Cook’s Little Helpers

They say that non-compliance is the main reason that people stop the diet, not lack of efficacy (although it doesn’t work so well for everyone). Non-compliance seems to mean that the kid won’t accept eating like this, but getting compliance must depend heavily on what you are asking the kid to comply with. That puts a lot of pressure on the parent to get compliance. It’s a lot of responsibility. And the best thing we can do for ourselves as parents is to make our job as easy as possible.

Some kitchen equipment just adds a lot of work to your life. Maybe it takes a long time to clean. Maybe it is difficult to get the food in or out. Maybe a recipe makes too many dirty dishes and takes too many steps. Those are the gadgets and recipes that won’t survive the test of time. Weed them out. Let them fall by the wayside, because you have enough work to do.

Here are 3 kitchen gadgets that I’m very happy I found:

(Starting top right): Tovolo Ring Pops, Tovolo Ice Cream Pop Molds, Silpat baking mat

  • Silpat silicone baking mat: I had been using parchment paper or silicone muffin cups for baking individual portions. I felt like some of the fat was left on the parchment paper, and the food didn’t slide easily on the paper when putting the batter down, making it difficult to work with. Making each portion of something small and thick enough to bake on a sheet, like cheddar crackers (pictured, recipe from the Keto Cookbook) just made a lot of dishes to wash. Now, I use one of my little silicone pinch bowls to measure out a 5 g portion of cheddar cracker, transfer it to the Silpat, then measure the next, and so on. Once they are all on the mat, press each down into a small cracker shape. Sounds like a small thing to change this procedure, but when you are making 20 crackers at 5 g each, every little saved motion and moment helps. It costs about $30, which gave me pause on previous equipment buying trips, but it was worth it. Beautiful results, easy to use and clean, and will last forever.
  • Tovolo Ice Cream Pop Molds: I saw these at the store a few months ago but did not buy them because they seemed kind of large and I couldn’t estimate the amount that they would hold. Thanks to Dawn at the ketocook blog, I learned that they hold about 50 g of popsicle each. Making her strawberry popsicles in these are a little on the large side for Nora’s snack and contain a lot of carbs for her in one serving, but she loves them and they are worth planning them into her day. I’ve adjusted the recipe just a bit for Nora to bring down the carbs. At around $10, they are sturdy, fun and wonderful to get a kid happy about her food.
  • Tovolo Jewel Pop Molds are also great fun, but they are less functional. They are made of cheaper plastic and I find them a bit hard to take out after frozen. They hold around 30 g of strawberry popsicle, but because they are different shapes I haven’t wanted to keep track of how much each one holds. The few times I have used them for ice cream, I’ve just made a few of the same weight to keep track. Instead of using them for ice cream, I make CALM lemonade pops with 1 g of raspberry each. The CALM lemonade is a “free” drink for Nora, a mild magnesium-calcium laxative with a bit of lemon flavor, sweetened with stevia. I can keep track of that 1 gram of raspberry, but could be made without it. She can also have a few of them if she wants to because that little bit of raspberry can be easily absorbed into a snack or meal for her (I know some kids are more sensitive and would probably need that balanced out). It’s something I can give to her on demand and she can choose her ring pop shape, which gives her some satisfaction and a small bit of control.

We are still somewhat amazed that Nora is so compliant with the diet, but I think that a few things have contributed to her acceptance. First, we started experimenting with the low-glycemic index approach, then officially started diet treatment with the Modified Atkins (MAD) version of the diet, which meant less immediate dramatic changes to the way she eats. We’ve eased into a stricter form of the diet over time, which has let us experiment and find what works for her. We did not have to learn this whole process overnight.

Our gradual process also allowed us to start with a focus on what she accepted in her diet, rather than starting with a “prescription” diet formulated from the outside. Recipes could be adjusted and new recipes discovered that met the requirements of stricter forms of the diet. Favorite foods could be accommodated or amended. Everything that we presented to her was “sold” with an emphasis on what she likes about it. That is not to say that everything was a hit, but kept a focus on the positive.

Once we were motivated by the diet’s seizure control success and we knew that we were in it for the long haul, we’ve made these small changes and purchases to make everyday life a little easier. We discovered other resources, like the Keto Cookbook and the ketocook blog and started putting more effort into streamlining our process. I have definitely favored “easy” recipes along with favorite recipes.

Compliance should refer to parental compliance as much as child compliance. This treatment is relentless, and it’s all up to the parents. Every day, every snack, every meal. It seems like it never ends (taking a page from Nora’s playbook here). There is always more to learn and more to discover, but what really matters is what works for your kid, both in seizure control and acceptance, and also what works for you, the parent, to get a great meal or snack on the table 3 to 5 times per day. Be kind to yourself and be as easy as possible.

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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.

One thought on “Cook’s Little Helpers

  1. From what our Neurologist has told us he has seen more parents struggle with maintaining the diet for their children than issues with the patient-child tolerating it. As you know…IT IS A LOT OF WORK! Either way it is much better than meds if it maintains seizure control for our family. Thanks for sharing your great finds!

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