Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Autism Sensory Cookbook: Mushy Edition

To call our kids "picky eaters" is to make a laughable understatement.  So many of us have tried to break our kids out of the fries-pizza-ketchup diet (or fill in what your kid eats here_____________) and we just end up feeling frustrated and eating the food ourselves.  Then we feel frustrated and really, really full.

Our family had a major breakthrough when we discovered that the boy would eat chili.  Miracle of miracles!  Here was a food that we liked, and he liked, and we could all enjoy together.  So I made pots and pots of chili.  Every week, the crockpot was bubbling with chili.

We got really sick of chili.

What I learned, though, that it was the consistency of the chili that was important.  He liked mushy food he could eat with a spoon.  He only ate ground meat.  (And chicken nuggets, but let's not kid ourselves.  They are ground.)  If we told him it was chili, then he ate it.  Soon, we were moving onto meatloaf and eggs and other mush.  Then I got clever and started sneaking veggies into the food.  Now I'm the Mushy Veggie Iron Chef Ninja!  (I need a better name.)
I love this effin' thing.

How do you do it, Mushy Veggie Iron Chef Ninja? you may ask.  Well, let me tell you.

First, get yourself one of those Pampered Chef chopper thingies.  (This is not a paid endorsement.) 
They chop stuff up into teeny pieces and are satisfyingly loud and thumpy to use.  Great for getting out aggression.

Then, start by introducing veggies your kid already likes, or will never notice.  I put zucchini in everything because it has no detectable taste.  Peel it first if you think they'll get suspicious about anything green.  Chop it up really small, sauté to soften, and hide it in whatever you're cooking.  If your food is brown, mushrooms are good.  I've even fooled Big Bro by telling him the mushrooms were sausage pieces.  Now I chop-n-hide zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. 

Now, I start with some veggies that look like this:
Onions and peppers and zucchini!  Oh, my!

And then I add it to whatever I'm cooking to make...
Meatloaf Cupcakes!
Hose 'em with ketchup and they'll never see the veggies.

I use gluten-free breadcrumbs for these.  I bake the meatloaf in these disposable tins and freeze them.  Then I just pop out single servings and nuke 'em up.  (I cannot take credit for this idea.  I have a good friend who's on Pinterest a lot.  A lot.)

When we realized he likes eggs, I started scrambling up this mess:

He inhaled this.  I swear.  It's all about mush with him.

I call these "Hamburger Eggs," though there's no meat in them.  I find if I add the name of a food he already likes to whatever I'm cooking, he's more likely to try it.
With the boy, it's about texture.  Maybe that's the key with most kids.  We just have to figure out how to make their favorite textures somewhat healthy.  So I'll leave you with two vaguely written recipes--"Hot Dish" and "Egg Mess."

Note:  I don't know from measurements or time.  Put in enough and cook it 'til it's done.

HOT DISH*  (My husband named this for the unidentifiable slop you'd get in the cafeteria at school--except it's good.)

*AKA "Chili Pasta"--see?  Tricked him!

1 lb ground turkey or beef
2 cups cooked elbow macaroni  (We use gluten-free)
Whatever veggies you can take
Tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, or pasta sauce.

Chop and sauté onions, peppers, or whatever veg you want.  In a separate pan, break up the ground meat into tiny bits and cook.  Drain the fat.  (Or keep it--I won't judge you.)  Add the veg, pasta sauce, and any spices.  We like red pepper flakes.  Throw in the macaroni.  Allow to simmer for a bit and serve.  (Sometimes we sprinkle a little cheese on it if we're feeling crazy.)

I don't have a picture of this, but it looks like hamburger helper--without all the sodium and guilt.

EGG MESS  (This is my version of a frittata, but if I said the word "frittata" to my kids, they'd run.  Call it "Egg Mess" and they ask for seconds.)

1 dozen eggs
1/2 c. milk (I'm totally winging it on this measurement.  I don't really know how much.  Just add milk.  Or don't.  I doubt it matters.)
Tater tots
Bacon, if you want.
1-2 cups of shredded cheese
Whatever veggies you want.

Preheat the oven to 350 or 400.  Lightly spray a rectangular pyrex with Pam.  Line the bottom of the pyrex with tater tots.  Do the choppy/dicey thing with the veg.  Fry up the bacon.  Set it aside to cool and then crumble.  Drain some of the fat, but not all.  Cook the veg in the leftover bacon grease.  Sprinkle the bacon and veg over the tots.  In a big bowl, beat the eggs with some milk and salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over the tots/bacon/veg.  Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for an hour or so.  (Check and make sure the top doesn't get too brown.  Cover it with foil if you're nervous.)

I like it with Crystal Hot Sauce.  The boys like it with ketchup, of course.

I don't have a picture of this, either, but it looks like a big-ass frittata.  And it's really good cold the next day.

Wow, this is the most domestic I've ever sounded like!  I don't cook every day.  I like to cook once or twice a week and then live off it.  In fact, I didn't cook a damn thing today because I was too busy writing, but nobody noticed or cared.  It was a Chef Boy-ardee and Glutino pizza night!

Bon appetit, yo!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dys-funk-tional Play

I'm in a funk.  I'm trying not to wallow, but I just might have to marinate here for a bit.

It's the weekend.  It's time to do stuff with our kids.  All the good moms on Facebook are posting pictures of the cookies they're baking, projects they're crafting, or at the very least, the messes their kids are making as they play.  And hence, my funk.

My kid doesn't play.

Our house looks like a kindergarten.  Or an OT room.  We have colorful bins of differently themed toys.  We have blocks and books and flash cards and Handy Manny tools.  We have dolls and clothes and bottles and diapers.  We have doctor's kits and games and every damn developmental piece of wood that Melissa and Doug ever created.  We even have a bin devoted to different types of plastic airplanes.

The boy wants none of it.

All he wants to do is carry his Phineas and Ferb figures around the house and script about not breaking toys--right before he pulls them apart.  Then he brings me the pieces to pop into place.  Sometimes they won't pop into place and I have to hide them in a coffee cup until I can glue them back together.  And sometimes having to wait for the glue to dry is more than he can bear and he has a meltdown.  I've learned to keep back-ups.
I'm about to glue my fingers together.

This isn't playing.

His therapist is working on functional play.  We have a wooden train set, and it's like a chore for him to set that up.  He'll paint for about two minutes.  Play-doh goes almost directly in his mouth and gets put away.  Last year, he showed a fleeting interest in the dollhouse at school, so I got him one from eBay.  He doesn't touch it.

This morning I tried to incorporate his obsession into real play.  I took out the Legos and suggested we build a house for Perry.  He said yes, but as soon as we started, he yelled, "No more!" and started throwing the bricks back in the bin.  Then he asked for a movie.

I can't let eating, breaking toys, and watching videos be the only thing he does at home.  But I also don't want to fight with him all the time.  It's Saturday.  I spend all week teaching other people's kids and now I want to play with my own.

(Sigh.)  Maybe Big Bro will let me shoot zombies with him on his Playstation.