Q&A with my Celiac Sista

My sister and I talk about food pretty much everyday. No lie. We send each other food photos, share recipes, question the gluten-free status of products, and dream about the bakery we should just go ahead and open.

When I  asked her if she would mind stopping over here and letting me ask her all kinds of questions about her crazy-busy-supermom life and all things food, it was like a really long text message, so she was in.

So, here she is — family of 6 (FOUR little boys!) living in rural Minnesota, with two boys in school, and two in diapers (five month old twins — and those are cloth diapers, baby!) and a busy schedule that she somehow manages pretty perfectly with real food meals on the table, lunches packed, and she still makes time to sew costumes for “super hero day” at school. She’s amazing. Welcome, Celiac Sista!

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Q&A with Celiac Sista

Do you prefer celiac sista or sister? (I think I’ve called you both) 

I go by celiac sista because sister was already taken when I first set up my twitter account a couple of years ago and it stuck.  I will be using celiac sista for my blog too (coming soon).  <– Yeah, buddy — she’s starting a blog! 🙂

Kiddos can be picky. You have 4 of them….how do you keep them happy with meals and still feed them healthy foods? I often hear parents struggle with getting their kids to try new foods and eat what the whole fam is eating, how do you deal with that? (and avoid feeding them only nuggets, pizza, mac n cheese, etc)

I like to know what my kids are hungry for.  When I am planning meals out for the week, I ask for requests.  If they ask for a traditionally non-healthy food, I find a way to convert it into something I feel good about feeding them.  When they feel like they had a choice in what is served for supper or packed in their lunch bags they are more likely to eat it.  

 
To get the kiddos to try new foods I introduce new foods along with foods that they know and love.  If I want them to try a new fruit or vegetable, I serve it along side something simple like bananas or corn.  We have a one bite rule at our house.  If they take one bite and don’t like it, I don’t make them finish.  I’ve learned from my 5 yr old, it’s easier to try a bite of something new when no one is watching.  It’s also easier to like new foods or to say you like new foods if your big brother likes them too.  
 

I involve my kids in the shopping at the store and farmer’s market or picking from our garden.  They get excited about helping with the prep and cooking in the kitchen too.  If it’s a new meal and they helped to make it, my kids are more likely to try it as opposed to me just serving up something new and putting it in front of them. 

How do you come up with family friendly meal ideas and keep things interesting?  

Like I mentioned, I asks my family what they are hungry for, myself included.  For me, food tastes better when it looks appealing.  This works for kids too.  Most kids like simple food.  No spices, no glazes, and always a sauce to dip it in.  To keep it simple for the kids and exciting for the adult taste buds, I’ve learned to season my food after it’s on my plate.   

If my kids have a dipping sauce, they will eat twice as much of anything I serve them.  What they think is “pizza sauce” is really just pureed tomatoes from the garden with onion, green pepper, carrots, cucumber and some italian seasoning. They think I’m being generous and giving them extra sauce, I’m smiling because they are dipping their foods in vegetables.  We both win. 

What do you pack them for lunch everyday?

I try to keep lunches exciting.  Some days its leftovers from the night before or earlier in the week, other days it’s a waffle sandwich with homemade jam or cream cheese in the middle.  With the help of our new lunch gear this year, our hot and cold lunch option are endless.  I have used the ideas from www.100daysofrealfood.com to come up with more things that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.  She’s amazing! 

So you have celiac disease and your 5 yr old does too…so does the whole fam eat GF? How has CT’s experience been at school? How do you make sure he’s not left out?

Meals that we all eat together are all GF.  Lunches that are packed for work and school have “normal” bread for those not needing to eat gluten-free.  Everything else in the house is GF. 

 
Sending my little man off to kindergarten this year with celiac was harder on me than it was on him.  He has never once had a negative comment about his lunch.  I make sure to pack fun lunches that I know he will like.  I purchased some fun foogo food jars from Thermos so I can send warm lunches instead of the traditional sandwich everyday.  We also added homemade smoothie pop containers, reusable lunch bags from NanRae’s Niche, divider containers from Ziploc, mini cookie cutters to make fun shapes, and these awesome drink bottles.  The boys have been very excited about our cool new lunch gear.   
 

I don’t want CT to feel like he is the kid that’s “different” so I try my hardest to keep his food comparable.  I look at the school lunch menu and find something similar to send that day.  Today was traditional pizza Friday at school.  We found this great pizza bite recipe earlier this year and converted it to being GF by changing the flour to a GF mix.  Simple as that.  Along with his pizza bites, I sent Mom’s special “marinara” sauce, fresh fruit cut with our mini cookie cutters, carrot sticks, water, and a Carter’s Cashew bar.  <– And here is a recipe to make them yourself! 

With the bubbas (adorable, 5 month old, twin nephews)…will you wait to give them gluten?

I plan to wait as long as I can before introducing gluten to my twin baby boys.  Most doctors in our area will not test or diagnose children until the age of 5 (crazy I know!).  With all of us eating GF at home anyway, I don’t see the need to introduce them to gluten until I need to. 

You do mostly real foods, so how do you deal with all the treats from school? How will you handle Halloween? Are the boys on board with healthy food choices?

The amount of candy awarded to children at school is out of control.  I can’t change the way the school system works, but I can change the way my own children think.  To deal with treats given for good behavior, passing a spelling test, etc, I have a reward system of my own.  If the boys bring the treat home unopened, they can pick from an extra story at bedtime, playing a board game with Mom, or a prize from Mom’s special prize box. (stickers, tattoos, non food items).  
 

I’ve been thinking about ideas for Halloween.  The kids always have an item or two that they are saving up for, so I’ve thought about trading them a certain amount of money per pound of candy that they hand over.  There are also several non-treat Halloween themed activities going on in surrounding towns that day that we may participate in instead.

 

At first there was some hesitation from the boys about eating healthier.  After we did some cooking and baking together with alternatives to sugar with the same sweet results, they didn’t seem to mind the changes.

Earlier this summer you did the Whole30 challenge...how did it go? Would you recommend it to others?

It was hard. No lie. I LOVE sugar.  There, I said it.  Of all the things that are not allowed on the Whole30 challenge, sugar was the hardest thing for me.  After the first week however, I wasn’t really missing anything.  There were days when I really wanted a piece of bread or a handful of pretzels to fill me up, but I made it through.  I am much more aware of what is in all of the foods that we are eating, and it was the turning point for me to do a full overhaul to whole foods. 

 

I would recommend the challenge to anyone wanting to detox, be more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and as an added bonus lose a few pounds. 

What are your go-to snacks for the kids? Any fave recipes or websites to share with other mamas?

We like to make our own trail mixes.  I give each kiddo a bag or container, and they can pick from nuts, dried fruit, dry cereal and seeds.  Any kind of easy to eat fruit always goes over well too. One of our new favorites, from the Eat Like A Dinosaur book, are the homemade Lara bars.  I’ve made them into fun shapes with cookie cutters.  

 

Another favorite is any kind of muffin. I’ve been using Pamela’s GF baking mix and replacing the oil and sugar with applesauce, mashed bananas and carrots.  The kids have no idea and I feel better knowing they are getting extra fruit and veg in their breakfast muffins. 

I often refer to you as a super mom (you totally are) so how do you do it? What advice can you give to other parents who are trying to curb all the sugar, get real food on the table, and still find time to shower? 

There are easy days, and there are days when I want to call everyone I know to come help me out.  Four little boys IS A LOT of work, I’m not going to sugar coat that one for you or try to make you think I roll through my days with ease.  There are several days when I’m feeling light headed around 2pm and I realize that I’m still in my yoga pants and I have only eaten the food I’ve licked off of my fingers as I made meals for the kiddos.  We are a work in progress.

Like I mentioned earlier, I did the whole30 challenge this summer as a detox.  It really opened my eyes to some of the junk we had hiding in the pantry.  Since the challenge, I’ve slowly replaced items with large amounts of sugar with something healthier.  Not everything we eat is free of added sugar, but we are getting there.  I read an article recently that said a healthy amount of added sugar to our diet would be 12g a day.  While my ultimate goal is NO added sugar, 12g is our current goal.   If you read the labels on everything you eat and drink for one day, you might be surprised at how much sugar we consume everyday without realizing it. 

The best advice I have, that is working for us, go back to the basics.  Pick meals that contain naturally healthy and in many cases GF foods.  Meat, vegetables, and fruit.  This is even easier when using a slow cooker (my favorite kitchen appliance). Supper cooks all day, the house smells amazing, and a whole healthy meal is on the table and ready all at once.  

Speaking of easy-peasy recipes for the slow cooker — here is her recent, super simple recipe for applesauce! 

Celiac Sista’s Slow Cooker Applesauce

12 apples (hers were fresh picked from a friend’s tree!)

1 cup 100% apple juice

1. Peel and core apples, roughly chop

2. Add apples and apple juice to slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

3. Fill your home with the aroma of fall. (this is done for you — just have a cup of coffee and relax)

4. Serve it up warm, with a little cinnamon on top. Store the rest in the fridge. (it won’t last long… it’s THAT good!)

 

Isn’t she the coolest? I could not be more proud of her — she inspires me to be a good mama someday. I have no doubt I’ll be calling/texting her daily. (and not just for food!) I’ll keep you posted when her blog goes up, you won’t want to miss it! 

10 thoughts on “Q&A with my Celiac Sista

  1. Your sister is pretty amazing! I have 2 kids and can barely function most days 🙂 I love her hints about making food simple and ubspiced for kids and adding your own after. I’ve been struggling with that conundrum for a while now.
    -Dana

  2. Always wanted a sister… but a celiac sista? seems too good to be true! Loved this post – and the way your sister manages the kids’ diet. Healthy both in the physical and the emotional sense. Your blog serves up so much valuable info – with loads of warmth. Kudos!!

  3. Great Q&A! I love the lunch and the waffle sandwich idea–whoa. I think I know a kid who might go bananas over that. We don’t eat gluten-free, but we deal with multiple food allergies in our house, so I always love reading about other moms making food fun & healthy & worthy of envy at the lunch table. I’d say you’re one super mama. I bet it runs in the family 🙂

  4. I always enjoy reading your blog!!!! This time it was a very proud moment for me when it involved both of my girls:) Very interesting article. LOVED IT. Thanks You both really know your stuff. I know you learn something new about celiac daily. Keep up the good work.

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