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Five Happy Whole Food Ingredients- Guest Post with Marla Meridith


I’m so excited to share a special guest with you today!!  I want to welcome Marla Meridith, of Family Fresh Cooking to TidyMom!!  Be prepared to be blown away by Marla’s philosophy and photography!!  When you’re finished reading her post here…..head over to her blog and be inspired!


It is wonderful to guest post here at TidyMom. Thank you Cheryl for having me stop by to share some goodies with your readers. I know a lot of you, but let me introduce myself to those of you I haven’t met. My name is Marla and I am the creator of the blog Family Fresh Cooking. I am a healthy recipe developer who is passionate about everything food. I love concepting recipes, cooking, styling, and photographing food. My kids and husband are my recipe testers. We are an active family, I keep everyone feeling fit and strong by serving up whole foods with healthy fats and virtually no sugars. Great taste is everything and we never deprive ourselves, as food is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Certain ingredients are rock star foods and that is all there is to it.  They taste awesome and the bonus is they pack in a whole bunch of nutrients. Everything we eat should taste great right? Here is a sampling of 5 of our favorite ingredients and how we like to use them. As you will see a lot of the ingredients overlap in my recipes because I can’t get enough of them.


Oh have I been smitten by coconut in everything these days. From coconut milk to coconut flour, unrefined coconut oil and the unsweetened flakes. I use it in recipes all the time. In some recipes I use all of those coconutty ingredients at once. A while back coconut had a bad reputation as being an oil that was not good for us. Studies today say that as long as we use the unrefined products, coconut has huge health benefits. Now let’s eat some coconut! I love to use it in sweets and savories.


Berries thrill me. These little bite sized fruits offer up loads of nutrition, they are pretty and they burst with juicy flavor. I cannot pick my favorite from raspberries to blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries…..I use them any which way I can. Of course berries are great out of hand. I also bake them into quick breads, muffins, cakes and cookies. Use them in yogurt parfaits. Make tasty salads and sauces with them too.


Old fashioned rolled oats, steel cut, oat bran, Irish….they are all great to me. Oats are powerhouses of fiber and energy, they can be enjoyed in so many ways. From a steamy bowl of oatmeal to baked inside a meatloaf instead of breadcrumbs. Oats are a versatile, inexpensive ingredient that are a great source of high energy carbs even for folks who are gluten free. Lately I have been using oat flour in most of my baking. It adds a wonderful texture and more flavor than traditional flour.

Sweet Potatoes

All year round I keep bright orange sweet potatoes on the counter and cans of the purée in the pantry. Not only are they filled with vitamins and minerals but they are packed with flavor. They are great roasted, baked into french fries, tossed in salads and even in sweet dessert crisps.

Peanut Butter

We love nuts and I am so happy there are no allergies to them here. Jars and jars of all kinds of nut butter are enjoyed here each month. Nuts satisfy, taste great and sustain energy for long periods of time. They are packed with healthy fats. I always buy all natural nut butters with no additives other than a pinch of sea salt. Crunchy or not, it’s all good.

Creator Family Fresh Cooking - welcome page on recipe blog.


Feel free to contact me if you would like product suggestions, comments or to say “hi.” I can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon and at the local coffee shop. Find more of my recipes and healthy lifestyle tips on my blog Family Fresh Cooking.


more by Cheryl »

Cheryl Sousan

A self-proclaimed neat freak, Cheryl chronicles her journey through homemaking on her blog, TidyMom.net, where she shares recipes, tutorials, crafting and her ever-growing love for photography. This St. Louis mom juggles her passion for life, her daughters and her tiger-loving husband, all while her obsession with tidiness cleans up the trail blazed behind her. Google+


  1. Thrilling!!! I am very honored and touched to be on the pages of your gorgeous blog Cheryl. We are a great match indeed 🙂
    Thank you & have a delicious day. xxoo

  2. Thank you for giving us Marla!! LOL…..Love her and of course, you too!!
    I’m jumping over to her blog now!

  3. Awesome post! I love all the healthy tips Marla shares. Everything is always so beautiful, bright, and looks delicious!

  4. Pingback: — Family Fresh Cooking

  5. This is a great post Marla! Thanks for introducing us all to Tidy Mom too. I’m excited to add this blog to my list!

  6. wow you have such awesome recipes in ur blog,..will sure chk,..-)

  7. These dishes/treats look tasty and gorgeous! No deprivation, that’s for sure. I’ll definitely visit Marla’s site.

  8. Fantastic tips, Marla! Gorgeous recipes.

  9. Oh my goodness! I’m hungry and in awe all at the same time. I was blessed with good healthy eaters, but I’m always low on ideas! This is an incredible resource! Love! Nice to meet you Marla, I’m a new fan!

  10. I seriously want to try EVERYTHING linked here! Or maybe Marla can just some to my house? 😉 Cheryl, can you arrange that?

    • Bridget, you got it. If you buy me an airline ticket I am all yours 😉 I’ll cook up whatever you like, but you gotta send me home with goodies for my kids.

  11. Hi Marla! These all look so yummy! I have been using coconut oil lately, too – it’s nice to know what it is, instead of the vague “vegetable” oil that I was using before. Thanks for visiting Cheryl’s awesome site! xo

    • Michelle, I use so few ingredients – if I am gonna use something it better have flavor. You are right, unflavored oils are pointless when we can have yummies like coconut oil.

  12. I’m so happy to see a guest post from you Marla. I just adore your blog and wish you could cook and bake for me! Wow, I’ll take a bite of each please! The very blueberry cake is especially calling my name. 😉

    • Lindsey, as I mentioned to Bridget. Fly me out & i’ll cook and bake everything you need 😉 That blueberry cake was crazy good I gotta say.

  13. What a great blog and good to know that I’m not the only one who is trying to incorporate these ingredients into our everyday diets. I started replacing oat flour (just grind oats up in your blender 😉 years ago for coating my chicken in and now I replace most of the white flour in all my recipes with it. We also starting using coconut alot this year and I’m still trying to find many reicpes for using the actual oil itself. As far as berries…well we try to eat one raw meal a day and usually I’m in a time crunch so I’m always making a spinach berry shake…with the coconut oil…and it tastes like a fancy dacquiari or collada. Thanks for sharing this blog with us Cheryl. Fondly, Roberta

    • Roberta, I do the same to make the oat flour. It is so simple to grind those oats up in my food processor! They are great “breading” for chicken cutlets & chicken nuggets. Love the idea of your healthy daiquiri. Yum! The inclusion of spinach is interesting. As time goes on I will be posting more recipes using coconut oil. In most of my baked goods you can just swap out the butter and use equal ratios of coconut oil instead.

  14. I HEART every itsy~bitsy thing about Marla!
    She is my ROCK~STAR!
    Love it that Marla and TidyMom are teaming up!
    Two of my FAVORITES!
    Sweet kisses to you both!

  15. Amanda, you witnessed me only eating the berries at Baking with Betty last summer….LOL!!

  16. Love Marla and all of her beautiful posts. Her food is so pretty it’s a shame to eat it! 🙂

    • Amanda, we dig in as soon as that photo shoot is done. The annoying thing is when everyone is waiting on the food. They have learned it’s my job 🙂

  17. I love every single one of the ingredients you listed and try to incorporate them into what I eat as often as possible. The only one I probably need to experiment more with is coconut, I’ve been wanting to try using coconut oil and coconut flour in my baking.

  18. Great post. Marla is full of wonderful energy and so are her recipes!!! It’s always fun seeing what she’ll come up with next!

  19. Oh my gosh I haven’t had my breakfast yet, but this post is making me hungry! I love the photography, everything looks as if I could eat it right off the screen.
    Must go now, my kitchen is calling for me!

  20. Great topic. Sweet potatoes are a favorite for me too. So is coconut, and I was so pleased when the NY Times announced recently that coconut oil is no longer a forbidden food (although I was eating it all along anyway!).

    • Rivki, isn’t it fun when things like coconut oil are taken off the “bad” list. Makes you wonder who we should really be listening too anyway.

  21. Those pictures look sooo delicious! I think I need to get my butt into the kitchen! 🙂

  22. I just love Marla and her site… And, I’m really trying to cut back on the amount of sugar and processed junk (for lack of a better word) that my hubby and I eat, so I loved this refresher course on healthy ingredients!

    • Jen, so happy I could share some healthy, creative inspiration with you guys. Sometimes we all need those lifestyle “refresher” moments. I need them all the time 😉

  23. Everything looks lovely! Yum!

  24. This food looks amazing. I have put it in my favorites and can’t wait to start with the blueberry cake. Keep the good work coming!

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