Gluten Free Birthday Cake (with Icing)

We celebrated Alex’s 7th birthday party on Saturday, and he wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla icing.  I tried a new mix, with excellent results, King Arthur’s Flour glutenfree chocolate cake .

King Arthur Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Boxfront


Not the least expensive box on the gluten free shelf, but I chose it mostly for convenience:  There is no butter or shortening involved, you merely add eggs, oil and water.  The only possibly difficult part is that you need to use a hand mixer, or a stand mixer, and stir things in for about 5 minutes.  So I recommend this mix highly.





What I’m really excited about, however, is the white, gluten free, dairy free icing that I made to spread in between the layers of the cake and on the outside.  I used:

Glaze-like icing


  • one 8 oz. tub of Tofutti “Better Than Cream Cheese
  • about 4 oz. of  one of the Earth Balance spreads
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • About a cup and a half of confectioners sugar, more or less depending on desired consistency.

Combine and blend with hand mixer until smooth.

I made this icing twice, the first time I used less confectioners sugar and got a pourable glaze that I poured over the top of the cake and then smoothed with a spatula.

Thicker, workable icing

The second go-round, for the 12 kids at the birthday party, I used more confectioners sugar, got a thicker icing, and one that was more workable, and one that I could have piped if I had so desired:

The kids enjoyed it, the parents loved it, and those parents whose kids have allergies were very impressed.

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The Best Gluten Free Pasta

I’ve often thought that a great service would be to take somebody new to a gluten free diet (or with a child new to the diet), take them to Whole Foods or a good natural foods store, and go up and down the aisles telling them which of each type of product is the best.  Trial and error is not a lot of fun as there are a lot of lousy gluten free products out there.

When it comes to pasta, I think I’ve tried just about everything out there, and I think I can provide some valuable guidance.   The best I’ve tried, thank you very much, was the fresh homemade pasta I made with my Ronco pasta maker, bought off of a late night infomercial featuring Mr. Ron Popeil, and using gluten free flour, oil, eggs, and water.   But that’s a bit of a production, and usually, like most people, I use store-bought dried pasta.  There are a lot of varieties out there using mostly rice flour, and sometimes corn, quinoa, or other grains.

Tinkyada Pasta

In my opinion, the best rice based pasta is made by Tinkyada.  It sounds Japanese, but its made in Canada, it comes in a lot of different varieties (18 of them including spaghetti, linguine, shells, spirals, lasagna noodles…) and it’s the closest I’ve found to “regular” pasta, so it’s a good substitute in most pasta dishes, especially for kids.  Trader Joes has excellent gluten free pasta and I think, although I’m not certain, that they have Tinkyada make it for them, because it tastes exactly the same.  It claims to be “not mushy” but this is not entirely true – the window between al dente and too mushy is very small with this product — my recommendation is not to trust the cooking directions on the package, use lots of water, stir often, and taste test frequently to make sure it does not get overcooked.

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta

When cooking for adults, I prefer Ancient Harvest quinoa based pasta.  Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is, according to Wikipedia, “a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds.”  All I know is it is supposed to be good for you, tastes a lot like pasta with a little bit of nuttiness, and goes especially well with tomato based sauces.  In some dishes, I prefer it to regular wheat based pasta.

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The New Autism: One Parent’s Perpective

When our son Alex was diagnosed with autism in March of 2007, I was travelling on business just outside of Detroit.  I spent the entire night in a motel room with my head in my hands, poring over the internet finding out as much as I could about the disorder, and the news was disheartening.  For the most part, the established medical community offered little hope, urging early and intense therapy with an outside chance of developing a “highly functioning” special needs child who may or may not eventually be able to live on his/her own.

I know now, through my son’s recovery and from witnessing the improvement and recovery of many other children, that autism is treatable with far more weaponry than therapy alone.   Therapy is important, but equally so, I believe, is healing the digestive and immune systems through biomedical intervention so that the body can assist in healing itself and respond to therapy far better than if therapy is received without these complementary treatments.

While historically autism was a very rare disease that struck at birth, the epidemic we see today is a form of regressive autism that typically does not present itself until about 24 months of age.  The medical profile of these children – digestive problems, frequent colds and/or ear infections, abdominal pain, high levels of “bad” metals, low levels of “good” metals – is far too common and similar to be attributable to coincidence.  This form of autism, I am convinced, is not the same as the classic, congenital form that existed decades ago.  The symptoms may be similar, but I believe they are attributable to underlying biomedical deficiencies that are caused by exposure, at a young age, to the toxins in our environment – the food we eat, the air we breathe, the manmade chemicals we ingest.

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