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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Weakness & Strength

This is one of those posts I've been struggling to write.  It's one of those posts I write because I know I need to fess up to things that I'd rather not fess up to.  It's where I talk about my struggles and admit that I'm an imperfect human, too. 

Let's get to it, shall we?

Admission: I've always been totally fine with posting pictures of myself from the neck up like this one.

Me, June 27, 2013

I can paste on a smile, even give a genuine one, and hold the camera at just the right angle and I see that I look ok weight-wise.  Yes, I am down (as of Saturday, June 22nd, 2013) to 227.3 lbs. (according to the Wii, which is right on with the doctor's office's scales if I have it set at -2 lbs. (those who have Wii Fit/Wii Fit Plus will know what I'm talking about), and I could probably subtract a pound or so for the shorts and t-shirt I wear when I check my weight, but I don't, FYI) from around 245 lbs. in July of 2012 which is great...Until you consider that I was down under 215 lbs. for a little while there, almost down to 205 lbs. at times.  I hate when my weight yo-yos, but it does often, especially when I'm struggling to eat right and eating the wrong things more often than I'd like to admit.
Anyway, my point is, I'm ok posting pictures of my face, but when it comes to posting pictures of the rest of me?  Not so much.  In fact, I avoid it at all costs.  But today, for the sake of full disclosure and because I need to be just this brutally honest for myself, I am posting *gulps hard* side and front view pictures.

Side View of Me, June 27, 2013

Front View of Me, June 27, 2013

(Yes, these were taken in my bathroom.  I love me some owls! :) )

As you can see by the look on my face, I was not thrilled at taking these pictures, let alone posting them (I keep wanting to delete them), but as I said, I needed to.  Why?  Well, because I need to be honest.  What about?  My weakness.

I struggle so very much with eating right.  Oh, I know what to do.  I know when I shouldn't eat (i.e. when I'm an emotional mess or bored).  I know food is fuel and not entertainment or a pick-me-up.  I know I should stop eating when I'm full and not just eat because it's there or tastes good.  I know I should start with a smaller portion and eat slowly.  I know I shouldn't eat the processed junk because it makes me feel horrible and makes me hurt and makes me gain weight and is so not worth it.  I know I should eat more fruits and veggies and good for you proteins and whole grains and less sugar and and and.  I know all these things, but I am, struggling.

I am weak.  I admit it.  I thought I could do this without help, but I cannot.  I have decided that I'm tired of relying on me.  I'm tired of trying and failing.  I want to change old habits and there is only one way to do that: I need to lean and rely on God.

You see, God is the only One Who can give me strength to do those things I need to do.  He is the only One Who can show me how to change for good and to keep me from eating those things I shouldn't.  He is the only One Who can help me get active instead of eat to fill the voids or the boredom.  I need Him for everything, the little and the big things.  I thought this "little" thing could be mine to do alone, and He has allowed me to try, and it has ended up in utter failure.  So now, I turn to Him, begging for forgiveness and asking for His help, and you know what?  He's answered. :)

Each morning, I pray for God to help me have the strength to do what I need to do physically (easier to do with Fibromyalgia morning (and sometimes all day long) pains, maybe, but necessary nonetheless).  I also ask Him to help me feed my body right, to take care of myself right, to be a good mother and wife and housekeeper.  I beg Him to prompt me before I eat to ask Him if it is the right food, if I am really hungry, if it will be worth it, if I am eating for the right reasons, etc. and He has listened and is helping.  I can't say I always like that still small voice when I'm getting ready to grab that chocolate bar or scoop that sugar into my coffee, but I'm grateful for it.  It's what I need.

I am so grateful for a God Who listens and Who cares so much for me that He would help me with these things.  He has helped me with the worst of the cravings and is helping me find other ways to calm myself than by digging into the chocolate when I'm stressed or upset (namely by bringing scripture to mind like the one above or by showing me that I can wash those dishes or dust or go for a walk or play with the kiddos or any number of things to let out the emotion instead).  He is helping me learn to listen to my body's cues on when I'm truly full and even allowed those not good for me things to make me even sicker than they used to so that I'm not tempted to eat them any more, though I still struggle making wise choices sometimes.

At any rate, I guess I just want to say, "This is me.  I'm not perfect.  I struggle, too.  Please pray for me.  Thank you."

What are you struggling with?
What do you need me to pray with you about?

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Simple Summer Salad (Soy, Wheat, Fish and Egg-Free, Can Be Milk and Nut-Free)

I have made it a personal goal to share more seasonal recipes with you, and I am finding that I enjoy it a lot.  It has stretched me as a cook/baker and has been a lot of fun and helped us eat healthier, too.  Triple win! :)

Today's seasonal offering is a Simple Summer Salad that I hope you will enjoy as much as my hubby and I did!  I made it sans dressing, but if you are looking for one for it, the Sweet Vinaigrette posted with my Strawberry Spinach Salad would be lovely, though it really can stand on its own without it.  It has pears and dried cherries, walnuts and Swiss cheese...It is a perfect combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy.  It was an instant hit with the hubster without dressing, and that's saying something because he never eats salad without dressing!  *silent cheer*

I am sure there are probably similar recipes like this one out there, but I did not use anyone else's recipe as a guide or anything, so I feel safe claiming this one as my own.  It is soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), wheat, fish and egg-free and can be milk and nut-free (see variations).

Now, without further adieu...The recipe!


Simple Summer Salad

romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces

baby or regular spinach, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces

fresh pears, chopped into bite-sized pieces
(I used Bartlett, but whatever you like will work)

soy-free dried cherries
(Check labels well on this!  I was able to find them, but it took some searching.)

walnut pieces

shredded Swiss cheese

  1. Toss desired amounts of each ingredient in a large bowl until well mixed together and either serve immediately or keep in the fridge until ready to serve.  (Note: All ingredients are to taste and depend on how many you want to serve, that's why no amounts are given. This recipe can feed 1 to 100+ easily.  I recommend using no more than 1/2 the amount of spinach as you do romaine, though, and starting with handfuls of the cherries, walnuts and cheese and adding more as needed.  I would also start with one pear and add more as desired, as well.)
Variations (Please keep your individual allergen needs in mind when using substitutions/additions!):
  • Milk-Free: Omit the cheese or use a dairy-free cheese.
  • Nut-Free: If you can have pecans, you can use them in place of the walnuts.  If you can have seeds, you can use your favorite (i.e. sunflower or pumpkin) in place of the walnuts.  You can also eat this salad without nuts.
  • Substitute Fruit or More Fruit/Veggies: You could easily substitute or add other summer fruits in here such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, even oranges or grapefruit - whatever you like.  You could also add more veggies like carrots, radishes, celery, green onions, broccoli, etc. if you wished.  Add or omit as you like.
  • Other Cheese:  If you do not like Swiss, by all means, use another type.  Cheddar, especially sharp cheddar, would be fantastic in this.  We have a cheese called Pinconning here, and it would be lovely in here, too.  If you're a fan of bleu cheese or goat cheese, that would probably be a good fit here as well.
  • Add Some Meat:  My hubby is a meat guy, and normally wants meat on his salads.  He added some diced ham to his and enjoyed it a lot!  You could also had crumbled back, turkey, chicken - whatever you think would taste good.
  • Add Some Salad Dressing:  As I mentioned before the Sweet Vinaigrette posted with my Strawberry Spinach Salad would be lovely on this, but you could also use another sweet vinaigrette, vinegar and oil dressing or even just balsamic vinegar or a raspberry vinaigrette would be great, too.

As you can see, this salad is very versatile (which I love in recipes and love to share with you).  You'll be sure to find a winning combo in this Simple Summer Salad any way you put it together!
What's your favorite summer recipe?
Do you prefer salads or BBQ when it's hot out?
What do you do to beat the heat?

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Distinguished Dads Link-Up {Wrap Up}

~*~ Welcome To The Wrap Up Of ~*~

Over Father's Day weekend, I hosted a link-up similar to what I did for Mother's Day, highlighting some wonderful Dads in my life via open letter and giving you the chance to link-up some "Daddy" posts as well.  The link-up is over now, and I hope you have gotten to read not only all of my open letters, but the other posts that were linked up, too.
If you missed it, on Saturday I wrote an open letter to my husband, Aaron, on Sunday I wrote a letter to my Dad, and yesterday I wrote one to my late Grandpa Dale.

I did think about doing features, but decided against it.  How could I choose between some of those amazing heartfelt letters and wonderful crafts?  Instead, I'm going to encourage you all to visit the posts that were linked up and share some comment love.

Some of the posts will make you laugh, some will make you cry, some will make you hungry and others will get your creative juices flowing!  Which ones will do which?  Well, that would be telling! ;)  You're just gonna have to go read them and see for yourself!  Enjoy, and you're welcome! :D  You won't regret the time you spent visiting those posts, I promise!

I hope you all had an amazing Father's Day weekend and that you will have a wonderful rest of your week.  I hope you got to honor your dad or be pampered a little if you are a dad.  I hope that those of you that have lost your fathers know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.  I hope that those of you that are blessed enough to still have your father in your life will let him know how much he means to you before you no longer can.

Thank you to all who linked up.  I couldn't have done this without you!


Grab A Badge!

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

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Distinguished Dads Link-Up {Day3}

~*~ Welcome To The Last Day of ~*~

In honor of Father's Day, I decided to do a link-up similar to what I did for Mother's Day, highlighting some wonderful Dads in my life via open letter and giving you the chance to link-up some "Daddy" posts as well.  I hope you will link-up and join in the fun and spread the word, too (rules below)!  You have until 11:55pm EST tonight to link-up!
On Saturday I wrote an open letter to my husband, Aaron, yesterday I wrote a letter to my Dad, and today I am writing one to my late Grandpa Dale.
Dear Grandpa Dale,
How I wish I could wish you a Happy Father's Day face to face!  I can't believe it's been almost 10 years since you passed away!  I miss you so very much!

I am so glad you got to live long enough to see your first great-grandchild born.  I know it threw you for a loop when we told you that his middle name was Dale after you.  I still remember you tearing up on the phone, so thrilled, so honored and so humbled all at once.  It is a moment I will never forget.

I remember the first time you saw Stephen.  You were so thrilled that he was little enough to hold and not protest! :D  I could tell you loved him with all your heart and more, and would do your best to be the best great-grandpa in the world!  I could just see it going through your mind about all the things you would teach him and share with him.  We didn't know then that you would not live long enough to see his 2nd birthday, but you were that amazing great-grandpa to him in the time you had with him!

My Grandpa About Two Months Before He Died With His Name Sake, January 2004

I also remember the last time you got to hold Stephen and the last time we saw you alive.  We knew things weren't looking good, but you were still mostly yourself and we had a great time with you!  I am so grateful that Stephen let you hold and cuddle him!  Those pictures will always be the nearest and dearest to my heart!  I am so glad that you knew I was expecting again and got to hear about your first great-granddaughter's birth (my brother's oldest), too.  What an amazing time that was!
There is not a day goes by that I don't miss you and think about what a wonderful, godly man's man you were.  I tell my boys stories about your love for God, your legacy and the crazy and fun things you did with us (We always had so much fun laughing and sharing together!).  It is my hope that my boys will do you and their Lord proud...and so far, it looks like they are well on their way!
I love you, Grandpa, and miss you so very much!  I can't wait to see you again one day!

Much Love,

Now It's Your Turn! 
Grab A Badge!

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

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie (Soy, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Wheat, Milk and Egg-Free)

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads or Dad-like figures out there!  I hope it is an amazing day for you all! 

In honor of this wonderful little holiday, I would like to share a recipe for not only one of my Dad's favorite pies, but my hubby's favorite, too: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie!  This particular recipe is a modified version of one that I found on as submitted by Terri.  It is soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), nut and fish-free and can be wheat, milk and egg-free (see variations).  It has a wonderful sugary crust and that sweet/tart flavor profile in the filling that makes this pie a real winner!  If you're a fan of strawberry and rhubarb, this is the pie for you!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

1 to 2 Cups of white sugar

1/2 Cup all-purpose, soy-free flour

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

2 to 3 Cups rhubarb, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
(no thicker than the tip of your pinky in width)

2 to 4 Cups fresh strawberries, cut into fourths

2 Tablespoons full-fat, salted butter

1 egg yolk

2 Tablespoons white or turbinado sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400oF.
  2. Place 1 half of the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and press firmly into bottoms and the sides.
  3. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt (if using) together.  (Note: The amount of sugar you use is based on how sweet you want the pie and how tart your fruit is.  If you have especially tart rhubarb and/or strawberries, you will probably want the 2 Cups of sugar.  The salt helps bring out the sweetness of the fruit, but you can leave it out with success.)
  4. Add strawberries and rhubarb to the sugar mixture and toss well; let stand for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Note: The amount of fruit is up to you.  Use as much of each as you like, up to 7 Cups total.)
  5. Pour the filling into the pie crust in the pan.
  6. Dot the top of the filling with butter and then cover with the top crust, sealing the edges of the top and bottom crust together using your preferred method.  (Note: You may have to cut off any excess dough before sealing the crusts together.)
  7. Brush the egg yolk onto the top of the pie using a pastry brush and then sprinkle the top with sugar.
  8. Cut small holes into the top crust to let the steam escape.
  9. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until filling is bubbly (it should bubble through the holes in the top crust) and crust is golden brown.
  10. Cool before serving.  (Note: This pie is good warm, but is best totally cooled.  The filling gets thicker the longer it cools, as well.  If you cut into it too early (i.e. while it is still hot), the filling will be runny.)

Variations (Please keep your individual allergen needs in mind when using substitutions/variations!):
  • Wheat-Free: Use cornstarch in place of the flour in the filling and use a gluten-free crust.
  • Milk-Free: Use a dairy-free butter (such as Earth Balance) or lard in place of the butter, and make sure that your crust recipe does not contain any dairy products.  If you use the Easy Pie Crust recipe, you can sub water for the milk and lard/dairy-free butter for the butter in that recipe with success.  You may need to add a pinch of salt, though.
  • Egg-Free: Use water to brush the tops of the pies instead of the egg yolk.

Nothing says love like a homemade pie!


What's your favorite pie or summer time dessert?

How did you celebrate Father's Day?

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

The Distinguished Dads Link-Up {Day 2}

~*~ Welcome To Day 2 of ~*~

In honor of Father's Day, I decided to do a link-up similar to what I did for Mother's Day, highlighting some wonderful Dads in my life via open letter and giving you the chance to link-up some "Daddy" posts as well.  I hope you will link-up and join in the fun and spread the word, too (rules below)!
Yesterday I wrote an open letter to my husband, Aaron, and today I am writing a letter to my Dad.
Dear Dad,
Happy Father's Day!
I don't say it often enough, but you're a great Dad!

My Parents, 2012

You have always been there for me, always wanted what was best for me and, to this day, offer me advice when I need it.  I cannot thank you enough for raising me to fear and love the Lord and for showing me what unconditional love is.  I know you pray for me and my family daily, too, and that means more than I can ever say!
Do you remember the day you became a grandpa?
My Dad Becomes A Grandpa For The First Time, October 2002
I can remember you being afraid to hold your first grandchild, sure you would break him, but the look of joy and awe on your face I will never forget.  I knew you loved him the instant you saw him, though you have always been a man of few words and didn't say anything elaborate or eloquent to that effect.  It didn't matter - your face told the whole story.  I knew you would love that little boy forever and pray for him and help guide him from that day forward, and it was more than enough for this new momma.
I always love watching you play with the kids.

Grandpa Playing With His Grand Kids, October 2008

I'm not sure who enjoys it more, them or you.  They sure do love their Grandpa/Papa/Boppa!  It thrills my heart to see you wrestle and chase them and make them giggle and squeal.  There is nothing like time with you!
I think they love your stories as much as I did when I was a kid, too.

Grandpa Telling Stories Around The Campfire, June 2011

You could always tell a story, and it is one of my fondest memories to hear you tell stories when I was a little girl.  I am so glad that my kids and nieces and nephews get the same privilege!

Did you ever think that you'd be the grandfather to 8, soon to be 9?

The Whole Crew, April 2012

 I can hardly believe it myself!  What a blessing!  It is so great that they have a godly man to look up to.  They have a heritage that is priceless, and I hope that they grow to appreciate that even more than they do today. I love you, Daddy!  I don't know where I'd be today without your influence in my life.  Your faithful service to God over the years has made an impact on my life that cannot be compared to anything else.  I am so blessed to have that kind of role model not only for myself, but for my children, too.  Thank you for loving the Lord and following Him no matter what, and thank you for all you do for Him and for this family.  We'd be lost without you!


Now It's Your Turn! 
Grab A Badge!

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

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Distinguished Dads Link-Up

~*~ Welcome To ~*~

In honor of Father's Day, I decided to do a link-up similar to what I did for Mother's Day, highlighting some wonderful Dads in my life via open letter and giving you the chance to link-up some "Daddy" posts as well.  I hope you will link-up and join in the fun and spread the word, too (rules below)!
Today, I want to write an open letter to my husband, Aaron, the father of my children.
My Dearest Aaron,
Do you remember the first day you officially became a Daddy (aside from the day we found out I was expecting and terrified our cat by spinning him around and around and squealing in excitement)?
October, 2002
I remember that day clearly.  How much you smiled, despite how tired you were.  How much your mom thought you looked like your dad on the day he held you for the first time.  It was a surreal moment for us all, for sure.

And then there was the day our second born came into the world and he had to be whisked off to the NICU, thanks to you realizing he wasn't breathing right.
April, 2004
I truly do believe you saved his life that day.  You were showing your protective Daddy side on his first day of life, and it confirmed in my protective Mommy heart that I'd made the right choice in my spouse.

Let's not forget when our little girl was born and again we faced the NICU.
July, 2010
You stayed with me in the hospital even when work wanted you there because I needed you, and then you spent 3 days after we left coming to get me from the hospital after a long day at work, turning your 8 hour days into well over 10, just so that I could be with my little girl during the day and my precious boys at night.  I know it was a toll on you, but you were willing, and it melted my heart and I fell in love with you all over again during that time.

Then there was the day we were finally all home and were one big happy family.
Elaina's First Day Home, July, 2010
That was a great day!  I have never seen a happier Daddy.  To have his 3 kiddos surrounding him without tubes and wires was a great feeling...for all of us.

We've been together for 13 years and you've been a Daddy for nearly 11 of those years.
Easter, 2013
I think you're doing an amazing job, and had to tell you so!
Happy Father's Day, hubby!  I love you more than you know, and always will!  Thank you for always being there for me, and thank you even more for always being there for them!  I hope that some day my boys will grow into men like their Daddy and that our little girl finds a husband like you, too. :)
Xs and Os,
Forever Yours,

Now It's Your Turn! 
Grab A Badge!

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet (Soy, Wheat, Nut, Fish and Egg-Free, Can Be Milk-Free)

Here's another great meat lover's skillet for you all that tastes like a bacon cheeseburger (sans bun) and fries all rolled into one!  It's a one pot wonder, too, which gives this easy meal even more brownie points!  Did I mention it makes a ton, too, and is great for a crowd?  Oh, yah, baby!  Gotta love that! :) 

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

Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet

 12 slices soy-free bacon, but into bite-sized pieces (I recommend Hormel Natural Choice)
1 to 2 lbs. ground chuck or venison
1 large onion, diced (optional)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine (optional)
4 to 6 mini potatoes (red, yellow or white - your choice), chopped into bite-sized cubes (peeled or not if your call)
parsley flakes
shredded cheddar cheese

  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until it is about 1/2 done; about 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add burger, onion and garlic (if using) and cook until the hamburger is done; about 10 to 15 more minutes. (Note: Amount of burger is based on preference. You can season with salt and pepper at this point, if you wish.)
  3. If needed, drain the fat (you need about 2 Tablespoons of fat or so total) before adding the potatoes, parsley flakes, salt, pepper and paprika (all spices to taste), covering the skillet and continuing to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked to preferred doneness.  (Note: You will want to taste you burger mixture a few times to make sure that your seasonings are as you want them.  Remember to start with less than you think you will need.  You can always add more later!  Also, you may want to turn down the heat slightly at this point if the potatoes are browning on the outside and not cooking on the inside.)
  4. Uncover the skillet and cook about 5 more minutes to crisp up the potatoes.
  5. Top individual portions with cheese (amount based on preference) and serve immediately.
Makes anywhere from 10 to 15 servings, depending on size.


Variations (please keep your individual allergen needs in mind when using substitutions):
  • Milk-Free:  This recipe is also great without the cheese or you could try a dairy-free cheese.

  • Extra Toppings:  Anything you like on a cheeseburger/hamburger is great on this.  You could add lettuce, tomato, ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayo, mustard...The list is endless!
  • Hamburger/Cheeseburger Skillet: If you don't like bacon, you can certainly leave it out.
Easy, right?  Delicious, too!  I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!
What's your family's favorite go-to meal?
What's your favorite one pot meal?
What is your favorite fast food copy-cat meal?

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