Wednesday, March 30, 2011

GF Cookie Mix

Tonight, on a whim, I grabbed a box of GF cookie mix and decided to see what my little boy thought of some "new chocolate chip cookies." From what I can tell, this is a fairly common brand, as I see it in pretty much every store's GF section, no matter how small. 

So, this is defenately not a "from scratch" recipe, but as I am completely new to the GF lifestyle, I figure I have to give everything a chance.

First bite, you can tell he's unsure.

These cookies cooked up really well. They ran quite a bit, so they became large and thin, but they are so chewy (which is a total positive in my book).  The main flour used in this recipe is rice flour, which, as a rule, I find off-putting when not cut with any other flour or starch to create a more pleasant texture, but it worked fine in this mix. The true test was whether or not my picky little man would eat them.

 It took two tries, the first time he picked up a cookie, took a small bite, and fed the rest to Nathan. But hey, he touched the cookie, which is a huge first step! He also tried a bite without gagging, which is very encouraging.  A few hours later I offered him the platter of cookies again and he actually picked up a cookie and ate the whole thing!

For some of you, this may not seem like a big deal. Woohoo Melissa, your kid ate a chocolate chip cookie. What 2 year old would turn that down?  Uuuhhhhh, mine would.  And has. Plenty.  Corban is terrified of food, anything that has to be bitten or actually chewed is often pushed away with shrieks of panic.

I wish my son would eat veggies and lean meat (actually, meat of any kind at this point would be exciting).  We are working on his feeding/texture issues and are looking forward to the day when he eats what we eat.  For now, he is primarily eating yogurt and drinking PediaSure, so we rejoice over his willingness to chew a cookie.  
He must have liked it, it's almost gone!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


So far the goldfish are a no go. Corban is not fooled.  He has barely looked at them. He refuses to touch them, and he gagged when I put one close to him.

I was so sure he would love these.

Don't worry, I am not giving up.  I will try an alternate recipe in a few weeks and in the meantime, maybe he'll miraculously decide to give these yummy little guys a try.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First Successful GF Recipe!

Tomorrow afternoon, at snack time, I will officially be my son's hero.

Fishy Crackers!

Look at what arrived in the mail today! Isn't it the cutest little thing?

When I heard Corban's diagnosis last Wednesday, I knew that his "Fishy Crackers" were going to be the biggest hurtle.  The boy loves his fishy crackers.  I have looked at various stores over the past few days and surfed the web, but have found no GF substitute for his beloved fishies.  However, I did find a tried-and-true gf goldfish recipe at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom. She also provided the link to a website that sold these adorable little copper fishy cutouts!  I know I have said it many times already, but these are just the cutest little cookie cutters I have ever seen! 

The recipe she uses on her website was taken from Robin Ryberg's Cookbook titled  "You Won't Believe It's Gluten-Free! 500 Delicious, Foolproof Recipes for Healthy Living!" Now, since I am completely new to the whole GF thing, I obviously don't yet own this book. But I hoped Robin knew what she was talking about and planned to use her recipe as soon as I received the cookie cutter in the mail.

Cutter in hand, I hurried back to the house, asked Nathan if he would mind being on "Corban duty" for the rest of the night and went to work assembling the necessary ingredients.  It is a short list and a very simple recipe, so it wasn't long before the oven was pre-heated and I was on my way to being my son's hero! 

The Recipe goes as follows:

4 oz. Cheddar Cheese, shredded
4 Tbs. Butter
3/4 c. Cornstarch
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tbs. Milk
Topping: salt, dried herbs or spices if desired
  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  • Combine all the ingredients, except the milk, in a medium size-bowl. Mix until the mixture resembles a fine crumb. Add the milk and beat well.
  • On a lightly greased surface, pat or roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut into 3/4 inch squares or another small shape that you like.
  • Prick the tops of the crackers with a fork and sprinkle lightly with your desired topping (I just used salt). Bake on the prepared baking sheet until golden brown and crisp, approximately 10 minutes (I cooked mine for 9). The crackers will be light and crispy, although barely browning at the edges. The bottom of the crackers will have a bit more color.

Here was my final result. 

Here they are nestled happily in Corban's fishy.

These little fishes have a great flavor! They taste so cheesy, and I can feel really good about Corban eating them because they are made with real sharp cheddar cheese, whole milk, and real butter.  There is a ton of protein and flavor in each of these little guys.

But, without a doubt, I made one very big blunder- I didn't roll the dough flat enough. These guys are thick! They resemble little cheesy fish biscuits more than crackers. And I can tell you, with the spotted coloring and the thickness, Corban was not in the least bit fooled.  He reached his hand hungrily into his fish, and recoiled as soon as he spied the "crackers" inside. He moved away and didn't look back. 

So, I will try this recipe again (like, as soon as I am done typing). But, this time I am going to make sure the dough is really thin, and I am going to add some food coloring so that they more closely resemble the goldfish his little taste buds are missing.

As a cheesy snack, these little guys taste great!  But, because I am trying to trick him into believing they are the fishy crackers he has come to love, I will definitely need a take 2.

Stay tuned!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Very Productive Monday

Today, while Corban napped, I designated the top food shelf in our pantry to his GF foods.  Over time, and as Corban begins to eat more of the same food we eat, I assume our diets will all become mostly GF. Nathan and I may have a secret indulgence stashed here or there, but in order to keep Corban healthy, I'd like to eliminate as much gluten as possible in our diets as well.  Until that time, this top shelf is keeping all of Corban's foods safe and sound.

I have found a GF flour substitute on another website that has great reviews, so I have purchased all of the ingredients and will be making it soon. Once I do, and taste it, I will also post it here.  Giving credit where credit is due, of course. The author says it is a great 1:1 substitute for conventional wheat in most recipes-- except for making bread.  Since I have also found a great GF bread for sandwiches, I don't expect that to be a problem right away.

I wasn't the only one who made a great effort in our new GF lifestyle today. Corban did something almost unthinkable-- he asked for a piece of toast!  It may have been inspired by the fact that I bought him his very own toaster (specially for the GF bread) this morning. But, whatever the reason, after he woke up from his nap, he asked for a piece of toast.  I was excited to try the new GF bread we purchased (by chance) a few weeks ago at Costco. So, I pulled it out of the fridge and handed a piece to Corban to pop in the toaster. 

Now, don't get too excited. For those of you who aren't familiar with Corban's hate-hate relationship with food, actually asking for a particular food by name is only step 5 in the 10 step process to get Corban to willingly take a bite of any particular food.  So, when the toast popped up, I enthusiastically buttered and cut it and placed it before my adorable son, all the while promising him how yummy it would taste.  Of course he immediately rejected it. He didn't even touch it.  But, he did spend the next several minutes talking about the toast, pointing to the toast, and pouring cinnamon on the toast.  This may sound like a ridiculous waste of time (and pricey bread), but I promise, this is progress in Corban's World.

The bread we purchased is from Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery, we bought all three varieties, but the one we tried today is their multi-grain loaf. First I have to say, this was my first experience with GF bread, and it was toasted (I imagine the texture would have bothered me if I had tried to eat it right out of the bag), but this stuff is good! Like, so good that I actually look forward to Corban rejecting his daily piece of toast in the weeks to come, so that I can continue to eat it. It was moist, very porous, and had great flavor. The ingredients are listed as follows:
Water, potato extract, rice starch, rice flour, sorghum flour, organic high oleic sunflower/safflower oil, organic evaporated cane juice, organic honey, egg whites, organic inulin, yeast, sea salt, xanthan gum, organic cornmeal, organic sunflower seeds, organic millet, organic flaxseed, organic molasses.
Also, this weekend we went to both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods in search of GF foods for Corban. Aside from some certified GF chocolate chips, Trader Joe's was a complete disappointment.  Whole Foods was a different story. I found- and purchased- all sorts of exciting and tasty-looking treats that Corban will reject over the coming weeks. I am looking forward to him branching out and trying these foods in the future, but as I try them I will also review them here.  Another "kudos" to Whole Foods for having coupons available to print directly from their website.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Plan

Corban's situation with gluten can be compared to a person with a severe peanut allergy. I have heard of people who are so allergic to peanuts that simply being on an airplane where they are served as snacks can cause them to go into anaphylactic shock and die.  While exposure to gluten will not cause Corban's airways to swell and prevent him from breathing, it is just as dangerous and deadly to his system. Consuming gluten actually causes Corban's body to turn on itself, specifically, the villi in his small intestine. The job of villi is to help your body absorb nutrients from the food you eat.  So, when his body attacks its own villi, it prevents them from extracting nutrients from his food. This has been the cause of his vomiting after meals, severe pain, and lack of weight gain that has lead to his being diagnosed with failure to thrive. 

So, it is very important for Nathan and I to understand what we are looking for and looking out for when we are shopping for food.  Foods that don't contain gluten but are processed in factories which also process food containing gluten can devastate our sweet boy's body. This means that food has to be certified gluten free, if it's not certified, this mama isn't buying it.

In the future, I believe creating gf meals for Corban will be easier when I can use raw ingredients to make healthy, home-made meals (as I do for Nathan and I every day).  But right now, Corban's picky taste buds only accept overly-processed, sugary foods.  Until Feeding Therapy helps him expand his palate, he is still only eating yogurt, anything chocolate, and drinking his meal replacement shakes.  Thankfully, his shakes are gluten-free. I had a minor panic attack when I considered that his main source of nutrients may not be allowed with his new diet.  Thank goodness they are!

I have decided to go back to offering certain new foods every day for him to try.  I want to offer him buttered toast every morning at breakfast. I know he will flat out reject it at first, but I am hoping that as he sees it every morning, eventually he will try it out of curiosity. This worked with a few different types of cereals before we found out about his celiac disease.  We purchased 3 different types of gf breads at Costco and I plan to offer once slice every day. (In order to keep the gf toast safe for him, I need to purchase a second toaster just for Corban's bread. This will prevent cross-contamination from our evil bread riddled with gluten.)

Also, I want him to start eating vegetables again.  So, I will start with offering him green beans at every dinner.  Just a small dish on the side. I know he will scoot it away, and may even gag at the site of the beans at first. But again, I am hoping that eventually his curiosity will get the better of him.

Currently the only fruit Corban will eat are bananas. And he will only eat them about 50% of the time they are offered.  He is very curious about apples, but thus far his fear of new foods has kept him from actually biting into one. So, at lunch I will offer him apple slices.  I think he will take this bait before any of the others.

I hope these simple actions, as well as engaging Corban in Feeding therapy, will open up a new world of food for him.  I just want to get him to the point where he can eat what we are eating, like any normal 2 year old. 

For now, here are the foods Corban was eating that he no longer can because they contain gluten:

Pepperdige Farm Goldfish Crackers
Baby Oatmeal
Nestle Quick
Some flavors of Gogurt
Everything chocolate

I'd like to find a substitution for his goldfish crackers, but have so far been unsuccessful.  He asks for them several times a day and Nathan and I just say, They are all gone, buddy. Poor kiddo, he loved those things! There are plenty of chocolate substitutes on the market, not that he needs them; and there are quite a few gf hot cereals as well.  Gogurt offers gf flavors. As far as the Quick goes, I could just purchase Hershey's syrup, or I could use this as an excuse to...wait for it...just give him plain old milk.

As we work to convert our home into a gf zone I will post the products I purchase and give you my reviews. It will be a while before I give you Corban's reviews, I have to get the little guy to try the stuff first!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What is Celiac Disease?

Are you tempted to say that Celiac Disease, or Gluten-free diets, are nothing more than the "in" diet fad? You could not be more wrong. 
You think this is something that Corban will just "grow out of?" Nope. 
I am beginning to educate myself on the seriousness of his disease. I have a lot to learn, but I will share the basics of what I know so far:

Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.

Celiac disease is triggered by consumption of the protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the finger-like villi of the small intestine. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment. Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer. - Did you see that? Because I sure did.  Untreated, celiac disease can cause cancer in my sweet, beautiful, little boy! Now do you see why this must be taken seriously.

Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can present in a variety of different ways. The disease can be diagnosed using a blood test and confirmation biopsy. The only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. - Corban's celiac was diagnosed following an endoscopy, where the tissue of his small intestine was biopsied. It was also confirmed through a blood test.

Symptoms of celiac disease can include abdominal bloating and pain, diarrhea, vomiting, poor weight gain or failure to thrive in young children, weight loss, fatigue, irritability, depression, mouth sores, late puberty, and skin rashes. Corban's symptoms were/are vomiting, pain, and poor weight gain/failure to thrive.

  1. One in 133 Americans have celiac disease.
  2. Three million Americans across all races, ages and genders suffer from celiac.
  3. 95% of celiacs are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
  4. 10 years is the average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed. -I am learning Corban was lucky to be diagnosed so quickly.
And the 2 most important things I have learned about Celiac Disease are:
  • There are NO pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease.
  • A 100% gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for celiac today.
And those two reasons are why I have started this blog. I need to do everything I can to educate myself in order to keep my son healthy and safe.  After all, I'm his mommy, it's in my job description!