Health · Uncategorized

Meditation for Beginners

You have heard about mindfullness, meditation, even thought about trying Yoga. You have read a lot of self help books, tried downloading meditation apps and tried everything you could but you can’t stay with it and nothing seemed to help- the voice on the app was too distracting or the music was too loud, the app was full of ads and you couldn’t get it to load properly.

All of those are issues I had when I first started. So I started looking for blogs and sites to help, bought several magazines and in the end, stopped reading and started trying.

There was one daily Yoga app that helped, but I don’t like paying for apps unless they are truly gold- the beta only covered a few weeks and after those weeks, I lost touch. I tried buying a Yoga DVD, I have a yoga ball, bricks and a mat- the mat collects dust, we had to throw the bricks away and the ball was a play toy until we finally admitted it was too big for our house. Now it’s in storage.

You do not need tons of stuff- a mat could come in handy if you have hard floors. Mine  are carpeted, so I need nothing.

All you need to start a daily routine- yourself and the will to do it. Determine if you’re wanting to learn mindful meditation, Yoga or normal meditation. The next step is to just start- find a chart on Pinterest with beginner Yoga moves and start doing it.

Find some time in your day and just sit down, close your eyes and clear your mind. Clearing your mind isn’t as easy as it seems at first, when I can’t clear my mind for any reason, I start counting. It works well for getting me to sleep. If you can’t find a good time of your day, put yourself to bed, lie there and count. Start at one, slow yourself down and each time you inhale, count. Focusing on your breath is the first step and once you start feeling your lungs inflate, deflate, chest rise and fall and the air going in and out of your nose/lips it will clear your mind.

I already wrote a tried/tested guide to making meditation part of your everyday routine when you’re too busy to just sit down

All four of those methods are things I try to do on a regular basis because I’m not living a lazy, laid back life (although I’d LOVE to slow down a bit).

 

I’ll be writing more on the topics of Yoga and meditation, I’d like to know what types of advice would you give beginners?

Health · Uncategorized

Beginner’s Guide to Starting Gluten and Dairy Free

It took me a few months to fully adjust to the taste, texture (and price) differences between the gluten free and regular foods but now it comes second nature. I have been doing the gluten free thing for a while now.  I spent (and still spend) tons of times on forums for gluten free living as well as leafing through magazines, books and cook books as well as Pinterest boards and blogs. I did not just start this journey as a way to lose weight (I have lost, but it was a pleasant surprise when I was gearing up to gain). I started after getting the diagnosis of Hashimotos Thyroiditis and having the gluten free diet recommended in both support forums and by professionals. I did a simple four month elimination from June until November then retested gluten. The results were obvious- all my digestive problems cleared up and symptoms I didn’t realize I had went away. Those problems came back for the holidays, so on January 1 of this year, I made the switch to a fully gluten free lifestyle for life.

I was well researched by the time I committed, now it’s second nature but I still have some things I wish I had been prepared for going into it. It’s much more expensive (add in a toddler who has severe lactose intolerance- and put yourself on the lactose free diet as well- then end up having to be on it with her due to your minor intolerance getting worse) and you will end up doubling your food budget if you’re not careful. You don’t need all the replacements, but they are good to use when you’re getting used to eating gluten free.

Here is a small list of some things I consider either either essential or good to have on hand for a snack/meal (I’m a baker with a huge sweet tooth). As I’ve gotten further into getting used to the change, I have been not buying so many processed foods and baking more.

  • Several varieties of gluten free flour. Bob’s Redmill is good.  They have an all purpose flour that goes well with cakes, cookies and nearly anything else and you don’t have to mix. I did find white, brown rice and tapoica works well in a lot of baked (1/3 of each). Walmart’s generic brand gluten free all purpose, in my opinion, tastes like regular flour. I have gotten desserts mixed up using that flour.
  • Enjoy Life chocolate chips. I use the mini chips in chocolate chip cookies and mixed into my vanilla almond milk yogurt
  • Enjoy Life cookies/chocolate candy/etc- when you’re wanting chocolate candy, it’s great. They also go well with gluten free grahm crackers for s’mores.
  • Silk Almond milk vanilla yogurt- it’s a great go-to as a snack or breakfast if you don’t have time to make a proper breakfast. It’s gluten and dairy free
  • Katz makes really good gf/df doughnut holes- for when you’re craving a doughnut
  • Earth Balance makes vegan “butter” their butter spreads are both gluten free and vegan and one version is also soy free.

There are tons of resources online that can give you gluten and dairy free menu items from most restaurants and a lot have special menus now- if you ask. Thanks to gluten and dairy free being fad diets, there are more options than years ago. I personally check things on the Celiac.org support forums if I am questioning them. I’m not a member, but the boards are usually on the first page when you google any food to see if it’s gluten free.

One of the best ways to help adjust is to find good recipe books, magazines, Pinterest boards or other resources and test out recipes. Baking from scratch is the best bet- you can control what subs you use and all the ingredients. If you work a lot, a lot of people found batch cooking on a free day works wonders. You cook a large amount of food and freeze it in single portion sizes- that way you can heat it up like a microwavable meal when you’re rushed for time.

Holidays are the worst, same with family gatherings- it’s best to eat before you go.

 

Gluten Free Flours

!. Almond- Good to use while baking or breadcrumb alternative.

2. Buckwheat- Good to use for breads

3. Sorghum- Normally mixed with other flours or small amounts used due to being a heavier texture.

4. Amaranth-  use it to replace 25% or less of the regular flour in normal recipes but this flour works best mixed with other flours.

5. Arrowroot-  thickener or mixed with almond, coconut or tapioca in baked

6. Brown Rice- thicken sauces or bread foods, is often used to make noodles and combines well with other flours

7. Oat- gives a chewier texture, goes well in baked foods

8. Coconut- breads or baked desserts

9. Tapioca- thickener, mixes well with other flours

10. Cassava- Most similar to white flour, works well replacing all purpose flour

There are many more, but these are some of the easiest to find in most stores. Most grocers now carry a supply of gluten free products. You can get gf pasta almost as cheap as regular at Walmart and Aldi also has gluten free products. Around here for me, I have had more luck finding dairy free products at Kroger than anywhere else. They have Tofutti brand products. Tofutti has dairy free subs for sour cream, cream cheese and many other items.

The common items you’ll need to replace for dairy free

  1. Sour cream
  2. Whipped cream (there is a coconut whipped cream that is so much better tasting than any other whipped cream I have ever tried, it goes beautifully in flavored coffee)
  3. Milk- milks come in lots of varieties now. For baking, I prefer vanilla flavored almond and unflavored almond for anything else. My kids drink chocolate cashew, almond or soy or regular soy.
  4. There are a lot of flavored gf/df coffee creamers out now. Most of the International Delight flavored coffee creamers in stores have both the df and gf label.
  5. Cream
  6. Heavy whipping cream
  7. Evaporated milk
  8. Sweetened condensed milk
  9. Butter

There are great subs for all those items and if you need one and can’t find them, there are recipes for everything on Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

Health · Uncategorized

Ever wonder what it’s like trying to get into shape with a condition like Ehlers Danlos?

You put on a workout video. They have 2 types of people in the background- the ones doing the main moves and the ones doing the modifications for people who are new to working out or have various limitations.

You try the limitations. You start to feel and hear your shoulder or knee pop. Then you modify the modifications because you remmeber last time you did a major workout and threw your knee so badly out it took several hours for it to pop back in- by that time, you were in the waiting room at the ER because this time you couldn’t walk nor put pressure on your leg and it took your dad on one side and your husband on the other side to help you hobble out of the house and into the car, every pot hole and bump in the road sent a searing pain through your knee and you were crying- until it “magically” popped back into place and the pain was gone.

Most of the time, if you threw a joint out, it would pop right back in so that time stood out in your mind because of the pain. After that, you were nervous about working out again so you would do it sporadically.

Your history of c sections combined with diagnosis of Hashimotos mixed and you knew you needed to workout. When you met with the genetic specialist who gave you the EDS diagnosis, you asked her. She told you water aerobics and swimming- stuff easy on the joints but you have no access to a pool so you got stuck. That put you back on square one and back to the risky exercises.

I’m down 50lbs but about 20 was from being hyperthyroid right after my daughter was born. I went down from 220 to about 180, back up to 190 then from 190 to 170ish after getting my thyroid regulated post surgery and switching to the gluten/dairy free lifestyle. Now, I’m about 30 away so I need more than changing my diet. I prefer the Stronger workouts (livestrong) but I have to do the modifications and sit out from certain exercises- it still works pretty well since they are laid out.

 

Health · Parenting

Today is our anniversary.

It’s been 8 years today since our ride’s car broke down and we spent an hour 30 walking in the summer heat to meet my parents in the courthouse.

We were an hour late to our own elopement… luckily my parents knew (our parents, his brother and friend were the only ones who knew)

They insisted on being there and were able to stall the judge.

This week has been horrible, though. Instead of going away for a weekend fishing/hiking trip like we planned, he’s having to help plan a funeral. Hopefully, things will get better for his family. Our kids are a bit too young to fully comprehend losing a grandparent- but they will notice her not being there. I did tell them but it happened so fast, it shook all of us.

Health · Parenting

Is Drinking Really Worth It?

I read so much about parents and drinking, all the posts and memes about wine and all the jokes about how bad mommy needs a drink. 

It had me thinking about it a while back, and while I really didn’t mean to write this, I’m writing it now. People who knew me pre-kids and pre-marriage and know me now have seen a huge change. Before I met my (pretty much, anti alcohol) husband, I was an alcoholic. My day consisted of- gym, walk to work, walk to bar before going home. That was my daily life. I was functional- but not. I was able to hold a job but there were times I would spend nearly my whole bank account and barely remember the last night. One St Patrick’s Day, I spent 12 hours at the bar. They knew me by name and it was a time I felt like I fit in.

Then, my husband and I met and I cut down massively- he was 19 and I was 22 when we met so I couldn’t go to the bar anymore (I could, but I wanted to go out with him). I never was a fan of drinking solo, so I quit. I got pregnant right after we got married and attended my very first party without drinking- I still had fun, even though he and I were the only ones not drinking. As I got a little older and more established as a new mommy, alcohol was losing it’s appeal completely. Since having kids, I have only drank a handful of times and after my last time, I won’t again.

I started looking for nonreligious places to go to meet other adults with kids but no alcohol and it’s tough. It feels like drinking is the most symbolic part of being an adult. I know I’m not the only one who feels that alcohol isn’t as sweet and innocent a joke as people seem to think.

While looking up the “mommy needs a drink” joke, I found this from the site Salon talking about growing up living that “joke.”

Coming from the experience of “I really need a drink” (in order to properly function), I don’t consider that joke to be funny. I do have days I don’t get the chance to sit until bedtime, I have bad days- but nothing so bad it would put me back in the bottle.

In my failed attempts to locate family friendly events where I could possibly meet other local parents, I attended a family friendly charity event about a year ago. They had two kid booths but in the food booths the smell of alcohol was so strong I could barely smell the food. We had a hard time hearing each other or our kids over the sound of the adults getting louder and more obnoxious that we left after the girls ate. By the time we left, we were walking past groups of grown women who were loud, obnoxious and flirting with men who were on the same level of intoxication. This was in a rich part of town with men and women who put on a classier show in other places. I was honestly surprised to see so many people acting like teenagers.

Last year we went on vacation with my mom and dad. My husband and I went to the hotel restaurant to grab desert. There was a family and the dad was obnoxiously drunk already, with two young kids in his party.

When I was a child, I was taken home after people started drinking. I would notice the adults getting louder and crazier but we always left. Both my parents were totally against alcohol so I’m sure the way I was raised may have something to do with it, but should parents get drunk around their kids? Sure, drinking a few sips or drinking a bottle with a meal isn’t too bad, but should parents really let their young kids see them actually get intoxicated?

There have been studies about parental drinking around kids, even moderate drinking- and seeing parents drunk or tipsy can upset children. There has also been findings that people who watched their parents drinking growing up tend to be more likely to drink as teens and associate with younger drinkers.***

Being taken away didn’t keep me from trying it at 18 or going to a bar regularly at 22, but I also quit drinking quickly. I was a daily drinker from 21 until shortly after my 22nd birthday, when I started to put it down. This past June, on vacation, I got a Margarita but it took me 30 minutes to regulate my breathing and I felt my throat closing, so I am done now. Before that, it had been over a year and before that, another year. I still can go out with friends and have fun. My husband and I have gone to a few local shows and it is more enjoyable without getting dizzy and agitated. Same with going to parties, but I’m still at a stage where I’m more interested in kid’s parties and kid friendly events I can take the whole family.

My kids have never seen me drunk nor intoxicated and I know they never will, I’m saying now I have an alcohol allergy, if pressed, I’ll also admit to being in recovery- it may have been a short time, but at that time my life revolved around alcohol and I never want the girls to go through it.

Even though you can’t prevent your kids from experimenting or giving in to peer pressure, you can educate them on the dangers of alcohol. You can tell them it’s addictive and the problems it causes. It impairs your ability to think right- it causes accidents. In fact, in the US alone, 10,497 people were killed in 2016 due to intoxicated drivers- 28% of accidents that year (according to the CDC). It also harms your liver, kidneys and can lead to liver failure if you drink too much.

Getting drunk itself is a result of alcohol being a poison and the puking and passing out is actually a warning sign of drinking too much- potential alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can easily lead to death.

Just because people say red wine and moderate drinking (1 glass for a woman, 2 for a man) have health benefits, lifestyle may play a bigger role than the alcohol. There haven’t been enough long term studies to fully prove red wine is as healthy as they say it is. Just like beer, liquor and other forms of alcohol, wine is also a depressant. It slows your body down and can lead to so much more pain than enjoyment. Is it really worth the risk?

 

 

 

 

Health · Uncategorized

4 Fast Ways To Incorporate Mindfulness and Slow Down In Your Hectic Life

At some point in our early to mid 20s, our lives become stressful. With jobs, school, children, family, businesses and the bills don’t pay themselves. Among all the chaos, it’s easy to get so wrapped up you forget to breathe. Self care is extremely important and living in the moment helps keep us in check. Over the years, I have learned a few ways to keep myself grounded. I’m not perfect at it, but it does help me settle down. I have been less stressed and less anxious since I started studying and trying to practice mindful meditation and here are four simple and fast tips for when you don’t have the time to go to Yoga or meditate.

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1. Practice mindfulness in the car on your commute- don’t zone out to the radio, don’t let all your stress pile up in your brain and just watch the road- take in every sense. I read that most of us tend to kind of zone out on our commute- we enter a kind of daze and our minds wonder. Start practicing not letting your mind wonder- look at the car in front of you, really listen to the lyrics of the song on the radio or turn the radio off and listen to the sound of your car, the traffic and nature- whatever the sounds around you are.

Don’t let yourself think and just focus on feeling as calm and relaxed as you safely can.

I found that since trying this one, when I achieve it, I’m more patient and get less annoyed when I get cut off. I also no longer feel any anxiety when I have near hits (I’ve almost had 3 people wreck into me and I almost merged into someone)

None of those times made me react- I was able to quickly get away from the cars without reacting and without wrecking- and no anxiety.

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2. Meditate yourself to sleep-

This is a major one for me. I try to focus on the sounds of my daughter or husband breathing, my breathing, the cat moving around downstairs and the sounds outside. Close your eyes, clear your mind and don’t allow any stressful thoughts to cross your mind. Anytime you fail (and there will be slip ups), don’t stress and just push it out of your mind. In the end, start counting and count as far as you can before you fall asleep. I almost always count myself to sleep every night and I never go further than 30 to 40.

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3. Meditate in the shower

When you’re getting ready for work, try to take a shower mindfully- really feel the water splashing down your body. Feel the heat from the water as it steams (if you like your showers as hot as I do). Take time to smell the soap and shampoo you use. Notice the feel of the washcloth or loofah. Use all 5 senses and bring yourself to the moment. When you’re in the moment, you don’t have time to think about the stresses and to do list for today.

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4. Practice mindful eating

This is one that can help you lose weight as well as helping destress.

Too often, we scarf down our food- we don’t savor it and we don’t enjoy it- and we eat more than we’re meaning to eat. Instead of fixing a huge breakfast and quickly eating it, take a bite. Take one bite and let it sit in your mouth for a bit. Notice the way it tastes, the texture, the thickness- make sure to smell it and use all your senses to really experience your meal. Do this with all meals and snacks- in time, it will come second nature and it’s not as time consuming as typing it out makes it sound. When you eat mindfully, you become aware of what you’re putting in your body- you get to know your hunger cues and you learn to slow down, eat less so you won’t feel as full and uncomfortable.

 

Once you start trying these, you’ll find that it will help you get in the moment. Instead of being stressed constantly and feeling sick and fatigued, it will help you feel more in the now and after a few weeks of deliberately getting in the moment, it will come second nature. You will no longer lay in bed wide awake stressed, you’ll start focusing on the feelings and counting down to sleep. Once you have made this your new habit, you’ll have less stressful commutes to work and you will be able to react easier. It is literally all in the mind.

 

*disclaimer: None of this should be taken as psychological/medical advice- these are things I found help me after reading several books and magazines and putting the practice into my own life.*

Health · Uncategorized

I’m so sick of feeling sick

Almost every day I feel run down.

No matter how much sleep I get, I can’t seem to feel rested. I feel drained all the time, my brain is so foggy I have officially quit joking about being an air head.

My mood swings from depressed to anxious- every time I start to think I have some mental illness, my labs come back.

The depression is deeper than I ever felt- as an outcast teenager, when I lost my grandma, lost my dog or lost my child- I had situational depression all those times- never this deep. This depression is unrelenting and feels like I’ll never be able to get up. It makes me feel like no one cares, that I have no one- my kids would be better off and so would my husband and my parents- it makes me feel like I just need to isolate myself. Every time I start to ask my doctor for help- I get my lab results.

I feel nauseated, my stomach bloats out, I have to run back and forth to the bathroom- or I get the opposite.

My palms start burning to the point I can feel the heat radiate, or the opposite and even at 90 degrees, I’m shivering.No amount of blankets can help me warm up and no stripping of layers helps me cool. Heat is worse- it makes me overheat to the point I’ll start to feel like i have heat exhaustion. I have got heat sick just from hot flashes.

 

I don’t know what’s worse- the crying spells from the depression, the panic attacks from the anxiety that come on with 0 warning, the fatigue that NOTHING helps, the digestive symptoms, mood swings or the fact that people look at me like I’m faking it all. The fact that it’s an invisible illness that makes me feel all this.

It’s never going to go away but you can’t see it. You don’t see my mood swings- until the symptoms get severe- I’ve been learning to hide them.

You don’t see the cold or hot flashes- unless I start sweating

You don’t see the depression, anxiety or the nausea but it’s there. It’s real and I’m ready to give it up. I don’t want Hashimotos anymore. I don’t want to keep having to feel this way in between dosage adjustments. They started me at 25, I’m now up to 88 and my appointment is next week- I’m in full swing and can tell my levels are off. I was going to go to the ER, but there is no use- ERs can’t handle chronic- they treat temporary problems. I really wish I could figure out how to deal while I’m in between doses because this isn’t living.

Health · Parenting · Uncategorized

When my seven year old came home from the NICU

She was 8 months old, development of a newborn and was still tiny. She was on oxygen, feeding tube and heart monitor.

I tried taking her out of the crib a few times but we had to switch at first from the major oxygen machine (plugged in to the wall) and switch to a small portable tank- that only lasted a few hours. There were a few times the cannula came out and she turned blue so fast it had us terrified. There was also a time we had an emergency situation and had to take her to the hospital- and all the tanks that were newly delivered to us read empty, except one that had one hour left. Luckily, they were able to switch her to a tank when she went into the room in the ER and kept her on it when they admitted her to the PICU (she got a cold and her lungs were too weak to handle it.)

For months, we were so afraid of her blue spells or something happening to her oxygen, we kept her in the crib for most of the day. I finally figured out where to put her big tank in the upstairs hallway that would allow the tube to stretch downstairs and to her bed- as soon as we figured that out, she was only in the crib when she was sleeping.

To this day, she has some strange attachment issues and I feel like her long stay in the NICU followed by our paranoia has something to do with it. I still feel somewhat guilty.

I’ve been thinking back to her babyhood. Aside from the oxygen, she and her sister looked almost identical- to the point my older daughter has gotten their baby pictures mixed up a few times. I still wonder if I had gotten her out of her crib more, would she still be so far behind? She’s playing catch up a lot more now since she has a very talkative sister. Her sister talking is improving her speech (she said the sentence “mommy has to go to work tomorrow” earlier today and she usually says shorter sentences- every sentence she says that has more than 2 or 3 words feels like progress since the condition she has typically comes with only being able to say 1 or 2 words period). She has the genetic disorder on top of being preemie, so I doubt that us keeping her in the crib for the first few weeks(if we weren’t cuddling her in the bedroom) had any affect on her.

I also remember the string of home health care nurses that came and went the first few months and the help my mom gave us because we were 20 and 22 and having a special needs child was overwhelming.

I remember her first cold- the night that landed her in the PICU and the first time she ended up with impacted bowels (she’s now on Miralax and has been hospitalized another time and had to be flushed 2 other times in the ER)

I remember struggling in the NICU to pump, the nicknames they gave me (they called me Bessie because at one point I had the deep freezer, 2 normal sized freezers, their fridge space and my fridge space filled totally to overflowing with pumped milk). I remember the frusteration near the end at pumping- getting a grand total of 2ozs over 30 minutes- then spilling it. I remember the day I finished pumping and dried up, the nurse went out and bought me an energy drink to “celebrate” having my body back.

I remember the nights going to bed alone after chatting with my husband online because I was staying in a Ronald McDonald House out of state while he was home working.

I remember meeting parents who would come in for a few weeks, then leave when their babies got released and it felt like our time would never come.

I remember the day- December 1, 2011- the day we strapped our daughter in her car seat and drove the 3 hours to finally take her home for the first time.

I remember cuddling with her when we finally got her oxygen cannula taken and could see her beautiful face

Now, she’s healthy but still has to see quite a few specialists. She’s reading on her own- even will grab cereal boxes and read those. She loves shopping, shopkins, pink and pretty much all things girly- just like her little sister. When I buy stuff for them- I get the pink for her sister and purple or blue for her. She has different favorite colors on a regular basis and she loves Pete the Cat books, she won a giant Maisey Mouse from a library program/contest last year and the giant mouse is sitting in her bedroom at grandma and grandpa’s house.

 

Her birth and early life has given me a totally different perspective on raising kids and motherhood in general. She and I both almost died, so even when I’m mad or annoyed- when she is screaming or throwing a fit or in my face not letting me breathe on my own, I still am beyond thankful I have her in my life- that her condition has no actual affect on her lifespan and she’ll likely live the same amount of time a healthy person would.

When she was 15 months, off all the tubes and getting more and mroe stable, we decided to finish our family (only wanted two). I got pregnant fast but sadly, she had a different condition and it took her life at 3 hours. We gave up and decided she would be an only child. She started school and I stayed home for another year- then we decided that if I found a job, we were done and there would be no more kids. If I got pregnant, I’d continue staying home for a few more years. They happened almost at exactly the same time. I finally got my first job after staying home for four years and I got pregnant- found out about 2 weeks into the new job. This one was a happy, healthy baby- and our last. After she was born, I had my tubes tied.

I’ve been through it all- loss, complications and healthy and I am so grateful to have both my living girls in my life.

 

Health · Parenting · Uncategorized

These are a few of my favorite things

I’m wanting to step up my diet a bit more.

I have been strict gluten free for a year now, I’m almost fully dairy free but soy is my problem.

I think I’m going to fully take dairy out at home and out of home then work on soy.

Already- those homemade lattes I posted- just as good and cheaper than Starbucks doubleshots

Earth Balance instead of butter

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Silk Almond milk for baking and for my kids (and me occasionally)

I use the nonflavored and unsweetened for cooking

Enjoy Life as a snack

 

It’s delicious and dairy, soy and gluten free- full winner

and you have to have salad dressings when you eat as much salad as I do

They aren’t perfect, they do have soy but I’ll phase soy out like I did dairy. I do use replacements for sour cream and cream cheese as well and I’m really liking Daiya cheese on sandwiches.

Other than that, I bake deserts from scratch- that way I can control what is in the cookies and cake and I try to always cook my lunch for work before I go. I’ll possibly do that for my younger daughter when she starts school since she’s restricted.

I’ll be posting more of my favorite gluten/dairy and/or soy free products as well as more recipe conversions and recipes as I make them.