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Trials and Preparation

October 9, 2013

Provo-Tabernacle-fireA week and a half ago, I listened to a broadcast by the leaders of the women’s organization in our church. The story that caught my attention the most was about the Provo Tabernacle. About three years ago, a fire gutted the interior of this historic building. Community and church members mourned its loss.

Could the Lord have prevented this destruction? Absolutely. But He chose not to. And ten months later, President Monson announced that the tabernacle would be rebuilt as a temple for church members to worship in.

So it is with our lives. Could Heavenly Father take away all our trials, heal us of all our afflictions? Of course He can. But just because He chooses not to doesn’t mean we don’t have enough faith. Sometimes He has a higher purpose involved with our suffering. As He says in Doctrine and Covenants 58:3-4

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory.

I don’t know the meaning of all things. I don’t know why Joseph has allergies, or why this pregnancy is giving me health problems. But I do know that I have a loving Father in Heaven who stands by to help me endure it. And I trust that His plan for me and my family will help me become the best person I can be to be an influence for good in this world. And the same is true of you and your struggles, for I know that the Lord loves you just as much as He loves me.

Bean and Pork Chop Bake Trial: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free

October 4, 2013
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My husband got in the mood for some pork and beans, so I went hunting for a recipe to appease him. While he was thinking more along the lines of chunks of meat rather than pork chops, the Bean and Pork Chop Bake from Taste of Home fit the bill for him well. And it was a nice warming meal for the rainy days that have settled over Seattle once again.

The Changes

This recipe is already Joseph-safe. I did omit the raisins, since no one in our family seems to care for them. I also had more beans than called for, since I wasn’t paying attention when I wrote my grocery list. 🙂

pork and bean bake 001

The Method

My husband prefers thin meats, so I sliced two of the pictured pork chops in half for this recipe. Brown pork chops on both sides in a large skillet in oil. Remove and keep warm.

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Saute apples and onions in the drippings left from the pork chops until tender.

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Stir in beans, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Heat through.

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Transfer bean mixture into a 2 1/2 quart baking dish (I used my 8″ x 8″ pan) and top with pork chops.

pork and bean bake 005

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Brush the top of the meat with maple syrup and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and salt. Return to the oven, uncovered for about 5 minutes. Serve with cornbread.

pork and bean bake 006

Bean and Pork Chop Bake

Adapted from Taste of Home

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free


  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 16 ounce cans baked beans
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Brown both sides of pork chops in oil. Remove and keep warm.

Saute apple and onion in drippings from the pork chops until tender. Add beans and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Heat through. Transfer bean mixture to a 8″ x 8″ dish. Top with pork chops. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Brush tops of pork chops with syrup and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and salt. Return to oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Makes 4 servings

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This recipe is featured in my cookbook The Best of the Rice of Life: Over 70 Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Nut-free Recipes available now in print (Amazon, Create Space) and e-book (Kindle, iBooks, nook, Kobo and Smashwords).

What I Thought

This is quite nice comfort food. It took me awhile to get used to the taste, since I kept expecting a more brown sugar/spicy taste. The pork was SOOO tender. I loved it! The kids ate the meat with only a bit of prodding away from the cornbread. They didn’t touch the beans though. Not only would I do this again, but I would consider making it for a friend who needed a meal.

Shared on Gluten-free Wednesday and Allergy-free Wednesday

Buying Allergy-aware Halloween Candy

October 2, 2013

I love giving out candy at Halloween. Of course, I admire those people who give out in-edible treats like stickers and pencils. It’s a great way to point kids to being healthy, and you don’t have to worry about any kids with allergies or diabetes. But I will always give out candy, including candy that Joseph is allergic to. However, the past couple years, I have  made sure to have a variety of things in the bowl and let the kids pick what they want. Then if they want the nut-laden Snickers, they can have it. If they are allergic to (or just don’t like)  chocolate, then I have options for them too. Here are a few allergy-friendly options to put in candy bowls.

  • Gummy bears
  • Smarties
  • Dum dum lollipops
  • Starburst
  • Skittles
  • Pixie sticks
  • Fruit snacks
  • Candy corn
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Jelly beans
  • Swedish Fish
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Sweet Tarts
  • Nerds
  • Bottle Caps
  • Mike and Ike
  • Dots

Disclaimer: be sure to read your own labels to make sure it fits your comfort level.

Anyone have any favorite allergy-free candies that I missed?

Thai Coconut Soup Trial: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free

September 27, 2013
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As I mentioned this week, we’ve been sick lately. So I’ve been making a few soups lately, and the less prep that went into it the better. Which is why I ended up trying this Thai Coconut Soup from Our Best Bites this week.

The Changes

I swapped out the ramen noodles for gluten-free noodles, and added some carrots, since it needed SOME veggies. I also didn’t have a jalapeno in the house, so I subbed red pepper instead. I also omitted the cilantro and green onions since I didn’t have any.

salt, chicken broth, coconut milk, GF noodles, lime juice, ginger, red pepper, carrots, chicken

The Method

Cook chicken according to your preferred method. In a large pot, combine broth, milk, carrots, and spices and bring to a boil. Add pasta, reduce to a simmer for 10-20 minutes, or until carrots and noodles are tender. Dice chicken and add it to the pot along with lime juice. Stir to combine. Serve.

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Thai Coconut Soup

Adapted from Our Best Bites

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free


  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken
  • 1 32 ounce carton chicken broth
  • 1 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz GF rotelle pasta (or other preferred shape)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons lime juice

Combine chicken broth, coconut milk, carrots, ginger, red pepper, and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil, add pasta, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-20 minutes, until carrots and pasta are tender. Stir in chicken and lime juice. Serve immediately.

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This recipe is featured in my cookbook The Best of the Rice of Life: Over 70 Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Nut-free Recipes available now in print (Amazon, Create Space) and e-book (Kindle, iBooks, nook, Kobo and Smashwords).



What I Thought

This soup had a nice, pleasant, sweet taste. The kick from the pepper was very mild. My daughter was only interested in eating bread. Joseph got seconds and thirds of the chicken and noodles (he ignored the carrots). Would do again.

This post was shared at Gluten-free Wednesday and Allergy-free Wednesday

Taking a Moment for Tender Mercies

September 25, 2013

We’ve been battling coughs over here lately. That, combined with the fact that we’ve been testing Joseph’s tolerance for wheat with a Sun Chip a day, has led to some flareups of eczema, complete with blood all over the sheets when Joseph scratched in the night.

But, I’m reminded to keep counting my blessings. It’s fall now, so I can put Joseph’s shorts away and keep him from getting access to the backs of his knees. We have so much more knowledge now than people did even just decades ago for how to handle this. We have medicines that reduce the itching (though Joseph has taken to screaming when I put the creams on). We just went the whole summer with very few flareups.

Silver linings. Little things that get us through the hard times.

1-2-3 Grilled Salmon Trial: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free

September 20, 2013
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1-2-3 Grilled salmon

My brother-in-law has gone fishing lots lately, and brought us some filets from his latest catch. I love salmon, so I eagerly looked through my cookbooks to find a recipe I hadn’t tried yet so I could share it here. I loved that the 1-2-3 Grilled Salmon from Taste of Home looked easy, because I didn’t have that much energy the day that I made it.

The Changes

This recipe is already Joseph-safe.

garlic powder, soy sauce, olive oil, mustard, salmon

The Method

Combine garlic powder, soy sauce, olive oil, and mustard in a bowl and stir well. Pour half into a large zip-loc bag, and then add salmon fillets. Marinade salmon in the fridge for 30 minutes. Refrigerate remaining marinade separately.

salmon 02

Preheat grill, then coat with oil. If you don’t have a grill-safe spray, coat paper towel with oil, then rub it on the grill with a pair of long tongs. Grill salmon over high heat, covered, for 5-10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

salmon 03

Brush reserved marinade over cooked fish, and serve.

1-2-3 Grilled salmon

1-2-3 Grilled Salmon

Adapted from Taste of Home

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 salmon fillets (5 oz each)

In a bowl, combine olive oil, soy sauce, mustard, and garlic powder. Pour half of the marinade into a large zip-loc bag, and add salmon. Refrigerate marinading salmon for 30 minutes. Put the other half of the marinade in a separate bowl in the fridge.

Pre-heat grill and coat with oil. Grill the salmon on high heat, covered, for 5-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Brush reserved marinade over the fish and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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This recipe is featured in my cookbook The Best of the Rice of Life: Over 70 Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Nut-free Recipes available now in print (Amazon, Create Space) and e-book (Kindle, iBooks, nook, Kobo and Smashwords).

What I Thought

We all quite liked this. Joseph was asking for seconds and thirds. My husband could detect a pleasant sweet taste, which I’m not sure where it came from. Perhaps the fish itself. I’d definitely do this again.

Shared on Gluten-free Wednesday and Allergy-free Wednesday

Immune Systems are Complex

September 18, 2013

The more I learn about research and theories about allergies, the more I realize that when our immune systems break, we really have no idea what is going on. I’ve never taken much stock in the hygiene hypothesis for the rise of allergies. I do not keep my house spick and span. I should do better about getting my kids to wash and sanitize their hands. And I took Joseph out in public fairly soon after his birth. Didn’t stop him from developing allergies.

And then there’s the idea that breastfeeding should prevent allergies. Except Joseph was allergic to my breastmilk.

And now, I have been diagnosed with ITP (immune thrombocytopenia purpura) which means that my immune system is attacking my platelets (part of my blood that is involved in clotting) The hematologist has no idea what caused this. Thankfully, it won’t effect the baby’s health that’s coming next month. However, it does mean that I am on steroids to boost my platelet count in preparation for delivery. The side-effects are wiping me out. I had planned to keep blogging and trying new recipes right up until delivery, but I may need to start my “maternity leave” on that early.

I am grateful for how far we have come scientifically, that Joseph has things that can help him live day to day and the doctors are planning for every contingency for me. I look forward to more research being done in the future.

Allergies at School

September 11, 2013

My daughter started kindergarten this year. After reading so much about food allergies and schools the past few years, I was interested to see how our elementary school handled it. I’m quite pleased with the results.

She only goes to half-day kindergarten, so I don’t know how the lunch situation is handled. But I do know that the classrooms are kept nut-free. She gets to take a snack, which has to be nut-free. For her, that’s meant a string cheese, or an apple. Though that apple did come home untouched, but I suspect that’s more due to her not knowing the full routine the first day of school than her not wanting to eat it.

Then I was surprised to see that on the kid’s birthdays, they encourage parents to bring in non-food favors to pass out, instead of the usual cupcakes or what have you. I quite like this policy. The kids don’t need the sugar, and it means that anyone with a gluten or dairy allergy doesn’t have to be alienated either. Also, I will admit that I didn’t like the policy that any birthday treats brought in had to be storebought, which I have heard about (Storebought cupcakes just don’t taste as good).

So yay for my school getting it. Makes me feel better for when Joseph is old enough to attend too.

Thai Chicken Spaghetti Trial: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free

September 6, 2013
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My sunflowers are blooming! These are the first plants I’ve grown from seed to actually make it to this point! That’s actually not why I decided to make a recipe with sunbutter to post today, but I couldn’t help thinking about it as I looked at my sunflowers out my window as I bustled around my kitchen. Hooray for a raised bed being able to defeat my black thumb!

Anyway, I first made Thai Chicken Fettuccine from Taste of Home back in 2008 and found it nice and easy, though it definitely didn’t taste like authentic Thai food. So I thought it would be good to attempt to make Joseph-safe.

The Changes

I used corn-quinoa spaghetti instead of fettuccine since that’s the kind of gluten-free pasta I had. I also substituted sunbutter 1:1 for the peanut butter. I also omitted the cilantro and red pepper since we didn’t have any.

thai chicken pasta 01

The Method

Cook pasta according to package directions. Cut the chicken into strips and saute in oil. Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Puree sauce if you desire it to be smooth, like mine.

thai chicken pasta 02

Taste, and add extra honey if desired (I did).

Drain pasta. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Serve with chicken.

thai chicken pasta 03

Thai Chicken Spaghetti

Adapted from Taste of Home

Gluten-free, Nut-free, Dairy-free


  • 8 oz gluten-free spaghetti
  • 1 pound chicken, cut into strips
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup sunbutter
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

Cook pasta according to package directions. Saute the chicken in oil. Combine salsa, sunbutter, orange juice, honey, and soy sauce in a microwave safe bowl. Puree until smooth (if you don’t have an immersion blender, puree in a stand blender, then transfer into a bowl). Microwave sauce for 1 minute on high.

Drain pasta. Pour sauce over pasta, then toss to coat. Serve with chicken.

Makes 4 servings

What I Thought

This tasted mostly like how I remembered it. Once I got over how it was still not real Thai food, I enjoyed it, and so did my husband. My daughter refused to eat it because “it’s too spicy” (it really wasn’t). Joseph was bribed to eat a few bites, but showed no interest in finishing it. Ah well.

Allergies on Vacation

September 4, 2013

August has been a crazy month for me. We spent a week and a half away from home visiting family and church history sites. I was a bit nervous with how to deal with Joseph’s allergies, but it turns out I was worried about the wrong things.

The thing I was most worried about was taking Joseph’s medicines through security at the airport. But after taking them out of the bag and sending them through the scanner, TSA didn’t say anything about them. So that’s good to know for the future.

What I should have done, however, was made sure that the people we were staying with had an idea about Joseph’s allergies. My sister-in-law made us yummy meals. Unfortunately, I had to search through the pantry for something that Joseph could (and would) eat instead. I probably should have brought more of his food with us. I also felt bad that every time we ate out, pretty much the only thing he had was french fries. Couldn’t have been very healthy. On the other hand, my daughter was only interested in eating macaroni and cheese. At times like that you just have to suck it up and remember they can eat better once they get home.

We did have an interesting experiment though, when Joseph wanted to drink soy-milk at my brother/sister-in-law’s. We let him, since he hasn’t really reacted to soy sauce lately. However, his eczema did flare the next day. I wonder if its something in the soy-milk he reacts too, or if it was just the amount that triggered his sensitivity. Just as well I’m fine with sticking with coconut milk at home.

And now we’ve gotten home just in time to start up new routines with my daughter going to school. More on that next week.