Rachel with son Nicholas

Welcome to my blog about how “eating differently can still be delicious”. The Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet (also known as the GFCF Diet or the Autism Diet), is not new but is gaining in popularity. Many parents of children on the Autism Spectrum have seen dramatic changes in their children after switching to this diet. As the mother of a son with Aspergers, I can speak from experience on this topic.  To read more about my story and background, please check out the About Me page.

This blog contains GFCF recipes, tips on how to follow the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet, as well as product and restaurant recommendations. I encourage you to check out the FAQ section if you have questions about this diet or any of these terms. Please also feel free to Contact Me with specific questions as well.

sloppy_joe_skillet

This week’s recipe at Stockpiling Moms is Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Sloppy Joe Skillet. This is the gluten-free, casein-free answer to Hamburger Helper; one-dish cooking that’s healthy! I used grass-fed ground beef and organic potatoes, an organic onion and even organic tomato paste to make this tasty dish. Nicholas enjoyed it very much and said it was easily 100 Thumbs Up! It was also excellent for leftovers for lunch the following day.

Arsenic is a substance known to cause all sorts of health problems in people and animals the world over.  It has certain healing properties, but like many other organic substances, it can have detrimental health effects in large enough doses.  Like cyanide, with regular and long enough exposure, it can cause similar health effects over time.  Unfortunately, the dangers of arsenic in food supply stores are quite real, and one of the leading culprits is rice.

Just How Bad is the Problem?

The arsenic is measured in micrograms, and it has been shown that approximately 50 micrograms per liter in water is enough to start causing cancer concerns over time.  Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to eliminate it from the diet altogether.  Not only is it a natural substance in the earth, but the concentration levels increase in areas with a lot of vehicle traffic or where unclean energy sources like coal is burned.

Basmati and other aromatic types often have far less per cup than other types.  Interestingly enough, the types imported from places like Thailand and India often contains less than the same types produced in the United States.  Some White Basmati from India contains so little per serving that it is barely traceable.  The same grown in California contains around 2.3 mcg per serving.  Non-basmati types can contain as much as 11 mcg per serving.  That whole grain brown may not actually be that great after all.

Alleviating the Dangers of Arsenic in Food Supply

Rice is one of the few grains that work well with a GFCF diet.  It is easy to substitute it for pasta as a side dish or main ingredient in many recipes, and the milk is a great substitute in recipes.  If arsenic is a concern, consider eliminating milk made from it and opting for almond or coconut milk instead.  To further lower the potential risks, rinse the grains before cooking until the water runs clear.  The mere act of rinsing can reduce the levels by about 25 percent.  Using triple the water during cooking can further drop levels by another 50 to 60 percent.  Simply drain off the excess water when cooking is complete as you would do with pasta.

However, make sure the levels in your water source are not very high, because that can negate or worsen any effects rinsing may have.  You can also reduce the amount eaten each week.  Have it once or twice a week instead of three or five times.  Finally, switching to other acceptable grains like quinoa may help too.  It is not necessary to completely remove it, but reducing the whole grains and eliminating processed rice products will go a long way in reducing the risks.

gfcf_croutons

Croutons…definitely one of those little “treats” that I miss from my days of eating gluten! However, here’s a super easy way to make your own at home.  I guarantee these are even better than the ones in the store and you won’t have to worry about eating any gluten. My son has stopped eating the crusts on his gluten-free bread sandwiches, so when I cut them off (prior to putting anything on the bread), I’ve been saving them and putting them in Ziploc bags in the fridge. Then, I repurpose them to be gluten-free croutons; a much better solution than wasting all that expensive gluten-free bread! And, ironically, Nicholas thinks these croutons are fantastic! He gave them 100 Thumbs Up.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Croutons (Nicholas Rating = 100 Thumbs Up)

4 slices gluten-free bread, cut into 1/2-inch size cubes (or the equivalent of leftover crusts)

1/4 cup melted ghee

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning blend

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, then add onion powder and Italian Seasoning and stir well.

Add bread cubes, stirring until all cubes are well-coated with butter mixture. Spread cubes on shallow baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, and bake for 10 minutes longer.

Cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes about 2 cups of croutons.

As I have said before, it’s tough to find high-quality, yet healthy, GFCF snacks for your family. This week’s review is of Mrs. May’s Pineapple Fruit Chips. According to the company website: “Pineapples are rich in bromelain, a group of sulfur-containing proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes that not only aid digestion, but can effectively reduce inflammation and swelling, and has even been used experimentally as an anti-cancer agent.” As many people who follow a GFCF diet know, it’s very important to eat natural foods that can help with digestion and/or reduce inflammation. And, here’s a product that can do both! Plus, there are only 40 calories in a serving and only 7 g of sugar (no added sugar).

mrsmayspineapplechipsMrs. May’s Pineapple Fruit Chips are one of 5 different flavors of fruit chips that the company offers. The other flavors are: Apple, Strawberry, Pear, and Mango. The only ingredient in the fruit chips is the freeze-dried fruit. There are no added nitrates or preservatives that often get put onto dried fruits. And, the package is small enough to fit in a purse or lunch bag very easily.

Mrs. May’s Pineapple Fruit Chips are tangy and just a tiny bit sweet. They have a nice crunchiness to them, but don’t taste like bland cardboard (as other brands of dried fruit often do). I’m actually not a huge fan of eating pineapple on its own because of the strong acidic flavors, but I enjoyed these chips and I would like to try their other varieties too. I think these freeze-dried fruits would also be an excellent thing to have in an emergency food kit since they can provide you with real fruit that won’t need refrigeration.

You can purchase Mrs. May’s Pineapple Fruit Chips at most grocery stores, natural food stores, and even shopping clubs like Costco.

Science does many good things for humanity. Computers exist which allow instant communication over great distances, enhanced learning and greater precision in almost every aspect of daily life. Cars are safer, and medicines can now do amazing things with safety. However, when science goes wrong, it really goes wrong. Genetically modified foods are a prime example of this.

What is a Genetically Modified Organism?

Genetically modified organisms are often referred to as GMOs. To genetically modify food, scientists learned how to alter the structure of a plant to give it certain properties. Some were made resistant to drought. Others were given the ability to stand up better to certain pests. Others yet require the use of specific pesticides during the growing season because, though the same pesticides act as a herbicide on other plants, they will not kill the crops modified to work with them.

The Problem with Genetic Modificationcrops

Pest-resistant crops and drought-resistant crops sound like they could actually be good things, right? It sounds fantastic as a theory, but in practice, it seems to be a different story. Not only is there some question as to what trace amounts of pesticides do to the human body, but it seems that genetically modified foods can cause some serious problems. In addition, the scientists have never been required to ever research what potential harm these new crops could do to humans.

Some physicians are going so far as to treat illnesses with a GMO-free diet, because they have found that these genetically-modified organisms tend to come along with higher rates of allergy and toxicity. A French study also found that GMOs are responsible for some huge tumors in rats. The scientists were not sure if the tumors were a result of the genetic modifications to the foods or the special pesticides needed to grow them. It seems that the problem is a combination of the genetic modifications and the specially formulated pesticides.

How to Avoid Genetically Modified Food

Unfortunately, it is not possible to simply read a food label in the United States and know whether the item contains genetically modified organisms. Some companies have volunteered that information on their packaging, but those are rare. There are calls for the FDA to require GMO information on food packaging, but as of yet, nothing is in the works.

So how can a person tell which foods are genetically modified and which are not? Thankfully, there is an effort underway to help people with that very thing. It is called the “Non-GMO Project,” and it is a database of foods that are GMO-free. Because evidence is mounting against the safety of foods with genetic modification and their associated pesticides, eliminating genetically modified organisms from an autistic child’s diet seems prudent. Doing so should help immensely, especially in terms of allergens and digestive issues.

And, if you live in a state that has a ballot item that is focused on creating labeling for all foods, please remember to vote! As consumers, we should have the right to know what we are consuming so that we can choose what foods we decide to eat.

More information at:

Genetic Roulette: movie

Food, Inc documentary (watch it free)

gluten-free, casein-free pupusas

This week’s recipe has a funny name, but a great taste. I found this recipe in The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook: Every Recipe Is Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nuts, and Eggs by Elizabeth Gordon. According to the author, pupusas are El Salvadoran street food. Besides being super easy to make, pupusas are also very versatile. I put refried beans inside these, but you could also use barbeque-flavored shredded pork or beef, a cheese alternative, or a combination of cheese alternative and beans. They freeze well so you can make a big batch and stash some away for later.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Pupusas (Nicholas Rating = 100 Thumbs Up!)

2 cups masa harina corn flour (NOT cornmeal); I used Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Corn Flour

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp water

Coconut Oil, as needed

1 cup vegetarian refried beans (or substitute bbq-flavored meat)

1 cup Daiya Cheese (optional)

Toppings of your choice: cubed avocado, salsa, shredded cabbage (optional)

1. In large mixing bowl, combine corn flour and water with your fingers. It should form a dough that is not thin and watery, but thick and moist. Press plastic wrap directly on top of dough and let it sit for 5 minutes.

2. Lightly oil griddle or large skillet with coconut oil. Preheat pan/griddle over medium-high heat.

3. While heating pan/griddle, form the pupusas. With wet hands, roll 2 Tbsp of the dough between your hands to form a ball. Poke a hole about a quarter of the way through the ball with your thumb. Press 1-2 teaspoons of your choice of filling into the hole, and form dough around the filling until it is a ball again. Then, pat the pupusa between your palms until it is flat like a pancake. The edges should be smooth. If the edges crack or look dry, add 1-2 Tbsp water to the dough.

4. Place the pupusas on heated griddle/skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes per side. Continue rolling and stuffing the pupusas until all dough is used.

5. Serve immediately with any toppings of your choice.

6. Leftovers can be stored in refrigerator in airtight container for up to 3 days. Or, you can place completely cooled pupusas in an airtight container with squares of wax paper between each one and freeze for up to three months. To reheat frozen pupusas, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place pupusas on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. Serve immediately.

I’ve been hearing about this book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, for a few months now. I figured it was probably a good book, but what I didn’t realize was that it would be such a great book! Admittedly, there is a fair amount of science talk in there that is tough to get through. But, there are also some amazing gems of information too. Personally, I think when you feel you might burst if you don’t tell someone about a book…that’s a good indication that it has made an impact on you!

 

So, what is it about this book that was so impressive? Well, Dr. Davis examines the history of wheat over the past thousand or so years and discusses how the introduction of genetically modified ingredients like gluten have really destroyed the essence of wheat. It’s true, the current wheat available is certainly not the same wheat that your grandparents ate. Now, you may have already discovered that for yourself. But, what he does explain rather thoroughly is how the ingestion of all this gluten-infused wheat is impacting society by causing so much inflammation and impacting diseases, particularly diabetes. Dr. Davis links all this “healthy, whole grains” hype with the intestinal and autoimmune damage that it is doing in all of our bodies. If you have diabetes, you’ll be intrigued to find out that those “healthy, whole grains” have a higher glycemic index than a Snickers bar!

 

In addition to all the science and background history about wheat/gluten, Dr. Davis talks about how his patients have had dramatic turnarounds in their own health because of eliminating wheat/gluten from their diets. (And, he even mentions that eliminating dairy along with gluten is a good idea too.) This is a great book to give a skeptical family member because Dr. Davis just doesn’t make claims and state his own opinion, he backs it all up with published studies that explain these exact findings about whole grains and autoimmune diseases. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, as soon as you can. I can think of a few family members that might find this under the tree for Christmas this year, too!

asian_chicken_quinoa

This week’s recipe at Stockpiling Moms is Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Asian Chicken. Don’t let the photo fool you…this is not a bland recipe! I know it looks pretty plain in the photo, but this chicken is full of warm, sweet, tangy orange flavors guaranteed to dance across your tongue. And, for having a lengthy list of ingredients, this recipe is actually quite easy to make. My husband volunteered to give the thumbs up rating on this one: 100 Thumbs Up! (He also took ALL the leftovers to work the next day; this is a compliment to me, for sure.)

 

There are three main reasons mainstream health professionals say human beings should drink a lot of milk.  The first is to get enough Vitamin D, the second is to get enough Vitamin A and the third is to get enough calcium.  Interestingly enough, dairy is not really a great source of any of these nutrients, and ingesting it can come with a whole slew of issues.

What is the Matter with the Moo Juice?

When shopping for food in the grocery store, it is important to make note of certain marketing terms.  One such term is “fortified.”  When a food product is “fortified” with any given nutrient, the food usually does not have a lot of that thing in it to begin with.  Milk is one such item.  In its natural pre-pasteurized state, it contains only trace amounts of Vitamin D.  A serving of whole variety has approximately 9 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A for an adult.  However, the reduced fat varieties contain even less Vitamin A.

Calcium is the third matter.  Most pasteurized varieties contain quite a bit of calcium.  The amount is usually around 300 micrograms per cup.  That is a good amount of calcium, but it comes with two problems.  The first is that the body needs magnesium with the calcium to digest it, and there is not usually enough magnesium to help with that process.  The second problem is that some studies have shown that this supposedly healthy liquid actually leeches calcium from the bones!  That completely negates one of the main reasons for drinking it in the first place.

Finally, for those who are trying to avoid casein for various reasons, including autism related issues to simply seeing if it is one of the sources of digestive distress, the drink contains quite a bit of casein.  There are generally six proteins in each variety of cow’s milk.  Of those six, four are casein.  That makes it terrible for a GFCF diet.

What are the Milk Alternatives?

Dairy is great for certain recipes, with cold cereals and a number of other foods.  However, because of its issues, it is often better to entertain the idea of using milk alternatives.  These are made out of several non-dairy foods, but the most common milk alternatives are:

  • Almond
  • Coconut
  • Rice
  • Soy

Two of the better types for baking and overall natural flavor are the almond and coconut varieties.  Most of these are interchangeable in every application with regular dairy.  Each variety makes great ice cream and, in the case of soy, a reasonable alternative to traditional cheese.  These are just a few of the ways to avoid moo juice while still enjoying the same recipes.

 

 

gfcf_shaved_ice

I know it’s October, but here in Southern California we’ve been riding a few heatwaves lately! So, I remembered I’d seen this recipe in the May 2012 edition of Sunset Magazine for “Ginger Shaved Ice with Apricots and Sweetened Condensed Milk.” I figured that it would be a fun time to try this recipe out.

One problem – it’s way past apricot season! So, I had to substitute peaches for the apricots. I think the recipe still worked and I hope you’ll consider trying it too.  (One word of caution: it’s not something you can whip up in a few minutes for dessert; this one requires some advance planning!)

The flavors of this are really amazing. You have the hot spiciness of ginger with the cool ice and the sweetness of peaches. Not your traditional ice cream dessert!

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Ginger Shaved Ice with Peaches (Nicholas Rating = 20 Thumbs Up!)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup coarsely chopped ginger (unpeeled)

3 peaches, sliced (or, a 15-0z can of sliced peaches in their own juice)

1/3 cup coconut cream

4 small mint sprigs (for garnish)

1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water and the sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove syrup from the heat.

2. Meanwhile, mince chopped ginger in a food processor. Then, add 3/4 cup of water to the ginger and whirl until juice gets extracted. Pour the mixture over a fine strainer set over a bowl and using a large wooden spoon, press the ginger to extract the juices.

3. Stir the liquid ginger into the syrup. Reserve 1/2 cup of the ginger syrup mixture and chill in refrigerator separately.

4. Pour the rest of the ginger syrup mixture into a 9 x 13-inch pan. Cover the pan with foil and freeze until slushy at edges (between 2 and 5 hours). Stir well with a fork, breaking up the lumps, then freeze until solid (overnight works best).

5. Meanwhile, stir the peaches into ginger syrup liquid, at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

6. Scrape the frozen mixture with a fork to make large flakes. Spoon ginger ice into bowls and top with coconut cream. Drain the peaches, then spoon over ginger ice. Garnish with mint sprigs.

 

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