Posts Tagged ‘toddler’

Gluten-Free Friday 3/29/13

Friday, March 29th, 2013
 

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We’ve made it! My original intent was a 6 week gluten elimination trial and today marks 6 weeks! Wow! The thing is we are going to continue because we have seen improvements. There is a certain degree of irony in it all for me! You see I started writing gluten-free Friday when no member of my family was actually gluten-free. My good friends at House-54 merely asked me to write them and I agreed. As I wrote some posts and thought about it it occurred to me that my youngest son Evan may actually be intolerant. He was suffering stomach pains, he had constipation issues since birth and he is anemic. Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance also has a higher occurrence rate among people with Down syndrome (which Evan has). All of these are symptoms. So the 6 week elimination diet began and my son improved. His Pediatrician agreed that it seems too much of a coincidence and she ordered a blood test for Celiac this week. We went to the lab and unfortunately the technicians were unable to get a blood draw (blood draws are tricky on people with low muscle tone). My poor baby was stuck several times and I felt terrible but no luck! :( :( We will have to try again however since he needs a number of tests (not just for Celiac). Typically you would want the test while still consuming gluten but the Pediatrician feels that 5-6 weeks is not enough time gluten-free for Celiac to not be picked up in the blood draw. We will hopefully get a successful blood draw soon and some answers. Even if the test is negative however we will stay gluten-free because we feel it is working!

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Over the past 6 weeks I have become quite an expert researcher. There are still many things I am still not clear on but I learn something new almost every day! The whole certified gluten-free versus “no gluten ingredients used” still trips me up…. is it gluten-free or not? The internet has probably been my number one tool. I can access it at home or even on the go from my iPhone. The thing is you can’t always believe what you read on the internet (shocking I know lol) but I try to use reliable sources. Celiac.com I consider reliable since it is a website devoted to helping people with Celiac live a happy healthy gluten-free life. You can look up gluten-free foods, get recipes, shop and even connect with other gluten intolerant folks in their forum! I also downloaded an app called find me Gluten-Free where you can put in your location and get a list of gluten-free restaurants and eateries near you along with helpful reviews. Finally I have been getting some lovely advice, suggestions and encouragement from people reading this blog. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I really do appreciate it!

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This blog, as you can probably guess, is all about lunch packing however! I believe in packing healthy and balanced lunches for my family using little to no artificial ingredients. Evan’s lunches are no different because he is gluten-free. I just challenge myself to work harder to be sure he has delicious AND balanced offerings. It has become easier as I go along but for awhile I did begin to feel like I was packing the same safe foods again and again! To combat that I decided to purchase some lunch menu plans for inspiration. MOMables Gluten-Free Menu Plan to be exact! For only $12.00 I was able to purchase 8 weeks of suggested menu plans which even included shopping lists. The premise of MOMables is to show parents that they can pack a healthy lunch for their children quickly and at a reasonable cost. The turkey and cheese sushi rolls in the photo above were inspired by the ham and cheese sushi roll from my MOMables gluten-free menu plan and it was a big hit with Evan! I know if I need more inspiration still I can visit the blogs of some dear friends who also have gluten-free children and focus on healthy lunch packing. Check them out:

Keeley McGuire Blog

Biting the Hand that Feeds You

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Lunch #1 in Glit & Brillia container: blueberries, cheese stick, Perdue Chicken shortcuts and baked banana split pancake muffins.

Lunch #2 in Glit & Brillia container: mini cucumbers, strawberries, Leapin Lemurs GF cereal by Envirokidz, and GF bagel pizza made with an Udi’s bagel

Lunch #3 in Nibble Tray container by Zak Designs: nectarines, strawberries, Leapin Lemurs GF cereal by Envirokidz, Almond Thin crackers by Blue Diamond as well as turkey and cheese sushi (wrap a cheese stick up in your favorite lunch meat and slice). This recipe was inspired by the hame and cheese sushi lunch included in the MOMables Gluten-Free Menu Plan. The deli at my grocery store was kind enough to wipe down the cutter before slicing our gluten-free meat to avoid cross contamination.

Lunch #4 in a Leaflet Tight container: veggie mix including peas, carrots and zucchini, Van’s Say Cheese crackers, sliced cheese stick (one of Evan’s favorites as you can see), hard boiled egg chicks. I was inspired after seeing this idea on Pinterest from just jenn recipes! Do note that I used a gluten-free flax seed for the eyes and I used cooked carrots for the beaks (since I had them from my veggie side anyway)! So which did some first, the chicken or the egg?

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So I’m beginning to feel like a pro already so I hope I can in turn offer some advice now to my friend Jessie over at Chaos and Confections! She recently learned her adorable 3 1/2 year old son Beaker has multiple food allergies among them gluten. I would love if you would stop by and offer her some encouragement! Have a happy week. I’ll be back next week with another Gluten-Free Friday recap!

 

Sincerely,

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Gluten-Free Friday 2/22/13

Friday, February 22nd, 2013
 

Phew we did it! We survived 6 days of gluten elimination for our 23 month old son Evan. All in all not too difficult. At this time we are not eliminating gluten for the whole family so there were some challenges along the way! Now we have arrived back here at Gluten-Free Friday to discuss what I’ve learned and to share lunch ideas! Gluten-Free Friday began at the request of my good friend Katie over at House-54. I happily obliged even though no member of my family was actually gluten-free. Go check out Katie’s site for more gluten-free recipe ideas and tips! These posts have since evolved as my youngest son Evan is now gluten-free. For the beginning of Evan’s GF journey refer back to last week’s post!

As I began this elimination diet for Evan I had some good background knowledge to start with. Writing my Gluten-Free Friday posts over the past couple of months has really helped me get a leg up on this change. I have a base knowledge of things to look out for and questions to ask. I do however, consider it just a start. You see, with Gluten-Free Friday I originally set out to come up with one suggested lunch idea each week. Each week I might learn one new tip, one new food, one new product or one new source of hidden gluten. Essentially I learned what I needed to write that one post. That is hardly the same as a lifestyle change. Now that we are making that lifestyle change for my son I am really thrown into the fire with so much to learn! Lucky for me I have had a lot of great friends both in real life and online who have really stepped up and given me some great advice and encouragement. I am so thankful to all of them!

Here are some of the things I learned this week: 

Hidden gluten is everywhere. You really have to stop and consider everything you put in your mouth. In time I will come to know what is OK and what isn’t without thinking but for now everything requires thought! Every label must be read! If the label isn’t marked gluten-free and contains no wheat in the ingredient list you still cannot consider it safe. You must do further research. These are some of the things I discovered this week that may have hidden gluten: spices, seasonings, and packaged cheeses (anti-caking agents). I am happy to report though that many of the Badia Spices I had in my cabinet were clearly marked gluten-free. Thank you Badia!

Off the shelf gluten-free products (products marketed specific to GF people) are EXPENSIVE so trial and error can be costly. The issue is you cannot rely on the product being a tasty and reliable substitute for a non gluten-free product. In all fairness what one person likes another may not I suppose. As I dug right in and made a GF American Chop Suey for my family I learned this the hard way. The dinner tasted fine but the $4.00 box of pasta turned out to be quite mushy in texture so we didn’t eat very much. The leftovers were then tossed and I had my first GF failure! Then I got some tips! My friend Katie at House-54 mentioned that I should try Tinkyada pasta and my friend Keeley at Keeley McGuire Blog mentioned that I should cook the pasta more al dente. Thank you to both because my second batch of pasta was a success and I now know I can invest in that particular expensive pasta! Go check out my friends at Stockpiling Moms for current gluten-free coupon suggestions to help save you some money!

Make and freeze your own convenience products. This is another way to save yourself some money and assure that you have a supply of easy foods to eat. Through unfortunate costly trial and error I discovered that Evan does not like the packaged gluten-free frozen waffles. Considering frozen waffles is a staple in the breakfast of a working mom’s toddler this was a tragic discovery! So I made my own. My non-gluten free friend, Karen at Our Lunch Bags, who had tried a gluten-free diet for her son suggested I start with GF Bisquick. This seemed a reasonable start for a GF newbie. I can rarely leave well enough alone when baking so to the packaged waffle instructions I added one mashed banana and a handful of Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips. These waffles (pictured below) were a huge success and the whole family actually loves them. I froze the batch and I toast them just like a traditional frozen waffle to serve. I then decided to make gluten-free egg muffins so I would have an easy breakfast alternative since the waffles seemed so decadent!

Gluten-Free Egg Muffins (makes 1 dozen)

  • 10 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Mix-ins  I used chopped spinach and red pepper but use your favorites (consider tomato with basil or caramelized onions with gluten-free sausage)
  • Gluten-free shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine by whisking together all your ingredients except your mix-ins and cheese. Use silicone or paper liners in your muffin tin otherwise spray with cooking spray (Pam original is gluten-free). Place a small amount of mix-ins in each muffin cup. Then fill each cup 3/4 full with the egg mixture. Top with additional mix-ins and shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the muffins smell done and are firm to the touch. Muffins will rise when baking and then fall while cooling (will look like the picture below). Allow to cool completely before freezing or serve right away.

 

 

Lunches this week (pictured at the top of this post and below) were all served for Evan so are cut into toddler sized finger servings. The ideas however can be adapted for any age.

Lunch #1 (at top) – served in a Nibble Tray by Zak Designs, this lunch contains hard boiled egg, cheese stick, cooked and cooled carrots, kiwis and oranges mixed and Envirokidz Gorilla Much Cereal.

Lunch #2 (below) – served in a Lunchbots Duo, this lunch contains an egg muffin (recipe above), blueberries, raspberries, cheese stick, cucumbers and Snyder’s Eatsmart Veggie Crisps

Lunch #3 (below) – served in a Rubbermaid Lunchblox, this lunch contains gluten-free pasta with sauce, Perdue shortcuts chicken, red pepper strips, cheese stick, blueberries and Envirokidz Gorilla Much Cereal.

 

Tune in next Friday for more gluten-free fun!

Sincerely,

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