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Archive for 'GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews'

Yummy Gluten-Free Birthday Cake!

I’ve experienced run of rather dry gluten-free cupcakes of late, so I decided to try Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free cake mix for Sue’s 5th birthday.

(I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but Sue was recently diagnosed with a gluten intolerance so we are forging ahead now with two gluten-free children!)

The cake turned out quite well, and was a bit dense but not at all dry like the Betty Crocker.  Sue and Edward thrilled to the gluten-free confection after suffering through a ridiculously large batch of gf cupcakes I made a few months ago and froze.  (Maybe the freezing dried them out further…)

Even Joseph ate a large slice of cake and he is the biggest gluten-free snob I know.

I’ll be using this mix again!

Disclaimer:  I bought this mix myself and was in no way compensated for this review!

Posted on 16 July '10 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 6 Comments.

The Good Day

I felt like a terribly bad mother last night as I dreaded this day.  Not that it was some horrible blood-vial-drawing medical testing day, or IEP meeting day, or any of the other trying days we’ve all had as mothers.

It’s just that Edward had a 9 am soccer game, Joseph had a 9 am baseball game, Sue had a 12 pm soccer game and everyone had a school carnival extravaganza from 3 until 7.  So much stimulation in one day is generally a setup for major tantrums, family disharmony and general filial chaos.

“Apparent Short-Lived Harmony”

“Mild disdain for sibling’s soccer game forcing you to sit in the cold at 9 am on a Saturday.”

I arrived with an overexcited Edward, armed with a passel of gf/cf treats to combat the cotton candy lust and sprinkle cookie bake sale yearnings.  He bounced to his heart’s content, threw a whipped cream pie in the face of a beloved teacher, and met the school mascot.

(Is it just me or do you find this elementary school mascot a tad creepy?)

Still, the unexpected joy of the day came when Edward declared that he planned to play football with a gangly group of boys aged 7 – 16 that had gathered in the school playground.

Initially, my stomach flip flopped.  I tried to steer him back to the giant bouncy slide.  I cajoled him with dye-free jelly beans.  I even agreed to let him drink a glass of lemonade that I am certain was laced with any sort of menacing yellow dye.

Nothing worked.  He was bent on football and he raced on.

I was concerned that he would become upset and tantrum in front of all those children, but I was more worried that he would do precisely that in front of his brother who was a key player on one of the teams.  Balancing their relationship has gotten trying of late as Edward’s personality has gotten a little large for the school and his brother is more of a child who likes to shrink into the background.  Joseph loves his brother, but he is also ten, in a brand new school and trying to be a cool student-athlete.

Edward jumped in and was on fire–tackling 14-year-olds with abandon.  He was quickly recruited by the middle school boys who loved his spunk.  He played amazingly well, handling falls and tackles with aplomb and even calling a few plays.

And then at one point, the taller boys all tossed the ball to E, surrounded him with a wall of fourteenhood, and protected him through a rollicking touchdown.  Everyone cheered and gave E high-fives.

And that child beamed.  He shined.  He was filled with such a joy it was contagious.

I sat there on the sidelines wondering how I ever could have feared for Edward’s future.  Was this not God showing me a picture of His protection of my sweet child as he traveled this difficult life?  How could I continue feeling so full of fear with God’s promises so clear?

Yes I will have to say, as they day closes, it was a good day.

Even the part where I had to “man” some bunjee jumpy bouncy thingy!

(I’m still hoarse from all the warnings!)

Posted on 22 March '10 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, Faith is the Evidence, GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany, Social Skills. 6 Comments.

Bombshells and Ketchup

Last night, I had an occasion to take Edward to the grocery store without the other children.

Of course we were seeking ketchup–his favorite (and only accepted) condiment!  (I would have to say he is it obsessed with ketchup since he dips scrambled eggs and raw carrots in it.  In fact, I was lamenting this to MT this morning who always makes me feel better because her son has a ketchup penchant as well!)

We use the Publix organic ketchup because it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, and because it is the ONLY ketchup without HFCS that he will actually eat.  And we have tried them all and we go through two bottles per week.  Enough about ketchup!

So we are standing in line and of course Edward begins to peruse the magazines.

I brace myself for the inevitable questions. (Remember the child star?)

His first:  “What’s a ‘bombshell’ ?  Looks like it’s some kinda big woman!”

It is Kirstie Allie touting her new Big Life show.

He then directs his gaze to the checkout guy: “Do you know what a bombshell is?”

The fellow grins and laughs a little.

“Ahh, Mom, I see you are buying Advil PM!  Is that because you can’t sleep?  Can you not sleep because of all of Dad’s horrible snoring?

That is indeed why I am buying Advil PM…that and a four-year-old who won’t sleep in her own bed when she is sick and must listen to the Heffalump sound track in order to fall asleep every time she awakens from her feverish strep sleep. I also can’t sleep because every time you wake up, you turn on your history CD and I can hear it drone on and on about the Celts from my room…

The checkout guy glances at me and stifles a laugh.  I swipe my card and pay for the goods.  I’m packing up to go when I notice a Sierra Mist in E’s hand.  I did tell him he could get it since he tried his best at social skills class.  The guy rings it up.

“One dollar and eight cents!”  Edward comments.  “What’s the eight cents for?”

I begin my patented “tax talk” and he interrupts, “Oh yes tax, I know all about that.  So what would tax be on like 200 million dollars?”  He looks at the checkout guy who looks at me, smilingly dumbfounded.

“Never-mind you two.  It’d be about $1.6 million,” Edward asserts.

More money than we’ll ever see…

And with that, we’re out the door!

Posted on 17 March '10 by , under "Did He Just Say ?", Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany, Social Skills. 9 Comments.

Jonesin’ for Blue Sugar

jonesin

We first wondered if Edward might have some food sensitivities after he ate a large piece of black forest cake at my inlaws and proceeded to bounce from carefully upholstered couch to silk-swathed chair like a ping-pong ball, his mouth bedecked with a cherry red ‘frostache.’

He was three.

Three-year-old boys being what they are, which is patently crazy, I didn’t think too much about it, but did decide to cut out all extraneous food dyes and flavorings.  (It’s also pretty easy to limit what a three-year-old consumes.)

During Pre-K, Edward spent most of the time busily studying the world map or reading books about black holes in the corner, but he would emerge occasionally into the Pre-K world with a promise of some sugary treat like Nerds or Starburst.  If offered a Tootsie Roll pop, he would slash a few marks on a “Letter A” coloring sheet or lacklusterly trace his name.  His teacher started to notice, however, that a few minutes after he consumed the sweet, he would begin to fret and jump and generally become increasingly hyperactive.

We found some alternatives, armed the school with those, and went on our way.  Of course that didn’t stop Edward from approaching perfect strangers at the grocery to warn them about food additives: “Did you know that product has Blue Lake #5 and Yellow Lake  #3?  They can make you hyper.”

Yes, they can.

A year later, we would embark upon the Gluten-Free/Casein-Free diet, but that is a whole other story for a different post.

What got me thinking about food sensitivities lately is how many people I meet don’t seem to realize that they exist, and that they can absolutely wreck a child’s behavior.  Since we are trying another run at public school, I decided to volunteer to help teach the after-school clubs.

Initially Edward planned to sign up for archery, and I found that a troubling and frightening combination.  Arrows, targets, Edward–it just seemed like a recipe for disaster and/or the wounding of others.

I was elated when a mother/physical therapist with a child on the spectrum decided to teach a Gross Motor Skills class. I figured after three years of sitting in on occupational therapy sessions, I qualified to be some sort of assistant, so I told her I would help.

She showed up the first day with a plethora of fabulous activities–scooter boards, bubbles, giant bouncy balls–you  name it and she had a van filled with it.

Yet she also spilled out a bag stuffed with the most gloriously colorful candies and treats that I have seen outside of Wonka.

(Edward, poor, jaded soul that he is when it comes to food, looked at me wryly and, without too much grumbling, shuffled over to the table to partake dutifully in his gluten-free pretzels and apple juice.)

One little girl, however, immediately seized a fistful of blue Sour Patch Kids and began stuffing them in her mouth with gleeful abandon.

I was sort of shocked.  I knew this child fairly well because she takes sensory breaks with Edward, and I knew her to be an exceedingly smart and relatively calm child.  I mean she is a MODEL for Edward during the school day.  But this child saw blue sugar and she could not stop.

She crammed “kid after kid” in her mouth until we feared she might choke.   Three minutes later, her face turned bright red and she began running up and down the hall, screaming and shrilling.  I had to run as fast as I could (which is not all that fast) to even hope to catch her, and when I did, she flailed and dodged me.  She was inconsolable–screaming for more candy at one moment and writhing in the floor the next.

The aide who was helping us with the group was baffled because she worked with this charming little girl on a daily basis and had never seen her react this way.  I went on to ask if it might be the food coloring in the candy, and after some interesting discussions on food sensitivities, we all agreed it must be.

So the next week, I bought a bag of vegetable dye gummy bears from Whole Foods and some pretzels for the snack.  This sweet girl entered the class, locked eyes with me, and demanded, “Where’s the blue stuff?  I need that blue candy!  Please!”  She whined and fussed for a minute, but contented herself with the gummy bears even though she sourly assured me they were not as tasty as the blue variety.

So later that week the mother/physical therapist teaching the club told me that she asked this little girl’s mother if she was sensitive or allergic to any foods.  The mother said she ate everything and they had never noticed any problems with foods.  The club teacher continued to tell the mother about the child’s reaction to the candy, and the mother was dumbfounded.

Another mother I met during a Sensory Connections parent support group was telling the group about her undiagnosed five-year-old whose Pre-K teacher was requesting she leave artificially colored and flavored foods out of his lunch to see if that helped with his behavior.  This mother had never heard of food additives affecting behavior but after we went around the group and told our various stories, she decided to try eliminating them.  We’ll hear at next month’s group how it went.

And then of course there is my dear friend whose son’s ADD was effectively cured by a regime of fish oil and eliminating red dye.

Would that it could always be that simple…

Anyway, if anyone else has a food sensitivity story they’d like to share, discuss it here, or write a blog post and I’ll be happy to link to it.

I’ll try to write something funny for tomorrow!

Posted on 10 March '10 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 8 Comments.

We all scream for snow cream…right?

On the same day we built our own luge, we also enjoyed another favorite childhood past time: Snow Cream!

H had never heard of snow ice cream and thought it was something I made up.  I found both of these facts concerning.  Who hasn’t heard of snow cream?  I thought it was a fundamental part of childhood!  I mean we used to save up snow in the freezer just so we could make it during the summer.   Didn’t everyone?

Anyway, we carefully scooped fresh snow into a bowl, added milk, sugar and a touch of vanilla and voi la!

snowcream1

Sue absolutely loved the stuff!

snowcream2

Obviously Edward cannot have real milk or cream so I decided to make his with this relatively new product from the So Delicious people.  I had high hopes for this milk substitute because he has enjoyed their ice cream and yogurt for quite a while now.

For gluten and casein-free snow cream you simply add sugar, gluten-free vanilla and the So Delicious coconut milk.

snowcream4

He found it lackluster and bland.

snowcream3

On a more positive note, however, H used the milk to make pancakes yesterday and Edward declared them the best pancakes ever!  He even substituted xylitol for the sugar.

So now at any hint of flurry, Sue runs outside with a bowl to catch the “clean” flakes before our puppy has a chance to touch them!

You can be thinking of me today while I help my fourth grader write a report on the Continental Army.  He only cares about the weapons.

Below is the trash can of the ten-year-old who only cares about the weapons:

trashcan

And here is the sink area of the ten-year-old who only cares about the weapons:

sink

It seems that when you turn ten, your need for mouthwash, deodorant and shaving cream arises.

OK, I’m all over the place with this post.  Maybe it’s the cold medicine, or the Continental Army report procrastination, or the fact that Sue is supposed to make a mouse out of a potato for her school?

Posted on 8 March '10 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 5 Comments.

Only Betty!

edwardbetty

H’s great-grandmother was a baker of divine cakes–some homemade–but most, I am told, inspired by Betty Crocker.  She was known to taste a bite of someone else’s cake at a covered dish event and murmur under her breath, “Well, you can tell it’s not Betty!”

My own attempts at gluten-free cakes and cupcakes have been met with comments like “Sort of like quinine,” or “My…hmmm…can I get a glass of water?” or “It reminds me of unflavored corn pone.”  Usually Edward just licks off the frosting and leaves the cake for squirrels, much like this.

quininecake

That’s why I got so excited a few weeks ago when the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free products showed up at my local grocery.  I made the cupcakes to prepare for Edward’s school Valentine’s party, and paired with some Whole Foods dye-free sugar sprinkles, they were decent.

As Edward explained, “The icing was great, the sprinkles pretty good and the cake is not that bad.”

betty

While these cupcakes looked exactly like their gluten-infused counterparts, they were still dry and crumbly.  Betty’s fine, but we’ll keep looking for the PERFECT gluten-free cupcake!

edwardcupcake

Posted on 14 February '10 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 4 Comments.

GF/CF Friday: Surf Sweets Candies

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When Edward was in Pre-K, his teacher rewarded students for staying in their seats, completing coloring worksheets and raising their hands before speaking by proferring Skittles, Ring Pops, Dum-Dums, Pixie Sticks and the like.

Needless to say, Edward did not receive that much candy because he preferred to stand near the world map memorizing countries, write his own math problems to solve on the back of the coloring sheets or lounge in the reading center reading book after book.

Still, eliminating artificial colors, flavors, and high fructose corn syrup was our first step toward implementing what would eventually become the GF/CF diet to help Edward’s behavior.  Three years ago it was almost impossible to find sweets and candies that didn’t have colors and dyes.  We found a few items and brought them to class, but Edward soon tired of the same old lollipops day after day.

Life for the sweet lover who avoids the artificial is easier now, however, with a host of organic, natural candies.  I was delighted to learn about Surf Sweets candies last year, and even more excited when they sent me a sampling of their candies to review.

These confections are simply great with a “normal” texture.  They offer Gummy Worms, Gummy Swirls, Gummy Bears, Fruity Bears, Jelly Beans, and Sour Worms.

surf-sweets

These treats are:

*Made with Organic Fruit Juice and Sweetners

*Natural Colors and Flavors

*100% of Your Daily Vitamin C

*Free of Corn Syrup and GMOs

*Made in a Nut Free Facility

*Gluten Free

According to Joseph, you can’t tell the Gummy Worms from the ones they sell at the ball park.

gummyworms_sub

Sue thrilled to the Gummy Swirls would have eaten the entire bag if I had let her.

gummyswirls_sub

Edward embraced al of the Surf Sweet offerings, preferring, not surprisngly the Gummy Worms!

surf-sweet-yum

I just keep a bag of these in my purse and then when candy is offered at soccer or another event, I’ve got a swell substitute!

Thanks, Surf Sweets!

Posted on 1 May '09 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 4 Comments.

GF/CF Friday Review: Arico Chocolate Chunk Gluten Free Cookies

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“They don’t even taste organic!”  Edward on the Arico Cookie!  (That’s a good sign!)

arico_chocolate-chip

I picked up these beauties at Whole Foods while out of town, and I’ll have to say they look yummy, and are quite moist!  Other aficionados of GF/CF cookies might note that many are dry and troublingly uniform in shape.  Yet these treats look like “real” home-made chocolate chip cookies.  One might even call them “Chips-A-Hoy esque!”

arico_close-up

Edward found them delicious, and even thrilled to them during Sue’s school indoor egg hunt today…not one whine over the forbidden hot-pink iced sugar cookies with sprinkles!

INGREDIENTS: Flour base (organic brown rice whole grain flour, rice starch, rice protein, baking soda), organic dark chocolate (organic cane sugar, organic cocoa paste, organic cocoa butter, non GMO soy lecithin, organic vanilla. Chunks may contain traces of milk protein due to manufacturing equipment), organic cage free eggs, organic cane sugar, chicory extract, organic agave nectar, organic palm oil, organic sunflower/safflower oil, calcium carbonate, natural flavor, sea salt. Contains eggs, soy and may contain traces of milk protein.

Here he is supporting Arico’s confection:

arico_yummy

Edward, who has been on the GF/CF diet for over a year now, adored these treats!  That’s enough for me!  We’ll have to request these at our local Publix.

Enjoy!

Posted on 3 April '09 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 12 Comments.

GF/CF Review: So Delicious Coconut Milk Minis

turtlemtn-minis

It’s been quite a while since Edward has reviewed any gluten and casein-free fare, but in his burgeoning desire to become “famous” he requested we do another review.  We have enjoyed many products from Turtle Mountain, and highly recommend their offerings.  These ice cream bar delicacies are completely gluten and casein-free.  All three children wanted to try them as evidenced here:

turtlemtnminis_three

The chocolate was rapidly picked off the coconut ice cream middle by all three children.  Sue chose the coconut-almond variety which enabled her to gleefully spit tiny bits of nut and coconut all over the patio, much to the delight of an ant family.

turtlemtn_sue

Edward knew to steer clear of the nuts and opted for the plain chocolate.  Whereas he thrilled to the chocolate coating, he found the ice cream middle to be, in his own words, “too, too sweet.”

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From a child who raids the sugar bowl whenever it is in reach, I found this hard to fathom.  I did taste the interior of the confection and while the texture was so similar to traditional ice cream, it was a tad on the sweet side.

Everyone seemed to agree on the extreme sweetness of the product, and this brought out the artist in Sue.

turtlemtn_smear

All in all, the chocolate coating was supreme but the ice cream interior was a bit much.  We do love other Turtle Mountain products, however, particularly the Purely Decadent Cookie Dough ice cream!

turtlemtn_mouth

Posted on 22 March '09 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 2 Comments.

Fish Pectin Marshmallow: It’s a Food Review?

Sounds appetizing, eh?

Something about marshmallows in any way associated with Nile Perch and Tilapia is troubling…

Yet here’s a close gander at a perfectly toasted sampling:

You see, it all started when my mother-in-law, whom I earnestly, dearly love, sent Edward a Marshmallow Bow and Arrow for his birthday from drugstore.com.  For a child obsessed with the Middle Ages, a child who cannot stop talking about the importance of the Ottoman Empire, this was a fetching choice.

Feel that wild love?

The only issue was his inability to actually eat traditional mini-marshmallows due to their inclusion of obvious enemies tetrasodium pyrophosphate and artificial color “blue 1″–a particular nemesis–after they had been shot.

Yet, without fail, the ‘squirrel people‘ sent their promised Halloween/Birthday candy stash for the gluten/casein/food dye/artificial flavor-sensitive–two weeks late–and it included a package of fish gelatin marshmallows.

I’ll just lead off with a typical Edward quote:

“Well, they smell like rotted fish, but they do taste quite sweet and good.  I like them!  I really do!  You just need to hold your nose when you eat them!”

Good times.  For a family that guzzles fish oil like cheap ripple, this is fab.

Whoosh!

Dodged that one because although these mallows are.not.cheap, they enable us to embrace the familiar thrill of toasted marshmallows.

At this point, I just seize the joy and run with it!

I run for the hills!  It’s vitally important!

Posted on 13 November '08 by , under GF/CF Diet/Food Reviews. 14 Comments.