Allergy-Friendly Bread Machine Recipe

The kitchen is the absolute best place for hands-on homeschooling. So many lessons take place in the kitchen: math, chemistry, confidence and experimentation, following a process—not to mention those heart-to-heart talks that food and a warm oven inspire.

Because we live the “food allergy lifestyle,” the kitchen is an even more natural place for our homeschool. I’m always there.

Over the last few years, we have seen huge improvements both physically and mentally through diet changes and keeping a food journal, including significant improvement with ADHD and emotional/sensory issues. It’s been a long journey, and each family member (including my husband and myself) has slightly different needs, which creates quite a long list of eliminations for me. In addition to avoiding all artificial (petroleum-based) dyes and preservatives, we are also gluten, dairy, corn, and largely egg-free. That means I cook—ALL THE TIME. My allergy-friendly kitchen is constantly whirring. But I don’t do it all by myself. That’s nearly impossible. Instead, I’ve recruited some helpers to share the load. I’m teaching my oldest to make bake: bread, rolls, muffins, hamburger/hot dog buns, etc. That’s right. I’ve got a gluten/dairy/corn/egg-free allergy-friendly bread machine recipe that is simple enough my fifth grader can make it.hands-on learning in the kitchen | allergy friendly kitchen

I’m not a gourmet chef, by a long shot. I’m an allergy-mom who’s just trying to keep food on the table. Much of this has been trial and error for me. The kids have watched me try, and they have graciously eaten my failures. I’d like to think that’s given them the courage to try cooking and baking without the pressure of everything turning out perfectly. (And if you are just starting on this path, keep your chin up. You’ll find your groove again. You’ll get comfortable with baking and cooking flops. And eventually, you’ll find something that works, too. There will be a new normal.)

I’ve loved sharing this recipe with my son and teaching him what I’ve been learning, the chemistry of baking and the logic behind substitutions. “What does the egg do in this recipe? What substitute will do that for us?” “Follow the recipe, sort of, but always keep an eye on your texture; that’s most important.” It’s been a great help and a fun bonding time. I think this summer, I may promote him to part-time cook.


Allergy-Friendly Bread Machine Recipe

  • 3 cups gluten-free flour with xanthum gum included (I use Namaste, not totally corn-free, but it’s worked for us.)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 package of Red Star active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt (I use sea salt.)
  • 4 tsp. baking powder (I use Hains baking powder.)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice (Apple cider vinegar works, too, if you have a safe-for-you vinegar.)
  • 3 tsp. arrowroot powder, mixed in about 1/4 cup of water (just enough to dissolve the powder)
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups warm water

Mix flour, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl.

Add the salt and baking powder, then pour the lemon juice over the baking powder. Next, pour the arrowroot mixture over the baking powder. There should be a fair amount of bubbling and fizzing. Add the melted oil.

Mix the ingredients well. Mixture will be dry and crumbly. Slowly add the warm water, mixing thoroughly before adding more. The amount of liquid needed will often vary. Mixture should be sticky and no longer dry, but be careful not to get the dough too wet or it will sink in the middle after it’s done baking.

Place mixture into the bread machine and follow bread machine settings for gluten free bread. Often this will mean a shorter rise time (My bread machine setting is 1 hr. 55 min. rapid rise setting).

*Some bread machines have a yeast dispenser, but I’ve personally never had success with that feature. I’ve also never had success with dumping ingredients in and letting my bread machine do the work; I’m assuming it’s all those substitute ingredients for an allergy friendly dough.*

**Disclaimer: As always, be sure to use safe-for-you ingredients to be sure that any recipe is truly safe for your allergies. **


Homeschooling a Child with ADHD (and everything that comes with it)

homeschooling ADHD | parenting ADHD

Parenting a child with ADHD is challenging on so many levels, and honestly the hyperactivity and distraction is a walk in the park compared to the rest of the package. ADHD rarely comes alone; it’s accompanied by depression, anxiety, rage, sensory processing issues, auditory processing issues, and a slew of other “disorders” and “syndromes.” And as if our kids weren’t challenging enough, there are the additional challenges of battling our own insecurities and mommy guilt, as well as battling what other people are saying and what we think they are saying.

So homeschooling a child with ADHD is, as you might assume, rather chaotic. It doesn’t look anything like I had imagined. And though we are in a much better place today then we were a couple of years ago, I remember the days when I doubted that I could do this. There were days when I felt like I did more counseling than actual homeschooling. There were days when one child would fly into a biting, scratching, head-banging rage, another child would be screaming inconsolably, and my toddler would be smearing poo all over the house. And I wasn’t sure I’d survive the day. But you know what? My kids learned, even when I didn’t think it was possible.

We learned in short spurts (10 to 15 minutes per subject).

We learned creatively and actively.

We learned when we had a chance, in the good moments.

And because of the environment of having that one-on-one attention and plenty of time to burn that excess energy, my kids have done well academically. Our ADHD kids are smart.

And while medication was not the long term answer for our kids, I’m thankful for the gift ADHD meds gave to my family during that time. It helped me to see who my children really were in the midst of that overwhelming fog. It gave me the chance to get my head above water and rethink our lifestyle and habits and routines. It wasn’t perfect: some days the meds worked, some days they seemed to be too much, other days they weren’t nearly enough. But the meds worked enough to help clear the haze and allow me to see that there could be some dietary links.

About a year and half ago, we began an elimination diet and I journaled religiously—everything we ate and every behavior. After awhile, some patterns emerged. It took several months of watching those patterns and eliminating different foods. But eventually, both my older kids went off meds and my youngest (never on meds) also had dramatic improvements in his temperament and sensory issues. My daughter’s journey took a little longer and involved a few more supplements, but eventually she was able to reach a healthy baseline. Are they cured? No, the dopamine and seratonin issues show up in the DNA; it will always be there. But we are able to manage their challenges best right now with diet and supplements.

My kids are still a very active, loud, dramatic, funny, personality-plus crew of hooligans. They still have BIG EMOTIONS that we have to work through. But in spite of all of the challenges, we’ve had the chance to see the treasure, too. You see, ADHD rarely comes alone; it comes with creativity, innovation, humor, imagination, and a wild sense of adventure. We are never short of laughs and unbelievable antics. My life is full and rich (and loud) and never dull, not for a split-second.

homeschooling active learners | ADHD | parenting ADHD

Is homeschooling the right option for your ADHD child? Only you know that. But I definitely don’t regret having homeschooled ours and the opportunities they’ve had to excel in learning in spite of their challenges, to love learning because we can keep it short and active and customized, to have meaningful friendships that allow them to be loud and quirky and every bit who they are. Can you homeschool a child with these obstacles? Sure you can. Just like you can wake up each day and parent. There are good days and bad days in homeschooling, just like there are good days and bad days in parenting. There are days when it is the most amazing experience ever, and there are days when I wonder what on earth I’m thinking. But there’s not a single day when I wouldn’t do absolutely all I could for my kid.

So if I could have a moment with myself of two or three years ago, if I could tell you what I’ve learned over the last few years, I’d say it’s okay to feel inadequate and helpless and imperfect. It’s okay to not know the solutions right now. It’s okay that you aren’t the “fun mom” or the “creative mom” or even the “patient mom.” You are still the perfect mom for this job, because God chose you for this child. And He doesn’t make mistakes. ADHD doesn’t come alone; and you are a key component in the journey.

If you are new to this journey and need a friend, I would love to hear from you. I also highly recommend the book Superparenting for ADD.

Want to follow more of our journey?

Motivating Your Intense Child

big emotions | homeschooling ADHD | homeschooling | motivation

My kids have BIG EMOTIONS. All three of them are what you’d call “intense” children. And while our lifestyle change and food eliminations have definitely taken care of the more violent feelings and rages we used to deal with, it hasn’t changed my kids’ personalities. They still feel things in a BIG WAY, and sometimes, that can be a BIG distraction to homeschooling, especially when those feelings have them completely unmotivated to learn.

I wish I could say I always handle this the right way and patiently walk them through these moments. I don’t. But I’m learning. Here’s some of what I’m learning—from lots of trial and error—works best to motivate an intense child.

5 Ways to Motivate your Intense Child

  • Help them calm down first. Oh, this is so hard for me. Most of the time, I just want it to stop. (Make the noise stop!) It takes all the Holy Spirit power to keep me from launching into a logical discourse on why their feelings don’t make sense. But I’m learning. I know this isn’t helpful. It doesn’t matter how correct I am, logic is NOT what they need. Those conversations must wait until later, after they are calm. First and foremost, I have to discover what my child needs to calm down. And it seems that different children and even different situations sometimes call for a different answer here. Sometimes, the child needs space from the situation or the offender to calm themselves. Sometimes, it’s a creative outlet to work through or distract from the anxiety. Other times, they just need me to hold them and tell them everything will be okay.  No logic, just reassurance and prayer.
  • Have a conversation (after they are calm). And what I mean by a conversation is still not the logical discourse I’m tempted to lay out. Instead, what I’ve found works best is to ask questions, specific leading questions asked in a patient, calm, friendly way (not an accusatory way) to help draw them out. I give them possible responses. I assure them that their honesty will not hurt my feelings and explain to them that I want to help them but need to know exactly what kind of help they need from me. If there is a problem to discuss, I try to ask questions that help them see what lesson they need to learn instead of merely preaching to them (well, okay, there’s some preaching to). During these conversations, I do insist that they speak to me respectfully (which is why we save these conversations for after they’ve calmed down.) I don’t feel that it is healthy for them to yell at me when they are frustrated, so I coach them that they can feel frustrated and that they can be honest while still speaking respectfully.
  • Set goals together. After they’ve shared what is frustrating them, I ask “how can I best help you?” For one of my intense kids, finding the words to explain a feeling or emotionally-charged situation is very difficult. So during this part of the conversation, I provide a few choices for what may help the next time this situation comes up, and then I let them choose what game plan seems most doable for them. We set expectations and talk through natural consequences. Sometimes, we even come up with a code word or secret sign that I can give to remind them of our strategy before the emotions take them beyond the point of return.
  • Avoid “you against them.” This is huge, when I remember it. And I don’t always. When I do, it really turns a situation around. I try to set up our conversations as “me and them” against natural consequences. “I hate to see you lose this privilege because of a bad choice. How can I help you make sure that doesn’t happen?” “I’d hate to see you miss that party because you didn’t finish your assignments. I want to help you get your work done, but I can’t do it for you. I need you to work with me, and I will do all that I can to help you succeed. How can I help you best?” I’m the ally, not the enemy. I’m on their side, wanting them to succeed! 
  • Ask for their ideas to be motivated in their schoolwork.  Often, I’m surprised by how small their suggestions usually are. “I just don’t like being up in my room all by myself to do my work” [with lots of drama and high-pitched weeping]. “I just don’t like my colored pencils. They aren’t coloring right on the paper” [with same amount of drama and wailing]. Sometimes, they just need to buck up, for sure. But if making room for my child at the dining room table, buying her a $2 pack of colored pencils, or letting her finish her math with a pink pen is going to renew and motivate her to push through and try again, I’m all for it.

Bottom-line, I’m learning. I’m learning that the best way to motivate my intense children is by allowing them a measure of control. Often the emotions come when something out of their control has occurred. But they can control their choices and progress. Learning is their choice. That’s not on me. It’s the classic “take them to water but can’t make them drink” scenario. I can teach, but I can’t make them learn. Homeschooling takes both of us working together.

In those intense moments, I am there to calm them, to teach them to cope with frustration and disappointment, to remind them of their goals, and to offer my assistance to help them with those goals. I don’t remove consequences or bail them out, but I also don’t make it my fault when they make a bad choice. In other words, I can’t get drawn into their drama (Oh, so much easier said than done! I do know it); I have to be my child’s calm, and draw them toward the Prince of Peace.

Yes, there have been seasons (particularly before we eliminated our problem foods and triggers) where I felt that I did more counseling than actual homeschooling. There have been times when I put a big X through my plans and made a checkbox for “parenting” in its place. But when moments with my intense child have the lesson plans all askew, I try to remember that God had different plans for the day, that learning to cope with BIG emotions is truly just as important for this child as learning to multiply, and that some lessons just can’t be scheduled. 

If you homeschool an intense or anxious child, I would love to hear your ideas on how you cope with the BIG EMOTIONS and get school done, too. Comment on my blog, or join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.