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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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, February 24, 2018

Family Favorites - February 2018: Gluten-Free Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup (Wheat, Nut, Egg and Fish-Free, Can Be Soy and Milk-Free)

This year, I decided to list a family favorite recipe from the blog (with any adaptions that we use regularly, if applicable) on the fourth Friday or Saturday of every month.  This recipe will be one that we make quite often and that we all enjoy greatly.  This post is the second Family Favorites recipe of 2018.

If you have a recipe on your blog that you consider a family favorite that you'd like to share, please comment below with a link to the recipe, and I'll make sure to pop on over and visit your site to check it out (and leave a comment), and hopefully some of my other readers will, too.

This month's family favorite that we make monthly or more is Gluten-Free Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup, which is an adaption of my Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup (I will share the ingredients we normally use, where appropriate, as well). This modification is wheat, nut, egg and fish-free, but can also be soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients) and milk-free.

The thing I like most about this recipe is that it is full of good-for-you veggies.  My kids love that it tastes good, and they don't notice they are eating the veggies most kids don't care for (broccoli and cauliflower, mainly).  If you are looking for a way to get your kids to eat more veggies, this may just be the ticket!  FYI, I've never had anyone try it that didn't like it - seriously.

Note: The gluten-free flour that I recommend does not technically contain soy, but it does contain guar gum (see "Soy-Free" under variations for more details) which can cause issues for people with soy sensitivities or allergies, and that is why I will not claim that this recipe is soy-free.

Gluten-Free Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Soup

1/2 Cup full-fat, salted butter

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

3/4 Cup grated or finely chopped carrots

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

1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 Cup gluten-free, cup-for-cup flour

4 Cups gluten-free chicken stock
(We normally use Pacific brand.)

4 Cups milk
(We normally use whole milk, but you can use what you have on hand.)

1 to 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces or shredded
(We nearly always use 1 cooked chicken breast.)

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

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)
(We normally used unpeeled red potatoes.)

1 1/2 to 2 Cups shredded cheese
(We use CoJack or Cheddar.  We also buy the block cheese and shred our own.  We also nearly always use 2 Cups.)

1 Cup sour cream 
(We always use 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 gluten-free flour until well-blended.
  3. Gradually stir in the chicken stock and milk until well-blended.
  4. Stir in the chicken, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes and bring mixture to a boil. (Note: Which amount of chicken you use is totally up to you.  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 and cauliflower so that they finish at the same time.  Also, if you use fresh broccoli and cauliflower, they tend to cook a little faster than frozen (5 to 10 minutes vs. 10 to 20 minutes), so you probably want to add them 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, cauliflower 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 (SoDeliciousEarth BalanceDaiya 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.  You'll have to saute the carrots, onion and celery in some kind of fat, though, so keep that in mind.  If you leave the milk-out, you will need to up the stock amount to 8 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.
  • Soy-Free: Pamela's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour does not claim to contain soy, but it contains guar gum, which can cause issues with people who have soy sensitivities and allergies, and hence the reason I won't claim this recipe is soy-free already.  You can use regular flour (if you can have it) or a soy-free, gluten-free flour of your choice.  I have also used potato starch or corn starch in place of the gluten-free flour with success.  You'll have to make sure all your ingredients are soy-free, too

  • 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.  You can also use all broccoli and no cauliflower, too.  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 gluten-free 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).
This soup is hardy and perfect for a cold, winter day.  It takes a little bit of prep work, but it goes together quickly, and is well worth the time it takes to prepare.  

If you're struggling to get your family to eat more veggies, give this soup a try!  It may just become a family favorite of yours, too! :)

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

Recent Reflections - February 2018: True Love

This is the second Recent Reflections post of 2018.  Recent Reflections goes live the third Friday or Saturday of each month.  Each Recent Reflections post covers something that I'm reflecting on.  If you'd like to share a post with a similar theme, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your post, and I'll hop on over and leave a comment (and maybe some other readers will, too).

This month, in honor of Valentine's Day, I'll be sharing my thoughts on true love.

Image courtesy of foto76 at 
When you think about true love, what comes to mind?  Newly weds?  Romance?  First kiss?  Romantic dinners?  Candlelight?  Walks on the beach at sunset?  I'm sure it is some Hollywood-version of true love, but is that really what true love is?

True, as it is used in this case, is an adjective that can be defined as "genuine, real, accurate, loyal, faithful, honest", to name a few.  Love, as it is used in this case, is a noun that can be defined as "an intense feeling of deep affection" or "devotion".  True love can then been defined as "genuine devotion or loyalty" or "honest devotion".  As you can see, true love is simply being completely loyal and devoted to another.  True love is, at its core,  selflessness.

What we think of as true love is not really true love as it is defined, but the emotion of one aspect of love.  What we tend to think of is actually romance, which is defined as "an emotional attraction".

True love lasts when the romance is gone, because true love does not rely on what it gets, but what it gives.

In truth, true love doesn't require romance at all.  You can truly love someone, like family or friends, without it being romantic love.

I am going to share with you I Corinthians 13 (KJV) - AKA "The Love Chapter" - to give you a better definition or understanding of what true love is (Note: the word "charity" means love, and I bolded some words and enlarged them for emphasis.):

1 Corinthians 13(KJV)

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
True love is patient, kind, not envious, doesn't boast, isn't prideful, doesn't behave inappropriately, isn't selfish, isn't easily upset, doesn't think evil, doesn't rejoice when things go wrong, rejoices in truth, helps bear burdens, believes the best about people, has hope until the end, is enduring no matter what, and it never fails.  

In short, love is a choice to believe the best about someone, treat them well, and be there for them even when they don't deserve it.

That isn't easy, but anyone who has family or been married for any length of time knows that the key to making relationships great is choosing to love no matter what.  Once you choose to abandon the devotion, it all falls apart.

For even more clarity on what true love is, here is the greatest example of it:

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Wow.  When I think about Christ's version of true love, I can't help but wonder if I truly love anyone with true love.  Am I willing to give up all of myself for another?  Am I willing to die for another if needed?  Though I want to believe that I'd die for my kids and my spouse and other family or even friends-who-are-like-family without hesitation, I don't know that and wouldn't know that until I was in the situation.

Most remarkable to think about is that Christ died for me while I was a sinner, and basically His enemy.  Wow!  I am pretty sure I couldn't die for an enemy...especially if  the enemy was someone who had harmed a loved one.  God's love is the only true love out there.  He is definitely completely loyal and devoted to us!

With all that being said, thinking of God's love inspires me to love Him more and to show greater compassion to others.  It challenges me to love the unlovely.  It encourages me to find value in those who are cast aside by others.  It makes me remember that I was loved at my most unlovable, and it is not beneath me to share His type of love with others, too.  It also reminds me that love is a choice, not an emotion, and it is what I make it be.

Today, I choose to love.  I choose to love my family when they upset me.  I choose to love the friend in need even when I had other plans.  I choose to love the stranger on the street by offering them a friendly hello when I'd rather ignore them.  I choose to smile and radiate the love of Christ to others, because that is what true love is - giving of myself when I don't have to.

I truly hope this post has been a blessing to your heart!  What has God done in your life lately to bless you?  What are you reflecting on?

Have a wonderful weekend!

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

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (Soy, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Wheat, Milk and Egg-Free)

When I think about Valentine's Day, I automatically think about chocolate.  I also think about all the New Year's resolutions that go down the drain.  That being said, I got to thinking about something that would satisfy the chocolate craving, but still be a bit better for you than a box of chocolates (and that fit your allergen needs a bit better, too).  This was the result: Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.

These cookies are a variation on my Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies.  They are soy (if you use all soy-free ingredients), nut and fish-free, and can be wheat, milk and egg-free.  Did I mention they were full of dried cherries and chocolate chips, giving you almost a chocolate-covered cherry taste?  Yah - they are quite yummy!  You're welcome! :)  

 Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 Cups soy-free flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 to 1 teaspoon salt

1 Cup (2 sticks) salted, full-fat butter, softened

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 Cups oatmeal

1 Cup dried cherries (yes, they must be dried cherries)

1 Cup soy-free chocolate chips (I recommend Enjoy Life brand)

1. Preheat oven to 350oF.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt (amount of salt based on personal preference).

3. In another big bowl, mix butter, sugar and brown sugar until mixture has doubled using a mixer.

4. Add eggs and vanilla to the sugar mixture and mix well.

5. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, beating it in at low speed.

6. Finally, add in the oatmeal, dried cherries and chocolate chips and stir in with a wooden spoon.

7. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls, placing them on ungreased baking sheets, leaving space of 3 inches between each cookies; flatten the dough. (You can make these cookies smaller if you wish, but note that the cooking time will be shorter.)

8. Bake 13 minutes or until cookies are golden but lightly soft on top.

9. Let cool on a sheets for 2 minutes.

10. Put cookies on a wire rack or on brown paper or waxed paper and let them cool completely. (These cookies can be eaten while warm, too, but they tend to fall apart easier that way.)

Makes 5 to 6 dozen cookies.

  • Wheat-Free: Use a gluten-free, cup-for-cup flour for the flour in this recipe.  I recommend  Pamela's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour or King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Baking Mix.  Note: Neither Pamela's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour or King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Baking Mix claim to contain soy, but Pamela's contains guar gum and King Arthur Flour's contains xanthan gum, which can cause issues with people who have soy sensitivities and allergies, so keep that in mind if you have issues with those ingredients.  You can use another gluten-free flour of your choice.  Keep in mind that if your blend doesn't contain guar gum or xanthan gum, you may need to add between 1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground flax seed, guar gum or xanthan gum to help with textural issues, too.
  • Grain-Free: If you have trouble with all grains, including oatmeal, sub quinoa flakes for the oatmeal, use a gluten-free, grain-free flour, and make as directed.
  • Milk-Free: Use a dairy-free butter or solid fat such as coconut oil in place of the butter.  Also, make sure your chocolate chips are dairy-free (Enjoy Life brand that I recommend is).
  • Egg-Free: Use an egg replacer in place of the eggs.  For ideas on what to use in place of the eggs, check out my ingredient substitutions page.  The flax seed "egg" would be a good fit with these cookies.
  • Sugar Substitutions: You can use all one type of sugar or use Stevia or another sugar-free, approved for baking alternative for the sugars.  Use this chart to help you determine how much Stevia to use.  Here is one for determining how much Splenda to substitute with.  Here's another conversion chart that may be useful: Sweetener Equivalency & Usage Chart.  I do NOT recommend using a liquid sweetener in place of the sugar as it will greatly alter the texture of this recipe.
  • Other Types of Chocolate/No Chocolate: You can use dark, milk or white chocolate chips for these cookies or a combination of your favorite that fit your allergen needs (do not exceed 1 Cup of chocolate chips, though).  You can even leave the chocolate chips out entirely.  Peanut butter chips (if you can have them) would be a tasty substitution, too.
  • No Cherries/Different Fruits:  You can leave out the cherries, if you wish.  You could sub another dried fruit that you like with chocolate (dried blueberries, dried cranberries, dried berries, dried pomegranate seeds, etc.), but I do NOT recommend substituting canned, fresh or frozen fruit as this will greatly alter the texture of these cookies.

Happy Valentine's Day (a little early)!

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