Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It DOES get easier, promise

We have been doing this allergen-free diet for 5 months now and it is really starting to feel like second nature. It's so ingrained in me to flip over a new food and read (AND RECOGNIZE - YEAY) ingredients to avoid. I love that things are feeling normal to me, even as abnormal as they would be for many others. It goes to show you that stepping away from your comfort zone and pushing yourself beyond what you THINK you are capable of can force you to grow. What conjured up fears and anxiety just 5 short months ago, now feels like second nature. I couldn't even imagine things any other way! In fact, the other day, we considered letting Grayson eat some rice, since we know he did ok with a bit of rice flour in a GFCF brownie, but after a momentary pause by Dave and I....we said, "naaaah, why bother, we have so much else to offer him." Not to mention, the foods he eats on a regular basis now are healthier for him and they have shaped his current flavor palate, why interfere with that? Besides, if a kid gets a flavor of something s/he once craved (rice was not one of those for Grayson anyway) you are opening the door for new battles. He is so used to eating specific foods and every morning, he watches me eat wheat toast with coconut oil on top. He takes note, mentions that I am having toast that he can't have, and moves on like it's no big deal. He handles his limitations wonderfully and since we started this so early, I know we will never have problems with him feeling like he is missing out on something. We are learning to duplicate things that other kids can have, like cookies, muffins (he thinks they are cupcakes, he he he), frostings, and even some (although dense) breads! We are getting there and he is happy. Happy child = happy mommy!

I belong to the Yahoo GFCF group ( and am SO glad to be a part of such a diverse, knowledgeable, and caring group of people! I learn more through them than I learn anywhere else. I am thrilled to also be a part of a product trial with a member who is creating her own GFCF (and many more allergen-free) line of mixes. She mailed the sample boxes out two days ago and I am all but wringing my hands when the mail comes, hoping to find that gem of a box on my doorstep! I'm like a kid in a candy store waiting for the package, I can't wait to get started with a possible product that will be tasty for Grayson and easy for mommy! It will eliminate the need for always baking from scratch and I will give my left arm (I need my right) to anyone who can do this for us! I don't even know entirely what we will be testing, but I will be happy with anything. I will update when we have received it! I hope to have a great new product to recommend to you all. That same Yahoo member (Chef Amy, as I know her) provided our group with a list of GFCF candies to consider for Valentines Day and Easter, so I thought I would share it here:

Gluten/Casein-free candies

*Smarties are Gluten and Casein free and no chance of cross contamination of
GFCF made on their own line, and no soy. Smarties candy necklace may contain
Gluten, be careful.

*Skittles are GFCF

*Starburst are GFCF

*Tootsie Rolls - The only GFCF products are dots, cotton candy and double
*These products all have casein in them, but are Gluten free:
Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Crows, Charms Jr Mints, Charleston Chews,
Cella's Andes, Sugar Babies, Sugar Daddy,

*The following is a list of U.S. Wrigley products that are free of any
wheat, oat, rye or barley gluten:
Wrigley's Spearmint® gum, Freedent® gum, Doublemint® gum, Extra®
gum, Big Red® gum, Eclipse® gum, Juicy Fruit® gum, Winterfresh® gum, Orbit® gum,
Orbit® White gum, Hubba Bubba® gum, Altoids® Sours, Altoids® Mints, Altoids®
Gum, Lifesavers® and Cremesavers®. All of these products are Dairy free except
for Cremesavers and Altoids with the dark chocolate, all the rest are Casein

*Just Born, Mike and Ike's candy, Sours and Hot Tamales are Gluten and Casein
All their products are casein free except for peanut chews and anything
with chocolate.

*Farley's & Sathers Candy Company - Heide®, Jujyfruits®, Now and Later®, Super
Bubble®, Rain-Blo®, Fruit Stripe®, Sweet Stripes®, Bobs®, Trolli®, and the
rights to sell Chuckles® under license.
Super bubble is GFCF. It may have egg in the product. Now and Later candy is
GFCF but could have egg in the product.
Juicy fruits in the theatre size is GF. Could have cross contamination
with milk, wheat, soy. Rainbow gum is GF.

*Wonka Inc -
Almost all of the current WONKA candies are gluten free, except the
WONKA® Bar. However, we strongly recommend that consumers always read the
ingredient statement for the most current information.

*If a WONKA product is certified Kosher, the certification mark will be on the
packaging label. Please look for an O with a U in it. If the
product contains dairy, there will be a D next to it.

*Buttons below to explore all the exciting flavors -
Wonka® Bottle Caps® The Soda Pop Candy®
Wonka® Gobstopper Everlasting GOBSTOPPER®
Wonka® Runts Fruit RUNTS®
Chewy RUNTS®
Wonka® Laffy Taffy® LAFFY TAFFY®
Sparkle Jerry Cherry
Wonka® Laffy Taffy® Rope Candy LAFFY TAFFY® Banana Rope
Wonka® Lik-M-Aid® Fun Dip Original LIK-M-AID® FUN DIP
Wonka® Mixups® Assorted MIXUPS®
Wonka® Nerds®
Wonka® Pixy Stix®
Wonka® SweeTARTS® Giant Chewy SweeTARTS
Giant Color Changing SweeTARTS
Mini Chewy SweeTARTS
SweeTARTS Gummy Bugs
Wonka® Shockers
Wonka® Tart 'N Tinys® TART 'N TINYS®

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"FAST" food...huh?

Conjures up thoughts of speeding through a drive through window while the kids scream in the back, because you were at the grocery store, or TJ Maxx for entirely too long, right? WRONG! For those of you who share in the experience of diets like ours, you know that couldn't be further from the truth!

To me, fast foods are the kind that don't require open flour-covered cookbooks, measuring cups and spoons, and hoards of ingredients in my peripheral vision. It's anything that can be heated up quickly without having to do much more than hit one button on the toaster oven, YEAH - that's what I'm talking about!

I have been getting creative with quick and fun. Anything that is being tried for the first time requires even more creativity. How do we get him to eat such variety? The way we take the attention off of "WHAT" is being served is by putting the attention on "HOW" it's being served. I make smiley faces, I shred or cut veggies into strips for hair, make eyes, a nose and a big smiley face! Works EVERY time. He also likes dips, so anything new placed next to a familiar dip gets approval too. Don't underestimate the power of HELP. Kids love to help cook, so give them a job, something that makes them feel proud and part of the project, they are more likely to eat something they just prepared themselves. I know what you are thinking, yes, it will take you a tad longer to get through preparation, but if you are batch cooking, you are only doing this once in a while and what is better than a kid who is happy, feels confident and helpful and gets some one-on-one mommy time all while making a great meal?? My little guy smells herbs, stirs batters, dumbs ingredients, "chops", gets me utensils and measuring cups, helps clean up, taste tests (best job, of course) and he gets very into it! I also make a big deal out of his "chef"ness, ha ha ha. Whenever he eats something he likes now, he says, "Mommy, you are a good chef!" ha ha ha KIDS! Gotta love 'em! I eat up this attention, because I know in just 10 very short years, he will be more interested in girls, friends and hobbies than his mommy. Take advantage of this time you have together, it's short lived and SO precious!

Here are some of my "fast" food ideas and keep in mind that this often requires bulk prep initially, but that can be done once in a while and then I freeze the rest for easy defrosting and/or toasting.

Teeny-weeny meatballs - I use ground turkey (you can use any ground meat, even combine multiple meats), and in place of egg and bread crumbs, I use quinoa flakes and water, then I spice them the way he likes (lots of garlic and sea salt, some cilantro which is a natural metal-mover). I make these bite sized, he loves eating anything round and small and with a toothpick! EASY PEASY! Freeze them up and serve them fast! These can be eaten alone, made into a meatball sandwich, put into pastas and rices, etc.

Chicken strips - This simple recipe involves just pounding chicken breasts thin, slicing them into strips, spicing and cooking. I under cook them just slightly so they don't dry out when being reheated, but they heat up so easily in a toaster oven.

Believe it or not, pancakes and waffles are a HUGE favorite for any meal of the day. You can top them with whatever you like, even turn them into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches since bread is a no-no on this diet. We just batch cook double-batches and freeze with wax paper between each one. They are easily transportable for hitting the road in a hurry or they can be elaborate and fun with smashed raspberries and honey on decide.

Muffins - These kid-favorites can be "fortified" with veggie purees of all kinds! Get creative and offer a lunch-muffin. You can toast or not and offer a spread or not. Your kids will think they are the luckiest kids in the world, afterall, who in their right mind offers their kids muffins for lunch?! he he he, sneaky! I don't know who is happier here, kiddo or mom. Another great freeze and heat idea.

Pesto - I like to make various style pestos then I store the extra in small containers in the freezer. These are good as quick pasta sauces (we reheat already cooked pasta with an oil based pesto in a pan right on the stove), spreads for sandwiches, use as a base for grain dishes. I like any combination of cilantro, basil, nuts, and green leafy veggies with tons of garlic (a natural antiviral, antiseptic, anti fungal, antioxidant), blend them in a blender and store. It's that simple!

Breaded fish bites - but not with bread! We use corn chips or cereal flakes that are safe for Grayson, I smash them to pieces, literally, and add spices and a little flour (amaranth or quinoa for added protein)...then use almond milk and a touch of arrowroot starch to bind the flakes to the chicken. We prepare these in bulk, as well. Salmon is a favorite of Graysons. He dips it into his favorite honey mustard dressing. Be sure to choose low-mercury fish like salmon, cod, tilapia, etc.

Turkey/ham/chicken wrapped avocado - This recipe offers the use of toothpicks AND dip, what kid could want more?? I take Applegate Farms sliced uncured deli meats and brown them quickly in a pan on the stove so they are almost crispy like bacon (some kids may like this cold, but mine likes everything cooked apparently), then wrap it around a slice of avocado, cut them into bite sized chunks, stick a pick in them, they are done! Choose any dip you like, we use honey mustard. This isn't a recipe you would freeze, of course.

Those were the main dish ideas, here are some side/snacky ideas:

Crunchy chick peas - these bite-sized balls are a hit here! Just take garbanzo beans (we use canned and just rinse them) toss them in an oil of choice and spices (again, the garlic and sea salt is a favorite, but we also do a sweet version) then bake them on 350 degrees for 50 min, YES that is 5-0. They will get crispy and rattle around. Who needs potato chips when you can have the protein boost of these tasty, portable bits! Toss them in a snack baggie for a snack on the road! Add them to your own "trail mixes" with nuts, raisins, GFCF chocolate chips, seeds....get the point?

Salads - Any left over grain side can be used to make a cold salad during the day just by adding dressing! Veggies and grain stir fry = ensalada! We also use green salads a LOT, I chop them up small (kitchen shears rock!) with all of his favorite veggies, plus a chopped up piece of pear and then he can scoop it up with a spoon, no fighting with big annoying leaves! Remember to top your salads with nuts or seeds (providing you can have them, of course!), in fact, walnuts offer much needed Omega-3's.

Sweet potato fries - Everyone loves fries, need I say more? I have a recipe for a zesty topping that you brush on before the last 5-10 min of baking (switch to broil and put them in the middle of the oven and WATCH them, they burn fast) Here is the list of ingredients, you toss them together in a sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat then simmer and cook for about 10 more min while the potatoes are baking in the oven (skin-side down wedges) on 350:

Honey garlic sweet potato wedges
1/3 cup Heinz Tomato Ketchup
1/3 cup GF Soy sauce (or Braqq's Liquid Aminos)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp each finely grated lime zest and lime juice (Grayson can’t have this - we use citric acid instead)
6 cloves garlic, minced

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

RECIPE - Absolutely tasty nut butter

I have always enjoyed making nut butters, but I think this is my tastiest creation ever and SO easy! I just HAD to share it. Now, keep in mind something about me, I just don't like to measure, I prefer to wing-it and taste as I go along, so I am going to do my best to tell you how much of each ingredient to use, but please taste your creation as you follow along and tweek to your own preferences. We like salty nut butters, but use Himalayan sea salt since it has no negative effects, only beneficial, so we like to add a little more than a little, he he he.

We use a 7-cup food processor for this recipe

about a pound of raw unsalted cashews
1/2-1 cup of raw walnuts
I toss in about 5-6 Brazil nuts for added selenium, but this is optional
Grapeseed oil (you can use virgin coconut oil too which is a great preservative and adds a little sweetness too, but Grayson is allergic to coconut so we use the Grapeseed)
about a teaspoon of Kelp with Cayenne
about a tablespoon of Himalayan sea salt
1/4 white chia seeds

All you do is basically dump in all of the ingredients (the kids love helping do this and push buttons on the food processor) with the exception of the oil. I like to add this as I go so I don't overdo it. I add maybe a tablespoon at first, then start processing and add it as it is processing. You will know when you have just enough oil by watching the consistency and the way it moves in the processor. When you have added enough (and do it really slow since it can take a while to get through grinding all the nuts) the mixture will start to flow freely, but slowly. It is nice and thick for spreading. Open it up, taste, add more of anything you want and then scrape the sides to make sure you get that staticy chia seed all into the mixture and then blend once more. It looks and tastes hearty, but has wonderful complex flavors!! YUM - enjoy!

Omega-3 that isn't fish oil

I know many of you are using fish oil for omega-3, but have you ever considered chia seeds?! They are similar to flax, but better. Flax goes rancid with heat and light, chia seed doesn't. Flax can't be cooked or baked into recipes, because it turns rancid with heat and chia seed can. Also, some startling information I learned about flax, it is a vitamin B interrupter and I know that our kids NEED as much vit B as we can offer them! It also interferes with thyroid function due to a substance called cyanogens which is converted in the body to become another chemical called Thiocyanate (SCN). Chia contains the right ratio of omega-3 to 6 (3:1). The Omega-3 in chia is Alpha-Linolenic (ALA) and, of course contains no risk of added mercury!

You can add water to it (9:1) and it becomes a gel that can be added to any foods without adding ANY flavor. Or you can use juice instead of water and then drink it or take it by the spoonful. The stuff is really great!!

We use it in hot cereal, muffins, cookies, pancakes, waffles, by the spoonful, sprinkled on top of things like waffles with nut butter and bananas with the chia sprinkled on top. It's tasteless and adds SO much to your diet.

Just some info from the packaging I thought was really interesting: 3 1/2 ounces of chia (we use Anutra brand) is equivalent to the following:

omega-3's (20g) in 2 pounds of Atlantic salmon
vegetable protein (24g) in 1 1/2 cups of kidney beans
calcium (520mg) in 1 3/4 cups of milk (added bonus here for us CF people)
fiber (32g) in 1 1/2 cups of all bran
potassium (552mg) in 1 1/4 bananas
magnesium (231mg) in 2 1/4 pounds of broccoli (how do ya like them apples?)
iron (6.7mg) in 2 pounds of raw spinach (WOAH!)

Some other benefits in just 15 grams of the stuff: lignans-1275mg, ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity)-75 per gram, Vit E-764mcg, B vitamins-2,146mcg, selenium-11mcg, calcium-78mg, chromium-11mcg, iron-1,007-mcg

So without the risk of sounding like a spokesperson (too late, huh?) I just thought I would share this powerhouse of a food that we are benefiting from.

Let it be known that among many of the other seeds/grains we are now using, the chia seed is an ancient seed. I find it interesting how we think we are such an advanced civilization, however, many of the most beneficial foods available are ancient and making a come back. Much of what modern civilization produces is damaging to our insides! How ironic is that? Perhaps we should learn to trust what the ancient civilizations have offered us!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Siblings with food allergies

I found this article in Living Without which is a great magazine for people who are dealing with food allergies or sensitivities. I subscribe online and just thought I would share the article. If you sign up for newsletters, you get recipes and articles sent to your e-mail address regularly.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Good times

It's when we have infractions that I am reminded of why we work so hard at this diet. I often forget how wild those days can be, much like pre-diet was. Infractions can last two to three days, as we have experienced so far. It makes me want to fine-tune his diet even more! The days when he is back to his baseline he is a perfect, sweet, mellow, charming dream child! He is better than perfect, his smart and silly side shines through - oh and did I say MELLOW! That deserves being said twice.

So many people say that they don't know how I do it, they couldn't, but I disagree. I think when faced with something you have the ability to control, especially when it comes to your child, you can do anything. Any mother I know would throw themselves under a train for their child, doesn't that make a simple diet sound appealing? I personally would rather read a few labels and avoid eating out as much (which is unhealthy for us all anyway) to keep my child healthy.

On the topic of eating out, we don't do it nearly as much as we used to, however, we do still eat out. We just plan ahead and bring food with us. Sometimes, if we want to run out spur of the moment, we just grab a few frozen pancakes (his favorite meal), toast them up and take them in a cooler with us. Then at the restaurant, we order him a side of broccoli to go with them. It's important to make sure the veggies are just steamed and plain. We even bring our own water, since many restaurants use lemon and he can't have citrus. He's very impatient, so he usually eats his pancakes before we even get our food, then he's left sitting there with a massive bowl of broccoli, must look funny to people around us. It's not often you come across a three year old gobbling up a whole bowl of just broccoli, ha ha ha.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Holy infraction batman!

iJust the other day Dave picked up a baby puff that inadvertently made it's way from baby fingers to the floor and he said that we need to be careful about Grayson getting a hold of one. I thought nothing of it until the next day when Grayson came into the family room and told us he found a puff....and where was it? Yes, you guessed it, in his belly!! Uh oh...oh well, not much we can do now. I gave him a few No Phenols, and upped the enzyme action for the next few meals, to no avail. Let me tell you the havoc that darn little itty-bitty fluff of a puff caused!! Yesterday was like sensory hell. He was on overload, everything bothered him especially his pants and his shirt - he shrugs constantly, pulls on sleeves, stretches his arms, because he can "feel" his clothes, ummm, don't we all feel our clothes?? Yes, but he FEELS them and hates it, on his bad days!! He was an emotional basket-case, crying even when he had to talk to me about anything that wasn't going his way, which was ohhhhh, just about everything!! His attention span was minuscule, he pulled out every possible toy he owns as he was trying to tame the boredom monster within, he was making messes faster than I could conjure them in my wildest dreams, meanwhile I have a 6 month old going through severe separation anxiety who won't let me put him down, that makes for a whirlwind of mess around me! After a nutty and severely emotional dining experience, he actually managed to earn a tv pass which allowed him to watch a show before bed. Can I tell you how much I LOVED these few moments of peace?!! It would be SO easy to just turn on the tv and let him veg, but we all know that would be the easy way out and not so helpful in the long run. Yes, you can call me a glutton for punishment, I never take the easy road. So back to the infraction. you would think he could sleep off something like that - WRONG! Yesterday he was Dr. Jekyl and today, you guessed it, Mr. Hyde! I had a slew of new "symptoms" to cope with today. He was lethargic, slurring and speaking slowly and drawn out, spaced out at times, tracing everything within arms reach with his fingers, literally tripping over his own feet left and right, he said he didn't feel well, his tummy hurt and what really got to me the most was that he was enjoying Gavin's misfortunes. If he bumped his little head with a toy or fell back from sitting, Grayson would laugh hysterically. Grayson has NEVER been anything but encouraging and caring towards his baby brother. My frustration levels were skyrocketing. But oddly, every time I looked Grayson in the eyes, he would grin widely and say, "Are you happy mommy?" How could I not be with that goofy little boy looking back at me. I am reminded of how much he needs us, how far he has come in this struggle, because we seek answers and because we don't take no for an answer. We go against the grain for him. I love this little boy with more heart than I even have, even on his worst days. So I am utterly exhausted today, but tomorrow is another day and I can't wait to wake to their little faces...

No wheat, potatoes or rice, need substitutes?

When you can't eat wheat, potatoes or rice, that leaves what? A lot actually! So you can't have piles of carbs, but there are plenty of great substitutes out there. Baking with different flours is challenging and requires some practice, as I have mentioned in a previous post, but when it comes to grains, a lot of the substitutes are as easy as making rice dishes! Finally, something in this diet that doesn't require a degree!! I will give you a brief run down of the different options available for replacing the old stand-bys.

MILLET - If you haven't already tried this fabulous grain, this is a must! The name is a bit of a turn-off, I know it swayed me, but when I finally bit the bullet four months after starting this diet and tried it, we found it to be one of our favorites!! It has a very mild texture and taste and is almost the consistency of stuffing when you cook the grains whole. We added shredded carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, currants, fresh oregano, sea salt and lots of garlic. Grayson wasn't the only one gobbling it up!! Dave was thoroughly impressed with our new find too! This grain is also a great first food for babies! Just grind it up in a grinder (preferably not one you use for coffee beans since you will feed this to your baby) for about a minute or two, it will become a fine powder, like flour. Use 3 tablespoons to 1 cup of water, boil the water first, then briskly whisk the flour into the boiling water, simmer for ten minutes whisking frequently to prevent lumps and burning. I also toss it all into the Magic Bullet when it's done to get a nice creamy consistency. It's mild flavor and low-allergen traits make it very appealing for babies! Amazingly, this is also one of the cheaper grains out there! It is also great added to bread and muffin recipes.

The nitty gritty on millet - The term millet actually refers to a variety of grains, some of which do not belong to the same genus. Millet is technically a seed, but has been classified as a grain by many. It is a heart-healthy food (up there with oatmeal) because it is a good source of magnesium, which studies have also proven to reduce the severity of asthma and reduce the frequency migraine attacks as well as reduce blood pressure and risk of heart attacks. Magnesium acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including the enzymes involved in body's use of glucose and insulin secretion.

One cup of cooked millet contains: 33% manganese, 31% tryptophan, 26.4% DV magnesium, 24% DV phosphorus

Warning - Millet contains goitrogens, naturally-occurring substances in certain foods that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Individuals with already existing and untreated thyroid problems may want to avoid millet for this reason. Cooking may help to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food. However, it is not clear from the research exactly what percent of goitrogenic compounds get inactivated by cooking, or exactly how much risk is involved with the consumption of millet by individuals with pre-existing and untreated thyroid problems. For more on this subject, please see "What are goitrogens and in which foods are they found?"

QUINOA - As I must commonly remind Dave, it is pronounced keen-wah. It's a bit nuttier and crunchier than rice or millet and it has a very distinct flavor. The odor is stronger than the flavor though, so don't be put off by that when cooking it. It actually smells bitter! The bitterness is reduced by rinsing thoroughly before cooking to remove the soapy saponins that coat quinoa seeds. We use quinoa for stir fries, sausage and peppers over it, basically any way you would use rice. Chilled, it's a great base for salads. We make fabulous tabbouleh with it. It's very high in protein so it's a great choice for those who don't eat red meat. Just like rice and millet, this can be made into a cereal for babies, it is even sold in a flake variety for ease of cooking! The flakes are great for adding to recipes such as pancakes and muffins too, providing a nice protein kick to the recipe.

An uncooked 1/4 cup of quinoa contains: 48% DV manganese, 22.3% DV magnesium, 21.8% DV iron, 18.8% DV tryptophan, 17.5% DV copper, 17.4% DV phosphorus

The nitty gritty on quinoa - This "grain" is actually not a grain at all, it is the seed of a plant related to leafy green veggies like spinach, beets and swiss chard! It is one of the least allergenic grains available. An ancient grain native of South America, it was considered the "gold of the incas" who recognized it's value of increasing stamina in warriors. Quinoa is the complete protein package, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids! A great choice for vegans and vegetarians. In addition to many of the same nutrients and benefits of millet, quinoa is also a good source of riboflavin (vitamin B2), which is necessary for proper energy production within cells. Quinoa is relatively new to the US, being discovered and grown by two Americans for the first time in Colorado in the 1980's! It is not a new grain at all though, it has been cultivated in the Andean mountain regions of Peru, Chile and Bolivia for over 5,000 years, and it has long been a staple food in the diets of the native Indians. The Incas considered it a sacred food and referred to it as the "mother seed."

BUCKWHEAT - One of our favorite ingredients of pancakes!! I had buckwheat pancakes for the first time (well before the diet) in New Jersey at a cute little pancake place by the water. I ended up on a mad hunt for the perfect buckwheat pancake, little did I know that we would be eating them regularly as part of a special diet some day... In the groats form, buckwheat can also be made like rice, but I personally cannot get past the odor or texture to eat it like this.

One cup of buckwheat contains: 34% DV manganese, 25% DV tryptophan, 21.4% DV magnesium, 18.2% DV (4.54g) fiber

The nitty gritty on buckwheat - It is a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel, although as with all the others, it ends up categorized with the "grains". Buckwheat flowers are quite fragrant and are attractive to bees that use them to make a strongly flavored, dark honey. Diets that contain buckwheat have been linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It's rich supply of flavonoids (a phytonutrient) protect against disease by extending the action of vitamin C and acting as antioxidants. The nutrients in buckwheat may also contribute to blood sugar control, not to mention, their ability to satisfy hunger!

AMARANTH - Another seed, also known as a "grain" with very high protein and enormous health benefits. This isn't one of our favorites, because of it's peppery taste, but we do try to add it in small portions to baked goods as a flour. It can also be cooked like rice and popped like popcorn (which we haven't tried yet). This is another of the "ancient grains" used by the Incas. Since we don't use this one quite as much, I don't have as much information readily available, but the basics are that one cup of amaranth contains: 28g protein, 29.6g fiber and the following nutrients - calcium, iron, magnesium and folate. I plan to try to incorporate more amaranth into our diet, perhaps trying it as a popped kernel or mixed with other sweeter grains. I'll let you know, if I embark on something interesting with this one. Please share if you have anything to add here...This link brings you to a site where you can buy prepackaged amaranth side dishes very much like rice side dishes - They also sell amaranth cereals and formula add-ins for a protein and calcium boost.

SORGHUM - Another grain (also known as Milo) we are experimenting with more and more, but I know little about. In the few recipes I have tried sorghum (pancakes and muffins) I am in love with the "normal" consistency it gives the finished product. For anyone who knows what it is like to bake GFCF and egg free...this is a BIG leap in the right direction!! It also has a sweet taste and so far, we LOVE it. It's also another grain that can be popped like popcorn, which I look forward to trying. I am not sure of the daily values, but a half a cup of sorghum contains: 10g fiber, 8g protein, 28 mg calcium, and 4.41 mg iron.

Well there you have it, probably more information than you needed on a few of the nutrient-packed "grains" that can benefit not only the gluten-free world, but a good addition to the diets of those who are just plain health-conscious.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Variety? NOT!

If there is one thing you can count on with kids, they like to eat the same things over and over again, and again......aaaaand again! Grayson would LIVE on pancakes and luckily we found a great grain-free, egg-free pancake recipe and considering the flours we use, he gets a lot of protein, thank goodness! But my word, give it a break already kid!! So while he enjoys the repetition of the same thing over and over, I find myself struggling with lunches, trying to find variety. Not so much because he wants it, because I know he would eat the same thing meal after meal if I let him, but because I try to rotate the few foods he CAN have. Kids who experience antigen reactions to food can develop new allergens with repeated use of the same foods over and over again, since it is related to a leaky gut. The food particles are passing through holes in the intestines, causing the body to develop antibodies to those floating particles of foods, so basically anything being eaten until the leaky gut is repaired, can become an allergen, loverly right? So anyway, trying to find lunches is fun, especially for a child who loves eating the same things over and over again. I batch cook as much as I can and then I freeze the foods making it easier to quickly serve up more of the same stuff every day, like the pancakes which are great for a toaster (and if anyone wants that recipe, I would be glad to post it) and chicken strips as well as fish bites (Grayson likes salmon). I created a breading using cereal flakes, "safe" chips, spices and flour and since we are also egg-free, we use almond milk and a little arrowroot starch to dip the pieces in before dipping into the "breading". I personally think the breading is quite tasty!! These heat up easily in the toaster oven on bake, I just under cook thema tad when I am making them initially. So the other things he likes are salads with an all natural organic honey mustard dressing we found at Wegmans (LOVE this store), ants on a log (celery with PB and raisins, currants or cranberries), and brocolli, lol, yes, he likes brocolli so he gets it with just about every lunch!! No variety there! He likes cauliflower too, but ummm, same family as brocolli. So now I am running out of ideas and really need to hit the cookbooks for more kid-friendly, mommy-time-saving-friendly lunch recipes!! I do have two great cookbooks, but finding recipes free of all of his allergens is challenging. I need to usually do some substituting....ok, a lot! I am getting better with it though. He used to love the Applegates Farms uncured all beef hotdogs, they are really good, it's all we eat in our house (well not ALL we eat, but all the hot dogs we eat, lol), but suddenly he turns up his nose to them. We tried cold cuts (Applegate Farms uncured, of course or Boar's head) but no luck there since he can't have any breads or cheese, blah, makes for a boring sandwich, ha ha ha. The pancakes are great for making sandwiches, but he doesn't like them that way. They are nice and thick though. He used to LOVE PB&J, but not anymore....maybe because the wheat isn't there to draw him in.

Speaking of what he is NOT eating, let's talk about milk. I know you all think that milk is a necessity for's not. Just get over that idea right now. As long as a child is receiving proper nutrition through foods, which includes a lot of green leafy veggies, calcium levels should be more than enough. Use a Magic Bullet and blend those green leafy veggies, hide them if you have to!! Grayson LOVES pestos with garlic, so we load him up on spinach that way. We also give calcium supplements (I take them myself since I am dairy-free for Gavin). Keep in mind that the vitamind D you receive from milk is "fortified", which you can get anywhere. Some basic facts to keep in mind when you are worrying about where your child will get calcium and vitamin D....we are the only mammal to drink another animal's milk and we are the only mammal to drink milk beyond weaning. Most adults don't even have the proper enzymes for digesting milk properly. When I cook with "milk" I use unsweetened almond milk which doesn't effect the flavor of the dish. I also use the original almond milk in my cereals, I love the almond taste in cereal. Honestly, with the exception of cheese, I don't miss dairy at all. I even feel better and lost a TON of weight, and for those who know me, I didn't have much weight to begin with, ha ha ha. But this isn't about me, is it? It's never about me, I'm just the mom! ha ha ha

My point here is to think outside of the box. Clear your mind of the "traditional" thinking when it comes to food. Kids are adaptable and so are you!! I am still learning the ropes and every day holds a new challenge, but the benefits we are seeing far outweighs the work involved!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The hair says it all

The holidays are over, we had a sick-fest in our house through the holidays!! Everyone is getting better and we are now moving on to a happy and healthy 2009! The boys are both doing great and we are coming along in our adventures with Grayson's health!

We've decided to test his hair for toxic metals, it will tell us what the elements in his hair are and that will indicate, if there were any heavy metals responsible for malabsorption of certain elements. We are reading a great book called Children with Starving Brains, what an eye-opener! I am learning that the cause for many of these issues (food allergies, SPD, lack of enzyme production, ADHD, ASD, yeast overgrowth) is often undetected heavy metals in the system. If a person cannot metabolize them, they just build up with each offender (a mother's silver fillings - of which I have SEVEN, EMF from power lines - we used to live UNDER them, vaccinations - which he reacted to at 12 months old, the list is unfortunately endless). Mercury is one of the worst metals to introduce to a child who cannot metabolize metals, it is one of the most toxic metals in the universe! It passes through the blood-brain barrier and causes neurotoxic responses. Mercury in the brain just stays there!! It remains in other tissues as well, such as the organs. So when you think you are repairing the problem by removing allergen foods, offering supplements, detoxing the liver, treating yeast...well, if mercury is the cause, you are just pedaling in reverse. You are swimming against the current! You will never get to the cause of the problems without removing the heavy metals. So while we don't KNOW that this is our problem, it's certainly worth investigating, so today we are sending in a good sized portion of the hair from the nape of his head to a lab for testing. If he does in fact show signs of heavy metals, we will need to begin the process of detoxing (AKA - chelation) his body of the metals. This is a process that can take years, but will ultimately reverse the effects of excess metals in the system.

In the meantime, nursing a baby when a mother has excessive silver fillings exposes the infant to mercury as well, so I have recently learned that taking an additional 100mcg of selenium daily will provide the mercury with a place to bind. They are opposing ions so mercury is attracted to selenium. By giving the mercury a place to bind, it loses the ability to attach to the tissues in the body. Here's to hoping...