Friday, January 14, 2011

Almost 2 full months in....

When my husband and I first decided to embark on the gfcfsf diet, I was nervous I would be unable to properly feed my family.  I attend school full-time, work part-time, am active in our church, and the boys play sports.  Where would I fit in all of the cooking and preparing, and cooking and preparing, and cooking and preparing (well, you get the point) that was required to live the diet fully.

The first few weeks really were a struggle.  It was difficult to not only prepare all of the meals (I really liked to microwave things or use packages to cook with), but it was also extremely difficult to get my boys to eat any of the food.

Both boys were addicted to grainy foods such as crackers, breads, pasta with no sauce, and chips.  They did like milk, as long as it was mixed half and half with chocolate.  The first few weeks invoked a lot of tears, a lot struggles, and even more trips to the bathroom to throw up whatever I just made them eat. 

I did some research on ways to "trick" my children into eating the food.  Well guess didn't work.  I couldn't successfully get them to eat a pea even if it was drenched in chocolate syrup and rolled in sugar.  Many sites insisted that if I just kept trying, they would learn to like it.

I made supper tonight.  It consisted of turkey, steamed carrots (with a little bit of agave nectar on them), and applesauce.  My boys crawled up to the table, looked at their plate, asked how much I wanted them to eat (I always put extra so that I can tell them half or almost all), and then began eating.  No tears.  No fuss.  No throwing up or gagging or screaming or "falling" off the stool.  Nothing.  Just prayer and eating. 

Now if I'm being honest, there are still some things they won't eat.  It really doesn't bother me though.  If I can get them to eat most veggies but they still don't like cabbage or asparagus, I'm ok with that.  I will live with it.  I will continue to try to get them to like it.  But after a couple of bites per night I let them choose one thing they can skip eating. 

With all of the cooking and struggles I have learned a few tips.  We normally cook a large turkey every other week, then divide it into bags.  Some of the meat we store.  Some of the meat we immediately eat.  Most of the meat however is used for casseroles, mixed in with eggs, bell peppers, and onions for a morning omelet, or used to make soups.  It really cuts down on the amount of cooking I have to do.  Most casseroles are easy to prepare and are one dish recipes. 

The rest of the week we have chicken or fish (which is still called "chicken" in our house--what they don't know won't hurt them).  We bake lemon pepper chicken, fry up chicken bites, grill chicken, and any other ways we can figure out how to use chicken.  The fish is always baked with a little something extra on it like lemon juice or orange juice.  The boys never know the difference.

This week I am going to be trying some new recipes.  As I find yummy things to eat I will post them on my facebook page under "discussions".  Check us out on Facebook at "Evansville Gluten Free".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Banana Blueberry Muffins

This morning I made my family some delicious morning muffins.  I simply took an old recipe for blueberry muffins and "tweaked" it to fit our GFCFSF diet. 

1 c. Almond flour
1/2 c. All-purpose GFCFSF flour
1/4 c. Fresh ground flaxseed
1/8 t. Sea salt
3/4 t. Baking soda
2 T. Grapeseed oil
1/4 c. Agave nectar
2 Eggs
1 Large mashed ripe banana
1/2 c. Frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F. 

In a large bowl, combine both flours, flaxseed, salt, and baking soda.  Mix in the grapesee oil, agave necter, and eggs.  Mix well.

Stir in the banana, then fold the blueberries into the batter.  Pour the batter into 12 lined muffin cups.
Bake 20-25 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the middle comes out clean.


**BTW, tweaked is a technical baking term :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some of my new "go-to" products

The hardest thing when we initially decided to switch over to gluten free was not knowing which products contained gluten, what secret words gluten was hidden under, and honestly, not really knowing what exactly gluten was.

After some research on the gluten, I found it is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and other related species such as barley and rye (not corn or rice).  Gluten helps to give elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape.  Gluten is also in many products to enhance texture or add protein where none is naturally found such as imitation meats, malt vinegars, flavor cubes, ketchup and even most vitamins.  With gluten in so many daily products, at first I though I would never get the hang of shopping for my family.

Then, just when I was almost comfortable choosing products that were gluten free, we got stricter, adding in more things to see if we could improve what responses we had experienced already with the boys.  With my list of no-no's almost longer than my shopping list, I was very confused and intimidated when I set out to start shopping.  So how did I do it?  With a little book from Cecelia's Marketplace (

I initially ordered the Gluten Free book which lists thousands of products that are gluten free.  After using my book for a few weeks and deciding to move on to a stricter diet plan, I then ordered the gluten free/casein free/soy free book.  These books have truly been a time and sanity saver. 

I carry the gfcfsf book in my purse (and keep the other one in my van in case I forget my purse) and pull it out anytime I am the store.  The books list alphabetically the item and then manufacturer so that finding what you need is a snap.  Need jelly?  Look under "J" from jelly/jam, then find the name of the product you are looking for such as Smucker's.  It is so simple to use that even my husband can go shopping for me now.

Another product that I am completely in love with is Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread Soy Free.  I have so far only found it at my local Walmart stores in the butter aisle in a tub.  I have made cookies and brownies, topped waffles and muffins, and sauteed mushrooms and onions in it so far and everything has turned out perfect.  My picky boys haven't even noticed that I switched them yet!

As our my research gets more in depth, my list of exclusions continues to grow.  We are lucky as we have had some testing done before and we have that list of what our children are sensitive to.  In order to allow our boys some guilty pleasures, a few of our rules are allowed to occasionally be broken.  For instance, today at church my boys told the youth minister they were not allowed any candy, even though the other children were eating theirs.  I wasn't in the youth room; they could have eaten it and I probably wouldn't have ever know, but they didn't.  I was so proud of them!  I decided to let them have a special treat for being so honest. 

Skittles are on the gfcfsf list, but they have food coloring in them (which I normally forbid).  I did, however, because of their awesomeness today, allow them to split a small bag of skittles.  They were so excited!  To me, it's all about priority.  Gluten is at the top of our list for no, followed by artificial sugar, casein and soy, then preservatives and food colorings.  Our big rules are if it comes in a cellophane package, don't eat it.  I always tell my boys for when they are out at a grandparent's house that if it grows on a vine, in the ground, or on a tree it is ok to eat.  If you have to take it to a factory to make it, then just say no.  It really has helped them feel more confident in deciding what they are and are not allowed to eat.

I was asked today what I typically fix for my children to eat since I don't let them go out to eat and I don't buy anything premade.  On a typical day our family meals consist of a high protein breakfast: a piece of gluten free bread (which I make in my bread machine every Sunday) with peanut butter, some scrambled eggs, a couple small pieces of baked chicken (normally left over from the night before) and then two small pancakes (which are made in large batches and then frozen so that I don't have to make that mess every morning).  Lunch primarily is a vegetable in the steamer and a chicken breast.  Supper is normally either baked fish or lemon pepper chicken, a veggie, a baked potato (either regular or sweet), and a small dessert of some kind finishes off the night. 

We also try to include two or three small snacks throughout the day also so that the boys learn healthy eating habits and don't have to eat huge meals.  My boys' favorite snacks are apples or bananas with peanut butter, raisins, homemade gfcfsf cookies, or a gfcfsf chocolate piece.  When I pack my oldest's lunch for school, I try to include a variety of things so that he can pick and choose what he wants that day.  I never want my boys to feel as though it is a burden to eat healthy. 

So far, with a little preparation and a lot of luck, I have been able to find substitutes for almost everything their friends have...thank goodness for my book and google!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Saying (and sticking to) "No!"

One of most important things I feel I should do as a parent is to teach my children boundaries.  I believe I should set clear, consistent boundaries and stick to them so that my children will be able to grow up in a loving, caring, secure environment.

Now here's what usually happens:  I say "no", they whine, I eventually concede and give them something close, if not the whole thing, that they originally asked for.  I am not a strict parent when it comes to enforcing my threats; they are just that...threats.  They are not promises because I don't ever follow through with them.

Well today was a new day.  Today I decided I would stick to my guns and make sure that my boys were not ingesting ANYTHING that had gluten, casein, or soy in it.  And I did.  The problem of the day arose when I had to bake, assemble, and decorate my sister-in-law's baby shower cake for tomorrow.  See, I make large fondant covered cakes that are delicious--but jam packed with the crud that I do not serve in my house.  Even though it was easy (ok, not that easy) for me to withhold from eating the scraps, it was so hard for my boys to watch me assemble the cake and not get to taste test anything.  I really felt for them.

The good news was my boys really did an amazing job.  Neither one of them got a taste, and after a couple of whines, they continued up to their room to play games.  I was very impressed (especially after I caved and had a taste of the icing--just to make sure it was ok though).

I guess I still have a lot to learn, at least from my children.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I *LOVE* being right

So, like most women, I LOVE being right (and I usually am when it comes to issues with my husband, just ask me). :)

Anyhoo--I got a call today from my good friend Jen.  Jen went to a new naturalist doctor today here in Evansville to see how she liked it.  She loved the doctor, which is good news, but the part I was really interested in is what the doctor said about her son.  Jen has two boys that are similar in my boys' ages and demeanors.  Her oldest is very sweet, intelligent, and hyper.

After talking for a while about her son, Jen's new doctor began talking about food intolerance, gluten, casein, preservatives, food colors, etc etc.  Her doctor talked so much about it that Jen immediately called me when she left to tell me all about it.  I was so excited, maybe I am doing something right with the boys, maybe we are on the right path to a better, healthier life.

Today we let Oliver take a few gluten free chips with him to school for his snack, even thought they contained food color, preservatives, and casein.  Without going into a long explanation, let's just say we will not being doing that again.  I will just leave it at that.  But as always, tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A trippy day with gluten

After my fiasco a few weeks ago about with Oliver, I have been ever diligent about what I will and will not let him near.  As I posted yesterday, it really has made all of the difference in our daily struggles with my six-year old, for the good.

With my youngest, Parker--who is 4 1/2, it hasn't seemed to affect him as much.  Parker is generally not hyper, so it's hard to tell right off if the gluten-free diet even has any effect on him or not.  Today, after Parker got out of Pre-k, I took him and my husband out to eat at a local restaurant, one in which I know offers a gluten-free menu. 

When we arrived at the restaurant, the waitress gave Parker his kids menu and immediately my child spied a bowl of spaghetti and butter on the front cover.  Of course, this is what my child wanted.  Now it's been weeks since Parker has had regular, gluten-packed noodles, and since I haven't noticed a huge difference with him I figure sure, why not.

The reasons why not should have been obvious to me.  I am so inciting the whole "if I knew then what I know now".  Within in an hour of him sucking down a bowl of noodles, my son looked as though he was in a food coma.  His eyes were glossy, with a purplish tint underneath them, his face was splotchy, his ears were red and hot, and he would not acknowledge that I was speaking to him.  When I would ask him a question or say his name, he just kind of stared off like I wasn't speaking.  Now, I know that children can get like this anyways so I at first figure that he is just grouchy, or tired, or something.

Needless to say he falls asleep on the way home.  Parker sleeps for almost five hours before I finally have to wake him up.  The next problem?  He is crying, whining, still blotchy in the face and stomach area, and will not cooperate with anything I ask him to do.  Even after I physically dress him, put him into the van, drive him into town for Taekwondo, and sit there for 15 minutes while I wait for it to start, he still has not snapped out of his funk.

After two hours of him being in such a mood and unhappy with everything, I sent him to bed.  It makes me sad that I had to do such, especially since it was over an hour before his bed time, but he really was so sad looking that I couldn't think of anything else to do.  I had thought about giving him some benedryl, but I really dislike having to give my kids any medicine, so therefore, bed was the only option.

So, I once again, will restart tomorrow.  I know that Oliver cannot cheat.  And now I know that Parker cannot cheat either.  I have my cabinets repacked with yummy snacks for them, I have my meal plan ready for this week.  I am officially a mother with a renewed mission--funny how it only took one day for Parker to remind me the importance of my job.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Gluten Free Holidays!!

It's been so long since I've updated my blog...holidays are always so busy around my house with all of our children, family, and friends--and I am not complaining at all--I love the holidays!! 

I was worried going into this holiday season though, with the new gluten free eating plans.  How was I going to find anything at all that my children would eat at my family's house?  Would all of our cookies and cakes taste like cardboard?  Luckily, with a little preparation, we were able to enjoy all of kinds of holiday goodies, and still keep the peace with our children.

I started with chocolate chip cookies, my boys' favorite.  I used the original Tollhouse Recipe and then substituted in ingredients that were gluten free.  For the flour I used King Arthur's Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour (1 1/4 c), Almond Flour (1 c.) and fresh ground Flaxseed (1/2 c.).  I also made sure that all of the other ingredients such as vanilla were gluten free also.  I added the extra 1/4 c. of flour because the first batch of cookies were a little runny and I also refrigerated the dough in between bakings.

When the cookies were done, my boys and family members couldn't get enough--they didn't even last one whole day!!  Needless to say, I think I will be baking more chocolate chip cookies this week.