Blood Orange Popsicles and Other GFCF Summer Goodies

July 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Birthday Parties, GFCF, Recipes, YUM | 1 Comment
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by Shannon Penrod

It all started last year when the PTA decided to hand out blue ice pops on field day…with no warning or heads up to desperate parents like me who are not feeding their kids sugar or food coloring.  The worst part is I had specifically asked if they were serving anything and was assured they weren’t.  Some well-meaning parent donated them at the last second.  Really?  Feeding an entire school of children blue lake No 5oo bizzillion and artificial food coloring is your way of “pitching in”?  Well, I’d say it’s likely that parent and I aren’t going to be close friends.  This year I knew it was coming and I was prepared.

I bought BPA free popsicle molds at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  With my coupon I think they were $7 for 6 of them.  Not bad!  Then I went to the farmer’s market and bought fruit that was in season and ripe and organic.  The first go round it was nectarines, peaches, and blood oranges.  Over the 4th it was raspberries, watermelon, white peaches and blueberries.  This week I added plums.  The blood oranges add major red coloring that is yummy and attractive.  I cut the fruit up in small pieces – the nectarines I cooked down on a low heat.  I mixed the cooked fruit with the chopped fruit, add the juice of one tiny blood orange and then mixed in lemon essence seltzer water.  Then I froze them in the popsicle forms.  They were a huge hit and tasty too!

Now my son loves to put the fruit in himself and we have fun coming up with different combos.  Try them they are easy, cheap and yummy!

GFCF Kale Chips??? Say What?

May 2, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Posted in GFCF, Recipes | 4 Comments
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By Shannon Penrod

Recently I got some fabulous Pumpkin Chips at Whole Foods Market.  The faintly resemble potato chips, but they are sweeter and have fewer calories.  I mentioned them to someone at work and the fact that there were lots of other chips displayed as well, carrot, pineapple, and even jack fruit.  She mentioned kale chips and how fabulous they are.  I  had never heard of such a thing.  She assured me they were great, but expensive.  Saying expensive is a relative thing.  Don’t you agree?  I thought the pumpkin chips were expensive at $4.99 for a small bag, so I was thinking the kale chips were about the same.  Not even close. $14.99 for a bag of kale chips.  Now that’s expensive.

So I set out on a quest to make them myself.  There were a lot of recipes on line, but many of them had things my family doesn’t eat.  Yeast extract….um no thanks.  Eventually I just decided to wing it.  I made 3 separate batches.  The first batch I wisked olive oil lemon juice and salt in a big bowl and thoroughly coated a batch of curly leaf kale.  Then I baked them on parchment paper in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  They were really tangy, a little too tangy.

The next batch I tried just drizzling a little olive oil over the tops and sprinkling salt.  Those were pretty good.  The last batch I did flat leaf kale and I put nothing on them.  I cooked them too long so the got too charred.  I think 5-8 minutes is all they need.  In the future I plan on doing the flat leaf and just drizzling a little olive oil and a little lemon over them – maybe some garlic powder.  Ummmm tasty!

GFCF Dancing Chicken Recipe

March 7, 2011 at 6:09 am | Posted in Recipes, YUM | 1 Comment
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By Shannon Penrod

This is one of my favorite recipes.  When ever I am stressed, overwhelmed or have a lot to do I like to make this dish.  It’s inexpensive, easy to make and creates healthy, tasty meals for days.  We call it “Dancing Chicken” because we make the chickens dance when we wash them!

Ingredients:

2 whole chickens, thawed

2 whole organic lemons

Salt

Olive Oil

Did I mention this is super easy?  I buy my chickens at Sam’s Market.  I get 2 chickens for around $10.  I rinse the chickens well, inside and out.  This is when we make them dance!  Then I take two organic lemons and wash them well.  I stab the lemons about 15 each with a sharp knife and then stuff the lemons inside the cavities of the chickens.  I put both chickens breast side down in a big roaster with a lid.  I pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil over the chickens and then sprinkle salt over them.  I put the lid on and roast them in a 350 degree oven for at least 2 hours.  I don’t baste, the lemons do that for me.  The chicken comes out practically falling off the bone, tender, juicy and flavorful.

After the chickens cool I take the lemons out and squeeze what ever hasn’t already seeped out into the pan.  I cut the leg/thighs off at the joint as well as the wings.  I flip the chicken and pull the breasts off and put them aside.  If the chicken has been cooked long enough the meat should literally fall off the bone. Once I’ve cleaned the carcasses and stored the meat I strain the juice from the pan storing some of it in the fridge and some of it in the freezer.

The best thing about this recipe is how you can use it and stretch it into many meals.  First I serve my son the legs and wings.  If I’m only feeding him that’s four meals alone.  The breasts I use as chicken nuggets (I dredge them in Namaste Pizza Crust Mix and slightly fry them), I cut up pieces to be used with gluten free pasta, in soup, in chicken salad and even sliced on sandwiches.  The juice from the pan makes a great base for a soup, or sauce or to cook rice.  I cook these chickens and I know that I’m going to have at least four days of fast easy meals.  I like to roast my chickens on Sunday while I’m doing laundry.  Prep time is about 5 minutes to get it in the oven, about 10 minutes to clean the carcasses and there’s only one pan to clean.  If you’re having guests include some onions, carrots and other vegetables in the bottom of the pan for a more upscale meal.  You won’t be disappointed.

GFCF Thanksgiving Turkey

November 18, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Posted in GFCF, Recipes, YUM | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod

Okay, last Thanksgiving was almost a total disaster.  We were moving – literally finished hauling the last box at 5pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving only to discover that the washing machine wasn’t working in our new condo.  Thanksgiving eve, which I like to spend cooking, prepping and watching a good movie was spent at the laundromat and then searching through half un-packed boxes for the turkey roaster.  It wasn’t the best of circumstances, to say the least.  But at least we had groceries.

At two o’clock in the morning on Tuesday  I had gone to an all night grocery store to get all the fixin’s I could and the rest my husband brought from Whole Foods Market, where he works.  It’s a really good thing when your husband works for a grocery store and even better when it’s Whole Foods Market.  But I do still buy certain items from a typical grocery store and last year I made the silly decision to buy a turkey from Stater Bros.  My intention was to buy a Better Ball turkey which I knew were GFCF, but of course they were all gone.  I bought whatever the store brand was, and thoroughly questioned the half asleep clerk, who was almost of no help – but who assured me that all turkeys were GFCF.  What can I tell you?  I was exhausted and I wanted to believe her. I bought the turkey and vowed to call the number on the package the next day. 

I didn’t call the next day – I was busy moving and having  a breakdown.  It didn’t even occur to me that I hadn’t called until I was basting the turkey at 2pm on Thanksgiving day.  So I called and what do you know? – it had gluten in it!  There I am with a cooked bird and no dinner for my child who is looking at me with puppy dog eyes telling me what I already know – I promised him turkey legs for dinner!

Arggggh!  Thank goodness for Whole Foods Market, I called my hubbie (he was still at work) and asked him to bring home two gluten free turkey legs.  They had them, of course, and my son was thrilled.  The holiday was saved.  The gluten turkey went to my friends dogs.  But I swore that would never happen again.  This year I have my Butter Ball turkey in the freezer, and I called their hot line already to make sure that they are still GFCF; they are(except for some turkeys that come with gravy).

My favorite way to cook turkey is to defrost it in the refridgerator starting on Tuesday.  The morning of I wash the turkey thoroughly and remove all of the extra parts like the neck and giblets.  Then I rub olive oil all over the bird, inside and out.  We call it giving the bird a massage.  I take an organic orange and prick it about 10 times with a fork and pop it into the turkey’s body cavity, then I take another orange prick it all over and stuff it into the neck cavity.  I insert fresh thyme, rosemary and sage leaves just under the skin on the breast of the turkey and rub the leaves and some salt all over the outside of the bird.  Then I place the turkey BREAST SIDE DOWN into a roasting pan that has carrots, onions and garlic lying in the bottom.  Breast side down is the opposite of how all the typical pictures demonstrate, but it makes for a moister turkey.  I cover the turkey and bake it according to the instructions on the package, although I only baste once or twice.  The oranges do all the work for you!  The result is a delicious, moist turkey! 

Happy Gluten Free Thanksgiving!!

GFCF Pumpkin Pie with no Sugar

October 26, 2010 at 4:36 am | Posted in GFCF, Recipes, YUM | 2 Comments
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By Shannon Penrod

Jem’s been asking for pumkin pie so I whipped up this little number the other day and it was tasty.  The secret ingredient?  Tapioca…not as bitter as agar agar but gummy enough to hold it together like a traditional pie.  I cooked my tapioca in water because my child is very “sugar” sensitive.  If yours is not as sensitive you can cook the tapioca in a fruit juice and have an even sweeter pie.

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 C. GFCF Cookie and Cake mix (I used The Cravings Place – available at Whole Foods Market)

1 over ripe banana

1/4 C Canola oil

In a food processor puree the over ripe banana.  Add the cookie mix a little at a time.  Add canola oil one tablespoon at a time until the mix looks like moist granulated sugar.  Dump the mix into an ungreased pie pan and press it down into the pan to form a crust. Prick the crust with a fork in several places and then set aside.

Filling:

1 small can of pure pumpkin (preferabbly organic)

1 over ripe banana

1 small jar of pear baby food (preferabbly organic – I used Earth’s Best)

2 TBS of Oragnic Tapioca (small crystals)

1 Cup of water

1/2 Carrot Juice

GF Pumkin Pie Spice (or a combination of Cinnamon, Nutmeg and ginger)

Place the tapioca and water in a heavy saucepan and heat slowly while stirring.  Mixture is done when the tapioca is completely clear.  Mix all of the filling ingredients well and pour into the uncooked pie shell.

Bake at 325 degrees until the crust browns nicely but is not burned.  Jem prefers his pie hot.  I think it’s better cold.  Either way it is a good sugar-free GFCF pumpkin pie!

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles a talk radio show about everything positive happening in the field of Autism.  Everyday Autism Miracles airs every Friday at 2pm Eastern Time and 11am Pacific Time on Toginet Radio  www.toginet.com.  The toll free call in number is 877.864.4869   Free podcasts of the show are available on the show page and on iTunes.

GFCF Pumpkin Stew in the Pumpkin!

October 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Posted in GFCF, Recipes, YUM | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod

One of the greatest things we can do for our children is make healthy food fun and colorful.  Let’s face it we have to compete with electric blue candy!  How’s a mom supposed to get their kids to eat vegetables when faced with neon sugar?  I say fight fire with fire!  Get your kids involved, make it fun, make it colorful. 

Last week we visited our local pumpkin patch and for a mere five dollars I got a huge squash that resembled a pumpkin.  I made my son help me pick it out and I told him my plan to make pumpkin stew and cook it in the pumpkin.  He was really into it.  Next we went to the farmer’s market and I told him we needed to pick out vegetables to go in the stew and we needed as many colors as we could find.  He calls that eating the rainbow and he loves to go to search the market for interesting colors.  This time he picked yellow and red peppers, some rainbow colored chard,  yellow and green squash, japanese eggplant and carrots.  Great ingredients for a stew!  Other great ingredients, if your child can eat them are potatoes, corn, chicken, beef, rice, beans, etc… this is an anything goes proposition.

We thoroughly washed and then cut open the big “pumpkin” squash and cleaned out the seeds and pulp.  It was a beautiful deep orange – full of beta carotene!  We rubbed olive oil and salt all over the inside of the “pumpkin”.  I would have used pepper, but my son won’t eat anything that has pepper in it.  

We turned the pumpkin upside down is a large roasting pan with cup of water in the bottom and baked it for about an hour at 350 degrees.  While it was baking we started on the stew.  We sautéed onions, garlic and celery in large stock pot with a little bit of olive oil.  To that we added freshly washed chard and then slowly added in the rest of the vegetables stirring frequently.  We added a little water, an entire box of Imagine gluten free vegetable broth and a cup of carrot juice.  We let everything simmer for about 20 minutes and then added cardamom and cinnamon to taste.  Yummy!

When the “pumpkin” squash was just starting to be fork tender we flipped it and filled it with the stew and then continued baking it for another 45 minutes.  We served the stew with a steaming heap of the “pumpkin” in each bowl.  It was delish!

I do have to say that my little guy refuses to eat zucchini unless it is pureed – so in the end I was forced to throw his soup in the food processor!  But he loved the flavor and ate it up. 

If you want to use a pumpkin stew for a dinner center piece I would advise you to cook the “pumpkin” a little less, it gets gushy when well cooked and  can even leak!  But it sure is pretty and tasty too!

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles a talk radio show about everything positive happening in the field of Autism.  Everyday Autism Miracles airs every Friday at 2pm Eastern Time and 11am Pacific Time on Toginet Radio  www.toginet.com.  The toll free call in number is 877.864.4869   Free podcasts of the show are available on the show page and on iTunes.

GFCF Pumpkin Cookies with No Sugar

October 15, 2010 at 12:46 am | Posted in Birthday Parties, GFCF, Mixes, Recipes, Yeast | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod

‘Tis the season to bake scary treats for little goblins who want to share in the festivities but don’t want the fall out of gluten, casein, soy or SUGAR!  This is my newest treat.  I can’t say that the recipe is perfected yet, but this is a pretty good cookie considering the restrictions.  I started with a cake/cookie mix from The Craving’s Place.  This is the same mix I used for Jem’s birthday cake back in June.  The mix comes unsweetened giving you options based on your kid’s needs.  If your kid tolerates sugar, go for it!  I chose to sweeten Jem’s cookies with Earth’s Best pear baby food and carrot juice which added to the pureed pumpkin make these tasty but incredibly healthy, not to mention a lovely pumpkin color.

Ingredients:

1 Cup of The Cravings Place Unsweetened Cake/Cookie mix

1 4 oz. jar of Earth’s Best Pear Baby Food

1/2 Cup of pureed pumpkin

Approximately 1/4 cup of Carrot juice added slowly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the pumpkin and pears together.  Add the mix in slowly.  One tablespoon at a time add the carrot juice until all of the ingredients are moist but it is the equivalent of a paste.  Spoon on to a cookie sheet, press down with a fork and bake at 350 for about 6 minutes. Because these cookies have virtually no fat in them it is best to cook them on parchment paper to avoid sticking to the pan. Cookies should be firm to the touch but not hard.  Allow them to cool before removing from the cookie sheet.  This recipe makes about one dozen small cookies.  Please be advised that the cookie mix does contain corn ingredients.

These make a great lunch box treat and are wonderful to take along to Halloween parties so while the rest of the kids are stuffing their faces your child gets a treat too.

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles on Toginet Radio.  She is also the author of The Autism Miracle in my Kitchen and three children’s books with her son Jem, who is seven years old and recovering from Autism.

Ending the Food Rut

October 1, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Recipes, Staples, YUM | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod

I’m a big fan of eating seasonally.  I starting eating seasonally out of financial necessity as a college student.  Food is expensive, but I learned as a college sophomore that I could go to the local farmer’s market and get more food than I  could carry for under $15.  I bought what the farmer’s had in bulk, because it was cheap.  At the time I didn’t understand or appreciate that it was also what was in season and what was going to packed with the most nutrients.  Now as a mom I have a greater appreciation for the nutritional facts of eating seasonally.  But beyond the nutrition there is also an emotional element.  When you eat seasonally you end the food rut.

I don’t know about you but as much as I love food sometimes I get in a food rut, and my child definitely gets in a food rut.  When something tastes good and I know he will eat it I tend to give it to him over and over again.  We all know that eating the same thing day in and day out is not ideal.  Even my son now says to me, “Mom, we need to eat the rainbow!”  Isn’t it nice when they parrot back the lessons that you have tried to instill in them as if they invented it!  Eating the same thing over and over can create food sensitivities or even food allergies.  So it is important to eat a variety of foods.  Eating seasonally helps you to automatically rotate your food.

Our bodies often tell us it’s time to change foods, but our brains don’t always listen.  Last week my son informed me that he wanted pumpkin pie for dinner!  I totally shut him down at the time and then started thinking about it but he’s right it is pumpkin time!  His body is asking for beta carotene and a more carbs because it’s fall and that’s what it should be asking for.  My husband asked for pea soup the other day.  At the time I thought he was crazy!  It was a 113 degrees, record breaking heat for Los Angeles at the end of September, so my head was saying, “Summer!” and thinking about gazpacho, but in reality my husband’s stomach was right, it’s fall! 

Fall seasonal foods happen to be yummy, so now is a great time to take advantage and eat seasonally.  The colors tend towards more red and orange, but there are still some great greens at this time of year.  Our family loves to enjoy red and orange peppers this time of year – make every attempt to eat these organically.  Pumpkins and fall squashes like acorn, butternut and even spaghetti squash are great right now.  If you are buying pumpkins to eat make sure you get “cooking” pumpkins rather than a “carving” pumpkin!  Some pumpkin patches will carry both and stores like Whole Foods Market will clearly mark cooking pumpkins.  If you’ve only ever eaten canned pumpkin treat yourself to the real deal, you won’t believe the difference.

I love to cook acorn squash in the oven by simply slicing it in half and throwing it on a baking sheet face down and baking at 350 until I can easily pierce it with a fork.  I let the squash cool and then flip it to scoop out the seeds.  I sprinkle a little salt, a little olive oil and I have an easy, nutritious, inexpensive, seasonal side dish.  Did I mention it tastes good? It’s serious comfort food, and kids love being able to scoop the squash out to create a boat on their plate.

This week my son and I have big plans to cook a squash stew inside a pumpkin.  We will throw all of the fresh, seasonal veggies we get from the farmer’s market into a pumpkin and bake the whole thing on low heat until it’s bubbly.  Yum.  Eat seasonally it’s a worthwile adventure.

What’s For Dinner Tonight?

August 6, 2010 at 12:14 am | Posted in GFCF, Recipes, Staples, YUM | Leave a comment
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by Shannon Penrod

A friend and fellow “Autism Mom”  called me last month and asked we what was for dinner that night.  I didn’t have a good answer, in fact, I didn’t have an answer at all.  I felt embarrassed, like I had failed in motherly duties.  But it got me thinking about how I plan meals and how I cook for my son.  I’m big into improvisation. 

I know I need a protein, a carb and a vegetable – within that format I like to play.  Over the last month I took some pictures of dinners, to document what I cooked.  Here are just a few of the easy prep improvisations I pumped out with little planning and almost no fuss!

The first one I like to call “Can Salad” this is when you have no fresh food in the house and don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove.  Okay the nutritional value isn’t the same as fresh food, but it’s not as bad as eating fast food either.  I included kidney beans, sauerkraut, olives, sliced beets, italian green beans, hummus on rice cake and some canned salmon.

The next dinner was a twist on tuna noodle casserole, with rice sticks, olives, tuna and olive oil.  Sometimes I make this with salmon and add a splash of lemon juice. It requires salt but Jem loves the texture of the rice sticks and they are easy to make.  I get mine at Trader Joes. The garnish is cucumber and carrot.

The last is one of our staple meals, Shelton’s Hot Dogs with carrots, hummus on a rice cake, and some left over rice noodles with olives and peas.  The eyes are black olives also.

I like improvisation.  I probably should know what’s for dinner every night before 4:45, but in truth this way seems to work best for me.

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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