Thursday, 19 April 2012

Super Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (GFCF)

I think that for most people, the smell of delicious home made cookies hanging in the air sends them right back to their childhood. It's one of those things that just smells like home... comfort... love.

     The thought of my babies never being able to make this subconscious link in their adult hood because we were a gluten free casein free house hold growing up just seems wrong. So alas, my hunt for the perfect GFCF chocolate chip cookie began. I am pleased to say that this is a cookie that will please all. It is chewy, moist, and rich.

    I have listed GF All purpouse flour as one of the ingredients. I would like to clarify, this is MY favorite combination of flours and startches that seems to yeild the best baked goods. I like to go to the Bulk Barn and get a bunch and then mix it up so it's all ready to go in my pantry. You may choose to use a bought pre-mixed AP flour however I do not recomend it... ever. I have not been pleased with any of these... ever. You can find my mix HERE

   

   
Super Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (GFCF)

  • 2 1/3 Cups GF AP flour mix
  • 1 tsp xanthum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Cup Ghee OR butter
  • 1/4 Cup organic cane sugar (can use white sugar)
  • 1 1/4 Cups muscovado or brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg (large)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP coconut milk (or any other milk alternative)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (dairy free)


Preheat oven to 300F

  1. Cream ghee and sugars in stand mixer for 2 minutes.
  2. While butter and sugar are creaming whisk all dry ingredients together, except the chocolate chips, in a seperate bowl.
  3. Add egg, yolks, almond milk and vanilla to mixer.
  4. Once eggs are incorperated add dry ingredients slowly on low. Mix only until combined.
  5. Add chocolate chips and stir in by hand.
  6. Cool dough in refridgerator for 1 hour or until firm enough to scoop and drop.
  7. Scoop 1 TBSP of dough per cookie onto parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving 2" between them
  8. Bake in middle of oven one sheet at a time for 9-12 minutes. They should be golden around edges but quite soft in the centre still.
  9. Let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transfering to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Store in an air tight container at room temperature for two days or freeze for up to one month.

Tips:
  • DO NOT OVER BAKE!!! You will lose the chewy moist texture of these cookies if you do.
  • Use cooled cookie sheets. If you use a hot one because you only have one, then decrease cooking time accordingly
  • Choose a semi-sweet chocolate chip without dairy. I use Presidents Choice Decedant chocolate chips. Please do not use carrib chips... ewe.
  • Feel free to substitute some of the chips for dries fruit, nuts, or any other item that suits you.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Diet


 

    Life without bread, cheese, pasta, pastries and butter......
Up until this point in my life I would have said that this is not a life worth living.

    That is until we got a diagnosis for autism for our toddler in January of this year. After three years of trying to figure things out and wondering what we were doing wrong, we finally had our answer. It wasn't any one's fault, it wasn't "bad" behaviour, it was a blessing. We now had a direction to head in. Our "whys" were being answered. There are resources available for support. So... Great! We've got this beat. Let's deal with it and move on. Right?................Wrong.

    Upon receiving a diagnosis and spending oh let me just take a guess, hmm, about 4 billion hours of research. At least. I sadly came to the same realization that every other parent of an autistic child does... There is no cure. No medication, no therapy, no programs, nothing that would help make my little man's very difficult life easier.

    Now I am not a cure monger. Wishing for my child to be different, wishing he would change. I do however, wish for a life of pleasure for him. As it stands now, pleasure is not the emotion displayed most often, frustration is.

   Who wants their child to go through life frustrated? Screaming and yelling and thrashing and hitting. Not being able to communicate the simplest of needs to feel the slightest bit of semblance in a very chaotic world. I know I don't. I love my son. I love that he is autistic. I love his quirks, I love that his autism is just like the unique icing on the many layers of cake that make up who he is.

    OK, so where does that leave us? I would like his life to be easier and less frustrating while maintaining all the wonderful things about him. Hmmmm, tall order, especially when they can't even tell you why it is that children are autistic in the first place. Why it is that rates have climbed at an insurmountable rate and now 1 in every 88 children is diagnosed with autism. It's a bloody worldwide epidemic and no one can even tell us why!

    In my, what did I say 3 billion hours, or was it 4, of research, I did notice a trend. Many parents have noticed the trend in fact. Turns out, autistic behaviour is amplified when certain foods are in the body. Common foods. Foods that autistic children tend to lean towards. Coincidence? I think not. Turns out that the proteins in milk (casein) and the proteins that make up gluten are like drugs to our little bundles of joy. Children with autism (ADHD as well) on the whole suffer from many gastrointestinal (GI) issues due to the inability to properly break down both of these proteins.

    OK, so what does that mean? It means that while I thought bread and cheese were bad for ME because they went straight to my hips, I was unaware that the danger was real for my son. These proteins have an opiate like effect in the body for autistic children. Yep, you heard me, might as well be shooting them up with heroin.

    This certainly explains why autistic children are infamous for their bread and cheese only diets, and why they all crave it like it's a glass of iced tea in the Sahara.  Our babies are junkies, and we are the suppliers.

    So now what? It stands to reason that if something is doing harm, then you don't do it any more. "OK son, now I know that you have very rigid guidelines to what and how you like to eat. Too Bad though." (pfft) I also know that i do not have them money to continuously stock our pantry with practically inedible products that sometimes cost up to 12X as much. (Have you ever tried an $8 loaf of gluten free bread? Can't even get it down, and I've eaten stuff that would make your head spin) Well, I guess that means that I'll be baking.

    Now it is a bloody good thing that I am a chef by trade, and have a love for food that runs deep. Unfortunately, watching a regular gluten laden loaf of bread rise with all of it's gorgeous glory after I worked it with my hands into a smooth ball promising to be delicious dragged through olive oil later (sorry I'm getting carried away), it is not the same as the sticky thick batter and 15 or so ingredients that make up gluten free bread. It doesn't even smell like food.

    So I am out on my own, weeding through uncharted territory and taking abuse from one bad recipe after another. All the while trying to keep my son fed. Spending countless dollars on ingredients that I only used once and feeling quite defeated. I took a break. Stopped baking yet kept on reading. Reading about every gluten free, dairy free cooking method and replacement product under the sun. Finally feeling it was worth another try, I began for a second time, armed with knowledge. And Success!

    Now I am still very much in the trial and error stage of this new cooking adventure that I am on, but there is definite progress. My son can now have the peanut butter and jam sandwich that he oh so desperately wants, and follow it up with a delicious buttery cookie. Works for me.

    Hopefully to save even one person the amount of grief that I went through I have decided to post some of my favorite recipes. I have read like a million blogs with people stating that they have figured it all out, and then been quite let down with my experience with their recipes. I hope to give other parents of children with autism and ADHD a valuable resource to turn to. One that is worth turning to.

    Oh and just for the record... My little man is improving by the day since we have started the diet. His world seems just a touch less frustrating, but he's still his fabulous quirky self.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Immersion

Sometimes I feel like all we ever talk about, all we ever think about is Max's autism.
I am probably the most guilty. If he does or doesn't do something it's linked back to his autism. If there are new or specific circumstances within our families life, it is linked back to his autism. 'How will this affect him? We have to reschedule, Max is having a bad day. Will Max be able to handle moving again? Dinner isn't an option, Max can't eat that.'

    It's not that I am resentful of the fact that we spend most of our time strategizing, thinking, walking on egg shells. It is that I find myself wondering from time to time: How is this all really making him feel?
photo credit: www.letschatautism.com

    It's funny, I don't want him to feel different, yet I truly embrace different. If he were a typical child I would encourage him to strive for individuality and a true identity of his own. Not to say that because he is autistic I will be rooting for a sheep of mass conformity. It's just that to feel different because others have dubbed you so is monumentally dissimilar to discovering your own unique qualities that make you you.

    There have been many instances where I have wished that I could read his mind. That he could tell me loud and clear what he wanted. If I had even one ounce of direction from him I would feel much more at ease with the approaches we all take to help form Max's existence into that of a contented one.

    But I can't. I can't read minds. I can't be certain of what he wants, because he cannot tell me, not right now anyway. So I go on intuition and love. Two things that I consider to be my best weapons in my arsenal of mothering.

    Unfortunately, both instinct and love push me to want to reach out to my child. When he is tired, when he is sad, frustrated, angry, overstimulated, ignored, misunderstood, when he is anything other than utterly happy, I have an instinctual need that comes from deep within my core to hold him. To hug him, kiss him, sing to him, rock him. To look into his eyes and have him see the sincerity in my heart, hear my words when I tell him that I love him and that everything will be fine. He has me and I would protect him to the ends of the earth.

    This is a pipe dream. He does not want to be held or rocked, hugged or kissed. If I sing to him or attempt to touch him when he is upset I am only adding more sensory input to his overstimulated state. He will not look me in the eye. He does not seem to register the emotion in my voice or on my face.

I feel powerless.

    I have been told I am sad for my loss, not his. That this is how he wants it. This is what feels right for him. Does it though? How do you know? Do you have this ability to peer into the mind of another that I so long for?

    When I hold my three year old whilst in the peak of a complete meltdown, with his dilated pupils, a glaze over his eyes, tear streaked cheeks and a clenched jaw, I see pain. I see it as he struggles out of my grasp to recede to a solitary state. I see it in his limbs that are corded and stiff with tension, but mostly i see it in his soul. It peaks out from behind his eyes with so much anguish that my heart breaks. I feel his pain as if it were my own. He is my heart, he is my life. When he is broken, i too am broken.

    There are many things about Max's autism that make him the wonderful little man that he is and that I love so very deeply. There are also many things about Max's autism that make me sad; Probably a little angry too. Things that make his life harder, things that make his life lonelier.

    Yes, we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about Max's autism. I guess it's just our way of trying to do right by him. I just hope we are.

About Us.......

Our family is not what you would call average.
My husband and I are madly in love (thank god) and have just recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary. We have two children together; Our beautiful 7 month old daughter and our spectacular three year old son, who also happens to be autistic. My husband also has a daughter who is 4 from his past relationship. She is wonderful, and I truly see her as my own.

    So there you have it. Three adorable kids, a wonderful husband and a dog (Tiamo), the fairy tale right? Ya... OK. If Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino collaborated in a retelling of the old white picket fence drawl. No, we certainly don't fit into the ticky tacky existence that others imagine, but I for one am damn happy about that. Normal is the oddity here. Individuality, unique, different, they are what we embrace in this house. Good thing too. Especially when a doctor looks at you and tells you that your wonderful little boy does not fit into the predetermined outlines of normal.




    Well I Say to hell with it! Go ahead, be different! In fact, if he were "normal" I'd probably be more concerned about the type of person he would become. His life will be hard, and I do worry, but he is not selfish, or deceitful, or manipulative, he just is... and that's great.

    DS has been a challenge from the beginning. I don't mean that in a bad way, I am always up for a good challenge. I believe that when I became a mother I found my true calling. There was nowhere I wanted to be then with him. I was in need of frequent reminders of this however, between sleep deprivation, a baby that screamed 22 out of 24 hours in a day, and ppd settling in, I was inches away from total meltdown. we got through it though.

    The old adage: If I knew then what I know now certainly holds true in this situation. If I understood that over stimulation and GI problems were the source of his crying we all would have slept a little better at night... literally. In looking back I think of my time with my little man fondly, but I tend to get a twang of guilt here and there too.. thinking of those moments where I would have sold him for a nickel to the first person who came along just to get some peace and quiet.

    To this day we usually dedicate three to four hours to bedtime. This is something that I have never felt as though we were making any leeway with. I have tried everything... and yet, my exhausted babe is still arranging and rearranging his prized number collection and humming to himself at 1 am.

    We don't do restaurants, we don't do long or back to back visits, even grocery shopping is strategically coordinated in hopes of keeping the peace in our fragile existence. Not anymore baby!!! Now comes the fun part. We know what we're dealing with (finally) so it's time to tackle one issue at a time. Hopefully the end result will be my wonderful boy still being him, but comfortable to do so everywhere. Wish us luck!

Introduction

       Today has been one of those days...
You know the kind I'm talking about; The baby was up all night teething, the fatigue ensued tension brought on disputes between DH and I about absolutely every little thing, and my three year old autistic son decides to throw one of his epic meltdowns that he is famous for right as I am expecting my 1 1/2 year old daycare child. AAAHHHH!!!

      Well, I feel better, how about you? Sorry for my earlier outburst, but sometimes you just need to be able to stand back and say "WHY ME?", right before kicking your own ass and reminding yourself that it's because you wouldn't have it any other way.

     So by now I'm sure this sounds like the nonsensical ramblings of an insane person, and well, it probably is. If you're anything like me however, you'll appreciate a little comradery in the colourful life of raising children. 

    I feel obligated to forewarn you though: I am not a Stepford mom who just plasters a smile on her perfectly made up face and endures everything with grace and restraint. I am a real mother. A real person. Our life is chaotic and I don't try to pretend it isn't. I use abrupt honesty to lay it out on the table and often add a spin to it with my dry sense of humour. This is how I cope. If you cannot seem to acquire a taste for my particular spin then do us both a favour and keep walking. However, I'm sure I'm not alone. So, if you can relate, then I hope you find some comfort in knowing that yes, there are others who find raising an autistic child difficult, but we can laugh, cry and get through it together.