Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mmmm, love the garlic

Wish Bone Italian dressing is an easy gluten and casein free marinade for chicken. I just add fresh garlic. Because, as you'll see from today's meal, we love garlic.
(FYI- There is a shopping guide here for salad dressings that are gluten and casein free.)

I let the boneless chicken thighs marinate for a few hours and then we grilled them.

While the chicken was marinating, I roasted a bulb of garlic in olive oil for garlic mashed potatoes.

If you've never roasted garlic, it's easy. Just cut the top off the bulb....

...and drizzle with EVOO.

Wrap in foil and roast for one hour in a 350 degree oven. Or do it on the grill like I did. It smelled so good it drove the neighbors crazy.

It looks like this when it's done. It smells amazing.

Boil potatoes and mash with FlaxMilk, ghee (clarified butter), and the soft roasted cloves of garlic (squeeze them out or use a small spoon). Top with fresh chives. Garlic mashed potatoes, gluten and casein free!

The potatoes went great with the chicken. We had fresh veggies, too. No garlic on those. We didn't want to over-do it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Yesterday Java and I went to a park and spent time with the woman Java lived the first full year of her life with. Java is always so excited to see her former foster mom and in the days before we met she made two homemade gifts to give her, a bead necklace and a glass heart filled with colored rice. I enjoy visiting with her as well because even beyond our shared love for Java, we have a lot in common.

An adolescent daughter in Java's former foster family had severe "medication resistant" depression and after the family had tried everything for several years to help her, one doctor suggested testing her for celiac disease.


The family went gluten free and their daughter's depression, a monster that had threatened to take her life, healed.

This family ate healthy meals but their daughter's brain was malnourished because of her digestive and immune system problems.

From this article...

In “sensitive” people who are genetically predisposed to this celiac disease, malabsorption of significant nutrients including B vitamins, essential fatty acids, some minerals (calcium and zinc, for instance) compound the mental and emotional component. Malabsorption can stunt the stature of children, slow the maturation rate, create an over-sensitive or irritable brain tissue, and perhaps alter the learning styles (sensory perception issues) of these children. Because gluten enteropathy is, in part, an immune system disorder originating in the wall of the small intestine, any amount of gluten from wheat, rye, barley, and oats keeps the immune system activated, which in turn may result in “spreading” of symptoms.

There are a lot of people who think the elimination diet we implemented for our children is a fad and that we are just desperate parents who are grasping at straws. There is some truth to that. We were desperate. Last year when an autoimmune disorder joined forces with our children's FASD, it was an enemy that threatened to take us all down. And as far as the whole fad thing....I think western society is waking up to the fact that all of our processed bready, cheese smothered foods have left us fat and malnourished. Call it a fad if you wish. I prefer "awakening".

Friday, July 29, 2011

Grilled pork chops with salsa and rice

It happened again!

I cut in to a few peppers I picked from our garden and found this... My cell phone camera didn't really capture the detail but if you look closely you'll see three happy faces!

I did a little "happy face peppers" research (in other words, I googled it) and I found this article. Apparently we aren't the only recipients of a pepper miracle. That's a good thing. The world needs more happy faces.

I was cutting up peppers for salsa for last night's supper. I'll get to that in a moment. First, the pork chops. I marinated boneless pork chops for a few hours in the following mix: 1 cup water, 2/3 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos (a great gluten free alternative to soy sauce!), 1/2 cup Canola oil, 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic, a splash of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.
Then I grilled them on a hot grill for 5-7 minutes on each side. A meat thermometer is your best friend with pork because you really don't want to overcook it. Once the center hits 145 degrees, it's done. Let it rest a few minutes before serving.

I made our family favorite lime cilantro basmati rice and a big bowl of fresh salsa and Java made coleslaw.

The flavors blended together beautifully. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it. Thank goodness we have leftovers!

Speaking of leftovers, I always make extra rice for quick fix lunches. The lime makes it quite flavorful so it's great to eat alone but I like to douse it with salsa and add some beans or leftover meat. (You'll notice that I have two large bags of rice pictured. One has cilantro because I had mixed it in before supper. I prefer to add fresh cilantro so most of the leftover rice is saved in the refrigerator without it.)

I can't wait for lunch time.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Calming sensory defensiveness

I was hesitant to write on my regular family blog about the successes we've had since going gluten and casein free. I am sensitive about causing others think that this is something they should try because the special needs adoption world is full of too many "should try-s" already. But I need to share and celebrate some of those successes and this seems like the right place to do it.

Our youngest two children, ages 9 and 13, have FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) and several co-occurring mental health diagnoses. They also have digestive and immune system problems and both have an autoimmune disorder- PANDAS- Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.

PANDAS involves an antibody "attack" on the basal ganglia in the area already quite susceptible to damage by prenatal exposure to alcohol.

Last year was the year from hell with multiple strep infections and PANDAS episodes which resulted in several police calls to our son's school because of severe and violent raging, desperate visits to the ER or the psychiatrist's office, and countless tears...most of them my own. It caused me to finally be overwhelmed enough to look up an old email friend who had written about nutritional interventions for children with FASD.

Eliminating gluten and casein had seemed impossibly difficult before this but I knew we could not continue to live like we were when the only treatment, aside from a constant stream of antibiotics, seemed to be an increase in psych meds with every PANDAS episode.

Our daughter's paternal biological family (these two children have the same birthmom but different birth dads) had a strong history of Celiac and Crohns disease so trying this elimination diet was always in the back of my mind....but that's where I wanted to keep it. (We did the lab tests for Celiac with our daughter and they did not indicate that she had the disease. We did not do the more invasive intestinal biopsy.)

I wrote at the beginning of this blog about how overwhelmed I was at the onset of our GFCF plan. I am not overwhelmed any more. I am still learning and we've had some accidental exposures to both gluten and casein but it has gotten easier and I feel more confident every day. Now I'm even reading about the GAPS diet and considering how to use some of this information to heal the gut instead of simply avoiding what is difficult for my children to digest. I want to continue and to learn more because we've seen so many good and unexpected results, like this...

This week our 13 year old son clipped his fingernails and toenails.

This certainly wouldn't make front page parenting news in the neuro-typical world but it was a freaking miracle in our world.

Bean's sensory processing disorder, a common co-occurring disorder of FASD, was so profound that he swore that he felt extreme pain when his fingernails were cut. For years he absolutely refused to let us trim his nails and they grew long and ugly until they eventually broke off. His sensory defensiveness to smells, tastes and textures has lessened considerably since we starting the GFCF diet and he recognizes this. When he asked if he could try cutting his fingernails, I almost fell out of my chair.

Now he wants his own fingernail clipper! Heck, I'll buy the kid an entire manicure set!

Our daughter Java used to SCREAM during showers because of the way the water felt as it hit her. We kept windows shut so horrified neighbors wouldn't make a child protection report because it sounded like we were killing her.

Java is now calm and able to do much of her showering tasks herself. Never in my wildest, most hopeful dreams did I think that would happen.

We haven't cured FASD. We can't. However, we can help our children function better and I have hope that we can support their digestive and immune systems in a way so that we might avoid the nasty PANDAS.

Six months without a strep infection.... (*knocking on wood*)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pizza, peppers and a miracle

You're going to think this photo is doctored but it is not. I cut the top off of a pepper that I picked from my garden today and this is what I saw...
My son Bean and his skills worker were both in the kitchen so I have witnesses. I want to advertise it on Ebay but I'm not sure whose likeness it is. Jesus? The Virgin Mary? Elvis?

I couldn't bear to chop up the happy face so I cut that slice off to save and then cut up the rest of the pepper for our GFCF individual pizzas. (Notice the happy pepper in the corner of the picture.)

The pizza crusts were GF tortillas made from Teff flour. I cooked them on stones heated in a 425 degree oven.

My friend Claudia was having a bad night so I brought the peppy pepper to her house and made her smile. Miracles are meant to be shared.

Friday, July 22, 2011

GFCF Frosty

Summer is the time for ice cream. Tonight we made our casein free version of a Wendy's chocolate Frosty!

3 cups coconut milk
2 very ripe bananas (for sweetness)
Hershey's chocolate syrup (it's GFCF!)

Mix together well in blender and then freeze in ice cream maker until it is the texture of a malt. Enjoy!

Organic GF pasta

I ordered a case of this organic gluten free pasta a few weeks ago and we tried it tonight. There were thumbs up all around the table! It has rice, potato and soy. We try not to use soy products but I think we'll alternate this pasta with the Quinoa pasta we like.

We topped the pasta with seasoned tomato sauce & hamburger and had two fresh side dishes -sliced peaches and this cucumber salad. Eating GFCF is easier in the summer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer school lunches

Java has been attending summer school for the past 5 weeks. This program serves the children breakfast when they arrive and lunch right before sending them home. The first week it became apparent that we needed a different plan for Java.

She came home with a packaged individual serving bowl of Fruit Loops cereal and said that she told school staff that she couldn't eat those. They sent it home with her to have me OK it because it didn't specifically say "gluten" or "wheat" on the package. I told Java how proud I was of her for knowing that this wasn't a food that was on GFCF our plan.

Earlier this week when temperatures skyrocketed, they served kool-aid type popsicles to the kids. Java, who was now eating breakfast at home and packing her GFCF lunch, again told them that she could not have those. Her para told me that Java stated that the colors were not good for her and she could only have 100% juice popsicles. The following day we brought these juice popsicles to the school to keep in the freezer for Java.

I never expected this level of cooperation from the kids. I know that they feel better and that must be why they are so willing to stay on the plan.

The picture above is of Java's summer school lunch yesterday. She helped me pack it and it includes fresh peaches, a few slices of ham, half of a GFCF waffle folded into a sandwich with natural peanut butter, cherries and a fresh spinach salad with sunflower seeds. She packs a thermos with OJ (that has calcium added) along with a bottle of water to drink during the day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heat wave cookin'

We are having a heat wave in our area. The temperatures are close to 100 degrees and the dewpoints are in the upper 70s. It's stinkin' tropical outside.

Before going gluten and casein free, the plan to keep the kitchen cool would have been to order pizza, pick up a bucket of chicken, or live on sandwiches on days like this. It isn't that simple anymore, but what we're doing is making us all feel better so I'm not really complaining. This is what I did today to beat the heat.

I am no longer buying those Pamela Anderson breasted chickens that can't possibly be "real". It costs a bit more but I am now buying chicken that hasn't been pumped up with antibiotics and growth hormones.
Buying a whole chicken cuts down on the cost a little. It also makes it very easy to just toss the little clucker into the crockpot.
I made a rub out of sea salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, thyme, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder.

Then I gave this little guy a massage with olive oil.

I rubbed the spices on him and put him in a bag so I could refrigerate him overnight.

This morning I got up early and put the little clucker in the crockpot where he cooked on low for 6- 7 hours until we were ready for lunch.

Last night I made potato salad and cut up watermelon so the rest of the meal was ready to go.

The chicken was moist and delicious and the kitchen stayed cool.

I want the broth from the cooked chicken so I put the bones back in the crockpot and added several cups of water.

Then I added a splash of vinegar because it helps extract minerals from the bones to make a richer, more nutritious broth.

I'll let this cook all day on low and I'll strain out the bones before going to bed tonight. The broth will be poured into several containers and put in the refrigerator. In the morning I can skim off the fat from each container and put them in the freezer.

We'll enjoy this broth when it gets cool enough outside to eat soup. This is Minnesota. That could be next week.

Friday, July 8, 2011

GFCF Tator Tot Hotdish - summer style!

This afternoon the kids and I are heading to the lake. They need to wear off some energy and I need to remind myself that parenting can be fun.

I am currently laid off from my job (thankyouverymuch State of Minnesota) and we need to watch our budget very carefully right now. The lake is free entertainment and the supper I've got cooking is budget friendly. It will also be ready to eat when we get home and will help keep the kitchen cool on this hot summer day because I made it in the crock pot.

It's Tator Tot Hotdish - summer style!

Line the crock pot with tator tots (Ore Idas are GF).
Then brown the ground beef with some onions, drain a few jars or cans of green beans, and make the GFCF Cream of Mushroom soup that I posted about a while ago.

Spoon the ground beef into the middle of the tator tots.

Top with the green beaners...

...and the cream of mushroom soup. Set the crockpot for 3-5 hours cooking time and forget it. Now go to the lake! What are you waiting for? Summer is too short!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Simple and delicious

Tonight's supper was simple and fabulous. Meatballs, kale and fresh peaches. We're bringing a few bags of our favorite kettle corn with us to watch fireworks later so we kept supper light.

The meatballs baked in the oven while I cut up the peaches and made the kale. (Meatball ingredients: ground beef, tomato sauce, garlic, GF bread crumbs, Italian spices. Form into balls and bake covered in more tomato sauce and spices.)
Wash kale.
Chop kale.

Heat 3 T olive oil with a fresh garlic and add kale and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover and add salt and pepper. Cook a little longer and then add 1-2 T of red wine vinegar.


Simple and delicious.

My cranberry colored dishes are kinda worn looking and they aren't always the best color background for the food pictures. Maybe I'll hit a few thrift stores and pick up a variety of single plates I can use for pictures. I need a little excitement in my life.


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