the first couple times and then left my hair a mess afterward. Controlled Chaos Curl Creme is on a winning streak so far!

Here is a photo of me the first time I tried Controlled Chaos Curl Creme. As you can tell, I’m pretty happy with the results. I admit, I’m not the best “selfie” taker, but you can see how my curls are soft and defined.

long curly hair with controlled chaos curl cremeAfter using the product for a few weeks, I prefer to use a leave-in conditioner with the curl cream. My hair needs just a little extra moisture to be completely frizz free. Kinky-Curly Knot Today is a fantastic conditioner. I use a quarter-sized amount and comb it through my hair while my hair is still wet. I then work Controlled Chaos Curl Creme through my hair scrunching and twisting the curls in their natural curl pattern. I immediately diffuse my hair until it is about 80% dry, let it dry completely and then tease it a bit around my scalp for extra volume.

curl defining product duo, kinky curly, controlled chaosI will not do this review justice unless I mention that this product is also gluten, sulfate and paraben free! Go out there and try it today. Controlled Chaos Curl Creme has helped me love my curls again!

3 Days in Charleston: Where to Stay and Play Gluten Free

Last March my husband, Nick, and I celebrated our six-year wedding anniversary. Every year we travel someplace fun. With our recent move and home purchase, we thought it best to find a place close to Charlotte. We chose Charleston, South Carolina. It is a quick four-hour road trip from the Queen City.

Charleston Day 1

We arrived at our hotel in the heart of the city ready to see and do everything Charleston had to offer. King Charles Inn was the perfect location for walking to all the tourist spots and best restaurants. The staff welcomed us with an anniversary card, champagne and chocolates. With half the day left to sight see and eat, we chose to browse King Street, walk Historic Charleston City Market and have dinner at Sticky Fingers Ribhouse. They had an entire gluten free menu but my favorite item was the sticky potato skins! It was early to bed afterward as we planned a sunrise photo shoot the next morning with Charleston Photography Tours.

King Street Charleston SunriseCharleston Day 2

Charleston Photography Tours picked us up and brought us to Folly Beach to photograph the sunrise. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky; however, I was still able to capture beautiful colors reflected in the calm sea water. Our second location for the tour was Edisto Island where we photographed the Spanish moss hanging from the tree-lined the streets.

We returned to the city around 1:00 PM and headed to lunch immediately. There was a Mellow Mushroom on King Street just a couple minutes walk from the hotel. We scarfed down the Kosmic Karma pizza and headed toward Waterfront Park. A cruise ship had just arrived and the street corners were packed with people. We decided to go the opposite direction of the crowds and hit up the Battery (White Point Garden). As dinner approached, I felt the need to indulge my sweet tooth and have dessert for dinner. I had heard Kaminsky’s had gluten free goodies. The dessert cafe was packed with tourists but we happened to get the last, quiet table in the back. Unfortunately, the only gluten free options were a flourless chocolate cake and milkshakes. The cake was good, but I think I’d save my calories for a different restaurant.

Charleston Day 3

As we had covered so much ground on day 2, we thought we deserved a spontaneous, low-key day. We opened Kitchen 208 at 7:00 AM and had the outdoor patio seating all to ourselves. I could have had breakfast and finished my day satisfied. I ordered the Cobblestone Sandwich with gluten free bread, a side of fresh fruit and coffee.

After we finished reveling in the greatness that was our breakfast, we walked to Rainbow Row. I wanted to capture the thirteen houses with the warm morning sunrise enriching their pastel colors. Along the way, we stopped for a snack and pit stop at Bakehouse Charleston. They are a cute coffee shop on East Bay Street that offers gluten free snacks, smoothies and coffee. We purchased a homemade protein bar and wandered along the street until reaching Rainbow Row.

We continued our stroll to the Battery and stopped to enjoy the warmth of the spring sunshine as we took in the beautiful homes. Since we started the day so early, the streets were quiet and void of other tourists. We took advantage of this and found ourselves wandering along back alleys and streets. The backyards of Charleston homes may be small, but every square inch is a landscaped oasis.

Around lunch time we found ourselves at the Four Corners. Each corner of the street has a building representing different legal jurisdictions: St. Michael’s Episcopal Church (God’s law), Charleston City Hall (city law), the Charleston County Courthouse (state law) and the Federal Courthouse (federal laws). We followed Broad Street East as we heard there was an amazing sandwich shop, Brown Dog Deli, one block away. They will make any sandwich you want gluten free. I had the classic Philly and Nick had Turkey in the Straw. Be sure to plan extra time as more than likely there will be a wait to “eat in”. We sat outside in the covered backyard.

We spent the afternoon shopping on King Street and mead tasting at the Savannah Bee Company. To finish our day or touristy-goodness, we rode a horse drawn carriage around the city. I highly recommend Old South Carriage Company. Our tour guide was personable and full of fun facts about the area. We felt fortunate to have walked most of the streets the tour brought us down. It helped us understand where we had been.

We finished the day watching the sunset at Waterfront Park and dinner at Minero Restaurant. Just as I had read, they were quite knowledable when it came to gluten free options. Our favorite menu item was our appetizer of guacomole and warm corn chips.

As you can see, three days in Charleston is plenty of time to experience a majority of the tourist sights. We still have a few more things to see on our list. However, the next time we visit, we’ll be spending most of our time eating. Charleston is one of the first cities I’ve visited where I never had to worry about where I would be able to eat next. That very fact makes it a perfect vacation spot.