Sunday, December 28, 2014

Healthy, Yummy Desserts?

I've been posting recipes for dairy-free Christmas treats, BUT I have to admit: they aren't healthy. Even the butter-free butter tarts which I've posted before and make during the holidays, while they have flax seed and raisins in them, aren't by any means healthy what with the sugar and margarine in them.

So, this has piqued my curiosity: The Dessert Angel Healthy Desserts Cookbook.

There are 78 different recipes in it. It has vegan recipes, which means those ones will automatically be dairy-free and no substituting potentially less healthy ingredients. Most of the recipes are gluten-free, which is excellent since I'm heading back into the realm of gluten-free eating. And many nut-free recipes, which means I can serve them to my niece, too, and don't have to worry about my own sensitivities to nuts.

I admit to being a bit of a sugar addict. I gave into Christmas treats the other day because I just didn't want to stay in that state of craving/discomfort. If I can make some healthy desserts that satisfy the desire for something sweet while not fuelling a sugar addiction, that sounds good to me!

When I try the first recipe, I will let you know how it turned out. :) If you don't want to wait for my first review, do check out the site today. It's actually $10 off for I don't know how long!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dairy-Free Nanaimo Bars

Here it is, Christmas Day, and I still haven't posted all of my dairy-free goodies! Ah well! It's still the Christmas season and treats are good for New Year's too.

I tried to find a dairy-free nanaimo bar recipe that had ingredients that I had in my house, which proved an impossibility. So then I started comparing recipes to create my own to try, but I ran out of time, other people in the house were impatient for Nanaimo bars, so I bought the President's Choice nanaimo bar kit:

It is dairy-free and asks that you add butter and milk to it. My usual dairy-substitute is vegan margarine but because Nanaimo bars already tend to be quite soft, I decided to use Earth Balance Original; if you've never bought either, the vegan margarine is very soft even in the fridge whereas Earth Balance is solid. For the milk, I used rice milk. And that's it! Simple substitutions for a delicious treat:

The box doesn't say it, but let it harden in the fridge until the top chocolate is set, cut, and then let it set even longer, at least a couple of hours, if you can, before trying to remove any of the pieces. And after that, you'll want to keep them in the fridge because outside of the fridge, the Earth Balance doesn't stay very firm!

At the moment, the only places I know of for sure to find these mixes is at The Real Canadian Superstore locations. Other Loblaws' locations may also have them. If you are reading this from outside Canada, unfortunately, I don't know of any place else where they would be sold and can't even find any means of purchasing them online. Robin Hood used to sell a Nanaimo bar mix, but as far as I can tell, they don't anymore. (If you find a source for any brand of mix, please post!) Which means that if you aren't in Canada near a Superstore, you're kind of out of luck for this recipe. Sorry! If you can get the mix, then enjoy. :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Can Milk Thistle Help?

 I've noticed for a few years now, at least, that my summer tan never really goes away. I always seem to have a kind of yellowy leftover look. What concerned me a bit--but my doctor has never even mentioned--is that even areas, like my belly, that don't get exposed to the sun have the faded tan look.

Last week or so, I decided to do a bit of research. The "carotene skin" idea didn't seem to fit as it wasn't yellow on the side of orange at all. From what I could gather, if there is truly anything off, it was my bilirubin levels due to liver congestion or some other liver issue. It is unlikely that I have any other liver issue, so the alternative health side of things was saying liver congestion. And, naturally, recommending a liver detox.

This is a bad time of year to be taking on a detox, I just know I won't be willing to commit to it with all the goodies I want to indulge in, so I kept reading to see if there was something small I could do to take a step in the direction of liver detoxing. The answer was milk thistle.

Our vet had recommended we give our dog milk thistle while she was on prednisone for months earlier this year, just as something to help clear the medication out of her liver and hopefully prevent damage, so I wasn't new to it. I read up on potential side effects and all that and decided to give it a go. It has only been about a week of inconsistent use, but I could definitely see an improvement in my skin colouring today! This is highly motivating in terms of doing something after the holidays to gently detox--or just really get myself into a truly healthy diet.

Of course, I probably should have actually contacted a naturopath before starting to take milk thistle on my own (as should you!), but so far, so good.

While there is already a disclaimer on this site, I feel the need to say it again: Nothing in this post constitutes medical advice or a recommendation that you take milk thistle. It is my experience so far with this herb; take what you will of it!

Friday, December 19, 2014

-Free Recipe Friday: Dairy-Free Christmas Shortbread Cookies

Today's recipe is just like the Rice Krispie squares recipe, which makes me feel a little like I'm cheating with these recipes, but really, I want you to know just how easy it is to make at least some things dairy-free.

Why am I saying it's cheating? Because I'm just going to give you a normal shortbread cookie recipe (well, one designed for a cookie shooter) and substitute dairy-free margarine in it.

Yes, it really is that easy. I have family still making two separate batches of desserts and things like pancakes when we get together when it is just so unnecessary most of the time. They'll make a batch of pancakes with soy milk or rice milk for me but regular for everybody else, for example. Their lives would be much simpler if they just made one batch for everybody.

In any case, I have a cookie shooter that is ancient and still works---omg, I just looked it up and found it on Amazon

--and my daughter specifically asked for shortbread Christmas cookies made with the cookie shooter. Growing up, we always bought the packaged mixed and then just added a little milk to the dough to make it soft enough to go through the shooter. This time, I sought out a recipe specifically for it and found this one from . They're already almost gone, so it's clearly a winner!

Dairy-Free Shortbread Cookie Press/Shooter Cookies

(Um, yes, some were eaten before the picture was taken. They had to be taste-tested. :D )

*1 cup of butter substitute (I used Becel vegan; try different things to see how they work with the recipe)
*1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
*1/2 icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
*1/4 tsp vanilla extract
*1/2 cup cornstarch

My additions to the recipe:
*food colouring
*peppermint and/or almond flavouring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until smooth with electric mixer. Stir in flour and cornstarch. (**) Pop dough into your cookie press, and away you go! Press cookies out onto ungreased cookie sheets. (Add sprinkles, if you wish.)
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the peaks are golden.

**If you are wanting coloured or flavoured cookies, separate the dough into batches to then remix with your choice of colouring and/or flavouring.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dairy-Free Christmas Baking: Rice Krispie Squares

Finally, here it is, the first of my Christmas dairy-free recipes! These recipes are ones for the whole family even if it's just one person who is dairy-free (as is the case in my house). No need to make a batch with the dairy and a batch without, just make them dairy-free and they will get gobbled up.

I love Rice Krispie Squares. So do my husband and kids. And the great thing is if you are choosing or have to eat dairy-free, they are sooooo easy to make dairy-free.

You can just use the recipe on the box and use a butter substitute--like vegan margarine or Earth Balance--but I find the recipe on the box isn't chewy enough. And they make vanilla optional. The vanilla shouldn't be optional. Trust me.

This recipe can also easily be made vegan and gluten-free.


1/4 cup dairy-free margarine or "butter" spread; I used Becel Vegan
250 g (or about 40 regular marshmallows; don't be afraid to put more than 40 in; equivalent to 5 cups of mini marshmallows)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal (if you want it even chewier/gooier, go for 4-4.5 cups)

*Melt the margarine in a large pot (saucepan). Use low heat. When the margarine is completely melted, add in the marshmallows and stir with a mixing spoon until smooth. Remove from heat.
*Add the vanilla and stir.
*Add the cereal and stir. Make sure to get down into the "corners" of the pot and really mix things until the cereal is coated. If you are going for 4-4.5 cups, it'll be a little harder to mix things so the cereal is coated evenly, but they'll still taste good if you can't.
*Use your dairy-free margarine to butter a 9x13 pan (consider using and 8x8 if you went for the 4 cups; you'll have thicker squares, but with the 9x13, they are very thin). Pour/scrape the Rice Krispie mix into the pan. Use a buttered (buttered with your dairy-free margarine, of course) spatula to push the mixture into place and smooth it out.
*Cut into your desired size of squares.

**Vegan alternative: Make sure your margarine is vegan and use vegan marshmallows.
**Gluten-free alternative: Use gluten-free Rice Krispies or other brand of gluten-free rice crisp cereal.

That's it! Stay tuned for the shortbread cookies. :)

For a little fun: How many of you remember this commercial?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Bought a Young Coconut--And Don't Know What to Do With It

We bought a regular coconut a few weeks back, it sat on the counter for more than a week, which meant that when I finally opened it up, it was already starting to rot.

I decided to try my first ever young coconut. I was, as it turned out, not very educated on the matter. I was surprised by the texture, the amount of water... But now it's been a few days and I still don't now what to do with it and I don't want it to go to waste!

What's your favourite simple recipe (I have some Medjool dates in the house, only some raw cashews for nuts, no Stevia, no bananas, (and no guarantee that there will be a single ripe banana at the store); not sure what else I have for a recipe) with young coconut? Peferably NOT a yoghurt or a smoothie; I've found a lot of recipes for those and it's not what I'm wanting to make. I guess I'm looking for a sort of treat?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Almost Time for Christmas Baking!

This time of year is one of all kinds of goodies--that I can't eat.

So, I really have no choice but to make my own goodies, right?

Over the next while, I will post recipes for the dairy-free (and maybe even gluten-free) goodies I'll be making this Christmas season, including:

*Rice Krispie squares
*shortbread cookies
*sugar cookies
*butter tarts (mmm, yes, dairy-free butter tarts!)

I also really want to find a dairy-free Nanaimo bar recipe. If you are not a Canadian reader and don't know Nanaimo bars... Mmm, mmm, mmm! I've only ever made pre-packaged mix versions, but they already have dairy in them, so I can't even just make them with something other than butter. And while I'm at it, I may try some of the treats from DAMY:   

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Do You Eat Your Vegetables?

Well, you should! Dairy-free, gluten-free... ;)

The real reason for this post is that I saw this at a local grocery store yesterday:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Help Maui Be GMO-Free--Only 5 Days Left!!!

My family and I had a lovely stay in a condo rental in Maui this summer. The family who owns the condo is protective of the environment, even asking renters to not purchase any cleaners for the condo as they really want to use ones that are safe for the environment.

I just got a message from the condo owner about a situation in Maui dealing with not only GMO crops but open air chemical experiments. They need to raise funds to help fight what's going on. This particular campaign only has 5 days left to contribute to!

If you are concerned at all about GMO foods and chemicals on the foods, please contribute and share the link with others!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Meal-Planning Challenges

Since my main focus is on making dairy-free meals--which has actually become a very easy thing to do now that I'm used to it--and at times vegan or wheat-free meals, there are always challenges that come up, especially with picky eaters in the house and the fact that there are those who don't want vegan all the time or wheat-free all the time.

Life has added a new challenge for me: Crazy family schedules.

My husband is a teacher who coaches the school's outdoor soccer team after school. This means that every day after school except for Friday, he has a practice or a game. He might get home at 5:30--or 7:00.

My daughter has dance class three times a week. It is probably changing to two, fortunately. One day, it starts at 7:15; another at 5:15 (for which she's there for 2 hours); another at 6:00.

Now she has started a part-time job where one day, she starts at 5, another at 5:30, another at 4 and I can't remember the other day's time.

I guess the real challenge at the moment is how to continue our family meal time! It kind of feels like we can't. :( But then there's the aspect that my daughter has to eat supper before her work shift; that will always be before her dad is back from work. Do I make something that she, her brother and I eat fresh and their dad heats up when he gets back? Does she get leftovers and the rest of us eat fresh? Except for dance days, I stay at the studio or nearby, so I need to eat before the others, too. Then there's the possibility of just alternating things...

Combine this craziness with growing evidence that my daughter really needs to go wheat-free but will need a lot of support and guidance to do so... This is all really challenging me at the moment!

Do you have a crazy schedule you need to work around? Are you able to have supper together every day, or do you just have to make things work with the schedule? Have you ever just tossed out all extra activities just to have supper together? (I couldn't do it, even though the thought is there!)

Friday, September 12, 2014

-Free Recipe Friday: Dairy-Free (Vegan) Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

My family decided they wanted some Tim Horton's doughnuts this week. (Or, as we say up here in English, they wanted some Timmie's. ;) ) I checked the allergy guide to see if just in case there was a doughnut I could eat. Alas, there wasn't. But my craving was triggered and I decided to make myself doughnuts. Other than the gluten-free doughnuts from Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Everyday Foods the Whole Family Will Love, I have never made doughnuts at home. (Well, there's a little memory coming up that my mom and I may have once tried a big pot and oil with some dough...) To the internet I went to find this recipe.

They are delicious! I do have to add something here though: They did not satisfy my doughnut craving. They are essentially a vegan cupcake in doughnut form, including the icing. They are delicious--the frosting is AMAZING, best chocolate frosting I've perhaps EVER had--but they don't really taste like doughnuts to me. It could be using Canadian flour changed it or who knows what, but my doughnuts didn't even look like hers, especially not the frosting. Admittedly, I didn't melt the vegan margarine... Anyhow, it doesn't change it's delicious. And dairy-free. And egg-free. Could even be nut-free if you used something other than almond milk for the frosting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Restaurant Recommendation: Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria

My family and I went to Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria the other night for supper. If you live in or travel to certain locations in Ontario, Alberta or British Columbia, Canada, and are looking for a pizza place that has dairy-free (and even gluten-free) pizza, this is the place to go!

I completely meant to take a picture of my pizzetta (little pizza) to be able to post it, but I forgot. I am sure I will have another chance another day. In any case, before going to the restaurant, I checked their allergy guide: their pizza dough did not have milk in it, so I could get a cheeseless pizza. Good enough for me. When I got there, I discovered that I could subsitute Daiya mozzarella for regular cheese! Not only that, but they asked if the substitution was for an allergy, we said yes, so they actually make it in a different part of the kitchen to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.


The pizza itself was fabulous. I was worried they might put too much Daiya on, but it was just right. My son had a regular pizza, the margherita, and said it was the best pizza he ever had. My husband and daughter were both found the pizzas delicious, too.

The atmosphere at the location we were at, at the very least, was wonderful. Unique and pleasant. It's almost like a mix between a fast food restaurant and a regular restaurant. There is the counter with the gelato and dessert options and where you place your order yourself for what you want. You seat yourself. But you still have a server come and bring you drinks and your food. It was a completely different experience, but very enjoyable.

My one complaint is the menu doesn't explain the drinks very well. At the location we were at, it was $3 for a beverage. It didn't say that the San Pellegrino was $3 for a single can and that was it; the other drinks had free refills for the same price. That, however, won't deter us from going back and enjoying the atmosphere and the food yet again.

Remember: Travelling in Alberta or BC--or perhaps in Ontario--and looking for dairy-free or gluten-free pizza, check out Famoso! I don't think you'll be disappointed. :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life Is Never Completely Calm

I took a very unintentional break from posting. I had a crazy June, including company that stayed with us until the day before we left for Hawaii, our trip to Hawaii (which was amazing!), our dog back home nearly dying from IMHA while we were in Hawaii, taking care of that when we got back (and still taking care of...), looking for a house to purchase, finding a house to purchase, working our butts off for two weeks to get our current house ready to sell, showings, offer, house sold... Oh, add to that various doctors' appointments, looking after my nieces and nephew for the month of August--just during the work day--physiotherapy for messed up rotator cuffs and who knows what else. Thoughts of posting would come and almost immediately leave.

Outside our condo rental in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii.

Now that school is back in session, things are actually a little calmer. For now. Our possession date is September 29, so I somehow need to have a good schedule of homeschooling, getting things done for moving--like packing and the many phone calls and arrangements that need to be made for things like house insurance, electricity...--AND get things done that are important to me that I somehow lose track of, like blogging, writing, business building and continual learning/self-improvement. It has really hit me these past few weeks that there is never a time where things are calm and I can't wait for things to be calmer or have in my mind things need to be a certain calmness. I need to create the schedule I want, to create the life I feel I'm being led to live but not taking action on.

Now, perhaps my saying, "Life is never calm," means I'm actually creating a life that is never calm. That's okay, I suppose. I don't necessarily want life to be calm all the time, just have more control over what I do, more conscious choices, including the food I eat (yes, I will get back to blogging about dairy-free and other -free eating!) without chaos distracting me. Although maybe that's the real lesson: To keep doing what I need to do regardless of what's going on around me!

Do you find that your life is never calm? Do you feel you use your time each day the way you would really like to?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Can *You* Do 100 Days of Happy?

I saw this in Facebook today:

Can be happy for 100 days in a row?

It's quite a neat, yet simple, idea. Do you think you'll give it a try? I think I might!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Moving: Time to Be Clutter-Free

For at least a few years now, we have talked about how we'd like to move. The house we are in was supposed to be our "10-year house"; we are a couple months short of having been here 13 years. The interest rates right now are great, house prices steady, so we finally decided, hey, let's see what we can do.

Of course, this means getting the house in order. And to sum that up in one word: Oy.

Fortunately, we haven't found a house to buy that we love yet because the process of decluttering is taking a long time. The amount of stuff that builds up with kids, running an in-home daycare, homeschooling and life over 13 years is quite extensive. Even though we had been giving some stuff away over the years.

FlyLady was a great tool for me in the past. Actually, as I type this, I am reminded that I turned to her the last time we moved, asking for advice! If you are not familiar with FlyLady and would like some help in getting your house organized, clean and just managing it, do check her out. She helped me a great deal! And I go back to certain principles all the time, even though I've never been able to quite hop on board 100% with her approach the way many others have.

Image from

But anyhow, I started doing my decluttering without referring to her. This time, I simply decided I was going to work on a single room, the living room you see as soon as you walk in, until it was "ready", which, it turns out, appears to be somewhat what she recommends. But what is "ready"? I saw I didn't have a clear picture in mind and was slowing down and still seeing how much else there was to do around the house. This just left me feeling a bit discouraged. I changed my mind and adopted her Crisis Cleaning tips to working 45-60 minutes at a time on decluttering. Instead of coming back to the kitchen all the time and taking a break after 3 rounds of 15 minutes of cleaning, I just tackle three different areas, the ones that seem to need it the most, and if I feel up to it, will do a 4th session before stopping for the day (or that part of the day). So far, this is helping me a lot because I'm seeing how key problem areas are improving and it doesn't feel as much anymore that there are so many other rooms "left to do". They're all being worked on and improving. Bit by bit, we're getting clutter-free.

I would post before and after pics, but truly, some of the areas are rather embarrassing and moving is a very good excuse to finally take charge of them. (And I forgot to take a before pic before starting to tackle one of the worst areas...) If you are moving, or just deciding to get your house clutter-free, let me know in the comments! We can share our daily progress and help each other stay motivated. :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

-Free Recipe Friday: Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream

I have a delicious dairy-free/vegan/gluten-free recipe for you today! One of the many things people miss when going dairy-free for whatever reason is ice cream. I'm one of those people. I know people who have said they could never go dairy-free because they wouldn't be able to give up ice cream. Let's face it: ice cream is important to many people. There are some delicious non-dairy ice creams available but the better ones come in tiny containers tend to cost more than a typical 3-scoop ice cream cone! Making it yourself cuts back on costs and lets you make exactly what you want with the ingredients you want.

Today's recipe, Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl comes from The Vegan Scoop

1 cup soymilk, divided
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 cup soy creamer (my note: Silk makes original and French vanilla; both taste very good in this recipe)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 tbsp vanilla extract (yes, even if you use the French vanilla creamer)
3/4 cup peanut butter (I use regular, store-bought peanut butter with sugar in it)

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of the soymilk with arrowroot and set aside.

Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup soymilk, sugar, cocoa powder and chocolate chips in a saucepan and cook over low heat. (Not too low or it'll take forever!) Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably. Add vanilla extract.

Refrigerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2 to 3 hours. (Elsewhere in the book, he recommends letting it chill overnight.) Freeze according to ytes of freezing, swirl in peanut butter.

Yield: 1 quart


My one piece of advice when making this is to not let the ice cream mix too long after you've added the peanut butter. While you can still taste the peanut butter and the combination of the chocolate and peanut butter is amazing, the peanut butter can end up mixing in very quickly and you lose the swirl. As you can see here:

Don't have an ice cream maker? Check these out. I have the second one and am very pleased with it.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Laughter: Helps with an Illness-Free Life

I decided I would give you a laugh today. :D

I like looking through local real estate listings. I've been doing it on and off for years. Sometimes there are some pictures that, in the words of Arsenio Hall, are "things that make you go hmmm."

While I haven't seen any local photos on this site I'm sharing, I have seen local photos that matched photos at this site. Not any of the extreme ones, where your mouth drops open and you can't believe that is actually from a real estate listing, but I've seen a lot of bad photos. And just today, I saw some more and it made me think of the following site and since laughter is the best medicine, here you go, with a few samples from the Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs site:

I've seen some blurry photos like this one today:

I saw a local photo with a kid walking in the room, but not hiding under the bed:

Although fortunately local realtors don't post crazy pictures like this
or this (?!)

Check out the site. Shake your head. Laugh a little. It's good for you. ;)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interested in healthy living?

Yes, the following is a complete business plug. I won't do these often, but I am inspired and will do so now. :)

Do you enjoy using more natural products than what's typically available/used?

Would you like to move away from using, or at least reduce your usage of, things like over-the-counter pain killers?

Would you like natural products that can help your immune system, mood, skin, digestion and so much more?

How about getting a discount on such things, earning free products and even making a little (or a lot of) money on the side?

I am loving my Young Living essential oil products and know there are other people out there who do not know these products yet but would love them, too. You can order any time, at full price, as a retail customer, but if you sign up for a wholesale membership, you get 24% off all of your orders, have the opportunity to sign up for Essential Rewards where you can earn free products based on your monthly orders and you can even start a home-based business to supplement what you are earning (or not earning) now or even work toward having it replace your current income.

Unlike some other home-based businesses you sign up with, Young Living does not require that you make a monthly or even a quarterly order. With a minimum order requirement of only $50 per year, you can maintain your wholesale status easily. I am currently signed up with a completely different company which requires that I place orders of $400+ every quarter to maintain my status. Needless to say, since I only signed up with that company for the discounted products, I have lost my status a couple times already and will probably lose it again. $50, though--a year? Easy. And the free products are fantastic! I received about $100 in free products from an order I recently place. How nice is that?

The Premium Starter Kit. The diffuser may not be the one shown.

When you sign up for wholesale under me, you only need to order one of the starter kits (which ones are available depend on the country you live in) and put in my sponsor/enroller number #1772120. If available where you are, I highly recommend the Premium Starter Kit as it gives you the diffuser (I am in love with my diffuser and use it every single day) and the Everyday Essential Oils kit, which is a fantastic way to get to know some of the basic oils. If you want both the diffuser and the Everyday Essential Oils kit, it actually makes no sense to buy them retail as you save much more money on this by signing up for wholesale. The starter kits also come with some business tools, sample products and information for you. Add to all this that I will be there to support you every step of the way! If you have a question, ask! If you want help in getting started in establishing a business, ask! :) And if you need more information before purchasing or signing up, don't hesitate to get in touch with me.

My goal at the moment is to get 5 new people to join up, 5 people who are interested in working with me to build up a home business, interested in working toward financial freedom. Will you be one of those 5 people? Sign up today at , ID#1772120.

Friday, May 23, 2014

-Free Recipe Friday: Amazing Oven-Fried French Fries

French fries are gluten-free and dairy-free and if you make them yourself at home rather than buying the frozen kind, you can be sure of the ingredients and no contamination!

They do take some extra time, especially if you don't have a French fry cutter. If you are cutting by hand as I do, just a word of warning: don't make the fries too thin. They will get too crispy. Also, despite the recipe instructions, the lowest position in my oven is actually too low, as I discovered yesterday when I put it to the lowest position for the first time. I also used olive oil and they are just fine with olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

This week's recipe is off-site, so you'll need to visit to check it out. These fries are absolutely worth the trouble to make!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Product Review: Glutino Gluten-Free Bagel Chips

I bought these Glutino Gluten-Free Bagel Chips for my daughter sometime ago, and she had them once and then not again. I don't know if it's because she doesn't like them or she forgot about them, but I found them and decided to try them myself. They are dairy-free, although do have the "May contain milk" warning on them, which means I can actually try them.

Plain, they are quite tasty. They are not like bagels, not like chips. They are like another sort of dry bread thing out there that I can't remember the name of because I've had them maybe once in my life. In any case, I quite like the taste, although how hard they are was a bit of a shock at first. They can get dull after a while just on their own, so I put some peanut butter on them one day and really liked them that way. I'm sure you could put any kind of spread that you like on them and they would be quite tasty.

They come in different flavours, but so far, I've only tried the original flavour. I definitely would like to try other flavours.

Two thumbs up from me!

Illness in the house today

I have two sick nieces here today. One is spending quite a bit of time coughing and given I've had a bit of a sore throat all week, I don't want to get worse by being exposed to something else (or more of the same)! I hadn't thought to use Young Living's Thieves blend this week, but from all the recommendations I've read, it's one of the better oils to use when there is viral illness around.

There are also some new oils in the house today. I got my latest Young Living order and got some free promotional items with it: a 15mL bottle of Lavender (always useful!), a 15mL bottle of Peace and Calming (exactly what I wanted but didn't order!) and a 15mL bottle of Geranium, which I haven't tried yet. I was going to diffuse it but decided I had better go with the Thieves instead right now.

The cats helped inspect the shipment. :D


If you are interested in trying any of the Young Living products, do check out their website--make sure you have your country selected--and ask me any questions you may have here or email me! When ordering (or signg up), please do use my Sponsor/Enroller ID 1772120.

Disclaimer: These statements and any information contained on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for medical care or to prescribe treatment for any specific health condition. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult individual products labels for safety information.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Dealing with Nausea--Drug-Free

My daughter got up this morning and headed to the bathroom. Not unusual. But she was in there so long, I thought she must be getting herself fully ready first thing and that was unusual. Then I heard the toilet flush, she washed her hands, headed back to her room and I got a text from her: Help me.

She was feverish, weak, nauseated and had just suffered some bad diarrhea. (Sorry if that's tmi!) I got her some ginger ale, a folded damp wash cloth with a bag of ice inside, the Pepto Bismol just in case she wanted some and then asked her if she wanted me to diffuse some of the Young Living peppermint oil in her room. She nodded. She'd had a bout of nausea a couple weeks back and was game to try the peppermint oil and it really helped, so she wanted it again today.

Now, she did have Pepto and the diffusing in the morning, and they helped, but it was hard to know which one had helped most or at all. Later, fever and nausea were coming back and she didn't want more Pepto, just more peppermint diffused. Again, it helped. A lot. I find it amazing that just smelling it can make such a difference! I know I've used peppermint oil, just smelling it from the bottle or applying to key spots on my face, over the years to help with headaches. I didn't know until recently that it was good for nausea, too.

Have you experience with peppermint essential oil? What about other drug-free alternatives to dealing with nausea?


If you are interested in trying the peppermint oil or any other of the Young Living products, do check out their website--make sure you have your country selected--and ask me any questions you may have here or email me! When ordering (or signg up), please do use my Sponsor/Enroller ID 1772120.

Disclaimer: These statements and any information contained on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for medical care or to prescribe treatment for any specific health condition. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult individual products labels for safety information.

It's Friday! -Free Recipe Friday!

I have been wanting chocolate chip cookies all week long, so I decided that would be the -free recipe I would share: my chocolate chip cookie recipe. This is a slightly modified recipe from a cookbook my mom had when I was a kid/teenager. The recipe called for butter or vegetable shortening and we always used butter. But one time we didn't have butter or enough butter so I used Crisco shortening. They turned out better than they had with the butter! I've been making them with Crisco ever since although did try dairy-free margarine. It works, just not as good. My mom always used to mix the dough in a food processor and I didn't feel like having to clean the food processor afterwards one day, so I just did it by hand. Again, they turned out even better!

The tricky part to make these cookies dairy-free could be to find dairy-free chocolate chips. Most of the ones I've found in stores have milk in the ingredients, and unfortunately, my favourite ones, the President's Choice chocolate chips, now have "May contain milk" on the label. (I still eat them even though I really should avoid all potential traces.) I believe Camino is completely dairy-free, but don't quote me on that, as is Enjoy Life.

One more thing about this recipe: Pretty much everybody LOVES this recipe--when I make it. I have tried my best below to put in the details that I might be following that others don't when making the recipe, but that's still no guarantee. I once supervised my niece making them and they did not turn out the same.

So, here we go, today's Dairy-Free Recipe:

Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350F-375F--the exact temperature will depend on your oven and elevation

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, very well packed (I normally use golden brown, but did use the darker stuff in the past and they were just as good)
1 cup of Crisco shortening
(just a note here: you want the sugars to be a little more rather than a little less than the full measure, and the shortening a little less rather than a little more; it can make a big difference!)

2 large eggs
2 (overflowing) tsp vanilla

2 cups flour (I use Canadian all-purpose flour; you may need to use something other than all-purpose or adjust your amount if you are not in Canada)
1.5 tsp salt (original recipe called for 2 tsp, if you like them saltier)
1 tsp baking soda

1+ cups chocolate chips (original recipe calls for 2 cups)


In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugars and shortening VERY well. I use a fork for this until it is as blended as it can be.

Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix with the fork until creamy. And then mix a little more.

Sprinkle over top the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix with a mixing spoon until well blended.

Add the chocolate chips and mix again.

Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets. I make them large, about 2". The recipe usually makes about 25 cookies for me (well, it would be a couple more if dough didn't get eaten...).

Bake for 7-8 minutes. (You may need to play around with this. With one of my ovens, I baked them at 350 for 10 minutes and they were perfect. With my current oven, 8 minutes at 375 seems to work well, but I still have to play around a bit to get it just right. With the second batch, 8 minutes is actually too long for this oven.) I take them out when the edges are just starting to get golden and some peaks are showing signs of browning. They are, for all intents and purposes, undercooked, but not so undercooked that they will be gross. They will still continue cooking a bit as they sit on the cookie sheet.

 They look browner in this picture than I think they look in real life.

Let them cool completely on the cookie sheets. Do not remove to a wire rack. Because they are already a tad undercooked, let them keep cooking a bit without the browning!

If you prefer the harder cookie, by all means, cook longer. :)

Happy Victoria Day long weekend to the Canadians reading!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dealing With a Plantar's Wart

My son discovered a small plantar's wart on his foot about a week ago. I decided to see if there was one of my essential oils I could use on it rather than buying the kit that you use to freeze them. Sure enough, I found a testimonial about using the Young Living lemon essential oil that comes in the Everyday Essentials kit.

Just put a drop on once or twice a day and it'll be gone in no time. Well, it's taken us about a week to do 4 applications (we keep forgetting) but when we did the 4th one this evening, I noticed the wart is almost entirely gone! Oh my goodness, how I wish I had this available to me when I was a kid. I have a clear memory of being at my grandparents for a week for Christmas and having to soak my foot, rub the wart area down with a pumice, put the medication on...

Have you used an alternative to the modern freezing kits? Please share!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Day 2 of Wheat-Free Eating

Although my daughter doesn't seem to be prepared to cut out wheat entirely, I have decided to. And if you read my previous post, there was some angst as to what to actually eat.

Well, I'm on Day 2 and I have to say, this has been the easiest yet of going wheat-free. The first time I went wheat-free was almost agonizing on Days 1 and 2--I was so used to having wheat pretty much all the time, it was just incredibly hard. And I was having cravings for it. This time around, while my thoughts will turn to a wheat product, when I remember I'm not eating wheat, I just find something else.

As for my wheat-free (and, naturally, dairy-free) supper plan for the week, it hasn't been followed at all so far. lol. Yesterday, instead of chicken piccata, we were at the grocery store to pick up chicken breasts and my daughter suggested we get one of the roasted chickens. Sure! I then made dairy-free scallopped potatoes (note: when they say "thinly sliced" potatoes, they really mean it! my poor potatoes were not cooked even after quite a bit of additional cooking time) to go with it and we just had some raw veggies on the side.

Today, I decided it would be rice with something. We have a lot of frozen ground beef, so I picked that and ended up making a kind of skillet casserole with Italian tomato sauce, ground beef, Italian sausage, chili powder and rice. My son complained when seeing it that he doesn't like the texture of this particular dish, that rice, tomato sauce and beef don't go together. I said that you can get burritos with that combination. He said, yeah, but we're not eating burritos. I then suggested he grab a tortilla and make himself a burrito. Well, it did the trick for him! Not his favourite dish still, but more manageable like that.

Breakfast-wise, I've just been having Rice Krispies with vanilla-flavoured rice milk. Had a stir fry for lunch yesterday and a couple of scrambled eggs for lunch today. I've had some other food, but I can't think what exactly.

That's the progress report so far. If you are wanting to go wheat-free, even if just for a few days, why not join me and let me know in the comments? We can support each other, share snack and meal ideas...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Menu Planning Can Be HARD

My 16-year old has been having increasing stomach pains, but has also been eating an increasing amount of wheat lately. Although in the past some activated charcoal did the trick, it doesn't seem to be helping the pain. Whether the pain is from something else or whether it's just so prolonged and she keeps eating wheat so it's not going away, we're not sure, but it's time to do something. Add to that, I've been feeling the need to go wheat-free for a while again, so with the two of us wanting to work on it, it's definitely time.

She wants to just cut back on her wheat; last time she had these pains, it took a few days of being wheat-free for them to disappear completely. So, I want to encourage her to at least go three days wheat-free and see if it helps. But that means having a menu plan. And although we previously did a couple of weeks straight of wheat-free, I'm sitting here trying to plan a wheat-free supper plan for the week and struggling! It's kind of sad that wheat is that much a part of our lives again, that we're that dependent on it.

Ideas I've come up with so far (and given they are for me, too, they are dairy-free, or able to be made dairy-free):

*chicken piccata (from the Wheat Belly 30-Minute or Less Cookbook) with potatoes and veggies
*a veggie or chicken and veggie stir fry with rice
*tacos (without the wheat tortillas; the Wheat Belly 30-Minute or Less Cookbook has a wheat-free recipe I could try or I could see about a traditional Mexican corn soft tortilla)
*pizza, with one of the crusts made with the recipe from Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen
*chili or spaghetti with gluten-free noodles
*skillet rice, kidney beans and tomatoes

This felt very hard to come up with. And it only covers 6 days, not the next 7. AND this is just for supper, not the other meals. She has already requested that I make the stuffed peppers recipe from Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day for lunch. I'm not sure I have what I need to make it, although I modify it anyhow because I can't eat one of the nuts in the recipe. But she'll need more than stuffed peppers to make it through even a few days of wheat-free eating!

Why does this feel so hard? It's not like we haven't done it before. But it's like a vague memory. I will have to see what I can dig up from this blog about what we've eaten in the past!


Cookbooks mentioned above:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Loving my new "stuff"!

I received my Young Living order last Friday (and delightfully discovered that we can, as Canadians, purchase everything Young Living has to offer, there are just some extra rules surrounding many products) and am loving my products so far! It turns out that I may love my Home Diffuser too much

as well as the blend Peace and Calming. (Just a note: A different diffuser has replaced this diffuser in the American market just this week!) The Everyday Oils Collection comes with 10 different essential oils in 5 mL bottles

and having signed up as a member, I also got some samples, including a roll-on of the Stress Away. It was a great way for me to be able to try the different oils. In any case, it seems that Peace and Calming is one I like a lot: I'm already out! I added it to some extra virgin olive oil for foot massages on my daughter and husband this week, used it in the diffuser a LOT in the evening and even early morning to see if it would help the kids sleep longer... I have discovered that I don't need to use as much oil as the diffuser's booklet said, so that will help when I get new stuff in, but I also probably ended up losing some with my massage blend; I didn't really know what I was doing. lol. I am definitely getting more of the Peace and Calming and fortunately, the standard-sized bottle is 15 mL. I think I can learn to manage it so that it will last a month.

I have used all of these oils this week and have been reading all kinds of information online about ways to use them and combinations to use. There is still so much to learn! I have read of more than one family turning to essential oils for their "medicines" rather than any kind of over-the-counter drug (Tylenol, allergy meds...) I am going to do my best to turn to the oils before turning to pain killers or allergy meds. I'm all for a drug-free life!

Now, I can't say if it's the oils or a coincidence but Valor is supposed to empower the mind and increase self-confidence (among other ways it's found to help); it's one I've been diffusing and I've been having a growing desire all week to focus more on my blogs and writing and to really spend more time working on a "wealth plan". I have some ideas floating around in my head of "upgrades" to this blog. How long it will take for the ideas to be worked out enough to make changes, I don't know. Just know that changes are coming!

Disclaimer: None of the comments made about essential oils are designed to diagnose or treat!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I have joined Young Living Essential Oils!

I first learned about essential oils, and Young Living Essential Oils, years and years ago. I'm not sure if my son was even born yet--he's 13. But after learning about them, I got busy with other stuff and haven't paid too much attention to them. I still have a bottle of YL lavender that gets used periodically and some samples that I use now and then. Yes, they are still good after all this time.

My mother-in-law recently signed up with them due to friends or acquaintances or something of hers. She specifically wanted to try out the NingXia Red drink for a while to see if it made a difference in her health or overall well-being and being signed up means she gets a discount. She only just got the shipment in, so I can't report on that at all, but she renewed my interest in using essential oils and seeing all the things available with Young Living now, I decided to sign up today. (I also got to experience the Home Diffuser she got and I really liked it!) Will I do the business much? Not sure. Main reason I signed up was because it was cheaper to purchase what I wanted that way! lol. (Main drawback as a Canadian: there are all kinds of YL products that we can't get here! :( ) That said, if you have questions about YL, let me know! I'm definitely interested in learning all I can and answering people's questions or supporting them as their sponsor.

I also decided to check today into the use of essential oils a bit and starting making use of what I have here. I can't believe I didn't think to use the lavender oil last week when I burned myself. I was cooking chicken in a bit of oil, but when I tried to slide the chicken into the pan, it fell in and the hot oil splashed me.

Can you see the mark? I know, sucky photo. We're getting a new camera soon! Woot!

I did what they say to not do and used ice for quite sometime once the pain had kicked in. (Why? Because I used ice years ago on a blistering burn, rubbed it for probably a good 20-30 minutes because it kept hurting like the dickens when I would stop and I couldn't have water running for 30 minutes and the next morning, there was only a discoloration in the skin: no pain, no blistering. I post this disclaimer now: I am not a health professional and am not liable for anything you do because I've shared it works for me!) Then I had to keep it covered a couple of days. It would have likely healed much faster had I used the lavender oil. I put some on today, just to see if it will help with the healing of the discoloured skin, but also thought to use some of the peppermint oil on certain spots to help with sinus pain I've been having. I find peppermint oil, or at least Young Living's peppermint oil, works wonderfully for headaches/sinus pain and today was no exception. Put a tiny amount on some sinus pressure points on my face and woo-wee, did it get those areas tingling!

In wanting a -free life, that includes being free from all kinds of chemicals. Essential oils aren't chemicals. Well, from a chemistry point of view, sure, but they aren't what we mean by "chemicals" in everyday language. So, in addition to dairy-free and other -free things on here, you can now expect to see me sharing information about using essential oils in our everyday lives. :)

EDIT: I suppose I should give you my Young Living number in case you would like to order or sign up! 1772120.

Losing Weight (Almost) Effortlessly

Going to Hawaii at the end of June has definitely helped with my motivation in terms of fitness and losing the extra pounds. I'm not a dieter, though, and know I never could be as I resist major changes so much, so I had no choice but to figure out easy lifestyle changes that I could make that would help me lose the weight.

So far, I have noticed a pattern that is almost 100% consistent: if I don't eat late evening, my weight is likely to be lower in the morning. What I mean by that is this: When I was eating snacks every night, my weight wasn't budging and I would sometimes even weigh more in the morning. I've had more and more evenings of not snacking after... not sure what time... 7? 8 at the latest... and my weight seems to go down or stay on the lower end when I do that. I ate a ton of food yesterday, including two (small) pieces of cake after supper (but probably before 7:30) and was certain my weight would be up this morning, but it was actually the lowest it's been in ages. I used to eat supper and often wait until late evening to have that extra little something, but I've been having the extra little something earlier and it seems to be making a difference.

My theory is that my body retains water more easily if I'm snacking later in the evening. I don't know if it's the particular foods I'm snacking on or just that my body gets more time to deal with the food before I go to sleep, but I honestly don't think I've lost 6-8 lbs of fat in the past few weeks (yes! I've lost that much!) and certainly didn't lose a pound of fat in a day, and in a day where I ate lots of Easter food. But another clue to it being water and my eating late night having something to do with water retention in my system is that I did not drink a whole lot yesterday, which might normally have gotten me feeling dehydrated and puffy, but I did not feel puffy at all this morning.

Omitting the late-evening snacking hasn't been the only thing I've done, though, and since what I've done might work for someone else, too, I thought I would share.

First thing is I've cut back on portion sizes a bit. I realized I was eating the amount I was eating out of habit and not out of hunger. Just cutting back a little bit on cereal in the morning, or not finishing the last bites of something (you know, the "I don't want it to go to waste so I might as well finish it"--well, it's either going to go to waste in the garbage or on your body!) I'm sure have helped. Not only that, but it's been a few weeks of that and I've hit a point where I'm much more sensitive to needing to stop eating, of not crossing that line between being satisfied and feeling full or overfull. I will often have some cereal left (need to cut back a little more, apparently!) and am not as bothered by throwing out stuff from my plate anymore. I didn't realize just how much I would finish stuff off just because it was there or I figured I "should." Any amount of food that is beyond what we need is going to get stored. (Yes, if you tell your kids to finish off the food on their plates, you might reconsider and have them figure out if they have had enough to eat. No good developping a habit of eating more than we need just to finish off the plate!)

A very simple thing I've done for cutting back is on treats. Take something like Oreos: I'll still have some, but instead of taking 2, I'll just take 1. At first, I had the rule that I would just start with one and if I really wanted the second one, I could go back and get it. I rarely did go back for the second because it was a hassle (the rule involves closing the package and putting it fully away before eating the first) and if I savoured the one treat, I was fine and didn't feel any need for the second. Now, I'm satisfied with just one and have even gotten to a point of not wanting them as much. Which is why we still have packages of Oreos in the house after more than a month. I'm well aware that I am typically their primary consumer in our house. This could fit in with the idea of cutting back on portion sizes, I suppose!

I'm not counting calories, but I am being much more aware of the junk calories. I wanted something to eat as a snack the other night and was going to go for PopTarts. I normally like to eat 2 of them. I then read the label: 200 calories per blueberry PopTart. Well, yikes. Good deterrant to the junk. I can't remember what I ended up actually eating, if it was something healthy or another junk item with fewer calories, but let's just say that I'm no longer going through PopTarts the way I used to.

And I also try at times to crowd out the less healthy stuff by first eating healthy stuff: melon cubes in the morning before eating something else, a salad at lunch before eating something else... Fill myself up at times with healthy, nutrient-dense stuff so that I don't have as much room for the other stuff.

Does this seem ridiculously simple? It is. I didn't make all of these changes at the same time (remember: I don't do well with major changes!), but in a nutshell:
  1. Cut back on portion sizes. Not going to extremes, just a bit at first and keep cutting back as needed to truly satisfy the appetite and not the habit.
  2. Think about the calories when you do want that extra little something and see if you can opt for something lower calorie--or healthier.
  3. No late-evening snacking. Not only will this help cut back on calories.
  4. Think healthy first--doesn't have to be only healthy, but get the healthy foods in first.
Do I always cut back? Never eat extra treats? No. Just mostly. My desire to see my body change is greater  (most of the time) than my desire to give into certain habits. And since they say that most weight loss is 80% due to diet... I'm paying attention to what I can almost effortlessly change.

Are you going to try these out? If you do and see results, come back and share! :D Do you have other easy tips for readers that have worked for you?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Week's Supper Plan

I'm taking it fairly easy today as I nurse a cold that has hit me hard. Other than taking a nap and drinking tea, I thought it would still be nice to actually get something done. I had thought about posting on my vacation site, but realized that the info I need to access it is on a disconnected, damaged hard drive at the moment. I have a back up... somewhere... lol. I'm in no mood for searching for it, so I decided I would look through some cookbooks today and come up with some supper ideas for the week.

ALL of my menu ideas on this blog are automatically dairy-free or easily adaptable between dairy and dairy-free. I don't consume any dairy at all--except for movie theatre popcorn butter which is clarified butter that doesn't have any of the protein that bugs me. So, if you are dairy-free or wanting to go dairy-free, EVERYTHING I post on this blog is safe!

The first book I've got beside me is How It All Vegan!: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.

*I already know that I want to make the Holy Moly Hummus on page 95. This is the most delicious hummus I have ever eaten! It is great as a veggie dip but also with tortilla chips, especially the Tostitos round chips. I was actually going to make some yesterday and discovered that not only was my tahini several months past the best before date, but that I didn't even have half of what the recipe called for, so I need to get to the store before I can make this. I actually change the recipe slightly and don't put in the parsley and have never tried it with the jalapeno. This recipe is actually so good, and I think I'm allowed to share a small number of recipes from books, that I'm going to share it here now for you:

1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
splash of olive oil
2.5 cooked or canned chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
3/4 cup of tahini
1.5 tbsp Braggs (or soy sauce; I use Braggs)
1/2 cup lemon juice (or you can use 1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar; I use lemon juice, mmmmm mmmm)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (haven't ever tried it with the parsley)
1/4 cup chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt

It's very easy to put together: You sauté the chopped onion and garlic in the splash of olive oil on medium heat until the onions are translucent. In a blender or food processor (if you use a blender, it had better be a large one!), put the onion, garlic and all the rest of the ingredients. Blend until it's the consistency you want. It makes about 2 cups of hummus. You can freeze whatever you won't eat in the next few days!

But that's for snacking and dipping. How about the supper ideas?

I asked my kids what they would make for supper this week. My 13-year old son said he wanted to make spaghetti and my 16-year old daughter had been wanting to make spaghetti, largely so she could make a meatball recipe we all love that she got from her foods science (aka home ec.) class. They are going to work together to make supper one night this week with my son making the sauce (family recipe) and his sister making the meatballs. Just got to figure out other nights they can help with. :D

Tonight, we are having pizza. I use a mix of Daiya cheddar and mozzarella on my pizza (well, my half of the pizza). I find that the mozza can easily be overdone but the cheddar doesn't bother me at all, so my pizzas usually have more Daiya cheddar than mozza on them! I'll be using my breadmaker to make the crust. Well, the dough for the crust.

We have some fish I'll serve with rice and veggies and salad one night.

I've got some turkey sausages I can make with potatoes another night. (Yes, and add in veggies, but we usually eat our veggies raw at supper so it doesn't really require any specific planning!) I'm pretty sure the sausages are gluten-free, so that will make a dairy- AND gluten-free meal.

I think I'll try the Chicken, Broccoli, and Carrot Stir-Fry on p. 122 of Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Everyday Foods the Whole Family Will Love.

We've really liked everything we've tried so far from this book and we love stir fry meals, so it should be good. :)

How many meals does that bring me up to? Five. Including tonight's. That'll bring me to Thursday. Okay, we'll have chili one night. There. Brings us to Friday. Good enough for now. lol

So, quick recap for a dairy-free menu plan for the week (er, part of the week):

*homemade pizza made with Daiya cheese (could use the pizza crust recipe from the above-mentioned Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen for a gluten-free option; the crust is really good)
*spaghetti and meatballs (could easily be gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta and gluten-free bread crumbs)
*crispy fish and rice
*turkey sausages with potatoes (gluten-free!)
*chicken, broccoli and carrot stir fry with rice (gluten-free!)
*chili (gluten-free!)

Clearly, I am not focusing on meatless meals this week, but I will be looking at vegan and raw vegan things during the day, like Ani Phyo's  Coconut Breakfast Cakes (I finally found golden ground flax seed!) and some other things. I also got a free Actifry recently and have only so far used it to make French fries. It would be nice to explore other recipe options, for any meal.

Do you plan dairy-free meals? Do you have a plan for this week you'd like to share? Or are you looking for more dairy-free supper ideas--or perhaps specific recipes? Let me know!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Random Stuff

I've been reading more the past couple of months from a variety of books. (Book list shared below!) One of the things I read recently in a John Demartini book was something along the lines that whenever we master one challenge and think we've got everything down pat, something is bound to happen to upset any ensuing calm/peace because we need to have constant challenges to grow.

That has, I can say, been my reality the past couple of months.

But I have no complaints: there is so much good that has come out of these challenges, like having me spend more time each day connecting spiritually, growing spiritually. Like turning to books which have provided me with some amazing ideas I was ready for.

Recently, while considering how I've been dealing with the challenges, I've found part of me thinking I don't lead a balanced life. At the same time, I'm starting to wonder if I'm supposed to. If any of us are supposed to. I think we are supposed to learn to connect to our inner guidance (whatever you might call it) and act from inspiration. Inspiration isn't always balanced--but it doesn't leave us feeling unbalanced. We can go and go and go when we are inspired, never tiring.

Where am I going with tihs? Not sure. That's why it's a random stuff post. :D

Other random stuff:
We are booked for Hawaii! Woot! Which means I only have a few months to work on my fitness level and to get my weight down to where I would like it. Even just another 5 pounds down would be nice! I started using this video set by Tracy Anderson

I am discovering that while I can walk for hours, the fairly simple routine really gets to the core of certain muscles that are clearly weak! Probably not suitable for people who have been working out for sometime, but for those of us who are sporadic with our exercise and haven't done much challenging, it's a very nice start. She does have other videos of various levels, which I hope to start moving up through soon.

That will hopefully help with the fitness level I would like so that we can do all the activities we want and I will be able to keep up! Food-wise, I've already started making changes (not for Hawaii, just for my own benefit) and have lost a few pounds already. I do still have a hankering to have more raw vegan foods as part of my daily life and even tried out Ani Phyo's Blueberry Smoothie recipe from her book Ani's Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes. I'm hoping to make Mimi Kirk's raw Caesar salad this week. (Mmmm, do I ever love that salad!)

Okay, my (partial) reading list the past while. If you want more information, click on the pictures (or ask me questions in the comments box!). And, um, no, I don't usually read one book before moving onto another. Most of these are still being worked on!

This is one book that really gets me thinking, seeing things differently. I'm not 100% in agreement with everything he says but am open to the possibility that he may, in fact, be on the right track. He talks a lot about how we are to learn to come from a centre of love and that as we act out of balance (elated vs unhappy, for example), we can see that there is something else going on to balance it. (Yes, this appears to go against what I said above about balance, but I'm talking more about the balance in activities, like household stuff and kids and exercise...) He has helped me to lose anxiety I had about some on-going issues and instead appreciate what benefits are coming out of the challenges. Haven't finished this book yet. I seem to need to read a chapter or two and then let them digest.

This is all about Ho'oponopono. It is fascinating, intriguing, something I question and yet have been attempting to implement. It has definitely helped me find greater peace and a deeper spiritual connection. I admit to modifying how they present it to connect it more with my religious beliefs.

This is quite different from typical "law of attraction" stuff out there. I seem to be taking quite a long time to get through it, not because it's not interesting or potentially useful (actually, it may very well have helped me bring a car into my life--but that will have to be a separate post. The story is almost unbelievable!) I guess part of me isn't quite sure what I think of her whole approach, although I have been using the "one command" idea but more as a sort of affirmation/reminder than doing the steps she says.

Gotta have a novel in there, no? lol. I have actually been working on this for months. I am not finding it as captivating as the first two, which I reread immediately before starting this one, but it is still interesting and I definitely want to finish it (although I accidentally saw a spoiler online :( ). We saw the movie for Divergent last Friday and while it was good, it was not nearly as amazing as the film version of The Hunger Games. (Yes, another random thing thrown in there. Sorry.)

Last one on my partial list:

Okay, this isn't really to read, but I'm working on it, so I'm including it!

I don't draw. I can't really draw. Even my students recognize it and I'm quite open and playful about it. So when I saw this book, I initially thought, hm, I can't do that. But when I looked more into it, I started thinking that it was something I could potentially do. Have I been doing one a day? No. I'm not even using the materials they say to use (if I had to wait to start until I had the materials, I would never start!). But I am finding that while some designs they show are a bit of a challenge for me and I may simply never really "get" them, most are quite enjoyable and things I can do! If you aren't very artistic but love the idea of being able to do something artistic, look into zentangle. It may just help you feel like you aren't a total artistic loss.

Okay, is that enough random for you today? :D What is going on in your life? What are you reading? What is inspiring and helping and motivating you?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Making a Dairy-Free Meal Out of a Dairy-Filled Meal

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter was participating in an activity where she needed to bring an entrée from another country. She chose chicken quesadillas.

She found the recipe, made them and had enough left over that my husband and son could have supper, too. But, with the cheese and butter used, it was not going to be a supper for me. How could I adapt the ingredients that were left over for me?

There was chicken left over and some tortillas. We had lettuce in the fridge.

So, I started building myself a sandwich wrap, added some additional taco seasoning, some salsa... (I put more lettuce on after the picture!) It was quite a tasty supper and a very easy way to modify what was a dairy-filled recipe not with a dairy substitute, but by creating a different, but simple, meal. :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dairy-Free Menu Plan

More and more people are going dairy-free and searching for ideas of what to eat. So many people tell me they couldn't do it, they couldn't go dairy-free. Sometimes it takes not having a choice--to have horrible reactions--to finally do it. But I think that if I had also seen "normal" menu ideas, I might have had an easier time with the switch. So, I've decided to share a basic weekly menu plan with you!

Breakfast: oatmeal with milk alternative; I prefer almond (naturally high in calcium) or calcium-fortified rice milk (if you use instant oatmeal, check the ingredients; I like to eat Quaker Brown Sugar instant which is dairy-free here) and orange juice

Lunch: peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrot sticks and hummus or tahini; if you use butter in your sandwich, use a vegan margarine instead (Becel Vegan or Fleischmann's non-hydrogenated margarine--apparently a Canadian product and I don't know if the American Flesichmann's spread is dairy-free or not. BEWARE! Most margarines contain whey, a milk product.)

Supper: chili with pasta and an assortment of raw veggies (carrots, broccoli, cucumbers...)

Breakfast: cereal with milk alternative (many, many cereals are dairy-free, like Rice Krispies, Cheerios, Special K, many Nature's Path cereals...)

Lunch: salad with leftover chili

Supper: chicken and veggie stir fry (super easy way is to stir fry chicken, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, maybe some snow peas, and use a bottled teriyaki or other sauce to add some flavour) with rice

Breakfast: oatmeal

Lunch: sandwich with dairy-free deli meats (I tend to buy the prepackaged ones because the deli counter doesn't seem to always have ingredients readily available!), lettuce, cucumber--NO cheese. Mayo (here, anyhow) is dairy-free.

Supper: minestrone soup (find an easy recipe online; some are truly super easy!) with salad

Breakfast: choice of cereal with milk alternative

Lunch: leftover soup

Supper: Tacos. Just skip the cheese (or try an alternative cheese if you like; I was a cheese lover and have found I'd prefer to just skip the cheese!)

Breakfast: oatmeal

Lunch: pasta salad with rotini noodles, tuna, cooked peas and mayo; can serve on a bed of lettuce

Supper: grilled cheese with salad or veggies. I prefer Daiya cheddar-style for the cheese; if you choose another cheese, make sure there isn't any milk in it since many of the alternative cheeses have casein, a milk protein

Breakfast: eggs and toast with orange slices

Lunch: Hot dogs (check the ingredients!! many have milk products!) with raw veggies and hummus

Supper: Spaghetti with tomato-based sauce; some recipes are very simple, but you could always go for a bottled version, but, as usual, check the ingredients! A lot are dairy-free, but a good number also have cheese in them. Serve with a salad. And maybe some garlic toast (just pop bread in the toaster, spread with vegan margarine and sprinkle some garlic powder over top). You can purchase soy-based parmesan cheese or, if you are willing to go a step further, check out Mimi Kirk's Caesar salad recipe, specifically the cashew parmesan part. This stuff's AMAZING.

Breakfast: something light--a single piece of toast, an orange, a banana, a fruit smoothie...

Lunch/Brunch: pancakes (made with milk alternative; your regular recipe works just fine with almond or rice milk, but if you use a prepackaged mix, check the ingredients first!). If you use real maple syrup, you will be adding to your calcium intake.

Supper: roast chicken (consider purchasing a pre-cooked one at the store; they are sometimes cheaper than purchasing a fresh or frozen chicken and roasting it yourself!) with roasted potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower and salad


This is all just a suggested basic, hopefully simple, menu plan that does not include snacks and desserts, which can also be easily dairy-free. It is not intended to cover all of your calcium or other needs (like fruit and vegetable consumption) and, for the most part, tries to avoid prepackaged foods. If you use microwave meals and such, just check the label first, but be prepared to find that most have milk in them. Fill in the above with fruits and vegetables, and additional foods for calcium intake, such as tofu made with calcium sulfate, soy or other alternative yoghurts with calcium (read the label!), plant foods high in calcium such as almonds, sesame seeds (tahini, made with sesame seeds, is a very good source of calcium), dark green leafy vegetables, Chinese cuisine foods such as bok choy... There are many more possibilities and various things we eat, but I tried to keep things as simple as possible for this first menu plan. The cookbook Calciyum!: Delicious Calcium-Rich Dairy-Free Vegetarian Recipes has more ideas AND includes calcium content.

If you are trying to go dairy-free and use the above menu to give it a whirl, let me know how it goes! It's been a while since I've been dairy-free newbie and it can be hard to make things simple when we've been beyond simple for a while. :) If you have any questions about the above suggestions, let me know, too!