Anyway, when Miss B was having troubles in kindergarten, I started her on a gluten-free diet to see if it would help her manage some of her nuttiness - many experts suggest that children with behavioural issues ought to go gluten-free, and my mom, who is a holistic nutritionist, told me it might be a good idea. Miss B's teacher, my mom, and I all noticed an immediate change in her behaviour - she was more calm, less likely to get overwrought, more attentive, less inclined to freak out over small, silly things. She just seemed happier.
As time went on, though, it became harder to tell if the diet was working. She had had some digestive issues before, and while they seemed to improve for a while, they came back full force last year. Her anxieties vanished for a while, but they've come back, too (though nowhere near as bad as they were). Hubby C wasn't at all convinced that the diet was doing anything for her, and I had to admit that it looked sketchy, and that perhaps gluten had nothing to do with anything. It seemed that perhaps her initial improvements might have been a placebo-type thing, where she believed the diet would make her feel better, so it did, but only for a while.
So we decided to do a challenge diet this month. We had to wait until a time when she wasn't in school (in case everything went off the rails), and when she wasn't on holiday with her dad (because kids are weird on holiday anyway, so it's hard to gauge anything).
I started by sneaking spelt flour into her pancakes and muffins. I hated doing it - I am adamantly against lying to children about what they're eating - but if I were to tell her, it would have skewed the results. Which were... nothing. No reaction at all. After a while I bumped it up and started baking with actual wheat. Zip. No reaction at all. Then I actually suggested that she eat something gluten-y to see how she felt (we had spoken before about doing a challenge diet some day, but we never decided when "some day" would be). I watched her tentatively eat a chicken finger at the mall. Nothing bad happened.
We've been letting her eat pretty much what she wants since, and I've been taking notes. On days when she's had a lot of white flour, she complains of an upset stomach in the evenings, but on days when she's eaten spelt or small amounts of wheat flour in combination with the usual GF flours, she's just fine.
What does this mean? Well, I've grown accustomed to my GF baking, but I'm not married to it. I love quinoa flour and buckwheat flour and coconut flour, and I'm not going to ditch them, but I have to tell you, this is a huge load off. It means that Miss B can eat cake along with everyone else at birthday parties, and that other parents don't have to stress out about what to feed her at playdates.
I know there are readers who come to this site just for GF recipes and tips, and I don't want to abandon you. Having had to deal with GF life, even temporarily, I know how much of a hassle it can be, and if sharing my experiences can make it easier for you, I want to help.
So what do I do? Should I keep posting GF foods only, so people know they can rely on the recipes on this site? Or should I post whatever I make and then tag it as GF? What do you think?
In the mean time, this is the best muffin recipe ever, and it's gluten free. I say I'll probably never make them again, but that's a lie. I probably will. They're awesome.
Gluten-free berry muffins
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup stoneground corn meal
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil of choice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
generous handful of berries (about 1/2 cup)(if frozen, keep frozen)
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin tin.
2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Mix in milk, oil, and vinegar.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and combine with a few quick strokes of the spoon.
5. Lightly stir in berries.
6. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. If some cups are left empty, fill them halfway with water to keep the tin from scorching.
7. Bake about 20 minutes, until muffins are golden and springy.
8. Remove from tin, cool (if desired) and eat.
I used cranberries for these. To make cranberries a little more kid-palatable, here's what I do:
- cut each cranberry in half
- put them in a small bowl
- cover them with about 1/4 cup maple syrup (or runny honey)
- let them sit and suck up the syrup while I prepare the batter (about 10 minutes)
As for Miss B, we'll still have to figure out what the root of her troubles is, and it may indeed be a dietary issue, but then again it may not. Anxiety might be causing the digestive troubles, or the digestive troubles might cause the anxiety. At any rate, it's all very low-level and manageable, and she's still a most wonderful, intelligent, creative, talented, funny, loving, loyal, headstrong, chatty, beautiful child, and I'm lucky she's mine.