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A Challenge for All Chefs

This is actually a cry for help from a worried mother, but I am hoping you all will see this as an interesting challenge. Heck, maybe we'll even create a new cuisine together!

This si not your typical picky toddler quandry. My 22 month old son is autistic and has started to dislike everythig he used to eat. I prided myself on the fact that I made all his baby food myself witha wide variety of fruits and vegetables and spices from as far as India. Now he won't eat anything! He hates anything spongy, wet, etc. like diced fruits, veggies, pasta, cheese sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc... It is a sensory problem of his and he will actually vomit if he sees a green bean on his plate. I have tried everything but my culinary skills are lacking. This is why I come to you withthis plea for help.

Can you all please lend your culinary expertise and skills to help?

He will only eat dry, crispy, crunchy things like crackers, waffles, the occasional grilled-cheese sandwich. And to make this more challenging, we started the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet hat is lauded by many in the autism field as a healing diet for autistic children. if you can't think of gluten/casein free recipes that's fine i can try substituting some flours, grains, etc., myself.

I mainly need help with things like, do you have any experience trying to bake applesauce or mashed squash to make crispy cakes and does it work? Or do you end up with hot mush?

Thanks to all of you in advance for your time and assistance!
Worried Mom in FL

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  1. what a challenge! I am sorry you have so much on your plate right now!

    just thinking out loud here, from my experiences on a gluten-free diet... here are some crunchy-ish things i like...

    black bean cakes or lentil cakes and other kinds of veggie cakes/burgers can easily be a little overcooked to have a firm texture. they are YUM and healthy with lots of protein. etc.
    i haven't tried applesauce but i think that squash would probably work.

    corn chips, rice cakes, veggie crisps etc as snacks. there are lots of gluten-free snacks like that, especially at stores like trader joes. you could also try banana chips, they are delicious and crunchy and have more vitamins than traditional chips.

    what about raw veggies? broccoli has a nice crunch and is pretty dry... you could cut them up into little pieces maybe?

    thats all i got for right now but i'm gonna keep thinking about this. good luck!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: CoryKatherine

      Thank you for your ideas! I think the bean and legume cakes are a great idea. And I will try the banana chips.
      So far raw veggies haven't worked. He won't even eat diced apples...
      Thanks again! I appreciate your help.

    2. Oh wow. My SIL went through this with my nephew. For a couple years about the only thing she could get my autistic nephew to eat was bacon and apples(he liked the crunch of green apples and would eat them in quarters. Quarters only though - no slicing, dicing or anything whole). Similarly it was a textural thing for him and they were also doing trying to keep the gluten/casein free diet. Tantrums and vomit often accompanied her attempts at getting him to try different things.

      Will he eat dry cereal? Some of them have a fair amount of nutrients. I seem to remember Rowan being willing to eat some cereals. He was also willing to eat baby carrots. Again, baby only and not in any other form or cut up in any way.

      If I talk to her this week, I'll see if she has other suggestions. We don't live near them so unfortunately I don't know much of the details as to how she tried to deal with this. The good news is he's 7 1/2 now and this hasn't been an issue for the last year and a half or so. So hopefully, likewise for your toddler this will not be a long term struggle.

      Wishing you and your son well! Good luck!

      1. I really don't know if this web site will help you but it is gluten free and the author does try very hard to create tasty recipes.
        http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/

        I just had to offer something to you after reading your OP. Good luck to your sister.

        1. My heart goes out to you as I work with young children with Autism. Have you started any type of services for your son yet. Oftentimes I work on increasing food variety through behavior based programming. I agree with the sensory component as well, and also believe that proper nutrition must not be overlooked at this age. Do you have a good pediatrician? Have you considered specialized nutritionists? I *strongly* suggest accessing a battery os services to maximize your son'r recovery potential. Your profile does not specify, but where are you located? Feel free to e-mail me, my address is in my profile.

          3 Replies
          1. re: enbell

            Oops, I forgot ideas
            Cook up hash browns nice ans crispy and try ading different thinks mixed in like shredded carrotts or zuchinni
            Homemade potato, sweet potato, or beet chips baked in the oven
            Does edamame have enough "crunch"?

            1. re: enbell

              The mixed veggie pancakes are a fantastic idea. I also add potato flour or finely ground oatmeal to mine to help them crisp up. You can include greens like spinach in the patties, as well. (If you don't have time to make, Dr. Praeger's makes a pretty decent frozen patty.)

              1. re: cimui

                The CF means no casein which is in dairy.

          2. How about potato pancakes (like latkes or boxty) - they are crispy. I'm also thinking maybe the same technique would work with shredded apple instead of potato, to yield crispy apple pancakes instead of potato ones -? Might be worth investigating. Maybe banana chips? I have also see beet chips (sliced beet baked in the oven until crisp).

            Disclaimer: I have no experience with autism or gluten-free or casein-free. Just offering ideas from a food perspective.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cookie44

              Also in the potato pancake mode, I've made mixed pancakes from shredded zuchinni, parsnips, and/or carrots; and potato/parsnip pancakes with success.