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Monday, April 19, 2021

How To Garden In the Southwest Desert

 Growing a garden in the desert can be hard but it can be done

  I have entertained the thought of growing vegetables in my backyard many times over the past 20 years that I have lived in the Southwest. When I realized the amount of water and time needed to grow plants in the desert of New Mexico, I never followed through. Then a crazy virus pandemic happened in the year 2020 and I decided to try my luck at growing veggies in my backyard. Everyone else was planting a garden and I decided to join the garden craze of the year 2020.

I had time on my hands and it was great therapy

 My family thought that I was nuts as the lack of rain here in New Mexico makes growing anything but weeds hard. I had time on my hands due to the crazy stay-at-home orders that our state had implemented. Once I started the process of gardening, I discovered that it was helping me cope with this lung virus pandemic. Preparing the soil for my garden required lots of work as the desert soil is made up of sand and rocks. So I started a compost pile to help make my dirt better. I also did my research and discovered what plants grow best in the desert soil.

Plants that grow best in the desert

+ Tomatoes

+ Kale

+ Peppers

+ Beets

+ Squash

 Since my backyard was full of rocks and weeds, I did not have a spot that I could start a garden in. Most of the yard had black plastic to kill the weeds. So I decided to use a small area of dirt by the house. I planted my garden from seeds as vegetable plants were hard to find. I planted kale, spinach, and beets. Then later in the summer, I found a tomato plant and a pepper plant on sale at the garden center of Lowes.

Natural Homemade Weed Killer Spray That Works In A Day

Growing plants in the desert requires watering twice a day

 After watering the seeds for 2 weeks, I was amazed to see plants sprouting in the dirt. I had to water the plants twice a day as it does not rain much in the desert. Like I said, I had time on my hands and watering was helping with my anxiety as it was calming. After 2 months of twice-daily watering sessions, I had grown kale, spinach, and beet greens. I only grew beet greens and not beets as the rocky soil prevented the beets from growing. I was excited to pick fresh greens for dinner from my garden.

  My pepper and tomato plants did not grow that well. I even had an episode of plucking big hairy caterpillars off my pepper plant after they ate all the leaves. So I was glad when I was blessed with tomatoes from my church food pantry. My favorite way to cook the tomatoes was roasted tomatoes in the air fryer

No-dig garden method

 Since I was successful with growing green vegetables, I decided to expand my garden this year. I needed a bigger plot of dirt to grow more vegetables. So I decided to use the space beneath the swingset. I knew that the swingset frame could be used for plant support for the cucumbers and green beans. The only problem was all the gravel under the swingset.

 I started to clear away the rocks but quickly learned that the small rocks went deep into the ground. So I did my research and discovered the no-dig garden method. Instead of removing rocks or grass for a garden space, you simply layer big pieces of cardboard on the grass or rocky area. I had plenty of cardboard so, with cardboard and bricks, I created a space for my new garden.

Buy garden soil and start a compost pile

 One of the best tips for gardening in the Southwest desert is to purchase garden soil. Most dirt in the desert is sandy and filled with rocks. So buying garden soil will help your plants grow better. I also suggest starting a compost pile. Compost is decomposed vegetable matter you can make yourself. You can also purchase compost. Mixed in with the soil, it adds nutrients. 

 Composting does take several months but it is a great way to recycle things like food scraps, grass clippings, paper, and other items. You can buy a special compost container or use a kiddie pool. I had an old kiddie pool that had cracks on the bottom so it was perfect for my compost pile. I made sure to place my compost far away from the house as a compost pile can attract bugs. 

Seeds or plants?

 Whether to start your garden with seeds or plants is up to you. A package of vegetable seeds will be cheaper than buying plants. Last year I used seeds for my kale, spinach, and beets. I tried starting my tomato plants from seed but they did not grow. So this year I bought several tomato plants. I also bought a peach tree. Then I attended a Lowes garden event and received two kale plants.

 My library also had a seed giveaway and I purchased other seeds. I decided to experiment with a variety of vegetable seeds and herbs to see what will grow best in New Mexico. I planted the herb seeds in the brick holes since they don't need much room. My seeds have been in the dirt for about a week so nothing has sprouted. So far my tomato plants are thriving.

 Time will tell about the success of my garden in the Southwest desert. That and plenty of water. I will do my part of twice a day watering. I sure do hope that my new garden space gives me plenty of veggies. In a couple of months, I will update this post with my garden photos. 

Best Homeopathic Allergy Medicine

  I was thankful that I had my homeopathic medicine for my allergies. Being outside made my seasonal allergies flare up but using Bioron allergy products helped my body with eliminating the sneezing, itchy watery eyes, running nose, and hives. Seasonal allergies are a part of spring and summer for me. I like that I can use natural products to relieve my allergy symptoms. 

What are you growing in your garden?





Sunday, April 11, 2021

9 Delicious Gluten-Free Products You Need To Buy

 I recently attended the online nourished festival and discovered some amazing gluten-free products. 

I received samples to facilitate this post

 A couple of weeks ago I attended an amazing online allergy-friendly festival and it was the perfect way to discover food that I can enjoy with my food allergies. Many brands came together and showcased their allergy-friendly foods at the Online Nourished Festival so people like me could discover food and other products that are safe for them. This online event was created since the real events of the Nourished Festival had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Yes, you read that right, I said events as the Nourished Festival has several expos throughout the United States at different times of the year. If you have never attended a Nourished Festival event, you need to as it is the best way to discover and taste foods that are allergy-friendly, gluten-free, and made for specialty diets.

Nourished Festival ~ THE GLUTEN FREE, ALLERGY & SPECIALTY DIET FESTIVAL

 While the main focus of this amazing event is about gluten-free products for those with food sensitivities and celiac disease, the online event is also an amazing way to discover allergy-friendly food that is safe for me to eat. My food allergies trigger an asthma attack so I am proactive in avoiding food that contains the food that I am allergic to. Three years food that I discovered that my dairy lactose issue was actually a dairy allergy. It was over 6 months of asthma problems that led to many episodes of struggling to breathe and sleepless nights. 

 Through research and a dairy elimination diet, my asthma improved. A food allergy blood test confirmed that I was allergic to dairy, soy, and mushrooms. I had always had issues with drinking milk and eating ice cream for as long as I could remember. I assumed I had a milk lactose problem as I would feel nauseated after ingesting milk and ice cream. I later learned that my dairy allergy was related to whey and casein. 

  After eliminating the foods that I was allergic to my asthma and seasonal allergies improved. I am able to manage asthma naturally without any prescription medicine through diet and exercise. If I accidentally eat dairy, soy, or mushrooms, I struggle to breathe and I experience asthma problems. So I have to monitor what I eat. So the Online Nourished Festival is an event that helps me discover allergy-friendly food that is free of the top allergens like milk, soy, and mushrooms.

I discovered delicious gluten-free food that is allergy-friendly

 I love attending the Nourished Festival as it is a safe way for me to discover food that is allergy-friendly. This event started many years ago with a focus on gluten-free food so all the brands that are sponsored at the event sell products that are gluten-free. Over the years the Nourished Fest included products that focus on food allergies so many of the sponsors have products that are free of common food allergies. The brands make it super easy for people who have food allergies to learn about new products. 

 I was able to meet with lots of brands and they sent me samples of their products. So I had fun discovering new products that do not contain ingredients that I am allergic to. After sampling the products, I discovered that many gluten-free products are not only delicious but taste so similar to traditional products that contain gluten. While I do not have to avoid gluten, these products are ones that I will continue to buy as they taste so delicious. I attended the previous Online Nourished Festival last fall and you can see the gluten-free products that I sampled HERE.

1. Ottos Cookie Mix

 Ottos sent me their Grain-Free Ultimate Cookie Mix and Otto's Naturals Cassava Flour. I loved how simple it was to make gluten-free cookies with their grain-free cookie mix. All I had to add to the cookie mix was an egg, oil, and my favorite mix-ins. This cookie mix was dairy-free, soy-free, and even nut-free. So they were the perfect cookie to enjoy with my daughter who has nut allergies. 

 I mixed in vegan chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, and dates to the cookie mix. The cookies were so delicious and tasted like ones made with flour. My family enjoyed them. The cassava flour will be great to use in my recipes like gluten-free mocha brownies and waffles.

Check out Ottos Naturals HERE 

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2. Rustic Scoop Pizza Crust Mix

 If you follow a gluten-free diet, then you know how hard it is to find a gluten-free pizza crust that is chewy. I loved learning about Rustic Scoop gluten-free baking mixes and I just had to sample their pizza crust mix that is gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. This baking mix is also free from egg, peanut, tree nuts, refined sugar, and is also naturally vegan. 

 Having a dairy allergy limits my store-bought frozen pizza choices to ones that are gluten-free so I understand gluten-free pizza crusts that are either mushy or too crispy. Rustic Scoop has spent years perfecting this pizza crust it is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. This is a crust that rises beautifully and is perfect for your favorite pizza toppings.  

Check out Rustic Scoop HERE 

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3. Homefree Treats

 I had sampled Homefree Treats last year when they sent me some from the fall Online Nourished Fest. These cookies were so delicious and I loved all the many flavors of the dairy-free cookies. The cookies are free from gluten and allergens such as peanuts, nuts, soy, and milk. Homefree cookies also are vegan, kosher pareve, and non-GMO. 

 When I received my cookies from Homefree, I knew that they would be perfect for a gluten-free cookie crust. I make a dairy-free chocolate pie for Easter using the chocolate mint mini cookies and my family loved the pie. The best part was the pie was safe for my daughter, who has a nut allergy, to enjoy.

Check out Homefree Treats HERE 

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4.  Blake’s Seed Based Treats

 I am a snacker and healthy snacks are the best. So when I discover treats that are dairy-free and delicious, that is awesome. When my boys saw the box that I received from Blake's Seed Based, they tried to eat them before I had a chance to sample them myself. 

 These “better-for-you” snacks are made with Seeds, Fruit, + Chocolate and are Allergy-Friendly (nut-free, vegan, gluten-free, etc.), so almost everyone can eat them! I shared them with my boys and we thought they were so delicious. 

Check out Blake's Seed Based HERE

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5. GF Naturals

 The problem that I have with making gluten-free mixes for my friends is, I always need a little bit of flour to roll the dough on or to add to thicken the batter. So the bag of GF Naturals gluten-free flour will solve my problem. I also want to start baking more healthier treats so this organic and GMO-Free flour will help me. Traditional flours have GMO's in them and baking with gluten-free flour can help me avoid GMOs.

 This gluten-free replacement for wheat flour is a cup-for-cup substitute, so that will make things simple for my baking. I love that this gluten-free flour can be used for cakes, cookies, pizza, bread, and more with no unusual aftertaste, dryness, or texture issues that often come with other gluten-free flour blends.

Check out GF Naturals HERE 

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6. Goodie Girl Smores Cookies

 I was so happy to learn that Goodie Girl makes a dairy-free sandwich cookie. These Chocolate and graham-style cookies had a marshmallow creme-flavored filling and were so delicious. One bite was all it took for my family to want more cookies. I had to hide the box of Smores cookies from my boys as they wanted to eat them all in one day.

 The cookies are certified gluten-free and baked without artificial colors or preservatives. I love that the cookies contain no high fructose corn syrup and are peanut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and vegan. They are the perfect allergy-friendly cookie for summer.

Check out Goodie Girl Cookies HERE

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7. Mom's Place Gluten-Free

 I love the variety of products that Mom's Place Gluten-free offers. Some of their products are free of dairy and soy, so I can enjoy them. They sent me several products that were safe for me to eat and I enjoyed them all. Their baking mixes were so easy to use and tasted amazing. My favorite gluten-free mix was the poppy seed muffins. I make the batter into quick bread and added an orange glaze.

My boys enjoy helping me make pretzel bites with the soft pretzel mix. I loved that the pretzel mix included the special salt. The pretzel bites were chewy and amazing.

Check out Mom's Place Gluten-Free HERE

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8. Lekkco Chocolate Spread

 Derived from a 50-year old Belgian recipe, Lekkco is the first nut-free, gluten-free, vegan, low-sugar, dark chocolate spread to be introduced in the United States. It’s made with the highest quality of all-natural ingredients sourced in Europe, making it a healthier alternative for indulging your sweet tooth. Enjoy Lekkco for breakfast, snacks, or dessert.

 I love that this chocolate spread is dairy-free and soy-free. So I can finally enjoy a chocolate spread on things like cookies and ice cream. This creamy spread is also gluten-free and nut-free. It comes in 4 amazing flavors.

Check out Lekkco Chocolate Spread HERE

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9. Redd Remedies Natural Supplements

 Redd means “to put in order”, which is exactly what they do. This company has natural health solutions to help you put your health in order. They understand that if a person’s health is not in order, it can become the focus of that person’s life. Through the fusion of wholesome clean food, targeted high-quality supplements, and qualified doctors with expertise in natural medicine, they help people address their health from a whole-body perspective.

 Redd Remedies sent me products that will help me with my allergies and joint health. I love that all their products are gluten-free. This company made sure to send me supplements that were free of mushrooms, soy, and dairy. The Lung Care really helped open my airways so it helped me breathe better after I worked in my garden. The joint supplements will help with my running while the sinus supplement and throat drops will help with my seasonal allergies.

Check out Redd Remedies HERE 

 I am glad that I attended the Nourished Festival this year as I discovered some awesome products that are allergy-friendly and safe for me. Having food allergies that trigger an asthma attack means that I have to be careful with what I eat. So having an event that helps me discover safe products is a good thing. To learn more about the Online Nourished Festival head HERE



Allergy Friendy Gluten Free Chocolate Cream Mint Pie

 A creamy rich chocolate pie that is allergy-friendly, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Too good to be true!


This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases 

  Having food allergies means that I have to bake my own desserts. When I am wanting something sweet like chocolate cream, I can't just run to the store or the nearest bakery as they usually contain milk or wheat. So I have learned to adapt to allergy-friendly baking as I don't want to have a severe allergy attack that triggers my asthma. I like breathing so I have been avoiding all dairy products since I discovered my dairy allergy through a blood test several years ago. 

 So I have learned how to modify most recipes and I have learned how to bake using dairy-free recipes. Most traditional recipes can be made dairy-free by switching out the milk for plant-based milk and using vegan butter. I also use dairy-free chocolate chips when I bake items like this recipe for Dairy-Free Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Then there are recipes like this chocolate cream pie that is not easy to just swap out ingredients and requires different allergy-friendly ingredients. 

A chocolate cream pie that is nut-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free

 Then there are the special occasions like Easter and family get-togethers, that require even more allergy substitutions to my homemade recipes as my older daughter has a nut allergy and a peanut allergy. So when my daughter joins us for a meal, I have to remember to use nut-free plant-based milk like coconut milk. So I like to purchase allergy-friendly products that are free of the 8 most common food allergens so I can bake allergy-friendly desserts. 

 So when I decided to make a dessert for Easter, I wanted to make my Dairy Free Chocolate Pretzel Pie but then I remembered that I did not have any pretzels. So I looked in my pantry and saw a box of chocolate mint mini cookies. I knew that these delicious Homefree Treats would be perfect for my pie crust. These minty gluten-free cookies would add a nice mint flavor to my chocolate cream pie that is dairy-free. 

 So delicious! So minty and refreshing! Enjoy the crunch and the long-lasting flavor. Tasty for every age and situation, and elegant for entertaining. Inclusive of pretty much everyone: Free of the 8 most common food allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish) and gluten. Also vegan, kosher pareve, low sodium, non-GMO verified, certified a good source of whole grain. These cookies are so wholesome that they meet school dietary guidelines of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and USDA School Dietary Standards!

Could your health symptoms be related to a food or plant allergy? Discover a simple at-home blood test that can test for 68 different allergies.

Safe allergy-friendly cookies

 While I don't have gluten issues, I tend to buy gluten-free products as they are usually the products that are also plant-based and safe for dairy allergies. I recently attended the Online Nourished Festival and it was at this GLUTEN FREE, ALLERGY & SPECIALTY DIET FESTIVAL that I discovered HomeFree Treats. These cookies are so amazing as they taste like cookies that are made with gluten and one would never guess that they are free of the 8 most common food allergens. When I purchase these dairy-free cookies, I have to hide them as my teen boys tend to eat them up quickly. 

Buy Homefree Treats HERE

Allergy-Friendly Gluten-Free Chocolate Cream Mint Pie is:

+ Dairy-Free

+ Gluten-Free

+ Plant-Based

+ Nut-Free

+ Peanut-Free

+ Soy-Free

+ Vegan

+ Egg-Free

+ Wheat-Free

+ Delicious

+ Allergy-Friendly

My family loved the pie

  My daughter and her husband came over for Easter dinner. After we finished dinner, I brought the pie out for dessert. My daughter asked if the pie was made with almond milk and inquired about the other ingredients that I used to make the pie as she wanted to make sure it was safe for her to eat. When food allergies run in the family, this is our typical meal conversation. While I avoid dairy products, my daughter does not and she avoids all nuts. So my usual almond milk is not safe for her. So I always have to remember to use coconut milk in my recipes. My daughter remembers the time I made a dairy-free Kings Cake and the late-night phone call instructing her not to eat it, as it contained almond milk.

 So while I told her that it was nut-free, I did not let anyone know that the pie was gluten-free. Most people, like my husband, think gluten-free equals taste-free and formulate their opinion even before they take a bite. My daughter's husband tasted the pie and said "this pie is really good!" He also asked if there was mint in the pie. I told him that I used mint cookies for the crust. Everyone else at the table must have enjoyed my chocolate cream pie as they licked their plates clean.

 Once everyone finished their pie, I then revealed that the chocolate crust was made from gluten-free chocolate mint cookies and vegan butter. They were all amazed that a gluten-free cookie could taste so good. I love that a delicious allergy-friendly cookie can be used in my dairy-free recipes. These treats from Homefree are the perfect ingredient for allergy-safe recipes. Check out this Ginger Snap Free-from pie crust recipe that uses Homefree cookies, I will be making this recipe soon with my dairy-free pumpkin pie recipe. 

Buy Homefree Treats HERE


Make sure to pin this recipe on Pinterest!

Allergy Friendy Gluten Free Chocolate Cream Mint Pie

Allergy Friendy Gluten-Free Chocolate Cream Mint Pie

Yield: 8
Author: Mom Knows Best
A creamy rich chocolate pie that is allergy-friendly, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Too good to be true!

Ingredients

  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • 1 box Homefree chocolate mint mini cookies
  • 6 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • FOR THE GANACHE:
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • FOR THE CHOCOLATE PUDDING:
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 (13.5oz) canned (not boxed) coconut milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter

Instructions

  1. MAKE THE CRUST:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
  3. Place the cookies in a blender or food processor and blend until all cookies are crushed. Pour the crushed cookies into a bowl and add the melted vegan butter. Stir to combine.
  4. Place the cookie mixture into the prepared pie pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes until toasted. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before filling with the ganache.
  5. MAKE THE GANACHE:
  6. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in the microwave at 50% power for 30-45 seconds, stopping to stir every 15 seconds. Stir until totally smooth. Pour and spread over the bottom of the prepared crust. Let it set slightly before adding the pudding, about 30 minutes.
  7. MAKE THE PUDDING:
  8. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar, and pinch of salt. Over medium heat while whisking, add the coconut milk and almond milk. Whisk until totally smooth. Continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Once the mixture bubbles continue to whisk and cook for another 2 minutes until thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, vanilla, and vegan butter. Set the pan aside and let it cool to room temperature.
  9. Pour the pudding into the crust. Smooth, then refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
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