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Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food

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If you’re looking for a sweet and salty snack, try this travel-savvy recipe. These Sweet and Salty Trail Mix Bars make a perfect snack by the pool or on a picnic in the summer. They even fit nicely in your backpack for long hikes. Filled with nutritious ingredients such as quinoa, sunflower seeds and yogurt, this light and crunchy—and a little nutty—recipe is a healthier alternative to prepackaged, high-sodium snacks. Best of all, it’s gluten-free!

This recipe comes courtesy Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Sweet Salty Trail Mix Bar 

Mary's Sweet and Salty Trail Mix Bar Recipe

• 1 3/4 cups chocolate chips, divided
• 1 1/2 cups Mary’s Gone Crackers Sea Salt Pretzels, broken into small pieces
• 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
• 1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
• 1/4 cup brown rice flour
• 1/4 cup almond flour
• 1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (or any plain vegan yogurt)
• 4 tablespoons palm oil
• 3/4 cup sunflower seed butter
• 1/2 cup palm sugar
• 1/3 cup honey (or brown rice syrup, or tapioca syrup)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with an organic nonstick cooking spray. In a double broiler, melt 1 cup chocolate chips and pour evenly into the pan to create a chocolate base.

3. In a large bowl, combine pretzel pieces, quinoa flakes, cranberries, sunflower seeds, almonds, brown rice flour, almond flour and yogurt. Set aside.

4. Melt palm oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sunflower seed butter, palm sugar, honey and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

5. Pour palm mixture into the dry pretzel mixture and stir quickly to thoroughly coat. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan and press firmly and evenly. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.

6. After baking, immediately sprinkle toasted coconut flakes over bars. Melt remaining 3/4 cup of chocolate and drizzle over bars. Let the bars cool completely in pan on a wire rack in the refrigerator before cutting into bars. Keep bars in the refrigerator as they contain yogurt. Makes 35 to 45 bars.

Mary’s Gone Crackers is committed to manufacturing the best-tasting, wheat-free and gluten-free baked goods using the highest quality, organically grown ingredients.


Am I alone in saying that family meals sometimes require several different versions of the same dish or a couple completely different dishes altogether? I think not.

That goes for just about everything. I’m sure everyone has had to prepare eggs at least three different ways for one breakfast at one point in their life. Or, make four different turkey sandwiches for one picnic. People like what they like. As a self-proclaimed “Super Mom”, I like to please them all.

Personally, I follow a mostly gluten-free diet. I still love traditional foods, but I currently love finding new ways to make the classics with gluten-free ingredients. My husband is not gluten-free and doesn’t really care to join me on this wagon. Almost daily, I make my Husband and I different versions of the same dish. For example: when making his all-time favorite Chicken Pot Pie, I make a version for myself with gluten-free biscuits and added greens. I do the same when baking or packing lunches.

The other day, I noticed I had a whole bunch of overripe bananas. As they say, “when life hands you spotted bananas, make banana bread!” Keeping with the trend, hubby gets traditional banana bread and I make a gluten-free and extra-nutritious version for myself. Here are my favorite recipes that I’ve created for both.

Banana Bread
Photo by Malorie Davis

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Recipe with Blueberries

• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (or coconut oil)
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/4 cup coconut flour
• 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoons ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 mashed bananas
• 2 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease a loaf pan with butter or coconut oil.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, maple syrup, bananas and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

4. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and flaxseed meal by stirring with a fork.

5. Combine the two mixtures and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Fold in the blueberries.

6. Bake for 50 minutes or until the center is cooked through and tested with a toothpick.

Traditional Banana Bread Recipe with Walnuts

• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 3 1/2 extra-ripe bananas, mashed
• 2 cups all purpose flour (can sub whole wheat)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease two loaf pans with butter or coconut oil. I used muffin pans and paper liners here.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas until thoroughly combined.

4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg by stirring with a fork.

5. Combine the two mixtures and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Fold in the walnuts.

6. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the center is cooked through and tested with a toothpick. If baking muffins, bake for 25 minutes.

Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife, and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.


Granola bars serve as the perfect on-the-go snack. And the options are endless: crunchy, chewy, chocolate, peanut butter, nuts…the list goes on. These yummy bars may seem to be healthy, but many conventional granola bars are loaded with added sugars and preservatives and the worst offender of all: high-fructose corn syrup. Steer clear of the bad guys and instead reach for one of these taste-tested and ingredient-approved healthy granola bars.

Granola Bars

Simple Squares Organic Snack Bar: Sage

With subtle hints of sage, this savory snack bar combines sweet honey with earthy elements. Simple Squares uses only five simple ingredients: nuts, honey, vanilla, sea salt and herbs. They are USDA certified organic, gluten-free and non-GMO. 1 bar, $2.49

Cascadian Farm Organic: Crunchy Peanut Butter

Perfectly toasted oats and creamy peanut butter pair well in these crunchy granola bars from Cascadian Farm Organic. They are free of artificial flavors and preservatives and made with certified organic ingredients. Box of 10, $4Editors Pick

Bobo’s Oat Bars: Original

Gooey and subtly sweet, these granola bars are a treat. Bobo’s Oat Bars are made with non-GMO, natural and organic ingredients and they are Kosher certified. 1 bar, $2.79

Annie’s Homegrown: Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookie

Made from gluten-free toasted whole grain oats and cinnamon, Annie’s Homegrown Oatmeal Cookie chewy granola bar tastes more like a cookie than the healthy snack bar it disguises as. You won’t find any artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives in these bars, just plain goodness. Box of 5, $4.69

Kashi: Chocolate, Almond & Sea Salt with Chia

These chewy, flavorful granola bars boast a perfect sweet and salty combination. Made with whole grains and nutritional chia seeds and sans high-fructose corn syrup, Kashi Chocolate Almond and Sea Salt is pure enjoyment. Box of 6, $4

Victoria Pitcher is Web Editor at Mother Earth Living. Find her on .


One chill and cloudy spring day, after a walk with my newborn around the neighborhood, I returned home with a craving for something comforting. Not quite dinnertime, a teatime treat seemed appropriate. The baby was taking a nap longer than her usual, which gave me the feeling of wanting to celebrate the occasion. “Me time,” I thought. “Cookies!” I accidentally shouted out.

New mother’s can relate—I wasn’t sure how long my “tea for one” party would last. Something quick, a one-bowl cookie would do. I grabbed my favorite old mixing bowl and a spatula and opened the pantry. I spotted some shredded coconut and raw cashews I had leftover from a Thai dish I made a few nights before. Macaroons made sense. After I asked myself, “What else do I have in here?” I saw the dark chocolate chips and decided they could join in on the fun.

It’s not my first instinct to grab sugar or flour. I turned to my old friends, coconut flour and honey and started to mix. Everything in the bowl, everything combined. Bake, bam, and done. The perfect little macaroons or cookies (whatever you want to call them) came out of the oven, nearly beating the scream of the teakettle. Much to my delight, I got to enjoy my tea and cookies before the baby woke.

Chocolate Chip Macaroons Recipe
Photo by Malorie Davis

Despite the slight rush, these cookies came out delicious. I’ve fallen in love with the recipe and have made them twice since. If you have young children, this would be the perfect recipe to bake with them, as it’s the no-fuss type. They’d also be great to whip up as a last-minute gift or offering.

Coconut Cashew Chocolate Chip Macaroons Recipe

• 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
• 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
• 1/2 cup dark or semi sweet chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup chopped cashews

1. Mix everything in a bowl until well combined.

2. Use your hands or an ice cream scoop to form balls of cookie dough.

3. Place on a cookie sheet, 1 to 2 inches apart and gently pressed down in the center with your fingers.

4. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Will keep in an airtight container for approximately 5 days.

Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife, and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.


Living in the Southern California Wine Country, lunch with friends at a small winery tends to happen often. With hiking or trail running as my workout of choice, my lunch is often a light picnic I pack with me and enjoy before heading down the other side of the mountain. Whether it’s a winery, a park, a mountaintop, or your own backyard, picnics are kind of magical. Most importantly, it’s a way to “get out” without having to worry about the toxic ingredients hidden in restaurant food.

Personally, I follow a mostly gluten- and dairy-free diet. However, I always pack a baguette to please my picnic buddy and invite them to bring along some good quality cheese. With that being said, here’s what I pack in my picnic basket.

Jar of Olives

Healthy Picnic Foods

• Water
• Hard-boiled eggs
• Seasonal fruit
• Marinated olives  
• Pea Pesto (recipe below)
• Steamed Asparagus
• Sliced tomatoes
• A small jar of local olive oil
• Gluten-free crackers
• Baguette
• Cloth napkins
• Silverware

To be kind to Mother Earth, I pack my food in mason jars and wrap them in my cloth napkins before placing them in my basket. A cooler or a backpack with ice is also convenient, if you prefer. A few simple items are all you need for a satisfying and light lunch. I use the pea pesto for the hard-boiled eggs, while friends usually pair it with the baguette and cheese. The steamed asparagus and tomatoes usually get a drizzle of olive oil and fruit is saved for dessert. Of course, there are no rules when it comes to what types of food to bring. Smoked fish, broccoli salad, or veggie sandwiches are some of my other favorites.

Pea Pesto

Simple Pea Pesto Recipe

• 2 cups peas, shelled or thawed
• Juice and zest of 1 lemon
• 1 clove garlic
• 1/2 cup unsalted walnuts
• Pinch of sea salt
• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Place all ingredients, excluding the olive oil, in a blender or a food processor and blend to combine.

2. When peas are broken down and the mixture is almost smooth, add the olive oil and blend just to combine.

3. Place in a jar or airtight container. This pesto will keep refrigerated for up to one week.

4. Serve on pasta, gnocchi, potatoes, eggs, bread, or as a dip for vegetables.

Photos by Malorie Davis

Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife, and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.


It doesn’t get much simpler than this muffin recipe. Swap conventional flour with Pamela’s gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free artisan flour blend and you have a quick and easy gluten-free breakfast.

Gluten-Free Muffins
Photo courtesy Pamela's

Easy Gluten-Free Muffin Recipe

• 2 cups Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs, large
• 1 cup milk, cream, milk alternative, sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk
• 3/4 cup sugar or light brown sugar, packed
• 8 tablespoon oil, butter or butter alternative, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 1/2 cup fruit, like berries, banana, grated apple, etc.


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together all liquids. Add dry to wet and combine. Stir in fruit.

3. Grease or line muffin tin with papers. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 14 to 25 minutes, depending on fruit. Toothpick should come out clean. Yield 12 Muffins

From classic baked goods to comfort food craves, Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend has got you covered. Substitute cup for cup all-purpose flour with this gluten- wheat- and dairy-free flour blend. The baking possibilities are nearly endless!


Summer is just around the corner and what better pairing than yogurt and berries? June will ripen the season’s first strawberries, raspberries and cherries; when summer is in full swing you will want to fill your basket with huckleberries, blueberries, marionberries and perhaps even a few gooseberries.

Homemade yogurt is a cinch! You may be under the misconception that you need a yogurt maker to create fresh yogurt, but although these machines are helpful and create the ideal environment for fermentation, they are completely unnecessary!

Homemade Yogurt

Most of the tools needed you probably have around your house:

• quart canning jar
• fluffy kitchen towel
• kitchen twine or rubber bands
• an instant-read thermometer
• spoon or whisk
• oven or a warm area in your home

You’ll start with a scoop of store-bought yogurt (you can eventually use your homemade yogurt as a culture starter). Something to pay attention to when purchasing store-bought yogurt is that the ingredient list includes, “Live Active Yogurt Cultures.”  The live cultures are necessary for turning the milk into yogurt.

How to Make Victoria’s Homemade Yogurt

• 3 3/4 cups whole milk
• 1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat until an instant-read thermometer reaches 180 degrees F.  Pour into a heatproof the quart canning jar or a heat-proof glass bowl and allow the milk to cool until the thermometer reaches 115 degrees F.

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

3. Once the milk reaches 115 degrees F, stir in the yogurt and cover with plastic wrap or the canning jar lid. 

4. Wrap the bowl or jar in a large, thick dish towel and secure with string or rubber bands.  Put into the oven and immediately turn off the heat.  Let the yogurt sit until slightly thickened, 10-20 hours.*

5. Remove the towels and chill the yogurt for at least 2 hours before serving. Yields: 1 quart

*This is the fermentation stage; the longer the yogurt sits the more tart it will become.

Victoria Greenstreet is inspired by seasonal ingredients.  Her focus is whole foods and gluten-free cookery.  She is a classically trained chef, freelance food writer, stylist and photographer. She is currently working on her first cookbook. Visit her blog Honey Dumplings for more recipes and culinary adventures.

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