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Raising Awareness of Speech Apraxia

In my blog introduction, I explain that I have Global Dyspraxia that impacts on my whole body, the most obvious when you meet me is its impact on my speech. This led to me being wrongly diagnosed at an early age. That was a ‘fun’ experience as I understood everything but couldn’t shout at them to tell them what I thought.

Luckily I have a tenacious family and a grandmother with numerous degrees in education including an M.Ed in assessment and learning. I was privately assessed for a text-based voice-output communication aid. Within two minutes I said, ‘I’m hungry can we go home’; I was ten years old. Subsequently, we won the legal tribunal we took out against the local education authority, for failure to meet my needs. It was greatly helped by us employing for many years a consultant educational psychologist who was fantastic. She observed me in schools and carried out assessments on verbal reasoning etc. At the age of eleven I was acknowledged as intelligent. That disparity between speech output and assessed intelligence is what leads to a diagnosis of developmental verbal dyspraxia (DVD; UK) or childhood apraxia of speech (CAS;USA).

My poor early education resulted in me having a diagnosis of PTSD for which I’m still having weekly EEG Neurofeedback. Would you believe that I received no speech and language therapy (SaLT) during my early years education other than private sessions funded by my family. Since I was eleven, I have had specialist SaLT in America and a fully-funded specialist home education programme. I have risen quickly through all levels of school education and intend to go to university in the next few years. My academic progress demonstrated the level of untapped ability and knowledge.

My speech is developing gradually through a specialist programme although I am wary of using it with people I don’t know. I have a realistic goal of having an increasing foundation of words and functional phrases, that I can use. I still have a US-based SaLT who I visit annually; she sets the programme and a trained team who deliver it. We regularly video my targeted programme and share them via iCloud and have Zoom meetings with the SaLT.

My whole programme is broader than SaLT and encompasses strategies for learning, vision and exercises for strength which is important in dyspraxia; it is modified as I make progress. My grandmother has a balance between her consultancy and managing the programme like a military operation. I know her skills are greatly valued by others and I try not to take her for granted!

I know I am no longer that damaged little boy but inside he is still part of me; I struggle at times but then don’t we all. The purpose of this blog is to raise awareness of the general tendency to equate speech difficulties or use of communication aids with a cognitive deficit. There’s a ‘does he take sugar mentality’ so people tend not to talk to you.

  • People are often uncomfortable when there is a speech deficit of any type and fill the vacuum with too much talk or ignore.
  • Slow down and look at the person and say something and wait for them to respond because most people will acknowledge verbally or physically in some way and human communication is often non-verbal anyway. Take the time to communicate.
  • If someone uses a communication aid use the same approach just include them in a conversation even if it’s a group.

In my team when we have a debate, we all use iPads and what a leveller that is. I interview all potential team members which current team members love sitting in on. Each candidate is given an iPad with a QWERTY key board voice output app. The increase in anxiety is tangible. All candidates have good psychology degrees with other experience. One candidate told me how she was planning to work her way through all ‘conditions’ then apparently was going to be a research fellow and cure the world. I am usually polite but always measured in my response. She was left in no uncertainty as to why I wouldn’t employ her.

If you passed me in the street you wouldn’t see any difference. I nod and smile to people when they let me pass or when they smile as they pass, which people do.

My message is simple. Stop being uncomfortable or afraid and actually look at and see the person; not their deficit.

My next blogs will spotlight individuals who are braver than me in taking action to raise awareness.

Keto Chocolate Banana Brownies

What can you do with one very ripe banana other than throw it away? This recipe provides an alternative which is low-carb and delicious. The recipe is accurate and the cooking time is ok; just keep a watch on the level of browning. It’s not a fudgy brownie, it’s more like a moist cake enhanced by a subtle taste of banana. I’m not keen on fudgey brownies. You get a good portion for 5g net carbs. Chocolate brownies are always rich on their own so I like to add my homemade vanilla ice-cream to give balance. These brownies are a good recipe so try making some. They store well in the fridge in an airtight box for 5 days. I’m moving on researching keto ice creams that don’t need an ice-cream maker as mine keeps cutting out.

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 25 mins |Servings: 16

Nutrition: Calories 159kcal | Carbohydrates 9g | Net carbs 5g | Protein 6g | Fat 12g | Saturated Fat 2g | Fibre 4g 

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Almond Flour
  • 1/3 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (sifted before measuring!)
  • 1/2 cup low carb sugar (or Swerve or Lakanto) (I used Erythritol)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 5 oz over-ripe banana (one medium) (mine was 4.6oz)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract (I didn’t have any)
  • 1/4 teaspoon banana extract (or almond or chocolate) (I used banana extract)
  • 1/2 teaspoon stevia glycerite (I didn’t use this but it gets good reviews on Amazon )
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk (I used canned)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (I used Apple Cider Vinegar)

Optional Ingredients shown in photo

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons Lily’s Sugar-free Chocolate Chips or your favorite low sugar chocolate (I used Lily’s)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F, 177C/157C Fan-assisted
  • Position the rack in the lower third of the oven.  (I have fan-assisted oven so just checked regularly)
  • Grease a 9 x 9 inch square brownie tin. (I used an oblong tin) Cut a piece of greaseproof paper, so it is wide enough to cover the bottom of the pan, come up the sides and drape over. (Used greaseproof paper but just lined the bottom and greased the tray and it came out easily)
  • Next, chop the walnuts if using.(Not popular in my house in brownies)
  • In a bowl, add the dry ingredients, ensure there are no lumps by sifting the ingredients. Whisk the ingredients together until combined. If using, stir in 2/3 of the nuts.
  • In another bowl, mash the banana with a fork – then add the rest of the wet ingredients, add the eggs one by one and mix in-between each addiction, until well combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients, to the dry ingredients, mix with a hand mixer until completely incorporated.
  • Next, spoon the batter evenly around the brownie pan. With the back of the spoon, gently distribute the batters evenly as you can in the pan – it is very thick, & will fill-in as it cooks. Add the rest of the nuts if using and all of the chocolate to the top, barely pressing them into the batter. (It spread well but I dropped spoonfuls into the prepared tin. I added Lily’s chocolate drops but didn’t press them in).
  • Bake for around 25 minutes. The chocolate banana brownies are ready when the top feels springy, but not soggy and wet, when lightly pressed with a finger.
  • Cut into 16 servings.
  • I served my brownie with ice-cream, enjoy!!
Brownie with Keto ice-cream

Keto hand pies

I had some flaky pastry leftover from the recent Keto Chicken pie recipe blog.The pastry had been in the fridge for 3 days so was easier to handle. I decided to make small hand pies with it using chia berry jam and smooth peanut butter. That’s one of my favourite combinations. I used a 2.5 inch circular cutter. Each one had a teaspoon of peanut butter and a heaped teaspoon of chia seed berry jam in it. There was no bursting open of the pies. It made 8 hand pies and the pastry was soft and flaky. The cooking time was accurate and the pies were delicious. The recipe website gives three alternative flavours.

Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 30 mins | Servings: 8 hand pies

Ingredients:

Pie Crust recipe:

  • 96g almond flour 
  • 40g coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon or orange zest, optional
  • 100g unsalted butter, cold (I used a lactose-free butter)
  • 55g cream cheese, cold (I used a lactose-free soft cheese)
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • egg wash, optional (for glossy finish)

Pie filling:

Method:

  • Make the pie crust, see recipe and method here.
  • Whilst the pie dough is chilling, make the filling, see recipe & method here.
  • Preheat oven to 390°F/200°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or a baking mat. Set aside. 
  • Roll out pastry dough in between two sheets of parchment paper, lightly dusting with coconut flour as needed.
  • Cut into rounds of desired size.
  • Brush edges with egg wash and spoon a couple tablespoons of the filling to the center.
  • Press edges together and fold or press down with a fork.
  • Place hand pies in prepared tray, brush with egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden all over.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Pecan Coffee Cake

I wanted to make a Keto cinnamon pecan coffee cake but wanted a crunchy topping. I have used the cake mix of one recipe as it was simpler and used a crunchy topping from another recipe. I hope this is clear to people. It is an absolutely fantastic cake. I served it for dessert last night with home-made keto vanilla ice-cream. The cinnamon cake with crunchy topping is sublime. It’s also good for breakfast with iced vanilla latte made with unsweetened coconut milk and sugar-free vanilla. Please note: I’ve used the nutritional information from the Pecan coffee cake because that was used for the main cake mix. There’s not a significant difference. Try it and enjoy!

Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 30-40 mins | Servings: 12

Nutrition: calories 195 | carbs 5g | fibre 2g | net carbs 3g | protein 5g | fat 18g | saturated fat 7g

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ⅔ cup Monkfruit Brown Sweetener (I used white erythritol)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup double cream (I used a plant-based double cream)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup butter, melted (I used plant-based butter)
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp Legendary Pecan Pie Almond Butter (We can’t buy this in UK so I adapted the recipe from here -didn’t add peanut butter)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (I added 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon)

Ingredients for the Topping

  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (I didn’t have quite enough pecans so added some flaked almonds)
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted (I used plant-based butter)
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup monkfruit golden ( I used white erythritol)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 325F/163C/143C fan-assisted.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, sweetener, baking powder, and salt.
  • In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: eggs, vanilla extract, water, and double cream.
  • Make a well in centre of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients, and butter, stir until well combined.
  • Remove 1 cup of cake batter, and place in a smaller mixing bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 tbsp pecan pie almond butter to batter, stirring to combine.
  • Add the rest of the batter to a baking tray, spread evenly so it covers the whole tray
  • In a separate bowl, add all the ingredients for the topping and stir to combine.
  • Spoon topping evenly on top of the cake batter.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven
  • When it comes out of the oven some of the butter from the topping will be on top but it will settle down into the cake making it moist and delicious as it cools. Let it cool. Enjoy!
Cake batter covered by topping
  • Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
  • Store any leftover cake on the counter for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

Cheesy Turkey Meatballs

I love Italian food and this recipe certainly met my needs for cheesy tomato flavours. It was very easy to make and cook. The recipe is accurate in terms of method. I ended up making 9 meatballs as it was easier to divide up. You can cut down a bit on the marinara sauce if the dish isn’t too big. The meatballs have a perfect texture and the flavour of herby meatball with cheese and tomato is delicious. I like meatballs to be coated in sauce rather than swamped. I had three with salad which was filling. I kept two so I could have meatball sandwiches for lunches. I use this low carb hot dog roll which has 2.7g Carbs. These sandwiches are seriously good. Regardless of the confused nutritional information, this recipe is delicious and well worth making.

Please note: The nutrition on the site is somewhat confusing as it states ‘amount per serving’ 1 meatball yet also states ‘servings 3’. I would suggest that you go by the ‘amount/serving as 1 meatball’. The recipe adds the marinara sauce in separately so you need to make allowance for that. Choose a low carb marinara sauce and add that to the meatball carbs. You don’t need that much marinara sauce.

Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 30 mins | Servings: 3

Nutrition/ 1 meatball: Calories 167 | Fat 12.4g | Carbohydrates 1.2g | Protein 12.8g

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tsp each onion powder (heaped)
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder (heaped)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese (I used fresh parmesan)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, optional (I used lactose-free cheddar)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 24 ounces of marinara sauce ( I used very low carb marinara sauce)

Method:

  • Make the turkey meatballs by adding the ground turkey to a large bowl along with the onion and garlic powder, egg, parsley, oregano, pepper flakes, grated pecorino cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, a few cracks of pepper, and mix to combine. Make sure not to overmix as that will make the meatballs tough.
  • Form the meatballs, you should be able to make around 7 meatballs the size of a large golf ball. Once formed, place into the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Add the marinara sauce to a pan and bring to a simmer.
  • Next, heat a tbsp olive oil in a large pan. Once hot, add the meatballs to the pan and cook until well browned, about 1-2 minutes. Flip and repeat, then place immediately into the marinara sauce. Gently simmer the meatballs for 20 minutes, ensure they are well covered and submerged in the sauce.
  • Once the meatballs are cooked you can serve as they are, or remove the pan from the heat and cover the meatballs in grated cheese. Place the pan with the cheese covered meatballs 10 inches from the broiler set on high and cook just until the cheese is melted, don’t walk away.
  • Remove from broiler, garnish with parsley, serve & enjoy!

Note: the meatballs will keep in fridge for 5 days, or can be frozen for 3 months.

Keto Chicken Pot Pie

I have been interested in this pie recipe for a while as I’m looking for ways to use leftover chicken. Also, it’s total comfort food. First make the pastry which is super easy in a food processor. I have added the link and put the full recipe below. Follow the instructions carefully in relation to chilling as it makes it easier to handle. The hardest part after rolling it out was to get it on top of the filling. I had the rolled out pastry on the bottom piece of greaseproof paper and upturned it over the pie filling. My skillet was 12 inches diameter which made it more difficult. It was pretty accurate but there were a few small tears. If this happens add a circle of pastry over it as decoration (see original recipe picture). In future I will chill the sauce and pastry separately as it will be more manageable when cold.

This pastry is flaky and delicious. Keep an eye on the pastry while it’s baking as it can brown quickly. The pie was sublime; soft melting sauce, tender meat topped by flaky pastry. The suggested serving is filling enough. I served it with lots of green vegetables. I had this meal two nights on the run and could have eaten it on a third night but others ate it too. I have another block of pastry chilling while I research recipes.

Don’t be put off if you think it looks complex. Chill the ingredients down and make smaller pies that are easier to handle; then freeze some for later – if you can wait! Start small – try it and enjoy!

Nutrition (serving 1/8 of pie): Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Fibre: 2g | Net Carbs: 3g |  Protein: 19g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 14g

Keto Chicken Pot Pie:

Ingredients:

Keto pastry:

Chicken filling:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or made into a paste
  • 1 medium onion very finely minced (I chopped finely)
  • 110g bacon or pancetta diced (I used bacon, diced)
  • 200-400g mushrooms such as cremini or button, to taste (I used 300g)
  • 2 tsps fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 30g butter (I used lactose-free butter)
  • 500g boneless chicken thighs preferably, cut into bite-size pieces (I used 450g cooked diced chicken)
  • 60ml Marsala or white wine (optional) (I used 60ml red wine)
  • 125ml chicken stock
  • 1/2-1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream, to taste (I used plant-based double cream)
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar to taste (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper freshly ground
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp konjac powder (i.e. glucomannan) (I used 1/3 teaspoon of xanthan gum to thicken the sauce slightly, sieve it over the pie filling little at a time and mix in quickly. Don’t try to make a slurry with it as it doesn’t work)

Method:

  • Heat olive oil in a skillet or pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until just lightly golden. Add in onion and bacon and cook, stirring often, until onions are fully golden (6-9 minutes). 
  • Add in mushrooms and (dried) thyme, turn heat down to low, and cook until slightly softened. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. 
  • Move the mushroom mixture to the side of the pan (or remove if needed) and melt butter.
  • Season chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add in chicken and cook, stirring, until golden. 
  • Pour in Marsala (optional), stock, crème fraîche and vinegar, and simmer for 10 minutes. If using a thickener, add it in as a slurry (i.e. dissolved in a little water) and cook until just thickened.
  • Please note: as I was using cooked chicken I added it to the sauce at the end.
  • Feel free to adjust thickness to taste with thickener and/or more stock. Then, remove from heat, add in parsley and allow to cool completely. 
  • Whilst the filling is cooling, preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  • Then, transfer chicken filling to a pie dish (or leave in the skillet). 
  • Roll out pie crust between grease-proof paper and drape, using the grease-proof paper to help, over the filling. Make a few slits on the crust and decorate (optional).
  • Brush with egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
  • Allow the pie to rest for 15 minutes prior to cutting and serving. 
  • Serve & enjoy!!

Pastry Recipe:

Prep Time 20 minutes; Cook Time 30 minutes; Chilling Time 1 hour; Total Time 50 minutes; Servings 8 servings; Calories 189kcal

Ingredients

  • 96g almond flour 
  • 40g coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon or orange zest optional (I didn’t add this as it’s savoury pie)
  • 100g unsalted butter, cold (I used lactose-free butter)
  • 55g cream cheese, cold (I used lactose-free soft cheese)
  • 1 egg lightly, beaten
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • egg wash optional (for glossy finish)

Method:

  • There’s a recipe video for guidance on the website.
  • Add almond flour, coconut flour, xanthan gum, salt and zest (optional) to food processor and pulse until evenly combined.
  • Add butter and cream cheese and pulse for just a few seconds until crumbly.
  • Next, add in egg and vinegar and pulse until the dough just begins to come together (but stop before it forms into a ball). 
  • Like with any pastry dough, make sure not to over-process the dough. The mixture ought to resemble coarse breadcrumbs rather than cookie dough. 
  • Turn out the dough onto cling film (US: saran wrap) and shape into a round ball. 
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 3 days. You can, alternatively, freeze the pie crust at this point and thaw out as needed.
  • Roll out the crust between parchment paper. It’s more fragile than regular pie crust, so you need to work quickly and in cold conditions. You can patch up any cracks that occur by pinching the dough together. And if at any point the crust becomes unmanageable, simply pop it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before carrying on.  
  • Once shaped (pie, empanadas, etc), pop it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes prior to baking (as it will help to keep its shape better and come out flakier).
  • Brush with egg wash for a glossy finish (optional). 
  • Bake at 390°F/200°C for 10-12 minutes if making something small such as crackers. And up to 30 minutes for empanadas and such. Just keep an eye out, as grain free flours have a tendency to brown suddenly rather than gradually. 

Notes

One batch is enough for a pie base (or galette!). So if doing a latticed pie, you’ll want to double the recipe. 

Nutrition

Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Fibre: 2g