Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ugh! Even More Food Issues

Having both a toddler and preschooler in the house is never easy, but it has been particularly challenging for us lately.  My little guy can be the sweetest boy ever lavishly giving out hugs and kisses to everyone, but he can also be quite aggressive pushing, hitting, and throwing objects at other children.  Some days he is fine, but other days his behavior is completely uncontrollable.  My daughter, on the other hand, can be touchy and emotional.  If they are both having a bad day, then our days are filled with whining, screaming, and crying.  Eliminating gluten from both their diets did dramatically reduce the number of bad days, but the bad days kept coming back. 

After my son's most recent ear infection and round of antibiotics, I had an epiphany of sorts.  Prior to the antibiotics, I was beginning to feel like we were making progress on his behavior issues, but the bad behavior returned with a vengeance even after the physical symptoms from the ear infection had dissipated.  He returned to school, and his teacher had a terrible time keeping him from hurting others and calming him down when he became upset.  After several days of racking my brain trying to figure out what was different with him, I began to wonder whether the antibiotics were playing a role since it was the only thing that I could think of that was different.  I had read that artificial dyes are associated with hyperactivity, so I wondered in the dyes in the antibiotics could be the problem.  We also had a particular bad day on a day when I made the kids Rice Crispy treats.  Yep, you guessed it.  Dyes again.  The packaged marshmallows that I used had blue dye in them as well. 

We decided to eliminate dyes from the kids diet for two weeks to see if we noticed a difference in their behavior.  After only a couple of days, we saw a major difference in my son's behavior.  He is still a bit rambunctious at times, but the unprovoked hitting and pushing quit completely.  The relatively few instances of aggressive behavior since the diet change have been fairly normal instances of toddler frustration and tiredness.  Plus, we noticed that he responds much better to gentle reminders and correction than he did before the change.  On bad days in the past, redirection and time outs were completely ineffective.  I found that I just had to limit his interaction with other children on bad days.  While the changes in my daughter have not been as dramatic, her moods are becoming more stable with less weeping and fussing over minor issues.

In addition, we noticed that our daughter became extremely hyper after eating cheese.  Other diary products did not have any effect though.  After reading labels and searching for information on the ingredients, we discovered that some parents have found that their kids have a reaction to the "natural" annatto color commonly used in cheeses and other dairy products. After a recent incident with yellow cheese, my daughter was bouncing off the walls for several hours.  Then she went through a period of weepiness where everything imaginable brought her to tears leading up to a fit of rage with screaming and repetitively kicking on her door because I asked her to pick up a few toys.  The tirade finally ended with her in tears, shaking uncontrollably in my arms.  Once she calmed down, she went back to her normal, mostly agreeable self.

Needless to say, my family's diet is now gluten, dye, and annatto free! 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake

It's strawberry season!  We always had a strawberry patch growing up, and I have fond memories of strawberry picking.  I ate most of what I picked as I went and ended up with strawberry juice all over my face and shirt.  Another tradition was homemade strawberry shortcake.  My mom typically made a spongy, yellow cake to serve as shortcake.  While I live in the suburbs with my kids, there are still strawberries to pick at grandma's house, and they love buying fresh strawberries at the farmer's market on Saturday mornings.  I searched the Internet for a shortcake recipe that might allow me to share my memories of my favorite desert growing up with my own children.  I found this recipe that not only tastes great, but it also very easy to make with simple ingredients.  No trip to the specialty food store necessary.  I wasn't sure about the pinch of nutmeg, but it gave the cakes a great flavor.    


Although the coconut milk topping sounds great, I just used pre-made TruWhip.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Incredible Disappearing Banana Bread

My kids love banana bread!  Whenever I make it, it's gone within a few minutes.  Here's the gluten/dairy free recipe that I used this time.

Gluten, Dairy Free Banana Bread Deliciousness

The recipe calls for gluten-free all purpose flour.  I made my own blend with 3/4 cup of brown rice flour, 3/4 cup of sorghum flour, 1/4 of potato starch, and 1tsp xanthum gum.  I also found that it takes much longer to bake, probably more like an hour. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

No Fuss! Gluten Free Lunches for Kids

Now that the weather is nice, my kids prefer to be outside as much as possible which doesn't leave much time for meal preparation especially at lunchtime.  Here's a list of some simple ways to get the kids fed this summer.  I let my kids pick a fresh fruit or vegetable from whatever we have on hand to make each of these a meal.
  • Turkey Roll with Cheese - Simply a slice of lunch meat and cheese rolled up.  We like Dietz & Watson Deli Meat from Costco and sharp, white cheddar cheese.
  • Sunbutter Sandwich on Udi's bread - My kids love these, and it's great for picnics at the park.
  • Refried Beans and Tortilla Chips - Isadora Refried Beans are great.  Yes, you guessed it.  I found this at Costco.  They come in a microwaveable pouch and are ready in 1 minute.  My kids dip Kirkland Tortilla chips in them.
  • Hard Boiled egg, hummus, and crackers - My kids love roasted red pepper hummus.  Our favorite GF crackers are Crunchmaster Multi-Grain crackers.
  • Quinoa and Black Beans - This a great way to serve leftover quinoa.  No heating necessary.  I just mix together some quinoa and drained, black beans straight from the can.
  • Hotdog and baked beans - We eat Hebrew National Hot Dogs and Bush's Baked Beans.
  • Cheese Roll-up - I just melt some cheese on a corn tortilla and roll it up.
  • Rice Cake Sandwich - Just replace rice cakes for the bread in your favorite sandwich.  My teenage son loves to take these in his lunch for school.  His favorite is white cheddar cheese rice cakes with turkey and cheese.
  • Seed and Nut Snack Mixes - There are many of these available for purchase, but I typically make my own since we have multiple food allergies including peanuts.  I mix together Blue Diamond Roasted Almonds (No Peanut Cross-Contamination), pumpkins seeds, raisins, and Chex Cereal.  This makes a nice portable, protein and fiber source.
  • Greek Yogurt sprinkled with Chia Seeds
  • Cottage Cheese and Crackers