Friday, April 18, 2008

Gluten Free Passover Matzah Crackers

I really enjoyed making these matzah--a simplified version of the recipe I found at the blog I Am Gluten Free. The matzahs look very biblical and homemade compared with the standard matzahs that come out of a box. It's a little stressful to have a religious holiday centered around a food with gluten that needs to be blessed by a rabbi, but I love our homemade GFCF version and most importantly, my healthy kids! This grain free version contains soaked raw almonds which is the healthiest way to eat almonds

2 cups almonds (raw with skins) soaked overnight/12 hours and ground finely in
cuisinart or Bob's Red Mill Finely Ground Almond Meal
2 cups potato starch (I use Ener-G brand potato starch which they sell at East Side Health Food Store)
1 tsp xanthum gum (my orginal recipe called for 3)
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar or agave
1/4 c. Spectrum Organic vegetable shortening melted in 1/2 cup water +1/2 c. additional water
3 egg whites

Finely grind almonds in cuisinart
Add other dry ingredients and process in cuisinart until well blended.
Then put flour mixture into mixing bowl.
Add vegetable shortening melted in 1 cup warm water.
Then add 3 egg whites
Mix on high until light and fluffy.
Scoop 1/4 cup size pieces of dough and roll into balls.
Drop ball into potato starch and flatten a little.
Flatten dough in hands making sure to have enough potato starch tokeep it from getting sticky.
Place on baking sheet covered with parchment parer and gently press asflat as you can.
Bake in 400 degree oven for about 18 minutes until they are goldenbrown.

Here is a video of how you form the crackers:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

GFCF Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love these grain free cookies. I am posting the original as well as my version which has less sugar and an extra egg. They come out differently depending on what brand of peanut butter you use.I know cookies for breakfast aren't really "what to feed your kids" but my kids are sensitive to almost all processed food. As long as it is organic and homemade and has some protein in it, they thrive. So sometimes they have one of these in the morning when we are in a rush. Also, I rotate the type of nut butter I use with these. I will make one batch with peanut butter, the next with cashew butter and the following with almond butter.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup GFCF chocolate chips (ENERGY brand are our favorite)

Cream peanut butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add egg and mix well. Then add baking soda.
Add chocolate chips.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/3 peanut butter
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup GFCF chocolate chips


Probiotics are good bacteria that help the gastrointestinal tract to function well. According to Nancy O'Hara, who practices integrated holistic healthcare, you need a healthy GI tract because 70% of immunity is located in the gut. Probiotics are of critical importance if you have obvious digestive issues such as diarrhea or constipation. But, because of our the processing of our food and our reliance on antibiotics people without digestive issues also will benefit from a good probiotic. Also probiotic levels are 50% lower in children with autism and eczema. For this reason, children with these disorders really need supplementation to restore friendly bacteria in the GI tract. Studies suggest that good bacteria in the gut early in life can offer some protection from later development of allergies.

Without a healthy gut you can't fight infections, absorb nutrients or synthesize vitamins that the body has the ability to create(B6, B12, niacin, folic acid and biotin.) Probiotics control inflammation, support digestion, and decrease diarrhea, eczema and allergies. One particular strand of good bacteria, Bifidus Bacterium, which is found in breast milk, was lower in obese adults. Interestingly breast fed infants are less likely to become obese. Perhaps the balance of good bacteria in the gut is an important factor in weight control.
Part of the reason I recommend taking probiotic supplements is that our food supply has changed so much. Before pasteurization, you could find beneficial bacteria in raw milk products. But pasteurization and processing of food kills not only the dangerous bacteria, but it also killed the essential beneficial bacteria that exists on unprocessed food. Homemade sauerkraut is a good GF/CF/SF food source of beneficial probiotics and my kids like Bubbies Kosher Pickles which are brine cured without vinegar but I don't know if it realistic or doable for busy moms with picky eaters to use these as a food source. I am investigating making GF/CF/SF yogurt out of nut milks and rice milk. Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions is a good source of more information.

My 2.5 year old takes 1 capsule of GI Flora in rice milk 1/2 hour before each meal with water or rice milk on an ongoing basis. My daughter, took one capsule of Lactobacillus in juice in the evening before bed for one week and her cradle cap which had been there for six years completely disappeared. There are many benefits of supplementation and few side effects.

WHAT TO FEED YOUR KIDS: A good probiotic supplement for eczema, cradle cap, allergies, constipation and chronically sick kids or whenever anyone is taking antibiotics. Get one with Bifidus Bacterium that is refrigerated and keep it in the refrigerator. "GI FLORA" by Allergy research group was recommended to us by both Peta Cohen, our nutritionist and the environmental allergist, Dr. Morton Teich. (You can order this product through Invite Health at 1-800-844-9060). Of course, if you live an old fashioned life and can find RAW MILK YOGURT then you might not need the probiotics! <--DEC 1, 2010 update on this post GI FLORA CONTAINS DAIRY! If you are on a GFCF diet, please do some research on Ther-biotic Complete and which might be more suitable. I have heard that if you start slow and open the capsule and sprinkle on food you get the best results when you are using a probiotic.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coconut Oil--an Antiviral and Antimicrobial Food

Lauric Acid is found in breast milk and coconut milk. According to
Living and Raw Foods, it is converted in the body to monolaurin which
causes the "disintegration of the viral envelope."1 The antiviral
properties of the monolaurin can fight many viruses including HIV,
Herpes, influenza virus. It has been used in clinical studies to
reduce the viral load of AIDS patients.2 In addition it can also fight
. Perhaps it is the presence of lauric acid in breast milk in
addition to the immunity of the mother that keeps breastfed infants
healthy. It is often when children are weaned that they begin to get
sick. By continuing to include lauric acid in the diet of babies who
have been weaned maybe we could could help children remain healthy
beyond the time they are breastfed.

We started cooking with coconut oil and using coconut milk when we
first went gluten free. My son had been sick for months and I needed
to heal him and keep him healthy. I use it whenever I cook. My
favorite thing to cook for him was fried rice. I used a lot of leeks
and garlic as they are natural prebiotics which worked with
probiotics to heal his gut. Then I would add minced eggs or chicken
for a balanced meal.

Why has this potential nutraceutical gotten such a bad wrap for so
long. According to alternative-healthzine many US organizations who
had ties to the vegetable oil industry used poor science to condemn
this healthy saturated fat. That allowed the United States to sell
it's own oils. The countries that produced these oils (malaysia and
the Philippines) didn't have the economic strength to defend coconut
oil and so this healthful oil fell out of favor.

Now, it is recognized that adults and children could use 10-20 grams
of lauric acid a day to achieve the immune benefits they would if they
were breastfed.4 This would be the amount found in 1.5-3 T oil or 4-8
T of pure unrefined coconut milk (preferably sold in a glass bottle!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Rolls

These are a great lunchbox snack for more adventurous kids and adults. Also, once you get the hang of them you can really improvise with the fillings adding avocados, nuts, vermicelli noodles, and green onions. My son likes his filled with carrots and peanuts. My daughter likes hers with chicken and peanuts. They started eating these wraps when I let them help make them.

Spring Roll Wrappers (Banh Trang)
Shredded Chicken
Cilantro or Basil and Mint
Shredded Carrots
Vermicelli Noodles

Prepare fillings.
Dip rice paper in water.
Place filling and roll.

Here is a you tube video on making Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Peanut Sauce from

1 sliced small onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves crushed garlic
3/4 cup NATURAL peanut butter or 1 cup dry roasted salted peanuts
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.
Puree in blender or Cuisinart. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.
Slowly add enough boiling water until it is the consistency of
slightly thinned peanut butter. Season to taste to get a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Protecting Children from Toxins in Our Everyday World

I went to a lecture on "Simple Steps Parents Can Take to Protect Children from Toxins in Our Everyday World" given by Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center. I love the laminated cards they gave out which showed the safer plastics (1,2,4, and 5)and the plastics to avoid(3,6&7). I returned my 3, 6&7 containers to the Container Store and told them the containers weren't safe and that they were known endocrine disruptors. They said that "all our plastics are food grade quality." Which was when the card from Mount Sinai really came in handy. I recommend printing it out to take with you if you plan on making an elaborate exchange. The manager at the Container Store even photocopied the card and laminated one for himself. Then they ran around to find the "safer" plastics. I went with these french jars with metal closures.

Another thing they mentioned was to buy the yellow Glad Cling Wrap which apparently is safer than the the plastic wrap in the red package.

GFCF Chicken Tenders

Here is another really kid friendly recipes which my kids like. I prefer baking these in the oven so the oil stays below it's smoke point.

1# chicken breasts
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 tsp cornstarch
4 tsp oil
1 egg white
1 egg yolk mixed with 2 T coconut milk
1 cup GF bread crumbs
cooking oil (I prefer macadamia oil (390˚ smoke point) or peanut
oil(450˚ smoke point)

-Place breasts between waxed paper and pound with meat pounder until
evenly thinned.
-Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
-Sprinkle with cornstarch and oil turn to mix chicken, place in glass
bowl (or ziplock bag*) and keep in fridge for 20 minutes to 24 hours.
-Mix egg whites into marinating chicken and let stand 20 minutes (in

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 2 Tablespoons oil in pan and put
in oven to melt oil and preheat.
-Remove chicken from fridge and add in egg yolk mix.
-Shake off excess coating from chicken pieces and press into bread
crumbs to coat.
-Cook chicken in hot pan in oven for 30 minutes. Then turn up the heat
to 375 degrees and cook another 15 minutes to brown.

Beef Stew with Onion and Red Wine Sauce

This is from the side of a KITCHEN BASIC stock box, but my kids love it. I decided I should try to live up to the name of my blog and post some recipes. I am always trying to get my kids to eat protein and they like basic food, so these recipes are old fashioned, but you can add some mushrooms to make it more interesting. I will post some vegetarian recipes later on.

3 # beef stew
1 quart Kitchen Basic beef stock or homemade or another MSG free stock
1 cup dry red wine (we use 1/4 rice vinegar 3/4 verjus so that it is
alcohol free)
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 tsp. dried marjoram
4 garlic cloves, halved
2 Tbsp. corn starch (mixed in 2 Tbsp. water)

Combine stock, wine, onion, garlic and marjoram in glass bowl (or plastic bag) with meat. Place in refrigerator for 2-4 hours or overnight. Coat a large dutch oven with oil. Brown meat. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put meat into roasting pan with marinade. Bake for 45 minutes (until center is 160 F) To make sauce, place cornstarch in a bowl, whisk in hot marinade until sauce is thickened.

I actually cook the stew in a crock pot until the meat is tender and falling apart about 4-6 hours. You can add sliced mushrooms, parsnips and carrots to the stew while it is cooking. Garnish with chopped parsley.

"Spice Packet" Beef Taco Recipe

Another family favorite. This is reminiscent of the tacos you make from a "spice" packet--without the MSG.

1pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. cumin
1 t. oregano
1 T. cooking oil
1 c. crushed tomatoes (optional)
1 tsp salt (or to taste) and pepper

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until
soft. Add beef and spices. Cook until meat is browned. Add crushed
tomatoes and season to taste. Serve over rice or in corn tortillas.
Garnish with lettuce, tomatoes and avocados.

Summertime Chicken Tacos

I make these with corn tortillas, but this recipe is also good over rice. My friend Lauren gave me this recipe a few months ago and it quickly became a family favorite

1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. lime juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 pieces chicken
8 corn tortillas

Combine 8 ingredients in a glass bowl (or resealable plastic bag.) Add
chicken, turn to coat. Refrigerate 8 hours, turning occasionally.
Drain and discard marinade. Grill or broil chicken 5-7 minutes on each
side. Cut into thin strips. Warm or pan fry tortillas in oil and serve
with toppings (lettuce, tomatoes and avocados.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

World Autism Awareness Day

I went to the United Nations today to a panel discussion on "Global Awareness of Autism: Challenges, Responsibilities and Actions." Bob Wright, a cofounder of Autism Speaks said "no country can afford to stand by and watch it lose 1% of their male population" to what once was a rare, isolated mental illness.

The State of Qatar sponsored the event and Riz Khan, a radio host from Al Jazeera, moderated, making this a true world event. Paul Shattock, of the World Autism Organization in England, spoke about the stigma of autism in different countries. He remarked
"In England, we have always had a secret admiration for the quirky, the different, the maverick, the person who behaves in a cool way" and contrasted that to America where people shout in the supermarket 'why don't you look after him' and 'why don't you control him.'
But, he said it was getting better in the US in fact he heard a joke on a commercial: a 12 year old autistic boy spoke for the first time and said "THIS DINNER IS TERRIBLE." And his mother said "You spoke. You have never spoken before." And the autistic boy said "Well, everything has been okay until now."

I thought Paul's comment was particularly good for my blog, which is all about nutrition and the power of food to heal...even in the form of a terrible dinner.

Some good news: The American Academy of Pediatrics has announced it will be partnering with Defeat Autism Now in order to diagnose and treat patients more effectively. I heard about this at the UN today. This is truly a groundbreaking step by the AAP who has previously regarded DAN and the biomedical treatment it offers as a fringe movement but offered no alternative. This dialogue is a move which could possibly turn the tide on this growing epidemic, as my new favorite blog, Journey to Crunchville, noted. I don't know how it happened, but miracles do happen...just when you least expect them.

WHAT TO DO: If you or someone you know has been affected by autism go to Autism Speaks to get info and the IAN Project to accelerate the pace of autism research. EVERYONE should try to appreciate the "quirky, the different, the maverick" in ourselves and our children.