Friday, October 30, 2009

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

Roasted pumpkin seeds can become a tradition every bit as special as candy, carved pumpkins, spooky decorations and costumes. Not only do roasted pumpkin seeds go hand in hand with carving a pumpkin, but they also go very well with trick or treating because pumpkin seeds are one of the most nutritious seeds around. Seeds, in general, are a concentrated source of nutrition because they need to contain a supply of food for the plant to begin to develop. Pumpkin seeds were on the NYT Well blog post The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating as "the most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium. In fact, a 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 45% daily value of magnesium, which is used up rapidly when you eat sugar. In addition, pumpkin seeds contain the percent daily value of the following:

52% of manganese
40% of phosphorus
35% of tryptophan
28% of iron
23% of copper
22% of vitamin K
17% of zinc
as well as
16% of protein

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
This recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds is from Simply Recipes.


Large Pumpkin
Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Carve the pumpkin and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp and rinse the seeds in warm water.
3. In a pan, add pumpkin seeds and water (about two cups of water for each 1/2 cup of seeds.) Add 1/2 Tablespoon of salt for every cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
4. Toss pumpkin seeds with olive oil. Spread the seeds out on a roasting pan in a single layer. Bake in the top rack until the seeds begin to brown (about 10-20 minutes.) Remove from the oven and and let the pan cool on a rack. Let the seeds cool completely before eating.

New Test for Celiac Genetics at Prometheus: My Celiac ID

I was looking up Prometheus Lab to find a link to the Prometheus Celiac Plus test, which includes serology (blood) tests and genetic tests for celiac. It is the "gold standard" of celiac tests and the one used by the Celiac Center of Columbia. I stumbled upon a NEW test which can be used for the genetic portion of the Prometheus test called MyCeliacID. This test, which is also done by Prometheus, uses a do it yourself saliva based test. You can find out if you have the genes and the likelihood of your developing celiac based on your genetics. Certain genetic combinations are at increased risk for developing celiac. MyCeliacID costs $329. Unfortunately, MyCeliacID is not available in New York State. The test can't be used to tell you if you have celiac, but it can let you know if it is a possibility and it is a great idea for anyone on a gluten free diet or for family members who want to know if they are at risk.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Role of Enzymes for Digestive Problems

Enzymes are used by the body to break down food into useable molecules. Foods contain these enzymes, but the enzymes are destroyed over temperatures of 105 degrees. In addition, processing of food also destroys enzymes. Raw foods are rich in enzymes. Lack of digestive enzymes can be a factor for people with food allergies and intolerances, hyperactive behavior, spaciness and stomach problems. As you age your ability to produce enzymes decreases. This is one of the reasons older people find they are sensitive to food. Houston Enzymes are plant based enzymes that break down the food, which allows your body to do other important tasks like growing and healing.

Lactose intolerance is a kind of enzyme deficiency most people are familiar with. If your body doesn't produce lactase (the enzyme used to break down the sugar in milk) you will get sick from milk. The genes that turn on enzyme production for lactase are usually turned on for babies sometimes diminish depending on a person's genetic make up. If you are lactose intolerant, you can either: avoid milk, drink lactose free milk or take lactase (the enzyme needed to break down the lactose) when you are going to consume milk.

Many people suffer from non life threatening allergies and intolerances and need to avoid foods in order to be well. Enzymes can allow them to reintroduce these foods into their diet. In fact, some parents sometimes report that their children do better on enzymes with a broader diet than a more restrictive diet. If you have an IgE allergy--like a peanut allergy--enzymes would not help you. But people with IgG allergies and food intolerances often find enzymes helpful.

My son has taken Tri-enza and No-Phenol by Houston Enzymes for two years. They enabled him to break down the food and absorb nutrients and allowed his gut to heal. They also allowed him to eat some food that he was sensitive to. Because they are replacing enzymes that are already in your body they are a great thing to try for kids who have digestive issues such as diarrhea or an inability to completely digest food that they eat.

Here are the enzymes to break down food--they are available in chewables for kids as well as capsules.)

AFP-Peptizyde breaks down Casein (milk protein), Gluten, and Soy.

Tri-enza breaks down all proteins (gluten, casein, soy, dyes, lactose etc.) This product is a combo of several other products

No-Fenol breaks down fruits and vegetables and good for those who follow the Feingold diet and avoid dyes.

I recommend calling and asking for samples before you invest in a whole bottle of any supplement. Enzymes are one of the supplements I really think is worth parents considering.

GREAT Gluten Free/Celiac Research and Links for Parents

Is Gluten Sensitivity a Neurologic Disease?

From the Official Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics:
Range of Neurologic Disorders in Patients with Celiac Disease

For information on EAR INFECTIONS and diet go to Kelly Dorfman-Nutritionist (third down in row.) This is a great radio interview. I would recommend this to providers who want to educate parents of children with ear infections. It is a great explanation

Here is some TACA information:
Going Gluten Free and Casein Free in 10 weeks

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

T-Rex Dinosaur Cupcakes

This super fun T-rex was made by my friend Jennifer, Zac's mom. (Happy Birthday Zac!) Creating a dinosaur out of cupcakes is a great way to celebrate the birthday of a dinosaur loving kid. Jennifer used chocolate cupcakes, chocolate frosting and green sprinkles for the body of the t-rex. The teeth are the white tips of candy corn cut off. Chocolate chips were used for the eyebrows and spikes. The edible eye, as well as all the decorations for the cake were from NY Cake which is located at 56th West 22nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue. I am dying to see all her other cake and cupcake fantasy creations--especially the sheet cake that looked like an island inhabited with dinos, and sharks and sea monsters in the water...which had palm trees and candy rock...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Your Personal Foodie

Jill Hopler, who has a business called Your Personal Foodie in NYC, is a wonderful resource if you need someone to help you cook food for your kids (or organize!) I can't recommend her enough for "homemade, healthy and tasty food" made in your home.

I first met Jill when I was renovating my kitchen. I had to pack up the kitchen and was quite overwhelmed by the task--especially with two kids who had allergies to gluten. Jill helped me pack up everything and she was especially sensitive to what I needed for the kids for the summer. When I returned from the summer, she helped me unpack all the boxes and organize my kitchen. Since then, she has helped me cook for dinner parties, birthday parties and family events.

Not only is Jill a great cook, she is also flexible, helpful and supportive. I always say I need "another me" and Jill can really fill this need by filling in cooking when I need to be doing something else. If you need someone to help you with cook for your kids in New York City or organize you can't go wrong hiring Jill Hopler. She will use her own recipes or your kids favorites! Hiring her to help someone who has just had a baby is also a great gift. See the testimonials on her website for more rave reviews.

Jill Hopler
on the web:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Seizures, Gluten and Celiac

Even in families with a history of celiac disease, celiac disease is often missed by pediatricians and neurologists, who don't understand that celiac can be "silent" presenting not with the typical gut symptoms but with neurological symptoms which are caused by the child not absorbing vitamins. Seizures can often be an early sign of celiac. All children with seizures should be screened for celiac by a doctor who does both blood tests and genetic tests, like the Prometheus Celiac Plus panel.

I had the opportunity to sit next to the Murphy family at the Celiac Disease Center gala and hear their amazing story. Here is the Mystery Diagnosis which tells their story.

Apple Oatmeal Crisp (Gluten Free/Casein Free-GFCF)

This apple oatmeal crisp was a tasty way to use up the apples we had from apple picking at Fishkill Farms. I put a small scoop of Purely Decadent Vanilla Ice Cream made with coconut on top. The cashews make this dairy free dessert taste buttery. I must admit, I was the biggest fan of this dessert. My kids preferred the polka dot apple pie I made last week. But all the adults who tried my apple crisp said "You HAVE to put this on your blog."

8-12 apples- peeled, cored and cut into slices
1 lemon-juice with a fork and remove seeds

1 cup gluten free oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup finely chopped cashews
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a 9 inch by 13 inch glass baking dish, spread the apples and toss with the juice of one lemon. Mix oatmeal, brown sugar, cashews, salt and cinnamon together. Mix in shortening and egg with crumble on top of apples. Bake for 45 minutes

Friday, October 16, 2009

Swirlz Gluten Free Cupcakes in Chicago

A half dozen delicious gluten free cupcakes from Swirlz were waiting when we arrived at our hotel in Chicago in a box that said "cupcakes make people happy". My husband constantly outdoes himself--I don't know he does it, really. (Thanks david!) They are the best gluten free cupcakes I have ever tasted. Actually, they are the best CUPCAKES I have ever tasted. My daughter doesn't even eat cupcakes and she thought they were the "best-best cupcakes". Plus, they are super cute with two tiered swirls of frosting. The airy, creamy frosting makes me think that I need to rethink my too sweet frosting recipe. It is actually incredibly inspiring to find such a perfect cupcake! Swirlz frosting is super creamy and not too sweet and the cake is light and moist. We tried vanilla and red velvet and double chocolate. "I liked the vanilla the best" voted my eight year old. I didn't have a favorite--they all were out of this world.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Discovery of XMRV Virus at the Whittemore Peterson Institute

The Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease has discovered a virus called XMRV which seems to be the cause of Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalitis. The XMRV virus may also play a part in some cases of autism who have the XMRV. Because XMRV virus is a retrovirus it is turned on or off by very specific events. XMRV is turned on by a response to hormones (like cortisol--the stress hormone and androgens and progesterones) and a response to inflammatory cytokines (inflammatory events. ) According to the researchers, the virus has been found in a significant number of people who have autism and it might help explain the many reports of autism being triggered by fever. It is a fascinating discovery, with huge ramifications for many, many people.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

RockLI Support Group: Parents Get NY Schools to Provide Equivalent Food for Celiac Students

Last night, I went to the R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids) Long Island support group with my friend, Jill, who makes GLOW Gluten Free Cookies. It was a long ride in a ton of rush hour traffic to get to the meeting from New York City, but it was great to get information about gluten free products, gluten free restaurants in the long island area and the rights of parents to get special accommodations for their kids with celiac in the public schools in New York State. The leader of the ROCKLI group had even photocopied a page of a New York State document detailing how a student with celiac could qualify for 504c status which would classify celiac as a disability. This classification would require the school system to provide gluten free food for the child. These R.O.C.K. LI parents have really advocated for their kids in the school setting and they provide support and resources for new parents who are interested in trying to implement this school program for their children. ROCKLI works hard to bring in some gluten free products for the group to try. GLOW Gluten Free Cookies provided some tasty samples of their gluten free dairy free cookies for everyone to sample (and purchase!) at last night's meeting. I enjoyed tasting the snickerdoodles and chewy gingersnap cookies.

Almost Organic Apple Picking Near New York City: Fishkill Farms

Fishkill Farms
We went apple picking at Fishkill Farms this weekend. It was super crowded--there were cars lined up to get in and out of the farm. By the time we got around to picking pumpkins, there were no more left. The reason Fishkill Farms is so popular is because, according to the research I did, they are one of the only apple orchards to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and kaolin clay, which is completely non-toxic, to protect their apples, making this orchard as close to organic as I could find near New York City. The apples also happened to be out of this world. We picked Golden Delicious first. There weren't very many to be found until we found one tree that was filled with juicy, crunchy apples, completely unrelated to the yellow golden delicious apples you find in the grocery store. Then we picked some Matsu, Empire and Macintosh apples. The tangy crisp Matsus were everyone's favorite. We filled a large "you pick it" bag of apples for $20. The extra apples, which were by the pound, were $10.The large bag was definitely a better deal than the by the pound apples and next time I will make sure to get at least 2 bags if I make the pilgrimage from New York City to Fishkill, NY. By the way, my daughter is selling wrapping paper and we are giving everyone a FREE hand picked apple with each purchase--in case anyone needs some wrapping paper!

On our way out, we noticed there was a huge line for donuts--which were not gluten free. Next year, I will try to remember to pack some Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Donuts, which are, by the way, now free of artificial flavors and colors. I was happy to NOT stand in line for the donuts, but my kids were craving them when they saw the fifty or so people cued up for them. We spent so much time in the orchard picking apples, we didn't even have a chance to visit the entire farm, but I look forward to my next visit to Fishkill Farms to see the farm store and cafe and pumpkin patch.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Protecting Your Family From E-Coli

My kids eat a lot of meat. It is a concentrated food source that they seem to do well with. Last night I made baby back ribs which were amazing--I will post the recipe tomorrow. When I was in India, I ate all "veg" for five weeks and I have never felt better, but I found it easier to be vegetarian in India when being served three hot meals a day in a country with a history of a traditional vegetarian diet. In New York, we eat meat--hamburgers, tacos and chicken are all dinner staples at our house. Recently, there was an article in the New York Times article on e-coli about a woman who became paralyzed after eating a hamburger which contained the pathogenic bacteria e-coli.

There are several things you can do to protect your family from this pathogen. The easiest, most obvious, way to avoid e-coli meat is to stop eating meat! For most gluten free people, that just isn't possible. A second option, is to can eat whole cuts of meat that come from one cow--an individual steak, a skirt steak or brisket would be an example of cuts you might eat. The hamburger meat that was eaten by the woman who got e-coli was made from slaughterhouses in FOUR different states and who knows how many cows. If you eat whole pieces of meat, you can avoid this kind of situation. Or, you could ask your butcher to grind your meat from a piece of steak. This is what our butcher does--he sends us ground sirlion. Another option to consider is switching to 100% grass fed beef. According to an 2003 article in Journal of Dairy Science titled Forage Feeding to Reduce Preharvest Escherichia coli Populations in Cattle, a Review:

"When cattle were abruptly switched from a high grain (corn) diet to a forage diet, generic E. coli populations declined 1000-fold within 5 d."

In New York City, I have found organic grass fed beef at Trader Joe's and Citerella's. Other places have organic meat, but I usually have to ask the butcher where to find it. If you buy meat from the farmer's market you can avoid meat from the large slaughterhouses that have the most trouble with e-coli.

David Kirby's new book on these large slaughterhouses, known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) is coming out shortly and will have more information on this growing problem. It is called Animal Factory and you can pre order it at Amazon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Xenoestrogens and Breast Cancer: Why We Need To Change the Way We Live

On September 22, 2009 my friend went to a lecture to hear Regina Santella Professor of Environmental Heath Sciences at Columbia University and Laura Weinberg President Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition, speak about Breast Cancer and the Environment so I thought I'd pass along the information.

This is a chart was created by the It shows how many environmental factors impact breast cancer risk and "the complexity of breast cancer causation". Minimizing exposure to xenoestrogens is critical for anyone who wants to reduce risk for breast cancer, which 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with during their lifetime. Although the research has been focused on breast cancer, xenoestrogens which disrupt hormones are not good for anyone, especially children who are developing. For more information on the connection go to

Xenoestrogens are found in food additives, pesticides, sunscreens, plastics that contain phthalates, parabens and metals. By avoiding products that contain these xenoestrogens, the public will be forcing manufacturers to produce safer products. Don't be fooled by green advertising--read labels! Bisphenol A (BPA) recently found in older SIGG bottles lined with plastic was originally being researched as a synthetic estrogen. When other estrogens came along they discovered it helped to soften plastic. So if you haven't gotten around to returning your SIGG bottles to the manufacturer this is a good place to start!

Choose ONE THING you can do to lessen your exposure to xenoestrogens and incorporate into your families life. When that becomes routine make another change.

Here are some ideas:

• Don't drink from a plastic bottle--use glass, stainless steel cups or buy a Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottle.
• Seek out safer plastics...use number 1, 2, 4 and 5 on the bottom of the container/avoid 3, 6 and 7
• Go to for non plastic options
• Avoid triclosan--an ingredient in antibacterial soap
• No more microwave popcorn--make it the old fashioned way with a stainless steel pot on the stove with oil and a lid.
• Avoid teflon products, pans and clothing (like gore tex)
• Look for paints with no VOC (like Mythic paint)
• Read food labels and "go back to the 18th century--if your grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food--don't eat it." This will reduce your exposure to dyes and additives.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Suggestion from a Loyal Fan...

This was sent to me by my Dad...

"I visited your web sites a couple of times this week. I really can't eat cupcakes. Cupcakes are bad for you and besides Obama is about to ban all cupcakes. One of your loyal fans (me) has a request. How about a REALLY HEALTHY gluten free something or other that is interesting and different. Just a suggestion."

Dear Loyal Fan,
I am sorry that my blog is so cupcake focused and you really can't eat cupcakes. Right now, I am too busy making two four layer chocolate cakes to come up with anything interesting and different, so here are links to some recipes that might be of interest. I am mostly cooking for my kids, who aren't huge fan of interesting and different food, but if you let me know exactly what kind of REALLY HEALTHY food you want, I would be happy to post a recipe.

Collard Greens with Caramelized Onions
Pad Thai
Shake and Bake Chicken
Pan Seared Chicken with Bay Leaf Sauce
Lemon Quinoa
Summer Time Chicken Tacos
Homemade Beef Tacos
Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Cuban Chicken

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gluten Free Casein Free Macaroni and Cheese

Besides being GFCFSF, this macaroni and cheese recipe is also vegan. I haven't had macaroni and cheese in a while, but parents frequently ask me for a gluten free/dairy free mac n'cheese recipe to replace their Kraft Mac N'Cheese when they give up gluten and dairy. I used to say there were only two things I couldn't make gfcf--macaroni and cheese and challah--well now there is only one thing I can't make--challah. The only bad news about this recipe is you need a vita-mix to get this to be creamy. You could try using macadamia nut butter, instead of macadamia nuts if you don't have a Vita-Mix or just try it in a blender and let me know.

I used this cheese sauce on a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich as well as on some sliders .(I will post on the sliders later!) I now keep a jar of this sauce in the fridge to use whenever I want to make a little mac n'cheese or make something a little cheesy.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

1 cup macadamia nuts (I used organic roasted macadamias)
1/2 cup pimentos
3/4 tsp garlic salt
3/4 tsp onion salt
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp agave
1/4 cup coconut milk

optional: 1/2 cup sauteed onions

Puree in a blender or Vita-Mix until smooth and creamy. Boil a pound of Tinkyada elbow pasta in 1 tsp of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well and mix "cheese" sauce with pasta. Serve with red pepper flakes for adults.

"Healing and Educating our Children with Autism" Conference Speakers

If you missed the conference, you can click on these links to see and hear the speakers...
Dr. Nancy O'Hara - The Defeat Autism Now Treatment Options from A to Zinc
Geri Brewster on Autism One
Kim Stagliano on ABC news about Autism Tax Breaks (this isn't really about Kim, but about Tax Breaks)
Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh

Temple Grandin wasn't at the conference, but her mother Eustacia Cutler did speak. Here is Temple speaking...
Temple Grandin Focus on Autism and Asperger's Syndrome
This NPR show A Conversation with Temple Grandin looks interesting, too.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Inspirational "Healing and Educating our Children with Autism" Conference Quotes

Some inspiring quotes from day one of the conference on "Educating and Healing our Children with Autism":

"There are no answers...only choices."
"It always sounds so tidy when I talk about it. Believe me--it's NOT tidy."
-Eustacia Cutler, Temple Grandin's mother. For more info on Temple Grandin, go to the Temple Grandin NPR interview.

Talking about ABA to Kristina Dumas, who works with kids on the spectrum. Kristina said she learned who ABA worked for and who it didn't in her year ABA internship...
"Some of those kids don't need those toys. They don't need the M&M's. They need YOU." Everyone is different. "You need a unique approach."

Christina Peck who spoke about codes to use when filing insurance claims said there was even a code for sibling rivalry... "The other day when you called me and your kids sounded like they were killing each other--I have a code for that."

Speaking on the writer's panel, Kim Stagliano, who writes for Age of Autism, quoted Mother Teresa: "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much."

The highlight of the writers panel was not the gifted writers who spoke. It was actually Lisa, a woman in the audience, who has Aspergers. Lisa spoke passionately and honestly about how much better she feels after embarking on a journey to heal herself using biomedical treatments. "I was tortured and now I am better" she shared with the audience, who applauded her determination to find her own unique path to wellness, after years of not getting better going to mainstream doctors and even being an inpatient for five years in a well regarded hospital.

In temple last week, the president of our congregation spoke and said: "There are those journeys we choose to make and those we are forced to take." The journeys we are forced to take change us forever. Sometimes we end up in unexpected places. Fulfilled, as Eustacia Cutler described her daughter. Or better, as Lisa now finds herself. Or in a conference surrounded by friends I adore, eating Muddy Buddies, listening to the most extraordinary stories of people whose lives have been "Blessed with Autism."

*"Blessed with Autism" is the title of Christina Peck's amazing speech and workbook on creative ways she has found to get reimbursed by insurance companies for medical treatment and services.

Chex GFCF Muddy Buddies Recipe

My friend, Jennifer, handed me a bag of Rice Chex cereal she had made covered in what tasted like peanut butter cups. Chex has registered the name Muddy Buddies and you can see the original recipe at Here is Jennifer's delicious GFCF adaptation...

9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1&1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a large pot over low heat, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and coconut oil while stirring. Cook until mixture can be stirred and is smooth.* Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2 gallon resealable container or bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag or container. Shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper. Store in airtight container in fridge.

*You can melt this in the microwave uncovered on high for 1 minute. Stir. Then Microwave for 30 seconds longer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

NYC Autism Conference FREE Ticket Winner is...

Diane Carroll has won the FREE ticket to the NYC Autism/Asperger's Conference on Saturday, October 3rd and Sunday, October 4th. Congratulations to Diane and please contact me via the email to the right as soon as possible to claim your free 2 day ticket.

This year's conference is "Educating and Healing Children with Autism" and there are a number of great speakers. You can download a brochure HERE and see a schedule of speakers. Dr. Nancy O'Hara's "Biomedical Treatments for Autism from A to Zinc" and Geri Brewster's "Nutritional and Dietary Advice for Children with ASD" are both overviews of how nutrition impacts development in children with ASD and the treatment strategies that help them to get better. In addition to knowledgeable speakers and an exhibitors area, there are door prizes, goody bags, gluten free food and parents who are all helping their kids to be the best they can be.

The free ticket was courtesy of Autism Conferences of America.