Tag Archives: eating

Gluten-Free Cream Puffs

Cream puffs. A heavenly treat for those able to digest gluten. A fast treat for those who can’t.

Start to finish each batch only takes about 30 minutes. Which is great, because each batch only makes 6-8 puffs (depending on size) and if you’re like me (and my family) you’ll need to make many, many batches to satisfy everyone. In fact it took me six batches the first day and four the second for everyone to be happy. During that time I converted the original recipe enough that it takes half the time to make and fewer ingredients – which is great because after so many batches I ran out of many ingredients the original recipe called for.

First get your ingredients together and preheat the oven to 400F.

You’ll need a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, a measuring cup, a couple of measuring spoons, a wooden spoon, and a small bowl.

In the pot pour 1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

in the bowl

1/2 cup rice flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

*                          *                         *

Have two eggs cracked and ready.

Gently melt the butter into the water, then turn the heat to high and let boil until volume increase. Quickly turn burner to low and pour the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix with the wooden spoon until  ball forms.

Remove from heat and add eggs one at a time. Mixing until smooth between each egg. Mixture should be a thick dough. Put into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off.

Squeeze onto the lined cookie sheet in 2-3 inch lines. Alternatively you could drop them on, but be sure not to squish the dough or they won’t puff.

Place into pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes. No less. Turn the heat down to 375 and bake for an additional 15 minutes. If the time is too long and they begin to brown you may decrease the second baking time, not the first!

Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Fill with cream, pudding, or for a savoury treat cut the sugar to 1 teaspoon and remove the vanilla from the pastry recipe. Otherwise follow directions and fill with savoury treat of your choice.

I’d like to point out it’s incredibly difficult to take pictures while also filling a cream puff and fending off three ravenous children, so please forgive the angle.


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Gluten-free Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

Cookies are the perfect treat.
They’re easy to carry with you, and they can be enjoyed in so many ways. With a glass of milk or beside a warm cup of coffee they complement any weather or appetite. As leaves change colours and the air cools, thoughts drift to turkeys and pumpkins.
Pumpkin pie isn’t as easy to make as it once was,  pie shells really aren’t quite the same. There are some good substitutes such as almonds or crumbs from gluten-free ginger snaps, but even a good substitute doesn’t quite live up to the memory. Nothing compares to those memories – and likely never will. Instead we find new memories. These cookies are perfect. They’re comparable to a soft gingerbread, soft and chewy and oh so good. In fact I think I may modify this for our gingerbread houses this year .
2 1/2 cups Gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 tsp guar gum (Or xanthan gum)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by small tablespoonfuls.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies.
  4. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.
Drizzle the glaze over the cookies with a fork, or spoon over to cover the top. The glaze also works well as a ‘glue’ for designs cut from sugar sheets.

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Unschool Life

When someone walks into our house, they see a home well lived in. Some people may see the paint on the floor, or the million-and-one pom-poms scattered from wall to wall. But others race in, unaware of the clutter. Instead they find one station or another and begin working.


At the dinning table we have crafts of one sort or another. Right now we have popsicle sticks, pom-poms, paint, feathers, and the glue-gun. We’re all working on a structure of sorts. We hope anyone who comes to visit will help build it. Though so far no one’s really shown that much interest in the crafts.

We have crafts supplies in various places around the house. We believe availability will increase the girl’s desire to create, as well as their ability to express. Right now the girls enjoy working at the kitchen table. It’s close to where I spend the majority of my day. There’s also easy access to food, music, and shows.

Over the past few months we’ve seen our girls blossom in their ability to create masterpieces using the materials available to them.

We try to keep snacks available at all times.

Beyond the stuff we strew around for the girls to use, they also find other items to play with, and new uses for old toys. Here are the scissors and Ariel wig Ella first used to practice hair cutting on.




We’ve moved bean-bags to the living room so the girls have a comfortable place to sit while watching shows or playing Wii. They also provide a place for the girls to climb and jump. Otherwise they climb on our recliners – I really don’t want our recliners broken, and I don’t want someone hurt by them flipping over the back. Now there’s a place for their BIG activities right there in the heart of the home.



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Gluten-free: A Fact of Life

Today we visited new friends at their home for the first time. Within five minutes of stepping through the door, Ella ate a cookie. With gluten in it. The second she found out it had gluten, she cried. She spit it out, hid her head, sobbed, pleaded with me to leave.

We didn’t leave. Partly because I felt bad to leave when we’d only just arrived. But also because I knew we had some time before a reaction occurred (and I didn’t really want the results in the van – I hoped it would happen outside).

I did, however, cuddle Ella, and talk to her about the gluten how she felt emotionally and physically. I also told her she didn’t need to play, we could find a quiet place for her to sit where she’d be free from other children. Though if she’d still insisted we leave, we would have.

She didn’t stay hidden for long, she joined everyone else picking berries, and racing through the yard.

She was upset, she’d asked if the cookie was gluten-free. She’d been told it was safe. Unfortunately she asked a three-year old. Ella sobbed, “I don’t want to throw-up. I don’t want to feel yucky.” She knew what was coming.

I could’ve prevented all this from happening. Part of me wishes to turn back the clock and erase all of my baby girl’s pain. But there’s another part of me that can see the lesson learned. Ella now knows to ask an adult, more importantly: Mommy or Daddy, to find out if something contains gluten. She is also more aware of how her body specifically reacts to the gluten. And so am I. We’ve discovered that it becomes painful a lot faster than we realized, but that she can prevent herself from throwing up long enough to find a safe space to do it (though apparently our van constitutes a safe space).

Also I want her to learn how to be safe at other people’s homes. I want her to know it is possible to visit others, and still be safe. I don’t want her friendships limited to the non-gluten eaters.

One book I read just after finding out about the celiac’s disease told parents to tell their children that gluten caused every little upset. If they fall and scrape their knee, it’s because they ate gluten. They catch a stomach bug and throw-up, gluten’s to blame. The point was to scare the child away from ever wanting to try gluten.

I have several problems with this. First it creates a very scary view of the world. Second, a parent should not lie to their child, third, the child will figure out what gluten does to their body, but they’ll figure it out faster with a parents guidance. Lying to the child will actually make the process take longer because the child will have to figure out which of the many upsets are really caused by gluten. Then have enough of them to realize what the results are.

Also the child will soon realize that mom and dad lied. They’ll no longer trust what mom and dad say about gluten. SO the child will be more likely to stray from a  gluten-free lifestyle.

At 4.5 Ella knows to avoid gluten. She knows to ask first, she knows exactly what it’ll do to her. We have never needed to scare her. Even at the stores when they have samples to taste she’ll sometimes ask for one. We can’t always tell how safe the item is. We let her know it MAY contain gluten or may have touched gluten. It MAY make her sick. We then let her decide what to do. Sometimes she tastes it, sometimes she doesn’t. If the item contains gluten, she says, “No thank you.”

By being truthful and open with her, she’s gained the knowledge and experience to begin to protect herself. As she gets older we’ll continue to assist her. We’ll show her what a gluten cookie looks like vs a gluten-free. The same with breads etc. Most of the time a single look is all it takes to tell the difference. If the look doesn’t give it away, then the smell will.

Yes at times the girls may taste something with gluten, and they may end up sick because of it. It won’t be fun. But the experiences provide new information. And that knowledge is what they need to protect themselves. One day they’ll be on their own no one will step between them and gluten.

We follow a special diet, but in no way should that limit our life in any other way. Gluten-free is a fact of life. But it does not define us or our life in any way.

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I Can Eat A Rainbow – Can You?

Everywhere we turn we’re bombarded with information about healthy eating. Some of it good, others not so much. Some sources say cut this or that, some say low fat,  low cal, but all the processed junk food is okay because it meets the basic requirements of being low fat and low cal.

When we’re bombarded with all of this information, it can make it really difficult to know just which information to pass onto our children. as parents, we can become stressed that our child isn’t eating, or is eating too much, or the wrong food. We often loose sight of the most important point – a balanced diet. A balanced lifestyle.

For those who know the Canadian food guide or food pyramid, you know there are a certain number of foods a person should eat every day – even children. I don’t want to go against the established authority here, but I don’t agree with those guides. At least not completely. The guides say children ages 1-5 should be eating basically the same, and that doesn’t cut it for me. Just as adults need to adjust their intake for their body needs, so to should children.

An active slim five year old does not need to eat the same as a plump, not quite walking one year old. Therefore I’m telling you to throw out the guide, and trust. Trust your child to eat what his or her body needs. But, and this is very important, it’s up to you, the parent, to provide a healthy varied diet. It is not up to you to force your child to eat something. In fact if you do, you’re more likely to cause a more long lasting aversion, whether to that particular food or to certain textured foods, or just new foods in general.

For younger children, just starting to eat solids, allow them to pick at the food, play with it, taste it, spit it out. Assume more will end up on the floor, them, the table, the floor, the dog, than in their stomach.

After they master the pincher grasp, as they toddle around the house, periodically stop them and offer, where they stand, a healthy food. Also have available for them to graze a healthy variety of finger foods. Fruits, vegetables, crackers, cheese etc.

As they get bigger and have clear preferences, allow them to choose what they want to eat, allow them to help with the shopping, make the list, find the items, allow them to cook. Even a two year old can help in the kitchen, even if it’s just washing the lettuce, or stirring the batter.

The older they get, the more freedom you provide. Give your child the information they need to learn to make healthy choices. When you’re shopping and they ask for the cookies and you say ‘no’, tell them why. Is it because of the budget, or for health reasons. For us we often say ‘no’ to store bought, but will offer to make something similar, but healthier at home. We also tell the girls why an item isn’t healthy, we show them the label. As people with celiac’s disease we read a lot of labels, and that’s good for our children in a number of ways.Most importantly it gets them looking. One day they’ll decide for themselves what to eat, it’s our job to give them the information they need to make balanced choices.

When our children ask us for a certain food we talk about why it’s a fun food or a healthy food. Sometimes we’ll talk about other foods they’ve chosen to eat that day, and give them information about balancing their diet with healthy and fun foods. If they choose to eat marshmallows for breakfast,t hen they probably won’t feel very good, they could have upset stomachs, they might not have the energy they need to play. If they choose to eat a tomato, mushroom, and cheese omelet, they’re more likely to feel good, and have energy to play.

If you have a picky eater and you’re worried about the over all health of your child? First, don’t panic. Second, it’s mostly harmless.

One way to encourage healthy eating in children is to give them power. The more power they have over the experience the more likely they’ll eat. Let them shop, let them make the food, let them choose when and how to eat. It’s easy to say we eat when we wake up, then again at noon, and again at six, with a snack in between, but children don’t work that way. Many children need more food earlier, and less food later, but when we pressure them to eat out of synch with their body, they eat less than they would if they followed their body.

Making Sushi Rolls

Make the food fun. I invited a friend over and she said she’d bring fresh fruit. I expected a store bought platter, or a dish with cut up fruit. Nope. She brought a party. A long wooden skewer through the center of the regular old fruit made it so much more fun, and when they were done eating they had swords! Okay not all children turn everything into swords, they could’ve been magic wands.

Cut the cheese, bread, anything into fun shapes. Have healthy food available at all times of the day, pre-prepared and ready to snack. Have your children help prepare the food. And whatever you do, don’t stop your child from eating because ‘it’s almost time for dinner.’ If you’re having trouble getting your child to eat, then don’t stop them from eating, ever. Let them figure it out. Sure you may not have the family meal, but there are other ways to make up family time. Play a game at the table instead.

You can encourage your child to figure out what they don’t like about certain foods. We always tell the girls, you don’t have to eat it, but I want you to taste it. We don’t force, and they can spit it right back out. The point is to try new foods, not worry about manners. We’ve discovered Ella loves octopus, sushi, and countless other foods. There are several she won’t touch, but as she explores she’s willing to try new foods, and old ones she didn’t like before become better. Not always edible, but better.

We also don’t lie about foods. We won’t tell the girls, just taste it, then insist they taste a certain amount. Licking it is good enough. If we wanted a certain amount eaten, we’d say that from the beginning. We also don’t hide foods from them. If we offer them a piece of chicken covered in cheese, we don’t hide a vegetable in order to get them to eat it (though grating cheese over vegetables is something my girls love). If they don’t like it, that’s okay. They can pick apart their meals and eat what they choose. There have been times when Ella’s had eggs, peanut butter sandwiches, or some other  quick, low flavour food for supper every night for a week. Everyone else has dinner and she makes her meal, or waits until someone else is ready to make it for her.

Children rely on us to get them food and drink, they’re not able to choose to eat watermelon or pizza on a whim. Someone needs to get it for them. As adults we’re able to run to the store and buy something we suddenly want. Remembering that allows me more patience with my children, when they don’t want what I’ve made. And that is the final point to remember, patience. Realize this too shall pass, and one day you’ll look back and laugh about how your child only ate, or never ate such and such. We can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink. The same is true with children. Let your children know why their bodies need a mixture of foods, why a certain food is a healthy choice, give them the information, and allow them to decide what to do with it. You are, after all the one doing the shopping and can veto some choices if you feel the need.


Filed under Health

Eat Your Own Food

A few days ago I ‘overheard’ on Facebook one friend lamenting that her son always steals her food at dinner. Several other parents chimed in with similar stories. They hashed out ways they could ‘deal’ with the little thieves. They discussed punishments for stealing and rewards for not stealing. I was appalled.

I think a common experience many parents have is that their children ‘steal’ their food. It’s the same every night. Supper is made, dishes served. Small portions neatly placed on little break resistant plates and everyone sits down to eat.

Mom or dad says eat your vegetables. Someone else says eat some meat. And what does little Johnny do? He reaches over and takes Dad’s beans, Mom’s chicken, maybe even the baby’s mush. It doesn’t seem to matter what the food is, whether there’s any on your child’s plate or not. It seems as though all children in the toddler through preschooler age range prefer to eat someone else’s food.

This looks better than my filet mignon

That in and of itself isn’t remarkable to me. What is remarkable are the responses the parent’s give to this phenomenon. It seems many parents take offense at their children taking food from them. Whether the child asks first or not, the typical response seems to be “Eat your own food.”

I wonder why. I also wonder what message this sends to children.

A parent sits through a meal begging, pleading, scolding, and threatening their children into eating certain foods or certain amounts. The children don’t seem interested in eating their own food and either play with it, or ignore it. However, they happily reach for their parent’s food, pop it into their mouths and fill their tummies with a balanced diet.

So if parents shared their food, their children would likely eat more food, have a more balanced diet, and be willing to try new foods. Yet many parents won’t share.

Daddy's Coffee is So Yummy

Why not? Are parent’s so concerned they won’t get enough food if their child eats off their plate? Or maybe the parents want to teach manners? Maybe the parents put different food on their plate than their child’s plate? Maybe they don’t want to share?

If parents are concerned they won’t get enough food, they could put extra food on their plate in the first place knowing their child will eat a portion of it. Or they could eat the food left on their child’s plate. Either way the same amount of food is on the table, no matter which plate the child eats from.

If a parent wants to ‘teach’ or enforce manners, I have to first question which is more important – that a child eat or that they learn manners? If manners are truly higher on the list, then I believe that parent should look at why they parent in the first place. Manners will come with time. As parents, if we model good manners to each other and to our children, then our children will pick up and use those manners. If we don’t model those manners to our children, then they can’t learn them – no matter how much we bribe them.

"No! You can't share my yogurt!"

If a child sees different food on their parent’s plate than their own , I think it’s natural for them to want to try it. Especially if the parent says ‘No’. The ‘No’ places higher value on that particular item, thus the child wants to try it even more.

But what of the parent who just doesn’t want to share? I think everyone can relate to the thought at one point in time or another. But does the parent that refuses to share with a child require the child to share – all things, at all times, no matter what? What message does that send? That nothing they own/have is sacred, they must cling to it at all costs? Once they’re bigger they won’t need to share anymore? That if you want something from mom and dad you’d better sneak it, because mom and dad don’t share?

Maybe mom and dad only have a hang up with food? They share anything, except food. That places a great value on food. However it won’t make little Johnny eat more of something he doesn’t want or like. Instead he’ll fill up on the things he wants, and leave everything else. The reason is that the parents aren’t placing value on food in general, instead only on the foods they feel are important. Their child will follow suit.

If parents want to place value on food in general, sharing is the easiest and fastest way to do that. If it is more important that food is eaten, than wasted; that food is shared around the table so everyone gets some and none is wasted, then the value of all food increases.

No matter your approach, the phase won’t (likely) last forever, however your approach will have a lasting effect. What outcome do you want?


Filed under Parenting