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Posts tagged ‘yuca’

Lately, my son has gotten tired of the same-ol’ beans and cereal day in and day out. I don’t blame him. That’s nearly all he has eaten for 2 solid years. Add to that the fact that he seems moderately allergic to beans, as well as the facts that we are a vegetarian family, and that he is allergic to eggs and dairy and nuts, and, well, you have a problem.

That is, a protein problem. Granted, grains like quinoa and amaranth are complete proteins, as is hemp, which he drinks every day (but not a lot, because it’s expensive). But he doesn’t get quinoa and amaranth every day. And I don’t want to give him the same foods every day, because that will just make him more susceptible to sensitivities to them.

So I’ve been working on new ways to fix his food. Of course, cooking a batch of cream of rice or amaranth or millet cereal in the morning and adding several cubes of pre-cooked and frozen beans is very simple and easy, but I always knew I would eventually have to start actually cooking and baking for him. Well, the time has come.

The first grain to get changed into something other than cereal was Teff. I invented a recipe for teff pancakes. I’m sharing that recipe on my eczema blog.

We also decided, after much deliberation, to add a little meat to his diet. Right now, that looks like chicken once a week added to shredded yuca (cassava). I am also sharing that recipe on my eczema blog.

However, there are several recipes that I have found that he likes. I love the simplicity of some of  them!

This Baked Amaranth Cracker/Flatbread is made from the grain, not amaranth flour, and is very simple to make. I mean, very simple. I added a little basil to the mix, since he can’t have the topping (I’ve never tried pumpkin seeds, but I’m really afraid to). I still need to come up with some kind of topping for them. That is hard, since nuts and avocado are all out, and those make the best creamy vegan sauces. But he will eat these, and he likes them. I served it with some slices of cucumber, and he enjoyed the meal very much.

This GF Biscuit recipe was a real hit. Since he can’t have eggs or egg replacer, I used quarter mashed banana, because I only made a half a recipe. You can use 1/2 a banana plus 1/8 tsp of extra baking powder for egg in baking, but I didn’t think 1/16 of baking powder was really necessary! I wanted to use a little less starch, so I replaced 1/4 of the starch with sorghum flour (doubling the sorghum called for). They turned out better than the last batch did (where I put in too much banana and otherwise followed the recipe, and now have more whole grains in them. I also threw in a scant tablespoon each of chia seeds and hemp protein for extra protein, and he didn’t even notice. Chia seeds are a complete protein and really a powerhouse. Research them sometime. I am very excited to discover that my local WinCo carries them! Manny will eat chia seeds by the spoonful (2 or 3 baby spoonfuls), and they have very little flavor. I think they actually improved the texture as well (since they tend to gel, kind of like flax seeds).

When you can’t have wheat or corn, tortillas become almost impossible. Rice tortillas leave much to be desired, as do most GF tortillas you can buy. But these millet tortillas are so easy, especially if you have a tortilla press. I do, but it’s in storage, so I improvised with a flat-bottomed skillet. It worked almost as well. Unfortunately, Manny only liked the first two, and then he didn’t want more. If there was something I could dip them in or roll inside of them… maybe beans? I’ll have to experiment. But he’s not very good at eating stuff with toppings… he just licks off the topping! We might make them once in a while for ourselves, though, and they are perfect for those who can’t have gluten or corn!

And for dessert, well, this Blueberry Crumb Cake was the bomb! My husband said he couldn’t tell it was gluten free! I used the banana/baking powder trick in place of eggs, and it rose beautifully. I made two batches: one as a cake, and one as muffins (which of course cooked in about half the time as the cake). It’s good with and without the topping. This site also has many GF cooking and baking tips (it’s where I learned about the banana-instead-of-egg idea). I highly recommend browsing it if you are on a GF diet. Many of the recipes are vegan (because the author cannot tolerate casein), though some do include meat (usually with vegetarian variations). She makes GF look so easy! Indeed, this cake was my first attempt at GF baking without a boxed recipe (Betty Crocker has about 3 GF mixes that you can buy at most grocery stores, and I made a couple at a friend’s house once), and I really expected it to flop. Instead, it turned out lovely, and my son had a delicious cake for his birthday, and muffins for dessert once a week since!

Lastly, there are these delicious GF Molasses Cookies. Manny wasn’t terribly fond of them, and I think it was mostly because of the ginger (which he can’t seem to tolerate in the quantity that is in the cookies). They turned out perfectly, though, and I took a dozen to a friend whose son has a lot of allergies. The whole family tried them, and she informed me they are better than store-bought cookies. I totally agree. Granted, they aren’t super healthy. I mean, 3/4 cup of shortening (palm oil, not hydrogenated oils) is quite a bit of fat. Maybe I could cut it down by increasing the applesauce. But I usually like to do a recipe the way it says the first time–especially baked goods. Then experiment later. I think Manny would like them better without the ginger. He loves molasses, after all.

I tried split pea soup on him, but he seemed to react to the peas. I had suspected that he would, being legume and all. But he enjoyed it a lot. I think I could make a veggie soup with quinoa using the same seasonings I used in the pea soup (garlic, sweet basil, marjoram, bay leaf, salt). I’ve been avoiding onions, because touching them and then rubbing his face made him break out. Whether that was an allergic reaction, or simply sensitive skin, I don’t know. But for now, I don’t feed them to him directly. Though he did eat some carrots I had cooked in a stock made of scraps of veggies used to make dinner (I put 3 baby carrots in the stock for variety), and he loved them, as well as the bits of zucchini my husband didn’t eat from his salad. They were cooked with onion, and he seems fine with it. So maybe he is okay. I’m going to play it by ear at this point!

What simple GF recipes do you use? I’d love for you to share them!

I can almost hear you saying, “What is yuca?” (pronounced YOU-kuh). It is a very interesting root found in many tropical countries, from Africa to the Carribbean, Central and South America, many South Pacific islands, and parts of Asia. I learned to like it when my husband introduced me to it while we were living in Texas.

It is a very starchy, fibrous root with a kind of bark-like skin and white flesh. It cooks similar to a potato, but it is a bit drier and has a rather bland flavor. You may have heard of its other name, cassava, as it is called in many English speaking countries, such as Jamaca. It is also the root from which tapioca is made.

The other night, my husband found this site that talks about many of the properties of yuca, and we were surprised to find that it is a good source of calcium, as well as anti-inflammatory.

My son is allergic to potatoes, which makes buying gluten-free mixes and products virtually impossible. However, tapioca flour and starch can substitute very well for potato flour and starch in GF recipes, and he is not allergic to it at all.

In Texas, we used to buy it for about $1 a pound. Not terribly cheap, but still affordable. We had to remove the skin and the ends, and I learned the hard way to chop it open in the store to check for pure white flesh (instead of flesh with gray lines in it). Sometimes I would find a lot that was good, and then I would skin it all and freeze whatever we didn’t plan on using in the next few days. It could be taken from the freezer and put directly into hot water to cook, and it tasted almost the same as fresh.

Then we moved to Oregon, and the yuca here is almost $3 a pound. So we never buy it. Not to mention that I doubt it will be good quality up here. But my husband found frozen shredded yuca at a Philippino market for about $1.25 per 1 lb bag. He used about two pounds to make a yuca casserole for Christmas dinner (yuca on top and bottom with seasoned veggie burger filling), but it’s a bit expensive to use for the family on a regular basis, and takes a bit of work. However, we discovered that if we took some of the yuca (which is so finely shredded that it is more like a thick batter than anything else), added some salt, and pan fried it in small patties, Manny would devour them. He’s been known to eat more than half a pound of it at one sitting!

Lately poor Manny, who is definitely allergic to eggs, milk, and all nuts and seeds except flax and hemp, has become more and more sensitive to beans. I can’t just feed him grains–most of them aren’t a complete protein, and even if they were, the quality of protein isn’t enough for a growing child. He won’t eat greens (and with the limited amount of food he can eat, it’s next to impossible to hide greens in anything), so using greens to supplement his protein isn’t really a viable option. So we decided to try a little turkey. Daddy bought some at the health food store today. He chopped it fine, mixed it with the yuca, made the patties, and cooked them with a little palm oil (which oxidizes slower than olive oil, is flavorless, and healthier than canola oil). We started with about 2 ounces of turkey and half a pound of yuca. I’m not sure how many patties he ate, but there were only 2 two-inch patties left when he was full.

Turkey isn’t something we’ll give him every day. What we bought today cost over $2, and I’m not positive it was organic  or free range (it didn’t say it was; he bought it pre-cooked and sliced in the deli, not raw). I can buy similar turkey from Azure Standard, only it IS organic and free-range, and costs over $6 for each 6-oz package (just under $6 each if I buy a 10-pack). I figure buying it pre-cooked is better, so I don’t have to deal with raw meat in my kitchen (a friend made that suggestion, and I totally agree with her!).

As a third-generation vegetarian, feeding meat to one of my kids is something I really hesitate to do. But we don’t seem to have a lot of options right now. I really hope that he will outgrow many of his allergies eventually, and in the mean time he really needs to avoid anything that makes him more itchy. If giving him a little turkey now and again will make that easier, then so be it.

Now if we could just move to a tropical country where yuca and other non-potato roots are staples in the diet… Hey, there’s no law that says I can’t wish, is there? :)