Happy Allergen-free Birthday!

by Heather on August 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to Be Free: A 14-Day Challenge of Food Discovery!

One year ago this week we rolled out our e-book. An idea to share our journey of learning to be allergen-free came true. In the last year we have had the blessing of being on Good Morning Texas in Dallas. We have participated in a research study to help others learn to be allergen-free. And we have spoken to several groups about the journey of learning to Be Free from what ails them through the foods they eat.

It has been a great year and we want to celebrate with a SALE on Be Free: A 14-Day Challenge of Food Discovery. For the remainder of the week, the e-book will be available for only $2.99.

With school starting for so many, we want parents to get an opportunity to read how they may be able to discover any food allergens their children may have. The goal is to help caregivers learn how to food journal and what to do if they discover food allergens.

What a joy to know someone out there is going to help their child with focus issues, headaches, stomach problems, eczema, or more, and make this the best school year yet.

Around our home, August is birthday month for more than our book.

On the day of our son’s birthday I looked over at the box of chocolate brownie mix he selected and realized it says gluten- and dairy-free; however, it is not soy-free. Soy is like rat poison to him. A birthday is not the day to have a planned emotional meltdown.

By God’s good grace I remembered our elder daughter, Anna, had tweeted a gluten-free brownie recipe the week prior! The day was saved. We quickly looked for the scrap paper to read off what modification she had made, and she started baking.

Each week when we go to the library, I ask Anna to find a new cookbook. She found Allergen-Free Treats to Make and Share by Lori Sandler. We have tried several recipes and have enjoyed each of them. Sandler recipes are nut-, egg-, and dairy-free with over 35 gluten-free recipes. (Sandler uses tofu in many recipes, so for us with soy allergies this will not work.)

The brownie recipe called for more sugar than we like and 1 cup of non-dairy sour cream, which we were not able to find. We replaced the non-dairy sour cream with coconut yogurt mixed with baking soda. Another adjustment was carob powder rather and melting a dark chocolate bar. Lastly, Anna loves mint! She added peppermint extract to the recipe which made for a refreshing treat for her brother’s birthday.

Here are Anna’s Mint Brownies

1 ¾ cup gluten-free all purpose baking flour (we used Arrowhead Mills)
¾ cup dairy- and soy-free cocoa or carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1-1 ¼ cup sugar (original recipe called for 1 ¾ cup plus ¼ cup corn syrup; truly, 1 cup of sugar is plenty for this sweet thing)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup coconut yogurt mixed with 1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons white vinegar
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
½ Enjoy Life chocolate chips or carob chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
Sift all dry ingredients or whisk all dry ingredients until thoroughly blended.
Combine sugar, oil, yogurt with baking soda, applesauce, vanilla, and vinegar until creamy.
Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix for 3-5 minutes until thick and gooey.
Spread brownie mix into prepared pan.
Sprinkle chips on top of batter.
Cook at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until top has begun to crack.

We let our brownies cool completely so they would cut into nice, bite-sized squares.

Yes, that is a math equation on his cake. Emerson is our numbers kid!

Happy Birthday! Enjoy being free at your next celebration.


Food Choices Saved Her from Surgery

by Heather on August 4, 2013

“Let’s go to my office and schedule your hysterectomy.”

As my friend told me her story of going to an OB/Gyn that specializes in endometriosis, I felt shock and horror. The very first line of defense this doctor prescribed was, essentially, amputation.

I understand that surgery is the best option in many cases. But my friend knew enough about how food affects her body that she was willing to take the Be Free 14-Day Challenge first and see if she could improve her condition through food choices.

According to the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis is sometimes diagnosed instead of other conditions that cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or a possible problem with the immune system.

Knowing that food intolerances can cause inflammation, my friend deferred the hysterectomy and instead began an alternative course by removing two of the top eight allergen-foods from her diet.

Absent gluten and dairy products, her energy improved and the pelvic pain subsided. After one month of gluten- and dairy-free eating, her inflammation reduced and she no longer suffered endometriosis symptoms.

My goal in telling this story is not to bash doctors—heaven knows I don’t want to trade places with a doctor; they know so much and have a tremendous level of responsibility. What I don’t understand is how we got to a point in our culture where medications or procedures are the first answer, and eating whole foods and identifying possible food intolerances are so often last, or never, considered.

I think back to the years when my mother went from doctor to doctor trying to find out why she was so ill.

At a point of desperation, she went to a wellness doctor who taught her how to keep a food journal. With that, she began to deliberately remove certain foods from her diet and only reintroduce particular ones one at a time.

My mom wishes she had known about inflammation and food triggers earlier. She’d already had gall bladder surgery, and a thyroidectomy, before discovering how eating differently could improve her health.

I sit on the edge of where my mom was 20 years ago. I have Hashimoto’s Disease, which is a precursor for full-blown thyroid auto-immune disorders. Thankfully, it has stabilized for over a year now. My wellness doctor attributes my health to the removal of food triggers. When our bodies are inflamed, our immune system will attack any number of organs as well as our nervous system.

Often I hear that removing processed foods is all it takes to improve health. How I wish it were true! After all, God created fruits, veggies, meats, fish, eggs, and nuts, so they must be fine, right? It took me years to realize that just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is good for me. I have discovered eggs are not good for me and coconut is not good for my mom. Be Free co-author Michelle still recalls the joy of being free from her fibromyalgia pain after discovering that gluten, in combination with dairy, was the main cause of her inflammation.

With these experiences, we want to help others. Who do you know that could benefit from the Be Free 14-Day Challenge? Think of how many people many find relief once they learn how to food-journal and find the triggers to what is ailing them.

Just think: Removing food triggers that cause inflammation seems to always bring improved health, and in extreme cases, it might even prevent a surgery!


Cucumber, Lemon, Mint and Yum!

June 23, 2013

Seriously, this is the best “Go Green” I’ve ever experienced. If you don’t have an out-of-control mint plant in your yard, find someone who does and get ready to cool off with a great summer drink. This recipe is very flexible so add or reduce any of the ingredients to suit your taste. Mintcumber on [...]

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Get your Gluten-Free BBQ On!

June 9, 2013

It’s BBQ weather! Bring on the sun, fun, and hamburger buns, right? No! This summer, let’s get our gluten-free grill on! If you are hesitant to offer an entire gluten-free BBQ, you might want to consider Udi’s gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free hamburger and hot-dog buns. They have gotten great reviews from our family and the [...]

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Traveling Successfully with Food Allergies

June 3, 2013

Traveling with food allergies? No problem. Enjoy your vacations this summer while staying on the Be Free Challenge! In our post Gluten-Free Dining, we shared several resources for using your computer or phone to help you find gluten-free groceries and restaurants. In the On the Go Solution section of our book Be Free: A 14-Day [...]

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Food Detective on the Loose

April 12, 2013

I have been out of blog posting for a few weeks now. I wasn’t sure if I was hormonal, distracted by spring fever, overextending my activities with Easter, or enduring a change in my health that was cuasing every day to spiral out of control. I just haven’t been doing well. This time of year should [...]

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Dairy- and Soy-Free Chocolate Pudding

March 11, 2013

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone! Wait until you get a compliment about how rich, smooth, and delicious your dairy-free chocolate pudding is. When they ask how to make it, watch their face when you reveal that it is made with avocado and cocoa powder. My husband saw this recipe on a list of how many things [...]

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Why We Wrote Be Free: A-14 Day Challenge of Food Discovery

March 4, 2013

This week I was reminded why we wrote Be Free: A 14-Day Challenge of Food Discovery. I was writing a letter to a local moms’ group as well as a national homeschool magazine. As I wrote the letter I reflected on how far we have come in the last year and how much we wish [...]

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Chai Tea and Gluten-, Dairy-, Soy-Free Granola Bars

February 25, 2013

“Join me for a cup of Chai Tea and a gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free granola bar?” “Great!” “So, how’s it going? What new gluten-, dairy- and soy-free recipes have you discovered?” “Those sound delicious! I’m so glad to hear you are staying with the Be Free Challenge and eating allergen-free! Isn’t it great feeling better?” [...]

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Learning to be a Food Detective

February 18, 2013

The more I get to know people, the more I realize we each have a story. We are all struggling with something. Isn’t it great to know there are some things we don’t need to continue struggling with? God has given each of us life. How can we best take care of the bodies we [...]

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