Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bento #4

I first had this when eating over at my in-laws. They always have really special sauces/marinades/spices that we get to try when we go over for dinner. I thought it was yummy--but Bugga thought it was AMAZING. He cleaned his chicken leg to the bone and demanded more! So, when I found it on the shelf at the local health food store, I got some.

The instructions I got from the chef was to put chicken into a plastic bag and massage the spices into the meat over the course of a few days. I didn't do that this time, but that's what I would do if I had the time.

Instead I just rubbed it all over some defrosted chicken and cooked it right away. You could also add salt

Now my kiddo is no good at eating party wings--too little meat and too many bones--so I took the meat off the bone for this bento. I added rice, a bottle of coconut aminos, a freshly scrambled egg, and a little line of furikake to finish up.

For my husband I packed a boiled egg, curry, extra curry spice, and rice. He likes things simple!

My husband will be gone for two meals so I also made him a sandwich, washed a fresh apple, and packed 1/4 cup of Oregon Trail Mix. What a lucky guy, huh?

Phew! My work is done! Until tomorrow, readers!

Veggies and Sprouts and Fruits: Oh My!

If you have a child who absolutely WILL NOT eat fruits/veggies, then this product is for you!

I would suggest starting very slowly with this, since some of the ingredients may upset your child is they are phenol/salicylate sensitive, but honestly there aren't very many juices in it that are super high in phenols/salicylates. This product can turn your childs BMs funny colors, but for the most part it is well tolerated and helps with nutrition quite a bit!

Start with 1/4 teaspoon in a drink three times a day and work your way up to whatever your child can tolerate. I wouldn't go past 2 tablespoons a day for a child under five. It is completely tasteless in such small quantities (that's why you split it up between three drinks instead of having it all in one), but you may want to serve it in a sippy cup that is not see-through. Shake vigorously or it may clog up the spout--but I have never personally had this issue.

Here's another FANTASTIC product you can try:

note: the chocolate version contains a small amount of non-GMO soy
the berry flavor contains NO soy
e-mail the manufacturers to demand a soy-free chocolate version!

This comes in wild berry and chocolate. This product SHOULD give your child trouble if they are sensitive to phenols/salicylates, however my own child is sensitive to apples yet this product gave him no troubles. It may be because the processing of the fruits/veggies lowers the phenol/salicylate count. 

My favorite thing to do with this product is to put 1 level scoop into 1 cup of coconut milk yogurt to make chocolate pudding! One serving a day of this awesome product is all you need.

Between the two of them your child will be able to get most of their vegetables--and sneaking in your own homemade veggie/fruit purees can also pick up the slack these products leave behind. 

I'm sure everyone has noticed how few fresh veggies/fruits are in the bentos I prepare: this is because mys on simply does not tolerate them. But rest assured, my child still obtains ALL of his daily veggie/fruit servings from other sources! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bento #3

This bento is another throw-it-together in five minutes one. I actually didn't have any tamagoyaki in the freezer, so I did make that tonight--however, it is easy to make and only took 5 extra minutes. It was a one-egg tamagoyaki, so it is not very large. That is perfect for bento: small and cute!

Here we have SnapeaCrisps, chicken nuggets, soy-free tamagoyaki, vanilla coconut yogurt with organic casein-free chocolate sprinkles, two homemade peanut butter cookies, coconut chocolate milk, veggie fillers, and inside the yellow cup is an organic gummy penguin with a squishy center (weird, I know).

This is a more sugar-laden bento, since there is sugar in the yogurt, cookies, penguin, and tamagoyaki. You could substitute the vanilla yogurt with plain and use stevia instead. Stevia could also be used to make tamagoyaki. You could omit the penguin and add another nugget instead, and the cookies were just for fun!

And now for a recipe: peanut butter cookies!

1 cup nut/seed butter
1 cup sugar (whatever kind your child tolerates)
1 egg (or egg substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (GF)

Egg and sugar together, add butter and beat again, then add vanilla and mix.

Make whatever size cookies you want, then bake at 350 for 5-15 minutes (less for tiny cookies, more for big ones).

They will be flimsy, so let them cool in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Put it together...

Add the PECS food card...


Another cute bento for my cute boy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Potato Soup


  • 8 yellow or red potatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  1. Fry bacon in your soup pot
  2. Add garlic/onion/salt/pepper and saute
  3. Add potatoes and other ingredients, then cover in water
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, over low heat, for an hour
  5. Take a potato masher and mash up the potatoes until the soup looks creamy.
  6. Can and freeze.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tomato Soup

Tastes nothing like Campbell's, which is great because after tasting this you'll never want another can of that stuff again!


  • 8-10 roma tomatoes, or whatever amount of tomatoes you can get for cheap, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped OR 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 or 2 boxes broth (or make your own bone broth)
  • salt + pepper, 1 teaspoon each
  • olive oil
  1. In your stockpot, get 2 tablespoons olive oil hot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper Saute until onion begins to become translucent.
  2. Add tomato and basil, saute for another 5 minutes.
  3. Cover with broth. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
  4. Put a colander over a big bowl and pour soup into it, then puree the solid parts.
  5. Add puree and leftover broth together and stir until combined.
  6. Can and freeze.

Butternut Squash Soup

So cheap and easy and yummy!


  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunky cubes
  • 1 onion (sweet onion works best), roughly cut into strips
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • enough broth to cover the veggies (chicken is best, but any flavor is fine)
  • salt + pepper, about 1 teaspoon each
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger (or 3 slices fresh ginger)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


  1. In your stock pot, get about 2 tablespoons olive oil hot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add ginger if using fresh. Saute until the onion separates and begins to be translucent.
  2. Add squash cubes, powdered spices, and sugar then stir. Cook for about 5 minutes while constantly stirring, to get the process started.
  3. Add your broth. Put in enough broth to cover the food.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover, then lower the heat to medium-low and let it cook for about an hour.
  5. Grab a colander and big bowl: put the colander over the bowl and pour the soup into it.
  6. Put the solid parts into the blender, adding some broth from the bowl if needed, and puree.
  7. Mix broth and puree together in the pot and stir until well combined.
  8. Can and freeze.
I serve this with a dollop of butter and some extra brown sugar on top--but it's totally optional.


I love Larabar! They make such tasty bars: and they're very reasonably priced!

All of them are gluten-free, and most are also casein-free. You can also get 'mini' bars to put in your kiddo's bento box. I usually cut one regular bar in half and put it in.

Check out the Larabar Store!

Our favorites are carrot cake, ginger snap, banana bread, peanut butter cookie, and coconut cream pie!

It is the one and only way my son will eat raw nuts/fruits!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chicken Nugget Pics

ZOMG, don't they look fabulous?? Every kid would love some of these to nom on!

No-Fridge Bento (#2)

Bugga has been preferring his food room-temp or warm, so I made this no-fridge bento for him!

It has three peanut butter cracker sandwiches made with Tamari Seaweed Brown Rice Snaps, a Gerber 'pears' package (for the love of all that is good in this world, MAKE YOUR OWN IF YOU CAN!), gluten-free pretzelsgumdrops made in HEAVEN and transported to Trader Joe's for your purchasing pleasure, and EXCELLENT self-stable chocolate coconut milk!

Granted, this bento is not fabulously healthy or cheap (chocolate coconut milk in small shelf-stable packs are expensive), but if this is what it takes to ensure my kid eats his lunch, I'll do it.

I did purchase a BPA-free plastic 'flask' that holds a small amount of liquid. I'm going to be using it instead of juice/milk packs from now on to save some $$$. I would encourage everyone to do the same!

 stack everything up

 tie up

stick it in the bag: THAT'S IT!

Breakfast Bento! (#1)

Sometimes I like to make a bento breakfast, if I'm up to it!

This morning I had cut vegetables sprinkled with furikake, a hard boiled egg, and fried yams. For Bugga, I opened up a package of peaches Gerber (AWFUL, but I had it on hand, so I figured why not?) and a hard boiled egg.

Don't be afraid to try a bento for breakfast on the weekend or if your child has trouble with breakfast but love bento. Anything can be breakfast--even leftover dinner!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hot Dogs

Once you've found the right kind of hot dog for your child (free of anything your child cannot have), you will find yourself turning to them for a quick protein source a lot!

Luckily, hot dogs are very important in bento.
As you can see, there are 'cutters' you can buy that make it very easy to shape hot dogs into cute designs. I have come across octopuses, rabbits, turtles, tulips, fish, crabs, and turtles. There are probably more. You don't have to have mini dogs to use them, you can use regular hot dogs that you cut to size. Once cut, you boil the hot dogs (some fry them), and then once cooled you can put them in the freezer for a month.

If you don't have cutters, just use a knife to make creative cuts. Here are a few tutorials on other blogs you can use to make your hot dogs fabulous:

Hot Dog Sunflower (you don't have to use quail eggs)

I like to make the octodogs and crabs, but I make short tentacles in both cases. 

I hope you have fun with it!

Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets are one staple most children love and want. You can buy them if you like, but they are RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. Instead, make your own.

There are a lot of ways to do it, and I'll add one each recipe as I gather them. This first one is the one I use.

All-purpose GF baking flour of your choice
Potato chips


  1. Wash and cut up your chicken. I like to pound each piece with a tenderizer to make them flatter and easier to cook through. It also makes them easier to eat, more like commercial nuggets.
  2. Crush your potato chips by putting them in a plastic bag and whacking it with a tenderizer, then rolling it with a rolling pin. You can also put them in a food processor, but NOT a mixer.
  3. Set up your assembly line: a bowl with 1/2 cup flour, a bowl with 1 beaten egg, and a bowl of 1 cup crushed up potato chips.
  4. Get your frying pan hot on medium heat and pour in about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil.
  5. Begin:
    1. Cover each piece with flour.
    2. Shake off excess and cover with egg.
    3. Let excess drip off and cover in potato chips
    4. Put directly into the pan
  6. Once the sides are cooked, flip and cook the other side.
  7. Put cooked pieces on a drying rack.
  8. Add more flour, egg, and chips as needed.
  9. Once cooled, put in a freezer bag and freeze for up to two months.

Baby Food

My son loves baby food, and since it is the only way I can get him to eat fruits/vegetables, I make it a lot. Not a lot has to go into making baby food. In fact, it's very simple. And CHEAP.

Pick out fresh and ripe produce with no blemishes. Get mostly fruit and one vegetable that is mild flavored. So you could do a peach, a few pears, and a small yam. That would be perfect to start out with. You could also do just one fruit. Bananas don't seem to work out very well though, so I skip it.

Peel, cut, and dice up your fruits/veggies. Some veggies need to be cooked in order to use them, such as potatoes and squash. It is wise to put in the juice of 1/2 lemon as well, to preserve flavor and color.

Use whatever means you have to puree the food (cook it first, if you need to)--food processor, magic bullet, mixer, or even a sieve. Puree it REALLY WELL. If you need to, be sure to cut up the fruit into tiny pieces, that way the blender can puree raw fruits/veggies (if you are trying to keep it raw)

As your child becomes tolerant of some blends or single fruits/veggies, you can puree less and less until it resembles applesauce more than puree. The goal is to eventually have mostly chunks of fruit/veggies by slowly adding very small amounts of solid/semi-solid food into the puree as tolerated.

Once pureed you can choose to keep it as is or heat it up to get rid of the water and to concentrate the flavor (my boy loves it when I do this for peaches). To thicken up the puree for children who have swallowing difficulties, add some cornstarch or a teaspoon or so of flax meal.

Use mason jars to store the food in the freezer, taking out one jar at a time as needed. Serve warm or cold--in a bowl, on toast or waffles, or as an extra topping for fruit if your child handles that well. Everyday I give my son some 'gerber' so he can get in a serving of fruit. He also enjoys practicing his feeding skills by using a spoon all by himself.

In bento, fruit puree can be stored small airtight containers inside the bento box. Your child's aide can help your child use his/her spoon to feed themselves everyday at lunch. If you keep it small--only about 1/4 cup or less--then your child can use their spoon to eat something tasty but be finished before they get frustrated by the process. Success! Your kiddo did something them-self, used a spoon, ate something yummy, and got a fruit serving all in one sitting!

Baby food is also a great place to hide supplements.

Some Ideas:

peaches and yam
pears and cauliflower
cherries pears and beats
strawberries kiwis and pears
cucumber and melon
plums beets and peaches

The Autism Diet and Bento

The GFCF Diet
The Autism Diet is used for people who have autism, ADD, Asperger's, or for those who have sensitivities. The diet is gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, and artificial-free. Some children on this diet also cannot have eggs or yeast. If the person also has a salicylate or phenol sensitivity then they must avoid certain fruits and vegetables (for example, my son cannot eat apples or he bangs his head on the wall). Most people also try and avoid citrus fruits, but it doesn't bother all.

The basic principle behind the diet is that the gut in affected individuals is damaged and so half-way broken down proteins can enter the bloodstream. Also that the body does not produce the correct enzymes to break down the gluten and casein proteins properly. This results in a partially broken down protein called gliadorphin and casomorphin, which then enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. In the brain, these improperly digested proteins act like opium.

In effect, people affected by this metabolic and digestive syndrome are drugged. They crave gluten and casein: it makes them 'feel good' while keeping them in a drugged state. They're addicted.

Be aware that switching to this diet can lead to intense withdrawals in the person. Anything from fever, vomiting and diarrhea to intense sadness and headaches can be observed. It is almost always better to switch gradually off of gluten--one meal a day, then two meals a day, then all three over a period of a month. Casein does not create withdrawals as much, and they are not usually intense.

Removing these proteins can cause small changes in behavior to complete turnarounds. It can take a day to notice changes or an entire year. This is what makes the diet a commitment: you must commit to doing the diet for a year no matter what the results are in that year to actually know if it is working. If you find out that your favorite food is actually glutinous a few months into it, then start the count over. You must try it for an entire year to truly know what kind of effect it will have on the person.

The casein protein is sometimes tolerated in small amounts in these individuals, but for the first year avoid it altogether. Gluten is sometimes never tolerated, even in small amounts, during the person's entire lifetime. This person may describe themselves as a celiac to others in order to make it easier to assimilate socially.

Soy acts much like the casein protein, so some people must avoid this as well. Some people say you should avoid soy for the entire first year. I tend to agree with this because it is becoming clearer and clearer that those who used to strictly do GFCF must now do SF as well. To get the full scope of benefits, avoid it.

Eggs sometimes bother individuals, you'll have to do a trial period of no eggs to see if this bothers you or your child.

Bento and Autism
The Autism Diet often leaves parents wondering what to feed their child for school lunch. Lunch is what this blog is all about--what to send for lunch to school. I have recently explored making a special type of lunch called bento. When most people think of bento, they are actually thinking of charaben. I am not good at charaben, so it will be sparsely sprinkled around but not the main focus.

My main focus is nutritional food that is varied and colorful that autistic children will eat.

Picky and Resistant Eaters
Many children on the spectrum have eating difficulties that prevent them from eating certain foods. Parents often don't know how to handle this. Here are a few pointers that I have learned over the past year of feeding therapy:

  • never force your child to eat something
  • do not bribe them to eat something
  • serve a little dessert with each meal, and make it part of the meal instead of something they get as a reward for good eating
  • eat together at the table as often as possible
  • encourage your child to play with their food as much as possible: make mashed potato forts with broccoli turrets, or a waffle house, or simply enjoy smashing grapes with a fork
  • encourage your child to observe food: how does it feel? is it cold? what happens when we squish it? is it crunchy? sweet? salty? with non-verbal children, this is a great way to encourage more speech.
  • try to use transitions from foods they like towards foods they resist. for example, start with peach puree, then slowly add more solid pieces to their puree until they are eating chunks of peaches. this can be an agonizingly slow process--be patient!
  • if your child doesn't eat anything, you can still make bento and still have them participate in meals. provide them with a small plate and have them play with it during mealtime--providing a toy as well to keep stress down--and encourage any effort on their part to interact with the food.
  • some children do not like it if you make a big deal out of them playing with or eating foods they hate. they may also dislike it if you sit there and watch them. if you have a child like this, just sit and catch up on a book or eat your own food without making much of a fuss about your child's eating. this may help.
If your child is a severely resistant eater, make sure that every meal has a majority of what they WANT to eat, and only a small bit of what they DON'T. Do not 'starve' them as motivation to eat unwanted foods.

I was advised to spend about 15 minutes per day allowing my child to play with foods he does not like simply for the purpose of having fun: which is where the mashed potatoes comes in. He will not eat mashed potatoes, but he tolerates them being on his plate very well because of this special food play time. Make sure this play time is NOT during a mealtime: it is not for eating. Of course, if they happen to eat, then good for them!

Bentos are fun because the containers are cute, and can have pictures of their favorite perseverance on them. Some children might like to put stickers all over their bento boxes. They are visually stimulating, and very non-threatening at mealtime. Your autistic child might actually begin to get EXCITED about their lunch!

Don't be daunted if the only thing your child eats is french fries and chicken nuggets: the GFCF version of those two popular dishes are very cheap and easy to make and are very bento friendly! In fact, I use both quite a bit in my own son's bento.

Who Can Make Bento?
Anyone can make bento. You do not have to a homemaker, an artist, a chef, or even creative. Once you have some reusable decorations and a bento stash in the freezer it can take literally FIVE MINUTES A DAY OR LESS to put together a good nutritious bento. Some can take up to 15 minutes, but you do it while making dinner the night before so it takes up no 'extra' time.