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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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, July 27, 2018

Family Favorites - July 2018: Strawberry-Rhubarb Freezer Jam (Soy, Wheat, Nut, Milk, Fish and Egg-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 seventh 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 recipe is Strawberry-Rhubarb Freezer Jam.  This is simply a re-post of my Strawberry-Rhubarb Freezer Jam with a few tips and tricks added in.  It is top 8 free (if all your ingredients are), easy to make, and super delicious!  It tastes just like pie filling!  It is one of those recipes that my family begs for every summer when rhubarb is in season.  I missed my chance to make some this summer, but I do plan on making some again next year. 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Freezer Jam

1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried and halved
(We always use local strawberries for this recipe whenever possible, and generally we pick them ourselves.)

1 lb. fresh rhubarb, rinsed, dried and cut into into no bigger than inch-sized pieces
(We always use local rhubarb for this recipe whenever possible, and generally we get it from a friend of ours who grows her own.)

4 Cups white sugar
(We always use cane sugar for this recipe.)

3/4 Cup water

(We always use this brand and type.)

  1. Rinse 6 (1 Cup size) clean, freezer safe containers and lids with boiling water and dry thoroughly; set aside.  (Note: We always use glass Ball mason jars like this.  You normally find them next to the pectin in the grocery store.  They are also available at hardware and farm stores - you can find them a lot of places, honestly.  Also, cleaning and sterilizing the jars is a crucial step in jam making!  Do not skip this step even if the jars are brand new!)
  2. In a blender or food grinder, crush the strawberries until you have 1 Cup mashed fruit and transfer to large bowl.  (Note: You can do this by hand, too, if you prefer, and you may not use the full pint of strawberries.  If you use a blender (unless you have a powerful one like a Ninja), you will probably have to pulse the berries, stir them, pulse them, stir them, etc. until they really begin to mash.  DO NOT ADD WATER TO MAKE IT EASIER TO BLEND!  It will ruin your jam.  Also, I always use a large, stainless steel bowl to add the mashed berries to, but you could use glass.  I would not recommend using a plastic bowl, however because you will be adding boiling hot liquid to it later in step 6.  Also, the more you mash your fruit, the less chunks for fruit will be in your jam.  If you want your jam smoother, mash the fruit more.  If you want it more chunky, don't mash your fruit as much.  I don't mash mine too fine, but enough so that there are not super large chunks of fruit, but a few medium bits are present and it is not a thin puree, if that makes sense.)
  3. In the same blender or food grinder, crush the rhubarb in the same manner until you have 1 Cup mashed fruit and transfer it to the bowl with the strawberries and mix well.  (Note: As with the strawberries, you can do this by hand, too, if you prefer, and you may not use the full pound of rhubarb. If you use a blender (unless you have a powerful one like a Ninja), you will probably have to pulse the rhubarb, stir it, pulse it, stir it, etc. until it really begin to mash.  DO NOT ADD WATER TO MAKE IT EASIER TO BLEND!  It will ruin your jam.  Again, the more you mash your fruit, the less chunks for fruit will be in your jam.  If you want your jam smoother, mash the fruit more.  If you want it more chunky, don't mash your fruit as much.  I don't mash mine too fine, but enough so that there are not super large chunks of fruit, but a few medium bits are present and it is not a thin puree, if that makes sense.)
  4. Stir the sugar into the strawberry-rhubarb mixture and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Note: Do NOT adjust the amount of sugar or use a sugar substitute!  The jam will not turn out!  Sure-Jell does make a less sugar pectin that will give you a different amount of sugar to use, but I'm not sure if you can use a sugar substitute even with that, but you'll have to check the guidelines on the box and follow those steps exactly.)    
  5. Mix the water and the pectin in a small saucepan, bringing it to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; boil and stir 1 minute.  (Note: Boil here means rolling boil with huge bubbles that are still present when you stir, not just tiny bubble and some steam that disappear as you stir.  DO NOT start the timer until the bubbles are as described or your jam won't gel properly.)
  6. Add the pectin mixture to the fruit mixture; stir for 3 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy, though a few sugar crystals may remain.  (Note: This step is crucial to good jam!  It should look kinda glossy, almost like pie filling, but not quite as thick, though it will thicken upon standing.)
  7. Fill all containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops.  (Note: Do NOT overfill as the jam tends to expand, especially in the freezer.)
  8. Wipe off top edges of the containers; immediately cover with lids.
  9. Let the containers stand at room temperature for 24 hours (the hardest part!!!), after which jam will be ready to use.  (Note: As the jam sits, if you use mason-type jars and lids, you may hear them "pop" when the lids seal.  This is normal, and what you want!  If they do not seal, they will still be edible, though, because you store them in the freezer/fridge, not in the pantry.  Resist the urge to use the jam before the 24 hours is done, too - they really do need the time to finish setting up.  I promise, it is worth the wait! :) )
  10. Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 1 year (Thaw in the refrigerator before using.).
Makes around 6 (1-Cup) jars.

Variations (Please keep your individual allergen needs in mind when using substitutions/variations!):

  • Flavor Change: There are tons of recipe ideas on the Sure-Jell site to try.  The freezer jam ones are all super simple and pretty fool proof.  I've made Mixed Berry with success, too, though I used 1 Cup of strawberries, and 3/4 Cup each blueberry and raspberry.  You can even use varying amounts of strawberries and rhubarb in the recipe above as long as your total amount of mashed fruit is 2 Cups.

I know some of you will think that making homemade jam is too difficult, but freezer jam really is easy.  There is time involved, sure, but the steps aren't that difficult, and the results are amazing!  Definitely worth the little bit of effort, for sure!  At any rate, I hope you will give it a try and that it becomes a family favorite for you, too!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Recent Reflections - July 2018: Freedom

This is the seventh 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, I will be reflecting on freedom.

Independence Day has come and gone, and I find myself reflecting on the holiday and what it has become.  Most people act like it is about a day (or more) off of work, fireworks, parties, parades, etc., and few really take the time to remember why we even have an Independence Day.

Freedom is NOT free.  It is NOT an entitlement, though some believe it is.  Freedom IS a privilege, and one that not every person on the planet gets, and one that Americans tend to take for granted.  You see, freedom is EARNED and KEPT by the willing sacrifices of those who believe that freedom is worth the ultimate sacrifice.  It may be something we are born with as American citizens, but we have to KEEP it, and if you have to fight to keep it, you can lose it.  We are losing sight of freedom's value.

Former President Ronald Reagan summed it up best when he said this:

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

If you want to know who some of my true heroes are, they look like these people:

These men, along with others like them (men and women alike), have fought for our freedom, our children's freedom, and for the freedom of every generation to come.  They gave up portions of their lives, face PTSD, have lost limbs, have lost friends and family, and so much more because they believed that freedom is worth more than their sacrifices.  I am in awe that they risked so much for my rights and privileges.

To all the soldiers out there - past, present and future - thank you!  Thank you for your sacrifice.  Thank you for protecting my freedoms.  Thank you for giving up so much for me and mine.  May God bless you for your service, and may your sacrifice never be forgotten!

To close, and for your listening pleasure, I'd like to share a podcast by Mike Rowe that will make you all think a bit.  It's episode 104 of The Way I Heard It called "The One Presenters".  Take a listen.  You won't regret it!

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!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes (Wheat, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Milk, Egg and Soy-Free)

My daughter and husband both have birthdays in July, and they both adore strawberries (and most other berries).  In honor of them, I have decided to share a recipe for cupcakes I made for my husband's birthday (and if memory serves, I also made it for my daughter's birthday, too) a few years ago.  The cupcake portion of this recipe I got from King Arthur Flour, but the rest of the recipe is my own.  Anyway, it is a gluten-free vanilla cupcake with strawberry filling and sweetened whipped cream on top that tastes a lot like strawberry shortcake.  It is super simple to make, delicious, and allergy-friendly to boot!  It is wheat, nut and fish-free (if all of your ingredients are) and can be milk, egg and soy-free (see variations).   

Note: The gluten-free baking mix I recommend does not technically contain soy, but it does contain xanthan 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 Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

For the Cupcake:
1/2 Cup softened full-fat, salted butter

1 Cup white sugar

3 eggs

1/2 Cup milk

2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract

1 3/4 Cup gluten-free baking mix 
(I recommend King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Baking Mix, and yes, it has to be a baking mix, NOT a gluten-free flour or the recipe will not turn out right)

For the Filling:
gluten-free strawberry jam or perserves
(I recommend Smucker's Natural Strawberry Fruit Spread)

For the Topping:
Sweetened Whipped Cream

whole strawberries for garnish (if desired)

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. Prepare muffin tins with 12-18 paper cups.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well blended and the butter is somewhat lighter in color.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just incorporated between each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl or large liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla.
  6. Alternate adding the gluten-free baking mix and the vanilla milk, about 1/3 of each at a time, to the butter mixture until all ingredients are added.  (Note: Make sure the ingredients are just mixed in after each addition like you did with the eggs.  You want the ingredients evenly distributed, but not over-beaten.)
  7. Evenly distribute the muffin mixture between the 12-18 muffin cups. (Note: You'll want the paper cups filled between 1/2 and 2/3 full.  Depending which amount you go with will determine how many cupcakes you get.)
  8. Bake the muffins for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Let the muffins sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pan and allowing them to finish cooling on the counter or a wire rack.
  10. Once the muffins have cooled completely, you can fill the cupcake the way you normally do with the jelly filling.  How I do it is to take a sharp knife, insert it a little way from the edge and down about 1/2 way into the cupcake, and cut circular portion out of the top of the cupcake.  I then remove the cake, place a dollop of jam in the hole and replace the piece of cake.  Not quite as professional as filling with a piping bag, but easier for me, and it ensures you get a lot of filling.  If you want tips on how to fill a cupcake, go here.
  11. Once the cupcakes are filled, top them with sweetened whipped cream (amount is up to you) and a strawberry, if desired.
Makes 12 to 18 cupcakes.

Variations (Please keep your individual dietary needs in mind when using variations):
  • Milk-Free: Use non-dairy milk (such as So Delicious) and non-dairy butter (such as Earth Balance or Melt) of your choice in place of the milk and butter, and use a non-dairy whipped topping that fits your allergen needs (So Delicious makes one) or make your own.  For some more options for dairy-free whipped cream, go here.
  • 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" or applesauce replacement would be a good fit with these cupcakes.
  • Soy-Free: King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Baking Mix does not claim to contain soy, but it does contain xanthan 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 another soy-free baking mix (if you can have wheat/gluten) or soy-free, gluten-free baking mix of your choice.  Keep in mind that if your baking mix doesn't contain guar gum or xanthan gum, you may need to add between 3/4 to 3 teaspoons of ground flax seed, guar gum or xanthan gum to help with textural issues, too.  You'll have to make sure all your ingredients are soy-free, too.
  • Super Easy Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes: Use a gluten-free vanilla cake mix of choice to make the cupcakes with (I recommend King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix).  Just make the cupcakes according to the box directions, and fill them when they are completely cool.  You can top them with a ready-made gluten-free whipped topping of choice vs. making your own, and then garnish with a strawberry, if so desired.  Easy peasy!
  • Gluten-Free Red, White and Blue Cupcakes:  Make the cupcakes according to the recipe, but garnish with blueberries instead of a strawberry, or you can fill them with blueberry jam/preserves vs. strawberry jam/preserves and garnish with a strawberry.  You could also alternate between cupcakes, too.  You could even do both fillings and garnishes per cupcake, if you wish.  You could even fill with whipped cream and just garnish with blueberries and strawberries.  Whatever you decide, it will be quite festive for a patriotic day! :)

  • Different Flavors: If you are a fan of chocolate chip cupcakes, you can add 1 Cup of chocolate chips to the batter and bake, fill and garnish as directed and as desired.  If you are not a strawberry fan, you can substitute cherry, blueberry, raspberry or another fruit spread of choice for the strawberry jam, and garnish with a like fruit, if desired.  You can even fill with chocolate ganache, pudding, whipped cream, caramel, pie filling, peanut butter or any other type of filling that sounds good to you that fits your allergen needs.  You can even use a chocolate cupcake vs. a vanilla cupcake, use frosting vs. whipped cream, use multiple types of fillings, garnish with nuts or peanuts, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

Aren't they cute and festive?

I promise they are yummy, too!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Essential Oils 101 with Jess - July 2018: Lavender

Awhile ago, I got curious about essential oils.  A lot of people I know that either prefer natural/herbal medicines or cannot take or use a lot of modern antibiotics due to allergies or other health issues use essential oils.  Because of this, I asked a friend of mine, Jessica, who is an essential oil guru in my opinion, if she'd be willing to do a monthly feature on here for me about essential oils, and she said she'd be delighted to! :)  "Essential Oils 101 with Jess" will go live the first day of every month, and I hope you find the information helpful!  If you're curious about essential oils, this information will be a great starting point for you! (See the disclaimer at the bottom of the post for further information.)

Without further adieu, I give you Jess!


As a wife to a husband who works hard at 50+ hours a week and a stay-at-home Mommy of 2 very busy littles, I simply say, "Hello!  My name is Jess!"  I've been faithfully using my Young Living kit and oils for 2 years now.  I thought that they were just over priced bottles of smelly oils, and it took me a year before I actually USED them in 2016 after my daughter was born and she fell ill.  After a few failed attempts of medicines and research, I made the choice to turn to oils.  The difference within 24 hours sold me out, and now they've become a daily part of my family's lives!  I love to do research upon research to find just what different oils are, what they do, and how I can use them.  My passion to share and teach others continues to grow daily.  Unfortunately, we aren't born with vast amounts of wisdom and knowledge, so that's why I'm here!  I want to make that road a little easier for each of you! 

July's Oil of the Month:
Lavender (5mL)

Happy Summer time!!  Anyone else dancing the happy sunshine dance!?  Me too!!!  Ok, well, as with most things in life, there are pros and yes….cons to the heat (Blaaahhh!).  And a pretty big con of the beautiful beach and sunshine days is our skin.  Unfortunately, our skin and that big yellow ball don’t always mesh, and we can end up looking more like an East Coast lobster than a sun-kissed beach bum!  So, to help celebrate July, I’ve chosen to feature the beautiful Lavender, AKA the Swiss Army Knife!  This is a great go-to for so many daily needs!  Lavender is known for benefits like skin support, mood and brain support, supports healing of burns/cuts/bites, it’s a calming oil to diffuse at night and you can even add a few drops to freshen up your laundry or home cleaning!

The top summer use my family uses Lavender for is for an After Sun Rub.  This cream offers you a temporary relief from that painful and even itching skin!  

Here's what you'll need to make the After Sun Rub:
  1. Mix lavender oil, lotion and carrier oil into the bottle.
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle with the warm water or witch hazel. (The warmth of the liquid will help the mixture blend better, so it does need to be warm.)
  3. Add the cap and shake until the mixture is completely blended. (This may take a minute or 2, but it will blend.)
  4. The mixture is now ready to use, but you'll have to shake it before each use.
  5. You can add in 2 - 3 drops of peppermint oil in step 1 if you want to have a highly cooling sensation added in!
* - Click on the links to view ingredient lists to see if these ingredients are right for you and fit your individual allergen needs.  Note that the oils mentioned are the Vitality variety.  You can search the other oils and blends here.

And that’s it!  You now have a wonderful refreshing rub for that sunny skin you’re wearing! 

Ready to make your own summer soother or want to know more about how to get your own oils?
Click —>

For even more information on how you can get started with Young Living Essential Oils, click here.

Curious as to "Why Young Living?"  Click here.

Want to keep up with my latest oils, info and discovery?
Head over to my blog, Essentially Balanced.

Disclaimer:  This post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of your doctor’s medical advice.  Though essential oils can be of great benefit for many people, they need to be used properly, and please be advised that some people cannot use essential oils due to allergies, sensitivities, etc.  I highly recommend that you discuss the use of essential oils with your allergist or physician prior to using them for the first time to see if essential oils are right for you.  All information shared here is based on the personal experiences of Jessica Pero and/or myself, and individual results can vary.  Neither of us are doctors, and we cannot treat, cure or diagnose any medical conditions.  

Neither Jessica nor I have been paid for our opinion of Young Living products, though free samples may have been sent to us at times (most products will have been purchased by at least Jessica for personal use vs. being given to her for free to try prior to it appearing on this page).  Our opinions are 100% our own without censor and reflect our personal feelings on the products and not that of the company/person that sent them to us.  If I do not have a comment on a particular product, it is because I have not personally tried it.  No product will be shown on this site that has not been tried by at least Jessica beforehand.

This post will also contain links (that were safe and valid at the time of posting) to outside sources to give you more information about the products listed and about how to purchase these products, including but not limited to the option to set up an account with Young Living.  You are not required nor obligated to set up an account with Young Living nor to purchase products from them by visiting these links.  If you choose to set up an account with Young Living or buy their products, you do so at your own discretion.  Furthermore, by using the information in this post, you expressly acknowledge and agree that Caring Foodie, its author (Julie Moore), Jessica and Caleb Pero, Essentially Balanced, Young Living, and are not responsible for the outcomes of your decisions resulting from the use of this information including, but not limited to, your choosing to purchase or not purchase products, to take (or not to take) a specific course of action based on the information shared herein or your seeking (or not seeking) professional medical care.

Thanks for being my guest, Jess!

I hope you all have enjoyed learning a little more about lavender essential oil.  If you have further questions, please leave a comment below and Jess will respond as she is able or contact her via her "Contact" page.