GAPS Boston Baked Beans

I must apologise for my prolonged absence, I’ve been a very busy girl of late.  Working full time, attending the gym, writing my finance column and cooking all my gosh darn GAPS compliant food really chews through a girl’s time!

To keep up with modern life, you need a lot of energy and I think I’ve found the perfect breakfast for that.  Ever heard the expression “full of beans”?  It means to be full of energy and vitality.  The reasoning behind this phrase, one can only assume, is that beans are a powerhouse of energy.  It’s true, beans and legumes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and that means sustained release energy.  They are also chock-a-block with fibre and are full of protein too.  Add to that, they’re actually a vegetable, so if you’re one of those people who doesn’t much like veggies, just eat some beans and that’s one less carrot you’ll have to face.

Of course, GAPS patients can’t just eat any old beans, in fact there are only two permitted by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride: haricot (navy) beans or lima beans.  Fortunately, these are very adaptable little fellows, particularly the haricot bean, and work their way splendidly into a wide variety of dishes.  I love them tossed through a salad nicoise, mashed with lemon juice and served as a side dish with steak, added to chilli con carne, or in today’s dish, Boston Baked Beans.

GAPS Boston Baked Beans

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dried haricot beans
  • Water for soaking beans
  • 100g nitrite free, organic or free-range bacon, chopped
  • 170g tomato paste
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2Tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2.5 cups water

Method

Day 1

  1. Pick over dried beans, discarding any foreign objects or dodgy looking beans, place in a bowl and cover with water.  Soak for at least 12 hours.

Day 2

  1. Rinse beans thoroughly, discard soaking water;
  2. Place bacon in a large pot and cook over medium hea;t until bacon fat has rendered
  3. Add onion and garlic and sautée until onion is clear;
  4. Add tomato paste, mustard powder and water, stir to combine and bring to boil;
  5. Add dried beans and reduce heat to simmer;
  6. Simmer for an hour or two, until beans are tender (alternately, you can put the lot in the slow cooker all day);
  7. Add honey and stir through just prior to serving.

Sensational!!

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GAPS/Paleo Choc Coconut Fudge – yum!

Coconut oil is oft touted as being a supremely healthy superfood. In fact, this sumptuous saturated fat is reported to be beneficial for heart, thyroid, metabolic and immune system health whist also actually assisting with weight management[i]. Moreover, because coconut oil is rich in caprylic acid, it is a powerful natural fungicide, read to knock off both external fungi like athlete’s foot and internal, like the dreaded candida[ii].  What’s more, unlike olive oil which smokes at a low temperature (and will ruin your expensive non-stick pans!) coconut oil doesn’t break down at high heats, making it a perfect oil to cook with.  Aaaand, because it’s a solid at room temperature, it’s a great dairy-free/vegan substitute for butter in baked goods.  Is there nothing it cannot do?!

Personally, I like to fry and bake with coconut oil but I still didn’t feel I was getting enough in my diet.  Then it occurred to me that chocolate is primarily made of dairy fat and sugar, so what would happen if we replaced those things with coconut oil and say, some honey?  I’ll tell you just what happened- deliciousness!  Medicine has never tasted better.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil (solid)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tbs shredded coconut

Method

  1. Grease a fudge pan with a little coconut oil and line with baking paper.
  2. Place coconut oil, cocoa and honey in a blender or food processor and pulse until just combined, taking care not to over-process or the mix will separate.
  3. Pour mixture into a fudge pan and sprinkle with shaved coconut.
  4. Place pan in refrigerator for at least an hour or until set solid.
  5. Removed fudge from pan and slice into small pieces with a hot, sharp knife.
  6. Store any uneaten fudge (if there is any!) in the refrigerator to avoid melting.


[i] Dr Jospeh Mercola, 02/14/2011, “Coconut Oil Benefits: When Fat Is Good For You”, The Huffington Post, online, URL: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/coconut-oil-benefits_b_821453.html.

[ii] Marek Doyle, 02/09/2012, “Medicinal Uses For Coconut Oil”, LiveStrong.com, online, URL: http://www.livestrong.com/article/213558-medicinal-uses-for-coconut-oil/?utm_source=undefined_R1.

Kefir Creme Fraiche Recipe

Cultured food, as you may have notice, makes up a large part of the GAPS Diet.  It’s oh so important to get those good bacteria back in to your system and while taking probiotic pills can do it, there’s nothing quite like the broad spectrum of goodies you get from eating food au naturale and crème fraiche is a very delicious way to do that.

I can sense your hesitation, I was ginger too.  Dairy is for so many of us with IBS, the enemy.  For some, it’s the lactose that gives them dreadful diarrhoea.  For me, it was the casein, the protein in dairy, that when consumed in bulk, would render me crippled with agonising abdominal pain.  The beauty of the GAPS Diet though is that it heals dairy intolerances and many who could not eat dairy before find that after being on GAPS for a while, all of a sudden they can- no problems.  While I haven’t yet had the courage (the guts?) to try drinking milk, I have slowly introduced crème fraiche, butter and even yoghurt and to my delight, have found that I am no longer experiencing the disabling symptoms I used to.

Crème fraiche literally translates to “fresh cream” which is ironic because that is precisely what it isn’t.  Ok, well it is cream, but it sure aint fresh!  Just as yoghurt ferments when cultures are added, turning it from plain old milk into a thick, delicious treat, crème fraiche is just crème that has been fermented and it’s so easy to make.

Dr Natasha suggests you first begin by making your crème fraiche with a yoghurt starter before progressing to kefir as the bacterial strains in the former are likely to cause fewer die-off reactions (the uncomfortable symptoms experienced when the bad bacteria in the gut are dying- they will put up a fight!).  I however, have never had any luck making my own yoghurt and, unable to find a commercial yoghurt starter, I decided to skip straight to kefir.

My first batch was made using a commercial kefir starter, basically a powder that you stir into the cream.  It worked out quite nicely but I felt as though I hadn’t quite achieved what I’d set out to.  I wanted the real thing but to make real kefir, you need kefir grains- clusters of microbes that eat the sugars in dairy and give off an awesome array of probiotics.  I found a lovely lady on eBay who sells live kefir grains and posts them anywhere in Australia, her username is Tumbletree.

Once I had my kefir grains, it was simply a matter of making a cup of kefir and stirring it through some fresh cream.  A word of warning: do not add kefir grains directly to cream.  You won’t be able to fish them out and not only will you lose your lovely grains (they are re-usable) you won’t be able to enjoy the cream either as it will have microbial clusters in it!  Not pleasant.

Kefir Crème Fraiche

Stuff You Need

  • Kefir grains – about 1 Tbsp
  • 1 cup (250ml) organic, unpasteurised whole milk
  • 500ml organic whole cream
  • Equipment
  • Sterilised jars
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rubber bands or string
  • Fine metal sieve
  • Large bowl

Method

  1. In a sterilisied jar, combine the kefir grains and milk.  Place a square of cheesecloth over the top and secure with a rubber band or some string.
  2. Place your kefir mix in an out of the way corner and leave to ferment for a few days.  If it starts to separate into curds and whey, it’s ready!
  3. Give your kefir mix a good stir and pour through a fine sieve into a large, clean bowl.
  4. Do not discard the grains! – Put these back in the original jar with another cup of milk and start again for your next round of kefir.
  5. Add 500ml cream to the kefir in the bowl and combine thoroughly.
  6. Pour or spoon cream mixture into a sterilised jar, top with a fresh piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or a piece of string.  Do not put the lid on, we want the creme fraiche to be able top breathe!  Now just leave your jar somewhere out of the way, at room temperature, and allow to ferment for a few days.
  7. Once the cream has achieved the tangy taste you want, simply place a lid on the jar and store in the fridge.  Simple!

Kefir crème fraiche is tasty with so many things, sweet and savoury.  Use it in place of yoghurt, fresh cream and sour cream.  I’ll be having it on top of my chilli con carne and with strawberries for dessert- yum!

GAPS Maltese “Widow’s” Soup

Every so often you come across a recipe that changes your repertoire; a bright star against the galaxy of so many average meals.  It’s delicious, easy to make, not too expensive and healthy and before you know it, you’re making it every few weeks and you have the ingredient list saved to memory.  The Maltese dish Soppa Tal Armla was one such dish for me.

I was watching Food Safari do Maltese on SBS one night and saw them prepare this soup. The name literally translates to “widow’s soup” and is so named because it contains no meat, only cheese and beans as proteins.  Presumably in ye olde Malta, widow’s couldn’t afford a bit of meat or fish, not even soup making quality, but she could afford some cracking Maltese cheese.

My version deviates quite a lot from the original recipe, in particular I have added (gasp!) meat and I have sadly had to omit the cheese.  *sad face*  Although the intrinsic flavour of the soup remains through the base ingredients, I feel it’s hardly fair to call it “widow’s soup” when this is clearly the meaty soup of a married (or de facto) woman.  As such, not speaking enough (ok, any) Maltese to change the title to that, I’ve simply dubbed it Maltese soup or, “soppa tal Malta”.

Soppa Tal Malta
(suitable for GAPS Intro Stage 5)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter/ghee
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 1 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup peas
  • ½ a cauliflower cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 1L chicken stock
  • 200g finely shredded chicken (I use the meat I strip off the carcass after making the stock)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Heat butter and ghee in a soup tureen over med-low heat until ghee is liquid
  2. Add onion and fry until clarified
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (only a few seconds, usually)
  4. Add stock, tomato paste, carrots, kohl rabi, cauliflower, peas, parsley and seasoning
  5. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
  6. Add chicken and cook until warm
  7. Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley (I like to stir in some sauerkraut for good measure too, those are the purple pieces you can see in the image)

GAPS Toad In The Hole

When I was a little girl, about 10 years old, my mum bought a children’s cookbook at a library book sale.  It was a British book, with old fashioned oven temperatures, but filled with traditional classic cooking like basic roast beef and coconut ice.  It was my fist cookbook and the recipes I loved in that tome have stuck with me for life.  One such beloved recipe was the aforementioned coconut ice, despite the multitude of burnt hand and mouth injuries incurred… how many times did I stick my fingers in that liquid lava, expecting sweet salvation, only to be rewarded with a skin-peeling scald and a bandaged hand for a week?  Ah, the impulsiveness of youth.  Thankfully however, not all the dishes were quite so dangerous and one that brought me many satisfying meals with minimal war wounds was toad in the hole.

Now those of you who were raised with American cooking would know toad in the hole as an egg, fried in a piece of bread, but I am talking about the old English toad in the hole: sausages, baked in a pudding of fluffy, spongy pancake batter.  The dish works for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is perfect for soaking up gravy and filling up tums.

Sadly, the classic toad in the hole recipe is not GAPS friendly, relying heavily on wheat.  The recipe is easy to remember: 8 sausages, 1 cup self-raising flour, 1 cup milk, 1 egg and a pinch of salt.  The milk aspect is easily altered but substituting wheat flour is tricky.

Without toast, cereal, pancakes, fruit or any of the usual morning fare, GAPS breakfasts be something of an ordeal so when toad in the hole popped in to my head, it became an obsession.  Must… have… toad!

I found some lovely sausages at my local butcher, just meat and garlic, and set about creating my own toad in the hole.  It’s not quite the same as the memories of my childhood, but it is fluffy, spongey and tasty.  Perfect for breakfast on those frosty Winter mornings, piping hot with a side of onion gravy.

GAPS Toad In The Hole

Ingredients

  • 8 grain-free sausages
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 5 organic eggs
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda (not really GAPS legal, but a teensy bit surely won’t hurt…?)
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ghee/coconut oil, melted

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175oC
  2. Pan fry or grill sausages over gentle heat until they are cooked through
  3. Grease ovenproof casserole dish with ghee/coconut oil
  4. Arrange sausages in casserole dish
  5. Combine eggs, almond milk, flours, salt and bicarb soda, mix thoroughly
  6. Pour batter over sausages
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and skewer comes out clean.

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!

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!

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.