ASD Recovery Recipe: Anything Pasta

So I’ve discovered that I can make a decent pasta meal out of anything “vegetable” in my refrigerator. Like, virtually anything.

Last night I planned to make white bean skordalia. By the time I discovered that I forgot to advance-soak the cannellini beans, I had only minutes to devise another dinner. I surveyed the kitchen and assembled these ingredients:

->Carrots, with their green tops. I always cook the carrot greens. Once when I was checking out, the supermarket cashier casually snapped off the carrot greens and tossed them in a garbage bin. I promptly commenced a lengthy oration on the benefits of carrot greens.

->Red onions.

->Garlic.

->Celery.

->Toasted onion salt. With Martin’s current low-salicylate diet limiting spices so much, I’ve been trying to get creative with salt.

->Pine nuts. I avoid the pine nuts from China. I’m not anti-China, but I am concerned with shortcomings in China’s food-safety schema.

->Green lentil pasta.

I prepped the carrots (greens and all) and celery in a vinegar bath, then cut them into pieces and put them in my food processor. October 13, 2011, I wrote a post titled, “Kitchen News: An Update on the Hunt for a Food Processor With Glass Bowl,” which (based on total unique views) is the most popular post ever to grace this blog. Five-and-a-half years later, I am still without a glass food processor. I processed the carrots and celery almost to a paste. Then I chopped the onions and garlic roughly and added them to the food processor.

While the pasta was cooking, I heated a generous amount of oil and fried the finely minced vegetables. When they were almost done, I added onion salt and a scoop of pine nuts.

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Finally I drenched the cooked pasta in cold water to prevent mushiness and added it to the veggie pan.

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The resulting dinner was pasta coated in lovely crunchy-garlicky bits. Martin said, “Oh yes, this is delicious!” and Adrian ate every last bit from the pan.

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Must remember—“night in a pinch” will henceforth be known as “garlic pasta dinner.”

Food Porn, Mardi Gras Edition

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, so this must be Fat Tuesday, the culmination of Mardi Gras. Tuesday afternoons Martin attends the kids program at our church. Last week, our pastor announced that he planned to serve king cake today.

When Samara, who had taken Martin to the kids program, informed me of this king cake development, I was weirded out. This isn’t New Orleans, and my church isn’t Roman Catholic. We are stuffy Northeastern Protestants. The last time I ate a king cake, I was a 22-year-old graduate student dating a Louisianan whose mother FedExed us the delicacy. (I recall that a Jewish friend found the Baby Jesus trinket, which subsequently was stolen by PeeWee the cat, who batted poor Baby Jesus mercilessly about the parquet floor.) On the other hand, Samara—who is not only Roman Catholic and of Latin American origin, but unable to see Martin deprived of anything—jumped all over the king cake idea. By the time I returned home Wednesday evening, from a mediation I was attending in Los Angeles, Samara had downloaded a recipe for “Paleo” king cake, invented her own sweetened cashew cream filling, and spent four hours baking this:

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We popped that base in the freezer. Yesterday I moved it to the refrigerator to defrost. This afternoon I created a frosting/glaze. In the Vitamix, I blended 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, 1/4 cup coconut cream, 1/4 cup cashew butter, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and 3 tablespoons raw honey. I spread that on the defrosted king cake:

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Next, I used an India Tree decorating set to color four bowls of organic shredded coconut:

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Finally, I sprinkled the dyed coconut onto the frosted king cake to replicate the traditional multi-colored appearance:

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Martin took the cake to church this afternoon and loved the treat. I’m not sure if I have Samara’s patience to make this every year, but a new tradition just might have been born.

Postscript: Apparently the pastor had trouble finding a local bakery in the business of assembling king cakes this year; by the weekend he had changed course and declared today’s kids program “pancake dinner”—the tradition much more associated with us uptight, Shrove Tuesday types. Of course, the pancakes were not Martin-approved, and the homemade king cake was already in my freezer. So while the rest of the kids had pancakes, Martin ate like a king.

At least he shared.

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

Let Us All Gather at the Table. How?

Sorry to be posting so much about food lately. Recipes. GAPS. Quinoa. Goldfish. Goldfish. Food and diet are what people ask me about the most. And now Thanksgiving is here, hands-down my favorite holiday. Like we did last year—since we have a house in the suburbs, we might as well use it for something—Adrian and I are hosting Thanksgiving in our home. At the table, along with me and Adrian and Martin, will be my mother, my stepfather, my brother Rudy, and a friend of Rudy.

The dietary breakdown—

Rudy’s friend: eats all foods.

Adrian and my parents: pescatarians, i.e., eat dairy, eggs, and fish, but no fowl or red meat.

Rudy and I: vegans, i.e., avoid all animal products, including eggs and dairy.

Martin: GAPS and casein-free, i.e., eats fish, meat, and eggs, but no dairy, grains (except for a smidgen of quinoa), refined sugar, or starchy foods like yams or potatoes.

Also, Rudy is allergic to most tree nuts. He can eat almonds and hazelnuts.

Try menu planning for this crowd. Go on, try! After much contemplation, I have decided that I will, for Thanksgiving, eat recipes that contain eggs. Rudy has agreed to do the same. With that, I think I have come up with a decent, if non-traditional, menu. Some of the recipes came from The Heal Your Gut Cookbook. Others I found on-line, on “paleo” or “no grain” websites, and modified the ingredients as necessary. The lentil-nut loaf calls for a special shout-out to The Simple Veganista and Oh She Glows. Finally, a couple recipes (mashed cauliflower and roast Brussels sprouts) are favorite old creations of mine.

My aim was to ensure (1) that everyone was happy and satisfied, and (2) that Martin could partake in every food on the table. Without further ado, here are the dishes I plan to serve, with ingredients:

Breads

almond flour zucchini bread

ingredients: almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, eggs, honey, banana, shredded zucchini.

coconut butter bread

ingredients: coconut butter, eggs, coconut oil, sea salt, baking soda.

pumpkin poppers (mini-muffins)

ingredients: coconut flour, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, eggs, cooked pumpkin, cooked carrots, coconut oil, honey, vanilla.

Main Courses

fish (for the non-vegans)

ingredients: not yet known; what fish I buy, and how we prepare it, will depend on which Martin-safe(r) fish is freshest and available.

lentil-hazelnut loaf (for the vegans, and anyone else who wants some)

ingredients: brown lentils, vegetable broth (I make my own), flax meal, olive oil, fresh garlic, onion, red bell pepper, carrot, celery, gluten-free oats (not GAPS-compliant, so I may look for a substitute), hazelnut meal, thyme, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Side Dishes

quinoa stuffing

ingredients: quinoa, squash, onion, celery, bay leave, fresh garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh sage, apple, raisins or dried cranberries, chopped toasted hazelnuts, apple cider vinegar, fresh parsley, cumin, olive oil.

garlic mashed cauliflower

ingredients: cauliflower, olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic.

raw kale salad

ingredients: curly kale, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, pumpkin seeds, red onion, avocado, salt and pepper.

roast Brussels sprouts

ingredients: Brussels sprouts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic.

Desserts

carrot cake with vanilla ice cream

ingredients: coconut manna, honey, carrots, cinnamon, shredded coconut, sea salt, baking soda, vanilla, eggs

ice cream: Raw Ice Cream (this has some raw agave and so does not comply entirely with GAPS; also, Rudy can’t eat it because it contains cashews).

chocolate pudding pie

crust ingredients: hazelnut meal, salt, baking soda, palm-coconut shortening, honey, vanilla

filling ingredients: avocado, honey, cocoa, apple cider vinegar.

Yes. I am going to try to prepare that menu. My mother and stepfather have already arrived from Texas, so I will get help from them. Still, if by chance I fail to blog any day next week, you will know why. When I ran the menu by Adrian, three nights ago, he said, “That sounds fantastic! You know what I think?”

“What?”

“I think if you’re going to pull that off, you’d better start cooking now.”