Monday, October 31, 2011

Meal Plan! Week 6 {Plan It - Don't Panic}

Last week hit us with a stomach bug in all 3 of the men in the house, me with a nasty cold, and our house with an issue.  So...all that to say we had a night of impromptu eating out and our leftovers stretched longer than I expected (which is always exciting!).  Therefore, there are a few repeats from last week's menu that I get to do this week! 

B: Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Spinach sauteed in bacon grease
L: Leftovers
D: Salmon Patties, Green Beans with bacon grease and onions, bone broth

Food Prep: Make Chicken Bone Broth and sauerkraut, Get supplies for rendering lard/tallow

B: egg muffins (save leftovers for Thursday morning)
L: egg drop soup with shiitake mushrooms and green onions
D: Creamy cauliflower Meatball Soup with salad and steamed broccoli with raw butter

Food Prep: finish chicken bone broth, roast beef meat soup bones, render lard and/or tallow

B: Smoothies and fried eggs
L: Chicken 'Noodle' Soup
D: Brisket with Carrots and Onions, Side Salad

Food Prep: beef broth (with roasted meat bones and 'dog bones'), prep meat and veggies for Thursday's dinner

B: leftover egg muffins
L: leftover brisket, salad
D: hamburger soup in crock pot (start AM), Side Salad

Food Prep: finish beef broth
side note: look at all those marrow bones and knuckle bones and meat rich and wonderful!! 

B: Smoothies and scrambled eggs
L: Pizza (cauliflower, egg, and raw cheddar cheese crust) or leftovers
D: Zucchini Noodle Chicken Spaghetti 'Casserole', Side Salad

Food Prep: Boil Chicken, Save Meat broth, De-bone chicken (meat for weekend meals)

B: casserole (leftovers for Sunday breakfast)
L: baked salmon (leftovers for Sunday lunch) with salad and veggies
D: Chicken Rosemary Soup (leftovers and any other leftovers for dinner Sunday)

Food Prep: make sure plenty of leftovers for meals Sunday, make chicken salad

Sunday: (leftovers - no cooking!)

I am listing some possibilities for sides/snacks/small meals to make - these are just in case I need more for a meal.  I won't be making all of these, but I wanted to have them listed as a quick resource for my easily distracted brain! :-)

Possible Sides: cucumber salad, beet salad, green salad, green beans in bacon grease, zucchini/yellow squash fritters in bacon grease, butternut squash bake, roasted butternut squash, carrot soup, summer squash soup, pea soup

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GAPS {Stage 2 Information} and When to Move On

Now, I don't claim to be very experienced at doing GAPS intro slowly or at doing it with trying to deal with difficult issues.  We did this intro diet to reset our guts, to help clear out bad stuff, and to try and heal some digestive and skin issues with our boys.  I also wanted to do this to help my body for any kids we may have in the future - to give them a better start with health.  Hubby has allergies and asthma, and I know my gut isn't where it should be after years of eating how the government said we 'should' and also eating junk food, tons of sugar, more sugar, and even more sugar.

So when I share my thoughts on moving on stages, it is mainly from what I have learned from reading other people's journeys and our easy experience.  Just keep that in mind.

Never in my life did I feel so excited about egg yolks as I did after a couple days on Stage 1!  We decided to move into Stage 2 pretty quickly.  We were all feeling pretty decent and felt like it was time to move on.  So we added 1 egg yolk in 1 bowl of soup.  Made me so happy :-).  You can read about our Stage 2 days here. 

Here are my 'cheat sheet' notes for Stage 2 that lived (still live actually) in my kitchen.

Stage 2 Introduction
  • Same as stage 1 but add: 
  • FCLO (the what and why) (this brand)
  • 1 raw egg yolk to soup per day, increase until 1 raw egg yolk in each bowl of soup
  • When the egg yolks are tolerated well, add soft boiled egg to soup (white cooked, yolk still runny)
  • Include as much animal fat as possible
  • Add stews/casseroles with fresh herbs
  • Probiotic food in every serving of food (sauerkraut or 24 hr yogurt)
  • Introduce Ghee, starting with 1 tsp a day and increasing
Read the GAPS Dr's guide to Stage 2 here (scroll down to stage 2)

With us, we added egg yolks in and within 3 days were putting an egg yolk in every bowl of soup we had.  I added herbs into soups on day 2 of Stage 2 (so only day 4 of the intro).  I never noticed any difficulty with herbs.  The diet says to only use fresh herbs, but I pretty much only buy parsley and cilantro fresh.  So I used my dried herbs...I figure they are boiled in soups, so they shouldn't be too bad, right?  I have heard of others doing this as well.  Some herbs make a big difference, especially cilantro!

Also, after a couple of days of egg yolks, I added in hard boiled eggs.  I never got around to trying soft boiled eggs (yolk runny).  I liked the idea but just never got around to it.

I will do another post soon with a few recipes for Stage 2 (casseroles and 'stews').  But really, it is fairly simple to move into this stage just by adding the above things and increasing the amounts.  Adding ghee is exciting, too, and is a way to get more fat into people and add a little new taste to soups.  This also provides to ability to mix some honey in with ghee for a 'snack' for energy and fat!

So how do you know when to move on? 
This is going to sound so annoying...if you like easy formulas for answers (I do!).
  1. Listen to your body and your instinct and...
  2. Pray! 
You will probably need to go through Intro more slowly if you are trying to heal severe digestive issues or food intolerance.  Read here from the GAPS Dr about the introduction diet and going through intro.

But really, I think the biggest key is seeking God for wisdom and peace about how to pace through this thing.  The only thing I have read (that I remember clearly) in the GAPS book about when NOT to move to a new stage is if you are having diarrhea.  You should wait till that clears to move on.

Here are some tidbits of thoughts and what I have heard from others about this process... 
  • Even if you only do each stage of introduction for a short time (even just 1 day), it WILL help heal you!  So truly you can move through intro pretty quickly (a week if you do 1 day per stage) if you aren't dealing with really huge issues.  And that is assuming everything that is introduced is tolerated well.  Remember that if you are dealing with severe digestive issues or food intolerance, it will take longer.  
  • You could just make a plan and go through it.  You could do 1 day on stage 1, 2 days on stage 2, 3 days on stage 3, and so on.  Sounds fun, huh?!  That is random, but my point is that you can move through it at a pace that is comfortable to you with whatever issues you are healing from and how it best works for your family!  You can ALWAYS go back and do intro again and at a slower pace.  You can always pause on a stage or go backwards a stage if you feel you went through it too fast.  Don't feel like you have to do it 'perfectly'.  There is no 'standard' way to do it!  Each person is different, and with this lifestyle and diet, you must figure out what works!  That sounds hard, and it can be.  But true healing takes work and time.  And it's worth it.  
  • Healing foods - broth, egg yolk, probiotic/fermented foods - can cause BIG reactions of die off!  This can seem like intolerance or that you 'weren't ready' for a new food.  That doesn't mean you are doing something wrong, moving forward too quickly, or should move back.  I have read over and over that sometimes you just have to push through those kinds of things.  HOWEVER, you also must be wise and back off on certain foods or the amounts of foods if reactions are something you or a child cannot handle.  Move slowly if needed! 
  • If your kids are refusing to eat or feeling awful because of die-off and not eating, it's okay to just move forward and methodically introduce things.  Again, you can always go backwards and re-do a stage!  I have read of people giving kids fresh juices or cooked apple to keep blood sugar up and slow the die-off process down.  At the same time, when problems like Candida overgrowth are determined, parents often have to fight through this and not give their child any fruit.  Again, seek God for wisdom and ask people for help and wisdom in a GAPS community
  • Read through Dr Natasha's FAQ's here!  There is a wealth of information here that could help you dramatically!
I am in no way an expert on this.  Please do your own research, seek help, read others' experiences that are dealing with the specific thing you are dealing with, and seek the Lord for wisdom.  But I wanted to share my thoughts, and I also want to encourage anyone that this is doable.  Even if you have no 'problems', going through something like this heals things you didn't even know you had wrong with you and just makes your gut and therefore immune system stronger.  It can also truly free you from food addictions (sugar, anyone?!).

I will share Stage 2 recipes next!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meal Plan! Week 5 {Plan It - Don't Panic}

I am loving doing this.  It is helping so much with my peace of mind, preparation, and order during the week.  I also plan on starting to do monthly planning starting in November, so having these weeks of plans on the blog will make it much easier to organize a big plan like that.  I am sad about one thing, though...haven't been able to get to the farmer's market in more than 2 weeks, so I'm missing my usual great big stash of veggies like this...sigh...
First, update on last week - last week I made a huge plan that involved a lot of work early on in the week because sweet hubby and I were going out of town for the weekend.  It actually went well!  I accomplished almost everything on my lists, although a few things were a day or two later than planned.  But we had plenty of food left for the weekend to where there was no cooking needed, and we even have had leftovers through today!  So yay!  It was worth it and I am going to try and start doing a crockpot meal once or twice a week that is not the meal of the day - that way I can save it for the weekend when I want to be doing more with family, doing projects around the house or outside, seeing friends and family away from the house, and just having more time of rest.

So here's the week's plan!  I have a recipe that wasn't made last week because we had plenty of food, so that's at least 1 meal I didn't have to think about :-).

Monday: We had leftover breakfast and food for both lunch and dinner!  Yay!

Breakfasts for the week: scrambled or fried eggs, bacon, breakfast sausage, smoothies, veggie soups (below) to drink

Lunches for the week:   Chicken Salad (chicken, cucumber, tomato with salad dressing - italian one with salt instead of parmesan cheese), leftovers, pizza (sub raw cheddar cheese for mozzarella), egg flower soup, veggie soups (below) and yogurt

Dinners for the week: 
*Meatball Soup
     On Side: Salad, Mashed Cauliflower

Pork Loin and Butternut Squash Stew
     On Side: Steamed Broccoli

*Taco Soup 
     On Side: Avocados


Baked Salmon
     On Side: cucumber salad, butternut squash 'fries'

Salmon Patties and maybe stir fry cabbage (sub some ingredients for GAPS) (lunch) and Roasted Chicken (dinner - Already cooked and in the freezer) with...On Side: Carrot Soup, Green beans in Bacon Grease

*Chicken Enchilada Soup (in crock pot)
     On Side: Avocados

Non-Meal Soups to make to go with meals and lunches: 
Carrot Soup
*Pea Soup
More Summer Squash Soup

Some of these recipes (ones with '*' next to it) are going to be 'made up' or adapted recipes, and I will share their success later in the week.  I think it's also hilarious how every week I plan our meals, the blog post looks totally different.  It varies with what is going on in life at the time of the post and what our week is looking like.  Fun, huh?  Well, that was random and uninteresting.  More random: time to go outside with the family and plant some seeds in the garden!  Yay!

Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Prepare for and Begin GAPS {Stage 1 Information - Part 2}

Ah, Stage 1....

After I rambled on for so long on my last post, I am going to do a simple post with recipes that we have enjoyed that are stage 1 appropriate.  HA.  I laugh at myself when I say something is going to be simple.  My mind doesn't do simple well.  But here are all my food ideas we have used. 

First, some notes...
  • Cooked tomatoes and tomato puree/paste is legal from the beginning.  We did not use puree or paste for stage 1, but we introduced it on stage 2 (we only did stage 1 for 2 days).  It's totally up to you as to whether you use it or not.  It can add a nice variety and flavor to soups.  People can be sensitive to nightshades (an example here), so you have to listen to your body. 
  • It is okay in my opinion (reading a ton of what other people do) to gently saute your soup veggies in the fat of your choice and then add broth.  I think this helps get more fat into the soup.  Sometimes when I make broth, I will scrape the fat off the top and use it for cooking veggies for soups, but in intro stage 1, I would just leave all fat in the broth and use additional fat to saute veggies in.  
  • Try using mushrooms in your soups as well!  This is legal from the beginning, and I wish we had used this for flavor, especially.  Shiitake mushrooms add a great flavor to soups!  Some people are sensitive to fungus and mold and cannot eat mushrooms, but it seems this is rare. 
  • When making soups, at the very end, crush garlic cloves into your soup, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, put the lid on and let it sit a few minutes.  This is what GAPS recommends to do.  
  • When adding your probiotic into your soup (homemade yogurt or sauerkraut juice), wait until your soup is warm, not hot, so that the soup doesn't kill the good bacteria in those ferments.  We usually ice our soups to a comfortable temperature and then add it.  But you could simply put the soup in bowls and let it sit till not so hot. 
Ideas for fullness/energy...
  • It is advised by the GAPS lady (that's how I affectionately refer to the doctor who developed it and wrote the book) to eat spoonfuls of fat with a little honey in it.  I would definitely try this, especially with kids!  Coconut oil with raw honey, and I have even heard of people eating animal fats with honey.  This helps with blood sugar stability, especially if you are changing the way you eat dramatically.  
  • I used my ginger lemon honey 'tea' to help us in between meals.  I used the honey to taste.  It helped me and our little ones.  It was nice to say 'hey, loves, come have some juice!'.  
  • If you do a meal with just boiled meat and veggies, make sure you drink broth or a pureed vegetable soup with it!  You need the broth for healing and it fills everyone up! 
Recipes!!  (I know, I said this would be simple, and there I went rambling again...)

Soups with meat: 
  • Chicken Vegetable soup (usually a base with onions, carrots, summer yellow squash and zucchini, lots of salt). Basically, I usually do my Chicken Cilantro Soup (scroll down in that post a bit) but for Stage 1 would leave out the cilantro.  This would be good with a little bit of lemon juice squeezed in. 
  • Hamburger Soup (without the herbs, and for us we did it without the tomato paste for stage 1, but you can use it if you'd like.  Also leave out the lentils).  This is probably easily the easiest thing to get my boys to eat.  I always make at least a double batch of this!  
  • Spaghetti Soup (at bottom of that post).  Leave out the herbs (and tomato puree if you prefer).  This would be good with chicken as well, and I'm sure you could use beef broth with ground beef for a different taste. 
  • Chicken "noodle" soup.  A basic chicken noodle soup - carrots, onions, broth, then use zucchini sliced into 'noodles' (can also use a julienne slicer for really thin noodles) and chicken of course. 
  • Meatball soup.  One time I made a soup based in chicken broth with boiled meatballs (mix ground beef/pork with salt and pepper and you could even throw some pureed or mashed veggies like cauliflower or carrots or butternut squash in the mixture).  Make meatballs and then freeze them laid out in a pan.  Then you can just drop them into soup to simmer until cooked!  I love spinach and a little bit of lemon juice in meatball soup. 
  • Broccoli Soup.  Boil broccoli in well-salted chicken broth and then add chicken.  For some reason, we all loved this.  I am sure you could do this with other vegetables, but broccoli has a nice strong flavor.  
  • Stews. Make a stew (crockpot LOVE).  Dump (in our house usually still frozen) beef stew meat into your crock pot.  Add vegetables like onions, carrots, and peas, or whatever you want!  Put enough broth in there (surprisingly chicken broth works well, and of course beef broth works, too) to just cover.  Add some salt.  Cook all day.  Be happy when you eat dinner without doing much work :-).  

Meat Ideas (non-soup based):
  • Boiled Chicken: 
    • We honestly loved just eating boiled chicken (mainly dark meat - I suggest getting hindquarters because dark meat is just easier to eat boiled than breast meat!) with lots of good salt on it, and I would make it moist with just a little broth.  We often ate this for a meal right after I had boiled some for broth.  
    • Use a blended vegetable soup (recipes below) or several different ones (maybe kids will get excited about different colored soups?) and dip the chicken in the soups.  So you can pretend you are eat chicken nuggets or strips ;-).  
    • Chop up the chicken and mix with already cooked veggies (boil them in broth for extra flavor).  Veggies like carrots and peas and onions...salt well.  Eat like a chicken 'salad'.  
    • Chicken on top of spaghetti squash that has been baked and then simmered in broth.  
  • Boiled Beef
    • Put a couple round steaks in your crock pot, barely cover with water or broth of your choice, cook all day.  Shred the meat.  
      • Eat shredded meat just salted on its own.  
      • Drizzle a blended vegetable soup on top like a 'sauce' on steak.  
      • make a soup with the shredded beef.  
    • when you need to cook ground beef for soup, just brown it like you would normally - with a lot of fat and add enough broth or water to almost cover.  That way it is gently cooking it.  Then add your broth to make soup (or try mixing it with a blended veggie soup and eating it off a plate!).  
    • Eat shredded beef or 'boiled/browned' ground beef over spaghetti squash that has been baked and then simmered in a broth.  Tell your kids they are eating spaghetti.  HAHA.  
 Vegetable Soups:(and you could add chicken or beef to these)
  • Butternut Squash Soup (at bottom of post)
  • Butternut Squash Soup, take 2 - make up your own! :-) I prefer a soup that is not as thick as that first one.  My kids loved the first one.  The other day I simply made a soup with about 3-4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of already baked butternut squash.  I blended it with my stick blender and simply salted to taste.  We all liked it.  So, you can experiment with what your family likes. 
  • Carrot Soup (leave out coriander for stage 1)
  • Summer Squash Soup - we all enjoy this soup!  It's nice and filling, too!  Use coconut oil or an animal fat instead of butter for stage 1.  
  • Cauliflower Soup - just boil cauliflower in chicken broth.  Eat like that or puree it for a nice thick soup!
  • Pea Soup - I use about 1 quart of chicken broth (could use beef, too) and add a bag of frozen organic peas.  Boil until peas are nice and soft.  You could also put carrots and/or onions in it.  Puree or eat like that.  Of course, salt plenty!
  • Broccoli Soup - Same as cauliflower soup.  Eat with broccoli whole or blend!
  • Onion Soup - Slice onions and gently saute in lard or tallow or coconut oil.  Add chicken or beef broth and salt well.  You could also do this and add only a tiny bit of broth and then blend and use as a 'dipping sauce' or as a 'gravy' over meat.  
  • Tomato Soup - if you aren't sensitive to tomatoes, just use chicken or beef broth and add tomato puree, to whatever consistency you like, and just simmer and add plenty of salt.  
  • Add Garlic at the end to any of these soups! 
Vegetables:  (this might be self-explanatory, but it is helpful for me to have ideas listed out, so I will go ahead and include this)
  •  Boiled Vegetables (boiling in broth is always more flavorful).  Drained and salted, can drizzle more animal fat or coconut oil on them when eating.  Boiled baby carrots (or just whole carrots cut into chunks) are helpful with kids because most kids like eating them.  Green beans are another kid pleaser...unless your kids all of a sudden decide not to eat them. Having these vegetables (make large amounts and keep in the fridge - our boys will usually even eat them cold with enough salt on them) provides great finger foods for kids and fillers with meals or in between. 
  • Butternut Squash was a lifesaver for us during intro!  Bake 2-3 9x13 pans at a time, and then scrape it all out into a glass container.  We would warm this in a skillet or small saucepan, add coconut oil to taste (some people can handle more, some less).  If needed, drizzle raw honey once in bowls to entice yourself or kids to eat it.  (Just a teaser, we added cinnamon on stage 2, which makes it amaaaazing.)
  • Chicken broth, well salted, with a little lemon juice in it. 
  • Beef broth, well salted, just on its own.  
  • Boring, but needed. :-)  
Well, now, wasn't that THE most exciting blog post you've ever read?!  Just wait till the next stages.  :-)  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to Prepare for and Begin GAPS {Stage 1 Information - Part 1}

Just a note at the beginning - the most important part of this post is at the end (the last 2 bullet points).  So if you don't look at all of this, at least go look at the end to get a small glimpse of why and how we do this and to get any speck of encouragement I can give.  Now on to the fun stuff...

Before starting, you will want to have the following in plentiful amounts:

  1. Meat and/or Bone Broth (easy to digest, healing to the lining of the gut, and full of great nutrition and fat)
    1. Meat broth is important in the GAPS diet - some people have difficulty handling bone broth.  We never experienced this problem, but I have heard of many people who are sensitive to bone broth.  Meat broth is just boiling your broth contents (raw chicken on the bone, beef meat bones and 'dog' bones) for only a few hours.  Meat broth is very rich in amino acids (search for 'meat stock' on the GAPS website's Frequently Asked Questions page). 
    2. Bone Broth - Different from meat broth/stock, you put your chicken or beef (or fish, but I've never done that!) bones in cold filtered water, add some vinegar (ACV is best), let it sit for about an hour, then bring to a boil and keep at a low simmer for 12-24 hours to get all the minerals and goodies out of the bones. 
    3. With both broth types, it's good to get marrow out of the bones - this is very healing.  This is very easy with beef bones - you can save it and eat it or just keep it in the broth. 
  2. Animal Fat.  Read about rendering it here.  Same process for beef tallow or pig lard.  That link also has fantastic information about fats that are good for you. 
  3. Vegetables and everything else listed here.  As I noted in that post, that list is not absolutely everything you could ever use on GAPS or intro, but it's everything we used a ton of!
Stage 1 Details:
The creator of the GAPS diet has a wonderful, very simple guide on her website.  There is great information there!  She tells you stage by stage what to eat.  Although I don't provide anything new, I will give you my little list that I have taped up in my kitchen that helped me stay focused during stage 1 - it was all so overwhelming to me!  Having my little list helped me SO much.

Stage 1 Introduction GAPS
  • AM: Warm Lemon water and probiotic 
  • Boiled Meat
  • Boiled veggies – zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, peas, onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes (or glass jar tomato puree or paste with no additives)
  • Meat/Bone broth – beef and chicken – blend remaining soft tissue from making broth to add in to soups – also knock bone marrow out of bones to keep in broth
  • Sauerkraut juice in broth – 1-2 tsp/day for 2-5 days, then 3-4 tsp a day for 2-5 days until you can add a few tsp into every bowl of soup  OR can use homemade yogurt (cultured 24 hours)
  • Include as much animal fat as possible
  • Ginger tea with little honey in between meals
Pretty simple sounding, huh?!  With stage 1, the difficulty comes in making enough food to keep everyone full and making things that taste good and aren't difficult to get down.  So now I will share all my ideas, thoughts, recipes, and randomness that I have about Stage 1.  Keep in mind I am not the most experienced person out there, but I will share what I have learned.

How to approach this:
  • make a plan.  Really.  Plan out what soups you will make, when you will make your stock, when you will prepare vegetables (I strongly advise setting aside time to do large veggie prep sessions!), when you will render animal fat, when you will bake winter squashes, when you will debone chicken, etc.  Look at your week and all you have going on and then fit your prep in around that so you don't set yourself up for disaster.  
  • Consider getting up 30 min - 1 hr earlier every day or a few days a week to do work in the kitchen.  I always find it easier and so freeing to do this stuff in the morning rather than getting to the end of the day and being overwhelmed at the kitchen and all I need to do (giant pot of broth on the stove with 2 chickens in it waiting to be de-boned, veggies that didn't get prepped sitting on the counter, dirty dishes everywhere).  
  • It has worked well for me to look at a bunch of meals I am going to make and prep all the veggies and meats ahead of time.  Then for those meals all you are doing is adding things into pots in a certain order.  Dump your broth in, put in the longer-to-cook veggies, later add the quick-cooking veggies, add in pre-cooked chicken or beef, salt and pepper to taste...It is very freeing to make a giant pot of soup without really doing any work at that point.  
  • Use your crockpot.  Yay for crockpots and not getting scared about exploding or burning the house down! 
  • Don't put pressure on yourself to create the most amazing meals.  It's stage 1.  It's not exciting.  But I do believe salt can make almost anything amazing.  
  • Keep in mind that this is temporary.  This is a difficult season of the diet.  The hardest.  Once you add eggs in, you'll feel like life is so easy ;-).  Well, maybe not easy, but waaayyy easier than stage 1.  
  • Know that you will experience (most likely) hunger, different stomach feelings than normal, changed digestion and 'elimination' patterns, maybe nausea, fatigue, headaches.  People vary widely in their reactions to intro, especially dependent on what lifestyle and eating habits were prior to starting stage 1. 
  • Try and cook very large pots of whatever soup you are making.  It can be disheartening to put work into a soup and then it's all gone in 1 meal.  This may not be possible depending on how hungry everyone is and how many kids you have, but I just encourage you to have a large pot and double or triple a recipe so you have some leftovers for a meal the next day - this will help with kitchen fatigue ;-).  
  • Keep an inventory list of your freezer.  I often lose track of how much broth I have frozen and which cuts of meat I am running low on if I am not keeping my list current.  Do whatever works for you - paper taped to the freezer/fridge, in a planner, in a binder, on your hand ;-).  
  • Above all else, keep in mind the WHY of doing this and the HOW.  Make yourself a mission statement as to why you are doing this - for health, healing, freedom from food that brings disease, your kids' future health, to be able to have a strong body to fight illness and problems well, to clear your mind so you can be the best mom/wife/dad/husband/friend and above all else follower of Christ without being in a 'brain fog' and exhausted all the time...any reason you are doing this.  And then the HOW, which is the MOST important part.  You will do this with the strength, perseverance, wisdom, and joy that comes from the Lord.  He provides.  He is our motivation.  He is our energy and focus, and when you are overwhelmed and frustrated and don't know what to do, SEEK HIS FACE.  Ask, and HE will give you wisdom and leading - with anything, even when to move on to a new stage, what foods to add in, when to ask for help from a friend or your spouse.  Pray.  Listen to music.  Sing and dance with your kids (or by yourself!).  Get outside.  Put your soup in a giant thermos and go to the park or a friend's house to feel 'normal'.  Except for that thermos of soup.  That's not normal.  ;-)  But it's fun not to be normal.  And remember, this food thing, this healing, this is not life and death.  Life and death are settled in Christ.  So live in that freedom and grace.  Rejoice in your weakness as you worship the One who is strong.  Be refreshed by His love.  His water is the only thing that will quench the thirst of your soul.  
  • Use this opportunity to talk to your kids about why you are doing what you are doing.  They understand more than we think.  Let them help.  Teach them.  Let them use straws and dip meat in soups and remember that if kids have die-off and symptoms because of diet change and any nasty little bugs living in them, it might make them crazy, and they might have to pee more often, and they might wet the bed.  But you are doing this for their good!  Talk to them about how what we put into us helps us either be strong and full of life or weak and susceptible to ills - and talk to them about their souls and how Christ makes us strong and full of life if He is in us and His word is in us, but that we are sick and susceptible to sin and evil without His grace.  This is good for you, too, to remember.  Do all we do for the glory of the Lord and to love Him, even something as simple as food.  
So, now that I've rambled in all my randomness, I have decided this will be a 2 parter - next post I will share food ideas and any recipe we have liked for stage 1 intro.  Oh, how God can refresh my soul in the weirdest writing about food.  :-)  

How to Prepare for GAPS {Stocking Up}

This is a post I've been wanting to do for some time, but it is inspired also by one of the dearest people in my life who is preparing to do GAPS.  So I will be doing a series of posts on how to prepare for the GAPS diet to hopefully in some way help but also to re-inspire myself in continuing to prepare the foods I am confident will heal us and pave the way for long term health for us and our kiddos.

What I am going to focus on in this post is what you would want to stock up on to begin this lifestyle (and keep stocked up on for as long as needed).  Something else I will address in the hopefully very near future is how to make GAPS work (basically, what I have learned in the few months we've been on this journey).  Because it is a lot of work.  Very worth it, though! Another topic I hope to tackle is about how to progress through the introduction phases, if you choose to do that rather than just follow the full diet (which is actually pretty easy to follow, especially after you've done intro!!).  Included in that would be what you eat on each phase and how to prepare things. 

So here are some notes on what I stocked up on for starting GAPS intro, and what I now continually stock up on or keep around in our house.  I am also including notes about what has worked for me with certain items - where to buy, prep, etc. 

{Stocking Up}
Animal Fat: Tallow (Beef Fat) and Lard (Pig Fat).  We get big bags of these fats from our amazing farm we get all our meat and eggs from
Coconut Oil (we get ours from Mountain Rose Herbs)
Ghee (from Pure Indian Foods - the only Ghee I've ever read about or seen that is so yellow and is from purely grass-fed cows...and it's GAPS recommended)

Beef: ground beef, stew meat, round steaks, roasts  (grass fed!) Also, get bones (often called 'dog bones' and meat soup bones) for broth!
Chicken: whole, cut up, hindquarters (truly pastured!)  Buy bones or save all bones for broth!  Can also get heads/necks and feet to provide even more nutrition to broth. 
Pork: Ground, roasts (also pastured)
Eggs! (um, can I say pastured again?) (introduce egg yolk in stage 2, so you just need eggs by then)
**Many people can not locate or afford organic, grass fed/pastured meats.  I have read of people still experiencing much healing with GAPS with conventional, confinement raised animals.  However, you do have to be aware of the fact that those animals are not as healthy, are fed grains, which the corn and soy are pretty much guaranteed to be GMO (genetically modified), and therefore might cause difficulty for some (from what I've read).  Food renegade has great posts about what the best things are to buy - best to worst.   

Broccoli - We pretty much only get the giant bags of frozen organic broccoli from Costco.  It is affordable and organic, and I can simply throw it in soup or a pot to steam/boil.  This is a huge lifesaver to always have on hand!
Cauliflower - Used as florets in soups, blended into soups to make them thick (sometimes kids like thick soups better), later in GAPS we make 'rice' from shredded cauliflower.  You can also boil/steam it and puree it for kind of a 'mashed potato' type dish. 
Squash - Summer (Zucchini and Yellow Squash) and Winter (Spaghetti and Butternut are the only ones we've used).  Our farmer's markets are huge blessings for these veggies!  Organic and SO much cheaper than the store - anywhere from about 50 - 70% cheaper! 
Carrots - Costco carried giant bags of organic carrots, and large bags of organic 'baby' carrots, which is worth it to me because you can quickly throw it in with a roasting chicken/pot roast or even in soup without having to peel and cut!  This is also great for blended soups - saves much time and effort!  Also, our Whole Foods stores have huge bags of organic juicing carrots for when juicing is started. 
Onions - Stock up when organic ones are on sale.  We always just get yellow (sometimes red/purple).  We get a ton when they are a good price since they last so long. 
Green Beans - Costco giant bags of frozen organic green beans are another favorite that we keep in our freezer!
Ginger - buy a bunch and peel it and then freeze it in a freezer bag or individually wrapped pieces.  Then when you want to make tea or add it to soup, you can just grab a piece, grate it, and you're done!
Lemons - Have a bunch of these - to start your day with warm lemon water and to add to soups - it's amazing what lemon can do to chicken broth!
Green Peas - I have yet to find anything better than the normal sized organic bags at our grocery store. 
Leeks - We only get this every now and then, but that doesn't mean you can't get it all the time!  :-)
Added: Silly me for forgetting these! 
Spinach or Chard - I get the big tubs of organic spinach to add to soups
Garlic - important for soups, especially since it adds flavor and is legal in stage 1!
Tomatoes, Tomato Paste and Puree - This is if you tolerate it well - some people are sensitive to nightshades.  We have been able to use tomatoes in soups, and I believe we added it in stage 2.  Tomatoes (boiled, as in soups) and paste and puree are legal from stage 1!  This helps a lot with soups!!  We buy paste and puree in glass jars to avoid metal and chemicals in linings of metal cans. 

Things I haven't used but are legal from the very beginning: Beets, Rutabagas, Celery Root (celeriac) - I think boiled beets, very finely chopped, could be drained and kept cold and made into a great salad with lemon juice.  I might have to experiment with this - trying to imitate something I had at a Mediterranean restaurant recently. 
**I think buying organic is important if you can afford it!  But sometimes it's impossible depending on availability, so just do the best you can! This is not an exhaustive list of GAPS intro-approved veggies, just what we use the most.  

Sauerkraut - We found raw sauerkraut at Whole Foods (but in a suburb 30 minutes away yeesh).  I will be making homemade soon - you will want to make homemade for sure!  I will post more details about this as soon as I make it, which should be within the next week.   
Homemade raw milk yogurt (depending on when you plan on introducing it).  Find a good source of clean, wonderful, grass-fed raw milk and make homemade 24hr fermented yogurt.  I will also post more about this - it's super easy!!!

Probiotics - we have used BioKult - both adult and the baby biotic.  I have heard that tons of people use different ones!  Custom Probiotics and some other brands...You will start with tiny doses and work your way up as you progress.  Trying to choose one can be overwhelming, but I think just starting with any brand (good company) without any GAPS 'illegals' in it is a safe way to go.  This is why we started with biokult - it was too overwhelming to me to look into all the brands out there!  I would think Dr. Mercola's recommended probiotic would be a good one as well. 
FCLO - fermented cod liver oil. Here or here.  I really would only use this brand after all I've read.

Added: I can't believe I forgot these!! 
Raw Honey - for with chamomile or ginger tea - also can eat with coconut oil, ghee, or butter (once eating) for energy and to get more fats in anyone, especially kids!
Chamomile Tea 
Good SALT!  Himalayan, Celtic, Real Salt.  Our favorite is celtic.  Buy in bulk at Whole Foods - many places to buy all of these salts online.  

- giant pot.
- Maybe another giant pot ;-)
- A crock pot.
- Freezer bags and/or Prep bowls (or can use bags) to store chopped veggies.
- Glass storage containers for soups and broth (glasslock containers, mason jars, pyrex with lids)
- Blender/Food Processor - For slicing and shredded and chopping large amounts of veggies for soups in a short amount of time, for making smoothies, and you can even juice with one (although I haven't done this). 
- Juicer (Stage 4) - I actually do not have this yet - saving up for one because I REALLY want to start doing this soon!
- Dehydrator (I use mine mainly for yogurt making, but as I get into this more, we will use it for making snacks).  You could also use a yogurt maker as long as the temperature stays low enough to not alter the properties of raw milk.  We culture our raw milk yogurt at 95 degrees. There are ways to culture yogurt without a machine - you can use your crockpot even! 
- Safe cutting board (wood or bamboo, no plastic!)
- a good knife!
- a stainless steel large mesh strainer (for broth)
- a Stick blender - we have a cheap one ($15?) and it works great!

That's all (as if that's not enough) I can think of right now.  I might have left something important off, but I just wanted to share what we use most on intro (and actually on full GAPS as well!).  Don't be overwhelmed!  :-)  Soon I will share my favorite websites/blogs/etc for helping with GAPS eating.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meal Plan! Week 4 {Plan It - Don't Panic}

Roasted Okra...
This was a huge hit in my eating world last week...had to share that this is up there with roasted cauliflower and squash fries for me!!  (All I did was cut the okra, put in a baking dish, put a little butter or ghee in there, throw on some salt, mix it together and roast at about 375-425 (whatever your heart desires) until it gets to your preferred 'doneness', stirring every now and then.  I honestly have no idea how long it took...20-30 minutes probably depending on temp)

A big thanks to my sweet hubby for providing the time to actually plan out this does any mom do this when kids are around?!

And now we take a break to bring you a message from our 3 year old who wanted to help me type and chose to type the following..."love the lord".  Sweet boy.

Okay, back to food.  This is a different week than 'normal' (what really is normal, anyway?!) as we have some different plans for the weekend - so I need to have all weekend food cooked and ready to eat before Friday.  We'll see how this goes...

SOOO there's a lot of food to be made this week in a short amount of time.  Will it get done?  I don't know...but by the strength and grace of the Lord, I pray it will!

My meal plan for last week apparently was just too much food, as I didn't even make more than half of the dinner recipes!  That means I have a few things leftover in my plan to put into this week.  So here we go...

Breakfast: scrambled eggs
Lunch: Carrot Soup, yogurt, Salad
Dinner: Most likely out, where we will just eat meat and vegetables (and I am becoming the crazy person who brings our own butter, salad dressing, and raw honey with me...I am even known to bring a bottle of kombucha with me...sigh)

Food Prep: hard boil eggs for lunches/snacks, make chicken salad (experiment), finish giant pot of chicken bone broth, chop/shred zucchini and squash for meals, dehydrate some for snacking, make summer squash soup, Tom Kha Gai soup

Breakfast: Scrambled or fried eggs with Summer Squash soup
Lunch: Paleo Chicken Noodle Soup 
Dinner: Smoky Pot Roast with carrots and onions (Crock Pot AM)

Food Prep: prep all veggies for week - chop onions, spinach, celery, butternut squash for 'fries', peel and cut/slice carrots, wash and separate cauliflower, dice turnips...bake butternut squash...throw together butternut squash and mushroom soups...boil chicken/hindquarters for meat and meat broth, process broth (I am crazy...let's see how this actually goes...)

Breakfast: Breakfast Sausage sticks with sauteed spinach and butternut squash soup
Lunch: Leftovers (i love that word...)
Dinner: Steaks (in cast iron pan) with mushroom onion sauce, spaghetti squash, and veggies/salad

Food Prep: make breakfast sausage - sticks and crumbled for casserole (early AM), Roasted Chicken with Carrots and zucchini in Dutch Oven (AM - this is to have for the weekend), Garlic Stew in Crock Pot (AM - also for weekend), breakfast casserole with browned sausage (again, weekend), big pot of taco soup (if there's time HAHA)

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with leftover sausage
Lunch: Leftovers - over salad for adults, with veggies for baby, coconut flour bread french toast for 3 yr old (boys are both at MDO that day, so I send something I know the 3 yr old will actually eat, even if it's not on my most ideal list - but it is all still GAPS legal)
Dinner: Baked Salmon with veggies and a side soup like mushroom soup or squash soup

Food Prep: hopefully nothing besides that day's needs!!  If needed, I will finish up anything really necessary leftover from plans the 2 days before, but I really hope to work hard and work early in the mornings before the boys get up to accomplish all this.

Breakfast: Eggs in Nests and side soup
Lunch: leftover salmon over salad, with soup or veggies for boys
Dinner: Previously cooked meals!

Breakfast Casserole previously made, roasted chicken and stew previously made, leftover soups from the week, supplemented with homemade yogurt, canned salmon if needed, hard boiled eggs.

Well, Considering it is Monday afternoon and I haven't started what I have planned for today, I might have to adjust my plans...but we'll see :-).  I tend to overplan as far as how much food and also how much I can get done.  We'll see... :-)

And soon I will be posting lots (hopefully...) on why you would want to do the GAPS diet and how to prepare for getting started (which is also helpful if you just want to implement a few things in to your life for healing and nourishment!).  Excited for what this week holds!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Past Week in Links

There have been so many great things I have been reading over the past week or so on some of my favorite food/health websites.  I thought I'd start sharing some of my favorites every now and then.  I am so thankful for these people who share their knowledge and wisdom, and I am thankful God can use something like the internet to teach me and then help our family and kiddos in so many different areas of life.  So, without more rambling on my part, here are some great reads...

Dangerous Chemicals in our kids' clothing/sleepwear.  (This is so important and something that is just not known or discussed.  I will from now on be passing along to all family as well that I would appreciate only 100% cotton clothing, especially in sleepwear.)

Tons of fantastic information - much I need to research and think about  before we have another baby!  Including natural mattresses (it's scary to know what is in our mattresses where we spend so much time...well, at least the kids spend so much time haha). 

Great summary about sweeteners - including how horrible all artificial sweeteners are and how agave is not good! 

Homeopathy - Some recent viruses and ear infections have inspired me to look into this and research it much more, including trying to find a homeopath or naturopath we can work with in our area.  It can be overwhelming to dive into an area I know nothing about - much like I felt when we started learning about food and changing the way we did things a few years ago.  Step by step - 1 thing at a time. So right now, I am simply looking into what homeopathy is and some remedies for children, especially for earaches, since that's what we're dealing with right now. 

An amazing post about broth.  AMAZING.  seriously.  read it.  share it.  MAKE broth! It is so beautiful to me that what God created (animals) can nourish us in countless ways.  Broth makes everything easier to digest and assimilate.  It can also help us tolerate and digest things like eggs, dairy, and vegetables that we wouldn't be able to handle by themselves (intolerances or sensitivities).  Broth got us through a recent HORRID stomach virus with our 16 month old.  He loved it even during his sickness, and I felt confident he was being nourished although so sick!  And he never came close to being dehydrated, and I knew he was being nourished with good salt, electrolytes, minerals, and fat.

Great post on calories and losing weight and being healthy.  It breaks my heart and almost angers me that our society is so focused on simply calorie count, fat intake, and other false focuses for losing weight.  Health is NOT equal with losing weight or being a certain number on the scale or size in clothes!

Okay, I think I'll stop there, although I could go on and on :-).  I hope you enjoy some of the reading!! 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meal Plan! Week 3 {Plan It - Don't Panic}

Well, it is week 3 of the meal planning challenge, and yes, I totally skipped week 2!  I am awesome.  And yes, I have been absent here a while.  We have basically been sick around here for the past 3 weeks, and last weekend, the stomach virus devil attacked my baby.  And that is why I haven't been around in the blog world.  Little mister also got sick again and ended up with croup (he is SO my child).  So I spent the week taking care of life and just trying to keep food on the table every day.

I gave up planning the week out and embraced just managing each day instead of trying to plan out the rest of the week.  It went surprisingly well, and I am thankful I had prepped a lot of veggies the week before that I was still able to rely on for a few meals.  I also had the chance to use some frozen meatballs I had put together the week before.  Nothing quite as exciting as wondering what's for dinner and then just pulling a bag of frozen meatballs out of the freezer and cooking...okay, maybe I need to get out more! :-) 

So here's our plan for this week!  And I DO plan on being back on here more often to share recipe successes and why we do what we do.  One little GAPS endorsement note: at church yesterday, I realized I didn't even think about the sugary treats that were in our bible study class...I didn't care about them, didn't think about eating them, and didn't feel deprived.  And this was on 4 hours of sleep, too!  And I was able to stay awake and fairly focused during all of church, even on a week of horrible sleep and a night of so little.  Yay. 

I strive to have meals planned out on each day - so I can prepare for prep ahead of time and know exactly what the plans are for each day (I am not a naturally organized person, so I need extreme structure to accomplish our food goals!).  However, we are recovering from sicknesses and now our 3 year old has an ear infection that attacked in the middle of the night last night, so time and mental energy has been lacking today to plan in such a detailed way.  So, for this week (and this week only I have committed!), I am just listing everything I plan on making and will just decided day by day what to make based on what the day will hold.  We'll see how it goes :-). 

Non-meal items to try this week:

Ranch Dressing made from yogurt 

Coconut oil mayonnaise 


Cabbage Roll Casserole

Paleo Salisbury Steaks

Taco Soup (ground beef, beef broth, taco seasonings, tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, turnip, celery...this will be an experiment I will share if all my boys approve!)

Smoky Pot Roast (so excited to try this!)  

Chicken Cilantro Soup (with lemon juice squeezed in and yogurt on top or mixed in)

Roasted Chicken (butter, poultry herbs, parsley, celtic salt and pepper)

Baked Salmon (simple butter, lemon, thyme on top)

Light meals (lunch or part of dinner):

Tom Kha Gai: Thai Coconut Soup Recipe

Butternut Squash Soup (Chicken broth,Onion, Butternut squash, Nutmeg, Ghee, Cinnamon, Ginger)

Summer Squash Soup

Paleo Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Salad (if mayonnaise is successful!) wrapped in steamed cabbage leaves or on salad

Carrot Soup

Lunches will include leftovers from dinner the night before, the soups above, and probably a smoothie here and there (usually consist of homemade yogurt, coconut milk, coconut oil, frozen bananas, maybe frozen raspberries, and always at least 1-2 egg yolks per person).

Scrambled eggs (so exciting! ;-) )
Casserole - just eggs, browned sausage, and a vegetable
Eggs in Nests

Vegetables to use:
Okra (roasting it - try either this or this)
Much zucchini and yellow squash (sauteed, roasted, in soups, dehydrated as chips)
butternut squash (baked and used in pancakes, as snacks, in soup, cut and roasted in small cubes or as fries)
avocados (with soups, scrambled eggs)
spinach (cooked and used in breakfast casserole, possibly a soup, and raw in salad)
Salad - lettuces and cucumber with this dressing (Italian dressing - I don't use the Parmesan and just add salt to taste instead - I also don't use paprika because I like the non-red color :-) )
Carrots, Turnips - in soups
Beets - chopped, boiled, added to salad
Other options - frozen broccoli and green beans

This might not be an exhaustive list of everything, and it may be so unorganized, but at least it's something of a plan!  :-)

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