Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pina Colada Almond Smoothies and Popsicles

We often use leftover fruit for smoothies. My favorite is a banana with pineapple and coconut smoothie that reminds me of a pina colada. My kids' favorite is a berry smoothie with cherries. But really we use whatever fruit and juice we have around. I like to add coconut milk to make it creamy and with some nut butter it becomes a protein rich meal. It is hard to predict how much everyone will drink so we often have extra. I freeze the extra smoothie in popsicle molds for the kids to have later. They always seem more excited when I offer them a popsicle than when I offer them fruit.

Pina Colada Almond Smoothie - serves 2

1 sliced banana - frozen
1 cup fresh pineapple
2 T. raw almond butter
1/4-1/2 cup rice milk
2 T. coconut milk
1 T. agave (or sugar)

Combine all ingredients in a blender on high speed until smooth. Contains 5 grams of protein per serving.


My son, who had a severe regression at 18 months because of a severe intolerance to gluten and two genes for celiac, has only gotten sick twice in the year he has been gluten free. The first time WAS A REACTION TO RICE DREAM that was labelled "contains gluten from barley protein at less that 0.002%" that was purchased by accident. His severe reaction to miniscule traces of barley was actually what made me realize that the gluten intolerance was behind his illness. The second time he got sick with foul diarrhea, red cheeks and cold symptoms and fussiness was A REACTION TO RICE DREAM that was labelled GLUTEN FREE. I thought the company had changed their recipe and that it no longer contained barley. Apparently it didn't...The company took BARLEY off the label because it was such a small amount and because of testing which determined it was gluten free.

This letter is courtesy of Austin's GFCF Diet Journal...He wrote to the company and received this reply.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding our Rice Dream Beverage. We apologize for the delay in our reply and appreciate your patience. We strive to maintain the highest quality products and we appreciate your patronage.
Analytical testing methods and detection limits have improved over the years. Recent testing shows that the Rice Dream Beverages (as well as the barley protein used to make the product) meet gluten free requirements. This has probably been true historically, however analytical testing methods did not permit us to make this claim. We have always maintained a conservative stance regarding gluten in the beverages. The same rigorous standards now allow us to declare them gluten free. The formula and processing methods for Rice Dream beverages have not changed. Each batch will be tested appropriately.
Thank you for your continued support. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-434-4246, Monday through Friday from 7AM - 5PM Mountain Time.

Consumer Relations Representative

The human body is, apparently, more sensitive than some tests. Since gluten is toxic to people with celiac, no amount is safe for those who are super sensitive.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

I know this blog is supposed to be about what to feed your kids, but other issues keep on coming to my attention and I can't resist blogging about them and getting the word out to other parents about the environmental dangers that seem to be everywhere.

Low voltage light bulbs were sold at my daughter's school for a fundraiser but they didn't work for us because we have dimmers all over our house and I like the look of regular light bulbs. I felt a little guilty about not buying into the energy efficient light bulb bandwagon, but for some reason I couldn't make the switch.

Then a friend told me about the low voltage bulbs containing mercury and I was glad that I hadn't made the change. Here is an excellent article on the issue

WHAT TO DO: Don't buy compact fluorescent lightbulbs until the health issues and disposal issues are sorted out. If you don't buy them, they will stop producing them and they won't end up in our environment...and possibly in our drinking water.

Say and Play

When Alex had no words and was diagnosed with a "language processing disorder" at 18 months, we scoured the city to get him help. He no longer has a language delay and is now is (like most city kids :) quite verbal. Besides changing his diet, an important part of our intervention was a speech therapist, Stephanie Sigal, whose company is called Say and Play. Stephanie taught us how to do speech therapy and connect with Alex so that we could help him learn language all the time and provide speech therapy to him whenever we were communicating to him. It made a huge difference to integrate his learning language into our daily lives and to resolve his speech problem before he started school. I would highly recommend her to anyone who has concerns about speech at any age. Most importantly, when we were trying to teach him words, we knew how to do it effectively, so he was actually learning and not just repeating. If you aren't in NYC her website might help you answer questions about speech delays.


The state provides help to children 0-3 with developmental delays. Often, the pediatrician will take a wait and see attitude with developmental delays. My pediatrician took this attitude with my daughter who didn't walk until 19 months and told us we wouldn't qualify for EI. Actually we did qualify for years of services, which allowed my daughter to get help in our home. I only knew about the state services because another mom told me apply. If you have concerns about your child meeting developmental milestones and think your child needs help, you can ask for a free evaluation from Early Intervention. In New York the number to call is: From what I have seen, the evaluators with EI are the most knowledgeable about delays and which delays need help to overcome them.

WHAT TO DO: Small problems become big problems. Deal with small problems before they become big problems by seeking an evaluation for late walking and late speaking.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gluten Free Cherry Hamantashan

My son was having Hamantashan at his school so I made a gluten free version. It was easier than I thought it would be. And the cherry filling made them like little cherry pies.

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup shortening
3 eggs
1/3 c. orange juice or lemonade
4 cups gluten-free flour blend (1/2 finely ground rice brown flour, 1/2 sorghum flour)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 egg, beaten
preserves or filling

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, oil and shortening until creamy.
Add eggs and juice and mix well.
Combine dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients. Mix until combined.
Form small balls and flatten in palm or on cookie sheet.
Put a teaspoon of filling in center, and fold up three sides to form
the shape of a triangle.
Brush each cookie with beaten egg before baking.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes. If too crumbly add a bit more
xanthan gum the next time.

Source: Adapted from a Chabad recipe and
Yield: 4 dozen

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fluoride for Kids and Babies

A friend with a five month old baby asked me what type of water you should mix in formula and so I tried to find the best choice for mothers who are formula feeding.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that the health benefits of fluoridated water are based on outdated research. Adding fluoride to the water began in 1940's when research suggested that fluoridated water might help reduce tooth decay. The new research suggests that the benefits for tooth development have been exaggerated and that fluoride consumption can also adversely affect bone development leading to weakened bones and in some young boys is correlated with increased risk of a rare type of bone cancer.1

While this research hasn't reached a mainstream audience, the sources of the new research are from credible scientific institutions. Scientific American published an article in January 2008 titled "Second Thoughts about Fluoride" and a controversy at Harvard developed when a PhD student "found a “robust” five to seven fold increase in a rates of a rare form of bone cancer in young boys exposed to fluoridated water."

Health experts do all agree that fluoridated water should not be added to baby formula. The American Dental Association recognizing the need to minimize the risks for infants says:

"If liquid concentrate or powdered infant formula is the primary
source of nutrition, it can be mixed with water that is fluoride free
or contains low levels of fluoride to reduce the risk of
Examples are water that is labeled purified,
demineralized, deionized,
distilled or reverse osmosis filtered water."3

Infant formula should be mixed with water that is free of all chemicals and drugs. PLEASE don't go out of your way to get fluoride in infants under one. If your pediatrician recommends fluoride supplementation, please print out the statement from the ADA and bring it to them.

Fluoride is a chemical and should not be swallowed in toothpaste form by anyone and we don't need any more research to confirm this. Any child who might swallow toothpaste should use a fluoride free brand like Tom's of Maine or vanilla ice cream flavored Baby Bling (which we use) to prevent fluorinosis.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Malabsorption Syndrome

Malabsorption Syndrome is the inability of the intestines to absorb nutrients during digestion.
"The most common symptoms of malabsorption are anemia with weakness and fatigue due to inadequate absorption of iron, folic acid and B12," 1 diarrhea, a bloated abdomen and excessive gas, weight loss despite adequate calories, muscle cramping (due to low levels of calcium, vitamin D and potassium) and muscle wasting (due to protein malabsorption.)

Celiac disease and non celiac gluten intolerance as well as lactose intolerance are malabsorption syndromes triggered by common foods. If you have vitamin deficiencies which do not respond to supplements or growth issues (low muscle tone, failure to thrive and grow) you should try to determine if you are it is a problem with absorption. In our family we had many overlooked symptoms of malabsorption syndrome including: late walking, low muscle tone ("benign congenital hypotonia"), sensory problems ("sensory integration disorder"), learning problems ("verbal processing delay",)ADD, low cholesterol, muscle cramping, diarrhea with fat floating in the stool, bloated abdomen, exhaustion and moodiness which all turned out to be symptoms of celiac disease. The reasons gluten intolerance can present in so many different ways is because the symptoms vary depending on what vitamins you aren't absorbing. Not absorbing vitamins during development can have serious long term consequences.

My son had classic symptoms of a malabsorption syndrome. He went from 75th % to 6% in weight in 6 months. He had diarrhea and many foul pale diapers a day. His first diagnosis was a "malabsorption syndrome." Then they did every test in the book looking for the underlying cause but it was only when the GI doctor found two genes for celiac and he recovered from the gluten free diet that a diagnosis of celiac was suggested. Often, less severe cases of malabsorption syndrome are overlooked. This is especially true in cases where food is a trigger and not an obvious disease. Obviously, not all cases of these disorders are driven by lack of vitamins and allergies. But, in our case, they either disappeared completely or were dramatically improved by diet.

If you suspect your child has some malabsorption issues, try to get the doctors to expain why your child isn't growing or absorbing nutrients. Then try an elimination diet (a gluten free/dairy free diet or specific carbohydrate diet)and see if some of the symptoms go away with the help of a integrated doctor, nutritionist or online parent groups. All the lectures on nutrition and malabsorption disease have stressed children taking a high quality multivitamin minerals as a crucial part of getting healthy.

1. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, Published December, 2002 by the Gale
Group The Essay Author is Kathleen D. Wright, RN.

WHAT TO FEED YOUR KIDS: If your child isn't absorbing vitamins, it is crucial to intervene with diet when doctors are unable to provide a solution. Try a gluten free/dairy free/soy light diet or find an integrated doctor who understands that mysterious signs of malabsorption often have a dietary component to them.