One of the challenges most ASD mom’s face is feeding their child. Many of our children are orally sensitive and limit their food choices based on texture and smell as well as taste. This presents a challenge for getting nutritious foods into your child. Many children, even those who don’t have autism don’t like vegetables and some refuse meats. Almost every mother out there can appreciate this challenge. I am always grateful to the autism mom’s that came before me for all their creativity and research on methods and recipes to feed our children. Without them my son would have starved and suffered malnutrition. When he was three he ate a very limited diet and refused to try anything new. As an infant my son would not eat baby food. He gagged on most of it and spit out the rest. He lived on milk which we later had to remove from his diet. When we first began biomed I devised an oatmeal cookie recipe that would sneak nutrients into my son. I fortified his the oatmeal cookies with Fort-Flax, protein powder, applesauce, calcium powder, primrose oil and raisins. He called them “his sweet cookies”. And he lived on these along with organic free-range eggs and a lot of vitamin supplements. As he’s grown his palate has expanded thankfully but it is still a challenge. He refuses so many foods and sometimes he gets in a rut where he really doesn’t want anything but cheese sticks, yogurt and pizza. That’s when I break out “meal muffins”. I came across the idea of casserole muffins* as they are more formerly know a few years ago in a cookbook. Since that time I have adapted the recipe to provide my son with good nutrition that he would not get otherwise. This recipe I make by eye-ball, so I can’t give exact measurements. But I start with a box of gluten-free chocolate cake mix. This disguises everything I put in it. I lightly steam some pea’s and drain them. Then I use my blender to puree the peas, one large can of drained chicken breast, Forti-Flax, applesauce, rice or other milk substitute (almond and coconut milks work fine too) into a paste. Make sure it’s smooth and there are no lumps of chicken or peas. It looks a bit well, nasty but trust me, this works. For years I did not let my son see me make these but one day he asked to help. I have always cooked and grown food with my son. When he saw the chicken and peas going into it, he said he didn’t care what I put in them as long as he couldn’t taste it. In my food processor (large 14 cup processor) I pour in the puree. Then I add the bag of cake mix. Now I put in the number of eggs listed on the cake mix box (in our case one). Instead of using butter as per the mix, I use a few tablespoons of coconut oil melted on the stove top on low heat because it’s more nutritious and contains essential fatty acids. Add this and I blend again. Then I add two scoops of Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood Outrageous Chocolate, a few tablespoons of calcium powder and mix again. I spoon the cake mix into a mini muffin pan. Just follow the cake mix directions for baking temperature and time. This usually makes me 2 1/2 pans of mini muffins. I freeze half of them for later. As you can see from the list below it’s fairly well rounded in nutrition with protein, fruits and vegetables and some essential fatty acids.
- chicken (can use black beans or omit this entirely)
- powdered greens/reds/purples etc and/or juicer pulp
- rice, almond or coconut milk
- coconut oil
- flax-seed (optional)
- calcium supplement powder
- rice flour (from the cake mix)
He actually gets more nutrition in these than he would in a typical meal where he would refuse to eat most of what I cooked him. My son will not eat mixed foods like stews or soups which present a further challenge. You can make variations of this using any puree bland meat like turkey,chicken or lamb. You can shred raw carrots or zucchini or puree most cooked vegetables and add them to mixes. I also make pumpkin muffins, zucchini muffins, banana muffins etc. I even put cauliflower in their once! Just choose things that usually have a bland taste when unseasoned. My son does prefer the are chocolate but we have used vanilla cake mix and traded out the peas for a white vegetable. When I first began making these I put chocolate chips in them to entice him to try them. After a while I was able to stop using chocolate chips in order to reduce the sugar. Those that are allergic to eggs can substitute applesauce or use an egg replacement. What I make is gf/cf/sf. But always check any ingredients you buy to be sure they are OK for your child and comply with their dietary restrictions. My attempts to fortify my child’s nutrition isn’t a new idea, mom’s have been doing this for a long time, but when you first arrive to the ASD community you usually have a child who won’t eat much and it takes time before someone tells you about “food disguising” and fortifying what they already eat. I’ve also been known to put puree carrots in pasta or pizza sauce, calcium powder in sauces and peanut butter…anything I can think of that he can’t taste. Tips:
- Taste any concoctions you attempt before giving them to your child to make sure they taste normal.
- Try only a few things at first and slowly work up what you put in the mix as your child accepts them.
So gone are the days when you couldn’t have cake for dinner. Let them eat cake I say…..