Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Skinned Knees from Falling Off the Wagon

Do you know what tastes good?

Hot dogs.

If you have a barbeque, what do you need to prepare?

Hot dogs.

If you have family in town on a loverly Sunday what do you have?

A barbeque with hot dogs.

What is not allowed on the GAPS Diet?

Um. Hot dogs. 'Cause they have sugar and other starches in them.

So this weekend was full of half-way fails of the diet. I had (many) hot dogs and a few new potatoes from our garden and way more GAPS legal macaroons than I needed. However, I did not eat any buns or mayonnaise with soy oil or the muffins I made Sunday for my church class. I did eat some of my homemade sauerkraut which hopefully helped.

I certainly felt nasty after the day of gluttony. My belly hurt a lot. So, lesson learned!

I have decided to not hold myself so strictly to the GAPS Intro at this time and start easing into the Full GAPS Diet. There are way more options for food and that makes feeding BuggaBoo easier.

In other news I think I may be sensitive to coconut. I recently went all out and made coconut butter, bought five gallons of coconut oil, and acquired coconut flour for baking. I also made the aforementioned macaroons using dried unsweetened coconut. Coconut oil doesn't seem to cause me any troubles. But any other type of coconut seem to make my throat itch and hurt like I have a cold. I also have difficulty swallowing. I'm really upset by that because coconut is so delicious! I think I'll try some more experiments before I call it quits.

On a happier note I've been able to sneak some meat to BuggaBoo. Having been raised vegan his whole life until very recently BuggaBoo is understandably reluctant to eat meat. He likes bacon and ham and fried chicken skin. Oh, and pork rinds, because I persuaded him to try them on the premise that, "They taste like chicken skin!" He really loves pork rinds. I do too. Oh, and I totally want to try a variation of this recipe for pork rind pancakes. Pork. Rinds.

Right, where was I? Sneaking meat? Okay, I made chicken and pork pancakes. Because BuggaBoo will nearly nearly anything in pancake form. So I combined this recipe for coconut flour pancakes and this recipe for savory chicken pancakes to create a sweet-ish breakfast pancake that just happens to be made mostly of meat. Here's the kinda recipe:

Meh, 1/4-1/3 cup chicken
3-ish eggs
3 Tbsp fat (coconut oil, butter, something solid)
1 1/2" x 1 1/2" section of zucchini, or maybe more. Whatever.
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp honey
coconut flour to thicken

Throw everything in the blender, whiz until smooth. If it's pancake batter consistency then cook it up. If it's not then add the coconut flour a tablespoon at a time until it's thick enough. The coconut flour will make things thick in a hurry so don't add too much.

I fry these up in a cast iron skillet using tallow that I've saved from making bone broth. Tallow rocks for pancakes, I never have them stick. Trust me, the pancakes won't taste funny. And sometimes when I want to I'll put a whole bunch of tallow in the pan and make myself some fritters a la country fair. That's some good stuff.

That's it. I think they would be good with some seasonings like cinnamon or cardamom or cloves. Or all of those. Yum. Also, doing this in a blender beats the eggs enough that it eliminates the need for any baking powder, since baking powder is not GAPS legal. You may notice the lack of milk or other liquid. The zucchini makes up for that nicely since it liquifies in the blender.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sarting the GAPS Diet--In Which I Still Try to Fix Everything With Food

Scatter-brained post ahead!

Ever heard of GAPS? The acronym stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Basically it's the understanding that gut health can affect the rest of your body, including stuff that's "just in your head." ADD? Probably gut related. Autism? Probably gut related. Depression? Gut.

The GAPS Diet is a program you can follow to heal your gut, thereby healing food sensitivities, allergies, mental, and behavioral problems. Many things can damage your digestive tract. The most common are antibiotics, hormonal birth control, chlorinated water, artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, lack of probiotic foods, not being breastfed, and eating improperly prepared foods that contain phytic acid and other anti-nutrients. Whew!

How does this apply to our family? I can't speak for The Hubby because I'm not him and therefore I don't want to air everything of his on the internet, but he's had several courses of antibiotics as a child, ate tons of processed foods and artificial sweeteners, and is diabetic. He's also working nights, which takes such a huge toll on his body and health.

For myself I've also have taken many courses of antibiotics. Looking at the list above I've done everything on it except two things: I was breastfed for a year and I've never taken The Pill.

My kidlets have had it better. They're still both breastfed, BuggaBoo had only one dose of antibiotics in his life (his fever broke right after the dose so we knew it wasn't due to the antibiotics and stopped administering them), they're not vaccinated (thereby decreasing the toxic load on their bodies) and we eat some probiotic containing foods. But I haven't been sprouting and soaking my grains, they eat too much sugar and such, and they are both exhibiting symptoms of food sensitivities.

What are our symptoms? Read on, they're in handy list form!

BuggaBoo's Symptoms

-Major reflux as a baby, will still sometimes spit up food or breast milk at 3.5 years old

All this in 5 minutes, plus more

-Ongoing cradle cap
-Lives for sugars, which negatively impact his behavior and cause extreme mood swings
-Has started to hit himself on the head when frustrated (not sure if this is normal toddler behavior or what)
-"Allergy shiners", dark or red circles around the eyes
-Starting to show sensitivity to noise
-Ongoing vomiting issues with no concrete reason (He started throwing up again Sunday morning, while nursing all over me. Delightful.)
-Often complains of "feeling sick" (our code for nauseous)
-Suspected thrush, but no classical symptoms
-Rotting teeth and malformed jaw

Doozer's Symptoms

-Until recently she wheezed
-Eczema behind and in her ears
-Suspected thrush, but, once again, no classical symptoms
-Yeast diaper rashes when younger

My Symptoms

-Ongoing yeast issues, including skin rashes, slow-to-heal lip splits (taking about 6 weeks), coated tongue, and, erm, the usual for the last 4+ years.
-Intense cravings for sugar and other refined carbohydrates
-Bloating and stomach pain
-Incomplete bowel movements
-Acid reflux
-Extreme fatigue
-99.9999% sure I have hypothyroidism
-Weak teeth despite fluoride treatments
-Sinus issues for, oh, I dunno, since I was about 12. So 15 years. Going dairy free didn't help.
-Brain fog. It cleared up for a bit after I first added fish back into our diet, but now it's back.
-Cradle cap, for as long as I can remember. I've even tried medicated shampoos. Nada.

Due to all of this I decided to try the GAPS Diet. On the 16th of this month I started Phase 1 of the Introduction Diet. It is extremely restrictive. At this stage I am eating:

-Meat and bone broths
-Boiled meat
-The "ooky" stuff left over from making broth, like marrow, chicken skins, cartilage, connective tissue, etc. Eating this stuff is a very important part of the diet.
-Well boiled onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
-Winter and summer squash
-Ginger, chamomile, or mint tea with a small amount of honey
-Sea salt
-Sauerkraut juice (to repopulate my intestinal flora)

The children are eating a less restrictive diet because, well, they're a bit picky. In addition to what they'll eat from the above they're also having:

-Eggs, mostly just the raw yolks
-"Ice cream" from frozen bananas, raw egg yolks, and a bit of honey. Sometimes I add frozen cherries or blackberries.
-Whole milk plain yogurt
-Coconut flour pancakes

The first few days were no fun. I think BuggaBoo was vomiting from a die-off reaction. He also took two long naps on Sunday and was very irritable. I was not a happy camper and felt exhausted. I also had pretty bad headaches, lots of sweating, back and face acne, and a nasty mouth. Doozer was sleepy and cranky. On day three we all seemed to be doing a lot better and I had more energy. Today, Day 5, I'm sleepy again and feel the starts of another headache. My face and back are still breaking out badly.

But I see progress. And that's encouraging. I'm excited to see where this goes and such. I have found for me to feel satisfied on this food I have to eat a lot of fat. My most favorite thing to eat is the "ooky" stuff, but I've been that way since I was a kid. And since all my meat is grassfed the fat tastes so good. Yum! The meat itself is not settling too well for me, but that's okay. I'm perfectly happy to drink broth, snack on veggies, and chow down on "ooky" stuff all day long.

And I've noticed I don't have too many cravings for breads and sweets unless I"m looking at them. This does mean that I have to lay off looking at food blogs (boo!), and it's hard because my dear friend just dropped off some sourdough bread for my family (double boo!). And the kiddos don't quite understand why we're not eating that stuff.

Okay, that about does it for today. Hopefully I'll be a bit more coherent about this later. For now please read these thoughtful posts by Cara at Home, Health, and Happiness, and Jenny at The Nourishing Kitchen. These wonderful ladies wrote about GAPS much better than I did. May I blame it on the detoxing?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Was Featured!

Huzzah! My post on cherries was featured over on GNOWFGLINS & Co. How exciting is that?! I'm feeling pretty good about it. So head on over to this week's Simple Lives Thursday, there are a lot of interesting blogs to check out. Have fun!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Turning Curses into Blessings

Summer is in full swing around here, which mean all of those lovely homesteading activities I fondly dreamed about are actually happening. My thoughts are not so fond now.

My internal monologue hit a swearing peak yesterday while my hair kept getting snagged in the twigs of our apple tree during thinning. As soon as I thought, "Man, why do we have SO MANY apples, I wish we had less," I knew I needed to shift my thinking or risk losing my sanity.

I could curse the fact that we had so many apples to thin out, and the future crop that will need preserving will be so large. Ditto the pears.

Or I can feel blessed because I'll have green apples just in time to make pectin for my raspberry jam. And I'm blessed to have new friends to share my apple crop with, making it manageable and blessing others. Also, how grateful I am to have future food assured and plenty of cool garage space to store fresh apples. Ditto the pears.

I could curse the fact that we planted so much garden this year it was hard to get to it all, and now all our greens are going to seed and turning bitter.

Or I can feel blessed for this opportunity to learn how to eat things out of my comfort zone. I'm grateful for fresh eggs from our hens and nitrate-free bacon from the store that makes eating greens more enjoyable. Also it's a joy to discover that some radishes bloom purple and feel excited for the seeds that are forming to preserve our heirlooms for next season. And now it's time to plant our fall crop, which is fabulous because here in the Pacific Northwest the best gardens are in fall.

I can curse the fact that because of all the things that need to be done I don't always have enough attention to devote to my kids.

Or I can feel blessed for this chance for my children to grow, for them to learn that they don't always need their mommy to play. They are finding joy in working with me (if I can look past the apples that Doozer unnecessarily thinned) and discovering that preserving the harvest can be fun and tasty. They are learning about priorities, and that there are other people in the world besides them. What a wonderful lesson!

In Genesis the Lord tells us that the ground was cursed for our sake. Well, I have learned something new today. A curse is just a blessing looked at from the wrong end. I am naturally a lazy person, so getting the initial gumption to start a new project is daunting. But there is so much joy in finishing it! Not just the first glow of success, but every time I grab another jar of blackberry jam or pull a homemade shirt over BuggaBoo's head or gather eggs from our well-built hen house I have continuing happiness and pride.

We are not a privileged family in the familiar sense, but when I look around me I see my world overflowing with blessings.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Giveaway at Real Food Forager--Coupon to Use Towards Fermented Cod Liver Oil

A while back I talked about how taking cod liver oil helped Doozer to stop wheezing. She's still doing well with her lungs and we're quite happy about that.

Well, over at Real Food Forager they're having a giveaway for a $39 coupon to use towards the purchase of a bottle of emulsified fermented cod liver oil. Woo-hoo! That's something I could use. Fermented cod liver oil is so much better for you than the Nordic Natural stuff we're taking now. It's much more nutrient dense. And if I can get it for less due to winning a coupon, so much the better.

So run over to Real Food Forager and take a look-see. Maybe you'll decide to try for the prize. Best of luck!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Post About Cherries...In Which I'll Probably Gross You Out



Besides the watermelon, is there any fruit more quintessentially summer than cherries? I was visiting my family this past week and I was very happy to learn there was a local orchard that was allowing common people to come in and glean their Bing cherries. My little sister and I jumped all over that, and in the course of two days and a total of about six hours we picked close to a hundred pounds of cherries, which we split between us.

These cherries came from a neglected orchard. My theory, and my sister agrees, is the orchard has been bought by developers, but because there are still empty lots surrounding the orchard they aren't going to the trouble of pulling the trees out until the land is needed. Oh well, we'll gladly take those cherries off their hands.

However, since the orchard is neglected we ran into a little problem.



Cherry maggots.

Ah, yes, the reason cherries are sprayed so heavily. Organic ways do exist to control them, but they're usually not the favored way amongst commercial orchards. And even organic sprays still kill beneficial insects. I estimate that 20-25% of the crop was infected with worms.

So, how to deal with worms? The usual answer is to soak the cherries, forcing the maggots to exit the fruit in an attempt to prevent drowning. The downside to this is your fruit will taste very watery and not very sweet. So, in my case since I don't see the point of eating a watered-down version of cherries, this isn't a viable option. I intend to make some fruit-only jam from part of the crop, and it's essential for the fruit to be as sweet as possible for that to work.

I could sort the cherries. I actually started doing that. It's mind-numbing work, even with the TV in the background. I just couldn't do it. Horrible. You have you check each cherry for a wormhole, it just takes too long in my opinion. Also, since it takes so long many of the non-wormy cherries would have gone bad by the end.

Well, I could cut each cherry open to pit it, and also evict it's resident. This is a slightly better option, but I pitted cherries like this a year or so ago and it's a tedious process. Throw two kids into the mix and it's a recipe for cherry-stained walls, if you catch my drift.


I could not care about the worms.


Hmm, why yech?

Hello, MAGGOT! You know, those writhing, slimy, white things that eat rotting, putrid, dead flesh. But, well, these maggots have been eating sweet cherries. They're made of cherries. Heck, they're even the same texture as cherries.

But, ew, guts. Maggot guts. Seriously? Well, yeah, actually. I eat all sorts of guts. I eat liver, heart, tongue, and would be willing to eat sweetbreads (pancreas or thymus gland), tripe (stomach), and more. I eat clams and oysters whole, and that includes guts. So what makes this so different? And if you eat hot dogs, baloney, and other such food, there's a good chance you're eating organs as well.

But, can I honestly eat a bug? Chances are you already have. Insect parts and rodent hairs are commonly found in food. One estimate is that the average American consumes one to two pounds of insects a year. And I'm sure most of it isn't on purpose.

So, are the cherries even worth it? In situations such as this I like to think of my pioneer ancestors. What would they do if presented with fifty pounds of cherries? I'm sure they would jump all over that. Then they discover that about ten pounds of the cherries contain maggots. I'm thinking they would still eat the cherries, and probably wouldn't fuss too much about eating some worms.

In case you haven't gleaned (pun!) the information yet, I am consciously eating wormy cherries. If you're wondering, they still taste the same.

If you happen to have wormy cherries, here's what you can do with them. My little sister is planning on canning hers. My mom did this when they had a bad maggot year. When you open the jar to eat the cherries you just skim the worms off the top and then serve. No harm no foul.

If you aren't canning cherries this year, like me, then all the other options usually keep the worm inside. I'm not water bath canning because it's not my favorite thing to do. Instead I'm going to convert a large part of my cherries into jam and (shh!) use the inversion method to seal the jars. Throwing them into the blender before jamming should obliterate the worms so I don't have to see them and make a smooth jam. Yum.

Another way of cherry preservation is dehydration. Both of my dehydrators are full of whole pitted cherries. When they're done they'll make great snacks for the kids, and the worm will be invisible due to being dried out too. Bug jerky.

And our last method of saving our cherries is freezing after pitting. These cherries are specifically saved for smoothies. Since they'll be blended there's no chance of running into a whole worm.

But what's the point of saving all these cherries if I can't bring myself to eat them when the time comes? Making sure I can eat wormy cherries is a priority. To accomplish this task I've been eating my fresh cherries. Without checking for worms. I've learned that telling myself "There isn't a worm, there isn't a worm," doesn't work very well. There ARE worms, and it's just a matter of time until I ran into one. Instead I would chant in my head, "You're eating a worm, and that's okay. Just like oysters, just smaller." Ta-da! Mission accomplished, I'm now eating worms. Even The Hubby is on board with this, especially when he saw how much work it took to process the harvest even without worrying for worms.

Have I convinced you to eat wormy cherries? No? Don't worry, I won't be offering my cherry jam to anyone. I'll have plenty of blackberry jam later in the season and I love to share.

Have you decided that eating worms is no big deal? Then come on over and have some pie. Extra protein at no extra cost.


This post has been shared on Simple Lives Thursday.