Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Ok so the Cha-cha-chia pet commercials are still running through my head from Christmas because that was what I thought of when I thought of a blog title. But really there are some similarities! Chia pets you grow, as you do the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Some people are grossed out by the thought of eating your chia "hair" even though it is just alfalfa (right?) and some would be very hesitant to drink Kombucha after looking at these pictures! But, if you don't already know about the health benefits of Kombucha, check out my other blog posts here: http://thirning.blogspot.com/search/label/Kombucha I have already blogged about the why's and how's of Kombucha so I will not do that again in this blog.

This is our 2nd attempt. Our first attempt grew us the really nice SCOBY or baby (soon to be a mom) you see on the bottom. Right now (day 4) we are growing a new baby on the top which we will then use for the next batch. We kind of forgot about our first batch since it was in a cupboard in our laundry room. You see, they are supposed to have somewhat dark and quiet conditions. Good luck in our house. But, when it was in the laundry room it was forgotten and probably ended up as vinegar. So, here is our next attempt, in a more visible spot and we get to watch it growing and changing. We will be bottling on day 14, a week from this Friday. Come hell or high water, we are bottling. That is called the 2nd ferment. Right now is the first ferment. It will get "fizzy" once you do the 2nd ferment in the bottles (supposedly since we've never gotten that far before). The 2nd ferment is also the stage where you can add fruit for flavoring. Not going to get into that right now, just straight Kombucha for now. Then we may branch out. But, what a cool science project for homeschoolers or just in general! So, I will keep you posted on our Kombucha progress. I sure hope it turns out OK. I love Kombucha but $3 per bottle is killing me! This whole batch probably cost $2, now that I can handle!!
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Please sign this!

Here is a link to the Organic Consumers Association website. http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1783

It is a petition to oppose Tom Vilsack's confirmation as Secretary of Agriculture. From what I have read, this guy is pro GMO (genetically modified) food and pro cloning. Those get two big thumbs down from me. Please read the background on this guy and if you agree, sign the petition. I would sincerely hope President Elect Obama will choose someone who supports sustainable farming and NON GMO crops! GMO food (or cloning for that matter) is not OK for me or my children and I want a Sec. of Agriculture who is not a Monsanto lackey. We need truth in labeling and also a focus on more sustainable farming with real crops, not Franken-food!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Charcoal, it is not just for BBQ-ing anymore.

From the annals of "betcha didn't know this" comes an article on Activated Charcoal. We've used activated charcoal for yeast die off, iffy dietary infractions, etc. If we think there is a back log of junk trying to get out of M's system we will do some activated charcoal along with mag citrate (charcoal can be constipating so the mag helps keep things moving). However, I just read an article in the New Beginnings newsletter that expounds on the wonders of activated charcoal. Did you know that it can help with stomach flu, food poisoning and diarrhea?? Me either but I am glad I do now! Evidently it absorbs the toxins released from the bugs that cause these ailments and quickly helps resolve the problems. "Its the most awful time of year" for illness so if these yucky bugs hit your house, you may want to have some activated charcoal on hand.

The way activated charcoal works is when it is "activated" that process creates tiny holes or caves in the charcoal. These holes appear to have electrostatic properties and when they come into contact with noxious chemicals (toxins) they are drawn up into the spaces and bound which makes them less harmful to the individual. Pretty cool, huh? I see a big difference in M when he needs the charcoal and we give it to him. The next day he is SO much better. But, it can absorb supplements so you want to do it 2 hours away from supplements. We usually give at bedtime and we have to break it open and syringe it in. It is black and we make sure we have water handy for him to rinse his mouth since his teeth will be black after, even after mixing with water or juice. I can't recall M's dosage but this article states 2 caps (260 mg per cap) 3 times daily for an adult, more in the case of poisoning. It won't work for everything (like strong acids, alkalis, alcohol and petroleum type substances). And this is not an everyday kind of supplement. We use it once in a while, as needed and again, with mag citrate to avoid constipation! It can also be used in a poultice for bites and stings to take the sting and itch out, disinfect and deoderize wounds, it can even absorb the poison from spider and snake bites. So, I hope that helps, I hear the stomach bug is going around so it may be well worth it to you to keep this little gem in your medicine cabinet!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You know you have a child with Autism if.....

Yes, I know, I have been posting more stories and less facts. But hey, what can I say? I am in the flurry of Christmas preparations, making, wrapping, packing, shipping, oh my! So, not to bore my blog readers (all 2 of you) too much I wanted to still post but have had very little time for research or even pulling together items of real material value. So, this is something that I have been meaning to post since the DAN! conference. Dan Rossignol who works with Dr. Bradstreet in Florida did a "You know you have a child with Autism if....." top ten list and I just had to share. It is on his website (along with the full presentation which was excellent by the way) and can be found here under the presentations tab: http://www.icdrc.org/index.html

But, here is the list (with my notes in bold):

10 You walk around with your child’s medical records at conferences (I have to fess up, I had Matthew's records with me at DAN!)

9 You know what ileocolonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia means (and many other equally unpronounceable things....)

8 You think a good’s night sleep is 2-3 hours (thankfully not since Methyl B-12, but for MANY years!!)

7 It takes longer to explain the GFCF diet to your waitress than it does to eat the food (we don't go there, just bring our own!)

6 Your child takes more pills than your grandmother (oh yeah, big time!!)

5 Your best friends are the ones you met on an online autism support group (or the therapy clinic waiting room!)

4 Your family and friends think you are practicing voodoo medicine on your child (oh yeah, between homeopathy, aromatherapy and supps, everyone thinks I am a witch doctor!)

3 You receive so many packages from pharmacies that your neighbors think you are a drug dealer (just got one yesterday! the boxes keep getting bigger....)

2 Your child’s urine has been to more countries than you have (DEFINITELY! and sad....lol)

1 You compare poop stories with all of your friends (or on your blog!)

So there you have it, a little laughter to lighten up the crowded malls, the deadlines and the aching backs after wrapping your little booties off. As for me.....back to work, more presents to wrap!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

'Twas the night before Christmas....Autism style

I know, I know, it's not Christmas Eve YET but I got sent this poem last year and was just talking to Abby about it today. As we all feel the crunch time of Christmas and as our little kiddos feel the extra excitement, stress and pressure, it is a good time to reflect on their special challenges and also the extra blessings we have because of them. Here is the poem by Cindy Killeen Waeltermann I want to share. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did!!


Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
All creatures were stirring
Yes, even the mouse

We tried the melatonin
We gave a hot bath
But the holiday jitters
They always distract

The children were finally
All nestled in bed
When a nightmare of terror
Ran through my own head

Did I get the right gift
The right color and style
Would there be a tantrum
Or just maybe, a smile ?

Our relatives we will see
But they don't understand
The pleasure he gets
From flapping his hands.

"He needs discipline" they'll say
"Just a much needed smack"
"You must learn to parent"
On goes the attack

We'll just smile and nod
Because we know deep inside
The argument is useless
Our anger we will try to hide

We know what it's like
To live with the spectrum
The struggles and triumphs
Achievements, and regressions.

But what they don't know
And what they don't see
Is the joy that we feel
Over simplicity

He said "hello"
He ate something green!
He told his first story !
He didn't cause a scene !

He peed in the potty
Who cares if he's ten
He stopped saying the same thing
Again and again.

Others just don't realize
Just how we learn to cope
How we barely hang on
To the end of our rope.

What they don't see
Is the joy we won't hide
When our child with autism
Make the tiniest stride.

We sometimes look at others
Without the problems we face
With jealousy, and envy
Longing and even distaste

But what they don't know
Nor sometimes do we
Is that a child with autism
Brings simplicity

We don't get excited
Over expensive things
But we jump for joy
With the progress hard work brings

A child with autism
Tries hard every day
That makes us proud
More than words can say

They work even harder
Than you or I
To achieve something small
To reach their star in the sky

So to those who don't get it
Who don't have a clue
Take a walk in my shoes
And I will assure you!

After ten minutes
Into your walk
You'll look at me
With respect, even shock

You will then realize
Daily what is it I go through
The next time you're tempted to judge
I can assure you

You won't say a thing
You'll be quiet and learn
Like the years that I did
When the tables were turned

Autism Reform

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bad news for our veggies.....

I just spoke to a friend yesterday and was told that they passed the irradiation proposal for ALL fruits and veggies. I am trying to find the actual documents online so I can read through them and see what they mean. She was saying that the documents also allude to the issue that everyone with a backyard garden would need a "permit" to grow their own food. Again, until I can find the actual document and read through it I won't know all the facts. But what does this mean for you? If you are interested in organic produce with all the nutrients and vital enzymes that nature intended, you will need to become your own farmer. I will post here once I do find all the data out. But, my friend (who moved from Mesa to Flagstaff a few years ago) has started a community co-op. Each family grows a certain crop and then the group (of about 15 families or so) swaps produce. We will be forced to go back to the day of each community supporting one another and the barter system to get fresh, healthy, organic produce that has not been tampered with. I think most people who have studied this topic understand that the real problem is with cleanliness and with processing (as with almonds) rather than the actual contamination in growing, for the most part. It is the same reason why we have pasteurized milk, not necessarily because the cows were producing bad milk but because the handling and bottling was dirty. Even Louise Pasteur admitted later in his life that pasteurization is not always a good thing. Even for dairy, it kills the good bacteria necessary for easy breakdown of the proteins in the milk. That is why some kids on the autism spectrum (and people not on the spectrum too) who have intolerances to pasteurized milk can tolerate raw dairy. In any event, if this indeed has passed by Codex, this is a very sad day. I find it very disheartening to hear about these organizations making such large decisions for us all (like food irradiation and herbal supplement regulation) without more representation from the people and for the most part, I don't even think most of the population KNOWS about this organization. And yet they have the ability to change our ability to find truly organic, untampered produce. That is sad....

Here is my garden.....and it appears that we will be increasing our crops in the future. We have lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro and basil. I will be exploring new ways to add crops to our yard in the future, as well as planting more fruiting trees. I have been meaning to post about the Phoenix Permaculture Guild. They are an AWESOME organization that promotes sustainable gardening in your own yard. They do a bulk order for fruit trees that DO grow in our soil/temps and they even teach you how to plant and prune it. The prices are so cheap. The last two years we have missed the deadline (Nov) but the delivery of trees is in Jan and they usually have extras that they have ordered. I am sure hoping that is true because we need to get some fruit trees going, and in a hurry. They even teach how to have your own "mini" orchard in your own, regular sized home lot. The main guy has an "Urban farm" here in Phoenix with rain water harvesting and crops and teaches YOU to do the same.....smart thing in these times. So any Gilbert ladies (or men) interested in a local co-op, I am totally in to start one of those. We can get a group together and start planning our crops and who will grow what. I will post the links to the Phoenix Permaculture Guild soon too. In the meantime, here is our garden and rain water harvesting barrel that my husband made.

Here is our garden on the side of our house, raised beds to ensure soil quality.

Here is the view from the other side.

Here is a close up of our spinach.

Here is our rain water and AC condensation run off barrel. Have you seen how much water gets produced as condensation from your AC unit in the summer??? It is amazing!!!! We have a bucket that collects it and then we put it into this barrel. It really helps with watering our plants and saves quite a bit of water, which we can all use to save as much as possible. Then when it rains we put out buckets and collect the rain water to put into the barrel as well. Why not use these natural resources as much as possible?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

So my friend Abby posted this story "Welcome to Holland" on her blog recently. It is something I got from a message board a few years ago and seemed so appropriate. And then I also came across this response posted below not too long after I read the first version and I thought it was pretty funny and accurate in many cases. It just got shared with me again recently and I thought I would post it. If you have not read the original "Welcome to Holland" and want to, post a comment and I will post it as well. Or if you know Abby, check her site if you haven't already!! Here's the response:
Holland Schmolland
by Laura Kreuger Crawford

If you have a special needs child, which I do, and if you troll the Internet for information, which I have done, you will come across a certain inspirational analogy. It goes like this:

Imagine that you are planning a trip to Italy. You read all the latest travel books, you consult with friends about what to pack, and you develop an elaborate itinerary for your glorious trip.

The day arrives.

You board the plane and settle in with your in-flight magazine, dreaming of trattorias, gondola rides, and gelato. However when the plane lands you discover, much to your surprise, you are not in Italy -- you are in Holland. You are greatly dismayed at this abrupt and unexpected change in plans.

You rant and rave to the travel agency, but it does no good. You are stuck. After awhile, you tire of fighting and begin to look at what Holland has to offer. You notice the beautiful tulips, the kindly people in the wooden shoes, the french fries with mayonnaise, and you think, "This isn't exactly what I had planned, but it's not so bad. It's just different."

Having a child with special needs is supposed to be like this -- not any worse than having a typical child -- just different.

When I read this my son was almost 3, completely non-verbal and was hitting me over 100 times a day. While I appreciated the intention of the story, I couldn't help but think, "Are they kidding? We're not in some peaceful country dotted with windmills. We are in a country under siege -- dodging bombs, boarding overloaded helicopters, bribing officials -- all the while thinking, "What happened to our beautiful life?"

That was five years ago.

My son is now 8 and though we have come to accept that he will always have autism, we no longer feel like citizens of a battle-torn nation. With the help of countless dedicated therapists and teachers, biological interventions, and an enormously supportive family, my son has become a fun-loving, affectionate boy with many endearing qualities and skills. In the process we've created . . . well . . . our own country, with its own unique traditions and customs.
It's not a war zone, but it's still not Holland. Let's call it Schmolland. In Schmolland, it's perfectly customary to lick walls, rub cold pieces of metal across your mouth and line up all your toys end-to-end. You can show affection by giving a "pointy chin." A "pointy chin" is when you act like you are going to hug someone and just when you are really close, you jam your chin into the other person's shoulder. For the person giving the "pointy chin" this feels really good, for the receiver, not so much -- but you get used to it.

For citizens of Schmolland, it is quite normal to repeat lines from videos to express emotion. If you are sad, you can look downcast and say, "Oh, Pongo." When mad or anxious, you might shout, "Snow can't stop me!" or "Duchess, kittens, come on!" Sometimes, "And now our feature presentation" says it all.

In Schmolland, there's not a lot to do, so our citizens find amusement wherever they can. Bouncing on the couch for hours, methodically pulling feathers out of down pillows, and laughing hysterically in bed at 4:00 a.m. are all traditional Schmutch pastimes.

The hard part of living in our country is dealing with people from other countries. We try to assimilate ourselves and mimic their customs, but we aren't always successful. It's perfectly understandable that an 8 year-old from Schmolland would steal a train from a toddler at the Thomas the Tank Engine Train Table at Barnes and Noble. But this is clearly not understandable or acceptable in other countries, and so we must drag our 8 year-old out of the store kicking and screaming, all the customers looking on with stark, pitying stares. But we ignore these looks and focus on the exit sign because we are a proud people.

Where we live it is not surprising when an 8 year-old boy reaches for the fleshy part of a woman's upper torso and says, "Do we touch boodoo?" We simply say, "No, we do not touch boodoo," and go on about our business. It's a bit more startling in other countries, however, and can cause all sorts of cross-cultural misunderstandings.

And, though most foreigners can get a drop of water on their pants and still carry on, this is intolerable to certain citizens in Schmolland, who insist that the pants must come off no matter where they are and regardless of whether another pair of pants is present.

Other families who have special needs children are familiar and comforting to us, yet are still separate entities. Together we make up a federation of countries, kind of like Scandinavia. Like a person from Denmark talking to a person from Norway (or in our case, someone from Schmenmark talking to someone from Schmorway.), we share enough similarities in our language and customs to understand each other, but conversations inevitably highlight the diversity of our traditions. "My child eats paper. Yesterday he ate a whole video box." "My daughter only eats four foods, all of them white." "We finally had to lock up the VCR because my child was obsessed with the rewind button." "My son wants to blow on everyone."

There is one thing we all agree on. We are a growing population. Ten years ago, 1 in 10,000 children had autism. Today the rate is approximately 1 in 250. Something is dreadfully wrong. Though the causes of the increase are still being hotly debated, a number of parents and professionals believe genetic predisposition has collided with too many environmental insults -- toxins, chemicals, antibiotics, vaccines -- to create immunological chaos in the nervous system of developing children. One medical journalist speculated these children are the proverbial "canary in the coal mine", here to alert us to the growing dangers in our environment.

While this is certainly not a view shared by all in the autism community, it feels true to me.
I hope that researchers discover the magic bullet we all so desperately crave. And I will never stop investigating new treatments and therapies that might help my son. But more and more my priorities are shifting from what "could be" to "what is." I look around this country my family has created, with all its unique customs, and it feels like home. For us, any time spent "nation building" is time well spent.

So there you go. We too have created our own nation. And there are still days when I want my visa and the first plane out of here, those days (I happily report) are becoming more of a memory than a constant like they used to be. I was thinking about this last night as a matter of fact. The days of the constant meltdowns (his and then mine shortly after) are much fewer and my reactions are more calmer and soothing than the frustrated ignorance that was there before. Maybe understanding the why's of the meltdowns help me handle them better, maybe it is just aging and maturity. Maybe it is Stockholm syndrome, can't be sure, but whatever it is, I am happy for the change (or acceptance). It is so much better to be happy with where you live and who your neighbors are. That's not to say I don't keep striving each day for peaceful negotiations and change, it is what we work for everyday. So for all the other Schmolland-ites, I wish you all peaceful negotiations and cross cultural interactions today! All we can say is "we come in peace....."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The difference between healthy and skinny.....

I started to get excited yesterday. As I was getting Matthew ready for school, Good Morning America had a brief segment on Stevia. I thought maybe it would start getting some mainstream *good* press for a change. It kind of did. Of course there was a person saying "not everything natural is safe...." Here we go again, dun dun dun......this natural sweetener that has been used for centuries could cause cancer (as all the natural supplements get accused of in some way shape or form)......of course their studies were worried about the product in processed foods. Really?!?! Do people really even believe this stuff? OK so lets take a look at the chemical sweeteners like nutrasweet, splenda, equal, etc. I can grow Stevia in my garden (and have). Personally I think something I can grow in nature is a heck of a lot healthier for me than a chemical any day. So you want to look at cancer risk? Lets pull out that data on sweet n low. It galls me to see stuff like this. So lets just say we use the same logic to discuss zucchini. Most people would say zucchini is a healthy food. Now lets bread it and fry it in canola oil and then say "well, you know this zucchini, if eaten enough, can cause cancer". Sure, now lets just stop eating all zucchini. Lets not discuss that the frying and the breading and the hydrogenated oil is what is making it bad. It is the same thing with Stevia. So the studies on its safety in processed foods are still inconclusive, here's an idea, lets not eat so many processed foods!

I felt the same way watching the Biggest Loser last week. They did a Thanksgiving episode, talking about ways to do a healthier Thanksgiving dinner. I thought this could be a good segment. And then the celebrity Chef Rocco Something-or-other began taking a beautiful turkey breast, adding seasoning and herbs and rolled it in plastic wrap and proceeded to boil it! My mouth gaped open. Seriously????? You think boiling turkey in plastic wrap is better than maybe roasting it? I would take the extra fat and calories over the chemicals boiling out of the plastic wrap and into my food. And then he talked about the pies and sugar. He advocated using some of the chemical sweeteners (splenda, sweet n low, etc). ARRGH!! By this point I was so disappointed with the whole episode that I was grumbling out loud. Luckily my husband is used to my anger at these BS theories about "health". It was clear that the issue on this show was calorie count, not actual health. That galls me. Its like the people who live off cigarettes and diet coke and are rail thin and thereby perceived as more "healthy". Yet I completed a sprint triathlon in April and still carry around some of my baggage from two pregnancies even after all the training. Aarrgh!!! I am not saying it is OK to be overweight but I think there is a huge difference between healthy and skinny, and I want everyone to know I am using these terms as metaphores, I am not just focusing on actual weight here.

We are focused in general I think on the slick glamour of things, not the actual content whether that be nutrition, health or depth. It drives me nuts. If we looked at other countries we would see use of Stevia as an alternative and we wouldn't be so scared by natural alternatives. We would appreciate the real qualities of life and not just the face value of things. But unfortunately the natural health community does not have big lobbyists behind it. And so they get crucified by the big companies wanting market share and so the public gets fooled into thinking calorie content is king and the chemicals really don't matter. I would say that especially in the Autism community, chemicals DO matter. We do need to be very aware of all the chemicals that our kiddos are exposed to and cannot rid themselves of easily. And in return, your whole family gets healthier. I will say it again, butter is better than margerine. What animal does margerine come from? Its nearest relative is Tupperware as far as I am concerned. Do we need to be prudent with the amount of butter (or Ghee if you are GFCF) we use? Yes, absolutely. But the real deal is better than the "franken-food" that have "zero fat and calories!" that many things seem to promote. Skip the "low sugar" or "sugar free" varieties as they are sure to contain artificial sweeteners. Reach for agave nectar, honey, fruit or stevia as alternatives. But don't buy into "no calories are better" theory because we need calories, just the right ones.....And learn to read labels. If you can't pronounce it or don't know what it does, maybe you should leave it on the shelf. Does that limit your choices? Absolutely. We have very few boxed or prepackaged foods in our cupboards. It takes way more time to plan, shop and cook but I still say it is well worth it, for all of us, not just Matthew. Now I am "one of those" people that is in the aisle reading labels (the kind of person I used to smirk at years ago, writing off as a nerd). I guess I am a food nerd, I should have my glasses and pocket protector with my neatly written list. But instead I usually have at least one child hanging out of the basket, singing or whining (or both), my list usually getting misplaced at least once during the trip and not neatly written at all, most items added on the fly or in the car. But that's OK, I am still paying attention to those labels and at heart am still a food nerd. And I am OK with that.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Water filter for showers

I have been meaning to blog about this topic since coming back from the DAN! conference. So much to say, so little time. But, I also had not fully researched the issue. At the DAN! conference I learned about even the water we bathe in can be bad. The junk in the water can be absorbed through the skin, especially since the steam opens your pores. So, we started looking at getting a whole house filter. This was especially precipitated by the fact that the RO system we THOUGHT we had was not really an RO system, oops! But so many systems to choose from and so many sales pitches telling us each one was the "best". I asked my husband why we couldn't just get hand held shower heads with the filters on them? And then Saturday I got a mailer from Vita Cost, it is a site I used to order Candidase and Virastop from that was much cheaper than Sprouts. Their latest ad has a Crystal Quest shower head combo with filter for $49.35, retail is $69.95. Here is a link: http://www.vitacost.com/Crystal-Quest-Handheld-and-Shower-Head-Combo-Luxury-Shower-filtration-system-1-Unit

I think that is the route we will go. The heck with a several thousand dollar complete system, I am going to order 3 of these and walk across the street to my neighbor who owns a water and ice store here in Gilbert and ask him about a water dispenser and some bottles of water each month. I will solve 2 problems and support a local business, and that is always a good thing!

Along these sames lines, what you put on your skin in the bath is important too, avoid those sulphates and parabens, try and stick to natural ingredients, preferrably ones you'd feel comfortable eating, especially if you have a child on the spectrum. The purest ingredients are always a good choice, our skin is our largest organ! Keeping that toxic load down is a huge priority for them and everyone really. I have been meaning to order from Dr. Mercola's site, his stuff looks pretty good. Same goes with cleaning, especially in and around the tub. We don't want our little ones swimming in a toxic bath. Vinegar and baking soda work really well and if you need to disinfect it will help with that too, or add a few drops of tea tree oil and/or lemon oil if you really are worried about germs. I drop a few drops in my mop bucket with pure, hot water and that is what I mop with and the smells are wonderful to boot. I can be sure when a piece of food gets dropped on the floor and one of the kids picks it up and sticks it in their mouths that they are not getting the chemicals in Pine Sol or Ammonia along with that little morsel. Although I know for years I used Pine Sol (oops) and loved that smell, which now probably would gross me out. Live and learn and try and do better each subsequent day I guess, right?

Thanksgiving update

I wanted to update everyone on our Thanksgiving GFCF-ness. It was a success in general but here's the skinny:

I loved the potatoes, the turkey, the gravy and the pie. I was less fond of the stuffing and the rolls but I am a HUGE stovertop fan (yes I know, its the MSG, I cannot help myself) and I am not a big fan of rolls anyways so my viewpoint may be skewed. My husband LOVES rolls and he really liked the Namaste mix and also the stuffing. So, from the adult perspective, there you have it, I would say success. The kids loved everything and yet hardly ate a thing because they were so excited. I think what Matthew loved most was being ABLE to eat anything. And the kids loved being able to drink their water with a splash of apple juice in cute little glasses. Here are a few pictures of the day, including one of Matthew saying "cheers". My kids don't get apple juice too often (feeds yeast) so even the slight dash of it to give the water color and a bit of sweetness was a special treat, and the glasses just added to it. I remember my grandmother letting me and my cousin drink juice from the special glasses she had when I was a kid and just how special that made me feel, I even still have "my" glass, she gave it to me at my baby shower for Matthew and it immediately brought tears to my eyes remembering those wonderful memories. Now that she is gone I love passing down that bit of special-ness to my kids. I hope your Thanksgiving was just as special!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just desserts

So today was pie and bread baking day. I approached the task of making a completely gluten, dairy and egg free pumpkin pie with enthusiasm and a little bit of skepticism, not sure what I would come out with. The results were wonderful (see previous posts for complete recipes). The pie crust came out just a well as one made with wheat I thought. Sure, I couldn't just run to any ole store and grab a frozen crust for my pie but these days I am less apt to reach for ready made products anyways, once I read the label that is. (* Note to self, start baking company that specializes in healthy GCFCEF pie crusts that are ready made!!!) So, for the same time and effort as making a wheat based pie crust, this one came out great. The filling was super easy to do, just like a normal pumpkin pie like I always make...here are pictures and I will give taster's reactions (i.e. my kids and husband) sometime this weekened. The kids sure were eager to dig in though once they found out what I was making. Boy did my house smell good too. The bread is also baked for the stuffing. I did use the Namaste mix and made it into a loaf shape and will also make up another batch for rolls tomorrow. One bag can make 2 batches of bread so it worked well. Tomorrow I tackle the rest of the stuff but I was bouyed up by my pie success. At least that is a good omen right? And if all else fails, we have dessert to look forward too! :) I love stuffing so that will be the real trick for me. The turkey and the potatoes are old hat, not too worried there but the stuffing and pie had me worried a bit. With one down, I am feeling good. So off to get a good nights sleep to prepare for the day of cooking ahead.

From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy friends and family, get a chance to relax a little at least and of course, enjoy a great piece of pie! I am thankful for ALL of the blessings in my life, and that means you, my blog readers....Enjoy this very special day!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More on the flu vaccine....

Here is another recent article from Dr. Mercola's site about the flu vaccine and why or why not to get it. I know this is controversial. Abby and I just sat at the LIFE waiting room and discussed this with a therapist on Friday as a matter of fact. I think that most people just don't KNOW the facts about the flu vaccine and the scare tactics work to get them to run in for their shot each year. The truth is it is NOT safe and NOT effective at protecting you from the flu. Read the vaccine inserts and then decide whether you want that junk injected into your body and even worse, your developing child's body. The more we know the better decisions we can make about our health. This link also has a taped phone conversation between a person and a vaccine maker representative. Pretty interesting. It also addresses the issue of the pneumonia vaccine and how it too in ineffective, with research data from reputable sources to support that.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

A very GFCF Thanksgiving....

That's my plan anyways, a totally GFCF Thanksgiving. So I am going to post my anticipated recipes here and some warnings too.

Let's start with the main course, the bird. I went to Trader Joe's yesterday and ran into my awesome friend Abby whom I keep running into lately which is always a pleasant surprise. I was looking for Trade Joe's organic turkeys which we got last year. I left empty handed, at least on the turkey front. Some things to look out for if you are trying to keep the bad stuff out of your diets. Most (non organic) birds are "infused" with a "solution" which contains some form of MSG usually under the names of "natural flavors", "Broth" or something similar. If you want to know more about why you should avoid MSG and what to look for, scroll to the bottom and click on the MSG topic. Also, I found it disturbing that all of the turkeys they had were all fed "vegetarian feed" and no animal byproducts which is good but....their vegetarian feed consists of corn and soy, eeewww. More than likely it was GMO corn too, even bigger eeew. If you have a child on the spectrum who is sensitive to corn or soy (which is faily common) yes you need to even be aware of what the animal eats that you plan to eat, including eggs too. We are what we eat and when we eat animals fed corn and soy we also are eating corn and soy in their meat. Corn is something we have been advised by Julie Matthews to limit because of its mold content and the fact that it can be inflammatory especially if it GMO. So we skipped the turkeys and I will check at Whole Foods I guess. But don't be fooled, Trade Joe's carried 2 types of turkeys, one kosher and one not but both under the auspices of "all natural". Do not confuse that with organic, it is NOT the same.....

OK so on to the side dishes until I can find a turkey....First we shall tackle mashed potatoes. I did pick up organic potatoes from Trader Joe's. Root veggies are good to get organic. They are literally surrounded by the earth where they are grown unlike other veggies that come from the flower or crown of the plant. Going organic on those items are a good choice since they absorb so much of the toxins in the soil. I plan to go really basic, I will not be using milk (duh) but instead may thaw some chicken stock I made myself and then I will be using Ghee. Ghee is clarified butter, has a buttery taste and works just as well as butter and is GFCF compliant. I can find Ghee at Sprouts and Whole Foods. I also am wary of the commercial nut/rice milks because so many of them use either canola oil (which IS hydrogenated contrary to their ad campaigns) or soy lecithin which is a soy product. So, I will either use my own broth which does not contain MSG like almost ALL commercial broths do or I will just use some water which I have done in the past. I used to use non fat milk back when we drank milk and the two are almost the same, lol. I did not notice a big difference.

On to stuffing, my "plan" is to use the Namaste pizza crust mix. This is an AWESOME mix and one of the few bread type mixes without yeast (and it DOES rise slightly). We avoid items with yeast like the plague since we are trying to kill the overgrowth in Matthew. So, I have used this mix to make pizza crusts for him, it even has italian seasonings mixed in and smells amazing when you open the bag. You can make and freeze mini pizza crusts and when you want to use them, pull them out and pop them in the oven for about 8 more minutes with some olive oil and your toppings. Matthew loves it. My plan is to make it more into a french loaf size and then use this as my base for bread crumbs. I also plan on making some in roll form with some melted ghee brushed on them and some garlic salt. Matthew loves when I pull a crust out and brush with olive oil and garlic salt and call it "garlic bread" with his rice pasta. I think it should work well. So, you can use whatever stuffing recipe is YOUR family's favorite and just sub in this as the bread crumbs.
Veggies are easy, just sub in Ghee for butter where appropriate. We don't usually do green bean casserole so I cannot even begin to give pointers there. We do just green beans and corn and salad....
Now on to the best part, PIE! Here are the recipes I will be using this year:
The pie crust recipe comes from http://www.autismspot.com/blog/GFCF-Pie-Crust and it was the one I liked best based on ingredients used. Recipe Author's notes are in the ( ) except where noted as (Terri's Note).
2 1/2 cups GF Flour Blend (I like using Sorghum Chickpea Blend or All Purpose Sorghum Blend)
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup palm shortening or casein free margarine alternative
1 egg, beaten, with cold water added to make 3/4 cup liquid (Terri's note - I will be using the egg sub here since Matthew is also egg free)

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles small crumbs. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add egg mixture all at once to crumb mixture. Stir with fork until large clumps form and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should not be too wet or too dry – it should hold its shape in the palm of your hand if you form it into a ball, and it should not be very sticky. If it is too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time until the dough sticks together.If the mixture is too wet, add more flour blend a tablespoon at a time until the right consistency is reached.
Place the dough onto a floured counter top (I like using sorghum flour). Knead once or twice. Cut the dough into halves. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. Place the other half onto some floured wax paper.
Gently center your pie plate on top of the pie crust. Carefully run your hand underneath the wax paper and quickly flip the pie plate and the pie crust over so the crust sags into the pie plate. Press the dough gently into the pie plate and carefully remove the waxed paper.
Repair any tears in the dough by pressing the edges of the tears together with your finger. Trim the edges of the dough. If some of the dough falls off the sides, just reattach by pressing the pieces firmly into the crust.
For a single crust, roll the edges to make a double thickness of dough along the edge of the pie plate. Flute or crimp edges as desired (with the tines of a fork, or thumb and finger style).
If you do not need to pre-bake your crust, fill with your pie filling and bake as directed in your pie recipe.
To pre-bake your crust, generously prick the pastry with a fork to allow steam to escape. Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
For a double crust pie, roll your chilled top crust the same way you rolled the bottom crust. Wet the edges of the bottom crust with a little bit of water. Then carefully slide your hand under the wax paper and flip onto your pie, being careful to center the crust on top of the pie filling.
Carefully remove the wax paper. Repair tears as needed if possible. Trim and crimp the edges, make slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape and bake as directed in your pie recipe.
*You can make the pie crust in your food processor. Place dry ingredients in the processor and pulse until combined. Add the palm shortening by tablespoonfuls and pulse until mixture looks like small crumbs. Add the liquid through the top and process until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Proceed with recipe as directed above.
Now on to the pie itself....This recipe seemed the closest to my mother in law's recipe which is the BEST and my husband's favorite. Some of the others I found seemed so bland and did not add in all the spices like we normally do. I found this on this site: http://specialchildren.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=specialchildren&cdn=parenting&tm=57&gps=80_67_1020_619&f=00&tt=13&bt=1&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.aaaai.org/patients/specialfeature/1103/printable.asp%3Frecipe%3Dpumpkin_pie
2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 cups water
6 1/2 T. corn starch
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
pie crust
*Topping (optional) (Terri's note - I will skip the toppings)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Pour into pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm. Remove pie from oven, sprinkle coconut topping on top. Bake 5 more minutes.
Our traditional family recipe uses condensed milk. I was going to try our recipe using coconut milk given that consistency is very similar as is its sweetness but then I found this recipe. I will give this one a try and maybe I will experiment more next year if this one doesn't work out well.
I will post the results and please share your own as well if you use some of these recipes or have new ones you try this year. It is my belief that you can make just about anything allergen free with enough trial and error! I used to make an amazing german chocolate cake frosting that was dairy free. I made my own condensed almond milk....it was just SO yummy!
So there you have it, our plan for a totally GFCF Thanksgiving. I am excited to give it a try and not worry one bit about Matthew eating something he shouldn't, what a nice change, lol. I am also going to try and experiment with making whipped cream using coconut milk. My mother in law gave us this whipped cream maker that uses CO2 cartridges and then you just add in cream. The CO2 charges it and when you pull the trigger, viola, fluffy whipped cream with no additives you don't want! There was also a whole recipe book for making mousse and other super yummy toppings and fillings. But, I am wondering how it would do with the coconut milk. That may be a great topping for the pie. Please share any additional ideas you may have! And above all, enjoy this fabulous time of year meant for sharing joy with family and friends!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

AUTISM ACTION PLAN is finally here!!!

Dr. Woeller's new Site, Autism Action Plan is finally up and running! I had the priviledge of being asked to preview the site and give feedback right after the DAN! conference and since then, I have been on just about every day. It is a wealth of knowledge as far as what testing is good if you want to follow a DAN! approach, how to get access to the tests you need, how to interperet the results when you get them, video blogs from Dr. Woeller on topics such as inflammation, yeast, bacteria, etc. that are common for children on the spectrum and even a parent chat forum. Up to meeting Dr. Woeller, most of my knowledge came from reading books and from other parents on message boards I was apart of. Some parents know more than mainstream doctors and can at least point you in the right direction. But, with Autism Action Plan, a real doctor is moderating the forum and responding to questions. It is like having your own DAN! doctor but at home! You can access the site 24/7 and get info that you need. Dr. Woeller will also be doing question and answer sessions via webcams so you can email in questions and he will respond to them via webcam at a certain day/time. This is a great resource for ANYONE doing or wanting to do biomed to help heal their child with Autism. I would highly reccomend this site for everyone following this path for their child, whether they have a DAN! doctor already or not. You do NOT have to be a patient of Dr. Woeller's to use this site. I always think it is good to hear other thoughts on the topic of biomed and see if you are getting all the latest info out there. This is another way to do this since in addition to Dr. Woeller, he will also have guest speakers in the DAN! community on to share new data about research and therapies. And if you cannot afford a DAN! doctor right now, this is a great happy medium. There is a cost to sign up ($97 one time fee) plus a monthly fee ($37) but you can cancel whenever you want. But, the info you will get will be WELL worth it.

Here is the email that was sent out to join and more info if you are so inclined.



To activate your membership, visit http://www.autismactionplan.org/members/autismactionplan/info/TerriHirning-join.html

About the "Autism Action Plan" group: Autism Action Plan is a comprehensive membership website for the biomedical assessment and treatment of autism. This is an educational website to empower parents, physicians and other healthcare practitioners about the benefits of biomedical intervention for children, teenagers and adults on the autism-spectrum. Directed by Dr. Kurt Woeller, the website takes his 11+ years of experience in treating autism and related disorders, (including ADD, ADHD, PDD, and Aspergers) and delivers these effective therapies and diagnostic tools to help parents treat their children.

Autism Action Plan is like having a biomedical autism doctor's private practice in your living room. Autism Action Plan contains step-by-step instructions, "how-to" videos, illustrative photographs and printable "follow along" guides. PLUS, Dr. Woeller gives LIVE video webinars each week, where members have the opportunity to interact with Dr. Woeller and ask specific question pertaining to their unique situations. In addition, there is a 12 Week Action Plan, a Parent Forum/Chat Room, Downloadable Prescription Forms, in-depth Lab Test Interpretations, access to Pharmacies, Lab Work, and Supplement companies who specialize in autism and related disorders.

Your membership gives you 24/7 access to this vital, yet easy-to-follow information needed to help reverse and potentially recover your child from the devastating effects of autism. For complete details about the "Autism Action Plan" group, visit


Thank you

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New organization

I added a link thing at the bottom which will help people access old posts by category. So, if you want to know more about dairy for example, you can scroll to the bottom and see what is there for dairy, or whatever other topic grabs your eye.

I wanted to do a recap before moving on. Here's what we focused on first for Matthew and Emma:
* Removing wheat, dairy and soy from Matthew's diet and Emma only gets good quality wheat and raw dairy and no soy
* Removing ALL trans fats including Canola oil (mainly switching to coconut oil)
* Removing all MSG (all 200 forms), artificial sweeteners, dyes and most preservatives
* Going mainly organic for them and definitely all organic meats and only grass fed beef
* Using safer shampoo and conditioners (no Lauryl or Laureth Sulfates and no parabens of any kind)
* Stop using so many plastics for their food/drinks
* Adding in fermented foods like coconut yogurt and Kombucha

Here's what WE have focused on:
* Switching to RAW cheese since that is the main source of dairy that remains in our diet and only then occasionally.
* Removing ALL trans fats including Canola oil
* Removing all MSG (all 200 forms), artificial sweeteners, dyes and preservatives (for the most part)
* Going mainly organic definitely all organic meats and only grass fed beef
* Getting rid of even more plastics
* Getting rid of teflon cookware
* Adding in Kombucha

This is just a quick list to capture some of the more important changes we've made. That way as I continue to talk about other things, you can at least see where we started and decide where you want to start in this process. I have not included a lot of the little things we've done along the way but this hits the big stuff. And, effectively wipes out a lot of food choices. As we went to Yuma it was pretty funny actually to stop at a little food mart for gas because it was pointless to look around at the "food" because we couldn't eat any of it. And once we got to the ball field it was the same way. Now, for Matthew this was critical and we are more lenient for ourselves, we all need some indulgences, but it has gotten so much easier not to eat the junk and not even miss it. But to see kids (even little ones) this weekend running around drinking their sodas, eating candy, dyes and MSG and artificial sweeteners really made me sad. I do not think my kids are "missing out". I think we've done a good job of finding or creating fun, yummy treats that are sweet but I can feel good about on occassion. They are out there, they may cost more or take time and energy to make but so worth it.

So what's coming up, a talk about supplements for ADHD that are AS EFFECTIVE as prescription meds and also a talk about water, what's safer for drinking and even what to think about for showering and bathing. We are still researching this one ourselves right now so I am working on it plus I will share the info I gathered from the DAN! conference.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Greetings....from Yuma

Yes you read that right, Yuma. We are here meeting my dad and family for my sister's baseball tournament. My mother in law also drove out to visit and see the kids. It is 8:50 pm and both kids are happily tucked away and alseep. Now why is this a big deal? Well for one, my 2 year old missed her nap. My son already had routine issues and needs structure, of which we have had none today. We been in the car and then at a ball field and then back to the hotel and then to Red Lobster and now back at the hotel and everyone is settled with nary a tantrum. Simply amazing for this family. My son was around lots of people, many whom he does not know and he was busy greeting people on the ball field. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table at Red Lobster that could accomodate all 10 of us and he handled it with no qualms, even though it was actually close to his bedtime. And, Red Lobster actually really impressed me tonight. I called the waiter over to discuss their menu and see what they had that was GFCF (which appeared to be nothing). Once I mentioned food issues he immediately said his manager had to be involved from this point and she could walk us through what options we had and would clear an area of the grill to be sanitized for Matthew's food. We ordered grilled chicken and a plain garden salad no croutons. Matthew had a BLAST at dinner. He was chatting nonstop and not one tantrum or sensory overload meltdown, none. I still don't know if I believe it! So, kudos to Red Lobster. Shows you how often we get out to eat, like never. We did run through In and Out for a hamburger patty and fries since they are safe but the child still ate a whole chicken breast and salad on top of that. What a pleasant change from some of our previous overnight outings. Now albeit he is alseep on the king bed in the bedroom while my husband and I "cuddle" on the pull out sofa sleeper in the living room next to my daughter's pack and play (which she is probably too big for but hey, its working for the moment). But all in all, a successful day, now my back will be a whole other topic tomorrow morning....

On to the topic of cooking apparatus. I am so pleased that one of my dearest friends (since Jr. high school) piped up with answers to some of our compelling cookware questions. She is an attorney who moonlighted at Sur La Table (in her free time, lol) at some point in time, somewhere around my wedding if I remember correctly. I appreciate the prompt info and will pass it on here:
The question was about non-stick cookware and there was a question about the Calphalon products with their "electronic bath".

Answer from Elan: Hi there. Just wanted to add my 2 cents. Previously, I worked at Sur La Table, and through them got a lot of cooking education particularly on products. So I thought I would just share this about the Calphalon. There are two versions, the non-stick which is covered with Teflon (or it's equivalent); there is also the non-stick, which is more acurately called stick resistant, which is an iodized aluminum. That's the one with the electronic bath. That product doesn't contain a Teflon cooking surface, and if you aren't careful, things will actually stick to it like any other pan. Of course, there are different opinions on cooking on alumninum or not, but we will leave that for another post. Personally, I love my All Clad and my stainless lined copper pots and threw out my Calphalon, when I learned that it was only stick resistant and a lot of work to clean.

This question was about a griddle or grill that was not covered in Teflon.

Answer from Elan: Ok, so I don't know what kind of grill and/or griddle you have, but I can tell you what you should get after reading your post. Le Crueset. They have a two burner grill on one side, griddle on the other. It's cast iron, but won't need seasoning because it's covered in enamel. Once you switch to enamel covered case iron, you will love it. All the best of cast iron, but the cleaning ease of All Clad. The enamel makes it soooo very easy to clean and elimanates the need for "seasoning." After four years at Sur La Table, I can almost recommend cooking implements for every occasion.
OK so now we know what will be on many holiday wish lists this year, including mine. Thanks Elan, love the info and please keep it coming about safe and efficient cookware and products. You can be our resident cookware afficianado (among other things). Although hopefully I won't be needing any legal advice anytime soon so we'll stick with the cooking stuff, ok? And I am so glad to hear the All Clad is a keeper, my pocket book thanks you!

Well, off to a lovely night sleep on this sofa bed. But, looking forward to what tomorrow brings for us all!! Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.....

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The thing about HOPE.....

I have to share this little brag. Last Thursday I was sitting in an IEP meeting at Matthew's school. We were not doing a full IEP but rather transitioning him to the integrated class from the SPICE program (the Autism specific classroom). A year ago he was screaming as he walked by the integrated class on his way to the SPICE class, because he was so traumatized by it and overwhelmed because of his sensory processing disorder. Now he is a fully participating member. The few things that were discussed at the meeting were his auditory sensitivities, his auditory processing delay in the classroom environment and how he is resistant to do "work" at times. All in all, excellent progress in a year where he was not a functioning member of the class. All the teachers and therapists were amazed by his progress.

At the DAN! conference the comments that got the most laughter and applause usually involved the research "studies" and "experts" refuting the efficacy of supplements and special diets. I think this willingness by some mainstream doctors to dismiss diet is so detrimental to families with children on the spectrum. It destroys the hope that is so necessary on this journey. Yes, some children are not responders, but many are and really there is nothing to lose by giving it a try. The agreement at the DAN! conference was that we families really are the best research because we see the fruits of our labors daily. My family is definitely in that category. The proof is in the GFCF pudding so to speak. And, as you read through all the dismal reports (and this blog) and what we shouldn't do, eat, wear, use, etc. be mindful of the changes in your families and yourself as you implement some of these things. They do work. My Matthew is proof. Now he is social, loves other kids, affectionate, defiant, willful and making change over his environment. We are seeing his progress daily and know it in our hearts to be from the hard work he and we (parents, doctors and therapists) have done to help him. Even with all the bad stuff out there, good progress can come from small changes. And, be mindful of the blessings. Those words that may be slow to come but so sweet when you hear them. The eye contact that gets longer and longer, unprompted I Love Yous and hugs, and yes even the NO's that are so common in toddlerhood that we never heard until just recently. These are bittersweet things to cherish and spur you on to keep making these changes. Remember as you make these changes in your life and when it seems impossible to truly "protect" your child in today's toxic society, every little thing counts and be sure to recognize those blessings, they provide the motivation to keep going.

We are organic beings and so very resilient. Some kiddos on the spectrum have a real hard time detoxifying the way we were designed to so that is why these changes can be crucial for them. But this stuff does work. My son is proof and there are plenty of others out there. We need to cheer their accomplishments and teach the world about their gifts and to be mindful of their challenges. And above all, find a great DAN! doctor who can help guide your child's recovery. I think that is key. From there you enter the fast lane of progress. But again, maintaining that hope for your child's future is also paramount. The proof lies in the faces of thousands of children, healing every day. Do not accept the Autism diagnosis as a limitation on your child's future, do not accept that! Maintain that hope and even though their futures may be different than how you envisioned them at their birth, they can be no less spectatular and bright! Go Matthew, Go Tate, Go Jojo and all the other kiddos healing and progressing! They are the reason we keep learning and doing and sharing......there is hope for their futures.

Q & A and Styrene

I will address questions left as comments in blog posts so that people can all read what the questions and answers are without having to search through all blog posts and look at comments. So here goes:

Sherri asks "My kids have stainless steel thermos drinking containers (but they have a silicone straw). A lot of the "safer" drinking containers do. What about silicone?Also, what do you use for everyday drinking containers for your kids (like at mealtimes)? My husband and I use glass, but we still have the cheap Ikea plastic for the kiddos. Any recommendations or ideas?"

Answer: I would stay far away from baking or heating anything with silicone. However, I am not really sure what to think about silicone in straws. The exposure is relatively small, i.e. only when sipping and the beverages are usually cool so I would think it is OK. I am waiting for my stainless steel Kleen Kanteens to come in from REI so at mealtimes when I can monitor drinking I use the little coffee/tea cups that came with my Corelle set. I always wondered what I would do with all those little cups, glad I didn't throw them out now! I am hoping since they are Corelle they too with be break resistant. But, when the kids are out and about, I am resorting to the same old plastic sippy cups for now.

Laurie asks: "this might be a dumb question but if something is labeled non stick then does it automatically contain tephlon?"

Answer: There is no such thing as a dumb question as long as you learn something from it. The research is muddy on this one. Calphelon supposedly has some annodized cookware that is "dipped" in a bath that charges the particles somehow, blah blah blah. It is my guess that most items that claim they are non-stick use a form of PTFE. Teflon is a brand name (from DuPont) and so it would be my guess that other cookware companies want to get in on the money of the non-stick business and have their own terms for non-stick, most of which probably represent some form of Teflon, maybe just a different name. I would stick with using lower heat and a little oil to achieve the non-stick process naturally. Cooking with Ghee is excellent for eggs, it has the buttery taste without casein and really makes the eggs not stick to the pan. It is GFCF compliant and can be found at Sprouts and Whole Foods. It is clarified butter and has tons of good fats for brain development. But, reducing the temp will help a lot too. I will miss my Teflon though but I read years ago about the toxic vapors from Teflon killing people's pet birds. You think that would have made me stay away years ago....

Now on to Styrofoam and Styrene: When you are out shopping, try and avoid buying meats wrapped in those styrofoam containers that are shrink wrapped. They usually have those little pads under the meat too. Styrofoam is a polymer of Styrene. Styrene is made from and may still contain Benzene. A note about Benzene, it is a super bad carcinogen (which is a cancer causing agent) and from what I understand is not excreted very easily. And, if you are a fan of sodas, check your label carefully. I checked a Sprite can, it contains Sodium Benzoate and Citric Acid. Those two chemicals create Benzene, another reason to stay away from sodas. Sodium Benzoate also has the same reaction with asorbic acid (vitamin c) which is also added to sodas depending on the type. So, if you see Sodium Benzoate with either citric acid or asorbic acid, run the other way. Here is a link to an article discussing the soda issue: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Science-Nutrition/FDA-re-opens-probe-into-benzene-contamination-of-soft-drinks

I was looking at the fresh, refridgerated sauerkraut at Sprouts the other day and saw one brand uses sodium benzoate as a preservative, so much for fresh. Avoid these preservatives as much as possible.

Back to syrofoam. Styrene monomers are still present in styrofoam and are found in 100% of human samples tested by the EPA. Absorption of styrene is increased by higher fat content of the food (i.e. meat which contains fat that sits on this container and soaks in all the chemicals which you then eat). Styrene mimics estrogen and possibly thyroid hormones and disrupts hormone functions. It is also neurotoxic.

Go to the meat counter and ask for the cuts of meat you want and ask them to wrap it in butcher paper. One note, I stood in the butcher counter line at Sprouts and 1) I flashed back to I love Lucy when she had all that meat and put it in a baby carriage and was trying to sell it, do you remember that episode? and 2) As I looked at all of the "fresh" meats, I think I saw those little pads that are in the styrofoam containers under the meats. I cannot locate in my notes what was bad about those little pads, and maybe it was just that they are put in place so that the meat would not absorb the styrene from the styrofoam. So maybe nothing is wrong with them but I cannot remember, I just seem to remember that they weren't that great either. Anyways, the point is, when you can, request fresh meat from the counter and have them wrap it in butcher paper.

Remember to choose organic meats, the pesticides are much more concentrated in meat and so you get so many when you eat non-organic meats. If you want to try and make a big impact, starting with organic meats, dairy and eggs is a good place. Organic beings accumulate more toxins in our tissues than fruits and veggies do so it is worth it to go organic on meats and animal derivatives.

One disclaimer. I hope no one feels that I am "preaching" on this blog. It is more of a regurgitation really. Yes, I have been at this for a while now but I am constantly learning too. If I were perfect I wouldn't still be carrying around this extra weight since becoming a mom. I would never eat off of plastic, would never eat out and would prepare organic culinary delights for my family nightly. But I don't always because I am still trying to make these hard changes too. And even though this is a lot of info and more will be coming, it is meant in the vein of "we can make these changes slowly!!". I hope you do not get discouraged. I took years to learn much of what I have posted and yet many of you are getting a crash course so it will seem overwhelming. And even though I learned this stuff over the years, even I have not implemented it all, especially for myself. I am much more conscious about what my kids are exposed to and yet not always for myself (i.e. safer shampoos, soaps and lotions). Don't think you have to change everything at once. It will drive you mad. But know this data is out there, figure out what is your biggest toxic load (pesticide use around the home, chemicals used for cleaning, non-organic food, plastics, etc) and just start there. I think what is going into your body is probably most important. I will be getting to cleaners and more on lotions, soaps, etc. in later blogs. But, just do what you can and know each step you make is helping you and your family, and that is the goal, progress, not perfection!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More on cooking....

One thing I forgot to add about Teflon was that the additive of PFOA is now found in nearly ALL human samples (including cord blood). It does not biodegrade and is excreted only slowly.

The guy who gave this lecture was Stuart Freedenfield, MD, Medical Director for Stockton Family Practice in Stockton NJ. He was very straightforward and presented a pretty dismal case really about our environment. But, all you can do is make the changes slowly, as feasible in your own family.

He recommends the following cookware instead of Teflon:

Stainless Steel
Cast Iron
Ceramic Titanium
Porcelain Enameled Iron
Anodized Aluminum (unless your child has heavy metals, then you may want to be cautious with this)

I personally use All-Clad and it does have aluminum core with stainless steel on the outside. I believe this to be safe as what is touching your food is the stainless. If someone has different data, please share. Although I really don't want to replace my pans, I love them and they were a wedding gift. But, I guess I would rather know....

Another option is glass although I have not seen those pots and pans around in a looong time, like circa 1980. Remember the commercials where you got to see the water boil? Maybe we could find some at garage sales, lol.

Also, see my earlier posts on plastics....more bad news though. Per the class at DAN!, no plastic is smart plastic. Gulp....So, we have been using our Corelle plates for the kids instead of their Spiderman and Princess melamine coated junk or even the Tupperware stuff. I know, this has been a rough week for my kitchen. He advocated using the Kleen Kanteens with the sippy adapters instead of plastic sippy cups. You can order them online or at REI. He does go on to say "Avoid PVC containing plastics. The following are OK to use:"

Clear wrap, not saran
Glad Cling Wrap
Hefy One-zip slider bags
Hefty Baggies
Ziplock and Gladlock bags and containers
Rubbermaid Chuggable bottles or the Stainless Steel Kleen Kanteens and visit http://www.newbornfree.com/ for baby bottles.

Never microwave in plastic, ever. Do you know what "microwave safe" means? It means the plastic will not melt in the microwave. It does not tell you a thing about what is leeching into your food. And, you don't even want to heat something on class or ceramic and then put that onto a plastic plate (oops). Heat and plastic should not mix. Yes, there will be a run on pyrex sets with the lids here in Gilbert as I need to stock up apparantly. Speaking of microwaves, you should only heat in the microwave, never cook. 'Nuking something for 30 seconds is very different from cooking a casserole in there. You should not be using the microwave to cook.

On to Shari's question about baking sheets. My future plans include using parchment paper to bake on. But, I did a quick internet search and did see stainless cookie sheets.

This guy also covered controlling pests, water in your home both drinking and showering, sleepwear, organic foods, etc. I will be covering more as I do more searching and can provide more data for you.

I am so morose, I have to get rid of my wonderful griddle that goes on my stove AND my electric griddle and my George Foreman grill!!! I actually used my All Clad pans this morning to make pancakes, it just wasn't the same. But, I will adapt! I will find a new source and will post it here when I do. We just have to look at some of the older ways of doing things, like glass and cast iron (unless you have a smooth top stove like I do - it came with the house, not my choice....). Glass good, plastic bad. It gets more challenging with a 5 and 2 year old dropping things around here, which is why I love Corelle. I am running to the outlet for more this week as a matter of fact. We can do this, we can get rid of this stuff that is not benefiting our health and can make the changes that will give our kids a healthier future. Most of our toxic exposure comes from our homes so we clean that up and our kids will be so much better even when they do get the exposure out in the community. The less toxic burden, the more efficient their immune systems can be. If you have a child on the spectrum this is even more important for them but also remember, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. You probably are doing a huge favor to yourself and their siblings by cleaning these things up too, even if you are not symptomatic like your child may be....

Next up - meat and how it is packaged and more on going organic......but I need to run before this post becomes a novel. Stay tuned.....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Farewell my friend.....

So I have to say goodbye to my good friend, my George Foreman grill. At the DAN! conference I took the "Protecting your child from a toxic world" talk on Friday night. One of the things that was discussed was Teflon. Teflon is bad, period. George Foreman grill has Teflon so out you go. I knew that you really didn't want to overheat Teflon. Teflon has PFOA a chemical used to keep the food from sticking. The EPA classifies PFOA as a likely carcinogen which affects the liver, thyroid and immune system. And with children on the Autism spectrum less able to detox naturally, that is a very bad thing. Reducing their overall toxic load is imperative. And, it certainly will be better for us all. I am currently looking for a replacement that does not have the Teflon coated plates. If anyone knows of such a product, please pass it on....

Get out and VOTE tomorrow!

I have stated that I will avoid politics on this blog so that people can access info without being bombarded with my particular views or put off because they disagree. I feel it is much more important for people to read my blog regardless of whether we are on the same political side or not. As such, I am not going to debate the issues, discuss the candidates in depth or discuss my own choice this election. However, I do feel the need to put out each candidate's statement from their own websites about what they will do to help stop the rising incidences of Autism and the treatment of Autism. And, my other concern is funding for services since I know more and more families are losing their services through DDD right here in AZ. I do NOT want that to happen, and neither should you if you have a child with Autism. So here are the candidates statements from their own websites. I had a hard time finding John McCain's page, I finally had to just google Autism John McCain and finally found this page. I wanted to know where each candidate stands on these issues that effect us each day. I wanted to know WHO is supporting LIFE LONG funding of services since many of these children will face disabilities all of their lives. I wanted to know who if either candidate was going to support insurance coverage for Autism (not just AZ and FL which are the ONLY two states that have that legislation currently). And, if you are trying to find the same info, maybe this will help you. John McCain's statement is much less comprehensive than Barack Obama's but that was what I could find from his website. So there you go, read, check out each website on your own if you'd like and don't forget to VOTE tomorrow, your country is depending on you!

Combating Autism in America

John McCain is very concerned about the rising incidence of autism among America's children and has continually supported research into its causes and treatment. He has heard countless stories about families' hardships obtaining a diagnosis for their children's autism and accessing quality medical treatment. He believes that federal research efforts should support broad approaches to understanding the factors that may play a role in the incidence of autism, including factors in our environment, for both prevention and treatment purposes.John McCain was proud to lend his support to the Combating Autism Act of 2006, which he cosponsored, and worked to ensure its enactment. This law is helping to increase public awareness and screening of autism spectrum disorder, promote the use of evidence-based interventions, and create autism Centers of Excellence for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research and Epidemiology. John McCain understands that despite the federal and scientific research efforts to date, the exact causes of autism are not yet known and greater research is needed to understand this disorder. That is why in November 2007, he joined with Senator Lieberman in requesting the leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal research into autism, to hold a hearing on federal research efforts regarding factors affecting incidence and treatment in order to help determine where research efforts can best be directed. As President, John McCain will work to advance federal research into autism, promote early screening, and identify better treatment options, while providing support for children with autism so that they may reach their full potential.



More than one million Americans have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a complex condition that impacts communication, socialization, and behavior. And more cases of ASD are being recognized across the country at an alarming pace. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we must do more to help support Americans with ASD, their families, and their communities. Throughout his career, Barack Obama has worked with families affected by ASD to raise awareness and to provide support to parents and families living with ASD. As president, he will build on these many years of advocacy and ensure that his administration prioritizes ASD research, public awareness, and lifelong support services. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will seek to increase federal ASD funding for research, treatment, screenings, public awareness, and support services to $1 billion annually by the end of his first term in office. They will mandate insurance coverage of autism treatment and will also continue to work with parents, physicians, providers, researchers, and schools to create opportunities and effective solutions for people with ASD.

Record of Leadership on ASD Research and Care: As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama sponsored legislation that became law to create an ASD diagnosis education program, an initiative designed to promote the implementation of evidence-based practices. The goal of the project is to offer educational opportunities at all levels of care, including physicians, early intervention (EI) specialists, psychologists, teachers, day care providers, parents, respite workers, and speech and language therapists. Obama has personally worked side-by-side with Illinois families affected by ASD to support efforts to build the Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research. This school and research center will bring together education, academic research, early intervention programs, and training to prepare its students for independent living.

In the U.S. Senate, Obama is a cosponsor of a measure that would expand federal funding for life-long services for people with ASD, authorizing approximately $350 million in new federal funding for key programs related to treatments, interventions and services for both children and adults with ASD.

Appoint Federal ASD Coordinator to Oversee All Federal ASD Efforts: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure all federal ASD activities occur in an efficient manner that prioritizes both research and supports for families affected by ASD. They will appoint a Federal ASD Coordinator to oversee federal ASD research and federal efforts to improve awareness of ASD and improve the training of medical professionals to identify and treat ASD. By establishing one top-level point person to coordinate ASD efforts in the White House, they will ensure that ASD receives the recognition and priority it deserves in the federal government. The Federal ASD Coordinator will also be tasked with eliminating bureaucratic obstacles that may be delaying implementation of important ASD measures and ensuring that all federal ASD dollars are being spent in a manner that prioritizes results. The Coordinator will work with state task forces on ASD to ensure effective communication and collaboration among federal, state, and local agencies.

Fully Fund the Combating Autism Act and Federal Autism Research Initiatives: Barack Obama supported the Combating Autism Act of 2006, which was signed into law in December 2006. The Combating Autism Act authorizes increased federal funding for ASD research and efforts to boost public awareness and early diagnosis of ASD. Since the bill has been enacted, however, federal funding for ASD has not increased to the levels authorized by the Combating Autism Act. As a U.S. Senator, Obama has worked to fully fund the Combating Autism Act and as president, he will ensure that his administration addresses the growing impact of ASD and other special needs on American families. President Obama will fully fund the Combating Autism Act, which provides nearly $1 billion in autism-related funding over 5 years, and work with Congress, parents and ASD experts to determine how to further improve federal and state programs.

Support Special Needs Education for Children with ASD: Barack Obama and Joe Biden understand that children with special needs – students with visual, hearing, physical, sensory, and mental impairments – require meaningful resources to succeed both inside and outside the classroom. Obama is a strong supporter of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and supports full federal funding of the law to truly ensure that no child is left behind. The current underfunding of IDEA causes school districts throughout the country to deny necessary services to students with ASD and other special needs. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will also work to change IDEA’s definition of "autism" to Autism Spectrum Disorders to ensure that all children diagnosed with ASD disorders receive the support they need.

Support Universal Screening: While roughly 90 percent of infants in the United States are currently screened for various potentially disabling or life-threatening conditions, fewer than half the states screen all infants for the full recommended panel of 29 disorders. Many of these conditions, if caught early, can be treated before they result in permanent impairments or even death. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we should screen all infants, and also that we must set a national goal to provide re-screening for all two-year-olds, the age at which some conditions, including ASD, begin to appear. These screenings will be safe and secure, and available for every American that wants them. Part of the Obama-Biden early childhood intervention plan will be directed at coordinating fragmented community programs to help provide all children access to screening for disabilities as infants and again as two-year olds. Achieving universal screening is essential so that disabilities can be identified early enough for those children and families to get the special supports and resources they need.

Work Together: As part of their commitment to open the doors of our government to the American people, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to facilitating open dialogue among Americans with special needs and their families, federal and state agencies, regional centers, resource centers, research institutions, school districts, first responders, and community members.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fermented Foods

So here we go, Part 1 of a multi-part recap of the DAN! Conference. I think I will go as the conference went and this happens to be one of the things people ask me most about, especially Kombucha so I will start here.

Fermented foods have been around for centuries. In the "old" days this was a way to enjoy certain veggies since they were not readily available all year long. Fermentation is a GREAT way to get good bugs also known as probiotics. Probiotic means "For Life" as opposed to anti-biotics which means "Against Life". That should tell you a lot. Probiotics are necessary for good gut health. Think of it like a movie theatre. If the seats are all filled with the good bugs, the bad bugs can't sit down. But when the bad guys take over, bad things happen in our bodies, i.e. infections and gut dysbiosis or imbalance. So, we need to take a closer look at these good "bugs".

Yogurt is a great way to get small doses of probiotics. But, if you or your child is on a dairy free diet, that can be challenging. But now there is a whole line of coconut milk yogurt these days which are good and my kids love. It is made by Turtle Mountain under the brand SO Delicious found at Whole Foods - make sure you get Coconut milk yogurt and NOT soy milk yogurt made by the same company and called SOY delicious) But I will also teach you how to make your own yogurt using nut milk. For years I made my own almond milk. I did post the recipe many months ago on this blog so I will not repost. It is easy and so much better for you than commercial nut milks out there. So I am going to post the yogurt recipe courtesy of Julie Matthews and Sueson Vess, both leading authors and advocates for children with special diets.

* Heat nut milk to 160 degrees (you don't have to do this but it will keep the yogurt from seperating)
* Cool milk to 105 degrees (otherwise you will kill the probiotics)
* Add heaping 1/8 teaspoon of ProGurt yogurt starter to the milk for each quart of yogurt, stir well with whisk. You can find ProGurt at http://www.giprohealth.com/
* Place containers in yogurt maker or dehydrator at 95-105 degrees. Leave lids off individual yogurt containers during fermentation to avoid condensation on lids that may thin yogurt. Ferment for 8 hours.
* Place in refridgerator overnight or at least 5 hours, overnight is better.
* Strain yogurt into a bowl lined with cheese cloth to remove liquid. Drain or let drip for about an hour or longer for thicker yogurt. By pressing dripped yogurt further you can make something that resembles cheese. Sueson Vess spoke about using it as a ricotta cheese sub for lasagna, I am going to try that! Straining is optional but homemade nut milk yogurt is thinner than commercial versions.
* Viola! Yogurt! This is great to add into smoothies or serve alone! Puree up your own fruit for added flavor and variety.

Kombucha - I have been asked about Kombucha a lot lately and I have agreed to teach some classes on making your own Kombucha. We are brewing our first batch and I see the Kombucha "baby" or SCOBY growing now so I will have them to pass on at these classes. If you are interested in taking a class to learn to make your own, please shoot me an email or post here. I am still working out how/where/when the classes will be so let me know if you have any days/times that are better for you. In the meantime, we drink GT's Kombucha. It can be found at Whole Foods and Sprouts for about $3.50 per bottle. Be aware, once you start talking about Kombucha someone inevitably is going to say "Oh my, do you know people have DIED drinking Kombucha!!!!!!". You can find some scary stories on the web, as you can about almost anything. It can cause acidosis if you drink large quantities without equal amounts of water throughout the day. Even too much of a good thing can be bad. And yes, if you brew it wrong, it can be very harmful, which is why you need to start with a good SCOBY and know what you are doing and know how to make sure it is a good batch. Until then, I say start with GT's and work from there. I have been drinking 16 ounces per day and am still here, going on 2 weeks later. I would say 2 cups (16 ounces) max per day personally (and much smaller amounts for kids) but you'll want to do your own research and feel comfortable with this product yourself. Given that Julie Matthews pushes it heavily (with no monetary compensation to gain from it) and she specializes in diet and specifically kids on the spectrum, I feel very confident in its safety. Yes, I give it to my children, I aim for about 2 ounces a day for them, ages 5 and almost 3. But I wanted to warn people that you may get some nay-sayers out there. But if you'll remember, a lady died from an overdose of WATER during a radio station contest and that sure doesn't mean we should stop drinking water, does it?

Sauerkraut - this is another great fermented food. And it sounded so easy to make. I am going to try it soon too. If you buy commercial products, make sure you look for the kind in the refridgerated section, yes the really expensive kind which is why I am going to make my own! If you buy the kind on the shelf you are getting the pasteurized kind which will not offer you the health benefits, all the probiotics have been killed in pasteurization.

If we get a group of people interested in making any of these things I would be willing to teach classes. Let me know if you are interested. Otherwise, take advantage of some of the premade items and feel good about what you are eating. These items will do a body good!