Category Archives: Informative

Team Members #Wanted #TCE #TheCocoaExchange


We are getting into fall, back to school, soon Christmas… Where is this year going? Yikes! Now that I stay at home full time with the kids again I have been working on building a business of my own. I have mentioned The Cocoa Exchange in the past. I am mentioning it again because I am looking to start building a team. But not just for myself- to pass on the blessing that has been given to me.

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Do you really eat Healthy?

Have you ever stepped back and wondered what you are really taking in when eating? Ever since going gluten free I have found I am much more aware of the stuff that goes into my foods. There were so many ingredients that I could not even pronounce! It made me realize that maybe I was not eating as healthy as I thought!

Now there are things like HFCS and MSG and aspartame. Really what are those things? Then it made me think- what is in my fast food? I hate to even THINK about it know! Then there is the dreaded Gluten! It is everywhere, in meat, in cheeses. It seems like ever corner I turn there it is. Why is there wheat in Soy Sauce or Rice Wine?

So it made me wonder what people really eat like. Below is an info graphic with some shocking numbers.

Ok lets look at this- 156 pounds of sugar! Yep 156 pounds! That is like one of me filled with nothing but sugar! But on the plus side 75% of those surveyed say the pick out foods that are lower in fat. I can honestly say I am not one of those people. I do the whole milk, the regular salad dressing, the regular yogurt, the regular cheese. I believe that there are good fats and bad fats and it is key to find the balance.

Now they one category I do fall in is that 43% of American Families eat meals together daily. Yep. We do this. The TV gets turned off. We sit around the table no matter how busy we are and take time to eat together. We talk about our day, we listen to a bible study thing the kids are doing. We spend that time together.

 I want to hear from you. Do you and your family fall under any of these Statistics? If you are interested in learning more about Gluten Free living please visit the NFCA website! After reading these I do have a goal of doing better myself (at least on the sugar intake).

~This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for sharing the info graphic. Regardless I wouldn’t of shared it if I didn’t think it would benefit my readers. I am not a nutritionist or a doctor so these thoughts are not meant to be taken as medical advice!~

Q&A with Chef Janet!

Ever wonder which flour blend is best for which desert? Or maybe when it is best to us xanthan gum, guar gum or both even? Or are you just looking for some good recipes?

I have a treat for you then! We are being given an opportunity to pick the brain of a Gluten Free Chef for one hour!

Chef Janet because gluten free 10 years ago. Back then they had limited and sometimes unappetizing options and now you can almost get confused over all the different products. That was when she was inspired to become a Chef. Janet studied Culinary Arts at Le Cordon Bleu College. Now she takes what she learned and creates gluten free dishes. Here is a bit more from her site:

“i’m a certified Culinarian with the American Culinary Federation and am ServSafe Certified with the National Restuarant Association. I have a Master’s Degree in Education from UCLA and more than 20 years as a teacher and trainer. I combine my skills as a teacher and chef to design customized gluten free recipes and menus and teach you to prepare them for your family and friends.”

Yes you read that right! She teaches how to plan and create Gluten Free goodies! She will bring you a shopping list, recipe cards and teach you how to make each meal! She can even dish up some kid friendly meals and help you get through the holidays! The best part is- you can get her help even if you do not live in her area! She is willing to help people through Skype or by phone!

You can learn more about her lessons on her website! Also feel free to check out some of her recipes and her facebook page!

Janet has also agreed to chat with us! On Thursday May 23rd at 8pm CST (9pm EST, 7pm MTN, 6pm Western), you can meet Janet and learn some great cooking tips and maybe even get some great recipes! Start making a list of questions and come enjoy the fun!!

You can join in by CLICKING HERE and then invite your friends!

Is Gluten Free Right for you?

Lately there has been a lot of talking about going Gluten Free. You hear celebrities talk about their weight loss, sport figures claiming it enhances performance. But the truth is- there is no scientific bias that has been linked to these claims. And, because of these claims sales of Gluten Free foods were up 19% in September 2012. The amount of new products doubled and then some jumping from 600 new products in 2007 to 1600 new products in 2011 and that number just keeps growing.

The reason for these jumps is shown in a survey that was taken in 2012. 35% of the participants said they choose Gluten Free because the foods are “generally healthier” (we will look at this fact in a bit), 27% say they only eat Gluten Free to manage weight, and 21% because they are low carb foods (again will address this in a bit). Then there is the scary facts- only 15% buy gluten free foods because of a member in the house having Gluten Intolerance or Wheat Intolerance (completely different allergies) and even scarier- only 7% because of having Celiac Disease. It is estimated that 1.6 million people are eating Gluten Free with out a Celiac Diagnosis. Because of these numbers, it is being said that the Wheat Belly/Gluten Free diet will be the most popular weight loss tool in 2013!

Let’s first look at some terms-

Celiac Disease– Is an Auto Immune disease that affects the intestines. It flattens the villa which prevents you from processing the nutrients your body needs. It is genetic so it can skip generations and show up in anyone at anytime. It is eastimate that 1% of the US population (or 1 out of 100) have this disease and less then 10% of the know they have it. This disease is linked to cancers and other auto immune diseases and there is no cure other then eating a strict Gluten Free Diet.

Wheat Intolerance- Is exactly that- an intolerance to wheat. Reactions could be a rash or stomach issues. But you can have other grains.

Gluten Intolerance- Is an intolerance to the gluten protein found in wheat, malt, barley, and rye. It is also suggested to avoid Oats because they are highly contaminated due to how farmers plant/harvest them. Reactions are the same as Celiac so there are over 300 symptions to it. It is estimated that 5-6% of the US Population suffer from Gluten Intolerance. There are a few differences between Gluten Intolerance and Celiac- There is not a bio marker for Gluten Intolerance for one, for two with Gluten Intolerance you do not have the intestinal damage that occurs with Celiac.

Now those terms out of the way lets look at the above facts again. Fact is 90% of those eating gluten free are doing so as a food fad or for weight reduction. But when taking a closer look is that really a healthy reason to be doing so?

Shelley Case, Registered Dietician and author of the book “Gluten Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide”, actually noted that she has noticed people gain weight when eating gluten free, especially if they are relying on highly refined gluten free products. There is nothing inherent about the foods that will enhance weight loss. In fact, other Registered Dieticians such as Jenna A Bell (PhD) and Pamela Cureton, a clinical research dietitian at the Center for Celiac Research, state that they do not recommend this diet as a weight loss tool.

Now you may be asking ok what’s the catch- why isn’t it. Remember above how I said we would touch base on the whole “low carb” and “generally healthier” statements. Well that is because our foods actually lack nutritional value. The Gluten Free foods you see actually carry twice as many carbs. If you check out my last post about this you can find some comparisons I did with breads and noodles (click here to see comparisons). Manufacturers tend to add more sugars and fats to get the foods to “taste better”. The foods lack essential vitamins and minerals such as Fiber and B12

The truth is, those with Celiac still have a hard time getting the Nutrients, this time it isn’t because their body is not absorbing it, it is because they are not in the foods we need to eat. Studies show that those who eat gluten free are low on iron, fiber, calcium and have a vitamin B and D deficincy. Swedish Studies also reported that after 10 years of being Gluten Free adults not only had the vitamin definciencies but also were lacking folate and had high levels of homocysline. That makes them at high risk for Heart Disease.

People who go gluten free should help that out by taking extra vitamins and minerals suppliments and should also take a probiotic to help their body heal the way it should and stay healthy. I strongly believe that one should only go Gluten Free if medically necessary. If you want to lose weight by limiting your carbs that is fine. You can do so with out spending the extra money on speciality foods that in reality lack any health value. You can still achieve this by eating healthier whole foods such as more fresh fruits and veggies and less processed foods.

If you are considering this diet there are some things you should ask yourself. Are you doing so just because you hear it is the latest fad? Or are you doing so because you feel you would benefit medically from it? If, your answer to the second question is Yes, then research your symptoms, keep a journal of what you eat and how you felt after each meal for a month. Take that information to your doctor and talk to them. Dr. Joseph Murray of the Mayo Clinic says it best

“It is important if someone thinks they might have Celiac Disease that they be tested first before they go on the diet.”

Since Celiac is genetical I strongly agree with that statement. That way if you do have it your families members can be tested as well. We need to get awareness of this disease out there so more can be properly diagnosed and we need to quit treating eating Gluten Free like the latest weight loss fad.

What to learn more or have a question- There will be a live Q & A sessions that will cover this topic on April  24th on twitter. You can find out more about this live chat on the NFCA website by clicking here!

~This is not to be taken as medical advace information above was found on the sources listed below. I am not a doctor, nurse or dietician. Just sharing facts I found about this diet and sharing the information

Should you go gluten-free?
Mayo Clinic: 80% of People on Gluten-Free Diet Do Not Have Celiac Disease
Will Going Gluten-Free Help You Lose Weight? 
Gluten-Free Diet Most Popular Approach to Weight Loss, but Dietitians Say it Doesn’t Work ~

The Great Migration- A must see!

Calling all bird lovers! This is something if you haven’t seen you must see soon! Even if you are not an avid bird watcher- seeing the spring migration in Nebraska is something you should really add to your bucket list. It is just truly amazing the multitudes of birds you will see.

The Sandhill cranes are a beautiful bird that migrate right through the midwest every spring. So while you can see them in many different states the part that makes their trip to Nebraska more special is their 5 week layover along the Platte River.

It is estimated that over 500,000 cranes use a 30 mile stretch of the Platte River as their stopping ground during this great journey. You can find them between mid-February to mid-April and along the river inbetween Kearney, NE and Grand Island, NE. But that is not all! It is estimated that during this time you can see between 7-10 million ducks and geese making the same trek! I have lived in Nebraska all my life and have heard of this but have never witnessed it and appreciated the amount of birds that truly fly over head on a daily bases. While I am to far east for the cranes I see a ton of ducks and geese on daily bases. So one day we took a drive to see the cranes up close and personal. My daughter (the bird lover of the family) was in heaven. Here are some photos of our trip as well as some that were taken on just an every day drive.(sorry not the best quality!)

This is just a portion of the cranes we saw in this field. 

So those dark spots above the ground is the cloud of snow geese

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As mentioned those were not the greatest of photos. I have been trying to get back up to the river to see them again but time and weather has not allowed me to do so. The photos above do not even begin to show how many we saw (my battery kept dying and I couldn’t zoom in enough!). There is a reason why Forbes Magazine has labeled this the #1 place in the world for bird watchers! I really recommend making the trek to see and hear these beautiful birds. You can find some wonderful stopping places on the Nebraska Travels website. There are places like Rowe Sanctuary where you can rent a blind during sunrise or sunset to see these birds up close and personal on the river. You can also view this beautiful event on their live WebCam– the best time is normally around 7:30am CST and 7pm CST (the camera is on 24/7 so you can at least hear their song at night!).

~I was not compensated for this post in anyway. Just sharing an adventure that my kids and I took and will probably take more often!~

Free Webinar: Planning for Gluten Free Summer Camp

Just wanted to pass the word along that The National Foundation of Celiac Awareness is hosting a Free Webinar for kids.

This will be a 3 part series about kids and teens who are living with Celiac Disease. The one coming up will focus on helping parents find the perfect Gluten Free summer camp for the kids.

Being featured in this webinar is Jeffery Lewis, MD, Children’s Center for Digestive HealthCare LLC, Founder, Camp WeeKanEatit and Jill Waddell, Director, Camp WeeKanEatit. They will talk about how to train camp and kitchen staff, talking with the peers, and a list of go to snacks and recipes.

When: Thursday March 14th, 2013
Time: 8:30pm EST/5:30pm PST

You can register for this FREE Webinar by clicking HERE!

~This Webinar is available for free thanks to the courtesy of Rudi’s. I was not compensated for this post just helping spread the word!~ 

Helping Kids Read

For those of you who are new I recently started subbing at the school for the para’s that are there. I mostly assist teachers with reading lessons and once in awhile do additional one on one reading lessons with kiddos who are starting to show signs of struggling.

Over the past few months I have learned a lot of tricks from the teachers at my kids school. At my kid’s school they learn a total of 60 phonogram sounds before they are done with kindergarten. That is their base of reading education. When we first moved to the community my son couldn’t tell them any of them because his prior school did not teach them! They worked quickly with him and now he is almost to a second grade reading level. But a lot of that has to do with having parents who are involved to. I am a firm believer that the teachers are not the only one there to teach your child. Each parent should be involved in their education some how. Be active in the class room, communicate with the teacher, help with home work, read extra and maybe do some extra studies.

Today I wanted to share one thing we are starting to do in our house.  If your child’s school does not do phonograms you may want to just work on it by yourself. Otherwise this would just be great extra practice.

First you can print off free flash cards at  You will have to cut them and glue the fronts and backs together. But it is worth it. Some of these phonograms have some cute little sayings that you can use to help your child remember them. Here are a few video clips of my daughter demonstrating the motions:

Now here are the sayings (you can write these on the back of your note cards to help you)

m = have your child rub their belly while saying “mmmm”
qu = have your child say “The letter q is always written with a u and we say “qu” the letter u is not a vowel here”
x- “ks” have your child put their arms together in an “x” fashion
y- has 4 sounds- the child could also say “y is a spy keep it away from the i “
er – “er the er of her” point back and forth to each ear
ir- “ir the ir of first”  when your child says first have them hold up their point finger like they are saying they are number 1
ur- “ur the ur of nurse” move your hand like you are tracing a necklace on your neck line
wor- “wor the wor of works” cross your arms like an x on the ks part
ear – “ear the ear of early”  stretch your arms up like you are stretching or yawning
sh- “shhh” have your child hold their finger up to their mouth like they are shushing someone
ee- “ee double ee always says e(draw a line about the e)”
ay- “ay 2 letter a that we do use at the end of english words”
ai- “ai 2 letter a that we do not use at the end of english words why? english words do not end with i “
oy- “oy that we do use at the end of english words”
oi- “oi that we do not use at the end of english words why? english words do not end with i”
aw- “aw that we do use at the end of english words”
au- “au that we do not use at the end of english words why? english words do not end with u”
ew- “oo u that we do use at the end of english words”  wave your hand in front of your face while saying it
ui – “(say the 3 sounds) that we do not use at the end of english words why? english words do not end with i
ch- for the “ch” make a drumming motion for the “k” put hand up to the throat for the “sh” put finger up to mouth
ar- “ar the ar of car”
ck- “two letter ck used only after a single vowel which say a e i o u”
ed- “ed, d, t, past tense ending”
wh- have your child put their hand under their mouth and say it as if they are blowing a feather off their hand
oa- “o the o of boat”
ey- “a e that we do use at the end of english words”
igh- “igh 3 letter i “
eigh- “eigh 4 letter a”
kn- “n two letter n used only at the beginning of a base word”

These are all really simple and really helpful. Another site I have been told to look into is  My daughter brings home a lot of extra reading from that sight to work on. So I will be looking into registering myself to have access to this. 

I hope this help you guys as much as it has helped me!

~I am not a certified teacher. These are tips that have been passed onto me by the teachers at my kid’s school. I was not compensated for this posting~

Scary Yet Interesting Facts

Ok I am honestly sick of hearing about all this talk about guns being a problem and we need more gun control. Let’s forget that you already have to go through background checks, waiting periods and so much more in order to get a weapon. In most states in order to conceal carry you even have to take a COURSE!

So lets look at some real problems-

First- we as a country have desensitized our children to violence  Look at the shows that are on TV, the movies that come out, the video games they play. You sit there and say “not my child” but are you with him/her every second of their life? What ever happened to our kids being kids, going outside and playing. There was even recently a case where a kid admitted he killed his sister and mother because he saw how easy Mike Meyers did it in the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween. He wondered if he would be able to do it with ease and be at peace with it like the movie showed…

Second- drugs. Would some of the people who do these things do them if they were not on them? There were a Total of 12,664 (8500 caused by guns and then other means are listed) murders in 2011 according to one FBI Database of those 390 occured during a Drug related felony offence. Then if you look at the CDC there were a total of 40,239 drug induced deaths. That is is way higher then the homicide by firearm rate of 11,101 deaths. Did you know that as many as 230 cities here in the US have Mexican drug cartel operating in them? Let me put it this way- on 2/29/12 the Border Patrol seized $5.55 Million in Meth. That was just one incident that one day. On Jan 17 of 2012 they reported that one of their ports seized over $17 million worth of marijuana in a two month time frame. Imagine how much more they seize on a daily basis and at other ports!

Third- Alcohol. Yes, Alcohol. Did you know that you are more likely to die from an alcohol related incident then you are then by a gun. In 2011 there were 26,256 alcohol induced deaths and there were 34,677 auto accident related deaths (again higher then the homicide by firearm rate of 11,101 deaths).  The year prior,  the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 32,885 people died in a traffic crashes in 2010. Of those 32K deaths 10,228 were people who died in drunk driving incidents (accounting for 31% of all traffic deaths). It also starts with our kids. Just last night my husband had to drive a kid home because he was underage and drinking. This was the kid’s 2nd MIP in the past 3 months.. New Years eve a party was broken up and resulted in 13+ MIP’s a majority of them were high school basketball players who now can not play for a majority of the season. How many scholarships just went down the drain because a recruit will not be able to see that kid play? Talk to your kids, is alcohol really worth it?

Last- Harsher punishments. Did you know that 70% of the people that commit crimes that involve weapons are repeat offenders? Yep. Then we also have judges like the one who gave a St. Louis man a 4 year prison sentance for open firing on a police station! Yes- 4 years- the incident happend in 2010 and he was just sentanced. So figured 2 years time served plus any good behavior laws, this man will probably be back out on the streets by the end of the year if he isn’t already. What does that tell would be criminals? It tells them you can openly shoot in a crowded place and not get in trouble for it! Or in Nebraska when a judge sentenced a child sex offender to probation because of his size! She openly admitted he was only getting probation because of how short he was- she was afraid he would be hurt in prison… My thought- TO BAD! He shouldn’t of raped a child to begin with! That judge was voted out very quickly!

My question is this: When have we as a country, sat our morals aside for the sake of entertainment. A person would rather go out and risk killing someone for a few drinks then have a good time with out a beer. Drugs are coming across our borders every day and getting into the hands of our children . Yet we are so focused on gun control right now. We need to stop being friends to our kids and being parents. We need to be involved, we need to quit being afraid of law enforcement. Everything above are the type of things my husband deals with on a daily basis and yet no one is on TV promoting for stricter drug laws and alcohol laws or harsher punishments. I think we need to come together and focus on some of the real problems this country has instead of sticking our heads in the sand and waiting for our government to do something. Those gun laws are only going to affect law abiding citizens. They will not stop criminals who do not care. If they cared about the laws in the first place they would not be criminals, we would not have accidents caused by drunk driving, and we would not have the drug problems this country has.

FBI Crime in the US Murder Circumstance chart
The Century Council
CDC National Vital Records
U.S Customs and Border Protection
KMOX St. Louis News 
North Platte News

Can you Deduct your Gluten Free items?

Back in April I briefly touched on Deducting Gluten Free foods from your taxes. There are some cases where doing so may be helpful and I with tax season coming up I wanted to bring you some tips. The below is from NFCA. Please remember- I am not a CPA and I do not know tax laws. The tips in my original posts were ones I found online. Please discuss with a CPA if you have any questions or concerns!

3 Things You Should Know Before Filing for a Gluten-Free Food Tax Deduction by NFCA

It’s no secret that gluten-free food packaged food is oftentimes more expensive than its gluten containing counterparts, but did you know you might be eligible for a tax deduction to help make up the difference?

If you have never filed for a tax deduction for your gluten-free food purchases, there are some
important things you should know before you do:

1. You Need an Official Diagnosis to be Eligible
          Many people are eating gluten-free for a variety of reasons, but only those with an official
diagnosis with a gluten-related disorder will be eligible for a tax deduction.  You’ll need a prescription from your doctor for a gluten-free diet as your treatment option as well.

2. Keep Track of Your Food Purchases the Entire Year
         In order to receive the tax deduction, you’ll have to calculate the difference between the cost of
gluten-free alternatives vs. the cost of gluten-containing foods.  For example, if you purchase
gluten-free crackers for $4.50 and traditional crackers cost $2.50, you’ll only be able to claim the
difference: $2

         This will need to be done throughout the year as you purchase gluten-free food.  Since you will have a lot of purchases to keep track of, some have recommended using a spreadsheet to help
keep track of all of the figures.

         Everyone rule has exceptions!  Visit the Tax Deduction Guide for Gluten-Free Products from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to see which types of gluten-free food are eligible for a full refund.

3. Refunds are Only Given if Medical Expenses Exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income

          IRS rules dictate that refunds for medical expenses will be granted only if they are over 7.5% of
your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) (the total gross income, minus specific reductions).  Turbo Tax
gives a great example for determining if your medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your AGI.

Once you figure out if you’re eligible for a tax deduction, the last step is moving forward and filing
your claim.  NFCA’s Tax Deduction Guide for Gluten-Free Products also provides more information
on the specific IRS tax forms, rulings and publication reference numbers you’ll need to file.

~This is not a paid posting. This information was provided for free courtesy of NFCA. I am not a CPA and one should be consulted if you have any questions or concerns. This is not intended for legal advice or a guarantee that these items can be deducted as I do not know all the tax laws! ~

Check your images!

Ok so sadly this is not a good post. It is however, an informational post.

You may have noticed that I started watermarking my photos more and more. As I learn more about photography I want to protect my work.. Sadly it happens all to often where a bloggers photo is taken and someone claims it as their own. Watermarking is a way to help deter that. I will try to type up an how to in a bit.

But that brings me to my main reason for posting. How do you know if someone stole your photos? Recently a blogger was doing a google search on her photos and found one of her kids posted on someone’s personal facebook page. Come to find out that not only was her kids hijacked, but so were kids from 2 other bloggers AND a company website! This man is posting these kids as his own! That scares me and is just flat out creepy! So I want to help protect you. Here are screen shots on how to search for your images to see if they are being used on other sites. I wouldn’t do just recent ones either. One of the photos he used was from a blog post back in 2010! I am not as concerned about product images- however I am going to be more cautious of the photos of my kids (even the dog) and search more often.

First pull up the website where you posted the images

In a new window- open up and click on Images up top

Minimize both screens until they fit on your monitor side by side

Using your mouse click on the image and hold the button down- drag it to the search bar on google (it will change to say drop image here) and release the mouse It will pop up the image and images similar to yours

If used on a website it will list the website first. Your site or facebook page should be the only place it comes up at. 

If your photo has been pinned you may see a ton of pinterest links. I have seen more then my FB page come up in the past but it has always been the company I did the review for sharing my photo (which I gave them permission to do). So far I have been lucky. I fear for the day I have to try to reclaim a photo of mine.

I have never been trusting if the internet. In fact my hubby laughs that I put so much personal information in this blog yet I hate doing things like shop and what not. I worked in a fraud department and with him being and LEO we have seen the dangers first hand. This just confirms that nothing is safe so I am going to be a lot more cautious! No worries though- It will still be a very fun and open page!