Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches

These Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches were inspired by my VillaWare Prego Pizzelle Cookie press. I was experimenting with some sugar free almond cookies that weren't working and my Pizzelle Baker was out on the counter so I popped in some leftover gingerbread dough that was waiting to go in the oven. The wheels started turning in my brain when I saw the dark gingerbread cookies with the waffle pattern on them....ICE CREAM SANDWICHES! We are going to some dear friends for New Year's Eve tonight and I wanted to bring some fun treats for the kids. My kids love the Pizzelle cookies because they have this waffle pattern on them that seems thoroughly mainstream and not at all homemade. And I am sure they will love these ice cream sandwiches.

I bought the Pizzelle Baker on a whim when Bridge Kitchenware was moving out of Manhattan last year. At the same time I bought a stainless steel seltzer maker and a bunch of other things I didn't really have room for or need. But the Pizzelle Baker seems like a magical must have machine now. You put a blob of cookie dough (or cracker dough) into the center, press down on the handle, and 30 seconds later you have a perfect cookie (or cracker.)

When the cookies cooled, I lined them up on a tray, piped some GFCF coconut ice cream on the bottoms and carefully placed the best looking cookies on top. Then I quickly put they tray in the freezer to harden. You can make these ice cream sandwich cookies with any kind of cookies. Chocolate chip cookie sandwiches would be especially yummy.

Then I used the almond cookies in the press and rolled them up on my knife sharpener, which is something I learned in cooking school when we made tuile cookies. If you don't have a round knife sharpener you can use a round wooden stick to make the cigarrette shaped cookies. When they cooled I put some melted chocolate inside and piped the remaining coconut ice cream inside for some gluten free casein free King Kone like cookie.

Life isn't perfect--it's unpredictable and messy and just when you think everything is running smoothly it seems like something unexpected and complicated happens. Which is why there is something especially fun about being able to make perfect predictable cookies in this press. But the homemade version where you drop them on the tray and they are all different shapes taste just as good--if not better. I hope you enjoy the surprises and perfection that come your way in 2009.

Happy New Year and enjoy every crazy moment!

Question: Is there a Mayonnaise that is GFCF?

There are several mainstream mayonnaises that are both gluten free and casein free. Hellmann's Mayonnaise is GFCF but it contains soy, which I included in my GFCF diet for a year. I went soy free after a neurologist told me the molecule was similar to the gluten molecule. But, going GFCF is hard enough and I would say for the first six months to one year you could include "soy bean OIL" and "soy LECITHIN"--both of these have only trace amounts of soy protein. I would recommend against any product that says "soy protein isolate" because getting a lot of soy could derail all your hard work trying to go GFCF, but everyone is different. Most people could probably have Hellman's Mayonnaise. I am more careful than most because my son is so sensitive.

Here is a link to a page that lists some GFCF condiments. And here is a link to my homemade mayonnaise recipe in case you are ever inspired to try a homemade version.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Video: Cooking to Heal with Julie Matthews

I have spent a lot of money over the past two years on cookbooks, nutritional consultations and conferences on healing and Julie Matthews' video "Cooking to Heal" is the best thing I have found for parents who want to implement a healing diet. It reviews all the different healing diets that are available and goes over comprehensive nutritional information that parents need to know. It offers a bunch of practical recipes to get picky eaters to eat healthy food such as carrot chips and crispy kale as well as more complex recipes such as bean burgers, raw sauerkraut and almond yogurt.

Julie Matthews is an autism nutrition specialist who gives a seven hour cooking/education class in Berkely, California and has made this video for people who can't attend the class . Her website Nourishing Hope is a wealth of information on the gluten free/casein free diet and the science behind nutritional intervention for kids.

The video "Cooking to Heal" is not only accessible and informative, it is also flexible and do able, which is so important for parents. I could go on and on, but you can hear Julie Matthews speaking about diet at her website HERE or buy the DVD HERE.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Decorating Gingerbread Cookies

These are gingerbread cookies I brought in to my son's class last week when they decorated gingerbread snowmen. I used the recipe for my gingerbread house and small fluted cookie cutters and everyone loved them. I don't have time to make cookies tonight because I am too busy wrapping. We have a big beautiful sparkly tree and it's the first time we have had one in our house since my kids were born. This year my husband and father went out to walk the dog and came back with a giant 8 foot tree. We struggled with getting it to stand up straight then we gave up and left it a little tilted. It is interesting how initially it seemed so crooked and now it seems perfect. I think kids and life and gingerbread houses are like that too. Happy Holidays everyone!

Related post:
GFCF Gingerbread House

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Question about Rice Cereal, Oatmeal and Red Cheeks in an Infant

Q: I have a 4 month old who I breast fed up until recently. He has been on similac sensitive which he does not appear to have a reaction to. However after trying both rice cereal and oatmeal cereal his cheeks turn red and he gets fussy. I am going to stop trying the cereal but how do I know if this is something to be concerned with or not? He has been teething since 3 months but there is an obvious correlation between the cereal and the red cheeks. He also still does not sleep through the night. He slept twice through the night around Thanksgiving and then continued to be up once and now he is getting up several times again! I guess I am wondering what your child was like at 4 months? Am I being paranoid or could he have a gluten/allergy problem too?

A: Being aware of the potential problem is a huge step toward preventing a future problem. Red cheeks alone are of concern and mean they may be reacting to a food, but by themselves they are okay. At four months. I remember my husband kept on saying my son had an allergy because he wouldn't sleep through the night, was very colicky but he didn't have the super red cheeks until he stopped nursing, which seems to be similar timing (after stopping breastfeeding) to your situation. While you are breastfeeding they have your antibodies--and your immune system. After you stop breastfeeding their own immune system kicks in. Also, studies are contradictory. Some have shown that if you wait until 6 months, their chances of allergies are reduced, but others have shown that for kids at risk for celiac, if you introduce grains between 4 and 6 months celiac is reduced. But the study only looked at kids who are at high risk for celiac. Here is an article on this as well as an excerpt:

"According to the results of this study, children who are at increased risk of celiac disease (such as children with a parent who has type 1 diabetes) may be more likely to develop it if gluten-containing foods are introduced prior to or after 4 to 6 months of age. This study also did not look at whether age at introduction of gluten-containing foods increases the risk of celiac disease in infants who aren't at high risk for the condition. But the results of this study haven't affected what health organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend regarding the feeding of solid foods to infants. The AAP recommends starting an infant on solid foods - beginning with infant cereals, like rice cereal - around 6 months of age. If you have any questions about starting solids or other infant feeding questions, talk to your child's doctor."

If you see them reacting to cereal you could do two things. Either introduce more slowly (1/4 tsp at a time.) Or WAIT to start solids and use homemade applesauce, pears and bananas or vegetable purees.


More Red Cheeks & Testing Results

After months of being healthy, my son's bright red cheeks returned in November. Although many people might say "oh, he's hot" or "oh, he's been running around" when his cheeks would turn red, there are some tell tale signs that his red cheeks are more than being overheated. Besides being bright red, they have a rough sandpaper texture that looks chapped and his nose is slightly running as if he has a cold. Sometimes he gets a cough too. Plus, his behavior gets a unpredictable and his even keeled personality disappears. I seem to have a pattern going, where I spend a month trying to figure out what he is reacting to. Then, despite all my insight, determination and belief that I can figure it out myself, I finally realize I can't. At this point, I head to Dr. Pescatore to get the ALCAT test done.

At Thanksgiving, by the way, when we went around the table to give thanks for those things we are grateful for, I included Dr. Pescatore and the ALCAT test in the things I was thankful for. It's not a cheap test, but it works for us and we are very fortunate to have access to alternative tests and doctors.

A few days ago I got the results back from the ALCAT test and my son is severely intolerant of CANE SUGAR! Which is not a huge surprise, considering how much I bake and cook sweets and my son's leaky gut-- which allows proteins to enter the bloodstream that normally should stay in the gut. A is also moderately intolerant of potatoes and corn also, so we will be on our own version of the specific carbohydrate diet--with only rice and quinoa grains and sweet potatoes instead of potatoes.

The only thing harder than being gluten free/casein free/sugar free/corn free/potato free is being gluten free/casein free/soy free/sugar free/corn free/potato free ON THE ROAD--so we stayed home this year for the holidays. My son's official diagnosis, by the way, is "allergy syndrome" which, as time goes by, couldn't be more accurate.

Other posts on red cheeks and food intolerance:

Red Cheeks in Children Infants and Toddlers
Allergic Red Cheeks
Allergies and Food Intolerances

Here is a picture of my son's complection when he isn't having a reaction:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Suzanne Somers' Book: Breakthrough-Eight Steps to Wellness

Jenny McCarthy wasn't on Larry King on Saturday (oops!) but Suzanne Somers was talking about her new book called Breakthrough-Eight Steps to Wellness which is about avoiding chemicals and detoxifying your body. For her book she interviewed twenty medical doctors from all over the world who have stepped back from conventional medicine about their top health tips. Somers said towards the end of the interview:
"The food choice you make on regular basis will either lift you up or bring you down."
She attributes her cancer to the chemicals in food and the environment and she spoke about the three most important supplements to take: OMEGA 3 was at the top of the list for many reasons including cancer prevention, followed by CoQ10 and then antioxidants. Eliminating Omega 6's (safflower, canola, sunflower oil) is also critical for health. I'm not that familiar with the hormone replacement she advocates for, but I was surprised with how well versed she was about alternative medicine and healthy living.

And she mentioned that Turmeric--a spice-- is important to take when you are getting a mammogram because, it protects breast tissue against radiation. According to Dr. Blaylock on a CBN.com, women who choose to have a mammogram should take turmeric extract for ten days leading up to the mammogram. Or use thermography, which according to naturalnews.com, doesn't use radiation, to screen for breast cancer in women who are between 40-49 and at a low risk for cancer.

WHAT TO DO: Limit everyone's exposure to chemicals found in foods and cleaning products by switching to organic products whenever possible. Inform yourself about the risks and benefits of all mainstream medicine and alternative treatments.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gut Flora and Weight Loss: A Surprising Connection?

"You can never have enough healthy gut flora" said my husband jokingly as I rambled on about this recent study at the NIH about the impact of gut flora on weight. Although weight is not of huge importance for my family, it is a huge issue (no pun intended) for many families and gut flora may be the key reason many people are overweight. My husband, who seems to have a different approach to these things says "it might be the overwhelming consumption of Big Macs and large fries." But I'm wearing him down. See the NIH study Gut Microbiomes Differ Between
Obese and Lean People.

Related posts:


I used a terrific recipe from the blog Only Sometimes Clever to make my gingerbread houses this year. course, I adapted it and instead of using the suggested flours I used 9 cups of whatever leftover flours I happened to have around. A gingerbread house is a good way to use up your leftover flours so you can start the New Year with fresh flour. Like Only Sometimes Clever, I used Bob Villa's Home Again colonial pattern. This large batch of dough made both houses pictured. My daughter made a little hot tub in the front yard which her playmobile figures enjoyed. Also, Rice Chex cereal--which is now gluten free--makes a great fence for a hot tub or a pool. And gluten free Starbursts make a great clay--one creative decorator made a snowman and another made a mailbox. The fun never ends! (Click on the picture of the house above to see the details.)

GFCF Gingerbread

Makes 2 gingerbread houses--one McMansion and one modest house.

  • 9 cups leftover flour (a mix of rice, tapioca, potato starch, sorghum etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp xanthan gum
  • 3 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp potato flour (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups spectrum shortening
  • 1 cup eggs (about 4/5 eggs)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp dark molasses
  • 1 Tbsp salt
1.preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. combine flour, spices, baking powder, xanthum gum and spices. set aside.
3. cream sugars & shortening together.
4. add eggs and beat until creamy.
5. add molasses and salt
6.add flour mix one cup at a time to creamed butter/sugar mixture using a wooden spoon.
7. knead dough at end to incorporate all flour.
8 divide in six pieces and roll out to 1/4 inch thick.
9. cut into shaped cookies and bake for 16-19 minutes or cut into a gingerbread house.

Thank you Only Sometimes Clever for your detailed recipe and the links to Bob Villa's pattern!

Cardamom Almond-Banana Bread (Gluten Free)

I recreated my friend Kim's SCD recipe for Banana-Almond Bread which was posted on the NAA-NYC blog. I added extra bananas, eliminated the almond butter (only because I didn't have any!) and switched from cinnamon to cardamom. And I used agave instead of honey. The bread turned out moist and spicy from the cardamom. Kids might like cinnamon better, though. It tastes delicious with jam.

2 cups organic almond flour (you can grind up organic almonds in a
food processor to create flour)
2 eggs (pastured are best)
½ cup agave
2 organic bananas
1 tsp cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp cardamom)
1 tsp. vanilla (for those on the SCD diet be sure it is corn-free)
½ tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan (9x12) with parchment paper. Mix all ingredients well in a food processor. Pour batter into prepared pan and place the filled pan on a cookie sheet (helps keep the bottom from cooking too fast) and place both in the pre-heated oven. Start checking the center with a toothpick at about 20 minutes. When the toothpick comes out clean, remove from the oven, cool for a few minutes then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice. Store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Whole O's: A Gluten Free Alternative to Cheerios

Nature's Path sent me a box of their new Whole O's and they are a crunch, organic, gluten free alternative to Cheerios. I sent some Whole O's into my son's preschool to see if the other kids liked them and they ALL loved them--although my son is the only one who is gluten free--so they are a cereal you can serve to anyone. Nature's Path Organic Whole O's contain only five ingredients (organic brown rice flour, organic corn flour, organic granulated sugar cane juice, organic pomegranate juice concentrate and sea salt.) and four of them are organic which makes this cereal a healthier choice than the regular cheerios (which contain seventeen ingredients). I usually make breakfast in the morning (crepes, bacon, eggs, pancakes, or sausages) so a bowl of cereal with a piece of fruit is a a super treat for my kids and a welcome break from cooking for me.

Thanks Nature's Path for making another tasty organic product for gluten free families to enjoy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Determined Mother Warrior

by Bonnie, a "Determined Mother Warrior", about her 4 year old son Brayden
"We started the diet at the end of October (right before Halloween - kind of cruel!!) and are very pleased with the results so far. It CANNOT be a coincidence that all of a sudden my child is now addressing me by name ("Mommy! :-) when he never did before. Brayden's attention span has increased and he is "parroting" more words than ever before. He even informed me of a soiled diaper the other day - something he's never done and we've been long since waiting to hear!"
This was sent to me on December 9th a month and a half after she began dietary intervention with her son.

Plastics, Chemicals & Early Puberty Lecture in NYC

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

9:30 am Registration and Coffee
10:00 - 11:15 am Presentation

Stern Auditorium
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Annenberg Building, 2nd Floor
1468 Madison Avenue at 100th Street
New York, NY

RSVP to Meghan Bullock at (212) 824-7125 or cehc@mssm.edu

Plastic baby bottles, food cans, shampoos, plastic toys, sports bottles, and hand lotions may contain chemicals that act in ways similar to hormones naturally found in our body. Children are developing faster than ever. Is there a connection?

Join the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center as leading experts in the field of environmental pediatrics discuss the latest research on the health effects of plastics and personal care products. You can also here a general 2007 lecture on plastics by Dr. Maida Galvez on the web HERE.

WHAT TO DO: Come to the lecture to hear more or...ditch the sippy cups completely and go to LIFE WITHOUT PLASTIC to find a ton of stainless steel family friendly products including stainless steel drinking cups and bowls.
Buy Kleen Kanteen water bottles or purchase water and juice in glass containers. Don't buy any more plastic toys--especially soft ones. Continue to head back in time to the 18th century before we had all these chemicals around us. And definitely don't microwave in plastic. Also, slowly replace all your tupperware with glass storage containers. Use the plastic containers for storage of non food items. I could go on and on but maybe people could just add their own recommendations in comments.

Related posts:

Protecting Children from Toxins in Our Everyday World

Resolutions--Doing Better

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fermented Foods: Cultured Vegetables

I was inspired to make the fermented vegetables from the Body Ecology Diet so I chopped up a cabbage, two carrots, some ginger and garlic and let it ferment for a few days. Tonight I tried the fermented vegetables and they tasted like smelly feet. But since I went to all the effort and everyone raves about fermented foods and how good the natural bacteria is, I had a few tablespoons. I even got my son to try a little (I told him "eat this and then we will have some dessert"--he's pretty easy to convince.) Anyway, a few minutes into eating the cabbage my daughter started to loudly protest: "What IS that? That STINKS. Get that out of here." I kind of agreed with her. Maybe it's an acquired taste/smell--I will let you know. Here is the recipe, although I DON'T think this is "what you should feed your kids"--not because it isn't healthy--they just won't eat it. I think the garlic is the problem. You are supposed to have 1/2 a cup a day of these veggies. I would love comments from readers on where I went wrong with this recipe!

Cultured Veggies
from The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates

Use organic clean veggies. After washing the veggies, spin them dry. Clean equipment is essential. Scald everything you use in very hot water.

1 head cabbage, shredded in a food processor or by hand-reserve 2 whole leaves
2 carrots, shredded in a food processor or by hand
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped<--I would leave this out! To Make Cultured Vegetables: 1. combine all ingredients in a large bowl. 2. remove several cups of mixture and put into a blender. 3. add enough filtered water to make a "brine" the consistency of a thick juice. Blend well and then add brine back into first mixture. Stir well. 4. Pack mixture down into a glass or stainless steel, air tight container. Use your fist or a wooden dowel or a potato masher to pack veggies tightly. 5. Fill container almost full, but leave about 2 inches of room at the top for veggies to expand. 6. Roll up several cabbage leaves into a tight "log" and place them on top to fill the remaining 2 inches of space. Clamp jar closed. 7. let veggies sit at about a 70 degree room temperature for at least 3 days. A week is even better. Refrigerate to slow down fermentation. Enjoy 1/2 cup or more per day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quote of the Week: Kelly Dorfman

"Taking the gluten and dairy away is like removing tacks from a driveway. You won't have any more damage to the tires, but it won't fix the tires."

--Kelly Dorfman, a nutritionist with a special interest in children.

There are many ways to "fix the tires"--two diets that address the healing are the Specific Carbohydrate Diet(SCD) and The Body Ecology Diet(BED).

The Body Ecology Diet-BED

Vicky Kobliner, a nutritionist in Connecticut, recommended I look into the Body Ecology Diet to heal my daughter's severe malabsorption. While the gluten free diet stopped the damage and allowed her to get better from many of her problems, it didn't heal her. The Body Ecology Diet uses food combining, fermented foods,the healthiest grains and a ton of vegetables to create a high nutrient diet which allows the body to heal.

The gluten free, dairy free, soy free life is restrictive enough for our family so I am not putting everyone on an even more restrictive diet--even though it would probably be the fastest way to get everyone better. But, I am trying to use some of the recipes in the cookbook. Friends who are using dietary intervention with their kids and themselves have asked me about how it is going on BED. What I have noticed since I have bought the book is that my shopping basket is FULL of vegetables--broccoli, fennel, carrots, onions, squash, potatoes, and garlic . I have a super nutritious vegetable soup every breakfast and I feel great. My 3 year old even had some soup for breakfast the other day. (Okay, I bribed him and said he could play with my tools if he had some soup--I am a big believer in whatever it takes.)

Squash and Ginger Soup

Gluten Free Squash and Ginger Soup Recipe from the Body Ecology Diet

This Squash and Ginger Soup recipe is from the Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates. It is a for a starchy vegetable soup that you can eat with some of the nutritious BED grains (millet, quinoa, buckwheat or amaranth.) I have made it twice. Once I drizzled coconut milk and olive oil over it to make it creamy and rich. When I used the pumpkin, I added 2 teaspoons of curry powder and 2 tsp of dark brown sugar to the sauteed the vegetables for a curried squash soup (not BED approved, but still yummy and still nutritious.)

1-2 Tbsp organic, unrefined coconut oil
1 acorn squash, skinned and chopped (or a can of pumpkin if you discover your squash is rotten)
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Large piece of ginger root (3-4 inches long), grated
Water to cover
Sea Salt or Herbamare to taste
Minced parsley

1. Saute carrots, onions, celery and garlic.
2. Add squash and ginger.
3. Cover with water.
4. Simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Puree and add water to desired creaminess.
6. Add sea salt or Herbamare, and simmer at least 10 minutes more.
7. Serve garnished with parsley.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc is important for growth and development and for maintaining the integrity of the intestinal lining. Low levels of zinc can also cause taste abnormalities which lead some kids to become picky eaters. If you have a picky eater who is not growing, and blood needs to be drawn for any reason, sometimes it is possible to add vitamin and mineral levels to the blood test. Getting a picture of the specific nutrient deficiencies of your child makes it easier to tailor the diet and supplements that will help them to heal and grow. But supplementation isn't the only answer to low levels of zinc because the zinc needs to be absorbed properly to be utilized by the body. Zinc is present in many foods but it needs digestion to make it bioavailable--otherwise the body can't use it. Individuals with malabsorption syndromes such as celiac and crohn's are most at risk for zinc deficiency.

According to a book on Dietary Reference Intake published by the Institute of Medicine many common problems can be signs of zinc deficiency "Because of the ubiquity of zinc and the involvement of this micronutrient in so many core areas of metabolism, it is not surprising that the features of zinc deficiency are frequently quite basic and nonspecific, including growth retardation, alopecia, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation and impotence, eye and skin lesions, and impaired appetite."1 The good news is that a study on zinc deficiency and growth indicates this can be corrected in part by zinc supplementation.

Many foods contain zinc including red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains. But phytates (found in grains and plant sources of zinc) can bind to zinc and inhibit it's absorption making it less available.2 Because many children get extra zinc from processed food that has been supplemented, you might end up getting less zinc if you eat more whole foods. Because gluten free foods are often not fortified, it makes supplementation critical for kids on a gluten free diet.

We use zinc lozenges from Country Life which can be a chewable supplement or used sublingually. They have a store locator on the website.

1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc (2000) p. 447
Related posts:
Whole Grains and Calcium
Iron and Anemia

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mainstream and Alternative Testing for Food Allergies and Vitamin Deficiencies

The ALCAT test was one test that was run for my son when he was sick with malabsorption, red cheeks and not speaking. But, Dr. Pescatore, the integrative doctor who did the ALCAT test, also ran mainstream tests which gave us a complete picture. The additional testing that was done was based on an detailed history he took of my son's symptoms. These are the tests that were run that, with the ALCAT, gave us a complete picture of the food intolerances and vitamin deficiencies:

1-Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
2-Zinc level
3-Copper level
4-Magnesium Level
5-Gliadin Antibody (IgG and IgA)
6-Milk/Casein IgE
7- Gluten IgG and IgA (from Quest)
Another important test was:
8-B12, methylmalonic acid, and homocysteine levels to check for a B12 deficiency

9-Vitamin D, 25-OH

10- Anti-Gliadin IgG Elisa

11-Tissue Transglutaminase (TTG IgA)

A GI doctor should be able to run these mainstream tests.

Related posts:

ALCAT Food Intolerance Test
Red Cheeks in Infants and Toddlers
Allergies and Food Intolerances