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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels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

Print This Recipe/Page

Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Family Favorites - September 2018: Gluten-Free Granola (Fish, Egg, Wheat, Milk and Soy-Free, Can Be Nut-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 ninth 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 Gluten-Free Granola.  This is basically just a re-posting of my Granola recipe with a few tricks I've learned over the years listed, and tips on how to make sure it is gluten-free for those who need it to be.  Along with being wheat-free, it is also fish, egg, milk and soy-free (as long as your ingredients are), and can easily be nut-free (see variations).  It is also one of the recipes my family requests for me to make all the time, and one that I try to have on hand whenever the weather starts to get nasty just in case we have a power outage.  We eat it plain, on yogurt, as cereal - I've even eaten it on ice cream.  You can do so much with it!  I will even list a variation that is completely grain and baking free!  It really is super easy, makes a ton, and is so customizable.  You're sure to find a combination that is a true winner for everyone in your family!

Gluten-Free Granola

3 Cups gluten-free old-fashioned or quick cooking oats, NOT instant oatmeal
(We always use quick cooking oats.)

2 – 2 ½ Cups of any combination of the following:
almonds, pecans, walnuts, coconut, sunflower seeds, cashews, pumpkin seeds,
or any other seeds or nuts that fit your dietary needs
(We normally use 2 1/2 Cups in total, and use raw nuts and seeds when available.  We normally use almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds.)

¼ Cup (packed) brown sugar
(We always use Domino Light Brown Sugar.)

¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ Cup honey
(We always use clover honey, and we get local honey whenever possible.)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

dash of salt

1 ½ teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract

Any combination of the following, to taste:
raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, any other dried fruit of choice that fits your dietary needs
(We normally use dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried cherries, and/or dried mixed berries.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats and your choice of coconuts, nuts and/or seeds; set aside. (Note: For those will Celiac's or gluten-sensitivity/allergy, please make sure that your oats and other ingredients are certified gluten-free.  If you cannot have oats at all, see my variations below for grain-free options.)
  3. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, oil, honey, cinnamon and salt; bring to a boil.  (Note: It doesn't have to come to a rolling boil, just a regular boil.  Another tip: Since they are all the same amount, add the sugar, oil and honey in the order listed and you won't have any trouble with honey sticking to your measuring cup or the need to use more than one! :) Gotta love having less dishes to clean!)
  4. Remove sugar mixture from the heat and stir in vanilla.  (Note: Again, make sure your vanilla is certified gluten-free if you need it to be!)
  5. Pour sugar mixture over oat mixture; stir to coat.
  6. Spread in a large, shallow, un-greased baking pan (think half to full-size sheet pan).  (Note: If you want to put the granola on parchment paper, you can, but it is not necessary, and, in my experience, I've found that it is definitely easier to stir in step 7 without the parchment.)
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until lightly toasted. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Slightly under baking is better than over baking.  (Note: Yes, you need to  stir it every 5 minutes or it will burn!  You can stir it as often as every 3 minutes if you are worried you will burn it.)
  8. Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the granola to waxed paper or parchment paper, spread the granola out flat, and then cool the granola completely before adding your choice of dried fruits.  (Note: You don't want to stir the granola after this point until it's completely cooled unless you don't want larger clusters of granola.  If you want it to have a fine texture, you will have to stir it/break it up as it cools.  If you like it with more clusters (like I do), let it set until it is completely cool before stirring.)
  9. Enjoy as a topping, a cereal or a snack as is, and store any left-overs in an airtight container. (Note: I store mine in the fridge so that it lasts longer, but you can store it in the cupboard, as well.) 
 Variations (Please keep your individual dietary needs in mind when using substitutions.  Thank you!):

  • Nut-Free: You can make this recipe nut-free by substituting oatmeal or some other dry type of ingredient (like wheat germ or coconut) for the nuts (Note: I do not consider coconut a tree nut, though some do, so if you cannot have it, leave it out.  I also do not consider seeds as a nut, because they are not, so if you cannot have them, please leave them out.).
  • Grain-Free: You can leave out the oats and use quinoa flakes or just all nuts, coconut and seeds if you need this recipe to be grain-free.
  • Other Flavors: As I've mentioned, you can completely customize this granola!  You can add M&Ms, pretzel bits (gluten-free, if needed), mini cookie bits (gluten-free, if needed), chocolate chips (allergy-friendly like Enjoy Life, if needed), butterscotch chips, vanilla chips, mini marshmallows, etc. to the cooled granola mixture, if you desire and can have them.  You can add flavored nuts and seeds (i.e. chocolate or yogurt covered, cinnamon and sugar covered), too, though I'd add them in to the cooled baked mixture vs. baking them in.  Whatever you think sounds good that fits in your dietary needs is allowed! :)
  • No Bake Option Snack Mix: If you don't want to make a baked granola or don't have time to make a baked granola, you can omit the oats and all the sugar, oil, honey and spices, and just mix nuts, seeds, dried fruits and/or any of the options mentioned in "Other Flavors" variation above in a large container and store it in the fridge or cupboard.  It is a super easy way to make a snack mix!  I've made a S'mores version with Enjoy Life chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and broken up gluten-free vanilla wafers/cookies (Kinnikinnick and Enjoy Life both have tasty options for those) that was a huge success with the kiddos!

As you can see, the sky's the limit with this versatile snack!
I hope you give it a try and that it becomes a family favorite for you, too!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Recent Reflections - September 2018: Back-To-School Time...

This is the ninth 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 all the thoughts that I have during back-to-school season.

My kiddos on their first day of school for the '18-'19 school year.
It's that time of year again: back-to-school.  It's one of those things you either love or hate, and there's very little room for middle ground.  As a homeschooling parent, I find that I greet this time of year with a bit of excitement and fear.  I love teaching my kids at home (I have a secondary education degree (English major, math minor)), but I always fear that maybe I'm not quite getting it all right.  I pray I am not forgetting to cover certain things, wondering if they are getting enough hands-on in some things, and trying not to be too much of a stickler on things that don't matter, but enough hardcore on things that do.  It is a fine line to tread being both mom and educator, and one I don't take lightly.
I love that I can give them the one-on-one that they need.  I love seeing that look of understanding that comes when learning has happened successfully.  I love the joy they get out of learning something new and exciting.  I love the closeness teaching them myself brings, and that I can instill our
family and religious values into them in all aspects of their learning.  It  is such a blessing!

My kids doing the "must have" silly pose".
On the flip side, there are days when homeschooling is downright hard!  I mean, uber, super HARD!  There are days when a concept remains elusive no matter how many ways I explain it.  There are days when spelling rules and reading skills baffle my daughter to the point of frustration and tears for both of us (she and my middle kid both struggle with forms of Dyslexia/Sensory Processing Disorders).  There are days the answer keys are wrong or so vague that I have to spend 30+ minutes trying to figure out what the right answer is or why they got the answer they did.  There are days when all the kids have tests at the same time or are needing me to grade something so they can move to the next thing, and they all want my time NOW.  There are days where I wonder, "Am I really doing the right thing?"  There are days when the idea of sending the kids back to public school sounds amazing because I'd have a few precious hours to myself.  But, thankfully, those feelings and days are less often than the good ones, and I know beyond a doubt that homeschooling IS the right path for my family.

I know that not everyone can homeschool or even wants to.  That's ok.  My kids all spent time in a public school, and, before I turned to more traditional homeschooling with Monarch, my boys were even in an online charter school (think homeschooling, but with actually classes online with teachers).  Everyone has to do what they believe is best for their kiddos, and that doesn't look the same for everyone.  Don't think that you are less than because you don't homeschool (I certainly don't think that of you), and don't think I'm less than because I do.  The beauty of education is that it comes in so many forms.  You do what's right for you little ones, and I'll do what's best for mine.  At the end of the day, we'll both have children that we feel are better equipped to function in society for the way they were raised, whatever that personally means to us.  Truth be told, the only one that I am accountable to when it comes to educating my children is God, so others' opinions very little beyond that. :)  That's how you should feel about it, too. 
My favorite silly picture they didn't realize I was taking. :)

As your kids go back-to-school in whatever form that takes, know that you are in my prayers!  We all need those to get by and to thrive in this life.  It isn't easy being a parent, and it is just as hard being an educator!  So if you are both, you have double prayers! :)  If you are "just" one or the other, do your best version of that, and all will be right with the world, and we'll have a great year, I'm sure!

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, September 7, 2018

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

It's back-to-school time, and that means the weather is getting cooler, autumn is approaching, and soups are going to be made more in our household, especially hardy ones!  This soup, a recipe of my own design, is exactly the type of soup that I love in the fall!  It is hardy, a little spicy, and fills you up nicely, leaving you warm and toasty inside.  I like to think of it as a merger of tacos and chili.  (Maybe I should have called it tahili or chiaco soup?  Maybe not. :) )  Anyway, this soup is soy, nut, fish and egg-free (assuming all your ingredients are), and can be milk and wheat-free (see variations).   And did I mention that the family loves it?  Yes, that's a plus, for sure!  I hope you try it and enjoy it, and that it makes your soup rotation this fall and winter!

Taco Soup
1 to 2 lbs. soy-free hamburger

1 - 2 (16 oz.) soy-free kidney beans, drained
(dark or light red or one of each)
(I recommend Bush's brand.)

1/2 to 1 package soy-free taco seasoning
(mild, hot, etc. is your choice, you can even make your own)

1 - 2 Cups soy-free salsa
(any heat)

32 oz. soy-free beef broth
(I recommend Pacific brand)

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

3 Tablespoons full-fat, salted butter

1/4 Cup soy-free, all-purpose flour
(I recommend King Arthur Flour brand)

1 to 2 Cups ( 4 - 8 oz.) cheddar or cojack cheese, shredded
(You can use another cheese of your choice, if you wish, as well.)

1 1/2 Cups milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 Cup soy-free sour cream
(I recommend Daisy brand.)

  1. In a large skillet, brown the hamburger and then drain the meat.  (Note: Amount of meat is based solely on preference.  If you like a lot of meat or are feeding a lot of people, use the larger amount.)
  2. In a large stockpot, add browned burger, drained kidney beans, taco seasoning, salsa, beef stock and parsley; stir well and bring to a boil.  (Note: Amount and type of beans, taco seasoning and salsa are completely up to you as those are based on personal preference alone.  I would start with the lesser amount of those first, add more beans if you want more in there, and then let the soup come to a boil and taste the mixture before adding  more seasoning or salsa.  If you don't think it has enough spice, add more taco seasoning or salsa or both, but add them one at a time starting with the one you like the flavor of more (salsa or taco seasoning).  Rule of thumb: Add the same amount of taco seasoning to this soup as you would use when making 1 - 2 lbs. of taco meat, and you should have that portion of the seasoning to your liking.  I also like to add the taco seasoning to the meat and beans and stir it well to coat before adding the other ingredients, but that's not necessary.)
  3. In a small skillet, melt the butter and add the flour, cooking and stirring it for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly. (Note: You are making what is called a roux (pronounced "rue") here. You can let it get as dark as you want (the darker it gets, the more nutty the taste), but be careful as to not burn the flour.)
  4. Add the roux to the soup in the large stockpot, bring the mixture back to a boil, and cook and stir the mixture for 2 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the cheese, milk, salt and pepper, cooking and stirring the soup until the cheese melts.
  6.  Remove the pot from heat and blend in the sour cream before serving.  (Note: You can dollop the sour cream on top of individual servings vs. blending it in if you so desire.)
This recipe yields around eight 1 Cup servings.

 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 can even leave the roux out, but your soup will not be as thick.  If you do decide to keep the roux, you'll have to make it with 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 5 1/2 - 6 Cups.  There will be no cheese flavor, obviously, if you leave out the cheese, but it will still be a good taco soup.  Also, you'll have to make sure your taco seasoning is dairy-free (some do contain dairy).
  • Wheat-Free: Use a gluten-free flour blend of choice, potato starch or corn starch in place of the flour.  A note on using gluten-free flour: You will need to use a gluten-free flour blend (i.e. a cup-for-cup replacement) vs. a gluten-free flour (i.e. coconut flour) so that your roux turns out correctly.  Also, you will have to make sure your taco seasoning and other ingredients are gluten-free.  A lot of taco seasonings are gluten-free now, but not all!
  • Different Beans: If you like black beans and can have them, you can use them alongside of or in place of the kidney beans.  You can use any bean that you like in chili in this dish except for beans that are already seasoned with chili seasoning (i.e. chili bean mix), in fact, but I would not recommend using more than 32 oz. of beans in total unless you want a LOT of beans in your soup.
  • Different or No Meat (Includes Vegan Option): If you don't like hamburger, simply leave it out or sub cooked and shredded/chopped chicken or pork or even just up the amount of beans or use an equivalent amount of mushrooms (I would use a mushroom like portobello that has a more meaty taste/texture).  You can also use vegetable or chicken stock for the beef broth, or you can even use just water.  The soup will have a different flavor using a different stock or water (it will be more bland with water and more flavorful with stock), so keep that in mind.  Also, if you want this soup to be vegan, you can use any of the milk-free alternatives listed above along with no meat and the water or vegetable broth substitutions.
  • Topping Ideas: This soup is great as is, but you can always top it with more cheese, more sour cream, jalapeno slices, bell pepper pieces, guacamole, diced onion, hot sauce, taco sauce, crushed tortilla chips - anything you like on tacos, chili or nachos you can put on this! 

So easy, so delicious, so versatile, and so hardy!


Enjoy and have a great (nearly fall) weekend!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Essential Oils 101 with Jess - September 2018: Stress Away

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! 

September's Oil of the Month:

Stress Away 15mL

Stress Away (15mL) retails at $40.13, and wholesales at $30.50.  This oil is a bit different in pricing as the 5mL (pictured) is only available in the Premium Starter Kits!  Simple math of $40.13/3= $13.37 for 5mL.

Ok, so summer break is ending…. What a drab feeling right?!  I don’t know about y’all, but as much as I love having my kiddos, there are still times in our family life that gets a bit hectic!  School starting is one of those stresses in my life!  It’s no longer grabbing beach clothes and heading off for the day, but now? 

Shopping for clothing: STRESS! 

Shopping for school bags, utensils and more: STRESS! 

That terrible beeping of an INSUFFERABLE alarm ringing through the air: STRESS! 

Getting your child used to a new routine and balance: STRESS! 

Ooohh, how about when the office calls you to tell you your child has just lost his/her lunch all over the classroom???  STRESS, STRESS, STRESS (and insert Thieves here, too)!

A must have for this time?  STRESS AWAY!  Don’t just keep this in a drawer at home, but toss one in every go bag!  Send it to school with your littles to help ease those changes; toss it in your purse to help ease the emptiness or new challenges; toss it in your diaper bag as it’s also a big change for those tiny littles that are about to experience an emptiness in their day as the big sibs go away for 8 hours!

This blend is such a sweet, woodsy, calming scent of:

  • Copaiba: Supports cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory systems; calming and nervous system support; supports skin health and a powerful antioxidant
  • Lime: Mental focus booster; immune system support boost; digestion support and antioxidant
  • Vanilla: Antioxidant, Antimicrobial, Reduces Inflammation, Skin support and heart health support
  • Cedarwood: Increases brain focus; supports and boosts oral health; Reduces inflammation and boosts immune system
  • Lavender: Mental and nervous support; injury and recovery support boost; Skin cleanser and boosts against germs
  • Ocotea: Supports our bodies response to injury; natural cleanser and purifier; supports and boosts digestion 

Did you know that our feet have direct connections throughout our bodies?  Because of that, I love taking my Stress Away and making my own sugar scrub!  Not only does it smell amazing and calms the atmosphere around me, but with this I am able to directly absorb the amazing benefits, and my skin gets rejuvenated!!  Why wouldn’t we want all that!?  And it only takes a few minutes and you’re done! 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 (4oz) glass jar with lid
  • 1/3 Cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 drops of Stress Away*
  • A toothpick or stir stick 
In the glass jar, add the ingredients in order as it makes blending easier, but not required, and stir well with the toothpick or stir stick.  Also, depending on how strong you’d prefer the scrub, you can adjust the amount of drops of Stress Away.  You can even mix it up with Lavender*, Peppermint* or even some fresh lime zest!!! 

* - Click on the link to view the ingredient list to see if this ingredient is right for you and fits your individual allergen needs.  Note that the lavender and peppermint oils mentioned are the Vitality variety.  You can search the other oils and blends here.

Notes from Jess:
 -I leave my sugar blend on for a few minutes after I’m done scrubbing, too! 
 -Sometimes I’ll put on some soft cotton socks without washing the scrub off to really boost my smooth feet! 
 -Be aware that that the oils in this scrub WILL make your shower floor SLIPPERY!  I highly recommend a foot bath or even a bucket to soak your feet in, then scrub, then lightly rinse and pat dry! 

And there you have it - a beautiful, soft and relaxing foot scrub that has no chemicals, no fillers and no garbage!  You'll have a little jar of health and wellness that smells amazing and didn’t cost a fortune!  And did you know that, just by inhaling the aroma, those around you get to reap the benefit supports, too!?!

Ready to breathe your stress away  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 Stress Away essential oil blend.  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.