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.

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.

GFCF Veggie Burrito

April 26, 2010 at 6:53 am | Posted in GFCF, Recipes, Staples, YUM | Leave a comment
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By Shannon Penrod

Lunches tend to kick my butt a little in GFCF land.  Finding things that can survive the lunchbox and the scrutiny of my kid’s classmates is tough, but it’s even harder to find something that my kid will eat cold.  He’s not so fond of the cold thing, and I’m not so fond of food poisoning.  He keeps asking me to get him a cooker to have at school, like Sam has on iCarly.  Not possible.

Food for Life has these great Brown Rice Tortillas.  They are a chewier version of a burrito, and they tend to break on rolling, but the taste rocks!  Cedarlane makes a red pepper hummus that is a huge favorite at our house.  Mix these with some veggies and you’re  talking about a great lunch entrée.  Of course you can add meat, Jem loves chicken in his, but for this day I went strictly veg.  We call this eating the rainbow!

Ingredients:

Brown Rice Tortillas (Food For Life)

Red Pepper Hummus (Cedar Lane)

Veggies (use whatever you have on hand, I used peppers, onions, zucchini, baby bok choy, carrots and  mushrooms)

1 tbs. Olive Oil

Garlic

salt to taste

Clean and slice the veggies and steam them until al dente. Heat garlic and oil in a heavy pan and add the veggies for a quick toss.  Salt to taste.  Spread hummus on the tortilla and add veggies.  Tuck and or roll the tortilla to make a burrito!

Only add veggies that your child likes to start.  If that means just carrots it’s okay. You can gradually sneak other stuff in.

I send these in Jem’s lunch, or for a snack and we frequently take these on the road.  One word of caution, the hummus leaves messy hands and face so you will want to think of quick clean up solutions for the road.  I usually pack a wet napkin in a ziploc to take care of the aftermath.

Quick, easy, nutritious, and it can travel!  Eat the rainbow with your kids today!

Lazy Lemon Chicken Legs

April 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Posted in GFCF, Recipes, YUM | 2 Comments
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by Shannon Penrod

I admit it.  I am a lazy cook.  I like to do things the REALLY simple way.  I know some people think of the really simple way as going through the drive through at a fast food restaurant, but I don’t have the luxury of doing that on my son’s diet, and his diet makes the difference in him being able to talk and learn, so I’m not giving up on that!  But I don’t want to give up on keeping things simple either.  So over the years I’ve come up with some really easy recipes that get the job done.  This is a fav!  It takes less than 5 minutes to prep the chicken, about 45 minutes to cook it and makes enough for several meals!

Ingredients:

A jumbo package of chicken legs – you can remove the skin if you want (it’s healthier without it – but I’m lazy and leave it on)

One large lemon

1 tablespoon of dried basil

1/4 Cup olive oil or canola oi (you can mix them if you like)

Salt to taste

3 Cloves of garlic

Press the garlic cloves into a large bowl.  Juice the lemon into the bowl, add the basil and oil and salt.  It should smell great.  Rinse the chicken and toss 4 pieces at a time in the mixture. I don’t dry the chicken before tossing, that’s how lazy I am!  Toss the chicken and put it into a shallow baking dish.  Arrange the legs so you can fit in as many as possible!  Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.  I don’t even turn the chicken.  When done the chicken should be a nice brown on top and bottom and the meat should be falling off the bone.  Check at least one piece to make sure that it is done at the bone.  The juices should run clear.  I remove the chicken from the pan almost immediately and let it cool on a clean white dish towel – this helps to drip grease and means that I can start soaking the pan almost immediately.  I always let the pan soak in hot soapy water overnight which makes for quick clean up the next morning.

The chicken is great hot or cold and packs well for picnics, as long as you bring napkins to clean hands afterward.  It’s great lazy cooking!

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