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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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, May 24, 2019

Family Favorites - May 2019: Fresh Fruit Salad (Soy, Wheat, Nut, Milk, Egg and Fish-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 fifth 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 Fresh Fruit Salad.  This is just my original Fresh Fruit Salad recipe, along with some tips and tricks that I use.  It is super easy to make and top 8 free (if all your ingredients are).  It is also a salad that you can easily make a lot or a little of.  What we love about it is that we can use all our favorite {local, when possible} fruits, and I especially love that it has no added sugar and full of all kinds of antioxidants.  If you're a big fan of fresh fruit and want a recipe that is super easy to make, tastes good, and is good for you, this is the recipe for you!

Fresh Fruit Salad
Mixture of 2:1 ratio water to lemon juice
(optional - see instructions for more details)
(We always add this mixture to the recipe unless I'm making a very small amount that we're going to finish in one sitting.)

Any amount of any fresh and cleaned {rinsed and dried, with the exception of fruits that have rinds/peels that are inedible that you will be removing} fruit you want such as:
grapes, any color 
(seedless recommended, but use your favorite kind, and you can chop these in half if you want, too)


(stems and leaves removed and cut into bite-sized pieces)

clementines, peeled and separated into segments

bananas, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces

your favorite type or types of apples, sliced into bite-sized 
(peeled if you wish, but it isn't necessary)

pineapple, skin removed and cut into bite sized pieces 
(you can use canned if it is canned in juice only, but it needs to be drained well

kiwi, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces

your favorite melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, muskmelon, etc.), rind removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

raspberries, any color

fresh cherries, any type, pitted and stem removed
(you can cut them in half if you wish, too)

any other type of fruit you wish
(We normally use a combination of berries, grapes, apples, bananas, clementines, and pineapple, but we've added in other fruits as desired or as they are in season.  We've even left out things like bananas, clementines and pineapple and just went with all fresh, local favorites like apples and berries, maybe some peaches and/or grapes, as well.  Also, make sure your fruit (with the exception of things like banana and melon that have inedible peels that you will be removing and discarding) has been washed and dried thoroughly {though carefully as not to damage the fruit} before use!)

  1. Put your lemon juice and water mixture, mixed according to the recommendations below, if you want to use it, in the bottom of your mixing bowl.
    • If making a large salad to feed a large crowd (think the amount you'd take to a potluck, so about 20+ people crowd-size), use 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 2 Tablespoons water.
    • If making a medium salad to feed a medium crowd (think the amount you'd make if you invited another family over for dinner, so about 10 people crowd-size), use 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 4 teaspoons water.
    • If making a small salad to feed a small crowd (think the amount you'd make for just a few family, so about 5 people crowd-size), use 1 teaspoon lemon juice to 2 teaspoons water.
    • If making a salad even larger or smaller than the sizes listed, just keep the ratio of lemon juice to water the same (2 parts water to every 1 part lemon juice), and you'll be good to go.  If you need help figuring out a good amount, just leave a comment below or send me an email, and I'll help you figure it out. :) 
      (Note: This lemon juice and water mixture will keep the fruits that brown easily from browning like apples and bananas.  If you don't care if they brown or are going to eat the fruit salad as soon as you make it with no leftovers, feel free to leave the lemon juice and water mixture out of the recipe.)
  2. Add all of the bite-sized pieces of fruit you are using to the bowl, and gently mix well.  (Note: You want to do this gently as not to break apart your more fragile fruits like raspberries and bananas.) That's all there is to it!  You can serve it immediately or refrigerate for later.  If you want to make it ahead of time, that works, but if you want to add ingredients to it like banana that tend to get mushy, wait to add them until right before serving for best taste and presentation.

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

  • Add-In Options: If you want and you can have them, you can add shredded coconut, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, any nuts and/or any seeds to the mix, too.  Whatever combination sounds good to you, feel free to do!  The sky's the limit!

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

Friday, May 17, 2019

Recent Reflections - May 2019: 19 Years...

This is the fifth 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 19 years of marriage.

Us, May of 2000
My sister-in-law is getting married this weekend, and it got me thinking about our wedding day.  Next week will be our 19th wedding anniversary.  I can hardly believe it!  A lot has changed in 19 years.

Us, plus 3, now - April of 2019
For one, it's no longer just the 2 of us.  We are now a family of 5.  Our oldest will be a Senior this coming school year, our middle kid will be a Sophomore, and our youngest will be a 4th grader.  

It seems impossible that 19 years have come and gone.  Some days I look around and think, "Wasn't I just walking down the aisle?" or "Wasn't I just pregnant with my oldest?" or "How is she almost 9 already?  Wasn't she just born?"

These years have not always gone like I planned.  In fact, I can say life has rarely gone like I planned in my lifetime.  However, I can also honestly say that God has been so good to us.  We've gone through times of not knowing where we were going to live, what we were going to eat, having no income, and we've never not had a roof over our heads, food to eat, or money to pay the bills.  God has answered every need!  Maybe not always the way I thought it would or should be done, but always in a way I never imagined and always for our best and betterment.

As we watch my sister-in-law get married, I know what will be going through my mind.  I know I will be remembering my wedding day and all the years since.  I will also be wondering where she will be 19 years from now, and hoping and praying that her next phase in life is as blessed and happy as mine is now in that time frame.

Aubrey and Preston, if you're reading this, Happy Wedding Day tomorrow!  We are praying for you both, and hope you have many happy years to come.  In 19 years, may you look back and find yourselves more in love than you are today and with full years together of joy with many more to come.  We love you!

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, May 11, 2019

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins (Wheat, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Egg, Milk and Soy-Free)

Happy Mother's Day weekend, everyone!  If your mom is still living, I hope you have found a way to make her feel extra special.  If she is not, I hope you enjoy fond memories of her and find a way to honor her memory.

One of my mom's favorite fruits in blueberries, so I decided to try my hand at a blueberry muffin (made gluten-free because we need to be in our house), and these were the result!  Lots of juicy blueberries, lovely vanilla muffin base, and a bit of crunch from the sugar on top.  YUM!  Truly an instant hit with the family, and a muffin that I will make often when blueberries are more in season.  

This recipe is based on my Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins recipe, and is wheat, nut and fish-free (if all your ingredients are), and can be egg, milk and soy-free (see variations).  This means this muffin can be extremely allergy-friendly, too!  And it requires only 7 ingredients! Win-win!

If you're a blueberry muffin fan, you'll want to try this recipe ASAP!

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 Blueberry 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 Cup white sugar
(I always use cane sugar.)

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

2 Cups fresh blueberries

white sugar (for topping) (optional)
(I use cane or turbinado sugar for the topping.) 

  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 and 1 Cup sugar 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 blueberries until evenly distributed.
  7. Evenly distribute the muffin mixture between the 24 muffin cups and top each one with extra sugar, if desired. (Note: The amount of 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.)
  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 blueberry fan, you can substitute raisins, dried cranberries, peach, strawberry, 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 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 off the sugar topping (if desired), 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. blueberries.  That would be heavenly, I think!  You could also try stirring in chocolate chips vs. fruit.  That would be delicious, too!  You can also use another extract instead of vanilla, if desired, or use 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 a teaspoon of another extract (like lemon, almond, orange, etc.).  You could even add some chopped nuts or shaved almonds inside (I'd say no more than a Cup) or sprinkle some on top of the muffins, if desired and you can have them, before baking.  So many options!  Here's a link to my Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins, as well.
  • 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. 
Don't they look divine?

Trust me - they are!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Essential Oils 101 with Jess - May 2019: PanAway

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.)

***NOTE: This is the last Essential Oils 101 with Jess.  We may bring this feature back in the future, but for now this is the last one.  If you would like to learn more about essential oils or follow Jess, you can do so by going to her site.  Thanks for following this feature and for your support!  We both appreciate it! :) ***

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! 

May's Oil of the Month:
 PanAway 5mL

I’m going to just whine a little…..

This spring cleaning is killing me!  Lifting boxes of donations, rearranging the house, raking piles of leaves and pushing that mower…..  I mean I am all about summer coming. but getting there is a pain!  Anyone else feeling a bit sore after all of this!?  The mower is about the worst.  I guess I’m thankful that it’s helping me get into better shape, but pushing is about the hardest.  So, to celebrate the cleaning and prepping for summer, I’ve chosen PanAway* oil to help undo the hurt!

This beautiful sky blue bottle contains:

  • Helichrysum: anti-coagulant (Seriouslsy, put this on a bleeding would and stops it instantly!!)
  • Wintergreen: anti-inflammatory (I can feel pulled and tense muscles melt!!)
  • Clove: analgesic & anesthetic (Toothache?  Rub a drop and it numbs quickly!)
  • Peppermint: helps support against pain (like a quick numbing agent!)

A little trivia lesson: PanAway* was created by Gary Young (founder of Young Living) after he suffered a severe injury to a ligament and used this to recover!!  It is LITERALLY THAT GOOD!!!

How to use it? Ha! How did I know you were asking that, hmmm…?  I’m actually a mind-reader as a side job!  Creepy, eh?  Well, in effort to keep y’all from running away, I’ll admit it.  I don’t know the 1st thing about reading minds! LOL - Gotchya!!

Myself?  I add a few drops to a jar of Epsom salts and pour it into a bath.  It’s the best and most efficient way to utilize each drop into each spot of my body.  But you can also:

  • Rub onto your chest to refresh your morning
  • Rub into your muscles after a workout
  • Have your partner rub into your back and massage in
  • You can use it on animals that are heavily active, like horses
  • Diffuse it to purify your air and help focus your mind in meditation
  • Drop onto a clothespin and clip into your car vents
  • Rub into some coconut oil massage into those tired feet

So, you see??  There are so many great uses for this!  A quick tip: pop off the top and apply the rollerball filament and then recap.  You have just made an instant roller of relief!!
*Click on the link to view the ingredient list to see if this product is right for you and fits your individual allergen needs.  You can search the other oils and blends here.

Ready to have your own bottle of PanAway 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 PanAway 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.