Monday, 12 November 2012

Festive-looking GAPS Dinner

A candy-cane colored meal!

Zuchini ribbons (use a vegetable peeler) stir fried in garlic and oregano with long slices of red pepper.  Dress with white wine vinegar and olive oil, and top with crumbled feta.  (Note: I just discovered that feta is not GAPS legal..too bad because it gives a nice white dusting of 'snow' on top ;)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

GAPS diet complex carbohydrate substitutes

I am all for enjoying a food for what it is, but that said, I find that sometimes you just crave the old stuff.  Here is my round up of carb substitutes:

Mashed potato ~ Mashed cauliflower
(with lemon; don't know why but the lemon seems to make it taste more like potato)

Rice noodles ~ Spaghetti squash
(people always seem to think spag. squash is a sub for wheat so isn't...see below)

Wheat pasta ~ Lentils
(in the old days I used a great wheat pasta made with lentils; sadly I can't have that anymore but for some reason that lentil flavor seems to work well)

Crostini ~ Garlic rubbed eggplant
(rub with garlic, grill, and dip in oil and wine vinegar)

Pasta and potatoes in minestrone soup ~ Well cooked carrots and slightly cooked leeks

Burger Buns ~ Portobello caps
(only works for haute burgers, with a knife and fork)

Am I missing any?  Leave a comment!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A whole roasted chicken for one

Despite appearances, it's unbelievable how practical a roasted chicken is for one person. I thought I would share my method of using a whole roasted chicken.

Meal no. 1 - wings

Meal no. 2 & 3 - quarter chicken; alternately have thighs and legs separately.

Meal no. 4 & 5 - breasts

Meal no. 6 & 7 - soup from bone broth

Saturday, 27 October 2012

GAPS hot chocolate

Cocoa is not on the list of GAPS legal foods.    However, Dr. NCM says it can be used on the full diet. I purchase organic full fat cocoa powder from the bulk store.  It's a deep rich reddish brown unlike what you find at the grocery store.

GAPS Hot Choc - or 'Ho Cho' as my friend calls it.

Heat a can of coconut milk with a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder, honey, salt, and vanilla to taste.

GAPS and the common cold

Last winter, when I was actively doing GAPS, I did not get sick at all.  Of course, this year, after reprehensible eating habits all summer, the season hits and I'm down for the count.  The following are some observations re: GAPS and the common cold

Observation 1: seem to have cured my cold with coconut oil

This is burying the lead, of course, because I think this is a big deal!  I got mildly sick Thursday night, was mildly sick Friday all day, and woke up Saturday feeling like hell (of course).  I was having broth, carrot juice, oranges etc. on Friday but on Saturday had no strength to cook.  Then I thought I would put the purported antiviral properties of coconut oil to the test.

I made a pot of GAPS hot chocolate with coconut milk (next post!), and then remembering something in Dr. NCMs FAQs about drinking carrot juice mixed with coconut oil I tried that too (2 heaping tbsp).  After about an hour my sore throat is gone, my cough has loosened, I'm sneezing less, and my nose has more or less opened up.

I was expecting to languish like this until at least Monday morning but it looks like tomorrow I will be up and about.  Probably making another batch of broth. :)

Observation 2:  Intro is pretty easy to do when you have a cold

If you are GAPS-enlightened, what would you really want to consume with a cold other than stock, soup, and ginger tea with honey?

Of course, in the case of a single person living alone, all of this is provided that you have a crock pot full of broth going, and you have organic carrots in the house for juicing, and other semi-prepared foods ready to go.

Right now I am sitting here hungry, as I have not eaten all day, and dying to order in for dinner, but not wanting to spoil my two days of quasi-close-enough-intro, especially since I am struggling to get myself back on the full diet.  I had planned to have mustard seed crusted salmon and lightly grilled asparagus tonight but I don't feel like cooking or eating that.  I suppose I will lurch down to the kitchen and make myself a vegetable soup of sorts, since all the meat I have is frozen.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Going back on GAPS

Earlier this year I posted about how it`s difficult to maintain GAPS in summer months.  Now that it`s fall, and squash and apples are in season, and I`m actually looking forward to eating soups and stews, I`m still finding it tough to stick with GAPS.

I was very lenient with myself over the summer, eating pretty much whatever I felt like or had time to pick up.  Now that work has calmed down and the leaves are changing color I`m still struggling.

I actually think it may be harder to stop and restart GAPS, than to initially start it.  I`ve noticed some other blog posts about struggles with restarting as well.  The reason I think this is true is that when people first start GAPS they are often desperate.  They may have tried typical Western medicine options, naturopathic options, other dietary options etc. I can say personally that when I started GAPS I was at the end of my rope.  I was so desperate to feel better, I didn`t believe the diet could help me, but I tried one more thing just to say I gave it a shot.

Now I find myself in a position of relative health, but wanting to go on GAPS again because I want to push myself through to a higher degree of health (my thyroid still slows me down sometimes, and I believe some hormonal imbalances need to be corrected).  Its also convenient in winter months, keeps my blood sugar on an even keel, and makes me loose weight without regaining (despite my debauchery this summer).

I`m also already educated about the diet.  So I`m not in a process of indoctrinating myself with Dr. NCM`s presentations, the GAPS book, and other resources.  This means that I`m perhaps not as excited about the diet and the benefits to health are not front of mind.

My solution is to phase myself in for the rest of October and start fresh in November with extreme discipline.  This way I will have good habits in place before the holidays.  I may have to place my debit and credit cards in a bowl of water and freeze them to achieve this, just so I don`t give in to the temptation to buy lunch, but that`s a sacrifice I`m ready to make. (At the end of the day I will save money.)

Has anyone else restarted GAPS and found it hard....leave a comment if you have tips!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Fall and Winter GAPS Meal Plan

This plan should serve my needs from November to March.   Once a week I bake, make a ferment, and do prep work and chopping so its done early and relatively easy.  My lunch is always leftovers from the night before.

*ingredient re-used that week
^ingredient re-used the following week

Week 1

Tomato jam/relish^

Weekday Breakfasts:
Chia seed cereal with dried cranberries and bananas.

Weekday Meals:
Butternut squash, thyme, and leek soup
Ligurian Ministrone (vegetable minestrone with basil and spinach)
Tomato, coconut milk*, and tarragon soup
Pumpkin^, coconut milk, cinnamon soup
Trout with green beans and carrots

Weekend Brunch:
Pear 'sauce' [applesauce made with pears]

Weekend Meals:
Portobello, watercress, lentil soup
Roast chicken^ with sweet peas

Week 2

Pumpkin tarts with walnut crust


Weekday Breakfast:
Applesauce with nuts

Weekday Meals
Cabbage rolls
Thai cashew chicken on spaghetti squash*
Spaghetti squash with bell peppers and feta
Taco salad
Whitefish with capers, olives and tomatoes with beans

Weekend Brunch
Smoked salmon cucumber^ lettuce wraps with horseradish

Weekend Meals:

Grapefruit dill perch with puréed carrots
Roast chicken with mashed cauliflower

Week 3

Lemon Raspberry Loaf 
Almond apricot* muffins


Weekday Breakfast:   
Banana bread with blueberries or walnuts

Weekday Meals:
Antipasto and lentil salad
Sesame chicken thighs with shredded veg salad
Apricot pork with green beans
Thai coconut chicken soup

Charcuterie, cheese^ & sauerkraut

Weekend Brunch
Bacon^ and eggs

Weekend Meals
Mustard seed crusted salmon with mashed cauliflower
Roast beef^ with mushrooms and bell peppers^

Week 4

Date brownies
Cinnamon bun muffins


Weekday Breakfast: 
Bacon, egg, and cheese muffins

Weekday Meals:
Spaghetti squash* with pomodoro sauce
Beef pad khing (ginger stir fry) on spaghetti squash
Sausage, cabbage, and bell pepper stew
Tikka masala on spinach^
Sesame salmon with broccoli

Weekend Brunch
Scrambled eggs

Weekend Meals
Mussels in marinara sauce
Roast chicken with grilled eggplant 

GAPS Butter Chicken

Simmer chicken, coconut milk, tin of tomatoes, butter or ghee, indian spices, onion, garlic, ginger.  Serve over raw spinach instead of rice.

Adventures in fermenting

I posted some time ago about never having attempted to make a home made ferment.  I tried a few this summer and fall with varying degrees of success:

Pickles:  this was the first ferment I attempted and it went ok.  They were over salted and not as tart as I would like, so I think in future I would limit the amount of salt and let them sit on the counter longer.

Turnips and Beets:  accidentally spilled too much salt into the jar, so, like the pickles, these are not tart enough and are over salted. They look pretty though.

Carrots:  these worked really great.  I shredded about four carrots in the food processor, added about a teaspoon of salt and filled the jar up with water.  After about five days on the counter they were perfect, probably because of all the sugar in carrots.  They make a really tasty crunchy topping for other recipes. I'm really enjoying them.

Sauerkraut:  I just made two jars today with the remainder of a cabbage I bought for another recipe.  (One cabbage is way too much for one person without at least three recipes in mind.)  I added a little bit of liquid from the carrot ferment to the sauerkraut jars, and very little salt. We'll see how it goes.

Processing a cabbage

It's harder than it seems.  I bought a cabbage to try out a braised cabbage and sausage recipe, which was great, but then found myself with scads of leftovers.  For next time, here is my plan for using a cabbage in a one person GAPS household:

Outer third - GAPS cabbage rolls, which I would cook, freeze, and bring to work for lunches.  I still need to come up with a good substitute for rice to soften up those little rolls of ground beef...perhaps cauliflower?

Middle third - shred using food processor for sauerkraut.

Inner third - braise or boil for an immediate meal.

This allows me to use a large vegetable in a way that (i) makes best use of all of its parts and (ii) not eat the same thing for a week!  Sauerkraut takes a couple of weeks, cabbage rolls can be thawed much later than that, and I have one immediate meal.  This is important to me with regard to cabbage because I am on GAPS because of a thyroid problem.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Monday, 1 October 2012

GAPS Intro

I'm starting intro again.  I've been really bad all summer due to overwork and I'm pleased to see that my damaging diet over the last few months has not hurt me too badly.  I have decided to reboot and restart intro.

Last time I did intro I wasn't blogging yet (that seems to happen a lot with GAPs - probably because when you start it you are ill and desperate, you have no energy for blogging).

So this will sort of chart my course over the intro.  Will do my best to post meal plans etc.

Intro Day 1

Day 1 got off to a rocky start.  I pulled a jug of broth out of my fridge that had been there a little to long, heated it up for breakfast and lunch, tasted it, and realized it had gone off.   I pulled a new container of stock out of the freezer and left it on the counter to thaw.

Walked to work and had a few almonds and several mugs of green tea with honey.  Not intro, certainly not phase I but it could have been worse.

Lunch was a quinoa chilli.  Very bad, but could not pack a lunch that morning and forgot my cash cards at home.

Dinner was 2 avocados with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice, mixed with sauerkraut, and a mug of stock.  I heated up the thawed stock and poured most of it in a thermos with a clove of garlic for lunch tomorrow.

I will be finishing off the last of a tray of strawberries for dessert.  Or perhaps freezing them for later.

So, here is the meal plan for the next two weeks or so.   Note that one day's dinner is the next day's lunch (the joys of cooking for one!).

Oct 1 - Oct 4

Breakfasts: broth

  • Broth, avocados
  • Butternut squash soup
  • Bok choy soup with egg yolks
  • Scrambled eggs with tomato
Oct 5 - Oct 8

Breakfasts: scrambled eggs, carrot juice (weekend is a great time to use the juicer)
  • Roast chicken (will freeze the breasts)
  • Vegetable soup with zuchini walnut bread
  • Roast turkey (thanksgiving!)
  • Chicken 'noodle' soup
Oct 9 - Oct 12

Breakfasts:  slow cooker applesauce
  • Pumpkin soup with zuchini walnut bread
  • Salmon and mashed cauliflower
  • Chilli (no beans!)
  • Ceaser salad
This takes me to the end of Intro - so then it's on to full GAPS (Minus dairy, in my case.  Post on that to follow)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

GAPS and Vegan?

We all know that GAPS is not a vegan diet, but my sister is visiting this weekend and she is a vegan.  Having voiced my sisterly objections months ago, I will be cooking vegan meals for us this weekend.  I thought it might be interesting to list a few GAPS-legal vegan recipes.  (Leaving out the ones with lentils, as that is the obvious area where vegan and GAPS intersect.)

Stir fried cashews and garlic with carrots, snow peas, red pepper and mushroom. I plan to make this with a tiny touch of soy sauce and agave nectar to give it more of a typical flavor.  Otherwise I will be using coconut oil, dried chilis, and perhaps some veggie broth for flavor.

Vegan tapas - fried almonds, marinated mushrooms, grilled asparagus in lemon juice, grilled eggplant with sofrito, olives.  Could even do carrots bravas instead of potatoes bravas...

The Rawtarian's date brownies - They are DELICIOUS and GAPS legal and vegan if you omit the sweetener...which you can because dates are so sweet.

Update: Kale Salad -  get a bunch of kale, chop it up and put in a big bowl.  Put on sesame oil, white wine vinegar and salt.  Squish and squeeze it together with your hands.  sprinkle shredded carrots and sesame seeds on top.  

Saturday, 30 June 2012

A grown-up GAPS Birthday

-an organic shade-grown americano from a local coffee shop
-an early morning walk along a local beach
-brunch with a friend - smoked turkey and stilton cheese on a scone (excused as it was my birthday)
-flower arrangement - lavender and white flowers from my own garden
-an afternoon of sunbathing with a good book
-cocktail hour - vodka, honey, water, and fresh lemons with grapefruit perrier on the side
-dinner - wine, smoked mozzarella, and marinated roasted vegetables and gluten & antibiotic free sausage
-dessert - whipped cream with sea salt and honey on raspberries, strawberries and blueberries
-evening - strawberry daquiries with honey and vodka under the stars

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Summer on GAPS

It's hard!  Harder than I thought it would be.  Who wants to eat broth and well cooked fruit and veggies in June?  I find myself wanting summery things like hamburgers and salads.  Not that a green salad can't be GAPS  legal, but it's not exactly the easiest thing on your digestive tract, and for me summery salads include things like potato and pasta salad.

Not to mention, summer is when all of the troublesome veggies are in season...the nightshade family, the brassica family, stone fruit.  Again, not that any of those things are not allowed on GAPS, it's just they are associated with the health conditions that prompted me to start GAPS.  I've been cautioned against tomatoes, red peppers, eggplant, zuchini etc. because of my arthritis, and apparently veggies like kale, broccoli and cauliflower, and stone fruits like peaches and cherries can adversely impact thyroid function, if consumed in excess.  (And there are things on this list I do tend to consume in excess...peaches, tomatoes....)  I have noticed in the past that sometimes my overall level of health drops off in summer, and lately I've wondered if there is a connection.

I generally try to offer solutions to problems in my posts, but this is more of a whine/lament than anything else, as I don't have the answer.  To me, in terms of seasonality and ease of application, GAPS is perfect for late fall and winter, when you're really craving things like stews, soups, warm applesauce, squash etc. etc.  I guess the advice I would offer potential GAPS dieters is to be aware that starting in the summer months may be tough!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Six months on GAPS

I've just about hit the six month mark on GAPS, so I've decided it's time for an update.  Here are my impressions:

It's not hard

I was already a decent cook, I was already eating whole foods, I was already eating gluten free.  Switching to GAPs does not have to be painful. 

It's not deprivation

I've eaten more desserts on GAPs then I ever would on a regular basis - and certainly.  Culinary-wise, these have been the best six months of my life.  I even find myself wondering what all the fuss is about Christmas, Easter etc. on GAPs.  The 'traditional' meal is roast meat and veg - skipping the stuffing and potatoes in exchange for good health is no difficulty.  GAPS desserts are often far better than their sugar and wheat laden counterparts.  Even wine and spirits are permissible.  Most good quality cooking is largely GAPS compliant anyway - ok, you can't have the pasta or potatoes, but is that really so hard?

I liked doing Intro more than once..but I didn't follow Intro to a T

I never ate a nut butter pancake, I still haven't made a ferment, but I did eat Stage 1 - 3 soups for about a week each month.  Cycling through a loose version of intro every month felt right for me.  (Versus trying to struggle through all eight phases in one go.)  I used this approach because I always had mad cravings for rich food before my period.  These subsided significantly on GAPS, but, on doctor's orders, I still listen to what my body wants and vary my diet over the month.  I also found I was too tempted to whip through the Intro in days.

I'm glad I didn't start with the Intro

Easing yourself in by eating GAPs for a few weeks first makes a lot of sense.  I did this because I was skeptical, but I think I may have given up had I tried to jump right into intro with probiotics.  NB - I didn't start routinely taking probiotics until I had the diet down.  This meant I had a tiny amount of die off when I went on GAPS, a bit more on Intro, and a bit more when I started probiotics....this die off was bad enough, I'm glad I didn't have the full experience.

It goes beyond health and diet

It got me thinking about food, the handling and treatment of animals, the environment, my environment, and all those subjects that we sometimes avoid because they are unpleasant.  It got me feeling better in my own skin, not just because I'm healthier, but because I'm now confident that listening to what my body wants is the key to eating properly.  I appreciate food and I'm not living in constant misery over my weight. 

As a caveat, I say this having strayed from the diet numerous times.  Months 1, 3 and 4, I was very strict.  (Month 2 was December, so I ate far too much cheese and some chocolate etc. etc.)  But I was finding toward the end of month 4, I was having energy problems.  I was enticed by stories on other blogs about boosting energy by eating carbs.  But I had only been on the diet for six months, and I found that eating carbs pushed me back into the world of severe arthritis pain and thyroid symptoms.  Ultimately, I'm finding that a few gluten free carbs here and there (no more than once a week, and preferably only twice a month) keeps my energy problems at bay while avoiding excessive damage and autoimmune issues.  But I think that the first strict month and going back through Intro regularly are what make this work.  That's my plan for the six months to come.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Storebought sauerkraut

I've never worked up the courage to try and make my own ferments.  In fact, the only fermented food I've had on GAPS is organic kefir, bought commercially, which is contrary to doctor's orders.  Kefir was easy and accessible for me, but I've decided to go off dairy because of other health reasons.

I was soured on sauerkraut from my German great-grandmother's recipe, which my mother would make on occasion as comfort food.  It involved cabbage, sausages, onions and applesauce in a crock pot, no fermenting.  Others may enjoy this combination but I found it vomitose.

Grocery shopping this weekend, I looked around for a GAPS friendly commercial sauerkraut, before I try my hand and making my own.  I happened across one called Kiihne, made in Germany, ingredients are white cabbage and salt.  It's quite good, nice and sour tasting, very finely chopped, so it has a nice texture.  For Ontario readers, I found this at a No Frills store for about $3.

This is my fermenting plan if I ever get the nerve and/or a food processor:

  1. Cucumbers (for pickles!)
  2. Turnips (for lebanese dishes)
  3. Tomato salsa
  4. Red cabbage (pretty sauerkraut)
  5. Misc. veggies - cauliflower, carrots, jalapenos
Ps.  If you know of a great storebought ferment, leave a message, let me know!

Friday, 13 April 2012

GAPS pantry meals

GAPS is all about using food to nourish, so I get that pantry meals are kind of counter to the goal. However, I do occasionally forget to grocery shop and find myself with no veg and a freezer full of frozen meat that needs 6h to thaw before it can become a meal.   Here are a few ideas for when you're starving and didn't think ahead.  [Update:  I will add to these from time to time if I discover a new pantry recipe.]

Nicoise-inspired tuna

Combine can of tuna, capers, black olives, sundried tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic in a pan and stir fry.  Plate over steamed spinach.  [Pre-GAPS I would have made this with pasta.]

Tomato Soup

Simmer jar of passata or tomatoes with a can of coconut milk (and some chicken broth, if you have it defrosted).  Add oregano, garlic powder, sea salt, etc.

Marinated Vegetable and Lentil Salad

Chop olives, mushrooms, capers, marinated artichokes, marinated peppers etc.  Fry in oil and garlic.  Combine with cooked lentils.  Can be served as a salad or hot meal.

Update - Lentils Puttanesca

Echoes the recipe above, but I achingly miss pasta puttanesca on GAPS.  My solution is this!  Puttanesca is certainly a pantry sauce...

Friday, 30 March 2012

Spring and Summer GAPS Recipes

This will be my first summer on GAPS so I'm a little daunted by the concept of eating most things cooked, warm, whatever.  I'll continually update this post with good summer recipes, until I get around to organizing my posts in the links above.

Asian Style Chicken Salad - No Lettuce

Slice mushrooms, snow peas, bell peppers and/or carrots, cooked chicken breast (in my case, from a roasted chicken), onion, ginger, garlic.  Put in a small pot, add honey, fish sauce, bacon fat, salt and heat through.  Can be eaten right away or put in the fridge for a salad the next day.  (You may want to strain it if you do this.)

Thai Style Arugala Beef Salad

Arugala has a spicy nutty flavour that, to my surprise, blended nicely with the other thai flavours.

  1. Prep a bed of arugala on a plate.  Top with some chopped mint.
  2. Fry/roast/grill a thin slice of beef.  Add a squeeze of lime on the beef.
  3. Fry mushrooms, onions and any other veg in copious amounts of garlic, some dried chilli, and some fat.  (I used chicken fat.)
  4. Add some cashews and thai fish sauce to veg to taste.  (Cashews marry nicely with the nuttiness of the arugala.)
  5. Top arugala with beef and veg. Add a dash of lime and thai fish sauce.  Chill and serve cold.  (It gets cold pretty quickly anyway.)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Elegant GAPS Brunch

This is almost an intro brunch, except for the cheese, I guess.

Top a bed of scrambled eggs with a layer of Swiss cheese, a small grilled salmon fillet and chopped fresh parsley and chives.

Alternately, top a bed of parsley with sunnyside up eggs, flake the salmon on top, and garnish with cheese.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Meal planning ad nauseum

In an effort to eat local, organic, GAPS, frugally, that it?  think so.  Anyway in an effort to do all that I've started this year to do a quarterly meal plan.  What I do, is plan out a month's worth of recipes, no repeats, for the particular season, using mainly veggies that are in season for that time of year.  I repeat that monthly plan three times, and then make another one for the next season.  This is why I'm temporarily fed up with meal planning.  So I will use this post to remind myself why I do it.

In general:
  • Theoretically, this lets me shop farmers markets and order organic meat in advance so I don't have to forage for it every week.
  • Realistically, it's a guideline, so that when I'm short of ideas I can just sub in a few recipes if I feel like it, grab my standard grocery list for that week and go. 
  • Ensures that you vary your flavors over the course of the month.  It's easy to get into a rut of roasted meat and buttered veggies on GAPS.  This makes sure I'm mixing up the flavours by eating thai, korean, middle eastern etc.  Laced with broth if possible. :)

When you're cooking for one:
  • The usual trade off here would be the convenience of planning ahead versus the battle over foods that family members like or dislike.  I just have to come up with 30 recipes that look good to me.  
  • I only have to come up with 30 recipes.  Lunch is always last night's leftovers. I don't have to plan for four people's lunch bag the next day.
  • A typical package or bunch or unit size for produce is often too much for one person, e.g. bunch of spinach, pack of mushrooms.  If I'm using something like that, I can plan two meals (which is actually four meals) for that week containing that ingredient.
  • It lets me plan to eat according to my menstrual cycle.  I generally eat lightly at some points and more heavily at others.

Enough meal planning!

Normally I love the weekly ritual of planning meals and making my shopping list. I look for one-pot type recipes, or search for recipes that include the main and the side, or try to complement the main with the side. Normally I just need five to seven recipes each week because I cook a 2 portion dinner at night and then pack up the second portion for lunch the next day.

But I had a busy Saturday and I wasn't in the mood to meal plan before I went grocery shopping. I just wanted to go out and get it done!  This is a bad plan even if you're living on premade frozen food, but it turns out it's relatively easy on GAPS, probably because the choices are so limited. Here was my strategy:

  1. Arrive at store unprepared, with no mental list and no paper list
  2. Cruise the meat and fish section and select 5 protein sources (I picked up an organic chicken, which counts as at least three dinners for one person, ground beef, rainbow trout and salmon)
  3. Walk through the veggie aisle and select 5 main veggies (for me today, this was kale, cucumbers, snow peas, cauliflower, zuchini)
  4. Now that you know what your main veggies are, go back through the veggie aisle and pick up accoutrements for flavor and color (I needed onion, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, bell peppers, tomato and mint)
  5. Pick up the standard stuff you buy every week - eggs, kefir, whatever.

I should mention that this works so well because I'm lucky enough to live in a city with a great local chain of markets that focus entirely on real, fresh food.  They actually defeat the standard "shop the edges of the grocery store" rule because the centre of the store is about five aisles of produce.  And the produce always looks great.  How often does kale just leap off the shelf at you?

So with this, I've come up with the following meals for the week

  • zuchini mushroom lasagne with broth based tomato sauce
  • mashed cauliflower with roast chicken legs
  • trout with kale and orange pepper poacked in chicken broth
  • chicken breasts stir fried with red and green pepper and mushrooms
  • minted cucumber salad with grilled salmon and grilled yellow pepper
Not bad for an ten minute dash through the store! 

My next post will talk about my other strategy for meal planning.  And it will explain why I did NOT feel like doing it today.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Fine Herb Broth

Throw the following in the slow cooker overnight.  Strain, bottle, and freeze.

Bay leaves
Roughly chopped shallots
Crushed garlic cloves
Sea salt
Chicken bones

GAPS diet Roast Beef Sandwich Wrap

I love a roast beef sandwich.  While they doesn't make up for the lack of a nice nutty bread, these sushi-inspired wraps satiated my Sunday afternoon craving for a roast beef sandwich.

Dab some horseradish on some roast beef.  Add a slice of tomato, red onion, matchstick carrot...whatever, this just gets some color in.  Roll up with a slice of romaine and spear with a toothpick.  Throw some worster on the side for dipping.

Airplane friendly GAPS

So I've recently blogged about travelling on GAPS but I thought I'd dedicate a post to plane food - this was a quagmire for me, because I had two five hour flights over the dinner hour, and as yet have not found a good resource on GAPS food for a plane.  So here goes:

On the flight to my destination:

This is the easy part, because in theory you're food shopping in your home town and are thus perhaps more aware of where amenable food can be bought. 

Meal - Dry Chicken Salad

Grilled chicken breast, patted dry (sadly...all that fat gone) and grated parmesan  over a dry premade salad - green mix, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, carrot get the idea.  I picked up the salad at my local grocery store.  I was a bit nervous going through security with this, but I had no problem.

Snack - Cranberries and pumpkin seeds

Filling, sweet and nourishing.  Also, pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, which, for me, is great on an evening flight.  Cranberries are purported to fight infection ...can't hurt right?

On the flight home from my destination

Meal - Salmon-do salad from a local restaurant

Salmon, greens, spring onions.  Hold the dressing and the rice.  


Local organic chocolate made with date sugar, coconut almond bar made with rice syrup (bad, I know), and a few complimentary apples from my hotel. 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Grilled chicken with creamed sundried tomato goat cheese

For when you're craving pasta...

Sometimes I crave the texture of pasta, sometimes I just want that olive oil, oregano, garlic, tomato italian taste.  As I write I'm dining on a delicious creation I came up with this evening.

Grilled chicken with creamed sundried tomato goat cheese

  • Marinate a chicken breast in some oil from the sundried tomatoes and garlic overnight.  Grill the chicken in the marinade with some oregano, sea salt, and red wine vinegar. 
  • Cream some goat cheese with more sundried tomato oil and oregano.  Mix in chopped sundried tomatoes.  
  • Top chicken with creamed goat cheese and plate over some raw baby spinach.  Season to taste.

Travelling on GAPS

I'm planning two, possibly three, trips in the next few months, and I'm still going full swing on the GAPS protocol.  In a previous eating life, I read a very funny diet book that talked about the distinction between travelling for business, vacationing, and visiting.  I will be doing all three, and in all cases, travelling solo.  I'll talk about my plans for each trip on the blog, focusing on the travel part of the trip.  I'll talk about dining out on GAPS in another post.

I'll be on a five hour flight with colleagues to the west coast.  I was initially freaking out about what to eat...planning on winging into an airport restaurant, solo if necessary, as soon as we landed to get some dinner.   I decided against this however, thinking I would bring a series of snacks on the plane, nuts, seeds, fruits, etc.  I realized then that while this may leave me full it would not be terribly nourishing.  I needed a better source of protein. 

Finally I arrived upon the solution of buying a premade salad from the grocery store and topping it with grilled chicken.  I marinated the chicken in sundried tomato oil overnight (see next post) so despite having patted off the (liquid) grease it should be pretty flavorful, if somewhat dry.  I also picked up some organic pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries for a healthy snack.  It was a little expensive, but likely less expensive than plane food and/or airport food.  I hope my colleagues aren't jealous.  :)

As for the plane ride back, I have no idea as yet what I will do.  I usually look up a local grocery store or market when travelling, so hopefully I can pick something up that will suit.  I'll keep posting on the experience.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

GAPS diet Valentine's treat - Strawberries with chocolate ganache

So this blog is GAPS for one, and whether it's clear from my posts or not, I'm single.  I can still enjoy a pretty dessert in the middle of February. 

Combine one part coconut milk, one part coconut oil, and one part honey with two parts melted butter.  Stir in cocoa powder to taste.  Drizzle over strawberries or use as a dip.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Why I stayed on the GAPS diet

I've never seen dietary changes have an impact so quickly.  I expected to have to follow GAPS for six months to a year to see results.  Within days of starting my arthritis pain was gone and my energy levels were soaring.  I could stay up till 10 or 11 o'clock, and be active in the early evening.  I could get out of bed in the morning.  Within three weeks of starting I had just about dropped a pants size and my acne was almost gone.

I should describe the rather strange experience I had with my thyroid.  Just days into the GAPS diet, just after going to bed, I felt a strange popping sensation in my throat, right where the thyroid is.  After the popping sensation I felt an intense wave of pain that subsided very quickly.  That was very close to when my symptoms started going away.  This has happened three or four times since,  when I cycle through the Intro diet, always just after I go to bed.  I have no idea what's going on when this happens.  My naturopath recommended detoxification of the thyroid using special drops (which I did not do).  I wonder if in fact my thyroid is detoxifying via GAPS.

This is a timely post because I've inexplicably had symptoms come flooding back today.  I couldn't focus at work, I have severe pain in the joints of my left arm and right knee, I'm exhausted, and I'm breaking out.  I'm thinking back for the last few days, trying to figure out if I've eaten something I shouldn't.  Here are my guesses:

-too much dairy (cheese and yogurt)
-not enough probiotic (I ran out of capsules and kefir.  I've been relying on yogurt.)
-two plates of thai food last thursday (gluten, grains, bad oils...)
-no broth for awhile
-too much cheese
-ate some kidney beans on the weekend (I'm not sure if they are guess is no.)

In short, too many foods that are just ok, and not enough that will help me heal.  Now that I've reminded myself of my initial experience, it's time to cycle through the Intro again. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Why I started the GAPS diet

I started because I was desperate.  I had autoimmune arthritis that suddenly raged to the point where I could not walk in the morning.  For some time before that, I was continually gaining weight despite walking 10k per day and eating moderately.  I had no energy despite a whole foods diet.  I could not focus well enough to do my job.  I suspected Hashimoto's disease, as it was in my family, but I was dismissed by several doctors, one who only looked at T3 levels and one who hadn't seen bloodwork or done a physical exam.

I had been an academically and professionally ambitious runner who worked extremely hard in every area of life.   I became an obese person with no personal interests except sleep, and no professional ambition beyond getting through the day so I could sleep some more.   I was 26.

After seeing a naturopath, and trying a number of different ways to control what she agreed were Hashimoto's symptoms, there were no naturopathic options left.  I started searching the internet for ways to deal with my thyroid symptoms via diet.  (At this point I had already read about half a dozen books on hypothyroidism and had implemented all of the dietary advice I could find - to no effect.)  Then I found GAPS.

I was initially confused about why a diet for autistic children could help an adult with autoimmune issues.   After further research, I was intrigued, but unconvinced this would help me in any way.  I was already juicing, eating gluten-free, eating food in the form that nature provided, etc. etc.  This just looked like another low carb diet, and having tried those before, I knew that just going low carb would not help with weight loss for a Hashimoto's patient.  (Even though according to every doctor I saw, I was not, in fact, a Hashimoto's patient.)

The GAPS diet just seemed unnecessarily prescriptive.  Do I really need to eat squash and nut butter pancakes to be healthy?  How could drinking broth possibly help with an arthritic knee I've had since the age of two? 

I researched it on and off for about a week.  I happened upon a blog written by someone with thyroid problems and saw her weight loss pictures.  I grudgingly decided to try GAPS, thinking, even if I just loose a little weight, it will take some pressure off my joints and some stress off my thyroid. I decided I would try for a month.  I reasoned that this was one medical intervention couldn't possibly hurt me.  Furthermore, it had been developed by an M.D., who seemed genuinely intellectually curious, (an M.D. and two master's degrees!? and neither of them in business?) and genuinely interested in helping patients the world over.

So, I boiled bones, and drank ginger tea, and ate raw eggs in broth, and drank carrot juice. I experienced a little die off, but I wasn't taking probiotic foods or capsules just yet, so it was not significant.  By the time I was on part 4 of the Intro, which was only about six days into the diet, I felt like a completely different person.  I was stunned that I saw changes as quickly as I did.  Prescription thyroid medication often does not work this quickly.

More on these experiences in my next post.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Spicy food

Reading the Well Fed Homestead, one of my favorite GAPS blogs, I came across a post about how your taste buds 'grow up' on GAPS.  I can relate. 

I could never handle spicy food.  Even mild brand name salsa was often too much for me - the most abrasive thing I would have would be a little bit of black pepper on a poached egg or on a sandwich.  Very Barbara Pym.

This was not a digestive issue - at least, spicy food did not directly cause digestive discomfort - and it wasn't localized pain due to an ulcer or something.  I just couldn't handle the taste, I found it unpalatable.  This has been the case my whole life, but I seemed to get more sensitive with age.  I would have thought the opposite.

Now I am craving spicy food!  Hot sausages, curry, tom yum soup, horseradish, red pepper flakes in sauces and stews.  I'm cooking and enjoying this stuff, which would have been unheard of two months ago.  To my mind, this has to be due to GAPs.   Maybe flora changes in my mouth?  I have no idea.   But it's opened up a whole new range of flavours for me. 

Like I needed another reason to love this protocol. 

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Is. Awful.  Don't do it.

I went out for lunch at a Thai restaurant on a particularly stressful work day.  I loaded two plates full of forbidden foods...rice noodles, spring rolls, pad thai, not to mention the soy, vegetable oil, etc. etc.  And I have to say, its not that I really wanted them or was craving them (pre-GAPs this would have been the case).  I was just at lunch at a place where nothing was allowed, so I cheated.   (I can't really even call it indulging, because compared to GAPS fare this food was sadly lacking.)

I was unconvinced of the veracity of the claim that these foods produce opioid-like substances during digestion, which, for a person with a leaky gut, absorb into the blood and cause symptoms like fatigue, fuzzy thinking etc., in addition to triggering autoimmunity.  I assumed these substances were marginally opioid-like and that the effect was minimal if detectable.  Now that I'm able to compare the way I feel in relatively good health to the way I felt on these foods, I'm convinced. I mean seriously, even though this was just a lunch, the next day I felt like I'd killed a bottle of wine the night before.  

So this is the first downside to GAPS.  It becomes far more difficult to enjoy "ethnic" food from that is heavily based on carbs - Italian, Thai, Indian, etc.  This said, factoring the cost of my lunch, the damage I did with it, and how I felt the next day , I can say now with total confidence that the cheat meal was not worth it.  

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Dr. Campbell-McBride's book

Finally!  I've been waiting three months for the GAPS book from my local library.  My turn came and I rushed to the library after work to check it out.  My own issues are physiological rather than psychological, so I'm waiting for her next GAPS book to actually purchase a resource.   I would love to hear news on when her next book is coming.

My best broth yet

Broccoli stem
Sea salt
Chicken bones

It's darker and sweeter than ordinary chicken broth. It's nice for a break from the chicken/celery/carrots trifecta!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Quick intro breakfast

My goal is to spend one week per month on the Intro Diet, just for that extra bit of healing.  While I love a coconut flour muffin for breakfast the rest of the time, baked goods are not allowed on the early phases of the Intro.  And I'm not about to stand around frying up bacon, eggs, and vegetables for one as I rush off to work in the morning.  What to do?

Slow cooker applesauce.  A great GAPS blog, Well Fed Homestead, has a really good slow cooker applesauce recipe, as well as a slow cooker giveaway right now! 

My own slow cooker is old and banged up, with hairline cracks in the ceramic.  But it did come with a little mini slow cooker. I thought I would never use it.  I think it is intended for warmed dips, but it cooks up a one-bowl breakfast perfectly.  Pre-GAPS, I just threw in some steel cut oats and water before bed and woke up to lovely nutty oatmeal in the morning. 

Now, I make applesauce for one.  I combine apples, clarified butter, and honey in the desired ratio. I allow it to cook over night, give it a brisk stir with a fork in the morning, and I have a hot, Intro-friendly breakfast that takes under 2 minutes to prepare.  It has become one of my GAPS mainstays.  And, breakfast aside, waking up to the smell of baking apples is a treat in itself!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Tired of chicken broth - solutions

I'll preface this by saying that I spent several weeks in November on the Intro, and then another week at the end of December.  

I couldn't eat another spoonful of broth at this point.  Perhaps I've limited myself too much to chicken and turkey broth. But fish stock does not appeal to me.  While I love fish, the concept of miscellaneous fish parts boiling together in a pot makes me want to gag.  Beef is an option.  But at this point the notion of eating more stock does not appeal sufficiently for a trip to the horribly frigid weather.  Finally, I`ve just had it with pureed vegetable soups.

So I've come up with a few solutions to sneak stock into my meals.  Last night I made a sausage stew using cooked plum tomatoes.  As the sausage fat and tomato juice simmered in the bottom of the pan a wave of inspiration hit.  I topped off the stew with chicken broth and it made a delicious thin tomatoey sauce that had no chicken taste.  Tonight, spurred by this success, I used the rest of my tomatoes to make a chicken stock based marinara sauce which I used in a lasagne. (A zuchini noodle lasagne.) 

As for quick lunch fixes at work (all-imporant for an urban professional with unappealing leftovers...) I`m lucky enough to live in a city that has an abundance of pho places.  Pho is avietnamese soup made with various types of meat (including tendon meat!) and vegetables. Hold the rice noodles and its perfect for the GAPS protocol...but even pre-GAPS, its really about the delicious broth.  Best of all, the flavors are totally different from any of my homemade broth recipes, even my chicken/ginger/lemongrass broth. 

So in a nutshell, plain chicken broth wears out its welcome fast.  It`s worth having a few ways to hide it in your GAPS recipe arsenal.


I've been on GAPS for a few more months now, so I have a few more thoughts getting broth in when you're fed up with it.  I also thought summary bullets would be useful:

  • add to sauces, such as tomato sauce
  • use as a base for stews (kind of obvious)
  • use instead of milk to scramble eggs
  • in some cases, it could be used instead of milk for general cooking
  • use as a base for stir frys 
    • this works great for asian-style stir frys, but if your just boiling or cooking veggies and you don't mind some extra liquid, try this.
  • use in savory baking
    • I haven't experimented with this yet, but I have a theory that you could use broth in something like zuchini muffins
    • A pizza crust recipe that I snagged off another blog calls for yogurt.  I bet I could sub in a thicker broth instead
  • if you're not on GAPS, and you're consuming soaked or unsoaked grains, rice cooked in broth is delicious (too bad its not allowed)
  • Update - cook lentils in broth!