Tag Archives: nutrition

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While the calendar does not yet officially say it's summer, it's officially summer break around here. That means a lot of resting, a lot of relaxing, and a lot of fun! Now that my brain has had a few days to shift into summer break mode, I've realized we need to get back to being intentional about some things around here.

Thankfully, I've managed to keep my focus on the big things like Bible reading, prayer, and community, even in the midst of a crazy spring schedule and a book launch. (I'm not saying it was perfect, but those areas remained my focus when life got crazy!)

One area we definitely need to regain focus around here is being intentional with our food. I don't know about you, but when schedules get crazy, we tend to default to quick and easy foods. And if I've learned anything in my food journey, it's that quick and easy food doesn't typically translate into healthy and nutritious.

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” -La Rochefoucauld | thereisgrace.com #BeIntentional

This post is sponsored by De Nigris USA.

Although I still consider myself a novice when it comes to nutrition, I have learned a lot over the last year. Perhaps the greatest lesson I've learned is that if this girl--who used to live on Diet Pepsi and animal crackers--can make some healthy changes, anyone can!

If you're wanting to make some simple changes for your health, here are 7 quick and easy steps to get you started and help you #BeIntentional with your food:

1.  Read labels. This is the most important thing you can do for your health. Don't stop at skimming the calorie and fat content, either. Pay special attention to the ingredients. Yes, this is tedious and time-consuming, but the only way to know what you're eating is to, well, know what you're eating. Profound, I know.

2. Choose food with the shortest ingredients list. As a general rule, the shortest list will be your best option. And always choose the list with the most ingredients you can recognize and pronounce.

Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. ~Michael Pollan

3. Take baby steps. Don't try to change everything at one time, or you'll end up frustrated. Start with one thing: Cut out sugar (that one will be big enough!). Or commit to avoiding unfamiliar ingredients (that one will save you from a lot of yucky stuff!). Maybe you can start by making your meals at home, from scratch, and choosing simple, whole foods as snacks. Determine your first step. When you're comfortable with that one, move on to the next.

4. Make simple swaps. Here are a few easy ones you can make the next time you go shopping:

  • Swap sugary, flavored yogurt for plain yogurt sweetened with honey and frozen fruit.Swap flavored chips (they have an abundance of additives and preservatives) for simple corn or potato chips seasoned with salt. (Yes, the oil isn't great for you, but one step at a time....see #3).

7 Ways to Be Intentional with Your Food #DeNigris1889

  • Swap salad dressing for some quality olive oil and vinegar, like DeNigris vinegars. Did you know vinegar has many health benefits and medicinal uses? It's great for treating things like sinus infections, sore throats, and even acid reflux! Plus, it's super high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. You can even clean with it! DeNigris has a selection of vinegars and other products, plus great recipes. Be sure to check them out!
  • Swap sweetened applesauce for unsweetened. Do apples really need extra sugar?!
  • Swap soda for sparkling mineral water flavored with a little fruit juice.
  • Swap heavy veggie dips for salsa or guacamole.
  • Swap sugary granola bars for homemade protein bars.

5. Make time for food. Being intentional with your food will take time. It will take time to read labels and find alternatives. It will take time to prepare food (oh, the time you'll spend chopping veggies!). And it will take time to see a difference in the way you feel and look. But your health and your happiness are worth the investment, so don't give up!

Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food. ~Hippocrates

Here's proof that we do still eat out...and that my kids still have the occasional Cheeto! ;)
Here's proof that we do still eat out...and that my kids still have the occasional Cheeto! 😉

6. Choose the best options available. Life isn't perfect. Even with the best intentions, you'll eventually find yourself at a dinner party or a potluck with no idea what's in any given dish. Or you may have no other option for dinner one night than a fast food drive thru. Survey your options and make the best choice you can. Choose real food with the least ingredients (hint: focus on simple meat, veggies, and or fruit.) When in those situations, I try to remember this advice:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. ~Michael Pollan

7. Give yourself grace. So you caved and raided the cookie jar at midnight last night. Don't beat yourself up, and don't throw in the towel. Show  yourself grace and move on. Focus on the things you are doing right and keep moving forward!

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Luke 12:23

It won't always be easy, but things that are truly worth it are rarely easy--and your health is definitely worth it! I will let you in on a little secret: the more you stick to it, and the more changes you make, the better you'll feel. The better you feel, the less you will desire to go back to your old habits. You are creating  new habits, a new lifestyle, and eventually a whole new you!

BeIntentional-250

What can you do to #BeIntentional with your food this week? What additional resources do you recommend to someone wanting to #BeIntentional in their eating habits? Share your thoughts in the comments, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

 

More Great Reads to Help you #BeIntentional in Food:
What's Wrong With Our Modern Diet?
Jumpstart Your Health with the Whole 30
Begin Your Journey to Whole Food
Understanding Your Food
30 Day Clean Eating Challenge
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
The Omni Diet by Tana Amen
The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey

 

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase The Veggie Book from the link below, I receive a small compensation at no additional charge to you.

Until recently, my veggie repertoire consisted of canned green beans and frozen corn. If I was feeling especially fancy, I'd throw some corn cobs on the grill, or chop up a salad. (Yes, be jealous of my culinary skills.) I knew veggies are good for me and my family, but I didn't know how to select or prepare them so that they were anything but tolerable. Now, I'm happy to say, I've introduced my family to new foods, including veggies, and to my surprise, even my one anti-veggie child has started eating them...he actually asked for salad the other night. I'd say that's a victory!

I didn't do it alone, however. Our recent journey into healthier eating has not only opened my eyes to new foods (and ways to prepare them), it's also led me to many new resources. One of those resources is The Veggie Book. This is more than just a cookbook. It's like having your own personal Veggie Coach (who doesn't need one of those, right?).

the-veggie-book

Here's what I love about this book:

It's simple. I'm still adjusting to this new way of shopping and eating, and it can honestly become overwhelming at times. The Veggie Book is chocked full of veggies I am familiar with...whether it's new ways to prepare old favorites or highlighting veggies I've heard of, but never been brave enough to buy or prepare. No dandelion greens or gai lan here. Chances are you've heard of every single vegetable in this book. You've probably seen them time and again in the produce section of your grocery store. And, if you're like me, you've thought Hmmm, I should get that, but I have no idea what to do with it! That excuse will no longer fly, my friend!

It's thorough. The Veggie Book is a collaboration of three author-moms who tested the 52+ recipes on their own husbands and kids. In addition to the tried-and-true recipes, The Veggie Book gives you information on each vegetable's nutrition (because how many of us really know why we should eat more asparagus?!), how to select good produce (can I hear an "amen"?!) plus tips for washing, storing, and preparing it. They also include tips for making stock, seasoning your dishes, and which veggies are important to purchase organic.

It's affordable. A new adventure in eating healthy is expensive enough...with all the new foods, testing new recipes, and initial moves to whole, healthier foods. I know the payoff is worth it, but I think anyone would agree the first steps can seem overwhelming mentally and financially. Moms, at only $9.95, it's a great deal for a priceless weapon in your culinary arsenal. (Seriously, I made the Buttered Cabbage for dinner last night, and my husband had seconds...seconds on cabbage!)

In case you're still not convinced, the authors of The Veggie Book have offered to give one of you, my dear readers, a copy of their book! See details below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a  free copy of  The Veggie Book for my honest review.
As always, opinions  stated are 100% mine.

Happy Eating!
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If you've faced cancer, or have walked through it with someone you love, you know there are typically three ways to treat the dreaded disease: surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. I have been fortunate enough (yes, that's sarcasm) to experience all three in the last 3 1/2 years.

In 2010, I had surgery to remove a 6-inch, malignant tumor from the muscle of my thigh. That was followed by 7 weeks of radiation treatment. Last August, doctors found a "suspicious mass" on a routine follow-up visit, and I started chemotherapy 6 weeks later. Each treatment worked...to an extent. Doctors removed the entire tumor through the first surgery, and the radiation treatments "killed off" any remaining cancer cells in the area. When the cancer returned (to a different area) last year, chemotherapy was a "success," meaning it successfully shrunk the tumors, even when doctors were skeptical that it would.

In January, my oncologists decided to give me a break from chemo. The tumors had continued to shrink after six rounds of chemotherapy, so it seemed like a good time to give my body a break from the toxicity of the chemo drugs. That's when we began looking into other, "alternative," options.

alternative-cancer-treatment

I know the very term "alternative cancer treatment" is rife with controversy. (Rife...adjective, "of common or frequent occurrence; prevalent"...you're welcome). I've read/heard stories of people abandoning traditional medicine, clinging to the belief that either God would heal them without the use of drugs or they could "heal themselves" naturally through non-traditional methods. I can't speak to those experiences, because I am not those people. I simply want to share how we have come to the place we now find ourselves.

**This is where I remind you that I AM NOT A DOCTOR...I do not play one on TV, nor pretend to be one on the Internet. This is NOT medical advice, and should not be taken as such. This is simply an account of my experience.**

Step 1: We exhausted medical expertise. We have literally done everything traditional, medical doctors have told us to do. When they said, "Start chemo right away," we did (after doing our own research and having all our questions sufficiently answered, of course). But we have reached a point where doctors have no other tricks up their sleeve and have told us (on multiple occasions), "All we can do is wait  for the tumors to grow again. Then we will do chemo...probably a more aggressive type." We are constantly reminded that (as far as they are concerned), the goal is to control the cancer, not get rid of it. We've done surgery. We've done radiation. We've done chemo. Now we simply wait.

Step 2: We prayed...a lot. I've never been very good at just waiting. I'm always looking for "the next thing," or wondering what I can be doing while I wait. So I prayed...I literally blocked off time every day for several days to pray for healing. My husband prayed for me and with me. We asked friends and family to pray with us and for us. Our church has special prayer each week for healing, and we have gone forward every week. I know God is able to heal miraculously. I've seen it happen in my own family. I prayed...and believed...for total healing. The more we prayed, however, the more I felt led to research other options for treatment. So, in addition to healing, we began to ask God for wisdom.

Step 3: We found an expert. When I began researching alternative options to cancer treatment, the information and advice was overwhelming: stop eating anything that tastes good and sip on a satisfying wheatgrass smoothie throughout the day (or something like that), rub exotic-sounding oils on your body in various, random places (hmmm...maybe not), avoid any type of radioactive airwaves (so, no microwave popcorn?). OK, maybe that wasn't exactly the advice I read, but that's kind of what it sounded like to me. I obviously needed someone with more knowledge and experience than I had.

As we continued to pray and research, one name kept coming up in various conversations. Different friends and acquaintances, on separate occasions, recommended a local naturopath who had experience with treating cancer naturally. I was still a little skeptical. Honestly, I feared what he would say. Would he make me disavow all traditional medicine? Would I have to drink my own urine or sacrifice a small animal in a bubbling cauldron? (I exaggerate...a little.) Still, we kept hearing this man's name mentioned with high regard, so it seemed we should at least check it out.

The short version is this: We met with him and liked him very much. So much of what he said concerning diseases, and how our bodies fight them, made sense to us. We (including my even-more-skeptical husband!) were encouraged by him and by the things he recommended.  He is a born-again Christian, and he views natural medicine as a supplement to traditional medicine.

But here's the kicker...when his wife faced cancer FOR THE THIRD time, doctors told her she had a year to live. He determined to find an "alternative" treatment for her, and he did. That was 16 years ago...she beat it and she's doing well today! So, not only does he know what vitamins and supplements you need to take to beat this year's toughest cold, he knows all the latest and greatest treatments to cancer (both traditional and alternative)!

So, we have begun a new leg of the journey....one that involves a new approach to eating and nutrition among other things. As I learn, I will be sharing more about our lifestyle and dietary changes here. (Probably reworking some of my favorite recipes, and sharing new ones I find/create!)

Don't worry...I am still under the care of a medical doctor (several, actually). As a matter of fact, I had a PET scan at the end of March that showed the tumors are still shrinking...even though I am no longer taking chemo! Woo-Hoo! 😀

I believe this next step is part of the journey God has for us. Yes, He can heal me miraculously. Yes, He can use modern medicine to destroy the tumors. I also believe He can give me the knowledge and wisdom to equip my body to fight the tumors. We continue to pray for healing, and we continue to pray for wisdom in the journey. Personally, I don't care how He heals me, I just believe He will!

If you are searching for alternative treatment to cancer, here are some resources I found helpful:

Books
Beating Cancer: Twenty Natural, Spiritual, and Medical Remedies That Can Slow--and Even Reverse--Cancer's Progression by Francisco Contreras, MD and Daniel Kennedy MC
The Bible Cure for Cancer by Don Colbert, MD

Web Sites (I do not have firsthand experience with these programs, but you may find their sites helpful in your research):
Oasis of Hope Cancer Center
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Dr. Nicholas Gonzales

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I can't believe summer is half over! But don't fear, there's still a lot of summer fun to be had. And if your kids are anything like mine, nothing makes them hungrier than summertime fun.

Today I'm over at Serving Joyfully  where I'm sharing 5 Easy {and Healthy!} Summertime Snacks! I'd love for you to pop over and say "hi!"

easy summer snacksIs that not the cutest face you've ever seen?!

Stay cool and refreshed with these summer snacks!

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Would you like to get new posts delivered directly to your inbox? Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts e-mailed to you as soon as they’re published. Easy-peasy. Or, follow me on Facebook , Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

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It appears winter has dug its heals in and is refusing to give way to spring. One perk I've discovered from the lingering cold is my tendency to crave homemade baked goods (and therefore actually make them!).

I made these yummy Cinnamon Bun Scones last weekend, and they were devoured! If the weather remains cold and dreary I might find myself whipping up another batch soon.

The recipe is from my friend Lindsay who I introduced to you last week. (I have made some adjustments for our food allergy considerations.)

Why don't you whip some up real quick? You know you want to. Go ahead put some coffee on, too. Then while you nibble and sip, head on over to Lindsay's blog to say thanks!

Cinnamon Bun Scones {with allergy-friendly options} | thereisgrace.com

Cinnamon Bun Scones

SCONES
2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 cup quick or old fashioned oats 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces
3/4 cup milk**
1 egg, lightly beaten***
1 teaspoon vanilla

GLAZE
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 teaspoons milk**

Heat oven to 425F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt; mix well.

Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In small bowl, combine milk, egg and vanilla; blend well.

Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir with fork or rubber spatula
until dry ingredients are moistened.

Pat into a circle and cut into 12 triangles, or
drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 11 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove to wire rack; cool 5 minutes.

In small bowl, combine powdered sugar and milk for the
desired consistency; mix until smooth.
Drizzle over top of warm scones

Makes 12 scones

Notes and Food Allergy Tips:
*I used 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Wheat allergy sufferers, see this site for gluten-free, all-purpose flour replacement.
**Milk allergy: replace with equal amount soy, rice, or almond milk. (I've heard you can also replace with fruit juice, but haven't tried it.)
***Egg allergy: I used Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of egg. For more egg substitution ideas, go here.

 

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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I love Mexican food, and I assumed everyone else did as well. What's not to love, right? Salty, savory, a little spicy if you like that sort of thing.

Then I married my dear Hubby. He enjoys Mexican food, but he doesn't crave it like I do. He doesn't get nearly as excited about our favorite Mexican restaurant as I do, either. But I cut him some slack. He didn't eat a lot of Mexican food growing up, so I figured it somehow messed with his appreciation for fine Spanish cuisine.

Then one day he innocently said to me, "Mexican food is comfort food for you."

tacos

Suddenly it all came rushing back...decades-worth of memories of our family gathered around a taco-laden table. I'm not just talking Mom, Dad, and kids...I mean extended family. I don't think there's ever been a family gathering at my grandma's house that did not include her famous tacos. If Thanksgiving dinner was on Thursday, we were eating tacos Wednesday night. That's just how it was.

I don't know why it was that way...my family is not Hispanic. There's no Mexican or Spanish ancestry that I'm aware of, but we sure love our tacos!

My husband has come a long way in his taco appreciation, but he can get a little burned out on them. (I'm still not sure how one gets tired of tacos, but apparently it happens!) So, I've been finding ways to switch it up a little and still get my south-of-the-border fix.

I've also been looking for ways to "lighten" up our fiesta (so I feel less guilty about eating it so often!). Chicken tacos are, of course, the best option for a "lighter" take on the taco. But cooking the chicken was always so much more work than simply browning some beef, and who needs more work at dinner time?

Then a friend let me in on a little secret.... ...continue reading

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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We don't really follow football. (Shhh...don't tell my dad who raised me to be a loyal Chiefs fan.) I'm not even sure who's playing in the Superbowl this year...the Ravens and....oh, I honestly don't know.

I do, however, love the Superbowl.

I don't remember the last time I actually watched the game, because for me it's all about the food and the company. Fortunately, there are not many hard-core football fans in the group we usually gather with. As a matter of fact, one of the guys says the Superbowl is his third favorite "holiday" because of the food. I'd say we're with the right crowd.

So I thought I'd share my go-to recipe for the Superbowl (or any other occasion that calls for something warm and hearty): Black Bean Dip. It has become a staple in my take-along recipe collection because it's oh-so simple (only 4 ingredients!) and always a hit.

Plus, it uses good-for-you black beans and antioxident-rich tomato sauce so I feel better about it than that stuff you buy in the can. It tastes so much better, too!

beandip ...continue reading

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chiliDays are short, the air is cold, and it's the perfect time for chili! Whether it's a warm dinner on a cold January night or a staple for your Super Bowl party, try this new twist on an old fave.

I love this recipe, because the black beans give it so much flavor (and extra protein!), plus it's chocked full of veggies and my kiddos are none the wiser. (These are the veggies I typically use, but any veggies you have on hand would work.) It turns out rather thick, so if you like your chili on the soup-y side, you might add need to add more tomato sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed.

You can throw this chili together in a skillet on the stove, which is great for those days when you don't think about dinner in time to get it in a slow cooker. (Oh, am I the only one who does that?!) ...continue reading

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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So, here we are a little more than a week into the new year. How are you doing on those resolutions?

Yeah, me too.

Actually, I don't do resolutions. "Resolution" seems so absolute, so do-or-die. I prefer the term "goals." That's much more doable...something I'm working toward, rather than a "pass or fail." If I don't quite reach the goal, but I'm closer to it at the end of the year then I was successful.

So, here are some of my GOALS for 2013: ...continue reading

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In the fall of 2009, we discovered that our Little Man (then only 2 years old) had three food allergies we would have to learn about and live with.

It's been a wild ride since then. What first seemed so overwhelming has become routine...checking labels, asking questions of restaurant staff, scaring babysitters with the Epi-pen demo, etc.

I recently came across this post I wrote for a different blog when I first began to research food allergies. If you are beginning the food allergy journey yourself, I know how overwhelming it can seem as you adjust your view of food and rediscover how to feed your family. I hope this helps in some small way...

Food-allergies

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We've known for a little over a year that Little Man had a peanut allergy. It came as quite a shock, and provided to be a HUGE exercise in education and self-control for me as I come from a long line of peanut-butter-lovers. (My dad has been known to add the staple to such things as hamburgers and hot dogs!)

Just when I thought I finally had the routine down--checking labels, quizzing restaurant personnel, informing caregivers, sticking brightly-colored "Allergy Alert!" stickers all over him before putting him in the church nursery, hiding and sneaking bites of contraband PB here and there...the stakes got drastically higher.

A couple of weeks ago we visited the allergist with a simple question concerning vaccination and ended up finding out that, in addition to peanuts, Little Man is also allergic to egg and soy. Well, this provided a whole new level of education, adjustment, and more than a little stress to my life. I've known a few other moms who have struggled with food allergies in their families, but I had NO IDEA the level of stress it can cause. I have an all-new appreciation and empathy for families who deal with any type of food allergy or intolerance.

I've only begun my research, so I'm sure there is much I still do not know. But I wanted to take some time to list a few things I've discovered in the last few weeks. I hope this will be helpful to any who have, or know someone who has, food allergies.

  1. 1 in 4 children have a food allergy!
  2. Soy, soybean oil, and soy lecithin is in almost EVERY processed or prepackaged food (even organic or all-natural foods since soybeans are a natural food).
  3. Some sources say soybean oil and soy lecithin do not contain the protein that causes an allergic reaction and therefore are safe. However, our allergist maintains that those ingredients can and do cause a reaction. We choose to avoid them to be safe. [Update: our allergist has confirmed that Soybean oil is OK for our little guy.]
  4. It is important to check the ingredients on EVERYTHING! (I found soy listed on my cornstarch, and my friend found it as an ingredient in her flour!)
  5. Some sources maintain that only raw egg contains the protein that causes allergic reaction (because heating the egg changes the protein). While Little Man has never reacted to anything with an egg cooked or baked into it, our allergist recommended avoiding them, as it can cause a reaction.
  6. You can use 1/2 cup of applesauce as an egg substitute in most baking recipes. (This works especially well in muffin recipes!)
  7. You can also substitute 1 Tbs of flax seed and 3 Tbs of water for 1 egg in any baking recipe. (You can also use chia seeds as a substitute. Find out how here.)
  8. Children will likely outgrow many food allergies, including soy and egg by the time they are in preschool. The chances of outgrowing a peanut allergy is much lower.
  9. Those with a peanut allergy should also avoid tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.), even if they do not test as reactive to those allergens, because most plants process them together and there is a high risk of cross-contamination.
  10. Soynut butter is a good substitute for peanut butter for those with peanut allergies. We used it for awhile until Little Man developed the soy allergy. (Yes, apparently they can develop an allergy to a food they've not reacted to previously.) Sunflower nut butter is also recommended as a substitute as it is not processed with nuts and therefore no risk of cross contamination.

Looking for some allergy-friendly recipes? You can find my favorites here,  follow my Food Allergy Pinterest page, or join the community on the Food Allergy 411 Facebook page.

If you are new to the food allergy world (and even if you aren't), the following sites are very helpful:

Allergic Living
Allergy Moms
Living Without
Peanut Allergy.com
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
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Like what you’ve read? Would you like to get new posts delivered directly to your inbox? Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts e-mailed to you as soon as they’re published. Easy-peasy. Or, follow me on Facebook , Twitter, or Pinterest.

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.