How I used my hobby to solve a food dilemma for my Angel

Healthy baking is a win-win for this mom and her 13-year-old Angel, Juliana

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

by Sabrina L. Johnson |

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When I find the time to do an activity I need to do and enjoy doing, I feel like I’ve hit the lottery. It’s time to head back to school and begin the daily workout of getting my 13-year-old Angel, Juliana, ready. Before we head off to school, however, I needed to make some changes to Juliana’s lunch and snacks. And the bonus was that I’d do so while engaging in one of my favorite hobbies.

July was a very different month for me because of my hand surgery. For a couple of weeks, I was limited in what I could do. But I got my stitches out last week and can resume some regular activities — including hobbies. I know some people feel that they don’t have time for hobbies. When I don’t make time for myself as a caregiver, however, I flounder. So now that I can do more with my hand, I decided to do some baking.

But this baking wasn’t going to be ordinary. After a recent checkup, Juliana’s pediatrician asked me to watch her sugar intake and increase her exercise. Because Angels can be prone to obesity as they get older, I took the recommendations to heart and immediately started thinking about simple changes I could make to her school lunch. I’ve been slowly introducing new vegetables so that she’ll be accustomed to them when they appear in her containers.

One of the other changes I earmarked is the staple muffins that Juliana has for lunch. Juliana follows a low-fructose, gluten-free diet, and sweet treats are more an exception than the norm. For a gluten-free option, the muffins are tasty — but have more sugar than I’d like. It was a substitute that I made out of convenience, but now I need to return to my healthier options.

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Back to the basics

When my girls were toddlers and I was home full time, I made most of our baked goods. It was a sneaky way to add more fruits and vegetables into bread and pastries while decreasing the sugar. This idea was so popular years ago that author Jessica Seinfeld wrote an entire cookbook about it. I still use the same concept with my baking and even add flaxseeds as an additional weapon against Juliana’s constipation.

When I noticed that we had an open day on our calendar last week, I decided to make it a baking day. I don’t know about other families, but for us, open days don’t come often. These are days when we don’t have appointments or activities of any kind, and there are no errands I need to run.

My goal was simple: to prep three months’ worth of loaf bread to replace the muffins. Think of it like those holiday cookie parties where you bake a pile of cookies, or those meal plans that require you to cook many meals and freeze them. In between meal preparation and trips to the bathroom, the day was fairly smooth. And I emerged with a yummy loaf of peach bread and a set of 12 prepackaged bundles that can be baked as needed.

A girl wearing a blue patterned dress with white dots stands in front of a kitchen counter, where an array of brightly colored bowls and cups sit. Off to the side are a bamboo plant and a dish of apples, with a blue Adirondack chair visible in a sunroom in the background.

Juliana admires the array of bowls and cups that hold the ingredients for her lunch bread. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Not everyone loves to bake. For them, there might be other ways to do something enjoyable and cross a task off a to-do list. What a win for me to do something I enjoy and solve a problem for Juliana’s health and the upcoming school year.

A girl sits at a small table eating breakfast. She's wearing an orange shirt that features flowers in the shape of a heart. On the table in front of her are a plate with bread, berries, and other foods, a cup with a straw, and a pad computer.

Having a test run with her new lunch item, Juliana enjoys a slice of peach bread for breakfast. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.


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