Low FODMAPS Diet

I feel like I have experienced a miracle for a second time. Bradley picAnd I need to tell the world. As you can read here, a blenderized diet was life changing for Bradley. That was our first miracle. He has thrived on a blenderized diet for 2 1/2 years now, and the majority of the problems he was experiencing on formula disappeared as soon as the formula disappeared. But, one problem had remained in spite of changing from enteral formula to a blenderized diet: excessive air in his tummy. And it had been gradually getting worse for quite some time.

I have asked so many doctors what to do. Nothing that was tried helped. Bradley has a nissen fundoplication, which complicates this problem all the more because he cannot burp. Air was building up again and again and again and again every day. It had increased to the point that I was pulling 40-50 ounces of air per day out of his tummy via his G-tube and that was on a good day. Some days, it was substantially more.

This air would cause terrible nausea for Bradley. Thankfully, after pulling the air out, he would feel better right away. A couple doctors told me this really wasn’t a problem, then, since pulling the air out relieved the nausea. Just vent as needed, they said. No problem. Um, no. No one wants their child to deal with this 10 times every day and experience this disruption in life. And it was most definitely disruptive to life. Sometimes, for all their medical knowledge, doctors do not grasp the practical application of their advice and how problematic it can sometimes be in daily life. Bradley has to be laying down to successfully get this air out of his tummy. I remember sitting on a very crowded bus last summer, and the air had built up. Bradley was gagging, retching, and crying. There was no where to lay him down. So, we just had to wait. Eventually, he was vomiting as his body tried to get the air out. I have had so many times I had to pull over to the side of the road in the snow or rain, get Bradley out of the car, lay him down in the front passenger seat as I’m getting soaked in the rain, and vent his tummy. I could tell many stories like this where it was not as simple as “Just vent as needed. No big deal.”

I continued searching for answers. I searched. And searched. And searched. I tried so many things. Nothing helped. And finally, some fellow BD moms helped me find the answer I had been searching for. They talked to me about symptoms of a bacterial overgrowth in the bowels. It sounded like there was a strong chance this could be the problem. One major risk factor for an overgrowth is a history of bowel surgeries, and Bradley has had two major bowel surgeries.

What are the symptoms of a bacterial overgrowth? Excessive gas, diarrhea or constipation (or bouncing back and forth between both), nausea, vomiting, or bloating…just feeling yucky. Bradley has mild constipation issues that are managed with a daily serving of prunes. But, I just knew this excessive air could not be accepted as our “normal.”

Bacteria in our guts produce gas when they eat. For most people, this isn’t a problem because the body can manage the normal level of gas produced by a normal level of bacteria. But, if a person has too much bacteria in his/her gut, this means there is more bacteria producing gas, which means there will be a lot more gas. Worse, if this bacteria makes its way up into the small intestine, as bacterial overgrowths do, bacteria is eating and producing gas in an area of the body that it isn’t supposed to. And guess where this gas goes. It pushes right up into the tummy.

And so, what are we to do? We stop giving so much food to the bacteria. In other words, we reduce foods known to feed the bacteria really, really well. We avoid foods that easily ferment in the bowel. This approach is quite the opposite of what most of us should be doing. Feeding our gut microbiome is extremely important. But, for those with a bacterial overgrowth, doing so can be a disaster.

I started with giving Bradley a broad spectrum digestive enzyme with every single meal to see what happened. This breaks down the food very quickly, leaving less for the bacteria to feast upon. The results were both immediate and extreme. The very first day, Bradley went from needing 40-50 ounces or more of air pulled from his tummy to needing only 4 ounces pulled. After 4 days of this, he was not needing any air pulled from his tummy at all. It stopped completely. This went very well for several weeks, but the air began building up again little by little. So, not wanting to wait until things were out of control, I decided to try plan B: a low FODMAPS diet.

Some of my fellow BD moms mentioned this diet to me. I began to do some reading about it. What stood out to me was the fact that nearly every food I’d already identified as a food that makes this excessive gas far, far worse (and had to stop feeding them to Bradley as a result) were on the high FODMAPS list. There were all these random foods that resulted in extremely excessive gas, and I could not figure out what could possibly be connecting them all. When I began reading about high and low FODMAPS foods, I discovered their connection.

Bradley’s oral intake had increased over the summer, but as it did, the air in his tummy increased substantially as well. I thought perhaps he was swallowing air as he ate. As it turned out, because I changed Bradley’s diet quite a bit when he began eating pureed food orally, I had inadvertently increased multiple foods that were on the high FODMAPS list, such as cashews. It occurred to me that maybe he wasn’t swallowing air at all. The final pieces of Bradley’s GI puzzle were coming together.

FODMAPS is an acronym for different components in various foods that easily ferment in the bowel and feed gut bacteria (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccarides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols). Many foods containing high amounts of FODMAPS are quite healthful for most people. But, they are not for those with a bacteria overgrowth. By reducing the FODMAPS in the diet, the bacteria are fed less. For Bradley, this would translate into less excessive gas if this were indeed the problem. And that is exactly what a low FODMAPS diet did. His very first day on a low FODMAPS diet, he did not require any venting at all, and I was able to stop the digestive enzymes. He has been doing great and venting is no longer a part of our lives. What a difference! Life changing!!

So, how do you go about discovering if a low FODMAPS diet will help your child’s tummy troubles? The only way to determine this is to try a low FODMAPS diet. If a low FODMAPS diet will help, it will help rather quickly. Thus, if you try and don’t see any improvements within a few days, this likely means that the problem is not one that will be helped by a low FODMAPS diet. Because feeding a low FODMAPS diet reduces how much gut bacteria are fed, and because most people need to feed their gut bacteria with these foods, it should only be used by those who experience a reduction in GI symptoms with this diet. If you try this diet and there is no reduction of symptoms within 4 days, you should stop the low FODMAPS diet and pursue answers elsewhere. In some cases when there is a bacteria overgrowth, an antibiotic may be needed to get the bacteria population in the gut better managed. Discuss this option with your child’s medical team if you believe your child may have a bacteria overgrowth, and diet is not managing it completely.

If your child will benefit from a low FODMAPS diet, it is important to go all the way onto a low FODMAPS diet initially. Once GI stability has been gained for a period of time, you can begin adding in one food at a time to test for tolerance. Your child may tolerate specific high or medium FODMAPS foods. The only way to find out is to first remove them all and then begin adding in one food at a time after the child is feeling better.

Doing this the opposite way, such as in an elimination diet, will not work in this particular situation. If your child is being fed 6 foods, for example, that are causing the symptoms, removing one at a time will not result in a visible reduction in symptoms because the other 5 foods are still producing symptoms. This is why I could not identify every food intolerance in Bradley’s food. I had tried an elimination diet by removing one ingredient at a time from his diet. While I had identified some foods that made his symptoms dramatically worse, I could not find them all. An elimination diet works great if there are only a very small number of foods that are causing symptoms. But, if lots of foods are causing symptoms, an elimination diet will lead to an eternity of removing one food at a time and seeing little to no improvement even if the food is an offender because you’re still feeding so many other offending foods. So, if you are going to try a low FODMAPS diet, you have to go all the way. At least at first.

Once you do, when GI stability has been reached, leave well enough alone for a while. Give it a few weeks. Maybe even more. Then, start to reintroduce one food at a time and see if GI symptoms worsen again. If they do not, that food is a safe food.

The good news is that you can begin to see patterns that will help you identify which foods are most likely safe and which foods are not. For example, if you notice that foods high in polyols are not causing symptoms, this is a good indicator that other foods high in polyols that you haven’t trialed yet will be safe.

Some people experience dramatic improvement after several weeks on a low FODMAPS diet and can return to a more normal diet. This is because the low FODMAPS  starved off the excessive bacteria, so eating the foods that feed them well no longer causes symptoms. If you are one of these lucky people, you can simply return to a low FODMAPS diet down the road if symptoms flare up again.

Yes, it is a tedious process. But the end result can be a child alleviated of GI discomfort. Bradley is still in the waiting phase. I plan on reintroducing foods after the new year to find his safe foods.

A team at Monash University has tested a large number of foods for FODMAPS. They have an app that you can use to search for foods and see whether they are high, medium, or low in FODMAPS. It will also tell you which of the FODMAPS the food is high in. You can also find a lot of helpful information on their website.

I began the process by purchasing their app and reviewing every single food they tested. I had 3 lists: low, medium, and high FODMAPS. As I reviewed the list, I looked at every food on it that we use in our household and added that food to the corresponding list. For now, I am only selecting foods on the low FODMAPS list. After the new year, I’ll be trying foods from the other 2 lists, one at a time, to see how things go.

In the meantime, I am basking in the glory of venting-free days. I am loving seeing Bradley completely comfortable from morning until night. He used to wake up every morning with so much air in his tummy. He’d wake up every morning and immediately gag and retch until I pulled the air out. Now, he wakes up every day and smiles instead. And, since his tummy is feeling so much better, Bradley is now taking all of his food orally most days. We are far from the day that his feeding tube is removed, but it finally feels like a reachable goal. I have searched for an answer to his excessive gas for a full year. I began to wonder at times if I would ever figure it out.

And so, most importantly, even if a low FODMAPS diet isn’t the answer for your child, keeping trying, mama. Keep searching. Keep asking. The solution may be just around the corner.

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Homemade Dairy Free, Gluten Free, All Natural Nutrition Shake: Homemade Pediasure

Thank you, everyone, for the unbelievable response Happyto my homemade Pediasure recipe! Wow! I have been overjoyed and thrilled with the pictures and stories of your little ones enjoying their nutrition shake!!

I heard out your many requests for a gluten free version as well as a banana free version since many kiddos that struggle with constipation must avoid consuming bananas. And so, I went to work to find the right combination of ingredients. All of the recipes below are gluten free, and most are banana free as well. I hope your child enjoys them either through the tube Empty cupor orally! Bradley has been orally drinking anywhere from half to all of his homemade nutrition shakes daily and is coming along slowly but surely with his oral eating. We have a long journey ahead still, but he’s come so far!

For comparison, here is the nutritional information for Pediasure Grow and Gain, vanilla flavor found on Abbott Nutrition’s website:

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat, g: 9
  • Carbohydrate, g: 33
  • Dietary Fiber, g: Less than 1
  • Protein, g: 7
  • Iron, mg: 2.7

And now, for the recipes! Please note that, just like my other nutrition shake recipes, these shakes are not intended as a meal replacement, but rather, as a supplement to a well balanced diet

Homemade Banana Nutrition Shake

  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Medium banana
  • 1 Tbsp Raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 Tbsp Almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup Water

 

  • Calories: 279
  • Fat, : 13
  • Carbohydrates: 33
  • Fiber, g: 5
  • Protein, g: 8
  • Iron, mg: 2

 

Homemade Vanilla Nutrition Shake

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve. For a chilly, icy beverage, peel and freeze the banana in advance. Serve immediately.

  • 1/2 Medium banana
  • 1/8 cup Raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 Tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Water

 

  • Calories: 286
  • Fat, g: 13
  • Carbohydrates: 32
  • Fiber, g: 6
  • Protein, g: 9
  • Iron, mg: 2.3

 

Homemade Chocolate Nutrition Shake

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve immediately.

  • 1/2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/8 cup Raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 Tbsp Almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup Water

 

  • Calories: 274
  • Fat, g: 14
  • Carbohydrates: 29
  • Fiber, g: 5
  • Protein, g: 10
  • Iron, mg: 2.5

 

Homemade Strawberry Nutrition Shake

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve immediately. For a chilly, icy beverage, freeze the strawberries in advance.

  • 1/2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/8 cup Raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 Tbsp Almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp seeds
  • 5 Strawberries
  • 1/2 cup Water

 

  • Calories: 289
  • Fat, g: 13
  • Carbohydrates: 34
  • Fiber, g: 6
  • Protein, g: 9
  • Iron, mg: 2.5

 

Homemade Berry Nutrition Shake

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve immediately. For a chilly, icy beverage, freeze the berries in advance.

  • 1/2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/8 cup Raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 Tbsp Almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp seeds
  • 1/3 cup Mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup Water

 

  • Calories: 279
  • Fat, g: 13
  • Carbohydrates: 31
  • Fiber, g: 6
  • Protein, g: 9
  • Iron, mg: 2.4

 

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Homemade, Dairy Free, All Natural Nutrition Shake: Homemade Dairy Free Pediasure

I have a big announcement. Bradley, my son, after suffering from a severe oral aversion since infancy, has begun eating a little by mouth! We still have a long journey and most of his nutrition is still being received through his tube, but I’m having all kinds of fun making him plates of various foods.

As he receives feeding therapy, an issue has arisen that 17500363_10154286759952414_153910625_ohad left me torn. Children with feeding disorders are often encouraged to drink supplemental nutrition shakes such as Abbott Nutrition’s Pediasure Grow and Gain. First, my son cannot have Pediasure regardless of whether I was comfortable with him drinking it because it contains milk, which he is allergic to. Second, I cannot bring myself to feed my son a product like this every day even if he were to consume a dairy free version.

It has far too much sugar. Abbott and companies making similar products have gotten away with making their products appear to have less sugar by using maltodextrin as a sweetener. While this isn’t technically “sugar,” it impacts the body in a very similar way. This means almost all of the 33 carbohydrates in a single serving of Pediasure comes from sugar or a sugar-like ingredient. Children are recommended no more than 16 grams of these kinds of sugars per day. A single can of Pediasure far exceeds that limit.

The oils in Pediasure are also not healthful. Basically everything in this product is either unhealthful, synthetic, or both. Even the fiber in Pediasure is not natural, but is a synthetic fiber. Natural fiber is so important for feeding and maintaining a healthy gut flora, which affects the health of nearly every system in the body. Pediasure simply does not provide this.

I don’t want to give this product or others like it to my son, and I had to believe there was a better way to make a nutritious beverage to supplement his diet that was tasty, low in sugar, and all natural that could pass through the tiny holes in a sippy cup. It is also important that it can pass through a feeding tube since he is drinking very little and will need to receive the rest through his tube for now. As I searched the internet for homemade Pediasure recipes, I found horrific recipes filled with ice cream, juice concentrate, sugar…all in the same recipe! I don’t see how this could be any better. Just…no.

17475321_10154286759897414_871069271_oBut, I get it. Many parents struggle with kids behind in growth and weight gain, and they are desperate to get their child to pack on the pounds. I know multiple parents that have their children drink Pediasure every day, but state that they hate doing so and desire something better. And now I have found myself in the same boat, wanting an alternative to the traditional nutrition beverages. Also, as a tubie mama, I know how much we want our children to experience some normalcy regarding feeding. It is fun to make a tasty treat even if it is entirely tube fed. Our tubies deserve tasty treats, too!

And I have good news! It is definitely possible to make a nutrition shake for your child that is tasty and has a very similar nutrient profile to Pediasure. In the recipes below, you will find the same flavors offered by Pediasure so if your child has a favorite, you can easily replace it with this homemade version. It has similar amounts of calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, and iron. It has dramatically more fiber (even more than the Pediasure Grow and Gain with Fiber), and it has dramatically less added sugar and sugar-like ingredients (only 25% of the amount you’ll find in Pediasure). It’s quick and easy to throw together. If you are concerned about vitamins and minerals, add a multivitamin of your choice. After all, added synthetic vitamins are all you will find in Pediasure, so this is in no way a negative of using these recipes in the place of Pediasure.

Alright, I’ll quit rambling on and get to the recipes! Please note, this is NOT intended to be used as a meal replacement. This is intended as a beverage to supplement your child’s diet, whether your child eats orally or via a feeding tube.

For comparison, here is the nutritional information for Pediasure Grow and Gain, vanilla flavor found on Abbott Nutrition’s website:

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat, g: 9
  • Carbohydrate, g: 33
  • Dietary Fiber, g: Less than 1
  • Protein, g: 7
  • Iron, mg: 2.7

Homemade Vanilla Nutrition Shake:

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve. For a chilly, icy beverage, peel and freeze the banana in advance. Serve immediately.

  • 1/8 cup homemade or canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 medium banana
  • 1.5 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Calories: 242
  • Fat, g: 11
  • Carbohydrates, g: 27
  • Fiber, g: 3.5
  • Protein, g: 7
  • Iron, mg: 2.5

Homemade Banana Nutrition Shake:

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve. For a chilly, icy beverage, peel and freeze the banana in advance. Serve immediately.

  • 1/8 cup homemade or canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1.5 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Calories: 289
  • Fat, g: 11
  • Carbohydrates, g: 39
  • Fiber, g: 5
  • Protein, g: 8
  • Iron, mg: 2.75

Homemade Chocolate Nutrition Shake:

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve. For a chilly, icy beverage, peel and freeze the banana in advance. Serve immediately.

  • 1/8 cup homemade or canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1.5 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Calories: 289
  • Fat, g: 11
  • Carbohydrates, g: 39
  • Fiber, g: 5
  • Protein, g: 8
  • Iron, mg: 2.7

Homemade Strawberry Nutrition Shake:

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve. For a chilly, icy beverage, peel and freeze the banana in advance. Serve immediately.

  • 1/8 cup homemade or canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 medium banana
  • 1.5 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 5 large strawberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Calories: 267
  • Fat, g: 11
  • Carbohydrates, g: 33
  • Fiber, g: 5
  • Protein, g: 8
  • Iron, mg: 2.8

Homemade Berry Nutrition Shake:

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve. For a chilly, icy beverage, peel and freeze the banana in advance. Serve immediately.

  • 1/8 cup homemade or canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 medium banana
  • 1.5 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Calories: 257
  • Fat, g: 11
  • Carbohydrates, g: 30
  • Fiber, g: 4.5
  • Protein, g: 7
  • Iron, mg: 2.7

 

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Bone Broth

Why on earth would I want to make bone broth?15369700_10153993374292414_1453679404_o

First, real broth made homemade from bones, vegetables, and seasonings tastes incomparably better than the stuff you buy from the store. Start making soup with real broth, and you will never go back.

But, taste isn’t the only reason for making bone broth a part of your regular diet. Bone broth contains amino acids that nourish the gut. This makes bone broth a great addition to the diets of tube fed individuals since many tube fed individuals live with GI issues. While bone broth nourishes the gut, it does not cure all ills or cure GI issues. But, a well nourished gut will function at its most optimal level, whatever level that may be for each individual. Bradley experiences notably less GI issues when he receives 1/2-1 cup of bone broth daily.

Bone broth also nourishes the immune system. The old advice to eat chicken noodle soup when you’re ill isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Homemade chicken noodle soup with chicken bone broth actually does give your immune system a boost and aids with illness recovery. So, even if you have no desire to consume it year round, it’s an excellent addition to a daily diet during cold and flu season.

NOTE: One common misconception about bone broth is the belief that it is loaded with calcium. It would make sense to come to this conclusion given that bones themselves contain large amounts of calcium. However, bone broth actually contains very little calcium and should not be counted toward one’s calcium intake. It does, however, contain other minerals very important for good bone health.

I’m sold! Now what?15311600_10153993396432414_1160829491_o

There are many different variations for bone broth making. Post online asking how to make bone broth, and you’re likely to get many, many answers from different people explaining how they make bone broth. For example, some people like to make quick broths while others like to simmer their broth for days. So, rather than giving a specific recipe, I’m going to guide you step by step through the process of making bone broth and explain what options you have to choose from for each of these steps to help you develop a method you prefer.

Step 1: Choose and obtain bones

It’s not particularly shocking that to make bone broth, you need bones. In fact, to make bone broth, the only 2 necessary ingredients are water and bones. Anything else enhances a broth, but is ultimately optional.

Here is where you decide, first of all, what kind of bone broth you’d like to make. Chicken, beef, pork, or fish? While not included in these directions, you can also make turkey broth, duck broth, lamb broth, and broth from the bones of other animals.

Bones do not necessarily need to be raw. I always save bones from chicken or other meats that I’m cooking for other purposes, and friends and family know to save bones for me when they make ham or turkey so I can snag them for broth making.

Chicken broth

For chicken broth, obviously, you need chicken bones. You can use a whole raw chicken with meat, skin and all. You can use chicken thighs, drumsticks, or wings. You can use the bones with or without the meat on the bones. If  you use bones with meat on them, the broth will have a flavor that is more rich.

Beef broth

For beef broth, you can choose stew or marrow bones. These typically are sold with no meat on them.

Pork broth

For pork broth, you can use ham hocks and/or pigs feet. Some like to include pork belly for added flavor.

Fish broth

For fish broth, you can use a whole fish carcass and/or multiple fish heads. You will want to use a non-oily fish to avoid your house smelling horrifyingly bad (learn from my mistakes!). Some good choices are sole, turbot, rockfish, or snapper.

NOTE: While I do not typically push people to buy organic food, which can be cost prohibitive, I do recommend using organic bones whenever possible, and even further recommend purchasing bones from a smaller, local farm. Bones store toxins, and bones from animals raised on industrialized farms can contain pretty high levels of toxins. Find a local farm in your area and talk to them about purchasing bones after they’ve processed their animals. And the good news is, while these bones may cost a little more, bones can often be used to make more than one batch of broth as they can be frozen and used again.

Step 2: Choose bones that will make the broth gel

Gelatin is one of the aspects of bone broth that make it so nourishing. When cooked properly, the gelatin will cause the broth to gel when it is cold (it will become a liquid again when heated). Don’t worry if you broth does not always gel. It happens! The broth is still very nutritious. Still, for some reason, I always feel so accomplished when I pull my homemade broth from the refrigerator to find it perfectly gelled.

To make this happen, you must include some bones that have a lot of cartilage. While there is a tendency to use these types of bones from the same animal species as the other bones, it is completely ok to do some mix and matching here. For example, if you are making beef broth, it is fine to use turkey necks. The exception to this, in my opinion, is to avoid using oxtail or beef knuckle in a poultry broth.

Bones great for gelling:

  • Chicken feet (2-6)
  • Pigs feet, split (1-2)
  • Pork neck (1)
  • Beef feet (1-2)
  • Turkey necks (2-4)
  • Oxtail (1-2)
  • Beef knuckle (1)

NOTE: If you are using an uncooked whole chicken, drumsticks, or thighs with the meat and skin, you do not need to include additional bones from the list above. Also, you do NOT need to add bones from this section when making fish broth.

Step 3: Choose vegetables and seasonings

This is a highly variable category that you could omit completely if you prefer. Of course, adding vegetables and seasonings will enhance the flavor of your broth and increase its nutrition. But, you’d still have nourishing broth without them.

Whatever vegetables you choose, you do not need to worry about peeling most of them. simply wash them, chop them in half or in quarters and toss them into the pot. That’s right, even onions and carrots do not need peeled for broth making. Have any vegetables that are starting to wilt, but don’t want to waste them? Toss them into the pot.

Common vegetable choices:

  • Onions (1-2)
  • Celery sticks (1-3)
  • Carrots (2-4)
  • Mushroom stems (1 cup)
  • Leek (1)
  • Turnip-in this case, peeled (1)
  • Parsnip-in this case, peeled (1)

Common seasonings (you can use more than 1):

  • Bay leaves (1-3)
  • Rosemary (2 sprigs)
  • Parsley (2 sprigs)
  • Thyme (2 sprigs)
  • Whole black peppercorns (1 Tbsp)
  • Freshley crushed green peppercorns (1 Tbsp)
  • Freshley crushed white peppercorns (1 Tbsp)
  • Fresh cilantro (1 bunch)
  • Fresh mint leaves (2 Tbsp)
  • Garlic cloves, cut in half (2-10)
  • Fresh ginger (1-inch piece)

Some suggested mixtures:

  • Chicken, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns
  • Chicken, onion, celery, carrot, cilantro, mint
  • Chicken, onion,  garlic, peppercorns
  • Pork, bay leaves, peppercorns
  • Beef, onion, carrot, celery, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic
  • Beef, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns
  • Fish, onion, carrot, mushroom stems, parsley, thyme, bay leaves
  • Fish, celery, garlic, ginger, peppercorns
  • Fish, onion, carrot, parsnip, peppercorns, bay leaves

Experiment and come up with your own! 15387491_10153993342427414_1134225922_o

Step 4: Roast the bones

This step is entirely optional. It enhances the flavor of the broth. Feel free to skip this step if you prefer.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roast the bones for 20 minutes.

Step 5: Fill the pot!

Whatever pot you are using, whether it be a stew pot to use on the stove top, a crock pot, a 15311386_10153993342382414_1240743479_opressure cooker, or whatever else you can think of, stuff it with bones. How many bones really depends on how much broth you want to make. Don’t just dump the bones in all willy nilly. You want the bones pretty tightly packed (within reason).

Add filtered water to an inch or two above the bones. I strongly recommend using filtered water. The reason for this is that the water will cook down and concentrate. This means impurities from tap water will become more concentrated, which you don’t want. I use a home water filter so I don’t have to purchase bottled water for this purpose.

Add the vegetables and seasonings.

Step 6: Add vinegar and soak

Many people like to add a splash of vinegar and allow the pot to soak for 30 minutes prior to cooking. This is optional. There are mixed data about how effective this is. It certainly doesn’t cause any harm. The choice is yours.

Step 7: Simmer the broth

Believe it or not, there is variation with this step as well. There is a wide variation in cooking times for the bones of different species and there are also different ways of simmering. You can use a crock pot, a pressure cooker, or a stew pot on the stove.

The longer you simmer your broth, the more nutritious it will be. You would have to try really, really hard to overcook broth (fish broth is an exception to this and should not be cooked for long periods).

It is important to note that bone broth does contain a natural form of MSG that is similar, but not the same, as the MSG used in many restaurants and food products. Some people will need to cook their broth for only a few hours if they have extreme sensitivities to MSG. This is not the case for everyone with MSG sensitivity, however. I am extremely, extremely sensitive to MSG added to foods and become very ill if I consume it. However, I tolerate the natural form of MSG in bone broth completely fine. If you find your child has difficulty tolerating bone broth, you may want to try cooking for a shorter time to see if toleration improves. If there is no known sensitivity to MSG, this will not likely be an issue for you to be concerned with. For most people, even those with GI issues and food sensitivities, this will not be a problem.

Stove Top:

Use a stew pot. Heat the broth on high only until you get a very low simmer. You do NOT want your broth to reach a full boil as this can make it much less likely to gel (who wants to miss out on that happy, satisfied, accomplished feeling when scooping out some gelled broth?). However, if it comes to a full boil by mistake, continue with the steps as this will not ruin the broth. Simmer with the lid on top, but slightly off center so there is a gap for moisture to escape. Only add water if you are cooking for an extended period and water is getting an inch or more below the top of the bones and vegetables.

Simmering times:

  • Poultry broth: 2-24 hours
  • Beef: 4-48 hours
  • Pork: 4-12 hours
  • Fish: 1 hour (fish broth should not be cooked for long periods)

Crock Pot:

Cook the broth in the crock pot on low using the simmering times listed above for stove top preparation.

Pressure Cooker:

If you become a regular broth consumer, a pressure cooker will change your life. If you don’t become a regular broth consumer, a pressure cooker will change your life. Seriously. Get one. You can make so many foods in a fraction of the time. Electronic pressure cookers today make it as simple as ever. I don’t understand how I functioned in my kitchen without one.

Like on the stove and in the crock pot, there is a range of time you can cook broth in a pressure cooker. You can choose the extreme minimum or maximum or somewhere in between. Most pressure cookers automatically switch to a “warm” feature when the pressure cycle is complete, and this handy feature can be used to simmer bone broth.

Cook at high pressure:

  • Poultry: 2 hours of high pressure followed by natural release – 2 hours of high pressure followed by 6 hours on warm
  • Beef: 1 cycle of 2 hours of high pressure followed by natural release – 2 cycles of 2 hours each of high pressure followed by 8 hours of warm.
  • Pork: 2 hours of high pressure followed by natural release – 2 cycles of 2 hours each of high pressure followed by 4 hours of warm.
  • Fish: 20 minutes of high pressure followed by natural release (do not cook longer)15387491_10153993342327414_188956059_o

Step 8: Strain the broth

You’re almost there! Place a strainer over a large bowl and strain the broth. Once cooled, check the bones. If they are brittle and easily crumble in your hands, discard them. If they do not easily break, you can save them for another batch of broth making (however, you will need fresh cartilage bones for gelatin in the next batch).

Step 9: Cool the broth

You’re so close! Allow the broth to cool for a little while and then, move it to the refrigerator. Allow it to cool completely (up to a few hours).

Step 10: Remove the fat…or not15398819_10153993342002414_1983488206_o

When the broth is completely cooled, the fat will have risen to the top and solidified. This can be removed and discarded, removed and saved for other uses (such as in the place of oil when sauteeing), or it can be left in the broth. Which option you choose depends on your individual health goals.

Bradley has a congenital heart defect, so heart health is of extra importance. I keep all animal fats to a minimum and instead, Bradley gets his fats from plant sources such as nuts, seeds, coconut, and avocado. Because of this, I remove and discard the fat. You may have different health goals, so a different choice may be better for your individual situation.

I’m all done! I made broth! What do I do with it?!15368759_10153993341812414_1407861433_o

Broth can be consumed on its own. Bradley gets 1/2-1 cup  of warm broth every morning an hour before breakfast. You can warm it up in a mug and enjoy. Have some whole grain crackers with it for a snack. You can also use it in place of broth and stock in recipes for soup. Don’t like soup? You just may fall in love with it if you start using bone broth. Real bone broth gives much more depth to the flavor of soup. Broth can also be used in the place of milk or water when making gravy and a variety of sauces. You can also use it as the liquid base in blends.

Broth is good in the refrigerator for about 4 days. I freeze in individual containers of about 4 cups each and thaw overnight in the refrigerator as needed.

If you’d like to see a video about bone broth making, my friend and fellow tubie mama, Weronika Brill, has a video here. Check out her YouTube channel for other informative videos as well!

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Veggie Enchiladas

15271619_10153976092217414_1854959027_oAs the weather has turned cold and dreary here in Chicago, I decided to have a “stay indoors wearing pajamas” day. But, it was a productive day in the kitchen as it was proven once again that a plant-based diet can be utterly delectable. These veggie enchiladas rock!

The recipe below contains a double recipe for the filling. The reason for this is to have a full recipe portion to freeze for later. It takes barely longer to make a double portion of this filling than to make a single portion. Next time you want some veggie enchiladas, thaw the filling, whip up some avocado dressing, and you’ll have them in the oven in no time. Work smart, not hard!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Enchilada filling:15271508_10153976092367414_195663646_o

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 medium red onions
  • 2 large red peppers, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups artichoke quarters, drained
  • 1 4-oz can green chiles
  • 16 oz fresh spinach
  • 2 bunches cilantro, chopped (easiest if you run them through a food processor)
  • 4 cups black beans, prepared (or 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed)

Add the olive oil, onions, red peppers, garlic cloves, and artichoke quarters to a large skillet. Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add chiles, spinach and cilantro. You will likely need to add the spinach in portions and allow it cook down before adding more. Once all the spinach is wilted, stir in the black beans and remove from heat.

Avocado dressing:15231664_10153976092252414_1224470590_o

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you want some spice)

Add all 4 ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth.

Other ingredients:

  • 10 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups all natural, no sugar added, no high fructose corn syrup added enchilada sauce
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Pour 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan. Tilt the pan at different angles until the sauce has coated the entire bottom of the dish.

15224838_10153976092232414_1114995744_oHeat each side of the tortillas over a flame on the oven briefly. Fill each tortilla with just under 1/2 cup of filling and 1/8 cup of avocado dressing. Freeze the remaining filling.

Roll the tortilla tightly and place in the casserole dish. Be sure the “flap” of the rolled tortilla is face down into the dish. Continue this until all 10 enchiladas are in the casserole dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and top with the chopped cilantro. You can also top with cheese and serve with sour cream if you wish and do not require dairy free. 15233567_10153976092242414_919298574_o

Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and then, dig in!

Nutritional information will vary slightly, depending on your choice of enchilada sauce and tortillas. A half enchilada will have approximately 190 calories, 5g protein, 22 carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 9g fat, and 1mg iron.

Whole Grain Dairy Free Homemade Pop Tarts

15053238_10153931049332414_936067674_oLet’s face it. It’s been a difficult and exhausting week here in the United States. And this meant, for me, it was time for some relaxation. I watched a couple episodes of The X-Files yesterday (Mulder and Scully forever!) and today, I decided to bake something. And what better to bake than some homemade pop tarts!

You may wonder why I would go through the trouble to make homemade pop tarts when they will just be blended up in the blender anyway (except the ones I eat myself). Why not just bake up some crusts in any shape, bake them and blend them with some fruit since it would yield the same blend? Why go through the trouble of shaping them into cute, decorated pop tarts?

Because it’s fun. And if you’ve never tried cooking real, regular food for your tubie child, it is an extremely fulfilling experience. The drive within a mother to feed her child is so strong. Tube feeding, while we are indeed feeding our children, can often not “feel” as though we are. This can leave a very painful wound in our hearts. One of the wonderful gifts that a blenderized diet has brought me is the fact that it allows me to be a more active participant in the process of feeding my son. The pain and grief this alleviated and the elation it has brought me is difficult to describe. So, while you certainly do not have to prepare these kinds of foods for your tubie, it can be very rewarding.

These are so tasty! With just a touch of honey to sweeten them, these are whole food, whole grain pop tarts. These pop tarts are FAR more healthful and nutritious than the pop tarts you find at the grocery store. And since so many tubies are dairy free (as is Bradley), they are even dairy free!

I know this may sound daunting seeing all the directions. But, I had my pop tarts baking in the oven just 20 minutes after I began preparing the dough. They were so fun to make, and I’m definitely going to be making them again soon!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups white whole wheat flour + additional to flour surface
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup coconut oil (MUST be in solid state) + additional to brush on crusts
  • 1/2-1 cup ice cold water (as in, put water in a bowl and put ice cubes in it to make it really cold)
  • 3/4 cup strawberries
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 2 large bananas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Warm the strawberries and blueberries either in a saucepan on the stove or in a bowl in the microwave to soften them. Freezing them prior to this can also help soften them even more. Set aside.

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add the coconut oil. This crust will not work if the coconut oil is in liquid form. If your coconut oil is in liquid form, place it in the refrigerator to cool it down and return it to a solid state prior to using.

Using your hands, mix the coconut oil and the flour. It is important to use your hands because as you mix, you need to squeeze the flour and oil together. Imagine you are forcing the flour into the oil with your hands. Continue this until all the flour and oil are completely combined and there is no dry flour left.

Begin adding the cold water, 1/4 cup at  a time. Only use enough water to moisten the dough enough for it to hold together. You don’t want the dough to be wet. It should feel 15053221_10153931049297414_1625452016_olike an unbaked pie crust when it is ready.

Grab a hunk of dough and roll it out. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into rectangles. Continue this until all of the dough is cut into rectangles. If you cut them about the same size as store bought pop tarts, you should have 18 rectangles to make 9 pop tarts.

14975730_10153931049287414_1856513380_oStir 2 Tbsp of honey into the berries. Spoon some berries onto the centers of half the crusts. Lay a second crust on top of each rectangle to form the pop tarts. Press onto the edges with your fingertips to seal the pop tarts and then, press along the edges with the tip of a fork to secure the seal…and to make them look pretty. 🙂

Brush the top with coconut oil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, 15060318_10153931049337414_504473738_oplace the pop tarts onto the parchment paper, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow the pop tarts to cool for about 15 minutes.

While the pop tarts are cooling, smash the 2 bananas in a bowl. Dump them into a blender along with the remaining 2 Tbsp of honey. Blend on low just enough to combine them and create a smooth texture. Once the pop tarts are cooled, spoon the banana mixture onto the pop tarts and enjoy!14976021_10153933633192414_195463441_o

If you end up with 9 pop tarts, each pop tarts contains approximately 471 calories, 7g protein, 40 carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 35g fat, and 2mg iron. Bradley enjoyed half a pop tart blended with half an apple and homemade almond milk. Mmmmmmm!!!

Golden Turmeric Milk and Elderberry Syrup: Prep for Cold and Flu Season

Cold and flu season has arrived. Yuck! But, take heart. 15052117_10153928482012414_241409685_oThere are a few simple things you can do to help both yourself and your tubie be ready to show all the germies out there who’s boss.

Golden Turmeric Milk

Turmeric contains a very powerful anti-inflammatory that is on par with certain anti-inflammatory drugs (but without the side effects) as well as antioxidants. This makes turmeric a great addition to our diets at any time of year, but especially during cold and flu season. And, lucky for us, turmeric can be consumed by making this very delicious golden milk that originated from India. I strongly recommend buying these seasonings and spices whole and grinding them in a mortar and pestle or a food chopper. 15045399_10153928482042414_1440183973_o

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups nut or seed milk of your choice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 inches fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped.
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee (can substitute with coconut oil)
  • 1 Tbsp honey

15060235_10153928482022414_600381544_oPour the milk and water into a small saucepan.

In a mortar and pestle or food chopper, crush the cordiander, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods. Add the ginger and turmeric and crush. Add to the saucepan. Heat to a low simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and keep at a low simmer for 20 minutes. The volume should have reduced by about half.

Pour through a sieve, collecting the milk in a cup or 15044716_10153928482017414_2001500999_obowl. Stir in the ghee and honey. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper if desired. This yields two 1-cup servings that each contain, in addition to the nutrition in whichever milk you choose to use, 90 calories, 8 carbohydrates, and 7 grams of fat. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup has been used to boost the immune system for thousands of years. It has been shown in a clinical study to reduce the severity and length of the flu, even. Elderberries are antioxidant-rich, and this probably has something to do with these benefits. If you cannot find elderberries locally, they can be ordered online.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup elderberries
  • 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup honey (preferably raw and locally harvested)

Stir all of the ingredients except the honey in a small saucepan. 15034382_10153928482007414_1655962543_oHeat to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and continue to very lightly simmer for 45 minutes. The volume should reduce in half during this period of time. Pour the liquid through a sieve and catch it in a glass or bowl. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Stir in the honey. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. It is recommended children take 1 teaspoon (or 5 mls) daily and increase to taking this dose every few hours during times of illness. Adults are recommended a dose of 1 Tbsp.

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Homemade Seed and Nut Milks

Nuts and seeds, especially seeds, are some of the most nutrient dense foods we can consume. That means lots of added nutrition with very low added volume. And for most tubie mamas, foods with that description are exactly what we’re looking for. For this reason, I often recommend a variety of nuts and seeds for blenderized diets. Nuts and seeds can be blended into a regular blend or they can be used to make various nut and seed milks that can be given separately or used as a base while blending food. I give seed or nut milk twice daily as part of Bradley’s snacks between meals, and I’ve seen a notable difference in his growth, skin health, and energy levels. For orally fed children, nut and seed milks are a great addition to smoothies. 

While you can buy nut and seed milks from the store, be aware that most of these milks contain very little actual nuts and seeds (after all, how do you think they can make a cup of almond milk with only 25 calories?), so the benefits of nuts and seeds cannot be found in these commercially made milks. Also, keep in mind that many of the higher calorie seed and nut milks in stores have a large amount of added sugar. Added sugar is not a beneficial source of calories. So, homemade nut and seed milks can be a fantastic way to give a nutritional boost.

A lot of information out there about nuts and seeds can be confusing. Some people say we should not eat them because they are high in fat. Fats are actually a necessity for the body to function,  and they provide our bodies with many benefits.  There are healthy fats and there are unhealthy fats. The kind of fats found in nuts and seeds are healthy fats that nourish the body. We tried the low fat craze, and the results were a disaster. The fat content of nuts and seeds are not something to worry about. Rather, it is one of the benefits of nuts and seeds. Of course, that does not mean you should eat giant bowls of nuts and seeds, but you do not need to in order to enjoy their many benefits.

Many seeds and nuts contain varying levels of phytic acid. This can be both good and bad. Foods high in phytic acid such as whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds, and nuts are also foods associated with lower risks for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other serious medical issues. Some have surmised these risks may even be because of the phytic acid in these foods. But, no one knows for sure. 

On the other hand, phytic acid is an anti-nutrient, which means it can bind to minerals in the gut, preventing their absorption. Phytic acid can also be a GI irritant for some people. Yet, when phytic acid does bind to minerals in the gut, it prevents the formation of free radicals, which makes it an anti-oxidant. 

So, is phytic acid good or bad for us? The answer is that it’s probably a little of both. And that means taking an extreme response in either direction is probably going to put us on the wrong path. 

There are those that avoid all foods with phytic acid. But, this results in a diet lacking in many, many foods that provide great nourishment to our bodies and that reduce our risk of many serious illnesses. 

On the other hand, consuming very large amounts of phytic acid might cause more problems than benefits. 

And so, a middle ground seems to be the right answer. And a great start to the middle ground is to soak nuts and seeds prior to consuming them. When nuts and seeds are soaked, the amount of phytic acid is reduced. This increases the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from the nuts and seeds and reduces any potential negative effects caused by consuming too much phytic acid. 

For this reason, some of the directions for homemade nut or seed milks include soaking the nuts or seeds. This is an optional step, but one that I recommend. A little salt is recommended to prevent bacterial growth during soaking. Always drain and rinse the seeds after soaking. Do not use the water you used for soaking because that is where the phytic acid went. I also recommend allowing a milk to sit for a few hours in the refrigerator prior to serving if you are using a high powered blender. I have been pretty astonished at the amount of volume reduction that happens after a milk has sat for a while due to air leaving the milk. Too much air in the tummy can contribute to reflux and GI discomfort. 

Most milks you make will yield pulp that can be disposed of if you wish, but can also be dried in the oven to make flour. For example, the remaining almond pulp can be dried and ground in the blender to make almond flour. Coconut pulp can be dried and ground in the blender to make coconut flour. These are expensive flours to purchase in the store, so this can be another wonderful benefit of making your own nut and seed milks. To dry the pulp, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the pulp as thin as you can onto it. Heat the oven to the lowest setting and leave the pulp in the oven with the door cracked open until the pulp is completely dry, checking on it frequently to stir and prevent burning. You can also use a dehydrator if you have one. 

To make a nut or seed milk, it helps to have a nut milk bag (in most cases), and you must have a blender. That’s it! They take little time to make and are so nutritious. As you can see below, there are so many choices, and I recommend rotating these milks rather than always giving the same milk every single day. Give it a try!

These milks are good for about 3 days, kept in the refrigerator. It is very difficult to establish an exact nutritional content because it really depends on how much nutrition is extracted from the nuts or seeds into the milk. I typically begin with the nutritional information of the nuts and seeds I’m using, and I reduce the nutritional content by just a little and then, divide that total by the number of servings to get an estimation of the nutritional content. I do not ever count fiber because I assume most of the fiber remains in the pulp. For this reason, rather than giving exact nutritional values like I typically do, I am providing the nutritional information of the nuts or seeds used in the recipe. Remember, most people, even tube fed people, do not need their nutrition very precisely calculated. It’s ok to use an informed estimate. Of course, you can also skip straining through a nut milk bag for tube feeding if you prefer. Most people strain simply because they prefer the smooth texture. 

Lastly, don’t forget that these nut and seed milks are good for you, too, and they are super delicious when added to smoothies! Enjoy!

Almond Milk

Almonds are a great source of healthy fats, vitamin E, manganese, biotin, and copper.

1 cup almonds = 828 calories, 30g protein, 71g fat, 30 carbohydrates, 18g fiber, 385mg calcium, 5mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the almonds and salt in 4 cups of water for 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the almonds and 4 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute.

 

Pumpkin Seed Milk

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of healthy fats, protein, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper.

1 cup pumpkin seeds = 721 calories, 39g protein, 39g fat, 13 carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 59mg calcium, 11g iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak 1 cup of pumpkin seeds and salt in 4 cups of water for 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the seeds and 4 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Hemp Milk

Hemp seeds are an incredible source of protein and iron. They are also a great source of omega 3 & 6, vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc.

1 cup hemp seeds = 885 calories, 50g protein, 78g fat, 13 carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 112mg calcium, 12g iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hemp seeds
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 dates (optional)
No soaking! Simply add the hemp seeds, water, and dates (if using) to the blender, and blend for 1-2 minutes. That’s it! No need to strain with a nut milk bag.
 
 
Sunflower Milk
 
Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E, iron, copper, vitamin B1, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin.
  
1 cup sunflower seeds = 818 calories, 29g protein, 72g fat, 28 carbohydrates, 12g fiber, 109mg calcium, 7mg iron
  
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the sunflower seeds and salt in 4 cups of water for 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the sunflower seeds and 4 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Oat Milk

Oats are a great source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper, biotin, and vitamin B1.

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats = 307 calories, 10g protein, 5g fat, 54 carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 42mg calcium, 3mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 dates (optional)
Combine the oats and water in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours. Pour the oats and water into the blender (do not drain and rinse) along with the dates (if using). Blend for 2 minutes. All done! No need to strain through a nut milk bag.
 
 
Coconut Milk
 
Coconut is a great source of healthy fat, fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
 
2 cups unsweetened coconut = 566 calories, 5g protein, 53g fat, 24 carbohydrates, 14g fiber, 22mg calcium, 3mg iron
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 4 cups water
Heat the water to near boiling. I like to do this in a tea kettle. Combine the heated water and coconut in a bowl. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Transfer the coconut and water to the blender (do not drain and rinse), and blend for 2 minutes. Strain through a nut milk bag. Even if you do not strain your other milks, I strongly recommend straining coconut milk for tube feeding as the particles can clog a tube more easily.
 
 
Sesame Milk

Sesame seeds are an incredible source of calcium and iron. They are also a great source of copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1, and selenium.

1 cup sesame seeds = 825 calories, 25g protein, 71g fat, 33 carbohydrates, 17g fiber, 1404mg calcium, 21mg iron 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw sesame seeds
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the sesame seeds and salt in 4 cups of water for 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the seeds and 4 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 


Flax Milk

Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3, vitamin B1, copper, and manganese. They are also full of antioxidants.

1/4 cup flax seeds = 220 calories, 7g protein, 17g fat, 12 carbohydrates, 11g fiber, 105mg calcium, 2mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw whole flax seeds (golden flax seed will yield a more mild taste)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 dates (optional)
Place the flax seeds into a dry blender container. Blend, grinding the seeds into a powder for 30 seconds. Add the water and blend for 2 minutes. Pour through a nut milk bag. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute.
 
 
Cashew Milk

Cashews are an incredible source of copper. They are also a great source of healthy fats, iron, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. 

1 cup cashews = 831 calories, 27g protein, 65g fat, 45 carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 56mg calcium, 10mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the cashews and salt in 4 cups of water for 2 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the cashews and 3 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Macadamia Milk

Macadamia nuts are an incredible source of healthy fats, fiber, and thiamin. They are also a great source of magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin B-6

1 cup macadamia nuts = 962 calories, 10g protein, 101g fat, 18 carbohydrates, 11g fiber, 114mg calcium, 5mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw macadamia nuts
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the macadamia nuts and salt in 4 cups of water for 2 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the macadamia nuts and 3 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Hazelnut Milk

Hazelnuts are an incredible source of vitamin E and fiber. They are also a great source of folate, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

1 cup hazelnuts = 971 calories, 22g protein, 93g fat, 26 carbohydrates, 14g fiber, 185mg calcium, 6mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the hazelnuts and salt in 4 cups of water for 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the hazelnuts and 3 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Pecan Milk

Pecans are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, manganese, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folate.

1 cup pecans = 684 calories, 10g protein, 78g fat, 15 carbohydrates, 10g fiber, 76mg calcium, 2mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the pecans and salt in 4 cups of water for 2 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the pecans and 2 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Walnut Milk

Walnuts are a great source of omega-3, vitamin E, copper, manganese, and biotin.

1 cup walnuts = 765 calories, 17g protein, 76g fat, 16 carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 115mg calcium, 3mg iron

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the walnuts and salt in 4 cups of water for 6 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the walnuts and 3 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Pistachio Milk

Pistachio nuts are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. 

1 cup pistachio nuts = 689 calories, 24g protein, 55g fat, 33 carbohydrates, 13g fiber, 129mg calcium, 4mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw shelled pistachios
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the pistachios and salt in 4 cups of water for 6 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the pistachios and 4 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Brazil Nut Milk

Brazil nuts are an incredible source of selenium. They are also a great source of vitamin E, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. 

1 cup Brazil nuts = 876 calories, 19g protein, 89g fat, 15 carbohydrates, 10g fiber, 213mg calcium, 3mg iron. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the Brazil nuts and salt in 4 cups of water for 3 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the Brazil nuts and 3 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

 

Pine Nut Milk

Pine nuts are an incredible source of manganese. They are also a great source of healthy fats, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc.

1 cup pine nuts = 909 calories, 18g protein, 92g fat, 17 carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 22mg calcium, 7mg iron.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw pine nuts
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the pine nuts and salt in 4 cups of water for 6 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the pine nuts and 3 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute.  

 

Peanut milk

Peanuts are a great source of healthy fats, vitamin E, niacin, folate, and manganese.

1 cup peanuts = 828 calories, 37g protein, 71g fat, 23 carbohydrates, 12g fiber, 134mg calcium, 6mg iron

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw peanuts
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dates (optional)

Soak the peanuts and salt in 4 cups of water for 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Place the peanuts and 4 cups of water (NOT the water you used for soaking) into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes (3-4 minutes if you are not using an industrial strength blender). Pour through a nut milk bag, squeezing it carefully to remove as much liquid as possible. If using dates, return the milk to the blender, add the dates, and blend for 1 minute. 

The Kids Menu

There are a couple things I’d like to start off with. First, I’m beyond touched at the number of emails I have gotten from so many of my fellow tubie mamas out there supporting my efforts to get tubies onto diets of real food, asking questions, and so forth. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude! Any of you are welcome to email me at any time with questions if you do not wish to post a public comment: contact@crunchytubiemama.com. I will do whatever I can to get real food into the tummies of tubie kids everywhere!

Secondly, I gave it a lot of thought before making this particular post because I do not want my blog to descend into a series of commercials for products or services. I focus on actions we can all take for ourselves right within our homes on our own. But, I guess that is why I’m making an exception in this case since what I’m promoting in this post shares that same goal.

There is a movie coming out soon on Netflix and iTunes called The Kids Menu. I had the privilege of viewing a screening of this movie this past week and briefly meeting the filmmaker, Joe Cross. I have to say, two thumbs up!

Bradley really did have fun, I promise. If looks could kill!

This is his 3rd movie, and it held true to the message of his first 2 movies, which is to emphasize a positive message about our power to solve the health crises we are experiencing in the United States. It’s not all about juicing. The movie isn’t trying to sell you a product. It’s about decreasing processed foods in our diet and increasing fruits and vegetables. And mostly, it’s about helping people understand they have the power to change.

The issue addressed in The Kids Menu is the childhood obesity epidemic and related health crises we are experiencing right now. But, not all gloomy and doomy. Throughout the movie, your happiness and excitement grow at the rather simple solutions being offered.  You enter wondering what we can possibly do to fix such a widespread and growing problem, and you leave feeling empowered to make a difference in your home and community. No preaching. No lecturing. No demands of perfection. You simply come to realize the many tools right in your hands to make positive changes for yourself, your children, and those in your community.

Juicing is for tubies, too!

What is the big deal about all these fruits and vegetables anyway? I began giving Bradley 4 ounces of fresh green juice daily to increase his micronutrient intake, and it had a very surprising effect. Bradley lives with a tremendous amount of fear. The medical traumas he has experienced have caused him absolute terror in response to the smallest of stimuli. A breeze blowing on his face, the sound of the plastic bag when I’d get a piece of bread, a chair moving across the floor, and so much more ignited total panic and screaming that would carry on for an extended period. It has been immensely heartbreaking. Watching parents taking their kids to the zoo, the park, swimming, etc. and able to have fun with their children invoked such grief because I could not take my son anywhere without him screaming and thrashing around in terror the entire time.

The second day on green juice, Bradley was so much happier and tolerant of these things. We walked outside and the breeze on his face made him giggle. I mean, holy crap! Who would have ever predicted such a response! He has been making tremendous progress ever since. Just last week, I got to take him to the local conservatory, and we had fun playing in the toddler area together. Probably the biggest testament of his progress is the fact that I took him with me to the screening of The Kids Menu and my son, who used to cry at the sound of the rustling of a plastic grocery bag, was fine in a dark theater with a movie playing on the big screen. That would not have been possible 6 months ago.

The changes have been astonishing. And it shows that healthful, nourishing food and lifestyle choices greatly impact all areas of our health, even issues we would think have nothing to do with proper nutrition. Bradley gets an enormous amount of vegetables in his diet, and now, he is one happy little tubie.

Getting to meet the maker of a couple movies that have inspired me to continue to push forward toward better health was certainly a thrill. But, the best part was the inspiration, sense of empowerment, and confidence I left the theater with to set my son on the path of good health from an early age.

Watch for The Kids Menu to come out this Spring and take the simple, but life changing message to heart. We have the tools. There are solutions. We can do this!

 

Indian Palak

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Mama’s dinner!

I’m a big fan of Indian food. The tastes are deep and complex, the seasonings and spices have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and the balance of grains, vegetables and meat is near perfect in many Indian dishes.

This sauce is incredibly versatile. It pairs wonderfully with paneer, goat, ground beef, lamb, and even chicken, though chicken would be an atypical addition to this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 green chile
  • 1/8 cup plus 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 thumb fresh turmeric, peeled and grated
  • 1 Tbsp whole coriander
  • 1 lb ground goat, 90% leaf ground beef or shredded chicken
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups prepared brown rice

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat the water and 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. Add the spinach in batches until it cooks down and shrinks. Meanwhile, place the sesame seeds, cumin, peppercorns, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, and coriander in a coffee grinder and grind until fine. Add to the cooked spinach. Add the onion, green chile, cayenne, and turmeric. Allow to simmer on low uncovered for 10 minutes.

In a separate skillet, brown the goat, beef or chicken over medium heat. Drain the fat and return the meat to the skillet.

After 10 minutes, remove the spinach mixture from heat and set aside to cool. Once it has cooled a bit, pour everything into the blender and blend until smooth. Stir the sauce into the browned meat.

Stir 2 Tbsp olive oil into the brown rice (alternatively, you can add the olive oil while the brown rice is cooking).

Serve the sauce over brown rice. Top with chopped roma tomatoes, if desired. So delicious! So nourishing!

Bradley's dinner!
Bradley’s dinner!

I blend 1/3 cup of the sauce with 1/4 cup of brown rice, additional vegetables and bone broth. In the picture, I also stirred in some homemade sesame seed milk.

The following nutritional information is for 1/3 cup of sauce and 1/4 cup of brown rice:

With ground goat: 192 calories, 12g protein, 18 carbs, 2g fiber, 6g fat, 70mg calcium, 2.5mg iron.

With 90% lean ground beef: 219 calories, 12g protein, 18 carbs, 2g fiber, 6g fat, 70mg calcium, 2.5mg iron

With shredded chicken: 180 calories, 10g protein, 18 carbs, 2g fiber, 6g fat, 70mg calcium, 1.5mg iron.