Cinnamon chips: a GF recipe from school!

IMG_6752Yep, this recipe for “Cinnamon Chips” actually comes from my daughter’s 6th grade “Home & Careers” class, although I’d say kids ages 3+ could help make these. Of course, it wasn’t originally gluten-free since it called for flour tortillas, but by easily switching them to corn tortillas, we’re all set! My daughter made these at home today and they were awesome!  I was totally surprised by how crispy and tasty they were. Since corn tortillas are smaller we felt like 2T of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon was way too much for this little tortilla, so instead we used this perfect-for-the-occasion Cinnamon Sugar Grinder from Trader Joe’s. Your g-free kid is sure to love cranking the grinder to cover it w/ the sweet mix and cutting it with the pizza cutter. Original recipe is below. Have fun!

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P.S.  We didn’t use parchment paper and she brushed on the water with clean fingers since we didn’t have a pastry brush. Such an easy, fun recipe for kids!  🙂

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Sweet ways to surprise a g-free kid this holiday season

Supporters, this one’s for you!

Is there a g-free kid in your life?  Are you this child’s teacher, “Room Mom”, aunt, uncle, neighbor, Sunday School coordinator, friend of the family, or relative?  Well, all it takes is a little bit of effort on your part to make this g-free kid feel welcome, valuable, and loved for that upcoming school, church or family party.

Your event is likely just one of many that he or she will attend this month, and I can almost guarantee that many other party planners will not think ahead to include gluten-free treats. Sure, there may be fruit, veggies and other naturally g-free foods — which is great — but kids are kids, and a sweet, safe, great-tasting treat is always a welcomed sight. Especially when the “other kids” are gushing about how amazing the donut holes, cupcakes and cookies are, while all the g-free kid is allowed to put on his or her plate is the healthy stuff…

This is where you come in — to light up that g-free kid’s eyes, and to see the gratitude come shining through… So take a bit of time and a few dollars and be the one to make that kid’s day!

Most likely, there is a gluten-free section at your local grocery store. If so, check it out. This time of year there are multiple seasonal offerings that you can pick up, such as these ready-to-enjoy treats:

storebought

There are also several brands of peppermint & chocolate-drizzled popcorn available right now, and plenty of other year-’round goodies. These types of ready-made treats are your safest bet, as you can bring in the package for the child or their parent to read, so they can feel secure that they can indulge safely. Make sure you see the words: “certified gluten-free” or “gluten-free” on the label. Whatever you end up buying, please remember to bring the packaging, as many g-free kids are (understandably) wary of eating anything they can’t prove is gluten-free.

If you’d like to add a little something extra to a plain food, just clean your countertop, spread out some wax paper and drizzle chocolate over plain Snyders of Hanover GF pretzels, “Boom-Chicka-Pop” popcorn, or dip marshmallows in chocolate (you don’t need sticks) and decorate with sprinkles, like you see in the next three photos:

pretzels

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If you’d like to take it to the next level and bake them something, it’s probably best to check with the g-free kid’s parent first to make sure you do it safely. There are things you need to know and certain ways of doing things in order to make the end result a safe bet. And, no, these are not hard things to do…

Things like cleaning your counter work space well of all crumbs before you start the recipe. And using wax paper, aluminum foil or parchment paper on your cookie sheets, so you are not baking where wheat ingredients just were. Believe it or not, even a small amount of cross contamination can really make super-sensitive kids (like one of mine) sick, so please trust in simple measures and go along with it. Use squeaky clean bowls & utensils for mixing, scraping and removing cookies after baking — or better yet: buy and keep separate ones designated only for GF foods.

Here are some more tips on avoiding cross-contamination. Read it over and let the g-free kid’s parents know you understand the importance of following these measures, or whatever additional measures she requests. As one of these parents, I can tell you how uncomfortable and awkward it is to ask other adults to do these things, and how much easier it is when someone shows that they are happy to do whatever it takes for their awesome, generous & thoughtful gesture to work out well in the end.  🙂  I can also tell you how extra awkward it is having to decline something I don’t trust to be safe…

If they give you the go-ahead, here are 3 super-easy, gluten-free cookie recipes:

3cookiesA) Four ingredient cake mix M&M cookies (You just need GF cake mix: Aldi’s Live G-Free brand is good and cheap, eggs, butter and M&Ms)

B) Flourless Fudge Chunk Cookies (Calls for dark cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, egg white and choc. chips)

C) Three ingredient peanut butter cookies (peanut butter, eggs and sugar) (not for school parties, for obvious reasons)

There are many things you can do beyond these ideas to make that g-free kid in your life feel special, and to bring a tear of gratitude to their parents’ eyes. Whenever anyone in our lives does any of these things for my g-free girls, they earn some serious bonus points from all of us, and we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.  🙂

Any more ideas or tips?  Feel free to comment….

Rx for a Sick G-Free Kid

sickieAh, cold and
flu season….
You’d think that
the lack of global warming keeping us in this deep freeze this winter would kill off some germs, wouldn’t you?

Well, alas, our g-free kids might still catch some viruses before springtime rolls around…

Just in case, here are some tips collected from parents like us on what we can do to help a sick kid feel better, even when
he or she is on a gluten-free diet.

I recently posted the question “What do you do for your g-free kid when they are sick?” on Facebook and here are the top responses. These tips apply to kids with stomach bugs, as well as kids whose appetites just aren’t up to par due to other mild wintertime illnesses.

Tips from fellow parents:

  • If still in vomiting stage, just give them tiny ice chips & sips of water
  • Ginger Ale (flat, so there aren’t any bubbles) helps settle the stomach
  • Homemade chicken broth (some say just the broth)
  • Steamed, plain rice
  • Chicken soup with rice or just broth with rice
  • Rice cooked in chicken stock with ground chicken
  • Bone broth
  • Chicken pho with rice noodles
  • Homemade chicken noodle soup: GF broth, GF spaghetti noodles (cut up) and shredded chicken, maybe w/ some soft cooked veggies, too
  • The BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, GF toast)
  • GF Rice Krispies (dry)
  • Plain, dry cereal or toast
  • Glutino and Schar both have plain table crackers that are similar to soda crackers
  • One mom swears by this: apple cinnamon rice cakes & Mountain Dew
  • Gluten-free pretzels or plain tortilla chips to nibble on
  • GF canned soups by: Amy’s, Gluten Free Cafe, Progresso, Dr. McDougall’s
  • ice pops
  • Pedialyte liters and Pedialyte freezer pops
  • Set your child up with a hot water bottle on his or her tummy
  • Tummy rubs and head rubs
  • TLC (tender loving care — a g-free kid is still a regular kid who needs love, after all)  🙂

*Please note:  This is not professional medical advice. These tips are from parents just like us who have shared their personal advice for how to help sick g-free kids feel better…. Please seek real medical advice from your own family’s doctor for anything out of the ordinary.

If anyone wants to add other tips or advice to this list, please comment below. Thanks!

The road ahead

The road of parenting is a long one…..and for a parent of a child on a special diet, it may seen endless…

Aside from their diets, I sometimes feel like my daughters’ “phases” are endless, and I’m helping them “work on” certain things for years at a time…. Right now they are both trying to focus on a Fruit of the Spirit: self-control for one and kindness for the other.

This morning I was trying to get some advice from online articles about children and maturity, when I came across a phrase that hit home. It went something like this: “Prepare your child for the road, rather than prepare the road for your child.” Right away I could see how this would apply to so many things in life, and I felt moved to create a graphic reminder for myself. This is what I came up with:

PREPAREroad

How many aspects of life does this simple phrase encompass?

Can we clear the road of bullies — or can we prepare our children with how to deal with them?

Can we eliminate the risk of stranger danger — or can we teach our kids what to do if they are ever approached?

Can we protect our kids from getting their feelings hurt — or can we teach them how to keep everything in perspective and get past it?

Can we get rid of all gluten in our kids’ world — or can we teach them how to be prepared and deal with different food situations?

You get where I’m going with this…

When you first find out your child has to maintain a gluten-free diet for life, your first reaction is to get out there and totally clear the road for him or her….to make sure all bases are covered and everyone in their life knows about every last detail. That is all very necessary for a young child and one who is new at eating gluten-free. There’s a lot that comes with the new territory…

But as they grow, you won’t always be there to plow away the snow, salt the icy spots, and maneuver them around the road hazards. Little by little, you will want them to learn to become self-sufficient. There is no magic age at which this happens — it is just something to keep working towards….

For specifics on how you can prepare your child for living in a gluten-filled world, please read this article on helping your gluten-free kid gain independence.

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and be sure to check out the online photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.

Paintings for Kids: Easter’s Most Important Symbol

IMG_6617Bunnies, eggs & candy — oh my!  While I’m all for enjoying the goodies of Easter, a very important symbol get lost among all of the fun aspects of this Christian holiday — the cross!  So for the past 5 years or so, I have made it a point to have my daughters make people cards with crosses on them, to remind them of the most important part of Easter — that Jesus Christ triumphed over sin and death. Here are some of the cards they’ve been making since they first began to draw and paint…

IMG_6635This year they made 8.5 x 11″ paintings and added paper strips for a collage effect, which you saw in the first photo above…

Here is how they did it:
First, my girls added a few drops of water to all of the watercolor ovals on their paint palette (see below) so that the colors would be nice & juicy and ready to use.

Next I used masking tape around the edge of the paper to both (1) adhere the paper to the cardboard so it wouldn’t get all bendy once wet, and (2) to create a 1/4″ border around the edge of the paper. Then I cut pieces of tape and stuck them down for the crosses and hill top (smaller pieces to form the curve). The idea of the tape is to keep the paper white underneath, once you peel the tape off later…

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Then I gave my girls both wide, flat brushes and had them brush the whole page with water. Then they started adding paint and letting the colors blend together, making sure they painted right up to the tape edges. We also added table salt to the wettest, most colorful areas of paint. That makes for some fabulous effects when it dries!  Let your kids experiment with this…mine love to!

Depending on what kind of paper you use to paint on (the thicker quality, the better), you may or may not be able to just leave it “as is” once you unpeel the tape. My original intent was that they would turn out like (A) below. Unfortunately some of our paper came up in pieces when we took the tape off. To cover this up, we made hand-torn paper strips that were the same width as our masking tape marks. I am actually glad this happened because I like the extra texture (B) the paper strips added!

2up

Below are how their paintings turned out after all of the paper strips were glued on. The brown crosses were made by dry-brushing some paint onto the strips before they were glued on. I think the white paper stands out the best on the sky backgrounds, though.
IMG_6604Lastly, we glued the paintings onto some bright construction paper which gives it a more “finished” look… My girls kept their favorite one (hey, our house needs decorations, too!) and the others were given away as Easter gifts to family.

IMG_6630I hope you will find the time to make something similar with your child. Here is a link I just found if you would like to further explore meaningful quotes and Bible verses about Easter.

Wishing you & your family a blessed Easter weekend with safe travels and relaxing times…

~Katie

Helping your gluten-free kid gain independence

When your g-free kid reaches a certain age (which is different for every child) it becomes time to start easing them into being independently gluten-free. Here are some tips that will help boost your child’s confidence and know-how:

Teach them to read labels:
For very young kids who don’t know how to read, send along a list of offending ingredients for caregivers, along with a list of naturally GF items such as fruit and raisins. If you’d like your little one to be able to refer to the list, include little pictures of acceptable foods to give him a better visual idea of what’s allowed. Help little ones learn how to spot the words “gluten free”, the certified gluten-free logo or other prominent labels. Once they start to read, you can show them more things to watch for on packages, and to also read the bold allergy warnings at the end of the ingredient list, as in “contains wheat.”

labelsWhen older kids begin looking at packages, the terms “multigrain” and “whole grain” can often be confounding (even for adults) so be sure to explain to them that just reading those words on a package doesn’t mean it is automatically ruled out. My girls used to think that, until I saw their confusion and explained how corn and rice can be considered multigrain or whole grain, too, yet those are still acceptable grains & flours for g-free kids. Teach them that oats need to be certified gluten-free to be considered safe, and other similar tips.

Start label-reading lessons small, by going to Grandma’s house and showing them offending ingredients on labels. Then go home and have them read labels on their own gluten-free products so they can see what is okay.

Guide them through the grocery store:
If your child is old enough and has a long enough attention span, spend some time together in a grocery store (at a slow time of the week) and go through it aisle by aisle, explaining which kinds of food are gluten-free or not. Be matter-of-fact and show them how entire sections of entire aisles are off-limits, but linger in the areas that are full of safe foods and marvel at all of their choices. Show them how most yogurts and ice creams are GF except those with cookies, brownies, sugar cone pieces, etc. Show them all the naturally gluten-free foods and the special area where the gluten-free products are. I do this with my daughters every now and then to test them on what they know, and they, in turn, always love to demonstrate their growing knowledge.

If this sounds too overwhelming for a younger child, then just do it in small doses on a regular basis as you do your weekly shopping together. It may take some time, but it’s very beneficial for your child — and something to be proud of  — for them to be able to show you what he or she knows.

Let them speak up for themselves:
When eating out, kids of all ages can learn to speak up for themselves to varying degrees. Young kids can learn how to ask, “Is this gluten-free?” or “Is this safe for me to eat?” Let your child order for themselves in a restaurant and have them politely inform the waitstaff that their meal needs to be gluten-free. Even if you plan on discussing details with the waitress, manager or chef yourself (which I would advise in order to avoid cross contamination) it is important for your child to get in the habit of always making sure people know that he or she needs to eat g-free.

menuIf your child is old enough, test them to see if they can correctly name the gluten-free options on menus at restaurants by themselves. Explain why they can’t eat certain things like french fries, which are deep fried in shared fryers with gluten-containing foods like breaded chicken fingers. Let them ask if there is a dedicated fryer or not. The older a child gets, the more he or she needs to have these habits set in place. The more they practice, the more comfortable they will get with the necessary dialogue. Your child will be filled with pride as he learns these life-long social lessons.

Can you think of any more ways to help your g-free kid gain independence? Please comment below if you have anything to add…..thanks!

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