Ethan’s Progress Report – Recipe: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ethan is feeling so much better.  His eyes are brighter, his smile is back, and he just seems like himself.  We went to the school a couple of different days this week.  The first day, he was very excited to see all of his teachers and give out his amazing Ethan hugs.  But, he was also very anxious and nervous.  It was clear that he was not quite ready to jump back into things.  So, we talked a lot about school, friends, his amazing teachers, and how I always come back to pick him up at the end of the day.  By the time Meet the Teacher Night rolled around, he was all set.  Actually, we went to the school earlier in the day, and he was happily helping one of his teachers decorate the classroom door.  He loves being a helper.  Give him a job, and he tackles it like it is the most important thing in the world at that moment.

Of course, we are all anxious, nervous, excited, and a little scared about Monday.  But, I have such peace knowing that my children are in loving, kind, capable, compassionate, sweet hands.  And, I have no doubt that they will have smiles on their faces when I pick them up Monday afternoon.  It is just another chapter in their school book of life, and it is a chapter that I know will unfold  in beautiful, amazing ways.

We started the day with some gluten and dairy free strawberry chocolate chip muffins.  It has been a bit of a difficult transition for me to appreciate the quality, texture, and taste of gluten and dairy free.  The littles (well, two of the littles) really liked the muffins.  They have been big fans of almost everything that I have attempted.  The littlest little has problems with trying almost anything new, even when it has dairy and gluten, so when she does not try something it does not really indicate anything.  🙂  So, I am trying to not be as critical when I try my new baking creations.  I have to realize that the new treats will not taste exactly like the old treats.  And, that is okay because some of these new treats taste pretty amazing, too.

Update: It is almost as if Summer read my blog post (but she cannot read yet).  Within 30 minutes of hitting the publish button, Summer was eating one of the muffins. Since I did not make a big deal of her trying it, she did it all on her own, in her own good time.  And, she liked it; she really liked it.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Gluten-Free Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins are great for a light breakfast or an afternoon snack.


1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter flavored shortening

1 cup this cream

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

5 large strawberries, chopped

1/3 cup these chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 9 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Into a bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Melt shortening in a small bowl.
  4. Whisk together with cream, eggs, and vanilla.
  5. Stir shortening mixture into flour mixture just until combined.
  6. Gently mix in strawberries and chocolate chips.
  7. With an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin cups.
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for 13 minutes.


Ethan’s Progress Report – Recipe: Banana and Cashew Butter Smoothie

Ethan has had a great week.  I must admit that I have been concerned about school starting.  Of course, I am sad, in denial, and just bummed that school starts in just over one short week.  But, in addition to that, I have been feeling like Ethan was not ready to tackle 1st grade.  After the sinus infection diagnosis, I was hopeful that maybe he would start feeling like himself again.  Do not get me wrong.  Ethan is always lovable, sweet, happy, and fun-loving.  He just has not been himself the past few weeks.  Normally he thrives during the summer, and we just were not seeing it this summer.  He was more emotional and very fatigued.  In general, he just seemed to get overwhelmed with things more easily than normal.   However, that has changed this week, and we are thrilled!

Ethan has been on his antibiotic for 10 days.  We are also giving him a probiotic and Difulcan to make sure that his intestinal system does not get shot.  Needless to say, we are trying hard to cover all of our bases.  Anyway, Ethan has made remarkable improvement this week.  He has become the little clown again, making everyone laugh with a humor that you can only understand once you see and truly know Ethan.  There is just something about him that makes everyone laugh, in a good way.  And, he has been waking up with his classic Ethan smile and hugs again, clearly feeling good and happy to be awake, ready to start the day.

He is still eating very well and does not seem to be resisting anything.  Since we were all back at home this week, it was much easier for us to all stick to a healthy, consistent diet, with some of our favorite meals.  I have noticed that he is eating his fruits and vegetables so much better now.  And, he seems to just have an increased appetite overall.

Best of all…Ethan had a great pizza and movie night.  We watched Rio.  If you have seen it, you might remember the part where Blue and Jewel kiss.  Well, right before they kissed, Ethan slapped his hand on his head and said, “Oh, man!”  He knew that it was coming, and, in typical Ethan fashion, he had to be animated about it.  His reaction was one of the best parts of my whole week.  He is so amazingly smart when it comes to watching movies, anticipating what will happen, and reacting to everything so appropriately. It amazes us; it truly, truly amazes us.  We cannot wait until he can fully express his thoughts about what all is going on in movies, at school, and in life.

Does this all make me anymore ready for the 1st day of school?   Nope.  But, it does give me peace that Ethan will find his own way in 1st grade, just as he did in Kindergarten.  It will not always be an easy road that he will travel, but I think that he is ready to start the journey, at least from a health stand-point.  Just like any other child, any other person, he is at his best when he is happy and healthy. I am still nervous and worried about a new year, new classmates, new schedule.  But, I am always nervous and worried about that for Gabriel and will one day be for Summer, as well.  We will continue to hope, pray, and believe that Ethan will continue to find success in all that he does.  His success might not look the same as the success of other children his age, but, to us, when Ethan succeeds, we can hear the angels singing his praises.

Today’s Menu:

  • Breakfast – Scrambled eggs and waffles (We ate these because I have not attempted homemade wheat, gluten, and dairy free ones yet).  I will get there; a really will.
  • Lunch – Hotdogs (no buns), peaches, grapes, and chips
  • Dinner – Pizza and movie night!
  • Snack – We were out running errands, so we stopped at Sonic for happy hour.

Today’s recipe is actually something from yesterday’s menu, so I wanted to share it today before I forget.

Banana and Cashew Butter Smoothie

Banana and Cashew Butter Smoothie

This is a great smoothie for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up. And, it is such a flexible recipe. You could add cow's milk, goat's milk, or almond milk in place of the soy milk, regular yogurt in place of the coconut yogurt, and peanut butter, sesame seed spread, or almond butter in place of the cashew butter.


2 frozen bananas

1 1/2 cups soy milk

1 cup coconut yogurt (we like this one)

1 tablespoon cashew butter

1 tsp vanilla


  1. Put all of the ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth.

As I am preparing for the school year, it is increasingly important to me that we incorporate healthy, easy, fun, and flexible into more of our meals.  The day-to-day is crazy and busy enough.  Mealtime should be the easiest, best part of the day.  This is a breakfast recipe that will start the morning off on a good note and set the tone for great things to come throughout the day.  Great things…that is what we hope is in store for Ethan in 1st grade, Gabriel in 3rd grade, and Summer as she starts her little dance school.  And, it is with those thoughts of greatness that I will wrap up this lengthy progress report.  Have a great weekend!

Ethan’s Progress Report

When I started this blog, I had to start thinking about how much of it would focus on Ethan.  I never want anyone to think/assume that our other two children capture any less of our time than he does.  As I often tell people, all of our children are special, and they all have needs.  Ethan has special needs, but it does not define him.  And, it does not define us as a family.  But, in regards to the blog, I did start it to detail our cooking journey in regards to Ethan’s food sensitivities, which may or may not play a part in his special needs.  So, I have decided to try to give a weekly progress report detailing what (if any) changes we have noticed.

This week has been interesting.  We were at our family reunion for four days last week, went home for a day, had Ethan’s doctor’s appointment, and then traveled to my parent’s house for another family gathering.  It has all been fun, and we have enjoyed all of the moments, all of the memories.  The littles and I have spent a good portion of the summer with allergies, sinus infections, and/or bronchitis.  Ethan started it all off two weeks before school was out, and then it just slowly trickled through the house.  The virus (or whatever it is) lasts for about 6 weeks, so even though we have kept up our summer fun, we have also had extra medicine, doctor’s appointments, and rest to take into account.

So, since Ethan had the “bug” first and seemed to have recovered, I thought that he was doing better.  Really, I just took him to the ENT for a general check-up to have his hearing tested and get an opinion about some issues that we thought that he was having with his ears.  It was only through that check-up that we discovered that he had a severe sinus infection, which requires 20 days of antibiotics! Given Ethan’s reflux history, we also put him on some reflux meds and a probiotic, in addition to some other sinus medication.  Ethan just has not been himself, and we are hoping that he will greatly improve once the sinus infection heals.  Speaking from experience, it took mine about 3 weeks to go away, with being on antibiotics.  If all goes well, he should be healed and back to himself by the time school starts.

We have not noticed any changes since we have been on the new diet.  I feel better, in general, so I do believe that it is likely that I have some of the same food sensitivities.  Since Ethan has been sick, it is likely that we will not notice any changes in him until all of the sinus pressure and pain is relieved.  Overall, though, he is doing so great on the diet.  He is beginning to understand that there are some things that he cannot eat, and he seems to truly understand why.  We have explained that the food might be hurting his head and stomach.  Speaking of his head….that is one area that I have seen improvement.  Before we started the new diet, he would often put his hand on his head while we were eating, and the glossy eyes told us that he definitely did have a headache.  We would always let him go rest on the couch.  We just never put together that the food could be causing the headaches.  Since migraines have been a possibility for a few years now, we are so hopeful that the food changes will resolve that.

Even though the progress report is not great this week, I do not feel like it is bad, either.  Just knowing that there might be a reason (the sinus infection) that Ethan has not been himself and explains why he has needed so much sleep.  And, hoping that the food changes have resolved the headaches is a huge positive in the win column for us.  We have a follow-up with Ethan’s doctor on Monday, the one who is trying everything, researching everything, doing everything for our sweet boy.  So, we will see if Ethan’s tests results show positive improvements.  Regardless, we are happy and at peace that we have so many people on Team Ethan, people who love our sweet boy and so want to see him be the best Ethan that he can be.  We are blessed, very, very blessed…everyone needs a team in their corner, and we are so glad that we have ours.

I will wrap this up with something that I told my mom today.  There is always a lot of excitement when Ethan wakes up in the morning. This morning, Summer came running into the sewing room and said, “EBDB (our little nickname for Ethan) is awake!  EBDB is awake!”  We all smiled and gave out big hugs (which I give to all of my children when they wake up, of course).  I later told my mom, “I am not sure why we all get so excited when Ethan wakes up in the morning, but we do.”  She said, “Because just seeing him makes everyone happy.”  And, she is right.  Ethan could bring about world peace.  He just has that effect on people.