Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Broccoli Soup Recipe {GAPS, Paleo/primal}

Two things: 

1) I've been absent from this blog for 2 years. WHAT?! how does life do that to me? So much has happened. So very much. I just couldn't give this any time. I will address and share what has gone on at some point, because it's part of our journey, and I want to be honest about it. Grace, y'all. That's all I have to say right now. My heart has been to share so much and support some friends tackling health and diet changes, so I've thought about doing posts on here but just haven't. I've felt held back from posting because I felt the need to explain myself and give details and all that jazz...but I'm to the place now where I just say "hey, I'm here and I like broccoli soup". Which brings me to #2. 

2) I like broccoli soup. No, I LOVE broccoli soup. I almost cried when we finished it with lunch today.  I have never cared for a blended vegetable soup (except carrot soup) much, but this changed all that!  So I decided to post it on here. Random. Yep. That's me. :-) 

That doesn't look very impressive...but I'm not a photographer, and it's just a cup of broccoli soup.  But I love this soup and I feel like I have to have a picture to put up a recipe. So that's what y'all get. But really, this soup is like dessert to me I love it so much. Ok here we go...

Broccoli Soup Recipe {GAPS, paleo/primal} 


1-2 tbsp fat of choice (ghee, butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil) 
1/2 - 1 cup chopped onion
1 lb broccoli florets (I use frozen) 
1 quart chicken meat stock or bone broth 
1 stick (1/2 cup) grass fed butter (you can make it without this if you can't use butter, but it will just be a little less, you know, yummy buttery) 
1/2-1 tsp ground nutmeg (we love the full tsp, but you might want to start with less and add to taste)
Salt, to taste 
1/2 - 1 cup Coconut milk, optional 

Sauté Onion in fat of choice (skip this step if on first few stages of intro and simply boil/simmer the onion in broth for 5-7 minutes) for 5-7 minutes. (Also, the soup is fantastic without the onions if you want to skip them or just need to skip them to save time - we've done it!) 

Add broccoli and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until broccoli is tender (well cooked for early intro, to your liking after you have introduced less cooked broccoli). 

Add salt (amounts vary based on the kind of salt you use - we use about 2 tsp of the coarse celic sea salt), nutmeg (start small and add to your taste), butter, and coconut milk, if using.  (If on GAPS intro, adjust these ingredients based on stage of GAPS intro). 

Blend (I use my vitamix for the whole batch) to your liking - I prefer mine not completely velvety smooth. I like to have tiny pieces in it here and there. Taste and add more salt or nutmeg as needed.  

I hope you enjoy it!  My husband and I LOVE this soup but it's not my boys' favorite. I think they're crazy. :-) ... okay, change that. They had it with lunch today and they both declared they really liked it.  Silly boys. :-) and I hope to be back to posting here more often! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easy Meal - Beef with Tomatoes {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}

I am posting this mainly for my sister who keeps asking me for it.  :-)  I have also been thinking a lot lately about easy meals - simple prep work, easy cooking, not a lot of time, and good outcome.  So, I thought I'd go ahead and share this to hopefully help if someone needs any ideas for super easy meals that are GAPS friendly.

This really isn't anything special, so I almost feel a little odd labeling it as a recipe, but oh well!  It's a great base that you could add different herbs or spices to - Italian or Mexican would be so easy.

Oh, and sorry about the super boring and lame cell phone pictures of our leftovers.  I didn't take a picture before we almost ate all of it.  So this is what I have :-).  I just roasted some butternut squash as our side.  Simple but satisfying meal that our little boys ate up, too!  This is also an easy way to get more healing and nourishing animal fats into your diet - just use a generous amount of fat to cook your onion and meat in!

Beef with Tomatoes {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
GAPS note: early stages, you could use some chicken or beef broth to cook your onion and meat in if needed, and at any stage, you could easily add a cup or so of broth and let it simmer to reduce it down to get more broth in your diet. 

  • 2-4 Tbsp of fat - butter, ghee, coconut oil, tallow, or lard (I used lard this time)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp garlic powder, or 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • Salt, 1 tsp+ to taste
  • 1 lb ground beef (grass fed)
  • 1 carton of Pomi diced tomatoes or 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • optional: 1 cup of broth (beef or chicken)
  • Melt fat of choice in a large skillet, and then saute onion and garlic/garlic powder until onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add ground beef and salt and cook, breaking up the meat until browned.
  • Add tomatoes (you can drain the juice if you prefer), mix, and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes.
  • If you are adding broth, add at the same time as tomatoes (unless you use the broth at the beginning to cook the onion and meat in if you are in the early stages of GAPS intro) and simmer until the liquid is reduced to your liking.  
  •  Salt to taste, if needed.  Enjoy! 
 Serving Ideas: 
  • top with sour cream or yogurt
  • top with raw cheddar cheese
  • use in lettuce as filling for lettuce wraps
  • add Italian herbs
  • add taco seasoning 
  • use as a casserole base (on top of sliced zucchini or butternut squash and topped with cheese)
  • easily double or triple the recipe and make several different meals out of it!  Freeze portions to pull out for easy meals or to add to a soup!  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Why, What, When, and Who - Take 1

People often ask me why we eat the way we do.  That question is hard to answer in a simple and concise way.  I am not good with being 'to the point' in general, so articulating something that has been such a long journey can be difficult.  I am also asked what we eat if we don't eat grains (that's a big adjustment!).  Frequently throughout my days, I think about why we do this and who we do it for.

Eating this way takes work, especially living in a society that eats far from this way.  Although, little things encourage me in that area - like that my husband recently saw a sign up for a building near his work that said a new restaurant will be coming soon - that serves grass fed organic burgers.  How awesome is that?!

Back to the point.  See, I can't be concise.  A dear friend of mine in college deemed my new middle name to be 'random' because I am completely random and all over the place in my thoughts and the way I talk.

Again, back to the point.  Eating this way takes work.  Work in the home to plan and prepare the food, work out of the home at stores and markets to avoid buying things that aren't good for us and to buy the things we need without spending all our income on food, and work in relationships with others - because the way we eat does affect relationships.  It is hard for us to eat out - and this can be made harder because we can't go to many many restaurants because of anaphylactic food allergies in the family.  It can be difficult to navigate the waters around relationships that are obviously way more important than the way we eat.  However, the way we eat isn't something we decided on a whim, and it's not just to be 'organic' or 'natural' or lose weight.  It is so very much deeper than that.

Like I said before, there are many reasons why we eat the way we do.  I have friends and family who wonder why we are so weird (my words, not theirs!).  :-)  I have always wanted to share our hearts and convictions behind this.  I often don't know where to begin, so I simply avoid tackling the overwhelming (to me) idea of articulating all of this.

We have been on a food and health journey now for about 2+ years.  Before about 2 years ago, we were doing changes like buying organic milk at the store and getting 100% whole wheat pasta, cereals, and breads.  Our health journey really started about 3 1/2 years ago as we prepared for the birth of our first son.  But in regards to food, it has been a little over 2 years.

I want to write about our journey in 4 ways - the why, the what, the when, and the who.  They will probably all relate to each other, because it is all so connected.  My heart behind even beginning a blog when we started GAPS was to document what we learned and experienced as we ate so differently, to encourage others who are also on this journey, to provide any sort of help from our experiences with recipes and ideas, and more than anything, to share the heart in all this - that no matter what we do in life, we do it to the glory of the Lord - and yes, food and its impacts on us can be for His glory.  Because what is the point of all this if our Creator and Savior is not the driving force?  I am not saying that all people or Christians should eat this way - these are our convictions, our experiences, and how God has specifically taught our hearts through this.  So I hope nothing I say is taken in a wrong way. 

In sharing my heart on this topic, I might only share about 1 thing in a post, maybe many things in another post - it is just what is on my heart.  Some reasons are simple and short to explain and easy to understand.  There are others that are deep in my heart and therefore are a little more complex or lengthy to share about.

I have felt like something is missing from what I have shared so far on this blog because I have not taken the time to document our journey and the motives and heart behind it all.  So, if you are interested in knowing why we do this and the practical things involved in it (like what we eat and buy and stock our pantry and freezer with), I hope these posts help explain.  If you are interested in learning and beginning or continuing to make changes in your own eating lifestyle, I will share the changes we made over the past couple of years and why.  If you just really like having GAPS/Paleo recipes, I will still be sharing those and also will be working on updating my recipe tab and organizing them better.

And I would love to hear any comments others have about why you do things, how you to them, etc, as is stirred in your heart if you read these posts.  I hope this is encouraging and also enlightening to friends and family who wonder if we are crazy sometimes.  :-)  

Kombucha Update #2

Over the past few months, I have learned a few things about making Kombucha that I thought I would share in case it can help anyone else - either those of you trying to make Kombucha or those of you who want to, but are a little intimidated. 

So here's a little update on my constant kombucha experiment - what I like, what I do, and what I've learned. If you want to learn or be refreshed on how to grow your own SCOBY and how to make kombucha, see my original SCOBY post here and my first Kombucha update here

What I like: 
  • I have experimented a little with adding fruit - just frozen organic raspberries so far - and I like it!  Although I love plain.  I think I like plain so much that I will drink that more often than flavored.  BUT I want to experiment with adding a cut up strawberry or mix of berries as well.  The raspberry was pretty tart!  
  • I have learned that I like my kombucha after it has sat in the fridge for at least a few days (I think the longer the better!).  The flavor is just so good!  I drink it right after bottling it, but it is soooo good after a few days.  I think it is because it continues fermenting at a slow rate in the fridge.  For whatever reason, I like it! So, if you don't like yours very much right after putting it in jars or bottles, let it sit in your fridge a while and try it then.
What I do: 
  • SCOBYs: I sometimes leave my SCOBYs sitting in 1-2 cups of the old batch for anywhere from 1 day to a week before adding new sweet tea.  This isn't by design - it's just because sometimes so much life is going on that I just never get around to making and adding the sweet tea!  Although really, it doesn't take much time at all.  I've never had a problem with just letting it sit a while. Notice how thick they are! 
  • If you add fruit, just treat it like an experiment!  Add a little but of frozen or fresh fruit to the bottle or jar, pour in your kombucha, cap it, and let it sit out on the counter again for 1-2 days for its second fermentation.  Then stick it in the fridge.  This makes it taste a little fruity and it gets very fizzy!  (those are frozen raspberry bits in those bottles)
  • Straining: I never strain mine through cheesecloth anymore.  It's another thing to deal with and prepare, and yes, it doesn't take long to boil the cheesecloth, but if I can skip a step, I do!  I just pour mine through a strainer to get rid of any strings or clumps.  The bottles I drink are always smooth and don't have any clumps in them.  
  • To process a batch, I simply take my giant gallon jar, remove the SCOBY onto a plate, and then pour the entire contents into a large glass pitcher.  Then I pour into bottles.  Easy.  Love it.  
  • Making new sweet tea: When I brew my sweet tea now, I don't seep the entire gallon like in my first update.  I use my kettle and bring 1 quart of water to a boil in it.  Then I steep 4 family size tea bags in that quart of water for 3-5 minutes.  Remove tea bags, add 1 cup sugar.  Then I add 3 more quarts of cool or room temperature water.  This quickly makes the tea ready to be be added to the jar with the SCOBY and previous batch liquid because it isn't scalding hot.  You can obviously adjust the amount - I also brew 3 tea bags in a quart and then add 3/4 cup sugar and 2 more quarts of water for a jar I have that is not quite a gallon (make 3 quarts of sweet tea).  This means less water to bring to a boil and a faster turnaround time for a new batch (even if only by a couple of hours). 
What I've learned: 
  • Fizz: If it doesn't fizz when poured, it's probably not done yet!  I had one batch I bottled too soon.  It was very flat and didn't taste as tart as normal.  When I pour my jars into my pitcher to bottle, it gets crazy foamy and bubbly when it is done...
  • Then when you bottle, it gets fizzied up all over again :-).
  • SCOBYs really are crazy and take on a life of their own.  This is an example of one I pulled out with my finger next to it so you can see how thick it is.  And this is after already peeling off 1 or 2 thick layers.  I usually discard the bottom part (the oldest SCOBY portion) every other batch - so about every 3 weeks.  You could also see how large they get in a picture earlier in this post of them just sitting in my large jars with a little kombucha.  Also, don't be worried if your SCOBY sinks.  That happens to me every now and then.  A new one will grow on top, and sometimes the SCOBY will rise to the surface again. 
  • Time: I have seen just how much temperature affects how long it takes the kombucha to get 'done'.  I am waiting longer than the first time, as the first time I did it, my house was much warmer.  So now I am going about 9-10 days before I bottle it, and I think I could even go longer.  I am sure this will change as the days get warmer and my kitchen gets as crazy warm as it does. 
  • Don't be scared! This really is like an ongoing science experiment!  That makes it fun, too.  This stuff is not expensive to make, so if one batch doesn't turn out well, don't feel bad about throwing it out and just waiting on your next batch.  Try different lengths of time, don't be scared to taste test it, and experiment with adding fruit to change flavors and provide sugars for a second fermentation in a capped bottle.  And don't be scared of the SCOBY.  I know it's creepy and slimy, but it is so cool to see it grow and make sweet tea go to an amazing fizzy tart beverage!  Let it get nice and thick and peel off the oldest layer on the bottom every now and then.  I let mine stay anywhere from 1-2 inches thick.  
I love this stuff!  I hope you try making it!  It helps digestion, cleansing of the liver, and yeast/bacteria balances in the body. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rendering Lard and why it might now be one of my most favorite things to make...

Lard.  A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of eating/using lard.  Lard?! FAT?! 

I am so glad God has led us to change our eating ways.  Isn't it beautiful?  (this is the lard after rendering and straining - it is solid and white/creamy colored once it cools)
Run down on lard: great for you, great vitamins, healing to your gut, tasty...all that good stuff.

Oh, and it's a great source of Vitamin D.  Get it from foraging pastured pork from a farm like this.  

Rendering lard is incredibly easy peasy.  You can do it in the oven, on the stove, or in a crock pot.  I highly recommend doing it in the crock pot.  I doubt I will do any other way ever again!  

This is one of the EASIEST things you could do to change your eating and help nourish your body.  Do this and use as one of your fats in cooking.  This is one of the things you need to do when beginning and staying on the GAPS diet or if you are eating Paleo/Primal. 

We use it for scrambling eggs, greasing pans for egg casseroles, sauteing vegetables, roasting vegetables, frying eggs or meat patties, and we add extra in when we fry bacon. 

Here's where I first read about rendering lard and how to do it.  I followed these steps to render beef tallow my first time.  When I decided to render some lard, I decided to give it a try in the good old crock pot.  Less heat, less work, no need to check on it...yay.

Below the method instructions you'll find why rendering lard is one of my most favorite things to do...

Steps to render lard (or tallow) - {Method}
  • You need the fat to be chopped into tiny tiny pieces to render best.  Mine comes pre-chopped (thank you, amazing farm!) If your fat is not cut up, you will want to thaw it enough to cut and cut into smaller pieces.  I have read that others will cut into chunks and then pulse in the food processor in batches to cut it into small pieces.  
  • If your pork fat is already all cut up, just thaw it!
  • In your crock pot, you can put about 1/4 cup of water (this is optional and cooks away during rendering - I have read it helps prevent burning of the fat.  It is not necessary).  Then place your thawed fat in the crock pot and turn it on low.  
  • Try and mash it around to be an even thickness rather than a pile in the middle. 
  • Let it cook on low all day!  I usually stir a couple of times during the day.  You will see it begin to melt and then eventually, it will be almost all liquid with 'cracklings' left.  Little brown bits of fat.  
  • Strain the lard with a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  (I highly recommend straining it into a bowl or large measuring cup with a pour spout.)
  • Pour into jars.  Let cool on counter.  Then store in fridge.  It keeps for months.  
  • BUT WAIT!!!  All those bits of fat left in the cheesecloth from straining?  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT throw them away.  SAVE THEM.  
This is why rendering lard is one of my most favorite things ever.  The cracklings.  Is that what you call them? I am so new to this.  We saved them and divided them up into a few portions.  Then I would bring them out, fry them up in a pan and mix with eggs or green beans (or any other green like collards or mustard greens would be great).  Actually, I have even eaten them plain. Just add some good salt.  I love eating this way...

Now go get some pork fat and render some lard and EAT THE CRACKLINGS.  Someone correct me if I am not calling them the right thing...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo} Take 2 - Even Easier!

Mmmmm....look at all that custard...I love making custard like I shared about here.  I make it WAY too often now that I have discovered it is a great use for coconut milk and a great way to get more of the wonderful coconut into our diet.

However, I have a couple little problems.  One is that I always look for the easiest way to cook something because, really, I spend so much time in the kitchen that anything that makes something easier (less time, less clean up, less effort) makes me cheer.  The other problem is that we eat SO many eggs that I have issues using as many eggs as I do to make custard.  I save the egg whites, but most of the time they just get thrown out.  I know, I should use them, but it's one of the things that gets forgotten about.

So the other day, I experimented with the custard...and it worked!  (Cheering in my kitchen)

Naturally, I had to share...the simple change makes the custard faster and easier to make and also a little more frugal because you use less eggs.  I do think it is a tiny bit less rich than when you use 5 egg yolks like in the first recipe, but it is still deeeeelicious.

Note: for some reason, the top of the custard did not brown as much as when I make it with 5 egg yolks.  I don't know if this is because of the ingredient change, but just simply do the knife in the center test to see when it is done.

Enjoy!  I'm about to go make some...

Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo} Take 2
Ingredients: (I often double this to have more!)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (you can also use milk or a mixture of milk and cream)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey (I often just use 2-3 Tbsp and love it)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • Optional: ground nutmeg or cinnamon
Process: (check out the original recipe if you want pictures and more detailed 'how to' instructions)
  • Preheat oven to 350* and fill a kettle with water and get it hot while you are preparing the custard.  If you don't have a kettle, heat some in a pot or use the hottest water from your faucet.
  • Warm the coconut milk up on the stove.  You can add up to 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of water to make the coconut milk be a full 2 cups.  I usually do this just to have a little bit more of the finished custard. 
  • Meanwhile, mix eggs, honey, and vanilla together in a mixing bowl (preferably with a pour spout) or large glass measuring cup (4 cups) until smooth and mixed well.  Also place custard dishes into a large baking dish that can hold them all. 
  • Once the coconut milk is warm, slowly pour into egg mixture while whisking.  Mix well.  
  • Pour into custard dishes.  Fill baking dish with hot water, about 1 inch deep or so.  
  • Bake at 350* for 50 min - 1 hour (length of time will depend on size of custard dishes and how deep the custard is.  I have made it in cups before that were much deeper than a ramekin, and it took much longer than 1 hour for it to cook through all the way).  A knife inserted in the middle will come out clean when it is finished. 
  • Optional: sprinkle ground nutmeg or cinnamon on top either before or after baking.  
  • We like it best cold.  We place the custard dishes in the fridge to cool before eating.  But we often eat it warm because we just can't wait!  

This is part of Monday Mania.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Easy Brisket or Ribs with GAPS/Paleo Barbeque Sauce {Recipe}

This is so very easy and simple! I love easy meals, especially when they turn out as yummy and crowd pleasing as this did. My husband loved this (as did I) and our two little boys ate it up so quickly we couldn't keep enough meat on their plates.

I made this on Valentine's day. We are in the middle of doing a huge cleaning out of our house, so I didn't do much to celebrate the day, but I made a good meal with brisket, green beans with bacon and smothered in bacon grease, and some homemade pink jello. It made everyone happy and full. :-)

So back to how easy this meal is. It's almost as easy as a roasted chicken, but there is a little measuring and mixing for the sauce. However, you don't have to de-bone the meat at the end, so that makes up for it.

This sauce is super yummy...and you can vary the amount of honey in it if you want it less or more sweet. Also, you can opt to leave the honey out for the cooking portion and then just drizzle it over the meat on plates. That way your raw honey can retain it's wonderful raw properties instead of being cooked away. I put a little in the sauce and then drizzled more over our portions at the table.

This is great to use on brisket or short ribs, and I think it would be great with a pork roast or ribs as well, but I haven't tried that yet. I do think the sauce would be fantastic with a little blackstrap molasses in it, but as that is not GAPS friendly, I decided to make a sauce without it.  Let me know how it is if you add some!

Enjoy! I can't wait to make this again...

Brisket or Ribs with GAPS/Paleo Barbeque Sauce {Recipe}
  • 1 jar (7oz) tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp mustard (I buy a brand made with ACV)
  • 1/2 cup ACV (Bragg's Raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp - 1/2 cup raw honey (can be put in sauce to your sweetness liking or drizzled over meat after cooking to retain raw properties. I put 2 tbsp in the sauce then drizzled some on plates at the table.)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves and allspice
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder (or more if you like spice - remember, I can't handle spice :-) )
  • 1 brisket OR some short ribs, grass fed
  • Place brisket (fat side up) or ribs in dutch oven (or crock pot!).  
  •  Mix all ingredients for sauce together, spread over brisket or ribs.
  •  Cover and cook: 
    • In oven, if pressed for time (I put this in the oven around 2 pm), cook at 350* until sauce/liquid begins bubbling (I began to smell it in the house and checked on it and it was bubbling).  Then reduce oven temperature to 225* or 250* and cook for about 3-4 hours. 
    • In oven, if you begin it before lunchtime, simply cook at 225*-250* for 6-7 hours. 
    • In crock pot, just put on low and cook 6-8 hours. 
  • This is what it looks like after cooking...
  •  Then, I flipped the brisket over to get all the sauce on top off the brisket into the juices in the pot.  Remove the entire brisket (but not the sauce/juices) to a plate or platter and slice against the grain.  Stir the sauce to combine it with the meat juices, and then add the sliced brisket back into the yummy sauce in the dutch oven or crock pot.  Get the meat all surrounded and covered with the sauce.  Mmmm...
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  •  At this point, you can serve OR you can do what I did - place it back in the oven with the lid OFF at about 350* for 10-20 minutes before serving.  It is a step you can totally skip.  
  • Now, go eat it!  Wasn't that so easy? 
We ate this with some green beans cooked in lard and bacon grease with broken up pastured bacon.  Drool.  I love my Le Creuset casserole dish for this kind of dish. 
 Finished dinner off with homemade jello.  Mmm....made with fresh juice and grass fed beef gelatin.  Served on nice paper plates.  :-)   I might have not wanted to do any more dishes at this point...

Hope you enjoy this!  Nothing says love like brisket and green beans with lard and bacon grease, right? :-)

This is part of Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday and Fat Tuesday.

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