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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Orange Cranberry Muffins (Soy, Fish and Nut-Free, Can Be Egg, Wheat and Milk-Free)

One of my favorite combinations of all times is orange and cranberry.  It's bright and cheery, sweet and tart...It reminds me of the holidays and summertime all at once.  It's just a classic combo that will always be a winner in my book.
Despite my love for the combination, I have never had a good orange and cranberry muffin recipe...until now.  This recipe is a modification of one I found on as submitted by Carol.  If you like cranberry and orange together like I do, then you'll LOVE these. :)
This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), fish and nut-free, and can be egg, wheat and milk-free (see variations).

Orange Cranberry Muffins
2 Cups soy-free flour (all-purpose, but white whole wheat would be fine)
(I recommend King Arthur brand)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
2 Cups cranberries (fresh or sweetened dried (such as Craisins) or a combination of the two)
1/4 Cup salted, full-fat butter, softened
1 Cup white sugar
1 egg
1 Cup orange juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350oF.
  2. Grease or line muffin tins with paper cups.  (Note: This recipe makes 12-18 muffins.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined well. (Note: Amount of salt is based on personal preference.)
  4. Stir in cranberries and set aside. (Note: If you use all fresh cranberries, the muffins will be VERY tart.  If you use all sweetened dried cranberries, the recipe will be much sweeter.  If you like a sweet/tart experience, use 1 Cup fresh cranberries and 1 Cup sweetened dried.  That's the combination I like best for this particular muffin.)
  5. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and egg until smooth.
  6. Stir orange juice into the creamed butter mixture.
  7. Beat the flour mixture into the orange juice mixture just until moistened.  (Note: Resist the urge to over mix!  Less is more when it comes to making muffins light and fluffy.)
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center muffin comes out clean.
  • Wheat-free: Use a gluten-free flour (such as King Arthur's gluten-free flour) in place of the regular flour.  You may also have to add up to 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or ground flaxseed to help with texture issues.  Make sure that any ingredients you substitute or add fit your particular allergen needs.
  • Egg-free: Use one of the suggestions listed on this blog to make your recipe egg-free.  Make sure that any ingredients you use fit your particular allergen needs.
  • Milk-free: Use canola or olive oil in place of the butter or use a dairy-free butter like Earth Balance.  Make sure that any ingredients you use fit your particular allergen needs.

These muffins are delicious fresh from the oven or completely cooled.  They'd be great for breakfast, as a side-dish where you want a fun and festive alternative to rolls or for a late night snack!  YUM! :)

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (Egg, Soy and Fish-Free, Can Be Nut, Milk and Wheat-Free)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins with Streusel Topping
This is one of those recipes that came from the thought, "What am I going to do with these brown bananas?"  I didn't want to make the same old banana bread, delicious as it is, because I was in the mood to try something new.  I knew that a lot of people liked the chocolate and banana combo, and I also knew that some people like banana and peanut butter, so I thought, "I wonder if there's a recipe for something with all 3 out there?" and I was off on my quest!
A few Google searches later, I found a recipe to work with from  The original recipe was for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread as submitted by QueenCook, and it looked heavenly, but I decided to modify it (quite a bit) so that it was more allergy-friendly.  This is the result.
This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), egg and fish-free, and can be nut, milk and wheat-free (see variations).
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
2 Cups natural, soy-free peanut butter (creamy or crunchy) (I recommend Smuckers)
2 Cups white sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla (optional)
3 Cups soy-free flour (whole wheat or white) (I recommend King Arthur brand)
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
5 or 6 overripe bananas
1 bag soy-free chocolate chips
(I recommend Enjoy Life which is also dairy-free, but you can use any chocolate chip that fits you dietary needs.)
  1. Preheat oven to 325oF.
  2. Grease muffin tins or line them with paper cups.  (Note: This recipe makes from 24 to 36 muffins.)
  3. In a large bowl, cream peanut butter with the sugar and vanilla (if using).
  4. Add flour, salt and baking soda and blend thoroughly. (Note: This recipe can be quite dense, so if you are having trouble stirring it by hand or with a regular mixer, I recommend using a mixer with a dough hook attachment.)
  5. Blend in the banana thoroughly. (Note: The amount of banana used depends on size.  If the bananas are large, use 5.  If they are small, use 6.  You can even use as little as 4 large bananas if you wish.)
  6. Mix in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  7. Distribute the dough evenly among the muffin tins and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean.
These muffins are best eaten completely cooled.  We found that they had a slightly bitter aftertaste when we tried to eat them warm, but that disappeared when we ate them completely cool.  If you choose to use the vanilla, that does greatly reduce the bitter aftertaste when eaten warm, but it is still slightly detectable.  Please, resist the urge to eat them right away, and let them cool completely before consuming.  In fact, they are best eaten the second day.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins with Streusel Topping: Follow the directions above, except before baking them, add a little bit of the following streusel topping to the tops of each muffin:Streusel Topping:1/2 Cup brown sugar
    1/4 Cup flour
    1/4 Cup full-fat, salted butter (softened)
    1/4 Cup oats

    In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar with the flour, then stir in butter with a fork until crumbly before adding the oats.
  • Nut-Free: Replace the peanut butter with a tree nut butter if you can have tree nuts or with a seed butter if you can't have tree nuts or peanuts.  Just be sure to make sure that the substitution you choose fits all your allergen needs.
  • Milk-Free: Use a dairy-free chocolate chip for the chocolate chips, like Enjoy Life brand.  If using the streusel topping option, substitute a dairy-free butter for the butter, like Earth Balance.  Just check labels to make sure that the chocolate chips and butter you use fit all your allergen needs.
  • Wheat-Free: Substitute a gluten-free flour like King Arthur gluten-free flour for the flour.  You may have to add up to 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or ground flaxseed for textural purposes.  Just make sure that the ingredients you use fit all your allergen needs.
  • More Peanut Butter, Less Banana: If you want more intense peanut butter flavor, and less banana flavor, increase the amount of peanut butter to 3 or 4 Cups and reduce the amount of bananas to 2 or 3 (2 if they are large, 3 if they are small) and bake as directed.  Note that this version is very intense and rich.
  • No Chocolate: If you like the flavor of peanut butter and banana together, but not chocolate, leave the chocolate chips out.

  • No matter which way you make it, this recipe is great for breakfast/brunch or dessert!  Enjoy! :)

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HallNOween: Five Fun Alternatives to Halloween

Before I start this post, I just want to say that I am not writing it to judge anyone.  If you do or do not celebrate this holiday or that holiday, that is between you, your family and God.  If you disagree with our decision, that's ok, but we ask that you respect it, just as we respect yours.  Thank you. :)
As you may have guessed from the post title, my family does not celebrate Halloween.  We used to; I even went trick-or-treating as a girl and my hubby went as a boy, but we no longer do.  Why?  Well, there are 3 reasons really.
  1. We do not like the origin of the holiday.  As a family, we agreed that we should not celebrate something with the traditions that Halloween has, even if all it is now (for most people, anyway) is an excuse to get dressed up in costumes and get candy.  If our kids wanted to dress-up and have candy, they could do that at any time, so this was no reason to keep taking our kids out trick-or-treating in our opinion.
  2. The decor scares my kids...and sometimes us.  The last few times we actually took our kids trick-or-treating, they were terrified of some of the ways people chose to decorate.  They had nightmares about some of it (Seriously!).  To us, that makes participating in this holiday not worth it.
  3. Walking around in the cold (and either snowy or damp, considering where we live) weather for hours is horrible for my Fibromyalgia.  I couldn't take them even if I wanted to.
You may be the type that either is on the fence about whether to take your kids out or not, you may already have decided not to participate in Halloween or you may indeed celebrate the holiday but are looking for other types of fall activities to do just for fun.  This is the post for you! :)
Here is a list of five things you can do in lieu of Halloween, either before, during or after October 31st:
  1. A Harvest Party.  This is very common and a great alternative.  You don't get dressed up in costumes, but you celebrate the season of Autumn and the time of Harvest.  You can decorate with fall colors, leaves, pumpkins, apples, Indian corn, etc.  You can play games and have a piƱata with candy and toys in it.  You can have all the fun without the ghosts and goblins.
  2. Have Family Time.  You can just spend time with family, immediate or extended.  You can jump in the leaves, go on a color tour, make indoor s'mores, drink hot apple cider...You can do anything that screams "fall" to you.
  3. Have A Non-Halloween Dress-Up Party.  We don't do this, but we know people who do.  If you still want your kids to be able to dress-up, but don't like all the ghosts and goblins, have a party that has a theme like "animals" or "farmers" or "historical figures" and have the attendees dress-up accordingly.
  4. Get Away For The Night.  Over the years, we have gone from feeling like we should pass out candy if we're home to feeling like we really shouldn't support the holiday in even that capacity, so we've had to go away for the night (at least for a few hours, anyway) because we live in town and feel that (if we're not going to participate) we should not be home.  Instead, we make arrangement to go to a friend or family member's house who lives out of town (i.e. where there is no trick-or-treating because it is too rural) and stay there for the afternoon and evening until trick-or-treating is done.  We normally have pizza or some other kid-friendly meal and some kind of sugar-loaded dessert (and sometimes we've even had bags of candy/trinkets for the kiddos from the grandparents/us that they got to take home with them) so the kids feel like they haven't missed anything.  We've even played games or watched a movie and ate popcorn, too.  It's always a lot of fun, and my kids always come away from it feeling like they haven't missed a thing. :)
  5. Game Night With Candy Rewards.  This could be a party or a family thing.  What you do is get age-appropriate games together and make up a reward system.  Now, you could go very educational-based, and have them go through X amount of math or spelling/reading flashcards in a minute to earn some candy, or you could do games like Tick-Tac-Toe or Go Fish! and reward the winner of each game with a miniature candy bar or something.  You could even have candy bar eating contests or apple eating contests.  You could do any number of things.  The point is, if you feel that your kid will miss out if they aren't getting candy, then find a way for them to get the candy without the Halloween twist.  You don't really need a reason to give your kids sugar, but sometimes it's nice to give them fun ways to earn it. :)  What you use for rewards is totally up to you.
I hope you try some of these alternatives out, even if you do celebrate Halloween. You might find a new tradition to add to your yearly schedule. :)
Take care, and may you have an amazing day!

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls (Soy, Fish and Nut-Free, Can Be Milk-Free)

I am a huge fan of cinnamon rolls.  They are warm and gooey, delicious and sweet and remind me of my childhood.  They are wonderful on a cold morning and never cease to make me smile, so they are worth the effort it takes to make them from scratch.  Really.  Especially this recipe.

This recipe is a modified version of one I found on by Paula S.   It's relatively simple, though it does take a little time.  They are best eaten hot and fresh, so I recommend making them for a holiday breakfast or brunch when you'll have enough people around to polish off these delicious treats.  The recipe makes 12 generous portions which could easily stretch to 24 if you cut them in half, though they could just as easily shrink to 6 portions or less if you're feeling particularly gluttonous. :)

This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), fish and nut-free, and it can be milk-free (see variations).  You could make them wheat/gluten-free and/or egg-free if you want to try out some substitutions, but since I'm not sure how that would work out with this particular recipe, I'm not going to add those options to my variations.  If you do try it, let me know how they turn out!  I'd love to know! :)

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

Roll Portion:
3/4 Cup milk

1/4 Cup full-fat, salted butter

3 1/4 Cups all-purpose, soy-free flour (I use King Arthur brand)
(If you'd like to use whole wheat, you can, though I'd recommend using a white whole wheat.)

2 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (I recommend Red Star)

1/4 Cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 Cup water (warm preferred)

1 egg
  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles; remove from heat.

  2. Add butter to the milk; stir until melted and set aside.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 Cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well.

  4. Add water, egg and the milk mixture to the flour mixture; beat well.  (Note: A wooden spoon works best.)

  5. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 Cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. (Note: You might have to start using your hands at this point, so make sure they are extra clean. :) )

  6. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. (Note: This takes anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes, but suppress the urge to over-knead!  Your rolls will turn out tough.  You're better off under-kneading than over-kneading any day, so stop when the dough is starting to look smooth, not completely smooth.)

  7. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes.

  8. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the filling portion (listed below) until well-blended.

    Filling Portion:
    1/2 Cup brown sugar (packed)

    1/2 Cup white sugar

    1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

    1/2 Cup full-fat, salted butter (softened)

  9. After 10 minutes has elapsed, roll out the dough into a 12x9 rectangle.

  10. Spread the cinnamon/sugar/butter mixture onto the dough. (Note: This is best done with a knife or the back of a spoon.)

  11. Roll up the dough so that you have a 12 inch "rope" and pinch the seam to seal.

  12. Cut the dough rope into 12 equal sized rolls and place them cut side up into a 9 x 13 pan. (Note: You don't have to grease the pan, but you certainly can if you wish.)

  13. Cover the pan with a damp towel and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. (Note: If you don't have a warm spot in your house to do this, put your oven on the lowest setting it can go (this is generally in the low to mid 200s) and place the covered rolls in the oven to rise.  This works beautifully for me!)

  14. Preheat the over to 375oF.

  15. Bake the rolls for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden browned. (Note: Do NOT over-bake!  They'll be as hard as rocks.  You want light golden brown, not deep golden brown.  Think the color you want your pizza crust or rolls to look when they are done.)

  16. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze portion:
    Glaze Portion:
    1/4 Cup full-fat, salted butter (softened)

    2 Cups confectionery sugar

    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

    Pinch of salt
    2 Tablespoons milk

    Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until well-blended before adding the milk. The mixture should be thick, but if you find it too stiff, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it is the right consistency.
  17. When the rolls are done, remove them from the oven and glaze them immediately.

  18. Serve warm.
As I said before, these are best fresh and warm.  If you do happen to have left-overs, warm them up in the microwave or oven before re-serving.

  • Milk-free:  Use a dairy-free milk and dairy-free butter (such as Earth Balance and SoDelicious brands) and cook as directed.  Be sure that the brand you choose is soy-free  or this recipe will no longer be soy-free.
  • Orange-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls: Use Orange Juice in place of the milk in the glaze portion.  You can omit the vanilla or not; your choice.  If you want extra orange flavor, you can also use orange juice in place of the water in the roll portion.
  • Cream Cheese-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls: If you prefer a cream cheese frosting, you may substitute it for the glaze listed, just note that that will negate the soy-free status of this recipe.


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

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Why did I choose to share this picture?
Because I want to be like this leaf; a bright spot amidst the grey and bleak.

So I have a few updates to share with you all.
  1. My blog, Natural and Free, did not make it into the Top 25 Food Allergy Mom Blogs on Circle of Moms, nor did I make it into the Most Influential or the Blogs To Watch categories. I did, however, make it into the upper half (52nd out of 109) of the Food Allergy Mom Blogs that were competing, and that, my friends, is awesome (especially on my first go-round) and makes me feel like a million bucks. :) I couldn't have done it without you. Your support has been absolutely amazing, and I feel like a winner - no matter what the score sheet says. :)

    I would encourage you to take a moment, though, to go visit Circle of Moms and check out all the Top 25 lists, not just the Food Allergy Mom's one. I'm telling you, there are some amazing sites there! I am so blessed to even be on one of those lists along side them, even if it's not in the top 25.  You won't regret taking a moment to check them out! :)
  2. I am making good progress with my weight loss goals!  As of Saturday, October 13th, 2012, I am down 25 lbs. since my heaviest this year, 15 lbs. of that since August 5th, 2012 (just days before my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia), and I've lost a total of 10.75 inches since August 11th, 2012.  I am a happy gal! :)  I've still got a long way to go - 65 lbs. to reach my ultimate goal of 155, but I'm ok if I can at least make it to 175, so anything over 45 lbs. more lost is a bonus - but I'm thrilled with my progress.
  3. I am doing better with my October Unprocessed pledge.  I'm still not 100%, but better than I was a week ago, so I'm happy.  I'm learning more about how food truly effects me through it, learning to be a little more diligent in label reading and becoming more empathetic to people who have food sensitivities, special dietary needs, etc.  That is invaluable, and I'm glad for it - even if the process hasn't been the most fun!
  4. My body is adjusting to autumn!  Really!  I'm not joking!  I still get aches and pains some days for random reasons, I still get stiff and there are days I just want to cut off certain body parts, but I'm learning how to cope, what to do and not do, and that if I do what I'm supposed to do food and exercise-wise, the weather effects can be greatly reduced.  I even went for a 15 minute walk today with my the rain...and the get some groceries...and I'm doing pretty good pain-wise!  Yay! :) 

    I've also found some amazing groups on Facebook that are so very supportive that help TONS!  It's so nice to be surrounded by people, thousands in fact, that know, not just try to understand.  Don't get me wrong; my friends and family have been GREAT and more than supportive, but not everyone has that, and there are just certain parts of Fibromyalgia that you will never understand unless you have it - that's just a fact.  Groups like these are a life saver for so many - sometimes quite literally.  To all of you that visit me from those groups - You're amazing! :)  To all my friends and family that aren't from those groups but support me, anyway - I love you and you're the best! :)
  5. I am learning how to be the bright spot.  This condition has its very dark moments.  It can take you darker places than you ever thought you'd go.  It is a shock, and an eye opening experience.  It is in those moments that you have a choice.  Do you let the darkness consume you, or do you look for that bright spot?  Do you scour the globe looking for that one good thing, no matter how tiny, to get you through or not?  It's not always easy; some days it's down right torment to look for the positive.  Some days there is no positive about your physical you have to look beyond it.  You look to God, to friends, to family - and you find that lifeline.  I want to be that lifeline.  I want to be the light in the dark.  I will pray, I will support, I will give that ear and that shoulder to cry on, and I will offer that joke and that smile.  This condition - in all it's awfulness - has given me that: the desire to overcome and rise above and be a blessing and a help.  That is my bright spot...the part that I am so grateful for despite it all.

To all of you visiting my personal blog for the first time, I welcome you with open arms.  If I can help you in any way, please don't hesitate to comment or send me an email.  I'll respond as promptly as I can.

To those of you who have been here before and are returning, bless you!  You make my day! :)  I'm here for you, too!  Comment or email me - I'd love to know you were here!

Thank you for stopping by!  I hope you have an amazing day, and may you find a bright spot to make your day just that much more wonderful! :)

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thought For The Day...

Today is another rough day, and honestly, I am having a world of trouble just typing this, but I made myself make the effort.  I had a hard time getting out of bed, I'm extremely stiff and achy and it's been a highly emotional morning for me.  I wanted to go to church, I wanted to help with getting the kids ready, I wanted to help get breakfast ready, I wanted to be the wife and mommy I think I should be....But the trouble is that today, I can't be what I think I should be.  I am in a body that mocks me.  I am simply unable to do much more than read or type, and I'm not so sure about the typing.  So what is a girl to do?
In the midst of the worst of the tears, in the midst of the shower in the dark because light is not something that is my friend right now (I have the monitor adjusted to where it is very dim and it still is not so pleasant to look at, so I'm closing my eyes and thanking my 6th grade typing teacher for the skill to type without looking :) ), in the midst of feeling worthless, I heard God whisper, "Be still, and know that I am God:" (Psalm 46:10a, KJV)  Be still - pause and take a breath, because that's what a comma means - and know that I am God.
All the sudden it didn't matter what I could and couldn't do.  I was to be still and know that God was in control.  It will all be ok...somehow.  I just need to rest in Him.  Trust Him.  And that's what I'm going to do.
In the moment I decided to trust, that I decided to rest in God, peace came and I was flooded with what I could do.  I could pray.  I am going to pray for my cousin who is 30 weeks pregnant and having preterm labor issues.  I am going to pray for my brother and his family in Ghana where they are missionaries.  I am going to pray for the other Fibro moms I know, and anyone else who has a chronic condition.  I am going to pray for those struggling.  I am going to pray for you.  Suddenly, life isn't so bleak, I can still do something oh so very important.  I can be a prayer warrior when I can do nothing else.  That, my friend, is what gives me strength today; the realization that when I can't, God can...and He's using me today to pray...and I feel blessed beyond words because of it.
To close this post, because honestly, I can't type much longer and I really need to lay down, I am going to post some pictures of the beauty of God's creation.  When you look at them, think of these words, "Be still, and know that I am God:"  How is God showing you Himself today?

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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leaves and Acorns (Soy, Wheat, Fish and Nut-Free, Can Be Milk and Egg-Free)

Close-Up of the Different Leaf and Acorn Shapes

My oldest son just had a birthday, and I'm one of those moms who likes to make treats for my kiddos to take to school for their class.  This can prove an interesting challenge because there are children with food allergies/sensitivities in his class, and I'm not one to make a treat that only a few can enjoy.  I just don't think that's fair!  At any rate, I did some searching for a treat that would be fun for fall and safe for all his classmates.  The result?  Leaves and Acorns!
These fun little festive goodies are just your standard Rice Crispie Treats made allergy-friendly with the aid of Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles and Marshmallow Fluff (recipe adapted from here).  They are soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), wheat, fish and nut-free and can be milk and egg-free (see variations).  That, my friends, is one wonderfully allergy-free and delicious way to enjoy autumn!
Before you begin, you need to know that you will be making 2 batches, one for the Leaves, one for the Acorns. The instructions are the same, so I'll only be listing them once. :)
Also, you'll be using your hands to help mold the shapes, so make sure they are extra clean. I don't recommend using gloves as this is a very sticky project, but if you have some that work for you, feel free, just don't use latex unless you know there will be no one consuming them that has a latex allergy.  
Edible Leaves and Acorns

Leaves and Acorns
For the Leaves:
1/4 Cup full-fat, salted butter
1 jar Marshmallow Fluff (7 1/2 oz. size, this brand ONLY if you need it to be soy-free)
5 to 6 Cups Fruity Pebbles
For the Acorns:
1/4 Cup full-fat, salted butter
1 jar Marshmallow Fluff (7 1/2 oz. size, this brand ONLY if you need it to be soy-free)

5 to 6 Cups Cocoa Pebbles

1. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat until melted.
2. Add in the jar of Fluff and stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the butter and Fluff are well blended together. (Note: It should look like what butter and marshmallows look like when you melt them together for Rice Crispie Treats.)
3. Remove from heat and add the 5 to 6 Cups Fruity Pebbles if you're making Leaves, 5 to 6 Cups Cocoa Pebbles if you're making Acorns, and stir until well coated. (I recommend starting with the 5 Cups of cereal and, if you think it needs more, then adding the other Cup.)
Now for the fun part...
Festive Oak Leaf, Maple Leaf and Acorn Cookie Cutters

4. Grease the top of a small plate, inside of the cookie cutters using (leaf shapes for the leaves, acorn shape for the acorns) and your hands very well with butter. (Note: You should only have to grease the plate and your cutters once per batch, but you'll probably have to grease your hands multiple times.)
5. Place one of the greased cookie cutters onto the greased plate and scoop a small amount of the cereal mixture in it.  (Note: If the mixture is too hot to handle, give it a minute to cool, but only until it is just cool enough to handle, or it will harden a bit too much to work with.)
6. Press the mixture into all the little crevices inside the cookie cutter until every space is filled.
7. Lift up the cookie cutter and remove the leaf/acorn shaped treat and transfer it to waxed paper to cool/harden completely. (Note: The finished treat should be relatively easy to remove from the cutter, but you may have to manipulate it gently with your fingers to get it out.  Just be careful not to ruin the shape of the treat.)
8. Continue this process until all the cereal mixture is gone and then repeat all the steps using the other cereal.
9. Once the treats are completely cooled/set up you can transfer them to a plate and stack them if you desire.
Each batch makes around 18 treats, so you should have about 36 treats total.
  • Milk-free: Use a dairy-free butter such as Earth Balance.  Just make sure that the "butter" you use is also soy-free or the recipe will lose it's soy-free status.
  • Egg-Free: You can try your hand at making your own egg-free marshmallows by using a recipe such as this one or this one (They are basically the same recipe, just minor differences here and there.).  You'll need about 6 Cups mini-sized marshmallows or 2 1/4 Cups fluff.
  • Bar Style:  If you don't have the leaf and acorn cookie cutters, you can most certainly press one batch of the cereal mixture into a 9 x 13 pan and cut it into squares.  It will make 24 treats per batch this way.
  • You can also make just  one flavor if you like, or you can substitute the cereal of your choice for the Pebbles or even popped popcorn.  Just remember that changing cereals or using popcorn can negate some of the allergen-free status of this recipe depending what type/brand you use.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Treats: If you wish, and you don't have peanut allergies, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 Cup natural peanut butter in step 1 along with the butter when making the Cocoa Version.  You could also use a nut or seed butter.  I suppose you could make it this way with the Fruity Pebbles, too, but I'm not sure how that would taste together, so do that at your own risk. :)  Just be careful which type of peanut butter or nut/seed butter you use, because a lot are not very allergy-friendly.
  • Stir-in Ideas: You can stir in up to 1 Cup total of any combination of the following when you add the cereal (and only use 5 Cups of cereal): chocolate chips, various seeds, peanuts/nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes, etc.  Keep in mind the flavor profile you want and taste the ingredients together before doing this, though.  Also, keep in mind that if your add-ins aren't allergy-friendly, your treats won't be either.  (Note: Coconut is considered a tree nut for a lot of people, though I do not personally consider it or mark it as one.  If you are allergic to it or making these treats for someone who is, please do not add it in!)
Have fun experimenting, and have a wonderful fall!  Feel free to comment below or email me at any time if you have questions, concerns or just want to say hi.  I love hearing from you, and I'm here to help! :)

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Fibro Days of Autumn...

I love Autumn, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't love me.  So far, this year's autumn has been full of weather that screams "I want to be winter, not fall!" with all the wintry mix precipitation, wind and icy temperatures.  To say the least, my body is screaming for sunshine to no avail.  It is just going to be one of those days seasons.

Today has been one of my worst days yet.  I know it is in part due to my rush-rush-rush, go-go-go lately.  My body wants a break, and is forcing one upon me, but I can't but hope it passes by tonight without the need for me to take my Meloxicam and/or go to bed really early, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will lose that battle. *sigh*  At least the coffee is helping with the brain fog a little, though the migraine that has been lurking at the door all day is still trying to sneak in.  Big meanie. :(

I am laughing as I type, ironically, at the amount of effort it is taking to type each sentence.  My fingers are stiff (I keep taking breaks to hold onto my nice and toasty coffee mug to warm them up since that helps the issue) and my mind cannot seem to remember how to spell anythng, anyting, aynthng...ACK! ANYTHING!  There, got it. :)  Sneaky bugger, words.

Anyway, you'd laugh if you saw me.  Really.  It's ok.  I'm giggling.  I have 2 sweatshirts on, a pair of thick, warm leggings under my long, jean skirt and not 1, but 2 thick, heavy blankets wrapped around my waist.  Oh, yes - Paris runway, here I come!  Seriously, it should be a trend. :)  *using best announcer voice* "Fibro Fashions...When you need more warmth than a parka can offer to help get rid of the pain."  Yah...I'd buy that...or not.  Function over fashion today, for sure!  I haven't resorted to gloves or a knit cap yet, but I've thought about it!

If you're wondering why I haven't turned up the heat - I have.  It's plenty warm enough in here for the average bear...My body just needs more than that today.  Gotta love it!

I feel like I'm being attacked on all sides.  I've overdone it physically, it's cold and icky out and my October Unprocessed (click on my neat little badge to the right to read more on that) pledge is not going according to plan (i.e. way more than my normal amount of next-to-no processed food has entered my body lately - bad Julie!).  So what's a gal to do?

Well, I can do nothing about the weather, so let's just skip that.  It doesn't bother me too much in general as long as I am good in other areas...something I know, but pushed to the back of my wee little mind.  That needs to stop or I'll be in trouble more often than not.  Next!

Ok, so I can do something about the physical stuff.  I need to rest more (or at least take more breaks) and ask for help more.  I can do that...but it's not easy for me.  Why?  Because I struggle with pride, just like the next "I can do it better" person out there.  It's a very bad habit...a NASTY habit.  I'm working on it, really I am, but habits can be so hard to break.  God is using this pain that I'm feeling right now to remind me just how "not worth it" pride is.  It's rough, but I'm grateful for it in that sense.

The food issue...Yah, this is the one that I'm most embarrassed about.  I KNOW better.  I advise people about this daily!  What is my problem!?!?!  Selfishness.  Really, that's what it boils down to.  I'd rather sulk about my pain and whimper in the corner and throw in an easy, ready-made, preservative and who knows what all else packed meal than whip up something easy that's good for me (like spaghetti or salad or macaroni soup or any one of the more simple recipes from my other blog).  I can even do "planned overs" when I am feeling good, but I don't.  I'd rather have more "me" time than prepare for a rainy Fibro day.  Shame on me!  Today is a painful reminder of what selfishness can do.  I'm thinking, selfishness is just as "not worth it" as pride.  Eventually I'll learn those lessons, I hope!

Today as I look around a house that I'm helpless to make spotless, as I painfully try to make a meal I know I need to make instead of falling into the "processed food" rut, as I long to play with my kids more than I can, I will remember what got me here.  We can't control all of our circumstances, but we do have choices to make within them.

Life, like weather, hits all of us with a mix of things we cannot control.  We can choose to wear the proper attire for it (i.e. a smile where it can be given and a prayerful, loving heart) or we can go out in it without a jacket on and complain because it's not summer time (i.e. be a grump and feel like the world's against you).  You can enjoy the storms so much better if you choose to see the beauty of the rain than focusing on the loudness of the thunder.

Life also consists of things we can control, just like the food we eat or the physical activity we do.  We can choose to eat right and be healthy (i.e. keep our attitude right and do those good things we're able to do) or eat the junk and pay for it later (i.e. sin is only sweet for a little while - the consequences always come...and often a whole lot worse than you bargained for or expected).  We can choose to go on the walk or run that race (i.e. help others out, take care of our families) or we can sit on our heinies and grump that we have no energy (i.e. live like a hermit and wonder why we're all alone).

Perspective changes everything.  I'm grateful for these Fibro Days of Autumn, even though they are rough.  Why?  Because they remind me that, even when I cannot, God can and that it's not about me.  I cannot be prideful or selfish and live a long, full, happy life.  Those things cripple and hurt, very literally.  If I want to have the best life, I have to let go of a little bit of "me" time to plan ahead, I have to ask for help when I need it and I need to always pray for wisdom to know just what the right balance is.  I cannot do this alone.  I need my family, my friends and most of all, my God.

I hope you have an amazing day despite the weather or station you find yourself in today!  You are in my prayers, dear readers, and feel free to contact me or comment below at any time.  I'd love to hear from you, and I'm here for you! :)

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mom's Chili (Fish, Soy, Egg, Milk and Nut-Free, Can Be Wheat-Free)

It's that time of year again!  The leaves are changing, the weather is getting colder and flirting with the idea of snow (I know! So cruel!), and you're finding yourself wanting to curl up with a thick blanket and something nice and hot and nostalgic to warm you up from the inside out.  For me, that comfort food is chili, my Mom's chili.  It was one of the relatively inexpensive meals that made a lot, so we had it when we could, especially in the fall and winter.  I can't eat it without smiling, remembering the times we had it with extended family, especially when we'd eat it with my beloved late grandpa who enjoyed it with Sweet N' Low - a German tradition, I am told, which dictated that you are to eat anything with a tomato base sweetened (he was diabetic, so sugar was a no go), though I have not jumped on that bandwagon. :)  It is my hope that this recipe (a slightly modified to be allergy-friendly version of my mom's) will become part of your favorite memories from now until the end of time.

This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), egg, fish, milk and nut-free, and can be wheat-free.

Mom's Chili
3 Cans soy-free Chili Beans (I recommend Bush's)
1 Can soy-free Pinto Beans (I recommend Bush's)
1 Can soy-free Light Red Kidney Beans (I recommend Bush's)
1 Can soy-free Dark Red Kidney Beans (I recommend Bush's)
1 lb. ground chuck or venison
1 package soy-free Chili Seasoning Mix (I recommend McCormick's)
1 teaspoon Onion Salt (I recommend McCormick's)
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt (I recommend McCormick's)
4 shakes (or about 1/8 teaspoon) Celery Salt (I recommend McCormick's)
4 shakes (or about 1/8 teaspoon) Paprika
1 small can soy-free tomato soup
(I recommend Campbell's Tomato (original) because it's soy-free and I like the flavor best, but you can use your favorite soy-free brand or whatever brand if you don't need it to be soy-free)
1 can diced tomatoes (large or small can size is your call)
1 large can/bottle soy-free Tomato Juice (I recommend Campbell's Tomato Juice (regular))
1. Over a large stock pot, drain the chili beans and pinto beans; set the stock pot with the liquid aside and place the drained beans into a large bowl.

2. Drain both cans of kidney beans and discard the liquid, adding the drained beans to the pinto and chili beans and placing them in the fridge until later.

3. In a large frying pan, brown the meat and then drain it before returning it to the frying pan.

4. Add 1/2 to all of the package of chili seasoning (amount based on preference), onion salt, garlic salt, celery salt and paprika to the meat and mix well over medium heat; remove from heat.

5. Transfer the seasoned meat to the stock pot with the reserved bean liquid in it and add 1/2 to all the can of tomato soup, 1/2 to all the can/bottle of tomato juice and the diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer over medium heat; simmer for at least an hour, stirring frequently. (Note: The amount of soup and tomato juice you use is entirely up to you, though I recommend starting with 1/2 the can/bottle of tomato juice and saving the rest until step 6 to see if you want to add more.  Also, the longer it simmers, the better, just make sure you stir it often so it doesn't scorch on the bottom.)

6. Add the beans to the chili about 20 minutes before you are planning on serving it, adding more tomato juice/spices, if needed. (Note: If the chili is too acidic, add a little sugar (a teaspoon at a time) until the desired acid level is reached.)

You can serve this chili as is or add your favorite chili toppings.  Delish! 

  • Wheat-free: Leave out the soup and use a gluten-free chili seasoning and gluten-free chili, pinto and kidney beans instead (the kidney and pinto beans should be gluten-free no matter what brand you get, but it is always best to double check).  You can try your hand at making your own chili seasoning, by following a recipe such as this one or buy one such as these.
  • Make Ahead: This chili is actually better the next day, so feel free to make it up ahead of time.  Just do steps 1-5, and then after simmering the chili for an hour, add the beans and cook for 20 minutes.  Allow it to cool some, then either transfer it to other containers or keep it in the fridge in the stock pot until ready for use.  It should keep around 3 to 5 days.  Also, you can freeze the finished chili in small batches that you can take out and heat up when you like.  It should keep in the freezer for a few months.
  • Vegetarian Chili: Leave out the meat.  Skip steps 3 and 4, adding the seasonings to the stock pot with the liquids and go from there.
(This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)