At the time of publication, all recipes were free of the allergens listed as being free of in the title (i.e. soy-free, milk-free, etc.), and all other information shared was accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY TIME to ensure that the ingredients you use are SAFE FOR YOU.
Your doctor or allergist should also be your first go-to for information on how to handle your medical needs. That being said, if you DO notice an error, please send me an email letting me know (tell me what page or recipe the error is on, what the error is, etc.), and I will correct the error ASAP.
Thank you so much!

Please Be Advised:
I make sure all of my recipes use foods that are free of the allergens they say they are free of. You will need to do the same. For help with this, please see the appropriate "Alternative Names" page for the allergen(s) you need the recipe free of.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why I Use My Calorie Counter

A picture taken last September of a double rainbow I thought you'd enjoy! :) 
I'm not sure if I took it or my hubby, but isn't it lovely?

As I've mentioned before, I use My Calorie Counter on  For those of you who know me outside of the blogging world, you may find this surprising.  Why?  Because I'm generally really against counting calories, counting fat grams, counting carbs, exercising for weight loss, etc.  I suppose that by saying that I use My Calorie Counter and LIKE it makes me sound like a hypocrite, but I promise, I'm not.  Let me explain.

When I "fell off the wagon" and started eating basically anything and everything and gained back nearly 100 lbs. of what I'd lost, I realized that I'd lost sight of portion sizes, lost my ability to exercise self-control and stopped caring about my health in lieu of short-term gratification or self-medicating my emotional hurts with food.  I realized that this HAD to stop, and I was kinda at a loss of where to go and how to start, etc. since all my doctor could really tell me was things like "Eat better and exercise more" (Ok, so that wasn't all he said, but I didn't want to ramble. :) ).  It's not that he didn't want to give me direction or guidance, in fact he gave me lots of information and helpful tips.  The problem was I needed something with accountability that didn't require me to join a group that I paid for.  I realized I didn't want to have embarrassing weigh-ins or join a health club or gym either.  What was I going to do?

Enter My Calorie Counter.  I found that I could customize it.  I could be as public or as private as I wished.  I could even make daily notes on what worked and didn't work for me.  I could join groups or not.  I could make friends or not.  It was FREE.  Hallelujah!  Jackpot! :)

I realized something I hadn't realized before, too.  Maybe I am just dense or maybe you're like me and this will be eye-opening for you like it was for me.  Did you know that you don't have to burn all the calories you put into your body in order to lose weight?  Did you realize that your body burns x amount of calories even if you do nothing, and if you don't get enough calories you can actually GAIN weight?  I can honestly say I didn't.  Joining My Calorie Counter showed me this truth, and I'm grateful for it.

Ok, so if I'm against counting calories and exercising for weight loss (I think you should use it for fun, tone and health), among other things, why do I use a program designed to count calories?  Well, for one, I expect this to be somewhat short term.  Once I get used to recognizing proper portion sizes again, once I can eyeball about how much I should be eating for each meal, I need this tool.  It keeps me honest.

I also like that I can keep track of how foods and daily events effect me.  This is great for noting what my triggers for my Fibromyalgia are.  That is beyond worth its weight in gold. :)

I have found, too, that the thought of having to record the fact that I ate that candy bar (worth 1/2 a meal's calories - YIKES!) to be enough to deter me more often than not.  That's a good thing.

I am learning more about food and exercise, too.  Did you know that men can eat what amounts to a whole other meal a day than a woman and still lose weight?  I know, so unfair, but it explains a lot.  I've realized now that I cannot compare my eating habits to my hubby's because our anatomies are simply too different.  He can eat more than me, so therefore he should be eating more than me - by quite a bit.  If he's eating normally and I'm eating as much or more than him, especially if it's not veggies, then Houston, we have a BIG problem.  Talk about eye-opening!

I've realized that you can burn a lot of calories by doing housework and playing with the kiddos!  Really!  It's amazing.  Extra motivation to keep up with the laundry and bathroom and to take time out to dance around my living room with my 2 year old or playing hide-n-seek with her or chase my boys around like a crazy lady.  Bonus for all. :)

Whenever I've not been able to keep up with my calorie intake right away (like we've been over to my folks for the day) and I have to enter everything when I get home, I realize that I do quite well already balancing calories in with calories out.  I think part of that is because I'm now aware of my eating again - it's not an idle exercise anymore.  I'm glad of that.  I figure in a few months, I'll be a pro and not really need the program anymore, but I like the extra accountability so I'll probably stick with it. :)

Now, I don't deprive myself - I eat that chocolate (the proper kind that doesn't make me sick, that is) when I really want it or eat that juicy steak.  The only thing is that now I eat less or I plan for the indulgence.  This is a change I think works for me.  I've lost 12 lbs. and 13 and 3/4 inches since starting the program on August 5th, 2012 (22 lbs. overall since July-ish), so I think I'll stick with it, too. :)

If you're struggling with being honest with yourself about your eating habits, I encourage you to try My Calorie Counter.  It may be just what you're looking for to turn your health around. :)


Oh, before you go...
My recipe/information blog for those with or those caring for those with the top 8 food allergens, Natural and Free, is up for Top 25 Food Allergy Moms - 2012 on Circle of Moms!  If you want to support me in this, if you have been to Natural and Free and feel it worthy of the title, I'd be honored if you would click on the icon above and vote on my blog or follow this link:  Once you get to the page, find my blog (it's currently at 33, but that could change - you'll see my picture and Natural and Free) unless you use the link which is a direct link to my blogger profile and takes the searching out for you :), and click on the little thumbs up button next to the word "vote".
Voting ends October 17th. You can vote once every 24 hours if you wish (so if you vote at 3pm today, you can't vote again until 3pm tomorrow). You don't have to be a member of Circle of Moms to vote (or even a mom or woman for that matter), either, so if you really want me in the top 25, encourage those you know to vote, too. :) Thank you so much!
Oh, and while you're there, check out the other nominees. You can vote for more than just me if you wish, just only one vote per blog per 24 hours. I know I personally have voted for a few of my blogger buddies who are more than deserving of the title. :)
Thanks for the support, and have an amazing day! :)

(This post was originally posted on my original site, Fibro, Fit and Fab!)

Pumpkin Muffins (Soy, Fish and Nut-Free, Can Be Milk-Free)

This is a modified version of a recipe I found on by BRETTNSHARA.  I'd been looking for a recipe for something pumpkin (because what is more autumnal than pumpkin?!), and this fit the bill!  It reminds me of a Pumpkin Roll without the cream cheese middle, though you could certainly cut out the streusel and frost them with cream cheese icing or fill them with a cream cheese filling (provided you can have those things).  I'm sure that would be heavenly!

Anyway, this recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), fish and nut-free and can be milk-free (see variations).  I hope you enjoy it!

Pumpkin Muffins
2 1/2 Cups soy-free flour (all-purpose or whole wheat, either is fine)

1/2 Cup rolled oats (I use quick cooking)

4 teaspoons soy-free pumpkin pie spice (I recommend McCormick brand)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree (I recommend Libby's brand)

1 Cup brown sugar, packed

1 Cup white sugar

2/3 Cup Olive or Canola Oil

1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce (I recommend Mott's brand)

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Streusel topping:
1/2 Cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 Cup soy-free flour (all-purpose or whole wheat, either is fine)

1/4 Cup full-fat, salted butter, softened

1/4 Cup rolled oats (I use quick cooking)

1.  Preheat oven to 350oF.

2.  Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

3.  Combine the 2 1/2 Cups flour, 1/2 Cup oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.

4.  Whisk pumpkin puree, 1 Cup brown sugar, white sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla together in a separate, larger bowl.

5.  Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture; mix well.

6.  Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin.

7.  In a small bowl, mix 1/2 Cup brown sugar with 1/4 Cup flour, then stir in butter with a fork until crumbly before adding the 1/4 Cup oats.

8.  Sprinkle streusel topping onto each muffin.

9.  Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.

  • Milk-Free:  Use a dairy-free butter for the regular butter.  Note that this may revoke some of the allergen-free status (i.e. soy or nut-free) unless you use one like Earth Balance.
  • Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins: Add up to 1 1/2 Cups of sweetened, dried cranberries (such as Craisins) after step 5, before pouring the batter into the tins.
  • Pumpkin Raisin Muffins: Add up to 1 1/2 Cups raisins after step 5, before pouring the batter into the tins.
  • Less Streusel: If you find there's too much topping for your taste, cut the amount in 1/2 or leave it off entirely.
  • Frosted Pumpkin Muffins: Leave off the streusel and frost them with your favorite frosting, like cream cheese, vanilla or caramel.  Note that this may revoke some of the allergen-Free status unless you use an allergy-friendly icing.

    (This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Have Exciting News!

My recipe/information blog for those with or those caring for those with the top 8 food allergens, Natural and Free, is up for Top 25 Food Allergy Moms - 2012 on Circle of Moms!

If you want to support me in this, if you have been to Natural and Free and feel it worthy of the title, I'd be honored if you would click on the icon above and vote on my blog or follow this link: Once you get to the page, find my blog (it's currently at 31, but that could change - you'll see my picture and Natural and Free) unless you use the link which is a direct link to my blogger profile and takes the searching out for you :), and click on the little thumbs up button next to the word "vote". Voting ends October 17th. You can vote once every 24 hours if you wish (so if you vote at 3pm today, you can't vote again until 3pm tomorrow). You don't have to be a member of Circle of Moms to vote (or even a mom or woman for that matter), either, so if you really want me in the top 25, encourage those you know to vote, too. :) Thank you so much!
Oh, and while you're there, check out the other nominees. You can vote for more than just me if you wish, just only one vote per blog per 24 hours.   I know I personally have voted for a few of my blogger buddies who are more than deserving of the title. :)

Thanks so much for the support!

In other news...

I'm doing pretty good for the most part, but adjusting to fall weather, as gorgeous as it's been, has been a lot more difficult than I imagined.  The cold nights are leaving me stiff in the morning (and causing pain issues more often), and I have developed a head cold of sorts and am currently fighting off a fever (Boo! Hiss!).  It's been an adventure to say the least!

I have discovered something new that has lifted my spirits (aside from the votes for my blog which just melt my heart, just so you know :) ), though: aroma therapy!  I had no idea that the fall smells were such a relaxing, uplifting thing for me.  I have some Wallflowers from Bath and Body Works in their autumn line of fragrances and they simply put me in an amazing mood!

Not only that, but I have a few candles that have lavender and/or vanilla scent in them that I have enjoyed that are also very calming and uplifting.  If I'm feeling particularly stressed, I light one and within a short time, I'm feeling better.  Promise!  It's true!

The other thing that has helped is my new found love for homemade tea lattes like Sweet Chai or Mint.  The aroma is divine, and there is nothing like holding a warm mug in your hands on a crisp day, especially one that smells delicious. :)

If you suffer from Fibromyalgia like I do, I would encourage you to look for aroma therapy scents for around the house.  You may not find the smell of Chai soothing and lavender may make you sick, but you may notice that the smell of pumpkin makes you smile or apples or berries or something spicy.  Go to a store like Bath and Body Works and take the time to smell their soaps, lotions, candles and Wallflowers.  They have amazing sales and scents to please almost anyone, so you're sure to find something you like that fits the bill. :)

Aim for finding a scent that makes you think happy thoughts or sends you into "Ahh!" mode.  It doesn't have to be a candle or Wallflower if your hubby or family can't handle the smell throughout the home.  It can be a soap or lotion that you can get out from time to time.  You may find that having some form of aroma therapy is more than a little helpful like I have. :)  It's worth a try!

Have a great weekend, and thanks again for reading me and for your support! :)

(This post was originally posted on my original site, Fibro, Fit and Fab!)

Blueberry Apple Pie (Soy, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Egg, Milk and Wheat-Free and Diabetic Friendly)

This is a recipe that I adapted from a recipe by Sunny Anderson on  It won me first prize in a pie contest, too, so I figure it's a pretty good recipe. :)  It's a delightfully tart pie, but not so tart that you can't eat it alone, though no one would fault you some ice cream or whipped cream on top. :)  It's best served cold, but it's good warm, too.

This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), nut and fish-free, and can milk, egg and wheat-free and diabetic friendly (see variations).  I hope you enjoy it!

Blueberry Apple Pie

16 oz. fresh blueberries

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice or bite-sized pieces
(You want them to be about the size of the blueberries, but a little bigger is ok.)

1/2 Cup white sugar

1/4 Cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt (no more than 1/8 teaspoon)

2 Tablespoons full-fat, salted butter, cut into small pieces

Easy Pie Crust, prepared
(NOT baked, but ready to roll out. 
You'll need the full recipe, because this pie requires a double crust.)

1 egg

1 teaspoon water

2 Tablespoons white sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 oF.

2.  In a large bowl, combine blueberries, apples, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, lemon juice and salt; mix just until the ingredients are well incorporated and set aside.

3.  Roll out 1/2 the dough until it is large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan.

4.  Put the crust in the pan and press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan.  If you have excess dough you can either trim off the excess dough and discard it or just simply tuck any excess down behind the edges inside the pan before pressing the dough into the pan.

5.  Fill the crust with the fruit filling and scatter the butter evenly around the top of the pie.

6.  Roll out the second 1/2 of the dough like you did the first, only this time place the crust on top of  the fruit filling, folding any excess under or trimming it off.

7.  Seal the edges of the 2 crusts together by pinching it with your fingers before cutting slits into the top of the pie. (I recommend at least 4 slits and a hole in the center, but any design you wish to do is fine.  You can even do a lattice top if you so desire, as long as there is ventilation for the pie.)

8.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the water.

9.  Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and then sprinkle with the full 2 Tablespoons of sugar. (You can use turbinado sugar if you wish, but it is not necessary.  I don't recommend using a lesser amount of sugar because the filling is tart, but you most certainly can if you wish.)

10.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 35 minutes.

11.  Let the pie rest at least an  hour before serving to let the filling set.  (As I said before, the pie is best cold, but it's good warm, too. :) )

  • Egg-Free: Instead of the egg wash, you can use milk or just water.
  • Milk-Free: Use a dairy-free butter such as Earth Balance when making the crust (you'll need to use a dairy-free milk here like SoDelicious, too, or water) and when dotting the top of the pie. Just remember that using a sub for the butter may revoke some of the allergen-free status of this recipe (i.e. soy or nut-free).
  • Wheat-Free: Substitute the Easy Pie Crust for your favorite wheat-free crust.  Just remember that using a sub for the crust may revoke some of the allergen-free status of this recipe (i.e. soy or nut-free).
  • Diabetic Friendly: Substitute Splenda or another granulated sugar substitute approved for baking for the sugar.  Just watch labels to make sure that your substitute doesn't revoke the soy-free status (or other allergen-free status) of this recipe.
You can enjoy this pie as is or with a dollap of Sweetened Whipped Cream or ice cream (I recommend Haagen-Dazs Five Vanilla).  Just note that any topping you add has to be allergen-friendly or you will no longer have an allergen-friendly dessert! :)

(This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Easy Sweet Chai Latte (Soy, Wheat, Egg, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Milk-Free and Diabetic Friendly)

I don't know about you, but when the leaves start to change and the weather gets colder, I long for something hot and flavored with spice.  Chai is a wonderful, spicy tea that fits this bill and it's delicious as a latte.  Unfortunately, lattes are expensive and (a lot of the time) not very allergy-friendly.  Fear not!  There is an alternative, and it's deliciously spicy, much more cost effective, super simple and allergy-friendly!  Hurrah! :)

This recipe I came up with after browsing the web for homemade chai latte ideas.  I came across this recipe at and it looked wonderful, but I wondered if I could simplify it.  I decided to try my own version this morning, and loved the results. :)  It is my hope that you will love the results, too.

This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), wheat, egg, nut and fish-free and can even be milk-free and diabetic friendly (see variations)!  That, in my mind, is a good recipe! :)  I hope you enjoy it.

Easy Sweet Chai Latte
1 soy-free Chai tea bag (I recommend Tazo's Organic Chai)
1 Cup water
1 Cup milk
1 Tablespoon white sugar

1. Place all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer (just under a boil).
2. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (You will have to keep an eye on it so that the milk doesn't scorch, but as long as you're stirring it, this shouldn't happen.  How long you simmer it depends on how strong you want the chai flavor to be.  If you want it weaker, go with the 5 minutes.  If you like it strong, go with 10 minutes.)
3. If the bag has broken or if there is a lot of "scum" from the milk (I used skim, so I didn't have this issue, but you may if you use another type), you will need to strain the mixture before enjoying.  If not, remove the tea bag, pour the mixture (which should be hot, but not boiling) in a mug or 2 and enjoy!

Makes 2 Cups.

  • Milk-Free: Use a non-dairy milk like almond or coconut in place of the milk.  Note that this may revoke the soy-free status of the recipe unless you use a soy-free brand like So Delicious, and will definitely revoke the nut-free status.  This will also change the flavor of the latte.
  • Sugar-Free: Use a sugar substitute in place of the sugar.  You could also use honey, but the change in sweetener will definitely alter the taste.
  • Easy Iced Sweet Chai Latte: Let the latte cool and then serve over ice.
  • Easy Sweet Chai Latte Frappe: Let the latte cool and add it to a blender along with 1 or 2 Cups (amount based on preference) of ice and blend until desired consistency.  I would start with 1 Cup ice and add more if you want it thicker.
  • Other Flavors: Choose your favorite flavored tea to use instead of the Chai, like mint or chamomile.  Note that this may revoke the soy-free status of the recipe unless you use a soy-free tea, and will change the flavor of the latte (obviously).
  • Fun Frothy Top: This is a neat trick I learned from my friend Heidi over at One Creative Mommy.  To get a nice frothy top, add the mixture to the blender and blend for a few seconds.  It's genius and works like a charm!  Just be careful not to fill your blender more than 1/2 way or it tends to bubble over (and you don't want to know how I know that! LOL :) ).
(This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PB&J Smoothie (Wheat, Egg, Soy and Fish-Free, Can Be Milk and Nut-Free)

PB&J Smoothie made with a Triple Berry Mix
I owe this recipe idea to Katherine of  If you've never been to her site, I strongly urge you to go.  She has an amazing story of how she recovered her health by changing her diet.  A must read, for sure.
Anyway, I was browsing her recipes for Green Smoothies and Thickies (and let me tell you, you'd never know they were packed full of greens) and decided to try my hand at my own concoction.  This is the result.
I love this recipe because it gets some greens into my diet along with whole grain, which is fantastic for my Fibromyalgia and my overall health, and that are hard for me to get otherwise in a form that I enjoy.  Let's be honest - most of us don't like our greens, let alone eat them, so finding a way where I can get them and not taste them is a bonus. :)
I hope you like my version of a green thickie, and I encourage you to check out Katherine's site and recipes.  Oh, and just so you know - my 2 year old LOVES these and any other version of a green thickie I have made so far.  That speaks for itself. :) 
This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), egg, wheat and fish-free, and can be milk and nut-free (see variations).
PB&J Smoothie
1 Cup milk
1 Cup soy-free vanilla or plain yogurt (I recommend Stonyfield)
2 Cups unsweetened frozen fruit
such as berries, peaches, bananas, apples, grapes, melon or any combination
(Think of your favorite type of jelly or jam and try to match that flavor profile in your fruit choice)
1 Cup baby spinach (loosely or tightly packed is your choice)
1/4 Cup soy-free, natural peanut butter
1 Cup quick oats
up to 2 Tablespoons honey or white sugar (optional)
1. Blend the ingredients in the order listed, making sure that the each ingredient is well incorporated before adding the next. (You may have to pulse the mix first until it is slightly blended, then continue full boar.  I use "Ice Crush" mode normally, but you can play around with the buttons and see which works best for you. :)  The mixture is supposed to be thick, but how smooth it is is up to you. Also, taste the mixture before adding the honey/sugar.  If it is sweet enough, leave it out.)
Make 4 Cups. 
If you're going to drink this with a straw, make sure it's a wide one. :)  This will hold up on its own as a meal, so keep that in mind when making it.
  • Milk-Free: You can substitute juice (apple, grape, orange) for the milk and yogurt.  If you use juice, you can probably omit the honey completely.  You can also use a dairy-free yogurt and milk (like SoDelicious).
  • Thinner Smoothie: Omit the yogurt and increase the milk to 2 Cups.  You could also add even more milk if you so desire if it's still too thick for you.
  • Gluten/Oat-Free: Use gluten-free oats or, if you have trouble with oats, leave them out.
  • Nut-Free: If you can eat tree nuts, you can substitute any tree nut for the peanut butter in the same amount.  If you can't eat tree nuts, you can substitute an equal amount of seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) if you can eat them.  If you can't eat peanuts, tree nuts or seeds, just leave them out.
  • Add More Veggies: This one can be tricky, so I don't recommend this on your first try. :)  You can add some carrots, celery, cucumber to this mix when you add the spinach.  Just remember: You need DOUBLE the amount of fruit that you do of veggies, so if you have 2 Cup of veggies, you need 4 Cups of fruit.  Also, you need to make sure your veggies are very well blended or you could have texture issues.  You may even need a little more sweetener if you add more veggies as well.

(This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Macaroni Soup (Soy, Egg, Fish and Nut-Free, Can Be Wheat-Free)

    This is a recipe that I adapted from a soup that my Granny made for me all the time when I was a little girl.  It reminds me of mac and cheese without the cheese, though you certainly could put some shredded cheese on top if you wanted. :)  This soup is one of my comfort foods - the food I eat when I'm longing for family I don't get to see often or when I am just down and need a pick-me-up.  It works like a charm. :) I hope that it will become like that for you.
    This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), egg, fish and nut-free, and can be wheat-free (see variations).
    Macaroni Soup
      3 Cups or so of water for boiling (salted or not is your choice)
    1/2 Cup dry macaroni noodles
    (I prefer mini sea shell shaped, but any type of small macaroni noodle works)
    1/2 Cup milk
    1 Tablespoon salted, full-fat butter
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon celery salt (I recommend McCormick's)
    (You can also use celery seed, but you may need to add salt to the soup.)
    dash or so of black pepper
    1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon onion salt (optional) (I recommend McCormick's)
    1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (optional) (I recommend McCormick's)
    1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the water to boil over medium to high heat. (You'll need at least 3 Cups of water, but the exact amount is debatable.  Use what works best for you or what is recommended on your package of macaroni.)
    2. Add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook to desired done-ness.  (This can be anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes depending on the package direction and your personal preference.  You'll have to keep an eye on the pot to make sure it doesn't boil over, so it's best to keep the temperature about medium at this point.)
    3. Drain the noodles and return them to the saucepan.
    4. Add the milk, butter and the spices you're using to the noodles and cook over medium-low heat (stirring regularly so that the milk doesn't burn) until the butter is melted and the milk is heated to desired temperature.  (Note: The amount of spices is based on personal taste.  The idea is that you have twice as much of the celery salt/celery seed as you do the onion or garlic salt and just a little bit of pepper.  You can play around with the amounts if you like, though, and see what is most pleasing to your palate.  If you don't like onion or garlic, leave those out as they are not necessary, but I like the flavor they lend to the soup.  Also, I like using celery salt over celery seed because I find that biting into the seed can be a bit overpowering, whereas the salt is ground and just blends into the soup in my opinion.)
    This recipe makes 1 serving.
    • Gluten/Wheat-free: Use gluten-free/rice macaroni.
    • Mac and Cheese Soup: Add shredded cheese (your favorite kind).  You can either stir it in at step 4 and let it melt or just sprinkle it on top before eating.

    (This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Breakfast Scramble (Soy, Wheat, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Milk-Free)

    This is an adaptation of a recipe posted on by VEL.MAC.  We had it for dinner or "brinner" as some in this area of the world call it when you have breakfast for dinner. :)  It was quite yummy!  It would be wonderful for a brunch in that it is made with rather inexpensive ingredients and feeds a lot.  My kind of meal right there. :)
    This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), wheat, nut and fish-free, and can be milk-free.  I hope you enjoy it!

    Breakfast Scramble
    1 package soy-free bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces (I recommend Hormel Natural Choice)
    5 medium (not baby) red potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
    (You could use Russets or Yukon Golds, too, but cut the number down to 3 if the potatoes are very large.  Peeled or not is up to you whatever type you use.)
    1 medium to large sized onion, diced
    (I use a Yellow Sweet or Vidalia, but use what you like best.)
    8 to 12 eggs
    1 - 2 Cups shredded cheese (CoJack, Cheddar, Cheddar Jack or whatever your favorite is)
    1. In a large skillet, fry the bacon pieces over medium heat until desired done-ness (I prefer crispy) and set aside on a plate covered with paper towel to drain off some of the grease.
    2. Rid the skillet of all but 2 to 3 Tablespoons of the bacon grease and add the potatoes and onions, seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.
    3. Cook and stir onions and potatoes over medium heat 10 to 40 minutes or until desired tenderness.  (Note: You can also cover the skillet at this point, still stirring occasionally, to make the potatoes tender quicker, but you'll want to let them cook for a little while without the lid on so that they crisp up a little and aren't soggy when you add the eggs.)
    4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, adding salt and pepper if desired.  (Note: You want at least enough eggs to hold the mixture together.  If you want more of an omelet-feel, use more eggs.)
    5. Reduce the heat on the skillet to low and add the eggs and reserved bacon.
    6. Cook and stir the mixture until the eggs are to your desired done-ness.
    7. Remove the skillet from the heat and top with cheese.
    8. Cover the skillet with a lid and allow the cheese to melt before serving.
    • You can add green pepper, mushrooms, ham or anything else you like in an omelet to this mix.  Just add it when you add the potatoes if you want it softened or when you add the eggs if you want it crisp.  You may need to increase the amount of eggs if you're adding in a lot of additional veggies or meat.  You could even add some herbs (i.e. rosemary, thyme, parsley, tarragon) if you like either with the potatoes or with the eggs.
    • To make this recipe milk-free, omit the cheese.
    • You can top this with salsa before serving or put it on individual portions if desired.
    • If you would like to leave out the bacon, you can use full-fat, salted butter instead of the bacon grease or any other type of fat you like.  You can also replace the bacon with ham, you'll just need to use another type of fat, like I have just stated.  You can either add the ham with the potato and onions if you like it a little fried, or with the eggs.  The amount you use is up to you.

    • (This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    My Doctor's Visit Yesterday

    A picture I took a few years back of a beautiful autumn tree
    at my parents' camp in honor of the upcoming season! :)
    I went to the doctor's yesterday as a follow-up on my Fibromyalgia.  I will say it was an interesting visit.
    For one, I've lost 10 lbs. since he saw me 6 weeks ago.  He was pleased with that, and so was I, of course. :)  Losing weight never hurts anything when you are overweight.  Hopefully it will continue to come off, and I think it will as long as I follow "the rules", if you get me. :)
    My doctor was very surprised to hear that I was doing so well without any real meds for Fibromyalgia.  I'm not on an anti-depressant, I'm not on a daily pain med (just one as needed that I don't need unless I can't/don't avoid triggers and only if they lead to pain - they don't always)...I'm not on anything except a natural, whole foods diet (with few exceptions), light daily exercise and some vitamins/supplements.  He still wanted me to try an anti-depressant, but I told him I really didn't want to go down that path unless absolutely necessary, and he said (basically), "Well, you seem to be doing very well with what you're doing, so I guess it's not necessary."  Music to my ears. :)
    I told him about the difference my diet, exercise habits, environmental changes (as much as I am capable of controlling) has made, and that I originally thought I was crazy when I noticed that weather could trigger pain or eating this or that could make me feel better or worse, etc.  I then told him that I personally knew about 4 or so people with Fibromyalgia who assured me I was NOT crazy, that those things absolutely did matter, and I even had my research online and in books and with some new online blogger buddies confirm it, too.  I was amazed at the look of astonishment on his face.  He really had no idea that Fibromyalgia was like that.  I mean, he did the research - he shared it with me - but to actually hear that diet makes a difference, that light exercise helps, that environment, etc. can affect it so easily blew his mind.
    I have a cousin (by marriage) who has 3 children who all have autism that they are able to keep controlled (cured even, in a sense) by keeping them away from allergens (they all have a lot of very serious food allergies) and eating right, among other things (food is not the only thing that needed to be changed/worked on - it's taken years and lots of effort to figure it all out - but as she says, you can't begin to address the rest of the health/behavior issues until the food is taken care of).  She has been saying for years that paying attention to diet is essential for maximum health, and I know she's right, especially now.  She is an inspiration, and I encourage you to read her blog - great stuff, and very helpful.
    Anyway, I realized yesterday that our medical community really doesn't know as much as they should about the effect of diet on the human populous.  How many things could we "cure" or "reverse" if we just made an effort to eat the way God intended?  Think of how many of the major diseases were practically unheard of as little as 30 years ago, and think of how our diets have changed in that amount of time.  I don't think it's coincidence.  I think we need to be more aware of what we put into our bodies, and I think if we strive to rid our bodies of the preservatives and processed food, then we can regain our lives, our health and even eliminate some diseases (like some cancers and Fibromyalgia) or at least greatly reduce them.
    I am not against modern medicine...when it's needed.  I think we tend to medicate first instead of pray and seek God's wisdom, instead of seeing if changing our diet can help, instead of seeing if we have an allergies, etc.  I would rather spend a little time and effort into looking into changing my lifestyle and aiming for total wellness, than just medicate the symptoms.  Don't misunderstand me - my kids get vaccinations, but not every last one out there (there are a few we disagree with giving to our kids for our own reasons), and we all take antibiotics as needed and my husband, oldest son and I all take medications on a daily basis prescribed for medical conditions (like Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in my and my son's case) that can only be treated with medication, and we all have medications to use "when needed".  However, we strive to take as little medication as possible simply because we know that the body can get dependent or it can do more harm than good.  Because of this practice, we are able to get away with lower dosages when the meds are needed than some, and that's a good thing. 
    I know there are those of you out there who are on lots of meds, and I'm sure you believe you need them, and it is likely you do - at least a good number of them - and that's ok.  I believe that medication, vaccinations, antibiotics, etc. is a personal decision to make first with God, then with your family, under the supervision and counsel of your doctor.  I don't recommend self-medicating, so always talk to a doctor about anything you want to try, including diet, vitamin/supplement and exercise changes - I believe that's the safe, right thing to do, but you're welcome to disagree if you wish.  It is also so very important to go to a doctor who will listen to you and talk with you and who makes you feel heard.  If you don't have that, then you're in a battle with them from day 1, and that's never a good thing.
    Anyway, I digress. :)  I said all that to say this: God has done amazing things in my life the last couple of months, and I am so grateful, and I hope that by telling you about my journey that it can help you on yours.
    I hope that you all have an amazing day.  It's nearly autumn, the leaves are changing, and I love it. :)  This is my favorite time of the year, and that alone has improved my mental state tenfold (not that it was bad to begin with) so that makes me feel even more in control over my Fibromyalgia.  God is good. :)

    (This post was originally posted on my original site, Fibro, Fit and Fab!)

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Explanations of the Unnecessary Kind

    Just a picture I took a few years back that I thought you might enjoy,
    because who doesn't like a cool almost-sunset-at-the-beach picture? :)

    I was thinking that I should explain my blog title and my reasons for a few of my recent posts.  I know it may not be necessary, but I really want to do it...Really. :) 
    The reasons and explanations are vast and varied, so I'll tackle them in my favorite way to tackle things: bullet points!  They really are amazing little things...You should try them sometime.  They'll make you smile...or frustrate you to the point of screaming, which can be a release, so still a backward way to de-stress.  All in all, no pressure...but you should try them.  Go on!  Everybody's doing it! :D  (HaHa...Yah, I am in a mood today - I apologize now for the insanity, but it can be so much fun! :) )
    Ok...Onto more serious things...Ahem. *wipes smile off face, and attempts to look serious, but the smirk keeps sneaking through*
    • My blog title: Why did I pick the name Fibro, Fit and Fab! ?  Well, I'm glad you asked (or wondered, or at least are going to read this regardless of any vested interest you may have in knowing or not knowing the answer to this question)!  The answer has 3 parts aside from the fact that I just wanted something reasonably short that was memorable.
      • Why FibroWell, of course, this is for Fibromyalgia, the condition that kind of inspired me to start a personal blog again.  I thought about just using the word "Fibromyalgia", but I realized that having to type out Fibromyalgia each time was not going to go over well with my reading populous (unless they bookmarked the page) because who wants to type out that three dollar college word each time or tell a friend, "Oh, I found this blog about Fibromyalgia that might help you/that is helping me!  It's called Fibromyalgia___." *random comment about how that's great and what's the address*  "It's" *random comment on how is that spelled* "Um...Fibromi...No,, no, that's not it...Um...Let me look it up" - Get the picture?  Anyway, so I decided I should go with Fibro instead - obviously the right choice since it's easier to remember and spell. 
      • Why Fit: I knew I wanted to talk about working towards becoming fit again (the struggles, failures and triumphs), too, so I knew that Fit should be in the title somewhere.  Easy enough so far, right?
      • Why Fab: As to the Fab part, well...Who doesn't want to feel fabulous, and I'm not just talking about because you look good.  I wanted to talk about what makes me feel amazing and helps me stay upbeat.  I wanted to focus on the fact that life can still be fabulous, no matter the health issues and heartaches you may have.
    So there you go - why my personal blog is called Fibro, Fit and Fab!  I know your life is more complete now knowing that. :)
    • Recent posts that seem unrelated to the purpose of this blog: You may not believe this, but I really struggled posting the two posts prior to this one (the one about my daughter and the letter to the teenage me).  Why?  Because they weren't "on topic"...or so I thought.
      I wanted to and in fact did berate myself for using this blog as a release about things that weren't exactly Fibromyalgia topics in that they weren't about how I dealt with Fibromyalgia, they didn't mention Fibromyalgia, they didn't talk about current struggles with it or new medications or vitamins I was taking or exercises I was doing for it.  I even contemplated taking them down and starting a whole new blog to put them on.  What stopped me?  A revelation that only God can give, well, two actually.
      • It's my blog and I can talk about anything I want!  Seriously!  I don't have to justify it.  I can go off topic - It really is ok.  But this isn't the main thing, because I really do care about being on topic and being a help, so I think this point is kind of moot.
      • The posts are related to Fibromyalgia.  How?  Those things are part of my life, just like Fibromyalgia is.  Fibromyalgia does not define me.  It is part of me, but it is not all me.  If I can't blog about an adorably cute thing that my daughter did that made me smile or a heartfelt letter to my past self that makes me focus on how amazing God is and how far I've come, then Fibromyalgia has won.  I have lost "me" to it.  The purpose of this blog is to keep me, to improve me, despite Fibromyalgia, so those everyday things must find their way here.

        Those with Fibromyalgia, or any other chronic condition for that matter, must find normal.  We need to experience life in the best way we can and live.  We cannot live if all our thinking is devoted to our condition.  Our thinking must encompass all of our lives, not just the part that screams the loudest to be heard.

        I find great peace, comfort, help, love and joy in the small (or big) moments that distract me from my Fibromyalgia.  I find solace in sharing those things with you.  I love giving you the chance to see that, even with Fibromyalgia, there are still things in my life that make me forget all the pain and hardship of that and focus on other things - good things, things that transform me, things that amaze me. 

        I need to never forget that there is me, my life, my God, my friends and family and all those other things that need just as much attention as my condition does.  The more I dwell on those things, the less my Fibromyalgia is forefront in my mind (though I can never completely forget about it) and the more I am defining my life not my Fibromyalgia defining it for me.
    I know that I didn't have to share any of this with you, but (as I said before) I wanted to.  I consider each and everyone of you friends whom I pray for (yes, I pray for the "unknown faces who read my blogs" and the known ones, too), and I want to share "me" with you because of that fact.  I guess it sounds strange that I want to pour my heart out to strangers (though I know I have friends and family who read these blogs, too), but it's how I roll. :)  Besides, some of you out there need to know that someone has been and is there, too, who you can come to if you need to talk, and I hope you know that you can come to me.  Just send me an email or comment below, and know that I am all ears. :)
    May you have an amazing week!

    (This post was originally posted on my original site, Fibro, Fit and Fab!)