Food Porn: Weekend Breakfast

Depending on how much time I have, weekend breakfasts can be extravagant and, because on the volume of organic vegetables involved, expensive. I photographed my way through a recent weekend breakfast, prepared when we were all awake around 7:00 am but no one had to be anywhere before 11:00 am.

Dish No. 1 was sweet potato hash, and Dish No. 2 was vegetable scrambled eggs. First, I diced/processed my veggies and arranged them for those two dishes.

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In this photo, the middle mixing bowl contains the veggies for the scrambled eggs: carrots, garlic, red bell pepper, Jerusalem artichoke, and several sorts of mushrooms. Martin has declared that he doesn’t like mushrooms, so I sneak them in wherever I can; in this instance, the pre-cooked mushrooms will reduce enough that he doesn’t notice them in the scrambled eggs.

Also in the photo are—

a small glass of yellow “base,” which comprised onion, garlic, and turmeric root (there’s that turmeric again!), processed into a paste, which I put first into the pan, along with cooking oil (usually coconut);

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the diced sweet potatoes, which require the longest cooking time, so I added them as soon as the base became fragrant;

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onions and red bell pepper, which I add until well after the sweet potatoes, because they would have burnt before the sweet potatoes were cooked;

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and a glass of minced herbs, which on this occasion were parsley and sage, which went in last, just enough to heat them.

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When the sweet potato hash was about half done, I set the egg veggies to cook in coconut oil, separately.

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While both the sweet potato hash and the egg veggies were cooking, I prepped the vegetables for juice. I am very into juicing right now. Juice does have “all the sugar without the insoluble fiber,” which is not great vis-à-vis Martin’s yeast troubles. On the other hand, juicing is GAPS-approved and makes vitamins, minerals, and even enzymes rapidly available, which is terrific for those times when Martin is not so into eating vegetables. (Yes, even super-healthy-diet Martin behaves sometimes like an American seven-year-old.) On this morning, I made “green lemonade”: collard greens, celery, cucumber, kiwifruit, green and red apples, lemon, and turmeric. (Again with the turmeric!)

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Finally I juiced, added eggs and sea salt to the egg veggies, and served. For Adrian’s breakfast, I added a slice of toast, made from Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free bread.

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I think the Canyon Bakehouse product is good-quality, but it’s still too starchy and processed for Martin. So when Martin insisted that he too wanted toast, I substituted a couple Lundberg Family Farms Red Rice & Quinoa Stackers. Not perfect. Still a grain. Still processed to some degree. But these “toast crackers” made Martin happy and brought peace to breakfast.

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I don’t eat eggs. For my breakfast, I ate the sweet potato hash and drank the juice, and substituted the eggs with Fakin’ Bacon, which is spiced organic tempeh. I try not to eat too much soy; when I do consume soy, organic and fermented is the best way to go.

And I almost forgot: There was one more item that brought peace, and for me and Adrian, a lot of joy, to the morning kitchen—

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What’s Working Now

Are you familiar with miracle products?

I participate in various social media groups for parents with recovering children. Often, I see posts like this:

“We just started this [miracle enzyme, supplement, probiotic, oil, &c.] ten days ago, and I can’t believe the progress! My son is making consistent eye contact, he’s increased his vocabulary, and he finally potty trained! Today I got a note from his preschool teacher saying he is more ‘with it’ and making cognitive leaps. I’m kicking myself that we didn’t try this before now. Anyone having similar results?”

And then, comments like these:

Commenter 1: “Yes, yes, yes! [Miracle product] moved my son from babbling to words!”

Commenter 2: “We added [secondary product] to [miracle product], and the gains were even greater. We’ve been on them both for a month and will be continuing.”

Commenter 3: “This is all amazing! Where can I buy [miracle product]?”

Commenter 4: “[Miracle product] got my daughter into Princeton!”

Posts, and comments, touting a miracle product frustrate me.

Miracle-product proclamations frustrate me because autism varies from kid to kid. The health and immune challenges underlying autistic symptoms include, and exceed, neuroinflammation and other chronic swelling, mitochondrial disorder, genetic mutations, leaky gut, yeast overgrowth, oxidative stress, excess propionic acid. Autism exhibits disparate effects on cerebral function in girls versus boys. “Autism” is not a single malady and is never identical. That miracle product? Shoot a paint ball into a crowd. You’re bound to hit someone and splatter a few others. The rest will probably be left wondering what the fuss is.

I can understand that, if you’re thinking about trying a new product, you may want to post an inquiry about others’ experiences with the product. But given that the underlying disorders are child-specific, and that recovery means finding the right combination of many factors over time, why tout miracles? We parents of children with autism, we tread on hope. We’re easily led. When ten marvels in a row fail to help our kid, we end up embittered and broke.

Recovery from autoimmune disorder is a long, tedious slog without shortcuts. Sure, some families recover their children within a year, those lucky dogs. Most take much longer. Many children never get significantly better. The only miracle in autism is that, given our increasingly toxic world, we’re able to fight the spectrum at all. The amazing supplement, probiotic, or whatever, might indeed have given your kid the week of his life. That’s not a wonder. If you must tout a miracle product, don’t do it after a week, or a month. At least wait a year, then let us know if the developments continued, and speak in measured, child-specific terms.

Dear readers, are you wondering why I’m ranting? That was all an introduction to today’s post, which in comparison to its introduction, may seem brief. The topic is what interventions are working, right now, in combination, for my one kid, with his own particular combination of health challenges.

Following “Hard to Blog an Avalanche,” I received several inquiries about what I think has instigated Martin’s recent growth. Usually, when Martin improves and I’m asked why, I answer, “Don’t know. Obviously, something in the millions of things we’re doing is helping.” This year, I have a better inkling. I have seen five interventions correlate, almost certainly, with better health and/or increased speech:

1. Camel milk. Martin started drinking it this spring, and his language took off. Why? Too long for this post. Check back in a day or so to read “What’s the Deal with Camel Milk?”

2. The GAPS diet. I’ve written a lot about GAPS recently, and I’m also working on a post about how I don’t buy into everything that Dr. Campbell-McBride says. For now, it suffices to say that Martin’s digestion has improved.

3. Candex. We have battled yeast overgrowth, in one form or another, repeatedly since we began this journey. Going off just about every form of sugar helped, but only for a while. Nystatin did nothing positive. Earlier this year, poor Martin’s yeast was so bad that he clawed his skin raw. Finally, his biomed doctor said to try Candex, an enzymatic product. The same night he started Candex, Martin had a foul-smelling BM—yeast, I think, leaving his system. The next day, the skin rash began to clear. Since then, the candida has been under control, so much so that I’ve been able to add a little more fruit into Martin’s diet without worrying about the fructose feeding yeast.

4. Enhansa. Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy makes Enhansa, or curcumin, a derivative of turmeric. Martin suffers from chronic inflammation, which places undue pressure on his compromised immune system. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties seem to be relieving that inflammation, even to the point that his face has lost its “puffy” appearance. (The puffiness was visible only to me and others to whom I pointed it out in photographs. Still, it was there, and a symptom of his systemic inflammation.)

5. MitoSpectra. This is a proprietary mitochondrial supplement blend of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopherol succinate), vitamin B5 (panthothenic acid), L-carnitine, and coenzyme Q10. We have used each of the component supplements before, alone and in combination, and indeed Martin still adds separate sources of vitamin C and L-carnatine. MitoSpectra, however, seems to combine the five supplements in a form and proportions that do well for him: He shows more coordination and energy, and less “floppiness.” At times I wonder whether those improvements are dependent on continued use of MitoSpectra; my hope is that, as his immune system overall continues to heal, his own mitochondria will be able to assume the work MitoSpectra is now doing.

Camel milk, GAPS, Candex, Curcuma, and MitoSpectra. Not a miracle, not any one of them.

Each a step in this tortuous recovery path.

Just maybe a longer stride than I’m used to.

Increased energy, coordination, and willingness to try new things. I'm so into these changes.

Increased energy, coordination, and willingness to try new things. I’m so into these changes.

Yellow Fingers

As I see food, fresh is best for Martin. In most cases—cruciferous vegetables being perhaps the exception—raw foods beat cooked foods. I’ll take just-picked greens and just-killed meats, when available, over frozen. Fresh herbs are more beneficial than dried herbs.

So I was excited when my local natural foods store started carrying fresh organic turmeric root. It looks like ginger root, only more yellow-orange inside and less stringy. I bought a hunk yesterday and brought it home to use in Martin’s green pudding in place of turmeric powder.

The green pudding turned out better than ever, slightly sharper tasting, and I was proud of myself for incorporating a new ingredient.

A few hours later I discovered the downside of handling fresh turmeric. Friday night is date night. I was seated with Adrian in a wine bar, out of my mom clothes, feeling elegant in a smartly fitted dress.

Adrian watched me bring the long-stemmed glass to my lips.

“Yessss?” I drawled, seductively (I thought).

“Ummm—why are your fingers yellow?”

I checked. Despite several sound scrubbings, my fingertips and nails still bore the turmeric stain, a shade that is lovely in fresh root but rather jaundiced on flesh.

“Hey,” I said, “did I tell you how great Martin’s pudding turned out today?”