Monday, December 28, 2015

But How Do I Afford the GAPS Diet? Ideas for Keeping Costs Down

Our Story

My husband and I were unemployed when we started GAPS, and as the cook in our home, I quickly realized our inability to afford it. However, we were really sick, and I knew we needed to change our diet significantly and focus on nutrition-based medicine if we wanted a chance at healing. So I had to get creative quick and find ways to get more for less so we could afford to heal. At the time, I was unable to work due to my health challenges, so I knew that getting to a point where I could work again and make money meant we had to spend money getting better. This is challenging to do when you are living off limited savings, but we were kind of backed into it... My husband got a retail job after a couple months into GAPS, and if you know retail, you know that's not much to live on, but we made it work. Shortly after that, I had already seen some improvement on GAPS, and I found a part-time nursing job that allowed me to mostly work from home for the first few months. This was a blessing from God and was just what we needed at that time. I say all this to show that I do realize the challenge of affording food-based nutritional therapy; and also to say that it can be done, even in difficult circumstances.

Changing Your "Food-View"

The first thing you need to realize going into such a big lifestyle change is that it requires a food worldview ("food-view") change. In the modern Western world, especially in the United States, we have been raised to believe that food grows on grocery store shelves (I've actually talked to people who didn't know that you really could make bread at home!), that spending more than 10-15% of our income on food is unreasonable, and that spending more than 30 minutes per day in food prep is a waste of time.  But these beliefs are truly a modern invention, arising with the food industry boom in the last half of the twentieth century. And all these beliefs have to change if you are going to commit to a lifestyle of nutrition-based medicine. And good nutrition is (and always has been!) a lifestyle, meaning that it significantly impacts the way you live, what you spend your money on, and how you spend your time.  A "real food" diet, such as GAPS, is going to be more expensive. Period. Eating quality food has always taken more time and money, and it always will. In 1901, Americans spent about forty percent of their income on food. By 2002, this had decreased to only thirteen percent (Daniel Wesley, 2015). I am not suggesting that you need to spend forty percent of your income to do the GAPS diet. But you should probably expect to spend more like twenty to twenty-five percent of your income on groceries to eat right (assuming you have a low-average income level). We spend right around 22% of our income on our grocery budget currently (this includes our toilettries and whole-food supplements excepting probiotics). Good food was always expensive. But with the rise of the corn crop (especially GMO corn), government-funding farm subsidies for corn farmers, and the growth of the food industry, cheaper versions of processed "foods" were created. Meat animal CAFO's (concentrated animal feeding operations) didn't always exist. Thousands-of-acres mono-cultural crop corn and soy farms didn't always exist. PepsiCo, Dole, General Mills, Nestle, and Kraft were not always America's food giants. Obviously, American food values changed significantly during the past 100 years. It would take more time than I have here to explain all the health disadvantages driven by the current American food system. However, if you don't know anything about the history of food in America, I would highly recommend you learn something about it before you start GAPS. It will provide you with a powerful motivator. There are a number of good documentaries that have been made on this subject including: King Corn, Food, Inc., and Food Matters.

You have to believe that the benefit of a real food lifestyle outweighs the cons if you are going to stick with it. Learn to view it as a part of your medical budget. In the long run, you are saving yourself hospital bills, pharmaceutical bills, and more expensive insurance plans. This takes discipline, because you don't always see the immediate benefits of the time and money you are investing. Real healing, like real food, takes time. Speaking of real food taking time - you will need to change your idea of what is "reasonable" food prep time. I spend about 20 hours per week cooking. Cooking real food has always taken that much time - in fact, in generations past, it took the good portion of your day. Hauling wood and water, cooking over a fire or wood stove, slaughtering and cutting up the chicken before you could cook it... Thank goodness I don't have to do all that! Twenty hours seems very reasonable when I consider how much time modern convenience has saved me! I actually grew up in rural Mongolia, where we didn't have electricity or running water and had to cook on a wood stove. So I have the benefit of my own prior experience to compare myself to when I feel like I'm spending too much time in the kitchen! Also, there are ways to minimize your time in the kitchen - like batch-cooking once or twice a week and batch-shopping once a month - but, still, you will have to plan to spend some time cooking, plain and simple.

Money-Saving Strategies on GAPS

But back to money-saving strategies... Below I will share what I have done to save our budget, and where I have found to be the cheapest sources of real food.

One of the best ways to afford GAPS is to find a few families to join you and form a "bulk buying club." This will allow you to buy more variety for cheaper, because you can get it in bulk. If you want help getting started, I can share how I organize it with you. It takes about 4-5 hrs of my time per month (but remember I don't have to shop as much because I do my shopping only once per month and get the rest through my buying club), so it saves me time there. And it is worth the savings in money and the freshness and quality of the produce we get. Plus we get to support local and/or sustainable farms and businesses. I highly recommend this strategy. Wondering where you will store your bulk foods? We currently have a family of two, so one medium sized fridge and a stand-alone freezer is sufficient for us, and would probably be enough even if we had a couple kids. I found our used commercial freezer on our local Craigslist for $75, which allows us to buy our grass-fed meat in bulk. I also store some bulk dried goods in a couple RubberMaid containers in our garage, because our current apartment does not have sufficient cupboard storage space.

Food Sourcing

For fresh, organic produce, I found a local bulk organic produce supplier and bought in bulk directly from them for wholesale prices once a month. I did this with my buying club. This makes for a busy day once a month, as some of the produce must be cleaned and chopped and frozen so it will last. But, remember, because the produce is local and fresh, it also lasts longer. When you buy produce at the grocery store, it is already a couple weeks old. When you buy it fresh, it will often last 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator. If you have multiple families in your buying club, you will need to split up the produce and weight it out for each family. However, after this one day of chaos, buying this way saves time with shopping and food prep for the rest of the month...  I was able to get my produce 30-50% cheaper this way (On the East Coast, most bulk organic produce bought this way averages around $1.00-1.50/lb as opposed to $2.00-4.00/lb at Whole Foods or through a CSA). Where we currently live, I buy in bulk from a local farm called Landisdale Farm. In our previous city, DC, I found a bulk produce co-operative (Tuscarora Organic Growers) of farmers that supplied organic produce to our city and sold wholesale to restaurants, stores, and buying clubs like me. I found this by doing a simple google search for bulk wholesale organic distributors in the area. If you live in California or the West Coast, there are better produce options. We used to live in LA and used Abundant Harvest Organics, a regional farm-to-consumer produce supplier. We were highly satisfied with their service.

In my case, I can also get my pastured, soy-free, GMO-free eggs from my local produce farm for $3.30-$4.00/doz (instead of $6.00-$7.00/doz at Whole Foods). I buy a case of 15 dozen at a time and either split them up with my buying club or just use them over a couple months. Because they are so fresh, they will last about 10 weeks no problem.

My current local farmer also raises 100% grass-fed beef and free-range antibiotic-free hogs, and buying a 1/4 cow and a hog from them a couple times per year is cheaper than buying grass-fed beef anywhere else. It ends up about $5.00/lb for all cuts, including ground meat, steaks, roasts, tender cuts, sausages, bacon, organ meats and bones. You won't find organic or grass-fed meat anywhere cheaper than that.

I  buy organic raw almonds and cashews from Food to Live on Amazon currently. They sell in bulk for descent prices, but bulk raw almonds will still be about $11/lb. I have also bought raw almonds from Living Nutz in the past, and they were always gracious to give me a 5% discount when I bought 20 lbs bulk - I just called and asked if they could offer me any discount for ordering such a large amount. Costco recently started carrying organic walnuts ($10/lb) and pine nuts ($14/lb) and occasionally cashews ($6.50/lb). When they have them, they are always cheaper than I can find anywhere else. I store my bulk nuts in the freezer.

Herbs, Teas, and Spices:
I get most of my bulk herbs, teas, and spices through Amazon's Subscribe & Save program from either Frontier, Starwest Botanicals, or Davidson's Teas. I order five items at a time and save 15% on the order. I have not found any way to buy my herbs and spices cheaper, even if I bought directly from the company in bulk. I can also get raw vitamin D3 5,000 i.u. from Garden of Life via my Subscribe & Save for only about $16.00/60 caps.

Currently, I get my local, raw honey from Swarmbustin' Honey in bulk. I buy it by two gallons at a time, which turns out at about $15.50 per quart, a great deal for raw local honey. They also have great pollen that they sell by the pound.

I get my seaweeds in bulk from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables. They are in the atlantic, so far from any radiation contamination in the Pacific. They are organic and they harvest sustainably. I've been very pleased with their products. They will also sell to you wholesale if you buy in bulk for a buying club. Their prices can't be beat. I highly recommend their seaweeds for iodine and minerals supplementation.

I buy my gelatin directly from Great Lakes Gelatin in bulk. They derive their bovine gelatin from grass-fed cattle and I've been very pleased with their unflavored gelatin and collagen hydrolysate. Their bulk prices are good.

Cod Liver Oil:
I buy my cod liver oil from Green Pastures in bulk about once per year during their back to school sale in August or their Christmas/New Year's sale in December. Their fermented cod liver oil can cost up to $60.00/bottle in the retail store, but I get them for $28.00/bottle during the sale. Each bottle lasts one person three months, so that is a steal. It is great if you have a bulk buying club to purchase larger orders with you to get the best discounts.

There has been some recent controversy over the safety of fermented cod liver oil. I have followed that debate extensively and will only say that I am more confident than ever of the safety and quality of Green Pastures' products and their integrity as a company. I highly recommend them. They are one of the only ones out there doing CLO the right way.

Udo's Oil:
Unfortunately, I have not found a good source for buying Udo's Oil (an omega 3-6-9 seed oil blend in the ideal 2:1:1 ratio) in bulk. I currently buy it on Amazon for between $37-40/32oz bottle, which is significantly cheaper than Whole Foods. This is one of the oils that Dr. Natasha recommends to take like 4 oz (1/2 cup) of daily on the GAPS intro diet. Needless to say, we could not afford to take these amounts when we started GAPS. Still can't. But I have found that even 1-2 tablespoons per day had great results for me. It was especially helpful for my hormonal function. I still take it every day.

For all the other items that I can't get from my local farmer or by buying in bulk with my buying club, I find at Costco Wholesale. I have found that my Costco membership pays for itself many times over throughout one year. Things I buy at Costco:
  • I buy organic chicken there ($2.49/lb for whole chicken, $4.79/lb for boneless thighs, $1.99/lb for drumsticks) because I just can't afford to buy pastured chicken from my local farmers. 
  • Leg of lamb for $4.99/lb. Sourced in New Zealand or Australia, so most likely grass-fed as it is the cheapest way to raise lamb in those countries. Also because I can't afford this from my local farmer.
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon for $10/lb in frozen 3-lb bags. Cheapest source I can find for this healthy fish.
  • Wild caught sustainably harvested sardines, canned in BPA-free cans. I don't like to eat from cans much, but these are nice for snacks to-go. Salmon and sardines are really the only safe fish to eat these days, as their growth cycle is short and so toxic accumulations are minimal. But they must be wild-caught.
  • Avocados for $5-6/6-count bag. Sometimes they have them organic, sometimes not. But avocados are one of the low-pesticide fruits, so it is not so important to buy them organic.
  • Organic carrots for $7.00/10-lb bag. Cheapest I can find anywhere.
  • Organic frozen broccoli for $7/4-lb bag. One of the foods that remain nutritious frozen. As long as you don't microwave them!
  • Organic nuts sometimes - mentioned above
  • Organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil for $15-18/54-oz container. This is about $0.30 per ounce, which is even cheaper than buying it in 5-gallon pails from Tropical Traditions. The quality is great, I love this oil and use a ton of it.
  • Organic cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil for $15/2-qt bottle. Also a killer deal and good quality.
  • Organic dried fruit - occasionally I buy some dates or figs or raisins to use as a sugar substitute in baking. However, we still don't eat much dried fruit even after 3 years on GAPS, as it is so sweet.
  • Organic frozen fruit - blueberries or mixed berries or cherries, about $10-14/3-lb bag.
  • Organic bananas, apples, or other fresh fruit when available - I still don't eat much fruit as I have difficulty tolerating it. However, when they have it, Costco's organic fruit is usually good quality.
  • Epsom salts (for bath soaks - good for magnesium and sulfur) for $8/12-lb box.
  • Organic baby greens for salads or cooking for $6/1.5-lb large bag.
  • In California, Costco has a much more extensive organic selection than on the East Coast. Also, in California, the raw honey that Costco carries is locally/regionally produced.

I know this is a lot of information, but I hope it is helpful for those of you just getting started. My suggestion is to start with just one thing at a time and build on it. Work into it. You don't need to jump into the GAPS diet all at once. It took me time to find out all the best ways to get my real food for the best possible prices that we could afford. Remember, I have been doing this on a low income for most of our time on GAPS. For a time, our income was so low, we even qualified for our state's medical assistance! But we were able to maintain our GAPS diet through it all. I have a budget spreadsheet that I use to keep track of what I spend in each category every month - I account for every bottle of cod liver oil and jar of honey. I know approximately how much honey we can eat every month to stay within our budget. We have to set limits for ourselves because we can't afford to eat as much of everything as we want. I buy in bulk, but we don't eat in bulk. I ration our bulk orders out over a certain number of months so I can keep within our budget. Having said that, we never go hungry by any means! We always have plenty of food and it is good food. We just can't afford to be extravagant about our eating. We can't have a GAPS dessert every night. We space the special things out as we can afford them...

If you find that even after all your rationing and planning and budgeting you still can't afford it, then try doing it with conventional produce instead of organic. If even that is too much, then do conventional meat as well. You do what you can with what you have. I promise you, even conventional meat and produce is better than eating processed food off the grocery store shelves. Dr. Natasha said she has known people to have success with GAPS even on a conventionally produced diet. If you need to do conventional produce to save money, take a look at EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. They have a list of "dirty dozen" - the twelve fruits and vegetables most likely to be heavily contaminated with pesticides. Also, they have a list of the "clean fifteen" - the fifteen that are least contaminated. Tools like these are helpful.

How have you afforded a real food diet? I would love to hear your own comments and ideas below.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New Etsy Products at Hannah's Health!

Check out my new hand-crafted coconut milk soap and moisturizing lotion bars at my Etsy store! Lovingly made with only the best natural and organic ingredients. You can feel the difference in my products because of the superior ingredients that I use. I use organic and food-grade ingredients wherever possible. I don't use any fillers, additives, or preservatives. Most of the ingredients that I use are exactly the same ingredients that I buy to cook with. My products are more expensive to make this way, but I truly believe that the skin is that important! It is a tremendously absorptive surface and detoxifying organ. Whatever you put on your skin bypasses your liver and goes straight to your bloodstream! If we wouldn't eat it, then why in the world would we put it on our skin?

Holiday coupons are currently being offered. Get 15% off every purchase, 20% off every purchase over $25 through December 31, 2015.

Hand-crafted, cold-process coconut milk soaps

Hand-crafted moisturizing lotion bars - great to keep on a dish at your bedside or next to your kitchen and bathroom sinks for chapped hands. They can also be used for face, feet, and body. These have a mild warm spicy holiday scent.

And, for the holidays, candy cane lip balms!

Monday, November 16, 2015

My Etsy Holiday Coupons!

My Etsy shop HannahsHealth is offering holiday coupons for great discounts on my homemade all-natural lip balm. Get 10% off EVERY purchase. AND, get FREE shipping on every purchase over $25. Lip balms make great stocking stuffers, party favors, and white elephant gifts! Offers are good through the end of the year.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Persimmon Spice Cookies

Another fall invention. Like all my other recipes, these cookies are GAPS-legal.

Persimmon Spice Cookies

2 large Hachiya persimmons, very soft
2/3 c. coconut oil
4 eggs
½ c. raw honey
¾ c. raisins
½ t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 ½ t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground cloves
1 vanilla bean, scored and scraped
¼ c. coconut flour
¼ c. unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ c. chopped walnuts
½ t. baking soda

Cut out the stems from the tops of the persimmons. Using a spoon, scoop out the soft meat of each persimmon into a blender. Add the oil, eggs, honey, spices, salt, vanilla, and raisins (alternately, raisins may be added whole later with the dry ingredients). Blend the mixture on high until the mixture is smooth and becomes of a thickened, whipped consistency. Scrape the mixture out into a medium mixing bowl using a spatula. Add the coconut flour, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, and baking soda. Stir until well incorporated. Let stand for a few minutes. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Dab the batter onto the baking sheet, making about 1-2 tablespoon size cookies. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes until golden brown and just cooked through. Check at 20 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. The texture of the cookies when done should be moist but not gooey. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy while warm! Makes about 2.5 dozen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: "Brain Maker" by David Perlmutter, MD

David Perlmutter, neurologist, is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of Grain Brain, which came out a number of years ago. This year he released a new book, Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain - for Life, in which he delves into the human microbiome's impact on neurological health. However, I would say this book was more about the microbiome than about the brain.

In the book, he addresses the relation of the human microbiome to inflammation and the immune system, moods and anxiety, obesity and appetite, autism, autoimmune disease, and more. The focus of each of these topics is on the human gut and "bugs" that live there, regulating and impacting every body system.

The first half of Perlmutter's book is remarkably similar to the first half of NCM's Gut and Psychology Syndrome. However, being more recent, Perlmutter includes some fascinating new information about the human microbiome that has only developed in the past several years. After establishing the point that "you are what you eat,"Perlmutter discusses how our friendly microbes help and protect us throughout our life from birth to death. He emphasizes their many functions, including: aiding in digestion and absorption of nutrients; creating a physical barrier against invaders; detoxifying; influencing immune response; producing enzymes, vitamins, and neurochemicals; helping handle stress; assisting sleep; helping to control inflammatory pathways. Then he goes into more detail about how our microbes specifically impact our brain and neurological health. He addresses several more specific topics over several chapters, focusing on various body systems: the gut, immune system, endocrine system, etc. He discusses a number of case studies he has personally treated - a client with autism, one with MS, etc - who made remarkable recoveries just by changing their gut microbiology. He spends a chapter addressing various assaults to our microbiome: antibiotics, NSAIDS, the pill, environmental chemicals. In the last part of the book, he gives advice for how to rehabilitate a damaged gut. His recommendations are helpful, and in many ways, very similar to the GAPS diet, however, he doesn't take his healing protocols as far as NCM. He finishes the book with some helpful recipes, mostly for fermented foods, some of which look quite good.

The Long and the Short of It

Since Dr. Perlmutter's book is more up-to-date with recent research, I was interested to see if it added anything new to my GAPS knowledge. Here is my summary of the similarities and differences between his and NCM's book:

  • Perlmutter and NCM both start at the same place: with the famous Hippocrates quote, "All disease begins in the gut." Their philosophy of disease and nutrition is pretty much identical. Their focus on the human microbiome for healing disease is the same.
  • Perlmutter and NCM agree on the basics of what makes a healthy diet: healthy fat, low carb, moderate protein. 
  • Perlmutter and NCM have very similar supplement recommendations: a good probiotic, DHA/EPA, coconut oil, ALA, vitamin D. Additionally, Perlmutter strongly recommends turmeric for its anti-inflammatory action.
  • Perlmutter and NCM both recommend probiotic enemas.
  • Perlmutter and NCM have similar opinions on natural birth, breastfeeding, and antibiotic use.
  • Both books are well-documented - there is a long section of notes at the end with citations of research.
  • Perlmutter discusses a number of more recent developments and studies in the field of the human microbiome that are helpful. Since his book was written this year, it is obviously more up-to-date on its research.
  • Brain Maker strongly recommends prebiotic foods, and discusses how research has shown prebiotics to increase levels of friendly flora while diminishing the "bad guys." This is slightly different from NCM, who recommends a specific carbohydrate diet to reduce prebiotic substances that she believes will feed the bad flora as well as the good.
  • Perlmutter's dietary recommendations for healing the gut microbiome are far less intensive than NCM's protocols. For people who aren't yet very sick, this might work; but for those of us who's health is completely broken, it likely won't be enough.
  • Perlmutter strongly recommends consumption of tea, coffee, chocolate, and red wine, while NCM is more cautious about adding these to the diet. NCM's protocols advise adding these only in small or weak amounts after some healing has taken place.
  • One of the recent medical developments that Permutter champions is the FMT (fecal microbiota transplant). He describes several case studies where patients made remarkable recoveries from neurological diseases in response to FMT treatments.
All said and done, here's what I personally took away from the read:
  • Use NCM's introduction diet protocols if you need to do some serious healing (I know I did! I still don't regularly consume all of the full diet foods 2.5 years later!).
  • Be more open to adding prebiotic foods at the right time. Let your body tell you when it is ready. If prebiotic foods create symptoms, you aren't ready. But at some point, once you have detoxed a good number of the bad flora, your body needs them to establish and maintain a healthy microbiome.
  • Be more open to tea, coffee, chocolate, and red wine as tolerated.
  • Definitely incorporate probiotic enemas into your healing regimen.
  • Consider FMT as a viable option when other means fail.
  • Be encouraged that the science of human microbiome manipulation for healing of disease is developing rapidly. NCM is definitely not alone. There is significant research backing this approach to nutritional healing. Don't let your doctor tell you otherwise.

I highly recommend  Dr. Perlmutter's book, and am grateful to him and others who are championing human microbiome science and using natural nutrition to heal their patients. You can buy his book on Amazon, or if you are on a budget (like me) you can probably borrow it from your local library. Dr. Perlmutter also has a website with lots of information and summaries of his other books and cookbooks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Cold Pumpkin Pudding Dessert

Another recent invention and instant family favorite to get you ready for Thanksgiving!

Cold Pumpkin Pudding Dessert

4 c. cooked pumpkin puree*
2 c. coconut milk
2 egg yolks
½ c. honey
¼ t. cloves
¼ t. nutmeg
1 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, scored and scraped
1/8 t. salt
2 T. plain gelatin (with about ¼ c. room temperature water, and about ¼ c. hot water)
Coconut cream, walnut pieces, and cinnamon for topping, optional

Heat the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, spices, vanilla, and salt gently on low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat. Add honey and egg yolks, stir well.

In a small bowel, temper gelatin with about ¼ c. room temperature water, mixing quickly into the water until thick. Immediately add about ¼ c. very hot water and stir until dissolved with no lumps. Add to the pumpkin mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a 9x13-inch pan or glass bake dish. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Top with coconut cream, walnut pieces, and/or cinnamon as desired.**

Makes about 8-10 servings.

* May substitute other sweet winter squash variety - I use freshly cooked squash that has been baked face-down in a bake dish with a small amount of water to keep it from sticking, baked at 400F until a fork can be easily inserted into the flesh. I then cool the squash, scoop it out of the skin into the blender, and blend until smooth.

** If desired, may make candied walnuts for topping by mixing together: ½ c. walnut pieces, 1 T. lard or butter, 1 T. honey, and ½ t. cinnamon. Bake on top of foil on a cookie sheet at 400F until browned and crunchy.)

GAPS Pumpkin Nut Bread

This recent creation was an instant hit, and just in time for the holiday season!

GAPS Pumpkin Nut Bread

1 ½ c. cooked winter squash puree
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 T. honey
¼ t. salt
1/8 t. cloves
¼ t. ginger
½ t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. coconut flour
1 T. butter or lard
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vinegar

½ c. crushed walnuts
1 T. butter or lard
1-2 T. honey
½ t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. Heat small glass bake dish or loaf pan and melt the lard/butter into it.

Mix the squash puree, egg yolks, vinegar, spices, and salt together well. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the coconut flour and baking soda to the squash mixture and stir gently until fully mixed. Let stand for a few minutes until the coconut flour has soaked up the liquid and mixture has thickened. While waiting, mix together the topping ingredients in a separate bowel. Last, gently fold in the egg whites. Pour the batter into the preheated loaf pan on top of the melted lard/butter and spread evenly. Dob the topping evenly over the top of the batter. Bake for about 30 min. or until nicely browned. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. The bread will sink slightly after removing from the oven, and will have a moist consistency. Makes about 4 servings.

GAPS Brownie Cookies

In the spring, I get the gardening fever, and in the fall, the baking fever. Here's another personal favorite, for dessert.

GAPS Brownie Cookies

1 large avocado, very ripe
½ c. Cacao butter, melted
¼ c. Butter
3 Eggs
½ c. Honey
1/8 t. Salt
1 Vanilla bean, scraped
½ c. Cacao powder
3 T. Coconut flour

Blend the liquid ingredients together in the Vitamix on medium-high speed until well-mixed and of whipped consistency. Add dry ingredients. Blend on medium-high until well-incorporated. Drop balls of batter (about 1-2T. size) onto a well-greased cookie sheet or silicone bake sheet. Bake for about 25 min at 350F until well-set, but still slightly gooey inside. Cool and enjoy. Makes: 24 (2 dozen).

GAPS Shepherd's Pie

There's nothing like fall for a homey baked dish like shepherd's pie! Try my GAPS-legal version using a coconut-flour batter. This recipe can also be tweaked into a chicken pot pie.

GAPS Shepherd’s Pie

3 lbs ground beef (or may also use lamb or chicken, chopped small)
1 lb. carrots, chopped fine
1 bunch spring onions, chopped fine
½ yellow onion, chopped fine
1 ½ tsp. thyme
1 T. rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
~1 c. water or broth

Cook lightly in a large pot until almost done, leave meat slightly pink and carrots slightly crunchy. Pour into 9x13-inch bake dish and spread evenly. Pre-heat oven to 375F. While oven is heating, make the topping, below.

1 c. coconut flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. rosemary, ground fine with mortar and pestle to bring out the flavor
5 eggs
1 2/3 c. coconut milk (or other nut milk)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowel. Whisk wet ingredients together separately in a four-cup bowel or Pyrex, including the crushed garlic. Add wet to dry and mix thoroughly. Let stand for a few minutes so the coconut flour can soak up the liquid.

Spread the batter evenly over the meat in the bake dish (or, for chicken pot pie, you may want to dollop the batter to make "dumplings"). Bake for about 1 hour or until golden brown on top, and still with some liquid/broth underneath. Makes about 8 servings. Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Senate D.A.R.K. Act Hearing: A Short Review

This morning, the Senate held a hearing regarding the bill H.R. 1599, known colloquially as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (D.A.R.K.) act. This bill was written by the biotech and processed food industries to prevent the passage of any state or federal laws mandating the labeling of GMO foods. If this bill passes into law, states will no longer have the right to pass laws that require GMO labeling, and Vermont's recent GMO labeling law will become void.

The hearing invited 8 guest witnesses from various governmental regulatory agencies (FDA, EPA, UDSA), food industries, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and one medical doctor. Of these, only one witness was in favor of GMO labeling, representing the consumer interest: Gary Hirshberg of Stoneyfield Farm, Inc. The outcome was predictable. From the opening statements to the closing, the whole tenor of the discussion was favorable towards GMO's and critical of public concern for GMO labeling. The most frequently repeated concern of the senate was how to communicate more effectively to the general public about the safety of GMO foods so that this debate would not continue to arise (their general attitude seemed to imply that this hearing was a waste of time).

Key quotes (sorry but I don't have names for most of these, the discussion went back and forth too quickly for me to record them):

  • GM foods have been "proven safe."
  • GM foods are the solution to an increasing world population and allow for increased crop production.
  • BT toxin has "virtually no impact" on organisms other than insects.
  • "This is clearly a matter of what consumers want vs. what they need" (implying we need GM crops for our future survival).
  • The nutrition of GM food is exactly the same as non-GM foods (someone even said GM foods are sometimes better!).
  • Someone said they were happy to see such a "diverse panel of witnesses" (What?! I guess if you consider "diverse" to be all except one witness supporting the same viewpoint, then, by that definition, yes, it was very diverse. Really, I had to laugh at that one.)

Mr. Hirshberg did a generally good job advocating for the pro-labeling camp. His main approach was based on a "why not?" kind of argument. He explained the reasons why it would do no harm to the food industries to simply add a factual statement to their ingredients label designating "genetically modified corn" (or soy, or whatever). He gave statistical examples from other countries to support this assertion. And he argued that as the Senate seems to be concerned with building public trust in the government's regulatory measures, this would be the easiest and best way to do that. He also pointed out that 9/10 Americans are pro-labeling. Where Mr. Hirshberg got weak was when the soft-ball question got thrown to him, "Do you believe GMO foods are safe?" Mr. Hirshberg dodged the issue by stating he thought it was clear that the government regulatory agencies believed they were safe; however, that there were significant concerns which were not represented by this hearing. Well, that was an understatement if ever there was one. And he refrained from actually answering the question. At first, I thought he got weak-kneed. However, I think perhaps he didn't want to further stigmatize the pro-labeling proponents as ignorant pseudo-science freaks (as he was likely to be labeled at that point in the debate, had he come out so definitely), thus further jeopardizing the pro-labeling agenda. If so, I can understand his thinking; however, it was still disappointing.

So what's left? Well, call your Senators ASAP and let them know that their constituents care about this issue. Remind them that they represent you and that nine out of ten of you want GMO labeling. Ask them to represent the people in their vote. Tell them you are concerned that the discussion in the senate hearing was one-sided and did not adequately represent the legitimate scientific concerns with GMO safety that warrant further investigation. Ask them to do more research for themselves so that they can better understand the public's concern to know whether their foods contain GM products.

Also, if you want to read more about the concerns regarding GMO's, I recommend you to read the Union of Concerned Scientists' Failure to Yield report from 2009. Also, the Global Citizens Report on the State of GMO's from 201l. Both of these are accessible online.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Please Petition to Veto GMO's D.A.R.K. Act

I wrote a couple months ago asking my readers to sign a petition to their congressmen asking them to vote against the bill dubbed as the "D.A.R.K. Act" (Denying Americans the Right to Know Act). This bill has progressed through the House of Representatives and is now before the U.S. Senate Committee. This bill is deceptively titled "The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act," but in reality it preempts states' GMO labeling laws at the federal level. The passing of this bill into law would mean that it would become illegal for any state to require GMO labeling of their food products, effectively denying Americans the right to know if they are eating GMO's. Please sign the petition embedded on my blog to the right, asking President Obama to veto this bill if it should come to him. Obama has a history of promising GMO labeling to the American people in former campaign speeches. He also has issued an Executive Order against federal laws that preempt state laws in the past. So we have good grounds for this request.

If you want to know more, please visit the Organic Consumer's Association website (logo pictured left). You can also sign the petition through their site if you wish.

And, since the bill is currently before the Senate, you can also sign a petition to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has a track record of supporting GMO labeling, asking him to speak out about what this bill really is and why it should be stopped. Sign below:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Should I Exercise While on the GAPS Intro Diet?

This is a common question from those who are just starting the GAPS introduction diet. The first couple phases of the introduction diet consist of pretty much nothing but broths, well-cooked meats, a little well-cooked vegetables as tolerated, and healthy fats and herbal teas. Depending on what your body can tolerate eating at first, which may not be much, it does not always provide a significant caloric intake.

What is happening in your body during the introduction diet? Several things:
  1. Herxheimer Reaction. During the introduction diet, most people who are doing the diet to heal significant health problems will be experiencing a Herxheimer reaction, which is a temporary worsening of symptoms due to die-off of harmful flora. Symptoms may include fever, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, flu-like symptoms, headache, etc. For myself, who was a chronic-fatigue profile with yeast overgrowth, I experienced about 10 days of mild "intoxication" symptoms. As crazy as that sounds, it is actually possible for the brain to become "drunk" from all the toxins being released from flora die-off (See Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. NCM, pages 50-53; see also multiple scientific studies/articles on "auto-brewery syndrome" here; and an interesting case report here.). I felt slightly dizzy, befuddled in my thinking, and slightly blurry of vision. Also, my fatigue increased significantly and I had insomnia - my brain just would not turn off to go to sleep. In short, I was pretty incapacitated. Obviously I was an extreme case, but if you are really sick, then chances are it won't be pleasant for the first couple weeks.
  2. Sugar Withdrawal. In addition to "herxing," most people will also be having carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms. Yes, sugar is actually biologically addictive to your body, and you will probably get the shakes and grumpies from withdrawal (see this scientific study which found that refined sugar is more addictive than cocaine!). Even if you thought you weren't eating that much sugar before, you would be surprised how much sugar you were feeding your body from grains, starchy vegetables, processed foods, and that daily dessert or soft drink.
  3. Metabolic Shifting. Also, the body will be learning how to switch from a carbohydrate-driven metabolism to a fat-driven metabolism. Your body has been primarily processing its energy from carbohydrates, and now it has to learn how obtain its energy primarily from healthy fats. This is a huge shift in how your body functions, and it will likely include some low blood sugar symptoms temporarily until things balance out (see this helpful article about fat adaptation).
  4. Physiological Fasting. The first few stages of the GAPS introduction diet are also essentially a form of fasting. During a fast, your body is focusing less on digestion and more on detoxification and rebuilding, and numerous physiological changes occur. For example, during a fast your body cleans out old, worn out white blood cells and replaces them with fresh new ones, thereby giving your immune system a little "reset" (see a study about this here). Intermittent fasting also has an anti-inflammatory effect (see a study here). Of course, your body is working hard to do all this, and you may feel increased fatigue at first (see a helpful article about intermittent fasting here; and a scientific article about fasting benefits here).
So now that you have a greater appreciation for what your body is experiencing during the introduction diet, you should be able to make wiser judgments as to whether maintaining your workout regimen is good for you during this time. For most, if not all people, I would recommend either not exercising during the intro diet, or else, making significant modifications - like walking an easy mile instead of running three. For me personally, I did not have the physical resources to even walk around the block many days during the first couple weeks on the intro diet. Listen to your body. If you are experiencing significant fatigue, and feeling sick and "tapped out," don't push yourself. Let your body rest and do the hard "exercise" of cleansing and rebuilding itself instead. The benefits you are gaining from your diet change are even greater long-term than what you would receive from a regular exercise routine. Don't get me wrong. The body needs exercise. But there is a season for everything, and if you are doing the GAPS diet for health problems, then most likely this is a season for rest, rejuvenation, and energy conservation rather than for energy expenditure through exercise. Once your body is equipped with good nutrition and properly functioning healing mechanisms, there will be plenty of time and energy for exercise later.

Two years after my own journey on the introduction diet, I am now able to do strenuous physical exercise, like heavy yardwork, for hours on end without feeling weak or hungry. Whereas two years ago, exercise would have only been perceived by my body as an added stressor that contributed to further physical breakdown, now my body is now able to respond to physical exertion with beneficial rebuilding and strengthening.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hannah's Phở Week!! Part 3 - Beef Phở

Below is the traditional beef version of Phở. The method is practically identical to the fish version. This is a bigger pot and should feed 6 people, or 3 meals for 2, or a full week of dinner meals for 1.

Hannah's Beef Phở

Soup Ingredients:
4-6 Pieces beef bones - soup, marrow, or joint bones all work fine
3 Pounds thinly sliced beef - eye round, top round, or tender cuts work well; cut while slightly frozen to make it easier to thinly slice
6 Small-medium sized zucchini summer squashes (yellow or green both are fine)
2 Leeks, cleaned and coursely chopped, including greens
1 1/2 Medium yellow onion, 1 washed and halved with the skin, one half very thinly sliced
2 Inch piece of ginger, washed and coursely sliced into chunks
1 Inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 c. Finely chopped Chinese chives
1/4 c. Finely chopped scallions (white portions only)
1 Bunch lemongrass (about 3-4 large stalks), cleaned, outer tough leaves removed and coursely chopped; inner tender shoot finely sliced
1 t. Fennel seeds
1 Star anise
2 t. Coriander seeds
1 Small stick cinnamon
5 Whole cloves
5 Whole green cardamom pods (or 1-2 black cardamom)
2-3 T. Fish sauce (This kind has no additives and is GAPS-legal)
6-8 Quarts filtered water
Salt to taste

Fresh Herb Garnishings:
Chives, chopped
Scallions, chopped
Onion, thinly sliced
Lime slices
Chili-garlic sauce

Part 1: Broth
In a 12 quart pot, place the bones. Cover with the water and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes. Skim off the foamy skin. Add halved onion, chopped leeks, coursely chopped ginger, tough parts of lemongrass, spices, fish sauce, and salt. Boil for 8 hours, until the broth is rich and fatty. Add more water as needed to compensate for evaporative loss. When finished boiling, cool the broth. Strain and return to the pot.

Part 2: Noodles
Use a vegetable spiralizer to made "zucchini noodles" with the yellow or green summer squash. Set aside the raw noodles.

Part 3: Soup
Add the finely chopped lemongrass, ginger, scallions and chives. Boil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a handful of the noodles and thinly sliced meat pieces in large soup bowls. Then pour the boiling soup over the meat and noodles. The boiling water will cook them.

Part 4: Garnish
Place the garnishings on the table on a plate or in separate rice bowls. Serve the Phở and garnish individually as desired with the fresh herbs and hot sauce. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until fully satisfied!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Garden Update

From time to time, I like to try and motivate you all to take up gardening. It provides exercise, sunshine, fresh air, grounding (when barefoot), immune-stimulation (through contact with beneficial microbes in the dirt), and mood elevation. Oh, yea, and it also provides cheap organic food!

My garden has only been growing for a month, but as you can see, there are already a generous amount of edible greens available out there along with a few radishes. Most of these greens are thinnings from baby greens that were growing too close together. This mix includes spinach, arugula, lettuce, dill, fennel, chinese cabbage, bok choy, radish, kale, and even some edible flower greens from baby dame's rocket and calendula.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hannah's Phở Week!! Part 2 - Fish Phở

Now that you've got your chili-garlic sauce fermenting (see Hannah's Phở Week!! Part 1), it's time to get some broth boiling and make that Phở! Below is a recipe for a fish Phở version. With any Phở, the broth is the most complicated and time-consuming part. But, while it does take time to prepare, Phở is easy to grab as a leftover, so it can actually save time in the long run. Personally, I like to make a pot or two of Phở broth on one big cooking day, and then have it and all the garnishes and sliced meat prepared so that I can whip up a yummy meal in just minutes throughout the week. A pot this large should serve 4 people who are large eaters easily, or at least 2 meals for 2 people. If it's just you, it should last almost the whole week!

Hannah's Fish Phở

Soup Ingredients:
4 Salmon fish heads
2 Pounds fresh or frozen salmon fillets, thinly sliced
1 Leek, cleaned and coursely chopped, including greens
1 Fennel bulb with stems and leaves, cleaned and tops coursely chopped, bulb thinly sliced
1 Medium yellow onion, washed and halved, one half whole, one half very thinly sliced.
1 Garlic clove, cleaned and whole
2 Inch piece of ginger, washed and coursely sliced
1 Inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 Package (2-4 oz) enoki mushrooms, washed and separated into separate threads
1/4 c. Finely chopped Chinese chives
1/4 c. Finely chopped scallions (white portions only)
1 Bunch lemongrass (about 3-4 large stalks), cleaned, outer tough leaves removed and coursely chopped; inner tender shoot finely sliced
1 t. Fennel seeds
1 Star anise
2 t. Coriander seeds
1 Small stick cinnamon
5 Whole cloves
5 Whole green cardamom pods (or 1-2 black cardamom)
1/2 c. Dried seaweed (smoked dulce or kelp is good)
5 Quarts filtered water
Salt to taste

Fresh Herb Garnishings:
Chives, chopped
Scallions, chopped
Onion, thinly sliced
Lime slices
Chili-garlic sauce

Part 1: Broth
In a 6-8 quart pot, place the fish heads. Cover with the water and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes. Skim off the foamy skin. Add halved onion, chopped leeks, fennel tops and tough parts, garlic clove, coursely chopped ginger, tough parts of lemongrass, spices, and salt. Boil for 3-8 hours, until the broth is rich and fatty. Add more water as needed to compensate for evaporative loss. When finished boiling, cool the broth. Strain and return to the pot.

Part 2: Soup
Add the finely chopped lemongrass, ginger, fennel bulb, scallions and chives. Add enoki mushrooms and dried seaweed. Boil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the thinly sliced fish pieces in large soup bowls. Then pour the boiling soup over the meat. The soup will cook the meat.

Part 3: Garnish
Place the garnishings on the table on a plate or in separate rice bowls. Serve the Phở and garnish individually as desired with the fresh herbs and hot sauce. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until fully satisfied!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hannah's Phở Week!! Part 1 - Chili-Garlic Sauce

Well, I'm declaring it Phở week on my blog! Officially, International Phở Day doesn't happen until August 20th, but who wants to wait for the hottest month of the summer to enjoy their Phở? I say spring is the best time for a Phở craze.

I grew up in Asia, and have had many Asian friends, and Asian cuisine is some of my favorite. Alas, much of the foundation of good Asian cooking centers on rice and flour - for noodles, dumpling wrappers, etc. I've really missed cooking Asian style food since being on GAPS. But recently, I decided I needed to figure out how to satisfy my Asian comfort food cravings safely. For this week at least, Phở is my answer.

Don't know what Phở is? It is an Asian-food-loving GAPS dieter's best friend. Rich, flavorful, full-bodied bone broth with thinly sliced pieces of meat and fresh herb garnishings of cilantro, basil, mint, scallion, and lime; topped off with some Sriracha-style hot sauce (and Hoisin sauce, which I haven't figured out how to make for GAPS yet - I'll let you know if I come up with something). Traditional Phở has rice noodles in it. But the GAPS version can use a noodle alternative like zucchini noodles or enoki mushrooms to almost paralleled satisfaction.

To kick things off for my Phở craze week, below is a recipe for homemade lacto-fermented chili-garlic sauce. You'll need to get this going before you make your actual Phở, since it will take 5-7 days to ferment. Once it's ready, you'll be equipped to handle many, many bowls of Phở (and plus it goes great with steak, grilled chicken, braised greens, eggs, and just about anything else too!).

Lacto-Fermented Asian Chili-Garlic Sauce

3/4 lb. Fresh Korean red chilis
1 Large head garlic
1/4 c. Filtered water
1 T. Fish sauce (This kind has no additives and is GAPS-legal)
1 T. Raw honey
1 T. Raw apple cider vinegar
1-2 t. Salt

Clean and cut tops off chilis. Clean off skins and cut bottoms off all garlic cloves. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender (I use my Vitamix). Puree into a sauce. Pour into a 0.5-0.75L Fido jar (lever-locking preserve jar) or other lacto-fermentation vessel. Ferment for 5-7 days, then refrigerate.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of my Phở week on Wednesday and Friday!

Please Take Action to Prevent Mansanto's DARK Bill to Protect GMO's from Labeling Laws

Most GAPS patients are well-aware of the health dangers of GMO foods. We more than care about this issue; for us, it is a matter of our health. Mansanto, one of the major biotech industries who creates GMO crops and the herbicides that go with them, is also very active to protect their interests legislatively. With the advocacy of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), they are currently reintroducing a bill (HR 1599) that would prohibit Congress or individual states from requiring mandatory labeling of GMO foods and ingredients. It would also allow food manufacturers to use the word “natural” on GMO products.

Mandatory GMO labeling is an important step in the fight against GMO foods. I encourage you to take just a couple minutes (literally, it only takes about two minutes) to act on this issue by clicking the link below.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: "The Wahls Protocol" by Dr. Terry Wahls

I recently read Dr. Terry Wahls' book, The Wahls Protocol, released in December, 2014. Dr. Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. She also does clinical research and has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, abstracts, posters, and papers. She was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 2000, and had progressed to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis by 2003. She started out her journey by seeking what she knew - the best allopathic doctors and drug therapy available for her disease. But she continued to decline and became confined to a wheelchair, and was told she could continue to progress with no possibility of recovery.

In her book, she chronicles her own amazing experience from wheelchair-bound invalid to once-again-healthy practicing physician. In 2007 she discovered Functional Medicine, and she began intensively researching her own illness to discover potential root causes and effective treatment modalities. Over time, this lead to the development of her "Wahls Protocol," a natural treatment regimen focused on intensive nutrition, stress management, and other lifestyle factors. She regained much of her health, and now rides her bike to work and maintains a mostly normal lifestyle.

I read Dr. Wahls book out of interest for what other doctors are discovering about nutrition and lifestyle factors related to chronic disease. Dr. Wahls' research and writing is recent, and she is well-qualified, so her experience ought to reflect the latest developments in nutrition-based medicine. I was excited to find that much of Dr. Wahls' book paralleled and/or confirmed the knowledge we already had via resources like Dr. NCM and Gaps and Psychology Syndrome. Most of Dr. Wahls' protocol based on her "groundbreaking" research was similar to, and compatible with what I already knew on the GAPS diet. But even if her protocol is not as groundbreakingly new as she supposes, Dr. Wahls' work is invaluable in confirming the value of nutrition-based medicine and adds much credibility to a nutritional approach to healing chronic disease. Also, she is uniquely positioned in her roles as a clinical professor and clinical researcher to have a direct impact on bringing nutritional medical modalities into the fold of mainstream evidence-based allopathic medicine. She has even been able to develop and begin performing clinical trials using her protocol and plans to publish evidence-based peer-reviewed research on the topic. This is hugely good news for nutritional medicine!

So what are the similarities and differences between Dr. Wahls' approach and that of Dr. NCM in the GAPS diet?

  • Both are focused on nutritional healing and other adjunctive lifestyle therapies (stress management, sunshine, exercise, bathing, enemas, etc.) to assist the healing process
  • Both are based on scientific research, not merely personal experience
  • Both are based on generally the same pathophysiological and etymological medical knowledge
  • Both recommend a paleo-type diet with additional restrictions on starches/sugars, and with special focus on nutritional density and promotion of specific highly-valuable traditional foods (like bone broths, seaweeds, fermented foods). 
  • Both value the human microbiome and recommend probiotic treatments and foods.

  • Dr. Wahls brings more in-depth research into mitochondrial function and the specific nutrition that will maximize mitochondrial energy; whereas although Dr. NCM is clearly aware of the impact of chronic disease on mitochondrial function, and the GAPS diet does address this issue indirectly, she does not directly emphasize mitochondrial healing as a primary treatment modality/goal for overall healing of chronic disease.
  • Dr. Wahls provides more specific guidelines for how to balance what types of vegetables  and fruits someone on her protocol should eat, as well as how much they should eat in order to achieve certain minimum nutritional density guidelines for healing; whereas Dr. NCM tells you what you can and can't eat, but does not discuss proportions or specific amounts. For example, Dr. Wahls recommends limiting your fruit consumption mostly to berries for their high antioxidant and nutritional profile, and discourages "white" fruits like apples and pears.
  • Dr. Wahls has several different "levels" to her protocol. The patient can determine how drastically they are willing to change their eating habits, and pick the level that most suits their needs and desires. While there is benefit to this for patients who are unwilling to make a commitment to the full protocol recommendations (something is better than nothing), it is my belief that the lower levels of Dr. Wahls' protocol are just insufficient for accomplishing significant healing from chronic disease. Whereas, Dr. NCM makes it very clear the level of commitment that is required to accomplish healing nutritionally.
  • Dr. Wahls introduces more intensive research into the benefits of a ketogenic diet for mitochondrial function and more efficient healing; whereas Dr. NCM discusses this more in passing and does not necessarily promote it's benefits.
  • Dr. NCM emphasizes the role of the human microbiome, gut function, and probiotic therapy more than Dr. Wahls.  In my opinion, Dr. Wahls' nutritional guidelines do not go far enough in consideration of gut healing; whereas this remains Dr. NCM's specialty. Dr. NCM's thorough introduction diet and specific guidelines for daily consumption of bone broths, probiotics, and probiotic foods remain unique to her GAPS diet. Also, Dr. Wahls is not so concerned about the impact of specific carbohydrates on a damaged gut's function; whereas Dr. NCM remains more aware of the impact of the wrong kinds of carbohydrates being introduced at the wrong time.
  • Dr. Wahls places slightly more emphasis on the benefits of seaweed consumption for detoxification, specifically of heavy metals; whereas Dr. NCM is hesitant to introduce seaweeds until later on in the healing process due to their polysaccharide content.

What I Took Away from the Book:
  • Now that I am well into my GAPS healing journey, I should not hesitate to introduce regular seaweed consumption into my routine.
  • I should try to follow Dr. Wahls' recommendations for the quantity and types of vegetables and fruits I eat, while sticking to Dr. NCM's specific carbohydrate recommendations.
  • I should definitely try to maintain a mildly ketogenic diet as much as possible.
  • I should continue to be very diligent about Dr. NCM's recommendations for gut healing and function - daily broths, probiotics, and fermented foods, as well as the GAPS introduction diet protocol as needed.
  • I should not underestimate the value of adjuctive therapies to the healing process - stress management, sunbathing, bath soaks, enemas, exercise, grounding, etc.
I do highly recommend reading Dr. Wahls' book (which you can probably find at your local library). Also, I recommend her website, where she posts updates, articles, and blogs.

I would appreciate your comments on this topic.  Let me know your thoughts and questions!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Colon Hydrotherapy Interview with Stephen Holt, MD by Functional Forum

If you are unfamiliar with the work of Functional Forum and the Evolution of Medicine Summit, these people are producing lots of very helpful and quality information on functional and nutritional health. Many of their recent discussions revolve around the human microbiome and gastrointestinal health, a topic that should be near and dear to GAPS patients in general. They produce interviews and lectures for health care practitioners, so some of the discussion may get a little technical at points. However, it is my opinion that the average person without health care training who is motivated and interested in learning about their body and their health will be able to understand and apply most of the information.

Check out this great interview on colon hydrotherapy with Dr. Stephen Holt, who has been a gastroenterologist for over 40 years. Starting out as a strictly allopathic doctor, Dr. Holt has since developed a strong interest in nutritional healing and he has also done many years of research on the human microbiome. Take advantage of this great opportunity to learn! I have personally found it so helpful to read and listen to other viable voices in the health care community in addition to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (hereafter abbreviated Dr. NCM). No one doctor has all the answers. Plus it is really affirming to know that it isn't just one doctor saying these things. There are a large body of medical practitioners out there who agree! More and more research is backing up Dr. NCM's science, and adding to it. So keep learning!

Don't have enough time? Here's an idea: listen while you cook your GAPS food for the week. I frequently utilize my cooking and cleaning time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. I love to be able to learn while at the same time getting my chores done!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Welcome to My Etsy Shop! (Keep Reading for a Coupon Code!)

I recently opened an Etsy shop. There have been certain body care products that I have found beneficial to make for myself since starting GAPS and a chemical-free lifestyle. You already know from my blog that I am passionate about healthy living. One aspect of this that I have begun exploring more in recent months is healthy skin care. My motto has become: "If you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin!" Related to this, I began to create some home-made skin care products that meet my standards. And as I've shared some of them with friends, they have become so popular that I've decided to sell them! So far, you will see lip balm in my Etsy shop, in three great flavors: coconut-lime, grapefruit-anise, and plain coconut. And deodorant, in four great scents: lavender, jasmine, cedarwood-clove, and just shea.

If you'd like to try out my products, now is the time! I'm offering a 25% coupon code in celebration of opening my Etsy shop. But hurry, it expires May 15th. Enter NEWCUSTOMER2015 at checkout to receive your discount. And share the news with your friends!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Garden Time!

Ah! I love this time of year! It's garden time again! It doesn't look like much yet, but I couldn't resist sharing what is happening in my little plot of land. Also, it's fun to compare the bareness at the beginning of the season with the (hopefully!) lush growth later.

A blank slate
I periodically recommend gardening on my blog. If you are struggling to afford a GAPS lifestyle, it is really one of the best ways possible to supplement your diet with fresh, local, organic produce. Also, gardening comes with other benefits. People who garden get vitamin D from being out in the sun. They get exercise. They tend to be less depressed. It is relaxing, and contact with the earth promotes healthy regulation of your sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, helping your stressed body to become calm.

Baby Mizuna - Newborns!
For me, personally, gardening is one of most therapeutic activities I do for my health (and enjoyment!). Plus, it is so rewarding! And amazing! Every year, as I stick those tiny little seeds in the earth, I feel a little sense of trepidation. Will it really work? Will those dry little specks of dust really sprout and grow? And then... They do! Amazing! A miracle really. Gardening is one of those activities that impress upon my heart the power and glory of a Creator. All I do is stick those seeds in the ground and pour some water on them and let the sun shine down on them. But what makes them grow? I know we can explain biologically the process of germination and plant growth, but it doesn't explain why. It is still God that makes that process happen every single time. And He does it for us. A little picture of His grace. He provides food. He gives rain and sun to grow it for us. A picture of our utter dependence upon Him and His amazing grace towards us sinful rebellious creatures. A picture that is visualized most fully in the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ to be our "true bread and true drink" (John 6). Christ, who, like the little seeds in my garden, submitted himself to death and burial in the earth in my place for my sin, and then, miracle of miracles, rose up from death to new life (like my seeds!) to give me (and anyone else who would turn from their sin to put all their trust in Him) forgiveness and new life in Himself. Beautiful, isn't it?

Purple Muscari
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1–10 NAS95)

Daffodils - The Happiest Flower!
Just like those little seeds can't boast that they had anything to do with their new life and growth, every Christian has no boast except Jesus Christ. I see many parables of the Christian life in my garden, and it feeds my soul even as it feeds my body.

So my GAPS tip of the day: Get out and garden! Need help getting started? There are plenty of gardening forums online. A great way to design your garden to be almost completely self-sufficient is to create a "Back to Eden" garden. You can watch the documentary and find helpful tips at their website along with other helpful sites listed below: 

Kale - Some Plants are Survivors