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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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 23, 2019

Family Favorites - February 2019: Gluten-Free Chili (Wheat, Soy, Nut, Fish and Egg, Can Be Milk-Free)

I decided to keep posting 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 year.  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 2019.

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 Chili.  This is essentially my Mom's Chili recipe made gluten-free.  It is super hardy, makes a ton, and perfect for a cold, wintry day.  It is my oldest's absolute favorite, and the rest of my family loves it, too.  Did I mention it was wheat, soy, nut, fish and egg-free and can be milk-free (if all your ingredients are)?  It can even be vegan (see variations)!  What's better than that?  A wonderfully hardy meal that can be free of the top 8 allergens and fit other dietary needs as well!

Gluten-Free Chili

3 Cans soy-free and gluten-free Chili Beans
(We use and recommend Bush's*.  You can use any heat you prefer, but I normally use mild or a mix of medium and mild heats.)
1 Can soy-free and gluten-free Pinto Beans
(We use and recommend Bush's.*)
1 Can soy-free and gluten-free Light Red Kidney Beans
(We use and recommend Bush's.*)
1 Can soy-free and gluten-free Dark Red Kidney Beans
(We use and recommend Bush's.*)
1 lb. ground chuck or venison
  (We nearly always use ground chuck.)

1 package soy-free and gluten-free Chili Seasoning Mix
(We normally use McCormick's Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning, and if we can find their Organics Chili Seasoning, we use that.)
1 teaspoon Onion Salt
(We normally use McCormick's.)
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt
(We normally McCormick's.)
4 shakes (or about 1/8 teaspoon) Celery Salt
(We normally McCormick's.)
4 shakes (or about 1/8 teaspoon) Paprika
  (We normally use McCormick's.)

1 small can soy-free and gluten-free tomato soup
(We normally use Amy's Organic Cream of Tomato Soup.)
1 can diced tomatoes (large or small can size is your call)
(We normally use the large size.)  

1 large can/bottle soy-free and gluten-free Tomato Juice
(I recommend Campbell's Tomato Juice (regular).)

*-To read Bush's allergen statement, go here: Bush's Beans FAQs
1. Over a large stock pot, drain the chili beans and pinto beans; set the stock pot with the liquid aside and place the drained beans into a large bowl.  (Note: You will want a VERY large stock pot as this makes a TON of chili.  Six quart or larger is necessary!)

2. Drain both cans of kidney beans and discard the liquid, adding the drained beans to the pinto and chili beans and placing them in the fridge until later.

3. In a large frying pan, brown the meat and then drain it before returning it to the frying pan.

4. Add 1/2 to all of the package of chili seasoning (amount based on preference - I normally use the full package), onion salt, garlic salt, celery salt and paprika to the meat and mix well over medium heat; remove from heat.

5. Transfer the seasoned meat to the stock pot with the reserved bean liquid in it and add 1/2 to all the can of tomato soup, 1/2 to all the can/bottle of tomato juice and the diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer over medium heat; simmer for at least an hour, stirring frequently. (Note: The amount of soup and tomato juice you use is entirely up to you, though I recommend starting with 1/2 the can/bottle of tomato juice and saving the rest until step 6 to see if you want to add more.  I normally always use the full can of soup and all of the juice, though.  Also, the longer it simmers, the better the flavor, just make sure you stir it often so it doesn't scorch on the bottom.)

6. Add the beans to the chili about 20 minutes before you are planning on serving it, adding more tomato juice/spices, if needed. (Note: If the chili is too acidic, add a little sugar (a teaspoon at a time) until the desired acid level is reached.)

You can serve this chili as is or add your favorite chili toppings.  Delish! 

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

  • Milk/Dairy-Free: If you use the beans and seasonings I mention above that I use (Bush's and McCormick's), your chili will be dairy-free already, EXCEPT for the soup.  You can either leave the soup out OR you can use a dairy-free soup like Annie's Organic Tomato.
  • Spice/Heat Level: This chili is NOT spicy/hot if you use mild chili beans and mild chili seasoning.  Using medium to hot chili beans and chili seasoning will definitely up the spice/heat factor.  If it is still not spicy/hot enough for you, consider adding some jalapenos, hot sauce, etc. - anything spicy/hot you like in chili that fits your allergen needs.
  • Make Ahead: This chili is actually better the next day, so feel free to make it up ahead of time.  Just do steps 1-5, and then after simmering the chili for an hour, add the beans and cook for 20 minutes.  Allow it to cool some, then either transfer it to other containers or keep it in the fridge in the stock pot until ready for use.  It should keep around 3 to 5 days.  Also, you can freeze the finished chili in small batches that you can take out and heat up when you like.  It should keep in the freezer for a few months.
  • Crock Pot Chili: Once you do steps 1 - 4, you can finish the chili in the crock pot.  Just add all the ingredients, including the beans, to the crock pot, and put it on low for a minimum of 4 hours.  As I mentioned above, the longer it simmers, the better, so if you wanted to leave it in the crock pot all day (i.e. make it at 8am to eat at 5pm), the flavor would be that much more amazing!  Please note that you may have to split the recipe between 2 crock pots if you don't have an especially large one.
  • Vegetarian Chili: Leave out the meat.  Skip steps 3 and 4, adding the seasonings to the stock pot with the liquids and go from there.
  • No Tomato Chunks and/or Adding Other Veggies: If you don't like chunks of tomato in your chili, you can certainly leave the canned tomato out.  You can add onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms and/or garlic to taste, if you wish, by cutting them into a small dice/mince where needed and browning/cooking them with the meat.
  • Other Beans: Bush's makes a ton of chili bean options that are allergy friendly!  I've used their black beans in chili sauce vs. red beans in chili sauce, and the chili turned out great!  You could also add plain black beans to the chili, though I'd drain them first.  You can also add any other beans you like in chili to this chili, as well.

And there you have it - a completely customize-able chili that is sure to please the whole crowd!

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

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Recent Reflections - February 2019: Love Is...

This is the second Recent Reflections post of 2019.  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 what love is.

In honor of Valentine's Day, I decided that I would choose love as my topic for reflecting this month.  I got thinking about this question: "What is love?"  My mind went to the passage in I Corinthians 13, especially verses 4 through 8a.  The verses read:
"4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth:"
There are a lot of great words/concepts in that passage, but sometimes we struggle to understand exactly what those words mean, especially children, so I decided that I would break down this passage verse by verse and expound on it like I do with my children when they struggle to understand a concept.

First, charity.  Charity, according to Webster's 1828 Dictionary means:
"In a general sense, love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow man, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men." 

Charity is basically love in action.
It isn't just talk - it is doing deeds that match the words.

Now, let's break down what love is and isn't with examples for further clarity.

Love {in action} suffers long or is patient...
Love is the parent who is still smiling and kind when dealing with a small child who has asked the same question a million times.  Love is caring for a parent with Alzheimer's and not getting angry with they share the same story ten times in the same day.

Love {in action} is kind...
Love is the child offering up her pennies to her parents when she finds out they are struggling financially, hoping to help in her own, small way.  Love is making a meal for someone who is down on their luck.

Love {in action} doesn't envy...
Love is the man who sincerely congratulates the coworker who gets the promotion over him, even though he's been there longer than his coworker and others think he should have gotten the promotion, because he is truly happy for his coworker and realizes there will be other opportunities for advancement, and he's content where he is.  Love is being happy for those who have more without feeling sorry for yourself for  not having as much.

Love {in action} vaunts not itself or doesn't brag...
Love is the person who works behind the scenes cleaning the church that no one knows about because he is cleaning for the Lord, not for man's praise.  Love doesn't go around telling everyone how wonderful you are or how much you have.

Love {in action} is not puffed up or isn't proud...
Love is the person who is always letting others go first or never making sure she gets credit for what she does, and no job is beneath her.  Love is humble.

Love {in action} does not behave itself unseemly or is not rude...
Love is the person who is kind to those less fortunate or to those who are his enemies.  Love does not have a "me first" attitude.

Love {in action} seeks not her own or is not selfish...
Love is the child who shares his lunch with the other child who has none or who gives his balloon away to the child who has none.  Love is selfless and is shown by putting yourself last.

Love {in action} is not easily provoked or is not easily angered...
Love is the teacher who deals with an unruly class without raising her voice, and by calmly reminding her students of the class rules.  Love is not easily offended.

Love {in action} thinks no evil or assumes the best of people...
Love is the woman who finds her keys are not where she left them, but assumes she didn't leave them where she thought she did vs. blaming the nearest person for stealing them.  Love doesn't go around plotting against people.

Love {in action} rejoices not in iniquity or doesn't rejoice when others fail or face hardship...
Love is the student comforts the classmate whose parents just got a divorce even though that classmate is mean to them sometimes.  Love never delights in bad news.

Love {in action} rejoices in the truth or finds joy in honesty...
Love is the parents who are grateful when their child confesses to wrong doing vs. lying about it.  Love always tells the truth.

Love {in action} bears all things or endures any hardship...
Love is the couple who has been through tragedy and sticks together through it all, growing stronger vs. weaker.  Love can bear any burden.

Love {in action} believes all things or believes in people...
Love is the teacher who calls on the worst student in class whose hand is raised to give her a chance to prove that she can do the complicated problem vs. ignoring her and assuming she can't possibly know the right answer.  Love has a "you can do it" attitude.

Love {in action} hopes all things or keeps hope alive...
Love is the teammate who chooses to be optimistic when things look bleak and encourages the team to try their best until the end and cheers louder than anyone the rest of the game.  Love is the greatest cheerleader and never gives up.
Love {in action} endures all things or keeps on keeping on...
Love is the person who faces a hardship but keeps moving forward, doing the best he can, come what may, or the person who refuses to give up on his friend who keeps making mistakes and asking for forgiveness.  Love keeps moving forward and doesn't dwell on the past.

Love {in action} never fails or ends...
Love is shown best by God - He will love us for all time and sent His Son to die for us, and He is always there for us no matter what.  Love is eternal.

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!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

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

I don't know about you, but the one cookie that seems to take me back to my childhood and evoke all sorts of fond memories is the chocolate chip cookie.  There's just something about the ooey-gooey chocolate and smell that just make me nostalgic.  I guess this is why it is the one cookie that I strive the most to make allergy-friendly - so everyone can have fond memories tied to chocolate chip cookies like I do.

Two of my 3 kiddos are gluten-intolerant and neither my husband nor I do well with a lot of gluten in our diet, so most of my recipes are gluten-free.  We also have a little girl at our church with dairy and peanut allergies, so when we have activities involving food, I try to keep her in mind along with my family and make the food I take accordingly.  This is one cookie that I can make that is safe for her and for my family, too.  It is a modified version of these cookies and is wheat, nut, fish and milk-free (if all of your ingredients are), and can be egg and soy-free.  It is definitely one of my best go-to cookie recipe for any occasion calling for cookies, and it doesn't disappoint!

These cookies are full of chocolate-y goodness, soft on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside, and they taste and look great.  What's not to love? 

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

Gluten and Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 Cups gluten-free cup-for-cup flour

5 oz. (1/2 bag) Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips or Enjoy Life chocolate chunks or a combination

3/4 Cup white sugar

3/4 Cup brown sugar (packed)

1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 375oF.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the gluten-free flour and the chocolate chips; set aside.
  3. Cream sugars, vanilla, eggs, oil and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  (Note: Do not skimp on the salt!  You need the full teaspoon to bring out the flavors!)
  4. Add the baking soda and blend well.
  5. Add the gluten-free flour and chocolate chip mixture, a little at a time, and mix until well-blended and the chocolate chips are evenly distributed. (Note: The dough will be shiny.  This is normal due to the oil.  The reason I add the flour and the chocolate chips in at the same time is it helps the chocolate chips blend into the dough better.  This dough is a lot slicker because of the oil and the chips blend in best when you mix them in with the flour.  You may still have some chocolate chips on the bottom of the bowl when you are done mixing in the flour which is totally normal.  If this happens, just add a little bit of the chocolate chips from the bottom of the bowl to the dough you are forming each cookie dough ball in the next step.)
  6. Roll about a Tablespoon (smaller amount if you want smaller cookies, larger amount if you want bigger cookies) of the dough into a ball by hand and place it onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  (Note: One of the things I love about this recipe is that the cookies are so easy to roll and they bake up so beautifully round!  They are a great "for show" cookie!  Rolling the dough into a ball also helps stick the chips/chunks to the dough better since they like to try to fall off sometimes.)
  7. Remove cookies to wire racks, brown paper or waxed paper to cool.
Makes 3 to 5 dozen, depending on size.

One more note: These cookies are best enjoyed cooled completely.  They are ok warm, but definitely best completely cool.  In fact, they are fantastic the next day, so you will want to make them the day before you want them for best results.  I know that is unlike most chocolate chip cookie recipes, but for this one, it is definitely the case.  You will still like them warm, but you will LOVE them cooled.  Trust me. :)

Variations (Please keep your individual allergen needs in mind when making variations/using substitutions!):
  • Egg-Free: Use any of these egg substitution ideas here in place of the eggs.
  • Soy-Free: Namaste Gluten-Free Perfect Flour Blend does not claim to contain soy, but it does contain xanthan gum, which can cause issues with people who have soy sensitivities and allergies.  For these reasons, I will not claim that this recipe is soy-free.  You can use regular flour (if you can have it) or a soy-free, 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 2 1/4 teaspoons of ground flax seed, guar gum or xanthan gum to help with textural issues, too.  You'll have to make sure all of your ingredients are soy-free, too.
  • Other Chocolates/Add-Ins: If it fits within your allergen needs and you want to use another type of chocolate (white, milk, dark) or add butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, M&Ms, toffee bits, dried fruit and/or nuts, etc., please feel free, but don't add more than a Cup of extra add-ins. You can even forgo the chocolate all together and just use butterscotch or peanut butter chips and/or nuts/fruit.  It's all about preference! :)
  • Other Oils: If you don't like extra virgin olive oil, you can substitute coconut oil, corn oil, canola oil or any other oil you use for baking.  Just remember that, if your oil has a flavor to it (i.e. most coconut oils tastes like coconut), your cookies will taste at least a little like the oil you use.  I like to use the extra virgin olive oil because the flavor is mild, and it doesn't make the cookies taste off.  Now, I will say that you do taste a little of the olive oil when the cookies are warm, BUT that slight olive oil taste completely goes away once the cookies have cooled completely.

Don't these look delish?

I promise - they are!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Essential Oils 101 with Jess - February 2019: Lemon

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! 

February's Oil of the Month:
Lemon 15mL
Lemon Vitality 5mL cost: Wholesale - $6.35, Retail - $8.22*

As I sit here writing my oil-of-the-month choice, it is literally 30mph gusts of snow and ice outside of my windows.  Ohhh, and did I mention the massive drifts plus -25 windchill? Ummm - BRRRRRRRR!  So, I'm putting my oil words into oil action as I share with you!  I'm talking about L•E•M•O•N!!  I'm talking about the amazing, mouth-watering citrus boost of just inhaling it!!  I'm talking about the refreshed and encouraged feelings that sweep over you as you sit back and sip your hot lemon tea or lemon infused water!  I'm talking about.... ok, fine.  I'll stop talking and start sharing!

So, what makes this oil so important to our daily lives?  How about the versatility for starters!  Cleaning, energizing, cooking, brightening and many more *ings*, I'm sure!

Have a greasy mess?
Drop a few drops on a rag and wipe away! 

Have a long drive?
Shake up 3 drops in a glass water bottle and uplift yourself! 

Have a toddler who decorated your home with crayon?
You got it! Grab the lemon! 

How about that fresh garlic and lemon chicken dinner?
Add a small amount to get the desired citrus BOOOOOMM and serve away!

So, aside from the beautiful and vibrant scent, what makes this oil so great?  Limonene!  This helps immune systems, digestion systems, boosts our skin health, stands against germs and inflammation issues,  etc.  Let's just all agree that lemon is the top dog of oils!!

So, sharing how I use this oil would take a few months to dig through and ain't nobody got time for that!  So, my fave it is!  #1 is I diffuse my misery away like a vapor in the wind!  This cold and quite vile weather breaks my heart, mind and energy!  So, I take my lovely little lemon and my diffuser and create my own habitat of bliss and energy!  I put 2 drops of lemon*, 2 drops of rosemary* and 2 drops of peppermint*, and I am telling you what - Instant uplift!  It's not just cleaning my soul but cleaning my air, too!  And if y'all have kids (or spouses) that may be adding to the snow stress, just have them drop by the diffuser and enjoy the benefits!!!  And the possibilities are simply ENDLESS with this baby!!!  Once you drop you just can't stop!!!!!!

*Click on the link to view the ingredient list to see if this product is right for you and fits your individual allergen needs.  Also note that all essential oils mentioned are the Vitality variety.  You can search the other oils and blends here.

Ready to have your own bottle of Lemon 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 Lemon 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.