Friday, October 28, 2016

My Nima Sensor has arrived!!

As usual life has been crazy busy & October is almost over & this is my first blog post of the month......but I have very exciting news to share!!

I received money last month for my birthday & it was right before the cut off for the Nima Sensor pre-order.

I've been following this product for a very long time now.

And I had been debating for a long time whether or not I should get one.  The pre orders actually began last year!

In the end, with birthday money in hand, I decided yes, mostly for my son's sake.  My son & I both have celiac.  And he is only 7, he has his whole life ahead of him & I felt this could really help him so much.

So far I've only tested one item: Cadia organic pinto beans.  I've had issues with beans, they tend to be on equipment shared with wheat quite often.  This is one brand I haven't had issues with, but I have wondered.  Just because you don't have symptoms doesn't always mean it's totally gluten free & isn't causing damage to your intestines.

That is one reason I am excited to get a Nima.  It tests for anything above 20 PPM, which is the legally recognized limit.  I react often to products that are certified gluten free, but are on equipment shared with wheat.  I have always wanted to know--are those products really below 20 PPM?  Or are they above & aren't being monitored carefully enough?  The Nima will help me answer that question.  (Personally my guess is that they are above 20 PPM, there are many products out there that are labeled gluten free & have been tested & proven to be way over the limit, although I have yet to see proof of this for a product that is certified gluten free.)

There are plenty of Nima-naysayers that complain that another part of your plate that you didn't test could have gluten on it & the Nima would miss it & you'd still get sick.  Yes, this is true.  Much like when doctors do biopsies for cancer & other things.  They can be right next to it, but if they don't get the right spot then you get a false result.  So yes, this is true, BUT it's still far better than nothing in my opinion.  To each their own I say.  If you don't think it will benefit you, then don't purchase one.  But I do think it will benefit my son & I greatly.  There are so many things I just pass on out of fear.  Now I could test those things instead & maybe be able to partake.

As it is so far, when we eat in a restaurant it's a total crap shoot.  Maybe we get sick & maybe we don't.  With the Nima we actually have a chance at catching the gluten & not getting sick.

It's also hard for so many to believe that cross contamination is so serious & that such a tiny amount makes such a big difference.  You can't see gluten with your eye.  You can't prove whether it's there or not & people often think it's all in your head.  With the Nima you now have actual proof.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Vitacost & Topical Gluten!

My apologies for not blogging sooner!  I thought I had blogged in August, but in reviewing my blog I see I am mistaken.  I did write up a draft in August, but it never got published.  It's about my love of essential oils, but I don't think I'll publish it, not that version of it anyways.  I still adore essential oils, but some things have really changed in regards to that.  But I suppose some things are better left unsaid. Anyways.......

I've been trying hard to get to a point where EVERYTHING I use is gluten free.  

It's proved to be much harder than I had first thought.

I would go to a store & try to figure out which products were gluten free.  This was hard & time consuming--especially with my young son at my side.

I would search online & find products listed as gluten free--often to find later on that some of them really aren't.

I would email companies inquiring if their products were gluten free.  The responses varied.  Some companies tried to convince me that topical gluten (not ingested but used on the skin/hair/etc) wouldn't harm me.  Most said they had no idea if they were gluten free or not.  And some said they were, but when I tried their products I hated them.

This was a much harder task than I ever imagined.  I have very difficult hair--it's wild & likes to frizz.  Most natural products do not work for my hair.  In fact, most drug store varieties of hair products don't even work for my hair.  I have always used high end hair products, but most aren't gluten free or don't know if they are or aren't.

I was getting ready to start trying to make my own hair conditioner when I finally stumbled upon a shampoo & conditioner at the health food store that were labeled gluten free.  Even better--they actually worked pretty well on my hair!!  It was then that I remembered Vitacost.  In the past we've ordered from them off & on, mostly for vitamins, but I know they carry much more than vitamins.  So I looked it up & found the shampoo & conditioner I had just bought was half the price on Vitacost!!

I continued browsing on their website & found most of the products we buy are cheaper at Vitacost!  I decided to start ordering all of our shelf stable items from Vitacost.  It will save us money & it's usually delivered the day after I order!!  And when I do go grocery shopping I can be in & out of the store much faster!!  This is a total win in my opinion!!

One more bonus of Vitacost: this is a BIG one in my book!  They have filters, several of them.  But my favorite is the gluten free one.  So I can search for soap & then filter for gluten free!  Now I don't have to search through millions of soaps, trying to figure out which ones are or aren't gluten free.  I only have to look at the gluten free soaps.  THIS has made my life so much easier.

I seriously can't say enough good things about this company.

Oh!  And about the topical gluten?  Since switching ALL my products to gluten free with the help of Vitacost, my horrendous acne that NOTHING could get rid of is magically clearing up!!  THAT is priceless in my book!

Thursday, July 14, 2016


While I do try to focus on gluten & health related topics, this blog post does reflect MY life.  And a huge part of my life is homeschooling my son.  We have 3 years under our belts so far and will be starting up our 4th year very soon!

I've used Heart of Dakota curriculum each year & absolutely love it.  Last year I added on a couple of things (Spanish, art, & Bible study) & this year I'm adding on those same things plus a couple more new things (another art & visual perceptual skills)!  And there's a lot more books & a lot more involved this year than there was last year.  So far each year has taken longer to complete than the previous year.  This year I do think I will need to schedule some breaks into our school time.  Last year I was iffy about this & did it when I saw it was needed, but it wasn't needed every day.  I was very casual about it.  But this year I'm quite sure we'll be needing breaks on a regular basis.  I'm just not sure how many & how long......I will have to play it by ear.  The first 2 weeks are always a period of adjustment & learning as we find our groove, so to speak.

At times homeschooling can be a lot of work.  I've been preparing stuff like crazy recently, trying to get ready for the big day of kicking off the new school year!  Life has been super busy with this, but I still enjoy it so much.  I honestly couldn't imagine NOT homeschooling my son.  I love it & so does he.

In addition to schooling at home, he does swimming & karate.  These are both year round & great activities for him.  And once a week I try to have a "fun day" where we break from school work & do something fun & active--it could be having a play date with friends or going to the zoo or a museum, etc, etc.

That's all for now, I hope to have another blog post coming soon.  :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Traveling Gluten Free

Where does the time go???

Oh my, I didn't post at all for the month of May.  I finally have time to sit down & write a blog post & it's June!!!

Life has been busy, as usual.  We were wrapping up homeschooling 1st grade & then we went on vacation!  I really felt like I needed a vacation & it was fabulous!

We live in sunny Southern California.  It is nice here, we have it all--oceans, beaches, deserts, mountains, forests, the list goes on & on.  Yet, because it's so nice, it's also super crowded.  And there's also so much more beauty out there in other parts of the country that I so enjoy seeing.

This time we headed to Idaho.  We went there almost 2 years ago & had a great time, but last year some of our family actually moved there.  So it was wonderful to be able to go & see them.  We had a wonderful time.  We stayed around the Boise area (Meridian, Nampa, Eagle, Star, Middleton mostly).

Traveling can be tough when you have celiac disease or any food related issue.  Eating out safely is very challenging for my son & I.   We really love traveling by motorhome.  I did a lot of traveling by motorhome with my family when I was a kid.  And I love being able to do it now & let my son have great memories too, just like I did as a kid.

Traveling by motorhome does really help when you have celiac, or any other food related issue.   But no matter HOW we travel I always do some homework before going.  I search for gluten free places to shop & eat & check ratings for how good they are.  My favorite app on my iPhone is "Find Me GF".  I also do a google search.

Some areas definitely have more gluten free offerings than others.  Last summer we went to Santa Barbara for our anniversary & we found a lot of great gluten free offerings.  But then we headed to Solvang & found absolutely zero gluten free offerings there!

Around the Boise area there is a Whole Foods Market.  There's also Jake's Gluten Free market, which was really nice & the owner was well educated about gluten, which is hard to find sometimes.  There is also the Boise Co-op in Meridian, which has some gluten free foods.  It's a lot like Whole Foods, but with better prices.  There's a place called "Hello Dinner" that I saw online but we never made it there.  It seems they offer gluten free food prepped for simplified cooking of meals, which isn't really something I need or like to pay for.  But it's great for those who need it.  There is a bakery called Amaru Confections, which is a regular bakery, but they later purchased a separate building & turned that into a dedicated gluten free facility, so they offer both gluten & gluten free.  We didn't go here, I had already baked & brought goodies with us, but it's nice to know they do have a bakery option.

The one place we did eat, twice in fact, was Costa Vida.  This is a chain that we don't have in Southern California, at least not yet.  They have reformulated everything on their menu to be gluten free.  So the only ingredient they have that contains gluten is the wheat tortillas.  I'm hoping they'll come to Southern California, the food was amazing good!  The first time we went I had a shredded beef burrito bowl.  It was some of the best beef I've ever had, truly amazing.  The second time we went I had chicken enchiladas with rice & beans.  They were really good too, but I still love that beef!  And me & my son didn't get sick!!

Overall we had a great time in Idaho.  It is so beautiful there & there is so much water EVERYWHERE!  It's so nice to see that much water after living in a drought for so many years now. As much as I want to continue traveling & seeing other places, I also can't wait to go back to Idaho!!

For now we are working on summer school & getting set up for 2nd grade.  And I really need to get some essential oil classes set up!

I would love to hear from my readers, where have you travelled & how did you handle eating safely?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Let's Talk Skin Care

Whether or not gluten can topically or transdermally affect us is a topic that is debated frequently......and it's quite often a very heated debate.

Some strongly believe that gluten definitely can affect us topically or transdermally, while others insist that the gluten molecule is too large to be absorbed through the skin.

I'm not here to argue either side, but just to present some great skin care products that ARE, in fact, gluten free.

For Christmas I received a Clarisonic Mia 2.  It's been quite a journey for me trying to get good results from it & I'm planning to do a video about my journey sometime soon, just in case it might help someone out.  Other people's videos on YouTube about their Clarisonic experience have been so very helpful to me, so I want to do the same for others.

In my quest to get good results from my Clarisonic I've had to change my face wash.  And what was recommended to me from several people was Cetaphil.  I've always seen it but had never tried it.  Of course I love the fact that Costco sells it too!!  (Y'all know how much I LOVE Costco!!)

I am currently using the Gentle Skin Cleanser on my face.  You can also use it on your body, but I'm already content with my Dove sensitive skin bar soap that I use on my body.  It doesn't lather, but it does a really great job.

I also grabbed the facial moisturizer, but I don't recommend it for oily skin, which I tend to have.  I plan to continue using it on my décolletage area until this bottle is used up, but not on my face.  There is another Cetaphil moisturizer that is designed for oil control, but it's been out of stock everywhere I've gone so far.  But I am planning to use that one on my face as soon as I can get it.

I absolutely adore the Cetaphil moisturizing cream, in the tub!!!  This is the best lotion I have EVER used!  My husband, son, & I are all loving it!  My son's torso area is always so dry & scratchy no matter how much lotion we use on him.  And my legs are the same way.  But with this stuff the skin truly stays soft & moisturized ALL DAY LONG.  And I also got the regular Cetaphil lotion to try out.  It's very good, but not as strong as the moisturizing cream.  I think once the weather changes & we aren't so dry & itchy we'll be able to use the lotion more.

If there's interest in the Clarisonic let me know & I'll include blog posts about it as well as a video later on.  It is a really good product, but you definitely have to fine tune a few things to get the most out of it.  I don't think I could live without mine at this point!

Have a great week y'all!!  If you have any questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to share.  :)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Gut Healing Gummies!

Oh my goodness!!!   My goal is to post a blog post at least once a week & over a month has now passed!

Life has been just too crazy busy lately.  I'm hopefully back on track now, although we do have a big birthday party coming up for my son & we are wrapping up the end of 1st grade for my son.  We are a homeschooling family & we follow our own school schedule--we should be done with first grade around the end of April.  But then we'll be starting "summer school" in May.  Hopefully the busy-ness involved won't keep me from the blog!

One of my most requested blog posts is for the gut-healing gummies that I make for my son.  They are super easy & so fun!!  You can find a wide variety of molds (you want silicone molds) on Amazon.  I have a gummy bear mold, since my son adores teddy bears (he calls them Buddies & he calls gummy bears Cubby Buddies).  And I also got some dinosaur ones too since he also adores dinosaurs.  But you can find a huge variety & choose what you think you're child will like best.

So here's the basic recipe:

1/2 Cup juice
6-10 teaspoons gelatin (I use & highly recommend Vital Proteins brand-I've blogged about it before)
Sweetener, if desired
Supplements, etc if desired

So my son LOVES lemonade & lemon-flavored everything.  So for his gummies I use Lemonade as the juice.   But you can use any juice or combination of juice that you prefer.  You can even use elderberry syrup, although you may want to thin it out a little, depending on how thick it is.

I usually use 8 teaspoons of gelatin, but you can adjust the amount depending on what texture you prefer, softer or firmer.

Sweetener depends on how sweet the juice you're using is & how sweet you want your gummy to be. You can use any sweetener you like--honey, brown rice syrup, agave, or even cane sugar, etc.

Supplements are the most exciting part of making gummies IMHO.  You can customize it to contain whatever you or your family needs most.  I frequently include fish oil, essential oils, probiotics, vitamin D3, the options are truly endless.  For many you will want to let it cool down before adding the supplements.  And then you put it into the molds & finish it off.

So here's the run down of HOW to make these:

*In a saucepan combine the juice & gelatin.  Whisk together as you heat it until the gelatin melts completely into the juice.

*Take off the heat & whisk in sweetener, if using.
*Allow to cool & add in supplements, if using.
*Fill the molds. (I like to put the mixture into a squeeze bottle so I can squeeze into molds neatly & not waste or make a mess)

*Place the molds in the freezer for 10 minutes.
*Remove from freezer, pop out of molds, store in refrigerator.

Note: If you don't eat these up quickly enough they will start to mold, but this has only happened to us once.  You can also cut this recipe in half if you're concerned that you might not finish them up within a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hot Chocolate

Life has been crazy busy lately, but I wanted to share this quick & easy recipe.

I am unable to drink coffee at all.  Aside from the caffeine, it's just too acidic for my body.  I really do miss it.  I was one of those rare people who drank it for the taste, rather than the caffeine.  I almost always drank decaf anyways due to my heart murmur & it's caffeine sensitivity.

I do drink a lot of herbal teas & other caffeine free teas, but sometimes I want a rich & hearty hot drink, more like coffee.  And I sure do love chocolate........

I've been searching for a quick & easy home made hot chocolate recipe that I actually like.  It seems like it would be easy enough to find, but I kept trying different recipes & wasn't satisfied with any of them.

Granted, we probably all have a different opinion on what we're looking for in our hot chocolate.  I wanted it to be rich & more chocolatey than sweet.  After giving up searching for recipes I just started playing around on my own & managed to come up with this!  It really does fit the bill for me.

8 oz (1 Cup) milk (I use whole milk, but any milk of your choice should work)
1/4 Cup chocolate chips (I use Rice Dream brand, they are gluten & dairy free)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract (I make my own-so easy to do & I know it's gluten free)
1-2 teaspoons gelatin (I use Vital Proteins brand)

I own a Vitamix blender so I like to put all of this into the blender jar & set it on the "Soup" setting & let it go.  The gelatin gives it such a great frothy, creamy texture & is a great protein boost as well.

If you don't own a Vitamix you can certainly put this into a pan on the stove & melt the chocolate that way.

Enjoy!!  :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Another Way to Make Bone Broth!!

This is an addendum to my original post on bone broth, which can be found here

Y'all know how much I love bone broth!!

I have always made it in my slow cooker, but I recently decided to try it out in my pressure cooker.  While making it in the slow cooker is usually convenient--I either start early in the morning or late at night to accommodate that 12 hours of cooking--there are times when it's a hassle for me.  So I decided to try it out in my pressure cooker.

Now my large slow cooker is 6 quarts.  And my large pressure cooker is 8 quarts.  So I found I'm able to make even more broth in my pressure cooker than I can in my slow cooker--that's an added bonus! But of course that will vary depending on what size YOUR slow cooker & pressure cooker might be.  (I actually have 2 of each--my slow cookers are 3 quart & 6 quart & my pressure cookers are 4 quart & 8 quart)

*Place the chicken bones/parts, water, & vinegar in the pressure cooker & let it sit for about 30 minutes.
*Add the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the parsley.
*Seal it up & heat over high heat until it comes up to pressure.
*Cook for 60-90 minutes, depending on how strong you like your bone broth.
*Turn it off & let the pressure drop down.
*Open, add the parsley, close it up, let it sit for 30 minutes.
*Then strain & store.

One added benefit I found--in addition to being able to make MORE broth--was that I found the fat rose to the top of the jars of broth when I placed them in the refrigerator.  So then I was able to easily remove the fat (you can save it & use it for cooking if you like).  When I've made broth in my slow cooker I've never seen the fat separate from the rest of the broth.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Holiday time: keeping it fun AND healthy!!

The holidays can really pack on a lot of calories.  I do love to bake but this year I decided to try to keep things healthier, while still keeping it fun for the holidays.

Thanksgiving was our usual--turkey, stuffing (we used Glutino brand), mashed potatoes, Hawaiian yams, & gravy.

But for Christmas, when my family came over, I came up with a plan to keep it both fun & healthy!

We smoked a whole chicken & made a gluten free version of Jack Daniel's sauce for it.  We also served a green salad & steamed potatoes with it.

But I chose to have this as an appetizer table set up for snacking.  I bought it all & washed & chopped it all, but my wonderful husband actually set this up for me & I think he did a fabulous job!

Not to mention, this is also really fun for kids.  My son adores trains (what child doesn't??)
so I was hoping it would encourage him to try some healthy foods.  And I am excited to report that he did try jicama for the very first time!!  That was a big moment for us.

My niece & nephew were visiting also, but I can't remember if they tried anything new or exciting simply because it was a train!

I did also make deserts (a spice cake, which was Jesus' birthday cake, & bolitas dulces--a Peruvian desert), but I think we all had a very modest portion & mostly snacked on these healthy appetizers.  And I certainly didn't mind all the healthy leftovers I had in the house afterwards!

So I encourage you to be willing to think outside the box for holidays & find ways to make food fun & healthy at the same time!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy Anniversary!!

My intention is to write a blog at least once a week.  I apologize for falling behind due to the busy-ness of Christmas and New Years!!

But I'm back & I'm here to talk about a celebration of sorts.  You see, I am celebrating my 3rd anniversary.  As some of you know, I've been married to my wonderful husband for over 10 years now, but I'm referring to my gluten-free anniversary.  I will forever remember this anniversary, as it has affected my life in a huge, huge way.

For anyone reading this that might be fairly new to the gluten free diet or considering embarking upon a gluten free diet: please know that the first year will be filled with mistakes, but with those mistakes comes learning & growing & most importantly learning how to minimize repeating those mistakes.  In the future I hope to post some blogs to help with learning these things.  

Before I embarked upon a gluten free diet, I was convinced that I was dying a slow & painful death.  And in all certainty, I am sure that would have indeed been the case had I not launched myself into a gluten free diet.  

I really wouldn't have cared, except that I had a very young son that needed me.  I couldn't bear the thought of dying & not being there for him.  That was the fuel that kept me fighting even though my body grew weaker & frailer with each passing day it seemed.

In all honesty I did not believe that I had an issue with gluten.  And neither did my husband.  But I was struggling with Interstitial Cystitis horribly & my health was, in general, declining severely & rapidly.  My doctors had no answer for me.  Being a nurse, I am very good at medical research & I was searching & searching for some sort of hope.  It seemed that no matter where I began my search I kept coming to the same point in the search were I would quit that search & start a new one.  That same point that I kept coming to was gluten.  

My motto was "to leave no stone unturned" in my quest to save my life.  So I felt I had to rule out this gluten issue before moving forward. I truly thought it was a waste of my time & so did my husband.  It was somewhere in the first week of December 2012 I started my trial gluten free diet.  I was planning to remain gluten free for a couple of months & then reintroduce gluten & note my body's response.  In the last week of that same month we went out to eat at a restaurant.  I remember it well, as it was my very first time trying to eat gluten free in a restaurant.  The waiter even offered me couscous, which I was well aware was NOT gluten free.  I did well, though, up until desert time.  Then my husband had these creme brûlée mini tarts.  I adore creme brûlée & my husband told me to eat it, just to leave the crust behind & only eat the filling.  I knew nothing about cross contamination at that time & I went for it.  And I was very soon in so much pain I couldn't believe it.  I knew in that moment that I could never ever again eat gluten.  

In January or February I removed gluten from my son's diet as well, since he had been struggling with digestive issues since he was a baby & he had stopped growing.  He has been strong & healthy & thriving ever since.

In the past 3 years I sometimes can't believe how much I've learned about gluten, celiac disease, cross contamination, etc.  I am forever learning about these things.  I have also come to believe that my father had it as well.  He died of pancreatic cancer at a fairly young age.  I've learned that this is a common ending for undiagnosed (or diagnosed but non-compliant) celiacs.  And I do recall him having chronic digestive issues & migraines when I was a child.  

So if you're new to the gluten free diet or contemplating it--just do it, just go for it.  Stay gluten free for a month or two & then reintroduce gluten & monitor how you feel.  That is the basis of any elimination diet.  It takes longer for gluten to get fully out of our system than some other foods though, so you do need to commit to a month or two at minimum.  

And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me--here on the blog, or on Instagram, or you can email me at
Have a blessed 2016 my friends!!