Gluten Free Banana Bread and My Life Well Loved

Gluten Free banana bread

Anyone who is familiar with Luv Cooks knows how much I adore banana bread. In my world, banana bread should probably have it’s own Saturday food group pyramid, stacked right above quality coffee and below fresh fruit, complete with a pajama-clad stick figure at the bottom advertising the importance of watching the Cooking Channel as exercise for your cooking muscles. Now this is something I could get behind!

And speaking of muscles, I am so excited to partner with my friend Heather Brown’s site My Life Well Loved for this post! Heather has a knack for succeeding at everything she puts her hand to; seriously, there is nothing she can’t do!; and her blog is NO exception. She is one of the most bubbly, kind-hearted, and energetic people I know, and her passion for life is one of my favorite things about her. She is also a social media wizard and the social media and blogger network director at e-meals.  So not only is she a fashionista, social media consultant, and Pure Barr instructor, she also has a passion for healthy eating.

So click here to visit My Life Well Loved, where you can check out Heather’s fabulous site and find an easy recipe for gluten-free banana bread I am so excited to share (with recipe by My Recipes) and photos by Magen Davis Photography. Enjoy and happy early Saturday!

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Chicken Divan and Making Dinner Time Count

Chicken Divine (Divan)


Fall is in the air; life is in full, golden swing; I am running like a crazy person all over town to assist on shoots and plan a wedding (feelings of glee, planning anxiety and squeal here!! AHH!!), and hopefully we are all eating peanut butter granola energy bars to keep us going.

I can’t think of a better person to share this sweet season with and learn from than the always beautiful, inviting, and relationally gifted Mattye from the lovingkind blog! She is back for our second, October installment together on making meal time matter. And I’m here to share one of the easiest, most deliciously warm recipes I can muster, chicken divan. I think you are going to love hearing from her and making this delicious casserole (and I don’t use the words delicious and casserole together lightly).

So put on some snuggly clothes, smell something pumpkiny and preheat your oven as we hear from Mattye on how we can make our fall meals- admits the wonderful busyness of our lives- even more intentional.

Chicken Divine (Divan)

Make Mealtime Matter

Hey y’all! I’m so excited to be back on the Luv Cooks blog to share some advice that will make your marriage as savory and sweet as your cooking! I promise that if you will purpose to make mealtime matter and cook this Chicken Divan recipe, it will be a happy night in your kitchen and your marriage!

I am not an incredible cook, but I do know something that can make your mealtime significantly better than the average American household. I’m not about to reveal a secret spice, perfected family recipe, or magical cooking tool. In fact, my advice is more about what you leave out than what you put in.

Chicken Divine (Divan)
Fresh broccoli pre-saucing

You can literally transform mealtime in your home with one simple step: remove cell phones from the dinner table! Eliminating this one distraction will give you the chance to look into each others eyes rather than stare at a screen and share about your day in a conversation rather than in a status update.

My husband Woody and I made it a rule that no cell phones are allowed at the table for the Woodcock family before we even got married. While dating, we spent months watching husbands and wives and moms and dads at restaurants ignoring each other or their children in favor of their cell phones. While we were not innocent of this ourselves, it was seeing it take place with other people that really grabbed our attention.

Mattye sprinkling cornflakes on top
Mattye sprinkling cheese on top

We realized that if we don’t want to one day ignore our children, then we need to start by not ignoring each other. Thus, “no cell phones at the table” was established.

We’re not perfect, and we occasionally slip, but we consistently hold each other accountable. On the occasion one of us starts to pull out our phone to look something up, check a message, or share a photo, the other is quick to give a knowing look and say, “What are you doing?” which is enough for the other to slip their phone back in its place and wait until after dinner to use it. As we hoped it would, this has become a healthy habit in our lives. In fact, having a cell phone present at a mealtime with Woody, or anyone else for that matter, just feels unnatural to me now, and it’s all because of a good habit we made a point to develop.

I love that pairing cell-phone-free, intentional time with your spouse alongside mealtime sets it into a part of your schedule that already happens every, single day—eating! Essentially, you don’t have to find extra time in your schedule, you just have to be more purposeful with the time you already have.

Mattye expertly smoothing out the top of our chicken divan
Mattye expertly smoothing out the top of our chicken divan

In our nearly two years of marriage, mealtime has become a gift to our relationship because we have chosen to make it matter. It is a consistent time we pause, connect and really see each other. Even on our busier days, a 20-minute meal can make a big difference for us simply by choosing to set aside our phones and other distractions and focus on one another.

When it comes down to it, this isn’t about living a life based on rules or restrictions; rather, it’s about taking a step back to look at your life, see what matters most to you, and find a way to prioritize it. You won’t always feel like making the extra effort to focus on what you really love most, which is exactly why deciding ahead of time is so important. Base your choice on the life you’re trying to build together, not on how you feel in the moment.

Need a snack while you bake? Bust out a box of cornflakes. Seriously, so good!
Need a snack while you bake? Bust out a box of cornflakes. Seriously, so good!
Chicken Divine (Divan)
Putting the final touches on our casserole

Friends, make mealtime matter. Make it a time where you don’t only refuel your body, but also your marriage. You can do it, and your future self will be thankful you did.

Chicken Divine (Divan)

Chicken Divan
What You Need:
For shredded chicken:
  • 10 frozen chicken tenders (I bought one 32-ounce bag of chicken tenders and took 10 out)
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
For homemade cream of chicken soup:
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (I like unsweetend original almond milk)
  • 7 tbl gluten free flour
  • 2 chicken boullion cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • dash of curry powder
For casserole assembly:
  • 2 lbs fresh broccoli heads, lightly steamed in microwave*
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Duke’s)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I like Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar)
  • 1 cup cornflakes
What You Will Do
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 13X9X2 pan.
  2. Place frozen chicken tenders in an oven safe pan and coat in tablespoon olive oil. Stir together sea salt and curry powder, then sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken tenders and lightly stir with spatula to evenly coat the chicken.
  3. Once the oven is ready, bake chicken for 30 minutes. Let the chicken cool, then shred to equal two cups of chicken.**
  4. While the chicken is baking, make your cream of chicken soup: In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk and gluten free flour until combined.
  5. Now turn heat to medium, then add bouillon cubes and 2 tablespoons olive oil, whisking constantly until bouillon dissolves and mixture thickens. Turn heat to low and whisk for a minute or two more, until no lumps remain. Take off heat and add a dash of curry powder (a shake or two).
  6. Once the cream of chicken soup has cooled a bit, add mayonnaise, lemon juice, and unsalted butter. Stir to combine with spatula.
  7. Line the bottom of your 13X9X2 pan with the lightly steamed broccoli, making an even layer of veggies. Top with shredded chicken. Using a spatula, gently pour the creamy mixture on top, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to get all of that goodness on the chicken/broccoli layer.
  8. Smooth the creamy mixture with your spatula. Top with shredded cheese, then sprinkle on cornflakes.
  9. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and cornflakes look golden brown and crispy. Enjoy!
*I like to put the broccoli in a glass pan, cover with Saran Wrap, and microwave for two to three minutes.
**Shred chicken using two forks or fork and knife into bite size chunks (stringy, too thinly pulled chicken is not good eats). I prefer the pieces to be  juicy and plump. You can also use pulled rotisserie chicken here, but I prefer the flavor combo of the curried chicken:)
Mattye and I enjoying our "chicken divine"
Mattye and I enjoying our “chicken divine”, a term affectionally coined by her neighbor who smelled it across the walkway