The following post has been generously written for you by Caryn of Living With Logan. Caryn is the stay at home mother of 7 children, living in Southern Utah and devouring all the knowledge she can in the speed of light. Her son Logan is diagnosed with high functioning Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. Logan also has unexplained seizures and multiple severe allergies causing him to maintain a VERY restrictive gfcfsfcf diet (gluten, casein, soy, egg and corn free).
“I am the mother of seven children.” That seven word sentence has become the best introduction I have ever used. I have only to use it once, and I know I will be in a conversation for at least an hour. But even more importantly, I am the mother of seven children, one of whom has high functioning autism, SPD, unexplained seizures, and a gabillion food allergies that are potentially life threatening. His name is Logan, he is two, and Colton is his twin.
In the 10 months since Logan’s allergy testing, and the 8 months since his autism/SPD diagnosis, our family has put a plethora of changes into place. For example, Logan follows a very strict diet. Originally based on the “autism diet”, which is gfcf ( gluten and casein free), we also had to remove soy, corn, nuts ( except almond and hazelnut), eggs, tomatoes (fresh), and melon. This provides hours of fun when grocery shopping, that’s for sure!
Logan also has occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy services through early intervention. This last year has been a wild ride for us, but such a learning experience, and a bittersweet journey, which I will get into a little bit later.
For now, let me talk about “THE DIET”.. as it is known here at the Monster House. The best advice I was given, which I pass on to absolutely anyone who will listen, is cook like great grandma cooked. What this means is, meat and potatoes, a veggie side dish. Or pasta with a salad. I don’t care HOW strict your diet is, ( and Logan’s is one of the strictest I have ever seen) there are always veggies you can have. For example, Logan gets rice pasta instead of regular pasta when we make spaghetti or lasagna. Also, he gets no cheese, so his is more of a “lasagna bake”. But with that, we will provide leafy salad greens and carrot curls, radish roses. Let’s face it.. if it’s pretty, it’s a lot easier to eat!
Rather than focusing my attention on all the “can’t haves”.. I play up the “cans!”. I may roast a couple chickens for dinner, and make whipped garlic mashed potatoes made with almond milk and soy free earth balance spread, instead of cow’s milk butter and milk, then add a green salad, and everyone in the family is eating gfcfsfcfef!
Standard Sunday dinner in this neck of the woods is roast. Fine. We can do that too. Toss a roast in the crock pot with potatoes, carrots, onion, salt and pepper, then rev it up and walk away for 6 hours. Come back, and eat an incredible gfcfsfcfef meal… because you’ll use the drippings for gravy~ no gluten or cornstarch needed!
“Well, yes,” you might say “but MY child will only eat chicken nuggets and mac n’ cheese!” I have that covered, too. Chicken nuggets… make your own, using rice chex that have been put through the food processor until they are crumbs, and season them as you like. Dredge your raw chicken pieces in unflavored gelatin that has been dissolved in VERY hot water, pound the gelatin covered chicken in rice chex crumbs, and fry in canola oil or lard. YUMMY! My kids like these better than any other nugget on the market… and it’s cheaper, too! Toss the mac n’cheese in the trash where it belongs. Something that orange just can’t be healthy… for anyone!
I do not buy a great deal of “special” foods for Logan. Quite simply, I just don’t have the money to buy from two completely different shopping lists. There are a few things, however, that are Logan staples in the Monster House. Almond butter, rice cakes, rice pastas, sesame crackers, almond milk, and earth balance soy free spread ALWAYS go in my shopping cart. Logan is 2. He and Colton require snacks throughout the day because they are always busy and always hungry. Other than that, we really don’t use anything for Logan’s diet that we don’t already buy. Because Colton and Logan share food, as twins do, both of them are on this diet. And both of them are extremely healthy.
Don’t get me wrong. I spend literally hours in the grocery store, reading labels and putting things back in frustration, because I love being able to give the twinnie monsterlettes variety. But I have discovered that the best place to get variety for them is in the produce section. They love sweet potatoes ( mashed, as fries, and whipped with brown sugar), they like spaghetti squash as pasta, celery is also a favorite. We try out lots of fruits ( grapes are high on their lists), too. Sometimes we pick things for them to try that they are not pleased about. Sometimes I purchase something to try and wind up wishing I had bought ten pounds!
My most current quest is to be able to bake for the twinnies. There is not a decent gfcfsf bread on the market… much less one that fits all the criteria Logan has. So, I am playing around with flour mixes and leavenings and flavors, to try and make a bread for him that is as close to a light, crusty, yeasty loaf as I can get it.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is: baby step by baby step we make great strides. No one is going to be able to do everything right all the time. It doesn’t work that way. And if it did, would we really learn anything? Having Logan in our family has taught me about appreciating the little things in life, more so than all the Christmas Hallmark commercials, Mormon family time commercials, and Budweiser Clydesdale commercials, combined. And believe me… I bawl at every last one of those!
Thank you to Caryn for sharing a glimpse into cooking for a family of 9 (7 +2) while maintaining one of the strictest diets I have seen to date. When you have a moment, please stop by her blog, Living With Logan.
Thanks Again Caryn!!!