Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013...Hello 2014

       As the other parts of the world are celebrating the arrival of 2014 and as we count the last few hours of 2013 here in the US,  I would like to share some thoughts that are bouncing inside head.

        * What did I learn in 2013?

        *  Don't like it, I'll change it. 

        * Time is limited and shouldn't be wasted on something that doesn't matter.

        * Set a goal and work on it.  Nobody else will do it for me. 

        * It's okay to say NO and Let go. 

        * Be kind to Me. 

        * Live each day like it's my last one.

        And the most important of all.  When everything seems to go no where....
photo credit from Facebook 

       Wishing all of us a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!  

        Do you have a special thought you'd like to share? Love to hear it.  

- Roz

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

5 Worst Last Minute Gifts to Someone with Food Allergies

       I can't believe we are in the final stretch of holiday shopping?  If you are a last minute shopper like me, I'm sure you are now also scrambling to find that perfect gift for family and friends. To add more insult to the injury, last minute invites are all coming at the same time. Sounds familiar?

          While you are driving yourself crazy for not shopping early, take note of  my worst gifts to give to someone with food allergies.  With the growing rate of people with allergies, chances are you have at least one in your list.  Keep this handy and I know your friend will be thankful for paying more attention.  

A MillionThanks Gift Basket

                                           Photo courtesy of Fiammasgourmettreats at Etsy

1. Food Baskets

     Though these beautiful arrangements are readily available, comes in different price ranges and themes, I find them a food allergy person's nightmare.  Most of the time, the specialty products included in these baskets which I confess are quite delectable, aren't meant to the people with food restrictions.
       Since the focus of this type of gift is more on the looks,  the last thing the basket arranger have in his or her mind is the ingredient list of each item.  Please, save your friend from some label reading trouble and even heartache when only one or two items from the huge basket comply with his or her food requirements. 

Photo by Lynn Manangan

2. Fresh Fruits or Flowers
          Another convenient and sweet gift especially for a party host.   Though this maybe a really nice gesture, I think it is still not a great gift idea.  Why? If the recipient has food allergies, chances are, he or she also has seasonal allergies including pollen and spores.  Asthma suffers will thank you too if you don't contaminate their air. Oh! before I forget, there are some people who are actually allergic to certain fruits and fruit family. Yup! I'm not joking.   

All Natural Hoilday Gift Basket
Photo by LivingTree Soaps 

3. Candles and Soaps

          Here's another common gift.  Unless you are totally familiar with the recipient's favorite brands, I suggest skip it.  Yes, even if you plan to buy the pricier organic ones. The cheaper brands usually contain chemicals that in general, are not really healthy for everyone.  As for the organic ones which use natural food grade ingredients may contain nut oils, soy and even milk which are among the top 8 common allergens.  

4. Homemade Treats

         I know, you spent a lot of time planning and creating these made with love treats.  Maybe you even went ahead and researched on gluten free, nut free versions.  Yours truly is in fact, a big food gift giver.  If I'm aware beforehand, that the receiver has food allergies, I choose to give something something else.  

5. Restaurant Gift Cards

         Unless you really know what your friend's favorite restaurant is, ditch this one.  Eating out is one of the most challenging activity someone with food allergies has to deal with.  Though there are some restaurants which are trying to accommodate this growing market, most are not trained to handle specific or multiple allergies.  
         Can you imagine how frustrating it is to expect free dinner and when you get to the restaurant, you'll realize that the menu has nothing for you?  Until this day, I still struggle to find decent places to eat that will give my children something more than streamed veggies and grilled chicken without seasonings.  Pathetic right? 

          There you go, my list of the worst gifts for someone with food allergies.  By avoiding the above mentioned, you are not just being considerate.  In fact, you are doing your friend a favor.  Who knows you might even have saved his or her life.

          Happy Shopping!

- Roz

Monday, December 9, 2013

Slow cooked Balsamic Chicken aka Soy free Chicken Adobo

       We just had our first teaser of snow here in New Jersey.  Though I'm praying for at least 12 inches, my luck ran out.  Oh wait, let's see how much is in store tomorrow.  Winter is just starting after all. 

      With the arrival of the colder temperatures, the season also brings along cravings for hearty comfort food.  For a Filipino household in particular, what else can be more homey than a warm Chicken Adobo over streamed white rice?  Considered as the national dish of the Philippines, Adobo, is a pork or chicken stew slow cooked in a concoction of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and black pepper. Simple yet the flavor is definitely complex and not to mention delectable. 

      The sauce alone mixed with rice is enough to make my children ask for seconds and even more. Can you just imagine the sad faces I got when I told them that we can't have the dish anymore because of the Child #2 and Child #3's soy allergy?  Since then, I it became my mission to recreate their beloved Adobo.  After countless attempts, finally, this recipe was born.  By using balsamic vinegar instead of the traditional white cane vinegar, the dish was able to get that familiar sweet and savory notes that soy sauce brings. Not to mention, the deep dark caramelized color.  

         Best part of it is that all the cooking is done in the crock pot.  Just mix, set and walk away. Kain na! (Let's eat!)

- Roz



4 pcs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (cut in half )
6 pcs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tbs. minced fresh garlic
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onions
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 pcs. bay leaf
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp. chili flakes

1. Turn on the slow cooker to low.
2. Except for the chicken, combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker.
3. Add the chicken and mix well. Make sure all the pieces are coated with the sauce.
4. Cover and cook for 8 hours.
5. Serve over steamed rice and mixed veggies on the side.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Freebies : Stress Management Ebooks

        Yesterday, I spent a huge amount of time, thinking how upset Child #3 will be because I forgot to put his spoon in his lunch box.  As I've mentioned in the Facebook page, I am not being a crazy mom.  I just want to save his teacher and classmates from possible whole day meltdown and crankiness.  He's my OCD (super organized) kid after all. 

     When he arrived home, I asked him how his day was.  Then he said that everything was good. Surprised with his reaction, I mentioned about the spoon I forgot.  He smiled and told me that it was not a problem.  "You always put an extra one remember?" 

         Ah! The stress I have caused myself.  Can you relate? 

       Anyway, I have found some interesting  free e-books today.  They contain tips on how to reduce stress.  I'm sure we'll all find these handy especially with the craziness brought about by the holidays.  

        Grab one or all of them now and have a relaxing weekend.        

- Roz

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First Anniversary Giveaway - Soap Box Soaps

        I can't believe we are on the final stretch of 2013.  Wasn't it just yesterday when I started this blog out of desperation? Well, guess what? The family made it!  We were able to live normally (most of it) for more than a year in spite of the challenges brought about by multiple food and environmental allergies.

      To celebrate this 1st birthday milestone, I have organized a series of giveaways featuring products from some awesome friends I have met along the way. First on the list is Soap Box Soaps.

      This company which was started (and still run) by young individuals, not only provides high quality handmade natural soaps but helps save lives as well.  With every purchase of a bar of soap, liquid soap or hand wash, the company donates either a soap bar, fresh water or vitamin supplement to a child in need.  For the past two years, they have already given soaps to numerous homeless shelters and nursing homes here in the United States.  The generosity didn't stop there.  Through their partner charities, they were able to reach people in other countries such as the recent victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

          If their mission to help others isn't enough to entice you, I'm pretty sure their products will.  In preparation for this giveaway, our friends from Soap Box Soaps, sent me the goodies below.  At first, I was surprised why they have decided not to include their famous soap bars for the review.  After going through their website, I realized that their soap bars contain soybean oil which is an ingredient we avoid to have in the house.  This little detail meant so much to me because I felt that they actually care.

         One of the things I noticed with both the hand soap and body wash was their scent.  It smelled fresh and was not overpowering like most scented products do.  The Tea and Ginger body wash in particular, was very refreshing and invigorating.  Perfect for morning showers as it "wakes up" the senses and leaves the skin really moisturized.  Even Child #1 who has the most sensitive and dry skin in the family loved it.  From someone who has been a fan of small batch handmade artisan soaps, the quality of the ingredients used in each product definitely make it stand out.    

          About the giveaway, 2 lucky readers here in the United States will each receive a gift pack from Soap Box Soaps. The gift pack contains a full sized hand wash and body wash.  What are you waiting for? 

- Roz

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Asian Style Stir Fried Green Beans

        I can't believe how the past two weeks of November flew. With the Bake Sale for the Philippines, parent teacher conferences, kids' increased homework and sudden influx of laundry brought about by the crazy Jersey weather, everything seemed to be in the Urgent list.  Then came yesterday's Thanksgiving Feast for Child #3.  Yes, it's already Thanksgiving week people! 

      For those who are still wondering what dishes to make for the big feast, I have this very easy, unique and of course delicious recipe for string beans.  Since this is not the traditional one that is loaded with cream, bread crumbs and fats, you and your guests will be happy to have extra room for dessert.  Who doesn't like that? 

       The shrimp paste needed for this recipe is readily available at any Asian store.  A jar is usually less than $3.  If this is the first time you will use it, don't get scared with the smell. Straight out the the bottle, this ingredient is really pungent and salty.  Once it hits the oil though, it will bring out a nice earthy flavor.  Watch out!  It is really concentrated so a little goes a long way. 

        Expecting a big crowd?  Just double the recipe and the result is still awesome.  Since this side dish is fine at room temperature, you can easily make it ahead of time as well.

          I'm sure most of us are grocery rushing already, I will not be keeping you.  Happy Thanksgiving Tuesday my friends.

- Roz                    


2 24 oz bags green beans (about 2 lbs)
8 big cloves of garlic sliced
1/2 cup sliced red onions
2 tsp. shrimp paste
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. canola or corn oil (you can also use bacon grease for extra flavor)
1 tsp. chili flakes
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. water or broth

1. In a big pan or wok if you have it, preheat the oil until it is almost smoking.
2. Saute garlic, red onions and shrimp paste for about 1 minute.
3. Add the green beans, black pepper, chili flakes and water.
4. Stir fry until the green beans are tender.  Depending on the freshness of the green beans, it will be about 7- 10 minutes.  Make sure to keep on stirring for even cooking.  Make sure not to over cook.
5. Once the beans reached your preferred tenderness. Turn off heat and drizzle the lemon juice.
6. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bake Sale for Typhoon Haiyan Survivors in the Philippines

        Bake sales and food allergies don't usually go together.  In fact, that combination is one of a food allergy mom's worse nightmares.  Ah! That dreaded table of scrumptious treats paired with stares of longing never fail to break a mother's heart.
             Last weekend though, I learned a very important lesson from my children. They taught me that food allergies cannot stop them from doing something that is close to their hearts.  When they heard about the devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, without any hesitation, they said "Let's do a bake sale to raise money for the people affected! We'll bake something that even those with food allergies like us can buy."
            The idea sounded great.  If they would actually do it, seriously, I'm not sure.  To test whether this is something they would really do, I told them, I will give them the spot of Jaydemia (my jewelry business) at the craft show the next day if they would help bake and clean up the house.  All four were excited. 

            The first hour went well.  In fact, it was fun and amusing because whatever I say, they follow without any complaints or arguments.  After the third batch of  the Pumpkin Oat Muffins came out of the oven, I realized that these kids are quite serious with the challenge. When was the last time a batch of muffins lasted untouched for more than two hours in our home?   Never until last Saturday!  

               When I told them that the more goodies we bake, the more money we can make, they became extra eager to be involved.  My oldest hand washed dishes and measuring utensils like crazy without any word.  Child # 2  and #3 kept on asking what they will do next.  Even Child #4 was able to keep the living room floor clean!  

             The following day, the girls who promised to sell the baked goods, woke up at 6 am so that they could set up at the craft show before 8 am.  They worked for the full 8 hours and only took a few minutes of break to eat lunch, making sure that one of them will be available to man the table.   I kept my distance and gave them full control of their table.  Unless they ask for help (giving change for big bills), I just observed.  Honestly, I was totally amazed on how they've handled the bake sale. They shared stories about their previous trip to the Philippines and even their food allergies. 

           At the end of the day, they were able to sell everything and even had some orders and pledges.  After learning that were able to sell more than $250 that day, the girls decided to continue accepting orders for the holidays to reach their Goal of $1,000 donation for the typhoon survivors. 

          All proceeds of the bake sale will be donated to:

1. The Association of Bantayanons in America, Inc. (A 501.c3 organization based in the US whose members are from Bantayan Islands.) 
    *  I have been supporting this group's livelihood projects even before the calamity.

2. De La Salle University Philippines Disaster Relief Program. (Here's the direct donation link)
    * My Alma Mater! I used to be part of the group's volunteers during my college days.   

         As of this posting, the total money we have raised including orders and pledges is now $578.00

          I have to say, I was really surprised how the kids have made their food restrictions a plus instead of a hindrance.  Not only are they doing something for people 8,000 miles away, they are proudly advocating food allergies here in our town. 

           There's so much I wanted to write but our little oven is calling me.  To end up, I'll borrow my girls' line ---- "Will you help?"

- Roz               

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Can't Get Enough Pumpkin Oat Muffins

      Ah, it's that time of the year again.  Orange is definitely the new black!  Okay people I'm not referring to the show.  In fact, I've never seen it at all even though we have a Netflix subscription.

       What I'm talking about here is the wonderful vegetable called pumpkin.  From coffee to soups to decorations, this fall must have is definitely all over the place. I don't know about your kids but in our home, pumpkin has taken over the top spot from chocolate.  Is that even possible? Looks like it.
      With so many asking for pumpkin recipes, I decided to share with you my secret Pumpkin Oat muffin recipe.  (I hope you all can keep a secret.) You will notice that it only requires one cup of pumpkin puree. I know what you're thinking.  What to do with the leftover puree?  Don't worry I assure you, one batch or even two will enough for everyone. My kids are devouring it like crazy.  I barely can keep up with the baking!

         Guess what?  Even my kids' friends who don't have food allergies love it. Give this gluten free, vegan treat a try this holiday season.  I'm sure your non food allergy friends and family will enjoy it too.

- Roz


1 cup oat flour (I make my own using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats)
1/2 cup rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt (finely ground)
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
1/4 cup oil (I used Organic Virgin Coconut Oil )
2 Tbs. flax meal
6 Tbs. lukewarm water
1 cup sugar (I used Organic Coconut Sugar )
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used flax milk.  You can also use coconut or rice milk)
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners or grease with oil.
2. Prepare flax goo by combining the flax meal and water.  Set it aside for at least 5 minutes before using.
3. In a small bowl, make "buttermilk" by adding the vinegar to the non dairy milk. Mix and set aside.
4. Except for the sugar, whisk all the dry ingredients. 
5. With the mixer running, cream the oil and sugar.
6. Add the flax good and pumpkin puree.  Mix well.
7. In 3 batches, alternately add the dry ingredients and non dairy "buttermilk" to the pumpkin mix.
8. Scoop into prepared muffin pan.  Make sure each cavity is only 2/3 full.
9. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Use the toothpick test --- the toothpick comes out clean.
10. Let it cool in the muffin tins for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling wire rack.
11. Top with powdered sugar for a festive look.

Makes about 18 standard sized muffins.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Freebies - Gluten Free Dessert Ebooks

         It's the day after Trick or Treating.  If your food allergy loved one made it without any bad reactions, Congratulations!  For those who don't have any food restrictions like me, don't get carried away with all the goodies ok.  It's just the start of the celebration marathon. 

         Speaking of holidays, did you know that those candies or chocolates you have on hand are excellent additions to desserts?  A basic cake or cookie recipe can become extra special  and uniquely yours by just adding some of those candy bars. You can chop them and add some to the batter, use as toppings or even melted for a gooey drizzle.  What's even sweeter is that no one knows you didn't  buy your secret ingredients. Wink!
         Need some ideas?  Check out what I found for you today.  Three gluten free ebooks filled with basic dessert recipes. Just add some chocolates or candies and I'm sure you can make each recipe more decadent.   
- Roz  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chicken and Pesto Spooky Pasta

        Hello Friends!  It's been a while since I posted a recipe right?  To those who are following me on Instagram, thank you for reminding me. 
        Since we are celebrating Halloween, I decided to share with you my kids' favorite spooky food.   Funny thing is, I never imagined it as something freaky or even a Trick or Treating dinner staple.  It is pesto sauce for crying out loud! 
         I can still remember the first time they saw this dish.  They were so amazed because I was able to make a really "Spooky Pasta".  Was that even a compliment?  Anyway, the color definitely caught their attention and imagination.  The basil and spinach combo gave it a milder taste that the kids enjoyed.  If you have a "veggie - phobic" one just like my Child #2, don't even mention what the ingredients are.  The name "Spooky Pasta" can do the trick.  Green Eggs and Ham anyone?
         This kid friendly dish is very easy to prepare and all the components can be made ahead of time. As you may know, pesto can be frozen and so is cooked chicken.   So it is basically a reheat and serve type of dish.  Just make sure that your pasta is al dente to prevent it from being mushy.  Since it is also good at room temperature, it is an excellent lunch box idea.  Oh, did I mention that it's healthy too?     
        Happy Halloween!
- Roz


1 lbs. cooked gluten free spaghetti
1/2 lb. chicken breast cut in to 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pasta water (water used to cook the pasta)


1 tsp. minced fresh garlic (about 3 big cloves)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (used the best that your budget can allow)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbs. canned cannellini beans (rinsed)
1/2  cup Daiya cheddar style cheese (if you can have dairy, use parmesan cheese)

1. Excluding the olive oil, put all the pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender.
2. With the machine running, slowly drizzle the olive oil. 
3. Once everything is well incorporated, stop the machine and set aside.
4. In a heated pan, sauté the chicken in olive oil.
5. When the chicken is cooked through, add the pesto.
6. After 2 minutes, add the cooked spaghetti and toss until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. If the sauce looks dry, add a little of the cooking liquid from a pasta.
7. When the pasta feels warm, turn off heat.
8. Serve immediately. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Freebies : Slow Cooker Recipes Ebooks

      The temperature has reached the 30's here in New Jersey!  Just this week alone, I overslept twice already.  You know what that means?  If mom's up late, everybody has to rush double time or else.... So far, no slips to fill out yet (fingers crossed).     
       Anyway, as the weather continues to drop, I'm pretty sure the best reward at the end of the day will be a warm stew or soup to fill us up.  That's when my handy slow cooker comes to the rescue.  If you haven't gotten one, please do yourself a favor and invest.  I don't want you to miss the "wonderfulness" that this little appliance can bring.
      For today's Friday Freebies, I've found not one but four e books filled with slow cooker recipes.  Two of which are even gluten free.  Download them all and you'll have enough recipes for the whole year! 

- Roz

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gluten Free Red Apple and Eye Shadow Lipstick Review

          Have you ever had this kind of mixed feelings all at the same time? 1. Happy to have found a really wonderful product. 2. Super excited to share the news to the whole wide world. 3. A bit hesitant to actually mention your secret as you have been getting compliments.
           That was exactly what I felt when I tried the lipstick and eye shadow kit sent to me by the wonderful people at Red Apple Lipstick.   I confess, I am a cosmetic fanatic for years.  Lately though, I rarely purchase products because I learned that most of the brands I patronize contain harmful ingredients.  I spend so much on organic food, healthier green household cleaners and nature based toiletries yet unknowingly  kept on using toxic beauty items. How sad right?

           Then came Red Apple Lipstick. Not only do they use safe and natural ingredients, all their products are mineral based, free of gluten, parabens, toxins and even soy.  Allergens that we already eliminated in our home. 


              After using the eye shadow and lipstick they sent me for 3 weeks now, I can't believe on the quality of the products.  The Dynamic Duo eye shadow doesn't only brings out my brown eyes, it stays on for hours.  It doesn't crease at all and is perfect for both day and night. (A frugalista mom's treat!) The colors blend so well which makes it foul proof.  A big help for someone who's not a pro make up artist and only has less than 5 minutes to get ready.

              That's me wearing the HibisKiss lipstick.  I love, love and LOVE it!  After years of using numerous brands of lipstick, I felt the Red Apple Lipstick difference on the first application.  It goes on so smoothly and has a really long staying power.  Not only does it prevents lips from drying and chapping, it helps hydrate and heal it.  Surprisingly, even if I don't wear the lipstick the next day, I still feel that I have lip balm on.  Hard to believe that a simple lipstick can do that kind of trick. 
              Where have you been all these years? Oh well, I'm so glad you came. Now I am hooked! 
- Roz

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Freebies: Vegetarian Recipes Ebooks

         It's time for the Friday Freebies. Can you believe how fast and tiring this week had been?  It's only 10 am EST and I can't wait to get my second mug of coffee.  Oh, did I ever mentioned that I just realized that my beloved coffee mug hold 2 1/2 cups? Yikes!
          Anyway, if you had one of those toxic weeks, isn't it time to detox?  I'm not referring about those "magic" drinks or a few days of deprivation.  Who needs that after a tiring week right? 
          I'm firm believer of food balance.  If I want to indulge, I make sure I have a healthy side dish to go along with it.  Since I am not a big raw salad fan, in fact, I don't find any comfort eating it, I looked around for healthy vegetable recipes. 
          Good news!  I found some amazing e-books filled with vegetarian recipes that you can download for free today.  From dips, appetizers, main course and even desserts, I'm sure you will find a something that will make your taste buds and body happy.    
         Have a relaxing and recharging weekend my friends!

- Roz

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