With Moose's autism, we have encountered a lot of differing opinions about his diet, his supplements, his allergies. All well-intentioned people, I'm sure, but changing anything in our son's life will always be a decision that Big A & I come upon as a couple, rather than being influenced by fads. That said, we (more I) have heard so many testimonials of moms of other autistic children about the improved behaviors once gluten (a protein found in wheat) and casein (a protein found in milk) are removed from the child's diet. Usually gluten is only taken out of a person's diet if they have celiac disease, but this has also become a trendy fad in Hollywood (I believe Gwenyth Paltrow is on this diet). I'm wary of trends and fads, but also interested by the personal testimonials of real life moms. Obviously we were more than interested as we took our son to the allergist. Although those findings are questionable (at least to us), we have decided to go ahead & try out a gluten and casein free diet (GFCF) for Moose.
We have not jumped completely in to this due to lack of funds (it's a really expensive diet) and just cluelessness. However, we decided to try out some gluten foods so that when we do take the complete plunge, we're not just feeding our son really yucky food. A lot of times, when people talk about gluten-free food, they speak a lot about how bad it tastes. Thankfully, because this diet is so popular right now inside autistic circles and Hollywood, companies and families are learning to make good-tasting food (minus the gluten).
Nature's Path Foods is an organic food company who has some gluten-free foods. They sent me some samples to try with my family: (*denotes gluten-free) Koala Crisp cereal (*), Gorilla Munch cereal (*), Whole O's (*), Crispy rice bars - chocolate (*), Flax + granola - pumpkin cereal, and Smart Bran.
The Koala Crisp and Gorilla Munch cereals are obviously geared toward children with their cute characters. The Koala cereal was reminiscent of rice crispies but had a sweet flavoring to it. I didn't find this cereal dry at all (which is an often heard complaint of gluten-free foods) and it seemed to be Moose's favorite of the foods. He and Squirt also seemed to like the Gorilla Munch cereal - they told me it was "yummy." This cereal is in ball-shapes, sort of like Kix, but again with a sweeter taste. We aren't really gung-ho about having all healthy cereals in the morning so these two cereals fit well into our tastes.
The Crispy Rice Bars were basically the Koala Crisp cereal with chocolate flavoring. I liked these bars. Definitely not as moist as a regular rice krispie treat, but my boys think they are great! I feed them to my boys just as I would a cookie - not regularly. They don't know there's anything different about them. To me, the chocolate reminds me of the chocolate in "diet" foods. How it doesn't taste like Hershey's but is still pretty good. I've eaten a few of these bars during nap time. I need to remind myself that just because a snack is organic or gluten free that it is still a sweet snack and needs to be limited. :)
The Flax + granola - pumpkin and Smart Bran are definitely adult cereals. The Flax + granola tasted very similar to other granola I've eaten. The difference was the pumpkin seeds in it gave it a texture that some people may not like. I'm not a texture-sensitive eater so I liked it; you cannot leave it sitting very long in the milk, however. I've found that with most granola; it gets kind of grainy. But the flavor of this cereal was subtle and good.
I was not a fan of the Smart Bran. I know that bran cereals are serious healthy - great for fiber and this is organic so even better! However, when the cereal looks like pellets that you put a quarter in a machine for at a petting zoo, that's probably not a good thing. Big A was the guinea pig on this. He ate a whole bowl of it...and I don't think any of the milk was absorbed. It was a dry, dry cereal. Our boys both took bites and didn't seem to noticed the taste. I took a bite...and quickly got it out of my mouth. This cereal was definitely not my cup of tea! But I am so used to sweeter cereals; I think this is geared toward bran-favoring taste buds! I haven't tried these recipes, but Nature's Path also has 3 pages of recipes that you can make using their products. I saw a few recipes that called for Smart Bran so I may have to try them in other forms.
The Whole O's were - of course - very much like Cheerios. These reminded me of off-brand cheerios in their shape and taste. I am not a fan of Cheerios myself (again, I like the sweet cereal) but these weren't bad. This was another dryer cereal, but not quite as dry as the Smart Bran.
Overall, I was impressed with the quality of this food. Nature's Path has obviously done research into making gluten-free a tasty choice for people. I will definitely buy this food for my son more often when we take that GFCF diet plunge.
Visit the Nature's Path Food website or find them on Facebook.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Nature's Path and Zeno Group for making it possible for my family to try this food. We received the food at no cost in order to facilitate an honest review. All opinions of my family members are our own. Others may or may not have the same experience(s) and/or tastes as my family in regards to the products and/or companies.