Eating Gluten-Free With Kids

I’m often asked about what our family eats, because most people who know us are aware of the issues we’ve had with food intolerance. (All of our kids have the same digestive issues with gluten and dairy – I did my part in passing on that gift…)

I love it when people ask about how to survive eating gluten-free with kids, because I’m happy to share any helpful tidbits we’ve learned over the years, and I’m pretty passionate about finding great food to eat even when we haven’t been able to enjoy gluten or dairy. Fortunately, our kids are able to eat more than they were in the past, because a lot of their digestive issues have cleared up, but I clearly remember how overwhelming it was in the beginning when we first found out that we’d need to make some serious changes in our eating habits, and if there’s anything I can do to help others with that learning curve, I’m glad to do it.

Because of the questions I’m asked, I’ve decided to make one massive food post. If you are one of those lucky people who can eat whatever you want, skip this post and go eat a bunch of gluten-y chocolate chip cookies for the rest of us.

But if you find yourself in the same boat as our family, we welcome you aboard, and want to assure you: life can still be awesome with dietary restrictions.

Obviously, you’ll need to find your own way of making this work for your particular situation, but here’s a look at our weekly menu and our favourite recipes to get you started:

Monday: Oatmeal, usually with Cinnamon + apples or strawberries mixed in (depending on your level of sensitivity, you might need to get oatmeal that’s specified as being gluten-free)

Tuesday: Lazy Apple Crisp – slice up some apples and mix with vanilla + lemon juice; mix oatmeal with oil + cinnamon, and layer over apples; bake for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday: Scrambled eggs & ham

Thursday: Soaked Oatmeal

Friday: Honey Cloud Pancake

Saturday & Sunday: Applesauce Pancakes/Waffles (We always triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers for quick snacks throughout the week.)

Lunch

We will usually have leftovers for lunch. If there are none, we’ll make quiche (this recipe, without the crust), soup of some sort, or cubed/roasted potatoes with leftover meat + veggies. I roast a whole chicken regularly so we always have cooked meat in the freezer. I also make huge pots of spaghetti sauce to freeze so we can have a quick meal every once in awhile (Costco gluten-free pasta is the best taste/price we’ve found). I find it very time consuming to bake bread, and often make biscuits instead because they’re faster and easier.

Supper

Monday: Roasted Veggies + Meat (whatever combo I’m hungry for, or have veggies in the fridge that need using up, like potatoes/broccoli/chicken, or carrots/onions/potatoes/chicken, etc. Toss with oil and seasonings like garlic and oregano on a cookie sheet, and roast it for about 45 minutes.)

Tuesday: Casserole of some sort (Shepherd’s Pie, Enchilada Casserole)

Wednesday: Salad with chopped veggies + chicken on top, with smashed potatoes

Thursday: Stir-fry or Broccoli Noodles (I love using the asian noodles Superstore sells, made from pea/bean starch for this meal)

Friday: Taco Salad

Saturday: Loaded Baked Potatoes (Everyone adds their own toppings like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, black beans, chicken, cheese, etc.)

Sunday: Fish + Chip Potatoes (can be made with potatoes or sweet potatoes) + steamed veggies

*You may have noticed that our family eats a ton of potatoes, which some people think is unhealthy. But there’s also the pro-potato people who feel the potassium in potatoes is so good for us, we should eat two a day. (Anika says she heartily agrees.) So for now, since I can’t eat any grain, potatoes are cheap, and my body seems to respond really well to The Perfect Health Diet, we’ll go strong with potassium.

Snacks

Our kids eat a lot of fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds, rye crackers from Superstore, or sweet potato crackers from Costco. We also make chocolate balls, granola bars, cookies (Apple Spice Cookies or Chewy Coconut-Oat Cookies, subbing honey for any sweetener), rice pudding, Breakfast Bread, and muffins (Gingerbread Muffins).

*************************

So that’s pretty much it for food at our house. I want to clarify something very important:

We did not make these changes overnight.

It is hard and overwhelming to make changes when it comes to what you’re cooking, and what your kids want to eat. I made one change at a time. When we were first encouraged to take gluten out of Anika’s diet, she was eating toast and cereal for breakfast every day. We tried to cut back, and made her scrambled eggs instead of her usual slice of toast. Gluten-free cereal was an easy switch, and that took care of breakfast. Next I tried to change her snacks. Then lunch. I used to make separate meals for our family, but finally Ben said, “Just make everything gluten-free, I don’t mind.”

It made things SO MUCH easier, and Ben actually felt better staying away from gluten, even if he can handle eating it. So it was a long process, and there were lots of times when I felt very lost. Make small changes, and go easy on yourself. One step at a time.

And one day you’ll look back, and think, “It’s really not that big of a deal anymore.” It will be awesome and delicious.

Any favorite gluten-free recipes you have to share?! We’re always up for trying something new!

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

Around Here Right Now

I can’t even remember the last time I did one of these posts, and since I’m pretty sure you sit around your house, just WAITING to hear more details about my awesome life, I figure it’s about time to give you a little update…

Okay, not really, but here’s what we’ve been loving lately:

1) Wholesome Gluten-free Honey Cookies

Honey Cookies

They’re supposed to be Christmas cookies, but there is NO WAY they’ll last till Christmas. These are the best gluten-free cookies I’ve ever made, and I’m pretty sure it happened at least in part by accident. Mine look nothing like the picture in the blog post, but we all don’t care, because they’re delicious. The blog I got the recipe from has never disappointed me yet! So many good gluten-free treats to try, it’s my first place to look for Christmas treats.:)

2) Another photo wall!!

Yes, I’ve done it again! This is the third photo wall I’ve put up in our house (with some help from Ben;), and I have visions of at least two more!! It makes me so very happy to see pictures up on the walls. This one’s extra special, because it includes our wedding picture, our most recent family picture, and one of my all-time favorites that I’ve taken since getting my new camera. (It’s the one on the bottom, left.:) Hydrangeas are my favorite flowers, plus the photo always reminds me of this golden evening with my dear friend Juls!)

photo wallI have a little bit of work left to do on it, but it’s already increasing my joy, especially since it’s right across from our washer and dryer – I love having something pretty to look at on my way to do the laundry!

3) Trying to find time to read!

books

I have a massive stack of books to get through! So many awesome books that people have borrowed to me, and I’m feeling pressure to get some major reading done so I don’t out-lend my welcome! All of them are on topics that I’ve been chewing on for awhile now, and I’m eager to do some thinking and learning as I read!

What are you enjoying these days?

3 Reasons Why This is Not a Food Blog, But I’m Trying Something New…

Today, it is exactly five years since I stopped eating sugar.

smoothie

That seems like kind of a big deal to me, so I decided this would be the perfect day to introduce you to a new little project of mine, which involves food.

I love food. I love eating it, making it, and taking pictures of it.

I love the bright colors of vegetables, or when healthy food looks super appealing, and I really enjoy a plate of food with great presentation. If I had time in this life, I’d be a food stylist.

But I will never have a food blog. For the following reasons:

1) I very rarely make up my own recipes.

I love following other people’s amazing recipes, but I don’t “experiment” in the kitchen. That’s just not my thing.

2) I don’t know anything about food photography.

Although I’m often taking pictures of food, I really don’t know how to do it the way professionals do. I could learn, but it’s not close to the top of my list of priorities right now.

3) I’m interested in too many other things.

While healthy eating is very important to me, and something I’m passionate about, I can’t see myself limiting this blogging hobby to food. I love Jesus, I love my family, I love photography, reading, writing, organizing, simplifying, etc, etc. The list could go on and on. A food blog or even a health blog would feel very limiting.

However.

Despite the fact that I don’t want to write an entire blog about food, I’ve been working on a little surprise for all of you who are interested.

I have been approached by several different people who are curious about the way our family eats. I am often asked questions about how I have navigated the different diet transitions my family has been through, including going gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. (Lots of free…)

Because food intolerances are becoming increasingly common, and healthy eating is on the rise, I have been asked a number of times if I could put together all of the recipes our family uses on a regular basis, as well as any tips for where to find great products, resources, or any other helpful tidbits.

The only qualification I have when it comes to healthy eating is experience. I have read and researched for hours and hours, and I have lived it for five years.

I will never forget that day, five years ago, when my naturopath called me with test results, and her solution to my health problems: a total food makeover.

The day she called me with the results, I was lying flat on the couch, recovering from a surgery which was supposed to treat my infertility issues. I felt about the worst I’ve ever felt, which was probably a good thing, because I was ready to agree to ANYTHING she suggested.

And her suggestion was: No more gluten, dairy, or sugar.

I had no idea what to eat. No idea how to cook. No idea how to survive within the new limitations I’d been given.

The first two weeks were completely terrible. Because I couldn’t eat the very things my body was desperately craving, I felt hungry all  the time. I lay awake at night, thinking about food. I cried a lot.

But I stuck to it, and slowly, things started to change.

Slowly, I found a new normal. And then things went well for a few years.

Until our girls started having too many digestion problems, and Ben and I decided it was time to make some changes in the way our whole family was eating.

So I started all over again. I could feed myself in a healthy way, but it wasn’t appealing for kids.

I’ve spent the last year figuring out how to feed a family in a healthy, appealing way. It is a constant work in progress, as I learn more about what is truly good to eat, and as I discover more recipes.

But it doesn’t stress me out anymore. I enjoy it.

And I don’t ever want to go back to the way we used to eat.

I love what our family eats. I feel truly good about the food I serve. Part of me would love it if our girls could enjoy what “normal” kids eat, but mostly, I’m just thankful for how much healthier we eat because of the food intolerance issues we deal with around here. I have so much left to learn, and many more healthy habits to add to what we’re already doing around here, but I feel that we’re on the right track.

So this is what we’re going to do around here on the blog:

For all of you who have expressed interest in what our family eats, or for anyone who just loves to check out new recipes, and you want some ideas on how to eat gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free, I have decided to add a new page to my blog labelled “Recipes”. I have put together a list of links to all of our favorite recipes, and I will pass it on to you, in an effort to make it easier than it was for me in the beginning.

Also, I am working on a second page which will include all of the resources and health tips I have picked up over the last five years, from the reading I’ve done, and the multitude of healthcare professionals I’ve seen.

What I know, I’ll share!

And...if you have great gluten/dairy/sugar free recipes to pass on, I’d love to have you email those to me, and we’ll share with everybody.

But if you love your wheat and sugar, then by all means, avoid those new pages, and keep coming back for the usual blog stuff! The only thing that will look different are a few new tabs across the top.

And now, I must ask: How many of you out there are with me on this food intolerance adventure?? Any suggestions on how to navigate through all of the obstacles? Any recipes to share?

*Update: I have decided to remove the recipe page from my blog, and to replace it, I have started a Pinterest board with all of the online recipes we use on a regular basis. It is much less time-consuming to keep it updated, and more easily accessible, so I hope you find it enjoyable and useful!:)

34 Days of Favorites: Restaurants

When I was growing up, my mom taught me a few things about cooking.

She knew how to make food taste good, and she started teaching me how to use basic recipes at a young age. I remember the thrill of independence I got from being alone in the kitchen, not needing her help to prepare food.

I also remember the taste of mixing up one tablespoon of of salt in the rice with one teaspoon.

And I remember how, during every single meal I cooked, my mom would say, “Food tastes so much better when someone else makes it!”

Now, many years later, I find myself saying the same thing – how true it is!

So pardon me for sounding like every other housewife in the country when I say how much I love going out to eat. I like cooking, too, but how sweet it is to have a break from all the time and effort involved in feeding my family, and cleaning up afterwards.

We don’t eat out very often, which probably adds to the treat of it when we do. It’s partly a budget thing, and partly a pain in the diet thing. Because of some issues with food intolerance, including gluten, it can be tricky to find food I can eat in a restaurant.

In spite of this challenge, we’ve been able to find a number of restaurants we enjoy which serve food equally pleasing in taste and ease of digestion!

Bellisimo’s – Ben’s parents took us here for my birthday last year, and it was quite unforgettable. They offer gluten-free pasta, and cooked up a special dish just for me, to accommodate my digestion issues, and it was one of the most delicious meals I’ve eaten all year. I fantasize about going back. It’s a bit of a pricier place, but very nice, and the other items on the menu looked amazing.

Sushi N – Our family discovered sushi this year. Anika was doing a little homeschool project on Japan, and we wanted to try some Japanese food. When Ben suggested sushi, I was not overly excited, as the thought of raw fish has always grossed me out.

When Ben informed me that sushi does not have to contain raw fish, I became a little more interested in sampling some sushi, so the next time our family went shopping at Superstore, we grabbed a tray of fresh sushi.

It was not love at first bite. The flavor took a little while to grow on me, but after a few rolls, I decided sushi was definitely something I’d like to eat again, preferably somewhere classier than Superstore.

We bought sushi a few more times throughout the year, but it wasn’t until my birthday this year when Ben and I actually tried an actual sushi restaurant.

A friend of mine who had lived in Japan for a few years recommended Sushi N as one of the best locations to get sushi in Winnipeg, so off we went!

My word, that menu was intimidating! So many choices! And strange names. Ben had to google sushi lingo, and we hesitantly placed our order.

Turns out, I love the California or Vegetable Rolls. Oh, yum.

My words of advice: do your research before you go, or go with someone who knows their sushi! And then go back again and again!

The Works – This final favorite is a bit of a cheat, because I only experienced it this last weekend, and not during the 33rd year of my life. It’s so good, though, I have to share…

While visiting my sister in Ottawa, we went out to eat at The Works. They serve every kind of burger you could possibly imagine, plus a whole bunch you couldn’t. (Peanut butter and bananas on a burger??)

I haven’t had a burger in five years, and oh, sweet goodness. There are no words. Gluten-free turkey burger with a topping of tomatoes, garlic, and oregano.

Food heaven.

You may have to travel if you want to try this one, though, because it’s only an Ontario thing, sadly.

There you have it – my three new favorites. What are your favorite restaurants?

34 Days of Favorites: Supper

I have always been a recipe girl.

I learned at a young age that if I followed the recipe on the page very closely, it wasn’t too hard to make food taste good. I never strayed very far from what was written on the page.

But marrying Ben started to change all that.

His family never uses a recipe. They just figure things out as they go along. Ben cooks the same way, and there are some things that just taste better when he makes it. He knows how to give flavour to things.

When I developed some food allergies, I had trouble finding recipes to fit my specific needs. I had to become more flexible and able to adapt recipes to fit my needs. I started to learn how much fun it could be to ditch the recipe and just wing it.

Then last year, for my birthday dinner at a restaurant, I had the best pasta dish ever. Although I could never make it taste the same at home, I sure tried.

The result is a pasta dish we make regularly around here. It is my favorite thing to make and inhale. Er…I mean, politely eat in small, delicate bites.

We tried to come up with a name for it together as a family, and for awhile we called it “The Amazing Adventures of Pete Pepper and Billy Broccoli”, but that’s kind of a long name, and it fizzled out. Now we just call it “That Pasta Dish”.

So, without any measurements (because now we’re all casual about that kind of thing around here!), I share with you my very own pasta recipe:

Pasta (we use rice noodles, because we do that gluten-free thing around here)

Steamed broccoli and peppers

Grilled Chicken, cut into small pieces

Olive Oil

Salt, Basil, Garlic

Cook your pasta, steam your veggies, cut up your grilled chicken, and mix it all together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, salt, basil, and garlic. Pour over the pasta mixture and mix it all up.

Um, and that’s it. Very, very simple. Not really all that impressive, but I love it and could eat it forever.

**************************

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite food to eat for supper? Do you use recipes or fly by the seat of your pants? (I guess that’s not a very kitchen-appropriate expression, but you know what I mean!)