Category Archives: Reference

What do you get the person who’s allergic to everything?

What do you get the person who’s allergic to everything?

stocking-stuffersGluten and dairy and sugar, oh my! The holidays are an allergen nightmare for those of us who deal with everything from Celiac disease to Candida, but they can be an even bigger nightmare for their loved ones who want to make them feel special and included. Overjoyed cries of “I can eat THAT?!” are music to my ears, and they can be to you too. Here’s a list of a bunch of gift ideas you probably haven’t thought of for the Temperamental Tummies in your life.

Stocking Stuffers

Made On: – This company is primarily run by just one gal, who is passionate about and fantastic at what she does. She makes hard lotions, bug block, baby rash lotion, hair butter (a favorite!), soaps, lip balms and tinted lip balms that are 100% natural, hand made, and fragrance, allergen, and preservative free! Around the holidays, she has a lip balm called Vanilla Dust that is a favorite in my family! It’s got a slight sparkle and a delicious sugar cookie smell. Her customer service is top notch, and every repeat customer gets to choose a free product with their order! It’s called Made On: because every product comes hand-labeled with who made it and on what date, so you know it’s always fresh. She even has mechanic soap for guys with fresh pine needles to get those hard-working hands clean, and shaving soap too! Check out her website here!

Red Apple Lipstick– A lot of people don’t know that makeup can contain gluten and all kinds of toxins! That’s not a gift, that’s a curse! This Red Apple isn’t poisoned, however. It’s just the opposite, and it’s completely gluten free, so it’s safe for the Celiac in your life! Their product line specializes in fantastic lipsticks, glosses, and eyeshadows, and they released a mascara that has rocked my world. They’re all high grade, and made by my friend Jay and his lovely wife Andrea especially for Celiacs! Check out my review of their products here! Check out their website here!

Surf Sweets– Christmas candy is notorious for containing allergens like corn, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and dairy. For your little kids, or even your big kids, they have some of the best tasting gummy bears and jelly beans on the market! You’ll have to hide them from everyone else! Check out my review here! 

Lovely Candy Co–  They have the most incredible caramels, licorice, and fruit chews I’ve ever tasted, and they’re gluten free, kosher, NON-GMO(!), no HFCS, and no artificial anything! Gotta love the care that comes with buying from a small family business! They’re available at Target, and a few other stores.

Other great stocking stuffers include: hypoallergenic earrings (check Etsy for great options!), fuzzy socks, a new day planner (TJ Maxx has them for $5!) and fun pencils/stickers/etc, tea (The Republic of Tea is certified gluten free!), a candle (try finding a local candle company!), or a great scarf (just check to make sure they don’t have any textile allergies, like I do!).


A pound of coffee (here’s a list of gluten free ones!) and a great new travel mug! (I just received this as a present and it’s awesome)

Skincare! (shameless plug for L’BRI- it’s a local company here in Wisconsin. Aloe vera based, truly natural skincare that’s incredibly affordable!)- Here’s the website, and here‘s a link to see which products contain things like soy or honey if you’re vegan. But really, if you’re getting them skin stuff, check ingredients!

A monthly subscription box! I’m a fan of ones for tea, personally, but here‘s a link with 12 different gluten free food subscription boxes!

Gift cards to places like health food stores, whole foods, etc so that we can buy ourselves gluten free treats we normally wouldn’t spring for!

Look for a local gluten free cafe and buy them a gift card to that place! Try using to search your area!

Gluten free treat mixes, like brownies and cookies- they’re not cheap, but really nice to have around.

A nice lunchbag set, because us allergic people ALWAYS have to bring our own food, but why shouldn’t it be cute?!

Bath salts…baths are great when you’re hurting from a reaction.



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Homemade Vanilla

This is probably my chief kitchen pet peeve- artificial vanilla. WHY?! I know it’s cheap but is putting 1) chemicals and 2) nasty tasting baked goods in your mouth EVER a good idea? No. If it’s not delicious, don’t put it in your mouth. It’s a waste of time, money, and calories. If you can’t bring yourself to pay a bit more for good quality vanilla, this post is for you.

The pictures below are days 1, 7, 14 and 30

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I’m about to tell you the secret to great, cheap, REAL vanilla, so get yourself a list and go pick these things up: 3 sealable tall glass bottles, preferably clear so you can tell when your vanilla is ready to use; a bottle of cheaper vodka. Make sure it’s between 70 and 90 proof. You can even get fancy and buy organic potato vodka like I managed to find on sale. Full price? You may as well just buy the good vanilla and skip the work, but honestly, this is more fun.

The beans you’ll want to find on Amazon (or just get THIS one, because it’s awesome and gives you a few different kinds of beans to try so you can smell the difference between a Madagascar, Tahitian, and Indonesian vanilla…it’s huge. You want Grade B beans. I know you’ll be tempted to get Grade A, but don’t. Those are for actually scraping out and cooking with. Grade B gives you better vanilla.

Plan on 1/4 lb of beans for every quart of extract, or 7 beans for every cup and a half of vodka.

Split the beans in half lengthwise to expose the inside, stuff into the jar and pour the vodka in until the beans are just covered.

Seal, label, and stick in a dark pantry. If you have extra beans left over, you can do an experiment like I did: I stuck them all (mixing flavors) in a bigger jar and filled it with vodka to see how the combination of flavors turns out in comparison.

Shake every day for at LEAST a month, probably more like 2 or 3 months until it’s nice and dark. Then, as you use, it, refill it with the extra vodka so the beans stay covered. How easy is that?! Never have to buy vanilla again.


Here’s the lowdown on bean flavor profiles:

Mexican vanilla beans– smoky, spicy tones

Indonesian bourbon vanilla beans– smoky, woody

Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans– sweet, creamy

Tahitian vanilla beans– what you think about when you think “vanilla”- very typical, not complex

Indian vanilla beans– dark, rum notes with a cherry undertone

Papua New Guinea– chocolatey, very mild

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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in How To, Reference


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Seeds- not just for the birds

With the rise of nut allergy awareness, many people are turning to seeds for that roasty flavor so imperative to foods like granola, cookies, butters, and muffins. People have even begun getting super creative due to the interesting properties of some seeds. Ever tried making pudding without milk? It’s hard. I’ve broken down the health benefits and even included some recipes to help you get the benefits of these seeds in your diet without feeling like tossing it to the birds.


Chia seeds– The crowning glory of the seed world, in my opinion (yes, this is a thinly veiled Chia Pet reference). Is there anything these little guys can’t do? Other than make something similar to peanut butter, anyway. They’re packed with fiber and calcium, and they gel up nicely in liquid. If you’ve ever had a Mamma Chia drink, you’ve tasted that in action. They can also be put into cookies and muffins to act as egg substitutes. For a homemade version of the chia drink, I put two tablespoons of chia seeds into 10 oz of water, stir thoroughly, and leave over night covered on the counter. The next day, I add a 10-12 oz of mango nectar and 10-12 oz of coconut water for a great post workout rehydrating drink. You could do it with any juice that tickles your fancy, though. Imagine the possibilities! For pudding, simply put 1 cup of whatever dairy milk substitute you prefer into a bowl, 3 Tbsp raw honey or sweetener of choice, and add 4 Tbsp chia seeds and a dash of vanilla extract. Cover and shake, or stir vigorously. Chill for 20-30 minutes and eat cold.

Flaxseed– Flax is a favorite of mine, and not just for the huge amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in a single ounce of these babies as well as blood sugar regulating fiber and possibly even able to help lower bad cholesterol! Flax can also be used as an egg substitute because it does gel somewhat, though not as intensely as chia seeds. Flax meal can also be used in recipes that call for things like bran. I never make granola without flax seeds (check out my recipe!). I sprinkle the seeds on oatmeal and include them in muffins and cookies too, for an extra healthy boost.

Hemp seeds– I’ve been using hemp protein for awhile in my morning smoothies, but had no idea it was secretly helping with my inflammation problems! You can get this awesome benefit, too, but if you’re loyal to your protein powder, try sprinkling hemp seeds onto the top of your smoothie, salad, or oatmeal, or even include them in pesto as a sub for pine nuts. It’s got a ton of amino acids, too! For pesto, just blend fresh basil with some olive oil, garlic, hemp seeds, and spinach in a food processor for a great sandwich spread, baked chicken seasoning, or a cool summer spin on pasta, hot or cold.

Pepitas, or Pumpkin Seeds– With twice the protein of black beans and a bunch of zinc, pepitas are always a good idea. These are another essential seed in my granola. After all, if I’m eating what is essentially honey-toasted carbs, I’d better get some good health benefits from it, and protein is a must. They’re a great snack, too.

Sesame seeds– My go-to use for these little beauties is toasted and sprinkled liberally on my homemade sushi. They’re loaded with iron and can help lower bad cholesterol, too. One of the first recorded “dessert” recipes in the ancient times was straight up sesame seeds and honey. They’re also used liberally in Asian-inspired marinades since they add that toasted nuttiness that really rounds out the sharper flavors of soy sauce and rice vinegar.

Sunflower seeds– My dad’s all-time favorite snack. “Spits”, as we call them, are essential to camping, road trips, and sitting around a fire in the back yard. Good thing, too, since they’re loaded with Vitamin E and selenium. I love them sprinkled on a salad, in carrot muffins, and in cowboy cookies. Blended up, they’re a popular substitute for peanut butter, too.

Coriander seeds– Heavily used in Chinese, Indian, and European cooking, coriander seeds pack quite the nutritional whallop. Antioxidants, omegas, B vitamins, minerals, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and it helps lower cholesterol. Usually used in ground form, they’re fantastic in stews, breads, and even some sweets.

Pomegranate seeds– Pomegranate juice is widely popular for its health benefits, but what about the seeds? Pomegranate seeds provide roughly 20% of your daily value of vitamin k and a healthy dose of vitamin c. They’re also rich in polyphenols, which may help prevent cancer. If you’re looking for weight management, these little seeds are low in calories but rich in fiber.

Black cumin seed– Also known as Roman coriander, black sesame, black caraway, and onion seed, this tiny little seed has benefits for over 40 different health conditions. It’s even antibacterial against MRSA! It’s known to be pain killing, anti inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral, among other things.


Want to incorporate some of these “superfood” seeds into your diet? Here’s an easy way I’ve been boosting my fatty acid (omegas) and antioxidant intake without nasty fish burps! Coromega non-GMO superfood oil blend contains organic coconut oil, organic avocado oil, organic hemp seed oil, organic black cumin seed oil, and chia seed oil. It’s got a sweet, grassy, coconut-chia taste that makes it easy to take plain, but you can also boost your morning smoothie for on-the-go nutrition! Sweetened with non-GMO pure cane sugar, it’s easy to introduce into your children’s diet as well. I was given a packet of this to try and I even brought it on vacation with me because I love how I feel when I take it!

Use code “bright” at to get $2.00 off! Also explore their website for even more information on the health benefits of coconut oil, avocado oil, and the seed oils!

For a FREE week’s worth sample and a coupon code or $3 off, click here!


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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Reference, Reviews


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The Best of Breakfast


I recently came across a list of the best healthy breakfast foods and thought: wow, I’ve got a lot of those covered already! The only ones on the list I stay far away from are cottage cheese and whole wheat bread for obvious reasons, and eggs, because unless they’re 100% vegetarian fed and free-range, they make me sick for days. Not worth it!

Those that know me well know that I’m a *bit* of a tea snob. Naturally, seeing green tea on the list made me happy. It’s rich in antioxidants and has 2/3 the caffeine that coffee has, so you get a pick-me-up without the jitters! Brew it for 1-2 minutes with your water at 175 degrees F or you’ll burn it and have that famous bitterness that turns so many off of green tea. Buy loose leaf tea from a quality vendor; organic if possible.

Berries are next and they’re my favorite! I grow raspberries and everyone knows to keep their grubby paws off or face my wrath. They’re low in calories and rich in all kinds of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries are all fabulous eaten plain, sprinkled on cereal, or in our next item…

Smoothies! I’m a bit of a smoothie fanatic. I’m actually taking part in a 30 day smoothie challenge through Simple Green Smoothies starting April 1st. Check out the link for 5 great tips, and explore their site for amazing recipes and join me in the challenge!

Yogurt. Those of us who can’t have dairy, like me, now have great options through Silk (not my favorite), So Delicious (regular and Greek-style!) and through the homemade vegan recipe on this blog! I like to eat it especially with berries or my super healthy granola recipe, which brings us to the next one on our list…

Cold Cereal; while gluten free Chex is great, I really prefer something a little more wholesome, like the aforementioned granola. It was our secret family recipe until I outed my version a little while ago. It’s a great way to get fiber, flax (omega-3!), protein, and a great energy boost for your day!

While cold cereal is great, I’m a big fan of oatmeal and oats in general. I have a TON of recipes including oats that don’t involve forcing down any goopy, grey mess but still keep you full. Try these recipes to get your day started right!

Cranberry Almond Breakfast Cookies

Granola Fruit Bar

Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Streusel Muffins

Peanut butter is the last item on the list, and I have the greatest breakfast EVER for you right here. A peanut butter banana “milkshake”! It seriously tastes like ice cream. It’s base is frozen bananas, peanut butter, and yogurt, so you’re getting lots of potassium and protein, and it’d even be good with a scoop of flax meal, spirulina or maca powder for extra health benefits.

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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Breakfast, Reference, Reviews


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Homemade Vegan Yogurt

Hooray! Our first ever guest post by the lovely Mandy Aureli! We met on the So Delicious dairy free group on Facebook (now called Deliciously Dairy Free) and she had the most wonderful recipes and ideas, so I asked if she’d share a few recipes for vegan cheese. The base for it is homemade dairy free yogurt. It is made with soy milk, which I avoid, but I’m sure it’d work well using an almond and coconut milk blend as well, though it makes for a less firm yogurt. Mandy hasn’t used it for cheese, but it’s worth a shot. Keep your eyes peeled for a cheese recipe using this yogurt and let me know how it goes! Now I’ll turn it over to Mandy.


I absolutely LOVE yogurt!! It has so many possibilities, from just eating with some fruit or granola all the way to baking and cooking with it or even making sauces and dips! I know what you’re thinking…you can buy dairy free yogurt in the store. Yes, you can. But one day on my search for a good vegan cheese book I found the book Artisan Vegan Cheese, and not only does it have tons of cheese recipes, it also had a yogurt recipe. That sealed the deal, this book was for me and I had to go home and make yogurt!


Homemade Dairy Free Yogurt

The night before soak 2/3 cup raw cashews in water.

In your blender put the following and blend till smooth:

1 cup soy milk

2/3 cup soaked and rinsed cashews

In a medium sauce pan put the following and whisk well. Heat to 110 degrees using a food thermometer to check the temperature and whisking occasionally:

3 cups soy milk

Cashew & soy milk mixture from blender

Once soy milk cashew mixture reaches 110 degrees, take off the heat and whisk in:

3 Tbsp of PLAIN non dairy yogurt ( I used So Delicious Plain Cultured Coconut Milk )

Take heated yogurt and put in clean glass containers or jars ( I used old jars I save ). Then cover with plastic wrap and a rubber band. Place in a warm draft free area for over night ( about 12 hours ). I like to put the jars in my microwave; it keep any drafts out and they are out of my way. The next morning you should see cloudy liquid on top of your yogurt, that is a good thing!  You will have a nice batch of plain dairy free yogurt. Take the jars and place in your refrigerator and use as you would like.

Note: This is not a sweet yogurt it will be slightly tart. But you can easily add sweetener as you take a portion out to use it. Adding fruit is a great way not only to eat it but to sweeten it.



Posted by on March 11, 2014 in How To, Reference


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Why Goat Milk?

Ever since I had to go dairy free, I’ve been wondering why I can eat goat and sheep products without an issue while bovine dairy is basically poison for my digestive system. Thanks to an article from the US National Library of Medicine that was referenced in a similar post by the Detoxinista, I finally understand why! Check out some of my favorites goat/sheep cheese recipes at the bottom too. As always, substitute vegan cheese of choice if you prefer. My absolute favorite goat cheese maker is a local co-op here in Wisconsin called Mt. Sterling Creamery…their country jack goat cheese is absolutely amazing.


It basically boils down to this:

1) The casein proteins in goat and sheep’s milk are different, and less allergenic than those in cow’s milk, so they digest differently and cause less stress on the digestive system.

2) The fat molecules in goat milk are smaller, so they’re easier to break down.

3) Goat milk contains a bit less lactose than cow’s milk.

The article from the Library of Medicine that I mentioned earlier actually suggests goat and sheep milk as an alternative for children who are allergic to cow’s milk, and references a study done that shows a big improvement in children that were switched to goat products.

“Goat milk as a substitute for cow milk was studied in 38 children during a 5 months period [33]. The children on goat milk surpassed those on cow milk in weight gain, height, skeletal mineralization, and blood serum contents of Vitamin A, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and hemoglobin. Similar findings were obtained in studies with rats [34]. In French clinical studies over 20 years with cow milk allergy patients the conclusion was that substitution with goat milk was followed by “undeniable” improvements [33]. In other French extensive clinical studies with children allergic to cow milk, the treatment with goat milk produced positive results in 93% of the children and was recommended as a valuable aid in child nutrition because of less allergenicity and better digestibility than cow milk [33].” (emphasis mine)

Some of my favorite recipes use goat and sheep milk! (You may substitute a vegan cheese if you so desire…I just haven’t yet found a vegan cheese that didn’t make me gag.)

“Fancy” Mac and Cheese

Better than Mom’s Meatballs

Green Bean Casserole

Sausage Pepper Noodle Simmer

Bruschetta Chicken


Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Reference


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Cake Flour Blend

Here’s the recipe for the cake flour blend that I refer to often. I make a big batch and keep it around because it’s super easy and doesn’t break the bank.

Cake Flour Blend

3 c brown rice flour

1 1/2 c tapioca starch

1 c almond flour

1 c coconut flour


Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Reference



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