Monday, May 31, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Forty-Eight (Cranberries, Apples, Walnuts, Oh My! And, TOTALLY VEGAN)

Today we had a nice surprise with a visit from our friend Ana and her daughter Sophia.   Anna, Sophia, Anna's mom, and a friend from Sweden all visited the bakery while Tim, the kids and I endeavored to a get jump start on a busy week.  Lucky for Olivia, Anna brought her to the beach for the day while the rest of us toiled away.  I have to say both Emma and Spencer were incredibly helpful, though Tim reminded me I might have been a bit too grumpy with them.

After several hours, Anna brought the beach weary children back to our house and we had a feast of various pizzas and fitayers.   We made enough for a few days of posts.

We start with dessert first.   I was searching around in the depths of the fridge, freezer, and pantry for something interesting.  What emerged seemed promising.

1 Spelt Right Pizza Dough, thawed and fully risen
1 and 1/2 cups frozen cranberries
1 and 1/2 cups walnuts
5 Tablespoons Fig Paste (I love fig paste!)
1 apple chopped in several pieces

Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until chopped, but not mushy.   Cut pizza dough into 12 even dough balls.   Stretch out dough in even rounds.   Place a heaping amount (2 TBLs? at least) of mix on dough.  Form triangles.   Bake at 400-450 F degrees until lightly brown.

Result:  YUMM.  Two thumbs up.  Both Anna and I thought the flavors and texture were reminiscent of haroset served at Passover (absent the bread of course).

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Forty-Seven (VEGAN GLUTEN FREE KIBBEE, AN OXYMORON)

This recipe is undoing everything that is.  It is one mass substitution and I'm not sure it worked.  It is making Kibbee (which is a Middle Eastern Raw Lamb Dish) vegetarian, substituting red lentils for lamb.  And it is making Kibbee, which is traditionally made with bulgar wheat, gluten free by making it with quinoa.

The RED LENTILS work, the QUINOA really doesn't in this recipe.  I recommend if you can eat wheat to stick with the bulgar wheat, but if you can't, go for the quinoa.  The last time I made this recipe was about 6 years ago before I knew that Spencer had wheat sensitivities.  I haven't made it since, and I decided to make it today wheat free only to get the response from Spencer that the texture was really weird and he just couldn't eat it.

I'm not even sure what to call this, but the bulgar version has been called PARVE KEBBE NEYE by a group of woman in Brooklyn.  The quinoa version needs its own name.   IF YOU ARE VEGAN, you may really enjoy this recipe.

1 and 1/2 cups red lentils
3 cups bulgar wheat or quinoa (prepared according to directions on product)
3 onions, chopped finely (can use food processor)
1/2 bunch curly parsley
4 scallions
1 large red pepper
1 large green pepper
3 fresh tomatoes
Crushed dry red pepper
1 can tomato paste
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Directions: Rinse lentils, place in pan covered by water.  Add in chopped onions.  Steam until soft.  Squeeze out any remaining water.   Prepare quinoa according to instructions (boil until they spring open).  Drain off and squeeze out excess water.   If using bulgar, soak until soft and then squeeze out excess water.  Chop all of the vegetables.   In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients, the lentils should still be hot.  Shape into torpedos and cool in fridge.  Serve with tahini sauce or cucumber yogurt dressing.lRecipe for Tahini Dressing and Yogurt Cucumber Dressing

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Forty-Six (Spelt Waffles - Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner!)

The Best-Ever Spelt Waffles

1 cup VITA SPELT white spelt flour
3/4 cup VITA SPELT whole spelt flour
2 TBL organic cane sugar
1 TBL baking powder
2 eggs
1 and 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon real vanilla

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder.  Make a well in the center and set aside

In a separate bowl,mix together the milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla.  Make sure that the butter is melted, but not hot because you don't want it to cook the eggs.

Put the liquid mixture in the well of the dry mixture and mix until it all moistened.  Don't over mix.

Put 1/2 cup of mixture onto waffle iron.

You can double the recipe and freeze left over made waffles.  The left over waffles can be toasted for an easy breakfast.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicle: Day Forty-Five (Falafel, tahini sauce, libani)(vegetarian)

I like to believe that I can replicate any dish I have tasted anywhere.   Unfortunately my wishes and reality don't always coincide.

On two trips to West Hartford, CT, I visited Tangier International Store and Middle Eastern Deli.  The falafel wrap is beyond worldliness  It represents the blending of best of the cultures of the City of Tangier, the store and deli's namesake.  The flavors are incredibly powerful and bold, yet subtle and light.

Back in March, my mom and I were the first to stumble upon Tangier on our way home from West Hartford.  It is an unassuming store in the corner of a flat building, but what lurks inside is almost magical.   The aisles are lined with packaged foods from the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Fertile Crescent and off to the side is a small lunch counter with a myriad of homemade Middle Eastern foods.  There were fitayers of all types, but none quite as creative as the ones in the Lunch Box Chronicles  I am sure they would have thought of it as blasphemous to stuff a fitayer with peanut butter and jelly.  Peanut Butter and Jelly Fitayer Post

I ordered the falafel.  My mom said she wanted only "a little bit" claiming she was much too full after all our day of sampling and noshing at Whole Foods.  After one bite, the "little bit" simply couldn't satisfy her.  And, being a nice, but not overly generous daughter, I did not intend on parting with another bite.   We just had to order another.  Our conversation on the four hour ride home inevitably turned to the falafel.  "Can you believe the taste?" "Does it bring you back to childhood?" "What were those incredible flavors?  "Did you taste the nana (mint)?" "Do you think we can make this at home?"

On a repeat visit to West Hartford in May, I insisted to my daughter Emma that she had to experience the falafel from Tangier.  "Oh mom," she protested, "I am still so full from the food at the Afghanistan Cafe and Hookah Bar."  She still thinks it is wild that I unwittingly brought her to a hookah bar.

I persuaded her to have just a bite of the falafel..."This is the BEST," she proclaimed.   I had already experienced the "only a little bite" from her grandmother a few months before and knew that my best bet was to wolf down the falafel before Emma had any ideas to ask for more.

It must be our cellular memories for food of our ancestors, but something about the combination of blended chickpeas, tahini and lemon dressing, yogurt and mint, sent us into complete food heaven.

My goal was to replicate this Falafel Utopia at home.  The result was not quite Utopic.

Ingredients: Spelt Right Pizza Dough, Premade Falafel or Falafel Mix, Tahini, Fresh Lemon, Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Greek or Lebanese Yogurt (Liban), dried mint, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce.

Prepare Spelt Right Pizza Dough into pita bread on the grill Spelt Right Pita Bread Instructions

Prepare falafel mix according to instructions.  We used a wheat free version.  I think next time I will
l try to make it on my own.

Tahini Dressing.  Blend the following ingredient in a blender:
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 3 gloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • enough water to loosen dressing
  • dash of cumin (optional)

Yogurt Dressing: 8 ounces of Greek or Lebanese yogurt, finally chopped cucumber, 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of dried or finely chopped fresh spearmint, 1 garlic clove finely chopped and mashed.

Assemble all ingredients in a pita pocket made with Spelt Right dough.

Result: Not bad, the bread was better than that at Tangier, but the body of the sandwich couldn't compare.   Tangier's was so much more flavorful.  I am on a mission to recreate Falafel Utopia.  This isn't the last you will hear of my attempts.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Forty Four (Mediterranean Salsa, Goat Cheese, Heaven!)

Today's post is a result of yesterday's foraging trip at Whole Foods - Portland. In addition to running into Rosario sampling his pesto (see yesterday's post), I ran into one of the always friendly and helpful employees of Whole Foods, Shannon, who helped me locate another "topper" for the Spelt Right Pizza - the In-House Made Mediterranean Salsa. Thanks, Shannon! Great choice.

Ingredients: One Spelt Right Pizza Dough - fully thawed and risen, Whole Foods In-House Made Mediterranean Salsa (cow's milk feta, olive oil, kalamata onions, sundried tomatoes, scallions, Italian parsley, dill weed, black pepper, and ????), goat cheese, caramelized onions, wilted spinach, grape tomatoes sliced.

Preheat oven to 450. Use pizza stone if you have one. If not, use a baking pan. Shape pizza (you can make six small or 2 good size or 1 large with the dough), spread on the Mediterranean Salsa, then layer on goat cheese, onions, spinach and tomatoes. Bake until done.

YUM!!!! This should be considered an AWESOME FACE pizza.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Forty-Three (Rosario's Pesto and Spelt Right Pizza Dough)

I was foraging in Whole Foods - Portland, MAINE trying to drum up some ideas for the Lunch Box Chronicles. Lucky for me, I ran into Rosario (I have no idea his last name) who who was sampling his wheat pizza dough and pesto sauce that he sells at Whole Foods and stores from Damariscotta, Maine to Portland, Maine. I asked Rosario if it was alright if I tested some of his pesto on Spelt Right dough and he was willing. I purchased some pesto along with some other ingredients to test on other recipes (Fig Paste (see Day Forty-Two Post) and Whole Foods In-House Made Mediterranean Salsa (will be posted tomorrow).

The result with Rosario's Pesto? Delicious! It made the crust crispy and flavorful.

Ingredients: One Spelt Right Pizza Dough (thawed and fully risen), Rosario's Pesto Sauce.

Preheat oven to 400-450. I used a pizza stone, but you can use a baking pan. Stretch or roll out pizza dough, spread Rosario's Pesto Sauce. Bake until done. Yum!! Two thumbs up!!

As a variation, I also added goat cheese, sliced grape tomatoes, and caramelized onions to one of the pies.

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Forty-Two (Bananas and Pizza Dough??)

Thanks to Olivia, we have a very unique Lunch Box Chronicle for Day Forty-Two (though posted a day late). Olivia was on the computer and we were trying to persuade her to get off, which usually results in some sort of fit or another. Her response to divert our attention from her computer pursuits? "Just use a banana." "A banana?" I said, "Let me think, we need something else too, maybe date paste." Well the date paste was some sort of strange trigger. We convinced her to get off the computer, but she started hurling epithets at dates. "I hate date paste. It's the worse. It's like onions, in everything!! Everything always has dates in it! I hate dates! This isn't fair!!" "Really???" So not to be bullied by an 8 year old, I sent her outside so I could make the banana date dough wrap, only to later learn that it was really FIG PASTE, not date paste that I used. She calmed down, but a frightening scene followed. Olivia somehow convinced 84.5 year old grandma to get in her red wagon so she could pull her around and down a slight incline. All is well that ends well. We have spared you the photos.

RECIPE: Baked bananas with fig paste (not to be confused with date paste) (wrapped in Spelt Right Pizza Dough).

INGREDIENTS: Spelt Right Pizza Dough, fully thawed and risen. (We used only a few pieces for this experimental recipe and the rest for pizzas). One not too ripe banana. Fig paste (you can get it from Whole Foods or international food stores).

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut a small piece of dough, roll out until very thin, spread fig paste on dough, place a half a banana on the dough, roll, bake either on pan or on pizza stone at 400F for about 10 minutes.

RESPONSE: Olivia wouldn't try the one with figs (because she thought it had dates), but she did try the one sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Yes, I capitulated a bit by making one of the recipes with cinnamon and sugar rather than fig (date) paste. Spencer inhaled one that was so hot that he could barely taste it, but definitely gave it a thumbs up. Emma thought it was pretty good. Grandma, up from her wagon journey, thought the wrapped baked bananas were quite good. Grandma's quote, "I never would have thought of it, but it's not bad."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Forty-One (Guest Chronicler: Jim F.)

Thank goodness for Guest Chroniclers, and one of my all time favorite vendors, Jim at PackEdge! This looks like a great recipe, but I haven't tried it. Look how nice that dough shines brushed with egg white.

My feet, though, have s
een better days. They are complaining after a weekend of demos West Hartford and Glastonbury CT. Even, Emma, my star athlete and new demo recruit is complaining of sore feet. Those little toes are tingling!

And, this is where my feet thank today's Guest Chronicler, Jim, because now all I need to do is sit and type, rather than stand and create (or blaab, if I were at a demo).

One Spelt Right Pizza Dough, thawed a
nd fully risen
Pre-cooked chicken (either from Hannaford or Whole Foods)

Red peppers
Cheddar cheese - (I like Cabot)

Divide the dough in
Rolled in Spelt Right Pizza Dough and brushed with egg white
Bake 20 min. @ 400F

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Forty (Double crust stuffed pizza)

This chronicle is by Tim, as Beth and Emma were in Connecticut all weekend doing 'training' demos so Emma can prepare for her summer job.

"Piano recitals today. The kids did a great job. We thought about going out to eat afterward to celebrate, but we had this dough exploding in the refrigerator. So we came home and put together a simple stuffed-crust pizza "pie" with two crusts.

We rolled out 1/2 the dough and put a ring of mozzarella cheese around the edge. Folded the dough over to cover the ring of cheese, creating a "stuffed crust" with a good high ridge. Spread a light coating of sauce on the bottom of the pizza, added chunks of mozzarella (could use shredded) and went with what we had around the kitchen: broccoli (lightly sauteed in olive oil and garlic), raw mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. Could've added much more if we had planned ahead! We added a few dollops of sauce for good measure and put the pizza aside.

Then we rolled out the other 1/2 of the dough really thin and placed it over the top of the pizza, creating a pie. Just like an apple pie, we cut some slits in the top.

We slid the creation into a hot 390 degree oven onto a pizza stone and baked for about 25 minutes. We probably didn't wait long enough for it to cool, so it oozed a bit when cut. Maybe a little more cheese and less sauce would have been good. Didn't bother the kids - they gobbled the whole thing in minutes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Thirty-Nine (The Awesome Face Sandwich)

The "Awesome Face" Sandwich by Spencer

After a "grueling" day at school, Spencer needed to be recharged. Energy source? A sandwich made with Spelt Right Artisan Bread. And, now, here is Spencer's description of his remedy...

"First you take two delicious slices of Spelt Bread made by my mom. Next put mustard on one half and mayo on the other and do not be shy with either. Then put like 6-8 layers of ham on one half. Next on top of the ham put 3-4 pieces of sliced cheddar. After the cheddar add on layer of tomato. Then cover it with 2-3 layers of lettuce. Next slab on enough pickle and onion slices to your liking. Top it off with the other piece of bread, and .... VOILA!
<-- 'Awesome Face' (look it up) The only con is clean up, uhg. :P "

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Thirty Eight (Guest Chronicler Emily- My Sore Feet Are So Thankful for Guest Chroniclers!)

Thank goodness for Guest Chroniclers. This recipe is from Emily B. who stopped by the bakery last week with her college pal, Samantha. Both are recent grads from Clark U. I loved speaking with these two young women: idealistic, passionate, smart. And, they helped console me (and mop up) as the sink pump was backing up!

Tonight there was a mill wide open house, music, art, food, drink, games, fun. The weather was smashing! The River spectacular! We saw so many new and interesting faces, and hopefully gained a few more Spelt Right fans.

My feet, though, have seen better days. Boy, are they complaining for having to work all day. Stood up for at least 14 hours today. Those little toes are tingling!

And, this is where my feet thank today's Guest Chronicler, Emily, because now all I need to do is sit and type, rather than stand and create.

Ingredients: One Spelt Right Pizza Dough, thawed, fully risen.

As for the rest, you need to know how to shape and bake a pizza. Here is Emily's quote "We made the spelt dough with another friend for dinner on Wednesday evening and it was SO GOOD. I used garlic, scallions, blanched swiss chard & beet greens, parmesan & mozzarella, salt & pepper and an egg on top. See attached photo."

Although the instructions aren't very specific. You get the drift. And, an EGG, yes an EGG, cracked over the top of all of the ingredients and then baked. According to Samantha, Emily's friend, "The egg thing is awesome on pizzas!"

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Thirty-Seven (Goat Cheese Pizetta)

Well yesterday was much too hectic to post a recipe. Oh, I tried, but there was never a free moment. And then, there was the couch and a movie (with Olivia) and those options were just much more enticing. I actually lounged on the couch for an hour and a half. One rare moment.

Before I post the recipe, here is a bit of a public service announcement. There is a great article in the Portland Press Herald this morning on Konbit Sante Cap-Haitien Health Partnership, a Portland, Maine based non profit that has been doing relief work in Haiti for decades. This is a worthy organization and the needs are still many. (This is a link to their Facebook page)

Here is another recipe from the Scarborough High School Chroniclers - Emma and Adam.


BASE: 1 Spelt Right Pizza Dough - fully thawed and risen - cut into eight even balls

SPREAD: 5 or 6 garlic gloves, 2 pinches of ground mustard (now, Adam's secret ingredient has been revealed), 1 Tbls dry basil, salt and pepper. If you know how to use a mortar and pestle put about 1/2 salt, 1/4 teas pepper and cut up cloves in and smash the heck out of them making a paste.). If you don't have one, I recommend buying one. It's a great tool!! (See picture)

TOPPING: 1 Red Bell Pepper - sliced in thin sticks (seeds removed)
1/2 large onion - sliced thinly in circles, cut in half
Silver Goat Chevre, garlic and herb (though I'm sure a LOCAL variety would be better!!)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
(With hands, mix the above ingredients and squeeze lemon juice on top of it. Be sure to not let goat cheese blob together (this is a technical term) and instead spread it evenly with the vegetables.)


Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut the pizza dough into 8 even sized balls. On a pizza peel or cutting board dusted with finely ground cornmeal or spelt flour, shape the dough balls to about 1/4 inch thickness (this is the kids' recipe, but mama would make it a little thinner).
Lightly spread the "Spread" on each pizetta. Place topping on spread/dough base. Bake at 400 on pizza stone or lightly oiled baking sheet until lightly brown on the bottom.
Let cool and enjoy!

Two thumbs up!

Check out the cornucopia created by these two teens! Impressive. Too bad we can't commission them to cook every night.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Thirty-Six (Berry Struesel - the SPELT RIGHT WAY)

This is one of the best recipes coming out of the Lunch Box Chronicles so far.

It is the brainchild of two Scarborough High School Seniors, Emma and Adam, no doubt destined for great things. They hatched the idea for trying their hand at the Lunch Box Chronicles a few weeks earlier. On Sunday morning, the two teens bounded off to Hannaford with a few bucks in their pockets and a mission to make something that would knock our socks off. They succeeded and several recipes emerged!

Olivia and Spencer looked on in anticipation of great treats to come, only to be gravely disappointed, when Emma and Adam decided to abscond with the feast they created and surprise a group of friends with some culinary delights. Luckily, they did leave a few morsels behind or chaos would have ensued!

Here is the first of three recipes to be posted by the newly anointed Lunch Box Chroniclers:



One Spelt Right Pizza Dough (Fully thawed and risen). See earlier pictures for details.

Struesel mixture
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar
* 1 and 1/3 VITA SPELT spelt flour
* 1/4 cup organic sugar
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 cup of old fashioned oats
* 1 stick butter.

Melt butter and then pour in a mixing bowl. Mix together all the other ingredients with the butter. Use hands to make a crumble struesel.

Fruit Mixture
* 1 quart of strawberries (slice into quarters)
* 1 pint blueberries
* 4 TBL organic sugar

Wash fruit and mix well with sugar. Let sit.

Cut the pizza dough into 8 even sized balls. On a pizza peel or cutting board dusted with finely ground cornmeal or spelt flour, shape the dough balls to about 1/4 inch thickness (this is the kids' recipe, but mama would make it a little thinner). Make a thick edge around the thin base to hold in the juices (almost like a pie)

Place fruit mixture into a pizetta and sprinkle a good amount of the struesel mixture over the fruit.

Place on well oiled baking pan. Bake in 375 pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until looks done.

Let cool and enjoy!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Thirty-Five (Vegan Spiced Turnip Wraps)

This recipe was pieced together from a handful of random recipes by Tim. It has a pretty distinctive Indian/African flavor and it is a little more involved than most of our recipes, but it's not really that hard. It needs a little work on the flavors (I think I overdid the turmeric) and I'll bet someone would have a suggestion on how to give it just the right twist to be really delicious.

I made this for my kids as a kind of thick stew over rice and used the leftovers (no rice) in the spelt wraps.

3 small turnips, cut into small cubes
3 medium leeks, use the white part, cut into small rounds
3 medium carrots, cut into small cubes
1 small eggplant, cut into small cubes
1 medium onion
1 tsp ginger root, minced
1 can chickpeas (rinsed) - I didn't have time to soak dried beans
4 - 5 cups, vegetable broth
1 Tbs ground cardamom
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 Tbs ground allspice
1 Tbs ground cloves
1 Tbs fenugreek
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 Tbs black pepper
1 Tsp cayenne
1 Tbs sea salt
1/2 cup plain soy milk

Notes: I took all the peels from the vegetables and added to about 5 cups of water and boiled to make the vegetable broth. Pretty good!

Also, I didn't have all these spices, so I just picked up small amounts at the bulk section of our local natural foods store. Looks like alot, but it was pretty easy. Just blend them together in a small bowl with the salt and pepper.

How to prepare: Sautee the onions in olive oil until golden brown. Added ginger root and the spice mix. Then throw in all the other ingredients, except the soy milk. Cook for about 30 minutes on a medium heat - you want the turnips to cook all the way through. I had to add a little bit more veggy stock to keep it from drying out. Once everything is tender, take out about half the mixture and blend in a food processor. Throw it back in the pan with the soy milk.

This makes quite a bit, so have this as a meal with a spelt pita bread (see last post) or try it in a spelt pouch.

Stay tuned for a special treat from Emma and Adam, coming up soon!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Thirty-Four (OMG! THE PERFECT PITA ON THE GRILL) (Vegetarian Day 7)

Today we accomplished our goal of 7 vegan/vegetarian recipes, though we will be posting many more. For future posts, we will note on the title if the recipe is vegan or vegetarian.

Today Emma and her friend, Adam, were inspired by the Lunch Box Chronicles and decided to make some great dishes. It is very cool to watch two high school seniors getting culinar-ily (word?) inspired. I have to wait for the ingredient lists and directions of two of the recipes (strawberry/blueberry tarts and onion/pepper/garlic/special sauce pies) before I post them. But, you can look forward to some great recipes over the next week. In the meantime, I will provide you a new way to make a pita bread. We've made it in the oven before, but this is even better.

Pita Bread on the Grill!!

Ingredients: One or two Spelt Right Dough balls, fully thawed and doubled in size. Cut each dough ball into 8 equal size balls. Lightly dust a peel with corn meal. Roll out the dough into very thin rounds, as thin as you can go without making the dough transparent. (Having thin, evenly rolled out dough is important to make this recipe work)

Pre-heat grill to 400F. Place rolled dough on grill for 1-3 minutes (should start to rise), then flip to other side. Wait one or two minutes and then check open the grill cover. Dough will PUFF. Just BEAUTIFUL....After they're done, you can cut them in half and then stuff them with just about any culinary option. We'll give you some ideas in future posts. Here are the pictures.

SPELT RIGHT dough is the best!! Ask Hannaford to carry it! (We thank the many Whole Foods in Maine, Mass, CT, and RI that are already carrying it, along with Lois' Natural, Royal River Natural Foods, and Bow Street Market in Maine.)

Moms, Intuition, and the Case Against Drugging our Kids

Moms, Intuition, and the Case Against Drugging Our Kids

by Beth George

Food is in the news. From Michelle Obama on the cover of Newsweek declaring her 'Fight Against Childhood Obesity' to Jamie Oliver's 'Food Revolution' on national TV. Everyone's talking about food. As a lawyer-turned-food activist and baker - and especially as a mom - I'm thrilled that we're finally talking about obesity and its devastating consequences for our children's health.

However, a dialogue that focuses exclusively on 'fat' misses a critical piece of the food-diet equation: the link between diet and the hyped-up or distracted behaviors that often get our kids in trouble at home and school. Sadly, when a child starts exhibiting troubling behaviors, schools, physicians and counselors typically offer parents only one choice: a diagnosis of ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) followed by prescriptions for psychotropic drugs like Adderall, Concerta, Cylert, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Focalin, Metadate, Ritalin, and Strattera. Yet many of the behaviors that mimic ADHD can be directly traced to the food our kids eat - even some foods that for some might be perfectly fine.

As parents, we should be deeply concerned that about 8 million children in the US today are on one or more psychotropic drugs. Recent studies tell us that between 1960 and 2000, the annual rate of ADHD drug treatment increased more than 100-fold. Today, school nurses deliver more medications for behavioral and mental health conditions than for any other chronic health problem. Prescriptions are often written off label, meaning that there have been no studies determining the appropriateness for the use prescribed.

Sales of psychotropic drugs for kids bring in huge profits for Big Pharma. According to Evelyn Pringle, an investigative journalist whose work focuses on exposing corruption in government and corporate America, antipsychotics were the top selling class of drugs in both 2008 and 2009, with sales of $14.6 billion in 2009. In 2008, drug makers sold $4.8 billion worth of ADHD drugs alone.

When I was a practicing attorney representing children, I didn't know the statistics on drugging kids. But I saw the realities. Almost every child I represented was diagnosed with some disorder and had been prescribed some drug. Over time, I became alarmed and spoke out because I didn't see any improvement after the children were diagnosed and drugged.

It wasn't until the issue hit home, that I started digging deeper and ultimately started to look at the relationship between what our kids eat, and how they feel and act.

From the time my son was a toddler, his behavior and general health toggled between 'normal' and inexplicable. He vomited often and caught more than his share of viruses. Sometimes his energy level would soar for no apparent reason, causing his ears to turn red and hot. He might pull at his hair, or flap his hands - signs of his overwhelming frustration. Usually these episodes ended in a total emotional meltdown.

Once he started school, his behaviors worsened. Tests were run. Evaluations were delivered. Then came the multiple diagnoses, a virtual alphabet soup - PDD, SID, ADHD, ASDS - along with the dreaded recommendation: psychotropic drugs.

Having seen more than my share of troubled kids on meds, I was determined that my son would not become a statistic, just another kid on Ritalin, labeled disabled, and in the system. It was only because I resisted - and persisted - that we were able to solve the riddle of his frequent emotional outbursts and physical symptoms. We never went the drug route - though we were pressured and, at times, so run down that we thought that might be the only option. Call it a mother's intuition, but somehow I just knew that loading him up on pills wasn't the answer. Metabolic testing eventually showed that our son could not retain Vitamin Bs, essential for his nervous system to function properly. Under a doctor's supervision, we began supplementing him with a regimen of complex Bs, Omega 3s and antioxidants. We saw some improvement, yet the meltdowns continued. Still, we resisted the pressure to drug him.

Early on, we also resisted one lone doctor's advice to try an elimination diet in hope of identifying specific foods that might be causing him to act up. I confess that at the time, as a busy lawyer and mother of three active kids, I didn't think it was worth the time and trouble. I was skeptical about diet change. We were relatively healthy eaters and I couldn't believe that anything coming out of my kitchen could be the source of such erratic behavior. Unfortunately, I didn't initially connect the dots between those times when our son ate foods containing wheat, artificial additives or high fructose corn syrup, and the times he exhibited what I now recognize as telltale signs of food and toxin sensitivities. All that changed the day I met another mother who described her child's similar behaviors: the same hot ears, meltdowns, and zoning-out episodes. With a knowing look she told me, "You should really try taking wheat out of his diet." She also recommended that we look to artificial additives as possible culprits. That did it. We removed wheat and all artificial additives from our son's diet. Today he is a new child. He no longer carries the alphabet soup of diagnoses, is not on any medications, and is in the gifted program at school. He is healthy, happy, thriving, and very much aware of what he eats.

In my son's case, the inability to digest common wheat interferes with neurological transmitters to the brain. He gets headaches and brain fog to the point where he zones out. The symptoms look a lot like autism. He also reacts to certain artificial additives in foods, specifically red and yellow dyes, certain preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. His reactions to those chemicals look a lot like ADHD behaviors.

There is a study published in the September 2007 Lancet, which is a national medical journal in Britain, that documents the connection between the consumption of artificial additives and a hyperactive response in normal children. There are earlier studies showing similar outcomes, yet they are not highly publicized. It makes you wonder: How many of the millions of kids on psychotropic drugs today could be drug-free with just a few changes to their diets?

Although our son is nearly 13, we still need to remain vigilant. He'll be symptom free for months, and then suddenly have another episode. Not long ago, he started to have trouble in school again. His grades were suffering, he couldn't focus in class. I looked for clues. We finally concluded he was crashing because he was hungry. He ate breakfast at 6:45 a.m.. Lunch wasn't until 12:30 - nearly 6 hours later. When I asked that he be allowed to have a (healthy) snack between breakfast and lunch, school officials initially balked. "We need a diagnosis," they said. "A diagnosis? Really?" Fortunately, the school backed down. Sure enough, as soon as he was allowed a snack, his grades shot back up.

As parents and teachers, when did we stray so far from trusting our intuition that we need a diagnosis in order to do what common sense tells us is obvious: kids need nourishment (and snacking!)

My message on this Mother's Day to all you moms (and dads) out there struggling with a child's frightening behavior is this: Question what the "experts" say. Trust your intuition. Think before you drug. The solution might be right in your breakfast bowl, snack pack, lunch bag, or dinner plate. For an excellent resource on diet and behavior, see the Feingold Association website

Beth V. George, an attorney, is the mother of three children and the founder and co-owner of Spelt-Right Bakery in Yarmouth, Maine She can be reached at

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicle Day Thirty-Three Perfect Pleasant St. Pizza!!! (Vegetarian Day 6):Guest Chronicler Elaine

This is the BEST recipe EVER, compliments of my sister Elaine (Warning!! It is very rich and I would recommend having just one piece, though you might be tempted, like I did, to have three)

1 pkg of spelt right dough fully thawed and doubled in size

Lightly olive oil a large cookie sheet

Spread dough out on cookie sheet - very thin (see picture)

Place in pre heated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to pre-cook the crust (Elaine likes crusty crust)

While it's pre-baking slice up 4 large tomatoes (back yard beauties)

Slice 6 portabella mushrooms

Slice 6 white button mushrooms

Slice one large white organic onion

In a large frying pan caramelize onions, then add mushrooms

Wilt 5 0z of fresh organic spinach by placing it in the microwave for 1 minute

Throw the spinach in with the caramelized vegetables granulated garlic and sea salt

After removing the pre-cooked crust from the oven lie the sliced tomato's down so they cover the crust

Sprinkle the caramelized vegetables on top of the tomatoes

Then add 6 oz of crumbled feta

Then add 6 oz of crumbled goat cheese

Sprinkle Romano cheese on top

Then add 8 oz of Cabot mozzarella cheese on top

Pre heated oven to 500 degrees

Cook for 10-15 minutes!

Let sit for five minutes before serving!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Thirty-Two (Cinnamon rolls) Vegetarian Day 5

Thank you Emma and Nate for being the thumb models!

Here's is an easy recipe sure to please those with a sweet tooth. Do I hear Olivia?

Ingredients: One Spelt Right Pizza Dough (fully thawed and risen in bag), organic cane sugar, organic Ceylon cinnamon (amazing type of cinnamon, but you can use any type), butter or natural vegetable oil.

Cut dough into 6 even balls. Roll each ball really really thin on corn meal or floured board. Lightly spread with melted butter or vegetable oil (if you want to go vegan), sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix. Roll tightly. Place on baking pan with edges (butter or oil will drip).

Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until looks ready. Let cool slightly. Cut into pieces. I tried to get a picture of these, but the kids ate them too quickly. Here's a photo of the empty plate!

BTW, cinnamon is an amazing food. Eat as much as you can! TIDBIT FOR TODAY: Cinnamon has many health benefits. One quality is as an anti-bacterial...that's why cinnamon is swirled in bread and bagels and not mixed in. It will counter-act the yeast!

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Thirty-One (Lentils Again) Vegetarian Day 4

Today, I am just rehashing an old family recipe because I am much too tired to be creative.
It's called moujadarah - lentils and rice (PS The beautiful dish (ignore the wooden spoon) is a wedding gift from my cousin Denise - 23 years ago!)

Moujadarah (Lentils and Rice)

1 ½ cups dry lentils (washed and drained)

8 cups filtered water

1 ½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ organic white or brown rice (washed and drained)

2 TBL extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 TBL butter

1 medium onion (chopped finely)

2 medium carrots – shredded

Rinse lentils, drain, place in large sauce pan. Add water. Cover and cook on medium to low for about 1 hour or until lentils are tender, not mushy. Add salt, pepper, and rice to lentils. Cook on low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the lentils so they do not burn. Add shredded carrots to lentils. Saute onions in oil and butter until limp. Add to lentils. Stir and remove from heat. Serve with plain yogurt (Middle Eastern or Greek variety) and tabouli (we will soon post a recipe).

You can also serve with PITA bread. You can make this with Spelt Right Pizza Dough (For pita bread recipe, see Lunch Box Chronicles: Day 12)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles Day Thirty: Vegetarian Day 3:Lentils Lentils Lentils

I am obsessed with food, recipes to be exact. I used to drive around, thinking about national and world events, thinking perhaps who might be the next Supreme Court Justice (Kagan, who?). I even asserted my views to our lovely Senators. I might as well have been saying "waa, waaa, waaa, waa, waa." Then there was the law practice. On my way to court, I was formulating every constitutional argument I could muster. "Your honor, I respectfully submit that my client's 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendment Rights were violated." And, in fact, they had been. Ultimately, I might just say, "and in the interest of fairness and justice." "waa, waa, waaa, waa"

Now, instead of wrestling with constitutional arguments, I think about such things as "Oooh, I wonder how cooked lentils, walnuts, and onions would be blended together?" "MMM, that might be a good combination, but needs something more."

Where have I gone? I have gone home. I am in my comfort zone (except when I am negotiating with supermarket chains and large distributors for my budding business). I love feeding my kids and my husband, and feeding them well.

This is so tangible, so accessible, so real. Yes, I care about the Supreme Court nominees and some poor individual who has been unfairly treated, but the reality is that I have little control over those worlds.

So here I am controlling every slice, chop, mix, and blend. And in my control today, a recipe formulated on one of those car rides....quite inexact (I apologize) , but quite good.

Ingredients: One Spelt Right Pizza Dough fully thawed and risen. Lentils, walnuts, onions, spinach (I used frozen), one red pepper, 1 cup brown rice, fresh garlic, salt and pepper to taste. A smidge of EVOO just for browning the rice and the lentils:

Instructions: Prepare rice according to bag (I saute the rice first in a little EVOO with garlic and then add the water). Prepare lentils according to bag (you want these to be slightly firm, but fully cooked). Put 1/2 onion in food processor, add about 1 cup walnuts (inexact), add some rice (this is where the precision falls apart), add a cut up red pepper, add some brown rice, add in a few garlic gloves, the spinach (it should be damp), salt and pepper. Blend all together. YUMMM. This stuff is UGLY, but tastes so good.

We ate this two ways: One, we added a few bread crumbs made from Spelt Right bagels, and made paddies and cooked them up on the stove top with a little EVOO. The other is to take the mixture and make a fitaya. Bake at 400 until golden brown. (Check out the photos)

COMPLETELY VEGAN, fully satisfying. Better than last night's meal,

And, if I were the judge, I would say "Attorney George, you have made your case."
And my kids, they just say, "hey this isn't that bad."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Twenty-Nine (Vegetarian Day 2: Veggie Pizza)

See this beautiful uncooked veggie pizza? It took quite a bit of time to prepare with wilted spinach and garlic, fresh sliced tomatoes, cooked fiddleheads, sweated zucchini, eggplant, and oyster mushrooms (with a little EVOO and garlic), and caramelized onions.

Result? It slid off the pizza peel and on to the ground. We should have taken a picture of the mound, but we were in emergency response mode.

Quick response, scoop it up and throw the mess on the pizza stone. It wasn't so bad, and Spencer actually liked the bubbly texture.

We made a few other pizzas, some completely vegan as above, the others with some mozzarella cheese and veggies. The verdict? No thumbs up, lot of thumbs teetering on sideways. Ahhh so much work, so little gain. Everyone preferred the pizza with cheese. As stated by Tim, "cheese changes the whole experience." Tomorrow we will post the cheese veggie pizza.

AND NOW FOR A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT - MecaMorphosis is this THURSDAY night. It promises to be a VERY PORTLAND event providing you with culture, intrigue, food and drink. Thanks to MECA, Portland has a VIBRANT downtown. Here is a link to the event. PLEASE JOIN US.

Lunch Box Chronicles:Day Twenty-Eight (Vegetarian Day 1 - Tabouli wrapped in flatbread)

Tabouli – Lebanese Salad - (Beth’s mother Helen’s recipe, modified to be wheat-free)

½ cup white quinoa (substitute for bulgar wheat). Follow directions of quinoa for cooking. Rinse and drain thoroughly.

2 large bunches of fresh parsley, cleaned, de-stemmed, chopped finely

1 cup fresh mint, cleaned, de-stemmed, chopped finely

1 bunch green onions, chopped finely

2 large tomatoes, chopped finely

1 cup frozen peas (optional)

1 tsp of salt (more or less to taste)

Pepper to taste

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

SPELT RIGHT PIZZA DOUGH, doubled in size, cut in four even balls, stretched and rolled (gently) to its absolute thinnest so that you can see through the dough (see picture). This needs to be done on a peel or cutting board lightly dusted with fine corn meal or spelt flour.

Pre-heat oven to 450F with pizza dough in the oven. Place one very thin dough on pizza stone. Bake for only a few minutes and then flip. You need to watch these because you want them to be flexible not stiff. You can also do this on a lightly oiled hot griddle pan (I suggest cast iron)

The result will be a thin piece of delicious flexible flatbread that you can roll just about anything in.

Mix together cooked and cooled quinoa, parsley, mint, onions, tomatoes, peas in large bowl. In separate bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss dressing with vegetables.

Scoop tabouli salad on flatbread. Roll and cut to size you would like. Everybody absolutely loved these. Olivia's comment, "Amazing! Everybody wanted more, but mom didn't make enough bread."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Twenty-Eight (ok this it, we are going to try to go VEGAN for the next 7 recipes)

I have heard much from our readers and have read so much about the benefits of a vegetarian diet (if done right) and I have never taken the time to make it really work for my family. The next seven days are going to be vegan recipes - no eggs, no milk, no meat, no processed sugar. I received a vegetarian cookbook for Mother's Day and just looked at the Vegetarian Times website which provides a primer for becoming vegetarian. Let's see how it goes! Recipe will be posted later today. I will be going to the So.Me.Vegan blog for ideas. Here we go!

Oh my goodness, I am arguing with myself! I'm just NOT ready to go vegan. I'll do lacto ovo vegetarian, meaning I will make recipes with eggs and cheese, but no meat.

OK, that has taken some of the stress out of it....I can now look at the chevre without too much guilt. Give me a few months, I might ease my way to veganism.....

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Twenty-Seven (Mother's Day)

This is the Mother's Day edition. My kids and husband took over to make a meal and provide some more ideas with Spelt Right dough. The top photo is of garlic, cheese sticks created by Spencer made with Spelt Right pizza dough, rolled in a garlic olive oil past, rolled in grated Parmesan cheese, baked to perfection (though gives you strong garlic breath). The middle photo is of a Spelt Right "tortilla" made by Emma. Dough stretched to its thinnest, then coated with Trader Joe's Olive Tapenade and Hannaford Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese (grated), placed on a hot skillet with oil, and folded over. Definitely tasty. The third dish is from Tim with a little help from Grandma. Fully cooked Vita Spelt Spelt Penne, tossed with EVOO, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garbanzo and kidney beans, finely chopped parsley, olive tapenade. All of these recipes are "to taste" and with a little bit of this and little bit of that, because mom was not around to supervise with measurements. Mom's assessment? TWO THUMBS UP.