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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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, August 20, 2013

10 Things Guaranteed To Make You Smile

Those of us who have Fibromyalgia know that sometimes it is nearly impossible to be positive.  Some days we hurt too much to want to smile.  Some days we face depression.  Some days we face an inability to do anything.  Some days we face all of the above and then some.  On those days, I like to use a few tricks to help turn my frown upside down.  Why?  Because a good spirit and attitude are key to pain management.  If you can't figure out how to smile despite the pain and hardships they will always control you, and that's not what I want for my life, and I don't think you do either.
Today I want to share with you some of my tricks.  They always make me smile, and I can guarantee they will work for you, too.
1. Cuddle with your kids, grandbabies, spouse or your fur babies.  This always makes me feel better and so very loved.  They say physical touch heals, and I couldn't agree more!
2. Count your blessings.  When everything is going wrong, take a minute to be grateful for what you do have.  You may have to start small and/or basic (i.e. I am glad that I breathing), depending on the day, but I guarantee that you will find that your list grows as you start looking and soon you will start seeing things brighten around you.
3. Do something nice for someone else.  This can be anything from writing a note to or calling a friend and letting someone know you're thinking of them and praying for them or how much they mean to you to making cookies or a meal for them or even doing something nice for a complete stranger, etc.  It doesn't matter what it is as long as it is for someone else and to be a blessing.  I always find that taking a moment to get my mind off myself and onto someone else and their needs is the surest way to turn my day around.

4. Do something silly!  This doesn't have to be anything public, it can be in your own home, but doing something just outright crazy can take away the blues.  This can be telling jokes with your kids, having a pillow, water or shaving cream fight or going out with a friend and playing on the playground equipment and acting like you're a kid again.  If you're really bold, you can dress up like a pirate or something and go around talking the part! LOL :)  I've seen grown men in tutus on a dare, so I totally think anything is possible...and worth it if it brightens your day!

5. Have some quality time with a good friend or with family.  Once a week at least we have some family time.  It can be watching a movie, going to the beach, going out to eat or playing a game as a family.  Sometimes I go for walks with just one member of my family to talk with them about any old thing.  It's bonding time and it makes me feel better.  Sometimes it's nice to get away mentally even when you can't get away physically.

7. Play the "It Could Be Worse!" game.  This is a game I came up with when I was a teenager when I volunteered at a camp.  One of the women I worked with would get very stressed out and find herself a little frazzled and to help her out of her funk, I would give her the "It could be worse!" talk.  It was things like, "It could be worse!  You could be in jail for ripping off the 'do not remove' tag from a pillow!" or "It could be worse!  You could be lost in mall with rats chasing you because they think you're made of cheese!"  It didn't have to make sense or even be plausible, in fact, the more outrageous the better!  It didn't take long for her to start laughing and the whole atmosphere to change.  It's a lot of fun!  You should totally try it!  Just go back and forth and see who can come up with the wildest "It Could Be Worse!" scenario.  I promise you, you won't regret this! :)

8. Play the "mirrored name/words" game.  This one is a ton of fun.  You start off with your name and write it backwards and then say it out loud (The out loud part is 100% necessary for maximum smile-age!).  For example, my name is Eiluj, pronounce Ill-uj.  My oldest's name is Nehpets, pronounced Neh-pets.  LOL  Come on!  That's hilarious, right?  After you do your names, you can do objects or pets or even come up with sentences or try to write a story/poem/song mirrored.  Here.  I'll give you a sentence to say to start you off: Ti si os hcum nuf ot daer sgniht sdrawkcab!  (In case you couldn't guess, that says, "It is so much fun to read things backwards!")  If nothing else, you will get a laugh out of trying to say the words! :D  Makes you sound like you're speaking some foreign language!  I guess you could do it to fake out friends and family by telling them you know Russian or something and look uber smart. ;)

9. Make up a silly song to a familiar tune.  I had a friend in high school that I used to do this with all the time.  It was hilarious and always a hit with our friends...even if they did pretend not to know us when we did it! LOL :)  Here's an example of one of our songs:
This is all that I can remember of a song we wrote called, "Leo The Red Beaked Pelican"
(This part goes to the tune of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer")
Leo, the red beaked pelican
Had a very shiny beak!
And if you ever saw it
You'd be blinded for a week!
All of the other pelicans
Wouldn't loan him any fish.
But the one thing they didn't know about Leo
Was that he only had one wish!
Then one misty Saturday morn
Noah built the ark
And when Leo heard he needed a girl
He began to outright bark!
(Tune change to "Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland")
Oh Oh Oh Oh
On the boat
He met Eliza!
She was cute
And just the right size-a!
While watching her he broke his leg
A week later
They laid an egg
Walkin' on the boat to Santa Fe!
(Tune change to "Deck The Halls")
They got lost in the Mississippi!
Mrs. Leo said Noah was drippy!
So she hit him with her wing!
And he got her with silly string!
(Tune change to "Silent Night")
They started anew
In Kalamazoo!
They built a home
From Styrofoam!
A week later their egg hatched
And they named their baby Patch!
As you can see, we were quite nuts! LOL :)  I am pretty sure, though, that you are smiling!  See?!?!?  Works like a charm! :D

10. Listen to a song or watch a video that makes you smile.  I have a few go-to movies and TV shows that make me smile: Despicable Me, Emperor's New Groove, Hitch, Monk.  I also have a few songs that make me laugh or just make me happy in general, like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

The point is, everyone has something that makes them smile or laugh when it comes to movies or songs.  Have yours and keep them close...Just in case!

I hope this list of tips and tricks have made you smile a little bit today or inspired you to come up with your own list of things in case of an "I need to smile" emergency!

What makes you smile when you're down?

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

Top 8 Free Oatmeal Apple Muffins (Soy, Wheat, Nut, Fish, Egg and Milk-Free, Can Be Diabetic Friendly)

You all, I could not be more excited about a recipe than I am this one!  You have no idea how long I have worked on this!  Seriously!  My family has had to endure a lot of recipe fails in my attempt to make this one for you, but I finally got it right!  Can I get a "Woot! Woot!"!?!?! :D

May I present to you my first ever, Top 8 free muffin, created by me via doing some serious tweaks to my Cereal Muffin recipe!   That's right, y'all, I said TOP 8 FREE!  Seriously!  It is free of soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), wheat, nuts, fish, egg and milk!  It is also moist without being mush (provided you follow my instructions), not too sweet, super simple and good for you to boot!  Hurrah! :)  I even have some variations to take you year round and to help those who have other food sensitivities/dietary needs, too!  Seriously, this will become a go-to muffin for you all when you need to make something that is safe for the masses! :) (Can you tell I'm excited about these?!?!?  I mean, just check out all the smileys!!! :D :D :D LOL )

Without further adieu, here it is!

Top 8 Free Oatmeal Apple Muffins
4 Cups gluten-free quick oats
(Do NOT use instant oatmeal or old fashioned oats!)

2 Cups unsweetened, soy-free applesauce

1 Cup water

1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 Cup white sugar

2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

up to 1 Cup apples, chopped into a small dice (optional)
(I generally use 1 or 2 small apples; Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, McIntosh, Braeburn - all of these are great, but you can use your favorite or a combo of any that you like best.)

1. Preheat oven to 400oF.
2. Mix oats, applesauce, water and oil in a large mixing bowl and let stand for 15 minutes.  (Note: Do NOT skip this part!  The oats need to soak up all the moisture they can, so they need to sit for the full 15 minutes or the muffins turn out mushy and sticky.  Not so good.)

3. Add sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; mix well.

4. If adding diced apples, add them now and mix until evenly distributed.  (Note: You do not have to peel the apples unless you want to.)

5. Line muffin tins with 24 to 30 paper cups.

6. Fill cups 2/3 or so full.

7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center muffin comes out clean and the tops are golden brown.  (Note: The toothpick will come out clean before the tops are browned.  Do NOT remove them until the tops are browned or you will have mushy and sticky muffins.)

Makes 24 to 30 muffins.

Note: These muffins are best enjoyed after they have completely cooled, especially if using the chopped apple.  I tried one while they were still warm, and they were ok, just a little sticky where the fruit was.  I tried them again after they were completely cooled, and the texture was perfect!  If you want less risk of sticky muffins, leave the chopped apple out.

Variations (Please keep your individual allergy and dietary needs in mind when using substitutions!):
  • Grain-Free: If you have trouble with all grains, including oatmeal, sub quinoa flakes for the oatmeal and make as directed.
  • Diabetic Friendly: Use any approved for baking sugar substitute for the white sugar.
  • Other Sweetener Options: If you wish, you can use brown sugar or coconut sugar or any other non-liquid sugar for the white sugar.  I do not recommend using honey, molasses or another type of liquid sweetener as it will greatly change the moisture content and it will effect the outcome greatly.
  • Other Fruit/Stir-In Combos: If you don't like apple or cannot have apples, you can use any other type of fruit puree you wish, such as pumpkin, berry, banana, etc. and either leave out the apples or use another type of fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate chip (Enjoy Life brand would be wonderful to keep it Top 8 free), coconut flakes, etc. that you desire (just don't exceed 1 Cup of fresh/dried fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, etc.).  If you are using another fruit puree, you can leave out the cinnamon if you want.  If you are using the pumpkin puree, you can leave out the cinnamon and add 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice for a nice autumnal muffin option!  You can also just use whatever fruit is in season: berries in the spring/summer, apples/pumpkin in the fall/winter, etc.  Have fun mixing it up and trying new things! :)
  • Other Oil: If you can't use or don't like olive oil, you can sub corn oil, canola oil, coconut oil or lard with success.
Awesome, right?  Lots of options for this little treasure! :)
    What is your favorite muffin?
    What is your favorite meal of the day?
    Do you like savory or sweet for breakfast?

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

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back-To-School...Ready Or Not!

Look what came to my house last week:

I'll let you guess what was inside.

What do you think?

Mega amounts of chocolate?  Nope.

Tons of cookies?  Nope.

Good-for-you fruits and veggies?  Nope.

Care packages with miscellaneous odds and ends to make one feel special?  Nope.

Clothes?  Nope.

Toys?  Much to my kids' chagrin, no.

So, what was in the boxes?

Let's take a look and see, shall we?

What is that I see?




Yep, folks, that's right.  I got my first round of school supplies from my boys' new online school.

School doesn't start for a few weeks, but the supplies come now to make sure that you have everything and so you can get all your questions answered and set up the "classroom" space and all that.  I was surprised at the amount of stuff that came, but was thrilled to see that I could fit all the books, CDs, etc. (including my teacher's manuals - seen on the right on both shelves below) on 2 shelves, excluding some of the more awkward shaped and bulky gadgets and gizmos that came like gram cubes, magnifying glasses, sand (Yes, there was sand!).

That's a lot of books for 2 kids, huh?
Note the games.  Those weren't sent by the school; we had those already.
Can't be all work and no play, right? :D

I will readily admit that I am not ready for back-to-school.  Getting these boxes gave me a lot of instant nerves.  I had a lot of thoughts like this:

"I can't do this."

"Yes, you can.  You have a teaching degree!  It will be fine!"

"I know but..."

"No, buts.  You know what to do.  You'll do great!"

"I dunno...I'm terrified!"

Yes, even those with "experience" go through periods of self-doubt and give self pep talks.

In the end, though, excitement (mostly the boys) about this new venture won out.  Honestly, I am looking forward to the upcoming school year, so I won't let the fear and worry win.  I know it will be ok.  I have personal experience and I will have back-up via the online staff.  I know there will be days that won't go so well, but all in all, I'm as ready as I can be and finding that I feel more confident and positive about it all than the other way around.

So, I take a deep breath, do a little more research where I need to, make sure everything is set up where and how I want it and march on.  Why?  Because there is no other choice.  Ready or not, here school comes!  Wish me luck (and prayers welcome, too!)!


Are you ready for back-to-school?

Do you homeschool or do your kids go to school outside the home?

What is your best back-to-school advice?

What is your best advice to a first time homeschool mom?

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Berry Bran Muffins (Soy, Fish, Nut, Egg and Milk-Free)

So, it is nearing the end of summer *sob*, but (if you're like me) you have some yummy summer berries to use up and you're wondering what to do with them.  Well, how about making some super simple Berry Bran Muffins that are soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), fish, nut, egg and milk-free?  Allergy-friendly, full of fruit and fiber and delicious, too.  I promise, your kids will love these!  My boys ate 2 each without coaxing!  Seriously!  That's what I call a winning recipe! :)

This is a recipe that I came up with on my own.  It is a variant of my Cereal Muffins.  I am working on a wheat/gluten-free variation and when I have it right, I will share it. :)

Berry Bran Muffins
4 Cups soy-free bran flakes or All Bran type cereal

1 1/2 to 2 Cups mashed/pureed strawberries
(that's after mashing/pureeing - 2 to 4 Cups before mashing)

1 Cup water

1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Cups soy-free whole wheat flour (I recommend King Arthur Flour brand)

1/2 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 Cup fresh blueberries
1 Cup fresh red raspberries
1. Preheat oven to 400oF.
2. Mix bran flakes/All Bran, mashed/pureed strawberries, water and oil until well-blended.
3. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (if using), and mix well.  (Note: Amount of salt is based on personal preference.  I like the cinnamon in this recipe, but if you are not a fan, by all means, leave it out.)
4. Gently stir in the blueberries and raspberries until the berries are well-incorporated into the batter.
5. Line muffin tins with 24 to 30 paper cups or grease with olive oil.
6. Fill cups 2/3 or so full.
7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center muffin comes out clean.
Makes 24 to 30 muffins. 
Note: These muffins are good warm, but best cold.  If you taste them warm and are not sold, wait to try them again when they are cold, even the next day before you give up on them.  You will be glad you did! :)

Variations (Please keep your individual allergen needs in mind when using substitutions)!:
  • All One Type of Berry or Different Berries/Fruits:  You can use all one type of fruit if you wish for this recipe or a different combo if you wish.  You could use raspberry and peach, all blueberry, all raspberry, raspberry and blackberry, strawberry and banana...The possibilities are endless!  Just don't use more than 1 1/2 to 2 Cups mashed fruit and 2 Cups fresh fruit.  You could even add raisins or other dried fruit for the fresh fruit if you wanted.
  • Add Nuts/Seeds: If you like nuts or seeds and can have them, you could certainly add them to this muffin.  Almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, etc. would all work.  I would, however, make sure that your amount of fresh fruit and nuts/seeds does not exceed 2 Cups.
  • Less Fruit: You can cut the amount of fresh fruit to 1 Cup or leave that part out entirely if you wish.
  • Different Oil: If you cannot tolerate olive oil, you can substitute canola oil, corn oil, coconut oil or any other oil that fits within your dietary needs.

These muffins are wonderfully moist, slightly tart (depending on how sweet your berries are) and not too heavy like some other bran muffins can be.
They are sure to please!

What is your favorite muffin?

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