Food Porn: Pasta and Broccoli With “Cheese” Sauce

I’ve been lax about posting recipes and cooking tips, which is strange because the No. 1 recovery-process question I get remains, “What does Martin eat?” Many people still find it hard to fathom, in this day, a diet of minimally processed foods; focused on fresh and organic; free from gluten, dairy, corn, soy, refined sugar, and most grains or starchy vegetables; that includes daily bone broth and probiotic/fermented foods; with meat (other than broth) limited to one serving daily; and that is prepared 90% from scratch. I don’t blame them. Before I started this journey, I wouldn’t have known how to manage it at all.

Time to post a few examples of how breakfast, lunch, and dinner look for Martin. Exhibit One shall be this relatively simple vegetarian dinner, which our whole family, including pescatarian Adrian and vegan me, can enjoy: pasta with broccoli and “cheese” sauce:

FullSizeRender-4

The “cheese” sauce—you won’t believe me until you try it—is delicious. The recipe does call for potato, which we generally try to avoid; fortunately, the overall potato content ends up being low, on a per-serving basis. I happened upon the “cheese” sauce recipe when a friend posted the link on her Facebook page.

Of course, I make alterations. I generally try to soak and dehydrate the cashews before I use them, though I may not always manage. I like to replace the garlic powder with a clove or two of raw garlic. I also usually add an inch or two of peeled, fresh turmeric, throwing that root into the cooking water at the same time as the potato. (If you read several of these posts, you’re going to uncover a sort of turmeric leitmotif. I add fresh turmeric to almost everything—including (some) desserts and snacks.)

The pasta is Tolerant brand penne, which lists, as its only ingredient, red lentils. I love the idea of one-ingredient pasta, especially when the ingredient is organic red lentils. That being said, I do have questions about Tolerant, especially how exactly the lentils are processed into pasta, i.e., what the lentils undergo and how they eventually stick together. My friend Stacey and I once found Tolerant’s representatives at a food trade show and peppered them with questions about their processing methods; citing trade secrets, they wouldn’t reveal anything, so I still have concerns. Sometimes the best you’ve got is the best you’ve got, and right now, for pasta, I think Tolerant is the best I’ve got.

(Monday afternoons, Martin and I visit the organic grocery. He loves to run to the Tolerant aisle and yell, “Mommy, do we have enough pasta?”, then dump four or five boxes of the penne into my cart.)

Sometimes I add slivered almonds or pine nuts to this dish. In the version pictured above, the final ingredient was steamed broccoli. I cooked the broccoli before the pasta, saved the leftover steaming water, which absorbs some broccoli nutrients, and cooked the pasta in that water, hope to transfer those nutrients to the pasta. Long shot? Probably.

A tasty entrée that paired well with salad? Definitely.

ASD Recovery Recipe: Smoothies

Alert: This isn’t really a recipe. But it is a food post that could be construed as instructional, and it includes a colorful photograph. That’s recipe enough, right?

When we were vacationing in South America a few weeks ago, Martin and I paid several visits to the hippie-van-cum-juice-stand parked on a beach. Although the fruit and vegetables weren’t organic (organics are hard to find, in Adrian’s country of origin), they were fresh, and the lovely couple running the place created sugar-free (not counting the naturally occurring fructose) smoothies that Martin loved. I was inspired to try making smoothies at home.

Until now, I’ve been discouraged in smoothie endeavors because I can’t figure out when I would give one to Martin. He already has so many liquids in his day. Breakfast always includes 12 ounces of bone broth. For school I send a LifeFactory bottle filled with Fiji water and a splash of organic juice, which he drinks throughout the day. After school he takes eight ounces of camel milk with cinnamon. Then with dinner he gets another 12 ounces of bone broth. Whenever he wants it, I give him filtered water. Where would a smoothie fit in all that? As it is, half the day he’s got a straw in his mouth.

I’ve also wondered if the amount of sugar (fructose) is worthwhile, in comparison to a smoothie’s total nutritional profile. I thought about adding protein powder to boost that nutritional profile, but for Martin I shy away from protein powders, because even the best-quality organic ones seem fractured, or processed, or otherwise not complete foods. The South American beach folks, I noticed, were adding cashews or walnuts into smoothies without compromising the fruit flavor. Nuts! That’s like natural protein powder ground into the drink. Inspiration.

When we got home to New York, I decided to go for it. I found a time: Saturday morning breakfast. True, Martin has soup to drink. But we have a lot more time than a weekday before-school breakfast. Weekends I cook a big breakfast for Adrian and Martin: vegetables, eggs, fruit, avocado, nuts. It seemed like a fine time to add a smoothie. Here’s the concoction I devised:

kombucha, as liquid base

fresh berries

pineapple chunks

pre-sprouted cashews

fresh basil leaves, for the exotic touch.

Big success! Adrian loved it. Martin felt special. Henceforth, weekend mornings are smoothie mornings.

My first smoothie, with the ingredients listed in this post.

My first smoothie, with the ingredients listed in this post.

The second time I made a smoothie: Frozen organic berries, sprouted walnuts, basil, and water.

The second time I made a smoothie: Frozen organic berries, sprouted walnuts, basil, and water.

ASD Recovery Recipe: Egg Poppers

What to do for quick breakfast before school when a bowl of cereal or a frozen waffle is not an option? That’s a question I get from a lot of parents who are trying to manage a restricted diet.

For some time, Martin consumed only bone broth for weekday breakfast. He was okay with that, and so was I. Bone broth is filling and has protein. As long as I sent a substantive morning snack to school, he was fine until lunchtime.

The past few months, Martin has wanted solid food for breakfast. He will eat turkey bacon, but I’ve taken that off the breakfast list; I have Martin down to one meat meal per day, and right now the meat meal is school lunch. For breakfast, I look for non-meat items, preferably that I can prepare in advance.

Along come egg poppers, which my mother made Martin Thanksgiving week when I was sick. Martin doesn’t like to eat eggs scrambled, boiled, or fried. For whatever reason, when I cook the eggs into these “poppers,” he’s game. The poppers have other advantages, too. I can make them in advance in reheat them in the oven while he’s waking, and like meatballs, the poppers are a convenient place to pack vegetables.

Here’s the procedure:

Spray a stainless-steel muffin tray, liberally, with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Chop vegetables. Chop whatever you have that might work well with eggs. In my experience, including at least some onion makes the poppers more appealing. Mince everything well; tiny pieces help the poppers hold together.

Fill the muffin tray with a mix of vegetables. I have found that, if you don’t pack the vegetables, you can fill the cups almost full without the finished poppers falling apart. In this example, I started with red bell peppers and then added shiitake mushrooms.

photo 1photo 2

Next came carrot greens. My chef friend turned me onto cooking with the greens from fresh carrots. They’re delicious. On top of the greens I added red onion.

photo 3photo 1

Usually I would have stopped there. In this example, not yet. I have added limited portions of quinoa to Martin’s GAPS diet. That’s been a challenge, because Martin doesn’t like quinoa, much. It happened that, the night before I made these egg poppers, I had served quinoa with scallions, parsley, and white mulberries. I decided to pile some of the leftover quinoa on top of the veggies. My filled cups looked like this:

photo 2

Once your cups are ready, whisk ten eggs with a half-cup of camel milk (or whatever milk your family uses), add salt and pepper, and pour this mixture over the vegetables.

photo 3photo 1

You’re ready to bake. Put the whole tray in the oven. Keep an eye on the poppers. After fifteen minutes or so, they will “poof” into domes. Let them cook for another five minutes or so after poofing. That’s it.

photo 2photo 3

In these pictures, I made a dozen poppers, because I served them also to Martin’s cousins, who have been visiting. Martin eats only one per morning, along with two zucchini muffins or slices of banana bread (recipe coming), so when I’m cooking just for Martin, I make only a few poppers, which I store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to heart.

ASD Recovery Recipe: Holiday Cookies, or “Get Off the Freakin’ Goldfish Already”

Readers, are you sick to death of reading my goldfish creations? Are you bored of stories about GAPS almond-flour goldfish, or goldfish made with macadamias that are soaked, and dried, and pulverized?

I can imagine. I’m a tad sick of goldfish myself.

Here’s the thing: Martin will never get sick of goldfish. Like, never, ever. Our local supermarket has a Goldfish® holiday pop-up display right inside the front door. The kids at Martin’s school get Goldfish® as food rewards. The kids at our church share Goldfish® at coffee hour. One elementary-school parishioner has been spotted (by—you guessed it! —Martin) toting a giant carton of Goldfish® around the church gym, scooping out handfuls to cram into his mouth. It’s like my six-year-old is perpetually swimming in a sea of Goldfish® that only he can’t catch.

And so he fixates on goldfish crackers.

And so I spend whole afternoons in the kitchen, fulfilling his goldfish dreams.

Today brought an unintentional goldfish adventure. In a lovely little Facebook group called “Fun Food on a Special Diet,” someone posted a recipe for “holiday roll-out cookies” that turned out to be GAPS-compatible. With memories of mixing and refrigerating sugar-cookie dough from my Grandma Gennie’s recipe, then rolling it out, cutting, baking, decorating, I decided to attempt sugar(-like) Christmas cookies for Martin.

Here is the recipe I used:

½ cup ghee

1 egg

¼ cup raw honey

¾ cup coconut flour (more as necessary)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Combine the ghee and honey and beat until smooth. Beat in egg. Combine the coconut flour, baking soda, and lemon zest, then beat ¼ cup at a time into the batter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. Or use my lazy method: Pop the dough into a Ziploc®, smooth out air, and seal the bag before refrigerating.

After 30 minutes or more, place the dough on a parchment paper dusted with more coconut flour, add another layer of parchment paper on top, and roll out to about 3/16” thickness. (The original recipe called for ¼”; I went thinner, though not as thin as 1/8”.) Use cookie cutters to create festive holiday shapes. If you want, brush the top with egg white to create a shine. Transfer to a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

I suppose you’re wondering how this turned into a goldfish adventure? I got too ambitious with my cookie cutters, that’s how. Instead of traditional shapes like the Christmas tree and snowman I had as a kid, I picked up a set that involve cutting a circle and then stamping a design into the circle with a separate disk. The GAPS dough did cut conveniently into circles that I could transfer to the cookie sheet. On the other hand, the circles were too sticky to release the molded disk, even when I dusted it with coconut flour. That left me with boring circle cookies. How Christmassy are boring circles? I suppose I could have decorated them as ornaments, but as far as decorating goes, I didn’t have many ideas beyond softening up some coconut manna and trying to color it naturally to create icing.

When in doubt, goldfish the recipe. (That’s correct. I made “goldfish” into a verb. Deal with it.) I whipped out my tiny, copper goldfish cookie cutter and went to town. Then I dredged each goldfish in egg white, which I had sitting on the counter because I’d just used the yolks for homemade mayonnaise so that I can devil some eggs for Christmas Day because my son’s autism has magically transformed me into Martha Stewart. Once the goldfish were shiny from their egg-white baths, I sprinkled them liberally with cinnamon and baked.

The result? Cinnamon holiday goldfish cookies. At least that’s the story I’m going with.

The bonus? These goldfish don’t contain nuts, so I’m allowed to send them to school with Martin for a snack.

Autism Recovery Martha parties onward.

photo-18

ASD Recovery Recipes: Snack Tray, and a Bonus for Cara

In this post are recipes for homemade marshmallows, Grinch holiday fruit treats, mint-chocolate candies, berry gummies, and raw almond macaroons.

Martin’s super-tremendous play group rotates among the houses of the six participating kids. The host usually provides snacks. When we’re at someone else’s house, I let Martin have whatever fresh fruit might be available and also bring a just-in-case treat from his snack drawer. When we are hosting, I try to serve snacks that (1) Martin can eat, and (2) the other children, who do not follow special diets, also will enjoy. That’s not easy. Most kids don’t seem to be into homemade treats (Martin also prefers store-bought, packaged foods), and if something comes in a wrapper, they expect refined sugar, not date-sweetened nut bars or sesame seaweed.

Last Friday, for the adults (the parents who hang around, in a separate room, while the kids play), I served fruit and arugula-cabbage chips. I’d bought the chips originally for Martin’s snack drawer. He didn’t like them. I loved them, and last Friday so did the other parents. Perhaps arugula-cabbage chips are a more “refined” taste. In any event, if Martin had wandered by the grown-up table and helped himself to chips, we would have been fine.

For the kids I put together this tray:

photo-17

Pictured are Grinch fruits on toothpicks, mint-chocolate snowflakes, and gummy dinosaurs.

Marshmallows (and the Grinch)

The Grinch is a concoction I’ve seen floating around the Web, on a few sites. It was pretty straightforward to make—green grape, banana slice, strawberry, secured with a toothpick—until the pom-pom atop the hat. Each pom-pom is supposed to be a mini-marshmallow. I couldn’t find any commercial marshmallows that were GAPS-compatible, so I set out to make my own. I found a recipe on Food.com and modified it to come up with this:

1 tablespoon gelatin

¼ cup cold water

1 cup coconut crystals

another ¼ cup cold water

1/8 teaspoon Celtic salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coat the inside of a small glass loaf pan with a thin layer coconut oil and powder it with coconut flour.

Dissolve the gelatin in the first ¼ cup of cold water and set aside.

In a small saucepan, mix the coconut crystals with the second ¼ cup cold water and stir this over medium heat until the crystals dissolve. Then add the gelatin mixture and bring the whole thing to a boil.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly, then add the salt and vanilla and beat ten minutes or more, until doubled in size. Pour into the loaf pan and refrigerate until you can touch the surface without the marshmallow sticking to your finger. Cut into pieces.

At this point, the original recipe instructs to coat the marshmallow pieces in powdered sugar. I wasn’t about to do that. On the other hand, I did have to take some action before I made these bits into pom-poms; because I used coconut crystals as my sweetener instead of refined sugar, my marshmallows came out tan. Pom-poms are supposed to be white! I decided to roll them in unsweetened dehydrated coconut flakes. Not perfect. Close enough.

Mint-Chocolate Candies

The mint-chocolate snowflakes were the biggest hit, though in retrospect, I should have chosen smaller candy molds. They are too a rich candy for thick portions. I used a recipe I picked up at a Generation Rescue cooking presentation at Autism One two years ago (as very slightly modified):

3 cups shredded coconut

¾ cup honey

1/3 cup raw cacao or carob powder

3/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

½ cup finely chopped nuts

Blend the coconut in a high-speed blender until creamy. (I think many people would do this in a Vitamix. I love my Vitamix, but I don’t like to do too much for Martin with it, because the vessel is plastic. For this recipe I use my 14-year-old KitchenAid glass blender instead.) If necessary, add a teaspoon or two of coconut oil to facilitate the blending. Set aside.

Bring the honey to a very low boil and stir for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut cream and the remaining ingredients.

Quickly, before the mixture cools, pour into silicone candy molds. Refrigerate until solid.

The original recipe calls for pouring the mixture into an 8×8 pan and slicing when cooled. I have done that, too, using a glass pan. The candy molds are more trouble but add cuteness to the yumminess.

Gummy Creatures

The gummy creatures were the easiest to make. I got the recipe from the same Generation Rescue presentation as the mint-chocolate candies. To make berry gummies, cook fresh (or even frozen, though I’ve had better success with fresh) berries over low heat until they are fragrant and soft, not boiling. Allow them to cool slightly and transfer to a blender. With the blender running, add pure gelatin in a 4:1 berries:gelatin ratio; for example, if you have one cup of berries, add ¼ cup of gelatin. Immediately pour the mixture into silicone candy molds, wiping away any extra. Refrigerate until they pop easily from the molds. Store in refrigerator.

Raw Almond Macaroons

As I am pounding out multiple recipes in a single post, I am going to add one more, for Cara. She’s a mom whose son participates in Martin’s playgroup. Cara complains that I send treats for her three boys and then, when she asks for the recipes, never deliver. Cara has been waiting a while for this one, and in about ten minutes I am going to text her and insist that she read this post, so without further ado, here is the recipe for raw almond macaroons. All measurements are approximate and subject to change based on what’s in my kitchen at the moment of preparation.

2 cups almond flour

½-1 cup coconut oil

½ cup raw honey

½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened), plus more for rolling

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½-1 teaspoon Celtic salt

Mix all ingredients. Form into balls approximately one inch in diameter. If the dough is too crumbly, add more coconut oil or, if it can stand to be sweeter, add more honey. If the dough is too oily, add more almond flour. Roll each ball in more shredded coconut. You’re done! To maintain shape and freshness, these are best stored in the refrigerator.

Epilogue

About those marshmallows: After I finished making them, I thought, well, that was a lot of work for just the little Grinch toppers. Maybe I should have bought whatever best-quality organic marshmallows I could find and allowed Martin the tiny infraction of one or two. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried about any infraction. I forgot that Martin—he who once upon a time schemed to get his hands on bananas and ordered strawberries for dessert—recently announced that he no longer likes bananas or strawberries. He refused to touch any Grinch. And the other kids, the ones without dietary restrictions, looked at my tan marshmallows with coconut coating with suspicion and skepticism.

Second Epilogue

The woman who helps me with housekeeping has a daughter with food allergies and a son with social challenges, and as a result she is cautious with their food. During the week she happened to lament, casually, that she couldn’t find any acceptable marshmallows for their hot chocolate. “Did you say, ‘marshmallows’?,” I asked. I yanked my half-pan of leftover Grinch marshmallow from the fridge and cut a bunch of mini-chunks. She sampled one, proclaimed it delicious, and promised to report on whether her kids go for brown marshmallows. We’ll see.

ASD Recovery Recipe: Goldfish Crackers, Even More Complicated

When you read my exciting recipe for goldfish crackers, did you think I was crazy? Did you think, “This blogger spent two hours to make a couple trays of goldfish crackers. I’m going to do that, too. That fits right into my life.”

Guess what? I made more goldfish crackers, and I made them even more complicated still.

Nuts are GAPS-legal, provided they start raw (you can brown them yourself). The best way to eat nuts GAPS-style is to soak/sprout the nuts and then low-temperature dehydrate them, for digestibility.

Last time I made goldfish crackers, I used store-bought almond flour. This time, I thought: I’ve got raw macadamias. I’ve got a sprouting jar. I’ve got a dehydrator. Let’s party.

I used the same recipe (doubled). Instead of using commercial almond flour, I soaked several cups of raw macadamias in Fiji water overnight.

photo 1photo 2

The next day, I drained and rinsed the nuts and transferred them to my dehydrator.

photo-13

They took forever to dry at 115 degrees. I had to leave them in the dehydrator more than 24 hours.

That brings us to day three. I removed the soaked and dried macadamias and started grinding them in my Vitamix . . .

photo-14

. . . which didn’t work out so well. The stuff at the bottom turned into pasty nut butter before I could pack down enough of the sides to become flour. After a quarter-hour of arguing with the Vitamix, I decided to finish the job with my trusted coffee/nut/seed grinder. I could grind only, like, ten nuts at a time, but the easier access to the blades and bowl made the job manageable.

photo 1

When the process was finished, I had about three cups of macadamia flour. It was still kind of creamy, and not powdery at all; if I hadn’t been using it immediately, I would have refrigerated the product and not kept it more than a week. In order to make a double recipe of goldfish, I needed four cups of flour, so I supplemented with Bob’s Red Mill natural almond meal, which is a good product but neither organic nor sprouted. (Hint, hint, Bob Moore.)

At last I was able to mix my goldfish dough. Then, sprinkling more almond meal to prevent sticking, I turned my counter into a goldfish factory again.

photo 2photo-12

This round, however, I did not bother making eyes and mouths on the goldfish. Etching those details with a wooden toothpick consumed so much time, and I’m pretty sure Martin, as he chewed goldfish by the handful, never noticed whether his crackers had faces.

Total prep time: two days, plus three hours grinding, mixing, rolling, and cutting.

Total time goldfish crackers lasted before Martin ate them all: one week.

Next time, if I need to supplement the flour that I make, I will try using Blue Mountain Organics sprouted almond butter instead (there are various sprouted nut butters available commercially; usually I select the one I find first), and maybe decreasing the olive oil to compensate for the oilier product. As healthy as the current batch is, I can always do better.

(Now might be when you revisit the final paragraphs of “My Beef With the GAPS Diet Author,” wherein I asserted that my mental health is strong . . . .)

ASD Recovery Recipe: Goldfish Crackers

Martin attends first grade now, in a self-contained special-education school for speech- and language-delayed pupils. The school, which is private, meets Martin’s needs in pretty much every way I can imagine. The curriculum is designed by speech pathologists; the student-teacher ratio is small enough that Martin, despite his attention trouble, has never needed a 1:1 aide to keep up; social skills are integrated into lessons, lunch, and recess; and the class comprises academic high-achievers.

If you put a gun to my head and told me to make a complaint about the school, I would say this: Martin’s teachers use “food reinforcers.” The first week of the term, we parents received a permission form, asking whether our child could eat popcorn, Goldfish® crackers, Skittles®, or M&M’s® as rewards for behavior and hard work. In Martin’s case, of course, the answer was no, no, no, and no. Instead I sent some go raw brand “chocolate super cookies” for the teachers to give Martin.

The go raw cookies have worked well, in terms of rewarding Martin in school. Nevertheless, Martin has become fixated on the treats his classmates receive, specifically, popcorn and Goldfish® crackers. Every day Martin asks me, repeatedly, “Mommy, does popcorn make my belly hurt? Can you make popcorn not make my belly hurt? Mommy, can I have Goldfish crackers? Can you make Goldfish crackers not make my belly hurt?”

Popcorn I can’t do anything about. Organic or otherwise, it’s not GAPS-legal.

Goldfish crackers? There, I’ve been thinking, I might have a shot. First, I went on-line and ordered a teeny-tiny goldfish-shaped copper cracker cutter. Not kidding. Then, I began searching for a recipe that was, or that I could make, GAPS-legal. This turned out to be much more challenging than procuring a teeny-tiny goldfish-shaped copper cracker cutter. Every GAPS recipe I found included cheese, which Martin cannot have. I struck out also when I Googled Paleo goldfish cracker recipes; by and large, they container butter, or arrowroot powder, or some other ingredient anathema to Martin. I found one recipe ridiculously labeled “gfcf/vegan” when the first ingredient was whole-wheat flour.

At long last, on the delighted momma blog, I found a recipe for “Flourless Cheez-It Crackers” that I could adapt. The ingredients, as listed in the recipe, are almond meal, nutritional yeast, egg, sea salt, coconut oil, and lemon juice. (I had to do a quick search of whether nutritional yeast is GAPS-legal, as I haven’t used it since putting Martin on full GAPS.) I substituted olive oil for the coconut oil, for taste reasons, and increased the nutritional yeast slightly and doubled the sea salt. Here was the recipe, as I prepared it (with 100% props to delighted momma):

  • 2 cups almond meal, which became slightly less when I sifted it for texture
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tsps nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of one fresh lemon

Combine sifted almond meal, nutritional yeast, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, oil, and lemon juice. Combine the two bowls and stir well by hand. Roll out the dough on a stainless-steel cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (I also dusted the parchment paper with more sifted almond meal, to make it easier to move the crackers once cut.) Cut the dough into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the crackers are dark and crispy.

The delighted momma blogger proclaims, “This was a breeze!” I have to guess that her experience was breezy because she did not take the teeny-tiny goldfish-shaped copper cracker cutter route; she rolled out the dough and cut it into squares. My experience involved rolling and re-rolling dough as I pressed the goldfish shape repeatedly, transferred each cracker on the parchment paper, and then used a toothpick to fashion a fisheye and smile.

Total time investment? More than two hours for two sheets of goldfish.

Worth it? When Martin arrived home from school and saw my second sheetful about the enter the oven, he asked, “What are you doing?” I could see from his face that he knew, full well, what I was doing. I showed him the goldfish that were already baked and offered him one, which he took and ate, as both of us melted with delight. Totally worth it.

Postscript: I can’t send the homemade goldfish to Martin’s school, because the school is nut-free. So if you put another gun to my head and told me to make another complaint about the school, I guess I might say, “I’d sure like to send nuts.”

photo-7

ASD Recovery Recipe: Mustard Mushroom Boats

“Mustard Mushroom.” Say that ten times, fast.

Let me begin with full disclosure: Martin ate these mushrooms begrudgingly, and did not like them. C’est la vie. Mushrooms seem to have some beneficial effects for ASD kids. (Again this year, Autism One has a seminar on the topic.) Unfortunately, Martin doesn’t like to eat mushrooms. My go-to method is mincing mushrooms and cooking them with lentils, which are GAPS-legal. Also on the lookout for new ideas, I found a recipe on-line for stuffed mushrooms with mustard (his fave) and altered it to include the base ingredients I had.

 12 crimini mushrooms

one apple or pear

¼-½ cup leftover meat

½ cup mustard

Dice the fruit, and the leftover meat. (I used turkey bacon.) Remove the mushroom stems from the caps, and dice the stems, too. I diced everything to about ¼-inch cubes. If I make this recipe again, I will dice smaller, which may make the “stuffing” more palatable. Sauté the mushroom stems in a bit of olive oil, and if the leftover meat isn’t already cooked, sauté that too.

Mix the stems, fruit, meat, and mustard, and fill the crimini caps with that mixture. I also sprayed the caps with olive oil, to give them a sheen.

Spray a baking sheet lightly with olive oil, and set the caps on that. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Some pictures are below. I’m thinking I could really use a “food stylist,” or at least a better camera.

This is the way the mushroom boats looked when Martin's meal started.

This is the way the mushroom boats looked when Martin’s meal started.

Before long the boats became more of a casserole, as I cajoled Martin to eat what were clearly mushrooms.

Before long the boats became more of a casserole, as I cajoled Martin to eat what were clearly mushrooms.

ASD Recovery Recipe: Coconut French Toast Bites

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe. I can’t take full credit for this one; my friend Stacey (she’s busy recovering her awesome six-year-old) gave me the idea of using Julian Bakery Paleo Bread (coconut) for French toast. I came up with the “coconut” and “bites” innovations, after Martin grew tired of regular French toast. (He hates all things breakfast. I think I’ve mentioned that.)

  • 1 slice Julian Bakery Paleo Bread (coconut), or other acceptable GFCF bread with a traditional texture
  • 1 egg
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground cloves
  • unsweetened shredded coconut
  • coconut oil

In a small bowl, whisk the egg until light and foamy. Add cinnamon and cloves to taste.

Cut the bread slice into squares, approximately ½” in length. Err on the small side when cutting, because the egg and coconut and oil will puff ’em up, and you don’t want “bite-size” to become “gag-size.”

Mix the bread squares into the egg. I let them saturate for a few minutes; this morning the bread soaked in egg while I prepared Adrian’s lunch.

photo 1

Meanwhile, heat coconut oil over medium heat.

Once the bread is full of egg, add some shredded coconut to the bowl and stir gently until the squares are coated with coconut.

photo 2

Fry the bites in coconut oil, flipping once.

photo 4

If you need some extra incentive to sweeten these up, try a few drops of a low-glycemic sweetener like coconut nectar or warmed Manuka honey.

photo 5

ASD Recovery Recipe: Super-Strict Snack

For eight weeks, Martin is on an extra-strict diet, as part of a final push against yeast overgrowth. You may ask, How could that possibly be, an extra-strict diet? After all, forget the extra strictness; Martin’s ASD recovery diet includes, well, almost nothing in the first instance.

But it’s true. For these eight weeks (as of today, we’re three weeks in) we’re shaving “almost nothing” down to “really pretty darned close to nothing.” No grains, no quinoa, no honey or raw agave nectar or coconut crystals, no winter squash or sweet potato, no sauerkraut or other fermented foods, no once-a-week pear. Martin is subsisting on dark green vegetables, cauliflower, summer squash, lemons, ginger, turmeric, nuts, seeds, eggs (not chicken eggs), and meat.

Martin’s school asks that I send cookies/treats with him each day, as the children often receive snacks for positive reinforcement. I tried a couple recipes for unsweetened hazelnut cookies, which flopped—returned home in Martin’s steel snack container, crumbled and sad, accompanied by a teacher’s note that Martin just didn’t like them.

The recipes thus proven fruitless, I was left to sally forth alone in pursuit of a snack he might enjoy. And soon I hit pay dirt, big time. Martin goes bonkers for these “nutty bars.” (Why must I conjure a cutesy diminutive name for everything from snacks to body parts? No idea.) I’ve tried the nutty bars myself, and they really aren’t bad, unless you consider incredibly fattening to be “bad.”

almond butter, lots
unsweetened cocoa powder
bee pollen
unsweetened coconut flakes
some combination of cacao nibs, sesame seeds, and/or hemp seeds

The almond butter is the base. (Hazelnut butter works well, too, but it tends to be much more expensive.) Mix in enough cocoa powder to give the almond butter a dry consistency, keeping in mind that too much cocoa powder can result in a bitter taste. Then add the combination ingredients and a generous helping of bee pollen and coconut flakes, both of which give the bars a sweet edge without adding sugar. You may find it easiest to use your hands to mix in these final ingredients, in a kneading motion.

Press the mixture into a small glass storage container, cover, and refrigerate. Cut into bars.

Note that these need to be kept cold, or else they can morph into something resembling pudding, which is still tasty but less convenient. I send Martin’s nutty bars to school with a cold brick in the container.