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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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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Saturday, March 29, 2014

{Guest Post} Darla's Story: My Severe Dairy Allergy Was Misdiagnosed As Epilepsy And Hypoglycemia

About a month ago, I got an email from a lady telling me a story that, as soon as I read it, I knew I had to share with you!  I asked her permission to share it, and she graciously agreed.  It is a must read, and goes right along with my thoughts that the body functions as one, and if you treat the symptoms and don't get to the heart of the matter, the results can be devastating.  It is my hope, and hers, that you will read this and understand that just because your reaction is not typical, does not mean that food allergies or sensitivities are not the issue.  Search it out, ask questions, and get all the facts before you agree to treatment, especially expensive or life changing ones.  Sometimes the solution is a lot simpler than you realize!

Without further adieu, please welcome my new friend and fellow blogger, Darla!

My allergy is to all dairy products.  I am 50.  I have been living dairy-free for about 12 years after a simple blood test with a allergy testing facility proved my allergy to dairy was off the charts.   Prior to that test, I was being treated for epilepsy because the doctors didn't know why I was having seizures.  Well, it was the dairy they told me to eat because they thought I was hypoglycemic!  I was told to eat a chunk of cheese every couple of hours for strength!  Crazy when I think back.

Here's the whole story...

I had been having Grand Mal seizures since I was around 9 years old.  At around age 17, with concern of my driver's license, a neurologist ran a battery of tests, only to tell me that they don't know why I was having seizures, but take this medicine (Tegretol) so he didn't have to report me to DMV.  The medicine did not work.  I knew in my heart I didn’t have epilepsy, but did not know what was going on.

I was told that perhaps I grew too fast.  Hypoglycemic.  Pre-diabetic.  I asked to be tested for allergens but was asked, "What do you think you are allergic to?"  When I said I didn't know, they said they don't just run a battery of tests when you have no allergy indications, and seizures are not related to an allergy.

Every year, I would go to different types of doctors to figure out what was wrong with me.  EKG, MRI, Brain Scans, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic... Nothing worked, until 2001.

2001, I called a doctor in Berkeley.  He agreed to see me.  After a short meeting, Dr. Tim Smith said reassuringly that we would get to the bottom of this.  I giggled and told him, with no disrespect, that I have been told that before!  He sent me away with a battery of test to be taken; the first being blood work.  He said, "Do the blood test and let’s get the results before you do all the other tests."

On 10/23/01, blood was collected.

On 10/30/01, I got a phone call from Dr. Smith that said, “Quit eating and consuming all forms of DAIRY!  You are killing yourself!"

That day I stopped eating all dairy.  Soon thereafter, I was off all meds and my seizures miraculously stopped. Who knew, a dairy allergy would cause all that!

No doctor wanted to test me for allergies because people "don't have seizures from allergies". Well, my mean glucose was below 60, which can cause seizures.  (Note from Julie: It is my theory that the dairy allergy was affecting her blood sugar, causing it to go low enough to cause the seizures, probably due to a lack of proper absorption of nutrients.  This seems to be confirmed by the lack of seizures and hypoglycemia since removing dairy from her diet.)

I can't be the only person who has had this type of experience, and if I hadn't have continued to explore options, I would still be on anti-convulsive meds and not having the full life I now live.

Until about two years ago, this was my little secret.  If you were having Grand Mal seizures and didn't know the real cause of them, wouldn't you be living with a huge secret, too?  Now I realize how important it is to share my story… I know I am not the only misdiagnosed person living with an allergy that caused/will cause me to have seizures when the smallest amount of dairy was/is consumed.

My greatest concern is that, since I was diagnosed, I have had allergy blood test done through LabCorp. They all came back that I am not allergic to anything.  If I trusted that test solely, I would be living a VERY different life.
You can further connect with Darla on her blog:

Thanks for being a guest, Darla!  Here is a badge for you if you'd like to use it!

I hope you will all take a moment to leave some comment love for Darla below and take some time to visit her blog and offer her some support.

(This post was originally posted on both of my original sites, Fibro, Fit and Fab! and Natural and Free.)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Think Green Link-Up {Feature Day}

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and the first day of spring, I decided to do a link-up that covered all things green, whether it be green living, spring, St. Patrick's day, allergy help or anything else in some way related to the season/theme, and today is feature day-up, and I can't wait to share some of my favorites with you! 

Before I share my top picks, I wanted to say thank you to all of you who linked up!  I couldn't have done it without you! :)  You all are the best, and I hope any of you visiting today will take a moment to check out all the things linked up.  There are some yummy recipes, cleaning tips, cute posts and pictures.  There is something for everyone for sure! :)

On to my favorite part: feature time! :)  Because there were only 13 posts linked up, I decide to feature one person by each individual that linked up.  Even then, I had a hard time picking from those of you who linked up more than one post!  You all seriously have some mad spring, green, craft, recipe, etc. skills! :)  Anyway, I did manage to choose, and here they are, in no particular order: 

Snow Crab with Grilled Asparagus Eggs Benedict in an RV
submitted by Laurrie of Baked Lava 

Image from Baked Lava
What I love about this dish is that it is deceptively simple and very decadent looking.  I have no doubt that my hubby would love this as he is a HUGE fan of crab.  Great job, Laurrie!  You definitely have a winner here!

Happy St. Patrick's Day
submitted by Allison of Twingle Mommy

Image from Twingle Mommy

Allison, I totally LOVE the rice crispy treat idea in this post!  Rainbow desserts are so much fun and, though this is a little time consuming, it is certainly simple and can be a very allergy-friendly dessert for so many!  Awesome idea, and thank you so much for sharing!

Do I HAVE To Get Rid Of It?
submitted by Sandra of It's Tidy Time

get rid of it
Image from It's Tidy Time
I love this post because it fits with the spring cleaning that happens this time of year.  It gives some amazing pointers on how to decide if you should keep something or not, and I know I need those tips.  Sandra, thank you for the excellent ideas!

Spring Bucket List {Free Printable}
submitted by Stacey of Glued To My Crafts

What can I say?  I love the idea of a spring bucket list, especially when you see how sweet and fun the ideas are!  And I adore the look of this.  It's just makes me smile.  Thanks for sharing this and all your other things, too, Stacey!  As always, your crafts/printables are beyond beautiful, fresh and fun!

Reduce, Reuse, Regift!
submitted by Lizzeh of The Ever-Budding Bear

Image from The Ever-Budding Bear
As soon as I saw this post, I knew I had to feature it.  It fit so many areas of the link-up all in one post!  I mean, you have a recipe (actually, a few to choose from that can be adjusted to fit so many allergen needs), you have recycling involved (you'll have to see the post to know exactly what that involves), you have green color...It's just a fun twist on green living!  LOVE it!  Thanks so much for sharing it, Lizzeh!

My Homage To The Nut Free Peep
submitted by Caroline of Grateful Foodie

homage to the Nut Free Easter Peep
Image from Grateful Foodie
I had to share this because I am a Peep lover.  I love them stale, though, just like Caroline, as she let me know. :)  Anyway, Peeps are a great nut-free, gluten-free treat for all ages.  Thanks for sharing your adorable picture, Caroline.  It's always great to meet a fellow Peep lover!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! {Spin Cycle}
submitted by Ginny Marie of Lemon Drop Pie

Image from Lemon Drop Pie
I have always loved Ginny Marie's ability to share stories.  She is always so sincere and transparent.  This post is no exception.  She shares her heart, some traditions and all of her sweetness.  Thank you so much for sharing, Ginny Marie!

Congratulations to all of you on being featured!
If you'd like, please use the badge below to share the news on your blog or post.


Your posts are now linked up to my Think Green Link-Up board on Pinterest, and this post is shared on my Facebook page, Google+ pages (my personal one and Natural and Free's page) and tweeted on Twitter.

Which linked up post was your favorite?

What is your favorite part of spring?


Grab A Badge!

(This post was originally posted on Natural and Free.)

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Think Green Link-up {Last Day}: Strawberry Lemonade Mug Cake (Soy, Nut, Fish, Milk and Egg-Free, Can Be Wheat-Free and Diabetic Friendly)

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and the first day of spring, I decided to do a link-up that covered all things green, whether it be green living, spring, St. Patrick's day, allergy help or anything else in some way related to the season/theme (see details below).  Today is the last day to link-up, and then tomorrow I will share some of my favorites.  There are no limits to how many posts you can link-up (links to other link-ups and give aways welcome, but please keep the content kid/family friendly, thank you), so feel free to link up as many posts as you like!  And please don't forget to either grab a badge for your blog/blog page or link back to Natural and Free in some way so that others know where to join in all the fun!  I encourage you to check out some or all of the other posts that are linked up as well.  You never know what amazing things you will find until you look. :)

Before I share my yummy, spring-themed recipe with you (and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to share more with you, but time has not been on my side and I've been dealing with a migraine off and on for going on 3 days now), I wanted to say thank you to all of you who have linked up!  If I have not yet been by to see what you've linked up, I will be shortly.  You all are amazing. :)  I couldn't do this without you!

Now onto the recipe I know you're just dying to get your hands on...

 Strawberry Lemonade Mug Cake!

I wanted to share something that had some spring-like, fresh flavors, was simple and delicious and allergy-friendly.  I couldn't think of a better recipe than a lemon-flavored mug cake.  That it happens to have a sweet, strawberry center is an added bonus.  This recipe is original to me, soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), nut, egg, fish and milk-free, and can be wheat-free and diabetic friendly (see variations). 

The lemon "cake" is delightfully tart and the strawberry jam gives a nice, sweet contrast to that.  A winning combo in my book. :)  It reminds me a lot of strawberry lemonade, so that's why I named it Strawberry Lemonade Mug Cake.  It is a delightful, bright, refreshing treat for one.  I hope you enjoy it!

Strawberry Lemonade Mug Cake

2 Tablespoons soy-free, all purpose flour (white whole wheat would work, too)

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 Tablespoon olive or canola oil

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 to 2 Tablespoons soy-free strawberry jam, preserves or jelly
  1. In a mug, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a fork until well combined.
  2. Add oil and lemon juice and mix until there are no lumps remaining in your batter. (Note: It is crucial that there be no clumps! Unlike oven baking that leads to clumps baking out and leaving your cake more light or airy, clumps in microwaved cake leads to bitter bites of nastiness. Do not do!)
  3. Dollop 1 to 2 Tablespoons of strawberry jam, preserves or jelly on top of the cake mixture, pushing the filling down into the mixture slightly if needed.  (Note: The amount of jam, preserves or jelly you use is up to you, but know that the more jam you use, the more gooey the center will be.  If you like less gooey, use the lesser amount, and you can even use less than 1 Tablespoon if you wish, though leaving it out completely will change the texture and consistency of the end result.  It should still taste good, but it will definitely be drier.)
  4. Microwave the mixture in your microwave on HIGH for 1 minute and enjoy.
Serves 1.
Variations (Please make sure any substitutions fit your individual dietary needs.):

  • Wheat-Free: Substitute gluten-free baking mix or gluten-free flour for the regular flour, though you may need to cut back the oil by as much as half.  Note that the cake will turn out a little more the texture of corn bread as well.
  • Other Flavored Molten Centers: You can substitute any flavor jam, preserves or jelly for the strawberry jam, preserves or jelly.  You can even sub chocolate chips, lemon filling or anything else that you think would taste good with lemon.  You can leave out the filling all together, but this will result in a drier cake.
  • Other Flavors of Cake:  If you don't really like lemon, you can substitute lime juice, grapefruit, pineapple, orange juice or any other juice that you like (it does not have to be a citrus juice).  You can leave out the center or change it up with a flavor that is more suited to your juice choice (i.e. orange marmalade with orange juice or raspberry jam with cranberry juice).
  • Diabetic Friendly: Sub any approved for baking sugar substitute for the sugar, and a sugar-free/no sugar added jam for the jam, preserves or jelly or leave the jam, preserves or jelly out completely. If you use a liquid sugar or sugar substitute (i.e. honey, Agave, liquid Stevia), I would mix it in when you do the lemon juice and oil. I am not sure how that would effect the taste and texture of the cake, but you are more than welcome to try it and see how it turns out. :)
  • Enjoy experimenting with flavors. As I mentioned before, you can use any number of fillings if you want a molten center. You can even mix a few, if you wish, like chocolate chips and jam, 2 flavors of jam, 2 flavors of juice, etc. Just keep the amount of molten center items down to around 2 Tablespoons and your amount of juice to 2 Tablespoons so your cake isn't too mushy.  You can even sprinkle the top with sugar before you microwave it for a little bit of extra sweetness if you'd like. 

 Nothing says spring like lemon-flavored goodies! :)

What's your favorite spring dish?

What's your favorite dessert?

Now It's Your Turn!
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(This recipe was originally posted on Natural and Free.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Think Green Link-Up

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and the first day of spring, I decided to do a link-up that covered all things green, whether it be green living, spring, St. Patrick's day, allergy help or anything else in some way related to the season/theme (see details below).  This link-up will be live until Friday, March 21st, and then on the 22nd I will share some of my favorites.  There are no limits to how many posts you can link-up (links to other link-ups and give aways welcome, but please keep the content kid/family friendly, thank you), so feel free to link up as many posts as you like!  And please don't forget to either grab a badge for your blog/blog page or link back to Natural and Free in some way so that others know where to join in all the fun!  I encourage you to check out some or all of the other posts that are linked up as well.  You never know what amazing things you will find until you look. :)
I am hoping to be able to share a new recipe or 2 with you during the duration of this link-up, but for today I just wanted to share with you some recipes from the archives that fit the theme.
First up,
(Soy, Nut, Fish, Egg and Wheat-Free, Can Be Milk-Free and Diabetic Friendly)
Nothing says spring to me more than mint smoothies, probably because of a certain fast food joint's minty milkshakes which shall remain nameless.  This is my healthier version of said shakes.  If you want them green in color, you can certainly add green food coloring or even try adding some greens to the mix.
Second up,
(Soy, Wheat, Egg, Nut, Milk and Fish-Free)

If you're going to have a green link-up, then I think you should really feature some green veggies, don't you?  What better veggie than asparagus!  This recipe is so easy and so good.  If you don't think you like asparagus, give this recipe a try.  It just might make an asparagus lover out of you!

Last but not least,

(Soy, Wheat, Nut, Fish, Milk and Egg-Free, Can Be Diabetic Friendly)

Warmer weather = lemonade for me, and there is nothing better than homemade lemonade!  This recipe is super easy, and if you want to stick with the "green" theme, you can certainly use lime instead of lemon for some sweet and refreshing limeade!

I hope you all enjoy these recipes and will link-up something yourself.  I look forward to seeing what you all link up!

Happy Spring-To-Be!

Now It's Your Turn!
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(This post was originally posted on Natural and Free.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Monthly Milestones {3}

Today is my third 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:
Me, today, March 1, 2014 at 234 lbs.
  1. I've stayed the same weight.  I haven't made the progress I'd like (i.e. I'm exactly the same weight as last month), but I have made progress.  My stomach is slightly flatter and some clothes are fitting a little better.  That's always a plus, even if the scale is my nemesis.  Hopefully next month it won't be! ;)  Also, I have gotten better about portion control.  I am finding that saying no to that second serving when I am not really hungry is getting easier.  Baby steps in the right direction are still steps in the right direction.  Let's just hope and pray I continue in that direction! :)
  2. I've struggled with illness/pain.  Due to extreme cold (actual temps well below zero - as low as -25 F - and real feel even lower - as low as the -30s F) with crazy wind and lots of snow, my Fibromyalgia has been pretty relentless.  The days I've eaten right and avoided soy, I did pretty good, but that cold can bother anyone, and it was sure evil to most!  I also having been dealing with some sort of nasty head cold for about a week now, and just when I think I'm about to be over it, it comes back full-bore.  I am sure ready for Spring, better yet Summer!
  3. We've gotten some things crossed off our To Do List!  We've gotten a new kitchen table with benches since our old one wasn't an actual kitchen table (more like a plastic, rectangular card table) and our old chairs were starting to fall apart.  It is so nice and looks just perfect in our kitchen, like it was made for the space, and it cost less than buying the 2 new chairs we were thinking about doing.  Pretty sweet!  It's one of those tables that looks really expensive even though it's not, and that's awesome to me. :)  Also, we got all new curtains on the windows we wanted curtains on, a new comforter/bedding set for our room (since we've never really had one), we're getting hubby's car fixed (we've been down to one car pretty much all winter, which is normally fine since the kids are homeschooled and all and I don't work) and we've got hubby and I scheduled for eye appointments (first in like 3 years - YIKES!).  Lots of little things, but such big changes! :)
  4. I'm sleeping better.  I'm not sure if it has been not feeling well or what, but I've been sleeping better and deeper lately.  This is a good thing!  It gives me a lot more energy. :)
  5. I may have some very exciting news for you all soon!  I have a possible opportunity coming up, and if it all works out, I'll let you all know. :)  It would be pretty awesome, so keep me in your thoughts and prayers about this unspoken item.  Thanks so much!

That's pretty much it for this month.  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!

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