Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Developments...

It has been a while since my last update, and it is not due to the lack of yummy food discoveries in the gluten / dairy / egg free world.  We have continued to sample and identify new packaged foods and recipes.  We've also found that everyone can now tolerate some egg and some dairy in baked goods, so we are able to use a lot of Udi's products which we could not before.  Why can we tolerate them now?  Maybe because of the GAPS / bone broth cleanse we did at the start of the summer (www.gapsdiet.com).  Healed and sealed and now all foods process more easily?  Anyway, we aren't arguing.

The most interesting change of note is with Cadel.  Her condition has been the most frustrating and hard to manage over time.  Elimination of foods really improved things for her for a while, but then her tummy aches seemed to crop back up about 6 months later.  We took her to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist in January of this year, but no real conclusions were drawn.  GAPS seemed to help her a lot, and while doing full GAPS intro, she didn't have any tummy aches.  But that is quite hard to sustain.

Just before our 2 week family vacation Cadel mentioned something to Val about a tummy ache which consisted of "icky water coming up from her tummy to her mouth".  Ummm... classic reflux, anyone?  Thank heavens she learned to articulate this, because it might just be lifechanging.

Back in January, the Pediatric specialist we saw had prescribed Miralax and Prevacid for us to "try" just to see if either seemed to change her symptoms.  I was reluctant to dose her as an experiment, so I hadn't filled either Rx.  But with the classic reflux symptoms, we did go ahead and fill the Prevacid before we left on vacation.  After 3 weeks of this medication, Cadel has NO tummy aches.  This is even with having several "cheats" through out vacation.  She seems to tolerate dairy PERFECTLY, which has usually been one of her worst.

Our plan when starting the Prevacid was to schedule with our regular pediatrician upon returning to town, and that appointment was yesterday.  Our doc is now actually of the opinion that the Reflux is  the CAUSE of the food intolerances.  Wow wow wow!  So after YEARS of tummy aches, our Cadel may actually finally have a path to recovery. 

The idea is that when there is so much acid in the esophagus, damage is done, and once your digestive system is damaged, any food can be hard to tolerate.  (This is consistent with the GAPS theory of 'leaky gut', as well, which I totally buy into.)  I believe we have done a lot of healing to her gut with probiotics, L-Glutamine, elimination diet, and some GAPS.  She may actually have a healthy gut.  But she still has all of the esophageal acid causing her pain.  So with the introduction of the PPI (Prevacid), the esophagus now has the chance to heal from the damage.

So then what?  If we take her off of the drug once she heals, and begin eating all of the foods that irritated her gut before, won't the acid come back, and won't we end up in the same place?  This is likely the case.  So we need to figure out now what is causing her esophagus to fill with acid.  Our amazing doctor recommends a chiropractic procedure called visceral manipulation, which involves manipulation of the organs to keep the acid from being pushed into her esophagus.  Once this therapy is complete, there is the possibility that Cadel could be healed from all of her tummy aches!

What then?!  Do we go back to our old way of eating?  Well, not quite.  We have learned too much about our bodies and how they respond to food. 

For one, we know that too much wheat / gluten has negative effects on all of us.  I have identified several trigger wheat-containing foods that literally make my stomach upset almost on consumption.  We know that too much gluten / wheat makes our kids' noses run, and elimination of gluten / wheat has brought us healthier cold / flu seasons than we ever thought imagineable.  

Then, there is a lot of information out there that points to the fact that dairy, in particular cow's milk, is not so healthy in mass amounts.  Our doc yesterday shared this piece (opinion, not science!) about potential links between dairy and reflux http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/got-milk-you-dont-need-it/.  Given where we've been, I don't know that the flood gates will ever come completely off with cow's milk.  We won't ever drink it.  We won't put it on our cereal or bake with it.  But will we eat GF cheese pizza with organic mozzarella shreds?  Count on it.  Will we go out for ice cream?  BET on it.

Will my kids get to feel 'normal' at birthday parties and sports team events in the near future?  I HOPE for it.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Things have been hard lately. Cadel seems to be having a bit of a tummy-ache relapse. Everyone wants "cheats" all the time.  I say "no" a lot. AND, I've been feeling in a bit of a food rut since our awesome rice-free finds.

Then, this weekend, there was a bit of a beacon of light. I tried the cake donut recipe from Babycakes Covers the Classics (this is the recipe book for the NYC based bakery where we also found our cinnamon roll and waffle recipes). I *delighted* my crew with her cinnamon sugar donuts.   They said, "these taste just like mini donuts!"  This is the ultimate compliment for a food coming from my children.

If you have food allergies and have not yet purchased this cookbook, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I'm really excited to try the cut out cookies and gingerbread man cookies for the holidays. What's best about these recipes is that they are EASY. They are quite foolproof, as long as you know how to follow directions (and once your kitchen is stocked with the right ingredients - this recipe was our first that called for potato starch).

So while things are still tough, generally, we continue to realize that life goes on with food intolerances. And it's not really so bad.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Forced Discoveries - GOOD FOOD!

The Consumer Reports / FDA statements on rice of recent sent our operation into a total tailspin.  In a nutshell, it revealed test results for arsenic in rice based products, and found some alarming numbers.  In our home, where we have already eliminated wheat, egg, and dairy, this felt like a big ol' punch in the gut - the kind where you lose your breath and in a moment of panic aren't quite sure you'll get it back again.

Then, off we went to do what we do... read all the labels in our pantry and freezer, take a walk down the aisles of the co-op, and adjust.  We are now rice free (with small exceptions - noted below).

Now, you may be wondering why we took such drastic measures - no one said that people shouldn't eat rice.  They said to "eat a wide variety of grains".  Hm.  Okay, then, for most people, maybe that seems reasonable.  Now, go to your pantry and your freezer, and see how many of your foods contain wheat (or modified food starch - aka wheat).  Then tell me how varied you are feeling.  Gluten intolerant families have already elimintated about 90% of the mainstream food choices, and a lot of what is left has at least one rice ingredient.

We had the following casualties: our pasta, our bread and rolls, our frozen pizza, our frozen waffles, our pancake mix, one brand of our chicken nuggets, our cake mixes, our snack crackers, our fake cheese, our muffins and cinnamon rolls, our snack bars, several of our breakfast cereals.  I could probably go on.

So you can see the pause that the news of arsenic would give us.  We consume a lot of rice. More than the average person.

In good news, we have gotten pretty good at this.  And we have as a result found these amazing products, that we like even BETTER than their predecessors... which is why I had to share today.

1 - Breads from Anna bread mix.  HOLY smokes!  Our rice-based pre-packaged bread has NOTHING on Anna.  Except of course that I have to mix it up and bake it.  But it is amazing.  It totally reminds me of the from-scratch wheat bread we used to make before the big gluten shake up.

I completely recommend this product!  Allergy or NO!  And she has a ton of varieties. (All of her products are gluten free, and can be made egg free)

2 - Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix - another HUGE winner!  Not only is it every bit as tasty as it's Cherrybrook Kitchen predecessor, it is possibly more moist and overall tastier, and it LASTS way longer - which is a huge issue in GF / EF / DF eating in general - baked goods die FAST.  Not this one.  We made cupcakes a week ago for a birthday party, and they were still good for a party today, 7 days later.  Simply awesome.  We love Bob, and don't know why we didn't try it sooner.  Thanks, Bob.  You rock our world!

3 - Thirdly, I have to throw some props at this delicious pasta.  Quinoa has been a staple for us for a while, but we had not tried this corn / quinoa based pasta.  It is so good.  Cadel even told her Nanny the other day that she doesn't think she should eat it, because it tastes like it must have wheat in it (this is a compliment - yet it is a bit sad - what 4 year olds shouldn't have to know).  It's also Non-GMO and Organic - woot!!

Finally, I just want to throw some props to Amy's.  This company has their crap together.  In addition to seeking out new foods, I've contacted the makers of all of our foods with rice ingredients to see what they do to control arsenic in their rice.  Amy's had the only response that gave us reason to keep eating their food.  They ALREADY MEASURE for arsenic, even though it is not a requirement.  And they measure themselves against the World Health Organization and the European / Austrailian standards (who are generally more stringent that the U.S. when all parties have regulations in a category - e.g., what qualifies for organic labeling).  They insure they are lower than both of those guidelines.  So these friendly little bunnies are going to be around for a while.  This is good news, given the 400 boxes in our basement:

Happy allergy and arsenic free eating, friends!!


Friday, August 24, 2012

More Dairy. Dairy Dairy Dairy.

I am slow to follow up my posts about what good non-dairy dairy products exist out there.  First, a little update on what is going on with us.

Several months ago, I started the GAPS Dairy Introduction Structure.  The purpose of this is to take someone who is dairy intolerant, and get them to a point where they can at least occasionally tolerate some types of dairy products.  I guess the reasoning behind the structure is that dairy is a key element of the GAPS diet.  So if someone needs GAPS to control another condition (common with Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and others), they want to work dairy into the diet even if the person is intolerant.   They basically build up the 'right' type of bacteria in the gut.  It is only something to start once the gut has healed from whatever has been damaging it.  And the process can take years!

We began the process in the late spring, with homemade ghee (which is clarified butter).  You basically take regular organic unsalted butter, and heat it to a specific temperature, and then pour the clarified portion into a jar.  My girls did not react at all to the ghee.  So we moved onto organic butter.  I baked, cooked, and used organic butter on popcorn for the remainder of the summer.  No reaction.

With both foods (ghee and butter), I also performed a sensitivity test.  Basically, you put the dairy food in liquid form on the inside of the wrist before the person goes to bed.  If they wake up with no irritation there, they do not have a sensitivity to it.  Both girls showed no sensitivity to organic butter.  We are getting somewhere!!!

Now we are at the homemade yogurt / kefir stage.  I made my first batch of homemade yogurt last week.  The first jar I mixed with homemade strawberry jam (courtesy of Stephanie Johnson!) and some agave.  Do you know what the most eye-opening thing about this yogurt adventure has been?  How. Much. Sugar. Is. In. Our. Yogurt.  HOLY.  BUCKETS.  I cannot believe how much agave I used and it was still WAY more tart than what you get at the store.  That aside, I got it to a point where I think it tastes good, and Ullrich and Summer will both eat it (Ullrich enjoys it on his fruit - but he does not have a dairy intolerance, so he is eating it for the pure joy).  Guess who doesn't care for it?  Cadel Alana.

The Introduction Structure calls for the girls to get a teaspoon every other day.  So we have been doing so.  Cadel, I have to fight to get her to swallow hers down.  Summer asks for "mo pease" most of the time.

Once we are sure that they are doing okay with it, they can have a teaspoon daily.  And then a little more.  And more. Until we are at a half a cup daily.  I have no idea how I'm going to get there with Cadel.  Hm.  Might call for the straight up white sugar.  Hey, where can I get some high fructose corn syrup?  ONLY KIDDING.  I'm trying to drag her through this part of the process to get to the homemade cottage cheese next.  She LOVES cottage cheese and misses it terribly!

In bad news, Summer James has been waking in the night this week.  I think it is teething, but I'm pulling back on her yogurt for now.  I may try again in a week or so.  No rush, I guess.  Want to do this right.

Okay -now for a little something you can use.  But that I don't have to any more.  Now that we are back with our good friend organic butter, we will be buying a lot less of this (but maybe we will use it when the girls' immune systems are down like in the winter months?).  Earth Balance brand non-butter.  This stuff is the BOMB.  You would not know it is not real butter.  We used it for everything!  Even on popcorn when it would be hard to compromise the butter flavor.  It's really quite great.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Preschool Snack List

As I prepare myself for the school year, I have decided to put together a snack list. I plan to provide it to the parents in Cadel's class, with permission of our teacher, of course.  We always have snacks there for her if what is brought doesn't work for her restrictions.  However, I thought to myself "If it were someone else's child who was intolerant, wouldn't I want to know so I could try to work with their needs?"  I think so.  Yes. I guess I would at the very least like to know what some choices would be and make an informed choice (e.g., So I do not buy something that I think a child would be able to have only to find out they could not, and worse have to see their sad face when they can't!).  Note - Cadel does not make a sad face every time she cannot have something - it is really ALL in managing expectations!

I'm hoping to be able to include with the list a note explaining Cadel's allergies, and a very sincere message about no one having to work around her - this is definitely not my expectation!  I will, however, be inviting the parents to email me a heads up if they would like to so I can provide a snack for Miss C that is in parity with what they are bringing.  For example, if  their child wants to bring birthday cupcakes, then maybe I could send Cadel to school with an allergy-free cupcake - not much more work for them, and a big win for us.  I'm hoping our awesome teacher will be supportive.

Anyway, I've segmented the lists somewhat for ease of shopping.   We do have nut allergies in our preschool class, so I've included some separate items in case you want to use my lists but don't have nut allergies.

Easy to find "healthy-ish" snacks:
- baby carrots
- sliced apples
- orange slices
- grapes
- strawberries
- raspberries
- fruit snacks, fruit rollups, fruit leathers / flats, twisted fruit
- air popped (or oil popped) popcorn (not microwave kind unless it expressly says GF, which most don't)
- applesauce
- cereals - Rice Chex, Corn Chex

Easy to find, but "not-so-healthy" snacks:
- Kraft jet-puffed marshmallows
- plain flavored Pop Chips (the other flavors have dairy)
- candy- Skittles, Starbursts, most lollipops.... actually, this is a great resource for candy - http://surefoodsliving.com/2011/10/halloween-candy-list-gluten-free-allergen-free-2011/ - she updates with each holiday!
- Lays potato chips
- tortilla chips
- Frito's
- most popsicles (check for dairy if you aren't sure!)
- cereals - Fruity/Cocoa/Marshmallow Pebbles
- most any kind of juice, Gatorade, lemonade

Off the beaten path (for people who may shop at co-ops, Whole Foods, etc):
- Annie's bunny cookies - snickerdoodle or cocoa and vanilla
- Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips
- Snyders of Hanover or Glutino brands gluten-free pretzels
- Lucy's and Enjoy Life brands cookies - both are nearly always free of all allergens
- Enjoy Life brand cocoa loco bars

Things to add if there are no nut allergies in your classroom:
- peanuts - regular or honeyroasted
- Environkidz cereals or bars
- peanut butter with the apple slices

Things that would work but that my Girl doesn't like:
- raisins and other dried fruit
- rice chips  (e.g., Riceworks Salsa Fresca are GOOD).  I bet we will find one that she likes eventually.
- pineapple (she's actually allergic)
- blueberries

Things that DO NOT EVER work, unfortunately:
- granola or other types of bars
- crackers (goldfish, graham, etc)
- yogurt  or Gogurt
- anything with milk chocolate in it (so for example, while Peeps candies themselves are fine, chocolate dipped ones are not)
- cheese sticks
- cookies as not mentioned above

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Un-Dairy (Allergy-free Eating - Post #5)

I think one of the hardest things about our allergy situation was imagining a world with no dairy.  I grew up drinking milk, and I LOVE milk.  My kids were milk babies (once they were off the breast, of course).  And, well, cheese was a staple ingredient in many of our favorite meals - homemade pizza, lasagna, pasta with sauce and shredded parm, macaroni and cheese, tacos, enchiladas -- everything I could think of that I cooked often had cheese in it!  Wow.  This was going to be tough.

The first thing we did was target milk.  Milk for drinking and for on cereal (GFV of course!) and oats (GF certified, of course!).  We tried: coconut, almond, hemp, rice, and soy.  Here is what stuck:

Rice milk - kids use it on their cereal and in their oatmeal (I think because it has the least distinct flavor of all and it looks like skim milk).
Almond milk - we bake with it, and SJ drinks it in her bottle.  SJ was pretty flexible, and I wanted to use non-soy (for all of the unproven potential consequences of too much soy) but something that was more than just carbs.
Soy milk - Vanilla soy in my chai, thank-you-very-much.

So, yes, we always have 3 kinds of milk on hand.  Costco helps us out a bit by selling these:

So what about cheese, say you?  UGH.  We have no such luck with cheese.  I have tried a variety of things such as Dai ya shreds, but nothing that doesn't come from animals really tastes decent.

I do want to caution you about some non-dairy products which actually contain casein.  We also have casein allergies (as do many people with dairy intolerances - casein is milk protein.  I liken it to people being allergic to wheat AND gluten).  So always read the labels.  If they are marked Vegan, they won't have casein, because it is an animal-derived ingredient.

I can stand the flavor / texture of a little soy cheese on my salads, and on pizza it's "okay", but I'd honestly rather eat pizza cheese-less at this point. 

One thing I will say that I like surprisingly is this:

I will have to be honest in saying that I'm not sure if I like it because it is actually good, or if I'm just finally desparate enough.  Either way. 

I think I will have to dedicate an entire TWO posts to un-dairy.  I still have butter, yogurt, and ice cream left to cover!  More soon....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Photo Book

I *finally* finished the FIRST part of our 2011 Photo Book on Shutterfly. 111 pages... and I got through June 2011. 

I blame my pathetic pace in creating the book on Shutterfly's new Custom Path Photobook product. There are SO many options for page layouts, embellishments, and backgrounds that I was a bit overwhelmed for a while. Once I got in the groove though I had a ton of fun making original pages. 

Check out how you can use a photo as a background. I did that quite a few times! Fun! 

Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.