Saturday, January 24

GAPS Stage 4 Summary

Stage 4!  Two weeks in, and we moved all the way through to Stage 4.  It feels good to have made it this far!  We're enjoying even more of a range of foods.  The other night, I made baked salmon with roasted asparagus, both drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Mighty tasty!  We both greatly enjoyed that meal.  In fact, hubby said it needed to be a once-a-week meal!  If it's hubby approved, then you know it's good.
I tried out my juicer!  Holy cow, does that thing work.  This is my first experience with any juicing, but I'm actually kind of excited to have purchased it now!  I admit that I really don't know what I'm doing, but I made a pint jar full of carrot juice, and honestly, it was fun!  It has an incredible motor on it--I put the carrots in, turned it on, and whirrrrrr, buzzzz, the carrots were gone and juice was running!  I can't wait to try other things in there.  I was tempted to go root around the fridge and just see what else I could find to put through it, but I didn't.  I'm really looking forward to introducing fresh orange juice in the mornings (which I've missed soooo much) and making my own concoctions for beverages.  Apple juice will be especially good, I'm sure!  I'm not sure about whether to keep the pulp or not, but there are some recipes in the GAPS book that call for pulp.  I'll have to investigate further.  If you're interested, it's a Hamilton Beach 67601A Big Mouth Juicer.

I'm still having soup for my lunch every day.  I'm doing my best to make sure I drink all of the broth with the soup, but I think I need to be drinking more broth.  If I just do an 8 oz. cup with each meal, and plug my nose and chug it, I might be okay.  For some reason, I can't stand to just drink the broth on its own--if it's in soup, no problem.  I just don't find it appealing as a beverage AT ALL.  I just need to find a way around that.

I found that three (and later, two more) jars of broth cracked in the freezer!  I didn't know that they would do that.  Hubby thinks I filled the jars too full, and they expanded too much when they froze.  I think he's right.  Considering how stout Ball jars are, it was a big surprise when I pulled these out.  Needless to say, I didn't keep the jars or the broth, in case there were some little shards that had become embedded in the frozen liquid.  Not good to find in soups!

However, soup is always improved with crackers!  I mentioned in my Stage 3 summary that I had a cracker recipe that I was going to share.  I found the original recipe on Pinterest, but altered it to omit the eggs because it seems that I have a sensitivity to eggs, too.  Here's the recipe:

Almond Crackers (original recipe can be found here)
2 C almond meal/flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large egg (or sub flax meal, like I did--see flax meal package for egg substitution directions)
1 TBSP olive oil
(Optional) Extra sea salt, for sprinkling on top of crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour and salt in bowl.  If using flax meal, prepare that and set aside to soak according to package directions.  Combine egg (or flax mix) and olive oil with dry ingredients to form a ball--dough should hold together and not be crumbly.  Divide the mixture into two balls, and place one ball on a Silpat mat or parchment paper.  Place a second piece of parchment on top of dough, and roll to very thin (the thinner, the crunchier).  Score crackers into squares with a knife or pizza cutter, and move baking mat to a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with extra sea salt.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until crackers start to brown lightly around the edges.  Allow to cool before breaking apart.  Store in a glass jar or airtight container.

Summary of Stage 4:
Continues to get easier.  I really like being able to add almond meal to the ingredient list.  I also like roasting meats and having that other option--boiled meats get so old!  Dinners now are consisting of roasted meats and roasted or boiled veggies, and either an addition of cold-pressed olive oil or coconut oil.   I'm hoping that my insides are very happy with me!  We ended up staying on Stage 4 longer than anticipated not because of any setbacks, but rather because I used all of my grocery money buying food for Stage 3, and had to wait until we got paid again to get groceries for Stages 5 & 6.  I feel that we spend as much on groceries now as we did on groceries and eating out before, so that's probably a wash in cost.  However, our electric bill came, and it was higher than normal, and we wonder if it's because of how much we're using the stove now.  On the weekends, it's in constant use, especially if I'm making bone broth.  I think our water bill will be higher too, because I'm constantly washing dishes and running the dishwasher.  Just another expense, but if it's really helping, it will be worth it!

Wednesday, January 21

Scripture for GAPS Encouragement

Because this diet is a bit of a struggle to get through, at least during the Intro Stages, someone suggested to me to find Scripture verses to think about and meditate on during the frustrating days-- when things don't go right, food doesn't taste good, and I just want to quit.  I thought I'd share them with you, and hope that they speak to you and give you encouragement in whatever you're trying to get through!
*All photos taken at the Creation Museum gardens, Burlington, KY*

Romans 12:1-2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Psalm 150:1-2: 
Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse.  Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.

Colossians 3:17: 
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Joshua 1:9: 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Proverbs 3:5-8: 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.

Isaiah 40:29-31:
He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Philippians 4:13: 
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Sunday, January 18

GAPS, Stage 3 Summary

We entered into Stage 3 around seven days into our diet.  It was a nice change--Stage 3 of GAPS brings some new flavors to the equation, which is wonderful.  Made some interesting discoveries here, such as:

Avocado--I like avocado!  I have never had it before.  If you haven't either, it has a creamy texture, kind of like smooth mashed potatoes.  It has a lingering butter aftertaste.  Definitely a pleasant surprise!  I don't like how quickly they go bad, though, and if I only eat half of one, the other half usually goes to waste.  I did find a suggestion online that someone put a slice of onion in the same container as some uneaten peeled avocado, and it supposedly kept the rest of the avocado from going bad.  I'll have to try it.

GAPS pancakes--these were a bit dry, but better than nothing.  I think I might tweak the recipe a bit, and will probably make them completely differently once fruit is involved (I'm thinking banana).

Scrambled eggs--I was so excited to add these.  I've been wanting scrambled eggs so badly, so I was very disappointed to have nausea a few hours after I ate the eggs.  I must have a sensitivity to egg protein as well as a dairy issue, but that's how it goes, I guess.  Thinking that maybe something just didn't sit right, I tried again a few days later.  While I didn't feel bad a few hours after I ate them that time, I did find myself fairly nauseous again the next morning when I woke up.  I'll have to remove them and wait a few weeks, then try to introduce them again.  Kind of threw a wrench into things. 

Sauerkraut--I was happy to have a successful batch of sauerkraut!  I got the juice out of the first ferment, and had instructions on how to re-ferment to get more juice out of the cabbage, which I did.  However, after that second brine, I found the sauerkraut too salty to eat, so I'll be starting over to make a fresh batch for eating.  We have plenty of juice right now!

Nut butters--I can't tell you how excited I was to add nut butters to the food list!  The thing is, I'm short on time as it is--when would I find time to make my own peanut butter?  So when I went to the grocery store, I checked out all of the peanut butter in the aisle, and what did I find?  Smucker's natural creamy peanut butter, with the only ingredients listed being peanuts and less than 1% salt.  I bought two jars!  Hey, I have to save time where I can, plus it's good!  It actually needs to be refrigerated once it's opened.  I didn't buy any almond butter, and I might attempt to make that one day myself, but for now, jarred peanut butter has been a blessing.

Purchased a juicer--what a great contraption!  It seems to have an incredible motor in it.  It made carrots disappear faster than a rabbit!  I made a small jar of carrot juice with it so far, and look forward to the option of having juices with breakfast soon.

I have a confession: I made crackers to go with my soups.  I borrowed a little from Stage 4 and made almond meal crackers for soups--a Godsend!  They're quite tasty.  I'll try to post the recipe in my Stage 4 summary.

Summary: Despite being able to vary the foods we're eating now, I'm finding it harder as the time goes by to fight cravings, not for sweet foods or bread, but for comfort foods.  It seems like my cravings for things I can't have are increasing, and I don't know if that's normal or not--I haven't found any answers online.  At times I'm fixated on things I would rather have, but can't.  Little Caesar's commercials do not help at all, and it seems like they are on constantly (I'm guessing in preparation for the upcoming Super Bowl).  I think I'm starting to get my appetite back now that I don't have to eat just soup, so that's a plus.  I have noticed that I tend to be hungrier during the day when I'm working.  I think it's stress-related.  However, I'm enjoying not feeling bloated and uncomfortable after eating meals, which happened quite frequently before we started.  That's certainly an improvement!  It is getting easier to follow this plan, though.  I stand by the first two stages being the hardest, and if you can make it through those, you can make it through Intro!

Tuesday, January 13

GAPS Diet, Stage 1 & 2

The GAPS diet is supposed to be a really good diet for healing and sealing your digestive system, especially if you have (or have developed) problems like I have.  I believe that I have leaky gut, which has led to an inability to eat anything dairy-related (a good description of leaky gut can be found here).  I needed to heal my dairy allergy and prevent new ones from developing, so we started the Intro Diet on January 1.  I have to say, I thought I was somewhat prepared, but I knew that it was going to be a lot of work.

That was the understatement of the year (so far).

Meatball soup
The first stage might be considered the hardest; however, there's little difference between the first and second stages, so maybe they should just all be one looong stage.  But it seems to be the foundation for healing, so I won't complain.  We spent a total of 3 days on the first stage, and then four days on the second stage, which consists of eating lots of homemade broth, soups made from the broth, meat, certain veggies, and a lot of fat.  In the second stage you can also add egg yolk to the soups for more protein and nutrients.  I ended up ordering leaf lard online from Tendergrass Farms, and have been using it faithfully to add fat to the already fatty soup stocks--you're supposed to have a large amount of animal fat along with the homemade broth, as both are supposed to contain a lot of healing minerals and nutrients essential for the intestinal lining.  The high fat content also helps to keep you feeling full after you've eaten, and it really did seem to do that for both of us.  In fact, we really had little appetite when we started!  We've come up with several recipes for soup, all of which contain meat, carrots, zucchini, squash, yellow squash, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and leeks.  Soups do get old when you have to use the same ingredients over and over again, but we did come up with one that we really liked: meatball soup!  Recipe at the bottom.

We experienced some die-off symptoms over the first three days, but they seem to have leveled out.  We're both ready for "real food" instead of soup for every meal, but it's so important to remember that this is good for us.  I've had success making sauerkraut, and will be adding the juice to our diet to up the probiotics.  Thanks to my sister for an Amazon gift card and to a friend for recommending the Picklemeister (left)!  It's a great invention, and I had sauerkraut on my first attempt using it.

My summary of Stage 1 & 2:
It's very tough.  It's especially hard when you are completely changing your eating to reflect this healing mindset.  I don't know how families do it together, because it's also incredibly expensive (and we've only been doing what we can, so not 100% following the guidelines), it's time consuming, and the food really isn't that great.  However, my hubby and I have already lost some weight, and and I think I've felt a little better.  Dairy still doesn't agree with me, though, as I found out when I thought it'd be fun to try and add some clarified butter to a bowl of soup one morning.  Oh well.  I think that if you can make it through the first and second stage, you'll be okay. 

Okay, running out of time.  Here's the recipe for the meatball soup:

GAPS-friendly Meatball Soup (still good if you're not on GAPS)

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
2 qts. beef stock
1 qt. water
1 C (8 oz) broccoli florets
1 C (8 oz) cauliflower
1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
2-3 TBSP lard
Salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, thyme, dill to taste
4 cloves chopped garlic

Combine stock, water, broccoli, cauliflower, and onion in a large (7 qt) pot and cook veggies until soft.  While veggies cook, combine ground beef and pork in a bowl with plenty of salt and pepper.  Form into one inch balls and set on a plate.  When veggies are semi-soft, add meatballs, one at a time, to boiling stock.  Allow to continue to cook for another 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.  Add salt, pepper, herbs and garlic and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Yields approximately 6 servings (approximately 12 cups).

Sunday, January 11

GAPS: The Good and The Bad

This is the post that I naively started on January 1, 2015, the first day on the GAPS Intro diet:

"Happy New Year!  2015 is officially here.  We spent New Year's Eve eating lots of things that we were going to have to give up, which was fun and tasty.  Say goodbye to old habits (brownies and cookie dough) and hello to the new ones (soups, fresh meats, veggies)!

Along with ushering in the new year comes our GAPS diet.  I will admit that I still feel overwhelmed with all of the work and prepping that goes into preparing our meals now, even with all that I did beforehand to be ready.  I got up this morning with determination and a loose plan:
Breakfast carrot-squash soup
Drink my mineral water
Make breakfast soup:
Assemble ingredients for other soups and get those started
Make coconut honey bites--a mix of 1 C unrefined solid coconut oil and 2 TBSP raw honey
Attempt a new batch of sauerkraut--Picklemeister
Clean the kitchen as needed, keep washing dishes as used

Whew!  On top of that, I also needed to clean up the kitchen, take out the trash from last night, rearrange the pantry to make some more room for things that were going away for a while, get down our Vitamix that my in-laws gave us, and try to find a place to store the microwave, which is now on the do-not-use list.  I'll miss that convenience.

Veggies prepped for the freezer, for using in soups
I probably won't post daily on this, because time just won't allow it.  I'm keeping a journal, and I might post a once-a-week update and summary of how things are going, along with recipes from the week.  I can honestly say that if it wasn't for this dairy intolerance, I wouldn't embark on this lifestyle change.  But I need to heal it, so here we are.  I truly appreciate my husband's willingness to go through this with me, and I know that we'll feel better.  The first step (and first day) is always the hardest when trying something new and completely unfamiliar, so patience and planning will be essential to our success.  It's not that the food isn't good; I thought my breakfast soup was tasty!  I'm just used to toast and orange juice or cereal for breakfast, and I'll miss those things, at least until the bad bacteria is gone.  I'm looking forward to the good things that we'll be able to eat soon, and I think the coconut honey bites will be a necessary snack for right now."

Oh, that's so cute. 

Since I started that post, I've had literally no time to do much of anything besides sleep, work, cook, eat, shop for more food, and do dishes.  I have had no time at all to post anything here, which I correctly predicted 11 days ago.  I have kept a journal, though, and tracked not only the foods we've eaten, but also our transitions through the first phases and the probiotic dosages that we've been having.  I won't lie, it's been tough.  I'll probably never want to eat soup again when this is all over.  But we're starting to introduce other foods now, which is helpful. 

I'll try to post a few updates for the stages (we're currently in Phase 3) in a few days, just to give anyone new/unfamiliar with all of this an idea of what it's like.  But for now, I have to go make dinner!