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Deliciously G Free, by Elisabeth Hasselbeck

I have tried four recipes in Deliciously G Free so far, and they have all been outstanding. My kids thought that the Mango Fandango Shake tasted just like ice cream, and I LOVED the Black Forest Shake. Last night I made up a big double batch of the Sweet and Sour Chicken (yummy), and tonight I’m making the Beef and Broccoli. The Egg Muffins were also a big hit.

Although Elisabeth doesn’t specifically annotate this, many of her recipes are both gluten and casein free. If your family was dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder and cooking for a GF/CF diet, this book would have lots of kid friendly options for you.

 Update: 1/20/12

I have now also tried the Beef and Broccoli recipe on page 121.  It was excellent, but did seem to have a typo.  I don’t think the can of black beans was supposed to be there, so I just skipped that part.  The pulled pork sandwiches on page 158 were good, and were an easy crock-pot dinner.  The chocolate chip cookie recipe on page 215 has also been a hit, but does require a lot of non-standard flours.  Luckily we live next to a natural foods co-op, and I have easy access to things like millet flour and Xanthan gum.

A final thing I’d like to point out is that on page 21 Elisabeth talks about mixing up large batches of “power flours” to make baking easier, and specifically mentions pancakes and waffles.  But then there aren’t any recipes for pancake and waffle “power flour” mixes.  Another typo?  She should get a new editor, IMO.  I’m changing my ranking on Amazon from 5 to 4.

GF/CF Chocolate Chip Cookies, My Two Year Old, and Some Fine Motor Fun

Today Jenna(2.5) and I made some chocolate chip cookies. It started out as your ordinary cooking-with-your-two-year-old experience. There was some extra hand washing, a few near misses with the mixing bowl, and a lot of warnings not to eat butter. Bob’s Red Mill Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix only required three added ingredients: 1 egg, butter, and water. That kept things pretty easy for cooking with a little one.

But half way through I felt like the chocolate chip cookie ratio provided in the mix was pretty slim. In a failed attempt to make thumbprint cookies by adding some Enjoy Life chocolate chips, I inadvertently fell upon the best fine motor skill activity ever!

(Sorry for the ugly picture of my yucky looking baking sheet.)

I pressed thumbprint marks into each cookie, and Jenna slowly and carefully filled each center with chocolate chips. It took her about ten minutes, and about 400 calories of chocolate chip consumption, but she got a big fine motor skill work out. This activity strengthens the same muscles that will one day help her hold a pencil correctly.

So the next time you are making chocolate chip cookies with your kids, give it a try! Here’s hoping you are making nice, normal, gluten filled cookies that don’t have a weird garbanzo bean aftertaste.

Gluten Free Children?

My regular readers already know this, but we have a very strong family history of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Thankfully, neither Bruce nor Jenna has ASD, but that doesn’t stop me from constantly thinking about the families I know who are dealing with Autism in its many forms.  My husband calls Autism “the black hole of conversation”, because every single person in our extended family can perseverate on the topic for hours.

When Bruce and Jenna were little, we started them on Baby Signs at 9 months, in the hopes of hard-wiring language into their brains at an early age.  By 12 months, each of them knew about 2 dozen signs, and was beginning to talk.  I don’t know if this helped or not. 

The other unusual thing we did, and again, I don’t know if this helped either, was to keep them on a Gluten Free Cassin Free diet until they were one year old.  My MIL and mother both thought we were nuts, but I didn’t care.  My rationale was that if there was a higher percentage that our children would develop Autism, then I wanted to make sure they were on the so-called Autism diet while their language was still developing, on the off chance that it would help.

Fast forward to now.  I don’t have Autism, but in the past ten days have realized that I myself am extremely gluten sensitive.  To make a long story short, I’ve been in and out of the doctor’s office about a million times this past year, trying to figure out what was wrong with my health.  Finally, I got the big referral to the GI doctor to see about “scoping me” from one end or the other to see whether or not I had IBS.  In the meantime, I’ve been keeping a careful food journal; exercising, taking probiotics… you name it. 

A friend of mine who has Crohn’s disease suggested I try going gluten free.  I started a GF diet the day before Thanksgiving.  Within two days I was radically better, and almost pain free.  Now it’s been about ten days, and the farther away the gluten gets from my diet the better I am feeling.  I’ve been back to the doctor and tested for Celiac disease, which has come back as negative.  But that doesn’t counter the fact that as soon as I stopped eating gluten, my health improved.

All this leaves me thinking, What the heck???  How did I develop gluten sensitivity as an adult?  I’m uber-careful organic girl.  It’s not like I’ve been eating GMO Wonder Bread and Twinkies.  What has caused this?

And think about this… if gluten could make such a dramatic difference in me in just a few days, than think about the Autism diet.  No wonder people report it making a big difference. 

You know, if I had a toddler right now who wasn’t talking or who had delayed language, I’d go GFCF in a heartbeat.  In fact, I don’t think I would introduce gluten or casein in a child’s diet until they were stringing a couple of words together, just as a precaution.  It means eating a lot of veggies, chicken, rice, pears, and quinoa, but it is doable and can be healthful too.  Full disclaimer though, I’m not a doctor or nutritionist.  I’m just a major worry-wart!