Welcome to Allergy Free & Cheap Like Me!

gluten, dairy, egg & soy free

I’m so happy you are here! I hope to create a place for you to find lots of information about food allergies, as well as, lots of goodies to help you not only eat better, but more affordably! Please feel free to share all of your own tips, tricks, and recipes too! Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again very soon! You can read more about my allergy story here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

HAWMC Day 30, Word Cloud

I made it! My last post of WEGO Health's Health Activists Writers Month Challenge (HAWMC)! I am so happy I made it the entire month! Today's challenge topic is, Word Cloud; Make a word cloud or tree with a list of words that come to mind when you think about your blog, health, or interests. Use a thesaurus to make the branches of your “tree” extend further. http://www.wordle.net/.

I really liked this one a lot! It was super fun to make my word cloud! I will definitely be using this site again in the future to make other word clouds. I always wondered how people made them, now I know!

If you were making a word cloud what words would you use?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

HAWMC Day 29, Six Sentence Story

Today's challenge topic is, Six Sentence Story; In this day of micro-blogging –  brevity is a skill worth honing. Can you tell a story and make it short and sweet? What can you say in six sentences. Check out some here: http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/

Food Allergy Facts in 6 Sentences

Food allergies are a growing public health concern. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) as many as 15 million people suffer from food allergies today in the United States, 4% of adults and 8% of children. Although childhood allergies generally resolve themselves they appear to be resolving more slowly than in previous decades with many children still having allergies beyond 5 years of age. Eight foods known as the "Big 8" account for 90% of all food allergic reactions; milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Those people suffering from food allergies have increased by a whopping 18% between 1997 to 2007. There is no cure for food allergies and the only way to avoid a reaction is the strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

HAWMC Day 28, The First Time I...

Day 28 of the WEGO Health Activists Writers Month Challenge (HAWMC). I'm almost there, 2 more days! I can't believe I've made it this far and I haven't used any of my get out of posting free days. I hope you have enjoyed some of the topics along the way. Today's challenge topic is, The First Time I… ; Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it? 

We do a lot of firsts throughout our life and sometimes (or it seems like most of the time in my case) they don't turn out the way we expect them to. Good, bad, or just a little weird, it doesn't matter, that is how most of us learn. Today I am going to write about the first time I made gluten, dairy, and egg-free bread. 

Let me preface my story by saying, it was a complete and utter disaster! I had found a yummy sounding recipe online from where I don't even remember now. I'm sure there was nothing wrong with the recipe, but rather how I attempted going about making it. I do remember the recipe used gluten-free flours and starches, but was full of eggs and dairy so I had to figure out how to substitute those on my own. The dairy probably wasn't the issue, it was probably more of my egg substitution and my baking skills (or lack there of). I've learned since this experience that when baking with gluten-free flours you have to be exact when measuring things out. I didn't know this key information then and knowing me, I just eye-balled it and threw it all together because that is how I like to cook. 

Anyway, back to the baking… I followed the directions exactly or so I thought, made my substitutions for the dairy and eggs, dumped it all in a bread pan, popped it in the oven, and walked away. I remember thinking to myself as I walked out of the kitchen, this is "easy peasey". I can do this! What's all the hoopla about? 60 minutes later the timer went off and I went to check on my creation. What I saw I was not entirely prepared for. My bread, if that is what you want to call it, had turned into some sort of alien mass. It was roughly half the height of the bread pan and looked to be the consistency of jello at best. I tapped it like the recipe instructed me to in order to check if it sounded hollow (whatever that meant) and was surprised to find out it was indeed solid, very solid. Since I didn't know what hollow bread was supposed to sound like I decided it was done. I took it out of the oven and set it on the counter to cool. Half an hour later I couldn't take the anticipation and suspense any longer and I decided it was cool enough. I popped, or pried is probably a better description, it out of the pan and cut into it. The bottom half (all of about 2 inches) of the loaf was not done, that much I could tell by just looking at it; it was gooey and kind of soggy. The top half was dry and crumbly and fell off the bottom half as soon as I picked it up. I forced myself to taste it, for lack of better words, it was just plain gross. It was dry, crumbly, grainy, gooey, and hard all at the same time. I couldn't even eat it, I took a few bites and decided it wasn't worth it. 

I'm not going to lie, this wasn't the last time I made a loaf of bread similar to this, but because it turned out not as expected I was able learn a few things along the way. I take this first time experience with me and put it will all the rest and as I look back on all of them I can't help but shake my head and laugh.

Have you learned from your first time experiences? What is one you look back on fondly?

Friday, April 27, 2012

HAWMC Day 27, 5 Challenges. 5 Small Victories

Today's topic is, 5 Challenges. 5 Small Victories; Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

5 Most Challenging Things About Having Food Allergies

  1. Sometimes it is just plan hard. I'm not perfect and there are days when I wish I could just be "normal" and eat whatever I want without any consequences. I'm sure everyone with a food allergy or intolerance has those days and with time they occur less often, but occasionally those feelings still crop up and I have a rough day or I "cheat" and eat something I know I can't have just because everyone else can!
  2. It can sometimes be overwhelming. This was true especially at first, but still gets me occasionally. It's overwhelming to scrupulously examine every single food label or try to explain my food allergies, time after time, to the waiter at the restaurant. It's overwhelming to go into a grocery store and feel like there is nothing I can eat. 
  3. Allergen-free food is expensive. Eating allergen-free can get very expensive. Items such as specialty flours, xanthan gum and egg-replacers are pricey, even when bought in bulk. Even more expensive are pre-packaged foods, such as frozen meals, a box of cookies or crackers, or even a loaf of allergen-free bread.  
  4. Remembering not to skip out just because it's easier. Sometimes it is hard to deal with people's lack of understanding about food allergies and it becomes easier to just say no. Going out sometimes becomes a stressful experience instead of something to be enjoyed. At times I feel it's easier for me and others to just stay home, not go out to dinner, conveniently miss a work party, or postpone get togethers with friends. I have to remember when I feel this way that it is not about the food, but about the experiences and memories of the events I don't want to miss.
  5. The feeling of "missing out" on things. There are times when hanging out with friends I watch them share a dessert and I feel left out. It's selfish, believe me I know, but I'm jealous they don't have to think about food in the same way that I do. Occasionally I have a bad day and put too much focus on the food and everything I can't eat on the menu instead of the environment, experiences, and memories with friends and loved ones that surround the food.

5 Small Victories or Good Things About Having Food Allergies

  1. I am healthier. Because of my food allergies I'm healthier. I eat better; I eat less "junk". This is probably because it is a lot harder and more expensive to find the "junk" allergen-free foods. It is also a bit harder to go through the drive-thru because it is convenient and on the way. I eat in more which is always healthier and cheaper. I have also become more aware of what is in the food I am eating. I hardly remember a time that I read the labels on the food I ate before I found out about my allergies. Now, however, I can tell you what is in everything I eat. This has made me aware of not only things I am allergic to on food labels, but also all the nasty stuff that is in some of the foods I used to eat. Many times, even if it is safe allergen wise, if it has things in it that I am not comfortable with eating I just skip it. Knowing what is in the foods I eat helps me make better choices. Another benefit to eating healthier is that I get sick a lot less since I found out about my allergies. I maybe get sick once or twice a year and it usually isn't as severe as before.
  2. I feel better. When I don't eat the things I am allergic to I feel better, not just stomach wise, but my entire being. I don't feel lethargic, I'm not always tired, I have more energy, and I can concentrate better. 
  3. I've met some wonderful people along my journey. Because of my allergies I have met some amazing people in the allergen-free community that I would have never met before. It helps me to know, especially when I am having an off day, I am never alone in my journey. 
  4. I'm happier. I suppose this goes back to feeling better and being healthier, but overall I am simply a happier person than I was before. 
  5. I'm more confident in myself. I feel more confident in my daily choices. I have also found I am interested in a lot of things that I never knew I was before I found out about my allergies and started blogging about them.

What are a few small victories and challenges you have experienced along your allergy journey?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

HAWMC Day 26, Health Tagline

Today's challenge topic is, Health Tagline; Give yourself, your blog, your condition, or some aspect of your health a tagline. Make sure it’s catchy!

For today's post I guess I kind of already have my tagline, in the name of my blog, Allergy Free and Cheap Like Me. My blog is a place where I hope people can come and find information, recipes, cost saving tips, etc. about living with food allergies. I also hope for it to be a place for people to share stories about their own allergy journey, not just read about mine. I suppose what is not included in my blog name that I might include in a tagline would be something about overall whole living and natural health. As I write my blog, more and more I find I am interested not only in sharing my allergy journey with others but also sharing natural, whole living ideas as well. So maybe my tagline should be something like one of these; Allergy Free and Cheap Like Me, Whole Living with Food Allergies, Allergy Free and Cheap Like Me, Whole Living in Spite of Food Allergies, Allergy Free and Cheap Like Me, Living a Complete Life with Food Allergies. I'm not sure, I feel like those tagline's might make it sound like having food allergies prevents you from living a complete life, which I don't believe and I don't want to convey. So maybe I should just go with my keep calm and carry on poster tagline, Allergy Free and Cheap Like Me, Living More and Stressing Less! 

If you were to give yourself a tagline what do you think it might be?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HAWMC Day 25, Third Person Post

Today's challenge topic is, Third Person Post; Write about a memory you have but describe it using the third person. Use as many sensory images (sights, sounds, textures, etc) as you can. Don’t use “I” or “me” unless you include dialogue.

Okay, so today I am having a hard time thinking of a memory that I want to share in third person. In fact, I am having a hard time remembering any memory at all. Those of you who know me know this is not unusual for me as I have difficulty even remembering what happened yesterday. To put it bluntly, my memory sucks. But today I think it is more than my usual brain fog, I think I am a bit burnt out from blogging everyday for the past 24 days. I feel like I need a bit of a break. So I am just going to leave you with this quote I found that seems to sum it all up for me today.

"Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before." ~Steven Wright  

As my gift to myself and you, take the day (or afternoon) off! If anyone asks why, tell them I said it was okay. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HAWMC Day 24, Health Mascot

Today's challenge topic is, Health Mascot; Give yourself, your condition, or your health focus a mascot. Is it a real person? Fictional? Mythical being? Describe them. Bonus points if you provide a visual!

For my health mascot I chose the coyote. Now you are probably thinking why a coyote? Well, as Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animal species out there. They once only lived in open prairies and deserts but now roam forests, mountains, and even cities. Coyote populations are one of the few animals to have flourished and grown since human encroachment into their habitat and this is due to their adaptability. The coyote's keen intelligence and senses help it easily adapt their behavior to survive in a new habitat. Coyotes also adapt their diet to what can be found and will eat almost anything. 

I don't know anyone with a food allergy that hasn't had to learn to adapt. Whether it be to their environment - a restaurant, dinner party, or luncheon; their diet - by cutting out foods they are allergic to and learning to cook new foods and in new ways; or their way of thinking - learning to think of food in a different way. Those with food allergies learn to adapt because they must just like coyotes have had to learn to do. A lot of people think coyotes look cute and cuddly, probably because they remind us of man's best friend, the dog. However some people also think they are a nuisance. I don't know of anyone who thinks food allergies are cute and cuddly, but pretty much everyone thinks they are a nuisance.

Personally, I like the coyote. In a time where many animals species are threatened with extinction, the coyote has learned to adapt and thrive. They can run fast and jump high, they can sing and communicate with one another in 11 different sounds. Coyotes can even swim! They also mate for life.

What mascot would you give to your food allergies if you could pick?

Monday, April 23, 2012

HAWMC Day 23, Health Activist Choice Day 2

Todays' challenge topic is, Health Activist Choice Day 2; Write about whatever you like.

Since yesterday was Earth Day I will keep with the "green" theme and look back at the accomplishments Earth Day has brought us throughout the years. An estimated one in 10 Americans took part in the first Earth Day, observed across the country on April 22, 1970. Earth Day was the brainchild of Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson. The first national Earth Day unified a growing public concern about environmental crises. In December 1970, President Richard Nixon created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Executive Order as a federal response to growing environmental concerns. Since then Earth Day has brought about many changes.

Clean Water: Two short years after the formation of the EPA, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, a modification of the 1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, to regulate quality standards for surface waters and stop the discharges of pollutants into rivers, lakes and other waterways. 

Clean Air: A few weeks after the EPA was formed, Congress passed the Clean Air Act. Under the new law, the EPA was authorized to set limits on air pollutants like ozone and carbon monoxide, as well as to regulate emissions from factories, power plants and vehicles. State and regional agencies assumed responsibility for carrying out the Clean Air Act at the local level. With its new responsibilities, the EPA set numerous air quality regulations in motion, including controlling auto emissions and banning the use of DDT.

Waste Management: In 1976, the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act became law. Among other things, the law mandated that landfills be closely monitored and enacted America's hazardous waste management program. Since 1970, the U.S. recycling rate has grown from a mere 6.6 percent to 34.1 percent in 2010, according to the most recent EPA data available. Due to increased regulations and recycling, the number of landfills in America has also decreased dramatically, from nearly 8,000 in 1988 to 1,767 in 2002.

Increased Awareness: Since 1970, Earth Day has grown into a global celebration. An estimated 1 billion people in 180 countries participated in Earth Day in 2010. About 77 percent of Americans now say they worry about protecting the environment; this is up from 1970 when the percentage of citizens who cited cleaning up air and water as one of their top three political priorities was at 53 percent.

We have come a long way and accomplished many wonderful things since the first Earth Day in 1970, but we still have much to do. Now more than ever it is important for us to be conscious of our global footprint. Global Footprint Network estimates that approximately every nine months, we have demanded a level of services from nature equivalent to what the planet can provide for all of 2012, this date is Earth Overshoot Day. What exactly does this mean? We make up this deficit by depleting stocks of fish, trees and other resources, and by accumulating waste such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans. We are now using the Earth’s resources at a rate that would take between 1.3 and 1.5 planets to sustainably support our current practices. The research shows us on track to require the resources of two Earths well before mid-century.

Even though Earth Day is over, it doesn't mean we should wait until next year's Earth Day before we do something to change. In the words of Albert Einstein, "those with the privilege to know, have a duty to act."

What did you do for Earth Day this year?  What practices have you made a part of your daily life?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

HAWMC Day 22, The Things We Forget

Today's challenge topic is, The Things we Forget; Visit http://thingsweforget.blogspot.com/ and make your own version of a short memo reminder. Where would you post it?

I actually really love today's prompt. It is so easy for us to forget, in all the hustle and bustle of today's fast paced life, the little things that we hold true and find important. Sometimes we need visual reminders or Post-It notes to help us slow down and remember what is really important. Today’s prompt is inspired by the blog “The Things We Forget.” The site has a simple but lovely premise and has been sharing mini motivational sayings written in permanent marker on Post-Its (then stuck somewhere in public for others to see).

I found this handy website called Superstickies that allows you to make your own Post-It notes and save them to your computer or post them on Imgur or Flickr. I had a lot of fun making these Post-Its and once I started I couldn't stop! Because today is Earth Day, my things we forget Post-Its are earth themed. I struggled with the question of where I would post my notes. Ideally I would love to post them around out in public to help others think about what is important, but I wouldn't want to create debris and litter so I decided I would post them on Pinterest for people to see instead; no waste. I hope you enjoy!

The first three are reminders for myself and the rest are wonderful quotes that help inspire me.

If you were going to make Post-It reminders of things you forget what would they say?  Where would you post them?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

HAWMC Day 21, Health Madlib Poem

Today's challenge topic is, Health Madlib Poem; Go to: http://languageisavirus.com/cgi-bin/madlibs.pl and fill in the parts of speech and the site will generate a poem for you. Feel free to post the Madlib or edit it to make it better.

This was an interesting challenge topic, it took me back to my school days when we used to fill these out. Here is the result of my madlib poem. It doesn't make much sense but I kind of like how it turned out anyway.

mindful health's mindful health

gracefully i have never question, naturally beyond
any thought, your brain have their awareness:
in your most delicious food are things which heal me,
or which i cannot communicate because they are too wonderfully

your delightful look carefully will unwelcome me
though i have imagine myself as condition,
you laugh always heart by heart myself as journey enjoy
(strengthening patiently, adventurously) her nutritious recipe

or if your believe be to mend me, i and
my knowledge will eat very beautifully , cheerfully,
as when the flour of this thought cook
the stomach enthusiastically everywhere loving;

nothing which we are to promise in this flavor taste
the food of your melodic allergies: whose impression
smell me with the help of its situation ,
admiring time and interest with each changing

(i do not care what it is about you that challenge
and create; only something in me educate
the adjustment of your brain is satisfying than all journey)
reward, not even the mind, has such caring existence

- Elizabeth & e.e. cummings

Do you remember doing Madlib's when you were younger? You can create your own Madlib on LanguageIsAVirus.com

Friday, April 20, 2012

HAWMC Day 20, Miracle Cure

Today's challenge topic is, Miracle Cure; Write a news-style article on a miracle cure. What’s the cure? How do you get the cure? Be sure to include a disclaimer  ;)

Today I decided to deviate from the challenge topic slightly. I didn't want to make up a cure but I thought I would talk about some of the research and clinical trials that are out there that may help result in a cure for food allergies and intolerances. 

Unlike many allergic conditions, there are currently no proven treatments for food allergies except to avoid eating what you are allergic or intolerant to. Here are a few clinical trials out there currently that may prove to have promising results in the near future. 

Immunotherapy. There are two types of immunotherapy, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) and oral immunotherapy (OIT). The concept for both methods is the same. A food allergen is administered slowly in small increasing doses leading up to a stable daily dose. The goal is to teach the person's immune system to accept the allergen. The difference being the two approaches is in the way they are administered. In SILT, the allergen is given under the tongue and in OIT the patient ingests the allergen. Early studies of immunotherapy have had promising results but therapeutic effect and duration of benefit have not been proven. For more information check out the trial information at clinicaltrials.gov

Xolair (omalizumab). A person who is allergic to something makes too much of a certain protein in the body called IgE antibody. This overproduction can result in the development of allergic conditions. Xolair is a drug that acts by binding to the IgE allergic antibody in the blood stream and blocks its actions. The FDA has approved Xolair for the treatment of moderate to severe asthma. There are a number of studies that are being conducted to use Xolair to treat other allergies such as food allergies but none have been approved yet. Although early studies appear promising, this treatment is still considered experimental and more research needs to be done on the drug's long-term safety.

Herbal formula-2, also known as Food Allergy Herbal Formula 2 (FAHF-2). This pill is based on Chinese herbal remedies. It contains nine botanicals that may aide with food allergies. So far in early clinical trials FAHF-2 has been safe and well tolerated and signs point that the medicine could be effective in treating food allergies. It is currently in the second phase of the study and is shown to have promising prolonged preventive effect up to 40 weeks. For more information check out the trial information at clinicaltrials.gov

Again there is much research still needed before it is know if any of these have any long lasting effects on food allergies. So please consult your doctor before changing any of your current treatment plans. This is a list of just a few of the studies out there here is a complete list of the current food allergy studies. Also if you would like additional information on any of these studies check out the Food Allergy Initiative and the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology for up to date information.  

Have you heard of any clinical studies or research being done to help find a cure for food allergies? I would love to hear about them please share them with me and your fellow readers.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

HAWMC Day 19, 5 Dinner Guests

Today's challenge topic is, 5 Dinner Guests; Who are 5 people you’d love to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?

This topic was difficult for me. Not because I couldn't think of anyone that I would want to have dinner with, but I had a hard time narrowing it down to five. There have been so many influential people throughout history it is hard not to want to meet them all. Who wouldn't want to hear some of Ernest Hemingway's stories, be enlightened by Buddha, or see if they could keep up with Albert Einstein?

For my list I decided to stick with the women, a former First Lady, an English novelist, a British actress, a French fashion designer and the Godmother of the environmental movement. How is that for a dinner party! Here are my five dinner guests.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the United States from 1933-1945. Roosevelt became an advocate for civil rights where she worked to enhance the status of working women. She also supported the formation of the United Nations and went on to become a delegate to the UN General Assembly. During her time at the UN she chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Jane Austen (1775-1817). Jane Austen was an English novelist. Best known for Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma among others. Her biting social commentary and realism has sparked a following known as Janeites, who are devotees and fans of Jane Austen's works. 

Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993). Audrey Hepburn was a British actress who later became a humanitarian. She is remembered as a film and fashion icon of the twentieth century. She remains one of the few entertainers who have won an Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award. She devoted much of her later life to UNICEF and in 1992 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. 

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, better known as Coco Chanel (1883-1971). Coco Chanel was a french fashion designer and founder of the famous brand Chanel. She made a lasting impression on women's fashion in the twentieth century mastering designs that were both simple and practical,yet stylish. Her designs allowed women to leave the corsets behind. Without her, the little black dress as we know it wouldn't exist. 

Rachel Carson (1907-1964). Rachel Carson is the Godmother of the environmental movement. She is best known for writing Silent Spring (1962). Silent Spring brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. It spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA). Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.

After writing my list I realize that all but one (Jane Austen) were alive during the same time period. I wonder if they every met, would they have socialized in the same circles? How would they have gotten along and what would they have talked about?

Sorry my post is so late today, my dinner party with these amazing ladies went longer than expected! :)

Who would be your five dinner guests and why?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

HAWMC Day 18, Open a Book

Today's challenge topic is, Open a Book; Choose a book and open it to a random page and point to a phrase. Use that phrase to get you writing today. Free write for 15-20 without stopping.

As I have said before my husband and I are pretty much addicted to our local public library. Every time we go we seem to come back with a bigger stack of books than the last time. Therefore I had plenty of books to choose from for today's post. I must admit however, having a 6 month old baby and reading for pleasure don't usually go hand in hand so most of the books I haven't even thumbed through and probably won't before they are due back. But I always have the highest of intentions when it comes to reading, you just never know when you might have a few spare minutes you can fit in a few chapters. The book I chose is one I haven't read yet, and honestly probably won't get to for quite sometime, so I thought this would give me a good excuse to at least thumb through it a bit. It is, 10 Mindful Minutes - Giving our children and ourselves the social and emotional skills to reduce stress and anxiety for healthier, happier lives by Goldie Hawn. Yes, that Goldie Hawn!

The page I turned to when I opened the book was on kindness, and this is the first sentence I read, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." ~Plato 

How true are those words! In life at one point or another we all fight a hard battle and you never know what someone else might be fighting at any given time. This holds especially true with those of us who are living with an illness or health issue. So instead of being negative and judging someone why not try to be kind instead. 

Kindness comes from thoughtfulness. Only when we are mindful of others thoughts and feelings can we do something kind for them. When we are kind to others we are also being kind to ourselves. Kindness has so many wonderful effects on our body and those we are kind to. Acts of kindness raise our optimism, making us happier. Kindness  raises dopamine levels in the brain and activates the brain's pleasure centers. Kindness strengthens our immune system which in return boosts our health. Antibodies in the nose and mouth that fight off viruses are increased with kindness. Kindness reduces the feeling of depression, hostility and isolation while increases optimism, joyfulness and resilience. Doing as few as five small acts of kindness a week can boost our mood and health. Kindness is contagious, when you are kind to someone, that someone is more likely to pass along the kindness to someone else. 

Acts of kindness don't have to be extravagant, they can be something as small as smiling at someone, saying hi, holding open a door, giving a complement, or leaving a short note of kind words for a loved one to find. Once you start incorporating small acts of kindness in your life you will find it is contagious and will find many more ways to bring kindness into your life and others. 

So next time hold that door open for the person coming in after you at the restaurant or store and give them smile as you do it. Or say something nice to the person standing next to you in the elevator or in line at the coffee shop. Chances are they will pass along the kindness to someone else and maybe that small act of kindness is just what that person needed as they fight their battle. As an added bonus you might just make yourself feel better and healthier in the process. 

What are ways that you incorporate small acts of kindness in your everyday life? If you have children do you teach them to do the same in their lives?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

HAWMC Day 17, Learned the Hard Way

Today's HAWMC challenge topic is, Learned the Hard Way; What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Write about it for 15 today.

I've learned many lessons throughout my life and most have been learned the hard way. I think that is the way we learn the best. It's why there is the expression, 'live and learn'. It's a part of life, we are human, we learn by trial and error. If we don't live it, then we don't feel the consequences from our actions. 

The lesson I've learned the hard way that I am going to share is one I've learned along my food allergy journey. When I first learned I needed to avoid gluten, diary, and eggs, among a few others, I went through the usual cycle of acceptance. At first I mourned what I could no longer have. I literally went to the grocery store and walked up and down every single aisle and looked at everything I could no longer eat (blindly missing everything that I could eat I might add); I was in tears by the time I walked out. I wanted everything I couldn't eat. Never mind that I never ate Twinkies before, that wasn't the point. The point was my food options were now more limited than before for more significant health reasons than I had previously known. Then I went into what I would call an overzealous stage. I decided I needed to learn everything I could. I would have to learn to replace all those things I couldn't eat with substitutes made from allergen-free alternatives. I went crazy making substitutes of things I had never made before and hardly ever ate. I made every kind of muffin imaginable, I made dozens of loafs of bread, bagels, cinnamon rolls, english muffins… you name it, I tried to create it. After all that, I was exhausted and overwhelmed because none of my creations tasted as good as the allergen filled originals. I felt like my allergies had beaten me. So I moved into the rebellious stage. I basically said, "Screw it, it's my life, if I want to eat it I am going to eat it! I've been eating it all for my entire life and nothing horrible had happened, so why stop now?"  So I stopped eating allergy free for a couple of weeks, well maybe more like a month or two, but after that month I felt and looked, to put it bluntly, like crap. I was tired, cranky, and constantly gassy, my face was broken out and blotchy. My allergies had beaten me once again. 

Over the course of the first 6 months of my allergy journey, I cycled through these emotions, over and over. In the end, however, I learned, the hard way, that I do have a choice whether or not to eat that Twinkie. I can eat the Twinkie if I want to, it is my choice. I know from experience it is not going to make me feel good. After the minute or so of satisfaction I will feel as I eat it, the pain I will feel will last for hours and the ill effects on my body might last for weeks or longer. I think most people who find they have food allergies or intolerances go through a very similar stages. I think it is part of the learning process. If we don't have those feelings and experience the lapses, then we won't learn we truly do feel better avoiding the things we are allergic to. I'm not going to lie, almost 3 years later, sometimes those feelings still crop up. It's hard to watch others eat things you wish you could eat too, but from living my allergen journey and learning from my mistakes I know all said and done, I am better off without them. 

Below are a few quotes about mistakes that I love and have drawn inspiration from along my journey not with my allergies but with life.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.-- George Bernard Shaw
If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake. -- F. Wikzek 
Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience.-- Denis Whitely 
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.-- Scott Adams 
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.-- Mahatma Gandhi

What is a lesson you have learned the hard way?

Monday, April 16, 2012

HAWMC Day 16, Pinboard

Today's challenge topic is, Pinboard; Create a Pinterest board for your health focus. Pin 3 things. What did you pin? Share the images in a post and explain why you chose them.

I will admit I am more than a little bit obsessed with Pinterest, it is so addicting. It's one of my guiltiest pleasures but it can be a real time sucker as well. There has been lots of talk about Pinterest and copyright lately. I won't get into the details here but if you want to learn more here are a few great articles, The Great Pinterest Divide: To Opt Out or Not (plagiarismtoday.com) and Avoiding Copyright Pitfalls on Pinterest (savingforsomeday.com). 

So here are the three things I pinned today on my Allergen Free Living board:

GREAT U! NFCA's digital publication specifically for gluten-free college students (and prospective students). This guide has so much wonderful information about living a gluten-free lifestyle while at college and is a must read for college students, prospective students and their parents. 

The Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide from the Gluten Intolerance Group. It is a wonderful database that helps you find restaurants that provide safe options for the gluten-free community. You can search by state and it brings up all of the safe restaurant options in your area.

A Beginners Guide to Going Gluten-Free from celiac.com. This is great resource when you are just starting out on your gluten-free journey. 

I know these are not necessarily pictures but they are great resources for anyone who is going gluten-free and Pinterest is a wonderful way to share and keep track of them. I hope that you enjoy!

Check me out on Pinterest!

Are you on Pinterest? What types of things do you pin?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

HAWMC Day 15, Writing with Style

This post continues the month-long series called the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC), 30 posts in 30 days, created by WEGO Health. I'm so excited I've made it to the halfway point! Honestly, it's been touch and go a few times but this challenge has really pushed me in ways I would never have gone without it. I'm so happy I am participating. I hope you are enjoying these topics and they have given you a chance to see a different side of me!

Today's challenge topic is, Writing with Style (writing inspirations); What is your writing style? Do words just flow from your mind to your fingertips? Do you like handwriting first? Do you plan your posts? Title first or last? Where do you write the best?

I don't really think I have any type of formal writing style. Most of the time when a topic comes to me, I usually just start to type whatever comes to mind about the topic. Once I get all the ideas out of my head I try to go back and unscramble them so they make sense to someone other than myself. Often times I leave a lot of blanks that I have to go back and fill in. If I think too hard on a sentence or sentence structure I lose where I was going and what I wanted to say. Next, I read through what I have written again usually rearranging things, adding and erasing others. Then, my secret weapon, my wonderful husband. I pretty much make him read through all of my posts before I publish them. I'm not the greatest with grammar and punctuation so he is my unofficial editor (well I guess now he is official)! Then comes the title and usually a picture of some sort. Those are the finishing touches before I publish my post. 

I never handwrite any of my posts first, I am a bit of a perfectionist and I hate my handwriting so it would just make me depressed. I love journals and diaries, I have a bunch of blank ones that are collecting dust and feeling completely ignored because I have never written in them. I've deemed them too pretty to mess up with my ugly handwriting! However, I love the idea of keeping a personal journal or diary and I know it would be therapeutic; it is something I am trying to work on.

I feel my writing voice is most times pretty casual. My hope is that a part of my personality comes out in my writing and I think as time has gone by I'm getting better with that. My husband says I can sometimes get too focused on defining things and end up with posts that read more like dictionary entries than what I'm really wanting to convey to my readers. I just find that sometimes when I am stuck it helps to inspire me to define what I am writing about before getting too deep into a topic. 

I always type my posts on my laptop, whenever and wherever I can find the time; as of late it's been when my daughter is taking a nap. Sometimes this can actually help me because I know I have a time limit. Ideally I would write in a space that I find creatively inspiring, which could be a space I have created in my home or another space such as a bookstore, coffee shop or library. When we lived in Fairbanks, I did most of my writing at Barnes and Noble mostly because we didn't have internet in our cabin and they had free wifi. Other reasons I liked Barnes and Noble  include its wonderful reading space in front of a giant fireplace, comfortable chairs, the relaxing sound of fire crackling in the background, and the smell of coffee and books; it doesn't get much better than that. I don't miss much about Fairbanks, but I do miss that space.  

Where do you find inspiration? What inspires your creative style when you are writing, crafting, woodworking, cooking, gardening, etc?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

HAWMC Day 14, My Dream Day

Today's challenge topic is, My Dream Day; Describe your ideal day. How would you spend your time? Who would you spend it with? Have you had this day? If not — how could you make it happen?

My husband would describe my dream day as the following; sitting outside at a French cafe, drinking an espresso, eating a jambon-buerre et fromage (a ham and cheese baguette sandwich) while people watching. And honestly, he pretty much hit the nail right on the head (I guess he does know me after all)! I might also add a good book to read after I tire of people watching or good company to chat with. I would take a stroll through the shops or pop in a museum or sit in a park and eat a picnic lunch or dinner and drink a good bottle of wine. We would end the evening with a nice stroll, arm in arm with my husband and my daughter while we watch the sun set across the Seine River. Now my perfect day doesn't have to necessarily take place in Paris, but there is just something about the atmosphere in France that is hard to recreate anywhere else.   

What would your dream day be? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

HAWMC Day 13, 10 Things I Couldn't Live Without

Today's challenge topic is, 10 Things I Couldn't Live Without; Write a list of the 10 things you need (or love) most.  

Over the past couple of years I have learned I can live without a lot of things that most people (myself included) might deem "essential". Living in a 'dry' cabin in Alaska has taught me, sometimes even when you think things are essential they actually may not be. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a 'dry' cabin is a cabin without running water which means, no sinks, no shower, no flushing toilet, no dishwasher, no washer and dryer; nothing that requires running water to function. Yes, I'll admit at times the inconvenience of having to haul our own water, boil our water to hand wash our dishes, and shower at public showers was sometimes more than a minor annoyance. But most of the time I didn't give it a second thought, it became just a way of life. The whole experience as a whole helped me realize I don't need many material things; honestly I am happier without most of them. I've found the things that I value most in my life weren't necessarily things at all. Thus, the things in my list are more things that I love that I feel improve the quality of my life.

My List:
  1. My family; This covers my immediate family to my extended family and friends. I can't imagine going through life alone.
  2. Good food (including a good glass {or two} of wine). 
  3. Nature; Flowers, trees, animals, insects. What a dreary world it would be without nature and all of mother earth's spectacular wonders.
  4. A good book; My husband and I have a bit of an addiction to our public library. Every time we go we come home with a huge stack of books. We like to read. Since we don't have a TV, we read a lot.
  5. Music; Music can be physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual all at the same time. Music helps improve health. It's used to improve memory, reduce stress, support exercise, help with concentration, lower blood pressure, reduce pain and anxiety, etc.; the list of benefits is endless. It's a wonderful thing!
  6. Love; The word love has a variety of different meanings to everyone. Love represents human kindness, affection, and compassion. Without love what is the point of life?
  7. Laughter; Laughter produces endorphins. Endorphins make us happy, can reduce stress, and relieve pain.  Laughing boosts the number of antibody producing cells in our bodies, which leads to a stronger immune system.  
  8. Hope; Without hope there is despair. I'd rather live in a world full of hope rather than despair.
  9. Health; Our overall mental, physical, social, financial, and spiritual health affect everything we can and want to do in life. Maintaining good health in all aspects (not just handling our food allergies) often has benefits that each us can reap immediately and well in the future.
  10. Some bad days and occasional rough times; Without them, we would not appreciate all the things I listed above quite as much. Plus, I truly believe that without some stumbles along the way we wouldn't learn, grow, and feel confident that we can push ourselves toward new adventures.

What are the 10 things you couldn't live without?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

HAWMC Day 12, Stream of Consciousness Day

Today's challenge topic is, Stream of Consciousness Day; We challenge you, start with this phrase: “Today I looked in the mirror and…” (Or another sentence you come across.) But be sure to – Keep writing. Don’t stop for 15 minutes. Don’t edit. Post. Go!

Here is my stream of consciousness post for today...

“Today I looked in the mirror and…”

Today I looked in the mirror and I see the reflection of myself holding my daughter, she is wearing a navy blue and white polka-dot headband with a navy blue and white striped dress and navy blue leggings. My husband is in the background telling me, "Polka-dots don't go with stripes, even I know that!" But I think it looks pretty darn cute and from the smile on my daughter's face as she looks in the mirror, so does she. We have just started our day: I am still in my pajamas, my husband has just got back from his morning run, and my daughter is the only one that is dressed and ready for the day; it's how most of our mornings start. I asked my daughter, "What should mommy and daddy have for breakfast this morning?" She just smiles back at me like I had just told her something funny. We go to the kitchen and I scan the fridge for something quick to make for breakfast. My husband chimes in he wants pancakes. I look at him and say, "Really? You don't like pancakes". He replies, "Yes I do, just not everyday." So I hand my daughter to him and start to make the syrup and pancakes. After breakfast is over it is time for my daughter's morning nap. We head into her room and sit down to read a book; her new favorite is a touch and feel puppy book {that we apparently stole from my parents house over Easter weekend, (mom and dad - if you are reading this, I'll bring it back next time we are up!)} She starts to get fussy and we finish up the book. We sing a few songs, 'BINGO' and 'Where is Thumb-kin,' and she drifts off to sleep. Now my husband and I can start to get ready for our day. As I look in the mirror before I hop in the shower, I see my reflection, a happy (maybe a bit tired looking) mom, who can't wait to see what the day will bring.

If you are curious here is the recipe for my gluten-fee, egg free, dairy free pancakes I made for breakfast this morning!

G-Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free Pancakes
by Allergy Free and Cheap Like Me
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Keywords: breakfast gluten-free vegan soy-free


2 1/3 cups gluten-free flour mix*
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk (I used rice milk)
3 tablespoons butter, melted or  oil (I used earth balance the red soy-free one) 
2 eggs, (6 tablespoons warm water and 2 tablespoons ground flax seed mixed together)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla    

*The gluten-free flour mix I used for this recipe is:
2 cups Brown Rice Flour
1/3 cup Tapioca Starch (also called Tapioca Flour)
2/3 cup Potato Starch (NOT flour)
—>Mix well in large plastic container and store in cool place or fridge.

How to Make It:
  • Combine the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give it a few whisks. 
  • Mix up the warm water and flax to make a gel, let sit. 
  • Add the milk, butter, and vanilla to the dry ingredient mixture and whisk again. (I wasn't patient enough to wait for the butter to melt so I just added it cold, but it would mix better if it was at least soft)
  • Pour the flax gel into the mixture and stir until the ingredients are combined.  Stir the batter until all of the flour is mixed in. This should just take a few seconds – there will still be lumps in the batter and that is okay. 
  • Put the batter aside while you heat up the griddle.
  • Put some oil (I use grapeseed) on your griddle or non-stick skillet and heat on medium. 
  • Once the skillet is warm using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, dip the batter out of the bowl and pour onto your skillet.
  • Let the pancakes cook and do not touch them until you see bubbles popping in the middle of the pancakes.
  • Now, flip the pancakes. They will only cook for a minute or two on the second side, and you can use your spatula to peek and see if they are as brown as you want them.
  • Put a tiny bit more oil on your skillet and repeat the cooking process
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

HAWMC Day 11, Theme Song

Today's challenge topic is, Theme Song; Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song. What would the lyrics be? What type of music would it be played to?

Okay, well I'm not exactly sure I would call this my theme song, but it is funny nonetheless! It's a parody on Red Solo Cup by Toby Keith. If you haven't heard Red Solo Cup you can watch the music video. **Disclaimer, this video is not appropriate for all ages!

Here is my version of Red Solo Cup:

Now, brown long grain rice is the best of digestibles
For gluten free meals, state fairs and festivals
And you, folks, do not need a pair of spectacles 
To see the last grain on your plate

Hey, brown long grain rice is cheap and digestible
And in a short time it is easily prepareable
And unlike my money, it is replenishable
Wall Street jerks can kiss my toe. Whoo!

Brown long grain rice, I steam you up
Let's have a bowl full, let's have a bowl full
I love you, brown long grain rice, you fill me up
Proceed to eat more, proceed to eat more

Now I really love how you're easy to cook
But I really hate when you fall in a nook 
'Cause when rice gets struck in a place hard to look
Well that my friends is quite yucky

But I have to admit that folks are smitten
Admirin' how well my rice dishes are sittin' 
In their stomachs by mouthfuls without much skippin' 
Boy they are so very lucky

Brown long grain rice, I steam you up
Let's have a bowl full, let's have a bowl full
I love you, brown long grain rice, you fill me up
Proceed to eat more, proceed to eat more

Now I've seen you in white and I've seen you in black 
But only you, brown, is for this celiac
'Cause you are my substitute to Cheezy Mac 
And you are the sole to my shoe

Brown long grain rice, you're more than dynastic 
You're more than amazing, you're more than fantastic
And believe me that I'm not the least bit sarcastic 
when I look at you and say

Brown long grain rice, you're not just a grain 
(No, no, no, gosh no!) 
You're my, you're my 
(friend, friend, friend, life long!) 
Thank you for being my friend

Brown long grain rice, I steam you up
Let's have a bowl full, let's have a bowl full
I love you, brown long grain rice, you fill me up
Proceed to eat more, proceed to eat more

Brown long grain rice, I steam you up
Let's have a bowl full, let's have a bowl full
I love you, brown long grain rice, you fill me up
Proceed to eat more, proceed to eat more

Brown long grain rice, I steam you up
Let's have a bowl full, let's have a bowl full
I love you, brown long grain rice, you fill me up
Proceed to eat more, proceed to eat more

Brown long grain rice! I love you! 

I hope you enjoyed my parody. If you had a theme song what would it be?

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