Monday, January 30, 2012

GAPS Sloppy Joes

This is one of my oldest recipes I redid it when I started getting into using whole grains and now I am undoing it to make it grain free for GAPS.  It is still not the same as my original recipe that had a seasoning mix with MSG, Worcestershire sauce with HFCS and far less veggies.  It is amazing how things change. Life is like a great big experiment with infinite variables!

This recipe feeds my family of five for two meals and makes awesome left overs.  It also freezes well and travels well. I serve it on toasted pancakes, usually open-faced.  It is the perfect meal to serve those lacto-fermented pickles or sauerkraut with!

2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds ground meat
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 zucchini, shredded
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 cups tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Melt the butter and spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up. When the meat has browned, add onion and peppers to the skillet. Cook for five minutes and add zucchini.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables. Add garlic, vinegar, tomato sauce, paste and honey to pan. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook mixture 5-10 minutes longer or until desired consistency.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

GAPS Six Month Update

As you know, I started this diet for my kids, one in particular.  But it has turned out to really effect me and made big changes in my body that I want to shout from the rooftops! For the past ten years I have thought myself to be very healthy, energetic, strong immune system, fit, the works.  The past couple years I have had some things pop up here and there that had me questioning.  I had a handful of colds and flues and the symptoms were more severe than I was used to, regular headaches, non muscular back pain became an issue, I was often tired in the afternoon and took naps almost daily, I had this strange crawling feeling under my skin, I always seemed to be on the verge of a yeast infection and the cherry on top was passing a kidney stone last May (which explained my back pain). I talked to various professionals in health care about these issues and no one seemed to think they were anything to be concerned with.  Seriously, three different doctors told me anyone can have a fluke kidney stone, it is after the second one that we begin looking into what is wrong. I didn't want to wait for another one, I want to prevent another one!

As I type this, I have my notes all laid out before me.  One thing I have learned is that healing is slow, unperceived from day to day.  It is easy to miss things, important things, though small in nature, they add up to paint a picture that shows underlying problems.  This is in great contrast to our modern medicine that symptoms are improved in minutes, hours and days, but it is not true healing, of course. I have meticulously recorded our journey on the GAPS diet in a notebook and will periodically record summaries here since thumbing through nearly 100 pages of chicken scratch tends to be a pain in the butt.  I don't feel I have a full picture to write up the kids yet. The first person perspective gives me a much better understanding of myself.  Also, I have been doing the diet better than the kids in the way of more broth and fewer cheats.

In the beginning, things undoubtedly got worse across the board.  Weeks of brain fog has helped me empathize with my eldest.  Of coarse I had headaches and was tired.  I was often hungry to no avail.  Bad breath, dandruff and body odor that I hadn't had to deal with before. The yeast was raging and I had bags under my eyes that made me look ten years older. When you start something new and things get worse, your instinct is to stop. I had to grow deep in my understanding of what was going on within myself to clear this hurdle. It was about two months before I noticed my first big changes in a positive direction.

I have had issues with my blood sugar getting too low all my life, I would get dizzy and have even passed out a handful of times.  Missing a meal was rough, I got grumpy and nauseous.  I would always bring snacks everywhere and if I let myself get too hungry I would binge on candy and then feel yucky the rest of the day. I have been diagnosed  with vasovagal syncope, but am guessing there were some hypoglycemic issues going on too. This last year, my back would ache terribly when I was fasting, even before the stone, I knew it was my kidneys.  The first month of the diet, I was always hungry and ate constantly, but once my body transitioned, I had fewer of these symptoms and by two months in they were gone!

To me, this is a big change, not only because it had been a life long issue, but because I had no idea how liberating it was not to have to plan every outing around food.  I can pretty much eat whenever, I still get hungry, but there is no immediate need.  I am ache-free with my fasts (though this is more recent) I still get a little weak, but not dizzy.  Without cravings and blood sugar drops, I now make my eating choices with a clear head instead of just grabbing the quickest and most tempting food-like substance. It sure makes dieting so much easier.

The second big change, that means a lot to me, is a clear complexion.  I was plagued since adolescence with acne and as much as I tried to not care, I did.  I was so aggravated by it and desperate to rid myself of the angry redness and sometimes painful deep sores. I tried tons of topical solutions, even a couple years of tetracycline, nothing made a lasting difference.  I thought I was doomed, so it has been a dream to me to have consistently clear skin. I still have small blemishes pop up here and there, but they heal extremely fast, the scars and such from past break outs are healing too.  Along with this, I had an age spot by my eye that I started concealing about five years ago.  A few months ago, I brought my makeup brush to my eye out of habit and there was nothing there to conceal, it is gone!

I wear contacts and have yearly exams to check my prescription and order more contacts.  My vision isn't terrible, but I have worn corrective lenses since sixth grade.  A few times in the past 20 years, my eye doctor has added a little power to my prescription, but last month he took power off and noted there was a great improvement in my astigmatism!

I am fascinated by all of this.  This diet takes courage and faith and when I am in the middle of what I can only guess is die off, instead of giving up I will press on.  I never would have done GAPS on my own, it is thanks to my son and my maternal instincts to do the best by him I possibly can that I gain these benefits. There are so many toxic substances that contribute to deterioration of health that are uncontrollable, it can induce a real feeling of helplessness.  It is easy to summit to the ways of the world when we feel trapped in the world. We can control the food we put in our mouths and through these food choices, realize the power we hold.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How We Were Lead to GAPS

I started writing a summary of my healing thus far on GAPS, but this came out instead.

I had learned about GAPS at the end of 2010, I came across it on a few blogs that I kept up with. 2010 was the year I had a vegetarianish mindset.  I worked on using less meat and replacing it with grains and vegetables.  In hindsight, it was the year that I started getting sick more regularly and taking more naps, but this could truly be coincidental.

Our eldest son had always been a handful, but as he got older, his behavior became more disturbing.  We started actively looking for help.  I tried essential oils and acupuncture, we took specialized parenting classes, we talked to psychologists, he met with a therapist, was fitted for a compression vest. Finally, in January 2011, we found something that worked called amino acid therapy (5HTP, GABA, Tyrosine and Grapeseed Extract).  It was incredible how well he responded, but after three months it simply lost effect.  We tried upping the doses, cutting the does, stopping and starting back up. It just stopped working and I was scared, scared because our next step was medication.  I tried to rationalize that even though I knew it wasn’t the best thing for my son, it was the best thing for the other four members of his family.

I looked all over for the GAPS book and finally ordered it late spring 2011.  In the following months, between rages and meltdowns, I read a few pages.  I knew I wanted to read more and I wanted to get our son on this diet, but my mind was muddled, I couldn't see how we could possibly make it work, it seemed out of reach.

In July, my two oldest children went to the Midwest with my sister and stayed with my parents for a week. The first day they left, I picked up the book and read nearly half of it.  The next morning, my mind was going over parts of the book, I was digesting it when I got a feeling.  It was a strange feeling, hard to explain exactly, if you have read The Book of Mormon, you know exactly what I am talking about.  My heart began racing it was almost like panic, yet I was calm and clear headed.  All of the muddled thoughts cleared and one thought remained, alone, on a clean canvas with nothing in the background. “Set a date.” I took out my calendar and began pursuing, knowing I needed uninterrupted time that my kids would be home all day, no commitments for weeks to start…Intro.

July 20, the day after the kids got home from their grandparents’ was our first day on “the diet.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

GAPS Pancake Pizza

My son’s class won a pizza party for turning in the most box tops for the month.  We don’t get a lot of box tops to turn in around here, but my mom mails them to the kids periodically so that they can feel like they are contributing with their classmates. There are a few GAPS friendly pizza recipes that I have been wanting to try.  One uses a cauliflower and cheese base, I would substitute Gouda for mozzarella.  The other one is almond flour based and looks awesome in the pictures. These, however, take planning and work. His lunch time is 10:55 and I had an 8:30 racquetball appointment, with drive time and a shower, I was short on cook time.

A regular GAPS pancake will work in a pinch, but I found them too sweet and much preferred a recipe with no honey and a bit of oregano.  Also, overcooked pancakes work well, not burnt, but dry and tough.  Leftover pancakes can be toasted to dry them out. This keeps them from getting too soggy with the sauce.
The Pancake Pizza’s were a hit. One kid at my son’s table asked him if he could come over for a play date and if his mom would make him those pancake pizzas. I think next time I will try to find a pizza box to bring them in.  It is nice to see my kids happy to eat their special foods.  The more I prepare and think ahead, the better the experience is.  It doesn’t take much, but it does take extra thought.

1 dozen savory pancakes
1 cup pizza sauce sans sucanat
1 cup gouda cheese, shredded

Choose a pancake recipe that holds together well.  Make it savory by omitting the sweetener and adding Italian herbs.  Over cook pancakes or toast leftovers thoroughly.  Lay each pancake side by side on a sheet pan.  Spoon a tablespoon of sauce in the center of each pancake, spread to the edges and sprinkle with cheese.  Broil for 3 minutes.  I found that if I let the cheese brown , the pancakes would get too dark, so I just go with melted cheese.  Serve as soon as possible.  The longer you wait, the more soggy the pancake gets.

Monday, January 9, 2012

GAPS Sandwiches

Sandwiches are not quite the same as they used to be, without the bread and all, but I improvise.  Left over pancakes and waffles made from almond butter/flour or coconut flour are excellent replacements for us.  Bacon, egg and cheese, tuna melts, BLT, egg salad, chicken salad, BBQ pork and sloppy joes, just a few tweaks and we can enjoy our old favorites.

I prefer to make a batch of bread specifically for sandwiches and leave out the sweetener.  Actually, I minimize the sweetener in most of these recipes because sweet breakfasts' do not appeal to me lately.

Here are a few “bread” recipes I have had success with;
Pancakes (My favorite, hold up well and excellent flavor)
Toasted Coconut Waffles (sub honey for agave and use half as much)

Monday, January 2, 2012

GAPS Spaghetti

We stayed strong through the holiday's with GAPS.  I am quite proud.  I made a few batches of legal macadamia nut brittle and cut out butter cookies for decorating and a gingerbread celebration.  We always ate a good meal before we went somewhere that food was being served, which helped a lot with the temptations.  I had a few bites of tempting treats here and there, but honestly, nothing was even worth a second bite.  Even legal treats we kept to a minimum because I would notice having cravings and itchy skin when I ate them.

It is nice to have the parties over and get back to normal again. We have been on the diet for five months.  I have heard that six months is the magic mark, so I have a goal to compile all the changes and record them here next month.

This spaghetti is a family favorite, the Italian version of Fideo. Another recipe I make a double batch of.  I freeze half of the meat.  All I have to do is bake another spaghetti squash and heat up the meat/vegetable mixture and dinner is ready. Love those kinds of ready meals.  I save them  for when groceries are low, for company (so that I can do more hosting and less cooking) and for trips.  Last week is was so nice not to have to spend a full day in the kitchen to get ready for our ski trip.  I just had to write out a packing list because all the food was already made up and ready in the freezer.

1 medium spaghetti squash
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 pound ground meat
32 ounces crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cut squash in half and spoon out seeds.  Place halves, cut side down, on sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Do not over bake, noodles should be slightly crunchy.  Melt butter in pan on medium high heat.  Sautee onion and peppers until soft and beginning to brown.  Add ground meat, break up as cooking.  Once cooked through, add tomatoes, seasoning and salt.  Simmer for 10 minutes until liquid reduces.  Flake cooked squash with a fork and scrape out with a spoon and place in a large bowl.  Add tomato paste and garlic to meat and tomato mixture.  Mix in thoroughly. Combine squash and meat.  Cook until heated through. Remove from heat and drizzle olive oil. Serve.  We enjoy it with homemade sour cream.
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