Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Muffins for Martians. (How to get carrots into your child!)

Before I had my lovely sons, I used to have couples over for Sunday brunch.  I always made sure that we had bagels when they came over. There was this lovely Bagel shop right by my house, Big Apple Bagels.  I didn't go there for the bagels, though, no way, I went for the dozen little muffins that came WITH the bagels.  They were fantastic and came in a variety of different flavors and textures.  Needless to say, I would eat the muffins on the way home and tell no one that they ever existed.  Seriously, that is how addicted I am to muffins!  Needless to say, my son, James (the one with Autism,) is a muffin maniac as well. The problem is, we had to make our own without dairy, wheat, nuts, bananas, honey, etc.  It took me quite awhile to create a recipe that accommodates his needs and that he would actually eat.  Not to brag or anything, but they are good!  The best part? They don't have gluten, dairy, nuts, bananas, honey, or even sugar!  Plus, they have carrots, applesauce, and a few chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. Without further jabber, here is my recipe for my carrot, applesauce, and chocolate chip muffins:


1 cup of white rice flour (I prefer Bob's Red Mill.)
Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground White Rice Flour, Gluten Free, 24 oz (1 lb 8 oz) 680 g by ClubNatural
1 small carrot, finely shredded
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of GF Baking Powder
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of organic applesauce
1 egg
2 tablespoons of Canola Oil
1/2 cup of dairy-free alternative (I use almond milk or Van's dairy-free, use what your child can tolerate.)
1/3 cup of Enjoy Life Foods Chocolate Chips
Enjoy Life Foods Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips 10 Oz

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and carrot shreds together with a spoon (Do not user a MIXER!)

Combine the canola oil, egg,dairy-free alternative, and applesauce together, stir into dry mixture.

Do not, DO NOT over-stir! A little lumpiness makes for a good muffin.  Fold in the Chocolate Chips.

Pour into muffin tin, should make a dozen regular-size muffins and about 20 mini-muffins, and six large muffins if you want to keep them all to yourself, MWAH-HA-HA!

Put on medium rack of a 425 degree F pre-heated oven for 18 minutes.  Let them cool a bit, as the chocolate chips might burn little mouths. Enjoy them with your beverage of choice.

I would love feedback on this recipe so let me know! Cheers and Good Luck!

Brownies are for Martians, too!

Have you ever tried the gluten-free, dairy-free brownies on the market? Terrible, aren't they? I actually think that they make them bad on purpose so we are forced to get slim. That is my theory anyway.  Because they are so mind-numbingly, waist-cinching awful, I decided it was time to make my own. So, I did, and they are chewy and good! Here is the recipe, I modified it from an old, very quality recipe. Don't make them if you are alone, though, you will eat the entire plate! Trust me! I have and was wracked with semi-guilt for the rest of the day.

Martian gooey-kablooey Brownies:


6 oz of Enjoy-Life Chocolate chips.
1/2 cup of ghee butter
2 eggs (or equivalent egg replacer.)
1 1/4 cups of organic brown sugar
2/3 cup of GFCF flour (multi-purpose, without baking powder.)
1/8 teaspoon of guar or xantham gum
1 teaspoon of baking powder. (Gluten and Aluminum Free!)
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla (the real stuff! Imitation is no good and often not gluten free!)

Some people like to mix in nuts, we can't, however, many nuts have Omega fats and are good for neurological stabilization and growth. (Makes you smarter, or so I have heard! :)
I prefer to mix in extra Enjoy-Life chips, or dried fruit, (organic, sulfite-free!) and sometimes, to be devilish, I pulverize the leaves of a bunch of kale and will add 1/4 cup to this recipe. Trust me on this, PULVERIZE! If you don't, they will find it with their incredible eyesight and pick it out! Kale has a wonderful flavor and is hard to discover with taste.  Don't use spinach, I don't care what other cooks say, kids taste the slight bitterness, trust me.  Kale is great because it provides calcium, B-vitamins, and Iron. These are things our kids lack. 

So now, to the recipe:

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and ghee butter. Let melt slowly and stir often.  Once they are completely melted and well-incorporated, scrape the vanilla bean, or add the vanilla to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon.

Now, lets incorporate the other ingredients:
In a tabletop or stand mixer, do the following:

Slightly beat the eggs, add the brown sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture becomes pale brown, almost tan. 

Sift the GFCF Flour, xantham or guar gum, and baking powder together. Sift this mixture into the egg/sugar mixture. (You don't want fava bean, tapioca, or rice flour lumps!) Mix until well incorporated, scrape sides as needed.

Now for the fun part, take this mixture off the stand, grab your sauce-pan of chocolately-goodness and poor it in, 1/3 at a time. After each pour, fold in with a spatula, gently. The mixture should look marbley or streaky. If it is all one color, you stirred to long and your brownies will be dry. Trust me, just fold it in well enough so there is not a big glob of chocolate in the middle.

Take an 8" square glass pan, cover it with the ghee and parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and stick it in a 350 degree F, pre-heated oven. Here is the tricky part, put it in for 37 minutes. My original recipe called for 40 minutes, but this is too long and the brownies fell apart. Don't worry if they seem undone when you pull them out, they will set up! After taking the brownies out, pull them out by the parchment paper. Put the brownies, parchment paper and all, on a cooling rack. After about an hour, (show some restraint!,) cut the brownies and eat! Enjoy. This is my son's favorite treat, and honestly, mine too. Good luck and cheers!

Spaghetti and Meatballs, Martian-Style.

This is probably the first big meal we created on the GFCF diet.  I am actually quite proud of it, for many reasons. The main reason, however, is that my grandmother created the original and I just modified it for James' diet.  There is nothing better than having a cherished family meal retained in this restricted diet.  I know that many of you have probably been through the, "We will never eat like we used to," Blues.  This is perfectly natural and perfectly right, of course.  The truth is, there is rarely a restaurant you will get to eat at anymore, McDonald's is out, for one, and so is Pizza Hut.  However, if you can retain some of your favorite recipes, they can be modified to become a close facsimile of the original.  Trust me on this, if I can modify my recipes, you can too! So back to my Grandmother's recipe:

I prefer to use ground lamb for this recipe, however, you can use ground beef if you prefer:

Spaghetti and Meatballs, Martian-Style


1 pound of ground meat.
1 egg, slightly beaten (with a fork, just make sure the yolk is broken.)
1/2 finely chopped carrot
1/2 finely chopped red or green bell pepper
1/4 finely chopped yellow onion
1/5 cup brown rice flour or GF cornmeal
1 tablespoon of flax seed flour
2 tsp of dry basil. (however, I use fresh basil, a good bunch chopped finely.)
1/2 tsp of oregano
1/4 tsp of herbs de provence mix (dry is good)
1 tsp of finely minced garlic. (not garlic salt or powder! it is often not gluten free!)
2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Grab a large bowl and hand mix the above until well incorporated. Grab a regular spoon and scoop out medium size balls of the mixture. Roll in your hands to create a meatball shape.
Place the meatballs on your baking sheet, give at least an inch of separation between them to allow the air to circulate and cook the meatballs thoroughly.

After all the meatballs are done, place the baking sheet in a 400 degree F oven, middle rack, for 20 minutes.

While they are cooking, get your water to boiling.  I prefer Tinkyada spaghetti, the texture is great and it separates well. However, if you like, there is also De Boles, Schar, King Soba, etc.  Salt the water really well! I usually boil rice pasta 2 minutes less than they recommend. The reason is that rice pasta is soooo starchy and I prefer aldente. I don't like pasta chunks!  Drain the pasta, don't rinse! This makes it hard for sauce to adhere to the pasta.

There are also many lovely pasta sauces on the market. I prefer to make my own and get bored with a simple marinara. There lovely thing about these meatballs is that they go with a variety of sauces. I have used Lemon-butter (ghee.), Swedish (GFCF, I will provide this recipe in a later blog,) and no sauce at all!  However, for this recipe, and with spaghetti noodles, I recommend marinara. 

Eden's Organic, Amy's, Seeds of Change, etc, are all very good options. Warm your pasta on the stove, don't microwave! You lose vitamins that are heat and microwave sensitive!

Take your meatballs out of the oven, place over the pasta, cover with the sauce, and voila! You have a fast and simple weekday evening meal.

I will do a whole discussion on sauces for those of you who want the weekend version. Good luck and I hope your little martian eats it up like mine do! Cheers!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why Autistic kids eat strangely. (Because they are not from this planet?)

I am a mother of an Autistic child. He is one of the most interesting people I have ever known. In fact, we get along great, mostly, with one exception.  I love food in all variations, cuisines, etc...and he would eat nothing but frozen waffles, french fries, and milk if he could.  In fact, for the first four years of his life, that is essentially all I could ever get him to eat, with the exception of a starburst here and there.  So, I worried and fretted about his dietary choices and started to take him to specialists.  I found an amazing group that tested him for not just allergies, but also food intolerances, deficiencies, etc.  (Not a big surprise that he had some!) After many tests and endoscopies, etc, a list emmerged of foods he should avoid for the sake of his health. The top offenders were milk, casein, gluten, wheat, peanuts, soy, and pineapple.  The total final list included 138 different food items. Needless to say, I had to act, react, and redact basically everything in my house. Sounds daunting, right? Well, I am not going to lie, it was. In fact, I still have nightmares that I am going to have to do that, again. However, we have since learned how to eat on his modified diet. Because he can't eat most foods that the average child would, I call his alternative diet the Martian Meal Dietary plan.  Because, honestly, it is out of this world what he eats. Now, being that it has taken me several years to perfect this diet, you would think I would selfishly hold onto it and not share. Well, you are wrong! I am going to share my recipes with other parents and/or other folks that have severe dietary restrictions. Many of these recipes do contain eggs, because oddly enough, this is not an item that my son has issues with. However, there are egg replacers on the market and a friend of mine actually said that duck eggs are a good replacement and less allergen-inducing than chicken eggs. So there you have it. I am going to post at least a Martian Meal and a Martian Dessert every week. I hope this helps all of you. Also, I will post all those lovely stories that may embarrass me, but perhaps you will enjoy. There you have it!