Almond Bread

It’s been 3 weeks since I started GAPS but it’s actually been many months since I gave up gluten.  It’s one of those things that’s really, really hard to give up.  6 months later and I still have daily bread cravings.  For some time, I survived on gluten free bread, but it’s a poor substitute at best.  Only edible when toasted, the best gluten free bread I could find still managed to be both squidgy and crumbly at the same time and left me feeling as though I’d eating a small tub of Clag.  Not good.

Nut bread, however, is delicious!  Once the GAPS patient has introduced nuts successfully, they can begin to make nut bread.  Unlike gluten free breads, this is not trying to be something it’s not, this is actually divine in its own right.

A little bit like a bread, a little bit like a cake, this cake has a mildly sweet nutty (funnily enough) flavour and is lovely warm out of the oven, slathered with butter and a drizzle of honey.  The best bit is, however, is that this is the easiest bread you have ever made in your life.  No kneading, no rising!  Just mix it, bake it and eat it.  Ohhhhh yeah.

Almond Bread

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups nut flour (best made by putting your activated nuts in the food processor, but you can just use blanched almond meal if need be)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup ghee or coconut oil, melted
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150oC
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  3. Lift dough out of bowl and place on a greased oven tray, moulding dough into a round, domed shape
  4. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  5. Allow to rest for approx. 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool

Yuuuuum!

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Working with a Chronic Illness – Part 1

 

I haven’t posted every day this week and I do apologise.  I confess, I’ve been exhausted.  You see, I’ve been at work, pretending to be a normal person (shh, don’t tell anyone!) and juggling day-to-day living with the strict requirements of the GAPS Intro diet.  I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not easy!  I’m extremely fortunate to be working part time at the moment in a very flexible role… I really don’t know how or if I could cope doing this with a full time job, but it’s still a highly time-consuming lifestyle.  What with all the boiling of broth, peeling of vegetables, detox baths and dishes, dishes, dishes, GAPS ironically really eats into your time.  I can only imagine how hard it would be for those doing the daily enemas because of course that’s another hour or so in which you simply cannot do anything else and another hour of the day that you lose.  It is lack of time in this modern world that led to the consumption of all the over-processed convenience foods that made us sick in the first place, so it’s no surprise that making quality, whole foods, starting from scratch, is going to take a long time.  Truly, Being on GAPS could be a full time job in and of itself.

 

It’s a funny thing, but I have often said to people that having a chronic illness is a bit like the job from hell.  Your hours are very long and unpredictable.  You are always on call and your boss will and can ring you and demand that you do lengthy shifts at the most inconvenient of times with no notice whatsoever.  The job is dirty and hard and always leaves you mentally and physically exhausted but you get no regards or rewards for your efforts.  The only difference really is that you don’t get paid and you can never quite and that only serves to make it all the more frustrating.  My partner would say to me, after a long week at work, “you must have so much time on your hands, what do you do all day long?  Surely you can work part time at least?”  To which I would simply reply, “I already have a full-time occupation, I’m sick.”

 

When you have an invisible chronic illness, you face so many more trials and tribulations than just your physical ailments, you also have to deal with the constant suspicion and mistrust of the people in your life: partners, family, employers, friends, co-workers and even ignorant GPs.

 

When this whole saga began, I’d just finished studying a graduate diploma while working part time.  I was working full time as a personal assistant while searching for my first full time job as a professional.  A stomach virus hit the office and for some reason, knocked me around a whole lot more than anyone else, but it didn’t actually start having an impact on me until I got my first job as a professional, as a legal advisor for legal aid.

 

When you work in admin, if you’re feeling sick or in pain you can still do a pretty good job.  You can slink into your desk, slouch down in your chair, make yourself a cup of tea and just bang away at the keyboard.  When you work in a high pressure environment, trying to balance the department’s need for efficiency and the desperately high expectations of stressed out and emotional clients, many of whom have mental health issues, you really can’t be off your game.  Trying to listen to everything someone is telling you, taking note of the relevant parts, thinking which legal principles apply and how you’re going to solve their problem, all the while responding to the story appropriately is hard enough at the best of times.  When your body is screaming at you, it is near impossible.

 

There were times I was in so much pain it was all I could do to keep smiling and for a long time, I had daily diarrhoea.  My first office was mercifully close to the bathroom, so my frequent visits went unnoticed but when I was promoted to a bigger room, closed to the manager, that dash to the bathroom after every half-hour interview became my own personal “walk of shame”.

 

And then the nausea started.  I don’t know why the nausea started, nobody does.  I’d felt sick like this before since the dreaded virus and queasiness was a daily occurrence that accompanied the bowel issues, but all of a sudden I started getting violently nauseous every single day.  I would wake up feeling fine, get ready for work and then it would hit.  A hot, churning, gurgling like vomit rising up my throat.  Nothing made it go away.

 

I tried peppermint tea, ginger tea, ginger tablets, sea-sickness tablets and migraine tablets, both medicinal and natural.  I tried relaxation, meditation, eating crackers, even taking a walk, but it just would not ease up.  I tried ceasing and experimenting every variation of my supplements, even going off them altogether for a week but still the nausea would not stop.  My doctor was stumped.  On a couple of occasions I did actually throw up and that only made it worse.  Now I was anxious about being sick and as we all know, anxiety is not good for the stomach.

 

All this time I was trying to work, pushing through the discomfort and embarrassment but quite regularly having to go home early or call in sick.  It was embarrassing to admit illness in the first place and I felt people’s curiosity begin to grow as my absences continued.

 

To cut a long story short (yeah, I know, too late!) I ended up getting to a point where I was waking up nauseous every day and simply could not go on working.  I went on sick leave.

 

I cannot tell you the excrutiating shame, guilt, fear and worry that come from being on extended sick leave.  As every day passed and I did not recover, the level of curiosity from my employer increased and, I have no doubt, the frustration.  I knew I was sick, but did they?  Did they realised I was rocking back and forth on the bathroom floor, clutching my stomach?  Did they know I would run to the bathroom to dry wretch over the toilet only to have nothing come up?  Did they know the agonising pain that gripped my belly, like a demon’s claw, twisting my innards?  I told them, but more to the point, did they believe me?  I can’t say.

 

As time goes by, people expect things of sickness.  Basically, they expect you to either get better or die.  That is the normal pattern.  But chronic illness does not follow that pattern and therein lies the difficulty.  You get sick and you stay sick.  There is no treatment, no medicine and for me, there was not even a diagnosis at this time!  All of this makes your illness look dangerously suspicious to the outside world and most patients are perceptive enough to sense this.  It creates an ugly knock-on effect as the outsiders feel suspicious, the patient senses this and thus feels self-conscious and then the outsiders sense the self-consciousness and misinterpret it as guilt.

 

In any event, this went on for some time.  About 8 weeks in total.  And to add insult to illness, my contract was up for renewal.  I had only been employed as a 6 month contract which had been extended to 12, but that year was nearly over and it was time for my employer to consider whether to keep me or not.  When I was too ill to work with no proper diagnosis, no treatment plan and no definite return date, it was decided I was not a promising prospect and my contract was not renewed.  I do not blame my employers for this decision at all.  Yes, it was disappointing but business is business and for all they knew, I could have been on sick leave for another year!  It would not have been sound practice to renew my contract.

 

Embarrassed, ashamed, anxious and nauseous, I snuck in with my staff pass after hours to clean out my office, kicking myself over how many comforts I had brought from home.  I actually filled 2 small suitcases and a box with all my personal effects (Blankets, jumpers, snack foods and a whole drawer full of medication) which took 2 painstaking trips to the car to remove from the building!  I was invited to come in for farewell coffees and even an office lunch afterwards but the daily nausea still gripped me and I could not face the prospect of sitting white-faced at a table of my peers, shaking while they tried to engage with me, pushing them out of the way as I ran for the bathroom.  The very idea made me queasy and I am sad to say I have not seen those co-workers since.

 

What happened next was when I discovered I had no money and no way of getting any.

The GAPS Diet & Constipation

Potty Talk

Yes, it’s time for another poo-post, I’m sorry.  I experience an uncomfortable reaction at the prospect of documenting my ablutions and my first instinct (my gut instinct?) is not to do so.  It is, however, a totally natural part of life, I mean, we all do it for heaven’s sake!  So why shouldn’t we talk about it?  Ok, it’s unpleasant, distasteful and, the way some people do it, quite gauche but it need not be the case.  Bowel health is critical to all-over health, the gut is intrinsically connected to every other organ and function in your body, it should be spoken about.  I won’t resort to childish and ambiguous euphemisms or juvenile toilet jokes (well, not often, anyway) I will just address this subject factually and clinically and I hope that this will encourage others to do the same.

Bowel Cancer Awareness have been making valuable efforts to reduce the stigma of potty-talk with Bowel Cancer Awareness Week in early June spreading the message to talk about gut health and reduce the embarrassment people feel about this topic.  I particularly enjoyed their catchphrase, “join the bowel movement!”  I thankfully don’t have bowel cancer, but I do believe in the message BCA are putting forward, that we ought not to feel so ashamed about a bodily function for which we are ultimately, not responsible!  Passing solids does not make you a dirty person and if something is not happening quite the way it should down there, you should talk to someone about it.  We should not suffer in silence!

The Bristol Chart, developed by Dr Ken Heaton in the 1990s, is a pretty accurate gauge of gut health.  The scale shows 7 types of stools ranging from constipation to extreme diarrhoea and gives numbers for each deviation.  Basically, your stool should be somewhere in the middle of the spectrum most of the time and if it falls outside those parameters for longer than a couple of months, you need to see a doctor.

Well anyway, as many of you know, I originally came to the doctor with, inter alia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so stool monitoring is something I’ve just come to accept.  I also cast my eye over my cats’ stools too as often as I can (ie. when they go in the tray) because it’s such a good indicator of general health.  I had been constipated for a long time, then had daily diarrhoea for a few months, then back to constipation.  Being “backed up” alone wouldn’t be so bad in and of itself but the agonising, twisting, bring-you-to-your-knees pain that comes from having wind you cannot pass through a blocked tube is crippling.  That’s why I went on GAPS.

The Constipation Situation

Here’s the thing, GAPS made me more constipated.  How do you get more constipated?  Well, you just stop passing anything.  Actually, for the first week on GAPS I didn’t pass any solids whatsoever.  According to Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, this is quite common.  Stage 1 of the Intro Diet is simply boiled meats and meat stocks, soft-boiled non-fibrous vegetables, skins removed, sauerkraut juice and small amounts of fermented dairy if can tolerate it.  Prior to my commencing GAPS, I found I had a reaction to dairy (constipation!  Quel surprise) so I avoided that component for the most part.

Basically, the GAPS Intro has no fibre.  No fibre, are you mad?  That’s what I thought at first too, after all, fibre is what all the GPs, the TV and the gastroenterologist have been ramming down our throats, isn’t it?  Yes, this is true, but for some people, fibre is actually the source of the problem!  Who knew.  The reason it’s so often touted as a miracle is because it literally brushes the walls of your gut, kind of like your teeth, giving you a good clean out.  But for some people, all that brushing and cleaning can actually be a real irritant so the early stages of the GAPS Diet aim to remove any potential irritants to normalise the stool before gradual re-introduction of “normal” foods.  Well, that didn’t work for me and frankly, if something is as unpleasant as eating boiled meat and mushy vegetables and does not have an immediate positive effect, I start looking at alternatives.

The GAPS Intro Diet is complex and a little confusing at times.  The basic principle is this: remove all irritants (Stage 1) and stay on that stage until the stool normalises.  Gradually introduce other foods (Stage 2 onwards) constantly monitoring for reactions.  If any reactions occur, revert to the previous stage.  S, in essence, if your symptoms never go away, you could stay on Stage 1 forever.  Now this is where it gets really confusing… if Stage 1 makes you constipated, what do you do?

I posited this very question to a group of GAPS afficianados and got various different responses, interestingly none of them saying to just stay on Stage 1!  Dr Natasha recommends daily enemas until things start happening on their own.  I am a little bit scared of enemas, they are not a common practice in Australia and I had a heck of a time trying to buy an enema kit (it’s not like in Seinfeld, where Kramer just bought one at the drugstore) they’re simply not available in stores.  I have actually bitten the bullet and ordered one off the internet, but it will take some weeks to arrive.

Other suggestions included increasing the sauerkraut juice, increasing fats in the diet and introducing juicing earlier than the diet normally suggests.

Sauerkraut Juice

According the GAPS book, the patient should begin consuming sauerkraut juice on day 1, having a teaspoon in every bowl of broth (which we have at least with every meal, more often if possible) and increase from there.  Once the patient progresses, you can start eating the kraut itself, but until then, just the juice.

I tried increasing the juice beyond a teaspoon a bowl but it’s actually quite strong tasting and when I poured a tablespoon into a large bowl of broth, I was greeted with what really tasted like a bowl of fermented cabbage juice.  I don’t know if there are people out there who enjoy that kind of thing, but I do not like the flavour enough to drink a litre of it, so I have stayed at 1tsp per bowl of broth and that’s quite enough for me, thank you very much.

More Fat!

I’m still really struggling to get my head around this “fat is good for you” thing, but I’m certainly not complaining.  Unfortunately however, my favourite way to consume fat has always been in conjunction with sugar… think chocolate, cakes, pastries and puddings.  Fat as a savoury, particularly from meat after my years of vegetarianism, was very foreign to me and it’s taken some getting used to just to resist skimming the solids off the surface off the soup but I’m getting there.  I don’t take the fat off when I make my stock, and I try to eat as much of the fat when I eat my meat as I can too.  Did it help?  No, not really.

Dairy Fat

Although I have been off dairy for a few months now, Dr Natasha strongly recommends people who don’t have a true allergy to eat some fermented dairy.  If you don’t have gut symptoms, you can pick and choose, but if you do there are certain rules to follow.

Diarrhoea

Patients with diarrhoea, says the doc’, tend to do better on higher protein/lower fat fermented dairy products like yoghurt and milk kefir.

Constipation

Patients with constipation tend to do better on high fat dairy products like butter and ghee (not fermented) and crème fraiche.  She suggests beginning with crème fraiche made from yoghurt starter and then progressing to kefir starter as the latter is more aggressive and the symptoms of die off from kefir are likely to be more pronounced than yoghurt.  Well, I didn’t have any yoghurt starter but for some reason I did have kefir so I gave that a go, mincing one sachet of commercial starter in with 400g of fresh organic double cream.  It is, I must say, absolutely delicious and something I’ll definitely eat forever, but did it get my insides moving?  Alas, no.

Juicing

Beginning with the juice of one carrot, then progressing to a full cup and then finally adding other vegetables such as beetroot and celery, ginger and mint usually occurs in Stage 4 of the Intro Diet but for patients with chronic constipation, Dr Natasha recommends starting earlier (I heard her say this in a radio interview but it does not appear in the book).

Juice has been a real saving grace for me because frankly, if I didn’t get something fresh across my palate I was going to starve myself to death rather than eat another bowl of slops.  I have discovered a deep love for beetroot and carrot juice and am surprised to discover I actually enjoy the taste of juiced celery!  I have become so addicted to my daily juice that I nearly cried when my juicer had a near-death incident (it’s ok, he survived) and if it gets to about 3pm and I haven’t had my juice yet, I start getting twitchy like a hungry toddler.

But, I hear you asking with baited breath, did it cure the constipation?  You can probably guess from my track record by now.  No, it did not.

Moving Forward

So what did help?  To be honest, it’s a battle only half won and it’s certainly not over yet, but for me, the best treatment thus far has actually been the reintroduction of some fibre into my diet!

I decided, after adhering to Stage 1 for a week and then adding juicing in week 2 that I was simply going to hurl myself off a cliff if I had to continue on this bland diet, waiting for my enema kit to arrive, so I figured I’d do some experimentation.  After all, as the good doctor has been known to say, all bodies are individual and what works for one patient won’t work for another.  The GAPS protocol is correct but as far as the nitty gritty details, you have to find your own equilibrium.  So, that in mind, I kept progressing through the diet, introducing new foods every few days and watching for unusual reactions.

A GAPS patient I chat to online pointed out to me that this could be the source of much inaccuracy.  If the toxins form the previous offending food are still in the digestive tract, they could be causing reactions by absorption through the gut wall.  Thus, it is impossible to know what food is causing what reaction if you are backed up.  While I totally agree with this reasoning (it’s hard to argue with logic) if the main symptom you aim to treat is the constipation itself then it seems silly to remain on a diet that’s known to cause constipation waiting for an enema kit that may never arrive!

So I introduced egg yolks, then the whites, then scrambled eggs in ghee.  Then I introduced stews and (gods be praised!) fresh herbs.  I started eating gravlax and avocado and solid sauerkraut (not just the juice) and none of this made much of a difference until I found nuts.  Activated walnuts, to be precise.  At first they are consumed ground in to a flour and mixed with eggs and mashed pumpkin to make little pancakes and then, if no reactions occur, you can eat them whole.  Well, I love nuts and I didn’t wait very long to start scarfing them by the handful and even though I felt an initial twinge of guilt, I don’t regret a thing now because guess what?  Thanks to those nuts, there was movement at the station.  Toot toot!

The stool is still most definitely not ideal but it is actually coming out and really, when it comes to this kind of thing, the old expression, “better out than in” couldn’t be truer.  Plus, with some movement at least, I’m no longer spending hours in writhing agony as the gas build-up in my bowel threatens to blow a gasket.

I’m going to continue to progress through the GAPS stages and see how I go.  Maybe when my kit arrives I will try the dreaded enema again and see what happens.  Maybe I will remove some foods and revert through the stages backwards if need be but who knows?  Perhaps by then my gut will be normalised by all this lovely healthy food.  Fingers crossed!  Not legs.

Toria’s Nuts!

“Toria’s nuts” says the label on the jar and well may it be correct, but I’m pleased with my efforts today.  I just made me a kilo of activated walnuts and they are yum-a-licious!

So why do we activate nuts on GAPS?  I always thought eating food in its most natural form was the most healthy… turns out I was wrong.  When it comes to nuts, they contain nasty little chemicals in their natural state that can really wreak havoc with a sensitive digestive system.

You see, nuts that are still on the tree don’t want to start sprouting into other nut trees, that would be awkward, so they have a little system.  Each nut contains a chemical, phytic acid, that stops it sprouting which can only be disabled if it gets wet for a prolonged period like, say, if it falls on the ground and then there’s rain.  That’s how we make a plant grow, right?  That’s all very lovely, but a lot of people find that phytic acid really hard to digest and they get all sorts of unpleasant bowel symptoms.

Never had a problem with nuts so you think you shouldn’t care?  Well, you don’t have to, but if you are concerned with how you fuel the luxury vehicle that is your body, listen to this.  Nuts also contain enzyme inhibitors that make it really hard for your body to make protease and trypsin, enzymes essential for digesting your food.  So now it’s not just the nuts giving you the runs, they’re also robbing you of the nutrition you should have had from everything else you ate!

So is the answer give up nuts?  Some pale-lithic lifestyle advocates say yes, but I (and a whole lot of other nutty nut lovers) say heck no.  You just need to soak them!  Here’s what you do:

  1. Get your lovely organic nuts (seasonal, if possible) and toss them in a big bowl.  Dissolve some celtic sea salt on a jug of filtered water and pour over the nuts.  Leave overnight or up to 24 hours.  Dnot be tempted to cram the nuts in a jar before this process as I did… the nuts will swell and expand and get jammed in!
  2. Drain your nuts and spread in single layers on oven trays or in your food dehydrator (if you have one, you lucky duck you!)
  3. Dehydrate your nuts either:
  4. In the oven on the lowest possible setting;
    OR
    In the food dehydrator.

Now they are ready to eat and by golly, they are scrumptious!  The texture is crisp on the outside and less dense inside and the bitterness raw nuts usually have is gone, leaving a mellow almost sweet flavour.  You can grind them up into nut-meal or nut butter, both are great for baking, but I like to curb a naughty sugar craving just watch out, they’re so good it’s hard to stop!

GAPS Intro Zucchini Slice

Still trundling along on the GAPS Intro diet.  My goodness, I’ve never eaten so much meat in my whole life!  I’m pretty pleased to have survived the egg-white challenge, being able to eat eggs again introduces a lot more options in to my diet but by jove, I’ve never eaten so many eggs in my whole life either- phew!  I really don’t like having meat dished for breakfast, so eggs are my best bet, but I’m getting a wee bit sick of them.  Boiled, scrambled, poached and fried, yes there are slight variations, but in the end they are just eggs.  I’m also slowly introducing nuts, which means nut meal is on the cards and I was contemplating this when it struck me- I can make zucchini slice!

Eggs, bacon, zucchini, onion… they’re all totally GAPS Intro friendly!  A good zucchini slice is reminiscent of picnics in Springtime or the warm smells of mum’s kitchen.  It’s an Aussie classic for which I have much love and nostalgia.  Traditional zucchini slice is made of eggs, zucchini and flour and pretty much whatever scrappy bits of bacon of vegetables you have lying around (it’s really good for using up leftovers like that).  Wheat flour is forbidden on GAPS and I am not about to mill my own nut flour, so I started searching around the old inter-webs and I discovered that several paleo cooks use almond meal in zucchini slices!  I decided to give it a go and what I came up with looks, smells and tastes just like I remembered it, if not better.  The only difference is the texture has teensy chunks of almond in it, which i rather like.  I can’t wait for tomorrow morning so I can eat a big chunk of it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 2 large zucchinis, grated
  • 2 large rashers of bacon, rind trimmed, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled & grated
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 mushroom, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200oC
  2. Beat eggs in a large bowl, then add almond meal and mix thoroughly
  3. Add zucchini and carrot to the batter and stir to combine
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add bacon to pan
  5. Once bacon has released some fat into the pan, add onions and mushrooms to pan and fry until bacon is golden and onion is clarified
  6. Add bacon, onion, mushrooms and pan juices to the batter and mix, adding seasoning as you go.
  7. Spread batter into a lasagne pan and bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

I’ll be having a generous wedge for tomorrow morning’s breakfast, possibly with a few slices of avocado.  I’m so excited!

GAPS Week 2: Meal Plan

I have a bit of an admission to make.  That post I made last week about my groceries?  Not quite correct.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t intentionally trying to mislead you into thinking GAPS is cheaper than it is, rather, I had misled myself.  You see, that shopping trolley full of goodness I had, as it turns out, wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy me and I ended up making several trips to many other shops to buy further supplies of meats, veggies and eggs throughout the week.

Wisened form a whole week of GAPS Intro, I am a pro at this now.  I have a much clearer idea of how much food I’m actually going to need to fill me up and keep me (reasonably) happy and have planned enough variety that I won’t throw the towel in and buy myself a chocolate doughnut.

Here’s my meal plan for the week ahead:

SUNDAY
Breakfast: Hot water w lemon juice;Nitrite-free bacon;

Fried organic eggs;

Fried portabella mushroom;

Ghee

Morning snack: Broth w sauerkraut juice
Lunch: Beetroot soup w sauerkraut   juice;Beef meatballs
Afternoon snacks: Beetroot, carrot &   celery juice;Cauliflower mash w ghee;

Broth w sauerkraut juice

Dinner: Lamb shanks w sauerkraut   & parsnip puree
After dinner: 2 tsp crème fraiche;Chamomile tea
MONDAY
Breakfast: Hot water w lemon juice;GAPS zucchini slice;

½ an avocado

Morning snack: Broth w sauerkraut juice
Lunch: Lamb shanks w parsnip puree
Afternoon snacks: Beetroot, carrot &   celery juice;Cauliflower mash w ghee;

Broth w sauerkraut juice

Dinner: Roast chicken Maryland w Celeriac puree;Boiled carrots
2 tsp crème fraiche;Ginger tea
TUESDAY
Breakfast: Hot water w lemon juice;2 boiled eggs;

Sardines in olive oil

Morning snack: Broth w sauerkraut juice
Lunch: GAPS- adapted soppa tal   armla (Maltese “Widow’s soup”)
Afternoon snacks: Beetroot, carrot &   celery juice;½ an avocado;

1 tsp crème fraiche;

Broth w sauerkraut juice

Dinner: Roast pumpkin soup;Beef meatballs (fried);

Soft fried onions;

Sauerkraut

After dinner: 2 tsp crème fraiche;Peppermint tea
WEDNESDAY
Breakfast: Hot water w lemon juice;GAPS pikelets fried in   ghee;

2 tsp crème fraiche;

Drizzle of leatherwood   honey

Morning snack: Broth w sauerkraut juice
Lunch: Zucchini soup;Nut flour bread;

1 boiled egg

Afternoon snacks: Beetroot, carrot &   celery juice;½ an avocado;

2 Tbsp cooked, shredded   tuna;

1 tsp extra virgin olive   oil;

Broth w sauerkraut juice

Dinner: Osso bucco w gremolata;Cauliflower   mash
After dinner: 2 tsp crème fraiche;Chamomile tea
THURSDAY
Breakfast: Hot water w lemon juice;GAPS zucchini slice;

½ an avocado

Morning snack: Broth w sauerkraut juice
Lunch: Osso bucco w cauliflower   mash
Afternoon snacks: Beetroot, carrot &   celery juice;GAPS pikelets w a drizzle   of honey & 1 tsp crème fraiche;

Broth w sauerkraut juice

Dinner: Poached chicken breast in   broth;Steamed bok choy;

Boiled carrots

After dinner: 2 tsp crème fraiche;Ginger tea
FRIDAY
Breakfast: Hot water w lemon juice;Nut flour bread w ghee   & a little honey;

1 boiled egg

Morning snack: Broth w sauerkraut juice
Lunch: Soppa tal armla
Afternoon snacks: Beetroot, carrot &   celery juice;½ an avocado;

2 Tbsp cooked, shredded   tuna;

1 tsp extra virgin olive   oil;

Broth w sauerkraut juice

Dinner: Poached salmon fillets;Cauliflower mash;

Boiled green beans

After dinner: 2 tsp crème fraiche w   drizzle of honey;Ginger tea
SATURDAY
Breakfast: Hot water w lemon juice;Gravlax w dill;

Poached eggs;

1 tbsp crème fraiche

Morning snack: Broth w sauerkraut juice
Lunch: Soppa tal armla
Afternoon snacks: Beetroot, carrot &   celery juice;½ an avocado;

2 Tbsp cooked, shredded   tuna;

1 tsp extra virgin olive   oil;

Broth w sauerkraut juice

Dinner: Whole roast chicken;Onion gravy;

Boiled green beans;

Boiled carrots

After dinner: 2 tsp crème fraiche w   drizzle of honey;Ginger tea;

30ml of my homemade   limoncello if I’m feeling naughty!

How much did this all set me back?  Well, for 2 people, buying the best produce I could find, keeping in mind that IO have my own lemon tree, and having bought a few extra veggies to pickle, that cost me a grand total of $184!!

This just goes to show why we have an obesity epidemic in Australia.  As the cost of living skyrockets, so too does the cost of buying decent, healthy produce like meats, eggs and vegetables.  Sure if I wanted to eat processed cheese on white, homebrand bread, my grocery bill would be much cheaper.  But at what cost my health?

Shopping!

I’ve been on a bit of a shopping bender lately.  Maybe because I can’t indulge myself with food like a duck pizza or a truffle oil pasta, I need to treat myself with “things”.

Nothing soothes a dieter’s soul like clothes shopping.  Here’s hoping I’ll have a body worthy of fashion this Summer!  (Although the GAPS Intro Diet is not about losing weight, I’m certainly not averse to shedding a few kilos!)  My spress is a combination of garb for the coming season and implements to make my dieting easier!  See what you think of them.

Witchery tee shirt

I love this oversized, drapey Witchery tee shirt!  I bought it in classic white to wear with everything and I really think I will.  Its scoop neck is feminine and just a teensy bit sexy and the long, relaxed cut covers up my fatty bits (this is an important consideration when your belly hurts frequently and you just can’t hold it taught).  The semi sheer slub linen fabric will be cool on the hottest of days and is a little more interesting than plain old cotton.

Witchery olive top

Ok, I spent a lot of time in Witchery this week… I also bought this drapey olive top.  It’s just the right balance of provocative and conservative to wear out for drinks and the colour makes my hair and skin come alive.

Gar-Ject

It’s not all about the fashion, I also bought this Gar-ject.  It promises to crush whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic and then scrape the excess out with no need for me to dirty my fingers!  I’m going through a whole lot of garlic lately, so I am hoping this will be as good as it says… I’ll keep you posted!

Pickle-It Jars (2x 1L)

I am so frickin’ excited about these.  Fermented foods are a bit part of the GAPS diet and really, a healthy lifestyle, but my last few batches have been hit and miss.  Dr Natasha herself endorses the Pickl-It jars and they promise to make every ferment perfect, no mould, no spoilage.

Pink blazer

I picked this little beauty up off eBay.  I’ve had my eye on her for a while buy couldn’t justify the purchase.  Then when I read neons are all the rage for Spring, I knew I had my excuse!  Sold.

Thermos Hello Kitty drink bottle

I learned this week that driving to the office while trying to hold a cup of juice is actually quite difficult.  Even in a cup with a lid, there’s always a risk the cup may spill when I hoon around a corner and beetroot is notorious for staining.  This cup is totally leak proof and will keep my freshly made beetroot, carrot and celery juice nice and cool until I want to drink it.

Thermos Hello Kitty food jar

GAPS patients are supposed to drink broth all the time and we’re not allowed to use microwaves!  My office does not have a 4 burner stove, funnily enough, so this has been something I just couldn’t do… until now!  The food jar is spill proof and will keep my broth hot all day.  Plus, it’s super cute.

Stainless steel takeaway cup

I have never been a morning person and when I used to drink coffee (God, how I miss it!) it was usually in the car, on the way to work.  I’m the same now with my herbal teas and lemon drink but the flavour of coffee and peppermint tea have infused into my plastic cup, rendering everything it contains fairly ghastly.  This stainless steel cup (I have the silver) means my tea tastes like tea.  Outrageous!

The Machines You Need to do GAPS

Oh for goodness’ sake… now my stick blender has burnt out too!  I was trying to pulverise some walnuts into a flour and the poor little motor just hiccoughed and stopped.  What is going on around here?  I needed that blender, I really did.

 

Since the passing of my beloved juicer yesterday and the death of my stick blender tonight, I’ve been forced to face the harsh reality that GAPS without machinery is very difficult.  How on earth did people ever juice vegetables before juicers were invented?  It’s not just my juicer either, it was a super-dooper (supposedly) contraption with a juicer attachment, a blender jug and a food processor bowl.  Now that it is in a state of disrepair, I am practically back in the dark ages as far my culinary abilities and while I could easily manage the loss on a “normal” Western diet, the GAPS diet requires so much food preparation it’s really becoming a struggle without it.  As such, I’ve compiled a list of machines and gadgets that are either necessary, in my humble (and lazy) opinion, or highly desirable if you are going on a GAPS or any other such diet.

 

Dishwasher

You’ll just die without one.  Really.  After slow cooking a huge vat of chicken stock, pouring it through the sieve into yet another pot, then ladling it into hundreds of smaller containers to store for individual portions, the dishes really start to stack up.  I currently do 2 full loads of my dishwasher almost every day and that’s only for 2 people!

Blender

Both classic and stick type blenders are invaluable.  After a few days of chunky vegetable soups and mushy boiled vegetables, I guarantee you will be longing for a new texture.  A classic blender is great to pour soups into and blitz into creamy perfection.  A stick blender if perfect for making vegetable purees and in-the-pot blending although, in my experience, the consistency’s never quite as good as the classic blender.  Still, that’s the price of convenience I s’pose.  I imagine you could always buy a whizz-bang model (ironic choice of words, seeing as that’s exactly what my blender did earlier today.  Whizz.  Then, bang!) but I refuse to spend $250 on an item that spends most of its life in my cupboards.

Food processor

This is the king of kitchen appliances.  The food processor can mash, chop, puree and pulverise.  It’s great for chopping onions when you don’t want to get teary, for turning a bunch of basil and olive oil into a divine pesto and for chopping organic meats into chunky home-style mince for when you just can’t for the life of you find organic beef mince and you need meatballs, now!

 

I always came from the school of thought that gadgets like these were ridiculous and people were just being lazy but my how the tables have turned.  One you get a processor, you never go back.

Juicer

In my normal life, the juicer was a luxury, an item that only came out on special weekends for a spot of homemade watermelon and pineapple juice as a treat with brunch.  On the GAPS Intro Diet however, juicing is integral for your health.  Juicing vegetables is the only way you’re going to get certain nutrients, the veggies themselves being too fibrous for the damaged gut lining to accommodate.  Sufferers of constipation are encouraged to introduce juicing into their diet even earlier than recommended, to get things moving and, if all that wasn’t enough, fresh juice tastes marvellous!

Slow cooker

There’s just no way I could have done GAPS without my slow cooker.  Even so called “stay at home mums” need to leave the house and the idea of leaving a pot of simmering liquid on the stove while you’re out of the house fills me with dread.  Similarly, with my manic cats running amok at night, leaving the pot to boil overnight is just stupidly dangerous.  The slow cooker means I can toss everything (even frozen meat!) straight on in, fill ‘er up with water, switch it on and go to work.  When I come back, I have delicious, rich flavoured bouillion   Too easy.

 

I have a slow cooker that also doubles as a pressure cooker and although Dr Natasha does say pressure cookers are naughty as they destroy the food, it has saved my sanity on a couple of occasions when I was making a dish and suddenly realised I’d run out of stock.  The pressure cooker does what the slow cooker can but in only 1 hour.  Gotta’ love that!

Garlic press

Ok, ok, technically not a machine, I know, but without the garlic press you’re going to have a heck of a time chopping all those pungent white bulbs up.  GAPS calls for quite a bit of raw garlic and let me just say, it’s a welcome punch of flavour when you’re so limited in what you can add.

 

 

Right-o, off to the shops tomorrow to buy another stick blender!  Let’s see how long this one can survive the cursed place that is my kitchen…

 

 

Juicing

So according to the GAPS book, you’re not supposed to introduce juice until Stage 4.  Technically speaking, I am only at the beginning of Stage 2 but I am:

a)      Desperate for something fresh; and

b)      I’ll be honest, still really constipated (ouch).

 

One of my lovely online friends in the Facebook GAPS Group told me if constipation is an issue, you should start juicing earlier.  Now, I couldn’t find the official Dr Natasha reference for that, but when you’ve eaten nothing but boiled meat and mashed root vegetables for a week, a little suspension of adherence is easily conjured.

 

As instructed by the book, I began with carrot juice.  Just one carrot at first and then increase gradually to a full cup.  Well I’ve got to say, one carrot does not actually give you much juice- I was surprised!  Those supersized tankards of juice they sell at the groovy little juice bars would have to be 500ml of liquid.  If one carrot gave me about 125ml then a large commercial juice would be like eating a bag or carrots!  *whinnies like a horse*

 

In any event, it turns out carrot juice is surprisingly nice!  Of course, we must remember now that my taste buds are seriously altered right now.  Just as a man who hasn’t seen the light for a month will squint at the dawn, I am overcome by the intense flavours of all the foods I previously took for granted.  Even if it does nothing else for me, I like that GAPS is making me appreciate the simple things a little more.

 

I got up to day 3 of my juicing challenge, eager to finally have a full glass of carrot juice (these are the biggest thrills in my life right now) when the unthinkable happened.  My juicer died.  Well, that’s not entirely true, he had a heart attack and went in to a coma.  There is a chance he may survive although he probably won’t be very pleased with me when I tell him I unplugged him straight away.

 

As it would happen, good Sir Juice-a-lot was still under warranty.  Not the store’s warranty, oh no, that was only for 12 months, but the extended warranty I cleverly purchased.  He is now with the doctors and hopefully, within 2 weeks, he will be back at my side.  As an aside, it is interesting to note that the extended warranty expires in 2 weeks.  I have a theory that manufacturers today are specifically designing electrical goods to function only up until the expiry date of their warranty and no longer as part of a grand money-scheming scam to make me, amongst other things, go buy an new juicer.  I will not yield!

 

In search of juice, I turned to my local supermarket.  I really should know better than to go looking there for what I want, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  I live near a big, ritzy shopping complex and they often stock items other stores don’t, so I felt cautiously optimistic… wrongly, it would seem.  No organic juice of any kind was to be seen and the only vegetable juice I could find that wasn’t chock-laden with apple, grape or orange was this Harvey Fresh carrot juice in a box.  I find it ironic that an item can be heat treated and packed on a shelf for months in a box yet still be called “fresh”, but rather than mount my political high horse and walk out empty handed as is so often the case at the supermarket, I decided to give it a whirl,

I cannot even begin to tell you the difference between this and the real thing.  After 3 days of experimentation, I am by no means a carrot juice connoisseur but this was just horribly wrong!  The texture was viscous like tomato juice and the flavour funky and salty.  The packaging states no added salt but I find it hard to believe.

 

Next stop was the health food store but I was faced with the same sort of overpackaged, pasteurised products as before.  What I needed was something fresh.

 

I found myself at Boost Juice.  Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of Boost.  To me, drinking a giant fruit juice is the same as a can of Coke.  It’s full of sugar you probably don’t need and most likely, you were just thirsty anyway.  Much like the packaged yoghurt craze, I figured this was just another unhealthy product with excellent marketing.  That was until I discovered they do vegetable juice- huzzah!  I got a little bit excited and rather than adding vegetables gradually to the juice, I ordered carrot, beetroot and celery (also, I was a bit embarrassed at ordering pure carrot juice.  Don’t ask me why, it doesn’t make sense!).  At $6.50 a pop it wasn’t the cheapest thing in the world but the cup is so humungous it can easily provide 2 servings.  I now have a cup of juice waiting for me in the fridge for tomorrow and, more importantly, I finally got something fresh.  *ahh*

Ginger Tea

Even if I don’t stay on GAPS, I will take this with me.  Ginger tea has long been heralded as having digestive health properties and it has helped me through the nauseous parts of GAPS Stage 1, but more importantly, it’s actually rather tasty!

Dr Campbell-McBride sings the praises of drinking ginger tea in Gut and Psychology Syndrome and recommends drinking it at regularly.  Now, it can’t be any of that store-bought, dried and dessicated, chemically treated, goodness-knows-how-they-make-it-like-that stuff in a tea bag, no sir.  It’s got to be fresh ginger root, chopped and steeped in boiling water and that’s all.

I figured I was going to get pretty sick of chopping ginger root every time I wanted a drink (especially as ginger tea is good for nausea and nobody wants to chop ginger when they feel chucky) so rather than faff about, I tossed 2 large ginger roots in the food processor and blitz the bedickens out of them.  Perfect, except how long would it keep in the fridge?  I wasn’t sure, so I decided to freeze it and that’s when the light bulb came on.  Why not freeze it in individual portions?  And how better to do that than in an ice cube tray?!

A tablespoon is about the right size for 1 cup of tea and as it just so happens, that’s the size of an ice cube.

I filled my tray with ginger and set it in the freezer overnight.  The next day when I wanted a ginger tea, I simply twisted the tray, popped a cube into my tea infuser mug and added hot water.  Hey presto!

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not really enjoying all of this boiled baloney, but the ginger tea is a deliciously warming drink, gut problem or not.

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