A five year old Canadian boy, diagnosed with severe autism, was cured when the true cause of his mental disorder was found to be celiac disease and he was treated with a gluten-free diet and nutritional supplements.

Photo originally posted to Flickr as "Jack"

Photo originally posted to Flickr as "Jack"

His autism was cured because he was never really autistic in the first place. He had celiac disease, an immune response to wheat, barley, rye and oats that damages the intestines leading to malabsorption of nutrients.

Gluten-restricted diets have become increasingly popular among parents seeking treatment for children diagnosed with autism.(1)

What if certain children who are diagnosed with autism actually have celiac disease?

Neurological disorders stemming from celiac disease have been widely documented in medical literature. Some of these conditions include poor balance, tremors, migraines, chronic fatigue, schizophrenia, epilepsy, apathy, depression, insomnia, behavioral disorders, inability to concentrate and anxiety.(2)

Many of these issues are due to nutritional deficiencies resulting from the intestinal damage that celiac disease causes. If caused by celiac disease, they improve once gluten is removed from the diet and the intestine heals and functions properly.

Genuis and Bouchard, researchers at the University of Alberta, recently published the case of the 5-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with severe autism at a specialty clinic for autistic spectrum disorders. After an initial investigation suggested underlying celiac disease and varied nutrient deficiencies, a gluten-free diet was instituted.(1) His diet and supplements were adjusted to secure nutritional sufficiency.

The patient's gastrointestinal symptoms rapidly resolved, and signs and symptoms suggestive of autism progressively abated.(1)

This case is an example of a common malabsorption syndrome (celiac disease) associated with central nervous system dysfunction and suggests that in some cases, nutritional deficiency may be a cause of developmental delay.

Genuis and Bouchard recommended that all children with neurodevelopmental problems


Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Apricot Jam Cookies

August 6th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

These yummy cookies are easy to make and store well in the freezer.

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup butter or GF margarine or transfat free shortening
  • 2/3 cup fructose
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca or cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons GF baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
Equipment

Cookie sheet.

Process

Beat first five ingredients together in the mixing bowl.

Blend dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add to wet ingredients in the mixer.

Mix lightly until dough forms.  Make one inch balls.  Place evenly on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Using thumb, indent a hole in the middle then fill with apricot jam or your choice of other fruit jam.

If you like, sprinkle tops with chopped nuts as a variation.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes.  Do not allow the bottoms to brown.  Sprinkle with fructose while hot for added sweetness.

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Sausage Stew That Satisfies

August 6th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

This nutritious, richly flavored stew with rice, peas and vegetables is easy to make and so tasty, it will be a favorite of the whole family.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound roll fresh sausage (found with the breakfast meats)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ pound dried green peas
  • 1 cup dry brown rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, minced or ½ teaspoon dried sage

 

Equipment

Heavy, deep pot with lid.

Process

Remove plastic covering from sausage roll and discard. Add sausage to a heavy pot, breaking it up with a fork.  Fry over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring with the fork or spatula until lightly browned.  Add onions and cook until nicely browned, being careful not to burn them.  Good stew needs good browning for rich flavor.

Add peas, rice, water, bay leaf, carrots, celery, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, stirring, then lower heat to simmer.  Cover and cook 45 minutes, or until peas are soft.  Adjust water to desired consistency. Serves 4.

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Flat Bread on the Grill

August 6th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Too hot to bake in the kitchen? Try this hearty flatbread on the grill! Goes great with whatever else is cooking. And don't forget -- yeast is an important nutrient.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 ¼ cup fine white rice flour
  • ¼ cup millet flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon (1 packet) gluten-free yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce (flat)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp rosemary (optional)
  • olive oil to brush tops of bread

 

Equipment

 8 pieces of aluminum foil cut into 6 inch squares and brushed with olive oil.

Process

Yeast needs warmth to work, so heat oven to just below 100 degrees, turn off.  Meanwhile, wisk the brown rice flour, white rice flour, millet flour, and xanthan gum together in a medium bowl (flour mixture).  If flours are cold from being refrigerated, place in oven to warm.  Set cold egg in a small bowl of hot water to warm.

In a warmed mixing bowl, add water, yeast and honey.  Let stand 4 minutes to proof (if does not foam, yeast is too old).  Slowly beat in egg, oil, applesauce and flour mixture to thoroughly combine, about 3 minutes.  Let stand in bowl in oven for 20 minutes to raise.

Remove mixture from oven and fold in salt, (rosemary) and tapioca flour (mixed first).  Mixture should come together away from sides of the bowl.  Form into 8 palm-size very soft balls and place on aluminum squares.  If too sticky to form balls, add a teaspoon of white flour at a time.  If too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time.  Flatten into disks ½ inch thick for foccacia type or 1/4 for crisper bread (shown in photo).  A silicon spatula makes it easiest to shape.

Brush tops with additional olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt (optional).  Let rise in the warmed oven for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the grill to 350 degrees F.  Arrange squares on the hot grill surface.  Cover with the lid and bake for about 6 minutes or until the bread has firmed.  Turn over and remove the foil.  Bake until browned on the outside, about 6 minutes more. 

Makes 8 breads.

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cake

August 6th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Yes, cake can be both nutritious and delicious! Chocolate and nuts are great sources of antioxidants and minerals like calcium, copper, potassium and zinc for strength and vitality -- and good for the mind. Bitter chocolate (unsweetened) is unadulterated pure chocolate liqour that gives a deep flavor.

Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cup fine white rice flour
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons GF baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ scant teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2/3 cup fructose 
  • ½ cup GF margarine or coconut oil
  • 2 large cold eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2/3 cup rice milk or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon GF vanilla
  • 1 square bitter chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Equipment

9 inch round cake or springform pan.

Process

Set oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease then flour a 9 inch round cake pan. Lining the bottom with a circle of wax paper cut to fit will make removing this moist cake easier, or use a spring-form pan if you have one.

In a medium bowl, blend the first 6 dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the fructose and margarine or oil for a minute.  Then, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another minute.  Blend in rice milk or other liquid and applesauce.  Next, lightly mix in the dry ingredients until smooth.  Last, fold in the chocolate and walnuts with a large wooden spoon. 

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Toothpick inserted into center of cake should come out clean.  Allow to rest in pan for 5 minutes then remove to cool on wire rack.  Frost if desired.

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Pennsylvania Dutch Cabbage Slaw

August 5th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Here is how my great grandmother made fresh cabbage slaw. With a dozen children on the farm, she was a busy lady keeping them healthy and well fed. This side uses the highly nourishing cabbage plant - scientifically proven to be good for the gut. Plus, here's a great way to use unpasteurized apple cider or rice vinegar...valuable probiotic foods that restore friendly microbes.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups shredded fresh cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons fructose or honey 
  • 2 tablespoon unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Black pepper and a sprinkle of salt to taste
Equipment

Serving bowl.

Process

Mix all ingredients in a serving bowl. That's it. Goes great with

sandwiches, burgers and most everything. Makes 2 cups.

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Chicken and Brown Rice Soup

August 5th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

This simple recipe will produce a rich, delicious and highly nutritious soup.  Commonly recommended for people suffering from a cold, chicken soup is great for anyone at anytime.  Chicken thighs in this recipe contain zinc which is commonly low in people with celiac disease. 

Ingredients
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 pieces natural chicken thighs with neck and giblets
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup carrots, sliced
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup brown rice
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

 

Equipment

Large heavy pot.

Process

Add water, and chicken parts to a large heavy pot.  Bring to boil, removing white foamy scum that rises to surface.  Reduce heat to low medium and add rice and vegetables.  Cook 25 minutes or longer until meat is soft.

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Biscotti

August 5th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Try this twice-baked cookie for a delicious treat that's yummy to the last bite.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup fructose
  • ½ cup butter, softened or substitute fat
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup tapioca
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3/4 cup almonds (optional)

 

Equipment

Aluminum cookie sheet.
Oven.

Process

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and fructose until light and fluffy.  Add extracts, then beat in eggs one at a time.

In a medium bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, and cocoa.  Add to creamed mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until blended. Stir in almonds then cover dough and chill 10 minutes to make easier to handle.  Divide dough into 2 parts.  Place each part on a lightly greased cookie sheet and shape into a uniform loaf about 10 inches long.  Bake 25 minutes.

Remove from oven. Let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then place loaves on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. With a thin, sharp knife cut each loaf into diagonal slices about ½ inch wide.  Place slices on cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Turn over and bake 8 minutes.  Cool on wire rack, then store in airtight container.  Makes about 36.

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Fried Oysters

August 5th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Loaded with zinc, iron, and protein, oysters have a long history of nourishing people from many cultures. Quick to make, they go well with almost any quick side dish like green beans, asparagus, carrots, or broccoli. Oysters also have lots of copper, selenium, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin C, potassium, calcium and a good showing of folic acid.

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 16 oz. can of fresh, shucked oysters, drained, or if you like canned oysters, use two 8 oz. whole fancy oysters, drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup corn meal or gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon onion, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

 

Equipment

Medium skillet.

Process

On a paper plate (for easy clean-up), mix corn meal or crumbs with parsley, onion, salt and pepper. Dip oysters in beaten egg then dredge in corn meal or crumb mixture to coat.

Heat oil in medium skillet.  Lay coated oysters evenly around the pan.  Fry over medium heat about 4 minutes until golden, then turn over and fry other side.  Serve with fresh tomato salad - delicious!

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Gluten-Free Upside Down Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

August 5th, 2009 by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Here is a great way to use left-over egg whites! Make this fluffy, tender pan-size pancake the whole family is sure to love. Ummm -- the apple and cinnamon aroma will bring them in a hurry.

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free margarine
  • 1 large flavorful apple or 2 medium (such as mackintosh, granny, pink lady), cored, peeled & thin sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup water  
  • ½ cup fine white rice flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ cup vanilla flavored gluten-free rice milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 large fresh egg whites

 

Equipment

Skillet with sloping sides.

Process

You will need a 10 inch omelet pan -- that is, sides of skillet need to slope and the bottom should be 7 to 8 inches across as opposed to a straight-sided pan.

Add margarine to the pan and set over medium heat.  When margarine melts, arrange apple slices evenly to cover bottom of pan.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon then add the 1/3 cup water.  Cover to cook apples for 4 minutes.  Apples should be softened and moist.  If they are dry, add 2 tablespoons water and cover a half-minute.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, blend the rice flour, salt, baking powder.  Stir in the rice milk and lemon juice, and then quickly beat in the egg whites.  Pour mixture evenly over the hot apples and cover.  Turn heat to low medium and cook for 4 minutes.  Top should spring back when touched.

Remove at once to a large platter.  To remove, place plate over the pan and flip pancake onto it.  Cut into wedges.  Serve with honey or maple syrup if desired. Makes 4 servings.