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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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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Monday, July 29, 2013

Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookies (Milk, Soy, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Wheat and Egg-Free)

Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookies made in a double batch using mini chips and chocolate chunks
My dad has recently developed some food allergies that have radically changed his eating habits and eating style.  One of the things that I helped my mom come up with from him, after scouring the net for recipes, was a chocolate chip cookie recipe that did not contain soy or dairy.   Let me tell you, not such an easy feat!  Anyway, I was able to find a site that talked about subbing olive oil for the butter and what amount to use, and we went from there.   Let me tell you, our results were great! 

These cookies bake up kinda like soft batch cookies you get from the store (you know the ones I mean), but are so much better for you!  I use olive or corn oil all the time now to make my cookies even just for my family (though when I make these cookies, I normally make a double batch so Dad can have some).  They are my new favorite chocolate chip cookie! 

These cookies are soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), nut, fish and milk-free, and can be egg and wheat-free (see variations).  Awesome, right?  Trust me, you will WANT to make these - it will change the way you look at chocolate chip cookies for life!

Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 Cup white sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 Cup olive, corn or canola oil or a combination
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 Cups flour
(All-purpose or whole wheat, especially white whole wheat, is fine.  I recommend King Arthur brand.)
5 oz. (1/2 bag) Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips or Enjoy Life chocolate chunks or a combination
  1. Preheat oven to 375oF.
  2. Cream sugars, vanilla, eggs, oil and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  (Note: Do not skimp on the salt!  You need the full teaspoon to bring out the flavors!)
  3. Add the baking soda and blend well.
  4. Add the flour, a little at a time, and mix until well-blended. (Note: Dough will be shiny.  This is normal due to the oil.)
  5. Mix in the chocolate chips/chunks until evenly distributed. (Note: It takes a bit to work in the chocolate chips/chunks because the dough is slicker due to the oil.  If you wish you can add the chips/chunks at the same time as the flour.  This sometimes help them blend in better.)
  6. Roll about a Tablespoon (smaller amount if you want smaller cookies, larger amount if you want bigger cookies) of the dough into a ball by hand and place it onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  (Note: One of the things I love about this recipe is that the cookies are so easy to roll and they bake up so beautifully round!  They are a great "for show" cookie!  Rolling the dough into a ball also helps stick the chips/chunks to the dough better since they like to try to fall off sometimes.)
  7. Remove cookies to wire racks, brown paper or waxed paper to cool.
Makes 3 to 5 dozen, depending on size.

One more note: These cookies are best enjoyed cooled.  They are ok warm, but definitely best completely cool.  I know that is unlike most chocolate chip cookie recipes, but for this one, it is definitely the case.  You will still like them warm, but you will LOVE them cooled.  Trust me. :)

Enjoying mine with milk, but coffee, tea or a non-dairy milk would be awesome, too! :)

Variations (Please keep your individual allergen needs in mind when making variations/using substitutions!):
  • Egg-Free: Use any of these egg substitution ideas here in place of the eggs.   
  • Wheat-Free: Use a gluten-free flour (like King Arthur Gluten-Free flour) for the flour. You may need to add up to 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or ground flax seed to the mix, too, for textural purposes, too.  You can also use a gluten-free flour mix (such as Olivia's Outstanding Multi-Purpose Flour Mix) with success, too. 
  • Other Chocolates/Add-Ins: If it fits within your allergen needs and you want to use another type of chocolate (white, milk, dark) or add butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, M&Ms, toffee bits, dried fruit and/or nuts, etc., please feel free, but don't add more than a Cup of extra add-ins. You can even forgo the chocolate all together and just use butterscotch or peanut butter chips and/or nuts/fruit.  It's all about preference! :)

These cookies are so good, you cannot eat just one!

(FYI, I am working on a Top 8 Free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!  When I get it perfected, I will share it with y'all! :) )

What's your favorite cookie?
What's your best cookie baking tip?

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

My Baby Girl is 3...

Yesterday, my little girl, my baby, turned 3.  I can hardly believe it!  Where does the time go?

My Dearest Elaina,

It seems like just yesterday that I was hearing your heartbeat and seeing that little peanut that was you on the ultrasound monitor for the first time, wondering if you were going to be a boy or a girl.

11 weeks

Then there was the day we got to see you in 3D and found out you were a girl!

20 weeks
I know I made them triple check. :)  I wanted to be sure before I committed to the thought of having a daughter.  I was used to boys, but I was so thrilled to know that I would have another girl in the house!
Then there was the moment when I knew that you were coming...5 weeks early.
In labor at 35 weeks and headed to the hospital the morning of July 28, 2010

I know that I cried.  I was scared.  I was so afraid to face the NICU again.  I know I begged God to take away the labor, to calm my heart, but instead He whispered to me, "She is coming, you will go through the NICU again and it will be ok.  I love her more than you do.  Trust Me."  I remember the peace that came over me, and I knew that God would work it all out somehow; that all would be well.
And then you were here, born at 2:22pm via C-section.
Not even an hour old, if memory serves, July 28, 2010

They put you on some oxygen just to make sure, but your lungs were fine.  You were perfect health-wise, other than some eating issues, and you wouldn't be there long!
Just the feeding tube in NICU

You were my littlest, but my healthiest baby, despite the NICU.  God had not made me a promise He did not keep - everything was indeed ok, more than ok.  Everything was beautiful...Just like you!
The boys loved you instantly.
The boys meeting little sister with Mom for the first time

They were such proud big brothers!  They loved to touch you and talk to you and couldn't wait to have you home!
And the day you did come home, one week later...
First day home, August 4, 2010
They couldn't stop smiling and couldn't get enough of their little sister!!  (Dad was pretty smitten, too, and everyone else for that matter, too!)
You grew and thrived, with little reflux issues and other things along the way, but all in all, defying your preemie status from day one.  My little fighter, survivor and sweetheart all rolled into one!  Your strong will kept you healthy and strong and will bring you a long way...if you use it in the right way!
My Elaina, Laina Lou, Laina Bug...
You are so full of joy! 
July 2011

 May you always keep that laugh and smile at the ready!  It makes life so much more fun and bearable!
May you always keep your sense of style...individual style! 
Stylin', December 2012
 You are unique.  Embrace it!  Love it!  Own it!  Enjoy being who you are...and never apologize for your quirks.  They make you special!
May you always keep your sweetness! 
3rd Birthday, July 28, 2013
You have a big heart (though we are working on the sharing thing because that is still hard, big heart or not), you love to make others smile, and hearing you say, "Pweeze" or "Kay Coo" or "Oooo!  I wuv it!" while you offer huge hugs and/or kisses melts this momma's heart. Every. Single. Time.
You don't harbor pretense.  You say it like you see it, you express your heart.  I love that honesty in you - may you never lose that, though I may not like it some days, because honesty is so very important!  Tact would be good, though.  We'll work on that. :)
My prayer for you, sweet daughter, is that you grow up to love God, to live for Him and that you follow Him with all of your heart, soul and mind!  I pray that you find the perfect soul mate in your future husband (whomever he may be), if it is God's will for you to be married, and that you serve the Lord together and raise your children (should you have any) together for Him.
Most of all, I pray that you know how much I love you and that I will always love you.  No matter what you do, no matter where you go, I will be here.  Even if you stray, even if you do things to break my heart, I will be here, loving you, praying for you and ready to accept you back when you are ready to come back.  May we never face those days...
I look forward to getting to know more and more of my Elaina Sharron as she grows and matures!  You are an amazing little lady, Laina Lou, and I am so glad you are a part of this family!
I love you so very much!
Happy 3rd Birthday, sweetheart!
Xs and Os,

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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures!

So, I know I have mentioned how crazy it has been around here lately, but I figured it was time you got to see just how crazy.  Get ready for picture overload!


This month, we have:

Gotten our kids cute, matching (nearly) Despicable Me T-shirts and seen Despicable Me 2.
Who can resist those minions?!?!


We've celebrated Independence Day with:

- cute hair-dos

(Yes, she does sit still while I do this!  She wiggles a little bit, but if she's got something to watch, like Curious George, she does great!)

- Patriotic attire

(They love their sister!)

- Helping with the parade


- Making new friends

- Watching the parade

 (I love her face, don't you? LOL)
- Waiting for fireworks

- Watching fireworks


I've made pies, like this one (and a few other types I didn't get pictures of).


We've had some extended family time.

Made more goodies, like these (recipe going up on Natural and Free soon!).
And even got some fun time in at my parent's camp with some church friends.


This isn't everything we've been up to, but it's a good portion of it!  We didn't have any pictures of the tent meeting (which I made the pie for), or I would've included those, too.  And it is not over yet either!  We've got VBS and Elaina's 3rd birthday left to go!  Feel free to say, "Wowzers!" and take a deep breath with me! :D

Yes, it's been crazy busy...but it's been a blast! :)


What have you been up to this summer?

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

Friday, July 19, 2013

Simple Pie Crust (Soy, Fish, Nut, Milk and Egg-Free, Can Be Wheat-Free)

July is such a crazy month for us.  We have Independence Day, church get-togethers, family get-togethers and birthdays (my hubby's birthday was yesterday - Happy Birthday, sweetheart!  I love you!) and it seems like I am always needing food for something, especially desserts.  Normally, because it is July, it is too hot to do too much baking, so I normally find myself making a pie that requires a pre-baked crust, like the Summer Strawberry Pie I shared with you last week  (I made a Rhubarb-Strawberry version for my husband using the rhubarb for the glaze part and then pouring it over strawberries - so heavenly!) - 10 minutes with the oven on and that's it, so the house doesn't get too hot and you still get a delicious homemade pie that's to die for!  Besides, with all the wonderful summer berries we have around here, pie is definitely the way to go!

At any rate, if you're going to make pie, you need a pie crust, and this one is definitely a keeper, especially if you are catering to lots of food allergies as it is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), fish, nut, milk and egg-free and can be wheat-free (see variations).  It is a little more fussy than my Easy Pie Crust, but still pretty hard to mess up.  Trust me - You can do this, I promise! 

You could even use this recipe for savory things like Chicken Pot Pie.  One crust - lots of options!
Simple Pie Crust

1 Cup soy-free flour
(all purpose or whole wheat is perfectly acceptable and work equally well,
though sometimes the whole wheat requires a little more water)

1/2 Cup lard

up to 1 teaspoon salt

1/4 Cup icy cold water
  1. In a medium bowl, cut lard into flour and salt until crumbly. (Note: I use 2 knives, but you can use a pastry cutter.  Amount of salt you use is based on preference.)
  2. Add the icy water and stir with a fork until moistened. (Note: I fill a bowl with water and ice and then measure off the water that I need.  If you find that 1/4 Cup isn't quite enough water to moisten all the flour/lard mixture, you can add a teaspoon more at a time as needed.)
  3. Turn out onto lightly-floured surface.
  4. Form dough into a smooth ball and divide into 2 sections.
  5. Flatten one section slightly and roll out to fit your pie pan (easily fits 9-inch deep dish pie pan). (Note: Make sure that you flour the rolling pin, too, or it will stick to it.) 
  6. If necessary, repeat step 5 for a top crust after adding filling to the pie you are making,  sealing the 2 crusts together and being sure to slice slits or make holes into the top crust to help release the steam before baking OR repeat step 5 for a second pie OR wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for later use.  (Note: I would just 1/2 the dough recipe if you only need 1 crust unless you plan on making another pie within a few days.)

Makes 2 pie crusts.

To bake this crust before adding filling:  Preheat oven to 475oF.  After placing the crust into the pie pan, poke holes into the bottom and sides using a fork, and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.   Cool before adding filling.
Variations (please keep your individual allergy needs in mind when using substitutions):
  • Wheat/Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free flour or a gluten-free flour mix (such as Olivia's Outstanding Multi-Purpose Flour Mix) for the regular flour.  If just using a gluten-free flour that does not already contain xanthan gum or ground flax seed to help the texture, you will probably want to add 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or ground flax seed, too.  You can definitely make it without xanthan gum/ground flax seed, too, but know that the texture will be dry and pretty crumbly.
  • Other Fat Options: If you just cannot stomach the thought of using lard or need it to be vegetarian/vegan, you can always use an allergy-friendly shortening (like Spectrum) or even coconut oil instead.

Few ingredients and a few minutes later, you have pie crust that is simply amazing and will get you rave reviews.  Really!

What is your favorite summer pie or treat?
What is your favorite part of summer time?

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