Tag Archives: dairy free

Shells & Cheese

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I wouldn’t have made it through high school & college without Kraft Easy Mac.  Shoot, I wouldn’t have made it through my childhood with regular ole’ Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with ketchup on top (YES!) or Velveeta Shells n’ Cheese.

Between those things and Spaghettios, that was my diet.

I’m always open about my diet previous to eating a whole, real foods lifestyle to show you how far I’ve come. And far each of us can come.

I know that not everyone needs to stay away from dairy and gluten.  But for those that do, mac & cheese is one of those things that we just MISS.

I have made/tried many alternatives, and this happens to be my favorite.  I love Detoxinista’s version, but hers has cashews in it, which can become expensive.  Plus, I love having a nut-free option for those who need it.


If you’ve never tasted Nutritional Yeast before, this might be a little bit of a different taste for your buds.  It’s not nearly as weird as its name sounds (I actually love it!) and you can find it in the organic section of the grocery store.  I prefer to buy mine from the bulk bins at a health food store.  It’s SUPER cheap that way!


Unlike Kraft who uses chemicals and preservatives to create that yellow-y orange look, I use mustard, turmeric, mustard powder, and nutritional yeast to make these shells and cheese a bright yellow.  It’s creamy, it’s flavorful, it’s inexpensive, and it’s a wonderful alternative for those needing to avoid major allergens!

Optional add ins:  Roasted Broccoli or English Peas

Shells & Cheese
  • 2 T non-dairy butter (Earth Balance) or coconut oil
  • 2 T tapioca flour
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk for nut free version)
  • ½ cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • ½ t dry mustard
  • ½ t turmeric
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • ¼ t onion powder
  • 1½ t sea salt
  • 8 oz gluten free shells, cooked according to package directions
  1. Melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Whisk in the tapioca flour and whisk until thick roux forms.
  3. Gradually add in the milk, whisking until all lumps are gone.
  4. Bring to a slow boil.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Add in all other ingredients and stir until well combined.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and gently stir until combined.
  8. Enjoy!



Basic Oatmeal

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Years ago, the thought of a big bowl of oatmeal grossed me out.  It made me think of Goldilocks and her bowl of porridge.  Maybe the bears scared me–and not the porridge, but nonetheless, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it.

When I finally did, I used the chalky packets and a microwave. Eh. Not the best way to start a love for something new.

The good news about this basic oatmeal recipe?

It’s not nasty.

It takes 5 minutes.

It will FILL YOU UP.

In the winter months, my body craves hot meals more than smoothies and salads, so this is the perfect breakfast for me.  Add different toppings each day, and I’ll never get bored!

Far Away 2

And yes, you got that right. Winter in SC means 60 degree weather & fall-like leaves still falling. Except for tomorrow. The high is 34 degrees.  The low? 21. Twenty one.  Make up your mind, right?!

This recipe is only mildly sweet.  For me, it’s absolutely perfect.  But feel free to adjust it to your liking! Since this is a base recipe, add whatever you like to make this breakfast yours!

Suggested toppings:

Fresh fruit (blueberries are my favorite)

Dried fruit

Spices: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger

Coconut flakes

Chia Seeds

Nuts & Seeds

Organic Jam/Jelly

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So grab a blanket, a cup of coffee, your oatmeal, and enjoy this beautiful winter 🙂

Basic Oatmeal
  • 1 cup rolled or quick gluten-free oats
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  1. Combine milk, water, and oats in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low/low and cook for about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Pour into a bowl and top with desired toppings.
  4. Enjoy!


A Year in Review & the Top 10 Recipes of 2014!

All photo credits of our family go to Marissa Dodgen Photography.

2014 was a year, huh?  So many amazing things happened for our family. It started with some of the hardest months we’d seen yet, but took a monumental shift towards the middle of the year.  The darkest clouds have lifted, God has given us an endless supply of fresh air, and for the first time in almost three years, we feel like we can breathe.

McCall (who turned 6 last January) finished Kindergarten and started 1st grade!!! He’s completely grown.  Ahh!! He’s had a slow year in terms of food and is certainly struggling emotionally.  He only added carrots (which he won’t eat) to his list of foods.  He currently has 6 foods he can eat. We are learning how to be good parents through every age and stage of this chronic illness! He continues to be compassionate, loving, and helpful and blows us away by his maturity.


I must say that it never occurred to me that McCall only added one food this year.  Whew. No wonder he is struggling.  I literally cannot imagine. Love that boy!

Our son Sawyer (who turned 3 in April) started the year continuing his formula only diet BUT starting in MAY he got to eat real food! He failed his sweet potatoes and grape trials but passed blueberries and avocados.  Two foods is such a blessing in this household.  His new nickname is Little Boy Blue. His sweet blue fingers and teeth bless our soul!  I never get mad when I step on a blueberry or find a dried blueberry in the washing machine.  For many long months, I had nothing to step on 😉 He continues to charm the world with his naturally raspy voice, large puppy dog brown eyes, and unmatchable personality.


Beckham (who turned 2 in May) is sweet and mischievous and terribly two.  Andrew and I spend most of our time shaking our heads at this one.  He’s bow-legged, pigeon toed, and has the cutest lisp you’ll ever hear. But he’s just as lovable as he is crazy and quirky.  We absolutely love this life we have raising three little boys to be amazing men in this world.


In fact, Andrew asked me that question last night.  Is this our purpose in the world? To raise these kids to love Jesus and do something great in the world?  I think my answer is yes.  And wouldn’t that be a life well served?  Ahh. I love pillow talk.  And my husband.  I love that man!


For us, life couldn’t be better now that Andrew got a new job.  For many years, he worked swing shift work and life was indescribable. We had some years we didn’t think we’d make it through.  But this year proved tangibly that God is faithful. Andrew is an honest, hard worker who is smart and driven.  He made the right choices, even when those choices were isolating or difficult.  God blessed him with a Monday-Thursday job (and can I also mention it was a double-promotion?).  The Lord provided for us in ways we never could have imagined. God gave us the gift of a regular sleep schedule, family “dinner” every night, and holidays together without a pay cut.  I can guarantee you that if we could have made a PERFECT list for what would be ideal for our family, this would be it.

So this year, we became a family unit again. I didn’t feel like a single mom to all this craziness, and we are able to work together to live this daily life we have.


When Andrew got his new job in April, it allowed me time to revive a part of me that was missing for a few years.  At my core, I’m a writer and performer, so making the full time switch to a stay at home mom and medical caretaker wasn’t really in my bones.  But the Lord guided me every step of the way and showed me how to live each day.


For a while there, it was about going through the routine.  It was the only way to survive. But He knew my heart and knew what I needed. When the time was right, He brought my love back to me.  Since April, I’ve started music back and have loved every minute. (You can read about my journey here).


The Lord knows my innermost being. He’s probably the only one who truly knows how big my dreams are.  A few months ago, I got a piece of advice from a very successful artist in Nashville–advice that I will always have on the edge of my heart.  He said, “Don’t ever let your heart want for something God doesn’t want for you. Be patient and trust Him.”  These words have changed my perspective on every decision I make and every single want and desire that enters the walls of my heart.

We had a GREAT year on the blog, too!  I know many people and families who have made so many changes in their lives.  The goal is to feel better and have more energy so that we can serve and love the world in an intentional way.

I’m very excited about what the new year will bring to the blog, but before we go crazy about what’s to come, let’s take a look at the top 10 recipes from 2014!  These are the ones people have LOVED, especially our family.  As you start a clean new year, add a few of these to your rotation and see what you think!

1. Buffalo Beer-Battered Cauliflower & Dairy Free Ranch Dressing


These little boogers have got people talkin!  From people who love spicy foods, I’ve heard nothing but great comments, with some saying they’ll never need chicken wings again.  Crazy to think, huh?  THIS should definitely be on your Super Bowl menu!

2. Chocolate Covered Rice Krispy Treats

Chocolate Covered Rice Krispy Treats

Marshmallow free. Gluten free. Simple. And CHOCOLATE? Who could resist?  These are allergen-friendly, but you’d never know!

3. Gluten Free/Dairy Free Biscuits


Gluten Free/Dairy Free living shouldn’t be a life without!  These biscuits have a GREAT flavor and texture.  This recipe has really changed our life this year.  It gives us the comfort in comfort food that we all need 🙂  They are perfect for breakfast or as a side to a soup or homestyle meal!

4. Pot Pies:  Veggie or Chicken (w/ gluten free/dairy free biscuit topping)

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As the winter months roll in here in SC, I crave traditional childhood meals.  Clean eating doesn’t mean you never eat casseroles or things you love.  It’s just adjusting them using the best ingredients possible. This is our recipe (which is gluten & dairy free) so that our allergy son Beckham can eat it, too.  It’s hard to tell there’s anything “different” about it!

5. Vegan Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad

I’m not usually a fan of “mock” type recipes. And in fact, I don’t like tuna or celery. But this recipe? OMG. I LOVE it.  It’s something we make on a weekly basis to always have available.  I love it on GF English Muffins with fruit for lunch, but it’s also wonderful to serve as an appetizer with some crackers and veggies.  This has been a crowd favorite for sure!  Read the recipe to see the big SECRET ingredient!

6. Lentil Potato Stew


This recipe is hearty, filing, and simple.  That’s a great combo for clean eating! Pair with a nice salad & our biscuit recipe, and you are good to go!

7. Smokey BBQ Broccoli Bowl


I love these “bowl” ideas I’ve seen floating around because they are so easy!  This is the version I love because I could literally drink BBQ sauce.  It would be very easy to add grilled chicken on top for meat lovers!

8. Maple Balsamic Stir Fry

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Speaking of bowls, I think this one is probably my favorite recipe of 2014 (except for maybe those Buffalo Cauliflower Bites!) It’s crunchy & it’s sweet.  Beautiful!

9. Sweet & Spicy Brussels Sprouts


Besides the amazing Vegetable “meatloaf” I served at our Plant Strong Thanksgiving meal, these were probably the second best hit.  Oh, but there was that Kale Salad, too! Ahh!  Too many great things this year!  This side dish is packed full of flavor.  Don’t like spicy? You can omit the Sriracha no problem!

10. Walnut “Meat” Tacos with Cashew Sour Cream


As many of you know, I started a vegan trial (no meat, dairy, eggs, butter) in April, but that didn’t stop me from playing around with cool options for meals.  This walnut meat has the texture and flavor of taco meat, but is a great option for meat free friends, or people trying to cut down meat or red meat consumption.  I absolutely LOVE this recipe, and would love to see you try something brand new this year 🙂


Thanks again for a beautiful year.  This website wouldn’t mean a thing if you didn’t keep reading it, so thank YOU!  I look forward to the beauty all around in 2015!!




Healthy Thanksgiving Ideas

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Let’s face it.  This week’s is all about food with a little family sprinkled on top.  For families like us that suffer from food allergies and food related diseases, it’s the opposite most days.  Either way, we all gotta eat, right??

Don’t scrimp on your favorites this time of year–just learn to make them a bit healthier–and maybe you won’t have eater’s remorse this go around!

Here’s a list of some of my favorites.  This is not by any means an exhaustive list out there–but you know my theory–keep it simple so you don’t get overwhelmed!

In each category, I’ve provided the link for the info!  Just click on the blue  🙂

(Thanks to Marissa Dodgen for some of these beautiful photos.  I’m sure you can tell which are hers and which are mine 😉  She’s the professional!)

Salad & Appetizers:


Pumpkin Hummus

Orange-Cranberry Dressing

Kale Salad

Shredded Brussels Sprouts salad


How to avoid a growth enhancement drug that can be ingested in many turkeys, even ones labeled “no hormones used.”

Slow roasted turkey with herbed butter (sub Earth Balance vegan butter if dairy-free)

Sweet Potatoes:

Classic casserole (contains egg & dairy)

Vegan & Gluten free option

Maple glazed (Vegan, gluten free, nut-free)

Green Bean Casserole:


My concoction that our family loves (gluten free, vegan)

Vegan, Paleo

Brussels Sprouts:


Honey-Maple Sriracha? Yes, please!!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Brussels sprouts

Balsamic Roasted Brussels sprouts

Side Dishes:


Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mac & Cheese (make gluten free by using rice or quinoa noodles)

Vegan (dairy free) Mac & Cheese

Roasted carrots with sweet tahini drizzle


Butternut Squash, Brussels sprouts, and bread stuffing with apples

Classic (contains gluten, milk, egg)

Grain free (paleo)



Vegan biscuits (contains gluten)

Vegan & Gluten free biscuits

Pull apart yeast dinner rolls (contains eggs, read comments from readers and author suggestions to make egg-free, I’ve done this successfully!)

Gluten free/dairy free yeast dinner rolls (contains eggs, read comments from readers and author suggestions to make egg-free, I’ve done this successfully!)



Mushroom gravy

Orange Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry-Pineapple Sauce



Gluten Free-vegan pumpkin bread (add chocolate chips!)

Grain free pumpkin bars (contains eggs)

Pecan Pie bars

Gooey Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte Pudding Cake

Raw Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

A gluten free, dairy free, egg free pie crust option


I hope these links help you find the perfect thing to serve this holiday season 🙂





Green Bean Casserole


I originally heard about this all-vegetable based green bean casserole from the amazing Detoxinista.  It’s such a clever idea–almost pure genius.

But I have to admit, when it’s holiday season, my nostalgia kicks in, and I really do just need a little more butter, Paula Deen style.

While I LOVE Detoxinista’s recipe (and really, all of hers!), I felt as if her version lacked a punch of flavor….

And when I’m feeding non-clean eating friends (or anyone really!), I don’t want them to miss out on all the flavor they can have!

So, I ventured back to the Paula Deen recipe I made years ago, and merged these two loves together to make a clean, yet flavorful side dish that will satisfy your casserole craving without the junk.

You can most certainly serve this to any type of guest, and it’s sure to please!


A note about some ingredients:

-You don’t have to peel the parsnips. Yay!

-Nutritional yeast can be found at any health food store (I buy from the bulk bins), but you can also get it at Kroger in the organic section near the flours and baking stuff.  It is a yellow flaky yeast that helps give non-dairy dishes a cheesy flavor. It sounds weird and might look weird, but it sure doesn’t taste weird!

-I use frozen green beans to make it easier–but you pick whether you buy whole or cut green beans–to your liking here!

Green Bean Casserole
Onion Topping:
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 coconut oil
  • salt, to taste
Green Beans:
  • 1 lb frozen green beans
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 cups parsnips, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 T vegan butter, melted
  • 1¼ t sea salt
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • ¼ t black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Add onions and stir. Since you are caramelizing the onions, they will cook for about 40 minutes.
  4. Continue cooking over medium or medium-low heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the onions spread out on the pan, as to cook evenly. Add a small amount of water to prevent sticking if necessary. Do not let the onions brown too much--reduce heat if so.
  5. After the 20-25 minutes, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the onions, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15-20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Watch carefully so they don't get burned. They are supposed to be caramelized, not burned.
  6. Meanwhile, put the vegetable broth and water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Add green beans, and boil for 8-10 minutes, until desired consistency. They don't get much softer in the oven, so make sure they are the way you want them for the casserole.
  8. Once the beans are finished cooking, use a slotted spoon to transfer the green beans to an 8 x 8 baking dish, leaving the leftover liquid in the pot. Set dish aside.
  9. Next, put the chopped parsnips in the leftover liquid, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, in a small pan, saute mushrooms over medium heat until juices have been released, about 6 minutes.
  11. Drain parsnips. Combine parsnips, ½ of the sauteed mushrooms, and all other filling ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  12. Add the remaining mushrooms to the green beans and stir to combine.
  13. Pour the filling mixture over cooked green beans and stir.
  14. Put the caramelized onions on top of the mixture evenly.
  15. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.