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The Best 4-Ingredient Chia Pudding Recipes!

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(pictured: chocolate cherry chia pudding)
"Pudding" made from soaked chia seeds has become a favorite breakfast/snack of mine since going gluten-free. I can make four servings at a time in just minutes using these simple recipes! If you haven't tried chia pudding before, the texture is quite similar to tapioca pudding, but chia seeds have lots of added health benefits. Here are my favorite chia concoctions so far! 
ALMOND BUTTER & CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING Ingredients: 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk 1/2 cup chia seeds 1/2 cup natural almond butter 4 T. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
Directions: Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a medium bowl. Whisk until almond butter is well blended. Divide mixture evenly between 4 small containers with lids. Top each serving with 1 T. chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.

PB & J CHIA PUDDING:
Ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1…

What The Heck Is Celiac Disease?

Hello, my name is Laurel, and I found out today that I have celiac disease.

So ... what the heck is celiac?

"Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine" (Celiac Disease Foundation). Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. Basically, my body sees gluten as a threat and creates antibodies against it, which ends up damaging my small intestine. Fun, eh?

So, how did I find out I am part of the 1% worldwide who have celiac?

Well, out of the huge range of symptoms associated with celiac disease, I experienced these:
- fatigue
- anxiety (read more about my anxiety issues here)
- headaches
- lactose intolerance
- missed menstrual periods
- abdominal pain
- abdominal bloating

After googling the heck out of my symptoms, I requested a celiac panel blood test at the doctor's office. The results showed that my celiac antibody levels were very elevated ... m…

Extreme Gratitude

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The following clip is super funny, but it also got me thinking...what if we were all this grateful for the blessings in our lives (in a non-drug induced state, of course)! Think of how differently we might perceive our stresses and difficulties if we kept gratefulness at the forefront of our thoughts.


Why I Quit Lexapro & How I'm Coping Without It

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

I started taking Lexapro for my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) more than 4 years ago. At the time, I was experiencing debilitating anxiety that left me feeling worthless and unable to cope with daily life.

Suffice it to say, I was in a very dark place emotionally and mentally. I thank God for my caring and understanding husband, Dave -- without his encouragement, I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to seek the help I needed. Because people, hear me when I say this: it is BRAVE to admit you need help, especially when it comes to your mental health. Dave sat next to me as I wept at the doctor's office, hardly able to answer their questions because I was so emotionally distraught. I started therapy and medication (the aforementioned Lexapro) and, little by little, began to feel more like myself.


WHY I DECIDED TO QUIT LEXAPRO

First, a disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. If you are taking any medications, please consult with your doctor befor…

Super-Easy Bento-Style Lunches!

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We tried something new! Dave and I are having fun creating Bento-style lunches! Here's a look at what I've been putting together for my dairy-free self:

Veggie straws, whole grain fruit bar, chicken salad (one rotisserie chicken cut up, one cucumber peeled and diced, cashews, sliced grapes, and vegan mayonnaise)
Crackers with peanut butter, veggie straws, peas, and dried pineapple slices
Baby carrots, trail mix, crackers, and salami
Cashews, chicken, lettuce, and dairy-free cheddar style cheese
Chicken patty, green beans, honeydew melon, and trail mix

Do you make Bento-style lunches? Share your favorites or ideas below!

Letting go of the shame of being overweight

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This post is for my lady friends.

I was inspired by this TedTalk from Whitney Thore, who suffers from PCOS and has learned to embrace her size in a culture that shames women for being overweight.

As women, we face so much pressure, don't we? We have messages thrown at us all our lives that thin=pretty. And that if we're pretty, we'll be happy.

I have struggled with my weight over the years, and have gained a substantial amount of weight since starting four years ago on the medication that helps me manage my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Even though losing weight isn't all that likely right now, I have managed to stabalize myself at about the same weight for a year now, which feels like a victory in itself!

If you look at the charts, I would fall under the category of "obese", not just "overweight". I would like to lose weight to take some pressure off of my joints and so forth, but my weight is not the end-all-be-all of who I am. I would like…

Shoeboxes for Boys Ages 2-4

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We packed our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes early this year! We went shopping as a family today to pick up the final items. I'm looking forward to carrying this on as a tradition as our little boy grows. Our plan is to pack shoeboxes for boys "close" to our son's age, and at this point, that's the 2-4 year old category!

Here's what we picked and packed in each box for boys ages 2-4:

- beanie baby
- two toothbrushes
- bandaids
- toy car
- sticker book
- three plastic dinosaurs
- shirt (size XS 4/5)
- washcloth
- bandana
- 24 count pack of crayons
- sketch book

We're looking forward to getting these shoeboxes shipped out later this year, and we are praying that these simple gifts help show the love of Christ to the boys who receive them. Learn more about Operation Christmas child here.