Gluten-Free Easter Candy

By Rachel Sircy 

Well, another candy-filled holiday is upon us and we know what that means… Everyone who needs to avoid gluten has to Google each and every one of the pastel colored confections that you come across. This Easter, however, I’m not going to just give a list of manufactured candies that are gluten free (if you would like a list of those candies, check out verywellfit.com‘s Gluten Free Easter Candy list, but remember to ALWAYS take lists you find on the internet with a grain of salt. Be safe, not sorry!). I’m going to make the focus of this post my alternative way of dealing with this Easter: I decided to make my own candy.

Okay, so I understand that making candy isn’t rocket science, and there are probably many of you who are real candy-making mavens. However, I thought I would share this post particularly because I am NOT a candy-making superstar. I wanted to show that even if you’re not experienced, you can make delicious candy that your family will enjoy, and if your family happens to be gluten free, this is by far the safest option for you.

Pinterest is overflowing with recipes for Easter candy specialties. At first, I thought I’d try to recreate one of my all-time favorites, the Cadbury Creme Egg. This candy’s gluten-free status has been hotly debated for a long time. I used to just take the risk and eat it, but that really isn’t smart, and I certainly won’t recommend it to anyone reading this blog who needs to be gluten free. I didn’t end up making it though because it turns out that there are a lot of steps to making fake Cadbury eggs, so I thought I’d better start with something much easier. Also, I have no idea what invertase is or where to find it, and it appears to be a crucial ingredient to liquefy the candy center of the eggs. I needed something totally amateur. My inspiration came one day at work when I went to the communal candy jar and realized that all that was left in it were Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Cream Eggs. I used to absolutely love Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Cream candy bars, and I have made a gluten free version of this candy bar, which actually may be better than the real thing. The best part of it is, there are two ingredients: white chocolate and gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies. All you do is mix the two together and, voila! Cookies ’n’ Cream bark.

However, I wanted to make something a bit more festive, to put in my daughter’s Easter basket. Here are my first attempts:

These colorful looking candies are basically the result of about an hour (including all the stops and starts) in the kitchen with two bags of Nestle white chocolate baking chips (they list that they’re gluten free on the package), one package of Glutino chocolate sandwich cookies and some leftover gluten free food coloring I had forgotten about in my kitchen cabinets. I only had three colors: blue, yellow and green, but they still turned out some pretty cute candies if I do say so myself. I purchased the flower and egg candy molds at Hobby Lobby and Michaels, respectively. They were less than $6 together and they’re silicone so the candy just pops right out once it’s been in the fridge or the freezer long enough to harden.

Here are your instructions to make these candies (I’m giving general instructions and not a real recipe since I’m not a chef and frankly, you don’t need a recipe for this):

  1. Melt your white chocolate – I used a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, but you can melt your chocolate in the microwave as well.
  2. Portion out some of the chocolate into smaller bowls – I took about 1/3 of the white chocolate and divided it between three smaller bowls. I used a couple of drops of food coloring per bowl to make the three different colors. If you want to make more colors, I would really recommend purchasing a third package of white chocolate chips to have enough to divide up.

Candy 3

  1. Crush the cookies and mix with the larger portion of the melted chocolate

Candy 4

  1. Work in steps – To make colored eggs, paint the inside of the egg molds with the dyed chocolate (my daughter’s old baby food spoons worked really well for this actually). Freeze or refrigerate until set. Fill the mold with the chocolate/cookie mixture and freeze or refrigerate again until set. Top with more of the colored mixture and again freeze or refrigerate until set. You see the pattern? This is pretty much it.

Candy 5

I did do it a bit differently with the flowers to get the yellow in the middle, but you can probably guess how I did that. Just freeze the dollop of yellow before adding the blue. It takes about 5 minutes.

Candy 6

And this is what the inside of those eggs look like:

Candy 2

(Don’t tell me that doesn’t look better than a candy bar. Look at how big the cookie chunks are!)

So, if you’re tired of trying to scan everything in the grocery store into your Shopwell app to see if it’s gluten free, just try your hand at a simple candy recipe. I guarantee you can find something simple and delicious, even if you’re a beginner like me!

Happy Easter!

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Easy Come, Easy Go…Does Not Apply Within the Diet World!

By Marianna Boyce

I texted an accountability update to my sister before church recently.  With ten more pounds to lose, I’m still pleased with my current weight of 145 pounds.  Cindy constantly makes me laugh, so I thought I’d pass a smile onto you.  The screenshots of our conversation are quite comical, but they certainly ring true for most of us.  Her spontaneous ending remark is credited with renaming this blog post.

When Every Woman Blog published my post, “New Year…New You…No Dieting,a couple of months ago, a coworker and sweet friend shared it with others.  What Neya didn’t share was that she implemented this plan for herself.  She was a sneaky secret keeper—until she couldn’t hide it any longer.

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A few weeks into the new year, I noticed she was losing weight.  Unbeknownst to me, she was following some of the tidbits of advice I gave in my first blog post of 2019.  She chose the “My Net Diary” app instead of “Lose It.”  We are having a ton of fun on our journey so far, but when our calorie intake exceeds our limit, we agree it is detrimental to our psyche.  Nothing can be done once the choice has been made to eat the burger, fries, chocolate cake—or all three.  Other than laughing about it, our secret is moving on and making better choices the remainder of the day.

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Neya is a beautiful new mom.  After sweet baby Mason was born, she weighed in at 234 pounds.  Having lost twelve pounds since the first of the year, she currently weighs in at 222 pounds.

For every good weight loss plan, there is an exercise program to match.  Being young and vibrant, Neya is signing up for a gym membership.  I’m so proud of her for taking steps to improve her mental and physical well-being.  A healthy mama is a happy mama.

Regrettably, I approach exercise from a different angle.  In the past, I always enjoyed a challenging workout, but now shudder at the thought of it.  Rheumatoid arthritis and similar illnesses take a toll on the human body.  Exhaustion and pain typically rule the day.  My pain levels are now mostly tolerable, but I cannot subject my joints to workouts I accomplished in the past.  Since daylight savings time has ended, my plan is to simply enjoy an evening walk in my neighborhood at least three times a week.

It’s not as easy as it used to be, but I resolve losing the last ten pesky pounds one small step at at time.  Doing something is better than nothing at all.

I will update you on our journey in a future post.  Hopefully, we will be reporting positive results.  How are your health and wellness goals?  Do you need a fresh start?  There’s no shame if you do.  It’s never a “one size fits all” situation.  Simply do what’s best for you!

Refocus, rebalance, restart—because you’re worth it! 

Update on My Weight Loss Journey

by Tina Michelle Cameron

Hi everyone. I am 10 weeks and 5 days into my weight-loss journey. I have been under physician supervision since I started this journey in December 2018. I have not done as well as I had hoped regarding working out, but I am pleased so far with my weight loss and improvement of my blood pressure. I have cut out my go-to snack of Pringles, and I am 5 days short of 1 year without any soft drinks. I’ll admit there are times when I would love a good ice-cold Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew. This is the longest that I have ever gone without soft drinks since I was a teenager.

I am following the Keto diet. I know there are mixed feelings about this diet, but I am doing more of a modified Keto. I am not eating lots of fats every single day. I have increased my protein intake and decreased my sugar and carbohydrate intake. My nurse practitioner wants me to have a little carbs every day just not a lot. I have increased my water intake from 1-2 glasses a day to almost 3l daily.

When I began Keto, I found an app on my phone to log my food, water, weight, and exercise daily. The app calculates it for you and makes it easy. I will admit, I have not logged anything in the past few weeks, but I need to get strict again with this as it really helps you see what you have done. I also will be getting back in the gym tomorrow morning as my graduation is fast approaching in May, and I want to look nice when I cross that stage for my BSN degree at the University of Alabama.

I have found some really good recipes from a coworker-Brittany who is also doing Keto, and I have found some by simply doing a Google search. For the first time in a very long time, I am cooking every few days and enjoying it. The recipes I have enclosed below will last me a few days and with my hectic schedule, it is just easier to eat the same thing for 3 or 4 days in a row. I hope you enjoy the recipes, and I look forward to hearing from you. As of today, I have lost 21.5 lbs. and my blood pressure is within a normal range.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

This dinner recipe features ground pork, cole slaw mix, and seasonings to create a low-carb egg roll served in bowls.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

Servings 4 servings

Calories 396 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground sausage
  • 1 bag dry coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • sliced green onion

Instructions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, brown sausage. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine garlic, soy sauce, and ginger; set aside.
  2. Once sausage is cooked through, add dry coleslaw mix to skillet and stir to combine.
  3. Pour soy sauce mixture into the skillet and stir, continuing to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until cabbage is wilted, but still a bit crunchy. Serve with sliced green onion.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving

Calories 396 Calories from Fat 270

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 30g 46%

Saturated Fat 10g 50%

Cholesterol 81mg 27%

Sodium 1804mg 75%

Potassium 544mg 16%

Total Carbohydrates 10g 3%

Dietary Fiber 3g 12%

Sugars 4g

Protein 20g 40%

Vitamin A 3.9%

Vitamin C 52.3%

Calcium 6.7%

Iron 13.9%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Those Wintertime Blues

By: Marianna Boyce

Have you checked in on your friends and family lately?  It’s important to ask those close to us how they’re doing periodically, especially after the holidays.  We never know what someone is going through.  They may seem fine on the outside but could be experiencing sadness and chaos on the inside.

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Speaking of sadness, have you ever heard about symptoms of seasonal affective disorder or SAD?  Our shortened winter days make for very long nights.  You are most likely affected if you start to feel sad or depressed in late fall carrying through the winter.  We crave more daylight hours and can hardly wait until Daylight Savings Time begins.  This year, the day for those wintertime blues to magically disappear is March 10, 2019.

According to mayoclinic.org, symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are as follows:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day✅
  • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed✅
  • Having problems sleeping✅
  • Changes in appetite and weight✅
  • Having very low energy✅
  • Easily agitated✅
  • Difficulty concentrating✅
  • Feeling of hopelessness or unworthiness✅

I immediately recognized all these symptoms, but not for seasonal affective disorder.  Instead, I recognized them in relation to rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  Add daily chronic intense joint pain to this list and VOILA!  That was me in 2016!  Who knew?  Not me!  I was totally blindsided and clueless.  It took about a year and a half but with the help of a great rheumatologist here at LMC, I am feeling somewhat better.

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Words cannot describe the difficulty one deals with when something so mentally and physically draining leaves such a lingering adverse effect.  Whether it was SAD or solely RA, these symptoms changed my psyche to the core.  I had to delve deep to bring about self-help and healing to my body, soul, and mind.

If you need only a long sunshiny perfect spring day to uplift your spirit, you have a little longer to wait.  In the meantime, try these simple home remedies to help in your quest for a quick pick me up.

  • Open all your blinds during the day. Make your environment brighter and “sun shinier.”
  • Exercise regularly, even if it’s only 10-15 minutes. A mid morning walk would be perfect!  Outdoor light is beneficial, even on a cloudy day.
  • Consider eating your lunch outside on milder days. Living in South Carolina, chances are, that could be often!
  • Make minor changes in your routine. This may be enough to carry you through those wintertime blues.

For me, I chose my reliance and personal relationship with God to guide me through my img_0755 (1)horrible experience with RA.  It was never easy, especially when I felt like God was so far away.  It turns out, He was there the entire time.  Looking back, He was blatantly obvious.

You may choose to seek help with your general or mental health doctor;  this is also a great idea.  My point being, do whatever is necessary in order to just get help, especially if you are depressed and have the last symptom listed for SAD:

  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

I can honestly say I have never experienced this thought, but if you do, you need the most urgent attention!  Awareness is key.  If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, please seek help immediately!  “It’s okay to not be okay.”

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing the Numbers

By: Chaunte McClure

While some of you were trying to figure out the winning numbers for the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot last month, I dreamed of what I’d do with the money if I won. Oh, I’d pay off every bill we owe, invest in a new home and other real estate and, of course, save, save, save. I never dreamed of which numbers I’d choose because of greater importance to me the numbers are displaying on my brand-spanking new wrist blood pressure monitor.

I don’t even play the lottery and I decided not to gamble with my health after being diagnosed with hypertension in July.

I went to the doctor for unrelated symptoms and as soon as the doctor walked in he asked, “What’s going on with your blood pressure?”

I had no idea. I would normally blame my high numbers on the stress of seminary, but that was two months behind me and at the time, I didn’t have much work stress.

My doctor asked me to monitor my blood pressure for 10 days, then come back and he’d decide if I need a prescription.

I hate taking medicine. I mean, really hate it.

It was easy to start my on-again, off-again relationship with morning or evening walks. I was determined to do whatever it took to get my number down, but nothing worked – at least not immediately.

I borrowed a blood pressure monitor and every time I checked, my numbers were still too high.

I recorded these numbers: 162/ 99, 141/105, 135/95, 157/107. (The optimal numbers are 120/80 or less.)

Sure, anxiety contributed to some of that because I kept thinking about a first cousin who died of a stroke less than two years ago and he was only about 35 years old. Just a few months later, one of my aunts suffered a stroke. Then I remembered Granddaddy had at least three strokes. That’s enough to send anyone into a tizzy.

I decided not to wait the ten days and go to my family doctor before the worst happens. I got an appointment within a week of my previous doctor’s visit. I was expecting exactly what I was told. After sharing my family history, the doctor said, “I’m going to put you on a blood pressure medication.”

I had to ask, “How long do you think I’ll be on the medication?”

He said, “For the rest of your life.” (Insert eyes emoji here!)

That’s not what I wanted to hear and honestly, I thought, “That’s what you think, doc.” I was about to put my faith into overdrive when the truth of the matter is I need to listen to my doctor.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or if your doctor has asked you to monitor your numbers, please, listen to your doctor.

High blood pressure affects your health, leading to stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease.

Get into the habit of checking your BP at home or at a local pharmacy. Your life is worth it.

20 Minutes Workout

By: Ashley Whisonant

Disclaimer: Our bloggers are not health experts. Contact your physician if if you are thinking about starting a new exercise program.

Are you feeling a little sluggish lately? I created and completed this quick, twenty minute workout below to reenergize myself and jump start my day.

Give it a shot and let me know how YOU like it!

Warm Up

  • Forward arm circles 15 sec
  • Backward arm circles 15 sec
  • High Knees 15 sec

Activity 1

  • Complete 20 pushups, then 20 stair steps, finished with 20 tricep dips
  • Repeat with 15 of each, then 10 of each exercise

Four Corners (Each corner had a different exercise of 20)

  • Corner 1-plank jacks
  • Corner 2-jumping jacks
  • Corner 3-mountain climbers
  • Corner 4-jump squats

Once you finish the exercise in the corner meet in the middle to do 10 burpees before moving to the next corner.

Then repeat all corners with 20 squats in the middle instead of burpees.

Abs: One minute each

  • Full sit ups
  • Crunches.

Brush Up on the Basics During National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Every year over 30,000 US families lose someone from a ruptured brain aneurysm. About 40% of those experiencing a ruptured brain aneurysm will die. Those that survive often face significant challenges, greatly impacting their lives and the lives of their families. Today, at the beginning of National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month, I re-tell my story to raise awareness of brain aneurysms.

On the evening of March 18, I noshed on some dark chocolate covered espresso beans left over from a road trip to see Modest Mouse in Charleston. I ate a lot, at least ¼ of a pound. Then later that evening, I felt a sharp electrical-like impulse go down my part line, and then down my head. Then it felt like ice cold water running down the sides of my head. I felt really weird, like I was outside of my body; I even told my sister that I thought I was dying.

She said that I threw up and felt better; I don’t remember that, but I do remember refusing her suggestion that we call Mom or go to the ER; I said, “No, I just ate too many espresso beans,” and went to bed. She found me unconscious by my bed the next morning.

Aside from being a woman over the age of 40, I had few of the risk factors. I’d lost and maintained an 80 lb. weight loss. I had LOW blood pressure, so much so that I had taken meds to prevent me from having constant vertigo. I never smoked except for one or two cigarettes in college. So I had no idea I may be having an aneurysm. (Unaware to me until after the event, which could’ve been far too late, I did have a family history. My father’s sister, Rose, had one and survived, and they lost two cousins to aneurysms.)

The doctors say that my aneurysm was about as bad as they get, and my family didn’t know if I would survive for three long weeks. Even then, the doctors couldn’t predict a full recovery. I was fortunate to have wonderful care and to go to a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta for follow-up care. My story ended well. I’m still alive, and while I do have some very mild deficits, I’m a living, breathing success story.

From someone who’s been there, I urge you to use this month to learn more about aneurysms, including the risk factors and symptoms. If you have a history of aneurysms in your family, make it a point to talk to your doctor this month.

There is plenty of information available about brain aneurysms. You can talk to your doctor or consult the internet; my favorite site is the Joe Niekro Foundation. I’m not a doctor, but I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have or speak with you or your small group about my experience.