Homemade Granola in the Crockpot

Granola

This recipe was adapted from Momswithcrockpots.com

Prep time 10 mins

Cook time 2 hours

Total time 2 hours 10 mins
Ingredients:
  • 5 cups old-fashioned Gluten Free rolled oats
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed (optional)
  • ¾ cup sunflower oil
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract (alcohol and corn free pure vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts)
Instructions:
  1. Mix in the the maple syrup and sunflower oil to form your sauce.
  2. Mix Oats, Flaxseed, coconut, and nuts in your crockpot. Add the maple syrup mixture as well as the vanilla. Stir thoroughly.
  3. Allow the granola to cook on low for 2-4 hours. You may want to stir every hour to avoid burning. You are also going to leave the lid cracked a little to allow the moisture to escape.
  4. Cooking times will greatly vary depending on your crock pot as they all cook at slightly different temps.
  5. Allow to cool, then mix in the dried fruit and/or chocolate chips. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for several weeks.

– See more at: http://momswithcrockpots.com/2013/07/crock-pot-granola-recipe/#sthash.zNQAcVEM.dpuf

Elimination Diet Day 1: Where did all the peanut butter go?!?

Yesterday we started the elimination diet.  So what did we eat?

Breakfast:

Breakfast Day 1
Breakfast Day 1

 

Mid-Morning Snack:

Snack Day 1
Snack Day 1

 

Lunch:

  • Hotdogs (Applegate Organic Uncured Beef)
  • Rice Cakes with sun butter and homemade pear butter

Hotdogs

 

Dinner:

Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets with Dipping Sauce
Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets with Dipping Sauce

 

Dessert:

  • Sun Butter Bars
  • Breakfast Cookies (sub maple syrup for honey, and sunflower oil for coconut oil, and pineapple juice for lemon juice, left out lemon zest and blackberries,
Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies
Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies

 

The kids weren’t too exited about breakfast but surprisingly there was no complaining.  By 9 they were complaining about being hungry so I laid out a morning snack.  They munched on it with no comment.  I was starting to think this would be easy but then at 11:30am Mr Rockstar suddenly realized ALL THE PEANUT BUTTER WAS GONE and had a complete melt down.  We had walked down to the lake after an early lunch and he just sat crying on my lap for 45 min.

Day 1: Meltdown
Day 1: Meltdown

 

When we finally got home for nap time he continued to cry and cry.  I finally convinced him to take a nap.  Miss Princess also started melting down about the same time since a banana was the only acceptable food she had found all day.  Miss Tomboy was perfectly content.  It is nice to have at least one child who isn’t a picky eater.  Sigh.  Did I mention I am doing the diet with them?  Without coffee or soda I had a killer headache about the time the kids all started melting down.  I finally broke down and drank half a can of soda with a couple Tylenol.

After nap (and my soda) everyone was in better spirits and Mr Rockstar and Miss Tomboy ate chicken nuggets without much fuss.  Miss Princess licked a few chicken nuggets so that’s progress right?!?

During the afternoon meltdown I had promised to try to make cookies for dessert.  First I made a batch of Sun Butter Bars hoping to find SOMETHING with protein in it that Miss Princess would eat.  I was thankful she ate two pretty big pieces!  Then I made Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies.  The banana I had wasn’t super ripe so I actually thought the cookies tasted more like cooked oatmeal.  The kids were so desperate though they didn’t care.  They looked like cookies and at least that was something familiar so they gobbled them up.

Here’s to hoping Day 2 is easier.  What could your kids not live without?

So What Are We Going to Eat?

In the Stephens et al., 2010 article summarizing the food/behavior/children to date they recommend for parents with ADHD children to try:

“For 2 weeks, the child should follow a careful elimination that excludes dairy, wheat, corn, yeast, soy, citrus, egg, chocolate, and peanuts (Table 6) or perhaps use the few-foods diet described earlier. They should avoid all AFCs, artificial flavors, and preservatives. “

The handout the doctor had given us was written by Doris Rapp, M.D, who is also the author of Is This Your Child?.  In her book she recommends eliminating artificial color, artificial preservatives, sugar (cane or beet), milk, corn, cocoa, wheat, grains, egg, apples/juice, Grapes/juice, peanut, peanut butter, tomato, banana, orange, and yeast.

There is a lot of overlap in these two lists.  Some of the original studies compiled in the Stephens et al., 2010 article recommended eliminating all legumes but the thought of no beans along with everything else just seemed crazy.  Since the authors only suggested eliminating peanuts in their conclusions I decided to leave beans in the “OK” food group.  Dr Rapp recommended eliminating sugar and a number of the foods that were not suggested in the Stephens et al., 2010 article.  Most of the the foods Dr Rapp adds to the list that aren’t included in the Stephens et al, 2010 article are foods high in salicylates.  In the 1970’s Dr Feingold was one of the first doctors to recognize that artificial food colors and preservatives could exacerbate/cause hyperactivity in children.  He also claimed that some children are sensitive to salicylic acid.  Salicylates are found in aspirin but also in many fruits, oils, spices, honey, etc.   In the Stephens et al, 2010 article they did mention that the studies that limited the diets the most, which they noted were also low salicylate diets, had the best results.

So I took these two lists and came up with what foods we would eliminate:

  • Salicylates, natural and artificial
  • Casein
  • Gluten
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Citrus
  • Yeast
  • Soy
  • Sugar (all forms of sweetener except maple syrup)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate
  • Artificial Colors
  • Artificial Preservatives

The trickiest part of the diet will be avoiding salicylates.  Initially I wasn’t going to include salicylates because the data is more inconclusive than for the other foods; however, as I started making my menus for the first couple weeks I realized they were packed with salicylates.  We were going to be switching from a medium salicylate diet to high by doing the elimination diet if we ignored salicylates.

Most lists of salicylate foods have foods ranked as none, low, medium, high and very high.  I was distraught when I realized ALL spices except garlic were on the VERY HIGH list!  We might be eating chicken and rice for a few weeks but I was hoping it wouldn’t be completely bland.  I did some more digging and found the 1980’s research that actually lists the mg of salicylates per 100 g of each food tested.  In this list they note that:

“Quantities are in milligrams per 100 grams. Please, when using this, note how much of the food you’re likely to eat: an average helping of watermelon will have far more salicylate than one of loganberry, even though the loganberry has a higher concentration.”

Also under spices they noted:

“Some spices can be extraordinarily high in salicylate, but are eaten in such small quantities this is not often relevant.”

Clearly people had taken this list through the years and based on this mg per 100 g list divided the foods into Salicylate levels WITHOUT TAKING INTO ACCOUNT REASONABLE SERVING SIZES.  (Can you tell I am ticked off?!?)  It was easy enough to fix though.  I uploaded the ingredients with mg of salicylates per 100g into Excel and added a serving size ratio.  For example I can easily eat 100 g of apple in a sitting (roughly one apple) but I would NEVER eat 100 g of vanilla in one setting.  Once I added this serving size adjustment to the data a handful of spices and other foods made it back onto the OK list.  Here is the master list of Salicylates adjusted for serving size and the master list of acceptable foods for the diet.

Maybe we will survive this crazy experiment.

Give Me the Data

A few months ago as I was doing some research online I stumbled across this article on research done in the UK in 2007 with children ages 3 and 8-9.  They gave some children a drink with artificial dyes, some with sodium benzoate, and some a placebo.  They found that both kids with ADHD and kids without ADHD both showed significantly more ADHD like symptoms when given the artificial dyes/preservatives vs the placebo.  It doesn’t appear to affect every kid but there is clearly a subset of children that are very sensitive to the artificial food dyes and preservatives.

The amount of artificial food dyes in our diet have gone up the last couple years.  This study released in 2014 was the first to actually show how much food dye (mg per serving) are in various foods we consume.

After reading these articles we completely cut out artificial food dye two months ago.  I don’t think it made much of a difference for our family (though we only cut out the artificial dyes and not the artificial preservatives) but it is a really easy first step.  I was shocked how many foods have dye in them!  Even these seemingly innocuous things have artificial food dyes:

What things have you found containing artificial dye that has surprised you?

So SOME kids are sensitive to artificial food dyes and preservatives according to research in the UK.  But what about all the other foods my doctor was asking us to temporarily cut out?  When I started researching I was pretty sure I was just going to find a handful of weak anecdotal evidence but instead I found this amazing article by Stephens et al., 2010.  The article written by a number of doctors at Purdue University summarizes most of the food/children/behavior research that has been done to date.  What they found was:

“The research reviewed in this article suggests some points that are described below. (1) There is a subpopulation of children with ADHD who improve significantly on an AFC-free diet and react with ADHD-type symptoms on challenge with AFCs. (2) The size of this subpopulation is not known. In the cited studies it has varied from 65% to 89% of the children tested when at least 100 mg of dye was used for the challenge, so the proportion of the whole ADHD population is undoubtedly smaller.  However, the children in these studies were often selected because they were suspected of sensitivities to AFCs, so the proportion of the whole ADHD population is undoubtedly smaller. (3) A search of the literature did not find any challenge studies of the specific effects of artificial flavors or natural salicylates alone. (4) Instead, oligoantigenic studies have indicated that some children with ADHD, in addition to being sensitive to artificial food dyes, are also sensitive to common, nonsalicylate containing foods (milk, chocolate, soy, eggs, wheat, corn, legumes) and to grapes, tomatoes, and orange, which do contain salicylates. This may explain why some studies that used challenge cookies made of chocolate and wheat with and without AFCs did not show more of an effect. (5) According to the Egger and Carter studies, no child reacted to just the dyes alone; all with sensitivity were sensitive to at least 2 foods. The Bateman et al27 and McCann et al28 studies suggest that sensitivity to AFCs and benzoate is not confined to the ADHD population but is instead a general public health problem and probably accounts for a small proportion of ADHD symptoms.”

As far as how long a child is likely to react to AFCs:

“Specifically, hyperactive children’s performance impairment in response to AFCs occurred about half an hour after ingestion, peaked at about 1 1⁄2 hours, and lasted at least 3 1⁄2 hours “

Elimination diet success for a group of ADHD children:

“In the initial study, investigators recruited 16 children (ages 4-11), who were placed on an elimination diet; authors reported that parents and teachers reported children’s behavior problems were reduced by 57% and 34%, respectively, while on the diet. “

“Initial sample sizes ranged from 45 to 78 unmedicated children with hyperactivity. All participants participated in an open trial of the oligoantigenic diet for 3 to 4 weeks. For example, 2 meats (lamb and chicken), 2 carbohydrate sources (potatoes and rice), 2 fruits (bananas and apples), vegetables, and water (with calcium and vitamin supplementation) were allowed in the Egger et al36 study. Positive response rates to the diet were fairly consistent (71%-82%) “

“All these studies reported high response rates to the various elimination diets (>70%); however, it is again unclear whether diets without offending foods can be maintained to support long-term improvement. All studies containing a double-blind challenge phase found that parents reported more hyperactivity when children were challenged with offending foods and/or AFCs than placebo. Children’s performance on learning tasks and blinded psychologists’ ratings of children’s hyperactivity were consistent with parent ratings, although daycare staff did not report a difference in children’s behavior between active and placebo challenges. “

Which foods caused reactions:

“Artificial colors and preservatives were the most common culprits, causing reactions in 70% to 79% of the children, but no child reacted only to these. Common foods that triggered behavior reactions included milk, chocolate, soy, egg, wheat, corn, and legumes. A small proportion of the initial samples (24%-37%) completed a double-blind crossover challenge of offending foods or placebo. In all 3 studies, parents reported significantly higher levels of hyperactive behavior when their children had received an active challenge (offending food or AFC) than placebo. Carter et al37 also reported that when children were challenged with provoking foods, they had worse latency and made more errors on a matching figures test (P < .01) and were rated more hyperactive by blinded psychologists (P < .01) “

This article answered some of my questions like:

Couldn’t I just make the “diet” easier by removing each possible offending food item out of our diet one at a time?  According to the article virtually all the children that were sensitive to one food were sensitive to at least two or three different foods.  This could be why we haven’t seen any benefit to removing just artificial food dyes from our diet.  If Mr Rockstar has food sensitivities it is probably more than just food dye so maybe if we cut out the all the offending foods the magnitude of difference it makes in his behavior will be more noticeable.

Do we really need to eliminate caseins, gluten, eggs, etc?  Yes. To discover all the food interactions it appears the list of foods to avoid is a lot longer than just artificial colors and preservatives.

So what food does that leave us with?

You Want Me to Try What?!?

When my son’s doctor recommended we try an elimination diet to see if it would help with his ADHD symptoms I internally groaned.

I thought “I am way too exhausted to try this,” and  “there isn’t any good data to support that anyway, right?”.

But pretty quickly that was replaced with “I am too exhausted not to try this,” and “sounds like a fun research project!”.

Before having children I was a full time engineer specializing in data analysis for improving product quality and I still do this very part time.  The part of being a SAHM that still yearns for some mental stimulus jumped on the suggestion of the elimination diet and took off.  Before starting I wanted to find out Is There Any Data Supporting an Elimination Diet for Behavioral/Sensory Issues? and So What Foods Should I Eliminate?

If I am going to eliminate a couple major foods from our diet indefinitely I want a high statistical confidence that it helped reduce my son’s ADHD symptoms.

 

 

Introducing the Food Behavior Project

ADHD, Autism, Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Developmental Delay, Behavioral Issues, Mood Disorder, etc.  These are scary labels especially when they are being used in reference to your child.  I don’t know what if any of these diagnoses apply to my son but what I do know is that I LOVE him and will do whatever I can to help him be more at peace with the world and himself.

We recently started seeing a new doctor (another doctor in the long line of therapists, specialists, doctors, etc we have seen for years) who specializes in children with ADHD, spectrum disorders, and developmental delays.  Refreshingly he suggested we try some more natural alternatives to see if they help our son before we try any stronger medications and thus The Food Behavior Project was born.