Alysia Marie’s Famous Kale Salad

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While we were in Washington State we were able to travel 3 hours from our home town to Walla Walla, WA to visit with Tony’s sister and her family for a night.

It was such a wonderful visit! We weren’t able to see them before we left for New Hampshire last year, so I believe it had been almost a year and a half since we’d visited with them. Far, far, too long.

These are our gorgeous nieces, Maggie and Olivia (Brandon is in the chair).

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Such sweet things and so hilarious! Smart and beautiful, well-rounded, polite, pleasant, girls. I would steal them in a heart beat and bring them back to New Hampshire to live with us if I could! We had so much fun after the delicious dinner Alysia prepared just sitting together in the living room in our PJ’s, chatting, catching up, and listening to the girls tell funny stories. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!

While we were visiting, Maggie showed me how to make a knitted arm scarf. So crazy! Knitting, by just using your arms. You can go here for a tutorial I found on YouTube. You can make a scarf in 30 minutes or less! Here’s a picture of the one they made for me.

I’m thinking I may have to mail them some yarn and a little cash to make me more scarves!

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The next day while the guys and all the kids went shooting at the range and wandering around town, the ladies, Alysia, Sandy my mother in law, and I, set off to do a little shopping and hit a Starbuck’s. Starbucks are few and far between on the east coast so I wanted to stop as often as possible on our trip through the West. We weren’t feeling like doing a lot of shopping so we headed home to Alysia’s where she served us home-made bean soup and her kale salad.

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I’m going to call it her “famous” kale salad because she said she takes it to almost every gathering and although she worries that people will grow tired of it, it’s always eaten and raved about.

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And I would have to agree, it is delicious. I’ve thought about it every day since we left her house and have just now had the opportunity to make it. Even my husband loves it and he doesn’t like any savory or vegetable dish with nuts and dried fruit.

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Notice that Alysia is also wearing an arm knitted infinity scarf!

I believe I’ve gotten the recipe correct…I wrote it down while we were there and promptly lost it when I cleaned out my purse and thought it was an old shopping list. Then, I called her just the other day and wrote it on a piece of scrap paper on my desk…and sure enough, it has disappeared. So, rather than call her again and reveal that I’m a complete idiot, this recipe is from memory, I hope I do it justice.

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I will give you the amounts I used for about 6-8 servings, you can adjust it as needed. This salad keeps very well overnight in the fridge for snacking the next day. In fact, I probably ate about 4 servings for breakfast!

Alysia Marie’s Famous Kale Salad

1 Large Head of Organic Red Kale (or any kale you like), stems removed leaves sliced thinly

1 Medium Organic Apple, diced (I poured a little apple cider vinegar in a bowl and tossed the apples in it so they wouldn’t brown)

1/2 of a Medium Organic Red Onion, diced

3 Tablespoons of Organic Dried Cranberries

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Raw Organic Sunflower Seeds

5 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup (hopefully one from New England!)

7 Tablespoons of  Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

4 Tablespoons of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Place the sliced kale, chopped onion, diced apple, cranberries, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Pour over salad and toss until thoroughly coated.

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Be Aware of Lyme Disease ~ Part I

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Lyme disease is a bacterial illness caused by a bacterium called a “spirochete” and it is a bacteria and an illness that can wreak havoc in your life.

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photo courtesy of WebMD

In the United States, the actual name of the bacterium is Borrelia burgdorferi. In Europe, another bacterium, Borrelia afzelii, also causes Lyme disease. Certain ticks found on deer harbor the bacterium in their stomachs. Lyme disease is spread by these ticks when they bite the skin, which permits the bacterium to infect the body. Lyme disease is not contagious from an affected person to someone else. Lyme disease can cause abnormalities in the skin, joints, heart, and nervous system. (medicinenet.com)

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photo courtesy of WebMD

A few posts ago I shared with you that I am being treated for Lyme disease. I have finished my first wave of antibiotics and am extremely happy to tell you that I am feeling SO much better. Many of my symptoms have disappeared and the symptoms that remain have decreased by about 85%. I had a visit with my Doc yesterday. I started another 21 day round of antibiotics this morning in hopes that we can tackle the remaining symptoms.

If you think Lyme Disease doesn’t concern you, think again. Lyme Disease is at epidemic proportions in the eastern United States and thousands of people are being diagnosed in every single state in the US.

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I had no idea Lyme Disease was a bacterial infection. I thought it was a virus. Did you know that the bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorferi, is hard to detect and kill because it has the ability to cloak itself and go dormant? This enables it to hide from diagnostic blood tests and antibiotic treatment.

Did you know that you could have Lyme Disease and not even know it? That it doesn’t always come with that bulls eye rash we all hear about?

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photo courtesy of Wikipedia 

Did you know that once the tick bites and feeds, then transmits the bacteria, it falls off? That means if it’s tiny and in your hair and stuck to your scalp or in a crease on your body, you may never even know it was there.

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photo courtesy of Fairfax County

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photo courtesy of Connecticut Audubon Society

Did you know that Lyme Disease mimics 300 diseases? Including MS, Alzheimer’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Epilepsy, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Influenza, Lupis, Migraines,and Parkinson’s…just to name a few….making it even more difficult to sort out the symptoms and be diagnosed? Did you know that scientists have found that the Lyme disease bacteria can live in blood that is stored for donation although there have not been any proven cases where someone has been infected by a blood transfusion?

Did you know that you can have been bitten years ago and continue to have “flare ups” that can be triggered by stress? Only to have them go away eventually because the bug has gone dormant again? Meaning that you can be infected and not be symptomatic in between flare ups. This makes it very difficult to diagnose and treat. Did you know that the bacteria multiplies? And that the longer you have the infection, the more dangerous and difficult it is to get rid of?

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photo courtesy of citylifemagazine.ca

Did you know that the bacteria attaches to the cell first, and then enters the cell? Once it attaches to the cell, it causes the cell to release a digestive enzyme that dissolves the cell and allows the bacteria to go from your bloodstream to wherever it pleases… like your brain, eyes, joints, skin, spleen, liver, GI tract, bladder, and other organs.

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photo courtesy of Julieslymediseasefight.blogspot.com

The most important piece to this is that I would have never even thought of asking my doctor about Lyme disease had I not been in contact with my husband’s cousin’s wife, Amanda who has Late Stage Lyme Disease. (ha, try to keep track of that family tree) When I became ill in October and the symptoms were mounting weekly, I had talked to her daily. She said, “April, you have almost ALL of my symptoms, you need to talk to your doctor and have them test you for Lyme disease!” Had she not shared her symptoms with me and urged me to talk to my doctor, I fear where my health would be today.

Lyme Disease can be debilitating and in rare cases, even deadly when left untreated.

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photo courtesy of lymepeople.com

So before I completely overload you with information, to end Part 1, I will simply share my symptoms with you as they started and as they progressed. It could possibly make all the difference in your health or the health of someone you know and love. Sharing and awareness is of utmost importance, as the symptoms are different for many people, and as I said above, mimic many other medical issues.

Week 1: Flu/vomiting

Week 2: Fluish symptoms remain/ woke with vertigo – Doctor prescribed Meclizine for dizziness, didn’t help.

Week 3: Symptoms remain, physical therapy for vertigo, didn’t help. Blood pressure extremely high. Added symptoms: feel dehydrated regardless of what I drink, ringing in ears, severe morning nausea and diarrhea, major muscle fatigue, severe heart burn, heart palpitations, anxiousness, ongoing headache, numbness in toes, high pulse.  - Doctor prescribed blood pressure medicine and alprazolam for anxiousness. Alpraz didn’t work, stopped taking it.

Week 4: Symptoms remain. Continuing physical therapy for dizziness…although it did nothing. BP still very high. Added symptoms: 4 Migraines. – Doctor did EKG, it was fine.

Week 5: All symptoms remain, but BP meds are kicking in and BP is back to a normal level. Added symptoms: Herpes Simplex outbreak on back of left thigh. Deep chills where I need to take a bath to warm up. Sweating but cold. Anxious feeling improved. – Doctor prescribed acute Valtrex dose for breakout.

Week 6: Most symptoms remain, dizziness has subsided. Started natural antiviral and antibacterial ( for 4 days). Added symptoms: Horrible joint and bone pain all over body but especially in hands and legs, feet. Ribs on left side feel extremely sore. Blisters on roof of mouth. – 1 part of first Lyme Disease test comes back positive. Doctor advises we test again.

Week 7: All symptoms remain. Added symptoms: Cold sore on lip, incredibly fatigued. Can no longer go on regular walks and hikes, exhausting to walk up the stairs in the house. Can only accomplish a few tasks a day. (completely different from my all day active lifestyle) Migraines and headaches are worse. Neck and shoulders are stiff and painful. – 2nd Lyme test comes back negative, yet all Lyme symptoms remain.

Week 8: All symptoms remain, but with less nausea. Splitting daily tasks up and resting works better. – Doctor prescribes treatment for Lyme Disease. 21 days on antibiotic, Doxycycline. Prescribes a higher dose of alprazolam for neck pain to be taken at night to determine if the headaches are tension headaches,didn’t do a thing! Took it for 2 nights and stopped.

Week 9: First week on antibiotic and all symptoms remain. Added symptoms: Hands are hot and red. Feet tingling more in feet. Heartburn increased.

Week 10 and 11: A big energy difference on week 2 of the antibiotic. Still headachey and have joint issues, but all symptoms have decreased in intensity. At the end of week 3 when antibiotic was finished, a huge improvement. Can go up and down the stairs without major fatigue, nausea is gone, dizziness is gone, rib pain gone, migraines gone, chills and sweating gone, heartburn gone.

Week 12: Symptoms that remain: daily headache, mild joint pain, neck and shoulder pain, mild tingling in hands and feet, mild numbness in toes. – Doctor prescribed 2nd 21 day round of Doxycycline.

So as you can see, had I not shared my symptoms with Amanda, and she not shared hers with me, I would be swimming in a world of hurt right now. It would have never occurred to me to discuss Lyme Disease with my doctor.

Reading and Informational Resources:

Lyme Research Alliance Symptom List

Lyme Disease Transmission

Could You Have Lyme Disease?

CDC Cases of Lyme Disease By State  - per 100,000 population

Maple Nugget Cornbread

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Hello and Happy New Year!

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I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday. As you may remember, we drove clear across the United States to visit with my mom, our son, some of Tony’s family and celebrate Christmas. We were able to stay for 11 days and even squeezed in an overnight trip to Walla Walla, WA to visit with Tony’s sister and her family.

But the time just sped by much too quickly!

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I filled my mom “bank” with lots of Brandon time and hugs and kisses and as much following him around, sitting next to him, and talking as he would tolerate. Which he did very well, by the way. He was very patient with that weird mom need to drink your child in and imprint everything about them on your brain no matter how old they are. That mom account never stays full for long though when you live 2700 miles from your child.

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The trip was certainly an adventure. The drive was actually not that terrible on the way there. Of course, you’re always excited when you’re headed toward your vacation destination.

The drive there went very smoothly, unless you count the 1500 miles it took us to figure out the heater in the rental car.

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Honestly, who makes a car heater so complicated! We didn’t notice it was necessary until we left Chicago and started heading toward North Dakota. Once the temperature dipped below 5 degrees, we were freezing!

All through North Dakota and Montana the temperatures at night were well below zero so I was so thankful when I woke from a cat nap (who knows where we were) to find I was hot. Tony had spent the quiet time figuring out how to work the heater.

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Somehow he was able to figure out that the air conditioning button needed to be on in order for the heat to work.

We drove from our home in New Hampshire to Chicago, from Chicago to Billings, Montana, and from Billings to Spokane, Washington. The roads were pretty good and the total time for the trip to Washington state…43 hours of driving.

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Now the trip home, that was a different story.

I didn’t keep track of the driving hours. We, well I say we but I mean Tony, had to drive home in a blizzard.

A blizzard that was so scary that I kept my eyes closed or had my face buried in a book and my foot on my imaginary brake for at least 2,ooo miles. We went from Spokane to Bismark (944 miles around 2:00 AM) where it started snowing heavily and continued to snow throughout the night. The next morning (still snowing and 12 below zero) we packed up at the hotel and made it through the ongoing blizzard to Toledo, Ohio (1084 miles 2:30 AM), then from Toledo to home (701 miles 12:30 AM).

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On the way, there were cars off the road, semi trucks jack knifed and off the road, a few horrible car wrecks that were cause for immediate prayer for whomever was involved, a traffic jam that lasted an hour, and lots and lots of trying to pass semis and plow/sanding trucks in big clouds of billowing snow that made it impossible to see.

The most dangerous part of the blizzard started in Wisconsin and didn’t stop until we were parked in our garage. We came home to at least a foot of snow in the driveway. Needless to say, we were quite happy to arrive home safely, eat a piece of toast, and crawl into our own bed.  

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I’m sure I will be hard pressed to get Tony to do a trip like that again any time soon.

In fact I think when we finally got home, I may have heard out of his mouth the words…never again. 

However selfish it may sound, the only thing I cared about was filling up my mom bank account.

Which I did, so it was worth it!

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Maple Nugget Cornbread with Maple Butter

1 Gluten Free Pantry Yankee Cornbread & Muffin Mix

1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

1 1/3 Cups Almond Milk plus 2 Tablespoons of Fresh Lemon Juice (this makes “buttermilk”)

1 Large Egg

6 Tablespoons of Melted Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Maple Nuggets (You can call him here to order: 802-489-2286)

Dairy Free Butter (I use the Soy Free Earth Balance)

Extra Pure Maple Syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Measure the almond milk in a glass measuring cup and add the lemon juice. Set aside. Pour the mix into a medium sized bowl. Add the maple syrup, egg, and melted coconut oil. Add the almond milk mixture. Pour and spread into an oiled 8×8 square baking dish. Sprinkle with the maple nuggets. I probably used about three Tablespoons.

Bake for 17-22 minutes. Do not over bake or the cornbread will be dry. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the Maple Butter: For two people I fork whisked about 3 Tablespoons of dairy free butter with about 1 Tablespoon of Pure Maple Syrup until it was combined. Then I spread it in a nice dish and drizzled with more maple syrup.

Top cornbread with the Maple Butter and drizzle with Pure Maple Syrup. Serve warm.

A Very Merry Christmas

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I have such good news!

And I’m not even going to save the best for last.

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We are going home for Christmas!

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Now don’t get me wrong, we love New Hampshire.

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But home for me is where my mom and Brandon are.

(Not there of course, that is our shed.)

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So, we are packing up the dogs and driving 2,701 wintry miles home for Christmas.

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Spending time with my mom and our son, hugging him repeatedly and just being together…sounds like just about the perfect Christmas to me!

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Going home for Christmas makes me extremely happy, but there’s even more good news. I am now being treated for Lyme Disease.

It might seem kind of weird that I’m excited about this.

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Of course, Lyme Disease itself is not good news but the treatment of it can be.

So the goal is to feel better after 21 days on the antibiotic my doctor gave me. The results are kind of sketchy depending on how quickly you catch the infection. If it’s a new infection, then the antibiotic should handle it.

(This is our 11 ft Charlie Brown tree.)

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If it’s an infection from the past that we didn’t know about and I’m having a flare up, that can be a challenge to deal with. If I’m still ill at the end of the 21 days, then there will be other tests for other things as well.

But we aren’t dwelling on that right now.

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Each day is different as far as how I feel, so I’m learning to take each one as it comes.

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And although I have irritating symptoms and my body feels like that of an old lady on most days, I count any progress that I feel, as a major step in the right direction. If I’m not having a progressive day, then I think of it as just being in a holding pattern… there’s no going backward!

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 The past 8 weeks have been a lesson in patience and rest. I’m learning that baby steps are OK.

 And going home to see your mommy when you don’t feel well is a Christmas blessing to look forward to.

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So in case we don’t chat over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full to the brim of blessings, a heart full of happiness, and a healthy body and mind.

See you soon!

~ April

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41 Fabulous Gluten Free & Dairy Free Breakfast Ideas For The Holidays

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Have you decided what you’ll be making for breakfast on Christmas morning?

Just in case you haven’t, I thought it would be nice to gather all of my breakfast recipes into one place. There’s bound to be something here that will light up your taste buds and be perfect for your Christmas morning. Just click on the links!

Mixed Berry Crepes with Clementine Goat Cheese

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Salmon & Spinach Scramble

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Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

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Berry Scones & Bacon

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Cherry Braids with Almond Frosting

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Power Packed Breakfast Granola

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Fried Eggs Over Potatoes & A Side Of Berries

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Frosted Banana Love Bites

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Veggie & Cheese Omelette

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Berry Clementine Snack Cake

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What’s In The Fridge Smoothie

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Blueberry & Walnut Banana Bread

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Peanut Butter Swirl Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks

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Lemon Coconut Pots De Creme

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Easy Granola Bars

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Blueberry Cornbread

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Going Green Smoothie

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Anything Goes Granola

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Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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Because Sometimes, You Just Need To Start Your Day Off With Chocolate

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Banana Plum Tart

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Blogger’s Breakfast

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Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

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Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Pumpkin Spiced Almond Milk

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Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Maple Compote

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Immune Boosting Smoothie

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Savory Potato Pancakes with Fried Egg and Bacon

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Breakfast Parfait

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Blueberry Raspberry Corn Muffins

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Start Your Day Off On The Right Foot

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Banana Apple Muffins

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Pineapple Pick Me Up Smoothie

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Peanut Butter & Shaved Chocolate Pancakes

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Cinnamon Blueberry Belgian Waffles

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Apple Blueberry Crumbcake

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Crumb Cake

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Scandinavian Kringler

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Pumpkin Coffee Cake

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Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

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Twenty Nine Gluten Free & Dairy Free ~ Holiday Cookie & Candy Recipes

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The holidays just aren’t the same in our house without our yearly traditional recipes. Each Christmas season I always tell myself I’m going to add something new to the list, but there are just those favorites that I’m not willing to give up.

Below you’ll find pictures and links to all of my traditional holiday recipes, as well as other cookies and candies I’ve made along the way that can easily be incorporated into your list of favorites if you’re looking for something new.

Pecan Pie Bars

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Clementine Carrot Cookies

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Gingerbread Snowflakes

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Cranberry & Pepita Bark

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Grandma’s Divinity

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Double Chocolate Chunk Rum Balls

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The BEST Sugar Cookie Dough 

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Fig Pillows

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Clementine Shortbread

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Caramel Heavenlies

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Chokecherry & Raspberry Thumbprints

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Gingersnaps

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Triple Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bites

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Toasted Coconut & Pecan Haystacks

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Not Your Momma’s Sugar Cookie

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No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

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Raspberry & Apricot Pie Dough Cookies

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Peanut Butter Balls

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Rum Fudge with Macadamia Nuts & Coconut

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Chocolate Chunk & Dried Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

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Pumpkin Macaroons

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Pumpkin Biscotti with Drizzled Belgian Chocolate

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Wild Blueberry & Orange Bars

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Pecan Sandies

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Surprise

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Peanut Butter, Pretzel, & Cherry, Chocolate Clusters

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Orange & Sea Salt Chocolates

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Fruit & Nut Tea Cookies

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Dried Apricot & Almond Butter Granola Bars

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Surprise

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This candy is incredibly easy and fast to make and has a big payoff. Cherries and chocolate are a match made in Heaven and with the addition of salted pretzels and a few soft marshmallows…very tasty!

I would say from start to finish, making this candy will take you about 25 minutes, if that. Perfect for a dinner party or for decadent little holiday gifts to give to your favorite neighbors.

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I was running out of daylight for pictures…so the chocolate is still warm here. They will set up once they cool. The coconut oil will keep them from getting too hard.

~ Dark Chocolate Cherry Surprise ~

1 1/2 Cups of 70% Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup of Dried Cherries, chopped

1/2 Cup of Salted Gluten Free Pretzels, broken up into small pieces

1 Cup of Miniature Marshmallows

A Tiny Amount of Sea Salt

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil slowly in a double boiler or microwave. Add the cherries, pretzels, and marshmallows and stir. Spoon into miniature foil lined candy papers. Sprinkle the tiniest amount of sea salt on top of each one. Allow to set. If you want them to set quickly, allow them to rest in the refrigerator for a half an hour.

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