Kathlena, the Allergy Chef, has over 200 food allergies and intolerances, so many more than others can even imagine. And having been through this complex and hard journey, brings a uniquely empowered and scientific mindset to working with food restrictions.
I can truly say that talking to Kathlena changed my perspective on how to work with foods. If you want to understand how to make cooking a precise science – done with the passion of an art – look no farther.
Episode notes at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/2021/82
Use code functional50 for 50% off your first month of membership at RAISE (Kathlena’s Recipe Finder) https://goraise.net/ That code is good for 1 year.
Free Ebook on gut health at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth
Disclaimer: The information in this Podcast is for educational purposes only. Vaishnavi Sarathy, Ph.D. is an educator, not a doctor, specifically not your child’s doctor. Please consult your physician before implementing any supplement or diet recommendations.
Hello, I’m Vaish and welcome to Functional Nutrition and Learning for kids: the podcast that takes you from frustration to empowerment, empowerment in your child’s health, in your child’s calm and your child’s learning. I’m a chemist, a TEDx speaker, functional nutrition practitioner, math and chemistry teacher, and also mom to a nonspeaking teen poet with Down syndrome and Autism. This podcast was born from a desire to share with the world of families, families with kids with disabilities, and without disabilities. That intelligence is a core human trait. It is not isolated to kids that are talented and gifted.
I wanted to share that gut health impacts brain health, the gut, brain access is real. that food is medicine. And really that there is a lot you can do for your child if they’re struggling with their mood, struggling with their food focus or regulation. So whether you have a child with Down syndrome, autism, ADHD or any other disability, you may find that this is the right place for you. If you do like this podcast, take a minute and leave us a rating wherever you’re listening. And if you don’t like this podcast, take a minute to write to us at support at functionalnutritionforkids.com. And tell us what we can do better. On Kathlena.
I’m really excited to interview today’s guest Kathlena, the allergy chef has over 200 food allergies and intolerances. Several of her allergies are life threatening. She has a handful of safe foods to eat and one source of safe water. Additionally, most of the members of her household also have food allergies and special diets. None of them the same.
After being given 30 days to live, she made it her mission to help the food allergy and special diet communities thrive. And although she can eat the food, she helps people find safe and delicious options. Three years from her lowest point she and her team have published several cookbooks started a bakery done local and nationwide outreach developed hundreds of free recipes and resources and much more. You can learn all about their mentors at the allergy chef.com That’s one word, allergy chef.com Kathlena Welcome to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m so excited just from our brief conversation until now I’m really excited to chat with you. I mean, you already come across as a very fun person. Thank you for being here
So glad Thank you for having me. I’m actually really excited because I love these topics. Right? There, they’re so important. And I feel like there’s so much education that we’ve kind of lost as a society, you know, like you rewind 50 years, and I think they taught a lot more about nutrition and food and just different things in schools. And now it’s like vanished. Right? And I think it’s these are important conversations to just have.
I was reading your story on your website. And you know, you’re probably used to hearing this a lot that your story is remarkable. I really love your resilience, your attitude, your, your comeback from the different adversities that you’ve faced. And I don’t know, just the incredible resources that you have brought up in your resourcefulness. So if you don’t mind sharing, how do you keep yourself motivated in the face of these hurdles that others might find insurmountable?
I don’t know. I think if I were to give an honest answer, I don’t know it. I think that’s why the people who are closest to me, we all agree like, this is like a God given thing, right? Like, there I don’t, because I don’t have an explanation for it. It’s just to me, you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself, or you can do something about it. Right. Like, that’s kind of always been my mentality since I was a child.
And, you know, it also helps that I hate being told what to do in the sense of, like, I don’t mind it in some areas. But if someone tells me I can’t do something, as in, it’s not possible. I take so much joy in proving them wrong. Right. And so, when we have a world that is not designed for people with restricted diets, a world that says, oh, you can’t have delicious Italian food without onion and garlic, I’m like, oh, yeah, watch me, you know, and, and that’s my thing, right? I just,
I love kind of shoving it in people’s faces in a polite way. And just being like, ha, look at this, you know, and look at that, and, and then of course, inspiring the next generation and just saying to people like Wait, why are you sad that you can’t have these things? You can have all these other things over here, you know, like, yeah, I don’t know if people have these strong connections to food, which is totally understandable.
I think you know, I’ve said this before, I think my personal life is just the perfect storm of awful to be something that can create something new for other people and In the sense of, I don’t have food connections the way people do, right, like all these people like, Oh, my grandma’s cookies, and my this and my like, you know, when food has caused you to pain since as long as you can remember, there is no connection, right? There’s no positive food memory to be had.
Therefore, for me, it’s like, it’s easy to separate myself from it all right, and just look at it from a completely different lens. And I think, you know, that’s part of what’s allowed me to create, like, for example, our advanced recipe search, where you’ve got 85 different combinations. And actually, it’s more than that now, but all these different allergens and special diets and all these things, and I think it’s because, you know, because I’m allergic to so much I see the overlap, right? To me, it’s clear as day. But other people, just don’t see it.
They’re so narrowly focused, you know, or you have a blogger that’s only gluten-free. You’re only keto, only paleo. Only this, only that. And I’m like, you guys realize you could all sit together in a room and with three modifications eat the same food, right? Like, people just don’t see it. Where I do. And I think, you know, even sometimes it frustrates me like, there was a group lobbying for some gluten-free labeling of medication.
I’m like, timing the heck out? Why did they only say gluten free? Why didn’t they help the whole community? Why didn’t they say gluten free and top eight? And let’s throw in like two more things? Like, let’s just roll it all up into one bill? Like, why are we making everybody work so hard for it? When they already had their foot in the door? Right. I don’t mean it in a negative way.
I honestly think they just didn’t think about it, right? Because if you take a group of people who were only gluten free, they’re only going to think about people who are gluten free. Right. And, and that’s my thing. Like, I think I see a much, much, much bigger picture. And I don’t know that many people do.
You know, I don’t know that many people do either. I certainly don’t. I think just having this conversation is very eye-opening in many ways. So that’s really cool. Like, I can see that you see a bigger picture. Now just thinking about what you said that you don’t like to be told what to do. I think that that attitude might be the mother of so many people just kind of finding a completely new way of doing things you’re I don’t know have you ever done that personality test where you’re rebel or question Are you a rebel?
I’ve actually not done the test but I imagine I’m all over the place like
I don’t know. Yeah, it’s Gretchen Reubens personality test out but anyway, so I think your story is obviously a great you know, lunch for those of us that are having difficulty giving up even one food and coming up with you know, so many reasons why that can’t happen. And dairy, we know that they can cause you to know, neurological problems autoimmunity, all that stuff. And yet, those are the foods that you know, there are so many emotional, probably even addictive connections to them not saying that everybody has to go off. But just since we’re talking about allergy-friendly diets, what is your biggest advice to those? Do those questions have to give up gluten and dairy for these therapeutic reasons? Maybe no have an actual allergy to them? But a sensitivity?
Yeah. Alright. So there’s three things I normally tell people, at least when they’re diagnosed with an allergy when you have an intolerance or a medical necessity, then there’s like an additional thing I have to tell you. But the first three things, I always tell people, number one, feel sorry for yourself, take the time to acknowledge the loss, right and actually grieve that loss. First, not everybody has to like, you know, put on their black mourning dress or anything. But for some people, this is a big deal.
Like, their whole identity is rooted in food. And every gathering they go to as with food, and like they feel like the whole world is upside down, you need to acknowledge that. If you sit there and try to pretend that everything’s peachy, it is not peachy, and you’re going to hurt yourself more in the long run. And then the second thing to do, whether you have a sweet tooth or a saber tooth, most people it’s a sweet tooth. Eat something sweet. Like right away. It can be as basic as a date. I don’t care what it is. But eat something sweet to trigger your brain into recognizing, don’t worry, you didn’t lose everything. Like there’s hope.
There’s something on the horizon. Like just give yourself that little kick and be like, oh, yeah, I can still have this. This is good, right? The third thing to do, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get busy. Because if you sit and mope around, nothing’s going to get done. There won’t be anything to eat, you’re going to fall into eating foods, you know, you should not be eating, you’re going to cause more damage.
Right. So get busy doing. I think that’s the hardest part for most people. Most people just want to buy something. They’re just like, just tell me what to buy. Like you don’t get it? You can’t. Right. Depending on your diagnosis and level of sensitivity. You might be able to buy things, but sometimes, right. And I’ve talked about this in the past. For some people, if you’re going gluten-free, especially for medical reasons, you absolutely should not rush out to buy every gluten-free food you can find.
Right? It’s kind of the unspoken truth within the community that probably about 50% of gluten-free foods are worse than their gluten-filled counterpart. Right? People don’t realize gluten is amazing. It’s got these great properties, you can stretch, you can do the window pain tests, like, it’s really cool, right on pain tests. So the windowpane test is when you’re, especially in breadmaking, you can take your dough, and then you kind of stretch it out like this with your hands, and it won’t break.
It’ll just keep stretching thinner, thinner, and thinner, and it creates like a windowpane. And you can start to see through it a little bit, but it doesn’t break. And so when your dough reaches the windowpane test, and you can pass the test, you’re ready to do the next step of breadmaking. Right. And with gluten-free, number one, you can never pass the windowpane test, it doesn’t work that way. But the cool thing is, is with gluten-free, you don’t have to do the windowpane test, right? It’s just you just keep moving forward. So the next thing I would tell people, and this is kind of item number four, when you have this restriction for a nonlife-threatening reason.
Remember, sometimes it’s not going to hurt to the point where it stops you from eating the food. But you’ve got to retrain yourself to just avoid and you know, have that self-discipline because obviously, something is going on under the hood, right. And if you continue to injure yourself, you’re going to end up with a domino effect of other health effects that honestly down the road are going to cost you way more than that sandwich was worth, right or that ice cream was worth, you’re better off creating a different solution. And going that route, you know, and sometimes what you have to do is ask yourself, what is it that I like about dairy? Right? I think dairy is a great example.
Most people would say, I love ice cream. Okay, what is it about ice cream? Is it the texture, the temperature, the taste, right? determine which of the three it is? Or is it a combo? And let’s say you say I love the temperature because it’s so cool going down my throat. And I love how creamy it is great, I can work with that. Now, all we have to do is find you a dairy free substitute that’s really creamy. That also works out really well when cold, and not full of a bunch of crazy ingredients, right? And so it’s it’s a matter of just kind of honing that in because I find that when you meet the SAT, like when you can satisfy those cravings, and you don’t actually miss the food.
Things are way better. Like it just it gets easier to be free from if you’re meeting those basic needs. I find for myself, it always boils down to temperature and texture, right? It’s usually never anything else because I’m already so hyper-restricted. So it’s just like, don’t want something crunchy or don’t want something. So that’s what it’s like for me. And I think when you start kind of disconnecting from certain things and think about it that way,
It just it gets easier. So that actually led me to a different question. So I like that a lot of what you say is about mindset, right? So it’s, it’s less about the food and more about the mindset. And you’ve clearly mastered that. What do you do when you’re working with a kid because this podcast, most everyone listening to it are parents or practitioners that work with kids with autism Down syndrome or ADHD. And they’re using diets as therapeutic tools to improve certain function, whatever that may be. And let’s say the kid is, if your child is not speaking, or we haven’t developed a means of communication here, ideally, we’d work towards that. But then this whole trust issue comes into place. Right? So how do you then the mindset is yours, not the kids?
Yeah. So I can actually speak to this from personal experience, right, we’ve got two kids where we had to change their diet for medical reasons. And the biggest piece of advice I can give you, especially for children who are verbal, or who have deep connections to food, you have to make it fun, number one, number two, you have to satisfy their cravings, period, hard stop.
Sometimes that means choosing ingredients that we know are not the best. So for example, Kid two, I mean, technically we changed it for three kids, but Well, technically all four but that’s a whole different story. But with Kid two, when he was diagnosed with a wheat allergy, he was about six or seven. No, I think he was like six, six going on seven. And his love languages is food, that kid is a foodie at heart. And like we’re sitting in the car post-diagnosis. And he’s like, Well, what about pancakes? No, you can’t have that pizza.
No, you can’t have that. Like he literally starts going down the list of every food that meant something to him. And the answer was no. And this poor child is sitting crying in the backseat of a car, like from a wheat allergy diagnosis. And I’m just like, Yeah, I got to fix this right. And so of course that same night, I had their dad take them off. He took all the kids out to play and I went to the store and I spent like two hours reading labels finding every food that was to me comfort food that was gluten dairy free because he was born with a dairy allergy like severe anaphylaxis.
So that was like heartless Keep, we just we can’t risk that in terms of getting other things. And so find all this stuff. And we don’t say anything I get in the car. And there are loads and loads of bags, I spent way too much money, by the way, way too much. And the kids are playing. So I set out in the kitchen. Like every new food I had, I literally find the entire kitchen countertops were really great. And then we call him and we’re like, we have something to show you and he walks in the kitchen. And I swear to you, until this very day, this is like more than 15 years ago at this point, that child has never hugged me so hard.
I mean, it speaks volumes to his connection to food. Because when he saw firsthand, everything he could still have, all of a sudden, nothing was so bad, right. And that’s the key when you’re dealing with take essentially taking away something from a child, right, they almost view it as a form of punishment. But we know they didn’t do anything wrong. And we know that we’re trying to help them improve. And so like with Kid three, he sought his punishment, when he had to lose his sugar and all that sort of stuff.
I had to reinvent every wheel under the sun, I had to figure out sugar-free ice cream and sugar-free this and sure I had to figure out sugar free candies and like everything under the sun so that this kid would not feel restricted, he would not feel like that temptation to essentially cheat even though he would when nobody was watching. You know, he’s gotten so much better about it, as you know, since he’s older, but as a child, that was really hard for him. And so making it fun. And getting them involved is an absolute must, you know, and have sample parties.
I tell people this all the time, when you have to have a child do something new. Like let’s say your kid is going egg free for whatever. And you’re looking at egg free muffins, and maybe there’s six brands at the store, buy all six, I don’t care what it costs, just buy them, then what you’re going to do is sit down, you’re gonna have a little tea party, you’re gonna make like a serious thing. You’re like, Okay, well, you really get your kid involved.
Who What are you about this like, and go out of your way to describe it? Like, are you picking up those notes of mint? Oh, man, like, really? Get into the food. I love this idea, right? You’re distracting them from what you’ve taken away. And now you’re giving them something new. You’re giving them this really fun experience number one, because, heck, maybe you can get dressed up and pretend to be food critics, right?
Like, if you’re kidding, I want to do that for myself,
Take selfies and really just make fun experiences. I mean, that’s what I did for years, right? I made everything a fun experience. And, you know, and then of course, you have to teach them how to cook, because that’s a huge thing. One thing I used to do with them is have them help make pasta sauce.
I would actually have them sample every single step. Like they would sample just the tomatoes. Like oh, that’s kind of gross. Like I know, right? Isn’t that’s in the mood to talk about why it was kind of gross. And then, you know, add the salt and then they look Oh, that’s so interesting, you know, and add every you know, smell this one. What do you think and, you know, you make it a whole sensory experience. And all of a sudden, the world’s okay, you know, and, and kids are just okay, at that point. There, they’re coping, you’re giving them the tools to cope and that’s a huge part of it.
I love it. I There are a lot of things that I’m going to take away from this conversation. But, but, but I love it and my daughter is a big foodie, too. So it’s been it’s been a tough road, but she’s not super sensitive. But she definitely it builds up over a few days. So it’s Yeah, as with a lot of kids talking about dairy, which is one of the things that is surprisingly more than gluten that people have trouble with. Right. So I don’t know if you’ve noticed the same, but it seems to be the cheese. That’s the biggest thing that I mean, somehow people figure out gluten-free foods that they can tolerate but dairy feed never seems to hit the spot. Have you found not food to be found? Maybe easiest to recreate and the hardest to recreate?
Legitimate Well, okay. Because we, when we develop recipes, we keep them not free on purpose. I would say cheese, but for those who can have nuts, I wouldn’t say cheese. That’s an easy one.
There are so many brands that do good dairy-free cheese that I don’t think that’s the real issue. If you can’t do shared equipment with dairy, dairy-free ice cream is really hard. The real trick to that one is to use fat so like a low-flavor oil. And it helps recreate the creaminess but you have to be really careful or else you end up with really cold shortening and it’s really gross. So there’s a real balance to be had there. The frosting is easy cakes are easy pate like, maybe a croissant. That would be hard. Yeah, it’s that one’s hard. I haven’t even attempted it.
One time I did make a butter book. I convinced myself I was going to do it and then I got busy with something else. I guess maybe, that but I mean, maybe like true pastry cream, we make Faux pastry creams that are pretty close. Get the right mouthfeel. And we get the right. Taste generally, but the texture is always going to be a little bit off. But if you don’t have a point of comparison, or if you’re young enough, you can write it off pretty easily. Right?
I would say. I mean, this is up for individual interpretation, but maybe drinkable milk around here. We don’t drink milk straight. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s like a preference. Or we just don’t have one that we love. But nobody drinks dairy-free milk is pretty
Pretty much the same in my home too. So nobody drinks milk upstream. Yeah,
Like we all bake with it or cook with it a lot. But none of us just grab a cup of milk. So maybe
like the flavor that the closest thing. So when I make a chai or coffee or something like that, like a latte ish thing, oat milk has come the closest but what do you think? Yeah,
We so we don’t do coffee, or anything like that. But I’ve heard a lot of good things about oat milk and soy milk in terms of hot beverages. And after try it out, I mean, we make fresh milk and only have neutral milk. And I like it because it’s free from the equipment which we need. But also because you know, you can make whatever you want with it.
I mean, plus with oat milk. A lot of people don’t know this, but oat milk has a secret talent. If you boil oat milk, it will naturally thicken. Yeah, like you if you just stand in stir boiling oatmeal for several minutes, it gets thick, like weird pudding, and then you can then use it in other stuff without having to add, you know, a weird, long list of chemicals or anything to thicken. Right?
I have kind of the same question about eggs. So pardon my repetitive questions, but because x sensitivities, at least in the kids that I see seem to have skyrocketed over the last few years. Or maybe nobody knew about it earlier. But and I find that if for example, I used to eat an egg every day for most of my life. And right now if I have two to three days in a row, I get joint pains. So just kind of a delayed sensitivity reaction. And I, you know, have been able to,
I’m not really sensitive to gluten and dairy, but I’ve tried periods of giving them up because my son is and just to see if I can sustain that. And those have been okay for me. But giving up eggs was the hardest because when you’re already gluten and dairy free, you rely on eggs for doing everything in between. So the binding the flavor, the textures, it seems like, especially if you’re not a very good cook like me, but then. And then when you take them off, everything tastes like cardboard.
So what do you know, it’s so funny about that. So a kid too has an egg intolerance, right? And he hasn’t eaten eggs and years and years and years. So recently, and I always say to him, you know, if everyone tried to just let me know, on a big deal. So recently, he decided he would do a baked egg. So we made a muffin. And everybody agreed it was pretty gross. Like, yeah, like nobody liked it.
I mean, like nobody was upset about the taste. It was all about the texture. Like nobody was into it. And I said, You know what’s really funny, you guys, you would prefer a top eight free muffin over the woman’s eggs. And they were all like, yeah, you make free stuff, right? And that’s the thing. Apparently, I have mastered gluten, dairy egg-free so well, that if you bring an allergen back, it’s like, a hard pass. Right?
I think when I you know, when I think about eggs, the only thing I think is difficult to replace would obviously be like an egg-free souffle, you’re not going to get that even without magic in the world. Angel Food Cake is a really hard push. Especially if you want that height, you might be able to get like a short stack, almost like a pancake, but you won’t get a tall angel food cake. And then of course scrambled eggs.
Unless of course you’re willing to eat the ones that are like, heavy in the ingredients that honestly I don’t know that people should really be indulging in like, maybe once a month or something. But I look at those labels and I just kind of go Yeah, no, thank you. Yeah. And so sometimes like shredded things can help. You know, I find like if you cut Turkey lunch meat, and then cook it like with turmeric and a couple of other seasonings. So it sort of looks like eggs scrambled just a smidge and you mix it with rice.
It takes on this very interesting texture and it tricks your brain a little bit. I don’t know if you’re familiar with what’s called egg drop soup. They serve it at some Asian restaurants. I think I’ve had it once. But yeah, yeah, my kids love it. Turns out I accidentally invented an egg-free egg drop soup, and they think it’s the coolest thing ever. I still don’t understand how I did it because I’ve never had it.
They were like, This is a drop soup. And I’m like, Okay, if you say oh, yeah, so, um, I think for me, anytime I think of, you know what’s hard to replace, I think just if you’re eating it straight like egg is a binder easy egg as an emulsifier easy egg as a moistening agent, easy, you know egg for lift easy, those are all easily replaceable. You know, you can as long as you do the ratios, right? You bring in the acid, you bring in the leavening agents,
You taking it out what are the different chemical agents that are actually causing it to property
Right, so when you go egg free, it’s like let’s look at egg-free baking, because that’s really where this matters the most.
Egg free baking is truly a science. And on raise the really cool thing is like every recipes egg-free, there’s a free cake free muffins, egg free, everything is really cool. The key is, first off your gluten-free flour blend has to be a good blend, if you have a bad like, I tell people if you’re gluten-free only or egg-free only, I think you’ll be okay. But once you go both, you have to follow the rules. L
ike please do not go and try to tweak these recipes just follow the rules I’ve given you. And you’re gonna love it right. Because with gluten-free flour, you have lightweight heavyweight and medium-weight flowers. And what we really literally mean is the weight of the flour. One cup of almond flour is almost half the weight of one cup of superfine sorghum flour, which is also why we always tell you in grams, we don’t say use a cup we say use 50 grams, right? And when you say this, this is in your cookbooks. Yeah, it’s in our recipes online and stuff.
You know, if I say a cup, Domina leveled cup, a packed cup, right? Like which flat like how’s it gonna play out. But if I say Graham’s, then we’re all on the same page, right? equalize the playing field. So first you got to get your flour blend, right, you need that lightweight starch to help bring in that lightness of baked goods that people are missing. Right. And then of course, you need flavorful flowers. If you don’t like beans, and beanie taste, please don’t use bean flowers, right? Like there are certain things you should not use.
There are some flowers that I don’t necessarily mix together because they start to clash. Buckwheat has a very strong flavor. So know how to use it appropriately. Or start off with like 20 grams, right starch super tiny, or else you’re not going to like what you get. It’s all these little nuance things just about your flour.
First and foremost, they’re gonna make a huge impact. Then we look at the egg-free portion. Okay, so for lift, we’re going to use baking powder plus baking soda. If you use both you get more power, you get more bang for your buck, right? But then if you add an acid, so we’re talking lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, not I’m not even talking like crazy chemicals. You’re just regular everyday ingredients. Now you’ve just magnified your lift, right? We’ve gone from a little bit of lift, like at 30% to like 85% Lift, this is a huge difference. Okay?
Then we look at the ability to bind, okay? An easy bind would be Chia plus water, or flax plus water. But here’s what’s really interesting. If you do Chia plus water, you get a lumpy texture, which not everybody hates. It’s more muffin-like, but you also get this funky taste. And it’s a little bit gummy, right? Like on a scale of one to five. My kids say it’s a one, like if you use the chia binding agent, whereas if you use a flax bind, and now I’m not talking to standard flax egg, people are like, oh, yeah, one tablespoon of flax with three tablespoons.
I’m like, no, no, no, that’s way too loose. You want to bind, right? We want to be like, suck it in. Okay, so now we’ve got our lift, we’ve got our bind. And to make sure that we get moistening, we add in oil. I know it sounds weird. And that’s okay. You don’t have to like, agree with me.
Just follow the rules. Trust me, you’ll appreciate it. We add the oil. Why? What is an egg yolk? And egg yolk is this creamy, fatty? Goodness, right? You ever hear people back in the day when they’d say, Oh, yeah, just add a cup of mayo to your cake. It’ll be great. Well, they would say that because it was creamy, fatty goodness, or what is oil, fatty goodness, it’s not creamy, necessarily, but sure as much fat. And so we’re going to add that in. Okay. And because we’re going to use the right tools, like a good hand mixer or whatever, we’re going to naturally emulsify. And we’re not going to let our batter sit around and separate or anything.
Okay, so we’ve, we’ve created all these solutions, we’ve wrapped them all up into one recipe. And when you bake it, boom, you get perfection. And it’s, it’s soft, it’s delicate. It’s not like cardboard it it tastes great. It’s everything you want from your food. Without all the allergens I promise it’s totally possible.
There’s so many things I like about that, especially the fact that you’ve broken this down into such a precise and a very your understanding of what’s actually going on with your food when you’re baking. I think, you know, that itself is a very inviting process to me. I want to do this because I want to understand how to replace these ingredients. So if you’re building a plate for a child that has more than three allergies or three foods that they can’t eat, you have any rules for building that plate and we’re just talking about a meal because we also want to make sure that they’re hitting, you know, they’re getting some protein and you know all their macronutrients, basically.
But yeah, I mean, number one, I like to look at the whole day or the whole week, rather than a singular meal, because let’s be honest, kids are all over the place when it comes to appetite, especially during growth spurts and things like that. I love suggesting smoothies at least once a day. Or you know, if nothing else, maybe popsicles make a batch of like nutrient-dense smoothies, put it into popsicle molds, if they’re really fun molds, that way. Your kids like, Oh, I got a sore, boom, boom, you know, and they have fun with it, and they actually eat the popsicle.
I even like our youngest is 17 now and I bought these popsicle molds for a photo and she’s like, I want that one. I’m laughing she’s like, What are you, you’re 17 years old, telling me which animal shape you want. I think that’s hilarious. And you, you’ve proven my point, right? I guess you’re never too old for a popsicle shape. So I think nutrient-dense popsicles are great. Don’t overlook the power of basic products, you know, people forget that onions have a load of nutrition, and they’re great prebiotic.
Dark leafy greens are easily hidden away in a great pasta sauce, you can shift knob them, dice them up really tiny mix men, they sort of look like parsley at that point. And quite frankly, nobody even knows they’re there. And you’ve just added this extra layer of nutrition. In fact, we have a whole series on the website, because that’s, that’s kids for his biggest problem is she needs nutrient-dense foods. And so I show you over a course of like five weeks how to make incredibly nutrient-dense meals every day.
Right? And it’s, it’s easier than you think, right? And don’t forget to that there are nutrients in your spice cabinet, right? Like it’s everywhere if we just stop and look for it. So I would say build up food combinations that number one, you know, they’re going to like, always include at least one food that they love. But then show them how to incorporate new foods as well.
Like, one easy way to do this is with a muffin tin. You can put like, you don’t even have to fill it up. But you could put 12 foods in it, you know, some diced ham and one and you know, some blueberries in one and you can put different things in it and just kind of put it out and kids can pick out it and try different things. And you know, I’m really big into food play as well. I think it’s important. Even up until like age seven or eight, you know, I think it’s, it can still have a place at the table. Because the more exposures we’re doing, the easier it is to build that played out.
When the time comes. Make sure you’re hitting the textures that speak to your child, right. I’m not saying don’t expose them to extra textures, which we absolutely should. But especially if you’re dealing with a child with sensory issues, let’s say if you’re going to serve, let’s take beef, for example. Let’s say you want to teach your child different textures with beef. I would either present two textures at a time, or do like the whole tea party.
Let’s experiment with different textures of beef type of thing, right? But maybe do ground beef and then do like little beef cubes of stew or something and just kind of have it like, you know, in two spots on the plate for them to try. Definitely, I’m big into no-pressure eating. I don’t think it’s right to ever force child to eat something not even the one bite rule. I think that’s outrageous.
Especially if you’re dealing with a nonverbal child, you don’t know why they’re saying no. So to kind of shove that in their face, it’s like, that’s a bad idea. You’re just asking for trouble. And so it’s kind of hitting all these things. But on your average day, I like to make sure the kids are getting, you know, at least several servings of produce. And definitely some protein and some starches. But what’s interesting is one of our kids does better with less starch.
They’re fine with like starchy vegetables, but even with pseudo grains, they don’t do as well. So they have like a muffin-a-day kind of thing. And, you know, maybe some rice with dinner, but not a truck ton of starches throughout the day. Whereas one of our other kids is like a carb Holic. Right? He’ll eat potatoes and rice for breakfast kind of thing. Like that kid is like, he’s a carbohydrate. And that’s fine.
Right? Every, person is different. I think that’s, I think that’s really the underlying question is, how do I properly nourish my child? Right? And that’s really going to be the answer because I could say to you, yeah, put like five grams of protein and five grams of this and like I could say all those things. But at the end of the day, if that doesn’t nourish your child, who cares, right? It’s really about what does your child need? Not only for nutrition but for quality of life.
If your kid is addicted to Snickers, and you took away their Snickers, I demand on behalf of your child that you reinvent the snicker right? Make them a better for you Snickers bar, get them involved, teach them how it’s made. Help them decide like is that crunchy enough? Do you think we should add more of this? What happens if we add some finishing salt on top right, take them through the process of making a fake Snickers bar. And make sure that those fake Snicker bars are available. 24/7. Right, if you’re going to take away something that important, I demand that you replace it with a safe version. And that that’s really what this is all about. It’s about serving up foods that nourish and comfort. And that’s really how you build up the plate.
You’ve made this such a thorough scientific process, right? So you’re talking about the investigation, you’re talking about communication with the child and you know, this constant, you know, you experiment with the recipe, come back, maybe compare it with another recipe.
Okay, if I have to stretch it all the way make a hypothesis on what works, and so on. Right? So yeah, but it’s such a, and that’s why I love it, because it’s such a rounded. I’m also a science teacher, by the way. So I just giving a lesson.
So are you okay? To see, you know, I’m a scientist at heart. I’ve loved science since I was a child like I am. So I, you’re saying this? And I’m thinking she’s right. I have done that, haven’t I? Is your right, that
I could really describe everything that he says reading your website, and the way that you figured out the different allergies that you have, and for your kids as well. It’s really the scientific method in action. And absolutely, very systematically. And I think when you do that, you automatically take the emotion out of the picture, because who has tampered emotion in the scientific method?
Right. So I agree with you so much. And I think early to my earlier point, it’s like when you don’t have that emotional connection, I think it’s way easier, right? Like, I think, you know, one thing too, that I would say to parents who are listening is give yourself the grace to mess up. I promise you’re going to mess up. And I promise it’s going to be okay.
Like I’ve messed up before, right? I’ve given our kid who’s allergic to dairy twice in his life, without meaning to write. And of course, both times it was a disaster. What was interesting is he did it to himself once. And we had to, like he said, with science, we had to analyze like, so why on earth would you eat that? And he’s like, I thought it was mine. And I’m like, why would you think it’s yours? It clearly says, right? And he goes, Well, you bought me one before that look just like it. And I was like, really. And so of course, then we go and we start comparing packages. And sure enough, there’s a version of dairy-free ice cream, that looks 95% identical to I’ve set to the same thing as a dairy-free product.
I’m like, no wonder you ate that they literally look identical at this point, right? Especially if you’re not paying attention. And that’s actually when we invested. And we made all these crazy rules in our house. Like, if it’s this, it can never be in the kitchen, it has to go on this outside refrigerator. And so now we basically have like three kitchens at this point, it’s it’s kind of crazy. But we’ve had to set up all the kitchens, essentially, we’ve got our kitchen. And then we’ve got our front room, which has all these kitchen II things. And then we have all sorts of cooking appliances outside as well.
It’s like three separate kitchen spaces, essentially. But we had to put all these protocols in place because that was the only way to guarantee safety. Right? You know, we’ve got color-coding, we’ve got so separate sponge-like we already had so much in place. But then that incident made us have to get more stuff in place, you know, and that’s why I say to people, like, Don’t set yourself up to be emotionally invested in the sense of when you fail.
Do not sit there and beat yourself up. It’s okay to be like Kathlena never do that again. And promise yourself you won’t. But don’t sit there and be like, Oh, you worthless parent. What were you thinking? Because I think people do that. Like they beat themselves up to the point of like a depression. It’s like, hold on, just stop. It wasn’t malicious.
Everything’s okay. Now, like we’ve recovered, and you got to get busy living again, this child is depending on you to function so they can function. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves like this right now. Let’s keep moving. You made the mistake. Let’s correct what caused the mistake. Let’s fix it. What’s the solution? You know, and it you’re right, it takes you back to Science because I think that’s important.
I think everybody who’s busy getting their children ready for advanced science programs testing their IQ should just stop and and do this, you know? I’m actually you can actually like you’re developing it from the inside out, aren’t you like otherwise everything says I feel like a lot of people study science and they’re in advanced science degrees but they can’t for the life of them implement the scientific method when they’re doing this for their child or for themselves, but you’re doing this so naturally and if you actually do what you did and separate the emotion from it and just do it as rigorous inquiry, right. That’s the word.
Yeah, like scientific inquiry. So then, when you got it, right, yeah, I like that angle a lot. I just came to me as you’ve been talking and been reading your website, and I think that’s the answer.
I, you know, I’d never put it in those words before, but you’re absolutely right. I mean, I had to experiment on myself for years. Right to get it. I mean, that’s, and I do love science. I love the pursuit of the answer, right. It’s, it’s why?
Why did the pursuit of the answer right? Isn’t that so much more interesting than the answer itself? Yeah.
Yeah. Well, it’s way more interesting than just sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. Like, absolutely. I mean, at least keep yourself busy doing something. So I think pursuing the answer, I think that’s kind of fun in its own little way.
I’m thinking of a podcast title as we speak, like the science of some scientific process of figuring out elimination diets or something like that. Speaking of which, do you have a sensitivity test that you like? Or do you just use this method you like?
I, I think all cats are pretty awesome. I love it. They have like the advanced ones, pretty pricey, but I think it’s worth every penny. But I also think it’s still a guide. I think even, you know, blood tests and tests, intolerance, testing, I think all forms of testing are an amazing guide. Even stool testing, I think advanced stool tests are important in the whole grand scheme of things. Because you get to then see, like amino acids.
I think it’s way more, especially when you’re not dealing with a life-threatening, clear, and straightforward food allergy, right? I think everybody else’s stuff is so so critical. I mean, it’s critical for the other group as well, but in a different way. Because let’s say you’re dealing with a child, who does better with certain foods for cognitive function. Okay.
I’ll agree with you that they do better with those foods. But now we have to ask why? Is it because of what’s in the foods you’ve taken out? Or is it because of what their diet is lacking? Maybe by switching, you’ve now naturally added something more that they were deficient in without realizing it more, you’ve taken out something so critical that just does not gel with your child? What is the answer? Well, if we start testing everything, we might learn that your child is deficient in three essential amino acids, and Omega has you?
Well, that’s kind of a big deal. And if we look at what we took out, turns out those foods naturally clash with the, you know, bioavailability of omega, like, whatever it is, clearly, something we’ve done has cleared up a pathway for your child to absorb the nutrition better. How do we do it? Why what happened like to me, when you have all these tests, and how all these bits of data, you have the better ability, in my opinion, to nourish the child, right? You know, it’s like the GAPS diet, the GAPS diet is not designed to be forever.
It’s, you know, originally was designed to be like a three-year stint, because the idea is that if you can heal these different things, and correct these different things, after three years, you should be able to start reintroducing foods because everything’s working properly. I think that’s part of the thing, right? I think it’s a two-part approach. Number one, I do think that American food has declined in quality over the past 65 years, you know, we look at quality of soil quality of food, you cannot tell me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the peaches we eat today or the peaches are grandparents ate? It’s not right. It’s just not the same nutrition profile. I wish it were, but it’s not.
We look at GMOs, right? Never in the history of humans. Have we ever experimented on people like this before? Like, hey, let’s just completely change people’s diet, the actual DNA of the food, we’ve never done this. And now we’re seeing the results, right? We look at all these different medical interventions. We’ve never, no one’s actually required to study the combined effect.
There was this really cool documentary in the UK a few years ago. And some scientists said, there is no way that wasn’t your grocery stores as bad for you, as you guys think it is, in fact, we’re gonna prove you all wrong. So they were like, okay, cool. I mean, I’m just paraphrasing at this point. But they, they tested several things for something really specific. Individually, they were like, see, check it out individually, it’s fine.
Then they did the combined effect. And they were like, we were not expecting these results. I guess you guys are onto something. And that’s really the key, right? We look at like grass foods generally regarded as safe. Nobody’s actually tested these things. If they are generally regarded as safe.
Nobody said, Hey, what happens when, let’s take a child who, since before they were born, has been exposed to these 15 environmental issues. Because in the placenta, in the womb, in the umbilical cord, we know that these things are present now, like it’s been proven, we know it’s there. So let’s do that to this kid. And let’s have them exposed to these other things via breast milk. And as soon as they can start eating, Let’s expose them to all these other things.
Let’s expose and and and and and nobody’s ever studied it before, nobody, but instead we’re going to say one in five has this one in 10 has this one and 12 has this one and 42 has this one, you know, we used to have a rate of, you know, one and 100 with this disease, but now it’s down to one and 50 everybody’s willing to sit back and say, Okay, I accept that. And I’m like, am I the only one here seeing this, like, hello, wake up, it’s the and, and, and, and, and, and, and it’s all these combined effects that were just like, just we keep taking it on.
I’m like if we could just maybe take a step back, eat real food. You know, like, let’s, let’s clean up how we’re living a little bit, you know, what, something like 80% of cancers are preventable through diet and lifestyle changes. That should be the wake-up call, right? We have some control over these things. If we just look at the building blocks, I think we’ve ignored the building blocks for so long. Like, as I said earlier, that education has been lost.
Now I’m like, we need to get this education back, we need to get it back into the hands of the people because one in five, one in 10, one in 13. This is too much like this has to change that is like that should be scaring people. But I feel like it’s not. And I’m not sure why. But that’s the scientist,
I think you’re definitely onto something there. Because that’s the flip side of scientific research is that in the name of controlling for variables, all we can do is change one thing at a time and look for its effects. At some point, we need to put it all together and then see what happens. And then hopefully, that will happen soon. We’re living in this in this kind of scary matrix of everything feeding into us.
Exactly. Yeah. And I think I honestly feel like, you know, like, for example, the FDA is supposed to be that, you know, the buck stops here. And I, I don’t think they’ve served us very well. I think they could have hurt us better. I, you know, and I also think, though, that there was some of the responsibility falls on the people in the sense of we, as consumers should be demanding better.
You know, when you look at some of these ingredients, I understand that they’re there for shelf life. But I also understand that there’s an alternative solution. And I think that some corporations have just gotten so greedy, and we just allow it, that we’re literally just inviting these people to poison our kids.
Like, I don’t care what you think about soda, but I’m sorry, five and six-year-olds should not be drinking copious amounts of soda. We should not have vending machines in schools yet. There they are. You know, I don’t know if you ever saw that study with, there was a high school for delinquent kids in the Pacific Northwest. And I think this was like 10 years ago or something. But they decided that they were going to do organic, like farm-to-table type foods for these kids. And grades improved, attendance improved, fights went down, and everything got better.
All they changed was food at school. Nobody, they didn’t change the food at home, they didn’t change, like, you know, are these kids in gang areas, anything like that, he changed nothing. But the school served food. That small change made a huge impact. And so, you know, when I’m looking at these pockets of impact, I’m saying, why aren’t we doing this at a greater scale? And obviously, it all comes back to money, right?
You’ve got companies that want to make money, and you’ve got things where, well, if we make this better for you, it’s gonna cost us more it’s like, okay, well, did you really need $55 billion of profit this year, when 35 billion have been fine, you know, it’s like, there comes a point where we get so greedy, that we’re just hurting people. And it’s, it’s just wrong, you know, like, I’m all for capitalism, but I think we’ve capitalism that cares or something like we just, we just need to do better, you know, and we know it can be done better. Like, it should be done better. And we as consumers need to demand better as well.
Now, thank you for this conversation, I think I came up with a lot of ideas. And I know, mine, hopefully, I’ll also come up with an idea for the title of the person. But I it’s one of the most honestly, it’s one of the most remarkable, illuminating conversations I’ve had. And I really like that, like, I like to distill things down to what like, you know, very simple ideas that I get from people and from you.
If I had to distill one would be that everything you’ve said is about mindset. And the second is, is we already discussed the scientific method and I think I think both of them go together because we already talked about it, but each of them feeds into the other because keeping a scientific method what should I say refines your mindset, maybe or makes it conducive to doing it at least so that so then it’s just fun and then you’re you’re just
Does it free your mindset? I think to like, right like it, it gives you the freedom for creativity. And I think the freedom to ask the questions because without that scientific method backing you up, it’s almost like you’re afraid to take action. Yeah. Whereas in science, you’re, you’re encouraged, ask the questions,
And encouraged to make mistakes that gets bad data is still data, right. So yeah, exactly. Yeah. That’s a lot of fun. Thank you for being here. Kathleen. It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me. Okay, that was fun. Thanks for listening. If you have questions for me, I can cleaner drop them off at supported functional nutrition for kids.com. You know you can reach Kathleen on w and me a doctor Sarathy that just to Dr. Vaish. Now if you love this podcast as I did, do drop it really helps us reach more people. It helps more people find us. Bye.