Gluten-free, Casein-free, Egg-free Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Gluten-free, Casein-free, Egg-free Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

I’m not gonna lie — I have a sweet tooth. Add chocolate chips to ANYTHING and I’m in. I know that there are banana bread “purists” who wouldn’t dream of adding chocolate to their recipe but I’m not one of those.

Ironically, since being gluten-free, I have stopped craving sweet treats to the extent that I used to. Gluten has it’s addictive qualities and you can learn more about that by perusing this site. However, once you ween yourself off, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how little you actually crave sweet treats. Even my boys, who traditionally loved sweet treats, comment about how their old favorites are too sweet now!

Once, when we were not as strict about being gluten-free, I allowed my son to pick a donut from the box at his classroom party. Well, of course, he picked a donut the size of his head! He took a few bites and then set it down on his plate. When I inquired about why he wasn’t eating it, he said it was just too sweet and it didn’t taste good!

The lesson? Your taste buds can be trained to like, even prefer, other flavors and levels of sweetness and seasonings.

I also believe that once you remove gluten and other irritants from your diet, that your system starts to process sugar differently. As a result, cravings and tastes change. And that is a good thing.  The less sugar we ingest, the healthier we are, on many fronts.

Here is the recipe many of you have been waiting for. I’ll post notes at the end. Please read through the recipe and notes before attempting to make this bread so that you can modify to suit your needs. Enjoy!

Gluten-free, Casein-free, Egg-free Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Gluten-free, Casein-free, Egg-free Banana Chocolate Chip Bread


2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used King Arthur brand for this recipe)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup ghee, or clarified butter
2/3 cup Organic Turbinado Sugar
4 Tablespoons Arrowroot Starch/Flour
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

One cup mashed very ripe bananas
1 (6 ounce) container of non-dairy vanilla yogurt

3/4 cups gluten-free, dairy free chocolate chips (for example, Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips)


Heat the oven to 350º. Prepare a loaf pan with the oil spray of your choice and set the pan aside.

Peel the bananas and place them in a bowl. Mash them with a fork or a potato masher and measure out 1 cup. Add the non-dairy yogurt and stir to blend. Set the bowl aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the ghee and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the arrowroot, water and the vanilla extract and combine well.

Using a rubber spatula, blend a third of the dry mixture into the ghee-sugar mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients in this order, stirring well after each addition: half of the banana mixture, half of the remaining dry mixture, the rest of the banana mixture, the rest of the dry mixture. Next, fold in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon. Bake on the center oven rack until a tester toothpick inserted deep into the center of the bread comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.

Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and cool it in the pan for about 20 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and place it on the rack. Allow the bread to cool thoroughly before slicing (if you can wait that long!).


–  I have added more than a cup of mashed bananas to this recipe and it is still divine.

–  Because we try to avoid eggs. I used the arrowroot starch in place of eggs. If you can’t find arrowroot starch, then use eggs! You will use 2 eggs and omit the arrowroot starch and 1/4 cup of water.

–  You can buy arrowroot starch at any health food store but also check your local grocer. I have seen it there before as well.

–  Because ovens can vary, see how the bread comes out at 350º. If it doesn’t bake right, next time, try baking it at 325º for 70-75 minutes. I’ve done it both ways and have had it be successful both times in my oven.


Ok, off you go! Go make the bread…then come back and tell me how it was. I’m dying to hear from you!


Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of the links, your cost will be the same but SharingMom may receive a small commission. This helps to cover the maintenance of this site and keeps your subscription free. Thank you for your support!

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Coconut Cookie Shake

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Chocolate Coconut Cookie Shake

We decided to drive through In ‘n Out today after church to grab a quick lunch. I was thankful because I was feeling a little under the weather and didn’t feel like making a big lunch at home. Plus, we’ve learned to love their “protein-style” burgers (this basically means same burger, but wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun). Even my husband who doesn’t have to be gluten-free actually prefers his burger “protein-style” now as well.

The problem though, is that In ‘n Out makes delicious chocolate shakes as well. They are very hard to resist. Of course, my son asked if he could have one since it had been “ages” since he’d had a shake. I promptly reminded him that he had a protein shake with breakfast this morning…how quickly they forget.  But I felt for him, the cold, chocolate creaminess was enticing me as well.

Then I remembered that I had a collection of items at home that I could use to make us a comparable, gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate shake. I proposed the solution. He hesitantly accepted and even agreed to help me make it. (Spoiler alert: both he and his brother loved it…)

We went to our fridge and cupboard and assembled the players charged with making us a frosty treat. Here is the line-up:

Trader Joe's Gluten-free, Dairy-free

Trader Joe’s has been fantastic about stocking more gluten-free and dairy-free versions of the foods we Americans enjoy on a daily basis. This is a store that is listening to the consumer and meeting the needs of those of us with dietary restrictions. And for that reason alone, I love this market. (Seriously, Trader Joe’s should be paying me to write this post. :) )

Here is the recipe. Enjoy! Let me know how it turned out for you. Did you use any other ingredients? I would love to hear your take on it!

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Chocolate Coconut Cookie Shake

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Coconut Cookie Shake


8 ounces Trader Joe’s Vanilla Coconut Milk
5 Trader Joe’s Gluten-free Joe Joes’s
1 container of Trader Joe’s Vanilla Coconut Yogurt
2 scoops of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream


Combine the ingredients in a high-speed blender.
Adjust to your desired thickness (i.e. add milk to send it out or more cookies or ice cream to thicken it)
Serve immediately.

15 Ways Families with Special Needs Can Have a GREAT 2014

15 Ways Families with Special Needs Can Have a Great 2014


At the end of each year, I find myself reflecting on how I can improve the quality of life for all the members of my family in the upcoming year. I look back and see where we were one year ago, what has improved and what are the challenges that we still face.

Then I start to make a list of what it will it take, Lord willing, to make our lives better in the new year. Was 2013 a particularly rough year for you and your family? Perhaps you had a good 2013 but feel like things have stalled. Either way, who wouldn’t want the hope of a better year?

So, to simplify things for you, I’ve compiled a list of relatively simple things you can do that will not only improve the life of your special needs child but that of your whole family as well. This list is comprised of 15 things that we have implemented in our household that have had such an impact in our everyday lives. They basically boil down to getting healthier, being more organized and getting the support you need do this thing we call “raising a special needs child”.

As always, if you can contribute to this list, please leave a comment below so all the readers can benefit from your input. Have a great 2014!


15 Ways Families with Special Needs Can Have a Great 2014


Get Healthy


1)  Determine once and for all if anyone has any food allergies or sensitivities that are affecting behavior.

You can typically rule out common food allergies through the “elimination diet” protocol. This involves eliminating certain foods for a period of time, usually three or four weeks, then slowly reintroducing individual foods and monitoring your child for reactions or return of behavioral challenges or physical symptoms. Once you discover which foods your child is sensitive to, eliminate them from their diet for an extended period of time (6 months or more).

But if you haven’t really noticed a change after several weeks, consider that you may be dealing with hidden allergies. For example, after allergy testing, we discovered that my son had a garlic sensitivity. Being Italian – we put garlic in everything! And I was happy to do so knowing that  garlic is known to strengthen the immune system. But what I’ve come to realize is that one person’s food can be another person’s poison and in his situation, we were inadvertently making him worse by continuing to use garlic in everything.

So, consider having your child tested for food sensitivities. This is different than common allergy testing which may not pick up on milder sensitivities. Allergic reactions that are immediate and produce rashes or anaphylactic shock are typically picked up by IgE testing done in an allergist’s office. However some allergic reactions are delayed by hours or days and therefore the culprits are much harder to detect. These types of reactions (i.e. headaches or stomach problems, to name a few) are best determined by an IgG test. Testing for food sensitivity via IgG testing is usually done by holistic physicians who practice alternative or integrative medicine.

2)  Finally commit to going gluten-free.

It seems daunting – maybe you tried it once for a short while and didn’t note any improvement, or maybe it was just too hard to do it over the holidays? Set a goal to ease into it and commit to doing it for 1 month. Then as you get the hang of it and have managed for that month, continue for a second month, on so on. Not sure where to start? Subscribe to the blog to receive a free copy of my upcoming book: E.A.T. An Italian Mother’s Guide to Going Gluten-free.

3)  Go casein-free (or completely dairy-free).

Maybe you’ve tried being gluten-free with minimal or no results. Or you want to take biomedical interventions to the next level. Consider going casein-free (or completely dairy-free).

Remember that “…a large percentage of the world’s population does not consume animal milk once childhood has passed. In fact, humans are the only species that drink milk as adults, and the only “animal” to drink the milk of another animal. Cow milk may be the perfect food for baby cows, but it was not meant to sustain humans.” – excerpt from E.A.T. An Italian Mother’s Guide to Going Casein-free in Autism Spectrum Disorders

4)  Stop buying any food with artificial colors or flavorings.

Highly processed foods can lose natural color (as well as flavor and vitamins) with exposure to high temperatures, light, air and moisture. To make food more appealing, chemicals are added to those foods to make them look and taste better. These include coloring agents and artificial flavors.

It’s important to note that artificial food colors are mostly derived from petroleum or coal tar – not exactly food items. More studies are pointing to the ill effects of artificial colors and flavorings on behaviors. Finally science is catching up to what parents have known all along. Ingesting fake stuff leads to a decline in behavior and general wellness.

5)  Drink more water.

It seems obvious that we should drink plenty of water but sadly, this is commonly overlooked. Apple juice is not water. Neither is lemonade.  We all need to drink just plain ol’ water each day.

Water is the body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of body weight. Every system in the body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs and carries nutrients to cells.  Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain energy and make normal everyday tasks seem exhausting.

6)  Start juicing.

Juicing supercharges nutrient intake. You can’t possibly eat that volume of fruits and veggies that are required to make a 16 ounce glass of raw juice. Juicing is especially useful when you have kids who are picky eaters. There are many recipes for juice blends that tastes great, are nutritious and don’t look green (or whatever color your child would avoid). Juicing is all the rage right now so finding recipes online is easy. I often post recipes I find on sharingmom’s facebook page and have a pinterest board dedicated to juices and smoothies.

7)  Make nutritious smoothies.

Not sure your kid will take to juicing? Trust me, they will once you find the blends you like. But in the meantime, what kid doesn’t like a smoothie? If you’re child doesn’t have issues with the texure of smoothies, make a nutrient packed smoothie for them to snack on. If texture is a problem, revisit juicing which removes all pulp and has no texture. For recipes, check sharingmom’s facebook page or pinterest board on juicing and smoothies.

8)  Make your meals more nutritionally impactful.

Rethink what you are feeding your family. Make a variety of real foods each week (something not from a box). Learn to add more nutrient dense ingredients to your family favorites. I’ve been having a great time adding all kinds of new veggies to the various chili recipes I have. I have also learned how to make soups and stews heartier. I happily share my recipes for free on this blog but there are many sources that can easily help you rethink your meal rotation.

9)  Incorporate exercise into the daily routine.

If your child is sensory seeking, provide sensory stimulation in a way that incorporates exercise. Not only will this release pent up energy but it will help strengthen muscles and improve motor skills. Try a variety of activities to see which one your child enjoys. My son absolutely loves swimming in a pool. While we don’t have a pool in our home, I make it a point to enroll him in swimming lessons (for structured learning and exercise) as well as seek out opportunities for unstructured water play.

As for sports, team sports stress him out, as does any sport where balls are flying at him. So we discovered golf. He loves that he can hit the ball away from him and that he can play against himself. Plus, an inexpensive trip to the local driving range is a great way to spend time outdoors, get some exercise and practice focusing on the task at hand – all at the same time.

Discover what activities your child may enjoy and make physical activity a part of your daily routine.  The same goes for you. Go outside and walk for 20-30 minutes. The getting your heart pumping and the fresh air will be a great stress reliever!

10)  Try a new therapy or treatment.

Yes, this means trying that new therapy you’ve been hearing about – whatever it may be. Just go for it! I’ll even recommend one to you that we used early on in our diagnosis with great results.

Developed by Vital Links, Therapeutic Listening is research based tool for treating people of all ages who have difficulty processing sensory information, listening, attention, and communication. Results include increased focus and attention, better moods, balanced energy levels, greater tolerance to noise, improved sleep and less anxiety. Ask your occupational therapist about it.


Get Organized


11)  Clean out your cupboards and re-stock them with better food.

If you only keep healthy foods in your house, then you are bound to only eat healthy foods! Couple this process with a good deed. Go through your cupboard, pantry and fridge and donate anything with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors, gluten, preservatives (or whatever else you are eliminating this year) to a food pantry.

While this may seem like you are “poisoning” the community, remember, that one person’s poison is another’s food. Food pantries will accept any food item. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, then dump your “bad food”, stock up on “better” real food (and for your good deed – buy a bag of “good food” for the food pantry too!)

12)  Utilize a weekly meal planner.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Remember, we are trying to improve your quality of life. Keep meal planning simple by utilizing a weekly schedule to help you stay one step ahead of the game. There are plenty of free printable meal planners available online. Click here for the simple one I use.


Get Support


13)  Develop a support system.

There are hundreds of pages on facebook, as well as other blogs, that I personally find very helpful. Spend some time perusing the various options available to you and join the ones you think will give you great support. Stay connected to get the latest available information about autism, recipe ideas, moral support and to ask questions about treatment options or parenting. Make it easy on yourself and subscribe to the blogs you like to get their posts delivered to your mail box. It’s free!

If you haven’t already, stay connected with us on facebook, twitter or pinterest to see the many interesting articles and recipes that cross my virtual desk each day.

14)  Read a new book on how to support your child.

I have read several books over the years that have really helped us on our journey. I honestly don’t know where we’d be without the information they provided. To see a list of the ones I recommend, click here.

15) Support others.

Recognize you’ve come a long way – share what you’ve learned or what blogs or pages you find helpful. We are all in this together. The more we access we have to information or ideas, the better. You’ll start to notice that helping others along on their journey will boost your spirits and energize you.


Know someone who could benefit from what you’ve read here? Share it! Have a great 2014!