Chef Lyn’s Dinner Cooking

Thank you, Lynne, AwesomismMom for this honor and the opportunity to be a guest blogger/writer for your wonderful site. Our community of people are important family and I am happy to be able to share my experiences both as a Personal Chef and mother of an autistic child.

Chef Lynn < The Personable Chef, talks about Dinner time and feeding our autistic kids/adults

 

Creating dinner each night takes planning and thought. Each person has their own likes and dislikes for sure. When you add an autistic/adhd child/adult into the mix you may be finding yourself becoming the short order cook you never wanted to be.

My younger daughter is almost 8 and was diagnosed with autism at age 2.( I don’t usually use the term higher functioning but that shares her story a bit)

From the beginning there were sensory eating concerns. As much as I could, I gave her various textures/colors and types of food so that she wouldn’t limit the already limited diet anymore.

At this young age she preferred smooth and sweet things. yogurt, sometimes hummus, juicer fruits those kinds of things. Getting enough protein was always the challenge. As she ages what her food looks like and smells like are very important to her.

“Its yucky or I hate it” is the famous phrase here even when she hasn’t tried something, (we hear this daily.)

Beyond my family…….

One of the biggest obstacles I have found over the years is the parent(s) (me included)

Many parents can be picky eaters and so what they don’t like they pass that off, the child(ren) decide that they won’t like it either.

And believe me when I say, even our body language about food teaches our kids how we feel about what we see and might be eating or not eating.

Typically, the biggest food obstacle is the food rut…. “My child(ren) young/adult won’t eat that, “

Did you ever try? Did you ever try again?

Eating the same thing each week too can become such a rut with the food becoming tired.

Now what…

Our taste buds are ever changing and reintroducing something may take some time but is usually worth the pay off.

We’re all guilty (me included) of staying with what we know works. It’s just easier and there are no challenges/meltdowns if we stay safe.

In order to expand their eating needs and foods we must stay diligent and teach them about what’s healthy eating and how to over come the challenges they may face.  All that we do for our autistic kids (therapies/ schooling, feeding, etc.) is a process. Life skills are of course helpful for life and very necessary.

What I know to be true, I’ve encouraged through many questions……

Having taught and cooked for autistic kids and their families I am asked frequently what can I do? Need help for getting them to eat something new.

My experience has been that all autistic kids, verbal, nonverbal with various functional limitations or otherwise will somehow communicate with us about food. We just need to watch/listen and deduce their wants/needs.

We know our kids of course…. Sometimes you need to go the extra mile and encourage otherwise. A healthier diet is but a trial and error situation away.

Here has been some of my suggestions

For the older more independent eater I usually suggest this (of course works with younger too) . If you eat “family style” put something you know they will like and chose on the table, this way they’ll have a success with choosing something when you want them to try something new. Praise them with what they chose and do encourage the new food. (example put the chicken nuggets you know they’ll eat if you’re going to introduce cooked carrots.) Do encourage a taste but don’t push if there’s hard push back. (keep re-introducing over a number of days)

When introducing a new vegetable offer it with no flavor added first (especially cooked) this way they get the flavor and texture without the added butter/seasoning or dip) Always add those later

Our OT told us in the beginning that at first, they may just have to see the new food. From there touch it, lick and then taste. Do these steps slowly and without much fuss from you. Remember sensory kids are often easily put off. The goal here is to get them to try something new. Take your time, remain calm and be as noncritical about their choices as you can, you never want food to be a battle.

If your child/adult comes grocery shopping with you experience the store if you can. Let them touch and smell the foods. Talk about what’s there. If they show interest perhaps purchase the food in hopes they will try. (Helping to plan the weeks menu and grocery list is also a way to add some excitement and skills as you talk about what will be created each night. This allows for some food confidence building should they be interested. )

Farmers markets are a great way to taste various foods. If your child/adult can stand crowds and all that entails a visit can be a great way for them to be outdoors and experience what is local in food.

Bringing our kids in some capacity into the kitchen, if they are receptive is also a great way for them to touch the food, perhaps wash and tear it up. To cut and taste it. Teaching the life skills again and giving them self esteem goes a long way for sure.

Kids in the kitchen

The above page will give age appropriate kitchen tasks should you go this route and need some insight.

I will admit that right now we are pushing her to try more and strongly encouraging her to eat. Broccoli and cauliflower have been the vegetables. Now she will also eat a meatball.

Dinner here is a great conversation sit down time , where we share about our day and talk food. When you’re a chef there is ALAWYS talk about food.

Enjoy your food, encourage new things through time and there will be success I promise.

“I love what I do and its reflected in the delicious food I create”  Chef Lynn

A few recipes ….

once you’ve introduced cauliflower in the raw state this is a great way to eat them, like mashed potatoes but yummier

 Equipment

Microwave safe bowl, sharp knife, cutting board, colander, potato masher, towel or paper towel

California mashers:

Serves 4

Head of cauliflower washed, and florets cut off stem

Either steam, microwave or boil on top of stove

Butter or butter substitute 2tbsp (more is you desire)

2tbsps cream cheese

¼ cup shredded cheese of choice (mozzarella usually good for our kids as it has a milder flavor)

Salt to taste, pepper if you’d like

¼ cup Grated Parmesan cheese is delicious too but can be a much more pungent flavor, some kids like where others not so much. If you do use parmesan you won’t need the salt.

 

 

Putting it together…..

I like to micro-wave them

In microwave safe bowl add the flowerets with a tbsp or two of water, cover bowl with paper towel. Microwave on high in increments. Start with 3 minutes. You want the cauliflower to be really soft. May take up to 6 to 8 minutes (depends on your microwave and yes climate) (add more water if dry as you check)

Careful taking bowl out of microwave will be very hot…

Now you need a potato masher (older child/adult could do this)

While still hot to melt the cheese add the butter (butter substitute) and cheeses, mash until desired consistency.

Enjoy this delicious side dish

PS if there are leftovers can add an egg and mix-up, form into patties and in a pan sauté them on medium high heat turning once for about 8 to 10 minutes roughly. Another way to use the leftovers.

Breakfast for dinner

Everyone loves pancakes….

Equipment:

Bowl, wooden spoon, spatula, fork, measuring cups, frying pan or griddle, spoons , small bowl to melt butter

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)

2 tablespoons sugar (when I use apple sauce or banana I don’t use)

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter(melted)

1 large egg

¼ tsp pure vanilla extract

Dash of cinnamon ( I use ¼ tsp or more as I like the flavor, could also use pumpkin spice)

Other variants … unsweetened apple sauce in place of egg,

2 tbsps. natural peanut or almond butter (good for protein)

mashed small banana

¼ cup oatmeal for texture

Instructions

Mix all dry ingredients together in a big bowl, add the egg or unsweetened apple sauce or banana, milk and melted butter

If using cinnamon or other flavoring add now before mixing.

Stir until combined.

Heat pan to medium high (turn down once first side is on pan/griddle)

…For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto pan or skillet.

Cook until surface of pancakes has some bubbles approximately 1 to 2 minutes.

Flip carefully using spatula, and cook until browned on the underside,

1 to 2 minutes more.

Serve with your favorite topping

Enjoy

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@shapingherworld (autism)

@personablechef

The Strength of Texans

I decided to revisit this blog for a couple of reasons….. We have had some bad weather in Texas again lately, and once again… I saw the best come out in people…. and another reason… because I really hope that people focus on the best… even while going through tough times… that is a Life Lesson for always…Hope you enjoy this blog!

 

 

 

As most of you know this past week or so has been an almost surreal time in Texas. As I was thinking about writing this blog, I struggled with how to write this. I want to make sure I make this about everyone who was affected and everyone who gave so selflessly, not about me.

I have been through other Hurricanes as I lived in Florida for many years. I honestly wasn’t stressed about this one, as I figured it would be a day of storms and then we’d be done. As the storm got closer and the weather people became truly stressed, I started to worry. I didn’t want Peyton to know I was worried, as he tends to really stress whenever any storms are happening. I saw him sitting in his massage chair, quite a bit so I knew he was well aware there was some “danger” heading toward us.

Friday night the storm started, we all started to realize this was going to be big, little did many of us realize just how big. Harvey came and he didn’t leave, he seemed to have a love for Texas, like so many of us. The problem was he wasn’t good to us. No matter how awful Harvey was, Texas was stronger. The will, resolve and love of the people of Texas was shown over and over. That love, that determination and resolve was watched by people all over the world. The people watching decided they needed and wanted to help, I truly believe they helped because they saw Texans as awesome people. No one cared what color skin, ethnicity, religion you were, or who you voted for….they cared that you loved, cared, and believed in the goodness of EVERYONE! A week before Harvey came, this country was coming apart at the seams. The people of Houston and of Texas grabbed a huge needle and thread and not only repaired the tear, but did it with love. I sat glued to channel 13, abc news. I cried, I laughed and I cheered as I watched the “Cajun Navy” and many, many, many others come. People grabbed everything they could and went out risking their lives, to save EVERYONE. The resolve and strength of people was overwhelming to me. Whole families’ belongings were reduced to a garbage bag and even sometimes a small grocery bag. Yet, when many were interviewed they were so thankful to be alive. They focused on the positive, thanked those who saved them, and chose to see the silver lining.

This is what is great about Texans, they see what unites them, not what divides them. Oh I know there are some who choose to be negative, but they are a small number, and like Harvey will fade away into the background. Now comes the really hard part… The rebuilding for so, so many… But just like when Harvey was trying to break our will and our spirit. I truly believe we will see the strength, resolve, compassion and love of Texans. That huge needle and thread will become a hammer, saw and nails. I hope the world keeps watching because Texans believe in actions, not words and the lessons they teach are Huge, because everything is bigger in Texas! We are Houston Strong, We are Texas Strong! I am sure Harvey and maybe even a few others learned….Don’t Mess with Texas!

Sit Back and Relax!

Many people find a hot bath to be relaxing… it also can have awesome benefits. It can improve circulation as well as relax you, therefore providing a better night’s sleep. There are many products on the market that are made for baths… Lavender is a favorite as is eucalyptus of many. I love both of these as well as peppermint, lemons, sage, rose, and spearmint. I happen to be partial to bath salts. I know not everyone likes salts… and there are plenty of other products for them as well. I love designing my own fragrances for my moods. After much experimenting over the years, I have settled on this on as my favorite as it seems to be an all mood satisfier.

Here are steps of making lavender bath mints and mint tea as well as health benefits of lavender tea below.

Lavender Bath Mints Instructions:

  • Get an airtight container to store the mixture in. Otherwise, the moisture can cause itself to become hard rock
  • 1 1/2 cups of Epsom salts
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 25 drops of lavender essential oil
  • Mix them all together and put it into airtight container

 

 

It seems Lavender is everywhere these days, I personally think that is a good thing!  The distinctive scent makes it popular in soaps, bath salts, and other products. I actually have an all natural plant based Lemon and Lavender product line!  Please check it out my store for all the lemon and Lavender product!

Lavender tea is increasingly more popular these days, as well. Lavender tea has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to boost mood and enhance calm.

Awsomness of Lavender Tea

Lavender is one of the most frequently used for essential oils, aromatherapy rollers and bed sprays. It is also used as a bedtime tea. Lavender has calming properties that help to soothe the mind. In fact in Germany, lavender extract…known as Lasea, is approved as an anxiety and sleep aid treatment. This is extremely helpful for people like me, who have GAD… General Anxiety Disorder.

Lavender tea can help treat headaches caused by tension. The chemical compounds in lavender,have been shown to help to increase blood circulation. By delivering oxygen to the brain it helps with alleviating severe headaches.

Lavender tea can also help with digestion, and some believe it actually aids with body detoxification.

Lavender has been shown to help with anxiety and stress, by helping you reach a more restful sleep. Here is one of My favorite Lavender and Mint tea recipes

Lavender and Mint Tea Instructions:

Lavender – has antioxidants without the caffeine. It can calm anxiety as well as aid with digestive problems.

I am a huge fan of Mint tea… some of my favorite Mint Tea comes from Morocco.. but any good grade of Mint tea will do!

Step 1: Prepare
Add a quarter cup of fresh lavender petals and 1 cup of fresh mint leaves to a medium sized saucepan.

Step 2: Heat Water
Cover the lavender and mint with water and bring to a boil. Turning  down Temp  to medium and let the brew simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Taste it starting at 7 min to see if it is at the desired taste… if not let simmer longer

Step 3: Strain and Pour
Remove the mint and lavender using a strainer. Pour the infused water into a cup and enjoy.

General guidelines for brewing teas:

Each type of tea may have different guidelines, do need to check on each type. However: there are some general guidelines that work to make a great cup of tea, for beginners:

Bring  cold water to a boil in a tea kettle. When water is in a beginning boil, turn off heat and remove kettle. Pour hot (not boiling) water over tea and set tea from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The time is based on the type of tea. It using loose tea… strain… using bag tea.. wrap tea bag around spoon and set on side of cup. Tea is wonderful alone, but lemon, milk, cinnamon, sugar and honey can also be added. Be careful adding lemon and milk at same time as it can cause the milk to candle.

Fall destressing

A lot of people I know feel that summer is there time to unwind. They look at it is the season that they go on vacations, the days are longer, so they can go outside more, they can do more… In general the weather is better.

For me it’s very different… I find fall/autumn to be my most destressing/relaxing season of the year. There is something about the cooler temperatures… That really make me happy.

I also really love the food in the fall… I am a massive apple and cinnamon person. I love to make hot apple cider… When my kids were younger, I would always make it from scratch. I love having potpourri on the stove.. and candles in the house.

I really enjoyed baking so I love to make pies and cookies… And there’s something magical about this time of the year when you’re baking.

I also really love to make homemade soup and stews.

I always feel like this time of the year is the most cozy time of the year… It’s not hot out… And living in Texas that he can really get to you in the summer. It’s not freezing cold, where you have to worry about snow and ice like in the winter… And after a hot summer, it’s so relaxing to have a cool evening in the fall.

I also happen to be one of those people that when it’s rainy or cloudy or overcast out, I enjoy working more! I enjoy doing things around the house, I enjoy writing, listening to podcasts and music, there’s just something about it, that makes me destress more!

I also am a big hot bath taker… I’ve talked about this in prior blogs, how I love to take hot baths to relax… In the fall it’s fun to take hot baths… Even more so than in the winter, because in the winter when you get out of the bath, you get so cold quickly.

I love wearing sweaters and warm fuzzy socks… To me these are all very calming.. soothing… Destressing type things. We are all different, and we all have different things that help us with our stress and anxiety… Fall happens to be one of those for me.

Although, I wouldn’t be being totally honest… if I didn’t admit that from a sports perspective, the fall is much more stressful for me… 😂😂Because I am a huge college football, NFL and NHL fan… And since they all play in the fall… I do get a lot more stressed about my sports… But it’s a different kind of stress 🤷🏻‍♀️

I love the cool evenings.. I especially love it when it’s cool enough to put a fire in the fireplace… Of course my husband and I have completely different ideas on what is cool enough! 🤗

What are some of your favorite things about the fall? Do you find the fall to be more of a destressing time? or do you find because we’re going into the holiday season, to make it more stressful? I’d love to get your feedback on that.

Peyton also loves Fall… here is the link to his blog! Why Fall is My Favorite Season

As Always.. Thanks for reading my Blog and have an Awesome Day!

Lynne

Faith it until you make it

Faith it until you make it… I saw this quote a few weeks ago… And I absolutely fell in love with it. You usually hear the term fake it until you make it. I think many of us fake it until we make it to a certain degree, when we are entrepreneurs, small business owners, pursuing our dreams etc. etc. But is that what we really want to be a faker?

The more I thought about this “Faith it until you make it” the more I loved it. The more raw and real it became to me.

I think we all have different versions of what our faith, or what faith is. This blog is not a lecture about what your faith should be by definition… But more about having that positive thoughts and conviction… To stay strong while you work to fill your dreams and passions.

I happen to be a person of faith, I believe in the power of prayer, I believe in a strong inner commitment to do what is right, not only for yourself, but for others.

This is not to say that I am always perfect. I am far from perfect… I make mistakes, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life… But I try very hard to learn from them.

My dad always tried to teach me it was only a mistake if I didn’t learn from it… Otherwise it was a life’s lesson. I do truly try to learn from my mistakes. So let’s just say I have lots and lots of life’s lessons. 😂

I think nowadays, we have developed an attitude of what we want, we better have and we better have it NOW! There are times, I must admit, that I can become very disheartened with the way that we have become in society in general.

Too often I don’t see people actually caring about other people, I see them talking about what they do ….what they have… how great they are.. basically faking it till they make it.

This is not to say that we should do the opposite, which is always complain… And do a “poor me” attitude, either.

Life in general can be really tough… Being a small business/entrepreneur/independent contractor can make it even tougher.

Having other issues in your life such as.. being a single parent… A child with special needs… Serious financial difficulties etc. etc. can also make being positive, a little more difficult at times.

This is why I love that saying… Faith it till you make it… Because I think when things are really rough, we have to lean on our faith! We need to reach down deep inside of us and find that Faith… Be it Faith in a higher being.. Faith in ourselves or Both!

The Definition of Faith is: ( from Oxford)

faith
1.
complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
“this restores one’s faith in politicians”
2.
strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

I have made this my personal new motto…meaning when tough times come… and they always do…especially being a Mompreneur/Entrepreneur and Autism Mom… I am going to challenge myself… Faith it until I make it! Will you accept this challenge too?

Thanks for reading my blog

Have an Awesome Day!

Lynne