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 Hot Dog on a Stick

May 14, 2010 at 4:46 am | Posted in GFCF, Mixes, Recipes, YUM | 1 Comment
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by Shannon Penrod

Everyday Autism Miracles

One of Jem’s favorite treats is hot dog on a stick.  This treat is perfect for a summer day, a picnic or even a rainy cold day becuase it always makes the day special.

I buy bamboo skewers at the store, but I try to buy the shorter ones that don’t have a sharp point and I always check to make sure they weren’t made in China.  If you buy the ones that are longer you will probably have to break them in half and then there are the possibilities of splinters, not a good idea.  Wooden disposable chopsticks also work well.

I use Shelton’s chicken and turkey hot dogs, they are gluten free and have no nitrates.  They come in two different sizes regular and jumbo, Jem loves both and both can be made into hot dogs on a stick.  This recipe is for the regular size dogs, if you use the jumbo dogs make sure to make more of the breading mix.

For the breading I use Namaste’s Sugar Free Pizza Mix.  If you read my blog at all this doesn’t surprise you.  I use it for everything.  Okay, almost everything.  I have aslo used Namaste’s Sugar Free Pancake Mix and Trader Joes Gluten Free Pancake Mix to make this recipe but Jem prefers the pizza mix, it has spices in it that are tasty.  His words not mine.

As always the consistency of the mix is what really creates success.  I use about 2/3 of a cup of mix and about 3 tbs. of water.  Mix it up and if it is too runny just wait a while the mix will thicken with time.  If it is too thick upon mixing add water slowly to get the right consistency.  You want to be able to stir it with a spoon but have it create a peak if you pull the spoon away.

Always pre-cook the hot dogs and then let them cool to the point that you can insert your sticks.  Coat the hot dogs with the mix, smoothing the mix as you go.  Place the coated hot dogs in a pre-heated heavy frying pan with a enough canola or olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Cook on each side just long enough to brown.  I you try to turn too early the coating will crack, be gentle and use a spatula to loosen them from the pan before turning.  I usually roll the dogs by quarters, taking 4 turns before they are fully done.  Let them drain on a paper plate, paper towels or a clean white dish cloth before serving.

For a reduced fat and cholesterol version bake the hot dogs in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes. (Watch them closely, so they don’t burn!) It still provides a nice crunchy breading but with fewer calories and less cholesterol!

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles a talk radio show about Autism.  The show airs weekly on Fridays a 2pm Eastern Time, 1pm Central Time, Noon Mountain Time and 11am Pacific Time on Toginet Radio.  To call into the live show dial 877.864.4869. To download the free podcast click here or visit  iTunes.

GFCF Chicken Nuggets -Egg Free!

February 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Posted in GFCF, YUM | 2 Comments
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Okay – you have decided to go GFCF – But what do you feed your kid? Never fear – This recipe will be a staple, even my husband loves them!
There are 2 different versions one with egg one without – today the egg free!

Egg Free, GFCF Chicken Nuggets

Canola Oil – for frying
Boneless Chicken or Turkey sliced 1/2 thick or less – cut them big or small to make strips or nuggets.
Namaste Sugar Free Pizza Crust mix
Salt to taste

Make sure the meat is fairly uniform in thickness, rinse and pat dry. Cut the meat into strips or chunks (whichever your child prefers), put about 3/4 of a cup of the pizza dough mix into a quart sized zip lock bag. Place some of the meat into the bag and close securely. Shake the bag until the meat is completely coated. I have my child do this and we sing “Shake your Turkey” to the KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake, Shake, Shake” tune. He loves it.

Heat some canola oil in the heaviest pan you own. Make sure that you keep the heat at medium so you don’t set off the smoke alarm like I do! Place the coated meat into the pan once the oil is hot. There should only be enough oil to cook one side. Let them cook while you shake another batch. Turn the  meat when the top side is almost completely white and the bottom side is crispy brown. Only flip once. When both sides are done let them drain on a clean white dish towel and add salt to taste. The first time you might want to crack one open just to make sure the inside is done – if it isn’t you need to reduce your heat and cook longer. Serve after they have cooled slightly.

If you drain them sufficiently they travel well – I take them to birthday parties and on car trips with a cold pack. You can microwave them to heat them up – 20 seconds does the job.

We make chicken nuggets often but we also make turkey nuggets  – I buy Trader Joe’s sliced turkey cutlets and cut them into strips – it takes seconds to get them in the pan. We buy the Namaste Sugar Free Pizza Dough mix at Whole Food’s Market and Lassen’s Health Foods. The Pizza Crust Mix is a staple in our kitchen we use it for everything from pizza crust to pretzels.- It is a God send!

GFCF Pounded Chicken

January 30, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Posted in GFCF, Recipes, YUM | Leave a comment
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by Shannon Penrod

I’m always looking for something easy to make, that travels well, is nutritious and is a “sure thing”.  “Sure things” are those meals that you know your child will eat, no matter what. My newest home run is a little dish my son likes to call “Pounded Chicken” and you will see why.  This dish calls for the following ingredients:

2-4 Chicken Breasts

1-2 Cups of cooked green beans

2 tbs. Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

For equipment it is essential that you have meat mallet, a heavy frying pan (preferably with a lid) and a gallon size freezer bag.  Just a note, non-freezer bags don’t work, you will end up with a mess!

How to make:

Step 1: Rinse the chicken breasts, pat them dry and butterfly them – this is fancy chef talk for slicing the chicken breasts in half so the are not as thick.  Take a sharp knife and pierce the breast in its side, then carefully cut your way through the breast.  Don’t worry about being perfect, you will get better at it with time and the dish is very forgiving.  Do worry about using knife safety and not slicing open your hands, fingers or wrists, they are not as forgiving.  Butterfly all the breasts – this will decrease your cooking time and double the number of chicken pieces.

Step 2: One by one place the breasts in the freezer bag and pound them with the meat mallet (use the flat side) until they are thin but still intact.  If there are any holes, don’t panic, the recipe will still work.  I have learned that it is best to leave the bag at least partly open while pounding so you don’t get air bubbles.  Stack the pounded chicken on plate, I like to put a piece of wax paper between them.

Step 3: Take a small handful of cooked green beans and place them on a piece of chicken, add a pinch of salt and pepper and roll! Repeat until all of your chicken is rolled, making sure to stack the chicken so “the seam” is on the bottom.

Step 4: Heat olive oil in a heavy pan on medium heat and carefully place the chicken seam side down into the pan.  Let the chicken sear thoroughly before attempting to turn.  If you turn too early the chicken will dry out and your roll may even unravel.  Walk away for a while.  When the first side is thoroughly browned, flip or roll.  Keep turning as a side browns until all sides are brown. The first side takes the longest, the other sides are quick!  To finish turn the heat down to low and cover the pan for 5 minutes.  I like to let the chicken rest on a paper plate or clean dish towel before serving to absorb some of the grease.

Jem loves this dish and will eat them hot or cold.  I pack them for picnics, to go to Disneyland, car trips – they are convenient and easy to eat even without utensils.

If you have non GFCF people in the house you can also have a second pan going with the same dish, for added UMPH put swiss cheese and turkey bacon underneath the green beans.  I did this when my mom visited at Christmas – she loved it.  I use turkey bacon because it is already cooked, if you want to use other bacon just cook it before hand.

Also you can use other vegetable for either version, my husband likes onions and garlic with his green beans, asparagus work well or even zucchini and peppers sliced in strips.  Have Fun!

Tune in to Everyday Autism Miracles with Shannon Penrod on Toginet Radio, www.toginet.com,  every Friday afternoon at 2pm EST to hear about the therapies, dietary interventions and bio meds that are helping children all over the world to recover from Autism.  Shows begin airing Feb. 12, 2010!

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