GFCF Recipes

GFCF Recipes


Cream soup -- GFCF & soy-free too!

I don't know where it came from, but my oldest daughter (7) not too long ago asked me to make cream soup for her. I don't think she'd ever had cream soup. And, us adults don't really make cream soup. So, it was one of those out-of-left-field moments. But, it was enough of a challenge to get me thinking of how to do it. As many of you know, we're not just GFCF, we're also soy-free. So, it's not like we can just jog down to the store and buy some. Anyway, I found a recipe and tinkered with it a little bit and I think it was successful. My daughter loved it and ate cream of chicken soup for two days. I'm not opposed to variety! I also did one better, I made it in the crock pot over the weekend. So, I dumped the food in the pot, turned it on, and left it all afternoon. I love 'easy' too.

So, here's what I did. You might tinker more with the "cream" ingredients to fit your family's diet needs and preferences. For example, I used DariFree and corn starch. You might prefer rice milk or almond milk. And, you might avoid corn, so try potato starch or tapioca.

1 onion, chopped into chunks
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
About 2-3 pounds of chicken -- any kind you prefer (I used bone-in breasts with the skin removed and later, pulled the meat off and diced it into small pieces)
2-3 garlic pieces, crushed
5 1/2 cups of water
CF milk (I used DariFree -- I plan to try this with rice milk)
Corn starch -- GF of course

Place all ingredients, except the CF milk and corn starch in the slow cooker. Cook for four hours on high or 8-9 hours on low. Either way, I usually start the first hour on high.

When near-done, pull chicken out and cool. Remove meat from bones. I diced the meat into small pieces and put it back in the cooker.

Before serving, I pulled out the onions, since my kids won't eat them.

Now, to make the cream soup. I took about 2 cup servings and poured them from the crok into a small stove-top pot. I turned the heat onto low-medium.

In a small bowl, I put 1 tbsp of the corn starch and 2 tbsp of cold water and mixed with a fork until runny. I poured this into the pot and stirred.

Watch as this will thicken the soup quickly.

Once thickened, I poured about 1/4 cup of the CF milk into the mix and heated another minute or two.

The end result was a tasty chicken soup, thickened by the starch and "whitened" by the milk. Perfect.

Give it a shot.

A couple of notes ...

- first, this of course is easy to freeze too. If you like the basic soup in the crok, freeze it in portions, like in ice cube trays, for example.

- second, if you don't remove the skins, you'll need to take the added step of cooling the broth and removing some of the fat.

- last, if your child likes certain foods, this is a great way to get them in. Carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, rice, etc. You can make just about cream of anything.


GFCF Scalloped potatoes

I love potatoes -- all types. And, I sorta miss having scalloped potatoes since we've become mostly a GFCF household. Being soy-free also doesn't make subbing dairy any easier. I've tried to develop scalloped potato recipes a few times but failed. Getting the right flavor and texture is vital to this recipe. Finally, I've come up with a recipe that's pretty darn good. It's something I can live with. And, my kids like it too. I did this in the crock pot, but I'm sure you can adapt to the oven.

Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Dairy free margarine or ghee -- I used Spectrum shortening
Sea salt
Black pepper
GF tapioca flour (I think potato starch, corn starch would work too)
GF chickpea flour (I think potato flour, rice flour, etc. would work too -- anything that's a fine flour and not grainy)
Garlic powder
Dairy free milk -- I used Vance's DariFree.
Corn starch (I think tapioca or potato starch would work too)

I use a big crock pot, so adapt if yours is smaller. But, I started by peeling and slicing the potatoes. I did two average sized potatoes at a time. Then I layered the slices of those two potatoes on the bottom of the crok pot.
Then, I sprinkled a dash of salt and a pinch of pepper over top of the layer.
I then sprinkled 1 tbsp of the tapioca flour over the layer and then 1 tbsp of the chickpea flour over the layer.
Then, I plopped about 4 small dabs of the shortening (or margarine) in various places over the layer -- they were about 1/2 tsp each.
Then, I repeated this process by adding another layer of potatoes over top -- about two potatoes. Then, the seasoning, flours and shortening.
I did this with about 4-5 layers of potatoes.
When done, I poured 1 cup of DariFree milk over top and then 1 cup of water over top.
I turned the crock pot setting to high and let it go for four hours.
After 2 hours, I turned over the top layer of potatoes to ensure they didn't dry out. I did this again after the 3rd hour.
After the 3rd hour, I test tasted. I found that the DariFree taste was coming thru too much and not enough of the seasoning I had put in. So, I added another dose of salt and pepper and a couple dashes of garlic powder. You can skip this if you don't like garlic. It was enough to flavor but not overwhelm.
That's it. Enjoy.


GFCF "Rice Krispies" treats

I came across this treat in the store the other day. It's expensive -- I think about $5 a box. But, it was a nice surprise for my kids and will be an every-so-often treat for them. I'm going to try and replicate this recipe. If I do, I'll post it here.

The treat -- a marshmallow treat similar to Rice Krispies Treats -- is made by "glenny's." And, it's gluten-free and casein-free. Note that the box says there's the possibility of trace amounts of tree nuts.

These are very good. And, the kids love the colorful wrappers -- just like the other kids enjoy.


GFCF Sloppy John Joes Burgers

Gotta love that name. That's what my oldest daughter calls Sloppy Joes. And, she calls it a burger because that's how I make it for her. I tried the real Sloppy Joe recipe for them, thinking it'd be an easy and economical meal that they'd enjoy. But, no dice. They can't deal with the loose meat and then they didn't like the GF buns that I made for them and then they didn't like just having a pile of loose meat on their plates. So, I gave up on that for a while. But, now, I've simply revised the recipe by merging burgers and joes. It's the taste, just in a burger.

So, either use your own Joe recipe or try this simple one.

1 lb ground beef
1 good squirt of ketchup -- probably about 1/4 cup.
1/2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perkins)
1 dash of ground red pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Now, combine everything together and make about 4-5 burger patties. Bake on 350 for about 20 mins. Serve as you would a regular burger.


Allergy book for kids

As if there aren't enough challenges finding and making foods for your children on a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Toss in a few added food allergies or intolerances and life can be difficult, at the least.

And then, there's trying to explain to your child why he or she cannot eat the same foods that most of the other kids enjoy. Pizza. Ice cream. Grilled cheese. Oreos. Etc.

I'm trying to explain this to my young daughters now. Through a friend, I've found a great book that helps young children understand and accept the food issues they face.

It's called "One of the Gang" and it's authored by Gina Clowes. You can find this on Amazon by clicking here.

If you're having difficulty explaining this to your kids or find they are having a difficult time accepting their issues, this book might help.


GFCF pumpernickel bread

For some reason, my kids don't like light-colored bread. They'll go for dark-colored breads every time. There's a GFCF bread on the market that's made from a red rice that they like, but it has yeast in it and my youngest can't tolerate yeast very well. So, I set out to make my own yeast-free GFCF pumpernickel bread. I did it. Here's the recipe. This makes two loaves. I froze one and I'm using the other. I'm gonna tinker with this recipe more, so I'll update the blog if I can improve it.

2 flax eggs ( see my recipe)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup GF molasses
1.5 cups water
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 cups corn starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch
1/4 cup corn meal
1.5 cups sorghum flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal (ground flax)
1/4 cup cocoa or carob powder
4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Get out two larger mixing bowls.
Make the flax eggs in the microwave and let those sit for 5 mins.
Meanwhile, in one bowl, add the water, oil, vinegar, molasses and juice. Stir.
In another bowl, add all of the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the flax egg.
Mix on a low speed until combined.
Note -- this will be thicker than pancake or cake batter. If it really seems too dry, add a little water.
I greased two bread pans with Spectrum organic shortening and I split the dough between them. I flattened the dough using a wet spatula.
I baked in the oven for about 50 mins. After 45 mins, I checked every 5 mins. until a toothpick came out of the center clean.
That's it.
Let cool after baked, put on a rack to cool.

I might tinker with the flour mixtures. Sorghum works well, but I'm sure you could use buckwheat flour, for example, or brown rice too. I might try brown rice mixed with sorghum next time. I might add some potato starch instead of all corn starch to moisten the bread. I'll let you know.
Also, there's golden and dark flax. I just used ground golden flax because that's what I had in the house. The dark flax obviously would go better with the dark color of the bread. I grind it up in a coffee grinder.
I use the carob powder because one of my girls cannot handle the cocoa.

So, I hope you enjoy this bread. My youngest loves it with GF salami and mustard.


GFCF Rice Chex

So, hello everyone. I've been lax in posting for a while, but I'm still here. I realize I'm likely very behind on this one, but I didn't find out that General Mills made its Rice Chex cereal gluten-free. I popped in the supermarket today to check. They did. So, if your kids like cereal, this is a great option that you can grab in a bind.

However, I noticed it's priced higher than the Health Valley Rice Crunch Ems I normally buy for my kids.

So, which should I buy?

With health value in mind, I'm sure the Health Valley is better, with no preservatives, etc.

Pricewise, the Health Valley is less expensive and thru my food co-op, I can buy it in cases at a 20% discount.

But, there's also some value in supporting a mainstream company -- General Mills -- that's willing to offer a gluten-free product on my supermarket shelf.


Maybe, I'll buy one of each.


Bad GFCF pizza crust

I love to talk and write about the GFCF foods I love. Here's one I really didn't care for -- and I'll tell you why. This is the Nature's Hilights Brown Rice Pizza Crust.

This looked great in the freezer section at Whole Foods and I thought I'd give it a try for ~$5/2 crusts. I usually make my own, but this was worth a shot.

Here's the problem, the crusts are very chewy after they're cooked and they only become tougher and chewier -- like jerky -- upon cooling. It's actually just bad. I would not recommend this to anyone.

For now, I'll keep baking my own crusts.


GF/CF/SF Rice Cheese

OK -- so I've had a few comment about the kind of rice cheese I'm using. This is gluten free, casein free and soy free. I understand it might be tricky finding this stuff, but I assure you it exists. To prove it, I'm including a photo of the packaging. It clearly states gf, cf and sf. And, the ingredients indicate the same.

I buy this at a local Whole Foods and also at a local food co-op. I notice two things about this particular item that might help you find it.

First, it's not the brick of cheese, it's just the slices.

Second, this packaging also has a lot of Spanish on it. I've seen other sliced Galaxy cheeses that contain either soy or casein. This one is different.

I hope that helps and I hope you can find it.


GF/CF/SF Toasted cheese sandwiches

Here's another great classic you now can make, thanks to Galaxy cheese slices, which are gluten-free, casein-free and soy-free. Note again, as in previous posts, that the Galaxy cheese chunks are not casein free, just the slices.

So, head out to a Whole Foods or your local food co-op and find the following:

-- Galaxy cheese slices, either American, Cheddar or Pepper Jack flavors.
-- Ener-G gluten free bread (I buy the brown rice, yeast-free bread. There's others.)
-- Whatever type of margarine or oil you use that's dairy-free. Some use Fleischmann's Light spreadable margarine, or ghee, or oil. I use canola oil.
-- Sea salt.

You know how to make this. It's easy. I'll note a couple of tricks that I found helpful. And, of course, you can use any type of gluten-free bread. I just happen to be using the Ener-G bread right now. Other times, I'll make my own.

OK, get a frying pan out and pre-heat on medium-high. Let it get hot. This is crucial to get the nice toasted bread markings. While it's heating, get out two bread slices and put a slice of cheese in the middle. I add a small pinch of sea salt. The cheese is low-salt and this adds a bit of flavor. When the pan's hot, add the oil or margarine. If oil, just a tsp will do. Not too much. Now, place the sandwich in the pan. You should hear a slight sizzle. Brown on one side. This only takes a minute or so. Then turn over and brown the other side.

You'll probably notice the cheese really isn't melted. So, turn off the pan. Put the toasted sandwich on a plate. Microwave this for 15 secs (try 10 secs in yours first -- in mine, it's 15 secs). This will melt the cheese AND keep the toasty bread.

There you go. Toasted cheese.

And now that you know how to make this, you obviously can make a nice ham and cheese sandwich or even a turkey and cheese sandwich. Buy your gluten-free lunch-meat and add a slice to the cheese sandwich before toasting. Very tasty.

The cheese is a bit pricy, but to me, it's well worth it. I can't stand the soy cheeses. They're aweful. And most other cheeses have some form of casein in there. This is the best I've found. I plan to make a pizza using this cheese sometime next week -- also with a new GF crust I found. I'll let you know how that goes.


GF/CF/SF chili-cheese fries

Bet you didn't think this was possible on a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Well, it is possible, and even without soy too. For my money, the soy-based cheeses are really bad.

So, how do you do this? You can grab everything in one trip to Whole Foods.

-- French fries: either Whole Foods' 365 brand or Cascadian Farms brand.
-- Chili: Amy's brand chili is OK.
-- Cheese: Galaxy brand rice cheese (yes, the slices are casein-free, not just lactose free -- be careful because the bricks are not casein-free). They sell sliced pepper-jack, american and cheddar. The pepper jack adds some zip to this.

So, toss the fries in the oven for 10 mins, then turn them over. Bake another 5 mins.
Spread the chili over top and bake another 3 mins. Add the cheese with about 1 minute left. I cut this up into smaller pieces and toss over top.

There you go.

You could also add some salsa to this if your kids like it -- plain Tostitos brand salsas are OK and so is Muir Glen brand, among others.


Sending Michael Savage email

Ahhh, the email link I posted below to send Talk Radio Network you opinion on Michael Savage's remarks about autism doesn't really work. You have to go to an online contact form, which you can find here:

Savage's autism comments

If you haven't read or heard Michael Savage's comments about autism. Here they are. Remember, he's a talk show host and is looking for ratings. Attacks like this are mostly attention-getters intended to draw listeners. Still, we must respond.

Savage Defends Remarks Questioning Autism
NEW YORK, July 22, 2008
(CBS/ AP) Right-wing radio talk show host Michael Savage, who described 99 percent of children with autism as brats, said Monday he was trying to "boldly awaken" parents to his view that many people are being wrongly diagnosed. Some parents of autistic children have called for Savage's firing after he described autism as a racket last week. "In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out," Savage said on his radio program last Wednesday.
Savage said: "What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, `Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, you idiot."' Savage offered no apology in a message posted Monday on his Web site.

Read the rest at the site.

Oh, by the way, here's the email to Talk Radio Network, which is where he works.


Gluten-free sandwiches

Note: Although the recipe below is still very valid, full disclaimer that I've ultimately turned to store-bought bread for my girls. My oldest prefers the Kinnikinnick Tapioca Rice bread and my youngest likes the Ener-G Yeast Free Brown Rice Bread. I buy bulk to cut down the cost.

 Ahh, the most difficult food item to re-create in my children's diet -- and arguably on the Autism Diet in general -- lunchmeat sandwiches. This is difficult for a number of reasons. What lunchmeat is OK? Even if it's OK, what about harmful preservatives? And, finding a gluten-free, casein-free bread that your picky child will eat is nearly impossible. In my house, it's been a struggle for years.

I've finally found a solution to all of this that works. It's a compromise, for me. I'm using gluten-free lunchmeats but give on the preservatives. I buy meat that's prepackaged to prevent the cross-contact issues. If you're not satisfied with that, buy some of the preservative-free deli meats out there, like Applegate Farms.

Like all of my recipes, this is simple and easy to make. It's versatile, too, and the bread also can become a mini-pizza shell, which also is very popular at my house.

The bread is a variation of the Noah's Bread recipe. Here's my variation.

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix 1/2 cup of sorghum or brown rice flour, 2/3 cup tapioca flour, 2 tsp xanthan gum, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp oregano (or other spice), 1 tbsp sugar.

Then, add, 1/3 cup of oil, 1/3 cup of a dairy sub (like Darifree), and 1/2 cup of water.

Beat until well combined.

Now, use a ladle or 1/4 cup measure to dump into circular bun-sized pieces. Keep them apart as much as possible. You can make regular bun shapes or like mini-hoagie or hot dog bun shapes. They aren't perfect and I'm sure you could buy forms to make them better. Anyway, then, I take a wet spatula and press down lightly on each and with one or two swoops, flatten each one out some.

Then, bake for 20 minutes.

These will be flatter than regular buns, but that's OK. They taste pretty good.

My kids like a slice or two of GF ham with some mustard and ketchup. This is a big hit at breakfast or lunch.

For the mini-pizzas, I add garlic powder to the dough, and then after baking, top with sauce and toppings, and bake a little longer.


Yes! Advertising ...

Yes, that banner you see above this post is a real advertisement. It's a first for my blog. I don't intend to dimish the content here by offering advertising. However, I've had some interest in putting ads here since so many of you visit each day and so many more of you are finding this blog too.

So, what I've decided to do is to control the ads that appear. I don't want to give ad space to a company that can rotate anything in the ad space that they want. If I'm going to have ads, I want them to be for businesses and products that we will use. You know, like gluten-free products or dairy-free items or allergy-specific foods, etc. You get the idea. That way, there's some benefit in this for everyone.

Some people come to this site looking for help with the autism diet. They don't know what to do or where to turn. The ads also will serve as starting points for people who don't know where to find products on the web.

However, the help offered on this blog will remain free. That's the point.

So, here's my plug, check out my advertisers. They really do offer good stuff. If they're on this site, chances are that I use them, or have used them, to buy goods for my family.



Corn bread - revised and GFCF

I love when I have leftover stuff in the kitchen. That's when I try to try out variations of some existing recipes. This past weekend, my corn bread recipe was the victim. This was a very simple corn bread that my daughter loves. But, she also gets bored with it after a few days. So, I changed this by swapping the syrup called for in the original recipe with applesauce. You can use any kind, even homemade.

It gives the corn bread a great hint of apple but not too much. Very tasty, and still easy.

I added two tablespoons of applesauce in place of the 1 tbsp of syrup.

Try it out. Experiment with other flavors.


Autism Web site seeks justice

Thanks to those who have faxed or e-mailed petitions regarding the Anyah Glossinger situation. The family is gathering a lot of support. If you have not signed a petition, please do so -- see the post below for simple instructions.

Also, the family has created a Web site, Justice for Anyah. You can read more about this crucial case there and leave your thoughts.

This case is vitally important to all of us. We trust our children for hours virtually daily to therapists, teachers and other instructors. We need to be able to trust that they'd care for our kids the way we care for our children. If they don't, they need to be held accountable. That's the only way the rest of the world will know that we'll stand up for ourselves when something goes wrong.

So, the tragedy may have occurred in California, but it impacts your lives too -- it doesn't matter if you're in Florida, Maine, Texas or Canada. And for my international visitors, it's the same for you, too.

We need to stand up as a community and help in cases like this. One day, it might be our child, or our family, who needs support.

Here's the latest news article on this case:

By Natalie Brand
KPSP Local 2 News

Family and friends of Anyah Glossinger are taking her story to the streets, collecting signatures of support. Last week, we reported the District Attorney's Office declined to file criminal charges against the two United Cerebral Palsy employees involved in the drowning of Anyah, who was five-years-old and autistic.

A spokesman for the District Attorney's office says while it appears caregivers may have made mistakes in judgement, they don't rise to the level of recklessness required to support criminal negligence.

But, Anyah's mother, Emily Wereschagin wants a meeting with DA Rod Pacheco saying of the decision, "My first reaction was that it showed a lack of knowledge and a lack of education of the special requirements needed for autistic children."

Family and friends of Anyah say they're fighting for justice. Laura Ballegeer helped start the petition, which has already gathered hundreds of names. Ballegeer says, "I have a child with special needs. It could have been me."

Friends say they will continue to collect signatures through the weekend. They plan to be at the COD street fair on Saturday.


Autism petition - 5 year old girl drowned

I need your help today. Don't worry, it doesn't require that much effort and I'm not asking for money. I work with a relative of a 5-year-old autistic girl who drowned in January in California. She drowned while in the care of others during a hydrotherapy session. The DA won't file charges.

Her name is Anyah Raven Glossinger.

So, the family is seeking help. They want to talk with the DA and turn in petitions signed by people like us, who believe our autistic children deserve better care while under the watch of others.

I'm asking you to take 5 minutes today to print out the petition below, sign it and either fax it to 760-778-6541, Attn: Emily or scan it and email it back to me at The sooner the better. I'll get your petition into the family's hands.

I'll thank you now. And I'll also include a link here to a news article about this case if you're interested.

Here's the petition. Printing tip -- the best way is to copy the petition below, paste it to a Word file, and print.

Justice for Anyah

On January 23, 2008 Anyah Glossinger a five year old Autistic and legally blind child was placed in a therapy pool while attending an after school program for disabled children. She was placed in the pool without a life jacket and left unattended for a period of time that resulted in her being found at the bottom of that pool. She died the following day. She had been in the care of The United Cerebral Palsy’s Little Bridges program, specifically 2 coaches that were in charge of her.

At the time of the drowning the ratio of adults to children was 1 to 1, (3 adult coaches, and 3 children). At the time of the drowning Anyah was the only person in the pool and the only child who had not been given a life vest. She had the developmental level and cognitive ability of someone approximately 18 – 24 months of age. She could not speak or ask for help nor could she swim. These facts were well understood by the attending staff caring for her. One coach left her in the water and the second coach in question turned her back on the pool leaving Anyah completely unattended, she was found at the bottom of the pool some time latter and died as a result of their actions. Her parents and many people in the community believe this was reckless negligence. In April Anyah’s death prompted an internal investigation by the state of California that uncovered severe violations, citing unqualified staff, and lack of background checks among dozens of other serious health, safety, and administrational issues. The state’s Department of Social Services and Licensing closed the facility’s program stating that they “failed to meet the basic needs of Anyah, which resulted in her death.”

On May 29th 2008 the Police Department concluded their investigation and presented it to the Riverside County District Attorneys’ office, suggesting criminal charges of negligent manslaughter and child endangerment. The District Attorney’s office declined to file charges. Anyah’s parents made a formal request to meet with Mr. Rod Pacheco; Riverside County’s head District Attorney. Mr. Pacheco has the ability to over turn this preliminary decision recently made by his staff.

The signatures herein will help give supporting documentation highlighting the need to have criminal charges filed, as well as a show of community support.

Please show your support in this petition with your signature below, it is important not only for quality of standards in this valley, but to the rights of Autistic Children and the disabled community.

Thank you for your show of support.

Print Name


Phone number



GFCF Milkshake

Well, if we can make dairy-free ice cream, then we also can make dairy-free milkshakes. I have a very simple recipe to make shakes, but I'm sure there are more involved methods that might get better results. My kids love this.

Oh, and this is not just dairy-free, it's also soy-free. We use DariFree for the milk base -- a potato-based milk alternative.

First, start by making one recipe for my GFCF ice cream.

Freeze the ice cream and after four hours, it should be just right to make shakes. Or, after freezing, let it sit out for at least 30 mins, maybe more, to soften enough to make shakes.

I make chocolate, so you could use Hershey's cocoa powder or you can make fake-chocolate by using carob powder -- that's what I do and I add about 1 tbsp. carob powder.

So, take 1/2 cup of the soft ice cream, put it into a cup, and then add 1/2 cup of cold DariFree liquid, then stir to gently combine. It won't be too thick, but it won't be runny. Serve with a straw.

Of course, you could stick to vanilla flavor simply by using the DariFree flavor. Or, try others, like banana or berry by adding mashed fruit to the ice cream recipe.


Coasting along

Hey -- I haven't posted much lately and I recently asked myself, "why?" The answer is that I've really been coasting along, making the foods that really have worked and don't take much time. It's a good thing. So I really haven't tried much new lately. I have made pizza a few times with my "polenta cheese" and GF pepperoni. The kids love it. Still working on how to best make the crust. I like a thin, firm crust rather than soft or thick. I'm still tinkering, but I'm at the point where I think making a bunch of mini personal pizza crusts rather than a sheet crust is the way to go. Any time I've made the mini pizzas, the crust has been perfect. It gets soft or soggy when I make the sheet. I'll keep trying and update you later. I'm very happy with the sauce I use and the toppings.


New GFCF pizza crust recipe

Note: This is an older recipe. I've refined my pizza crust recipe, which you can find by clicking here.

This is a revised pizza crust recipe, which my kids like much better. I do too.

I still base it on Noah's Bread.

For mini pizzas or a small pizza, use 1 recipe. For a larger pizza, double this recipe.

1/4 cup brown rice or sorghum flour
1/4 cup corn meal
1/3 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup CF milk
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix all ingredients well. This will make a very liquidy batter, like a cake batter.
Grease your oven pan -- I use Spectrum shortening.

To make individual pizzas, put the batter in plastic bag, like a ziplock bag. Cut a corner and squeeze the batter out onto the pan. I make english muffin-sized circles and then take a wet spatula to even the batter out. Or, make a small pizza by dumping the batter onto your pan and use the wet spatula to spread it out.

Double the batter to make a larger pizza.

For mini pizzas or a small pizza, bake 10 mins and check. For a larger pizza, it will take about 15 mins, but possibly 20.

Once out of the oven, add your sauce and toppings. Then, bake another 5 mins or so.

This makes a thin, soft-crust pizza. I'll tell you later how to make a crispier crust.

Try my polenta cheese on this pizza -- dairy and soy free!


A GFCF offer, from me

Just a note that you'll soon notice a small ad -- for myself -- on this blog. I've been asked several times now how to convert recipes to GFCF or to develop GFCF meals that children will eat -- especially for kids with other food allergies and intolerances.

It's no problem -- I enjoy doing it. It just takes time and I've decided to offer it on a regular basis to those visiting my blog. The fees will be very affordable, but enough to cover the time it takes to do it. Payments would be accepted thru PayPal or check. I'll post those details later.

So, if you're interested, just email me, let me know what you're looking for and we can agree on a price before I start.



Secret non-dairy & soyless cheese

I've been on an endless search for a way to make my kids a real pizza -- you know, something that looks and tastes like the real thing, or as close as possible. So, first, the problem was making a gluten-free crust. That took a while. Now, I've finally developed a crust recipe that's actually very good. It's a variation of Noah's Recipe.

Then, it was the sauce. That wasn't so hard. I use a very basic pizza sauce, based on Hunt's tomato paste, which is GF.

The toppings really aren't that difficult either. Choose any you want that you know is GF and CF. I buy a GF brand of pepperoni. It's perfect.

The problem, of course, is the cheese, especially if you can't eat soy, which is what most "fake" cheeses are made from. Even so, most soy cheese tastes horrible.

And in my kids' cases, the cheese doesn't have to taste great, it's more of the appearance of real cheese that's important to them. We just can't have something that tastes bad -- like the soy.

So, I've finally found a solution: polenta.

Yes, polenta, for those who don't know, is corn meal that's been boiled into a solid cakelike substance. It's often sold in tubes and some brands clearly are marked gluten-free. You also can make this at home fairly easily. (If you can't eat corn, don't worry, you can make polenta out of nearly any grain, like millet, for example, or teff).

So, I took the polenta and grated it, like I would cheese. Say, about a cup. Toss it into a bowl. Then, add 1 tsp olive oil. And, add 1/2 tsp sea salt. Stir. This is the cheese topping. The polenta will cook, but not melt. The oil keeps it from drying out. The salt adds some flavor.

Trust me, this works.

I'll post the entire pizza recipe -- crust, sauce and cheese -- later this week. For now, go find some polenta and experiment. I'll also share some other polenta recipes using different grains.


Spicy rice - a GFCF dish

Don't think I'm weird for posting this recipe. It's super easy, but if you read this blog, you know that I like super easy recipes. I've dubbed this "spicy rice" because that's what got my oldest to eat rice. My youngest can't eat rice -- food intolerance. But, I really wanted my oldest to try something other than her favorite potato dish -- Dutch Potatoes (really just steamed potatoes). But, she wouldn't eat the rice I'd make her. No brown rice. No white rice. I figured it was a no go.

One day about two weeks ago, I was in a bind. I was running late, didn't have time to cook, but had a bowl of leftover brown rice in the fridge. I made the following recipe in 5 mins and she ate it. What was missing (to her) -- the spice. She likes her foods spicy, both in appearance and taste. So, now we have "spicy rice."

Brown or white rice, cooked
Oil -- I use canola. Olive would be fine.
Sea salt.
Black pepper
Or any other favorite spice -- paprika, chili powder, cumin, ground red pepper, oregano, etc.

In a stove top pan, heat oil for a minute, about 1 tbsp. Scoop out 2-3 cups of the pre-cooked rice and place in the pan. Use a utensil to separate the rice and mix it well with the oil. Add 1 tsp sea salt and a few dashes of the pepper or any other spice you think might work. My kids like all of them, so I'll mix it up day to day on their foods. Just heat this up, tossing it around a few times to make sure it's coated and the spice is mixed well.

You only have to heat this a few minutes. Then serve.

I buy long grain brown or white rice, the kids like white best and I know Lundberg sells this, because it's healthier. It's just raw. I make big batches in a rice cooker each week and the put it in the fridge. I use it all week long. We found an affordable rice cooker at a local store. Very handy. If you buy rice in bulk, like 10 lb., 25 lb. or 50 lb. bags, you save a ton of money.

I know rice is going up in price right now, and I'm watching those prices carefully. If it comes to the point that it's too expensive, I'll post some options that I've researched.

For now, enjoy this recipe.


More Amy's pizza -- GFCF spinach

Ok -- here's another Amy's review. And, it's another pizza. I'm very impressed with the taste of Amy's Kitchen pizzas so far. This time, we tried the Rice Crust Spinach Pizza. This is a whole frozen pizza, perfect for two to share for a meal, or four kids at snack time. Not too spinachy. Not too gluten-free-ey and again, very good soy cheese flavor. Like the last pizza, this has soy. So, obviously, if you're avoiding so, this isn't for you. And, again, with the rice crust, anyone avoiding rice should stay away. Overall, this tastes like a real pizza. Very tasty. I'd recommend this. The pizza is GFCF, Vegan and Kosher. It contains soy and rice and also has some potato in it.


Amy's gluten-free, dairy-free pizza

Ok -- so this is the first in a handful of product reviews that I'll post. Amy's Kitchen has supplied a few items with no strings attached. If I offer a poor review, they likely won't do it again. I agreed to this because I thought it might help readers looking for good pre-made products to grab in the store.

The first item is called the "Single Serve Non-Dairy Rice Crust Cheeze Pizza."

The first bite of Amy's gluten-free, casein-free pizza surprised me because it lacked the cardboardy taste of soy cheese.

The folks at Amy's somehow found a fake, soy mozzarella that really passed my taste test. I forgot I was eating a GFCF pizza.

Pizza is a tough issue in GFCF land. First is replicating the crust, which is not easy using GF flours. Second is how to replace the cheese. The options aren't great. Some skip it altogether (I'm among those since I can't stand soy cheese). Others suffer through the bad taste of soy cheese.

Many GFCF folks also cannot handle soy, leaving them little option. For those people (my kids included), this product is not for you. There's definitely soy in here.

If you can handle the soy, this pizza offered a very nice experience.

I'm impressed with the cheese replacement and equally impressed with the simplicity of the rice flour crust and the taste of the crust. Many GF bread products smell GFy from store aisles away. This didn't. It was good.

This is a personal-sized pizza that would be great to split for a lunch or snack. It might not be enough for a dinner -- if you split it. I would hesitate to serve the entire pizza to my child because of the fat (28g) and carb content (46g).

My wife and I split this pizza for an evening snack and we both enjoyed it.

As for allergens, Amy's is great about listing ingredients on their products and offers a tremendous website that notes allergen issues. This item is listed as gluten-free, dairy and lactose free, vegan, corn-free and kosher.

Other highlights worth noting are that the product has no trans fat, no added MSG and no preservatives.

Other notes from the ingredient list:

- the flour used is rice and tapioca.
- tomato is used for the sauce.
- oils used are safflower, sunflower and olive.
- the crust contains yeast.
- potatoes are listed.

I would recommend this product. Very tasty.


Amy's Kitchen review coming

I'll be reviewing some GFCF foods from Amy's Kitchen in the next few days and I'll post my review for you to read. You might already be familiar with Amy's, but if not, the company makes quality vegetarian and organic foods. Many are GFCF and the company's website offers easy-to-use guides for allergens like soy.


A GFCF TVP burger

OK -- this recipe won't be for everyone, especially if you're avoiding soy. If you can eat soy, this would be an interesting experiment. I've tinkered with TVP lately -- that's textured vegetable protein. It's really dry chunks of soy that you can reconstitute with water quickly and make meat substitutes, like burgers, nuggets, chili, etc. I'm using it for myself -- trying to lose some weight. The TVP is high in protein and has some carbs. It's a good way to get protein food without the high cholesterol in regular beef. I posted this recently on the SparkPeople website -- a health site.

Basic TVP burger

1 cup dry TVP -- you can find this at a health store. It's inexpensive.
1/2 onion for 1/4 cup
Shredded carrot for 1/2 cup
Corn/tapioca starch 1/2 cup
Olive or canola oil 2 tbsp
1/2 cup fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup water

Boil broth and water, add spices -- I use soul seasoning, pepper, salt. After boiling, pour over dry TVP. Sit 10 mins.
Add chopped onion, shredded carrot and starch. Stir together.
Heat half the oil in a pan on medium high. Mold a 1/2 cup of the mix into a burger shape and brown on each side -- two burgers at a time.

Number of Servings: 6

Nutritional Info
Fat: 4.5g
Carbohydrates: 20.6g
Protein: 16.2g



Thanks folks. The issues seem to be worked out. You still may find a missing photo here or there in the old posts. If so, feel free to let me know so I can fix them.


Technical issues

Sorry for the shabby look of the blog today. Something really went wrong with some graphics. I'll try to find time to correct it in the next day or two. You can still find the links to my recipes at the bottom of the blog -- they should be down the side. It's all there -- just looks goofy.


Following the theme of my last post, I thought I'd mention that we've had nothing but success at Burger King restaurants. I've now taken my kids to three different BKs, including one out of state. They all fry the same way and seem to have a uniform process that we can count on. To bring some of you up to date, you'll find in my Restaurant Guide that I found Burger King fries their potatoes aside from the other items so there's no risk of cross contact. They are gluten free. And, you can order a plain burger without the bun -- they put it in a little salad container for you. It's a great thing to know when you're on the run and need to stop somewhere for a quick bite to eat (not everyday though -- have you seen the calorie counts on the Whopper?) Anyway, we were visiting relatives out of town recently and stopped at a BK without problem. Just thought I'd mention it.


A restaurant success

I have to update you on our first real restaurant outing. It's taken a long time to get enough courage to try this, but we went to a local Red Robin. See my restaurant guide about how to find a GFCF place. Anyway, it went remarkably well. The restaurant did very well. They didn't give a confused look when I asked to see a gluten-free menu. They immediately handed the kids crayons and a coloring sheet to keep them busy. They got their own water cups with kid-friendly designs on them -- even lids to help avoid "the spill." We just got plain burgers and fries with ketchup for them and they loved it. When we first sat down and the waiter arrived, my oldest turned to him and said, "Hey, where are my fries?" It was funny and he took well. He also paid close attention while ordering from the gluten-free menu. We definitely will return.

Please, I'm not posting this to preach. I realize not everyone with autism can handle this type of outing. I'm simply posting this because it was a big step for us. I also wanted to point out that some businesses -- even at a national level -- seem to have found ways to include those of us concerned about GFCF, food intolerances and cross-contact issues. It can be done.


A GFCF caution with Ball Park Franks

It's amazing to me how good some companies have handled the gluten thing and how badly others have botched it -- and blown it. After all, I won't buy anything that possibly contains gluten, especially with those mysterious ingredients like "flavorings."

So, I'm sure you'll appreciate this phone conversation I had tonight with a Sara Lee Corp. representative. Sara Lee makes Ball Park Franks.

See, I stopped at Sams Club looking for a pack of Best's Kosher hot dogs, which is what I always buy for the kids. It's definitely GFCF, and they're good. But they were out. Unbelievable! So, I looked to the other shelves and there were the Ball Park Franks. I checked for some indication of gluten, but found nothing, either way. I struggled to remember my GFCF lists as to whether they contained any. I suspected they were OK. But, I hated to buy it and find out later I'd have to return it. (I should not now that, indeed, most GFCFers consider Ball Park Franks safe -- I glanced at a couple online lists after getting home.)

So I called the toll free number on the package from the store. In a few minutes, the rep asked what I needed. I told her. She said she could help me. I read the UPC numbers to her. And, then (here's where it gets nuts)...

She said, "Well, if you could tell me what type of gluten you're trying to avoid, I can help you."

A little stunned, I said, "Uh, all types."

She responded, "But there are many different forms of gluten. It's in wheat, corn, rice ...."

I had to stop her. "Sorry, I don't know what you're reading to me, but it's incorrect. There is no gluten in corn or rice. The information you're providing is factually incorrect."

"Sir, we're just asking that our customers trust our labels and trust that we'd indicate clearly whether an ingredient contains gluten."

I said, "Well, then you can tell me whether there's any gluten in the ingredient named 'flavoring' in these hot dogs.'"

She stammered. I said, "I don't think you can tell me for certain whether these hot dogs have gluten or not. And since you can't, I'm not going to buy your hot dogs."

That's when she told me to hold for a few minutes while she consulted others. When she returned, she still could not tell me but promised to call back with an answer.

The point of this is not to pick on the poor lady on the phone. There's two important messages here.

First, companies like Sara Lee need to be more open about their ingredients. Other companies do it, and gladly do it. Until they do, they won't get my business.

Second, we need to be super careful about checking items for gluten. Just because you get some nice person on the phone assuring you that there's no gluten in your favorite hot dog doesn't mean that's good info. We need to ask questions, test the answers and push for clarity when the responses seem fuzzy. Otherwise, we -- and our kids -- will pay the price.

By the way, you can check out some good hot dog options at my previous Hot Dog Guide post.

Is it pork or chicken

I think we all know about picky eaters. I have a few in my house. It seems if it isn't a hot dog, burger or chicken pieces, then they won't eat it. I keep trying new things, but it doesn't always work. But, sometimes, I win. Here's an easy one to win if your family can handle pork.

I bought some lean pork chops, boneless, or cut away the bone. These were slightly thick. So, I put them in an oven pan and baked for 30 mins on 350. When done, and no longer pink, I cut them into "nugget" sized pieces.

Then, I sprinkled with salt, pepper and chili powder and a little olive oil, like a couple of teaspoons. After heating an oven top pan, I tossed the mix in just for a minute or two to combine. Then, I served. I didn't even tell them it was something different. I just served it like I would for any of my other chicken recipes -- some of which look very similar.

They ate it all.


Flaxy cookie cut-outs

This is based on my previous recipe for Gingerbread people. I just changed a few things with the premise of making a cookie that included flax that my kids would eat. This one works.

1/3 cup brown rice or sorghum flour
1/3 cup ground flax seed
2/3 cup tapioca starch
1 tbsp carob or cocoa powder
1 TBL cinnamon
1 tsp ginger (use more for a cookie with a real ginger bite)
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda or 2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup DariFree or other milk sub

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then, add the liquids.

Mix well. Add tapioca if necessary to get a dough that you can knead.

Roll the dough out on a floured board or surface, using the tapioca, to about a quarter-inch thickness. Cut out gingerbread person shapes, flouring the cutter with tapioca.

Bake at 350 degrees on a greased cookie sheet (Spectrum shortening) for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.

FYI -- I grind my own flax seed and save a bundle. I buy flax in bulk at $1/lb, put it through a coffee grinder, and then regrind it, and use it as a flax flour. I also use the flax for my flax eggs that you'll see here from time to time.


Dangers of Teflon cooking

I've heard about health issues concerning teflon pans in the past but with so much going on in my life regarding food -- GFCF -- I didn't really look into it. Until now. So, I thought I'd share what I found.

The problem with teflon is that it emits toxins when heated too high. Studies have shown this. What's not shown -- independently -- is whether toxins are emitted at lower temps.

A great source to start with is the Environmental Working Group , which did a study on teflon. You can find it at:

The EWG simply recommends turning to cast iron pans. BTW -- while you're there, look up the EWG study called Skin Deep -- you should find a link on the front page. I use this study often to analyze the safety of cosmetics. Very good stuff.

I've read elsewhere that we don't use aluminum pots and pans anymore because of links and fears to Alzheimers disease. I'm not sure that's been proven. But, why risk it?

There's a titanium pan on the market called Scanpan, but I've read that it uses similar chemicals as teflon.

The Green Guide also has a very helpful article detailing safe alternatives to teflon at

Here's what The Green Guide lists as good options:

-- KitchenAid Stainless Steel 10-piece cookware set, including 8" and 10" French skillets ($149;
-- Lodge unseasoned Original Finish 10.25" skillet, ($13.95) and Cast Iron Cooking for Dummies set ($89.95;; 423-837-7181)
-- Cuisinart 10" stainless steel skillet ($60) and 7-piece Chef's Classic stainless steel set ($260;
-- DeBuyer Lyonnaise Carbon Steel Frying Pans 11" ($44.95;, 866-COOKWARE)
-- All-Clad 10" stainless-steel frypan with aluminum core ($84.95) or 5-piece set ($394;; 866-COOKWARE)
-- Le Creuset enameled 9" skillet ($49.95;; 866-COOKWARE)


Ham dinner -- gfcf style

So, this won't work for everyone, especially our younger children who are dead-set on hot dogs and tators. But, every so often, I like to throw something new at my kids to see what they do. And, when I do, I usually employ trickery in my presentation. So, I'll post this very easy and quick recipe for a ham dinner, but first explain the trickery.

My wife and I made this dish Saturday. Here's what I do. Make the ham dinner for the adults and sit down to eat while the kids' meals are "still cooking." This is often what happens. My oldest will wander over to my side of the table to see what I'm eating. Then she'll ask what I'm eating. I never offer it to her. About 75% of the time, she'll then ask to try it. So, I give her a bite. Then she wants another. I give it to her. Then she'll ask for some on a plate. So, I push my plate to her and say, "Here, eat some of mine while I get you a plate, but don't eat it all." Then, I exit to the kitchen. When I come back, it's gone. She wants more.

Of course, this doesn't always work. It's not like magic. But, she's so stubborn that if I dump it in front of her or force her to try it, she'll never eat it again.

Anyway, here's the recipe.

- Ham slices: any kind you're comfortable with that you're sure is free of gluten, dairy and MSG. OR, if you avoid ham due to sodium/preservatives, try pork slices seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. I sliced this very thin.
- Brown rice (white's OK too)
- Kidney beans (any bean is OK)
- spinach, frozen (any veggie would work)
- Sea salt, black pepper, paprika
- olive oil (any oil)

I cooked the ham in a stove-top pan with a little water. I cut an X in each piece to help prevent curling. The ham is pre-cooked. With pork, you'd have to cook per normal instructions first. Make the rice - I use a rice cooker. I heated the beans for 5-10 mins in a small pot with a little water. I did the same with the spinach.

I cut the ham into small pieces -- just by quartering each slice.

Then, I mixed a 1/2 cup of rice with 1/4 cup of beans and a couple tablespoons of the chopped spinach. I seasoned lightly with the sea salt, pepper and paprika. I sprinkled 1 tsp oil on top, then stirred with a fork.

I put two slices of ham on a plate with the above rice/bean mixture. That's it. Do the same for each plate.

It's very tasty and if the kids don't like it, the meal is still great for the adults. And, it's a GFCF meal you can eat and not worry if your kids nibble at your plate.

Now, if you're dealing with food allergies/intolerances, much of this is interchangeable.
- Sub half of a butterflied chicken breast for the ham/pork.
- Sub potatoes for the rice.
- Sub corn or carrots or peas for the beans.
- Sub any veggie for the spinach.
- Sub canola or sunflower oil for the olive oil.


GFCF Pizza Wedgie

Here's a neat variation on a GFCF pizza, or cheeseless pizza.

It's sorta like a wedgie, if they sell those where you live -- or really just a folded over pizza. It has the same pizza taste but resolves one of the big issues with pizza without the cheese -- the visual of not having cheese.

So, make your pizza or follow directions for my version.

But, after done baking, use spatulas to fold the pizza over, just like you do when folding a blanket -- end to end. Then, brush the top with olive oil, or your choice of oil, sprinkle with anything you wish (garlic salt, paprika, red pepper crushed, black pepper, oregano, etc.) or nothing at all. Bake another 5 mins.

Now, I'll tell you now that I'm trying to find a way to create a goo-like texture within the pizza -- but I can't use dairy or soy. Any great ideas, let me know. Right now, I'm tinkering with corn and potato mashes. Stay tuned.


Chocolate pudding -- minus the chocolate and the dairy

So, how in the world do you make chocolate pudding without chocolate or dairy. It's actually very easy. This is great the day it's made, but does not store well for two or more days.

- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (or potato)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 cups liquid DariFree
- 1 Tbs margarine or shortening (like Spectrum)
- 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
- 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder or carob powder

Combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the Darifree until smooth. I imagine you could use any dairy sub here.
Microwave uncovered on high for 3 minutes.
Microwave 4 - 6 minutes more, stirring every minute until thick.
Stir in margarine/shortening and vanilla.
Cover with plastic wrap to avoid "skin".

I found this on the website in Australia -- a specialty site and seller of Darifree.

Oh, for vanilla pudding, omit the cocoa/carob.


Making autism case public

Hey -- sorry I've neglected the blog for a few days. I've been busy establishing a presence on Facebook and MySpace. It's like playing with new toys. Anyway, I promise some new recipes this week. I've recently had success with a "chocolate" pudding recipe (no dairy, no chocolate) and also a cutout cookie recipe. For now, I'll reprint a recent opinion piece from the New York Times regarding the autism court case. Worth reading.

New York Times
March 11, 2008
A Puzzling Autism Case
The federal government’s concession that vaccines may have triggered brain deterioration with symptoms like autism in a young girl is sure to exacerbate concerns among parents worried about immunizations. It is imperative that the court for vaccine compensation unseal documents involved in this unusual case so that experts, families and their doctors can better understand exactly how Hannah Poling, now 9 years old, came to be harmed after receiving a battery of shots when she was a toddler.

For years medical authorities have been assuring us that sound epidemiological studies showed that vaccines and a mercury preservative once widely used in them were not implicated in causing autism, a condition characterized by lack of social skills, problems with communication and repetitive behaviors. That almost certainly remains true for the vast majority of youngsters.
Hannah’s case was complicated by a rare disorder that can deprive the brain of needed energy and cause neurological deterioration. When Hannah’s case was submitted to a federal vaccine compensation program, the government settled before the evidence was argued in a hearing. Government medical personnel apparently found that the vaccinations aggravated the underlying disorder. An alternative theory — that the vaccines may have caused the disorder — is viewed skeptically by government experts.

Top health officials are still urging parents to get their children vaccinated, and with good reason. All children deserve protection against infectious diseases, and even youngsters with these rare disorders may be at risk of neurological deterioration if they contract one of the diseases that vaccines protect them against.

It will be important to develop the best possible medical guidance for youngsters with rare defects. That effort would be enhanced if the government makes public all relevant documents in this puzzling case.


And on Facebook, too

Hey guys -- I also started a GFCF Diet group site on Facebook to work in conjunction with this site. So, all of you on Facebook, stop by. You'll find the group by clicking here or simply by searching in Groups for "GFCF."


Blog now on MySpace too

Hey guys -- this is just underway. But, I'm starting a mini-blog on MySpace. The page is up and running at, so any MySpace users, feel free to drop by, comment and all that stuff. There's a new post there today and I will be adding similar recipe and news posts there each week. Just another portal to get helpful info out.

GFCF Restaurant update - Damon's Grill

Damon's Grill was just added to the restaurant guide but with disappointeing results. Take a look. For kiddies -- no fries, no burgers. But, some adult offerings.


Fed court: Yep, vaccine caused autism

This from David Kirby on the Huffington Post. I'm sure you'll find it interesting. But, the question he raises is right -- what now?

Government Concedes Vaccine-Autism Case in Federal Court - Now What?

After years of insisting there is no evidence to link vaccines with the onset of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the US government has quietly conceded a vaccine-autism case in the Court of Federal Claims.

The unprecedented concession was filed on November 9, and sealed to protect the plaintiff's identify. It was obtained through individuals unrelated to the case.

The claim, one of 4,900 autism cases currently pending in Federal "Vaccine Court," was conceded by US Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler and other Justice Department officials, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, the "defendant" in all Vaccine Court cases.

The child's claim against the government -- that mercury-containing vaccines were the cause of her autism -- was supposed to be one of three "test cases" for the thimerosal-autism theory currently under consideration by a three-member panel of Special Masters, the presiding justices in Federal Claims Court.

Keisler wrote that medical personnel at the HHS Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation (DVIC) had reviewed the case and "concluded that compensation is appropriate."

The doctors conceded that the child was healthy and developing normally until her 18-month well-baby visit, when she received vaccinations against nine different diseases all at once (two contained thimerosal).

Days later, the girl began spiraling downward into a cascade of illnesses and setbacks that, within months, presented as symptoms of autism, including: No response to verbal direction; loss of language skills; no eye contact; loss of "relatedness;" insomnia; incessant screaming; arching; and "watching the florescent lights repeatedly during examination."

Seven months after vaccination, the patient was diagnosed by Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a leading neurologist at the Kennedy Krieger Children's Hospital Neurology Clinic, with "regressive encephalopathy (brain disease) with features consistent with autistic spectrum disorder, following normal development." The girl also met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) official criteria for autism.

In its written concession, the government said the child had a pre-existing mitochondrial disorder that was "aggravated" by her shots, and which ultimately resulted in an ASD diagnosis.

"The vaccinations received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder," the concession says, "which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of ASD."

This statement is good news for the girl and her family, who will now be compensated for the lifetime of care she will require. But its implications for the larger vaccine-autism debate, and for public health policy in general, are not as certain.

In fact, the government's concession seems to raise more questions than it answers.

1) Is there a connection between vaccines, mitochondrial disorders and a diagnosis of autism, at least in some cases?

Mitochondria, you may recall from biology class, are the little powerhouses within cells that convert food into electrical energy, partly through a complex process called "oxidative phosphorylation." If this process is impaired, mitochondrial disorder will ensue.

The child in this case had several markers for Mt disease, which was confirmed by muscle biopsy. Mt disease is often marked by lethargy, poor muscle tone, poor food digestion and bowel problems, something found in many children diagnosed with autism.

But mitochondrial disorders are rare in the general population, affecting some 2-per-10,000 people (or just 0.2%). So with 4,900 cases filed in Vaccine Court, this case should be the one and only, extremely rare instance of Mt disease in all the autism proceedings.

But it is not.

Mitochondrial disorders are now thought to be the most common disease associated with ASD. Some journal articles and other analyses have estimated that 10% to 20% of all autism cases may involve mitochondrial disorders, which would make them one thousand times more common among people with ASD than the general population.

Another article, published in the Journal of Child Neurology and co-authored by Dr. Zimmerman, showed that 38% of Kennedy Krieger Institute autism patients studied had one marker for impaired oxidative phosphorylation, and 47% had a second marker.

The authors -- who reported on a case-study of the same autism claim conceded in Vaccine Court -- noted that "children who have (mitochondrial-related) dysfunctional cellular energy metabolism might be more prone to undergo autistic regression between 18 and 30 months of age if they also have infections or immunizations at the same time."

An interesting aspect of Mt disease in autism is that, with ASD, the mitochondrial disease seems to be milder than in "classic" cases of Mt disorder. In fact, classic Mt disease is almost always inherited, either passed down by the mother through mitochondrial DNA, or by both parents through nuclear DNA.

In autism-related Mt disease, however, the disorder is not typically found in other family members, and instead appears to be largely of the sporadic variety, which may now account for 75% of all mitochondrial disorders.

Meanwhile, an informal survey of seven families of children with cases currently pending in Vaccine Court revealed that all seven showed markers for mitochondrial dysfunction, dating back to their earliest medical tests. The facts in all seven claims mirror the case just conceded by the government: Normal development followed by vaccination, immediate illness, and rapid decline culminating in an autism diagnosis.

2) With 4,900 cases pending, and more coming, will the government concede those with underlying Mt disease -- and if it not, will the Court award compensation?

The Court will soon begin processing the 4900 cases pending before it. What if 10% to 20% of them can demonstrate the same Mt disease and same set of facts as those in the conceded case? Would the government be obliged to concede 500, or even 1,000 cases? What impact would that have on public opinion? And is there enough money currently in the vaccine injury fund to cover so many settlements?

When asked for a comment last week about the court settlement, a spokesman for HHS furnished the following written statement:

"DVIC has reviewed the scientific information concerning the allegation that vaccines cause autism and has found no credible evidence to support the claim. Accordingly, in every case under the Vaccine Act, DVIC has maintained the position that vaccines do not cause autism, and has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination."

3) If the government is claiming that vaccines did not "cause" autism, but instead aggravated a condition to "manifest" as autism, isn't that a very fine distinction?

For most affected families, such linguistic gymnastics is not so important. And even if a vaccine injury "manifested" as autism in only one case, isn't that still a significant development worthy of informing the public?

On the other hand, perhaps what the government is claiming is that vaccination resulted in the symptoms of autism, but not in an actual, factually correct diagnosis of autism itself.

4) If the government is claiming that this child does NOT have autism, then how many other children might also have something else that merely "mimics" autism?

Is it possible that 10%-20% of the cases that we now label as "autism," are not autism at all, but rather some previously undefined "look-alike" syndrome that merely presents as "features" of autism?

This question gets to the heart of what autism actually is. The disorder is defined solely as a collection of features, nothing more. If you have the features (and the diagnosis), you have the disorder. The underlying biology is the great unknown.

But let's say the government does determine that these kids don't have actual "autism" (something I speculated on HuffPost a year ago). Then shouldn't the Feds go back and test all people with ASD for impaired oxidative phosphorylation, perhaps reclassifying many of them?

If so, will we then see "autism" cases drop by tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people? Will there be a corresponding ascension of a newly described disorder, perhaps something like "Vaccine Aggravated Mitochondrial Disease with Features of ASD?"

And if this child was technically "misdiagnosed" with DSM-IV autism by Dr Zimmerman, how does he feel about HHS doctors issuing a second opinion re-diagnosis of his patient, whom they presumably had neither met nor examined? (Zimmerman declined an interview).

And along those lines, aren't Bush administration officials somewhat wary of making long-distance, retroactive diagnoses from Washington, given that the Terry Schiavo incident has not yet faded from national memory?

5) Was this child's Mt disease caused by a genetic mutation, as the government implies, and wouldn't that have manifested as "ASD features" anyway?

In the concession, the government notes that the patient had a "single nucleotide change" in the mitochondrial DNA gene T2387C, implying that this was the underlying cause of her manifested "features" of autism.

While it's true that some inherited forms of Mt disease can manifest as developmental delays, (and even ASD in the form of Rhett Syndrome) these forms are linked to identified genetic mutations, of which T2387C is not involved. In fact little, if anything, is known about the function of this particular gene.

What's more, there is no evidence that this girl, prior to vaccination, suffered from any kind of "disorder" at all- genetic, mitochondrial or otherwise. Some forms of Mt disease are so mild that the person is unaware of being affected. This perfectly developing girl may have had Mt disorder at the time of vaccination, but nobody detected, or even suspected it.

And, there is no evidence to suggest that this girl would have regressed into symptoms consistent with a DSM-IV autism diagnosis without her vaccinations. If there was such evidence, then why on earth would these extremely well-funded government attorneys compensate this alleged injury in Vaccine Court? Why wouldn't they move to dismiss, or at least fight the case at trial?

6) What are the implications for research?

The concession raises at least two critical research questions: What are the causes of Mt dysfunction; and how could vaccines aggravate that dysfunction to the point of "autistic features?"

While some Mt disorders are clearly inherited, the "sporadic" form is thought to account for 75% of all cases, according to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. So what causes sporadic Mt disease? "Medicines or other toxins," says the Cleveland Clinic, a leading authority on the subject.

Use of the AIDS drug AZT, for example, can cause Mt disorders by deleting large segments of mitochondrial DNA. If that is the case, might other exposures to drugs or toxins (i.e., thimerosal, mercury in fish, air pollution, pesticides, live viruses) also cause sporadic Mt disease in certain subsets of children, through similar genotoxic mechanisms?

Among the prime cellular targets of mercury are mitochondria, and thimerosal-induced cell death has been associated with the depolarization of mitochondrial membrane, according to the International Journal of Molecular Medicine among several others. (Coincidently, the first case of Mt disease was diagnosed in 1959, just 15 years after the first autism case was named, and two decades after thimerosal's introduction as a vaccine preservative.)

Regardless of its cause, shouldn't HHS sponsor research into Mt disease and the biological mechanisms by which vaccines could aggravate the disorder? We still do not know what it was, exactly, about this girl's vaccines that aggravated her condition. Was it the thimerosal? The three live viruses? The two attenuated viruses? Other ingredients like aluminum? A combination of the above?

And of course, if vaccine injuries can aggravate Mt disease to the point of manifesting as autism features, then what other underlying disorders or conditions (genetic, autoimmune, allergic, etc.) might also be aggravated to the same extent?

7) What are the implications for medicine and public health?

Should the government develop and approve new treatments for "aggravated mitochondrial disease with ASD features?" Interestingly, many of the treatments currently deployed in Mt disease (i.e., coenzyme Q10, vitamin B-12, lipoic acid, biotin, dietary changes, etc.) are part of the alternative treatment regimen that many parents use on their children with ASD.

And, if a significant minority of autism cases can be linked to Mt disease and vaccines, shouldn't these products one day carry an FDA Black Box warning label, and shouldn't children with Mt disorders be exempt from mandatory immunization?

8) What are the implications for the vaccine-autism debate?

It's too early to tell. But this concession could conceivably make it more difficult for some officials to continue insisting there is "absolutely no link" between vaccines and autism.

It also puts the Federal Government's Vaccine Court defense strategy somewhat into jeopardy. DOJ lawyers and witnesses have argued that autism is genetic, with no evidence to support an environmental component. And, they insist, it's simply impossible to construct a chain of events linking immunizations to the disorder.

Government officials may need to rethink their legal strategy, as well as their public relations campaigns, given their own slightly contradictory concession in this case.

9) What is the bottom line here?

The public, (including world leaders) will demand to know what is going on inside the US Federal health establishment. Yes, as of now, n=1, a solitary vaccine-autism concession. But what if n=10% or 20%? Who will pay to clean up that mess?

The significance of this concession will unfortunately be fought over in the usual, vitriolic way -- and I fully expect to be slammed for even raising these questions. Despite that, the language of this concession cannot be changed, or swept away.

Its key words are "aggravated" and "manifested." Without the aggravation of the vaccines, it is uncertain that the manifestation would have occurred at all.

When a kid with peanut allergy eats a peanut and dies, we don't say "his underlying metabolic condition was significantly aggravated to the extent of manifesting as an anaphylactic shock with features of death."

No, we say the peanut killed the poor boy. Remove the peanut from the equation, and he would still be with us today.

Many people look forward to hearing more from HHS officials about why they are settling this claim. But whatever their explanation, they cannot change the fundamental facts of this extraordinary case:

The United State government is compensating at least one child for vaccine injuries that resulted in a diagnosis of autism.

And that is big news, no matter how you want to say it.

David Kirby is the author of "Evidence of Harm - Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, A Medical Controversy" (St. Martins Press 2005.


GFCF Pizza wrap

So, now that we know how to make a GF wrap that bends, here's one yummy way to make a great dinner for the kids. First, you have to make the wraps. Second, you make a 10-minute pizza sauce, and the recipe's right here. Third, you make the filling. For now, I'll show you my favorite, which is what I like to call Pizza Burger filling. But, remember, you could plug anything in here you want -- pepperoni, salami, chicken, turkey, hot dog, avacado, lettuce, lunchmeat, tomato, onion, etc. Be creative. But, for the pizza burger, you want to make a double batch of the pizza sauce. And, brown about a pound of ground beef in a pan. Drain the grease. Stir in half of the pizza sauce, sprinkle with some sea salt, chili powder, ground red pepper.

Now, take a wrap, spread some sauce on there like a pizza, plop a couple of tablespoons of filling in the middle, add diced onion, lettuce, tomato or any other fillings your kids love (none if they don't), and fold the wrap. Serve and eat.

Make sure to save a couple for your lunch.


Study shows link between mercury and autism

I don't jump on every study or finding that pops up about autism, mostly because I find the waves of hope and dispair too stressful. But, I found this recent study interesting, mostly because it gets to the heart of the million dollar question -- can mercury cause the problems our kids are struggling to overcome? Sure, all the medical groups and the feds tell us "no." Then, they chastise us for even considering the possibility. Why don't they instead say, "Gee, we're not really sure. So, instead of guessing, we'll study the possibility in an open, nonpolitical environment and let the world know our findings." Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming. Anyway, here's a link to the Rutgers and UMDNJ study and a few lines from the summary.


"We have shown that mice exposed to either methylmercury (MeHg) or valproic acid (VPA) in early postnatal life display aberrant social, cognitive and motor behavior. Interestingly, early exposure to both compounds has been clinically implicated in the development of autism. We recently found that Trolox, a water-soluble vitamin E derivative, is capable of attenuating a number of neurobehavioral alterations observed in mice postnatally exposed to MeHg."
Oh, and to put this into perspective, here's a little tidbit from a USAToday series on pollutants.

"Mercury is 13.5 times as dense as water. If all the mercury released into the air by U.S. coal-burning power plants in 2005 48.3 tons could be captured and stored in one place, it would fit into the back of a large SUV such as a Chevy Suburban or Ford Excursion. By contrast, depositing just 1/25th of a teaspoon of mercury into a 60-acre lake could contaminate the lake to the point that fish caught there would be unsafe to eat."

Sources: University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center; North Carolina Divsion of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance


Stealing an autistic child from his home

Has anyone out there seen this? Very disturbing -- from Sunday's Orange County Register -- Opinion writer Steven Greenhut.


Sunday, February 17, 2008
Child abuse by the government
Government rips an autistic boy from his home because it prefers a different treatment than the one offered by the parents.
Sr. editorial writer and columnist
The Orange County Register

What kind of society rips a 17-year-old autistic boy from his loving home and places him in a state-run mental institution, where he is given heavy doses of drugs, kept physically restrained, kept away from his family, deprived of books and other mental stimulation and is left alone to rot?

Certainly not a free or humane one.

Yet that's exactly what has happened to Nate Tseglin, after a teacher called Child Protective Services, the county agency charged with protecting children from many forms of abuse and given power to remove children from their family homes in certain circumstances. The teacher reported seeing self-inflicted scratches on Nate's body and complained about the doctor-approved arm restraints his parents used to keep Nate from hurting himself. Nate remains in Fairview Developmental Center (formerly Fairview State Hospital) in Costa Mesa, labeled a danger to himself and others, while his parents fight a lonely battle to bring their son back home.

Isn't there anyone out there who can help them?

After the complaint, social workers intervened and decided that the judgment of a psychologist who examined Nate's records but never even met the boy trumped a lifetime of treatment and experiences by his parents, Ilya and Riva Tseglin. Without prior notice, "the San Diego Health and Human Services agency social worker, with the aid of law enforcement, forcibly removed a struggling and terrified autistic boy … from his home, while his mother and father, who are Russian Jewish immigrants, and Nate's younger brother stood by helplessly," according to the complaint the parents, who have since moved to Irvine to be near Nate, filed with the court.

The forced removal came after the Tseglins came to loggerheads with the government over Nate's proper treatment. The parents are opposed to the use of psychotropic drugs and argue that Nate has had strong negative reactions to them. They point to success they've had with an alternative, holistic approach that focuses on diet and psychiatric counseling. The government disagreed, so it took the boy away from home and initially placed him in a group home – where he had the same negative reaction to the drugs that his parents predicted would happen.

Of course, once social workers are involved in a family, they are reluctant to relinquish their power – something I've found in every Child Protective Services case I've written about. And even though the court determined "the evidence is clear that the parents have always stood by and tried to help their son," the court sided with the government. That's another common theme from these closed family-court proceedings – the social workers' words are taken as gospel, and the parents are treated like enemies and given little chance to defend themselves.

The details are complicated and discouraging. But, essentially, the parents were cut out of any decision-making regarding their son. They were given only short visits with him. After he ran away from the group home, the government transferred Nate to a mental hospital. The Tseglins say the drugs the hospital gave Nate caused him to have a "grand mal" seizure, and his health has continued to deteriorate while he languishes in a government mental facility. When they visited him over the summer, they found his face swollen. He faded in and out of consciousness and was suffering from convulsions. They believe he has been beaten and are worried about sexual abuse, given that he is housed with the criminally insane.

The Tseglins claim Child Protective Services has told them they have the "wrong set of beliefs" and even threatened to force them to undergo court-ordered psychological evaluation. The agency at one point suspended the parents' visitations as a way "to assist them in coming to grips regarding their son." The Tseglins, as former citizens of the Soviet Union, have good reason to be fearful of the authorities. But they tell me that they experienced nothing of this sort in the former communist nation. If their descriptions are correct, then the Soviets weren't the only ones who know how to create a totalitarian bureaucracy.

The family's legal argument is persuasive:

"Riva and her husband have cared for Nate, in their home, for his entire life, until he was dragged kicking and screaming away from his parents. … The court found that it was very impressive that the parents 'were able to maintain Nate in the home for the better part of a decade when he was having some severe behavioral difficulties.' … The court found further that when the parents put Nate on a 'more holistic approach' and ignored the professional opinions, that 'for a period of time, Nate responded very well to that.' Even though Nate subsequently deteriorated, the court found that he fared no differently using the more traditional medical approach.' …

"In short, this case turns on value judgments, such as whether it is preferable for Nate to be maintained in his own home, subject to occasional physical restraint, surrounded by the love and devotion of his parents and brother, or whether Nate should be placed in a locked facility, subject to occasional physical restraint and constant chemical restraint, surrounded by strangers and a burden to the California taxpayer. … The real issue in this case is that the agency and some medical personnel believe their opinions regarding Nate's treatment are better than the parents' choices, and have sought the judicial intervention to override the parents' decisions regarding their son."

In a free society, individuals and families get to make those judgments and decisions. As the Tseglins argue, "Riva has a right to raise her child, Nate, free from government interference, as long as he is not at risk of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect or exploitation."

Sure, the state can and does intervene when parents are accused of abusing or neglecting their children. There are many problems and injustices even in those cases, but at least it's understandable when the government intervenes to protect a potentially threatened child. But in this case, the state is simply saying that it knows best, that no matter how diligently a boy's parents have worked to provide the best-possible care for him, that officials get the final say. And the government's choice of mandatory incarceration seems harsh and cruel, which shouldn't surprise anyone, given the basic nature of government.

At last check, autism is not a crime. It's time to free Nate Tseglin and return him to the love and care of his parents.

Contact the writer: sgreenhut@ocregister.comor 714-796-7823


Crok pork roast -- an easy gfcf dinner

Now that my children are a little older -- 4 & 6 -- and not so stuck in the burger, nuggets, sticks phase -- I've dared to experiment a little, branch out our taste buds into some more adult areas. Like pork roast. Why? For a few reasons, and some very selfish. I'd like my kids, who would love to eat chicken pieces and potatoes for the rest of their lives, to learn to appreciate other foods. I know this will be a challenge. Like so many of our kids, mine are stuck in a rut. Deviation from their menu will not be accepted lightly. But, I've learned a few tricks over the years. The one that works best is to make my plate first, sit and eat while their food continues to "heat up." They always, well 75% of the time, want to try my food. So, here's a recipe I'm going to try with them. I chose it because I miss roasts -- beef and pork. They are delicious and often very simple in terms of time and ingredients. That's the selfish part. I realize some younger kids may not digest the beef, so wait until they can. And, I know some kids actually have a white pork intolerance. So, beware of that too. But, most will be able to handle this. I'm making the crok pot version, since that is the easiest.

Ingredients are simple:
-- pork roast: any size
-- Carrots, cut up, or the small salad size
-- onion, chopped into halves
-- 1 apple, any kind
-- Potatoes, cut into quarters
-- water, 1 cup
-- garlic: powder or minced will do, or two real cloves, crushed
-- salt and pepper to taste

Wash off the roast and place it in the crok pot. Wash the carrots and dump in as many as desired. Cut onion in half, toss in. Cut apple into quarters, toss in, pitch core. Add garlic, salt and pepper if desired and the water. Cook on low anywhere from 6-10 hours, based on size of the roast. Add the potatoes in the last two hours so they cook through.

I'll let you know how my experiment works. Either way, I'll be sure to enjoy it. If the kids don't -- hot dogs :)


GFCF Sandwich Wrap

Like many of you, I've had a difficult time getting my kids to eat a GF bread, whether it's store-bought or homemade. My youngest has eaten Noah's Bread at times, but not regularly. I created a deviation of Tom's Bread that I dubbed Lindsay's Bread that she once ate but wasn't overly fond of and eventually got tired of it as a lunch bread. So, I've figured the best thing for my kids is variation, having a few breads that I can get them to eat if I mix them up and don't serve them daily. I know, it's a real pain. But, by using them sporadically in lunch and dinner menus, it's not that bad. So, that brings me to this very simple recipe for a sandwich wrap. You'll find many variations of this recipe on websites and in cookbooks. I use a mashed potato base. That's essential to give the wrap some flexibility. Without it, you come up with a dry tortilla that easily cracks. Here's how I make it.

Ingredients are potatoes, salt, Darifree (or milk sub), 1 cup gf flour, xanthan gum, water.

First, boil enough potatoes to make two cups of mashed potato.

Next, when done, take two cups of the potato in a bowl and mash them, adding enough Darifree or milk sub to the mix to make them "mashy" but not too wet. Add 1/2 tsp salt in the process.

Now, heat a pan on high without oil.

While heating, add the cup of flour. I use 1/2 cup rice flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour and 1/4 cup corn meal. You can use any mix you want. If you're corn and rice free, consider using sorghum and tapioca mix.

Add 1/2 tsp xanthan gum.

Now, mix the flour in and start making a dough. Add water by the tbsp if necessary.

When the dough is ready and the pan is hot, sprinkle some tapioca flour on a surface, grab a handful of dough (like 1/4-1/2 cup), and with floured hands (or a floured roller), flatten into a circular shape, but not too thin. When flat, put it in the pan. Heat a couple minutes on both sides until they start to brown. Continue doing this with the rest.

All in all, this is a very easy recipe and becomes very versatile. I have a pizza wrap recipe I'll post soon. You could use this with lunchmeat, ground beef like a taco, etc.


Stop the presses! You can treat autism through diet!

Yeah, there's a little sarcasm there. You may have seen this item from the Feingold organization circulating across webland. If not, save these links, print out the article and post it on the fridge. Yippee.

A doctor from Children's Hospital in Boston wrote an article for the American Academy of Pediatrics' AAP Grand Rounds publication on the impact that food additives have on people with ADHD. Those of us dealing with the spectrum know how additives, colorings and preservatives really can screw your day up.

So, here's the links for you to enjoy.

-- the actual AAP article is at this link:

-- a previous study on this issue published in Lancet, in the UK, is at this link:

-- the Feingold write-up on this is at this link:

-- Feingold's "Behavior, Learning and Health" publication is at this link:

I'm not a strict follower of Feingold but we certainly share many of its beliefs.


Burger King and the pirate ship

My wife, kids and I took a very important outing yesterday. We stopped at Burger King on the way back from a doc visit. Why Burger King? Gluten-free fries, of course. If you missed my GFCF restaurant post, don't panic, I've put a permanent link down the right side of my blog. Or, just click here. This was the first in a very long time that the four of us actually sat and ate at a restaurant. The kids got a plain burger, no bun, that they put in a plastic salad plate. And, they got small french fries, which are cooked in a dedicated fryer. Water to drink. Heinz ketchup packets (gf). We got a window booth and the kids pretended they were on a pirate ship and the sea was out the window. They had a blast. It really is a test run for us. First, we want a fast food place that we know we can rely on when traveling or visiting out of town. I think Burger King is that place. Plus, we want to try other restaurants in our area that provide GFCF options. There are a few. Check out that previous blog post. But, those aren't really fast food and we need to be on our best behavior there. So, this was our test. They were well-behaved, until the end. They didn't want to leave. My oldest stuck her tongue out at mom. That didn't go over well. So, now she has to earn the restaurant outing back. And, she will. She's very determined. This was a big step for us after feeling nearly like hermits for the past six years. I hope it helps open a new chapter in our lives.