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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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, March 26, 2013

{Guest Post} Alzheimer's Through My Eyes

Today I have a guest who, as you know, I consider to be one of my "blogger besties" sharing her thoughts on watching her grandmother's struggle with Alzheimer's for almost 20 years.  This post will touch your heart and make you think (so make sure you have the Kleenex handy).  My grandfather struggled with Dementia in the last years of his life, so my heart was instantly in tuned with hers when I read how Alzheimer's impacted her life growing up, and how watching her family's response shaped her views on true, unconditional love.
Please welcome
 Jo of Jo, My Gosh! 
(and please leave her some comment love below)

Hi!  I'm Jo, the blogger behind Jo, My Gosh!  Join me as I blog about deployment, care packages, recipes, crafts, and everything in between!
One of my deepest, greatest fears is that hidden somewhere in my DNA, I hold the right cocktail of genetics for Alzheimer's. Even typing that sentence makes me tear up, makes my stomach twist. Every time I lose my train of thought or misplace something, my brain can't help but move in that direction. What if...?

My fear comes directly from watching my grandma struggle with Alzheimer's for almost 20 years. Alzheimer's is a cowardly disease-- sneaking in and stealing, piece by piece, personality, memories. It is painfully slow and painfully emotional for everyone watching it affect the person they love.

I can only imagine how Grandma must have felt in the early years-- knowing something irreparable was wrong as more and more words slipped out of her grasp, as more things didn't make sense. It must have felt like slowly sinking into the ocean, like slowly drowning without the hope of a life preserver or a friendly hand. As a kid, I didn't notice her slow unraveling at first. And, when I knew that something was wrong-- once, as a family, we began naming it for what it was-- it was the family members around me that profoundly changed.

It galls me to say that something positive could come of Grandma's illness. It was so very devastating to my family; even thinking it makes me feel like a traitor. And yet, good can always be found in the darkest times and most unremarkable places.

The love that my mother and grandpa displayed tirelessly and unconditionally over two decades, is nothing short of monumental. It wasn't until I became an adult that I really understood the sacrifices that they made all while dealing with the emotional ramifications that Alzheimer's inevitably entails.

Grandpa's unwavering steadfastness is something that I will always admire, and something that I try (and fail) to emulate. Throughout her disease, Grandpa never forgot that somewhere, inside her slowly withering body, was the girl he fell in love with in eighth grade and the woman he explored the world with. He treated her that way-- as the woman he was still madly in love with-- even as she became unable to talk and no longer recognized him.

My mother kept two households running-- making dinner almost every night for our family and Grandpa and Grandma, cleaning, advocating on behalf of my grandparents for various organizations-- all while taking post-master's classes, raising three kids, working a professional, full-time job, and keeping everyone's schedules straight.

As a clueless kid and then as a self-absorbed teenager, that was just the way things worked in my family-- it was status quo, nothing special. Today, looking back, I am deeply in awe.
You can connect with Jo at the following locations:

Thanks again for joining us, Jo!

Here's your badge, if you'd like to use it.


For more information on Alzheimer's and what you can do to help raise awareness, become an advocate and/or help find a cure, please contact the Alzheimer's Association.

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

Easter Story or Resurrection "Cookies" (Soy, Wheat, Milk and Fish-Free, Can Be Nut-Free)

Made with Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips and Pecans
Being a Christian, I have been wanting to come up with a fun, visual way to share the true meaning of Easter with my kiddos.  Sure, we talk about it, they hear it at church, but I am a very visual person in a lot of ways, and so are my kids.  I wanted them to have an activity to DO that would help cement what Christ did for us in their minds.  When I saw the recipe for these on (and here, too), I knew I just had to make them, and when I saw how allergy friendly they were, I knew I had to pass them along to you! :)

These "cookies" are really meringues, and they are soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), wheat, milk and fish-free, and can be nut-free (see variations).  They are a lot of fun to make, very simple and quite tasty!  I hope they will become a part of your Easter traditions, as they have ours.
Note: These "cookies" are meant to be made the night before Easter, but you can certainly do them at any time before.  You can also just make them as meringues for a special treat whenever, too, and not incorporate the story/Bible verses. :)

Just out of the oven
Easter Story or Resurrection "Cookies"

 1 Cup whole pecans
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 Cup of white sugar
1. Preheat your oven to 300oF.  Do this before you go any further, because you will be turning the oven off to finish the recipe, so it needs to be to temp!
2. Place the pecans into a zipper bag and let your child(ren) beat them with a wooden spoon or rolling pin to break into small pieces.  While they are doing so, explain to them that, after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.  Read John 19:1-3.  Set the pecans aside for later use.
3. Let each child smell the vinegar before pouring it into the mixing bowl.  Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.  Read John 19:28-30.
4. Add the egg whites to the vinegar.  Explain to your child(ren) that eggs represent life, and that Jesus gave His life to give us life.  Read John 10:10-11.
5.  Place a pinch of salt into the bowl before sprinkling a little salt into each child's hand and letting them taste it.  Explain that salt represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers and the bitterness of our own sins.  Read Luke 23:27.
6. So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.  Add 1 Cup of sugar to the mixture while beating.  Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us and He wants us to know and belong to Him.  Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16. (For more information on this, go here.)
7.  Beat the mixture with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until the mixture turns white and stiff peaks are formed.  Explain that the color white represents purity in God's eyes.  When He looks at those of us who have asked Christ to be their Savior, He sees that our sins have been cleansed, and we are white as snow.  Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
8. Fold in the broken nuts and drop by teaspoons onto a waxed paper covered cookie sheet.  Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid.  Read Matthew 27:57-60.
9. Put the cookie sheet into the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.  Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.  Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed.  Read Matthew 27:65-66.
10. Go to bed if you are doing this in the evening or leave the cookies in the oven for 8 to 12 hours.  Explain to your child(ren) that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight/all day.  Jesus' followers were also in despair when the tomb was sealed and they had to leave Him there. Read John 16:20 and 22.
11. On Easter morning (or later in the day or whenever 8 to 12 hours later is), open the oven and give everyone a cookie.  Notice the cracked surface before taking a bite - the cookies are hollow! On the first Easter, Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty!  Read Matthew 28:1-9. 
Makes 12 to 24 cookies, depending on size.
Variations (Please keep you individual allergen needs in mind when using substitutions, thank you!):
  • Nut-Free: Substitute chocolate chips for the nuts.  To keep the recipe milk-free, use a dairy-free chocolate like Enjoy Life.
  • You can use both pecans and chocolate chips, too, if you like.
Aren't they just too cute?!?!
They look like white rocks, which is so appropriate since they represent the tomb!

What a great way to share the Easter Story, right? I thought it was amazing and moving (Yes, I got teared up over cookies!), and we will definitely be doing this again and encouraging parents interested in sharing the true meaning of Easter with their kids in a fun, visual way to try this! :)

Have an amazing Easter, all!

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

{Product Review} Wink Frozen Desserts (Top 8 Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Fat-Free and Sugar-Free)

Image courtesy of Wink Frozen Desserts Website.

Recently I read a review done by Vegetarian Mama on Wink Frozen Dessert.  Her review was so positive, I just knew I had to try these products for myself.  Well, I sent a note to their company, and their spokesperson told me that they'd love for me to do a review, which I quickly agreed to (my first review ever on Natural and Free).  A few weeks later, my samples showed up in the mail, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint!

First, let's talk packaging!

I didn't take a picture of the box nor the Styrofoam box the containers came in, but let me tell you, they were well insulated and packed on dry ice (From shipping date to arrival, it took about 3 days.).   No melty frozen desserts here!  Not only that, but they had instructions about how to dispose of the dry ice without getting frostbite, which I totally appreciated! 
And just look at the cute containers!

Totally great visual appeal! :) You knew exactly what each container held and the allergen info was clearly marked.  Total A+ rating for the packaging.

Second, let's talk taste!
They sent their current 4 flavors for me to try: Cake Batter, Cinnamon Bun, Cocoa Dough and Iced Latte.  Before I go any further, let me just say I was amazed that they had a frozen dessert that was TOP 8 FREE in these flavors.  I mean, when you have food allergies, you give up such flavors!  It was so cool to see that they were making these flavors available to the allergy community.  Besides that, their products are VEGAN, FAT-FREE, NON-GMO and SUGAR-FREE!  Seriously!  So, now you're wondering how they taste, right?  Well, let me tell you!
Let's start with Cake Batter...

This product tastes EXACTLY like cake batter!  Really!  I was so shocked, I even said, "Wow!  This tastes just like cake batter!" out loud when I tried it.  I couldn't get over it.

And just look at the texture!  Creamy and decadent, just like ice cream should be.

Now, I will say this flavor was a little too sweet for me and my boys (yes, they were volunteer taste-testers with me), but if you love cake batter flavor, you'll love this!  Also, I am not used to eating sugar-free items (these products are made with Stevia and Agave), so there is a little bit of that "sugar-free" aftertaste, but not near enough to be off-putting, and my boys didn't even mention it, so I am just sensitive to it.  Either way, I'd still give the product an A for tasting exactly as promised!

 Next up, Cinnamon Bun...

This was, hands down, the favorite flavor for my middle kid and I.  It absolutely tasted just as promised: Like a cinnamon bun in frozen form!  Just enough sweet and cinnamon.  So good!

Again, perfect texture; creamy and delicious, even melt in your mouth!

I seriously (other than the slight aftertaste I mentioned earlier associated with sugar-free) felt like I was eating a naughty treat vs. a healthy one!  That is a great thing!  A+ because it was my favorite and for fooling my taste buds! :)

Next is Cocoa-dough...

This was my oldest's favorite, and when I went to take it away from him after his first sample taste to give him the next flavor, he fought me! Actually, both boys fought me (my middle kid fought me most over the Cinnamon Bun one, though).  LOL!  That's a compliment and a half, for sure! :) 

Again, great texture, as you can see.

This frozen dessert tasted like eating chocolate cookies, and again, you didn't miss what wasn't there.  The slight "sugar-free" aftertaste was still there, but not enough to make you not want more.  I give this flavor an A+ for making my kids fight for more!

Last but not least, Iced Latte...

This flavor is more adult and is for those of you who don't like super sweet desserts and are big iced coffee fans.  It tastes just like an iced latte that is just slightly sweet.

Perfect texture, yet again, as you can see, too.

My boys did not care for this flavor, but I liked it.  I prefer my iced latte a little sweeter, but the less sweet taste did grow on me, and I figured I could always add chocolate syrup or caramel sauce if I wanted the extra sweet.  Again, there was that slight aftertaste of "sugar-free", but I'd still give this flavor an A.

What do they cost?
$8 a pint, which is great for a frozen dessert that has so much to offer!  It may be a little expensive for some of you, but for others, you'll see it as a bargain, especially when you consider the cost of most allergy-friendly, non-GMO, vegan items.  At any rate, I think if you're getting it as a "sometimes treat", $8 is do-able.  Let's give it a B for cost.

So, what's the verdict?
Wink Frozen Desserts are complete winners!  If you're looking for something TOP 8 FREE, VEGAN, FAT-FREE, SUGAR-FREE and NON-GMO, this is your dessert!  It's absolutely delicious, surprisingly so.  And before you think that means, "Well, they are good for vegan, allergy-friendly, sugar-free stuff," no, that's not what I mean.  They are just GOOD, period.  There are definitely flavors for the whole family, and you don't feel like you're missing out on anything!  The slight "sugar-free" aftertaste is not enough to be off-putting, and I'm sure only those who are not used to sugar-free items would even notice, I'm just mentioning it for full-disclosure honesty purposes.  At any rate, they are DEFINITELY worthy of the rave reviews they got from Vegetarian Mama, and I encourage you to check them out for yourself.
How Can I Find Out More?
So glad you asked! You can find out more at the following locations:

Image courtesy of Wink Frozen Desserts Website.

 You can also purchase their products through their New York stores and online at their own storefront.

A big thank you to Wink for letting me and my family taste and review your products!

 *Any and all opinions are mine without censor and reflect my personal feelings on the product and not that of the person/company who sent them to me.  Though I received these samples for free, that fact did not affect my opinion on said product in anyway.*

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

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Luck O' The Blogger {Feature Day}

~*~ Welcome to the Feature Day of ~*~

I hope you enjoyed this link-up as much as I did! :)  I just love a chance to brag on my friends, and let them know just how blessed I feel to have them in my life.
As a recap, here is the list of my blogger besties that I shared with you: 

I hope you got by to check out their blogs/sites.  You won't regret it!  They are some of the most amazing ladies I know...Ones who have blogs, anyway - I know plenty of amazing people without them and wasn't able to feature them (like my friends from my Facebook groups, church, real life friends, etc., and if you're wondering if I mean you, yes, I do! :))!  At any rate, I hope you will go give them a visit and see if you don't see what I see in them and find yourself with some new blogger buddies! :)

Anyway, today I am featuring some of YOUR friends that you linked up.  Since I didn't have that many posts/sites linked up, I decided to feature everyone who had not already been highlighted by me earlier, so that left me with five sites/posts left to feature.  I will share them now in the order they were linked up:
First is GiGi of
GiGi's Doll and Craft Creations
linked up by Amy of Sews N' Bows!

Image courtesy of GiGi's Dolls and Craft Creations

Amy shared that her friend Gigi took amazing pictures and made some pretty awesome doll clothes, and I must say, I totally agree!  Just look at the adorable outfit!  If you are into making clothing or accessories for dolls or just love looking at absolutely adorable doll clothes/accessories, look no further than Gigi's Doll and Craft Creations!  There is some unbelievable talent there for sure!

Thank you again, Amy, for sharing your friend's amazing talents with us!
Second is Kim of The Lazy Girl Fitness
linked up by Cindy of Vegetarian Mamma!

Photo courtesy of The Lazy Girl Fitness

Cindy told us that she linked up Kim because "She is such a motivator to me.  She took control of her life and her eating and has lost over 80 pounds.  She is very real about her journey and such a good friend!  I hope to be more like her one day! :)"  I love having friends that I can look up to, don't you?  This girl sounds like one you can look up to and who will cheer you along as well.  I hope you take the time to check out her site!  She's got lots of helpful stuff and some yummy looking recipes, too!

Thank you again, Cindy, for sharing your inspiring friend with us!

Third is Tricia of Wigglebug Photography
linked up by Ginny Marie of Lemon Drop Pie!
Image courtesy of Lemon Drop Pie

Ginny Marie shared this guest post that Tricia did for her called, "Tips and Tricks: Five Ways to Take Better Pictures of Your Kids", and let me tell you, there were some great tips there!  I then went to check out Tricia's page, and WOW! - BEAUTIFUL work!  If you live in the DeKalb, Illinois area and need some photos done, look her up!  She's amazing!  And, from the sounds of it, she has a heart of gold, too!  You won't be sorry.

Thank you, Ginny Marie, for sharing your friend's photo talents with us!

Fourth, a post called

linked up by Ashley and Lisa of

Photo courtesy of The Dose Of Reality

Now I know I highlighted The Dose of Reality ladies already, but this post wasn't about them, but about their daughters who are BFFs.  How cool is it that BFFs have daughters who are BFFs?!?!?  Anyway, the post is just ultra sweet and embodies all that this link-up was meant to be, so I couldn't NOT share it.  You simply must go read this post and watch the video that is there, too.  Oh, and have the Kleenex handy! :)

Thank you, Ashley and Lisa, for sharing your daughter's "friendship personified" with us!

Fifth is Karen of

linked up by "One Mommy" of

Photo courtesy of Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

"One Mommy" said this about her friend's blog, "Doesn't the title just sound fun?"  Indeed it does, and the blog does not disappoint!  She got everything from quirky little posts about her dinosaur-loving kiddo to recipes and so much more!  Definitely worth the time to check it out. :)

Thank you, "One Mommy", for sharing your friend's fun blog with us!

Thank you all for taking the time to stop by, link-up and/or comment!  I hope you enjoyed this week as much as I did! :)



If you haven't yet grabbed a badge or checked out the posts/sites that were linked up, here they are:

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

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Luck O' The Blogger Link-Up {Last Day}

~*~ Welcome to the Last Day of ~*~

I hope you all have enjoyed (or will enjoy if you link-up today) your chance to share your besties with us!  So far, I've shared with you, my blogger besties: Stacey of Glued to My CraftsAshley and Lisa of The Dose Of Reality,  Jo of Jo, My Gosh!, Vanessa of Vanessa's Place, Laurrie of Baked Lava, Cindy of Vegetarian Mamma, Ginny Marie of Lemon Drop Pie, Kathy and Melinda of Mothering From Scratch"One Mommy" of There's Just One Mommy,  Caroline of Grateful Foodie, Heidi of One Creative Mommy, Paloma of The Coffee Shop, Patty of Mrs JohninGhana and Wyndie of Autism Recovered.  They truly an amazing group of gals, and I hope you will get by their blogs to check them out soon!  You won't regret it, and you might find that you will make yourself some new friends in the process!

Keep in mind that tomorrow I will be sharing some of your friends on my blog (number to be determined based on participation, posts/blogs chosen at random), so please keep linking up through 11:59pm EST tonight!  Thanks! :)
And, for today, here are my last 2 blogger besties I want to share with you:
Image courtesy of Christy.
This is a dear woman from the natural/whole foods and health community who I can't quite remember how I happened across, but am so glad I found.  I've had her as a guest here before sharing her inspiring recovery story from Fibromyalgia after some serious lifestyle changes, and let me tell you, if you've not read it, you need to!  So inspiring!

Please take a minute to check out her site.  She shares recipes, tips, recovery stories and is full of enthusiasm and inspiration!  She even does speaking engagements and consultations on how to regain your life and your health by making changes in lifestyle and eating habits.  She is definitely a mentor to me, and I have the uttermost respect for her!

To Christy: I have always looked up to you and found that you are such a blessing and encouragement.  You have never treated me like I was "too small a blog" for your time, nor have you shunned my questions.  You have always been there to encourage me, offer advice and make me feel like I'm just as important to the blogging world as you are, and you have no idea how wonderful that is nor how much that means to me!  Thank you so much for all you do for this world by sharing your recovery story and the importance of real food.  They and you are invaluable!  Love ya, my friend!
Image courtesy of Une Bonne Vie.
Again, I don't know how I first met, Rachel, but I will tell you that she is the real deal, folks!  She's sweet, caring and just an all and out blessing.  She shares her heart honestly and openly, letting you see a side to her that will blow your mind, and does it in such a way that you don't feel alone in your own struggles in life.  That, my friends, is rare.
Her blog talks about her daily life, gives recipes and craft/organizations/fix-it tips/ideas, shares her thoughts on life and her relationship with God, among other things.  She also loads her blog with amazing pictures that never cease to make me hungry (if we're talking food) or laugh, cry, smile or go "Aww!" (if we're talking pictures of her family, items or nature).  It is definitely worth checking out!

To Rachel: You are an amazing woman who I definitely admire and look up to.  You never claim to be perfect, but you are real, and that is worth so much!  I know that if I needed a prayer partner, you'd be there to do it.  If I needed advice on a recipe, you'd give it.  If I just needed a friend, you'd be it.  We don't talk too often, but when we do, it is quality conversation and I feel heard and cared for.  Thank you for showing me and others the love of God and His grace through your eyes.  It is an amazing sight, and it increases my faith.  Love you, girl!

P.S. I did not get to share all of the amazing people I know online because there simply isn't enough time in the day or space online. :)  If you want to see a complete list of all the amazing bloggers I know and follow, go to Natural and Free and look at the lists at the bottom of the page.  You will find some incredibly helpful and talented people there with some equally as amazing blogs/sites. 

To all of the bloggers/sites I didn't get to mention by name: You all have, at one point or another, been an encouragement and a blessing to me!  You have answered questions, left comments and cheered me along when I needed it most.  Thank you!  You can never know how much that means, and I count myself blessed to know you and have you as a part of my blogging life!  Love you all!


Now it's your turn!

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