Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Crazy Hair

Just a quick post - look at the crazy hair I came home to today!
Summer humidity is not Doodle's friend!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Protein Bars

I've been on the hunt for a protein bar that Doodle will eat. Have you ever noticed that the only protein bars available in the store are mixtures of nuts congealed together to form a bar? Well, Doodle absolutely hates them and when you're in a pinch and need some protein fast, there's not much choice out there. Personally, I love protein bars, but mine are peanut butter goodness covered in delicious chocolate - yum! It's a vast difference between my bars and any gluten free, vegan bar out there. So, I set out to make my own today and here's what i came up with - they turned out a bit like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Next time I think I will cut back on the chocolate.

Vegan Protein Bars

1 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp Pea Protein Powder
3 Tbsp Agave Nectar
6 Gluten Free Graham Crackers - broken in half
1 bag Ghiradelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Tbsp Shortening
cupcake liners

1. Mix the peanut butter, protein powder, and agave nectar in a bowl until it looks like cookie dough.
2. Place 2 cups water in a pan and bring to boil. Set temperature to low and simmer water.
3. Place a heat proof bowl over the simmering water. Add chocolate and shortening. Stir constantly.
4. Once chocolate is melted turn off heat and leave the chocolate on top of the water.
5. Dip the graham cracker half into the chocolate and completely cover with chocolate. Remove and place in cup cake liner. (repeat) Place these in freezer for 10 minutes to cool.
6. Remove graham crackers & chocolate from freezer and spread with peanut butter mixture. Return to freezer for another 10 minutes.
7. Remove from freezer and fill the cupcake liners up with remaining chocolate and place in freezer until hardened.

I had some peanut butter and chocolate left over, but no graham crackers, so I rolled the peanut butter mixture into balls and dipped in chocolate - to make some peanut butter balls. Doodle says they are delicious!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Riding a Two Wheeler

Today was an amazing day! Doodle learned to ride a two wheeler! I wasn't sure how we were going to teach her to ride a bike without training wheels - perhaps she would be like Alice on the Brady Bunch, riding with training wheels well into adulthood. I was OK with that, but figured she wouldn't want that. I feared with all of her coordination and attention issues she wouldn't be able to ride, steer, balance, and peddle all at once.

Then, I found a website that gave me the confidence to try it this afternoon. Bicycle.net had a great article on how to take the fear out of teaching a child to ride a bike. He claimed to be able to do it in an hour - not days on end.  So, I had my husband take the training wheels off of Doodle's bike and she and I set off to try out the technique.

He was right! It took Doodle 1.5 hours to be riding around our pond on her own (and I got quite a workout running beside her.)
Getting started

Doodle's riding on her own!

Giving Mom a Run For Her Money

The website suggests four steps: 
1. Ride in a circle while you hold onto the seat and handle bars - going one direction and then the other. We did this for about 30 minutes (Bicycle.net suggests 10 minutes, but it took us longer to get the hang of it). 

2. Go to a park with a large grassy field

3. Hold onto to the seat and run along side your child - like traditional methods - while on the grassy field.

4. Let go. Let them ride until they are comfortable.

For us, we did step 1 and then worked on riding the straight-a ways on the road. We tried the grass in our large back yard, but Doodle couldn't get up enough speed to keep balanced, so we headed back out to the street. I ran beside her and eventually let go and she just kept peddling by herself. Sometimes she would get distracted or stop peddling and lose balance and I would be running beside her to help her get back on track. Eventually she figured how to run into the grass when she was going to fall.  

We did this all the way around our neighborhood pond - which is about a 1/2 mile! By the end, she was off and peddling by herself without my help. I'm so excited for her!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pancakes

So, I don't know about you, but I LOVE Pinterest. My love for Pinterest has quickly surpassed my love for Facebook. I love perusing through the creative pictures, recipes, arts and crafts out there on the web. What a great way to organize everything I love. 

I've been using this tool as a way to organize recipes for my family, myself (I'm a no carb/sugar person), and especially for Doodle. Well, the other day I found a fabulous pancake recipe for Doodle here. It looked delicious - and who wouldn't love the thought of cookie dough pancakes? Well, I didn't have cashews on hand, nor did I have amaranth flour, arrowroot, or brown rice flour on hand. (I live in the middle of nowhere, after all.) So, I adjusted the recipe to use the allergy friendly ingredients I did have on hand. Here goes:

1/4 Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Pea Protein Powder
1/2 Cup Sorghum Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Cup AppleSauce
2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
Ghiradelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat griddle and pre-season with oil. Mix together with a spatula the dry ingredients.
2. Add applesauce, agave nectar, and vegetable oil. 
3. Stir in chocolate chips. 
4. Place a small scoop of batter on griddle - the dough should be thicker than regular pancake batter. Flip when golden brown and repeat. 

I didn't make the marshmallow cream - these pancakes were sweet enough on their own. So, we added some pure maple syrup and Doodle enjoyed! I made the entire batch of pancakes and froze the leftovers for breakfast during the week. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The End Is Near

It's hard to believe, but Doodle has less than 2 days left of first grade! Where did the year go? I can't complain - it's been a wonderful journey this year. I was nervous for Doodle, as I always am, starting first grade. How would she do in her first year without an Individual Education Plan (IEP)? Would she keep up with her peers? Would she understand math, reading, language arts?

I need to learn to have more faith in Doodle, but it's my job, as a mother, to worry about her. Or at least that's what I tell myself! I have to say, I'm so proud of the way she met every single challenge this year and worked through her struggles. Math was definitely a tough one. I feel like we finally turned a corner on that one - her end of the year test she got only 6 wrong out of 44 questions! She went from failing at the beginning of this last quarter to getting only 6 wrong! It definitely helped to turn math into a game with her. Playing hide and seek math was one of her favorite challenges.  Here's how it works:

1. Create multiple flash cards of math problems (start simple)
2. Hide them throughout your house (I kept it fairly localized)
3. Set a timer
4. When your child finds a flashcard, they run back, hand you the card, and tell you the answer
5. Give your child a reward for each correct answer (I used jelly beans or stickers)

This summer we will have to keep math fresh in her mind. I don't want her losing everything she learned over first grade during the summer. I'm sure if I create some kind of incentive for her, she'll dive right in and keep it up. She'll be ready for whatever comes in second grade!

Cheers to a great school year!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gluten Free Vegan Banana Bread

Last week I discovered some completely over-ripe, rotten banana's that were left in my fruit bowl from Easter. Now, in my house, either banana's last one second after I buy them or they sit in the fruit bowl and rot for weeks. It's a mystery as to when my kids can't get enough of the fruit and when they will be completely bored with it and forget the banana's are there. Apparently, this time it was the latter scenario. So, what do you do with nasty banana's? Make banana bread, of course!

It's been awhile since I've made banana bread. The last time I did, Doodle was still eating eggs. You can find that recipe here. If you can't have eggs, like Doodle, here's the modified version - including a few additions. I added in Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips to this batch to make a delicious treat and protein powder to sneak some protein and offset the sugar. The bread turned out wonderful and Doodle enjoys it during her school snack.

Vegan Banana Bread

1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
4 T Dairy Free Shortening
1 1/2 tsp Ener-g Egg Replacer
1 T warm water
3/4 Cup Almond Milk (or other milk substitute)
3  Cups GF Flour Blend
1/2 Cup Pea Protein Powder (substitute GF flour, if needed)
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 T & 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
3 over-ripe banana's - mashed
1/2 Cup Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 1 bread loaf pan.
2. Mix sugar, agave nectar, shortening, with a mixer. Whisk together egg replacer and warm water. Add to sugar/shortening and mix.
3. Add in almond milk and banana's with mixer.
4. Stir in dry ingredients and chocolate chips until combined.
5. Split mixture between prepared loaf pans. Bake in oven for 50-60 minutes or until knife inserted in loaf comes out clean.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dad's Worksheets

Well, we've been putting a lot of time and energy into helping Doodle with math. She was doing OK most of this year - getting B's for her grades. Then 4th quarter hit and WHAM! nothing but F's on her tests. It was heartbreaking! Plus, she wasn't progressing on her Rocket Math - you know, those darn timed math tests that really have no basis in the real world. As frustrating as these tests are as a parent, it's a necessary part of first grade, so we went on the hunt for a good tool to help Doodle out.

In my quest, I found this amazing website from a Dad who was trying to help his daughter out. It's called Dad's Worksheets and you can find it here: Dad's Worksheets. The worksheets available on this site emulates the Rocket Math curriculum that Doodle's teacher uses in class. For Doodle, she just needs to get 20 problems done in a minute to move on to the next level. I say just, like it's no big deal. In fact, it's a huge deal to Doodle. She has spent the majority of the year trying to get off of level A. It seemed insurmountable to her.

So, we printed out the worksheets and practiced every single night. After some concerted efforts, she was able to rise to level B! It also took some bribery of a large stuffed bunny from the local store - but she did it! Then, she did it again! She passed level B in a very short period of time! This time motivated by the promise of a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. Hey - whatever it takes! Now we are working on level C with hopes of surpassing before school ends on May 17th. I'm sure she will do it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vegan Sugar Cookies

Doodle loves cookies. I mean LOVES cookies. She really could live on cookies alone, if I let her. I make them because, selfishly, they make an easy snack to send to school. However, I also know that if she has too much sugar and not enough protein, I'm in for a rough evening when I pick her up from daycare. She is not a girl who can handle sugar without protein. So, I buy a pea protein powder from Kirkman Labs that I sneak into almost everything I bake for her. I love Kirkman Labs because I know they are all about pure ingredients that don't contain any of the common allergens. Kirkman is also a huge proponent in using diet and supplements to cure autism. So, I buy many things from them and the protein powder helps me sneak protein into cookies without Doodle noticing. A win-win!

Since we went egg-free in our household, it's been difficult to make a decent sugar cookie. The dough just seems to crumble which makes for a bad sugar cookie experience. Well, I finally figured out the missing ingredient - apple sauce! I added apple sauce to my latest batch of cookies and they turned out wonderfully - no more crumbly dough. Here's the recipe:

Vegan Sugar Cookies

1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 T pure vanilla
1 T egg replacer
3 T warm water
2 heaping T apple sauce
1 1/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour
1 1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1/4 pea protein powder (use extra sweet rice flour if you don't have this)
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt

1. Combine shortening, sugar, agave nectar, vanilla in a large bowl. Beat generously.
2. In a small bowl whisk together egg replacer and warm water until frothy. Add to sugar mixture and beat. Stir in apple sauce.
3. Combine sweet rice flour, sorghum flour, protein powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt in a bowl. Gradually add to sugar/shortening mixture while beating with a mixer. Mix well.
4. Form dough into 2 balls and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
5. Sprinkle some sweet rice flour on a large, clean surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin. Cut into desired shapes with a cookie cutter. Repeat step 5 as necessary.
6. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking rack. Frost with your favorite frosting once cool.

I store the cookies un-frosted in the freezer and take out one at a time for school snack. I add a bit of frosting, before sending to school, that I keep frozen in our freezer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes

My niece was telling me about the vegan carrot cake she made for my sister's 45th birthday in March. She said "It's GOOOD :) (yes 3 O's good)" and that's a direct quote! Well, I had lots of desserts planned for Easter that were not conducive to Doodle's diet, so I thought I would adapt the recipe shared by my niece and make it Gluten Free. The original recipe can be found here: Vegan Carrot Cake. I chose to make the cake into cupcakes, so I could freeze some and use them for school snacks.

Here's the adapted recipe:

1 cup Sorghum Flour
1 cup Sweet Rice Flour
1 cup Sugar
1/4 Brown Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt

2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
3 cups Shredded Carrots
3/4 cups Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup Coconut

1. Mix the sorghum flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.
2. Add shredded carrots and oil and mix well with a spatula.
3. Add orange juice and mix well with a spatula.
4. Add raisins and coconut and mix well with a spatula.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners and scoop batter into liners. Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of cupcake comes out clean.
6. Cool on baking rack - frost with favorite frosting. (I cheated and used store bought!)

These cupcakes were delicious - Doodle even agreed to share one with the Easter Bunny, who thoroughly enjoyed every bite!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Math Madness

Well, we are on the downhill side of first grade - where has the year gone? It seems that time really does fly when you have kids in school. This year, that has truly been the case. Every year that Doodle starts a new grade, I worry about how she will keep up with her peers, will she make friends, will she fit in on the playground, can she keep up. This year was no exception.

Doodle, of course, has surprised me and done exceptionally well in school. She really loves it. This year, however, she has met her arch nemesis - Math! She has struggled all year, but still scored well on most of her tests and came home with B-, B, and B+. It seemed she was improving, that is, until this quarter hit. She has brought home 2 F's in a row! On her quarter review test, she missed simple things that she had mastered months before. I think that I was more devastated than she was when she brought home the test. My heart just breaks that she has to struggle so hard in this subject. 

So, as with most things, I'm on a mission to make it better. I felt like we had tried most things: flashcards (didn't help), online games (she liked, but didn't help make progress), a Toy Story math book (helped some), and I even resorted to bribery. So, I decided to get out my Cri-Cut machine and make my own version of flashcards. First, I cut out some tags, then glued numbers to the tags and different colored stars representing the numbers to give her visual cues. I started real simple: 1+2, 3+1, 4+1, just to help her get through her Rocket Math timed tests. Then, I created tags with numbers from 0-9 with touch points that represent the number and help her count. I'm teaching her to use the number to help her figure out the math problem. The number 3, for example, had three different points, so she can use the points to count and come up with the answer.  This seems to be helping.

Also, a friend suggested we try hide and seek math. I hide 5 flashcards and she has 5 minutes to find the flashcards, bring them to me, and give me the answer. She really likes this game and it seems to be helping. I imagine, however, that we will continue this routine right through the summer months so we don't take a step backwards. I know second grade will be even more challenging with math.