Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

I received the following update from Doodle's occupational therapist yesterday and was so excited I just had to share. 'Doodle continues to make great progress. She is attending much better. She is no longer needing to use the weighted vest to pay attention and I rarely have to give her cues to attend. She is able to pick up a scissors and cut around patterns. She's doing great!' I am so thrilled that Doodle is having a better time paying attention. What the OT didn't know is that I recently added back in 3 vitamins that I had taken her off of over the past year - zinc, vitamin A, and a probiotic. Clearly, the added vitamins are paying off in Doodle's ability to pay attention. I'll stick with this regimen.

On another note, seems spring has arrived early in MN and we are enjoying temperatures in the 70's this week. How fabulous! I pulled out the grill tonight and made our favorite chicken for dinner. It's a simple recipe and easy to grill up no a week night.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
4 drumsticks
4 thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce - gluten free
3 T honey
1 1/2 T Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
2 T Olive Oil

1. Combine chicken with the soy sauce, honey, seasoning, and olive oil in a resealable bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Remove chicken from bag and place on warm grill.
3. Cook for 30 minutes - rotating frequently - or until chicken is cooked through

We love to serve this with corn on the cob and potatoe salad during the summer. Nothing like some great chicken and corn on the cob to get summer off to a great start (or spring for that matter)!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Breakfast Hash

Spring has arrived in a big way this week - and Icouldn't be happier! Long walks with the dog, Doodle playing outside all weekend long, and best of all loads of SUNSHINE! We will be breaking out the ice cream maker in no time and trying some fresh sorbet's this year. I loved picking up a 2 pound package of the ripest strawberries at the grocery store today. Doodle ate a one pound container nearly all by herself this afternoon - oh how delicious!

To go with the strawberries today, Doodle's dad made a dairy free version of his favorite Everything Hash browns. We all dug in and enjoyed the tasty dish as our lunch this afternoon. Hope you enjoy as well!

Everything Hash Browns

4 pieces Nitrate Free Bacon - chopped
4 All Natural Sausages - chopped
1/2 Cup Nitrate Free Ham - diced
1/2 red pepper - diced
1/2 bag Hash Browns - any style
Dairy Free Butter
7 Eggs - beaten
2 Tbsp Dairy Free Milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
Anything else you want to throw into the mix!

1. Fry the bacon, sausages and ham in a pan until cooked thoroughly.
2. Fry hash browns in a large pan with dairy free butter until crispy. Add butter, if necessary.
3. Whisk eggs and milk together in a large bowl.
4. Add meat and red peppers to the hash browns and cook until red peppers are soft.
5. Stir in eggs and scramble with hash brown mixture.
6. Add salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nitrates, Nitrates, and Preservatives - Oh My!

Since learning that Doodle had autism, I have been on a quest to educate myself on how food plays a role in her autistic symptoms. To that end, I have also explored how chemicals in our daily environment contribute to her food sensitivities. Here's what I have adapted in our environment to help reduce the toll that toxins take on her fragile systems.

After stabilizing Doodle's diet, I felt like she was not continuing to progress as much as I had hoped. So, I started to look around my house to see if there were additional items I could eliminate to help alleviate toxins that could enter her body. First thing I noticed were the counter wipes that I frequently used to clean my kitchen counter - you know the kind from Lysol or Clorox that claim to kill 99.9% of the germs on your counter. I'm all for a clean house, but felt like maybe the harsh chemicals in these wipes were contributing to the lack of progress. So I eliminated them. I now use cleaners that are made only from natural ingredients - like those from Seventh Generation.

Once upon a time I would have thought using all natural cleaners was going overboard and a little bit crazy. What's wrong with off the shelf cleaners? Well, when your little body is sensitive - like Doodle's - every toxin matters. Some kids can handle it just fine, but many Autistic children can't handle the overload of toxins on their system, so it's best to eliminate as much as possible. Once I eliminated these toxins, I noticed a visible difference in her verbal ability. She was increasing her speech at the same time.

Next, I looked at some of Doodle's favorite foods - bacon, ham, hot dogs. All were packed full of preservatives. Common preservatives in these foods are Nitrites and Nitrates. Once upon a time bacon and ham would have been preserved with salt, but somewhere around the turn of the 20th century, someone decided that they liked the pink color that nitrates and nitrites provided to these products and began curing with these preservatives instead. I am so thankful that many food companies are now starting to go away from these chemicals and revert to using sea salt instead. Hormel has started an all natural line which is nitrate and nitrite free. Doodle eats this bacon almost every morning. Check out their Natural Choice meat selection - tastes great without all of the harmful chemicals!

What prompted this whole post was the amazing Nitrate Free Ham my family ate this weekend. I picked one up at Trader Joe's and warmed it in the over at 325 degrees in a large roasting pan for 2 hours. I placed some Coca-Cola in the bottom of the roasting pan and tented the ham with aluminum foil to trap in the moisture. The result was a ham dinner that the whole family raved about! Plus, I have plenty left over to make some of my Wild Rice Soup later in the week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To (Hot) Dish or Not to (Hot) Dish

Ok, being a MN native, I grew up on hot-dish. You know what I mean, a conglomeration of whatever is left over in the fridge plus some cream of mushroom soup to mask the taste. Minnesotan's are famous for it! My husband and kids, however, have never had the pleasure (or not) of tasting a true MN hot-dish. When I mentioned this fact, my oldest daughter looked at me and stated "Mom, what's a hot-dish?" Imagine, a girl living in MN who has never tasted genuine hot-dish. I'm sure the state will stop by to send us packing any minute now! My husband, on the other hand, thinks his palette is far too sophisticated to indulge in eating hot-dish.

So, the other night I set out on a mission to create a true MN hot-dish that was dairy free. I believe that I have succeeded. To mask the truth that this dish was in fact a hot-dish, I referred to it by the beloved name my mother used when she didn't know what to call some made up meal - "kill-em-quick". She used to tease us that it would taste so bad, it was sure to kill-em-quick!

I can assure you, this dish is mighty tasty. Just don't tell my family they are enjoying a hot-dish!

Dairy Free/Gluten Free Hot Dish (aka Kill-em-Quick)

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts - cut into strips
1 tsp Creole Seasoning (gluten free)
2 T Olive Oil
1 Package AmyLu Sausage (any flavor) sliced and cut into half moons
1 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic - minced
1/2 Package GF Pasta
1 16 oz Package Rich's non-dairy creamer (or substitute 2 cups non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup GF Chicken Broth
2 tsp Corn Starch
1 Cup Frozen Peas (or mixed vegetables)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add GF pasta. Cook according to package directions.
2. Saute Chicken breast strips and Creole seasoning in 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil. Remove from pan.
3. Add sausage, bell pepper, onion, and garlic to pan. Cook until onion is translucent and sausage is heated through.
4. Add non-dairy creamer.
6. In a small dish combine Chicken Broth and Corn Starch. Stir until Corn Starch is completely dissolved. Add to pan.
7. Return chicken to pan.
8. Meanwhile, once pasta is cooked, drain pasta water and add pasta to pan.
9. Add in frozen peas or mixed vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Voila - the dairy free hot-dish is ready for dinner. Serve with a fresh salad and dinner is complete.

For an even easier version, I sometimes cheat and use Schwan's oven roasted chicken bites for the chicken. I cook up 10-12 pieces (which only takes 3 minutes in the microwave), chop them into smaller pieces, and add to the sausage mixture. I throw in some Creole seasoning and dinner is done in no time flat. What more could a busy mom want?