So I just got through having a very interesting conversation with a fellow tubie mom. She was looking for advice because her son had suddenly been vomiting his morning blends. At first she thought it might be a cold but no other symptoms arose. He was tolerating broth and baby food so it did not sound like a flu bug. Then she mentioned a change in the coconut milk she had been buying for her blends. She went from using Silk coconut milk to using Simple Truth coconut milk. She questioned whether or not it might be a particular additive in the Simple Truth that was not in the Silk. That additive was Carrageenen. Since I make my milks fresh, I hadn’t thought about additives and the side effects they might have. I vaguely remember hearing the name but had no idea what it was so I hung up the phone and went looking.
After clicking on the first website that spoke about it and reading the contents, a light bulb went off. There was a quote from an article that made me feel that this mom had hit the nail on the head:
“Although derived from a natural source, carrageenan appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella. The result: “Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago. She says the food ingredient irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. Her previous work showed a concerning connection between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, and she’s involved with ongoing research funded through the National Institutes of Health that is investigating carrageenan’s effect on ulcerative colitis and other diseases like diabetes.”
And what do pathogens like Salmonella trigger the body to do? You guessed it. Vomit. Unfortunately a lot of organic foods add these ingredients to stabilize their products and add shelf life. So it could be that or a number of different additives that could be causing this little tubie’s tummy troubles. The best answer is to go back to what was working. If the vomiting stops, you’ve at least solved the immediate problem. Then, keep a list of ingredients of the problem item in a file. If a similar problem arises from another product compare the ingredients to see what they have in common. Then research the side effects of those ingredients so that you can narrow down the list culprits.
It is best, whenever possible to make your own milks. That way you know exactly what is in it and what, if anything, needs to be removed. It is also much more cost effective. I do understand that not everyone has the time to do this. But, if you are cooking and/or blending for someone on a specialized diet or has multiple allergies/sensitivities, it is well worth the time and effort.
If you are interested in reading more about Carrageenan this article contains a lot of interesting information.
Yes, even veteran tubie moms can struggle from time to time. Matthew can’t handle large volumes because of his slow emptying issues. He is a growing teenage boy who is now more active than he’s ever been in his life. It has been quite a challenge getting him the additional calories he needs without increasing volume. Recently I had to add another carton of formula to his daily routing because his weight was dropping. I have been hesitant to try coconut oil and/or milk because of extreme food allergies in the family. For years I have been making his oatmeal with formula. Helping a transitioning little one has given me the courage to try adding 1/2 tsp of organic coconut oil in his immune system cocktail (given through the g-tube) to see how he reacts. It’s been 2 days and so far so good. If he continues to show no allergic reaction I will make his next batch with fresh coconut milk instead!
This is the recipe that started it all. After I blend this in the Vitamix, my family comes into the kitchen looking for the apple pie because that’s exactly what it smells like. Even if you or your child has never liked oatmeal, give this recipe a try. You will be amazed at how good it tastes. The apples and raisins add natural sweetener. If you like your cereals a bit sweeter you can always add your favorite sweetener to the bowl but try it first. Enjoy!
4 cups of steel cut oats (cooked)
1 cup fresh coconut milk
2 cups of water
1 large apple (cut in quarters & seeds removed. DO NOT PEEL!) or 1 banana
1/3 cup raisins
2 tbs chia seeds (hydrated in 2/3 cup of water)
2 tsp cinnamon (substitute 1 tsp of vanilla if using banana)
Bring 1 cup of dry steel cut oats, water and coconut milk to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for 15-20 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
Place the chia seeds, apple, raisins and 1 cup of the cooked cereal into the large Vitamix container in the order listed and secure the lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and quickly increase speed toVariable10, then to High. Blend until completely smooth.
Turn off machine and remove lid.
Add remaining cereal and replace lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
Blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached.
Pour into ice cube tray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze.
Food Tip: This recipe can be reduced by 1/2 and made in smaller containers. This oatmeal is best suited for older babies and individuals on a pureed diet that can handle a bit of texture. For younger babies and individuals with gag reflex problems it is best to start with basic oatmeal made from oat flour (see recipe in whole grains). When making this recipe for younger babies, add 1 ingredient at a time with at least 4 days in between additions to test for allergic reactions. This recipe tastes so good the whole family will love it!
Money Tip: Watch your prices. I use Steel cut oats instead of whole oat groats, old fashioned oats or quick oats. Oat groats and Steel cut oats have a more robust flavor and more fiber because of the oat bran. Other than that, they are pretty much the same nutritionally. Steel cut oats run about 65 cents a pound if you buy them in bulk. Since you are grinding or blending, why not save some money.
Time Tip: Each cube is approximately 1 once. Storing you cubes in labeled freezer bags will save lots of time and your servings will always be fresh. To serve, simply put the desired portion in a microwavable bowl the night before and heat for 15-30 seconds on high. If the cubes have not been defrosted, it will take 30-60 seconds to heat. 4 frozen cubes takes approximately 45 seconds.