13-year Old Approved Gluten-free Products

We are getting close to our 3-year anniversary of my son being gluten-free.

(You can read our celiac story here).

As I think back over these past few years I realize how far we have come in both our understanding and acceptance of this way of eating. 

And truthfully, we have spent what seems like a ton of money trying things that we ended up throwing away because of poor quality or taste.  There has been a lot of trial and a lot of error in terms of buying stuff my boy will like and will eat.  

I am very thankful that there are so many more certified gluten-free products now available that weren’t even just a few years ago!  Although we live in a small town, we do have stores locally that carry a variety of gluten-free products. 

So I’m sharing the following list- especially for those of you who have kids who are just getting started on a gluten-free diet.  I hope to save you from having to buy lots and lots of different products before you find one you like!  In each category of food shown below, I think we’ve tried at least 3 different brands and this is the one we like best.

(Now I am going to preface my sharing of this list with the following- I know very well that none of these products are all that healthy!  The healthiest gluten-free diet would be full of whole unprocessed foods:  lots of meats, veggies, etc. blah, blah, blah. We get it.  BUT hey, this is real life and everyone (and especially my 13-year old) needs some store-bought products every once in a while whether it’s for convenience or just a treat.  And I’m ok with that!)

Here you go…


And a list with where it’s cheapest locally:

Kashi Gluten Free Cinnamon Waffles (Walmart)

Annie’s Gluten Free Rice Shells and Creamy White Cheddar (Walmart or Target)

Nabisco Good Thins Corn and Sea Salt Crackers, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Hungry Jack Complete Gluten Free Funfetti Buttermilk Pancake& Waffle Mix (Walmart)

Annie’s Snickerdoodle Bunny Crackers (Target)

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free S’moreables Graham Style Crackers (Wegmans)

Goldie Girl Cookies Gluten Free Mint Slims (Walmart)

Luna S’mores Bars, other Flavors available (Walmart or Target)

KIND Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Freschetta Gluten Free Frozen Pizza (BJs)

Lance Gluten Free Sandwich Crackers, both Peanut Butter and Cheddar Cheese Flavors (Wegmans)

Live G Free Gluten Free Brownie Mix (Aldi)

Live G Free Gluten Free White Bread (Aldi)
I hope this helps you!  Feel free to share any favorites products that you have!

Advent Calendar 2016

Hey, friends!  Tomorrow is December 1st, can you believe it???

Here are a couple of pics of our advent calendar for this year.  This has become a tradition for us, and although I **thought** maybe my kids were too old for this, they insisted on it!!  We love to celebrate the coming of Christmas in this way.

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(Ha – I guess as the kids get bigger the advent calendar does, too!)

This year, like previous years, there is either a small gift, candy, or and activity to do in each of the bags.  See this post if you want more info on that and some other advent calendar ideas we’ve done in the past!

The white bags I bought at Michael’s and I simply used a chalkboard paint marker to dress them up.  Then I chalked the numbers on them – sooo simple!!  I used a store-bought chalkboard banner and christmas-y mini clothes pins that I bought on clearance last year for the finishing details.  The bags are clipped and/or taped to a twine rope that is hung on the wall with 3M removable hooks.

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The kids can’t wait to get started tomorrow!!

Happy December!

Rest for the Weary

I don’t know about you, but I am so, so weary.

The election debacle, tragic stories in the news, and controversy within the church at large.  Even arguments in my own home.

I have felt alternately riled up, worn down, and again, just weary of it all.  Anyone else?

I don’t have the answers, except that Jesus IS the answer.

Consider these verses (all emphasis mine):

Psalm 119:28

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Isaiah 40:29

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

God’s word and His presence refresh, provide strength, and give rest.  I am so grateful.

I’m praying that you are able to sit with God for a few moments today and just rest in Him.

Why “What Impact Am I Having?” is the wrong question.

Yesterday I returned home from MOMcon 2016 in Milwaukee.  Oh, what a sweet, sweet time of communion with Jesus, learning new stuff, and serving moms and MOPS leaders from all over the world.  It is good for the soul!

During our MOPS Volunteer Staff training before MOMcon began, we were challenged to spread kindness by writing notes and leaving them all over where people would find them and be encouraged.  Here’s an example:

amazing

This was so much fun!  Writing them and wondering how the person who found it would react, or finding one yourself and feeling your heart smile.  I think I may just continue doing this randomly around my community!

Anyways, this morning as I was driving my kiddos to school I was wondering to myself what impact all of that had not only on the women who attended MOMcon, but also to the people of Milwaukee.  My thoughts turned more inward-focused, to the question, “what impact am I having in the ministries I’m involved in?”.

And then I quickly realized that’s the wrong question to be asking.

Since I have no power to change lives – only Jesus can do that – why am I asking about it?  As I thought more and more about this, I decided that THESE are the questions I should be asking myself:

Did I seek God?

Did I do what He told me to do?

Did I give it my best?

Because the bottom line is that the results are ALWAYS up to Him.  My job is simply to listen and obey.

I’ve blogged about this before here, but I think of Moses as he approached Pharoah, asking Pharoah to let the Israelites go.  What if Moses over-analyzed after the first, or second, or even eighth time of asking Pharoah, and thought: “well, this whole thing is not having the impact I thought it would so I’m going to give up”?

So often I tend to analyze what I’ve done or been involved in, trying to figure out if what I’ve done has had “results” or has been “successful” (and too often in my mind that is directly linked to, “did it go well or smoothly?”.  But the fact is, God’s ways are above my ways.  He is still working even when things down here don’t look like they are going well.  And truth be told, we don’t even have the capacity to know the full ramifications of the actions we take!

THAT is why we walk by faith and trust in God, not by sight.  As Mandy Arioto (president and CEO of MOPS International) said this weekend at MOMcon, “we live by faith so the world knows that God can be trusted.”

So here’s to walking fully in faith, keeping my eyes on Jesus, and asking myself only if I’ve listened to Him, followed and obeyed Him, and given it my all.

 

Trim Healthy Mama Favorite Recipes

It really seems like Trim Healthy Mama (THM) has caught on – I have several friends now locally who are on the plan and by the number of blog visitors that view my how to get started post, it seems that lots of people want to find out more!

When I first got started with THM about 2 1/2 years ago, I tried many recipes that frankly, were flops.  I realized that I needed a simple way to keep the recipes that were winners (and also a simple way to add notes about what tweaks I’d made).  I also needed to not be printing out recipes because I have paper issues (have you seen the picture of my kitchen table here?)

So I gravitated to and have primarily used Pinterest for finding new recipes beyond those in the THM books.  Pinterest is so easy to search and it’s also so easy to save links to recipes you want to try or those you’ve tried that are keepers!  You can also comment on the links you pin, and that’s where I make my recipe notes.

(There’s one small caveat and downside to Pinterest, however, that I’ll tell you upfront – if the blog / website that you’ve pinned a link to goes away, then your recipe goes away.  That’s happened to me twice now – two recipes from the same blog that were so good and I’m so sad I didn’t print them out.  My suggestion is that if you find a recipe that you know you love and will make a lot, you may want to print the recipe.)

When my local friends get started and ask me what recipes I like and what my family likes, I always point them to my Pinterest boards.  Here are some links for you as well:

THM Keepers – entrees

THM Keepers – breakfasts and breads

THM Keepers – desserts

THM Keepers – sides

THM Keepers – snacks & drinks

These are recipes that I’ve tried and at least half my family will eat.  Ha! That’s my criteria for whether I keep it or not!

Hope this helps those of you who are looking for inspiration!

Traveling with kids to DC

Mid-August we took a family trip to Washington, D.C..  It is one of the most beautiful cities!  Our kids were, I think, perfect ages for seeing many historic sites, monuments, and museums.  (Oh, and we can’t forget Georgetown Cupcake as my little one is a fan of the show “DC Cupcakes”!)

Some photos from our trip:

 

Pool Time!

Pool Time!

Arlington

Arlington

The White House

The White House

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

There is so much to see in DC that realistically, you cannot do it all in one vacation.  I wanted to see as much as possible but also pace ourselves so we’d still have some down time.  Weeks before the trip I gave the kids the DC tourist guidebook (get a free one here:  https://washington.org/visitor-request-form) and let them each pick five things that they really wanted to see.  I put priority on seeing those things and planned out our days to be most efficient getting around the city – and we were able to see everything on the lists!  Now don’t get me wrong, we were still exhausted from lots and lots of walking – but we were back to the hotel before dinner most nights so we could just hang out and relax!

Although we were turned down for a White House tour (BOO!), we still saw lots of great stuff.  Our favorites were going up into the Washington Monument (yes, it’s worth it!), the Lincoln Memorial, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and my personal favorite, Ford’s Theatre.  So much in DC has free admission – which is good, because lodging and eating out are not cheap!

For us, one of the perks in going to a large city for vacation is the amazing variety of gluten-free restaurant choices.  Traveling with celiac disease can be challenging because you really have to research restaurants ahead of time.  We found some fabulous restaurants with gluten-free menus and so all was good.  I primarily used the following websites to research:  www.findmeglutenfree.com, http://www.tripadvisor.com, and good old google. The best ones we found that had gluten free menus and great food – b DC Penn Quarter and Pi Pizzeria.

I highly recommend finding an affordable hotel downtown as it will cut down on travel time and allow you to do the most sightseeing possible.  (Just a warning that most downtown hotels charge ALOT daily for parking.)  We stayed at Hyatt Place – National Mall and loved it.  I also recommend getting SmarTrip cards from the metro (either when you first get there, or save yourself hassle and order them online ahead of time and have them shipped to you).  These cards give you lower metro fares and can also be used for the DC Circulator bus routes at a rate of $1 per person for 2 hours of hop-on / hop-off rides.  The savings is worth it!

All in all, we loved DC!

Summer 2016

Just giving you a few photos to distract you from the fact I didn’t blog at all in July!  Ha – I love the faces on my kids and the weird photos we take – they pretty much perfectly sum up our life.

Just keepin’ it real – we’ve done lots of nothing this summer.  Sitting in front of the TV, playing video games, work (for me), swimming in the pool, reading, playing games, campfires, and of course the incessant sibling arguing.  And feeding these people during the summer is no joke:

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But there have been some other fun things, too – an amusement park trip, work picnic at the zoo, summer soccer, tennis programs, a cooking class, and professional soccer games.

And the best thing is we still have a month of summer left before school starts.  Yay!

How are things at your house this summer?