Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Raw Coconut Date Bars (GAPS Legal)

1/2 c. Chopped walnuts
3 dates, chopped small
4 dried apricots, chopped small
1/3 c. Coconut oil
1/4 c. Almond butter
2 T. Honey
1 t. Coconut flour
2/3-3/4 c. Shredded coconut (finely shredded, unsweetened)
1/8 t. Salt, optional (if you like a sweet and salty flavor)

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly, reserving 3T. shredded coconut only. Optionally, you could also mix all ingredients together in a food processor. Press the mixture into a small glass bake dish (5x7-in size) firmly. Sprinkle reserved shredded coconut on top. Using a fork, press the shredded coconut firmly into the top of the bars. Chill in freezer for 15 min until coconut oil is well-set but bars are not frozen. Cut into 20 bite-sized mini-bars and serve while cool.

GAPS "Corn" Bread

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 8x8-inch bake dish in oven with 2 T. lard or coconut oil to heat.


1c. Almonds
1/2c. Cashews
1/2c. Walnuts

Pulse in food processor until a chunky cornmeal-like consistency. Pour into a medium mixing bowl. Add and mix:

1/2 t. Salt
1/8 t. Baking soda

In blender, add:

1/3 c. Water
1/4 c. Shredded coconut

Blend on high until the water is milky. Add:

4 Eggs
2 T. Honey
1/4c. Coconut oil

Blend on high for about 30 seconds. Add liquid mixture to nut blend and mix together. Add coconut flour to desired consistency (about 1/2 cup) in several stages. Let rest for about 1 minute between additions to evaluate correct consistency, as coconut flour expands after adding. The batter should be thick, but spreadable. Spread batter in hot bake dish with oil in it. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and bottom, and springs back to touch in the center.

Enjoy! Serves 6-8.

Hello Again & Health Update/1.75 Years on GAPS

Double Rainbow, Khuvsgal Province, Mongolia, July 2014
Well, it has been forever since I've had time to post any updates. Life has been full these past months.
We've had moves, job changes, and overseas travel. Yes! We actually travelled overseas this past summer, something that I never would have been strong enough to do just a year and a half ago. We visited my family in Mongolia, where I grew up, and we had a wonderful time. Thankfully, the predominant diet in Mongolia is grass fed meat and broths! We had to "cheat" a little bit while we were there, but for the most part, with some careful planning, we were able to maintain our dietary needs during the trip. I've interspersed some photos from our trip in my post.

So, you ask, how is our health after one and three-quarters years on GAPS?

Before GAPS

After 1.75 Years of GAPS
Well, after being diagnosed with an unspecified protein-losing gastroenteropathy two years ago, my health is 75% improved, I would say. I still have to pace my activity and stress level, and I don't think I'll ever return to my former occupation of emergency room nursing; but I generally feel good. I rarely experience severe fatigue. I rarely have episodes of adrenal stress or anxiety (still occasionally, and I know what my triggers are and how to manage them). I can go for six or more hours without eating during the day and still feel fine. No shakiness, no weakness. I can fast for 12-16 hours at night without feeling anything. I can eat just two meals per day with plenty of healthy fats and veggies and some animal protein and fermented foods, and feel great. I can sleep, usually for ten hours straight; although I occasionally still have interrupted nights and still require a lot of sleep to function well. I can go for ten mile hikes (yes, I said ten). For someone who could barely walk around the block a year and a half ago, that is nothing short of amazing! I have much improved emotional resilience, and much improved ability to handle life stressors. My brain fog is still there, but it is better. I can work part-time in addition to spending about twenty-five hours per week in kitchen and household tasks and several other hours in gardening and yard work. So, yes, I am greatly improved, and very thankful for the health that I have been given to steward. Healing the body after being so low can take many many years, so I am very satisfied with the improvements I've made on GAPS the past one and three-quarters years. Take a look at these comparison photos of me here. You can see the improvement. 

My husband is a bit of a different story. From the beginning, his symptoms were different from mine. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and he didn't feel as bad generally. But he had the chronic loose bloody stools and weight loss. He improved greatly on GAPS for the first eight months or so. His stools decreased to 1-2 per day and to formed consistency. He gained some weight and looked healthier. Then, for unknown reasons, around the one year mark on GAPS, he flared up again, and we have not been able to get him back in full control. He has been consistent with the full GAPS diet, and we even removed some of the full diet foods and regressed him a bit, but with no changes. I was (and truth be told, still am) feeling a little frustrated and concerned. The GAPS dietary protocols and probiotics alone do not seem to be cutting it for him. I consulted Dr. Natasha's FAQ's page and found out that UC can be very stubborn. For patients with difficulty healing, she recommends returning to the introduction diet and eating animal proteins only until improvement is seen. She says it can sometimes take a year of a meat and broth and eggs diet for healing to take place. After a year
and a half of working through the intro diet and strictly following the full GAPS diet, you can imagine this was pretty discouraging news for my husband to hear. But he's persevering with this nutritional healing thing. So about a couple months ago, we put him on an animal protein diet with plenty of broths. We took out eggs for now, unsure if he had developed a sensitivity to them. So he's just doing meats and broths. He has seen some improvement in the past couple months.

I have been doing other research as well, and reading about the use of activated charcoal for UC. I plan to start him on that in the next week. Listen to Your Gut) little book, Natural Treatments for Gut Infection, which discusses the possible infectious component of IBD, and outlines her protocol for treating this with wild oregano oil and probiotic enemas. Since she believes in many of the basic GAPS concepts, her protocol can easily be
incorporated into our GAPS routine. She has an interesting perspective on certain things that Dr. Natasha doesn't address as directly. Such as research that shows an association between Crohn's and specific pathogenic microorganisms, for which she recommends using wild oregano oil in a cyclical pattern for several months at a time over the course of a couple years. Also, she discusses research
Also, I recently read Jini Patel Thompson's (recovered Crohn's patient and author of
that indicates that Crohn's and UC patients may have intolerances to specific strains of probiotic bacteria, and should start by taking one strain at a time to see how it is tolerated, gradually building up to a multi-strain probiotic. She also advocates the use of probiotic retention enemas (an enema that is not expelled, but retained until it is completely absorbed). I hope to try these things for my husband, and will report back on whether we have success.
Khuvsgal Lake, Khuvsgal province, Mongolia, July 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sprouts & Tomatoes/41 Weeks of GAPS - Full Diet

We have been on GAPS for 41 weeks now and counting.  Wow! It has sure gone fast. My husband and I are still seeing improvement on the diet. My energy level, quality of sleep, and other symptoms continue to improve. I am now able to keep up with working part-time, being heavily involved with church, and keeping up with my "part-time job" of cooking at home. Considering I wasn't able to work at all when we started and was struggling to do much of anything else, this is really amazing! My husband has been keeping his ulcerative colitis under control as well. There have been a few flares here and there, but they seem to get less severe as time goes on, and it's nothing that interferes with his normal routine.

If you think the GAPS diet would be helpful to you, but are just feeling really overwhelmed at the prospect, I would encourage you to review one of my earlier posts: "I'm Getting Overwhelmed and I Haven't Even Started Yet."


Top to Bottom: Peas, Broccoli, Garlic
Sprouting has become a highlight for me in our GAPS kitchen. Many sprouts contain up to 30 times the amount of nutrition of organically grown vegetables, which is incredibly significant in and of itself for someone who is malnourished. Additionally, fresh sprouts contain enzymes that help you to digest and utilize your food properly - and, they're delicious! If you can't grow a garden, you can at least grow sprouts.

I like to use the Victorio (click to buy on Amazon) sprouting system because it is easy, affordable, and efficient. So far, I have enjoyed pea, garlic, broccoli, alfalfa, mustard, and radish sprouts. I keep two systems of them going almost continuously, and could really use a couple more sprouting systems than I have because it's easy to eat or juice a whole tray in a single meal.

I like to get my sprouting seeds from The Sprout House or Mountain Rose Herbs, and sometimes on Amazon if I find a good deal. Most seeds are very reasonable. It only takes one to two tablespoons of sprouting seeds per each tray, so one pound of sprouts usually lasts a number of months if you are sprouting moderately often.


If you grew a garden and still had green tomatoes on the vine come fall, don't throw them away! I had probably at least 10 pounds of green cherry tomatoes at the end of the season. I stripped the vines in mid-October and put the tomatoes in a cardboard box in my kitchen under one of my shelves. I was skeptical whether they would all really ripen or not before going bad. But they did! We ate home-grown garden tomatoes on our salads until mid-December! Pretty impressive. You can see a few on the window sill in the sprouting picture above. I set them out in the sun to finish ripening once they began to get some color.

Dill & Scallion Crusted Fish with Mashed Rutabaga

Dill & Scallion Crusted Fish with Mashed Rutabaga

4 Pieces wild caught fish fillets of your choice (tuna pictured)
2 lb. Rutabaga roots
1 Bunch scallions
1 t. Dry dill weed
1/4 c. Almond milk
1/4 c. Coconut oil
Salt to taste

Place fish fillets in a 9x13 inch bake dish. Dollop with 2 T. coconut oil. Sprinkle with dill and salt. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven and sprinkle with most of the chopped scallions (reserve a few). Return to oven on broil (500F) for a few minutes until scallions begin to crisp brown.

Clean and chop rutabaga roots into large cubes and place in medium pot. Pour just enough water over the roots to almost cover them. Boil on medium until very tender when pierced with a fork. Pour off water. Place boiled roots in blender with 1/4 c. almond milk and 2 T. coconut oil. Add salt to taste. Blend until smooth mashed consistency. Add reserved scallions and pulse a few more times to incorporate.

Serve using the extra juices and oils from the fish as a "gravy" for the rutabaga. Serves 2-4.