Monthly Archives: June 2014

Buckwheat Crackers

This Buckwheat thing has become a staple in our family, perhaps due to the easy availability of this Gluten free flour here. Also, I feel you can make many varieties of breads, snacks etc as it is little sticky in nature and doesn’t crumble as a dough, like millet and Sorghum flours. Recently I tried these crackers and it was an instant hit. It tastes delicious with home made  mayo or even Coconut yogurt dip.

Here’s my simple recipe…..

Ingredients:

Buckwheat flour – 1 cup

Tapioca starch – 1/4 cup

Flaxseed powder – 1 tbsp

coconut oil – 2 tbsp

Ghee – 1 tbsp

Sesame seeds – 2 tsp

Dried herbs and spices – as desired (I used dried parsley and garlic flakes; coarsely ground black pepper, and other spices also go well)

Salt – to taste

Method:

  • Mix flour, salt and rub oil and ghee in it thoroughly.
  • Add sesame seeds, herbs, spices and mix well.
  • Sprinkle little warm water and form a hard dough. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Roll out 1-1.5 mm thick Rotis, cut with a serrated cutter or any plain pizza cutter, in desired size.
  • Prick the cut pieces with fork and keep aside.
  • Preheat oven to 250 deg C and bake the crackers, on a cookie sheet, for 12-15 minutes.
  • Cool inside the oven and serve with your favorite dip.

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This is a healthy alternative to fried crunchy stuff which kids are very fond of these days, and also tastes very good. It can very easily be served to guests too, even if they are not gluten free!!

Daal Pitha

This is a yummy savory snack from Eastern India. It can be a healthy GFCF snack, as it is steamed and uses up very little oil. My kids love to eat this snack in the evenings or after school as it is quite filling for their tummies. I am sharing the traditional method here, as my mother used to make, but there can be many variations, depending on your taste. The filling can be altered in many ways and even made sweet if you want. I will leave that creativity to you all and continue with my recipe…..

Ingredients

Raw Rice flour – 2 cup

Water – 3 ½  cup

Chana daal – 1 cup (soaked in water for 2-3 hrs)

Cumin seeds – 2 tsp

Garlic paste – 1 tbsp

Chilli(green or red as desired) paste – 1 tsp or as desired

Salt – as per taste

Oil – as required for greasing hands and steaming vessel + 1 tbsp for seasoning

Mustard seeds – ½ tsp or as desired

 

Method

1)      Coarse grind the soaked chana daal and add salt, 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds,  garlic paste and chilli paste. If it has excess water, you can heat the chana daal mixture in a kadai/skillet stirring continuously. The resulting mixture should be such that you can fill it in the pithas easily,and should still be moist.

2)      To prepare the pitha dough, boil 3 ½  cup of water in a skillet, add salt and ½ tsp cumin seeds.

3)      Add rice flour to the boiling water slowly, stirring it continuously, so that there are no lumps.

4)      Gather the dough thus formed and knead it thoroughly, with oiled hands. Let cool.

5)      Divide the dough into desired number of parts and make smooth balls.

6)      Flatten each ball, with hands and fill the daal mixture.

7)      Fold it to make gujiya like shape (the shape shown in the picture). Work  the seam with oiled hands so as to get smooth edges.

8)      Steam these pithas in a greased steamer till the filling gets cooked and an inserted knife comes out clean.

9)      Take out the pithas from the steamer and let cool.

10)   Cut these pithas in tranverse sections of ¾ to 1 cm thick slices.

11)   Before serving, you can either add a tadka of 1 tbsp oil and mustard seeds or simply stir fry the slices in 1 tbsp oil . Serve this with green chutney.

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I know it is a lengthy process and takes a lot of practice to get to perfect Pithas, but I can assure you, its really worth the effort. Just a small tip…..try to make small batches first. This will minimize any wasted efforts!!

P.S. On a different day, I had made the sweeter version using a mixture of Date palm jaggery, grated coconut and cardamom powder, as the filling and NO SALT in the rice flour dough. They are called Puli Pithe or Sheddho Puli in Bengali They came out really yummy, but I could not serve them to my Autistic kid as he is off all forms of sugar. Others enjoyed a lot though. You can serve them with melted jaggery or Jhola gur.

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Buckwheat Roti (Kuttu ki Roti)

This Gluten free roti is a hit at our place. Even my 18 year old NT kid doesn’t mind replacing his wheat roti with this, at a regular basis. A healthy option, as it omits the use of boiled potato or boiled plaintain, as a binder and hence results in a low carb roti. Addition of flaxseed powder makes it even more healthier

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Buckwheat flour (Kuttu ka atta),
  • 1 heaping tbsp flaxseed powder,
  • salt to taste
  • Ajwain to taste (optional)
  • Coconut oil or ghee to grease hands
  • Hot water, as required for kneading the dough

Method:

  • Mix thoroughly with hands, make a well and pour hot water.
  • Keep mixing with a spoon as you pour till you get a sticky dough. Cover and keep for 30-45 minutes. The dough will harden a bit as flax soaks up some water.
  • Grease your hands with coconut oil/ghee and knead to get a smooth dough.
  • Divide and roll the rotis, using some dry buckwheat flour to dust, so as to prevent sticking on the rolling surface.ImageImage
  • Cook like wheat roti and serve with ghee and your favorite curry.

Please try this and give me your feedback!!!

P.S. I had tried making poori using the same flour mix, rubbed with little oil prior to making the dough with hot water, rolling smaller rounds from the dough, and deep frying in coconut oil. The pooris came out extremely good and my kiddo enjoyed it.  You too can enjoy making pooris once in a while.

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GFCFSF food groups and raw materials

In my last post I had mentioned about the GFCF and grain free food menus. I thought I will share our usual GFCF meal practices and some basic information about the raw materials I would use for making them. When I used to make my meal plan, I would make sure we ate similar stuff what we’ve grown up eating (just replace the restricted ingredients with appropriate or legal ingredients) because I feel the plan is more sustainable, when done like that. Also, it reduces the chances of occasional indulgence and resulting diet infraction, because the kid is already satisfied!!

So, jumping straight to the food groups, relevant to Indian families:

1)      Staple;  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner:

  • Rice of various types: Plain rice, pulao, biriyani, teheri, lemon / tomato /coconut rice
  • Roti/paratha/poori: made with millet, buckwheat, sorghum, tapioca or arrowroot starch and flaxseeds.
  • Dosa/Uthappam: made with Urad dal and Millet.
  • Idli; with or without grated veggies, base would be Urad dal and Millet.
  • Puttu : made with rice flour or millet flour
  • Adai/Pesarattu: made with various dals whole or husked
  • Appam: made with rice and coconut milk
  • Idiyappam: made with rice flour or millet flours
  • Khichdis/Bisibelebhath: made with Millet /Rice and dals

2)      Dals and Curries:

  • Plain dal; North Indian, Gujarati, South Indian
  • Rasam/Sambhar, various types
  • Whole pulses: chhole, rajma,  whole mung, Black channa
  • Koottu with veggies/leafy veggies
  • Vegetable dals; like lauki dal as made in North India
  • Poriyals, Stir fries, Bhartas
  • Curries/gravies, various types
  • Mixed vegetables like Aviyal, Chadchadi, shukto etc
  • Koftas; veg / non-veg

3)      Brunch or evening snacks:

  • Venn Pongal
  • Sundal; can make different varieties with various whole pulses
  • Uppuma made with Millet rava and veggies
  • Semiyan Uppuma or seasoned Idiyappam made with Rice/millet semiyan/Idiyappam
  • Cutlets/chops; veg/ nonveg
  • Savoury Kozhakattai/ momo; filled with Dal mixture, spicy potato or Chicken
  • Rice Paper spring rolls
  • Pakoras/bhajjis
  • Crunchy snacks like potato/plantain chips, Murukku, ribbon pakoda, Bhujia sev, etc
  • Medu Vada

4)      Chutneys/dips/spreads and raitas (freshly made; no pickles are allowed):

  • Coconut chutney/Tomato chutney/Brinjal chutney/Paruppu /dal chutney
  • Raitas of choice using coconut milk curd
  • Tomato/capsicum salsa/guacamole/avocado chutney with coconut
  • Yogurt dip/GFCF mayonnaise
  • Tahini/Hummus

5)      Other food menus (Occasional):

  • Soup +Grilled Fish/chicken + Steamed/stir fried veggies
  • Egg + GFCF Bread+ Steamed/stir fried veggies
  • Veggie /chicken casserole + Garlic Bread
  • GFCF Pizza + Raw salads
  • Soup + GFCF Wrap

6)      Sweet treats:

  • Sweet Pongal/Chakkarai pongal
  • Millet rava halwa with some fruits
  • Mung dhal halwa
  • Nuts/ dried fruits halwa
  • Singhada halwa
  • Cakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles
  • Pies/tarts
  • Cookies
  • Mouse/panna cotta/fruit yogurt

7)      Drinks:

  • Smoothies, various types
  • Chhachh (made from coconut milk curd)
  • Almond Milk
  • Mocktails; various types made with fresh juices
  • Hot Broth ; Chicken/vegetables

 

Here is the list of raw materials I use for making the above foods

  • Grains/seeds/flours to be avoided are
  1. wheat , including wheat flour, maida, rava
  2. rye/barley
  3. Oats; oat flour found in some of the health food stores are Gluten free though
  4. Corn and corn flour
  5. Soybeans, soymilk and soyflour
  • Grains/seeds/flours to be eaten are
  1. Rice (minimize white rice and try to use brown rice and flour as far as possible)
  2. Millets; all kinds are good: includes little millet, foxtail millet, Kodo millet, Ragi/finger millet, Bajra /Pearl millet
  3. Quinoa
  4. Buckwheat (Kuttu)flour
  5. Waterchestnut (Singhada) flour
  6. Tapioca flour/starch
  7. Arrowroot starch
  8. Sorghum/Jowar flour
  9. Amaranth/rajgeera flour
  10. Nut flours, esp almond flour, coconut flour
  11. Readymade GF flours available at health food stores and websites
  • Milk and milk products to be avoided; Ghee is ok , better if made at home but organic ghee found at health food stores are good.
  • Milk/milk product substitutes used by us are
  1. Almond milk
  2. Coconut milk
  3. Coconut milk curd
  • Oils used are
  1. Organic coconut oil for South Indian curries, deep and shallow frying
  2. Organic extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil for raw dressings, baking and greasing
  3. Extra virgin Olive oil for vegetable stir fries and grilled veggies/chicken/fish
  4. Organic cold pressed Mustard oil for North Indian curries
  • Sweet dishes can be made using raw wild honey and maple syrup in moderate quantities(don’t use if cooking/heating),  Stevia or Xylitol. Avoid all forms of sugar, including jaggery, palm and coconut sugar, etc.
  • Iodized table salt can be replaced with Himalayan Salt or Sea salt as far as possible.
  • All other ingredients like Dals/ pulses/lentils, spices and Fruits/vegetables : try to use fresh produce and organic as far as possible.

Hope the above compilation will be useful to people who are just starting and are clueless about how and where to start. If you have decided to start the diet, please go very very slow in removing restricted ingredients and slowly introduce the legal ones. This will be less overwhelming to the kids as well as the parent. Happy healing!!!!

 

Introduction to the Autism Diet

It was June 2005, when my son Debashish was formally diagnosed as having severe Autism, at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. Dr. Udani, a renowned Pediatric Neurologist in India, was the one who did the diagnosis, based on the reports given by the Child Development centre, at the hospital. He recommended several conventional therapies, some basic supplements and GFCF diet.

At this time, Debashish was extremely hyperactive, had severe sleep issues and was absolutely mute. The only sounds that came out of his mouth was high pitched squealing. Just to mention that he was not always mute, before that. He was a typically developing kid till 18 months of age and then he started regressing. Lost all his speech by 3 years of age and sensory and behavioral issues set in.

We had very limited autism resources in Vadodara, where we were based at that time. Hence I had to visit the therapists in Mumbai, learn the techniques from them and apply on my kid. I was doing all this and hoping that we could move to a better place where we could have better resources. In the meantime, I also started the recommended supplements and GFCF diet.

As we come from eastern and north of India, it was a real challenge to follow the diet, as we had to remove wheat and milk completely from the kid’s diet. But I wanted to do everything that was recommended, so that there were no stones unturned.  So the decision was taken and work started!! It was easy to remove milk as my kid had taken to drinking Soy milk. I took one step at a time and slowly removed all casein from his diet by the end of 3 months, replacing each milk product with Soy products.  I did not see any change in his behavior by removing all casein, but his bowels were  more regular and better formed now.  Now this SOY stuff is a little tricky!! It seems that most of the soy produced in the world today is GMO. But didn’t know about that then, so I kept feeding him soy instead of milk. It was much later that I came to know about Almond milk and coconut milk, which I now use for my kid, home made of course, as the store bought ones have many additives.

Simultaneously I had also started removing the Sugar laden wheat products, like biscuits, cakes, cookies, etc, as I had read about sugar contributing to worsening of symptoms, my kid already had.  I kept jaggery though as a replacement, whenever I made kheer, halwa etc. Little did I know that jaggery too had equally bad effect!!

After casein was completely removed, I started aggressively on Gluten. Rotis were easily replaced with rice and Poha/Chivda, Sooji/rava was replaced with rice rava for making upma and halwa. Birthdays were celebrated in traditonal Bengali style only, so that we could feed him  Payesh or Kheer and there would be no need for cake.

Gluten was completely removed from his diet by the end of another 6 months, and by then my kid had started sleeping well, was less hyperactive and had started imitating a few words, which was HUGE! So Gluten it is!! It has been a big thing for us to have removed gluten from his diet. From imitation, he moved to talking spontaneously using single words and small phrases and my kid was now VERBAL. That had not happened overnight or just due to the diet though. It has been a rigorous work using ABA too. But yes, first words came with gluten removal.

 

This is how it continued till he turned 6, but just after that he started demanding for the regular items we used to have. If denied, he would just grab (rather try to grab). We started getting these complaints from school too and there was pressure on me to discontinue the diet, so that the kid’s behavior is good at school. How could I do that? I kept fighting for the cause and just did not budge.  This eventually led to my experiments in the diet and I can proudly say that the results are quite close to the real dishes, if not the same!! My kid is now satisfied and his grabbing behavior is gone, as he knows there are goodies for him too, which taste yummm…!

I will be giving my recipes in my subsequent posts and hope that others will find them useful. Presently I am following Gluten free, Casein free, Sugar free, Soy and Corn (as both are mostly GMO) free diet for my kid. I have also tried grain free for some time and found that it had really helped in  his yeasty behavior, like stimming, giggling, etc. I will be sharing my grain free meal plans and giving those recipes too. I wanted to write all this down as I see few Indian menus and recipes, when I search GFCF and grain free diets on the net, and hence can understand the reluctance by most parents to follow the diet.

Following this path is not easy but its definitely worth it. You will feel its worth when you see that difference in your kid!! So, go for it warrior moms!!!