Sunday, September 24, 2006

GFCF Carrot Cake Recipe

I made this carrot cake for a co-workers birthday. I probably won't even tell him that it is GFCF - I doubt anyone will be able to tell the difference. I also made a dozen cupcakes and Andy practically inhaled them (without frosting).
Carrot Cake
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups canola oil
4 eggs
3 cups Bob’s Red Mill GFCF Flour Mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated carrots (small fresh ones work taste best)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained (a 20 oz can is about right)
1 cup chopped pecans (or other nuts you prefer)
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round pans.
Beat sugar with oil; add eggs one at a time, beating well. Sift flour with other dry ingredients. Add flour mixture, mix well. Beat in remaining ingredients. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn out onto wire racks. Frost when cool.

Rum-Buttercream Frosting
1 pound box of powdered sugar
1 cup GFCF margarine
½ teaspoon imitation rum flavoring (if making for a child, use vanilla instead)
2 to 3 tablespoons hot milk substitute (I use Dari Free)

Beat sugar with butter and rum flavoring. Gradually beat in milk.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My son was fed a regular muffin at school!

It has been almost 3 years since Andy was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. During those 3 years I have been most fortunate to not have too many problems with his diet. His schools and daycare have always taken it very seriously and I have always packed all of his food and provided bulk snacks for special occasions. In the past, they have either called before feeding him something or only fed him food provided by or approved by me. And Andy is very good about questioning what is set before him.

That is not to say that Andy has never had an infraction and consumed gluten (or dairy). Most of the time it is minor and it is something that I, myself have given him - either because I did not read the label as closely as I should have and missed something or because it was previously safe and I missed that they changed something in it - or it had hidden gluten and I neglected to call the manufacturer to check.

So I was quite surprised when Andy started showing signs that he had consumed gluten and even more surprised when I tracked the source down and found out that it was a muffin given to him by a paraprofessional (aide) assigned to work with him at school. But I think I handled the situation appropriately (I always worry if I am too much of a bitch about these things or too soft) and I feel pretty confident the situation has been resolved and won't happen again.

Here is the story from the beginning:

School started the day after Labor Day. The week before school started, the school had a meet and greet day where all of the kids come to school and meet their teachers and get aquainted with their new classrooms. Dan and I took Andy to that and took along a list for the new teacher of the foods that Andy could and couldn't have. We chatted briefly about it. Although I was offered a private time to bring Andy to see the classroom and talk with the teacher by the principal I turned that down and only attended the meet and greet. We were short staffed at work and getting out early for the meet and greet was all I felt I could handle.

In the written letter I had given the teacher with the list of foods was a request that I be kept informed of all food related activites in the classroom so I could provide alternative foods for Andy and an offer to send in bulk snacks to keep on hand. I assumed the letter had been read. On the first day of school I learned that the paraprofessional assigned to Andy's class was one that had worked with him the previous year in Kindergarten. I was thrilled. She was very good with him.

We continued to be short staffed at work. I sent Andy's lunch in daily with him and he has a button on his lunch box that says "I am on a special diet and can only have foods brought from home." With being so busy at work I overlooked the fact that it was a new school year and the teachers are overwhelmed with getting to know all of their children and I did not persue talk about the diet any further. I assumed everything was OK. I let my child down.

So we get through the first two weeks of school and I think everything is going well. When I picked Andy up from daycare on Friday (which I normally do not do, Dan does), his daycare teacher tells me that she thinks something happened at school because Andy was brought out to her by his PE teacher and it appeared that he had been being difficult - something about reading - and he had a meltdown - but she wasn't sure. That was sign number 1 of a gluten infraction - but the signs are easy to miss - he has plenty of meltdowns that have nothing to do with gluten.

I read his school communication notebook when I get home and there is nothing in there about an afternoon meltdown over reading. There is a note from his para saying that they had celebrated a birthday at school today and could I please send in some fruit snacks or something to keep on hand so he can have a treat in situations like this? It did not state that they had given him anything to eat.

He continues throughout the evening on Friday to fly off the handle very easily and lack self confidence. This was sign number 2. But again - nothing to really point to gluten. Dan does homework with him every night - even if there isn't any from the school. This time there was some from the school - luckily we had all weekend to get it done because he was not being very cooperative - couldn't even get him to try. All he would say was "I can't".

Sign number 3. The diarhea begins. He asks me to come and wipe his butt and I notice that his BM's are much softer than normal and ask him what he has eaten - how much fruit had he had today? (this kid loves fruit) I assume he has just been eating too much fruit. But 30 minutes later he is in the bathroom again and so it continued until bedtime. At this point I am starting to suspect he has consumed some gluten and I question him on what he has eaten that I didn't give him and he informs me that Mrs. C gave him a muffin - but that it was tiny and had no frosting on it. I wonder where she would have gotten a gluten free muffin from and question him further and he says he asked her if it was OK and she said it was. I decide he couldn't possibly be telling me the truth and start reading labels on everything in the house he has eaten. Mrs. C worked with him last year and certainly knows his dietary restrictions.

Signs number 4 & 5. He starts complaining that he has "growing pains" that his bones are hurting and his skin is itchy.

Signs number 6 & 7. He wakes up in the middle of the night terribly congested and with a cough full of phelgm. It would be easy to think he is just developing a cold, but with all of the other signs, it is pretty evident at this time that it is all related to the gluten.

All of this continued throughout the weekend. Sign number 8, the rash didn't appear until Tuesday - something it happens that way - he is itchy for several days before you see anything physical.

By Monday morning I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to find the source of the gluten this time. I wondered if he snuck something from another child - which he has never done before, but there is a first time for everything. But I kept coming back to the fact that he said Mrs. C had given him a muffin. I still wasn't believing it - if I had I would have gone into the school and talked to her - but I did write a note in his notebook asking if she had and if so, what type of muffin was it?

Monday evening I rush home from work so I can spend a little time with Andy before going to a PTA meeting. I read his notebook and find a note from Mrs. C. She had given him a muffin - it was a regular, gluten laden one - and she was sorry. I was stunned. I went to the PTA meeting and I actually sat right next to the principal, but I didn't say anything. It wasn't the time or place - and I hadn't fully processed it yet. Had I said something then I probably wouldn't have handled it as well.

I spent a pretty restless night on Monday wondering how best to proceed. I had to make sure this didn't happen again. But on the other hand I didn't want Mrs. C to get in trouble - she is very good with Andy and she did admit her mistake and she did apologize. I just want to make sure it doesn't happen again.

So I get up early on Tuesday as usual (I'm an early bird, always up at 5am). I print out information on Celiac Disease to send into the school and I wrote a long e-mail to the principal. I copied his teacher on the e-mail so she would know what I said and not feel I was going over her head - I just felt this needed to go up a level. If an aide that was really familar with Andy could make this mistake, what about the specialist that only spends time with him once a week or less? I needed to know that everyone who works with Andy knew about his diet. I needed some assurance that this would not happen again.

In the e-mail I tried to just lay out the facts. What had happened, what the long term effects of consuming gluten are, the symptoms that Andy had been experiencing and how unacceptable it was that he should have been given gluten by a staff member. I made it clear that I was not out to get anyone and an apology had been given but I needed assurance that it wouldn't happen again.

I feel I got that assurance. I just love our school and our principal. Somerset Elementary and Mary Bowman are the greatest. Mary called a meeting that day with all of the staff that works with Andy and she went over it with all of them. They all understand the importance of this. She then called our home and spoke with Dan and apologized to him. When I dropped Andy off at school on Wednesday morning I got apologies from his teacher, Mrs. C and the principal. I sincerely feel that they have taken this seriously and it won't happen again. They all feel bad.

It was a wake up call for all of us. Next year I will make sure I make as big of deal of his diet at the beginning of the school year as I did when he started Kindergarten. As a mom of a child with celiac, you just can't ever let your guard down.

Andy is doing better. His only lingering sign is a small rash and a cough (which is getting better daily). Gluten can take several weeks to leave the system. We are lucky that this appears to be working it's way through his system fairly quickly.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What I love about my Special Child

I posted this earlier today on the autism board on babycenter, but I thought it was worthy of posting here as well. It is easy to get frustrated and see all the parts of autism that we don't like - sometimes it is good to dwell on the positives.

1. His logical, no-nonsense approach to life. I mean, really, do so many words have to have double meanings? What is the point in that and I love it when my child points that out to me.

2. The way he stims when he is excited. Wouldn't it be great if all of us could learn not to contain our joy? He just beams with happiness when he is stimming.

3. Some of his coping mechanisms are ones we could all learn from - for instance when he sees someone that he isn't sure who they are - he will greet them with "Do I know you?" And they usually laugh and they might accuse him of being silly, but they tell him who they are. Seriously, how many times have you found yourself talking to someone that you have no idea who they are and you are afraid to tell them you don't know who they are?

4. His artistic talents. This kid may not be able to draw real good yet, but he puts details into his drawings of things that really are amazing and the colors that he chooses.

5. His joy when he accomplishes something. He gets very frustrated and has to have a lot of encouragement to try something new, but when he finally is able to try something - it is just amazing to see how he lights up and is so proud of himself.

6. His acceptance of his special diet. He never tries to steal food from another child and he always questions any food put before him by any other than me - and while he may feel sad that the other kids are having a treat that he can't have - he is very accepting of it being the way it is.

7. His singing and his musical talent. I just love hearing this child sing along to his favorite CD. He can carry a tune much better than I can.

8. The way he loves to help me in the garden. His knowledge of gardening is pretty awesome for a child his age - and he didn't learn that from being forced to help me, but because he loves to be in the garden with me and is always asking questions.

9. The way he loves to snuggle with me.

10. His love of stuffed animals. I love seeing that softer side of a little boy.

And I am going to add one more that I didn't think of when I posted earlier.

11. His sense of humor. This is one funny kid - he gets how humor should be done and that draws other kids to him. When I hear other kids say that Andy is a funny kid, I know they mean it literally and not odd!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

School Lunch Day 6

The thermos today contains baked beans and cut up chicken hot dogs. This is probably Andy's all time favorite lunch. I am also sending a juice box, fruit cup and carrots with thousand island dressing. For morning snack he has a container of Soy yogurt. The next several lunches on my menu are repeats. I won't post another picture until I send something new. If you want a copy of my menu spreadsheet, e-mail me at and I will send it to you. Posted by Picasa

School Lunch Day 5

The thermos contains cooked rice noodles (Andy requested these instead of bread and since he would probably just throw the bread away, why not - it's a grain) 1/2 of a hamburger and green beans. Then he also has Soy Milk, a fruit cup and ketchup to dip his hamburger in. For his morning snack, we have carrot sticks (carrots from our garden) and thousand island dressing to dip them in. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 09, 2006

School Lunch Day 4

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich, baby carrots, plum, Perky O's, Juice Box and a Fruit Cup for morning snack. Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tropical Source Chocolate Chips

Another GFCF Chocolate Chip. Thanks Jennifer for the pic. Posted by Picasa

Tree Top Applesauce

Thanks to Jennifer for this pic. Posted by Picasa


I love Tings - unfortunately Andy can't have them. They are GFCF, but everytime he has tried them - 3 times, he has become a spoiled rotten brat with meltdown after meltdown. I don't know what it could be - the nutrional yeast? Anyway - they are a great tasting snack that is similar to Cheetos. Thanks Jennifer for the pic. Posted by Picasa

Sun-Maid Raisins

You need to be careful when purchasing raisins - many have hidden gluten as they are coated with flour to keep them from sticking together - and since that is considered part of the packaging process and not part of the food it doesn't need to be disclosed. A good bet is if they clump together, they are fine, but if they separate easily - call the manufacturer and make sure they are GFCF. Posted by Picasa

Snack Fruits

I can't read the brand name on these - but the picture is real clear - if they carry these in your area, you should be able to find them based on this picture. This is another picture from Jennifer in Washington. Posted by Picasa

Kirkman's Cookie Mix

Available online from Kirkman's. Thanks Jennifer for the pic. Posted by Picasa

Hormel Chili

Another easy to find mainstream food that we don't personally use - I cook from scratch and it just never occurs to me to buy this. Thanks again to Jennifer for the pic. Posted by Picasa

Gerber Rice Cereal

For those of you with smaller kids and kiddos with texture issues. Posted by Picasa

EnviroKidz Rice Bars

Another pic from Jennifer. I posted a picture of just the peanut butter earlier - Andy doesn't like the berry flavor. These are the only two flavors that are GFCF - the chocolate ones contain dairy. Posted by Picasa

Enjoy Life Cookies

Another picture from Jennifer. We do buy these cookies sometimes and they are really good - but we don't buy them too much because I would eat them all and my hips don't need them. Enjoy Life makes several varieties and they are easy to find. Posted by Picasa

Dinty Moore Beef Stew

We don't eat this ourselves, but it is GFCF. My friend Jennifer in Washington sent me this and the next several pictures. Thanks Jennifer - knowing what mainstream foods are OK to buy is a big help for a lot of moms out there. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mott's Fruit Snacks

Made with real fruit juice. No artificial colors or flavors. And they taste good too. And you can buy them at a regular store - what a bonus! Posted by Picasa

Edited 10/6/07:

Here is the response I got from the company about their GFCF status:

Dear Kathi Fischbach:
Thank you for your interest in Brach’s and for contacting us about the gluten free status of our Brach*s Mott's™ Fruit Snacks. Please be advised that the FDA has yet to establish any standards or guidelines. Consequently, we do not consider any of our products gluten free. Thanks again for contacting us.
Yours truly,Marlene Tomasek (
Brach’s Consumer Relations

I called them and also spoke with them - my interpretation from talking to them is that because there is no standard set in the US on gluten - they don't want to classify anything as GF. They may contain trace amounts so use at your own risk. Andy has absolutely no reaction from them - but we all know that you can have no reaction and still have damage done internally - so again - use at your own risk. I think I am going to look for an alternative until I know for sure. Andy's use of fruit snacks is pretty limited to when the kids at school are having something that he can't have so he doesn't get them all that often. I prefer to feed him fruit.

Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Most chocolate chips are not dairy free. This is a brand that is. Posted by Picasa

School Lunch Day Three

Today's thermos contains mini corn dogs and fries. He also has baby carrots, a fruit cup and ketchup. Not in the picture is the snack bag of popcorn that he took for his morning snack. Posted by Picasa

School Lunch Day Two

In the thermos is fish sticks, fries, and green beans. He also has a fruit cup, ketchup and chocolate soy milk. The snack bag has Panda Puffs cereal for his morning snack. He loves to eat them dry. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Preparing Lunch

School has started and it is time to start packing lunches for school each day. I will share some pictures here of our lunch making process - so you can see it is not that bad.

Fill Thermos with boiling water

I do this as the lunch is heating in the oven - I dump the water out when it is ready to fill. This helps keep the food hot longer. Posted by Picasa


I send ketchup in a tupperware container - my guy has to dip everything in ketchup. This is a nice size container for him to dip, seals tight, but not so tight he can't open it and easier to manage than packets. Posted by Picasa

The filled thermos

Layer the hot items in the thermos - there is corn on the bottom and then the fries and nuggets side by side. It fills the thermos up and the fuller the thermos the hotter the food will stay. Posted by Picasa

Lunch ready for the lunch bag

His first day of school lunch - a thermos with chicken nuggets, fries and corn; silk vanilla soy milk, a fruit cup, ketchup and a rice bar for his morning snack. Posted by Picasa

All ready for school

My big first grader on his first day of school. Posted by Picasa