What I Ate: Recipe Development

I’ve been asked several times about what my diet looks like when I’m developing recipes, so today I thought I’d share a peek into that process.

granola bars and iced cupcakes

(Pictured above are two recipes from my cookbook— Nut-free & Grain-free “Granola” Bars and Chocolate Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream)

When I first started this blog, recipe development fit naturally into my routine– if I was craving a new salad dressing, casserole, or dessert on a particular day, I’d make it and eat it, and if it was good, I’d share it. (Rarely is an experiment bad enough that we won’t eat it, even if it’s not perfect enough to share.) If a recipe wasn’t good, it wasn’t a big deal; I just wouldn’t post anything on the blog that week.

I still have that mentality to some extent, in the fact that I’d rather post no recipe than a mediocre recipe, but at this point in time I do aim to post at least one new recipe each week. Not only does this weekly goal keep my own family’s meals new and interesting, but I love sharing my new ideas with you all, too! The last thing healthy eating should be is boring.

But, some weeks are easier than others. Sometimes a recipe pops into my head, I immediately have a good idea of how I want to make it, and it turns out perfectly on the first or second try. Other times, however, I get an idea in my head and it takes ten or more attempts to get it right… and sometimes I even have to abandon an idea all together. (Or at the very least, I have to take a break from it for a while to avoid total recipe burn-out.)

This week has been one of those weeks. I’ve been determined to make an easy gluten-free, egg-free, and coconut-free brownie recipe for the past week or two, and I’ve made SO MANY BROWNIES. Seriously, more pans of brownies than I can count. Some attempts have been good enough to eat, and some haven’t. But, they’re still not good enough to share… and that’s frustrating. A few of my attempts have actually turned into a pretty tasty chocolate cake, so I might end up sharing a cake recipe soon, instead! (That’s how some of my favorite recipes have been created, actually, while trying to develop something else. My dairy-free Klondike Bar recipe was the result of a failed Cadbury Creme Egg attempt.)

But, on the brownie front, I’m getting to that burn-out point. So, below you’ll see what my last day of brownie experimentation looked like.

peeled banana with a bite out of it, chocolate shake, salad on a plate, brownies, and a bowl of salad

7:30 am: Ripe Banana. I wake up at 6am for work, but I usually don’t have an appetite for breakfast until an hour or two later. My son took two bites of this banana before deciding he didn’t want any more, so I finished the rest!

9:00 am: Chocolate Superfood Smoothie. (Recipe will be included in the preorder “bonus pack” for anyone who orders my cookbook) I love this shake and drink it often– it’s loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and it tastes like a chocolate frosty from Wendy’s… so I could drink it everyday.

Noon: Chicken & Avocado Salad. I keep my meals pretty simple when I know I’m going to be in the kitchen for most of the afternoon. I had a big salad with half Romaine/half spring mix, topped with Date Vinaigrette (recipe in the Winter Detox program), half of a large avocado, chopped bell pepper, and leftover roasted chicken from the night before.

3:30pm: Two brownies. My workday ends at 3pm, which is when I have the “free time” to play around with recipe development… while my son is at my feet making a mess of my pantry. I made one batch of brownies right away, and tasted one warm from the oven, and later I tried one at room temperature. (Because to me, it’s important that they taste good at both temperatures!)

4:30 pm: Brownie Batter. The first batch wasn’t good enough, so I immediately made another batch with a few tweaks… and the batter tasted so good that I licked the spoon and bowl! I had a quick taste of the second batch while they were warm, but saved a full taste-test until after dinner, since they are quite filling– they’re loaded with nut butter and healthy fats, so they’re not exactly low in calories. I was feeling pretty full at that point! (If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I don’t determine if a food is “healthy” by its calorie count; to me, it’s much more important to eat whole foods that your body can recognize and assimilate, so you don’t throw your hormones out of whack.)

5:00 pm: No-Bake Bar Sample. I quickly made a new no-bake snack bar recipe, because I realized the brownies aren’t going to be ready to post this week. (The batter is un-pictured… I forgot to take a photo with my phone.) They turned out really well, and will be Austin’s grab-and-go breakfast for the rest of the work week!

7:30 pm: Chicken Salad with Gorgonzola. Again, I keep my meals pretty simple when I’ve been on my feet in the kitchen (and chasing a toddler) all day. Austin requested salads for dinner, so that made things easy enough. I chopped up three heads of Romaine for the two of us, and topped mine with assorted raw veggies, leftover roasted chicken, a couple handfuls of gorgonzola cheese, and dressed it generously with Orange Basil Dressing. (I probably used 4-6 tablespoons of dressing… it was a really big salad.)

8-ish: Another Brownie. After dinner, I ate a brownie from the second round this afternoon. It was fine, but not “good enough” to post yet. Ugh.

So, if you ever wonder why I haven’t posted a recipe when you expect me to… that’s why. Sometimes recipe experiments don’t turn out well, and I’d rather post nothing than bore you with a mediocre post or recipe.

Reader Feedback: What are YOU eating this week? Have you ever been determined enough to work on a recipe several times in the same week? When I taste something at a restaurant that I want to re-create, I usually have to make it right away, and sometimes several times, before I forget what the original tastes like!

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detox book and meal plan

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Comments

Laura ~ Raise Your Garden

Thanks for the reminder in regards to healthy fats. Agreed! I’m trying to do better by not looking at the calories and looking at the nutrias (such as an avocado) and weigh those pro’s. Because I think you are right, eating a poor diet throws you totally (hormones includes, yikes) out of whack. Even indulging in just a bit too much white sugar just makes me feel awful. I enjoyed reading about how you develop recipes, although I confess, I’ve sadly thrown a few things away recipes turned out so bad! I keep trying to make a cauliflower rice pizza crust with zero success. Frustrating so I can relate to your brownie blues. Good luck! I look forward to what you come up with.

Katie G

Thanks for the post! I can understand how frustrating it is not to get a good recipe out of several trys. But dont be discouraged, you’ll figure it out and in the meantime I’ll keep enjoying all your other great recipes. I especially love your salad dressing recipes, fits perfect with spring in the air and summer around the corner 🙂

Kate

Hi Detoxinista,

I love your website! I have been following it for a couple of years. Quick question: Are you still following food combining principles?

    Megan Gilmore

    Food combining principles are so engrained into my lifestyle at this point that I don’t have to think about it anymore– most of my meals are naturally combined because of that. However, I don’t stress about mis-combining a meal here and there, and when I’m developing recipes or making special treats I don’t worry about how I space my meals in terms of food combining. I did that for a while, and my life didn’t feel better for it, so now I just listen to my body and focus on eating whole foods that make me feel good– bothy physically and emotionally.

Sarah Roberts

I love getting a “behind-the-scenes” look at how you do your amazing work in the kitchen! Your recipes are fantastic, and it is so appreciated that you make sure each recipe is tested and perfected before they are passed along to us…thank you! We are happy to wait, if necessary, to be sure the recipe turns out! So many of your recipes have become staples in my kitchen, and I love turning friends and family on to you as well. Can’t wait for your book to be in my hands…I am sure it was a labor of love. Well done and thank you again for what you are bringing to the world!

Petra

I just want to say that I love your recipes. They a simple, with normal ingredients and just delicious. I’m looking forward to see what you’re brownie recipe will be like!

Anne

Your attention to detail really pays off. Many of your recipes have become favorites in my house. And yes, I can relate to repeating the same thing over again as I have done in my quest for Vanilla Wafers. I’ve come close, but not close enough. Maybe you could give them a try?

Cindy

Hi Megan! Thanks for all you do! Looking forward to that brownie recipe – they look really good! I’ll thank you in advance for that one – my husband loves brownies – me too! We had your banana peanut butter milkshake Saturday when we were headed out the door – it’s so good.

That Chocolate Superfood Smoothie looks great as well. When is the pre-order bonus pack available? When book arrives or prior? I pre-ordered your cookbook in February. I forgot about the winter detox – how long is that available?

Cindy

I have to second Anne’s comment! But I’ll say ALL of your recipes are favorites in our house! Yes, thanks for your attention to detail in recipes.

janice

Im with you…if I have something I love at a restaurant, I have to go right home and make it before I forget what it tastes like or what was in it! I find that trying new foods is the fun of eating out! It leaves me with ideas I wouldn’t normally have thought of. BTW, have you ever had a coconut butter brownie? I’ll bet you could do magic with one of those! Thanks for a peek into your busy, busy day. And always, thank you for taking the time to make new recipes, for taking the time, energy and ingredients to make sure they are delicious, and most especially for being willing to share! You have a gift!

Emily @ Glitz Glam Gluten-Free

Thank you so much for all that you do in creating delicious recipes for us! Yours are always the best and it’s clear from this post the amount of work that goes into them! I usually create recipes when I’m making something for dinner or a sweet treat to bring to a party and if it’s a success then I’ll post the recipe… I’m always bummed when something turns out delicious though and I haven’t taken any pictures or written down the exact recipe!

Brianna

I’m the same exact way when I want to re-create something from a restaurant. If we go out for lunch and I loved the meal, i have to make it that night! My husband gets so frustrated, because it happens quite often…haha 🙂

Jess @ Crunchy Hot Mama

I can’t imagine what it’s like to do recipe experiments…especially the cost. When I make a paleo recipe and it fails, it drives me nuts because the ingredients aren’t cheap! Thank you for all the hard work you to for us and for sharing your yummy, healthy recipes! I’m counting down the days for your cookbook to be in my hands 😀

Kimberly

I am super excited to see what you come up with on the brownies. We have been gluten free and egg free for a long while and still haven’t found one we like.

Corinne

Hi Megan, I can’t wait for your cookbook. Pics are a good tease! Sorry if this has already been asked, but is it available for preorder anywhere other than amazon?

Sharon

Megan, I just started receiving your detox emails. My question is, Do you have any good recipes that do not include eggs? I had a FOOD INTOLERANCE TEST about 6 months ago and I have to give up eggs! Ugh! I am looking for something for breakfast!!! I have made my version of pancakes with just almond flour and coconut flour with coconut milk but they fall apart!!!! Any ideas? Thanks so much!

Alison

I pre-ordered your book on Amazon a few weeks ago. When will the pre-order bonus pack be available? Will it be e-mailed? Thanks so much for all your hard work. My family and I really appreciate all your recipes.

    Megan Gilmore

    My publisher plans to release the bonus pack 4-6 weeks before the book’s release date, so it should be available sometime in April. I’ll be sure to post more details when it’s ready– you’ll just need to submit your receipt to receive it!

Kezia @ Super Naturally Healthy

I love this – makes me feel so much more human and that I am not the only one pulling hair out making recipes! I had been trying to make a beetroot red velvet cupcake recipe but got to burn out point so am taking a break! Love this insight thanks Megan!

Brynda

What about using avocado for a healthy fat in baking? I have made some yummy cookies replacing butter and oil with avocado. Your thoughts and ideas?

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