Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GAPS Birthday Party

Well this is a terrible picture but I didn't get any good ones - I was having too much fun! The Monkey (irl Alice), wanted a party for her 4th Birthday. I thought a Tea Party would be really fun. And yes, I even got her an 'Alice' dress to wear (you're only 4 once).

I made fresh apple juice for the 'tea'. They used toothpicks to pick up the strawberries, grapes, nitrate-free ham (slices were halved and then folded into triangles), and organic string cheese (that had been sliced into little rounds). We filled up the sugar bowl of the tea set with dates and filled the two cream containers with crispy nuts and dried strawberries.

Each little girl also had a personal serving of chocolate creme. I made this recipe for chocolate frosting and then mixed in coconut cream (chill two cans of full fat coconut milk, then scrape off the top 2/3rds of solidified 'cream'). For individual serving cups I used 4 oz mason jars. They were cute and gave the girls a reason to use the spoon that comes with the tea set.

For the 'cake', I made mini carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting (I used labneh for the cream cheese but it was pretty drippy). The Monkey had a regular sized muffin with candles in it when it was time to sing and we did a bigger pancake-sized cake for her family birthday party that I'd made with leftover batter from the muffins.

We had 6 girls at the table (including Alice). I bought this tea set as a present for her and then we borrowed the other two place settings and teapot and cream container from a friend who had a gorgeous Strawberry Shortcake set. 

The girls seemed to really enjoy the party. We decorated party hats first but most didn't choose to wear them to the table (maybe they would have if I'd made these instead). We helped them get started at the table with a serving of everything and then left them to themselves - which is when the giggling got going. After the tea party, we opened presents and then put on some music for a dance party. It lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. 

It was very fun and honestly not that much work to put on. I think keeping it small helped that a lot. I'm mostly just so proud that I put on a good party that was also GAPS friendly. Next year though, I'm making the real carrot cake recipe. Um, boy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cardamom Cupcakes (GAPS)

I made these cupcakes for the Baby Boy's birthday. The frosting was a failed attempt at marshmallow creme. It worked brilliantly the first time I made it but this time it didn't fluff up. It still tasted good, but not at all like marshmallows. My kitchen scale needs a new battery so I think I just didn't use enough honey.

The better news is that the cupcakes were great. They were V's favorite version of a coconut flour cupcake/muffin. A close second are the honey buttered ones. Most of the rest of my coconut flour attempts are failures - they usually just taste like eggs. I will definitely be making these again though - as soon as I get some more cardamom. And find the ground stuff. It took for-e-ver to get all enough of the spice out of the pods.

GAPS Intro in Hindsight

I've been meaning to post my thoughts about the Intro now that it's over with. I'm really glad I did it. I'm also really glad it's over. I feel like I could have stuck it out a lot longer if I didn't have a family to feed. They ate what I was eating but weren't nearly as happy about it. And I couldn't handle doing two meal plans. So I just moved thru as quickly as possible.

I think I spent 4,5,3,4 days on each of the first 4 phases, respectively. After phase 4, I just added one thing a day and kept going until we were on full gaps. Which didn't take long. I didn't notice any adverse reactions when adding things but I know I would have felt more healing if I'd stayed on the beginning phases longer or added things back in slower. My general feeling is that I did 'too much, too soon'.

Currently, I'm still off dairy, grains, sugar, and anything processed. We go thru a ton of produce. I'm using all-natural products and using a tongue scrapper and a skin brush. I do fresh juice or a green smoothie every morning and take BioKult and fermented cod liver oil daily. I eat soup at least every other day and am still very sparing with grain-free baked goods and honey.

I need to do a much better job of keeping up with the 'protocol'. Mostly drinking the broth and eating soup every day. I found a bunch of new soup recipes I'm interested in so hopefully that will help. And I'm going to try my sister HOF's recommendation to reduce my broth so I don't have to drink as much of it to get the same benefit. And I need to get back in the habit of doing detox baths. I think those helped me a lot.

We started gaps almost 6 weeks ago. It feels so much longer than that. The most dramatic improvements for me have been my increased energy level and my weight loss - which are probably related. I've lost 20 lbs and haven't had this much energy for a few years at least. It's so nice to feel rested when I wake up and have energy for the day. My memory seems to have improved and a post-nasal drip issue has been resolved too (that I didn't even know was there until it was gone - my head feels so clear!).

And there's a new level of confidence in my will power. Honestly I haven't been very cravy or felt deprived at all. But just the whole experience of sticking with Intro has me rethinking what other areas of my life could use a re-haul - early to bed and early to rise is the big for me one right now.

Diet-wise, I'm ready to start eating less meat. It just doesn't sound good to me lately. My plan is to up the broth consumption and start using lentils and more white navy beans. I'm also adding in more coconut milk and in a few short weeks, I can try to reintroduce dairy. The rest of the family eats yogurt daily but I'm doing the full 6-week dairy cleanse so I'm not quite there yet.

All in all, I'm really proud of us. I did the best I could. I had some great results. I fit into my skinny jeans. I've successfully not gone out to eat for over a month. And I finally feel like I understand the difference between GAPS and other grain-free diets. I don't want to speak too soon, but I really feel no desire to 'cheat' on grains or sugar. Having done Intro, there seems to be a lot more to lose by falling off the bandwagon now than earlier this year when we kept starting and stopping our full gaps programs. So I'm feeling really hopeful that we'll make it the whole year.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Whipped Broccoli

I love fake mashed potatoes with cauliflower - so I tried that same method with half cauliflower, half broccoli and it worked really well. If you're doing pure broccoli, make sure to drain it well or it will seem pasty (from experience). Basically, boil or steam the cauliflower and/or broccoli until soft. Add to your food processor with lots of ghee (or butter if you can have it), add sea salt and whip until smooth.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Simple Salad Epiphany

This was my lunch today. And it was amazingly filling. Simple salad greens, boiled egg, avocado, crispy walnuts, and some heirloom tomato I found at Mother's yesterday. It's a little early still but it smelled right and it tasted pretty good. The tomato. The salad as a whole was very satisfying.

I read this book a few nights ago called How to Cook Without a Book. I got a lot of good ideas out of it but the biggest change so far is that I have removed making salad dressing from my list of duties. I like to eat salads but I always dread making the dressings. I don't have a good reason for this. They're not hard. They just seem like one more thing that I don't want to deal with while making dinner.

Anyway, no more. Now I simply drizzle some olive oil over my greens, grind a little salt and a lot of pepper onto them, and massage them well with my (clean) fingers. Then I sprinkle some acid over the top (half a lemon of juice, or some red wine vinegar) and I'm done. If I add a lot of toppings after that, I like to add some more pepper on the top again. The technique in the book has you add the toppings before the massage step but I don't like it that way.

The couple of people I've told my exciting no-dressing shortcut news to actually already do it this way. So I guess I'm slow to join the club but seriously, I feel such a relief that I don't have to stop dinner prep to make a vinaigrette anymore. Hopefully this means we'll be eating more salads!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pumpkin Bake

I've been making a generic squash bake a lot lately because it's one of the few things that Baby Boy will go to town on. And that's a good thing because he could use some more chunk on him. Well, tonight I got a little fancier and succumbed to putting honey in it and used canned organic pumpkin instead of home baked kabocha squash and it was soooo much better. We've eaten half the pan already. I love this stuff. The amounts on this are approximations because I was just dumping stuff into the food processor but it should be close enough to help me make it again.

2 cans organic pumpkin (15 oz)
10 eggs
1/2 cup ghee (or coconut oil or butter)
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
crispy walnuts

Put all but the walnuts and last bit of honey in the food processor and process until well blended. Pour into a greased 9x13 pyrex. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts and drizzle with honey. Bake at 350' for 45 minutes or until the fork comes out clean. It is a bit soft - more like firm pudding than cake.

The generic version was the same method with 2 kabocha squash cooked and scooped, 8 eggs, ghee, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla. I would serve it with a tsp of honey on the plate for the Monkey to dip her bites into or with a little bit of honey drizzled on the top.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Beet Chips

Go here for this recipe for beet chips. I found the recipe a while ago and felt up to destroying the kitchen tonight so I went for it. V entertained the kids nicely outside while I deep-fried in the kitchen. And then we had delicious burgers with chips for dinner.

Next time I would slice the beets a bit thicker. And prep fewer beets. Two beets would have been plenty for tonight and I sliced 5. I actually quit frying them after about 2.5 so I'm going to experiment with freezing some of the uncooked slices. If by some miracle they thaw and still fry up well, I could make this recipe more often. As it is, it's just too much prep and cook time for anything but special occasions with few eaters.

They were really good though. The sweetness of the beet really comes thru. I'm definitely making them again. I'm also interested to see how the leftovers keep for tomorrow. Yum. Yum.