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.”

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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.

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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.

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Fry the bites in coconut oil, flipping once.

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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.

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