Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cooking Classes at Preparing Wisely

The New Year brings new classes at a new location.  Preparing Wisely is a lovely food storage shop in downtown Mesa, 144 S Mesa Drive Suite G. The owners are wonderful people who have done a great job setting up an accommodating store front with friendly service.  They recently expanded and added a little kitchen area for demonstration classes.  I am privileged to be on their schedule for next year! All classes are free.  Listed below are the classes I am scheduled to teach. Hope to see you there :)

Tortillas            Tuesday, January 10, 11:00 am
Intro to Grains  Tuesday, January 24, 11:00 am
Grain Trio         Tuesday, February 21, 11:00 am
Grain Trio         Tuesday, March 6, 11:00 am
Grain Trio         Tuesday, April 3, 11:00 am
Grain Trio         Tuesday, April 17, 11:00 am

For a full list of classes offered at Preparing Wisely, visit their Event Schedule.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Starting Seeds

It is time to get started if you live in the Valley of the Sun.  This week would be perfect with the warm weather forecast, seeds are sure to sprout in a jiffy.  In most areas of the country, if you want to start early, you have to invest in grow lights and have space to start them indoors.  I love that I can sprout my own starts right outside.  Because there is still a danger of frost for the next couple months, I started in seed trays that can easily be brought indoor on cold nights.  You will also get much better germination in seed trays or pots because they heat up quicker.

I filled mine with a mixture of peat and compost before placing the seeds and sprinkling sand on top to hold them in place. The peat is a light weight growing medium that holds moisture well.  The compost is for nutrients and the sand holds the seeds in place while letting the sprout push through easily.  Now, as I keep the soil moist, I expect good success.

Right now you can plant any winter crops like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, kale, carrot, onions, peas, ect.  In my seed trays, I am starting my summer crop of tomatoes and peppers. These two take the longest to get going, but I should be in high production by April this year!  Happy planting.

Monday, November 21, 2011

GAPS Pumpkin Pie Soufflé

I have wanted to post this recipe for a while now, but I couldn’t find it in my files. I had accidently saved it in my general recipe file instead of my GAPS recipe file, which is fitting since this pie pleases everyone alike, but then again, most of my recipes do : -)

On GAPS there are a lot of eat this at this time, 20 minutes before this and at least 2 hours after that and first thing in the morning or before bed... It takes major choreographing at first and can be difficult to orchestrate. One of these situations is that fruit is not supposed to be eaten with meals because it interferes with digestion. This makes desserts tricky because fruit makes an easy dessert without added sweeteners (honey or ground dates). I am so excited about this recipe because it fits the bill and is based on vegetables!

The idea came to me instantly after reading Kami’s post for Squash Bars on her blog Finding My Niche. I made these bars as given and they are awesome for snacks and even treats. I had to call them pumpkin bars because my kids think they don’t like squash. I added a few spices, sweetened it to my liking and poured it on a grain free crust for a pie. The egg whites make it nice and light. I have not tried this without whipping the whites, but would imagine that it would yield a denser pie like the traditional thanksgiving dessert.

I serve this with homemade yogurt cream for us and we love it. For guests and my husband, who has not lost his sweet tooth, I serve it with a good dollop of amply sweetened whipped cream and it gets rave reviews.

I have used both a pie pumpkin and butternut squash in this recipe and feel that the squash was slightly sweeter. Squash is always much easier to find. Either way, just cut them in half, remove the seeds and bake on a sheet pan, cut side down until completely soft. The spices are completely flexible, nutmeg and would be nice as well. Some people like a lot of spice to their pumpkin, so feel free to add more if that is the case. 

This recipe is for a deep dish pie plate or two regular pie plates.  You can pour leftover filling in any baking dish to have some extra treats on the side.  This is also fantastic sprinkled with my GAPS Crumble halfway through the baking time.

8 eggs, divided
2 cups pureed butternut squash
4 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup honey
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate egg yolks and whites. Place whites in mixing bowl and yolks with cooled pumpkin puree. Whip egg whites until light and fluffy. Combine egg yolks, squash puree, melted butter, honey and spices. Mix well. Fold in egg whites gently. Pour into a deep dish pie plate with optional crust. Bake for 55 minutes for deep dish 30 for regular. The middle should still jiggle slightly . Let cool, then slice and serve. Keeps five days in the fridge.

links; Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Friday, November 18, 2011

GAPS Shepherd's Pie

One of the best ways to keep your family happy at mealtimes when making drastic diet changes is to remake old favorites.  This shepard’s pie is patterned after our old one, which was laden with grains.

I chose to use a roast instead of ground meat since we are finding a lot of uses to ground meat lately and I wanted to change it up.  The potatoes are replaced by cauliflower.  I would love to do smashed butternut squash, but my kids are not fans.  We stick to cauliflower, but call it potatoes.  This confuses the kids a bit when I say that potatoes are not on the diet, but these special ones are, but it gets them to eat the food easier.

This dish saves well and freezes well and is easy to make in large batches. Sometimes I change it up by adding green beans or tomatoes or cheese on top, but this is our basic standby recipe with all those things I typically have on hand (sometimes I have to leave out the peppers).  It is also easy to make it really heavy on your faves and lighter on the not-so-faves.  Carrots seem to be most kid friendly.  I personally love onions.  Peas are nice on the GAPS diet because they are one of the few legal starches. 

I like to use a bone in roast so that the stock is extra flavorful. A nice flavorful stock is really important in this recipe.  Vegetables do bring a lot of flavor to the party, but the broth penetrates everything with meaty goodness.  Looking back, I used to make this recipe with a powdered soup base to get that flavor punch.  It is such a sad thing that bullion and powders have taking the place of such an incredible traditional food.  Once you get in the habit of making broth, you wonder why everybody doesn’t do it.  Speaking of, I just picked up a new crock pot this week, can’t wait to get another pot of stock going.

2-3 pound roast
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt

2 heads cauliflower
1/3 cup beef stock (from the meat pot)
½ cup butter
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons coconut oil or tallow
1-2 onions, chopped
8 carrots, peeled and chopped
1-2 peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white bean flour
2 cups beef stock (from the meat pot)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Boil roast for three to four hours in six cups of water, one bay leaf and two teaspoons salt.  Cut cauliflower into large, even pieces.  Place in a pot with 1/3 cup beef stock, cover and simmer on medium low heat for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a large fry pan on medium high add oil and onions, cook for five minutes or until they begin to brown.  Add carrots, bell peppers and one teaspoon salt, turn heat down to medium low and simmer for ten minutes.  Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook for two minutes, then mix in two cups stock. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add black pepper, peas and meat to vegetables. Stir in parsley, reserving some to garnish the top then, check for seasoning and salt to taste. Remove cauliflower from pot with slotted spoon and place in a blender or food processor with one teaspoon salt and ½ cup butter.  Pulse until broken up and grind briefly to make mostly smooth.  Fill a large casserole dish with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon cauliflower mash over meat evenly. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Real Food Kitchen Tour on Cheeseslave!

5 years ago my kitchen went from a one-butt kitchen to a crowd-of-butts kitchen.  I used to have one counter of work space that was laid across a dishwasher and butted up against a sink, which was next to the stove.  If someone was in the kitchen it was full.  The fridge was the only thing accessible. It was exciting to dream up the possibilities that an addition offered.  We designed it ourselves; it has all the features I love.  Take the tour today featured at Cheeseslave.

Friday, November 11, 2011

GAPS Crumble

Life without rolled oats is rough.  Okay, not really, but I really wanted to make me a darn good apple crisp.  I feel like I nailed the crumble, but can’t post the whole recipe yet because the apple filling part wasn’t top notch.  I am thinking I might experiment with gelatin to thicken the sauce.  Without anything it is too soupy.  Cornstarch and arrowroot are not GAPS legal.  I tried a little bean flour, I may have just added too much, but the texture was slightly gritty, which I assume is what coconut flour would be like to.  Shoot me some suggestions if you have any, I sure don’t mind experimenting on this one, because even when it’s not perfections, it’s still pretty darn good.

In the meantime, try out this crumble on other baked goods.  I stuffed it in some cored apples and baked them for a super easy breakfast.  It also made a delicious topping on my pumpkin pie soufflé.  Half way through baking, I sprinkled the crumble on top and it was nice and golden by the time the pie was done.  I also think it would be wonderful to dress up muffins and make them a little fancier I have had good success with this Banana Muffin recipe.  Do tell what you like to add crunchy toppings to.

1 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dates, chopped
Combine all of your ingredients into a bowl and mix until crumbly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

GAPS Chili

The only thing that makes this stand out as diet food is the lack of cornbread. Chili has so many variations and is such a typical cool weather dinner. It is nice to have a few mainstream recipes that everybody recognizes in your back pocket.

This is a robust, thick and rich version. It has a nice balance of meat and vegetables. Since it simmers for a good amount of time, all the flavors meld and you don’t taste one vegetable in particular.

I had made a double batch of this and froze half of it. Just as we were sitting down for our second meal of chili two days in a row, we were invited to family dinner, where chili was on the menu. So I thawed out the other half and we ate chili three days in a row, nobody complained. I am looking forward to making this again.

1 cup lima beans, dried
2 cups water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pound ground meat
1 large onion
3 celery stalks
3 medium carrots
2 pablano peppers
½ cup butter
2 tablespoons navy bean flour
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
3 cups beef stock
48 ounces crushed tomatoes

Soak beans in two cups water and two tablespoons lemon juice for 24 hours. Brown ground meat in a large pot; add onions, celery, carrots, and peppers. Stir vegetables and let heat through. Melt butter in pot and sprinkle flour on vegetables, stir to coat. Add garlic and spices. Stir in stock and tomatoes and heat to a simmer. Rinse soaked beans and add to the pot. Simmer for one hour. Serve with homemade sour cream.

links; Simple Lives Thursday, Creative Juices Thursday,

Monday, October 31, 2011

GAPS Pie Crust

Baked good are a little tricky on GAPS. You are not supposed to have too many, which is good because they are expensive. Almond flour is the typical grain replacer and runs ten times the price of my old spelt flour. Making my own is not very time effective; soaking and removing skins, dehydrating and grinding without making it into butter… I admit to stretching it when I can.

I have found that white navy bean flour is really handy to have on hand. You do need to soak and dehydrate, but there is no tedious picking off the skins and grinding is a breeze as they can go through a regular wheat grinder. Beware that the end product has a strong bean flavor, but cooking seems to dampen that somewhat. Besides using it to stretch out my almond flour, I have found that it works great to thicken sauces and stews.

This crust is great for pies like pumpkin and apple. It would also work for many bars like lemon, pudding or other layered bars. Lining the dish with parchment paper is the safest way to go to get nice slices, but I have gone without and it wasn't too problematic.

1/2 cup soaked and dehydrated navy bean flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons water

Combine flours and salt. Cut in butter with a fork until evenly distributed. Add water and mix thoroughly. Press into glass, deep dish, pie plate. It helps to dampen your hands a bit as the dough starts to stick. Try to get it as thin and even as possible. I don’t do any fancy edges; just work the dough about half way up the dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until bottom and top begin to brown a bit.

links; Menu Plan Monday, Monday Mania

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

GAPS Moroccan-Spiced Stuffed Acorn Squash

Squash has been taboo around our house.  Only myself and the baby eat it with pleasure.  When you ask my eldest two what food they dislike the most, squash was sure to be their answer for four years running.  In fact, it is the only food that they have ever shown consistent distaste for. I had to be careful to call summer squash zucchini, not to taint it for the kids. If I ever used squash for anything, it had to be completely unrecognizable and called “pumpkin.”  A short while into the GAPS diet, I started using more and more squash.  They saw me buying it and cutting it all the time, but when it got to the table it was “sweet potato fries” or “sweet potato pudding” or “mashed sweet potatoes” or “pumpkin bars” or “pumpkin muffins” or “pumpkin crunch” or “vegetable noodles.” Yeah, I use a lot of squash.

This recipe laid it all to rest.  There was no hiding that they were being served squash for dinner, the one thing they detested the most.  They grit it and bore it and ended up admitting, that squash was no longer something they disliked.  Still, when I scraped out the last bit of squash from the skin and brought it to his lips he said “no, thanks.”  It still felt like a win, and this recipe is definitely a keeper!

I have been trying to make large portions of our tried and true recipe to reheat for another meal, or freeze for later.  I was able to put away a weekend’s worth of food for my kids that I gave my mother in-law to feed them while I was away.  It made things easy for her and kept me from worrying about what they were eating.

This makes a large amount, 8 servings.  But it is so good that it doesn’t go as far as planned.  I ate 2 servings for dinner tonight, probably could go for a third after typing this out.

4 acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 banana pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pound ground meat, browned
1 cup meat stock
1/2 cup raisins or chopped apples
½ cup butter
4 cloves garlic, minced

Place squash, cut-side down on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, until flesh is tender. I cook these earlier in the day, turning off the oven after 15 minutes and leaving in the oven until dinner to keep warm.  Heat oil in large fry pan on medium high heat and add onions, brown slightly before adding celery, carrots and peppers.  I used the banana pepper for a little heat, any pepper would do here, you could also use cayenne.  Salt the vegetables well and let the pan come back up to heat before adding spices.  After about one minute, when the spices are nice and toasted and fragrant, add the cooked meat of choice (or even lentils) and broth.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Leave the lid off to reduce the liquid.  Once the pan is nearly dry, add the apples and melt a whole stick of butter (yeah, baby!) in the pan. When the butter has melted, place the minced garlic in the pool and stir to coat the entire mixture.  Turn off the heat.  Salt the cut side of the squash, plate and fill with meat and vegetable mixture.
Links; Real Food Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sprouted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last month, my son got baptized and we hosted a large group of family to celebrate.  I made my crowd pleasing Sourdough Spelt Pizza, GAPS Meatzza, these cookies and GAPS Coconut Macaroons, so we had option.  I talked with the kids about what would be available and what would be their choices.  It ended in our first meal of cheats, but it was not too bad as it was real food and very modest amounts.

At the event, the cookies were a big hit and I was reminded that I needed to get these delicious confections posted.  I can't keep this from you any longer.  I worked and work on this recipe, and perfected it before we started GAPS.  Then, it got buried in a stack of more current recipes. So here it is with all of my quirky, cookie-developing processes.

 I am hard to please in the cookie department.  I like them slightly brown and crisp around the edges and nice and chewy in the center.  Never cakey, crumbly, hard or cracker like.  I like a lot of flavor too, which means natural sugars, whole grains and butterJ.  I am mighty proud about this recipe; The farm fresh eggs, pastured butter, extra virgin coconut oil and sprouted flour are super healthy!  Still, I can’t get away from the high amount of sugar, the carmelization of which adds THE BEST flavor.  Then there are the chocolate chips, where I just do what I can to get a nice quality with more real chocolate than sugar.

I started experimenting with sprouted flour cookie recipes when I learned that whole grains have anti nutrients and need to be properly prepared for maximum benefit.  Soaked and sour dough recipes always yielded cakey, again, not my thing.  But I found sprouted flour so hard to work with because it crumbles and doesn’t absorb the fats and liquids easily.  My biggest problem was figuring out the right amount of flour to use in the dough.  I have baked too many cookies with my old, delicious recipe with instant pudding and was always trying to get the same texture in the dough.

I found the balance; 2 eggs, less one white and ¾ cup butter or 1 stick plus ¼ cup coconut oil (the oil makes a little thinner cookie, which is pictured).  Coconut sugar has a much better texture in these than sucanat and a less over powering flavor and maple syrup add a more complex flavor while giving the sprouted flour the liquid it needs to hydrate.  My most life altering discovery was the refrigeration time, which is nothing new to cookies, but not common for the chip kind.  The dough is almost batter like after mixing, letting it spend time in the fridge gives the flour time to absorb the moisture it needs and sets up the melted coconut oil and butter, thus, a beautiful cookie dough is born!

1/2 cup pastured butter, melted but not hot
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups sprouted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

Place butter, oil, sugar and syrup in a mixing bowl and beat on high until smooth and lightens in color.  Add egg, salt and vanilla and mix well. Dump in all flour and sprinkle baking soda on top, take care to break up any clumps. Pulse until flour is moistened, add chips and mix until evenly distributed.  Place in a covered bowl and place in the fridge for 2 -6 hours. You may refrigerate longer, but dough will need to warm up for an hour before it can be easily scooped out again.

The exact baking makes or breaks this cookie.  For medium sized cookies (2 tablespoons of dough) I bake at 325 degrees on convection for 8 minutes.  When I remove them from the oven they are puffed up and fall as they cool.  The edges are barely golden and the middle is entirely doughy.  Let cool completely on pan before serving or storing.  This is when they set up, otherwise they will fall apart.  If you don't have convection, I would bake at 350 degrees and check them at 8 minutes, but they may not be ready until 10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet Potato Slips

I know they are not on our diet, but I planted these sweet potatoes back in April and they are still currently taking up real estate in my garden. Sweet potatoes have a very long growing season and love the heat, so they are one of the few things that make it through the summer unscathed. (As I have mentioned, the others that I know of are purslane and basil.  If you have discovered any others that do well in 110+ degrees, please share.)

The first time I planted sweet potatoes I cut pieces with eyes and planted them, like you would a white potato.  Sweet potatoes don't really get the pronounced eyes like white potatoes do, so I pretty much guessed and ended up with very few plants.  I also guessed when it was time to harvest and all I found was an intricate system of orange roots.

The next year, I read up on growing my own starts and being patient.  The starts are simple.  There are two ends to a sweet potato, the end that was attached to the root and the end that grows eyes.  Fill a jar with water 3/4 of the way.  Insert three toothpick spokes around the middle of the potato and stick the root end in the water. After a while, the eyes will grow into leaves.  Using older, untreated sweet potatoes and keeping them in a warm place will speed up the process.

After the leaves have grown, you break the stem right at the base where it is coming out of the potato and place it in a small bowl of water to encourage roots to grow.  Once you have a few roots about one inch in length, the slips are ready to plant.  Dig small holes about 12 inches apart, place a slip in each hole and gently cover the roots with soil, then water lightly.

Sweet potatoes are supposed to take 120 to 160 days from this point, but like I said; mine are still in the ground.  The most reliable way to know when they are ready is to wait for them to flower.  They get really pretty purple flowers, at which point you will have small, tender sweet potato.  Leave them in longer to swell to larger sizes.

When you do harvest, you will still find an intricate system of orange roots.  If you don't get these out, they will come up again next year.  I haven't found it to be a problem to have sweet potatoes in the same place year after year.  They are not susceptible to the plethora of bugs and diseases white potatoes are, but they do attract peacocks :)

What has your experience been with growing sweet potatoes?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Garden Journal {Summer}

Just over a month ago I visited a local community garden.  It is the type where you rent a (15x15) plot each season.  Some of the growers are just experimenting with this and that, but most have quite a bit of knowledge, time and means to create a productive and aesthetically appealing area.  

At this time (early September) I was pretty down about my own garden area that was full of fried plants, lots of debris and extremely low production.  It was so hard to get out there and get things cleaned up because it was still so hot.  Seriously, the sweat would drip to the point that my eyes would burn.  I ended up getting one row cleared, tilled formed, composted and planted mid August.  I planted everything really close together to later transplant when the weather starts to cool.

After seeing how terrible everyone's plots looked in the community garden.  I was less distraught about  my wasteland.  But a little tip to all the fellow AZ Valley dwellers; Save sweet potatoes, purslane and basil, nothing grows in August.  It is a full month or more of heavy watering just to keep your plants barely surviving.

Now we have turned a corner.  I have cleaned up the other four beds, composted, then did some transplanting and seeding.  The weather is perfect and everything is shooting up! Viola, back on track and enjoying a productive space once again.  I can see that I went a little crazy with the zucchini this season, luckily it is one of my favorite vegetables.
links; Simple Lives Thursday, Things I Love Thursday, Creative Juice

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Garden Journal 2011 {Protection}

Birds are my latest garden vice. They pecked the heck out of every single summer pepper and tomato and are currently doing a number on my winter squash and melons. I pushed through the sweltering heat last month to get my beans and cucumbers in early. Only to have the menaces pluck the seedlings out of the ground. Every. Last. One. I wish they would fly South for the winter!!

There is so much hope in planting a seed and seeing it sprout and eventually fruit and ripen. There is great disappointment when that hope is snatched from under your nose time and time again. I’ve had lots of squirrel trouble in the past especially in the winter seasons. When worse comes to worse, I pull out the netting and drape it over the most sought after plants. It is not fool proof, often the squirrels still find a way in, the netting is a pain to work with, it gets caught on things and the plants get tangled and damaged, then there is the constant fidgeting with it to keep it in place. It is surely a subpar deterrent.

So my husband and I discussed the reoccurring problem and before building a complete enclosure, we are trying out a low scale version. Netting secured to a simple PVC frame. They are light and pretty manageable; fit perfectly over half of a soil bed (10 feet) and so far, have kept pests out of the picture well enough to get some good seedlings going.

I am really happy with these simple structures. My plants are looking great, compost is amazing. They are easy to tilt up on one side to weed and harvest and keep plants from growing out into the aisles. We had a tornado last month and our neighbor’s gazebo landed in our garden. These PVC frames kept many plants from being crushed!

I am still brainstorming however, since this won’t protect any of my vertical growing plants and I would like to eat my tomatoes myself, thank you very much.

P.S. Anybody know how to get rid of a peacock? This guy has been hanging around for breakfast, lunch and dinner…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

GAPS Resource

Besides THE GAPS book and website, I have been finding some great resources online put out with people that are in the throws of the diet with their families.  Cara, who not only shares my name, but the state in which I reside, has put together an e-book on GAPS intro recipes.  I have heard many good things about this resource and have witnessed Cara's talent through her blog, Health Home and Happiness. I have been pinning recipes like mad since I have found it.  Cara’s giving away a free copy of her GAPS Intro Diet e-book, What Can I Eat Now? Enter to win over at

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

GAPS Meatzza

We miss our once-a-week pizza nights for sure and I am not even going to pretend that this makes up for it.  Yet, it is a meal we all look forward to, which is one big perk about the old pizza night.  Actually, we are making sourdough pizza for guests this month after Number One’s baptism and he asked if I could make meatzza too.  He also requested that his Sunday school teacher change their class reward from a pizza party to a meatzza party, so he is pretty well converted.

Meatzza is basically a pizza with a flat meatball in place of the crust and is the perfect example of how drastic the expense is when preparing grain free meals.  Grass fed organic beef runs around seven dollars per pound, while my sourdough crust is around 50 cents per pound.  Anyway, it will all be worth it one day…

I do stretch this as much as I can with veggies, also making a double batch is great for having quick meals on hand, it is great paired with a side salad and a glass of kefir (which everything is lately.)

1 pound ground meat
1 onion, shredded
1 bell pepper, finely diced
1 zucchini, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons pizza seasoning
2 eggs
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons salt

Mix all ingredients thoroughly with hands and press onto a pizza or quarter sheet pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, spread with marinara sauce, spinach (I used purslane) and sprinkle with cheese.  Transfer the pan back to the oven and turn it on broil for a couple minutes to melt and lightly brown the cheese.
links; Real Food Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

GAPS Salmon Cakes

We are still doing GAPS and feeling more and more committed as time goes on.  The food gets easier all the time and the kids are really on board.  They tell people about the diet and what they are and mostly aren't allowed.  Number two lost his snack on the playground before school one day. His teacher, noticing that he was bringing fresh foods and not crackers each day, offered him her grapes from her lunch.  He asked first if they were organic because that is all he can eat.

I have been really proud of Number one, he has been my sneaky one that tries to get anything and everything he is not supposed to have.  He was at a birthday party and I made sure to pick him up before the cake and ice cream.  He reported that he was thirsty at the party and there was a cooler with drinks for them that were filled with juice boxes and only a couple waters and he chose the water.  He also went in for an interview with the Bishop for his upcoming baptism and was offered a treat from his candy jar.  Number one just said “No thanks, I am on a diet.”  I was not even in the room and was so proud that he had the self-control to do that on his own!

Here is another excellent recipe for full GAPS.  You should be able to substitute the coconut flour for almond flour to use this in the intro as well, maybe as early as stage 3. They are great to use in lettuce wraps (Stage 5).  Tonight we had them on a bed of My Slaw that I substituted quartered green grapes for the oranges and honey for maple syrup, with a glass of kefir on the side. I also lacto fermented my mayonnaise.  Next time I will add some shredded carrots for color.  It was simply delicious.

1 pound wild salmon, cooked, cooled and flaked
1 small red bell pepper, diced fine
1 tablespoon butter
3 eggs
1 small onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons of coconut flour
¼ cup butter, ghee or oil for frying

Cook pepper in butter for 10 minutes while salmon cools.  In a medium bowl beat the eggs, onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and cumin. Mix thoroughly. Add the salmon and cooked pepper to the egg mixture. Mash the salmon and bones with the back of your fork and mix thoroughly with the egg mixture. Sprinkle coconut flour on top of mixture and combine until liquid is absorbed.  Preheat a fry pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the fry pan and form patties with salmon mixture.  Place patties in hot fat and cook 5 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Continue to add more butter and more patties until mixture is all cooked.  Serve with over My Slaw, with sour cream and avocado on lettuce or make a simple yogurt sauce with cumin, lime and salt.
links; Real Food Wednesday, Creative Juice Thursdays, Things I Love Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday

Thursday, September 1, 2011

GAPS Progressive Soup

I love how going through the introduction diet gives you a new appreciation for foods that you never really enjoyed before.  This goes for the kids too.  My anti tomato kid, eats them easily now.  My oldest two hated winter squash in any form, now they eat it on a daily basis.  I never thought too highly of cauliflower, now I buy 3 heads each week.  In the beginning, the limits were confining and my creativity was stifled by it, but now I look back and see how much good it did for our relationship with food.  Once our bodies regulated our constant need for sugar and starch to fill us up, we were able to find complete satisfaction in these highly nourishing, healing foods.

Although the first stage is known as "just soups"  there is actually a lot of variety right off the bat.  A huge assortment of meats to choose from with ten different veggies mixes and matches in to quite a few options.  Then, slowly you begin to add in small amounts of new things, one at a time.  We have been transitioning out of the intro for three weeks now, and have not even scratched the surface of all the things we are allowed to have on the Full GAPS diet because we still have to add things slowly to check for reactions and become accustomed to foods that are harder to digest than soup and eggs.  Our ingredients are adding up and we tend to feel like we are no longer on a special diet.

A soup that has always been a family favorite for years is tortilla soup.  Although I am making it differently now, it still has the same flavor from our memories.  Taking out the corn chips and millet (GAPS illegals) and adding lots of chicken, olive oil and sour cream makes for a tasty, filling, meal.  When I first went back to this recipe it ended up being chicken, carrots, onions, zucchini and garlic simmered in chicken broth with a small spoon of sour cream (stage 1).  In stage 2, I added an egg yolk, cilantro and larger spoons of sour cream.  Stage 3, I got to include avocado and we had worked up to around 1/3 cup sour cream.  Stage 4, I added peppers (not sure what stage these become legal, but after I was confident Number 1 was not allergic by this time, I was happy to add them in because they add so much flavor. Speaking of flavor, the homemade broth MAKES this soup!

I tended to make double or triple batches so it would last a few meals.

6-8 cups chicken stock/broth
6 carrots, chopped (stage 1)
2 zucchinis, chopped (stage 1)
1 large onion, chopped (stage 1)
5 roma tomatoes, diced (stage 2)
2 red bell peppers, chopped (stage 4?)
1 small jalapeno (full GAPS)
2 cups boiled chicken (stage 1)
3 garlic cloves (Stage 1)
2 teaspoons ground cumin (full GAPS)
2 green onions, sliced (stage 5)
½ cup cilantro, chopped (stage 2)
Juice of 1 lime (full GAPS)

Salt and pepper to taste (stage 1)
1/4 cup beef tallow (stage 1) ghee (stage 2) coconut oil (stage 4)
1 egg yolk per bowl (stage 2)
1 avocado, diced (stage 3)
GAPS legal cheese like colby (full GAPS)
homemade sour cream

Skip the ingredients listed that are past your current stage.

Boil carrots, zucchini, onions, peppers and tomatoes in broth until tender. Add chicken, garlic and cumin, cook 1 more minute. Mix in green onions, cilantro, lime juice, fat, salt and pepper to taste. Crack one egg yolk per bowl and whisk warm soup into it. Garnish with avocado, cheese and sour cream.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GAPS Fideo

I have loads of yummy GAPS recipes to post!  Now that I am getting the hang of the protocol, I am getting creative and banging out some pretty awesome meals.  Often I go to old favorites for my inspiration.  Everybody loves Fideo, it is one of my top hit posts, a great dish for a crowd, perfect for a potluck.  With a couple simple substitutions,  we are enjoying it once again.

One thing that makes GAPS fantastic in the flavor department is the liberal use of fat.  I always was pretty generous compared to American standards, but GAPS is a whole other level.  Of course you have to use the good fats, which are expensive, but sometimes not as much as you think.  Kerry Gold Butter, for example, runs about six times the price of the pale kind.  But when you compare it to extra virgin coconut oil, which is more of a like product in quality, it is half the price. Thus, I use a lot more butter.

I am pretty sure the intro diet did some detoxing of our sugar loving bacteria, because everything seems to taste better.  Besides, anything other than soup becomes a texture to appreciate.  In all reality, my husband, who didn’t do the intro, still thinks most of these GAPS meals taste fantastic.  So I will take the credit for being super talented.

Before the diet though, I could NEVER pass spaghetti squash off for noodles.  Three out of five family members would moan and struggle through the meal.  Fideo is just so flavorful, that the texture difference doesn’t really matter.  I am sure the butter doesn’t hurt either.  One thing that is important is not to overcook the squash, the “spaghetti” won’t stay as separate and turns a bit mushy.

If you leave out the cumin, cheese and avocado (stage 3) this considered a "casserole" that is legal in stage 2 , given you have successfully introduced dairy, otherwise, substitutions can be made.  Cumin and cheese can be introduced on Full Gaps.

1 medium spaghetti squash
½ cup Kerry Gold butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 large tomatoes, diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (reserve some for garnish if desired)
2 pounds boiled roast
2 cups Kerry Gold Cheese, shredded
1-2 avocados, diced as garnish
1 pint yogurt cream

Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds.  Place face down on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Heat a large fry pan to medium, sautee onions, peppers and carrots with butter for 10 minutes. Add salt, garlic, cumin and tomatoes. Stir in boiled roast and let it fall apart with the vegetables.  When squash is cool enough to handle with your hands, scrape out with a spoon and separate “noodles” with a fork.  (I like to do this a day ahead).  Fold squash in with vegetables, combine thoroughly, adding cilantro as you mix.  Check for seasoning, may need more salt.  If your pan is oven safe, you can top with cheese and broil until melted, otherwise, transfer to a baking dish or 2 -9 inch pie dishes. Broil 5 minutes on medium until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Garnish with diced avocado and copious amounts of yogurt cream (homemade yogurt made with heavy cream).

links; Real Food Wednesday, Things I Love Thursday, Creative Juice Thursday, Pennywise Platter

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Die Off

We have had some weird symptoms pop up in the first few weeks of GAPS.  These symptoms are known as "die off" and is essentially due to the gut detoxing.  Ours have been very mild and manageable.  We are not taking probiotic supplements, only getting probiotics from our food.  We eat probiotic food religiously at every meal and snack.  I have got to say that culturing cream with my yogurt starter is the best discovery I have made in my kitchen this year!  It is extremely tasty and we dollop it generously.  

My main symptom has been dull headaches above my eyes.  They don't slow me down any, just really irritating.  I have also lost weight unintentionally, but it seems to be stabilizing now, so I am not too worried about it.  It is likely water loss from not eating many carbohydrates.  Lastly, my eyes are a bit sticky in the mornings.

Number One had a day where he was sneezing like crazy, it was bizarre. He has also got a few pimple type bumps on his face last week

Number Two has started wetting the bed a couple times a week.  He is also a bit weepier that usual, but he is also transitioning out of taking naps. He has also gotten a couple headaches.

Number Three wets through his diaper most every night.  He also has this rash on his face that is baffling me.  It is around his mouth, he has gotten it a number of times before we started this diet.  I had thought it was a reaction to strawberries, then peppers and tomatoes, but it is inconsistent.  This morning he broke out really bad after having carrot soup for breakfast, which he has had plenty of times without a reaction.  It doesn't appear to bother him at all.  I know rash is a common die off symptom, but since he has had this rash many times in the past, I am wondering if it is something else.

A couple weeks ago we "lost"  all of the pacifiers and the rash went away for 6 days, but then he broke out again... aggravating.

I don't mind seeing symptoms of detox, because it means that this whole thing is working.  It is so hard to know if it is die off we are experiencing or the body not handling a food or environmental change well.  One thing is clear though, I still have a lot to learn.

Monday, August 8, 2011

GAPS Guacamole Chicken Salad

In the first two stages of the GAPS intro, there is really no way around soups for breakfast lunch and dinner. However, these stages are quick for most people (less than a week) and stage three opens up a lot more possibilities, though soup is still a mainstay. Instead of just a raw yolk in soups, you get scrambled eggs! Instead of just pickle juice in soups, you get to munch on pickles! My kids' favorite, by far, is introducing "pancakes" made with ground almonds, zucchini and eggs. And we all love avocados around here, which are worth their hefty price tag at the moment.

We are not acclimated to eating all the skin, connective tissues, marrow and organs in a whole chicken. I found this ingenious way to make all that stuff taste good and hide it well enough that you don't even know that you are eating weird chicken parts. It is our new chicken salad and we eat it plain, on "pancakes" or with lettuce. When I pick a boiled chicken, I put the muscle meat in one container and the weird stuff in another. This way, depending on what I am making, I can add it in the proportions I desire. I have also found that if there is any connective tissue that is tough, I can put it back in the pot with the bones and water, simmer for 12 hours or more and it pretty much dissolves.

1 avocado
1 raw egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup weird chicken parts

Mash avocado with egg yolk, salt and pepper. Add chicken and combine well.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Settling In

I love eggs.  Still.  Even after living on them for more than a week.  I am so grateful that we have an unlimited supply of backyard eggs right now for a mere dollar per dozen.  In the winter, I pay three dollars a dozen.  Chicken's don't lay eggs when the days grow shorter than 12 hours and few backyard farmers do artificial lights regularly to keep them laying, which isn't all that natural anyway.

Once we entered stage three of the GAPS introduction diet, we had turned the corner.  Scrambled eggs with cooked onions and zucchini...mmm.  I felt normal again, like we could leave the house and not be starving for food an hour later.  Coming up with take and go snacks eluded me those first days.  I did learn that although canned foods are a no, no on GAPS, if you canned it yourself and the ingredients are legal  it is fine.  So now I throw in a quart of canned carrots when we head out.

So with my super-egg-energy, I have gotten back to playing strenuous racquetball, caught up on the dishes and have put together some pretty tasty meals.  At least they are tasty to us.  I am frightened to cook for others at this point.  Day 6 (stage 3) my sister calls and is coming for dinner.  This freaked me out a little, but we are tight and I knew she would understand if the meal wasn't up to par.  She had dined with us our first night of the diet when we had chicken vegetable soup.  I made sure she had a nice piece of breast meat and not chunks of skin and liver in her bowl.  Besides the 110 degree weather we were sporting, it wasn't too weird.  Here is what she thought, in her own words;

"When I visit my sister, I usually get to partake in the gourmet dinners she serves her family on a regular basis (they are SO lucky). Because I'm used to eating junk from my dorm's dining hall, eating with my sister is like heaven. So after she told me about this new "GAP" diet, where she was making nothing but soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I died a little inside. 

I didn't doubt my big sis and her crazy new diet plan, but I knew it would be a challenge for a family that loves their grains and fruits. As a participant in the very first GAPS meal, I was pleasantly surprised that Kara pulled off the soup thing extremely well, and I was fully satisfied with a large helping of chicken, broth and veggies. 

For the next "GAPS" meal I had (about a week later), Kara got a bit creative and whipped up some "zucchini spaghetti and meatballs." Honestly, if I hadn't known about her nutso diet plan, I wouldn't have thought any differently about the low-carb meal. Other than replacing the noodles with strips of zucchini, nothing about the dinner seemed too out of the ordinary. It tasted like just another one of my sister's wonderfully creative and delectable dinners, and I didn't even crave carbs when I was finished. The kids and I gobbled up our spaghetti in record time, leaving behind only a couple of meatballs for her poor husband!"

So it is not all doom and gloom. My oldest even told me he likes this diet a little bit one day while eating carrot ginger soup.  I try to keep this soup in the fridge as an alternative at all times.  It is much like the old one I posted, but I don't saute, just boil everything together.  I usually add a small butternut squash and sometimes half a head of cauliflower.  I leave out the coconut milk, oil and cayenne pepper right now.

I did miss the carbs at first.  I felt like I could never get full and I needed some starch to feel satisfied.  That has gone away and I am satisfied most every meal provided I cooked enough.  I have used grains to stretch my meals for so long that when I remove them from my recipe we end up with half the food on the table than before.  I am finding that many GAPS recipes online are for 1-2 people not full families.  I am starting to get in the groove and next time I will remember to use 2 cauliflower to make those "mashed potatoes" instead of half a head.

Another problem that contributes to my skimpy meals is that I am afraid my kids are not going to like the new meal and I am going to end up eating it all myself.  This has yet to happen.  The kids are surprising me everyday with what they will eat.  Cauliflower for one.  I admit, I never liked it, but I have thrown it in pureed and non-pureed soups as well as the base for mock mashed potatoes and mock rice pilaf, all of which were gobbled up without complaints.  The first time I pulled out the fermented cucumbers, the kids could not get enough.  Number 3 requests pickled beets for a snack!

The biggest obstacle has been getting in a cup of broth at every meal.  When there is no soup, it is hard for the kids to choke down.  I have been working on just 1/4 cup at a time for now.  The older two have to have it gone to get their meal (caught Number 1 dumping it down the sink).  Number three, I coax between bites.  I have found that if I boil carrots in the broth first, the flavor is more palatable to them and they end up eating the carrots for snacks.  Any other ideas for me to get the broth down the hatch?

Friday, July 29, 2011

The First Five Days

Stage one of the GAPS introduction diet was a lot rougher than I expected.  I knew how to make good meat and bone broth and yummy soups with them.  I am used to eating lots of vegetables, the kids are too.  We had just never eaten them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Not to mention snacks, which we needed plenty of.  Newsflash; when you are only eating things that are really easy to digest, you are hungry every other hour.  I felt like I was fasting.

The second day the kids rebelled.  I was glad I could empathize with them.  I kept telling them "we can do hard things," explaining what this was doing for our bodies and most importantly that it wasn't permanent, we are going to eat our favorite things again eventually.  The oldest two totally balked at having soup for breakfast, but number 3 did fine eating consistently through the day.  By dinner the other two were eating good sized portions and feeling more chipper.

Day three started out absolutely horrible.  All three of the kids refused to eat breakfast.  Number 2 cried that his belly hurt and they were all downright lethargic. My resolve was wavering.  I introduced egg yolks, not because my kids we big fans, but because I wanted to get moving through this intro because I didn't know how much more I could take.  I started offering drops of honey for eating portions of soup, which got us through lunch, but Number 3 had no appetite.  He had eaten only a few spoonfuls all day, I offered a wide variety of things and wasn't the least bit interested.  I didn't think he would even notice the diet change because he only asks to eat what he sees other people eating.  He always ate soup and cooked vegetables so well on a regular basis.  He puked that afternoon.  His belly was thin and was looking sickly.

The next day, I was so worried about my youngest. He threw up two more times and only drank water all day.  His balance was worse than normal, he took a 5 hour nap and he didn't smile.   I forced a bit of chicken stock to keep his electrolytes up.  I scoured books and the internet, trying to figure out if he had a stomach bug, if he was detoxing or if he was making himself sick by refusing food.  Looking back, he is not characteristically stubborn at all, has not had any detox symptoms since and did run a fever two days before we started, so I'm thinking bug.  The other two barely ate anything for breakfast, but did do well with lunch and dinner and were upbeat all afternoon.

After the kids went down, my husband tempted me with a bowl of gelato and I was ready to partake.  I started going through the past few days in my head and realized how important it has been to be able to completely empathize and know that a body can exist on these foods alone.  I denied that gelato in all of it's mulberry glory.  Dang, I am disciplined!  That night I made a pureed, super carrot-y ginger soup for breakfast in high hopes of winning over the kids.

Day five was a turning point.  They ate breakfast!  All of them!  Carrot ginger was a hit, along with the yogurt cream I served on top.  I made small "pancakes" with ground, soaked almonds, zucchini and eggs, which put us in Stage 3.  They each got one and were super excited to have something other than soup.  Number 3 had definitely lost weight in the past few days, but ate small portions throughout the day and had a really good dinner.  I had a good talk to them about the only way we can add new foods is if we eat really well every day.  I think they got that, and just as I thought, my youngest was not rebelling because of the food because the very next morning when the kids asked "What's for breakfast?"  Number 3 happily replied "soup."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Decided to do a little journal of our experience on the GAPS diet.  The diet promotes bowel cleansing, which lessens the toxins in the blood, while allowing healing to take place.  You can read more about it here.  We are working on a case of ADHD for number 1 that almost had us filling a script for Ritalin last school year.  Abnormal bowels for number two, who is really gassy and takes a long time in the bathroom.  Possible food allergies for number 3, he gets a rash around his mouth regularly and with our varied diet, it has been hard to pin point the culprit.  We suspect strawberries.  Number 1 and 2 also have dog and cat allergies that I am hoping to clear up, though I have not come across any information that would suggest this is possible.  I am doing the diet as well, mostly because it is easier that way.  I am sure my gut is not in perfect working order and can benefit.  Now that we are 8 days in, I know that it was important for me to start this with them so that I could feel how they felt.

I had been thinking about undertaking this huge project for a while,  contemplating how I would keep others from feeding my kids.  Before I had even read the book, I got a spiritual prompting that I needed to set a date.  3 weeks before school starts gives us time to get through the toughest part of the diet and find our groove.

It was the scariest thing for me.  I love food, especially variety.  I struggled through the first few days, then I embraced the challenge to make these same foods day in and day out taste different and yummy.  I wasn't planning on blogging about this, but if I didin't, I might have fallen off of the face of the blog-o-sphere.  Truly, if I ever find myself needing to go back and do the GAPS introduction diet again, I want a record of past mistakes and successes.  If anyone else gets inspiration by what I write, that would be an added bonus. And if anyone feels inclined to share their wisdom, or encouragement, double bonus!
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