Friday, February 29, 2008

My Favorite Martian

The Professor and I watched The Martian Child last night and it was such a wonderful movie, that I wanted to recommend it, if you have not already seen it. Based on a book of the same name by David Gerrold, John Cusack plays a science fiction writer who adopts a boy who believes he is from Mars. It is a very touching story and although the word “autism” is never mentioned in the film, it is implied, and for parents of children on the spectrum, this story will ring true and tug at your heart strings. Bobby Coleman is the endearing little boy, Dennis. Amanda Peet and Joan Cusack do a good job in supporting roles as love interest and “know it all” sister. Anjelica Huston also makes a brief appearance in a small but significant role.
For me, watching John Cusack struggle with the questions of raising a beautiful, fascinating, but quirky child was like watching myself. Should he let his little boy feel safe and happy in his “Martian” world, or should he teach him to be a “resident of earth” and where do you draw the line? Watching this film resonated with me on many levels and brought to mind the writing of several autistic bloggers, and the excellent article about Amanda Baggs in Wired this week. Grab a GFCF snack and a box of Kleenex (it does have a happy ending, by the way!) and settle in for a movie that will really make you think about the fragile uniqueness of our children and the special responsibility we have as parents to help our children grow and keep them safe, but also let them be true to their inner selves.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What's on page 123?

Jen over at Find Out What Jen Finds tagged me for this fun little game. It was so zany, I just couldn't resist!

Here are the rules:
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!) Find Page 123. Find the first 5 sentences. Post the next 3 sentences. Tag 5 people.

So here it goes. The nearest book is The Explosive Child, by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. Here are the relevant requested sentences, as dictated by the game:

"The father jumped in with low-risk empathy and an attempt to clarify Casey's concern. "You want cotton candy!" he said. "What's up?"

I know you are dying to find out what happens! It is actually a pretty good book for dealing with children (or perhaps adults too?!) who have a tendency to be, um, inflexibly volatile!

I am not going to tag anyone right now, but it's such a fun game, take a minute just to marvel at the randomness of the universe when you see what is on page 123 and what book happens to be the nearest one!

(FYI, the second nearest book was the JC Penney's spring catalog, but I didn't think that would count! )

The Prince's Southwest King Casserole

The Prince really loves the movie Ratatouille, which kind of surprises me, since the story is so complicated. But from the moment he saw the preview he wanted to see it, and now it is part of our personal home Pixar collection. So, in honor of the Oscars tonight and since my attempts at food photography have disappointed (as usual) I decided to include a snapshot of The Prince’s hero Remy and the unflappable Gusteau.
The Prince has always enjoyed helping me cook. An added benefit to this is that sometimes, certainly not always, he is more inclined to eat his own creations. Yesterday, he wanted to test his own recipe, which is a new thing for him. So here is the Prince’s original recipe. The basic idea is his, with a few suggestions from GFCF Mommy!

The Prince’s Southwest King Casserole

4 corn tortillas (or 4-6 cups corn chips, if you prefer)
2 cups hand-torn, cooked, “Bell and Evans Chicken Tenders”
(or any leftover cooked chicken, the Prince chose these)
2 cups red pasta sauce of choice (or you could use refried beans)
2 cups Tofutti “Better than Sour Cream”
2 cups shredded cheese substitute of choice (the Prince chose Galaxy Vegan American mixed with Follow Your Heart mozzarella, not my favorites, but he likes them and it is his recipe!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Coat a square or rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. (The dish should be at least 2 inches deep.) Spread 1 cup of red sauce (or refried beans) on bottom of pan. Layer 2 tortillas (or 1 cup of chips) on top of sauce. Spread 1 cup of Tofutti sour cream on tortillas. Top with 1 cup of chicken tender pieces. Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded cheese. Repeat. End with shredded cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is slightly melted.

To kick it up a notch for adult tastes:
Saute shredded rotisserie chicken in a little canola oil with diced onions, minced garlic, and a little cumin and paprika to taste. Throw in some jalapenos, if you like. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup cilantro. Replace red sauce with salsa. As for the cheese, I got a new recipe from Brenda-Lee Olson moderator of Yahoo GFCF Recipes for “Cracker Barrel Style Cheddar Mock Cheese” which tastes really good, but might be a little intense for ASD sensory-avoidant palettes. You can shred it, but you need a gentle touch and it melts pretty well too. It tastes GREAT! Just like “real” cheese. Seriously!

Also, thanks to The Gluten-Free Goddess, I have discovered the joys of Nutritional Yeast and am starting to experiment with Uncheeses fit for the Prince from Jo Stepaniak’s, The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I’ll post more on that soon when I get the technique down! But so far, it’s two thumbs up for the recipes I have tried.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Prince's Valentine, featuring a glitter galaxy.

All you need is love.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Across the Universe: Part 2

I wanted to let you know that the Prince, and his humble parents, are doing better these days. I am a bit late sharing this news, but I thought it incredibly coincidental, in terms of my personal life, that Monday was the 40th anniversary of the Beatles recording of “Across the Universe.” NASA, appropriately, decided to commemorate the event by beaming the song to the heavens and beyond. Here is their music video (click on the link and look to the right for "music video." It takes a minute to load. Be patient, it's the cosmos, remember!) The Prince adored it (me too!). Somehow the Beatles original version seems sunnier than the Jim Sturgess version, which I still love. But the beauty and versatility of the writing still holds for me, and allows for so much creative interpretation. I promise to get back to helpful GFCF hints and food-talk soon—plus, word on the street is-- it looks like Martha took our voting seriously--we’ll find out next week on her show (2/12.) In the meantime, enjoy the majesty and comfort of space. (Note to Casdok: I love the timeless messages embedded in Star Trek too. On so many levels.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Make Your Vote Count! It's a Good Thing!

Being a registered democrat, and living in Florida as I do, I was upset that my vote in the presidential primaries didn’t really count, since our state has been stripped of our delegates as punishment for changing the primary date. Consequently, I was excited about another way my vote can count! The much hipper than moi celiac chicks as well as my personal foodie idol, the Gluten-Free Goddess have posted on their blogs that Martha Stewart is asking readers to vote for a new product to be developed in 2008. One of the ideas, suggested by Alexis, a Martha Stewart editor who is gluten-free, is a new magazine for those with food allergies. To make your vote count, go here to the Martha Stewart blog and vote for Alex's "big idea". Vote early and often!

Another Reason to Eat Your Veggies: Research Study Shows Possible Low Bone Density in ASD Boys

This has been a banner month for releasing research on autism, but this study gave me particular pause and I thought I should share it with you, if you have not seen it already. Here is a quote from the NIH press release:

“The study, by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, was published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.”

“The researchers believe that boys with autism and ASD are at risk for poor bone development for a number of reasons. These factors are lack of exercise, a reluctance to eat a varied diet, lack of vitamin D, digestive problems, and diets that exclude casein, a protein found in milk and milk products. Dairy products provide a significant source of calcium and vitamin D. Casein-free diets are a controversial treatment thought by some to lessen the symptoms of autism.”

I encourage you to read the press release and the study in their entirety to draw your own conclusions. The study was small, 75 children, however, all showed thinner than normal bones. Of the 75 children studied, 9 were on a casein-free or low-casein diet. These children showed a 20% decrease in bone thickness compared to their typical peers. The remainder of children had a 10% decrease.

Being on a casein-free diet does not mean foregoing calcium or vitamin D, but you might need to work harder to be sure you get your full daily requirement. Calcium can be found in a variety of other items besides cow’s milk products. Many soy and rice milks are calcium fortified. Calcium is naturally found in many leafy-green vegetables. You can also buy orange juice with calcium-added. And there are always calcium supplements. Proper exercise and exposure to sunlight, as the researchers point out, is also essential. When in doubt, as always, consult your physician of choice.

APOV on Autism has a good online article here on the topic of making sure you are getting enough calcium if you are on a dairy-free diet.

For those of us with children who will not let even look at a green vegetable, many GFCF Moms and Dads have discovered that Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious” technique of pureeing veggies and “sneaking” them into our cooking has worked well. Jim, over at GFCF Recipes Blog has had success with several of the recipes in this book. Childlife reviewed it when it first came out. I have for a long-time been secretly adding pureed spinach and carrots to spaghetti sauce, but this cookbook takes it to new heights.
Photo courtesyof the 2005 Kelly Awards Finalists for Advertising, produced by the California Milk Processing Board