Casein Free

Allergies, Autism, and Diet

Allergies

Gluten-free, Casein-free Diet For Autism

Before the twins, Zion and Hosanna, were born (they turn four in six days) our family went on the gluten-free, casein-free diet to help our oldest son, Elisha, who has autism, with his behavior.

The diet was challenging. The learning curve was steep. I had no idea what was really in some of our foods (and we don’t eat that many “weird” foods), until I started seriously reading labels.

We stayed on the gluten-free, casein-free diet for about two years. We saw great improvements in our son’s behavior and everyone else’s too.

Then along came our twins and…

Allergies and Eczema

We discovered, in the first year of her life, that our daughter, Hosanna, was allergic to dairy, eggs, and nuts. She had severe eczema and other issues related to her allergies. It was an obvious choice to me that we dropped the gluten-free, casein-free diet in favor of a diet free of her allergens.

Side note: Moses is allergic to mushrooms and shellfish, so those are out too.

Okay, so are you with me so far?

We were gluten-free, casein-free, but then we turned dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, shellfish-free, and mushroom-free. Try and come up with some fun (and frugal) breakfast ideas. I dare you!

Outgrowing Allergies?

We were told that if we avoided her allergens as completely as possible for at least two years, we could attempt to bring them back in. My daughter, Hosanna, is nearing four now and we have recently added back in dairy to the whole family. She does okay if we have it in moderation, but lately she has had some strange new eczema patches. And now our oldest son, Elisha, is having behavioral issues again.

Side note: While we have tried adding in the dairy and the egg (in baked goods only), I will NOT attempt this with the peanut/nut allergy. With the nut allergy, I would rather further testing to see if she still reacts.

Gluten-free, Casein-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Shellfish-free, and Mushroom-free (What’s For Dinner?)

My husband (Jonah) and I have been discussing our options. I am convinced that the food has something to do with Hosanna’s eczema outbreak as well as Elisha’s recent behavior. I was leaning towards going back on the gluten-free, casein-free diet, as well as staying away from all the other allergens, but the thought scares me.

Since we know that dairy (casein) is the biggest culprit for Elisha, we decided to start by eliminating that first and see how we do. The first 3-6 weeks can often be really bad if he goes through a withdrawal from those foods, so we can only pray for grace.

If we have success, we will stop there and just remain dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, mushroom-free, and shellfish-free. That is a mouthful and it’s no wonder we don’t eat out much.

Planning And Preparation

If we don’t have as much success as we would like, we will continue on and remove the gluten as well. This is a much bigger job and will require more planning and preparation on my part.

All of this means that I must be much more on top of planning meals. I must be going back through my recipes and pulling out the ones that I created based on old war recipes and new vegan ones (thank you Google). I am excited, nervous, and ready for change with our food in the hopes that we see benefits for our family.

I have discussed the changes with my husband and the two middle boys, but not Elisha. I wanted to just go ahead and quietly implement the changes at the end of the month and see if we could sneak them in without him noticing. Here’s hoping he is not a frequent reader of my blog.

If you are dealing with food allergies, feeding a large family on a tight budget, or otherwise challenged in the kitchen, I would love to hear your comments.

large family good eats

Eggless, Dairyless, Oatmeal Cookies

My kids don’t get sweets and treats very often, but every so often we make cookies.

I have not found too many cookie recipes that I like which are eggless and dairyless. I went on a search today to find a new cookie recipe to try out this afternoon. I found a really simple recipe which sounds like it might be yummy.

Oatmeal Cookies

Here is what I did to the recipe:

  • 3/4 cup Fleischman’s unsalted margarine
  • 3/4 cup lard
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 6 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

I mixed the wet ingredients with the mixer. I mixed the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mixed it with a spoon. Then I mixed the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

I did not flatten the first batch of cookies because I thought they would spread on their own (wrong assumption – we had oatmeal cookie balls). The second batch, I flattened with a fork and they turned out better.

I did notice that the original recipe called for 1/2 a cup of white sugar – which double would have meant another cup of sugar – which might have added to the taste. I do not like sweet cookies, but these needed just a little more sweetness.

I eliminated the vanilla only because I did not have any (I love vanilla).

The oven was set at 350 for 12 minutes and the cookies came out done right on the nose.

The recipe (above) made 30-40 average size cookies.

My Thoughts: The cookies were good. The kids loved them. I prefer a more chewy cookie and these were on the dry side and more cake like. I was thinking of adding more brown sugar and more fat to see what happens. They held together really well, but didn’t look all that appetizing and were kind of boring to me.

Do you have a favorite egg free and dairy free cookie recipe? I would love to check it out.

Menu Planning

Grocery day is coming up at our house. We always shop for the month, but I have been pretty bored with the food we have been eating lately. I decided to have a family meeting and see if we could come up with some creative ideas of things to eat.

Let me just say here that we have some food issues in our house. We were gluten free, casein free for almost 2 years due to ADHD, Autism, and Aspergers  in our family. The diet was amazing and helped immensely. Last summer we reintroduced gluten and casein to see how everyone would do. The boys did fine on the gluten, but reacted horribly to the casein. Out went the casein again!

Around the same time, we also discovered our daughter’s allergies. Hosanna is allergic to all forms of dairy and goat’s milk, eggs, and peanuts (we avoid ALL nuts). We have an EpiPen for emergencies, but have never had to use it.

Our eating has been quite an adventure over the last couple of years. It has been stressful at times reading labels. Grocery shopping takes forever when you have to read every label.

We cook mostly from scratch (it is cheaper, healthier, and way more fun). I love cooking and being creative. I especially love baking. I want all of my kids to learn how to cook meals and make baked goods.

Now that you have a little background about our food history, let me share with you about our family meeting this morning. First we discussed foods we each liked. Then we came up with a weekly rotation of foods to make for each meal.

It is my job now to make it work within our budget (that’s the fun part). I plan on doing this by gathering all of my recipes ahead of time and writing out a detailed grocery list. Then I will be shopping the warehouse store and any good sales. We really only have three stores to shop at and fliers can be viewed on-line at two of the stores.

Just for reference: For most meals we are feeding 9 people – dad, mom, 5 children (9, 8, 6, 20 months, 20 months), and grandma and grandpa.

Here is our list for breakfast (with fruit):

  • Sunday – pancakes
  • Monday – muffins
  • Tuesday – breakfast skillet
  • Wednesday – oatmeal
  • Thursday – biscuits with pepperoni
  • Friday – sausage and hash browns
  • Saturday – pancakes

Lunch will be soup (mostly homemade) and sandwiches with veggies on the side. We will keep this fresh by making biscuits, cornbread, wraps, pitas, etc to change up the bread. I might make a weekly list for soups and sandwiches, but I think we are doing good for now.

Here is our list for dinners (with veggies):

  • Sunday – hamburgers
  • Monday – pot pie (chicken pot pie, shepherd’s pie, etc)
  • Tuesday – pizza or calzones (with no cheese)
  • Wednesday – pasta
  • Thursday – perogies
  • Friday – roast dinner (with all the fixings)
  • Saturday – chicken or pork with rice

Snacks will include the following:

  • veggies
  • fruit
  • popcorn (from scratch)
  • cookies (from scratch)
  • ice tea (from scratch)
  • lemonade (from scratch)

I would love to hear what your family does for menu planning and cooking.

Please share links to your favorite recipes and resources.

NOTE: I have added a Large Family Recipes page to my website.

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