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. 

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