Natural and Free

http://naturalandfree.blogspot.com/

A blog that provides allergy-friendly recipes and helpful information for those who suffer from or care for those suffering from one to all of the top 8 allergens.

Julie is a winner of Top 25 Foodie Moms - 2013

What's one of the first recipes you taught your kids to make?

Probably the first recipe of any sort that I taught them to make was PB&Js. If you mean the first recipe involving a stove, then scrambled eggs. Surprisingly, the eggs didn't turn out crunchy! :)

What's a delicious no cook recipe?

I have some excellent salad and smoothie recipes that don't require cooking. One of my favorite salads is my Cranberry Apple Salad: http://naturalandfree.blogspot.com/2012/12/12-days-of-christmas-goodies-cranberry.html . One of my favorite smoothie recipes is my recipe for Fruit Smoothies: http://naturalandfree.blogspot.com/2012/06/fruit-smoothies-soy-fish-wheat-nut-egg.html .

What's a great breakfast for a special occasion?

I have an excellent recipe that feeds a ton called Breakfast Scramble (http://naturalandfree.blogspot.com/2012/09/breakfast-scramble-soy-wheat-nut-and.html) or there is always Glazed Cinnamon Rolls (http://naturalandfree.blogspot.com/2012/10/glazed-cinnamon-rolls-soy-fish-and-nut.html) or Butterscotch Rolls (http://naturalandfree.blogspot.com/2012/06/butterscotch-rolls-soy-fish-egg-and-nut.html). Any of these are great options for feeding a crowd and perfect for holidays and special occasions.

How did you feel dropping off your child on the first day of school? Please share a link to a picture if you have one!

Julie Moore

Dropping off my boys at school (my daughter is just 2, so we have a few years before it's her turn) is a mixture of emotions. I'm excited for them to be able to be with their school friends again, for them to make new friends, for them to learn new things, for them to grow intellectually, etc. At the same time, I feel that urge to want to keep them small, even though my oldest is now a 5th grader and my middle guy is in 3rd grade. There is that overwhelming realization that time goes WAY too fast and I am powerless to stop it. Though I wouldn't stop their lives or slow them down for my sake, there is part of me that still longs for the days when I was their world, if you know what I mean. :) I'm just making it a point now to be as much a part of their world as I can, to love and guide them as best as I can as a mom, to let them know that I will ALWAYS be there, and encourage them to enjoy these years and grow up to be the men I know they can be.
View All Answers

What's your favorite muffin, scone, or bread recipe? Please share a link to the recipe and a photo if you have one.

Julie Moore

My favorite recipe is probably my recipe for Cereal Muffins. They bring back fond childhood memories, and I've never met anyone who doesn't like them. :) They are very customizable, too, which is always a plus.
View All Answers

What's one of your favorite one-pot recipes? (Soup, casseroles, etc.)

Julie Moore

One of my family's absolute favorite soups that I make is my Chicken Enchilada Soup. It can be as spicy as you like (or don't like), is hardy and very cost effective (1 recipe makes eight 1 Cup servings). It's also free of 6 (soy, fish, seafood/shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs) of the top 8 allergens, so that's always a plus. :) It never fails to warm us up from the inside of cold days.
View All Answers

At what age did you (or would you) give your child a cell phone? (Please include any contracts or conditions you gave your child with this use)

Julie Moore

I think that's kind of a tough question to answer. It would depend on the child and the situation. To me, I think that if a child has a phone it should be for emergency use. I would have no issue sending my cell phone with one of my boys (ages nearly 10 and almost 8 1/2) if they were going somewhere without me and no one else had a cell phone with strict instructions to use it to call me/Dad or 911 ONLY, but I wouldn't even dream of buying them their own at their ages. Otherwise, I'm thinking if my child was old enough to drive and/or have a job, a cell phone makes sense for safety reasons, but there would be limits to its use (emergency use only to call me, their boss, 911, not to be used while driving, etc.) and abuse of that would result in loss of phone. If they want a phone to talk/text to friends, well, my opinion is that they'd have to be old enough to have a job where they could pay for the phone and any charges associated with said phone. Cell phones are great, but they are a privilege and not a right in my book.
View All Answers

What are signs that a child isn't being challenged enough in school?

Julie Moore

Well, I have a few experiences to go by on this one. 1. I have a teaching degree. Though I do not teach now, I have subbed for nearly every grade and subject imaginable (including Special Education), I student taught and I was a STA for years before that. When kids aren't being challenged, you can see their eyes glaze over in boredom, the disruption kicks up and the chitter-chattering begins. Sometimes this is due to "what can I get away with" or "I HATE this class", but generally kids will listen, no matter what age or grade, if you show that you care and that you want them to "get it". If it's too simple or too hard, they simply disengage, and you can tell pretty quickly. Also, if they are getting work done in 5 minutes (assuming the answers they provide are correct), that's a red flag, too. I always liked to have "extras" available when I student taught that were fun yet challenging and pretained to the lesson at hand for those students who needed a little more of a challenge or wanted to put forth extra effort. 2. With my oldest son, everything comes easy academically. He rarely struggles. The key with him is to let him expound on what he's learned, to keep his imagination going, to let him go further than is necessary (within reason), to offer that extra option, etc. If this doesn't happen, then I hear complaints of boredom or getting in trouble because he was talking to this or that friend during class, which is very unlike him. He loves to learn new things and have the chance to explore all the options. He has had to learn restraint at times (he'll get himself buried in a project by biting off more than he can chew because it so fascinates him), but he more often than not needs those extra little challenges (i.e. drawing that optional picture to go along with his short story) to keep the boredom and behavior where it should be. 3. My middle child has has been in need of extra help since Kindergarten (he's in 3rd grade now), and it's very easy for him to get overwhelmed. When he's not challenged enough, he acts beyond relieved and gets just a wee bit too goofy. When he just can't seem to get it, he gets angry or avoids the subject/work completely. When it's just right for him, he struggles a little, but not so much that he gives up. What works best for him is encouraging him that he CAN do it...Just maybe not as quickly or in the same way that his brother can, and that's ok. Everyone is different and has different strengths and weaknesses (he's excellent at anything athletic which is where my oldest struggles ironically enough). Overall, I think you have to know your kids and/or your students. Every kid gives their own signs. If they are doing something out of character for them, that's a big tip off that something isn't right. They should be engaged in what is going on, even if they don't particularly like the subject, and they should be able to do the homework/classwork without looking like they are breezing through it or about to die because it's so frustrating for them. If there's that kid that, like my oldest, everything is easy for, they'll need those extras, so a teacher should always have something available - just in case - even if it doesn't count for a grade.
View All Answers

Help us create the ultimate pirate-themed birthday party! Please share an idea for a game, recipe, party favor, decoration, etc. that's perfect for a pirate party. Include a link to a photo if you have one!

Julie Moore

My oldest son had a pirate-themed birthday a few years back. We made rice crispie treats out of Cocoa Pebbles and shaped them into cannon balls, put them in a pile and stuck a toothpick with a pirate flag in the top one for his school treat. They were a big hit. :) At home, we made cupcakes and frosted them I believe with blue icing (my son's favorite color at the time and to make them look like water) and topped them with pirate flags my son made (the toothpick ones). We deorated the table by scattering individually wrapped candies, necklaces, chocolate gold, caramels - anything that could look like jewels and gold pirate treasure - about the table around the cupcakes. Some of it was edible, some of it wasn't, but the effect was still neat. :) I'm sure there was a lot more we could do, but we were really limited on budget, so that's all we could do at the time. I think we even let him and his brother dress up in their pirate outfits. It was too much fun. :)
View All Answers

What's one of the worst messes your child has made? Please share a link to a photo if you have one.

Julie Moore

My thinking (and fear) is, as soon as I post a "worst mess" it will be overshadowed by a new one. :) LOL Isn't that how it goes with kids? Anyway, just for the sake of answering this question, I'll say the worst mess I ever had to clean up was when my oldest son was, if memory serves, just 3 and his little brother was 1 1/2. It was getting close to winter time, and my kids had this foam puzzle map of a town with a road that covered a good portion of their floor (gift from grandma, of course :) ). The boys were supposed to be napping, but my oldest decided that his brother needed some entertainment and proceded to "make it snow" all over the town (and the cars he'd set up on the road) with baby powder. Not just any baby powder, however. Oh no - the expensive Baby Gold Bond that I swore by for diaper rash and had just bought. I think he emptied most of the bottle before I'd gone in to check on them - he was oh so sneakily quiet about it. :) When I asked him what he was doing, he smiled up at me as innocent as can be and said, "I'm making it snow for Sean." Well, my heart did melt, even if it was a mess, and I told him that wasn't the best idea, got him into the bathroom to wash the powder off his body, got him into a new change of clothes and had him help me a little with the clean up (he held the dust pan while I sweep). That stuff was horrible to get out (I had to scrub it out with wet clothes after sweeping up as best as I could), and honestly it never completely came out. The boys did eventually get a nap, and I'm pretty sure I took one, too, after all that! :) It's a memory that makes me smile today, though at the time I was more frazzled than pleased, even though the reason he did it was sweet.
View All Answers

Can your recommend school shoes for girls that are both stylish and playground-ready? Please include a link!

Julie Moore

For pre-schoolers, these are just so darn cute and so functional! They can dress them up or down and run and play in them, too. Best of both worlds. :)
View All Answers

If you prefer your livingroom to look like it's for grown-ups, how do you keep your kids' toys under wraps? Please share a link to a photo and tell us where in the living room the toys are hiding!

Julie Moore

Personally, we don't have a spot in the living room for our kids' toys or books. That doesn't mean they don't bring them out into the living room and play with them there, but the rule has always been only one type of toy at a time can come out, and our boys can't bring out the Legos or other little toys if their 2 year old sister is out and about. It keeps the mess to a minimum and makes it easier to transform the living room into a grown-up space quickly.
View All Answers

What's your favorite pie recipe for fall? Please share a link to a photo!

Julie Moore

My favorite pie ever is Pecan Pie, especially in the fall. It's sweet and nutty and wonderful with a hot cup of coffee. It is so very nostagic for me, too, since it seems I only ever got to have it as a child when we were having Thanksgiving at Grandma's. Just makes me want to cuddle up in a warm blanket with a cup of joe and a nice slice of pie in front of a fireplace or good, old-time family movie. Now THAT sounds heavenly. :) The link I shared is the link to the recipe. It's got an extremely easy, no fuss crust and it's beyond simple to make. I hope you are able to check it out! So worth it! YUM! :)
View All Answers

What was your favorite book as a teen?

Julie Moore

I have been a mystery buff for as long as I can remember. I think my favorite books to read as a teen were the Sherlock Holmes series. I'd read other, too, but those were by far my favorites. I still read them today, as well as Mary Higgins Clark books. The thing I liked more than reading, however, was writing. I wrote way more often than I read. I'd write anything from poems to non-fiction. I'd even try to illustrate, but that didn't go as well. LOL :) I think my love for reading and writing came from amazing teachers and parents who encouraged creativity and imagination. They taught me how to delve deep into a story and find the lessons to learn, the places to explore, etc. I will ever be in their debt. :)
View All Answers

Nothing says fall like the flavor of cinnamon! What's one of your favoritie recipes that has cinnamon in it? Please share a link with a photo.

Julie Moore

This is my favorite fall recipe to date! It contains Pumpkin Pie Spice which has Cinnamon in it. The recipe is for Pumpkin Muffins. They have an amazing streusel topping, great pumpkin flavor and just scream seasonal goodness. :) Click the link to see the recipe. YUM! :)
View All Answers

What's a great recipe that uses cranberries?

Julie Moore

I just posted a recipe for Orange Cranberry Muffins today! They are deliciously sweet and tart, and allergy friendly, too. Check them out by clicking on the link.
View All Answers

What's your family's favorite way to eat cranberries? Please share a link to your recipe!

Julie Moore

Our favorite way to eat cranberries is in my Orange Cranberry Muffins! Not only are they delicious, but they are allergy-friendly! YUM!
View All Answers

What's your kids' favorite homemade popsicle or frozen treat?

Julie Moore

My kids LOVE homemade smoothies (recipe in the link provided), and they are so super simple and customizable! They are just juice and frozen fruit of your choice, a little sugar or honey or sugar alternative as needed/desired for sweetness, thrown all in a blender and blended for an instant treat! So great on a hot day and a healthier alternative to ice cream. :)
View All Answers

What's the best form of exercise for a tired, busy mom who wants to get back in shape?

Julie Moore

Depends on the mom. If you want something relaxing or stretching-based, you could do something like pilates or yoga. If you want something rhythm-based, you could do Zumba. If you want something to release tension, there's all kinds of Ti Bo or martial arts-style exercise programs out there. If you want something that gets you outdoors, walking is always great and you can do it with the kiddos if you need to. Best advice, though, is start slow with what fits in your schedule and is something you enjoy so that you stick with it, and don't be afraid to mix it up!
View All Answers

Please share a favorite recipes for a yummy smoothie your kids love and may not realize is good for them.

Julie Moore

I have this recipe for a PB&J smoothie that is not only delicious, but also a hidden source of dark greens, whole grain and even more veggies/fruits if you wish!
View All Answers