Monday, September 28, 2009

Flour-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I ran out of Kirkman Labs Pea Protein Powder this weekend and needed to bake snacks for the coming week for Doodle. I decided to snoop through my pantry for an alternative protein source for chocolate chip cookies. I dug out a jar of Almond Butter and decided to give it a try. I had made Peanut Butter cookies for the KId Friendly ADHD and Autism Cookbook and decided to adapt the recipe with Almond Butter and Agave Nectar. The original recipe called for a cup of Brown Sugar and I try to avoid using sugar in most of my baking. I substituted Agave Nectar for the brown sugar and came up with the following recipe.

Flour Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 14 oz jar of Almond Butter
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Dairy Free Chocolate Chips
1 Teaspoon GF Vanilla

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place Almond Butter in a medium sized bowl and blend at high speed for 2 minutes.
3. Add Agave Nectar, Egg, Baking Soda, and Vanilla. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes.
4. Stir in Dairy Free Chocolate Chips.
5. Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes.
6. On a greased cookie sheet, place spoonfuls of cookie dough 1-2 inches apart. Place in heated oven and bake for 9 minutes or until light brown.
7. Remove from oven and cool on cookie rack. Dip in glass of dairy free milk and enjoy!

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Such a simple thing...

I'm sitting in our office/toy room posting on my Facebook account, when I look over to find Doodle drawing a picture and writing some words. I am amazed and surprised that she has just spelled the word 'Foot' all by herself - no help from Mom! The letters are formed perfectly and in exactly the right order next to each other on the paper. This seemingly small achievement for most 5 years old is monumental in our house. Just 3 months ago, we could barely get Doodle to consistently form letters - let alone in a straight line and in a coherent word.

What is the big difference? School would tell you all of the work they do with her - physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. These things are helpful, but she's only been back in school for 2 weeks and she has made tremendous progress over the summer - more than all of school year put together last year. The difference, I have discovered, is the extra Vitamin D she started taking in June of this year. Clerks in the store comment how much more verbal she is. Sunday School teachers make the same comment. Daycare comments that she initiates play with other children now - something she had never done before and certainly something most autistic children avoid. Her attention span has dramatically increased - something I wasn't sure we would ever get under control without medication. Vitamin D has made all the difference.

Doodle's vitamin regimen is as follows:

L'il Critters Gummi Vites

L'il Critters Omega 3
L'il Critters Vitamin D
Nordic Naturals Children's DHA (for a small amount of additional Vitamin A)
Kirkman Labs Zinc Sulfate Topical Cream (Zinc is needed for your body to retain vitamins - plus it helps during the long, cold midwest winters to keep Doodle healthy)
Kirkman Labs Probiotic

I've tried other vitamin combination's - B/12 Magnesium vitamin, added Epsom Salt to her bath for additional magnesium, and a liquid vitamin with extra B6. None of these vitamins seemed to make a difference for Doodle, so I have stopped using them. I typically introduce one new vitamin at a time and watch for a difference in behavior. I started simple with Zinc lotion and the Gummi Vites. I then added the Omega 3 vitamins and noticed an increase in verbal ability. I then tried the B/12 Magnesium combination - which didn't make a difference for Doodle. I then added the Nordic Naturals and again noticed an increase in verbal ability. Finally this summer I added the vitamin D and that is when things really turned a corner.

I would recommend checking with your doctor before starting any vitamin regimen. I have done most of the research and work myself - checking with my sister-in-law who has a master's degree in nutrition. There is a lack of decent medical doctors in the rural area that I live - let alone a doctor that would believe that diet makes a difference. I tried a child nutritionist who is 60 miles away and walked out of the appointment completely exasperated, frustrated, and crying. I vowed to figure it out myself through patience, research, and trial. This approach has worked for me, but if you have the resource available near you, please use them.

I may be optimistic, but I am hopeful by next year when she starts Kindergarten she will need minimal services at school and will be nearly recovered.

My health insurance company recently sent a newsletter which contained some common questions about Autism in it. One of the questions "What are some myths about Autism?" Their answer: "Some parents believe that changing a child's diet can help autistic children. While it can't hurt to change a child's diet, there is no proof that it helps." I'm here to tell them they are just plain wrong. I have living proof in my home that diet and supplements make a world of difference! It's frustrating that a large insurance company would publish such unsubstantiated remarks. The fact is, there have been relatively few studies on the impact of diet on Autism - so to claim there is no proof, is misleading. There is no proof because you have never funded a study. My life and Doodle's life have been made infinitely better by a simple change in diet. I would never go back.

So, to all of those nay-sayers and skeptics, I say "Phooey to you!" I'm going to keep on doing my best to recover Doodle - with or without you. I know what's made a difference and that is all that matters.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cookies & Cream Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Doodle had such a good week at school this week. It's amazing how much she has achieved in just 3 short months. The teacher sent home a note saying that she cut out her raccoon all by herself. I know this seems like such a small thing that most 5 year old's can do. But, fine motor skills are so difficult for Doodle and a simple thing like concentrating long enough to cut around an object was near impossible for Doodle 3 months ago. So, I was so excited to hear this great progress on the first day of school. Doodle also was asking me how to spell words this weekend and would hold up each letter after she wrote it and exclaim - "Look, Mommy, I made an awesome 'V' (or whatever letter she was making)." Sure enough, I would look, and she had made the latest letter absolutely perfectly! Again - something she could not do 3 months ago.

To celebrate these great feats, we made ice cream tonight! The recipe this time came with mixed reviews. The neighbor boy across the street claimed it was the best ice cream he had ever had - as did Doodle's sister. The neighbor girl and Doodle didn't have the same love for it. I have come to learn Doodle just isn't in love with coconut milk - so I will probably have to drop that from my non-dairy milk line-up. Oh well. Here's the recipe - try it for yourself and see what you think.

Cookies & Cream Coconut Milk Ice Cream

1 14 oz Can Lite Coconut Milk
2 Cups Original Almond Milk - or other Dairy Free beverage (no flavor added)
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum (optional)
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Package Gluten Free/Casein Free Sandwich Cookies (I use KinniToos Sandwich Cookies)

1. In a mixing bowl, mix Lite Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, Sugar, Agave Nectar, Xanthan Gum, and Vanilla on high speed until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add mixture to ice cream maker according to your manufacturers directions.

3. Churn for 20-25 minutes (according to Mfg directions) until thick.

4. Crush Sandwich Cookies and add to ice cream mixture. Churn for 5 more minutes to mix in.

5. Place ice cream in freezer safe bowl and freeze for several hours. Scoop up a dish and savor.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spaghetti with Roasted Tomato Sauce

I love to make my own tomato sauce for spaghetti night. Today, after church, I discovered I was completely out of canned tomatoes - so I had to improvise and use regular tomatoes. I tried roasting the tomatoes with onion and garlic in the oven before mashing it into a sauce. The roasting brings out the flavor of the garlic and onions to give the sauce a nice full body. Doodle wasn't thrilled with the onions, but otherwise liked the sauce. As always, I made the sauce with Italian Sausage, as I feel this is the best meat for spaghetti sauce. Here's the recipe:

8-10 Roma Tomatoes sliced into wedges
1/2 Large Onion sliced into wedges
3-5 Cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Organic Chicken Broth (I use Pacific Organic Free Range Chicken Broth)
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 tsp Basil
1 Package Bulk Italian Sausage
1 Package Gluten Free Pasta

1. Set oven to Broil. On a large baking sheet place sliced tomatoes, onion wedges, and peeled garlic cloves. Add Red Pepper Flakes and Sea Salt to taste. Toss with 2-3 Tbsp's of Olive Oil. Place under Broiler for 20 minutes - stir occasionally.

2. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

3. In a sauce pan cook bulk Italian Sausage until completely browned. Set aside in a bowl.

4. Remove tomato mixture from oven and place in sauce pan. With a Potato masher, mash the tomato mixture - especially the garlic to release the flavor. Add Chicken Broth, Oregano, and Basil. Stir for 2-3 minutes until sauce becomes thick. Add Italian Sausage.

5. Serve with Gluten Free Pasta.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rasperry-Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

For this recipe I modified the basic vanilla recipe from the Vanilla Brownie Ice Cream and added my own dairy free chocolate sauce and raspberry sauce. The chocolate blended into the ice cream, but left some nice chunks that melt in your mouth as you savor this treat.

1 1/2 cups Almond Milk (I use Pacific Organic Original)
1 1/8 cups Sugar
1 16 oz carton Coffee Rich non-dairy creamer (thawed)
1 8 oz carton Rich Whip non-dairy whipped topping (thawed)
1 1/2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 small package Rasperries
1/2 bag Enjoy Life Dairy Free Chocolate Chips
4-8 Tbsp Agave Nectar

1. In a mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the almond milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Add in the Coffee Rich, Rich Whip, and Vanilla.

3. Turn on ice cream maker and pour the mixture into the compartment. Mix until thickened (for the Cuisinart machine it takes 20 - 25 minutes.)

4. In microwave safe dish, place chocolate chips. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Microwave another 30 seconds, remove and stir. Stir chocolate until smooth. If necessary microwave in 10 second intervals and stir until smooth.

5. Add 4 Tablspoons agave nectar to chocolate. If necessary, add additional Agave Nectar until chocolate is smooth and glossy looking. Set aside

6. Clean raspberries and place in bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons Agave Nectar and let soak. Once softened, use a spoon to crush raspberries into a sauce.

7. Once ice cream is thickened, add the raspberry sauce and chocolate sauce to the ice cream mixture. Continue processing until raspberries and chocolate are thoroughly mixed

8. Once thickened, turn off machine, scoop ice cream & enjoy! If a thicker ice cream is desired, place in freezer for 2 - 4 hours.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Refreshing Lemonade

We love to hang out on our deck and drink home-made lemonade. Before Doodle was diagnosed as being mildly autistic, I used to buy the frozen concentrate at the store and soak strawberries in the concentrate before adding water. Now, I try to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup, so we make our own lemonade and find it is much tastier than anything we can buy at the store. Summer is slipping away, so why not make a glass and enjoy while the you still can. I am.


1 large lemon
2 limes
2 cans Pineapple juice
1/2 cup sugar (or more, depending on taste)
1/2 cup Agave Nectar

1. In a large pitcher, squeeze juice from lemon and limes.
2. Add sugar. (If you are adding sliced strawberries, do it now and let soak.)
3. Add Pineapple juice and Agave Nectar.
4. Fill remainder of pitcher with water.
5. Pour into glass over ice and relax!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Creamy Coconut and Graham Cracker Ice Cream

Just finished a batch of my first ice cream using coconut milk. Coconut milk is a great dairy alternative as it is known to have many healing properties. In ice cream, it makes a nice creamy texture and is naturally sweet. This go round I decided to add a teaspoon of Xanthan gum to ward off some of the ice crystals once the ice cream freezes for a few days. I also added Agave Nectar to lesson the sugar intake of Doodle without sacrificing any flavor. I topped it all off with some dairy free caramel. As I learned in this process, it's best to top the ice cream with the caramel just before serving, rather than add it to the Freezer Bowl while the ice cream is churning. Here's the recipes:

Creamy Coconut and Graham Cracker Ice Cream
2 1/2 cans Coconut Milk (14 oz each)
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
8 Gluten-Free Graham Crackers

1. Mix all ingredients with a hand blender in a large bowl.

2. Prepare ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. I use a Cuisinart with a freezing bowl.

3. Turn on ice cream maker and pour in mixture.

4. Process ice cream until thick.

5. In a plastic bag crush graham crackers and add to ice cream mixture. Allow crackers to process thoroughly.

6. Top with Dairy Free Caramel.

Dairy Free Caramel - I adapted this recipe from the October issue of Cuisine at Home.

1 8 oz carton Rich Whip
3/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Stick Earth Balance Butter Substitute

1. Place Butter Substitute, 3/4 cup Rich Whip, Corn Syrup and Sugar in a sauce pan. Boil for 15 minutes, stirring frequently until the mixture turns a golden brown color.

2. Add in remaining Rich Whip and Vanilla. Mixture will bubble up - be careful! Stir off heat until ingredients are incorporated. Cool.

3. Top ice cream with Caramel.