Friday, March 29, 2013

This is the Beginning - WEEKS 1-2/Intro Diet Stage 1

We are now in WEEK 2 of our new GAPS diet adventure! I must say that for me, it has been rather painless so far; however, my husband is in serious withdrawal from cutting out all his sugars, starches, and grains. Yesterday he said to me, "This is ridiculous! I need some sweetener in my tea - we've got to do something about this!" (do I sense a hint of desperation in his voice??). But, really, I do understand. I cut out all my sugars 6 months ago (yes, ALL sugars, including honey, agave, and even all fruits for a while) and experienced a similar wild frustration at that time. I can now give my husband the comfort of assuring him that it is a normal experience, and that this too will pass. Eventually.

But really, once you get past the cutting-out-the-carbs part, it really isn't bad. I used to feel starving hungry 24/7, even if I had just eaten a large meal half an hour ago. I was eating 5-6 meals per day (fairly large servings) and still losing weight, or at the least, not putting anything on. In addition, I felt weak and shakey from my constant low blood sugar. Now, I am eating almost "normal" amounts 3-4 times per day and feeling satisfied. I also have increased muscle strength. I even started gaining a little weight (about 5 pounds over two months). Hey, every little sign of the improvement of my health means a lot right now.

Below is a summary of how we have eaten for our first two weeks on GAPS introduction diet, and what I have found helpful.


At first, I didn't realize that you can actually re-use your broth bones over and over again. I was throwing them out after the first pass (oops!). But now, I re-boil them at least 2-3 times before throwing them out. I've heard that you can actually boil them until they dissipate into mush and then eat the mush too... but I haven't felt quite that adventurous yet. Plus, in the beginning stages of the intro diet, Dr. Campbell-McBride suggests that the fatty broths are the best for healing. After the gut begins its healing process, the more mineral-rich bone broths will also be beneficial.

I have set up a 24/7 "brothpot" in my kitchen to keep us in a steady supply. Really, I think this is the only way to keep up with it when you are drinking several cups per day each in addition to the broth in your soups. It is overwhelming! As soon as one batch has finished, it is time to make another. This has worked out really well. It boils even through the night.

For those on a budget (Like me! Both my husband and I were unemployed when we started this...), I have found Costco's organic chicken drumsticks for $1.79/lb to be a life-saver (they also have whole organic chickens for $2.49/lb). I boil the drumsticks in a pot (first pot of broth), pick off the meat and use it in the first pot of broth for soup, then throw the bones in the "brothpot" for round two, and then maybe even round three. This becomes a pretty simple routine after a couple days. Even after the introduction diet, the GAPS protocol still calls for lots of broth and soups with meals, so I anticipate this to be a long-term solution.

When we get tired of chicken, chicken, and more chicken (usually after 2-3 days),  then I brake out my beef marrow bones and "brothpot" them. I have only found them at Whole Foods so far, and they aren't super cheap (about $7 per 2 lb package that makes 2-3 pots of broth when re-used). If you have a local source of grass-fed beef, that would obviously be better. For beef soups, I have been using organic ground beef from Costco, as it is the cheapest way to get it, and I just can't afford 100% grass-fed beef for $7+/lb right now. However, I will say that during these first couple weeks, I have noticed the beef to be more difficult to digest than the chicken. This is another reason to wait until you are tired of chicken, chicken, and more chicken until breaking out the le boeuf.

As for fish, I have not yet found a reliable source of fresh whole fish, including tails, heads, etc. I just haven't taken the time (or had the time!). But I will let you know how it goes if I get to it. One thing to be aware of is that it should be wild-caught if possible, as farmed fish are likely to be fed antibiotics (not what someone with gut dysbiosis needs!) and some sort of modified corn diet. Be sure to ask questions about the quality of the fish you choose.

Moving on...


As I mentioned above, I have been boiling some drumsticks, or sometimes a whole chicken, and picking off the meat for soup before I throw the bones in my "brothpot." I will then add some chopped vegetables, like carrots (organic are cheap by the 5 lb bag at Whole Foods), celery (also a cheap staple), some sort of squash (butternut is our favorite), peas ($6.50 for 5 lb bag at Costco), beets, green beans, etc, etc. Use your imagination within the confines of the vegetable kingdom. I think cabbage family is best to stay away from for the first couple weeks as they are extra gas-producing. Brussels sprouts did not go over well with my husband at first. Cauliflower seemed to be ok, though, if it was cooked well in soup.

For seasoning, stick to the green herbs. I like a little thyme or rosemary in my chicken soups, and a little oregano in my beef soups. Also some salt. Don't hesitate to be generous with salt if you have adrenal problems associated with your gut problems. Do be aware of the kind of salt you use. Many of the store-bought brands have dextrose (sugar), starch, and other additives in them. Go with something natural, like sea salt or himalayan salt. Ask your doctor if you have questions about how much or what kind of salt to use for your particular health conditions. It feels like a pretty important ingredient when all you can eat is soup with some herbs in it!

I have not been following any special recipes for my soups so far, just dumping in whatever veggies I bought for the week that I can find in the fridge. I have personally found this the most stress-free and least time-consuming way of coping with the introduction diet so far. You will doubtless find your own best way of doing things.


I have really been enjoying the water kefir so far! The flavor possibilities are as vast as your imagination and the slight sweetness and fizziness of the drink makes you feel pretty special after being confined to soups and broths for a week or two! I have been following this method for my kefir-making:

  • 1/4 c. kefir grains (per quart - you can double or triple this for a larger batch)
  • 1 quart filtered water
  • 1/4 c. organic white, sucanat, or turbinado sugar
  • 1-2 t. unsulfered molasses

Culture in a glass container with a folded paper towel or coffee filter with a rubber band for keeping the top covered. Let stand undisturbed for 48 hours (at 65-70F). Strain out the grains. Put the strained kefir into old wine bottles or glass jars. Add any of the following:

  • 1/2 c. any flavor fruit juice, or combination
  • Juice of one lemon or one lime
  • 1 T. freshly grated ginger
Cork the bottles and let sit on the counter for a second fermentation for 12-48 hours (depending on the flavors and how you like the taste). Then, place in the fridge for consumption. You can also do the culturing straight in 100% juice. This is very tasty, but it gets rather expensive if you are doing 1-2 quarts every other day or so. You can also do a combination. Keep in mind that once you use your grains in straight juice, they tend to take on that flavor, and are not as good for using in a sugar-water medium any more. I would wait until you have enough grains for a separate juice batch.

My favorite kefir water recipes so far:


  • 75% mixture of 50/50 apple and cranberry juices
  • 25% mixture of sugar water
  • Culture in grains for 48 hours.
  • Second fermentation without any additions for 0-12 hours
  • Refrigerate for 24 hours and drink!

  • 1 quart kefir water that was cultured in sugar water medium for 48 hours; strain out grains
  • Add juice of one lime
  • Add 1/2 c. cranberry juice
  • Second fermentation for 24 hours
  • Refrigerate for 24 hours and drink!

  • 1 quart kefir water that was cultured in sugar water medium with 1 T. sliced fresh ginger for 48 hours; strain out ginger and grains
  • Add 1/2 c. apple juice
  • Add 1T. fresh grated ginger
  • Second fermentation for 24 hours
  • Refrigerate for 24 hours and drink!

As I mentioned above, you don't need special equipment for your kefir water, although the grolsch-style bottles look nice! I have been getting by with old wine bottles and corks, and even a used juice jar from Trader Joe's juice! If you use a jar with a screw top, like the juice jar above, you will just need to let the built up gas from carbonation out every 24 hours or so. Otherwise, you could end up with a juice-bomb (I'm not speaking from personal experience)!


I don't have much to say about this yet, since I just started! We have not tasted our first culture yet. I am attempting a 25% CO2 decaffinated English Breakfast mix with 75% red rooibos. The baby mushroom is just beginning to become visible on top after 7 days of brewing at 65-70F, and the brew is looking cloudy. You can see the mother has sunk to botttom (not a problem).


I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorite fermented foods! It is interesting and fun to make, there are endless variations, and it is hard to believe that something so stinky could end up so tasty!

I used this method and recipe for my first batch:

  • 1 small green cabbage, sliced into very thin strips 
  • 2-3 large carrots, shredded
  • Spice mix: 1-2 T. diced fresh ginger, 1 T. mustard seeds, 2 t. peppercorns, 1 t. sesame seeds, 1T. Coriander seeds, 
  • 1T. sea salt
  • 1/4 c. water kefir grains
  • 1/4-1/2 c. apple juice
  • 3 cabbage leaves, set aside to use for a follower and 
  • Quart-size ziploc w/ filtered water for weight
  • 1/2 gallon jar and lid

I put the cabbage and carrots into a bowl, sprinkled the salt over them, and started bruising them with a heavy wooden spatula (basically, pounding on them again and again). When I got tired of doing that, I took a break for about 30 minutes, then came back and did it again. I did it until the juices were coming out of the cabbage and carrots, almost enough to cover them if you squished them into the jar. Then, I mixed the spices and water kefir grains together and placed half the mixture at the bottom of my jar. Next, I placed half of the cabbage/carrot/salt mixture. Then another layer of the spice and kefir grain mixture. Then the rest of the cabbage/carrot/salt mixture. Then I added the juice and placed the 3 cabbage leaves on top. I used my fist on top of this to press everything down firmly so that it was all under the juices. Lastly, I added the ziploc bag with filtered water for weight, and screwed on the lid. The jar was pretty much jam-packed at this point.

This ferment also produces a lot of gas, so it is important that you either let the air out of the jar regularly, or else choose a lid that is not completely airtight so as to allow it to escape. 

On the first day of fermentation, my jar was ALIVE - fizzing, bubbling, and over-flowing were all present and active! After that, things calmed down. I opened the jar on day three just to check it out and was greeted with was smelled like the worst cabbage fart ever! Yes, unbelievably, this is normal. I was a bit dubious about the prospect of actually eating the stuff at some point, but on day six I changed my mind. I opened the jar, was greeted with a much lesser "fart," and took a taste of the kraut. It actually tasted amazing! Yay, I did it! And without one of those expensive vegetable fermentation set-ups! Yes, I'm  actually excited about fermented vegetables... What am I coming to? 

Today is day seven, and it will go in the fridge today for another week of curing before we dig in for real. Take a look. I used a large old jar from some pickled store-bought vegetables. You can do it too!


In addition to the lovely and diverse collection of home ferments above, the GAPS protocol states that a good-quality probiotic supplement is essential to the gut healing process. There are several links on this blog for where to find these and how to choose them. We have started taking Bio-Kult capsules. We started with 1/2 capsule once a day and have worked up to 1 capsule twice a day over the course of the past two weeks. Eventually, we will work up to a therapeutic dose, which would be 8-10 capsules per day of Bio-Kult (this will be different for other brands). I plan to use several different probiotic supplements to determine which we like best and also to provide our bodies with the best variety of the "good guys." Each kind of supplement uses a different combination of probiotic strains, so it seems wise to circulate these - perhaps a week on one, then a week on a second, and a week on a third, then back to the first one again. I'll let you know how this goes.

I did experience what I think was some die-off reaction when I first introduced the probiotic supplements and foods. I had diarrhea and nausea and brain fogginess for about a week. This is why it is important to start "low and slow" as they say. We started with only a couple tablespoons of water kefir per day in addition to the 1/2 capsule of probiotic supplement. I am now drinking about 4 oz. of water kefir 3 times per day after 2 weeks, and feel like I could add more without any problems. However, when we begin with the kombucha and kefirkraut, we will also start slow. I have just started introducing some of the kraut juices into our foods, and when we get to the introduction diet stage 3, we will begin to eat the actual kraut. Pay attention to your body and do what feels best to you.


This past couple weeks, I definitely spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and frequently felt like I was out of food as soon as I'd finished cooking it! But it has already been worth it. My husband's gas, bloating, and rectal bleeding have all improved. My own gas and abdominal discomfort has subsided considerably too. We are by no means "fixed" yet, and have a long way to go before we are anything like "normal." However, I think we are on the right track.