Friday, October 14, 2011

First Quarter of First Grade

It's been a long first quarter of first grade and so my posting has gotten sporadic. Doodle's grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and hospitalized recently - so life has been hectic around our house.

The good news for us is that Doodle is doing well in school. Her teacher reports that she is able to pay attention in class this year and has made some friends. She is a wiz at spelling - one of my big worries at the beginning of the year. She has gotten only one word wrong total on 8 tests - that's 79 out of 80 correct! She was also placed in the top level of her class for reading - she is an amazing reader and I'm so proud of her!

Math is proving to be more difficult for Doodle. While she is a great reader, it's really hard for her to read a math problem and translate that into an action of what she needs to do to solve the problem. Maybe I'm getting old, but I don't remember having to tackle story problems in the first grade. The great news for this week, however, is that Doodle aced her math test! She was able to complete her math homework without assistance and got all of the problems correct - then she aced her math test this week. Maybe something is starting to click.

I don't know if other parents with autistic children experience the incredible ability for their child to procrastinate? Doodle is a master procrastinator and it makes school mornings tough on me. This past weekend I devised a new system to help my mornings go smoother. I made tags with pictures of the activities she needs to do in the morning: Get Dressed, Brush Teeth, Eat Breakfast, Put on Shoes/Coat. Then I hung up 2 hooks - I Can Do It and I Did It. She moves each tag from the I Can Do It hook to the I Did It hook after she completes each task. This week she was up and dressed in record time. I didn't have to nag her about anything. I'm not sure how long it will last, but it sure made for a much easier morning this week.

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Two Weeks of First Grade

Well we've officially wrapped up 2 weeks of school today. Time sure does fly! Doodle has settled into First Grade quite nicely and is doing wonderful. Last night we had parent night at her school and I touched base with her teacher. I had my concerns about Doodle's ability to focus and keep up with her class, especially since she is no longer on an Individual Education Plan this year and receives no special services. The teacher was happy to report that for the most part, Doodle is keeping up and hasn't had nearly the attention issue she struggled with last year. That's great news! I hope it continues throughout the year.

I'm wondering if she is focusing better this year because she is more mature or if it is because we modified her diet again and removed corn? I've read many articles that list yellow foods as one source of ADD/ADHD.So, we decided to take Doodle off of corn this summer and see how she reacted. This one was a bit harder to implement, since we typically ate mixed vegetables that included corn at every dinner - and Doodle LOVES corn. I now have to buy beans, peas, carrots separately and make my own mixed vegetables for dinner. She sometimes complains that she really wants to eat corn again, and I feel bad as a parent that I have to keep removing from her diet all of the foods she loves: dairy, eggs, and now corn. She is a trooper about it all, however. Her teacher said she is very good about saying what she can and cannot eat at snack time. She's probably the only child in her class who understands the ingredients in the food she can/cannot eat.

To determine if Doodle truly has an issue with corn, I really should re-introduce it into her diet for a few days and see what happens. Do I dare? I don't want to send her backwards in school if she is doing so well - maybe we'll wait until a holiday break and try it then. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Day of First Grade

It's hard to believe but Doodle started First Grade last Monday! That morning she bounded in our room at 5:50 AM to tell us she was super excited for school to start - you've gotta love the enthusiasm of a First Grader. We're fortunate that her school continues to support us in Doodle's restricted diet. They allow Doodle to heat her lunch up in the microwave at school and I send snack/juice for their afternoon snack break. It makes our school lunch fairly simple. They have offered to cook for her, but she now has 4 different restrictions and I fear they may not be able to keep them all straight, so I continue to send lunch with her.
First Day of First Grade

Last year, we had such difficulty getting our doctor to sign a form that states she needs a restricted diet. I was so frustrated and living in a small town doesn't give you a lot of doctoring options. This year, a new pediatrician has come to town and we decided to give him a try. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how thorough he was. He clearly had done his homework on Doodle and spent over an hour just talking to me about Doodle's developmental delay, autism symptoms, and inability to focus. He was also great with Doodle - showing her pictures of his dogs and talking to her on her level. He had no hesitation about signing a doctors order restricting her diet from gluten, dairy, and eggs. What a relief - if he doesn't work out, I will need to drive 90 miles or 120 miles just to visit a doctor for Doodle. Ugh!

For snacks, I've modified my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe once again to remove the eggs from them - since Doodle can no longer tolerate eggs. Here's the new recipe:

1 1/3 Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1 Cup Sorghum Flour
1 Cup Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 Cup Shortening
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
1 T Vanilla
1 T Egg Replacer
1/4 Cup warm water

1/2 Package Dairy Free Chocolate Chips (I use Ghiradelli Semi Sweet)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine Flours, Baking Soda, and Xanthan Gum in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl combine Shortening, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Vanilla. Cream together on high speed.
4. Whisk together egg replacer and warm water until frothy. Add to Shortening mixture and mix on high speed.
5. Add to mixture dry ingredients and mix on high speed. With a spatula, stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
6. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Drop cookies by the spoonful onto baking sheet and bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 1 minute. Remove cookies from pan and place on cooling rack.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Dairy Free Reminder....

Today Doodle came home from the neighbor's house just screaming in pain, complaining her stomach was upset. She had accidentally eaten popcorn at the neighbor's house with butter on it - a big NO - and now she was paying the price. At our house, I am so diligent about not allowing dairy to sneak into her diet because I know the consequences - but it's hard to control what happens at other people's house and popcorn is one of her favorite treats. At our house, I purchase Kettle Corn that is dairy free and Doodle is free to pop it herself and enjoy. Lesson learned, for her!

After a long nap, Doodle's stomach troubles were cured and we decided to make Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats for a snack this week. The recipe is so simple and I love that it adds a little bit of protein to an otherwise sweet treat.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

2 Tbsp Earth Balance Dairy Free Butter
1/2 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
40 to 50 marshmallows
1 box Gluten Free Rice Krispies

1. In a large pot, melt dairy free butter and creamy peanut butter over medium heat.
2. Stir in marshmallows. Continue stirring until completely melted.
3. Pour in Rice Krispies and stir until marshmallow mixture completely mixed in.
4. Pour into a greased 9" x 13" pan and spread evenly. Cut into even squares and serve.

Turning 7

We've had a busy summer and it's hard to believe that there are less than 4 weeks until school starts. Our Doodle is going into first grade and I'm trying to prep for this by stocking up meals in the freezer and adjusting her diet to exclude corn in the hopes she will have better luck paying attention this year. A summer filled with playing in the pool will soon turn to a busy fall filled with new teachers, new classmates, and homework. I'm confident this year that Doodle will keep up with her class better and make new friends. I've noticed over the summer that she has had an easier time making friends at the playground. She used to shy away from talking to other kids and sometimes wouldn't even play on the equipment if other kids were there. Now, she strikes up conversations with other children and forms friendships. It's so awesome to see her blossom!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Doodle!

Doodle turned 7 years old and to celebrate we had a great lunch together (at her favorite joint - Hardee's) and then went to see Cars 2 in the theater. She has ordered up some vegan pumpkin waffles for dinner tonight and a vegan vanilla cake for dessert. Since we've gone egg free, I have considerably cut back on my baking for Doodle - it's not as easy as it used to be. Fortunately, there are some great recipes on the Internet and I found just what she needs for her menu.

The Gluten Free Goddess has a wonderful vegan Vanilla Cupcake recipe that I whipped up to bake a heart shaped cake for Doodle. You can find it here:

 I skipped the mocha icing and bought some dairy free frosting at the store. Hopefully Doodle enjoys here cake this year.

For the waffles - I have found a wonderful recipe that we all enjoy - they taste phenomenal! You can find the recipe here:

We may top it all off with a trip to Cold Stone this weekend with Grandpa & Grandma where Doodle can enjoy a cup of Sorbet.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Simple Pizza

Summer is here and I am in need of simple recipes for my girls to eat at lunch time. They would be perfectly happy consuming spaghetti every single day throughout the summer - but some variety is needed before they burn completely out. So, Doodle and I invented a super simple way to make 'pizza' for her.

Simple Pizza:

1 Gluten free Tortilla
1-2 Tbsp Pizza Quick Pizza Sauce
10 slices pepperoni
Handful of Daiya Mozzarella & Cheddar cheese each

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place Tortilla on a Pizza cooking sheet and top with Pizza Quick sauce, pepperoni, and Daiya cheese.
3. Place in oven and cook until cheese is melted - 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and slice into 4 pieces. A perfect simple pizza is born!

Apparently Dad tried to make this recipe while I was traveling and ended up using regular tortilla's rather than the gluten free variety. The good news is that Doodle didn't have a reaction! She's not as sensitive to gluten as she is to dairy and eggs - but we keep it out of her diet just to be on the safe side.

Doodle informed me today that she would rather be in school because summer is boring! How refreshing since she was begging for school to end just one month ago. Glad to know she will be happy to start early mornings, homework, and long days of learning all over again in the first grade.

I've been very impressed with how Doodle has learned to read and write. She has written her kindergarten teacher several letters now, all by herself. She diligently sounds out the words and writes them in the letter - it's so adorable. Her wonderful teacher is great about responding and sending a note back. Wish she was coming with us to first grade!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A long break

I've been re-miss in posting on my blog - mostly because I haven't been inspired to create new recipes and Doodle is doing so well. First of all, let me start with a progress updated. Doodle completed her 7 year old assessment at school and the results were what I had hoped to achieve by the time she left 2nd grade - so a whole 2 years early she tested out of the special ed program! She is by no means a genius, but she does test equivalent to her peers. Main concern, of course, is her ability to pay attention. We're still working on that - but she will no longer need any adaptive services next year - all of our hard work, consistency, and dedication has paid off!

Second, an egg update. Back in April, I wrote that we had taken Doodle off of eggs and tomatoes to see if it would help her pay better attention. It didn't. So, we added eggs and tomatoes back into her diet, one at a time. Funny thing happened, she started complaining about stomach aches. Then one morning I fed her eggs before school and I received a call from the nurse that she was in her office puking and had diarrhea - exactly the same thing that happens when she has milk. Guess eggs are an issue after all - so we are now egg free permanently. Tomatoes don't seem to cause the same issue. We will try corn next - it may also be a culprit to her lack of ability to pay attention.

Finally, to our delight today at the grocery store, we found Gluten Free Rice Krispies from Kellogg's! We've been waiting for Kellogg's to get on the Gluten Free band wagon and today was the day our store stocked their shelves! I purchased 2 boxes and rushed home to make one box into Gluten Free Dairy Free Rice Krispy treats - they were delicious! Doodle was so happy, I think she gobbled up 3 bars right away. So happy she can experience these simple joys once again -- and they taste exactly like the regular Rice Krispies. Thank you Kellogg's! You've made on little girl very happy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

One Week Without Eggs

It's probably completely coincidental, but two amazing things happened this week, the first week Doodle has been egg free.
  1.  Doodle's teacher sent home a note on Friday stating that Doodle was initiating conversation at school and had asked several kids to play with her. During her conferences, her teacher expressed concern that Doodle would play near other kids, but she hadn't ever seen her initiate conversation. 
  2. Usually getting Doodle to clean up anything takes a herculean effort with lots of reminders to finish her task. Last night, I asked Doodle to pick up her room before bed, then left for a few minutes. Upon my return, her entire room was spotless! Who was this child?
Is this due to the removal of eggs? Time will tell. We're trying it out for the next 5 weeks to see if any positive behavior changes result - specifically her ability to focus at school. Stay tuned to find out the results.

By the way, I made my first batch of egg-free brownies last night - they were fabulous! I found the recipe from the Gluten Free Goddess here. I'll have to try them as cookies next time around.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Residual Autism

We had conferences for Doodle this week with her Kindergarten teacher. Doodle is in the midst of being tested through the school to see if she continues to qualify for special education. We will have that update in another month, but I wanted to see how she was doing in the classroom, prior to getting the test results back. Doodle has just the nicest, kindest, sweetest Kindergarten teacher you can imagine. She is very loving and patient - at least as far as I can see. I was very impressed with how far Doodle has come, as was her teacher. Doodle keeps up with her class academically and has made terrific progress in both reading and math. We just need to work on forming numbers correctly and in the right order all of the time.

One area of concern continues to be her ability to pay attention. Her teacher expressed concern again about being easily distracted. She can stay on task during an assignment at her table, but has difficulty focusing when doing other things like tying her shoes or getting ready to go outside for recess. She also mentioned that Doodle has a hard time making eye contact. She will initially look you in the eye, but turns away quickly. She also has difficulty approaching someone to play with her. She will play near other kids and wait for them to address her. I'm calling this residual autism. Once the kids notice her, they will invite her to play, but she rarely asks other children at school to play with her. It's hard for me to see this, as she constantly is asking other children in the neighborhood to play with her. She's best friends with our neighbor's daughter and they are constantly running between the two houses. I'm thinking she takes a long time to warm up to kids, but once she does, she is comfortable asking kids to play with her. Hopefully she will learn to overcome this trait.

As a result of the conferences, my husband and I have decided to try to eliminate more from her diet. Seems daunting to eliminate even more than dairy and gluten. I recently read an article where the researchers found that diet is equally effective in treating ADHD as medication.  The researches had children follow the Restricted Elimination Diet where they eliminated milk, gluten, eggs, and tomatoes from the children's diet. Since we are already gluten and dairy free, we've decided to eliminate eggs and tomatoes. Just like when we eliminated milk and gluten, I didn't really realize how often we use eggs and tomatoes. Eggs, in fact, are a staple in our house and it won't be easy finding a substitute for our morning breakfast routine. If you have any tips, let me know - I'm sure I will be fumbling around with this diet change for the next few weeks until we get it right.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pizza Quesadilla's

A few weeks ago we were given some gluten free products to sample. I'm normally skeptical, as most commercial gluten free products don't compare to our own homemade versions. However, this time we were given some gluten free tortilla's from French Meadow Bakery in Minneapolis to try from a friend. Doodle was so excited to try them as Quesadilla's with her Daiya dairy free cheese. She has been hooked ever since!  The other day she took it upon herself to make her Quesadilla's while her dad was in another room. She pulled the tortilla's out of the freezer, added her dairy free cheese, and topped the whole thing with pepperoni. Then she hunted down her dad to cook the whole thing on the stove top. Their super easy to make and Doodle LOVES them.  The tortilla's are soft and taste just like the regular gluten filled version. I'm going to have to pick some up next time I'm in the Minneapolis area.

Pizza Quesadilla's

2 Gluten Free Tortilla's
1/4 Cup Daiya Dairy Free Cheese
6-10 slices pepperoni
Dairy free butter or Olive Oil

1. On one of the tortilla's spread the dairy free cheese and pepperoni. Top with the second tortilla.
2. Heat frying pan and butter or olive oil over medium high heat. Place tortilla's in pan and let fry for 1-2 minutes or until slightly brown.
3. With a spatula, flip the tortilla's and brown the other side. Remove and enjoy!

If you haven't tried French Meadow Bakery gluten free products - I encourage you to do so. They are delicious! Become a fan on Facebook, too...It's wonderful to have great gluten free food, so nearby. A rare find!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great Bread Recipe

Finding a decent Gluten Free bread is like finding a needle in a hay stack....elusive! Most of the bread found in the local store tastes terrible and crumbles when you try to eat it. We used to buy Doodle GF hamburger buns for when we were grilling out, but she would inevitably just pick the hamburger off the bun and eat it plain. What a waste of $5.00! So, we had completely given up on bread in our house, until a few weeks ago. I tried a recipe from a new blogger that I am following and the bread was delicious - I even liked it and I'm not Gluten Free. It was simple to make and didn't take much time at all.

The Simply Sugar and Gluten Free blog is by Amy Green and I have to say I love her story! Have a look at her website, try her new cookbook, and definitely whip up a loaf of this tasty bread. Just tonight I made Doodle a grilled cheese sandwich from this bread and she gobbled it up.  Pair the sandwich with some Kettle Cuisine Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup, and you've got yourself a hearty lunch.

Dairy Free Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices Perfect GF bread
2 tsp Dairy Free Butter
Handful Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese Shreds

1. Heat skillet on medium high stove top.
2. Spread butter on one side of each piece of bread.  On the non-buttered side of one slice of bread, place Daiya Cheddar Cheese.
3. Place the non-buttered side of the second slice of bread on top of the cheese.
4. Place butter side down on skillet and fry until golden brown. Turn over sandwich with spatula and fry the second side until golden brown and cheese is melted in middle.
5. Serve with soup and enjoy!

I hope to try out some of Amy's desserts soon - I love that she doesn't use sugar in her baking! Something we try to avoid in this house as well, because Doodle is addicted to sugar and it makes her quite cranky if she has too much of it. Tonight we made a new version of gluten free oatmeal cookies which I will post soon as well as an updated version of sugar cookies with added protein.  In the mean time - hope you are enjoying some spring weather! We had a nice reprieve this week and most of the snow melted. I'm, however, avoiding the blizzard that is currently raging outside and preparing for another late start of school tomorrow morning. Just a few more weeks until spring officially starts - I can't wait!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Remake

This week we have seen the best and worst of winter - temperatures ranging from 30 degrees above zero to 30 degrees below zero. I like to call January and February in Minnesota the dark days of winter. I'm hopeful that the Ground Hog was correct in its prediction and we will truly see an early spring, because I've had just about enough of winter!

Being cooped up this week, as school was canceled twice, I had the opportunity to remodel my chocolate chip cookies. I'm always looking for new ways to add protein into any dessert that I make for Doodle. She gets super cranky if she has too much sugar (I'm talking colossal meltdowns!) and not enough protein. So, during the hiatus from school, I made chocolate chip cookies and incorporated a new flour I discovered at Trader Joe's: Peanut Flour. One serving has 16 grams of protein - yes 16 grams!   Plus, it doesn't alter the taste of the cookies, so Doodle doesn't know the difference.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Remake

1 1/3 Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1 Cup Peanut Flour
1 Cup Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 Cup Shortening
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
1 T Vanilla
2 Large Eggs
1/2 Package Dairy Free Chocolate Chips (I use Ghiradelli Semi Sweet)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine Flours, Baking Soda, and Xanthan Gum in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl combine Shortening, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Vanilla and Eggs. Cream together on high speed.
4. Add to mixture dry ingredients and mix on high speed. With a spatula, stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
5. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Drop cookies by the spoonful onto baking sheet and bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 1 minute. Remove cookies from pan and place on cooling rack.

This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies. Normally, this will last in our house for 2 weeks, but I couldn't keep these cookies around for more than 4 days. Doodle's sister had a sleepover with a friend Friday night, and the two girls cleaned me out of these cookies! So, I found myself whipping up another batch today while I wait for the Super Bowl to start. They will make a great treat after we all enjoy some GF DF pizza and watch the big game.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Autism Recovery

I recently read this post from Holly Robinson Peete on a segment done by the Today show on Autism Recovery: . I can so identify with what Ms. Peete has to say about the response from traditional pediatricians to treating Autism with anything other than behavioral therapy. I am met with the same resistance and reluctance by my family doctor.

My doctor has seen the tremendous different that diet and supplements have made in Doodle's life, yet she refuses to acknowledge that the diet had any effect on her behavior. It's maddening! I met the same reluctance the first year Doodle was in pre-school. Her special ed teacher and therapists nodded their head as I described the differences that I was seeing in Doodle's cognitive reasoning, limiting repetitive behavior, and improved eye contact. Because she still had tremendous attention issues and difficulty conducting conversations with children in her class, I felt like my observations were dismissed. It wasn't until she returned to pre-school in the fall, a transformed child, that the teachers and therapists started to pay attention. She was a different kid! The difference? Vitamin D added to her diet and supplement regimen. There was such a tremendous difference that they couldn't help but agree that she had changed - she wasn't the same child they had seen just 4 months earlier.

Now, her doctor and teachers say they don't see Autistic tendencies in her any longer. Sure, she still needs help with her physical coordination and paying attention, but she's in the top of her class for reading and writing. She maintains friendships at school and at home. The best part is I can ask her how her day was at school and she can describe the day in detail to me - usually putting it into context. I'm thrilled at her progress. I'm thrilled that she is full of possibilities and less about limitations.

For all those parents out there struggling with whether or not to try the diet/supplements on their children, take the plunge. Not every child is "recovered" like my Doodle, but you don't know if your child will recover unless you give it your all. Commit to the change. Have patience for the results. Believe there is help and hope. If I can do it, so can you.

If you ever get the chance to watch the HBO film "Temple Grandin" I would highly recommend it.I love what her mother used to say about Temple and Autism: Different, not less. Being different then the other kids does not make my child less - she has a gift to offer the world and it's my duty as her mother that she has every opportunity to use that gift in life. That's my gift to her. I love you Doodle!

If you've had success with the GF DF diet and autism, drop me a line, I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dreaming of Summer

It's the dark days of winter here in Minnesota. January is one of the bleakest months of the year, in my opinion. The excitement of the holidays are over, spring is still a distant hope in the future, and the weather turns bitter and cold. Yesterday it was -16F - with a wind chill that made it feel even colder. Yuck! I often ask myself why I still live here, but then spring rolls around and winter is just a distant memory. Tonight we made corn on the cob to remind ourselves of summer nights eating dinner on the deck. Oh how I long for those nights!

I find that corn on the cob is best prepared on the grill. If you're somewhere warm enough to grill, then this recipe is for you. It's simple, but yields the best tasting corn ever!

4 Ears of corn - shucked
4 Tbsp Dairy Free Butter
4 Sheets Aluminum Foil

1. Heat grill to medium high heat.
2. Place each ear of corn in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil.
3. Place Tbsp of Dairy Free Butter on top of corn.
4. Wrap up corn with aluminum foil and place on the grill (upper rack, if possible) and cook for 15 minutes (or until tender). Keep away from the flames or the corn will become charred.
5. Unwrap and serve with a juicy steak, flame broiled burger, or some Jerk Chicken

I can almost feel the warmth of the summer sun beating down on us as we sip some lemonade and enjoy a cool breeze. I'll keep telling myself only 7 more weeks until spring. If you're somewhere warm, soak up some rays for us and send some of that warmth our way here in MN, we need it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hot Dish # 2

Winter has definitely settled in at our house. I find us craving warm cozy food that warms the soul after coming in from the frigid temperatures outside. While January has been milder this year, than last, it is still colder than I typically like a winter to be. To help take the chill off after a long day at work and school, I find myself looking to old favorites like chili, spaghetti, and hotdish in disguise. Remember, my family doesn't know what a real hotdish looks like!  While Doodle claims she doesn't like this hotdish, I made it last week and she ate every last bite...maybe she does like hotdish after all!

Chicken & Pasta Hot Dish with Sundried Tomatoes

1/2 Package Tinkyada Brown Rice Spirals
8 oz Prosciutto
4 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
1/2 Cup Sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
2 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 2 inch strips
1 Clove Garlic
Red Pepper Flakes to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Package Rich's Dairy Free Creamer
1 Package Rich Whip
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1/8 Cup Chicken Broth
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Cook Pasta according to package directions just until it is slightly al dente (still a bit firm).
2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute Chicken in Tbsp Olive Oil until fully cooked. Remove from skillet.
3. Add remaining Olive Oil and saute Prosciutto. Once slightly crispy, add in Sun Dried Tomates and cook 1 minute longer.
4. Deglaze pan with White Wine. Add in Chicken Broth, Dairy Free Creamer and Rich Whip. Bring to a simmer.
5. In a small bowl, place corn starch. Mix with 1/8 Cup Chicken Broth, stir until smooth. Add to skillet and simmer until sauce is thickened.
6. Add back in chicken. Drain pasta and add to hot dish. Season with Salt & Pepper and Red Pepper Flakes to taste. Serve immediately.

On a positive note, Doodle received her first report card for Kindergarten. She ranks in the top of her class for both reading and math! Great progress as she learns to read and recognize words. She received encouraging comments from her teacher, however she continues to struggle with focus. If anyone has some great ideas on how to help my child focus, I would love to hear what has worked for you! I'm resistant to putting her on medication and would love to work on ways to control through diet and supplements.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Power of Probiotics

I'm going to start the New Year off by talking about supplements again. Supplements were a key ingredient in helping Doodle recover from Autism and her developmental delays. Over the past two years, I have tried different supplements - one at a time - and monitored their affect on Doodle's behavior. Did she seem to improve? Was there any difference in her verbal skills? When taken off of the supplement, did she regress? Was her school noticing any differences? (Rule of thumb - never tell the school or daycare when you have made a change in the diet. Wait and see if they mention any differences to confirm what you are seeing is true.)

This past fall, I took Doodle off of Probiotics. Mostly because the brand we buy is fairly expensive and I wasn't sure they were really doing any good. So, we went for a period of several months without taking any Probiotics. I didn't think much of it, until we went Trick-or-Treating for Halloween. I watched as Doodle repeatedly stumbled, fell, and lost her balance (and it wasn't because she had on a tricky costume). She couldn't seem to run like the other little girl we were with - like her limbs weren't coordinated at all. She also didn't have this problem during the school year prior - when she was completely on Probiotics.  I told Doodle that she seemed "trippy" that night and we placed an order for Probiotics the very next day. Since being back on the Probiotics her "trippy" behavior has been eliminated and she is much more in control of her limbs. Lesson learned for me - keep up the Probiotic supplementation!

Doodle in her Halloween Costume

There have been some studies to support the use of Probiotics for Autistic children. Some Autistic children suffer from an imbalance of bad bacteria in their gut and the Probiotics help to bring stability back.  I read this article recently about how a study on Probiotics in Autistic children was so successful, it failed. Parents of Autistic children who were given the Probiotic noticed such a difference, that when it was time for the two groups to switch (and go onto a placebo), the parents in the initial group dropped out - they didn't want to take their children off of the Probiotics!

For my Doodle, I've found the use of Probiotics with a daily supplement of Zinc also helps with her ability to focus. I had also been lax about giving Doodle her zinc every day and her teachers have been complaining about her ability to focus in class. Saying she needs to be re-directed many times during an activity. I decided to be diligent about giving Doodle zinc every day (I use a zinc lotion for this). After only one week, her teacher sent home a note saying that her ability to focus had greatly improved that week. Another note to self - be diligent about zinc!

Both the Probiotics and Zinc I order from Kirkman Labs. You can find them here, if you are interested.

Zinc -
Probiotics -

I offer this advice based on my own experience. I am not a medical professional, so please consult your doctor before applying to your own circumstances.