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.

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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.

Bubbies Pickles…Oh! Yum!

October 8, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Staples, Yeast, YUM | 1 Comment
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By Shannon Penrod

We make no bones about the fact that we are in a never ending battle with yeast at our house.  Over the years we have taken so many things out of our child’s diet that it boggles the mind.  I remember when we went GFCF and I realized that there would be no more macaroni and cheese – I wasn’t sure any of us would survive it.  But it was okay, and my kid could suddenly acquire language.  Then when it was time to eliminate potatoes, I remember a cold shiver ran down my spine – but again we survived it and he flourished.  By the time I got around to eliminating vinegars and other “yeasts” we were old hat at elimination and I literally thought nothing of taking away my child’s beloved pickles.  They were turning his butt bright red!  It was a no brainer.  But the loss of pickles is what my child has mourned for years.

My kid sits at birthday parties and watches all the kids stuffing purple and blue cake down their gullets and never complains, but when he sees a pickle he gets sad. 

Recently I have been hearing alot about the body ecology diet and naturally fermented foods.  It turns out that when food is naturally fermented it becomes something that is beneficial in the fight against yeast!  Then some one told me about Bubbies naturally fermented pickles.  No vinegar! Naturally fermented!  A pickle that not only doesn’t make my kid’s butt red, it also helps to control his yeast.  I’m sorry, do you hear angels singing?  I do!

I ran out and bought a jar; they are not inexpensive pickles – it doesn’t matter – they are amazing.  Did you know they were voted the best pickle by chefs? So, yes they taste really yummy too.  I almost hyperventilated when I tasted them. They are an answer to a prayer.  A yeast fighting pickle that tastes great?  Don’t tell the people at Bubbies, but they aren’t charging enough.  Buy them at Whole Foods Market in the refrigerated section and enjoy!

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles, an internet talk radio show about Autism.  Everyday Autism Miracles broadcasts live on Fridays at 2pm Eastern time and 11am Pacific time at www.toginet.com or you can download the free podcast by visiting www.toginet.com/shows/everydayautismmiracles or on iTunes by visiting  http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/everyday-autism-miracles/id356451530

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.

A Visit to the Mustard Seed

July 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Posted in GFCF, Staples, YUM | 1 Comment
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by Shannon Penrod

Traveling can be challenging when you have a child on a special diet.  A few weeks ago I mentioned that we were going to be doing some traveling this summer and I had called ahead to find a store that would have my son’s staple items.  I got incredibly lucky when I located The Mustard Seed.  The employees were so helpful on the phone, prior to the trip, letting us know what they carried normally and what they would be able to special order for us.

I am happy to report that the service we got in person was even better!  We had a great time visiting The Mustard Seed.  Jem enjoyed playing with the turtle displayed in the water feature in the front of the store;  I had a great time checking  out the bulk items on the side of the store, and Daddy watched as they made a fresh batch of cashew butter – YUM!  More importantly we were able to leave with the essentials that got us through our stay!

Our reality is that we can’t just go to the local grocery store and pick up whatever we need.  We need something a little more specialized and for this trip The Mustard Seed in Oswego, NY did the trick.  This weekend we are off to Saratoga – I’ll let you know how we fare there!  We weren’t able to find anything gluten-free at the Sterling Renaissance Faire, I’m hopeful that the track in Saratoga will offer a gluten-free breakfast!  I have a feeling I’m pipe dreaming.

GFCF with Barrie Silberberg

July 9, 2010 at 5:41 am | Posted in GFCF | 2 Comments
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You’ve heard some of the other parents talking about the GFCF diet and you’ve considered putting one or more of your kids on it.  You may have even tried it for an hour…or a week..but it all seems so overwhelming and expensive, not to mention the battle that happens when you try to take away your kid’s milk, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets! Who wants to do that when there is no guarantee that it will help?  If this is you, you need to listen to this week’s show.  Barrie Silberberg, author of The Autism and ADHD Diet, will be our special guest.  She’s got great tips on how to make living on the GFCF diet easy.  Doubting already?  You won’t ever know if you don’t listen in.

Barrie’s also got information about other dietary interventions that might make the difference in your child’s ability to learn and socialize.  You don’t have to learn how to be on the GFCF diet from scratch.  Barrie Silberberg is an expert at making the diet doable for every family.  Even if you still think giving the diet a try isn’t worth it, do your child a favor and listen in to this show.  Hear the stories of how this diet has changed our kids; hear how easy it can be and then decide.  What do you have to loose? www.toginet.com  2pm Pacific, 11am Eastern.

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.

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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