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.

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.

Yeast, Autism and Sugar, Connecting the Dots

May 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Posted in Birthday Parties, GFCF, Yeast | 2 Comments
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By Shannon Penrod

I’m very fond of saying, “I’m not an Autism expert but I’m an expert in my kid.”  One thing I know for sure, my child’s Autism is related to yeast.  I don’t need to argue it, you don’t have to believe me, but I know it’s true for my child.  I don’t know what’s true for your child.  I know that my child was a normally developing child until he had his first infection and took his first antibiotic.  Then he began to lose language like water running through a sieve.  As a parent it was like watching a car accident in slow motion.  We have been putting the pieces back together ever since. 

We have been extremely lucky; we have a luscious little boy who is a social butterfly, is academically on target and has a divine sense of humor.  However, our son’s ability to connect with the world came at a cost.  There have been countless hours of ABA therapy which have made all the difference in the world, but I can tell you honestly that when my son’s diet isn’t right there is no amount of therapy that can reach him.  At first I thought “diet” just meant GFCF.  Then I realised that I needed to remove potatoes, then corn, that’s when I read about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  Since then a lot of foods have been sidelined from my child’s diet.  Here’s the bottom line, anything that can convert to sugar in my child’s system leads to erratic, compulsive, crazy behavior.  Give my kid an orange and one hour later he’s like a drunk who stayed at the party way too long.  Sometimes he is the happy drunk, other times maudlin, or aggressive, or simply “checked out”. 

Sugar feeds yeast.  Yeast is a living thing, it grows when fed.  Here is sucky part, if you don’t feed it, it grows too.  If you starve yeast it grows in an attempt to save it’s self.  This is known as “die off”.  It’s why when you pull sugar out of your kid’s diet they are even more miserable for a while.  It’s hard enough to make the decision to limit your child’s diet and to prevent them from having all the “fun” crap (this is the appropriate technical term for non nutritive, colorful, sugar laden food) that we all enjoyed as kids, it is even harder to stick to the decision when your child’s behavior worsens as a result.  I know for me it was the seventh ring of hell.  Fortunately when I was at the end of my rope, a friend explained die off to me and told me to hang on a little longer.  Four days later I was able to have my first conversation with my child.  I can tell you that there is nothing better than being able to converse with my child.  Sure there is always a moment at birthday parties when they haul out the cake and I have a twinge of regret that my child doesn’t get to participate in the fun.  But then I thank God for the fact that it isn’t a peanut allergy and I remind myself that he can have his cake or he can be a part of the world around him.  That’s when I hand him a gluten free, sugar free cookie with no artificial sweeteners or colors and I watch him talk to his friends. 

It took me a long time to connect the dots but I’m glad I did.  If yeast is an issue for you, I strongly urge you to look at the sugars (natural and otherwise) in your child’s diet.

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles on the HerInsight Network.  She is an author, speaker and coach and most importantly the mother of a six year old recovering from Autism.  You can subscribe to the free podcast of Everyday Autism miracles on iTunes or download it here.

What Jem Eats

October 6, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Posted in GFCF, Staples | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod
 
Okay, three times this week people have asked me to make a list of what Jem eats.  The requests in two cases were people who want to be helpful in the event of an emergency and the third was a mom who is looking for hope.  It’s time to BLOG!

So here it is – this Jem’s GFCF, Soy free, No Yeast, No Sugar, Picture or Video 273No artificial flavours, color or sweeteners, no potatoes, no corn, no eggs, no almonds, no apples, no rasins, no grapes or strawberries, Feingold modified, Specific Carbohydrate modified diet – fondly refered to in my home as “The Autism Miracle in my Kitchen!”

 

Breakfast

Usually this is 2 peices of Food For Life Yeast Free, Gluten Free, Brown Rice Bread – toasted in the GF designated toaster – served plain.  With breakfast he gets a Ecological Formula Co-Enzyme B and what ever Probiotic we are currently using (we usually alternate between Kirkman Labs and Klaire Labs)  he takes these pills with water.

For a special breakfast treat he gets pancakes – Namaste sugar free pancake mix mixed with either carrot juice, pear juice, water, flavored seltzer water or around halloween- pumpkin, we do not add eggs or any kind of milk.  For an extra special treat – maybe twice a year – we make pineapple upside down pancakes by adding three tidbits of pineapple (packed in its own juice) to each pancake. He will eat 3-5 pancakes. 

He will occasionally ask for cereal.  This is puffed brown rice cereal, make sure that it is gluten free, many are processed in factories along side wheat!  He likes just a little carrot juice or seltzer water on the cereal.  We get Trader Joe’s carrot juice (no sugar, no preservatives)

Lunch and dinner

Lunch and dinner are  fairly similar and can be broken down into categories:

Protein

Shelton’s Hot Dogs, Free Range, Gluten Free, Chicken or Turkey -they come in two sizes big and small, Jem likes both.  He will eat 4 of the small hot dogs or 2 of the large ones. He will ask for more, we don’t let him have more.

Chicken – I usually roast two chickens a week, I buy them at Sam’s – I think they are Tyson.  I rinse the chickens, stuff an organic lemon in its butt and roast the hell out of them.  400 degrees for four hours, the meat falls off the bone but is not dry because of the lemons, make sure to prick the lemons many times. Jem loves to eat the legs, thighs and wings bone in.  A leg/thigh and wing is great for one meal, he will eat it hot or cold. 

Later in the week I slice the breast meat and coat is with Namaste’s Sugar Free Pizza Dough mix and lightly fry it in Canola oil to make chicken nuggets.  Be careful with these they are so good Jem will over stuff himself with these to the point of making himself sick if not monitored.

I also use the breast meat to add to burritos.  We use Food For Life’s Brown Rice Tortillas, spread a little Cedar’s Hummus with Roasted Red Peppers on it (All hummus is not created equally, much of it is not gluten free – Cedar’s is available at Whole Foods Markets)  and then throw almost any fresh or grilled veggies in.

Shelton’s Gluten Free Turkey Sausage Patties – we call these meat cookies in our house.  They have to be cooked for a minimum of 20 minutes, so when I cook them I cook the whole package by boiling them in water and when the water boils out pan searing them to get them brown.  3 is an appropriate amount, he will ask for more.

Fried or Baked Chicken – thighs or drumsticks – bone in or out, coated with Namaste Pizza Dough mix or not.

Chicken roll ups – when chicken breasts are on sale I buy them and butterfly them and then pound them thin.  I roll them around green beans (Trader Joes Frozen) and then pan fry them.

Turkey Burgers/ Meatloaf.  To bind the meatloaf I use brown rice bread crumbs or rice cakes sent through the food processor along with pureed, steamed veggies (what ever is in the fridge)

Once in a blue moon I will roast a turkey, he likes the dark meat and I make nuggets from the white meat.

Jem loves salmon and tuna.  I never give him fish more than once a week because they can raise metal levels.  He loves salmon in any form – on picnics I take a can of Trader Joe’s no salt added and he loves to eat it right out of the can.  He will eat tuna, but not as enthusiastically.

Carbs

Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes – Low or no Salt – He will eat them plain or with Hummus (Cedar’s) or Mutabul (Sam’s Flaming Grill).

Bicuits, bread sticks or buns made from Namaste’s Sugar-Free Pizza Dough mix. 

Pizza – made from Namaste’s Sugar-Free Pizza dough mix, topped with shredded beets (not pickled) tri-colored peppers (Melange a trois, Trader Joe’s frozen) carrots and broccoli.

Vegetables

Canned Beets (not pickled)

Carrots (cooked or raw) Walmart carries cooked carrots in a plastic cup which are perfect for lunches.

Green Beans (Trader Joe’s Frozen)

Broccolli – Fresh, Steamed or boiled

Cucumbers, peeled and sliced

Green, Red, Yellow and Orange peppers – his favorite, preferably organic

Squash – butternut, pumpkin or acorn – he won’t eat much

Sugar snap peas – he won’t eat much

Eggplant – steamed

Mushrooms – raw

Cauliflower – raw, steamed, mashed – he won’t eat a lot.

Treats

No, No Nana’s Lemon or Ginger cookies – give sparingly, no more than one a day – you will get a reaction.

Fruit – Melon, bluberries, pears, bananas, mangos, pineapple, peaches, cherries and nectarines – these must be given sparingly or he will have a reaction -so less than 1/2 cup a day and not given every day – just special occasions.

Cashews – Jem loves cashews but should not have them often, he is already allergic to almonds and we certainly don’t want to add on to that list.

Pink Lemonade – 1 tbs. Lemon juice, 1/8 tsp of water from can of beets, 2 cups of lemon flavored seltzer water – served on ice with a straw.

That’s pretty much what my kid eats!

GFCF and Birthday Parties

March 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Birthday Parties, GFCF, Mixes | 1 Comment
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By Shannon Penrod

Birthday parties!  It’s enough to  make any parent of a child on a special diet run for cover.  When your kid is GFCF it can make you want to run into the street screaming with your hair on fire! 

If you’re willing to let go of some of your “preconcieved notions of birthday party fun” you can actually negotiate the dietary restriction thing easily and enjoy yourself at the party  – and your kid can have a good time too!

The first step is to have a plan.  This is SOOOO important.  Talk to the parent throwing the party and ask what they are planning on serving.  I go to a lot of kid’s birthday parties and the menus are fairly limited.  Usually it’s pizza, hot dogs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets or hamburgers for the meal. topped off with cake and or ice cream for dessert.  Often there is a Pinata full of candy.  Sometimes there are chips, veggies, salsa, fruit and occasionally a salad.  Most of which my kid can’t have.

I always pack as if there is going to be NOTHING for my child to eat. And I always tell the host/hostess that I will be bringing his food.  It saves everyone time and worry.  Ultimately it prevents dietary accidents too!

100_52861I try to take something similar to what they are serving – today I am going to a pizza party so I am taking his pizza. (Namaste pizza crust with broccoli, carrots, peppers and Shelton’s turkey hot dogs, sometimes I put shredded beets on now that Jem doesn’t have tomatoes anymore.)

If they are having hot dogs, I precook some Shelton’s hot dogs, chicken nuggets I make GFCF nuggets by coating sliced chicken with the pizza crust mix.  Corn dogs I coat the cooked dogs with pizza crust and either bake or fry them. 

They make and sell GFCF corn dogs and chicken nuggets but they all have either sugar, corn, potato or soy – none of which Jem can eat.

100_5289For a cake subtitute I take a birthday cookie.  This is made from GFCF pancakes, which are stacked and cut into a shape.  I have cookie cutters for every occasion that do this trick.  I put the “cookie” in a festive cupcake wrapper so it looks special.

Over the years Jem’s diet has changed so much, and the plan has had to change as well.  I used to take a bag of GFCF pretzels and a bag of grapes with me to every party – when they were cut from his diet I had to have a new plan.  For the most part Jem knows what he can’t have, although he is much more vocal about not having sugar than he is about not having gluten, or milk.  Sugar actually comes up more often with all the candy that is freely offered to children.

I try whenever possible, and it isn’t always possible, to think ahead.  Its so much easier to make his birthday party food when the present is already wrapped and the card is already signed.  Hectic makes me resentful.  If on the morning of the party I have to wrap the present get him to sign the card and get his food ready I start resenting everyone who doesn’t have to pack a GFCF pizza in their purse. I try not to go there by thinking ahead.

Lastly, I always, always, always take water to a party.  I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten to a party and all they had was juice, soda and or milk.

A word about mental preperation… when children ask why my son is eating different food I tell them he can’t eat their food, that it makes him sick.  Usually the will say, “Like an allergy?” and I say, “Yes, just like an allergy.”  

When an adult asks me, I tell them that if my son eats those foods he literally looses the ability to communicate– sometimes for days.  For my child this is true.  It stops the conversation and I no longer have to justify myself.

Jem loves going to birthday parties.  He loves to look at the cake and I usually let him take a picture of it with my camera.  He loves to watch the kids eat it and asks to see what color it turns their tongues.  He does this while he happily noshes on his birthday cookie.  He does notice that his food is different, and that is a wonderful thing for a boy recovering from autism.  He will sometimes even ask the kids what their food tastes like. 

I could waste time feeling sad about it, instead I rejoice in the language he uses and the glorious, glorious questions he asks.  And the fact that when the meal is over he skips off to play with his friends.  That makes it all worthwhile!

GFCF Green Eggs & Ham (Eggless)

March 6, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Posted in GFCF, Mixes, Recipes, YUM | Leave a comment
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by Shannon Penrod

Okay, so one of the big things I hear from parents all the time is that it’s too hard to be GFCF once your kid goes to school.  There is too much peer pressure to look the same and eat the same, there are too many food related things to keep up with, etc…

I choose to look at it in a different way.  For me this is an opportunity to teach my son about the wonders of being different and how okay that it is.  If he had a peanut allergy it would be non-negotiable and the world would just accept that he can’t eat the same.  My reality is if my son eats gluten he becomes a stimming mess and stops speaking, eggs he gets a 100_5110rash, artificial colors and he becomes hyperactive, sugar and he behaves and smells like a drunk.  So I consider his diet non-negotiable and try to have fun being creative with it – this mindset makes it fun, even when I’m forced to scramble.  Which is what I did last night trying to figure out what I was going to send for “Green Eggs and Ham” day.

When in doubt I always get out that Namaste Sugar-Free Pizza Crust mix, last night was no different.  I grated about 1/4 c of zucchini skin into it, next time I’m going to use broccoli (although the zucchini worked great). I added about a cup of the pizza crust mix and enough water to make a loose dough. (Add the water slowly)  I heated canola oil in  a heavy pan and spooned lumps of dough in. This is how we make biscuits.  I have used beets before to color them pink. 

Shape the dough to make the egg shape.  Flip when lightly brown.  When both sides are crisp drain on a paper plate.  Cut both ends off of a cucumber and use them for green yokes.  Slice Shelton’s All Natural Gluten Free Chicken of Turkey hot dogs thinly for ham!

I asked Jem how they went over at school.  He said they tasted good.  I asked if his friends thought they were green eggs – he said no, they thought they were cucumbers.  I said did they think they were cool.  He said no, but that he thought they were cool.  I’m sure the older he gets the harder it will get;  but I’m not going to trade his ability to function to make him look like he fits in. In the meantime we are having fun being creative!

Namaste’s Rocking Sugar Free Pizza Crust

February 28, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Posted in GFCF, Mixes, Recipes, Staples, YUM | Leave a comment
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If some one came to me and said you can only have one product to help your son stay on the GFCF diet, I would have a hard time choosing between his Food 100_4743For Life Yeast Free Brown Rice Bread, his Shelton’s Free Range Hot Dogs and his Namaste Sugar Free Pizza Crust – but I have to say, I think I would say the Pizza Crust because it is SSOOOOOO versatile.

Yes it makes a pretty decent pizza crust.  But it also makes really good breadsticks, kick butt bisquits, fabulous fried chicken coating, sublime chicken nuggets, and even hot dog on a stick crust.  And how can I possibly forget – I made Christmas cookies out of it too!

C’mon now!  That’s pretty verastile.  And it tastes good.  My son’s one on one aide loves the bisquits!  Namaste makes several other products that are good also – me also use their Sugar Free 100_4483Pancake and wafffle mix.  Again very versatile -for Thanksgiving it used it for pie crust.  Their products clearly list what they are free of.  We are also soy, corn, potato, yeast and sugar free – which leaves nothing right?  No, it leaves glorious Namaste!  If you do allow sugar in your little one’s diet I here their brownie mix is fabu! 

You can buy Namaste in most health food stores.  I suggest telling the store when you start buying it.  Usually they order a case and wait til it runs out, then order another (leaving days when it isn’t available)!  Whenever you try a product and like it tell your store that you are going to buy it on a regular basis so they keep it stocked!

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