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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's 1x1, Not 1+1...

Image courtesy of nuchylee /
Don't worry, all.  I'm not going to get into any kind of crazy math, but I am going to use a math analogy, but I think it is one everyone can get, and yes, I promise it has to do with Fibromyalgia.

In math, we all know that 1 + 1 = 2, right?  And we all know that 1 x 1 = 1, right?  Great, so we can all do basic math, but what does that have to do with Fibromyalgia?  Well, simply this: most doctors/people treat Fibromyalgia as if it is a 1 + 1 = 2 situation, but in reality it is a 1 x 1 = 1 situation.  What do I mean?  Well, I'll tell you.

Everyone with Fibromylagia experiences a number of different symptoms (pain, fatigue, dietary issues, weakness, etc.), and normally these things are treated as separate issues.  What I mean is, you go to the doctor and they treat you for the pain with one medicine, the fatigue with another, the dietary issues with another thing, and so on and so on.  Before you know it, you're taking so many different pills or doing so many different things to try and manage it that your head is spinning and you feel out of control.  You really don't know what to do and you feel hopeless and lost.  Your Fibromyalgia is being treated as if it is a 1 + 1 = 2 (or 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 4 and so on and so forth), i.e. you are being treated for the symptoms only, and each symptom is being handled differently, so you are not being treated as if you are dealing with one thing but as if you are dealing with several different things that are going on at the same time.  To most people, Fibromyalgia is viewed as several different things piling up together.  They see Fibromyalgia as a list of issues, not as one issue, and I think this is why most Fibromyalgia treatments fail.

I want to offer you the idea that Fibromyalgia is a 1 x 1 = 1 (or 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 and so on and so forth) thing.  It is one condition with several facets.  It is not a bunch of separate things, it is one overall thing, and it may not have the same root source for all.  Unfortunately, so many are caught up with treating the separate symptoms that they ignore whatever the root cause is and start treating Fibromyalgia as if it is many things instead of one overall thing, and I think this really needs to stop.

Let's think on this, shall we?  Why is it that some people diagnosed with Fibromylagia do a major overhaul on their diet and are "cured"?  Why is it that some people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia end up having autoimmune disorders or other conditions that are out of control and when they get those under wraps they are "cured"?  Why is it that some people with Fibromyaglia show signs of it early in life and others later in life?  Does it not seem like maybe, just maybe that Fibromyalgia itself is a symptom?  Maybe, just maybe it is the red flag that goes up saying, "Hey!  Look at me!  Something serious is going on in this body and if you don't take care of it, I'm going to shut this body down until it gets fixed!"  Makes sense, right?  So, why are symptoms addressed one at a time instead of looking at them together as a whole?  Why are we treating symptoms as if they are the cause (i.e. the main issue) instead of looking for the real root cause that has lead to all of the symptoms?  That I cannot tell you.

So, now that I've said all of this, I suppose you're wondering what I think the root cause of Fibromyalgia is.  Well, as I've said before, Fibromyalgia is as individual as we are, and everyone's root cause is different.  For some, it's mostly diet.  For others, it springs out of multiple accidents and injures.  For others, it's hormonal (which I think mine is deeply rooted in due to my Hashimoto's and family history with autoimmune and hormonal issues).  The possibilities are endless for the cause, which is only half of the equation.  What we also need a solution to is the other half: how to manage it.

If we stopped slapping band-aids onto Fibromyalgia's symptoms, looked more closely at family history and what causes flare ups and our own medical histories, maybe, just maybe we could cure it one case at a time.  My Hashimoto's is not another condition; it is part of the whole.  My pain is not another condition; it is part of the whole.  My dietary issues are not another condition; it is part of the whole.  My whole body is not working in sync, and that is the real reason for my Fibromyalgia, and that is what I believe is the reason for any illness or condition, especially Fibromyalgia.

How can I make such a claim?  Well, when my Hashimoto's is out of control, nothing I do works!  I can eat right, I can get the right amount of sleep, etc. and still end up in a lot of pain with lots of Fibro Fog, etc.  I am one miserable lady!  On the flip side, however, when my Hashimoto's is under control, I can manage everything else so much easier, and most of my pain, Fibro Fog, etc. is gone.  Now, when I add to that eating right, there is no pain, no Fibro Fog, no nothing!  I am a fully functioning human being with no Fibromyalgia symptoms in sight!  That, my friends, is very telling!

I think we need to start treating the body as a 1 x 1 = 1 functioning system, not a 1 + 1 = 2 functioning system.  Everything needs to work together or nothing does.  We need to find the root cause (or causes) of our issues, not just start patching this thing and then that thing and hoping that it all pans out in the end.  Maybe I'm crazy, and maybe I'm not, but I think it's worth the try, and I think the results could end up being miraculous!

What do you think?
Do you think that problems are unique to themselves, adding up to having several individual things wrong?

Do you think that it is more like a domino effect where when one thing is malfunctioning then it leads to other things not working right, and that the root cause needs to be found so that the body can function properly as a whole?

Do you have a different opinion entirely?

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

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup (Soy, Nut, Egg and Fish-Free, Can Be Milk and Wheat-Free)

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last posted a recipe!  YIKES!  Life has been crazy busy with homeschooling and cementing potty training (My daughter is finally in panties full-time!  Hurrah!), church things, family things...And, unfortunately, that has not left a lot of time for blogging.  I am hoping as the weather gets better (*fingers crossed* Here's hoping!), my time will free up a little more so that I can share the recipes I have piling up for you all more often!  

Anyway, if you live anywhere where there is a ton of ice and snow (and probably will be for months yet) like I do, soup - especially a good, hardy one - is what you desire more than anything.  It has the ability to warm you body and soul and it makes you forget (for a little while) the nastiness that is outside.

This recipe is my take on a recipe that I got from my Granny.  Her recipe calls for canned soups and Velveeta which aren't exactly the best choices, though very delicious (Don't worry, all - she knows it's true, and I will be sharing this version with her so she has an alternative.).  I wanted to come up with a recipe that tasted like hers but was allergy-friendly and better for you.  This is the result.  This recipe is soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), nut, egg and fish-free and can be milk and wheat-free (see variations).  I hope you enjoy it!

And just as a side note, my 11-year-old who HATES broccoli LOVES this (and even eats the broccoli!).  That should tell you a lot about the flavor.  So, even if your family says they hate green veggies, have them give this a try.  You all may be pleasantly surprised! :)

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup

2/3 Cup full-fat, salted butter

3/4 Cup onion, diced into bite-sized pieces
(white, purple, yellow or green onion are all fine)

3/4 Cup grated carrots

3/4 Cup celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2/3 Cup soy-free flour

4 Cups soy-free chicken stock (I recommend Kitchen Basics)

3 Cups milk

1 to 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces or shredded

1 (16 oz) package frozen broccoli pieces 
(can use equivalent amount of fresh broccoli chopped into bite-sized pieces instead of frozen)

1 to 2 Cups potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
(peeled or not is up to you, though I recommend peeling if you are using Russets, and unpeeled if you are using Red, White or Yellow potatoes)

1 1/4 to 2 Cups shredded cheese (I use Cheddar, CoJack or Mexican Blend)

1 Cup soy-free sour cream (I recommend Daisy brand)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. In a large stock pot, melt the butter and then saute the onion, carrots, celery, parsley flakes and paprika until the onions are clear. (Note: You can substitute chopped, fresh parsley for the parsley flakes if you wish.  The amount you use of fresh parsley is based on personal preference.)
  2. Whisk in the flour until well-blended.
  3. Gradually stir in the chicken stock and milk until well-blended.
  4. Stir in the chicken, broccoli and potatoes and bring mixture to a boil. (Note: Which amount of chicken and potatoes you use is totally up to you and how hardy you want the soup to be.  Also, the smaller you cut your potatoes, the faster they will cook.  I recommend cutting your potatoes into a slightly smaller dice than your broccoli so that they finish at the same time.  Also, if you use fresh broccoli, it tends to cook a little faster than frozen (5 to 10 minutes vs. 10 to 20 minutes), so you probably want to add it when the potatoes are about 1/2 done (they normally take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook). )
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes or until the broccoli and potatoes are done, stirring often. 
  6. Stir in the cheese (which amount you use is based on personal preference), sour cream, salt and pepper and cook (stirring often) until the cheese is melted.
This recipe feeds a family of 5 easily with left-overs.  

Variations (Please keep your individual dietary needs in mind when using substitutions.  Thank you!):
  • Milk-Free: Use dairy-free butter, sour cream, milk and cheese (SoDelicious, Earth Balance and Melt are some good allergy-friendly brands, and you can check out some more here) or just leave any or all of them out.  If you leave the milk-out, you will need to up the stock amount to 7 Cups.  There will be no cheese flavor, obviously, if you leave out the cheese, but it will still be a great chicken and broccoli soup.
  • Wheat-Free/Gluten-Free: Leave out the flour (which will leave your soup a little thinner, but still tasty) or use cornstarch or other gluten-free flour/thickener in place of the flour.

  • Vegan/Vegetarian Options: If you are vegan/vegetarian, you can leave out the chicken and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.  You can also leave out all of the milk products, as mentioned above.
  • Less/Different Veggies: If you do not like potatoes, you can definitely leave them out. If you don't like broccoli, you can definitely leave it out or substitute another green veggie (i.e. kale, spinach) in its place.  If you can't have or don't like onions or celery, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon celery salt for the celery and/or 1/2 teaspoon onion salt for the onion.  If you like garlic, you can add a minced clove or 2 or even up to 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt to the recipe.

  • Using Fresh vs. Cooked Chicken:  If you want to use fresh chicken vs. cooked chicken, just chop it up as directed and add it in step 1 with the onion, carrots, celery, parsley flakes and paprika, cooking until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are clear before adding the flour.
  • Other Meats: You can substitute ham for the chicken or even use bacon (though I'd sprinkle it on top at the end rather than stir it in with the broccoli).

So hardy and delicious with so many options!  What's not to love?

What is your favorite soup/stew/chili to warm up with on a cold day?

What's your favorite winter meal?

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

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monthly Milestones {2}

Today is my second time running my monthly feature where I will be giving you updates on how I am doing physically, mentally, etc. and in which you can link up a post about some form of progress you are making, if you wish (see details below). I am enjoying this, and being publicly accountable (as hard as it is) will and is helping me out tremendously.  I hope you enjoy this link-up as well, will link up something inspiring and share it with others so that we can meet our goals together! :)
Here is how I am doing so far:
This is me today (February 1, 2014) at 234 lbs.
  1. I've lost a little weight.  I haven't made as much progress as I'd like, but I have made progress.  I've lost 1 pound.  I know, I know.  Only 1, but it's a start.  I have focused mostly on controlling my portions and learning to recognize when I'm truely hungry vs. just eating because ___________ (fill in the blank).  I am trying to eat better, too, but that's been a struggle - kinda two steps forward, one step back or visa versa depending on the day.  It has not been easy, but I am starting to get it - slowly but surely, and that's what's important here. :) I am not thrilled that I didn't loose more, but I am thrilled that I lost some.  Hopefully next month I will lose more. :)
  2. I've struggled emotionally.  As you have learned from my last post, this last month has been an emotional rollar coaster for me.  I've really struggled with not knowing where I fit, what my purpose is now that I feel so very limited, and so much more.  The last day or so, I feel more focused, more like me, and I am grateful for that. :)  Sometimes you need to find the bottom before you can start climbing back up, and I feel like that's where I am - on my way back up. :)  Thank you to all who have been praying for me in this area.  Please, don't stop! :)
  3. I am getting organized!  I bought a binder and all the stuff that get my recipes all in one place and organized.  I also am working on the purging that I need to do, at least starting mental lists or making actually lists about what needs to be done if it can't be done now.  It feels good! :)
  4. We've had some more family time and some time with friends.  Even though we've had some bad weather and some illness, there has been some time where the boys had some friends over, and we've had some family time.  I've even had some longer talks with my mom on the phone when I couldn't go see her due to illness, and I've even gotten to have some text convos with family I haven't gotten to talk to much.  That's felt pretty amazing. :)
  5. More sleep is still a work in progress.  Some days are good, and some days I feel like an insomniac.  I am gonna keep working on it, though. :)
  6. I'm doing a little more around the house.  As I am physically able, I am uping my housework load (i.e. doing chores like vacuuming a little more often).  It makes me feel better to know that I can do this when I can.  It is a way that I can get active, and it is always nice to feel like I'm accomplishing something and doing something good for my body at the same time. :)  Double whammy, yah! LOL :)

I guess that pretty much sums it up for now.  How are you doing on your goals?  Hopefully well, and I hope you will link-up a post telling me all about it or even leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  As always, I wish you the best of luck in all you do, and hope you will return soon! :)

Now It's Your Turn!

Grab A Badge!

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