Allergy Friendly No Bake Chia Energy Bars

Allergy Friendly No Bake
Chia Energy Bars

I found this amazing and simple recipe on Pinterest of No-Bake Apricot Chia Energy Bars from Cupcakes and Kale Chips. Even though I didn’t use apricots in my own version, they still came out amazing! (Thanks Brianne from Cupcakes and Kale Chips for the recipe!)

Now since I am very much into allergy friendly and easy to make meals and snacks, this recipe was very appealing. I love the dried apple slices from Trader Joes as they are easy to use and make a great snack for any leftovers. Plus they are not too expensive either and it’s much faster to purchase them than to make your own. Though making your own is probably the healthiest option really.

Then there is the Enjoy Life brand of chocolate chips. Although they are expensive, they have a dedicated facility that is top 8 allergy friendly along with no sesame, sulfites, etc. In this recipe, you don’t have to use the chocolate chips but could use any brand you may like or even chocolate chunks too! I love using the dark chocolate morsels in this recipe. The instructions below follow Brianne’s recipe directions mostly. ūüôā

 

Cinnamon Apple Chocolate Chip Energy Date Bars

Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon, Apple Energy Date Bar

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup (approx) of dried apple slices roughly torn
  • 2 TBS chia seeds
  • 1/4-1/2 Tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (Or a handful or two works!)

Directions:

  1. Line a square pan with parchment paper. Pan size can be a small loaf pan to a 9×9 square pan.
  2. Using a knife, remove the pits from the Medjool dates and add the dates to your food processor.
  3. Then take your dried apple slices and roughly tear into pieces before adding to your food processor with the dates.
  4. Add 2 TBS chia seeds and your 1/4-1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the mix.
  5. Place the lid on your food processor and then pulse till your mixture becomes semi-solid and your dried apples are mixed in thoroughly.
  6. Add your chocolate chips and pulse your processor a few more times to break up and mix the chips into the date mix.
  7. Take your date mixture and place it in the parchment-lined pan. Using another sheet of parchment (or your hand if you don’t mind getting messy a bit), and press the mixture flat so it reaches all sides of the pan.
  8. Once done, cover and let sit to solidify in the refrigerator.
  9. Then remove from the refrigerator and cut into squares before serving. You can also wrap them in smaller pieces of parchment paper and place in ziplock bags to save for later too.
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A How-To Guide On How You Can Help Those Who Live with Rare or Chronic Illnesses

A How-To Guide On How You Can Help Those Who Live with Rare or Chronic Illnesses

 

Living with a rare or chronic illness is difficult to endure and to be quite honest, lonely too. Not many people can fully grasp how that person feels on a daily basis or even understand as it can be quite hard to put things into the correct words. Though, attempting to understand really does help those who have to endure these hardships and really makes one feel not so alone.

Ironically enough, I am one of those living with a rare, chronic illness. I have what is called Adrenal Insufficiency. It’s hard to diagnose and it seems, based on what I’ve read from others online, that quite a few people get diagnosed when they have entered what is called an adrenal crisis in the emergency room. I was one of the lucky ones where my primary care doctor did a bunch of tests (cortisol being one of them) as we were trying to figure out what all my random symptoms were. Most of that was from being allergic to something in my old apartment but we did find out I did not make enough cortisol so I was tested by an Endocrinologist using a few blood tests where it was confirmed I am adrenal insufficient.

What is Adrenal Insufficiency? I will explain this in another blog post as I feel it needs a bigger in-depth discussion to get a good understanding of what it is and isn’t. To make the long story short, I (and others with this condition) basically don’t make enough of the stress hormone cortisol to deal with everyday stresses let alone illnesses.

For those of us who have to endure our chronic illnesses, it can be really difficult. We do have our good and bad days. To help us endure these bad days, we really could use a lot of help.

So based on some lists I’ve read a while ago and my own experiences, I’ve come up with my own list of how healthy people can help those of us who have chronic illnesses. Now, this list is nowhere near perfect but it at least gives a good idea of what you can do to help. Also, asking the person directly is the most beneficial of all. I’m including in this list of items, services that could help, and also a list of what you can help on a personal/social level too.

Please note that services available will mostly depend on where you or the individual lives. Also, I do not make any funds from this list.

Items

  • Slow cooker
  • Spirializer
  • Humidifier
  • External battery charger/pack for phones, tablets, e-readers.
  • Tablet (iPad, Android, etc)
  • Ereader (Kindle, Kobo, etc)
  • Lotion

Social

  • Visiting
  • Play cards or games (video or board games are fun)
  • Video chat using messaging apps like Skype, Hangouts, etc.

Services

Quick and Easy Garlic Toast

Quick and Easy Garlic Toast

I recently received¬†an email with an article on ways you can top toast. It reminded me of my¬†garlic toast I’ve been addicted to making as of late. Of course, it’s because¬†I love just about all things garlic. From adding extra in various recipes, like stir frys to even being on toast. So I figured, why not make a simple garlic toast? It tastes great with my homemade chicken zoodle soup which works perfectly when one is feeling unwell or needing warm meals during the colder months of the year.

I used my friend’s bread recipe and it tastes amazing! Yet it’s so simple and easy to make! I usually¬†use my toaster oven to toast my bread but you can use a regular oven as well and set it to broil¬†for about 5 minutes or until it’s toasted. You just need to keep a good eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Some alternatives to add additional flavor would be to add shredded cheese of your choice on top or even add your favorite salsa. You can even turn it into a bruschetta-like my quick and easy recipe you can find here! Or you can even add mashed avocado with salt and pepper and some deli meat of choice like prosciutto too.

Quick and Easy Garlic Toast

Ingredients:

  • Bread slices
  • garlic powder
  • about 1 tsp of oil of choice per slice

Directions:

  1. Take your sliced bread and spread your oil on one side.
  2. After spreading out the oil, take your garlic powder and sprinkle over the oiled bread.
  3. Place your bread slices in your toaster oven and set it to toast for about 5 minutes or until desired toasty brown goodness. If using a regular oven, set to broil and broil until the desired toastiness.
  4. Remove from oven and enjoy! Just be careful as it’s hot!

Daily Prompt: Leaves On A Stream – Meditation Technique

Daily Prompt: Leaves On A Stream – Meditation Technique


 

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Lake Elkhorn in Columbia, MD

 

With all the craziness going on in our society today, it is understandable that we are more stressed out than what should be considered normal. Our newsfeeds on social media and on TV are constantly scrolling with natural disasters, politicians trying to take away our rights to our life, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness (like access to affordable healthcare), and other individuals just being evil and hurting others. This is, of course, no short list of things that affect our daily lives. However, what sets us apart is how we deal with these stressors.

Some individuals just unplug from their electronics for a few days when it starts to become too much while others go to classes or join organizations that promote relaxation techniques of various kinds. Some do yoga, tai chi, and other forms of meditation while some others, depending on what is going on in that person’s¬†life, may need a bit of extra help by talking with someone.

I strongly advise that if you need to talk to someone, please do. It is very beneficial and everyone needs some help from someone they can trust and/or a professional. If you need to talk to someone, please contact your country’s crisis hotline or suicide prevention number. They have professionals who are able to help and it is, most certainly, not shameful to ask for help when you really need it most.

I was recently introduced¬†to a new meditation technique when I was undergoing cognitive behavior therapy. My therapist had introduced it as “Leaves on a Stream” meditation technique she herself had learned about.

Just think about it…


Imagine being in the woods. Sitting on the ground or up in a tree or even on the bank of a stream. If you look up towards the sky, what do you see? Sunlight trickling between the leaves as a gentle breeze blows through? 

As you start to drift your eyes downwards, you notice a leaf came unattached from the tree above. Floating gently down next to you till it reaches a stream nearby. Water gently trickling around little rocks like mini waterfalls and making little pools before continuing on its way. 

Now imagine, placing your stress and worries on that leaf that is floating down¬†to the water. Then watch as it gently and slowly floats on the stream’s current away.¬†

Looking back up, another leaf has detached itself from the strong, majestic tree to float down before you. Again, place your stress and worries on that soft leaf and let it float down the stream.


This was how it was more or less explained to me. The beautiful imagery helping to calm my anxiety and ADD mind. Reducing high levels of built-up stress to having muscles relaxed and feeling more centered.

Personally, I have tried other types of meditation though some were not too successful. However, there were some that were successful. Back when I was in college, I took a class at my local community college called Tai Chi Chuan. The slow movements were meditative and calming for me. Along with the relaxing music, I was able to focus and feel more energized. I felt like I was¬†normal.¬†Now, how many individuals can say they felt that way? Probably not many if they are being honest. (Being normal? How fun is that?) Another thing I just remembered was a previous post I saw while scrolling through Facebook titled “Something to remember when stressed.” All of these things are important to our wellbeing. Be it physical or mental, it is something we need to focus and do as we can.

If this sort of imagery is not helpful for you, there are other meditative types of things one can do to help reduce stress. Listening to music you find calming, reading a book, taking a walk out in nature, cooking, and more. The possibilities are endless!

On an ending note, I had subscribed to a poetry subscription website and a poem that reminded me of this technique had beautiful imagery. It reminded me of leaves on a stream and my troubles and worries floating down it gently away.

From Knopf Poetry, a poem by Vera Pavlova:

sit by the river
keep pitching
your troubles in it
watch them
float away
with the current
too light
to drown

‚ÄĒfrom¬†Album for the Young (and Old)¬†

via Daily Prompt: Leaf

Easy Chocolate Chip and Blueberry Sheet Pan Pancakes (Vegan, Gluten Free, and Allergy Friendly)

Easy Chocolate Chip and Blueberry Sheet Pan Pancakes (Vegan, Gluten Free, and Allergy Friendly)

This week while perusing social media (aka Facebook), I saw this really interesting set of pancake recipes from Buzzfeed. They had a set of about four recipes including peaches, blueberries, mixed berries, and banana chocolate chip. It looked really easy and good so I thought about how to change it to a vegan, gluten free, and allergy friendly diet. As you can see below, it’s pretty easy.

Though I must admit, I have the hardest time flipping pancakes. As funny as it is, this recipe is absolute perfection for my lack of flipping skills in the kitchen.

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Banana and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Now as I was looking at the ingredients, it seemed pretty easy overall. You have a dry pancake mix, eggs, milk, and toppings. It’s pretty easy overall to substitute the eggs and milk for vegan versions. For me, I used home made hemp milk and flax eggs to replace those two. The pancake mix I used was from Namaste though you can use any pre-made mix or even your own dry mix. Also, since my baking sheet is small, I halved the recipe and it still came out perfect. Below is the half recipe. For the full recipe, you can find it on Buzzfeed here. The directions are pretty much the same as the original recipe. I just used a smaller temperature¬†in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Pancake Dry Mix
  • 1 cup Nondairy Milk
  • 2 Flax Eggs
  • Toppings of choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line your baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.
  3. In the meantime, grind a couple tablespoons of flax seeds into a flaxseed meal. Add 5 tablespoons of water to 2 tablespoons of the flaxseed meal in a bowl. Stir and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken.
  4. In your electric mixer (or bowl), add all ingredients except your toppings. Then mix together.
  5. Pour the batter into the sheet pan and spread to the edges. Add your toppings then place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until cooked.
  6. Once fully cooked, serve immediately and enjoy!

Chicken Tacos Over Rice (Vegan Options)

Chicken Tacos Over Rice (Vegan Options)

Tacos are just one of those meals that are easy to prepare yet savory for a busy weeknight. Most of the time, it’s beef or pork that you get in the various restaurants but the chicken is pretty awesome too. If you’re vegan or interested in going a vegetarian route, the Lightlife brand has some amazing soy crumbles which are perfect and less expensive than a pound of hamburger.

If you’re not into rice, it also tastes amazing on top of a bed of lettuce as a salad. Lately, when I make my chicken “tacos” (I don’t have any home made tortillas on hand when the craving hits at times), I just toss it onto a bed of lettuce and add all my toppings from non-dairy queso cheese sauce to home made guacamole with a bit of extra lime squeezed over everything. It tastes amazing!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (approx. 1lb) (If Vegan/Vegetarian, use soy crumbles or extra firm tofu! ūüôā )
  • Taco seasoning (ex. McCormick, Old El Paso, or even home made is fine)
  • Rice of choice
  • Bell peppers sliced thin
  • Sweet onion sliced thin (1/2 to whole onion)
  • Medium to High heat oil of choice (I use canola oil)
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Prepare rice in your rice cooker or saucepan as directed on the bag of rice.
  2. Cut chicken breasts and add to large frying pan with oil. Turn heat on medium to medium low.
  3. Cut bell peppers and onions fajita style. Set aside till chicken is fully cooked.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, add the vegetables to the pan. Add a bit more oil if necessary so the vegetables do not stick to the pan. Stir then cover with a lid. Occasionally, remove the lid and stir the chicken and vegetables till the vegetables are desired softness.
  5. Add taco seasoning and water according to instructions on the seasoning packet.
  6. Cook for about 5 minutes on low heat or till sauce is thickened.
  7. Once rice and your chicken tacos are ready, plate and serve over the rice.

Options (Vegan/Vegetarian): If you’re vegan or wanting a vegan/vegetarian option, try replacing the meat above with soy crumbles or even extra firm tofu.¬†

Option 2: If you want to add an Asian flair to your meal, try a Thai Sweet Chili sauce instead of taco seasoning. 

How to Make Easy Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal (Vegan, Gluten Free, & Non-Vegan Options)

How to Make Easy Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal (Vegan, Gluten Free, & Non-Vegan Options)

I don’t know about you but since fall weather is approaching (Yay for no scorching heat days!), I tend to want warm, hearty meals for breakfast. What better breakfast than oatmeal? It’s simple, you can make it sweet or savory, and it can be vegan or non-vegan too!

My all-time favorite flavoring for oatmeal has been maple and brown sugar. Ever since I was young, this has been my ultimate go-to. Usually, it was instant oatmeal, as it was quick and easy to make, but now that I am experimenting more, I like using my own ingredients to make it rather than just using it out of a box. It has fewer chemicals and preservatives overall. Below is a photo of the ingredients I used minus the oatmeal. I love purchasing Gerbs Gluten Free Oats as they are allergy friendly and I can get a 4lb bag for about $30 on Amazon Prime.

Ingredients Maple & Brown Sugar

Ingredients – Cinnamon Powder, Vanilla Extract, Light Brown sugar, and Maple Syrup

The longest wait, I must admit is getting the water to boil. I love my pans but getting the water to boil on medium heat seems to take forever! Though must admit, doesn’t everything seem to take forever when you’re feeling hungry? Anyways! I hope you all will enjoy the simple and semi-healthy (at least less of a chemical storm really) for your morning breakfast!

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Gluten Free Oats Cooking in sauce pan

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked Gluten Free Traditional Rolled Oats
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 2 heaping Tbs of Organic Light Brown Sugar
  • A Dash of Vanilla Extract
  • A Dash of Ground Cinnamon
  • Maple Syrup to taste

Directions:

  1. Add water to soup pot and boil.
  2. Once the water comes to a boil, add oatmeal.
  3. Bring water back to a boil and boil for a couple of minutes.
  4. Cover and remove from heat for about 5 minutes till oats are soft.
  5. Pour cooked oatmeal into a serving bowl (or 2 if your sharing!). Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
  6. Enjoy while hot!

Optional (vegan): Add fruit like cut bananas for an extra healthy and sweet bonus! Another option would be to add some flavored tempeh or extra firm tofu possibly with a sauce drizzled on top.

Optional (non-vegan): If you’re not vegan, you can add ham, bacon, eggs, and perhaps a bit of spice like chili flakes or sriracha on top to make it more savory and have an added bonus of protein and heat. The possibilities are endless!

Vanilla Apricot and Cinnamon Chia Pudding (Vegan)

Hello all!

I know it has been a bit since my last recipe post. I just came up with a new recipe for a Vanilla, Apricot, and Cinnamon Chia Pudding. Its nondairy and can be made allergy friendly too.

Vanilla apricot cinnamon hemp chia pudding

Anyways, this is really easy to put together. I just used a basic recipe for the pudding – 1 cup nondairy milk, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, a dash of vanilla extract and cinnamon, and some premade apricot preserves. I added the preserves the next morning once the “pudding” part had formed overnight.

Of course this did come out super sweet so if anyone has suggestions on how to cut that sweetness back, I would appreciate it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nondairy milk
  • 3 tbs chia seeds
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbs or so of apricot preserves

Directions:

  1. Collect and measure out your ingredients above except the preserves.
  2. Mix the ingredients together (except the preserves) and let sit in the refrigerator overnight in a closed container.
  3. In the morning or just before serving, layer the preserves and the chia pudding.
  4. Then serve and enjoy!

Optional: can add fresh fruit and nondairy whipped cream as a topping.

National Coffee Milkshake Day

Happy National Coffee Milkshake Day!!!

Normally I am a big tea drinker but as of late I have been drinking home made coffee smoothies (I know not exactly a milkshake sorta but it’s coffee so I get a free pass?) and iced coffee for a quick pick-me-up. Of course, being as close to nondairy and allergy friendly as possible has made coming up with ideas for flavoring pretty fun.

So to celebrate this really cool, unofficial (though it would be awesome for it to be an official holiday) holiday, I have come up with an easy-to-make recipe for a simple and quick iced coffee. I’ve also included a link to my Vegan Hemp Coffee Smoothie too. All using nondairy and allergy friendly ingredients.

So! For the first recipe is the coffee smoothie which you can find here on my blog: Vegan Coffee Hemp Smoothie

Now, onto my simple iced coffee recipe.

Simple Iced Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 1/4-1 cup Nondairy milk
  • 1 Tbs Instant decaf coffee
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup (or so) Ice
  • Vanilla extract to taste
  • 1 packet of stevia or 1 Tsp of sweetener of choice

Directions:

  1. Make your coffee according to directions on the coffee container (or if you use a Keurig or another coffee maker, use 1 of those cups and use a small cup setting.).
  2. Let your coffee cool to room temperature or place in the fridge.
  3. Once your coffee is cool, add your nondairy milk, vanilla extract, and ice in a glass then pour your cooled coffee on top. Adjust the vanilla and any sweetener to taste.
  4. Stir and enjoy!

Optional: Try adding different extracts for a variety of flavors! Ex. Mint.

Vegan Coffee Hemp Smoothie

Vegan Coffee Hemp Smoothie

Vegan Coffee Hemp Smoothie

I find that every so often I could use a pick me up. Especially in the mornings or early afternoons where I feel like I’m running low on energy. Hence a Vegan Coffee Hemp Smoothie idea!

I found a good base recipe from http://www.kiipfit.com/coffee-hemp-smoothie/. Many thanks to the creator Gunjan Dudani!

This is approximately 1 serving size though could be split into two if your wanting to share. ūüėČ

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS Instant coffee granules (I used decaf)
  • 1/2-1 cup of ice
  • 1 cup hemp milk
  • 1 tsp approx of vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)¬†to taste

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the blender and blend till mixed.
  2. Enjoy!

Optional: You can also add frozen sliced bananas instead of ice cubes to make the smoothie more thick and frothy!