Traveling with a Kid on GFCF

June 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Posted in GFCF, Staples | Leave a comment
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by Shannon Penrod

I always tell people the GFCF diet is not hard, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  I like to keep things simple, fast and easy.  Nothing else seems to work in my life.  It’s the same principle I apply to traveling.  We are getting ready to take the longest “vacation” we have been on since my son was born.  I say “vacation” because the reality is that I will be working while my husband and my son will “vacation” right near me.  Vacationing or even being away from home can be a real adventure, especially when there are dietary restrictions.  There are several things that I like to do to smooth the way.

1. Call ahead and get the lay of the land.  I googled health food stores in Owego, NY (that’s were we will be for the first 13 days) and found a wonderful shop called The Mustard Seed.  I called and introduced myself, told them when I was coming and asked if they had my core staples.  I was in great luck!  Erik, the helpful clerk on duty, was able to confirm that they have my son’s bread (Food for Life brown rice, yeast free) his brown rice tortillas (also Food for Life) and they carry Namaste mixes!  They do not carry my son’s hot dogs (Shelton’s Chicken and Turkey) but are looking into getting them.  And while they do not carry the red pepper hommus that we are addicted to (Cedar’s), they do carry a different brand from Emerald Valley that is also gluten free, I can’t wait to try it.  I also got the great news that they are open 7 days a week so we can get what we need even on Sunday!  Yeah!  I feel so much better knowing that I’m not going to be attempting to smuggle a case of brown rice bread onto the plane!

2. Have a restaurant back up, mine is Subway!  Subway’s grilled chicken is gluten-free, did you know?  When ever we need a quick meal out we head to Subway!  Thank goodness they are literally EVERYWHERE!  My son gets a salad with 3 chicken breasts.  I am always very specific with the sandwich artists about the fact that both my son and I are horribly allergic to wheat.  I ask them to put on fresh gloves and to refrain from touching bread while making our salads.  We have had great luck with this.  So whenever we travel I always make sure that I know where the Subway restaurants are.  As it turns out there are 3 Subways in Oswego, NY and one of them is within walking distance of the college campus where I will be teaching.  Life is good.

3. Get accommodations that suit your lifestyle.  For us having a refrigerator and at least a microwave is imperative.  Yes, a stove is even better, but a microwave will work for my family if it’s a fairly short period of time.

4. Pack something for the trip.  Years ago when we had only been GFCF for a few months we flew to Iowa to be there for my niece’s wedding.  Actually, that’s wrong, we TRIED to fly to Iowa – it didn’t quite play out the way we intended.  We ended up stranded in Denver after hours in the airport we ended up renting a car and driving the rest of the way.  It was the most hellish 48 hours of my life, BUT I did have a little cooler with food that my son could eat and that saved us.  I had no intention of being in Denver so I hadn’t researched ahead to find out what if anything was close to the airport. It didn’t matter.  I was covered.  Rice Cakes are lightweight inexpensive and a life saver when it comes to traveling.  I also cook hotdogs and then freeze them – they thaw slowly giving you a healthy window when you can eat them.  While on planes I ask the flight attendants for ice to keep them cold.  I learned the hard way that taking a gel pack presents a security nightmare.

Traveling with a GFCF kid may not be the easiest thing, but it beats the heck out of traveling with a kid that is in the middle of huge meltdown and unable to control or console himself.  I’d rather plan ahead and pack some rice cakes.

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Agar Agar…Who Knew???

June 7, 2010 at 1:34 am | Posted in Birthday Parties, GFCF, Mixes, Recipes, YUM | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod

Okay, for years I have been telling parents, “The GFCF Diet is easier than you think!  We’ve been doing it for years and I don’t own any agar agar, I don’t even know what it is!”  This has been in answer to parents who say, “We haven’t tried the GFCF diet, it’s too hard.”  To me agar agar symbolized baking your own gfcf bread and spending hours in the kitchen preparing everything from scratch.  Agar agar scared me.  I’m not afraid to say it. 

Then last week a couple of things happened.  I had a guest on the Everyday Autism Miracles show who talked about a fabulous Mango Custard that had no sugar in it.  She had gotten the recipe at the Autism One Conference.  It sounded so good I wanted the recipe.  Click here to find it easily – and guess what it had in it? Agar agar!  Which kind of shook me up. 

Meanwhile, I was getting ready for my son’s 7th birthday party and I had foolishly decided to make the cakes myself.  He wanted Lego brick inspired cakes, which meant molding Lego candy bricks.  I knew I could do this for his friends but I didn’t plan on doing it for my son’s GFCF cake, after all that would be impossible, right?  On the web page where they listed the recipe for gummy Lego bricks there was a link to a vegan gummy candy recipe that I couldn’t resist  – and there it was, a gummy candy recipe with agar agar and fruit juice.  It was clear…I was being stalked by agar agar.

I caved in and bought some agar agar and I made some gummy bricks with pear juice (heavily diluted).  I was certain they weren’t going to gel, so I used way to much agar agar and I didn’t tint them at all.  They did gel beautifully!  Next time I am going to tint them with beet juice and blueberry juice,  YUM!  My kid was thrilled.  He calls them his “seaweed candy”. 

Next time I am also going to use a lot less agar agar so they are more gelatinous.  The cake was from a mix that was sugar-free, I added shredded carrots and pear juice to sweeten it and the filling was the left over agar agar and pear sauce mixed with sliced bananas.  I frosted it with red pepper humus, gross, I know!  But I can’t wait to experiment with making a frosting with the agar agar.  Maybe even frosting it with the mango custard!  And now I know what I am going to use to make rice crispy treats…agar, agar!  Who knew it was a girl’s best friend? 

Did I mention it is also really good for kids with Autism?  It’s alkaline, packed with protein and easier to digest than typical gelatin.  And it’s vegetarian.  My son is not a vegetarian but he only eats things with two feet or less.  Typical gelatin is derived from four-footed animals.

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