Friday, March 30, 2007

A Steaming Hot Bowl of Scrumptious

Yesterday Flamenco Dad and I had the pleasure of meeting a visiting guitarist from Montreal who is performing at the college tonight. We took him out to dinner at a Thai restaurant near the hotel where he was staying. The restaurant was new to us--since we don't live in that part of the city--and it was rather small. But when we walked in we were immediately struck by the fragrant, intoxicating aromas of Thai cooking. While the men decided to have some yummy curries, I decided to keep it light and I had some Thai Coconut Soup with chicken.

Oh. My. God. It was one of the best bowls of soup that I've ever had the privilege to eat. The coconut milk and lemongrass gave it a lovely sweetness, while the chilis brought out just the right amount of heat. I never knew that what looked like a rather simple bowl of soup could have such a complexity to it. I have decided to make it my mission to replicate the dish so that I can have it whenever I like.

The cooking will have to wait until after the weekend. I'm off to visit my mom in her new house. The kids, my husband, and I cannot wait! The horses have been moved from the trainer's farm to my mom's property, and mom and her hubby have added two goats to their growing menagerie of animals. See ya!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Put Down the Teasing Comb

I know my blog is supposed to be about gfcf food, my life, etcetera. Well, you know what the tagline to this blog's right up there at the top of the screen. But my friend Lynn wrote about something today that has frankly been plaguing me since last night. So I'm going to stray from my blog's theme for a moment and ask the burning question:

Sanjaya, dude, what the @#*& is up with that hair???

I tried to explain to my husband what it looked like, and I came off sounding like Simon Cowell. It went a little something like this: Honey, if I'm being honest, he looked like a deranged cockatoo. After my husband stopped laughing at me, I rewound the show back to Sanjaya's performance (again thank God for DVRs) and there he was in all his glory. I was so perplexed by the whole thing that I had dreams about Sanjaya and his crazy hair. Crap, no wonder why I had such a horrible night's sleep. All I saw was this kid with cockatoo hair singing "Bathwater" way off key.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I found a delicious recipe for a Greek Lentil and Pasta in the current issue of Heart Healthy Living. Since I love beans and legumes--and since they are so good for you--I decided to give it a try. I made a few minor changes to the original recipe. The recipe called for an onion--I presume a white or Spanish onion--but I used a red one. Also the recipe called for a can of diced tomato. Instead, I used a can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. It was fantastic; a delicious lunch. And meatless! I'm not a vegetarian, but I think it's a nice idea to change things up and not have meat all the time. Besides, my doctor friends would say that eating too much meat has links to all types of long-term health risks. Wow, I think I'm really starting to take this health kick thing seriously!

Greek Lentil Pasta

5 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (2 1/2 cups)
1 large red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound dry brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1 28-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 8-ounce cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
hot cooked gluten free pasta
olive oil

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven cook carrots, onion, and garlic in the 1/4 cup hot oil over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add lentils and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 to 35 minutes or until lentils are tender.
2. Add undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, thyme, salt, and pepper. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until desired consistency.
3. Cook your favorite gluten free pasta according to package directions. For each serving, top 1 cup pasta with 3/4 cup lentil sauce and drizzle with 1 teaspoon additional olive oil. Makes 12 cups sauce.

Monday, March 26, 2007


When Zoe has a rough time, she is prone to having meltdowns. They don't happen as often as they used to--the gluten free/casein free diet has a lot to do with her success--but they are still tough to handle sometimes. When Zoe was a toddler her meltdowns would be comprised of hours of uncontrollable crying and screaming, and a heightened sense of urgency about the fact that everything needed to be just so. Now that she is older and more verbal, the crying and screaming have been greatly reduced; but oh man, she gets very rigid about things when she's having a meltdown.

The past two days have been a challenge. I think part of it is because Zoe's been off her typical schedule due to spring break. She's obsessing (rather loudly) over things that typically wouldn't get much attention from her; she's chewing on her clothing again; and she's doing a lot of "stimming."

Stimming, for those who have not been introduced to the term, is a common behavior of autistics. It's a self-stimulation behavior, and different kids have different stims. For many, it included things like hand-flapping and rocking in place. Zoe's stim includes rocking back and forth while squeezing her left hand and wrist with her right hand. If left unchecked, Zoe can do this for HOURS.

Truth be told, if her stim wasn't harmful to her body I wouldn't mind it so much. Parents of other autistic kids I've spoken to all say that their kids find comfort in it, since it helps them deal with their sensory integration issues. However, Zoe has caused damage to her left wrist and hand due to the stimming--even with us stopping to remind her to stop when we see the behavior. Ayden even tells Zoe to stop stimming if he sees her doing it.

These behaviors appear periodically, and the worst of it never lasts for long. That's something that I always keep in mind while we're going through it; that certainly helps me keep my cool (somewhat). Zoe is a child that's going through a transitional period, so I'm trying my best to remain calm and keep a positive outlook. Her classroom situation is gradually changing; and hey, she's growing up. Moving from childhood to early adolescence is tough on many kids. It's different for her because she has other social issues to work on, so it's tough for her to process these changes sometimes. Sometimes it's hard for parents too.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Berry Good Spring

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd be eating delicious, ripe strawberries in March. I am blessed, because February-March is the height of strawberry season here in Florida. There is a strawberry festival in a nearby town, which just concluded last week. Yes, we went to the festival; no, I did not get to visit the booth where you make your own strawberry shortcake. Boo hoo.

It's always a good idea to eat seasonally and locally if you can. The flavors are just so crisp and refreshing. My mother-in-law's dear friend Amanda went strawberry picking today and was nice enough to bring us a rather large bowl of berries. Oh, how sweet they are. A lovely end to a lovely day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I Heart Toys-R-Us

We went to Toys-R-Us today so that Ayden could pick out more Thomas trains (good Lord, how many are there anyway?) and Miss Zoe could get some new Leapster software. As we walked up to the building we saw a humongous sign. From a distance it looked like it said "Autism" but I wasn't positive. Sure enough, it did say autism. Toys-R-Us is now the national sponsor for Autism Speaks International. Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now recently merged to become the largest foundation for autism research.

The world's biggest toy store is accepting donations and is sponsoring nationwide fundraising walks. The Flamenco Family completed a 5k for Cure Autism Now a year ago, and we're planning to do it again this year. For information on walks and other fundraising events in your area, visit Autism Speaks at

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Waiting Game

What is it that Tom Petty says in that song? Oh yeah, waiting is the hardest part. I practically had to wave the kids back with a stick when they saw what was coming out of the oven. "Mini pies--they're just like our size!" was what my little guy had to say about these tasty cherry mini tarts.

I used the recipe for gfcf pie crust that I got from the Wild Oats website, and filled the tarts with cherry Comstock Pie Filling. The filling had just the right balance of tart and sweet. And the crust has a great texture--it reminds me a bit of shortbread cookies. There was little time to get fancy and dust these with powdered sugar. They didn't even get to room temperature before the kids started to dig in.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Green: the Color of Spring

My kids never met a veggie they didn't like. Or, in the case of the edamame they had for an afternoon snack, a legume. We snacked on these all afternoon; all the while enjoying the beautiful day.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

One Bite and I'm Back at Grandma's

Last night I made some yummy Puerto Rican fare, and today I had the pleasure of eating the leftovers for lunch. I roasted some pork(this time it was Boston Butt), which was prepared with a marinade of vinegar, olive oil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. Then I made some steamed white rice. I served it with a side of pink beans, which was cooked in a tomato sauce with some diced potatoes, pimiento olives, and sauteed sofrito, which is a traditional ingredient in Puerto Rican stews and sauces. Everybody makes it a little different, but the basics are onions, peppers, cilantro, garlic and recao (when available) pureed in a blender with a bit of olive oil. That's it. My mother-in-law makes it in large batches and freezes it, or gives extras to my husband's siblings. Occasionally Becky will add some sweet chile peppers called aji dulce she finds at the Latin market. Recao is a green stemmed herb found in Latin or Oriental markets.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spring Forward

Now that I'm done ranting, I can move on to much happier topics. Like the fact that we had Zoe's I.E.P. meeting at school today. For those of you out there that haven't dealt with special education before, and IEP stands for Individual Education Plan. Every year we have a meeting at school with Zoe's teachers, speech therapists, the school psychologist, and the school's language specialist. We determine where Zoe is as far as meeting her educational needs, and then establish goals and plans for the follow school year.

The meeting went extremely well. Everyone had comments about how wonderfully Zoe is doing in school and how much she has matured. She has never really had a problem with the academic stuff--she's got recall like you cannot believe and she's excellent at decoding and solving math problems. Her primary area of opportunity lies in the areas of socialization and behavior. It is very difficult for a child like her to sit still for a long period of time and work independently; but even that is improving greatly. She oftentimes has a hard time expressing herself verbally, particularly in times of stress or when she's having a rough day (like if she's accidentally eaten stuff not on her diet). Zoe's working hard to get better at that, and the results of her hard work can be seen every day.

The great news is that she has improved to the point that the team has decided to begin the process of mainstreaming her. She'll start to spend portions of her day in a "regular class" with kids in her grade who don't have her issues. The goal here is to see how well she copes in that setting, gradually increasing the amount of time she spends there (at a comfortable rate for her, of course) until the team reconvenes and decides she's ready to go full-time. The biggest difference between her current classroom setting and general ed is the class size. Currently there are seven kids in her class, with one teacher. The general ed classes at the school have as many as fifteen kids and one teacher.

As her mom, I'm so eager to see her be challenged because I know she is a very capable student. However, I also grapple with wanting to protect her. I worry about her being able to do well in a different class setting. I don't want her to get frustrated and then have school be a negative thing for her. My baby is growing up. She is literally changing before my eyes, which is sad and exhilirating at the same time.


Up until yesterday I could say that, goody-two-shoes at heart that I am, I had never been kicked out of anywhere. That all changed yesterday, when my husband and I were summarily dismissed from...get this: a pediatrician's office! Wow, are my husband and I rebels or what?

It all started innocently enough. Due to a change in HMO, we were forced to pick a new pediatrician for our son. We love the present doctor (who also treats Zoe), but we were told we needed to change docs if we wanted the insurance company to pay for Ayden's medical care. So we reluctantly went to the new doctor's office for the initial visit yesterday.

As eager as I am to jump right into how rude and inept Dr. Personality was, I should explain something very important. Right now, my son is not yet vaccinated. I know that is something that bothers many people, but there are multiple reasons for this. First, we were concerned about autism since we already have one child with the disorder (if you already have one child with autism, your more likely to have other children with it than others), and we fear vaccines could have something to do with it. Second, we have a family history of seizures brought on by adverse reactions to vaccinations. This history includes our own daughter and several other family members. Third, we feel that it's an enormous amount of chemicals to inject into a small child, whose body may not be ready to accept them. So we decided to wait until Ayden is a bit older to begin shots. Our current doc is okay with it, and a growing number of physicians say they are becoming more accepting of patients who choose to wait.

So we get to Dr. P's office, and while we are waiting we become very aware of her behavior towards the office staff as well as other patients. It seems she was absent the day they taught bedside manner at medical school. And apparently she was never taught that it's not nice to be snippy to people who are helping you and/or working for you, i.e. your employees. We get into the exam room after Ayden was weighed by a nurse, had his finger pricked to check his blood, and provided the required urine sample. Dr. P walks into the room, doesn't introduce herself, says hello, and rudely tells me (without even looking at me BTW) that I'm about a month early to give Ayden his shots. I explain that we are delaying the vaccines and my husband starts to explain to her the reasons why, which I have listed above. This doctor yanks her stethoscope off and (cutting my husband off) tells us that she doesn't treat anybody who is not vaccinated. She then gives us some speech about how she disagrees with everything we say, all the while giving off a vibe that says, "You two have got to be the dumbest people ever! Don't you know that I'm a DOCTOR, for Christ's sake!"

My husband asked the doctor three pivotal questions. 1. Does that mean that aside from people with medically-necessary reasons for not vaccinating that you also do not treat people with religious objections (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses)? 2. It is written anywhere in this practice's procedures that you refuse to treat people with religious and medical objections to vaccines? 3. If not, would you put that in writing? The doctor then said that she does not discriminate against Jehovah Witnesses, she just doesn’t accept them as patients. She stated (with a raised voice) that her policy is not listed in the office’s procedures, and that she would not put it in writing. Then she scooped up our son’s chart, said good-bye and bolted out the door. She promptly scooted over to her phone and said that she was calling the HMO and telling them that she wanted our son transferred to a different doctor. We told her not to bother; we’ll just do that ourselves.

My husband and I kept our composure the whole time. We didn’t want to upset Ayden by arguing with the doctor, even though she had absolutely no problem going there in front of a child. Also, we expected that we might encounter some resistance to what we had to say. But this lady went apeshit on us, which was completely unprofessional and rude. Hey, if she wanted to refuse to take my son so be it. Truth be told, I’d rather crawl naked across a bed of rusty nails than take my son back to see that lady. Not because she disagrees with me, but because I refuse to be treated that way.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

You Gotta Believe

I have been told by more than one internet foodie that quinoa is must-try. And I even went as far as to buy some from the natural foods store a while back, but for some reason I never got around to trying to make it. Well, determined to try some healthier fare, I decided to try to make some today.

The results were mixed. I think I overcooked it or put too much water in the pot because the texture of the quinoa was quite mushy--I'm not sure, but I don't think it's supposed to be that way. That said, the flavor was very good. I liked the nutty, earthy flavor of the quinoa. I prepared a dressing of lime juice, olive oil, ground cumin, and salt; then tossed the quinoa with the dressing, along with black beans, corn, green peppers, and cilantro. It wasn't perfect, but I was left wanting to try to make quinoa again--so that's something of a victory, no?

*I should mention that the photo in the background is one of my favorites. It was taken eleven years ago (cripes, I can't believe it's been that long) when my husband graduated from grad school.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

What to Wear, What to Eat

Today I am raising the white flag. My body has officially decided to cry uncle and tell me that it's time to ease up on the sweets and fatty foods.

My "fat pants" are now too tight.

Those of you who are familiar with the term know exactly what I mean. I know of more women who do this than men, but if you're a guy and you own fat pants please do not feel excluded here. Like many women, I own clothes in more than one size; they're kind of like my added security for times like post-Christmas, when I'm feeling a bit more more than usual. Also, when I'm dealing with things like PMS--it's comforting to feel like you can breathe in your clothes and can avoid the dreaded "muffin top."

Now let me go on record and say that my fat pants comment is in no way meant as an attack on people of size. In fact, by definition, my not-so-fat pants are still larger than that of any hot babe you would ever see on tv. Believe me, Eva Longoria I am not. And truthfully, I don't want to be. I do, however, recognize the fact that the better I get at managing my weight and health the better chances I have at living a longer, healthier life with Flamenco Dad and the kids.

I post many recipes for sweets on this site, primarily because it's those things which present some of the biggest challenges for people who eat gfcf. Many people miss their favorite treats, like cupcakes or homemade waffles. But I'm going to make an effort to post more recipes for items that are gfcf, tasty, and healthy too. Fear not, there will still be a place for desserts and other treats on this site. My kids would stage a full-on mutiny if I didn't bake sweets for them every now and then.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Because Anytime is a Great Time for Pie

Mmmm...tasty. Many thanks to the folks at Wild Oats; I found a recipe for a delicious, flaky crust on their website. They have an entire collection of recipes devoted to gluten free cooking. Not all the recipes are casein free, but I have found many that are that I'll be adding to my repertoire here in the kitchen. Check them out at

What IS in your food?

Inspired by my buddy Lynn at Free to Eat--and fueled by my hankering for pie--I decided to contact Bird's Eye Foods to ask whether their Comstock brand pie filling is gfcf. I e-mailed them this morning, and here was their reply:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about Comstock Pie Fillings.
All of the Comstock pie fillings are gluten free. The modified food starch listed in the ingredient statement is corn starch. All of our fruit pie fillings are casein free. You will want to avoid the cream pie fillings, as some of them contain milk.

We value you as a consumer and appreciate your concern.


Consumer Relations

Birds Eye Foods

I was wondering what to do with those cans of cherry pie filling my mother-in-law bought. Of course, by the time Bird's Eye got back to me I had already cranked out one apple pie, which I'll post shortly. Next up after that is cherry pie baby!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lemon Love

I know Valentine's Day was last month, but I am in love. In love with these lemon poppy seed muffins I made today. I took a standard muffin recipe, modified the ingredients a bit so they were gfcf, and fifteen minutes later I had a light, fluffy muffin--so not like the hockey pucks I've made in the past.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


2 cups gluten free flour mix
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus enough soy milk to equal 1 cup
2/3 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease muffin tins. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, xanthan gum, and poppy seeds. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, oil, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, taking care not to overmix--the batter will be slightly lumpy. Fill muffin tins to 2/3 full, and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean. Serve warm or room temperature. Makes 15 muffins.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Waffler

So what's a girl to do at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night? When the kids are asleep and the man is out having male bonding time with his brothers...why, you make waffles of course! I realized that I wouldn't be in a waffle-making kind of mood at 6 in the morning tomorrow; so (eager beaver that I am) I decided to get a jump on my morning routine. I bagged the finished treats in individual Ziplock bags and tossed them into the freezer. I'm loving these and so is the rest of the Flamenco familia.