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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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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Friday, April 22, 2016

Health Update: Next Steps

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." - Helen Keller

{I feel like the above quote best fits my life right now.  I don't have "ease and quiet", but I can see this trial as something God can use to improve who I am, even if I don't see the purpose in it right now.  I can allow this to help mold me and make me into my best self, and that sounds like a good thing to me. :) }

After my appointment with the neurologist, I have no more answers, but I do have more testing coming up, but I have no idea when.  I am thinking it will be at least a few weeks away, if not a month or more.  I will see my neurologist again when all the testing is done (the appointment is set for July right now, but that will get moved up if the testing is done sooner and I can get in sooner) and discuss next steps.

I will be having an EEG and an MRV (like an MRI, but it looks at all the veins, not just the arteries).  They are trying to rule out seizures with non-typical presentation and blood clots in veins vs. arteries.  Non-typical migraines and complications due to Fibromyalgia or my Hashimoto's thyroiditis are also possibilities.  We did not discuss the possibility of MS at this time, but I will bring it up if the newest tests don't point to something else.  Basically, there is no one thing that stands out as obvious with all of my symptoms, so it could even be more than a few things.  We're still in the "ruling out or in" phase, and she said we can take this as far as I want to take it as far as testing goes.

We also discussed chiropractic options, and she thought that may help, but I am going to wait on pursuing that until after the EEG and MRV are done.  If those are "normal", then I will definitely try that route before we go another one unless she feels that another test would be more beneficial first.

I may also have some more blood work done, depending what they find with the EEG and MRV and/or what my doctor checked for already.  She has to look at what all has been done, and then decide if more blood work is needed at this time.  Joy.  I hate needles, but I'll make it. :D

Please continue to pray for wisdom.  She saw me when I was having a "good" day, so she didn't see me when I was struggling to walk or think straight or any number of other things.  She listened, didn't call me crazy, or even suggest that I was insane, so that's very good!  She took lots of notes and was very thorough, so I'm encouraged.  It is extremely hard to diagnose something that is inconsistent, so pray that she sees what she needs to see so that I can get the correct treatment for this.  Thanks so much!

Also, I have decided that I am going to pay more attention to my diet and exercise as those are the one thing I *can* do.  

I plan on:
  1. Getting exercise when I can, which includes walking daily whenever possible, and working on getting a swimming schedule down if at all possible.  I already exercise as I can, but I don't really have a plan to do it.  If I tell myself that I will go for a walk daily unless it's storming out or I can't move, or that I will go swimming every Thursday, I will be more likely to do it than if I just randomly decide that I should go for a walk or go swimming.
  2. I will be removing the green tea supplement from my routine as I feel it is no longer needed at this time (but will add it back if I start having new issues).
  3. At least two weeks after that, I will be removing soy as much as possible from my diet as I have issues with my soy.  I plan to go soy-free completely, but that may take a little time to get back to.
  4. At least two weeks into the "less soy" diet change, I plan on removing grains (other than rice) from my diet as much as possible.  Mainly this will entail limiting corn, wheat, and oats as I have the most trouble with those.
  5. At least two weeks after that, I will be removing my multivitamin as it contains soy (most do).  I will keep the multivitamin out of my diet completely unless I have new issues, then I will add one back in which will involve finding a soy-free one.
If you are wondering why I am waiting at least 2 weeks between removing different things, that is to give me time to see if there is any change in my health to the good or to the bad and let me know exactly what the culprit is.

Thank you for all your thoughts, prayers and encouraging words.  I appreciate it more than you know!  I will post another update when I have one to give.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tomorrow Is The Day...

"Be still, and know that I am God:" - Psalm 46:10a (KJV)
Tomorrow is the day - my neurologist appointment.  It's been nearly 3 months of waiting for this appointment, and nearly a year's worth of odd symptoms, and I'm finding that I have mixed feelings about my appointment.  I'm not sure I *want* to know what is going on or even head into the next testing phase, but at the same time, I do.  I'll be honest, though - I'm TERRIFIED.

Why am I so afraid?  Because it's normal to be afraid of the unknown.  I don't want to hear that I might have something awful, but I also am *more* afraid of a "we don't know" or the doctor thinking I'm making it all up, too.  It is a very scary thing to be clueless and feel so helpless.  

I feel absolutely insane some days because I know I *sound* crazy.  I don't look ill or like there is anything wrong - except for maybe the days I use the cane or am moving oddly - and I can be literally fine one minute and practically bed ridden the next.  It makes me feel quite certifiable, especially when I see eye rolls or hear things like, "You're *still* having issues?" or when people say things like, "Sounds like..." or "You should try...", and we've already gone down that road and that's not what is wrong or the treatment suggested has not helped me but it would be so nice if it had, or when people ask what's wrong and I have to say I don't know and that the tests have been inconclusive or "within normal", and they act like it must all be in my head or like I'm a hypochondriac.  Feeling like I'm being judged in that way makes everything that much worse, and makes me feel that much more alone in this.

Don't get me wrong - I appreciate the advice and the concern, and I *will* be asking LOTS of questions of the neurologist and I *will* be mentioning the treatment options and ideas everyone has suggested, and I know that it sounds all so crazy and unbelievable at times.  I understand *all* of that.  Trust me when I say that when I can't tell you *what* is going on or I have to cancel things last minute because whatever this is has rendered my limbs practically useless or I've already tried so many things, I *feel* like the biggest failure in all the world on multiple accounts.  I *wish* I could figure this out, but it could be a long time for answers to surface.

Through it all, though, I realize that this is where God wants me.  For some unknown reason to me, God wants me right here, and I need not fear or worry what anyone else thinks as He is here with me.  Whatever happens, He is here, and I will be ok, even if it's not ok.

"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." -Corrie Ten Boom
I'd appreciate your prayers very much as I meet with the neurologist tomorrow.  Please pray for these things:

  1. Wisdom.   Pray for wisdom, not only for the doctor, but also for me and my husband as we decide next steps for testing, treatment, etc.
  2. Peace.  I don't want to jump to conclusions or focus on "worse case".  I want to just relax and know that it will be what it is, and I can't change it, but I can face it with grace and dignity, and I can *know* that God is with me and dwell in  His peace.  Also, please pray for peace for my kids as they are struggling with things a little, especially when whatever this is hits me out of the blue and I can't move right, focus, etc.
  3. That I will let God use this in my life.  I don't want you to pray that God just heals me, oddly enough.  Sure, I'd love for it to go away, but not if that's not what is best for my life.  If God, in His wisdom, has allowed me to face this for something greater than myself, then I want to accept that and live through this in a way that shows God is real and that He is here.  I want that more than I want to be better.  

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers as I go through this!  They mean the world to me!  
I will post an update after my appointment, though it may take a day or 2.

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

Friday, April 15, 2016

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

Lemonies, glazed and dusted with powdered sugar

I love lemon flavor.  Lemonade, lemon squares, frozen lemonades - pretty much, if it's lemon flavored, I'll try it and probably like if not love it. :)  This love of lemon prompted me to come up with a lemon flavored brownie (minus the chocolate), hence this creation - the lemonie.

Lemonies are soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), milk, nut and fish-free, and can be wheat and egg-free (see variations).  The texture is a cross between lemon squares and chewy brownies (depending on how done you cook them and the topping you choose).  You can eat them glazed or not, dusted with powdered sugar or not, or you can glaze AND dust them with powdered sugar - whatever your preference!  They are citrus-y and fresh - perfect for spring and summer!  If you love lemon like I do, give these a try!  You'll love them!


Bar Portion:
3/4 Cup lard

1 1/2 Cups white sugar

3 eggs

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 Cup soy-free flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Glaze Portion (optional):
1/4 Cup lemon juice

1 to 1 1/2 Cup powdered sugar 

Dash of salt (optional and no more than 1/8 teaspoon)

For Dusting (optional):
powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. Grease and flour a 9x13 glass pan; set aside. (Note: To keep this recipe milk-free, grease the pan with lard or oil of choice that fits your allergen/dietary needs.)
  3. Mix lard,  sugar, eggs, and lemon juice together, until blended.
  4. Add to mixture, flour, baking powder and salt, until well blended.
  5. Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until desired doneness.  (Note: You want them to be to the same doneness you would bake brownies to.)

    You can eat the lemonies at this point once they've completely cooled.  You can also dust them with powdered sugar once they've completely cooled before serving.  If you really want them extra gooey and/or decadent, you can follow the next few steps.
  6. In a small bowl, mix up the ingredients for the glaze portion with a wire whisk until well blended.  (Note: I add the salt to bring out the sweetness, but if you don't want to add it in, you don't have to.  Start off making the glaze with the 1 Cup powdered sugar, and add more if you find the glaze too tart for your liking or too thin.)
  7. You can pour the glaze over the lemonies as soon as they are out of the oven for a more gooey texture or wait until they cool completely to glaze them.  The choice is yours!
  8. If you want even more sweetness, you can dust the lemonies with poured sugar after you've glazed them and they've completely cooled.
Makes 12 very large squares or up to 24 smaller squares.

Variations (Please keep your individual dietary needs in mind when using variations):
  •  Wheat-free: Use a gluten-free baking mix in place of the flour.  I recommend using either King Arthur Flour's Gluten Free Baking Mix or Krusteaz Gluten Free Flour.  Both can replace the flour at a 1:1 ratio (i.e. 1 Cup mix = 1 Cup flour), and taste great!  You can also use another gluten-free flour of your choice, but note that you may have to add up to 3 teaspoons of xanthan gum or ground flax seed to the recipe for textural purposes.  Don't forget to dust the pan with a gluten-free flour/baking mix as well!
  • Egg-Free: Use an egg-replacer or one of the substitution ideas listed under the "To Make a Recipe Egg-Free" to replace the egg.  For best results, I would go with the egg replacer or flax seed "egg", however.
  • Other Flavors: If you don't like lemon, but do like lime, pineapple, orange or grapefruit, you could certainly substitute lime, pineapple, orange or grapefruit juice for the lemon juice.  You could also use a combination of juices, if you wish.  You could also glaze the bars with a jam of choice vs. the glaze.  You could also try substituting a non-citrus juice for the lemon juice as well.  You could even substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla for the lemon juice in the bars and make a vanilla glaze vs. the lemon glaze (if you wanted them glazed) if you wanted vanilla flavored bars.
  • Alternative Fats: If you don't like lard, you can certainly substitute any solid fat for it - butter, coconut oil, shortening or a dairy-free butter.  I would not use oil (other than coconut), however, as the bars will not turn out right.  Keep in mind that if you use coconut oil, your lemonies will taste a little like coconut, so don't use it unless that's the flavor profile you want.

Yum!  Gooey, lemony deliciousness!  What's not to love?

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

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Monthly Milestones 2016 {4}

Today is the fourth Monthly Milestones of 2016.  If you want to share a milestone post, just leave a comment below with a link to your milestone post, and I'll pop over and visit it and leave a comment, and hopefully some of my other readers will, too. :)  Normally, Monthly Milestones, where I will be giving you updates on how I am doing physically, mentally, etc., will go live on the first Saturday of every month, though sometimes I may be a day early or late depending on circumstances.

Here is how I am doing as of today:

Me as of today, April 2, 2016, at 230 lbs.  Special thanks to my son, Stephen, again, for being my photographer! :)

  1. My weight went up again!  I weigh myself every week, and this month has been up and down a *lot*, ending with a net gain of 2 and a half pounds.  I know it is in part to not making the best food choices, and I'm going to remedy that starting today and hopefully I'll have a weight loss to report to you next month. :)
  2. Now that it's spring, it's more like winter!  Weather in Northern Michigan is crazy.  It can be warm and sunny one minute, snowing to beat all the next.  March was exactly like that, and (so far) April is going that way, too.  It makes it difficult to get out an walk like I'd want, but here's hoping that I'll be able to anyway! :)
  3. We're still plugging away with our new lifestyle choices.  I haven't been able to go swimming as much recently due to illness in the family, and weather has made walking difficult, but I'm hoping to be able to get back at it this week.  We'll see.  I'm also working at getting more organic and non-GMO when possible, and trying to avoid soy and grains more and eat a more protein-based diet.  I find it does make a difference in how I feel.  It's not easy, and I tend to fail a lot (especially when life gets crazy), but I'll keep working at it.  Wish me luck!
  4. I have no further information on the cause of my health issues, and we've been dealing with other health issues in the family.  Well, I had just over a month break from my weird health issues, but they are now back, and there is definitely a pattern.  I start with focus/cognitive/emotional issues, go to tightness/spasms in my limbs and/or Restless Leg-type symptoms, and then I get the weakness/heaviness in my limbs.  After that, I can have fluctuating symptoms, and I have been.  I've had to use a cane a few times to help me with stability.  I am very glad I will be seeing the neurologist in a few weeks, so hopefully we can work on getting some more answers!

    We've dealt with some nasty viruses in the house that haven't helped things, either, but hopefully those are on their way out and April will be a good month. :)  Time will tell!

    I got my eyes checked out, too - no changes there, so I'm getting prescription sunglasses vs. a new part of glasses this year (first time ever getting prescription sunglasses, so I'm excited about that).  My eye doctor seemed to think some of my visual issues could indeed be a form of migraine, so that gives me something to talk with the neuro about when I see her.  He did note that some of my visual field is not quite 100%, and he's never mentioned that before so I'm assuming that is a new thing with me, however, my eyes look good structurally and he didn't see anything concerning, so for now, my eyes are healthy and he can't figure out why I'd have the issues I have.

    Please continue to pray for us as we search for answers to my health issues and the other unspoken ones I mentioned last month.  Thanks so much!
  5. We appreciate your prayers as we make some important decisions as a family.  Due to my unknown health status among other reasons, we need to make some decisions about various things in the next few months.  We appreciate your prayers very much.  Our lifestyle may be in for some very big changes, and we need to prepare for that the best we can without jumping the gun too much.  We think we've already gotten some direction, but want to check out a few more things before we decide 100%, but it definitely looks like things will be changing in the upcoming months with some things.  It will be different, but good. :)  Thanks so much for all the support and prayers for us through this.  They mean the world!
  6. Blog updates have stalled, though posting has increased!  My system to add posts to this blog and Natural and Free at least once a month is still going well, and I have found the time to make some minor changes.  I'd like to do more than that, but my current health status is making that difficult, and I've finding that I am back to having a serious lack of time for now.  We'll see how it goes!  I may still be able to surprise you with some crazy awesome updates sooner than later. ;)  Stay tuned! :D

That's about it for now.  How are you doing?  Are you reaching your goals?  Have you tried something new?  Come up with a new recipe?  I hope all is going well with you, and I hope you will leave a comment sharing your thoughts and/or milestones (with a link to your post, if you wish).  As always, I wish you the best of luck in all you do, and hope you will return soon! :)

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