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  2. Cooking for Children with Autism
  3. Introduction

The incidence of autism is on the rise. Families are looking for traditional and alternative resources to help their child and families. This has led more and more parents to try a gluten- and casein-free diet for their child with autism. Many families report an improvement in autism-related symptoms and behaviors when they have removed casein and gluten from their child's diet. Casein and gluten are both proteins found in certain foods.

Making the change to a gluten- and casein-free diet involves thinking about food in a whole new way. Planning and preparation are the keys to success. Gather support around you and your family as you embark on this new diet. Accept that it is a complicated diet that will take some time to learn and adapt to. You will make mistakes learning this diet, and that is okay at the beginning! Strategies for success include menu planning, stocking your pantry with essentials, and jumping into the diet by trying out new recipes. Once you have these items accomplished, you will find that the transition to this diet is not nearly as difficult as you might have expected at the beginning.

The Everything® Guide to Cooking for Children with Autism provides a strong foundation for anyone trying the diet for the first time. There is an emphasis on easy-to-find and readily obtained ingredients in each of the recipes. When specialty ingredients are used, they are kept as basic as possible. For example, there are a wide range of gluten-free flours available to experiment with once you have committed to the gluten- and casein-free diet. These flours are fun to experiment with and provide a broader range of options. However, in this book, gluten-free all-purpose flour is used in place of wheat flour for all baking and cooking recipes that call for flour. When you are just starting out, it is easier on your pocketbook and culinary skills if you stick with a basic, gluten-free all-purpose flour. Once you are comfortable, go crazy and experiment with all the fun flours that are available!

Learning to bake gluten- and casein-free involves learning a whole new science of baking. Gluten is the substance in wheat flour that “binds” or holds baked goods together. Flour that does not have gluten lacks this binding agent. Therefore, gluten-free baking requires the addition of a binding agent, such as xanthan gum or guar gum. The recipes in this book use a gluten-free all-purpose flour that does not contain either xanthan gum or guar gum. If you are using a gluten-free flour that already has the binding agent included as an ingredient, omit the xanthan gum from the recipe.

In addition to providing you with the tools you will need to prepare nutritious, delicious, gluten- and casein-free meals for your family, this book will also provide you with information about how to read food labels and grocery shop. Learning these skills will help to ensure that what you are preparing is, in fact, free of gluten and casein. It is important to think about all of the ways that gluten and casein can find their way into your child's diet so that you can be prepared to prevent unintentional exposures. There are tips throughout the book to help you keep a safe food environment for your child. Tips are included that address daily issues such as grocery shopping, cooking and food preparation, handling parties and school, and cleaning up your kitchen and pantry.

All children need a nutritious diet to grow and thrive. When your child is following a limited diet, such as the gluten- and casein-free diet, having access to sound nutritional information is even more important. The Everything® Guide to Cooking for Children with Autism provides basic information that you need to ensure that your child is receiving the optimal nutrition on this diet. Importantly, due to the limited nature of this diet, your child should be monitored by a physician in order to keep track of growth and risks of nutritional deficiencies.

Also because helping to prepare food can be pivotal in getting your child to eat it, this handy cookbook calls out which recipes would be appropriate to cook with your child. You'll see a chef's hat icon next to each recipe name that your child can help prepare.

Best of all, though, The Everything® Guide to Cooking for Children with Autism will bring joy to your kitchen with recipes for comfort foods and yummy treats including Chicken Noodle Soup, Chocolate Coconut Brownies, and the fabulous Taco Dinner. Have fun discovering reinvented versions of old favorites and new delights. With helpful hints, strategies for success, and delicious recipes, this book will help you make the transition to a gluten- and casein-free diet with ease.

  1. Home
  2. Cooking for Children with Autism
  3. Introduction
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