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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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, October 26, 2018

Family Favorites - October 2018: Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins (Nut, Wheat and Fish-Free, Can Be Milk, Soy 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 tenth 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 Apple Cinnamon Muffins.  This is basically a re-post of my Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins, but with some extra tips and tricks.  This recipe is nut, wheat and fish-free (as long as all of your ingredients are), and can be milk, soy and egg-free (see variations).  It is also the recipe that my dad (who is not gluten-free, by the way) requests every time he comes over or whenever I go over to their house.  These are also the muffins that get eaten the quickest by my family when I make muffins.  In fact, my husband purposely buys more apples than we can eat so that I can make these (along with a pie or crisp or fruited coffee cake - or all of the above).  I promise you - these are some of the best apple cinnamon muffins on the planet - gluten-free or gluten-full.  No one ever suspects them of being gluten-free (and I still don't know why people assume gluten-free = awful because it is simply not true), and they always want more!  Give them a try - you won't regret it!

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 Apple Cinnamon Muffins

3 Cups gluten-free baking mix 
(I always use 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.)

1/2 Cup white sugar
(I always use cane sugar.)

1/2 Cup brown sugar
(I always use cane sugar.)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
(My favorite brand to use is O-LIVE, but I also have used others, but I always use extra virgin olive oil.)

4 large eggs

1 Cup milk
(I always use whole milk.)

1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract

1 1/2 Cups small diced apples, peeled or not based on preference
(I use Ida Red, Honey Crisp, Ginger Gold, Granny Smith or a combination, but you can use any baking apple of your choice.)  
(Our favorite apple to use is Ginger Gold, followed by Granny Smith and Ida Red.  I also always peel my apples.  Also, the 1 1/2 Cups is the amount of apple AFTER dicing it.  This normally takes 1 to 3 apples depending on the size of the apples.)

Cinnamon and Sugar (for topping) (optional)
(I always use the topping, and I always use a teaspoon of cinnamon to 2 Tablespoons of white cane sugar to make it.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. Prepare muffin tins with 24 paper cups or grease tins well with fat of choice.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the gluten-free baking mix, sugars and cinnamon until well blended and set aside.
  4. In another larger bowl, mix the oil, egg, milk and vanilla until well blended.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until the  mixture is just blended.
  6. Fold in the diced apples until evenly distributed.
  7. Evenly distribute the muffin mixture between the 24 muffin cups and top each one with cinnamon and sugar, if desired. (Note: The amount of cinnamon and sugar you put on each on each muffin is up to you, but I recommend about a teaspoon per muffin, but you could put as much as a Tablespoon.  To make the mix of cinnamon and sugar, I recommend about a teaspoon of cinnamon for every 2 Tablespoons of white sugar, but you can certainly use whatever ratio you like best.)
  8. Let the muffins rest about 10 minutes before baking.  (Note: This ensures the best results, so please don't skip this step!)
  9. Bake the muffins for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
  10. 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.
  11. Enjoy them warm or let them cool completely before enjoying - whichever you prefer!
Makes 24 muffins.

Variations (Please keep your individual dietary needs in mind when using variations):

  • Milk-Free: Use non-dairy milk of your choice in place of the milk, and use either paper cups to line the tins or a non-dairy fat to grease the pans in this recipe.  You could also substitute apple juice or cider for the milk.
  • 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 muffins.
  • 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.

  • Different Flavors: If you are not an apple fan, you can substitute raisins, dried cranberries, peach, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, or another fruit of choice (though I don't recommend pumpkin, banana or any other "mushy" fruit).  You can use a combination of fruits, too, as long as you don't exceed  1 1/2 Cups of fruit.  I recommend using fresh fruit or dried fruit ONLY, as canned or frozen fruit will alter your texture greatly.  You can also leave out the cinnamon if you don't like it, as well.  You can also top the muffins with plain sugar or nothing, if you so desire.  You could also play around with different juices for the milk like orange, lemon, lime, or pineapple, leave out the cinnamon and cinnamon sugar topping (unless you want the cinnamon flavor), and pick a fruit or dried fruit of choice to mix in.  For example, for a Cranberry Orange Muffin, I would sub orange juice for the milk and stir in dried cranberries vs. apples, leave out the cinnamon, and top with just plain sugar.  That would be heavenly, I think!  You could also try stirring in chocolate chips vs. fruit, with or without the cinnamon and cinnamon sugar topping.  That would be delicious, too!
  • Sugar Substitutes: You could use any sugar substitute that is approved for baking for the sugar.  Make sure that you sub it according to the recommendations for that sweetener.  Not all sugar substitutes are subbed with a 1:1 ratio.  I also don't recommend using a liquid sugar substitute as it would greatly alter the moisture content. 
I promise, you won't regret trying these muffins!  They taste as wonderful as they look!

I hope you will give this recipe a try soon and that it becomes a family favorite for you, too!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Recent Reflections - October 2018: Autumn Splendor

This is the tenth 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 autumn in all its glory.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." - Albert Camus
Autumn is without a doubt my favorite time of the year.  I love the colors, the crunchy leaves, the cooler weather, the cozy sweaters, the fuzzy socks - I just love all the things comfy and cozy and colorful that come with this time of year.  It is this time of year that I feel the absolute fullness of God's love in every sensory form.

I am always amazed that God gave us color to enjoy.  I mean the absolute splendor of autumnal trees - the vivid reds, the hypnotic oranges, and the golden yellows just take my breath away.  God did not have to give us such beauty, but He did.  God loved us so much that He gave us beauty in nature to enjoy all year through, but I think it is at its peak in autumn.

And the smells!  There is something about the smell of autumn.  Maybe it is the apple trees and pumpkin patches, or maybe it is the smell of the leaves or wood smoke from fireplaces, or maybe it is all the baking that tends to happen this time of year (probably to keep the house warm and the heat bill down a bit), but there is just something about all of those delicious aromas that is just relaxing and revitalizing.   It is a treat for the senses, and it makes me realize just how good God is to give us such amazing things to enjoy.

Then there is the feel (and sound) of crunching leaves and frosted ground under your feet.  This is another undeniable pleasure that this time of year brings for me.  There is something just so satisfying about the ability to feel and hear that crunch with each step.  I think I can liken it to popping bubble wrap. :)  How awesome of God to give us His version of bubble wrap to "pop" to help relieve any stresses or help soothe a bad day!  That's love right there, folks.
Have you ever stopped to think about the other sounds of autumn, too?  Brisk winds, rustling leaves, crackling fires - so many different sounds, and they all have a soothing quality.  There is just something about it that is almost hypnotic.  It will soothe your woes and calm your heart.  How wonderful of God to give us a time of year to enjoy sounds that are both indoor and outdoor with equal frequency!

In my opinion, nothing can beat the taste of autumn.  There is something about autumn apples that cannot be beat.  Then there's the pumpkin everything!  Let's not even mention corn, squash, and all the other wonderful things that abound this time of year!  This is a time of plenty and harvest, and you can't help but think of all that God has blessed you with.  It so is easy to feel rich and blessed with so much food around us at the ready, isn't it?  God is so great to give us so much!
I think that all of these things - the visual, the smell, the feel, the sound and the taste of autumn - are why this is the one time of year people venture to my neck of the woods (Northern Lower Michigan) vs. going south.  This is one of the places where you can truly experience all of autumn's splendor at its finest, and that is definitely something you must do at least once in a lifetime.  It makes one appreciate everything that God has given us, and it makes me truly thankful and feel beyond blessed!

I truly hope this post has been a blessing to your heart, or at the least made you stop and think a little.  What has God done in your life lately to bless you?  What are you reflecting on?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

German Potato Salad (Soy, Wheat, Nut, Fish, Egg and Milk-Free)

Autumn is finally here in all its beauty and cooler weather (as I type this, it is 45oF outside and blustery).  I absolutely love it!  Fluffy sweaters, warm blankets, cozy socks, warm cider - right up my alley!  It is the perfect time to make hot dishes like soups or casseroles, and a great time of year for this German potato salad!

Unlike your picnic-type potato salad, German potato salad is served hot and has a bit of a tangy, yet sweet taste to it.  I honestly think it tastes a bit like it has BBQ sauce in it, so if you like BBQ potato chips or BBQ sauce with potatoes, this is for you!

This recipe is an adaption of one I found on Genius Kitchen by breezermom.  It is so easy to make, tastes delicious, and is free of all top 8 allergens (if all your ingredients are).  I have made it for more than a few potlucks (it is great for Missions Conference or themed meals if you need a non-American recipe) with rave reviews.  I hope you try it and it becomes a fall favorite for you and yours.

German Potato Salad
3 Cups potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
(I use red or Yukon gold potatoes, but you can also use russets.  If using russets, you'll want to peal the potatoes, but red or Yukon gold potatoes do not have to be peeled.)

1/2 lb. allergy-friendly ham or bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
(I like to use Hormel Natural Choice bacon or ham for this.)

1/2 Cup green, red or white onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces
(Use whichever onion you prefer.)

2 Tablespoon water

1/4 Cup gluten-free vinegar
(I use apple cider vinegar, but you can use distilled white vinegar or a wine vinegar, but I would not recommend balsamic.)

3 Tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon parsley flakes

  1. In a large stock pot, boil your potatoes until cooked to desired done-ness, drain and cool.  (Note: I like to cook my potatoes for about 20 minutes - that's from the time I turn the water on, NOT from the time the water boils.  Generally, 20 minutes gives me fork-tender, not mushy potatoes.  I would check them at 15 minutes, check them to see if they are done, and then - if they are not to your liking - every 3 to 5 minutes until they are to your liking.)
  2. If using bacon, fry it in a large skillet until desired done-ness (you can also bake it in the oven), remove the bacon from the skillet/baking sheet, and reserve 1 to 2 Tablespoons of bacon fat, and set cooked bacon off to the side on a paper towel to drain - you won't need it again until step 5.  (Note: You can cook the bacon whole or already cut into bite-sized pieces - the choice is yours.  I find baking the bacon works better with it whole, and frying the bacon on the stove top works better if it is cut into pieces.)
  3. In a very large skillet, use the 1 to 2 Tablespoons of bacon fat (if you are not using bacon or don't have bacon grease, use another fat that works for your allergen needs instead) to cook the onions until tender.  If you are using the ham, brown the ham with the onions in this step.   (Note: I have used each different type of onion - red, green or white - depending what I had on hand, and they all work beautifully.  You can use a mix of a few if needed, as well.)
  4. Add the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper into the skillet with the onions (and ham, if using) and bring the mixture to a boil.  (Note: I have used distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar for this dish.  My favorite is by far the cider vinegar.)
  5. Add the parsley and the potatoes (bacon, too, if using vs. ham) into the skillet mixture, stir well, and heat through.
  6. Once everything is heated through, transfer to a serving dish or crock pot and serve warm.

Makes about 4 servings.

Variations (Please keep your specific dietary/allergen needs in mind when using variations!):
  • Using Ham and Bacon: If you want to use both ham and bacon, you certainly could.  You could use 1/2 lb. of each or 1/2 lb. total - whatever you fancy.
  • Bacon on Top: If you want your bacon to stay crispy, sprinkle it on top of the dish vs. mixing it in in step 5.  You can also mix half in and crumble the rest on top - the choice is yours.
  • Fresh Parsley vs. Parsley Flakes: If you want to use fresh parsley, you may.  Just reduce the amount to 1 teaspoon vs. 1 Tablespoon.
  • Alternative Sugars/Sweeteners: White sugar adds a very distinct taste to this dish, and I'm not sure brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, Stevia or any other sweetener will work right flavor-wise for this dish.  However, if you wish to try it, you may.  Just substitute according to the recommendations on this chart.
I promise, it tastes as good as it looks!


Monday, October 1, 2018

Essential Oils 101 with Jess - October 2018: Thieves

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! 

October's Oil of the Month:

Thieves 5mL
Retail $19.41  Wholesale $14.75

What is the 1st thing you think about when you hear October?  Probably due to haunting experiences of sugar comas and cavities, I think of black and orange scary decorations all over the place!  Or running to the local tool shop and nasty looking skeletons pop out at me making awful growls!  You know what else is scary and gross in October?  GERMS!  The start of colds, flus, runny noses, fevers, coughs, and just all that fun stuff that just goes around and around and around!  Well, here’s your helper to stop that bug infested merry-go-round from spinning!

Fall season can be beautiful!  Leaves change, winds get brisk, and we cozy up with a cozy fire and a cozy blanket (Heavenly!).  Well, as we’re busy getting cozied, so are those germs ((YUCK!)).  We all know it’s better to prepare and prevent than to endure and suffer, so grab the Thieves!  

Interesting name right!?  Here’s a quick note on why!  During the plague, law officers were on the hunt for a few men who were stealing from the perished!  Graves of the plagues fallen were being robbed and yet it seemed that the fatal germs weren’t affecting the robbers….but how!?  Once the men were caught, it came out that they were 4 spice merchant traders who’d figured out the poultice blend of Clove, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Lemon had such an impact on their bodies and immune systems that they avoided catching the plague!!  And in lieu of imprisonment, they shared their recipe!

  • Clove: Top oral care oil; stimulates blood circulation and purifier; supports our body’s response to infections or injuries
  • Cinnamon: Antibacterial; Antifungal; Supports and boosts our cardiovascular system; supports our respiratory function and gives it the needed boost when it’s being attacked
  • Lemon: A top to bottom cleanser; boosts our immune system and supports our body’s ability to fight off attacks; supports our digestion system and great for chest irritations
  • Eucalyptus: Reduces inflammation and boosts our bodies response to discomforts related to germs; helps promote healing to our damaged skin and blood cells; rejuvenates our mental stamina; boosts our immune system and boosts our respiratory against irritations
  • Rosemary: Fights off serious and non-serious bacteria; reduces inflammation and comforts; supports brain and respiratory functions; boosts immune system and boosts our brain

Ok, so back to why it’s time to grab it!  So, if it held up against such a nasty time, just imagine how your life can change by having a bottle in your home!  We are going to be around sick people or, at the very least, those lingering germs left behind wherever those effected have been.  We can’t avoid grocery stores, we can’t avoid family get-togethers, and we just can’t live in a bubble, because if you’re wrapped up in plastic, then you’re going to need more than just oils to help!

How do I incorporate Thieves into my world!?  Ok, honestly, it is used DAILY in MANY ways, but our top aromatic way is add 2 drops to my diffuser.  Not only does it freshen the air, it works on attacking any lingering germs!  The other immune boosting support I use it for is tea!  And, oh my germ destroying goodness, is it a boost of sweet and spicy warmth!  If I’m dealing with a throat or sinus irritation, THIS relieves it.  And even if you’re healthy tip to toe?  Drink this anyway!  What better way to prevent and boost!

Thieves Tea

  • 1 bag of your favorite tea (I use one that is infused with some type of vitamin or herb)
    (Note from Julie: You can view my list of some good, allergy friendly teas that may work well for you in this recipe.)
  • 1-3 drops of Young Living Thieves oil*
  • 1 tbsp. of organic honey (add or take away for desired sweetness)

  • * - 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 oil mentioned is the Vitality variety.  You can search the other oils and blends here.

    Notes from Jess:

    • Thieves is a VERY strong oil and a VERY spicy flavor!  Start with one drop because you may find it perfect!  If I’m making a very large thermos then I may increase the amount of drops, but I do so slowly!!
    • Essential oils are picky on how they respond to temperature, so it’s best to add Thieves after you’ve heated and dissolved the honey so you get the most benefits!
    • Did you know there is an entire Thieves product line!? Cleaners, soaps, etc.  Go check it out!  (Note from Julie: I have personally used the Thieves Cleaner, and it is amazing!  It works better than a lot of other cleaners I have tried, and has replaced my window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, kitchen cleaner (it cleaned cooked-on stains off my stove that I thought would NEVER come out), floor cleaner, etc.  I highly recommend it!  Also, not all the Thieves products are free from allergens (some contain soy, wheat, corn, etc.), but most are free from the top 8 allergens.  Please check the ingredients' list of any product you are interested in thoroughly to see if it is right for you!)
    Ready to make your own Thieves Tea 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 Thieves 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.