GFDF Chinese Cuisine

Shrimp Stir Fry

3 Tbsp GF Cornstarch
1 1/2 Cups Cold water
6 Tbsp. GF Soy Sauce
4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 Cups fresh broccoli florets
1 Cup sliced carrots
1/2 Cup sliced onion
other veggies as desired (I added squash because it was handy)
1 lb. uncooked shrimp
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 Cup chopped peanuts (optional)

1. Combine and stir water and cornstarch in small bowl. Add soy sauce, garlic powder and ginger and set aside.

2. In large wok, stir fry broccoli and carrots in 2 Tbsp olive oil or sesame oil for about 3 minutes. Add other veggies (and a tad more oil if needed) and cook for 2 more minutes until tender-crisp. Add shrimp and garlic and cook 3-5 more minutes.

***I threw in some pre-cooked chicken breast strips for the kids at this point since they are not too fond of shrimp.

3. Stir sauce in bowl and then pour over shrimp and veggies. Cook and stir for 2 more minutes or until thick.

Serve over rice!

The whole family loved this dish. It was easy to make, healthy, and very tasty. My husband even commented that it was better than *some* of the Chinese restaurants we have tried. That was a great compliment from him :-) Joshua loved the chicken, which I pulled out for him and cut into bite sized pieces. He even liked his rice w/ sauce over it. Now if I can just get him to eat the veggies I'll be a happy mom!


Scientists Characterizes New Syndrome Of Allergy, Apraxia, Malabsorption

ScienceDaily (July 15, 2009) — A landmark study conducted by Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland is the first to reveal a new syndrome in children that presents with a combination of allergy, apraxia and malabsorption. Autism spectrum disorders were variably present. Verbal apraxia has until now been understood to be a neurologically based speech disorder, although hints of other neurological soft signs have been described.

The new study, led by Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland scientist and pediatric emergency medicine physician, Claudia Morris, MD, and Marilyn C. Agin, MD, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician at Saint Vincent Medical Center in New York, however, suggests that the symptoms of verbal apraxia are, at least for a sub-group of children, part of a larger, multifactorial, neurologic syndrome involving food allergies/gluten-sensitivity and nutritional malabsorption.

"While it is critical to treat verbal apraxia symptoms that often include severe delays in expressive speech production with speech therapy, we need to start asking why these kids are having these problems in the first place so that we can identify mechanisms we can actually target to treat the cause of the symptoms," says Dr. Morris.

Published in the July/August issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, the new study takes a major step toward identifying the potential mechanisms that may contribute to apraxia symptoms. In the study, Dr. Morris collected information from nearly 200 families with children who suffered from verbal apraxia in order to better characterize the symptoms and metabolic anomalies of a subset of children. The data clearly demonstrated a common cluster of allergy, apraxia and malabsorption, along with low muscle tone, poor coordination and sensory integration abnormalities. In addition, Dr. Morris was able to gather laboratory analyses in 26 of the children, which revealed low carnitine levels, abnormal celiac panels, gluten sensitivity, and vitamin D deficiency among others.

All children genetically screened carried an HLA gene associated with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. "The sample size is still small and should be interpreted with caution," says Dr. Morris. "However this is of particular interest given the recent publication by Eaton and colleagues in the July 6 online edition of Pediatrics demonstrating a greater than 3-fold risk of autism in children born to mothers diagnosed with celiac disease. This brings some credibility to the anecdotal reports of gastrointestinal and behavioral improvements in children with autism spectrum disorders and/or verbal apraxia when eliminating gluten from their diets. Although the implications of these observations remain to be determined, this association and the utility of dietary modifications warrant further investigation, particularly if we can identify a genetically vulnerable group".

Most significantly, the data indicate that the neurologic dysfunction represented in the syndrome overlaps the symptoms of vitamin E deficiency. While low vitamin E bioavailability may occur due to a variety of different causes, neurological consequences are similar, regardless of the initiating trigger. The study suggests that vitamin E could be used as a safe nutritional intervention that may benefit some children. Growing evidence support the benefits of omega 3 fatty acid supplementation in a number of neurodevelopmental disorders. Anecdotally children with verbal apraxia will often demonstrate leaps in their speech production when taking high-quality fish oil. The addition of vitamin E to omega 3 fatty acid supplementation in this cohort of children induced benefits that exceeded those expected from just speech therapy alone, according to parental report.

"While data from a case series is by no means conclusive, the results clearly point to the need for further attention to this poorly understood disorder, and a placebo-controlled study to investigate the potential role of vitamin E and omega 3 supplementation in this group of children," says Dr. Morris.

She points out that it is equally important for children given an apraxia diagnosis to receive a more comprehensive metabolic evaluation than what is current practice. Many of the nutritional deficiencies like low carnitine, zinc and vitamin D are easily treated. By not addressing the nutritional deficiencies, the child will continue to suffer from significant medical consequences of those deficiencies. The first step is to identify and treat the deficiencies. The next step is to try to figure out why they have these deficiencies and a fat malabsorption syndrome in the first place. However, Dr. Morris does advise families to work closely with a physician rather than trying promising but unproven interventions on their own.

In the mean time, however, Dr. Morris's study provides the essential foundation for identifying the children who may need these treatments.

"By identifying these early red flags of the syndrome, we've provided a way to get these kids treatment at the earliest possible moment. While 75 percent of the time kids identified as late bloomers really are just that, 25 percent of the time there is a true pathologic condition. To miss it is to miss critically valuable time for early intervention. If a child has all these symptoms, chances are they are going to fall into the 25 percent who have a condition that needs further evaluation and treatment."

Adapted from materials provided by Children's Hospital & Research Center at Oakland

Please see here for Science Daily's Website and post of this article.


GFCF Crispy Chicken Tenders

2 Tbsp. Earth's Balance (non-dairy) Buttery Spread (or margarine), melted
1 Cup GF Cornflakes, crushed
1 Cup all-purpose GF Flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. Seasoned Salt
about 10 Boneless Skinless Chicken tenders (or breasts sliced)
2 eggs, beaten

Melt the butter substitute in the bottom of a 13 x 9 in. pan. In a shallow bowl, mix GF Cornflakes, GF Flour, xanthan gum, and seasoned salt. Dip chicken in egg, then roll in cornflake mixture. Dip again in egg and roll in cornflake mixture again. Arange chicken in pan. Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn over and bake about 15 minutes more. Serve with GFCF BBQ Sauce or GFCF Ranch Dressing.

My son asked for 3 helpings of chicken tonight. I was amazed. He was esecially pleased with my recent purchase of GFCF Ranch dressing and literally savored every bite of chicken. This will become a staple for us. Now, if anyone can tell me how to prepare these in bite-sized fashion and freeze them so I can pop them in the toaster over...I will be one happy mom!

A couple of tips...the xanthan gum is key. If you do not use it, your breading will fall apart and right off the chicken. Trust me...tried it before. Not good. Also, I put my cornflakes in the food processor tonight for a much finer finish and it worked great. I will do this again in the future. Enjoy!

Yogurt Smoothies

Before Joshua became "Dairy Free" the one food we could ALWAYS count on him eating was a yogurt smoothie. He had at least one per day and we figured that was the best way to get probiotics into him at that time. I know, I know...some of you are cringing right now because they are LOADED with sugar. That was a hill I was not willing to die on - at least I knew he wouldn't starve to death when there were yogurt smoothies around.

Flash forward to him becoming Dairy Free and think of how he cried when I told him he couldn't have them anymore. I tried making smoothies and "milk shakes" but they just weren't the same.

Until today...I had a revelation!

We recently stumbled upon "Coconut Milk Yogurt." It is very tasty and Joshua loves it! It is is a bit thinner than cow's milk yogurt, so today I decided to add some rice milk and stick a straw in it. Then I thought...what the heck - I threw in his Omega's and his Calcium/ Magnesium and by golly...


He thought it was a "REAL" Yogurt Smoothie. And of course, I wouldn't dare tell him otherwise!

PS: Downside to Coconut Milk Yogurt - $2 per container. He darn well better love it at that price!


The Fog is Lifting

The smile seems so much bigger...and brighter these days! Joshua is on a high right now and we are just riding the wave! His language skills are booming (even his SLP is surprised at his progress) and the fog has lifted from his eyes. He is acting like a little boy again. Of course that means he is in to mischief and tormenting his sisters...but I'll take it! Even his gross motor skills are improving right now. He is jumping from 2 feet and running faster than I have seen yet. He smiles and laughs, eats (for the most part), sleeping better and has far less tantrums than before.

** Side note: We were at Grandma's house last week for a birthday party for Nicole. When it was time to serve the cake, I took his plate inside and got him a piece of "his" cake. Luckily, both the gluten and gluten-free cakes were chocolate w/ pink icing. His looked like every one else's cake. Before eating he asked me, "Mom, is this gluten-free cake?" I said, "Yes son, yours is gluten-free" and he responded, "Good, then I can eat it." Then he told me, "Thanks Mom for bringing me gluten-free cake." For those of you who KNOW Joshua, this is huge. Of course, no one else on earth would have had any idea what he was saying - but I did, and that is all that counts in that case!

Anyhow, what is different? Well, in our usual fashion - we changed many things at one time. The major thing is removing dairy. I think that is making a difference. Also, we have added 1 capsule of Omega 3-6-9 by Nordic Naturals (supposedly a great tool for apraxia), Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C and Probiotocs.

Other items of interest: Joshua now has his own big boy room! He has always shared a room with Nicole (and the baby had her "own" room). On Nicole's 5th birthday we decided to switch things up a bit. We now have a "girl's" room and a "boy's" room. At first, Joshua was a little sad that he was going to be by himself but then he realized that Samson (our 2 year old yellow lab) is a boy and that HE should live in the boy room too. So we moved Samson's bed into Joshua's new room and now they are roomies! I'll try to get some pictures of his room - it is cute. He has a "Red Car" (Lightning McQueen) poster, 2 Monster Truck posters, and a WWII Airplane poster. We have a military helicopter poster on it's way too. He is sleeping through the night in his room now and even better- he doesn't wake Nicole up in the mornings!

While I am sure this "wave" will not last forever...I will ride it with joy till it ends. Praising God for His goodness and small miracles that bring hope today!

GFCF Cornbread - Yum!

1 Cup Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix
1 Cup GF Cornmeal
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 Cup Dairy Free Milk (I used Vanilla Rice Milk)
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 egg, beaten

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl. Pour all at once into dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into greased 8" pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve w/ DF buttery spread and honey. Yum!

*My husband said - "I assume this is gluten free because Josh is eating it, otherwise, I couldn't tell." That is when I KNOW i have a good recipe!


Apraxia Speech Cards

OK, so we are back to the business of speech therapy with the oh so talented SLP Megan. We are paying out of pocket until we convince the insurance company that Joshua's speech therapy IS medically necessary (I mean, really...they have never heard the child speak. Who are they to decide it is not medically necessary?). It is pricey, but how can we not? This is his future ability to speak that is at stake! Anyhow, Megan asked us to take some pictures of things around that house that Joshua uses or plays with on a daily basis. We came up with about 30 pictures so far. She is going to take them and make flash cards (much like the Kaufman Cards, for those of you who are familiar) and break the words down into manageable chunks, eventually working up to the complete word. I am really excited to see how they turn out. She will write the word sequencing on the back of the picture and we will take them to get laminated. I'll let you know how if it works! Here are a few of the pictures we used:


"Pretzels" (GFCF, of course)


"Monster Trucks"



Getting Back to Business

So much has happened in the past few months! For those of you who are disappointed in my lack of posting (which, I am not exactly sure that anyone follows this blog), go read my apology at my 3 Angels Blog. Joshua is now 3 1/2 and I guess the most significant thing over the past few months has been the confirmation of his Apraxia diagnosis. When he was first diagnosed, I admit I was skeptical. I thought that maybe it was a hip new diagnosis that was being handed out frivolously. However, after seeing an audiologist, 2 additional speech therapists and a video evaluation from Nancy Kaufman herself...I guess it is true. His evaluation at Children's Hospital was sad but revealing. He tested out at the higher end of 4 years old for congnitive understanding. Actually, she had to "make" him fail the test there because she knew he was getting worn out. His expressive language (what he can say), however, was still equivalent to less than a 2 year old. So basically, he gets it...more than we give him credit for...he just cannot communicate back to us. How frustrating!!! (for him and us)

Over Christmas I was able to read Jenny McCarthy's book, "Mother Warriors" and it was very enlightening. I began to grasp that perhaps Joshua's "issues" are bigger than just the Apraxia. He has always had texture issues and has recently started covering his ears and yelling "Too Loud" when I turn on music. While I am quite certain that he is not autistic, (many doctors have assured us that he is not because of the relationship he has with Nicole...and autistic child could have the personal relationship he has with her) I do realize that he may fall somewhere on the outskirts of the spectrum. We saw a DAN provider (Defeat Autism Now) at the beginning of the year and he confirmed that Joshua shows "soft signs" of being on the spectrum, especially when he eats gluten. He recommended we keep Josh off of gluten (not that putting him back on was an option) and that we eliminate dairy from his diet as well...too promote healing of the gut. He also recommended a host of supplements and physical exercises to do at home to promote brain development and help repair his neurological functioning.

So, Joshua is now GFCF. And oh, it is fun. I realize now just how much dairy he was eating. Yogurt smoothies and cheese were daily favorites. And the hot chocolate...but we won't go there. So now we live on Chocolate Almond Milk, Enjoy Life Cereal Bars (which someone pointed out to me on a GFCF discussion site...have no nutritional value what-so-ever), and Ian's GFCF French Bread Pizza and French Toast Stixs. I am finally getting motivated to cook GFCF, so I will share recipes with you as a find them!