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Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY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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Monday, August 26, 2019

Weekly Weigh In: Week 10, August 26, 2019

I have decided that this feature will now run indefinitely, and will replace the My Quarterly Report feature.  It will go live every Monday, and it will be a weigh in that will share how I'm doing health-wise, and it will give me more accountability with my health.

Here is my tenth weigh in:

1. The Selfie: The selfie is me as of today, August 26, 2019.  

2. Weight: My weight is down a pound!  I was hoping for more, but I injured my back/neck (put it out of place or pulled a muscle or both), so I wasn't able to be as active as I wanted to be.  I will just be glad that I lost a pound and keep on keeping on. :)  Hopefully next week I'll have another weight loss to report.

3. Health News: I only averaged about 5,500 steps per day last week - same as last week.  Part of this is due to the back/neck issue.  Today, that issue seems to be better, so I'm hopeful I will be able to be more active this week.  We shall see!  I also have my physical today, so we'll see how my thyroid levels are and if there is anything else the doctor has to say that may be playing into my weight roller coaster or other health issues (i.e. migraines). 

The herbal water pill is still getting mixed reviews with me.  I feel like it helps very temporarily (like during the day), but that I wake up every morning with the same level of water retention that I had the previous morning.  I have a few weeks left of the pills, so I am going to keep taking them until they are gone and then see how I do off of them.  If I notice absolutely no change, I have one or 2 other herbal options to try.  If neither of those work, well...not sure what I'll do.  For now, we'll just take it a day at a time.

4. Diet News:  Well, using the menu planning was a good idea, and helped me out a lot.  It helped me be more honest and aware of what I was eating.  I didn't always stick to the plan 100%, but found that having a plan helped me make better choices even when I did go off plan.  That's a good change!  I plan to keep using the menu planning for the near future.  Hopefully I can get to the place where the better choices are habit vs. having to have a plan to eat the right way for me.  Wish me luck!

5. Other News: {Home}School starts next week.  I think I'm ready.  I hope I'm ready.  LOL :)  I still am in denial that my oldest is going to be a Senior.  Time flies way too fast.  Anyway, this week will be filled with making sure we get the most out of the end of summer and making sure we haven't forgotten anything for back-to-school.  As I said, I think we're all set, but I know me - I'll keep re-checking until the day we begin and through the end of that first week (or 3) of school for sure. :)

How are you doing?  Do you have anything you want to weigh in with?  Any health progress or goals you want to share?  If so, please leave a comment below (with a link to your post, if you have one and wish to leave it), and I'll respond ASAP.

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Family Favorites - August 2019: Easy Pasta Salad (Egg, Nut, Milk and Fish-Free, Can Be Wheat and Soy-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 eighth Family Favorites recipe of 2019.  {I apologize for this being late.  We had a very busy end of week and weekend, and I hurt my neck and back, so I haven't been able to post this until now.}

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 Easy Pasta Salad.  This is simply a re-posting of my original Easy Pasta Salad recipe with a few tips and tricks added in.  This recipe is egg, nut, milk and fish-free (if all your ingredients are), and can be wheat and soy-free (see variations).  It is super simple and fast to make, and is a favorite at potlucks and family get-togethers.  You can customize it in so many ways, too!  You are sure to find at least one combination that will please you and yours!

Easy Pasta Salad
1 box (16 oz.) of your favorite egg-free noodles like elbow macaroni, tri-color rotini, etc.
(Please make sure that you pick a noodle that fits your individual allergen needs!  We always use a tri-color rotini unless we need it to be gluten-free, and then we go with a gluten-free rotini.)

1 bottle (16 oz.) of your favorite Italian dressing
(Please make sure that you pick an Italian dressing that fits your individual allergen needs!)

veggies of your choice in the amount of your choosing, chopped into bite-sized pieces (if needed), such as:
red onion, broccoli, carrots, green pepper, red pepper, yellow pepper, cucumber, squash, cauliflower, radishes, celery, fresh peas (snow or sugar snap or regular), fresh/cooked-and-cooled corn, cherry tomatoes
(Basically use any veggie that you think will taste good with Italian dressing and pasta that fits your allergen needs.  We normally go with red onion, carrot, a few different colors of peppers (generally green, red, yellow and orange), cucumber, cherry tomatoes and celery.)

  1. Cook pasta according to desired doneness (I prefer al dente); drain.
  2. Run the pasta under cold water until it is cool to the touch.
  3. Combine pasta, veggies and Italian dressing (to taste) in a large bowl, and toss until all pasta and veggies are well-coated and veggies are evenly distributed in the pasta.  (Note: I use about a Cup of each veggie that I want to add to the pasta salad, but you can use as much or as little as you like.  Also, when adding the dressing, start with 1/3 to 1/2 the bottle of Italian dressing, taste, and add more if needed.)
  4. Chill pasta salad or enjoy right away.  (Note: Pasta salad is best when allowed to sit overnight.)

Variations (Please keep all allergen needs in mind when using substitutions!):
  • Wheat/Gluten-Free: Make sure to use a gluten-free Italian dressing (or make your own) and gluten-free pasta and make as directed.
  • Soy-Free: Use a soy-free pasta and soy-free Italian dressing or make your own dressing (there are tons of recipes for them online) and make as directed.
  • Seasonal Pasta Salad:  All you need to do is use or add the veggies that are in season to make this pasta salad seasonal.  You can use any combination you want in any amount you want, so have fun playing with flavor combinations! :)  I would not recommend using any veggie that is especially soft, though (i.e. avocado or anything cooked with the exception of corn) as it will definitely change how this pasta salad comes together, but even that is your call.  If you try it, let me know how it goes!  I'd love to know! :)
  • Even More Options:  You can change the type of dressing, too, if you wish, to a Ranch, Balsamic, French, etc., if you can have them and don't like Italian.  You can even add cheese and/or nuts/seed and/or bite-sized pieces of cooked meat like ham, chicken, turkey, salami, pepperoni, etc. if you like them and can have them.  There are tons of options to choose from!  Have fun playing around with them! :)

See how easy and versatile this recipe is?  It literally takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish, and it is full of all kinds of glorious veggies!  If you want to get more veggies in your (or a family member's) diet, give this a try!  It may just be the recipe you're looking for!

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

Monday, August 19, 2019

Weekly Weigh In: Week 9, August 19, 2019

I have decided that this feature will now run indefinitely, and will replace the My Quarterly Report feature.  It will go live every Monday, and it will be a weigh in that will share how I'm doing health-wise, and it will give me more accountability with my health.

Here is my ninth weigh in:

1. The Selfie: The selfie is me as of today, August 19, 2019.  

2. Weight: My weight went up by 1 pound.  Needless to say, I am frustrated!  I do still think the herbal water pill is helping, but it definitely is not as effective as the prescription-type water pill.  I have decided to use it at its max dose starting today which is 3 times a day.  We shall see how helpful that is.  I also have some dietary plans I will share in the Diet News section.

3. Health News: I only averaged about 5,500 steps per day last week.  Part of that is due to dealing with migraines this last week (3 days in a row and counting).  I am still dealing with the migraine today, but it is in the "no real pain, just symptoms" stage right now.  I am avoiding taking any pain meds (I only take ibuprofen for them - no prescription) because I don't like to take them unless absolutely necessary.  As long as the pain is no more than minimal and I can function, I just push through.  I am hopeful that this will pass quickly, but you never know with migraine.  I know that the weather (which has been sunny/hot to stormy/cold within 24 hours several times in the last few weeks) is playing a part with the headaches, but I also am wondering if my thyroid meds need to be adjusted.  I have my physical next week, and I already had my blood drawn to check my levels, so I should have an idea then.  It is possible that my PCOS is playing a part, too.   I'm sure the insomnia I have started dealing with again the last few days isn't helping matters either.  Time will tell.  Just gotta take it one day at a time. :)

4. Diet News:  Oh, boy!  Salt is my nemesis!  I have been eating more salty foods, and my weight is suffering from it.  I cannot do a low sodium diet as it drops my blood pressure too much, but I definitely don't need the amount I've been eating lately.  I also am finding that I am eating when bored again, so I've decided that I'm going to try something new.  For this next week, I have made myself a meal schedule.  I am going to stick with it as closely as possible, and we'll see if that helps.  If it does, I will keep with it until the new way of eating becomes habit.  Wish me luck!

5. Other News: This week and next, I have to make sure that I'm ready for back-to-school.  I cannot believe that school starts so soon!  Where did summer go?!?!?!  Anyway, I need to make sure my Senior has all his required credits covered (I am pretty sure he's good to go, but there may be an elective or 2 he needs yet - he's got plenty of credits amount-wise, but the state requires some classes regardless of credit hours earned, so I need to make sure he has all of those), make sure I have my schedule ready to go with days off planned correctly, and make sure our computer/laptops have all the required updates.  We also have side jobs and family time planned towards the weekend, so it may be a bit nuts towards the weekend.  There are never enough hours in the day, it seems, but yet we always seem to get everything done, too.  Amazing... But I'd always rather be busy than bored, so...BRING IT ON! :D

How are you doing?  Do you have anything you want to weigh in with?  Any health progress or goals you want to share?  If so, please leave a comment below (with a link to your post, if you have one and wish to leave it), and I'll respond ASAP.

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Recent Reflections - August 2019: Savoring Time...

This is the eighth 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 savoring time.

Us, April of 2019
This summer has been...bittersweet.  It has been insanely busy with regular work along with side work for the boys and hubby, but we've also tried to pack it full of family time since springtime when the weather improved and the kids' school year began to wind-down.  Why are we purposely making ourselves exhausted?  Because we are not guaranteed tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1).

Our oldest will be a Senior in just a few short weeks (something I will expound upon in a later post), our middle kid will be a Sophomore, and our wee one will be in 4th grade.  It seems like only yesterday they were all in diapers, cuddling on my lap, unable to feed themselves - how did they get so old?  When did I get so old?  How did time slip by so quickly?  Didn't I just blink and they were 5 years older?

Time is a curious thing.  It slips by even when you are standing still.  We've done the best we can to savor each and every moment because you only get each moment once before it is gone.  It won't be long before our oldest is out of the house...then his brother...then the sister.  Spouses and grandchildren (Lord willing) will one day follow.  Will they live nearby or across the globe?  Will we see them regularly or once every few years?  We don't know what God has in store for them or for us, so it is best to make the most of the days and moments we have.

As I think of all the things I wish I had done with my kids, I feel a bit sad.  There is always more you wish you'd done, no matter how much you did or are doing.  But when I think of all that I can yet do, I feel joy.  There are still lots of memories to be made, and oh the plethora of memories I want to make!

Spend more time being present.  Don't focus on the past - it is done and can't be changed.  Don't focus on the future - it isn't guaranteed.  Instead, focus on the moment you have, be all in, and savor it - it's the only thing you can do and the only thing that is sure to be.

You may only have today - what are you going to do with it?

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!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Mom's Gluten-Free Apple Crisp (Nut, Wheat, Egg and Fish-Free, Can Be Soy and Milk-Free)

I meant to post this last weekend, but time got away from me.  Better late than never, though. :)

Anyway, I cannot believe that it is August!  Time is flying!  In just about 3 weeks we will be starting school, and that just blows my mind!  But, my consolation, is that with the start of school will also be the start of my favorite time of year - autumn!  And, with autumn, comes one of my favorite foods - apples!  To celebrate the {soon-to-be} beginning of apple season, I thought I'd share this delightful crisp with you all!

My mom is an excellent cook, and one of the things we loved that she made for us as kids (and sometimes even now) was her apple crisp.  We nearly always ate it warm with ice cream, and it was (and is) divine!  You have the tart apples, the warm cinnamon, the crunchy topping, and then add the cold, refreshing ice cream on top - match made in heaven!  I have adapted this version to be gluten-free (because we need it to be in my house), and it is also nut, egg and fish-free (if all your ingredients are), and can be soy and milk-free (see variations).

If you're a fan of apples and crisps, you need to try this ASAP!  You won't be sorry!

Note: The gluten-free flour and baking mix I recommend do not technically contain soy, but the one contains xanthan gum and the other contains guar 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.

Mom's Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

3 to 5 tart apples, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces 
(Amount of apples you want is based on personal preference.)
(I find that a tart apple like Granny Smith is best, but I've used Ginger Gold and Ida Red apples with success.  You can even mix a few varieties together if you wish.  Just make sure to use baking apples that are more firm and more tart than sweet.  Basically, you'll want to avoid apples like McIntosh (too soft), Golden Delicious (too sweet), and similar varieties.)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice (optional)

1 Tablespoon water (optional)

2/3 to 3/4 Cup brown sugar (packed)
(Amount based on personal preference, but generally the tarter your apples, the more sugar you want.)
1/2 Cup gluten-free flour blend or baking mix 
1/2 Cup gluten-free quick cooking or old fashioned oats

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 Cup salted, full-fat butter; softened
1. Preheat oven to 375oF.

2. Grease a 9x13 pan with butter and set aside.  (Note: I find that using a glass pan is best, but it is not 100% necessary.)

3. If desired, in a large bowl, mix the lemon juice or orange juice with the water and toss the apples in the mixture.  (Note: This step can be skipped without worry.  If you don't have lemon juice or orange juice on hand or don't want to add it, feel free to skip this step.)
4. Place the apples in the prepared 9x13 pan.  (Note: As mentioned above, the amount and type of apples is up to you.  I find that aiming for about 4 Cups of apples works best (which is normally about 4 large apples), but you can use a little less (but no less than 3 Cups) or a little more (but no more than 5 Cups) depending on your preference.)
5. In a separate large bowl, combine all the topping ingredients until crumbly.  (Note: It is best to combine the brown sugar, gluten-free flour/baking mix, oats, and cinnamon first, then mix in the butter.  You can do this using your {clean} hands, a pastry cutter, a fork, or whatever you like.  You just want the butter to be pretty evenly distributed, but it should be a coarse mixture resembling coarse or lumpy sand, not a paste or dough.)

6. Evenly top the apples with the topping mixture.

7. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. 

Serve hot or cold, plain or topped with ice cream or whipped cream as your diet allows.

Makes 12 to 24 servings, depending on size. 

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

  • Milk-Free: Use lard, coconut oil, or a dairy-free butter for the butter.  You may need to add up to 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the topping, however, if you use an unsalted fat.
  • Soy-Free: Neither Pamela's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour or King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Baking Mix claim to contain soy, but Pamela's contains guar gum and King Arthur Flour's contains 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 regular flour (if you can have it) or a soy-free, gluten-free flour of your choice. 
  • Different Flavors: I can use almost any fruit combination you desire, even frozen fruit (though the cooking time may need to be increased if you use frozen fruit).  You could use a combination of apples and another fruit or even sub all strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, raspberries, cherries, peaches, pears - anything you wish as long as it doesn't exceed roughly 3 to 5 Cups (4 Cups tends to work best, FYI) of fruit, and you can use any combo that appeals to you.  I would not, however, recommend using canned fruit or bananas as the consistency would be greatly changed, and the result would be more mush than you'd want.  You can, however, use a 1 lb. 5 oz can of pie filling (if your diet allows) in place of the apples with success.
  • Topping Variations:  If you can have tree nuts, you can always add up to 1/4 Cup pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc. to the topping.  You can even sub nuts for the oats, though I would not exceed 1/4 Cup of nuts regardless.  You can also increase the cinnamon amount to up to 1 teaspoon if you want more cinnamon flavor.
I mean, come on, guys!
Just look at that plate of deliciousness!  

You know you want some!
Make some today - you won't regret it!

Have a great rest of your week!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Weekly Weigh In: Week 8, August 12, 2019

I have decided that this feature will now run indefinitely, and will replace the My Quarterly Report feature.  It will go live every Monday, and it will be a weigh in that will share how I'm doing health-wise, and it will give me more accountability with my health.

Here is my eighth weigh in:

1. The Selfie: The selfie is me as of today, August 12, 2019.  

2. Weight: My weight went down by 2 pounds.  I think that is in part thanks to the herbal water pill that I started on (I actually take it 2 times a day now, and may up it to 3 times) and the long hikes we did this week.  So far, it doesn't seem to be quite as effective as the prescription stuff, but it may just be that it takes longer to get in your system and work.  Either way, I'm going to give it at least a month before I pass true judgement on it.  I'm just glad to be down a few pounds! :)  Let's hope and pray it continues.

3. Health News: I averaged over 8,500 steps per day last week.  I know that's because we went on 2 very long hikes last week (think 10 miles+ for one of them) which is something we love to do as a family.  I am sure I probably won't get as many steps in this week, but I'm sure going to do my best to get as many as possible!

4. Diet News:  Well, I did great making better choices some days and horribly others.  Diet is so hard to get right!  I'm going to really focus on good choices and not eating out of boredom/to comfort.  Wish me luck!

5. Other News: Busy, busy this week, too!  We're into getting appointments in for back-to-school, trying to make sure we have everything ready to do homeschooling in less than a month (what!?!?!?), and so many other things.  I am finding August busier than July, and I never thought I'd say that.  Ah, well.  Better busy than bored, right?

How are you doing?  Do you have anything you want to weigh in with?  Any health progress or goals you want to share?  If so, please leave a comment below (with a link to your post, if you have one and wish to leave it), and I'll respond ASAP.

Have a great week!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Weekly Weigh In: Week 7, August 5, 2019

I have decided that this feature will now run indefinitely, and will replace the My Quarterly Report feature.  It will go live every Monday, and it will be a weigh in that will share how I'm doing health-wise, and it will give me more accountability with my health.

Here is my seventh weigh in:

1. The Selfie: The selfie is me as of today, August 5, 2019.  

2. Weight: My weight went up a pound over the weekend, much to my frustration.  I'm still struggling with water retention, and it is definitely something I am hoping this new herbal water pill remedies.  I've only been taking it once a day, but you can take it up to 3 times a day.  We shall see what I end up doing with it.  Also, I have decided that, instead of giving an actual weight week by week, I will let you know when I reach a goal.  For example, my first goal is to be back to 210.  Once I hit that, I will let you know.  Until then, I will just let you know if I gained or lost weight each week.  Either way, wish me luck!  Thanks! :)

3. Health News: The weather was better overall this last week, but I was only able to average just over 7,000 steps per day.  I didn't get out to walk as much as I'd like due to the busy-ness of last week, but hope to walk more this week.  We have some fun day trips planned, so I should get my wish! :)  Also, I've been having some back/hip issues which I believe are related to a foot issue (I deal with Plantar Fasciitis sometimes, and it's flared up this last week).  I am better today than I was yesterday, but I will definitely have to be careful with how I move, what I lift, etc. to keep it from turning into a bigger issue.

4. Diet News:  I did better with eating when hungry vs. out of boredom, but my choices were iffy some days.  I am going to work on that this week.  So far, so good, but it's only Monday! :D  We shall see how the rest of the week goes.  Wish me luck!

5. Other News: Another busy week is planned, but with some really fun things this time sprinkled in there with all the work.  I am actually really looking forward to it.  In about a month, my oldest will be starting his Senior year (what?!?!?), and the more time we get to do some fun things together before he leaves the nest (whenever that may be), the better!  Those kiddos grow too fast!

How are you doing?  Do you have anything you want to weigh in with?  Any health progress or goals you want to share?  If so, please leave a comment below (with a link to your post, if you have one and wish to leave it), and I'll respond ASAP.

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

My Quarterly Report: Third Quarter 2019

It is time for my third (and final) quarterly report of 2019.  I have decided not to continue with this feature, but to go with my Weekly Weigh In feature for my personal updates and for sharing my weight loss journey from now on.

If you want to share a post that has to do with meeting personal goals, just leave a comment below with a link to your goal-related post, and I'll pop over and visit it and leave a comment, and hopefully some of my other readers will, too. :)  

Here is my third (and final) quarterly report:

How I did on last quarter's goals:

Goal #1: Lose some weight by August 3, 2019.
I did not meet this goal, much to my chagrin.  Now, I did lose a little bit from what my max was this last quarter (I got up to nearly 220 when my water weight was at its max), but I am seriously upset that I have gained as much as I have.  I have found an herbal water pill that I am hoping will be able to help with some of this water retention, and therefore help my weight loss in general.  We shall see how I do.  I just started it yesterday.  I will keep you posted via my Weekly Weigh In feature.

Goal #2: Eat the right foods for the right reasons.
I think this was about a 50/50 thing.  Some weeks I'd do great, and others - not so much.  This is a constant learning thing for me.  I definitely feel like I am doing better with this in recent weeks, though.  I will keep you posted via my Weekly Weigh In feature.

 Goal #3: Drink 9+ Cups of water per day.
I did great with this as it has been hotter, though sometimes I find that I am drinking quite a bit of that water closer to bed time.  I am going to work on being more consistent with drinking water throughout the day vs. losing track of it until dinnertime.  I will keep you posted via my Weekly Weigh In feature.

Goal #4: Drink some green and herbal teas daily.
I didn't normally drink both teas daily, but I pretty much always had green tea daily.  I am going to keep working on this, too.  I will keep you posted via my Weekly Weigh In feature.

Goal #5: Get some form of exercise daily.
I met this goal, though some days were better than others.  I will keep working on this.  I will keep you posted via my Weekly Weigh In feature.

Goal #6: Read more.
I am reading daily, but not really for pleasure, so I would say I didn't really reach this goal.  It is something I will keep working on, though.  I will keep you posted via my Weekly Weigh In feature.

I obviously did not make any new goals for this next quarter as I will be using my  Weekly Weigh In feature to share my personal updates and to share my weight loss journey from now on.  I hope you will follow along with my journey there.

That's about it for now.  How are you doing?  Are you reaching your goals?  Have you tried something new?  Come up with a new recipe?  I hope all is going well with you, and I hope you will leave a comment sharing your thoughts and/or goals (with a link to your post, if you wish).  As always, I wish you the best of luck in all you do, and hope you will return soon! :)