Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tips for Starting the GAPS Diet

The GAPS diet is a temporary diet used to heal mild problems (like eczema and allergies) as well as serious problems such as lupus, autism, and rheumatoid arthritis. The GAPS diet heals these conditions by establishing normal gut flora and repairing leaks in the gut walls.  The diet is very nourishing and allows the gut walls to heal by allowing no complex food molecules (which cannot be properly digested by a compromised gut).  My family has good success using the GAPS diet to treat joint pain and boost the immune system, among other things.

Tips for getting started
  • Get organized: Before starting the diet, make sure you have a good understanding of what foods are allowed and not allowed on the diet.  I find it very handy to keep this list of GAPS Diet Allowed and Not Allowed Foods on the fridge for handy reference. I also frequently visit the Legal/illegal SCD list, which is a very comprehensive list of legal and illegal food items, including very obscure ingredients.  (The GAPS Diet is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD); while this list is for SCD, it also generally applies to GAPS as well.) 
  • Get everyone on-board: If possible, get everyone in your household on-board for the GAPS Diet.  In the beginning, the GAPS Diet can feel overwhelming at times. The diet is more likely to be a success if everyone follows it together, as this will keep the amount of cooking and cheating on the diet to a minimum.
  • Practice doing GAPS: Rather than jumping in all at once, try having a few GAPS weekends to see what the diet is like. These weekends will be a great chance to figure out exactly how to do the GAPS diet, and to get comfortable with it before you're fully committed..  This allows you to still have plenty of time to research anything that you're unsure about without the pressure of having to know everything all at once.  My $5 grain-free e-cookbook is a great resource to have when you start the Full GAPS diet.
  • Prepare meals in advance: During your practice GAPS weekends, make some large servings and double batches.  Freeze the leftovers so that you already have some foods ready for when you start GAPS. This is like having a safety net in place for when you actually start GAPS full-time.
  • Make ferments, broth, and snacks: Since the GAPS diet relies so heavily on broth and fermented foods, it is a big help to prepare some of these in advance.  I have relied heavily on storebought fermented pickles (I use Bubbies brand) as well as homemade sauerkraut and bread and butter pickles. Storebought condiments are also generally not GAPS-legal, so you may want to take the time to prepare some homemade mayo and ketchup in advance of starting the diet. If possible, prepare a few grain-free snacks in advance as well, as snacking on GAPS can seem particularly difficult when you are not used to eating GAPS.
  • Go very slowly in introducing fermented foods and probiotics: Even if you are already taking probiotics and eating fermented foods, a “die-off” reaction can occur with the shift to more beneficial bacteria as you transition onto the GAPS diet. “Die-off” reactions are caused by toxins that are released as the bad bacteria are killed within the gut, and symptoms can include diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and lethargy. Stop taking probiotics before you start the GAPS diet, and then very slowly reintroduce them once you have finished with the first round of die-off. With a therapeutic-strength probiotic (such as Bio-Kult), you'll need to initially break the capsules open and start with a small amount (such as 1/4 of one pill). Wait several days before increasing the amount to keep die-off symptoms to a minimum.
  • Start with Full GAPS instead of the Intro Diet: Don't do the GAPS intro diet right away, as this can be totally overwhelming.  Instead take a few weeks or even a couple months to get used to the Full GAPS diet first. This will also help to keep die-off symptoms at bay.  I will post more about doing the GAPS intro in the coming weeks.
Do you have any tips to share for people starting the GAPS diet?

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Grain-Free e-Cookbook - Nourishing Eats

I'm pleased to announce the release of Nourishing Eats, my grain-free e-cookbook.  This cookbook contains 60 nutrient-dense recipes.  This book is perfect for the GAPS Diet since 57 of the recipes are legal for the Full GAPS Diet.  It is also suitable for primal/paleo eating. I've kept the price low so that more people can benefit from this great resource.

The book comes in PDF format, and is ready to print for those who prefer to have something they can easily refer to in the kitchen. It is a great value at only $7.99.

Here is the full table of contents for the cookbook:
Characteristics of Nourishing Diets

Why Grain-Free, and What is the GAPS Diet?

A Note About Ingredients and Which Recipes are GAPS-legal

  • Tips and Ideas for Easy Grain-Free Breakfasts 
  • Baked Bacon and Eggs  
  • Banana Bread  
  • Banana Coconut Baked Custard  
  • Cinnamon Raisin Bread  
  • Coconut and Fruit Granola  
  • Clafoutis: Apple, Pear, or Peach Blueberry  
  • Crispy Almond Pancakes  
  • Ham and Cheese Egg Cups  
  • Muffins: Blueberry Banana, Apple Cinnamon, Ginger Pear, or Cranberry Orange  
  • Parmesan Spinach Bread  
  • Pesto and Dried Tomato Egg Cups
Snacks and Desserts
  • Grain-Free Snack Ideas 
  • Apple Raisin Snack Bars  
  • Apple Snap Granola  
  • Chewy Cinnamon Almond Cookies  
  • Crispy Nuts and Flour  
  • Lime and Coconut Macaroons  
  • Liver and Butter Sauté  
  • Mint Ice Cream  
  • Peanut Butter Coconut Bars  
  • Pumpkin Pie Clafoutis  
  • Pumpkin Spice Bread  
  • Red Crackers  
  • Tips for the Best Nourishing Smoothies  
  • Warm Vanilla Milk  
  • Yellow Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting  
  • Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
 Main Courses
  • Bacon-wrapped Salmon Cakes with Tartar Sauce 
  • Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Salad  
  • Best Stovetop Hamburgers  
  • Braised Short Ribs  
  • Brisket with Carrots and Onions  
  • Cheese and Veggie Cakes  
  • Cheesy Beef and Vegetable Soup  
  • Creamy Chicken and Thyme Soup  
  • Crustless Chicken Pizza Casserole with Nourishing Pizza Sauce  
  • Egg Drop Soup  
  • Green Chile Beef Stew  
  • Ham, Bean, and Bacon Soup  
  • Herbed Pork and Cabbage Stew  
  • Honey-Glazed Pork Chops  
  • Pork Carnitas  
  • Grain-Free Tortillas  
  • Shredded Beef Taco Salad  
  • Skillet Lasagna
Dressings, Sauces, and Fermented Foods
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette 
  • Easy Creamy Salad Dressing  
  • Homemade Ranch Dressing and Dip  
  • Honey Mustard Mayo Sauce, Dip, and Dressing  
  • Bread and Butter Pickles  
  • Ginger Dill Sauerkraut  
  • Ketchup made with Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar  
  • Homemade Mayonnaise  
  • How to Make Whey and Cream Cheese from Milk Kefir, Raw Milk, or Yogurt  
  • Kombucha Tea and Vinegar

Purchase Information

Click here to buy the Nourishing Eats eCookbook.

Money Back Guarantee: If you don’t love the book, I will refund your money within 30 days of
your purchase date.

Delivery: The download link for the ebook will emailed to you within 24-48 hours from receipt of payment. Should you have any difficulty, you can contact me at nourishedandnurtured[at]gmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Strawberry Ice Cream (GAPS-legal, primal)

We've been on quite an ice cream kick lately, especially for breakfast! (Matt Stone recommended that I try this as a way to get the most out of the RRARF program since I'm not really handling grains and starches very well yet).  This may sound surprising, but it is really helping with my energy problems.  And I am not feeling guilty about it since ice cream is a superfood and my body is clearly needing something like this right now.

Last week, since we were out of raw cream, I developed a strawberry ice cream recipe using sour cream instead.  Oh my, this is really good, and totally GAPS-legal. Everyone in the family really liked this recipe, so give it a whirl!

Strawberry Ice Cream
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 10 oz strawberries, preferably organic*
  • 1.5 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp organic almond extract
  • pinch of celtic sea salt
  • 3 raw egg yolks, preferably from pastured hens
  • 1/2 cup raw honey (use more or less depending on the sweetness of your berries)
  • Equipment needed: blender and optional ice cream maker
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.  
  2. Whir for several minutes, until well-combined.
  3. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can follow these instructions to make ice cream without a machine.
  4. If you do have an ice cream maker, pour the strawberry goodness into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your maker.  I use the Kitchen-Aid ice cream maker attachment, and it works great! NOTE: if you use frozen strawberries, it will set up VERY quickly in just a few minutes.
  5. Transfer to the fridge to freeze solid for several hours. Enjoy!
*Except during our local strawberry season, I find that frozen strawberries have far superior flavor to the fresh ones sold in grocery stores.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday, Real Food Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ground Beef Taco Meat (grain-free, GAPS-legal, paleo/primal)

Taco meat is such an easy-to-prepare and versatile dish.  This recipe, spiced with garlic and cumin, is sure to please your tastebuds. It is a wonderful, kid-friendly food that can be used in so many ways.  Although this recipe is best with fresh onion and garlic, I've also included substitutions for a busy night when dinner needs to get on the table fast.

Ground Beef Taco Meat
  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably from pastured cows
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped 
  • 3 fresh cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Tb beef tallow or refined coconut oil
  • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1&1/2 tsp dried cumin
  • 2 Tb tomato paste (optional, leave it out for tacos, but it can be nice sometimes for taco salad) (buy it in a glass jar to avoid BPA)
  • Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, avocado
  • On a busy night, you can substitute 1 Tb onion powder for the onion, 1/2 tsp garlic powder for the fresh garlic, and omit the tallow
  1. Melt tallow (or coconut oil) in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and a little sprinkle of salt.  Saute for 10-15 minutes, until the onion is translucent and soft. 
  2. Crumble the ground beef into the skillet. Add the dried spices, salt, and pepper.  Also add the optional tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  3. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beef is nearly done.  Add the fresh garlic and cook for another minute or two, stirring as needed to make sure the garlic gets lightly cooked.
  4. Turn off heat and serve!  This meat is great with grain-free tortillas, corn tortillas, over a bed of lettuce for a taco salad with all the garnishes, or even just in a bowl topped with some cheese and sour cream. Yum!
This post is part of Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Giveaway: Diet Recovery Book

Matt Stone from 180 Degree Health has generously agreed to give away a copy of his Diet Recovery book.  I reviewed this book a few weeks ago, and am very excited to be able to share it with you.  In Matt's words,
When you’ve had enough and you are ready to stop dieting forever, get your health back on track, stop obsessing over your body fat percentage, be happy, and join the rest of society by eating somewhat normal again, there’s no better book in print for you to turn to.
Diet Recovery is it.  Proven with hundreds of people across the globe to bring metabolism up to its ideal level – easy to track by simply watching your morning body temperature go from frigid Antarctic temps to near the ideal 98.6 degrees F/37 C in a very short period of time (usually less than 30 days).
Along with that are often the disappearance of countless health problems – from infertility to lack of menstrual period to mood disorders to years of constipation to erectile dysfunction to the inability to gain muscle to the inability to lose weight to the disappearance of food sensitivities, autoimmune disease of countless varieties, blood sugar dysregulation, and more.  And it’s fun as hell rediscovering how enjoyable eating can be once again, live your life without some oppressive diet overshadowing the stuff in life that’s actually important, and to stop beating yourself up with guilt over being hungry.

To enter the giveaway for the Diet Recovery book, please leave a comment.  Only one entry per person.  I will randomly select a winner on Wednesday, February 22nd.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Connection Between Grains and Child Behavior

Over the last month while my daughter and I have been transitioning off the GAPS diet, my husband and I have noticed that eating grains really changes our daughter's behavior.  Eating grains makes her:
  • Less even-tempered - She is more likely to meltdown.
  • More disobedient - She is more likely to blatantly disobey, and to argue about doing what she is told (even simple things like changing into her pajamas).
  • More grouchy and rude - She is much more likely to be downright rude and to be in a bad mood.
  • Have less focus and concentration - She has a very hard time focusing on the task at hand.  She gets easily distracted and forgets what she is supposed to do.
  • More of a picky eater - She is much more likely to fight about what we're having for dinner (she almost never did this while on GAPS), and to complain that she doesn't like the food.
Needless to say, these behaviors really have us concerned.  And we haven't even been doing gluten-grains! So far, she has been eating corn, rice, and potatoes. With the exception of popcorn once a week, the corn and rice have been properly prepared by soaking.  My daughter did eat some wheat flour in the form of a sopapilla at a restaurant last weekend, and she was downright hyperactive afterwards.

So, we're backing off on the grains for my daughter.  It is actually very easy to do this without her even knowing or making a big deal about it, since she is used to eating GAPS anyway.  We're not going to totally eliminate grains, but we will make sure she's only having them a few times per week to see how she does.  We'll also be a bit more methodical about it to see if she is reacting to a specific food or all of them in general. The last couple days, she hasn't eaten any grains, and she is back to her old sweet self.

This makes me really wonder how much of children's poor behavior is linked to eating grains.  Granted, properly-prepared grains can be a healthy part of the diet for healthy people with uncompromised guts, but it seems like the vast majority of kids in our country could have a compromised gut due to widespread antibiotic use. I am really shocked that after 17 months on GAPS, our daughter's behavior could change so dramatically from consuming non-gluten grains (and she did not have any learning deficiencies or psychological problems going into GAPS).

Have you noticed any correlations between grain consumption and bad behavior in your kids?

This post is part of Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Four Great Ways to Use Bacon Grease

I save bacon grease, but don't typically cook with it much as I prefer the flavor of butter. So what do I do with the bacon grease?

  • Drizzle melted bacon grease on a green salad in place of oil: This is my absolute favorite way to use bacon grease!  It makes salads taste fabulous. Balsamic vinegar and honey mustard both pair wonderfully with bacon grease on a salad.  Lately, we've really been enjoying salad dressed with salt and pepper, bacon grease, homemade mayo, and homemade honey mustard (made by mixing equal parts raw honey and dijon mustard). 
  • Use bacon grease to replace some of the oil in homemade mayo: This makes for some tasty bacon mayo!  With my immersion blender, I don't even have to melt the bacon grease to use it in mayo (but it should be at room temperature).  And then you can even use the bacon mayo to make bacon-flavored homemade ranch dressing.
  • Rub kale with bacon grease instead of oil when making kale chips:The flavor of kale pairs wonderfully with the flavor of bacon.
  • Bacon grease can really change up the flavor of soups: I really like the flavor of bacon when added to chicken-based soups.
What are your favorite ways to use bacon grease?

This post is part of Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Curry Meatballs and Veggies (grain-free, GAPS/primal/paleo-friendly)

Subtly spiced with curry, garlic, and fresh ginger, this is one of our favorite recipes.  It also freezes well. My family has been enjoying this recipe for curry spiced meatballs since just a few months into our GAPS journey.  I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to post it for you all!

I tend to try to avoid dirty dishes as much as possible, and that is why this is a one-pot meal.  If you don't mind extra dirty dishes, you could cook the meatballs in a separate skillet and then transfer them to the pot with the veggies when it is time to add the broth. That would be a bit easier.

Curry Meatballs and Veggies
  1. Combine the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl. Use a spoon or your hands to make sure the ingredients are well-mixed.  Use a large spoon or 3-Tb scoop to make the meatballs and set them aside.  They can also easily be made several hours in advance and refrigerated until cooking time.
  2. Melt 2 Tb coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the veggies and a little sprinkle of salt. I like to cook the harder veggies (carrots, onions, broccoli, bok choy stems) for about ten minutes before adding any quicker-cooking veggies (like zucchini, bok choy leaves, or snap peas). Cook the veggies in the coconut oil, stirring occasionally.  
  3. Once the veggies are mostly cooked, push them to the side of the pan and scoot the pan so that the veggies are not directly over the flame/heating element.  
  4. Melt the remaining 2 Tb coconut oil and brown the meatballs.  Turn them after a few minutes.  There is no need to make sure the meatballs are completely cooked at this stage, so just brown the outside.
  5. Add the garlic to the pan and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  6. Add the broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, and curry powder. Gently stir the meatballs and veggies together.
  7. Allow the meatballs and veggies to simmer for about 5-10 minutes in the broth.  Cover the pan if the broth is cooking down too quickly. Taste the veggies/broth and adjust the salt as necessary.
  8. Ladle into bowls and serve! The meatballs and veggies make a great meal on their own, or you can pair them with a simple side of spaghetti squash or brown rice.  Enjoy!

*To make this recipe GAPS-legal, omit the soy sauce or try substituting coconut aminos. Make sure you add a pinch more salt if you omit the soy sauce.  After several months on GAPS, my family never had any problem eating a little soy sauce now and then. 
**Make sure your fish sauce is sugar-free to make this GAPS-legal.  There is such a small amount used in this recipe that my family had no problems with Thai Kitchen fish sauce (which is the only kind I can get locally) while on GAPS.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: Diet Recovery

While troubleshooting my adrenal problems, Matt Stone's work has been recommended to me.  Matt Stone is an independent health researcher who blogs at 180 Degree Health, and he gave a talk about metabolism at the last Wise Traditions conference of the Weston A. Price Foundation. His latest book is called Diet Recovery: Restoring Hormonal Health, Metabolism, Mood, and Your Relationship with Food.

Diet Recovery is an easy read and, true to Matt's style, there is a bit of humor thrown-in (sometimes funny, sometimes crude, sometimes self-deprecating).  The book contains lots of really good information that has me thinking about health, diets, and metabolism in a whole new way.  Matt wrote,
"With age our metabolism starts its slow descent into oblivion... we become ever more prone to develop heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other degenerative ailments.  The secret is to protect and prolong the number of years your metabolism is at its highest.  When you manage to do that, you keep a higher ratio of lean body mass to body fat, have greater functionality, more strength and mobility, more energy, and more zest for life in general."
Health and metabolism
Matt pulls on research from people like Broda Barnes, Diana Schwarzbein, and Stephan Guyunet to paint a very convincing picture that metabolism is one of the keys to vibrant health.  When the metabolism drops, all sorts of problems manifest in the body including problems with weight, fertility, adrenal and thyroid glands, sleep, cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disease. 

Matt outlines a program to raise metabolism that sounds shocking at first, but really struck a chord with me: eat more, exercise less, and rest more. The reasoning is that any stressors (including overwork, not eating enough, not getting enough nutrients, and even exercising) can lead to a lower metabolism.
"...mammalian physiology has a general response to stress that is virtually the same no matter what the stressor.  In this sense, deficiency of any essential substance needed for the body to function correctly - including most certainly vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins... was enough to induce [the] same stress chain reaction - ultimately leading to enlarged adrenal glands and atrophied thyroid gland, thymus gland, gonads, and so forth."
What to eat?
In Matt's program, people should simply eat as much nutrient-dense food as possible, and not limit any carbs, proteins, or fats.  This means that you should literally eat as much as you can to feel full (or even a little past fullness), and don't skip meals!
"...disease and dysfunction of all kinds is typically not cured through hard work and depriving yourself but by doing the opposite - flooding your body with the tools it needs to repair and rehabilitate itself."
Matt recommends intuitive eating.  That means that, if you are craving ice cream, you should eat some ice cream.  This is something I have found to be really interesting, as for years I have been over-thinking my food choices by focusing more on nutrition content than what my body wants. But really, since I only eat nutrient-dense foods (95% of the time), it makes sense to me that I should follow my body's cues for what to eat. 

Rest? What's that?
An integral part of Matt's program is resting adequately.  He even goes so far as to recommend at least 30 days of no intentional exercise, and sleeping as much as possible. Lots of health gurus say that rest is important, but this is something I've never paid much attention to.  But Matt's descriptions in Diet Recovery have really convinced me that rest is something I need to pay more attention to.

I've never been the type to rest much; I tend to keep busy all day every day and I haven't slept more than 4 hours straight in over five years (my daughter didn't start sleeping through the night until she was 3 & 1/2 years old, and by then I had her younger brother to contend with).  While I don't think I overdo the exercise (usually only 2-3 times per week, a combination of sprints, yoga, and strength training, plus some walks), it is interesting to me that the body reacts to all stresses the same, and that means that, with my already overtaxed adrenal glands, exercising could actually be contributing to my health problems!

After so many years of paying inordinate attention to what I am eating, and more recently being on the GAPS diet, the ideas in Diet Recovery really feel like liberation. Just eat as much nutrient-dense food as possible, rest as much as possible, and relax about it.  And the fact that this could actually help my health sounds too good to be true.  One thing is for certain: it is worth a shot! 

I'll be blogging about my experience following Matt's plan in the coming months.  I'll also be giving away a copy of Diet Recovery in February.  If you are interested in learning more, check out Matt's free Rehabilitive Rest and Aggressive Re-feeding ebook. 

Does the advice in Diet Recovery strike a chord in you?  Or does it sound too good to be true?

This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways!