Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quote of the Week

"You know, you don't need dairy for calcium at all. When people say you need dairy for calcium, I ask them, "Where do you think cows get their calcium for those strong bones?" Well, the answer is, of course, green grass!

Green leafy vegetables have way more calcium than dairy has ever had, and our bodies can actually use it. The calcium in dairy can't be used by the human body, because the enzyme needed for that is killed by pasteurization."

--Anonymous Unknown Source (I found this in an outgoing email, but I don't think I wrote it. If you know the orginal source let me know and I will give credit.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Going Green with Green Beans

eating green beans in kitchen
I was looking up the nutritional status of vegetables on the world's healthiest foods and I was inspired to get my kids to eat their veggies. My kids eat more veggies in the summer when we can pick them ourselves, but vegetables found in the supermarket just aren't as tasty as fresh, organic veggies from the picking farm. So I bought some organic green beans at Trader Joe's and decided I was going to try to get my kids to eat some steamed green beans.

I was especially interested in having my kids try the green beans because green beans are full of vitamin K, which is produced by the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Easy bruising can be a symptom of a deficiency, so I suspect my daughter is slightly deficient in vitamin K.

At lunch with A, I steamed a handful of beans for about 5 minutes until they were tender. After drizzling olive oil and sprinkling salt on them, I went into infomercial mode saying: THESE ARE DELICIOUS! THEY TASTE LIKE CANDY! THEY ARE SO SALTY AND YUMMY! THEY TASTE LIKE POTATO CHIPS! My son ate them all, and was soon yelling: "I want MORE green beans with OLIVE OIL AND SALT" as I was rushing to steam another handful.

I knew getting my daughter to eat them wasn't going to be as easy, and I used a very different tactic with her at dinnertime--I gave her a plateful when I knew she was hungry and said she could watch TV while she ate her green beans. And it worked. Although some might be appalled by my tactic, I was thrilled that the "mindless eating in front of the TV" worked to my advantage.

Trying to get everyone to eat their vegetables doesn't always work--sometimes they run screaming. The next night, inspired by my success with green beans, I roasted some brussel sprouts, which my son threw on the ground and my daughter tried one small piece of and didn't like. I thought they were delicious. And, by the way, brussel sprouts have a ridiculous amont of vitamin K in them. Lucky me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I want to know what your kids like to eat so I can include healthy recipes for meals that people make for their kids. I would love to know: WHAT IS YOUR CHILD'S FAVORITE DINNER?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My List of All Fruits--and Vegetables

I make a list of all fruits I want so that I have enough to get through the whole week. I buy seven different types of fruit. Yesterday I bought strawberries, raspberries, apples, oranges, a pineapple, a few pears and a melon. Every day we have a different fruit beginning with the raspberries, which have the shortest shelf life. Although I make a list, the nice thing about buying fruit this way is you don't really have to plan anything. The only thing you have to do is buy seven different fruits--and make sure that you eat them. By serving different fruits you are increasing the variety of nutrients your family is eating. You can also do this with vegetables. Even if your kids don't eat seven different vegetables think really hard and see if you can come up with three or four vegetables and rotate them twice in the week. For instance, my super picky seven year old likes: carrots, artichokes, pickles, olives, corn, and potatoes and homemade oven baked sweet potato fries. I try to have each of these "vegetables" on a weekly basis. I know pickles and olives and potatoes aren't what you think of when you think of vegetables and ideally she would be eating kale or spinach, but I was a picky eater growing up so I have a lot of sympathy for kids who aren't that adventurous.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Heart Your Blog Award

5dollardinner mom, thanks so much for the award. I am especially pleased that it came from you because I am more health conscious than cost conscious and I like that my ideas can inspire more budget conscious bloggers. The most exciting part about receiving this blog is actually being able to pass it on to others whose blogs inspire me. I would like to pass it along to an eclectic group:

1. Book of Yum has many yummy vegetarian recipes and low key attitude. I posted her peanut dipping sauce on my blog in the spring. Every summer I have one favorite dish that reminds me of that particular summer. This year it was spring rolls with Book of Yum's heavenly peanut sauce. I even put some peanut sauce on some Tinkyada rice pasta for some tasty "sesame" noodles when friends were ordering Chinese food and I felt a little deprived.

2. A Medical Student Blog is both thoughtful and open minded. I love its willingness to consider the best of alternative medical treatment in the context of the conventional medical setting. What a treat for all of us to see the world from the eyes of a medical mind as it is being molded.

3. My Mom Shops is a fun blog for me because I don't shop that much. I love that when I do, mymomshops has done the legwork for me.

4. Journey to Crunchville describes her blog perfectly as "The journey of a suburbanite mother from the mainstream to the crunchy. From ignorant to questioning. From selfishness to greater understanding." She shares her life and her ideas with us and her willingness to reveal herself moves me.

(Like Grateful for Grace, I am choosing only non-friend blogs!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Picky Eaters and Gluten Free Corn Potato Pancakes Recipe

By Aari's mom, S.B.

My son, Aari was a picky eater from the very beginning of when he started eating solid foods. From the age of 12 months, he had development delays related to speech and fine motor skill development in addition to sensory integration issues. He didn’t sleep well through the night for 3 years. I tried giving him different kinds of food but he would reject them and revert back to a short list of foods that he commonly ate. After a while I gave up. I was tired and frustrated and wanting to make sure he did consume enough food to grow, I gave him the same food almost everyday.

I did some research on the internet and there were some good sources of information related to diet and child development. However, after meeting with and talking to parents with similar issues, I was given the guidance and courage to try different ways to deal with Aari’s developmental issues.

7 months ago, I put Aari on a Gluten Free (“GF”) / Casein Free (“CF”) / Soy Free (“SF”) diet and it changed his world. Within the first month, we noticed he was sleeping through the night. In the subsequent months, we observed tremendous progress in his speech, attention span, awareness, social interaction, and fine motor skills. I started experimenting with recipes to create new GF/CF/SF meals especially dishes that are Indian in origin. Aari is now 3 years and 9 months old and usually eats everything we put in front of him and has become quite inquisitive about all kinds of food.

Below is a recipe for Corn Potato Pancakes (flat bread).
• 1 cup organic corn meal (fine)
• 1 medium potato
• Cilantro (finely chopped)
• Cayenne pepper (optional)
• Salt to taste
• 1 teaspoon oil

MAKING THE DOUGH: In a mixing bowl, take ½ cup water and mix it well with the corn meal into a thick batter. Let it stand for a few minutes. In the meantime, cook 1 medium size potato in a microwave. Wash and clean the potato (do not peel) and wrap it in a wet paper towel. Microwave on high for 3 ½ minutes. Let it cool off. Peel the potato and then mash it. Mix the batter and the mashed potato into a dough. Mix all the other ingredients including the salt and oil into the dough. Mix well.

PREPARING THE PANCAKE: Place a sheet of plastic wrap (8” x 8”) flat on the counter top. Take a hand full of the dough and make a round ball. Use a few drops of cold water if needed to bind the dough together. Place the ball of dough in the middle of the plastic sheet and flatten the ball slowly with your fingers until it is a circular shaped pancake about 1/8 of an inch thick (can make it a bit thicker…but the thinner the better).

COOKING: Heat a pan and add a few drops of oil when the pan is hot. Pick up the plastic sheet with the pancake still on it. Flip the pancake onto your other hand by turning the sheet over. Place the pancake into the pan and cover the pan for a couple of minutes on medium high heat. Flip the pancake and cook the other side. Finally, let it cook for a minute without the pan cover to make it crispy. Place in plate, let cool for a minute, eat with or without sauce.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

These are an easy gluten free/casein free/soy free cupcake recipe I love to make to bring to birthday parties. They are an adaptation of a recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes in Gluten Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. I am always changing recipes--in parenthesis are the substitutions I made tonight. With the 1/2 cup agave and shortening the cupcakes tasted more like muffins than cup cakes because they weren't so sweet and they had a little molasses flavor from the agave.

1 cup granulated sugar (1/2 c. agave)
2 large eggs
1&1/4 brown rice flour mix*
1/4 tsp salt
1&1/2 tsp baking powder (3/4 tsp cream of tartar 3/4 tsp baking soda)
1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1/2 c. canola oil (1/2 c. spectrum shortening)
1/2 c. coconut milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1.preheat oven to 350° F. Position rack in center of oven. Place cupcake baking liners in a 12 cupcake baking pan.
2. Beat sugar and eggs in large bowl of electric mixer at medium speed for 1 minute. Add flour, salt, baking powder, xanthum gum, oil/shortening, coconut milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place in center of oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until center springs back when touched and cupcakes are very lightly browned.
4. Cool on rack for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan onto rack and cool completely before icing.

*Brown Rice Mix
2 c. brown rice flour from Authentic Foods 6 c. brown rice flour from Authentic Foods
2/3 cup potato starch 2 cups potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour 1 cup tapioca flour
3 cups total 9 cups total

Friday, September 12, 2008

Homemade Gluten Free "McDonald's" Burger and Fries

I love making homemade "McDonald's" for my kids. Somehow, they like it almost as much as the real thing. To make the burgers, you need exactly 1/8 of a pound of ground beef. I buy a pound of organic ground beef, which I cut in half. Then I cut each half in quarters. Next I take each 1/8 of a pound piece and I flatten it in a shallow bowl to make round patties. And then I place each patty between wax paper. The secret to making them like McDonald's is to get them really flat (4 inches wide by 1/4 inch thick.) Then place in a heated fry pan and press down with a spatula. After 20 seconds, press them down to sear them locking in the juices. Then 1 minute after searing them, turn them over. Sprinkle with hamburger seasoning in a shaker. Cook another 1.5 minute on the other side. Wrap tightly in waxed paper in put in slightly warm oven for three minutes. Letting meat rest after cooking allows the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat.
Hamburger Seasoning:
4 T. salt
1 Tsp pepper
1/4 tsp onion salt
McDonald's uses 4T. Accent which is MSG but you can skip that part because MSG is a neurotoxin.

My kids like them plain--no bun.

For the french fries, I use one potato per person. Peel potato. And cut on long side so you have a flat surface to lie on the cutting board. Then cut into 1/3 inch slices. Cut slices into 1/3 inch sticks. Toss with oil and lie on baking sheet in rows. Sprinkle generously with salt. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then turn over and bake 15-20 minutes more.

Serve with burger. I am surprised by how much more popular it is now that I call it a homemade "McDonald's" meal.

Gluten and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) - Part II

Thought I would post this update to the post, Gluten and ADHD, an inspiring story about an 11 year old, Johnathan.

Written by Cathy.

I thought I would drop you a line to let you know how Johnathan is doing, since school started.

First, I found a bread that he likes. The Gluten Free Pantry's Country white. I make it in the bread machine on the gluten free setting and it comes out so good. He is very happy to have found one he likes.

Yesterday was his first day with homework and what I witnessed was truly amazing. Johnathan has a memory recall problem, so at the beginning of every year, the teachers spend a lot of time reviewing last year's work with him, because he can never remember what he did. Yesterday was the complete opposite of what I am used too. For the first time EVER, he remembered everything he learned last year. I can only believe that it has to do with his new diet. To see him work on Math (his worst subject) and remember HOW to do it, was shocking and amazing for me. He has continued to be free of his medication and I believe is making big strides in his life. He did take a low dose on his first day because he was so afraid of not focusing on his teacher, the results of that one pill were devastating to see. He did not eat, he did not speak, he had totally withdrawn from life that day. To see that reaction sealed my belief in his diet even more. He has become so dedicated to this new diet and lifestyle that he feels the difference within himself, which for me is a wonderful step towards a wonderful life.

Related Stories:
Gluten and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) - Part I
Gluten and Attention Deficit Disored (ADD) - Part III
Methylation and ADHD

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quote of the Day

"It's more important to change your leaders than your light bulbs."
--Thomas Friedman, the author of Hot, Flat and Crowded
An interview with an argument for 'Geo-Greenism' can be heard on NPR.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Custard Recipe

This Pumpkin Pie Custard recipe is a delicious recipe from my new friend, Becky, who uses the egg yolk only version for her 10 month old. I love how nutritionally complete this "dessert" is--it is almost a meal and a dessert all in one. And it can be used for a one year old who needs to gain weight! You can even use the leftovers for breakfast--it is certainly more complete than any packaged breakfast cereal or waffle. The pumpkin is a vegetable, the coconut milk adds healthy brain fats, the eggs add some protein and more healthy fat and the molasses is full of minerals. You can include the maple syrup (or honey if you are on the SCD diet) if you want it to be sweet. But, don't use honey for a baby under one year. Of course, freshly pureed pumpkin makes it even healthier if you have the extra time and a pumpkin.

1 can pumpkin puree (or 2 c. fresh puree)
1 can coconut milk
4 eggs (or 5 egg yolks for kids under one)
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cardamon
1/4 t. allspice
2 T. molasses
maple syrup or honey to taste (0, 1/4 or 1/2 c.)

Combine all ingredients, mix well with a whisk. Cook in a pie pan or souffle dish at 350 degrees until set (about 50 minutes.) How easy is that???

What to Feed Your Kids: According to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital: "Fat and cholesterol should not be restricted in the diets of babies and very young children, unless advised to by your baby's physician. Children need calories, fat, and cholesterol for the development of their brains and nervous systems and for general growth." Make some homemade low sugar desserts for your children. Homemade desserts with a vegetable or fruit base which include healthy fats add more nutrition than the typical packaged dessert fare.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weekly Menu #1

I can do many things. I can do many things well. But, I am a terrible menu planner. This fall I am trying to simplify my life by coming up with a weekly menu plan which I may or may not stick to. Gluten free menu swaps are popular and perhaps I will try to figure out how to be included in one. Here is my plan for this week:

Monday: Lentils w/ Rice (Hard Boiled Eggs)
Tuesday: Chicken Paillard with Artichokes (Black Beans)--
Wednesday Homemade McDonald's Hamburgers and Fries--
Thursday: Shrimp Fried Rice (Plain Cold Shrimp)
Friday: Roast Chicken
Saturday: Take out from Gourmet Land
Sunday: Tacos with Corn Tortillas

I am planning on going to the Farmer's Market on Sunday for whatever I can find. Again, it's a plan--I will let you know. What I found with kids is that theory is one thing, reality is another. Anyone out there with recipes they would like to share, please email them to me and I will post--or email me a url to a recipe and I will post.

Here is my shopping list. Note to self--too much beef and chicken--but that is what everyone likes!

2# organic ground beef
3 onions
bag of frozen shrimp
1# organic chicken breasts - pounded flat
2 - 3.5# organic chickens
1# lentils
dozen eggs
1#black beans
gluten free bread crumbs
3 artichokes
3 cucumbers for homemade pickles
2 boxes organic strawberries
2 boxes raspberries
2 oranges
4 organic apples
corn tortillas

Friday, September 5, 2008

Epsom Salts, Magnesium Deficiency and Sensory Integration Disorder

Years ago, an occupational therapist mentioned using Epsom Salts in the bath when my daughter was being evaluated for sensory integration disorder. Unfortunately, she didn't explain why so I thought it would just be calming. I didn't realize it would be treating a mineral deficiency and that the sensory issues she was having were a SYMPTOM of a chronic magnesium deficiency. Epson Salts contain magnesium sulfate and the magnesium is absorbed through the skin in a bath.

Magnesium is a trace mineral that is required for several hundred different functions in the body. Many common, chronic conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Asthma, Allergies and Migraines have all been linked to magnesium deficiency. Dr. Natasha McBride explains in her book: "Put Your Heart in Your Mouth" why magnesium deficiency is such a problem today: We have too much sugar in our diet today. Because it takes 29 molecules of magnesium to digest one molecule of sugar, this sugar overload eventually leads to a magnesium deficiency.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include agitation and anxiety, irritability, abnormal heart rythms, muscle weakness, insomnia and poor nail growth. Severe cases of magnesium deficiency can result in seizures. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center: "Some experts believe that children with ADHD may be exhibiting the effects of mild magnesium deficiency (such as irritability, decreased attention span, and mental confusion). In one study of 116 children with ADHD, 95% were magnesium deficient. In a separate study, 75 magnesium-deficient children with ADHD were randomly assigned to receive magnesium supplements in addition to standard treatment or standard treatment alone for 6 months. Those who received magnesium demonstrated a significant improvement in behavior, whereas those who received only standard therapy without magnesium exhibited worsening behavior."

According to a paper on the benefits of epsom salts by Susan Owens: "Given over time, the ES baths may help reduce sensory integration symptoms. Some of this effect may occur due to benefits of detoxification, but it is much more likely to come from direct effects on the nervous system." Her in depth article about the benefits of epson salt baths on neurological function can be found at speechvilleexpress. Reuters had an article on a surprising study in the US and in Australia showed that magnesium sulfate given during labor can protect against cerebral palsy in infants born prematurely. This study points not only to the importance of magnesium to the brain and neurological development but also how little we know about it's function.

Foods that are high in magnesium are: Almonds, Cashews, Buckwheat Flour (which should be called Buckcorn because it is gluten free and more like corn than wheat!) Artichokes, Black Beans, Navy Beans, White Beans and Pumpkin Seeds.

WHAT TO DO: If your child has sensory issues or anxiety try using 1 cup of epsom salt in their bath before bedtime. If it seems to relax them, increase to 2 cups in a large bath. I pour a cup of salt for each of my children to play with. They end up getting the nutritional benefits from it while they are playing with it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gluten Free Bagels by Joan's Gluten Free Bagels

sliced gluten free bagels
This summer, John, the owner of Food Liberation in New York City told me about Joan's Gluten Free Bagels with enthusiasm. When I tasted them I understood his excitement--THEY ARE DELICIOUS! The bagels come as frozen dough that you microwave to defrost and then bake for 20 minutes. When they come out of the oven they are soft and chewy on the inside and crispy chewy on the outside--as close to bagels as I have found since going gluten free 18 months ago. A three year old over for a playdate who isn't gluten free ate a warm gluten free bagel yesterday for lunch. And he ate it plain! (We just got our kitchen redone so we had no jelly or peanut butter) I am, like John, a huge fan of Joan's GF Great Bakes Bagels. You can find them at Food Liberation on Lexington Avenue between 89th and 90th Street.