Monday, December 12, 2011

Cranberry Goodness

We had the MOST *A*M*A*Z*I*N*G* Thanksgiving feast this year. Two GAPS families, a cool Paleo dude and a lovely GAPS/WAPF dentist. It was, as I said, *A*M*A*Z*I*N*G*

One thing that stood out on our holiday table, that you might consider adding to your Christmas feast this year, were the ferments. We had four ferments on the table: cranberry-lemon, cranberry-orange, muscadine grapes, and fermented turnips! Not even a jar of sauerkraut made it to the table that day. LOL!

Anyway, the cranberry-orange was phenomenal. Stole the show, in my opinion. I ate at least a cup that day and finished the remaining cup or so the following morning. I traded close to a pint of amazing gravy for a cup of this ferment, it was so wonderful.

So... drumroll... The recipe, as I have now tweaked it:

2 12 oz bags of organic cranberries, fresh
1 organic orange
ground cloves
ground cardamom
Celtic sea salt
water kefir
filtered water
3 wide-mouthed canning jars

  • Rinse the cranberries and split them evenly between the three jars.
  • Peel the orange (you can use some of the peel in this ferment but if you are watching oxalates you are better off without the peel and the pith) and slice it to make sure all seeds are out. Split the orange (+ optional peel/pith) evenly between the three jars.
  • Put a scant 1/4 tsp of ground cloves and cardamom in each jar.
  • Put between 1/2 and 3/4 Tbsp of Celtic sea salt in each jar (depending on how salty you like your ferments).
  • Put between 1/8 and 1/4 cup of honey in each jar (depending on how sweet you like your ferments).
  • Put 1/4 cup of water kefir in each jar.
  • Add filtered water to just under the top of the fruit in each jar.
  • Use an immersion blender in each jar (AKA a "stick" blender). Blend it until it is the way you like your "relish" whether that is thick and chunky or a heavy puree.
  • If, after blending, the jars look as though they could fit into two jars instead of three go for it. Just make sure there is an inch of headspace in each jar when it is filled.
  • Cap the jars and set them in a warm place for two days.
  • Refrigerate for another 3-5 days before eating. Your ferment should keep in the fridge for up to a month but I doubt it will last that long!

Many thanks to the lovely healing dentist, Laura M., for the original recipe and to my fellow Mamas, Sara and Elli, for the first couple of rounds of the recipe using various fermenting agents / techniques. I finally got off my tuckus and made it myself. Because it is SOOOOO *A*M*A*Z*I*N*G* and easy.

Holiday love from our home to yours!


- Kati

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kai's Story

This story is from a "Virtual Tribal Mama" that a few of us have been in touch with as she journeys along the sometimes lonely road of healing her child using nutrition / diet. She has done a wonderful job and has been rewarded with a recent language explosion. Kai is lucky that she is his Mama!

On September 22nd of this year, my son Kai was given a diagnosis of “Suspected Childhood Apraxia of Speech” by Early Intervention. At the time, he had two words he could say with his mouth open (“Dada” and “Uh-Oh”). Much of his spontaneous speech was said through his teeth. At 23 months old, he had the speech of a one-year-old. He’d lost the ability to say “Mama,” and he would have meltdowns if we tried to make him speak. He knew letters, numbers, animals, and understood most of what we said to him, yet he couldn’t express himself through words. I was heartbroken.

At that time, I was already working him towards GAPS. I’d found out about it through my local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter. My son is also gluten intolerant, and after seeing studies and reading anecdotes showing that gluten intolerance is not uncommon with Apraxia (I already suspected Apraxia before Early Intervention did), and that these children are generally deficient in fatty acids and vitamin E, I began to search for a diet to heal my son, as it was so obviously a malabsorption problem causing his inability to express himself in words. I found WAPF while researching healthy, whole-foods diets for children, and I knew immediately that the nutrient dense food it advocated was what Kai needed to heal. I contacted our local chapter leader, poured my heart out to her regarding the situation my family was in, including my suspicions that my son was suffering from a neurological disorder, and asked her how to get started, and she pointed me towards GAPS. I owe so much to her for this, but that’s a story for another day.

I plunged myself into reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome and Breaking the Vicious Cycle, and I listened to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride present her theories on YouTube. I read many a parental testimony where they would express their delight in the progress their child made on GAPS, including multiple references to an “explosion of expressive language.” Oh, how I dreamed and wanted that for my son! We started eliminating starchy vegetables, grains, and casein until eventually Kai was eating only soup and eggs. On October 5th, we started Kai on Intro.

We saw behavior issues disappear. Stims diminished within two weeks. He was happier, healthier, and he had a very big growth spurt. He loved the food. He devoured everything. Amidst regressions and difficult days, we saw any behavior he had that could have labeled him as “ASD” go away, with the exception of on die-off days. Small improvements were made in speech, and he was able to say “Mama” again, but I began to be discouraged because I couldn’t find testimony regarding GAPS helping specifically with an Apraxic child. My speech therapist was also discouraged because she was getting nowhere with him. She started giving me homework to just do things to get his mouth open, not even to try for words! I wanted that speech explosion so badly.

When I aired my concerns to the Tribe, suggestions for supplements to help speed the detoxification process were made. We started giving Kai Enhansa soon after it was suggested to us by multiple sources, including my mother-in-law. His father offered me continual comfort, support and a steadfast belief that Kai would heal on the diet, even when I was faltering in faith, so I pressed on and hoped his speech would improve more.

Kai progressed through Intro relatively quickly. When we got to the point where almond bread and carrot juicing is introduced, we noticed that Kai began to complain of pain in his diaper area. At first I was in denial and thought it was due to a diaper rash that he had, but he soon made it abundantly clear to me that the issue was most likely pain caused by the newly introduced high oxalate foods. We began to wean him off of them, and his pain immediately went away. That same week, Kai hit the maximum dosage of Enhansa. We’d been able to get him raw milk for his yogurt for two weeks. We’d been on 100% organic and/or grass fed meat for a week. He was about to hit his 2-month GAPS anniversary.

I started to notice that Kai was saying, “UP! UP! UP!” while sitting and playing by himself. I asked him, “Are you saying ‘Up?’” He would just look at me funny. I figured it was more ghost words, common to Apraxic children. A couple days later, he started saying “Up” when he wanted to be picked up. Then he started saying, “Apple” and “Egg” clearly, with all vowel and consonant sounds! Within one day of these three new words, many, many more started coming, including “Elmo,” “Hat,” “Hot,” “Hop,” and “All.” He even said, “X” and “A.” He tries to say “Avocado,” and other more complex words, but they are mispronounced. I’ve lost track of everything he can say, but I estimate he has around 20 words, letters, and animal sounds that he can now say clearly. Best of all, he’s imitating us and attempting spontaneous speech every day. He is also trying to build upon words he already says to say things like “Apple Sauce.”

Kai’s speech therapist came yesterday. She almost cried when I had Kai saying his new words for her. She was thrilled by his progress. They had a great session, and she was able to get new sounds out of him. He was very proud to show off what he could do for her. I am thrilled.

I think we found the magic formula for Kai: GAPS+LOD+Enhansa+Organics+Raw Milk. He has a long way to go, and he still has sounds that he cannot make, but I have faith that more surges and breakthroughs will come, especially with help from our DAN and the Tribe. GAPS isn’t easy, but, as my husband always reminds me, nothing worth doing ever really is. I am excited to find our next breakthrough intervention, all with the strong foundation of GAPS and good, Real Food.

Mothers of Apraxic children be heartened. There is hope.

Gelatin For Your Skeleton

Gelatin is an amazing, nutritious food that is so often overlooked. Perhaps because the name gelatin (at least for my generation) is synonymous with Jell-O brand gelatin and nobody spelled out the advantages of gelatin while they were singing the J-E-L-L-O jingle.

Well I have a bit of good holiday cheer for you!!! Watching it wiggle and jiggle while your children grin IS a good thing and it IS good for you. As long as it is homemade, of course!

Gelatin is a major component of healing the gut wall and if it is accidentally excluded from a healing diet you will end up either treading water, getting worse, or perhaps having to take glucosamine + chondroitin for knee/hip pain. Why not skip the supplements and instead eat some delicious foods? Homemade (aka "real") jello, homemade marshmallows, stocks/broths/soups with gelatin in them. There is a fair amount of scientific background on gelatin on the "Why Broth is Beautiful" link from the Weston A Price website.

But here's what I can tell you, Mama to Mama. Awhile back I ate an extremely gelatinous broth (so good I craved it for months afterwards) and the next morning the skin on my face had noticeably improved in quality. Enough to make me think, "Whoa - why does that look so much better?" Of course, I didn't keep up the gelatin and that went away after another day or so... I like to learn my lessons the hard way. I should note that the skin difference can also be the fats in those amazing broths, but I really think it was the gelatin.

So now my family is in a gelatin feeding frenzy. It is not a terribly expensive item to keep in a kitchen pantry, it keeps for a long time so I can buy it bulk, and it is SO GOOD FOR US!!! What is not to love about gelatin? These days we are instituting the 1950s tradition of dessert every night with dinner, but our dessert is homemade jello!!! My girls are ecstatic. This is SO easy that there is literally no acceptable excuse for not doing it multiple times / week.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeasy Jello Recipe
(serves 4)
Put 1 Tbsp of gelatin in 1/4 cup of water and let it soften (about 5 mins)
Heat 3/4 cup of water to a boil
Add the boiling water to the softened gelatin
Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved
Add 1 cup of fruit juice
Pour into a mold, if desired
Refrigerate until it is set, about 4 hours

Here are a few extra notes:
  1. I am very lazy, I mean busy! I do all of my jello making in my measuring cups and do not use a pretty mold. It is all about minimizing cleanup for me. Try it multiple ways and see what works best for you!
  2. If you are on the GAPS diet you may want to know that the SCD PecanBread peeps recommends specific brands based on a company asserting (on corporate letterhead) there is no added sugars. Here is that link / listing. Our family uses the Knudson's Just Juice brand and we have been very happy with their products. Oh, and I would not recommend anything in a can so you may want to skip the Dole pineapple juice. Or juice/blend it yourself from a fresh pineapple. YUM!
  3. If you are not on the GAPS diet but are watching your sugar intake you may want to see the above note and use those same juices. Sugar is very inflammatory and the more you can stick to a small level of fruit sugars in your diet the healthier you will be.
  4. Play and experiment with the recipe and don't worry about things being totally perfect. I promise never to post anything that has to be done with measurements that are "just so" because I don't cook that way anyway!
  5. One of our favorite jellos is Just Tart Cherry + lime juice. Mix and match and play all day. If you do this daily (it really takes less than 10 minutes AND the kids will cheer after dinner, which really means they will finish all the sardines you put on their plate just to get the jello) you will have plenty of time to mix and match flavors and see what tastes best to your family.
  6. There are two schools of jello lovers. Purists who do not like anything "in" their jello and those who like a little fruit added. If you want to check out the addition of fruit to your jello just do it after the jello has started to set up a little. I am craving an experiment with the fermented cranberry orange relish from Thanksgiving in a jello. This is on the list for next year's Thanksgiving treats!
  7. If you want your jello to be a little fizzy, try adding some water/juice kefir as part of the liquid. A little should go a long way and you can follow a jello recipe that uses soda for an idea of the proportions. If I experiment and master that one I'll let you know!

FYI, here are the two gelatins I use:
Fish Gelatin
Grass-Fed Beef Gelatin

Happy jiggling!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grandpa Gunk's Kraut

This post is dedicated to my great-grandfather who, according to family lore, had a love of sauerkraut. My great-grandmother, however, did NOT like the stink of the kraut as it fermented. What does a happily married couple do to make this resolve this situation?

The marketplace will always provide a solution when there is a consumer demand... So Grandpa Gunk struck a deal with a local farmer. Grandpa Gunk would buy the fermenting barrel and pay for all the cabbage and salt if the farmer would make it and let it ferment in his barn. I don't know any more specifics (did he pick up kraut weekly, or just for special occasions), but I love that I know the story. My dad told it to me when he was visiting awhile back. He was visibly amused by the little sauerkraut party fermenting away on my kitchen counter.

Why sauerkraut?

Well... turns out I *LOVE* sauerkraut. Once I tasted it and realized it is sour + crunchy + salty I was hooked. Anyone else a recovering chip-a-holic? Anyone? It can't just be me... Sauerkraut is my new chip. I adore it. But I only like it made from purple cabbage and I only like it with cabbage + sea salt, no brine. If there is brine it takes me a long while to go through a quart jar of kraut because I am not totally wild about a salty kraut.

Sauerkraut is an amazing food. Through the fermenting process the kraut goes through three totally separate stages of bacteria. From Wikipedia (which I usually wouldn't quote but I don't feel like typing it all in from a book I have on fermenting foods):

In the first phase, anaerobic bacteria such as Klebsiella and Enterobacter lead the fermentation, and begin producing an acidic environment that favours later bacteria. The second phase starts as the acid levels become too high for many bacteria, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc spp. take dominance. In the third phase, various Lactobacillus species, including L. brevis and L. plantarum, ferment any remaining sugars, further lowering the pH.

Did you hear that? Lactobacillus species? Without paying $20-$50 for a pack? I have worked out the price of my sauerkraut and it runs me roughly $4-$5 per quart jar and that includes some labor since I've turned over my kraut production to Chef Steve. It is a DEAL! Also, for people who are not yet healed enough to eat the raw cabbage they just use the sauerkraut juices which are plentiful since you can add some brine whenever they run low.

Oh, and kraut will last for a YEAR in your fridge once it is fully fermented. A year. Even if the power goes out and you have to toss other foods, your kraut will be fine. Hurricane? Earthquake? Power disruption? Your kraut is still ready for you, even when you have run out of every other food in the house.

Recipe please!

Like I said before, I am a bit picky with my sauerkraut. I take great joy and personal pleasure in the fact that sweet little Neely only likes *my* sauerkraut. Of course, it would be even better if my own children would say that, but se la vie! So here is my method, adapted from a recipe in Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

  • Buy heads of red cabbage that are heavy for their size and note their weight on your receipt. Heavy cabbage = high water content. Make sure to go right home and make kraut that day or the next - you don't want to pay for water and have it evaporate.
  • I use purple cabbage because it ferments faster and in my experience is more crunchy than slimy. It also is a lovely shade of hot pink which is awesome for our goal of "eating the rainbow" on our plate. I also have daughters so the hot pink was a nice selling feature. I tried a lot of different cabbages before I decided on my favorite so experiment and find out what you like! It is so good for you and there will be many, many opportunities to make kraut so just play with it. It is very forgiving, a wonderful quality in a food!
  • For every five pounds of cabbage use 3 Tbsp of Celtic brand Sea Salt, course grind. You will layer this into the jars with the cabbage as you pound.
  • Cut each head of cabbage into eighths, remove the white core from and finely shred each section.
  • Tightly pack the cabbage (+ sea salt) into wide mouthed quart jars using a heavy, wooden mallet of some sort. I use this masher
    my mom gave me to push tomatoes through a Squeez-O-Strainer and instead of it being stained red from tomatoes it is purple from the cabbage!
  • I recently noticed an ad for a "kraut pounder" which is as close to a description as I have ever heard. I have not bought from but I would in a heartbeat if I needed one. I have yet to find a good alternative although another Mama and I spoke to a local wood spoon carver last weekend about making an artistic kraut pounder so if anything comes of that I'll put up that info too!
  • Pound, pound, and pound some more. Get out the anger at the _________ that totally screwed up the ___________. Bring peace on earth (or at least to your household) by bottling up your rage and saving it for a weekly/bi-weekly kraut pounding session. As you pound you break down the cell membranes of the cabbage which will release the liquids into the jar. About the time your arms are crying out for mercy just ask someone else to take a turn, rest up, and then get back in the ring! We call that tapping out in our household. ;-)
  • Once the kraut is sufficiently pounded into the jars (I usually fill a quart jar close to the top, leaving an inch to an inch and a half at the top so there is room for the liquid/brine) find a juice glass, partially fill it with water, and set it on top of the cabbage in the jar. The purpose of this is twofold. First, it provides a bit of weight to help squeeze out the water from the cabbage. Second, it will keep the cabbage submerged below the water so it does not get moldy as it ferments.
  • Gather your jars together in a reasonably cool/darkish space and put a towel over top of them to keep dust (and flies / eggs, but I am not admitting to having flies in my kitchen) from settling on the top of your kraut.
  • Twenty-four hours after you make the kraut check to make sure there is water covering all of the cabbage. If your cabbage was a little dry then you will need to add brine so it will not get moldy as it ferments. If you need to add brine mix up some water with sea salt (~1 tsp of salt to a cup of water).
  • Every day or two lift the towel, push down on the glasses, make sure things are not bubbling over (you don't want to lose the precious juice) and make sure none of the cabbage is exposed to air. Sometimes I end up taking the water out of the juice glasses so they are not pressing so heavily (if the water is overflowing) and other times I have to add a little bit of brine as things dry out.
  • Your sauerkraut is fully fermented when you push on the juice glass and do not see bubbles making their way to the top of the jar. At that point screw on a lid and put it in the fridge. It'll keep for a year!

I hope if you too are a recovering chip-a-holic that this will satisfy some of the crunch you have missed. I find it is particularly helpful in keeping the kids healthy during cold / flu season. In Zi's class last year strep must've gone around a dozen times (at least it felt like it) and took out almost all the kids AND the teacher. The most amazing thing happened. ZiZi, who was previously very susceptible to all colds/flus/fevers/viruses did not get sick. At all. Not even a sniffle. I credit her daily portion of sauerkraut (mostly because once the spring came and I eased up on the sauerkraut and forgot it for a whole week she got sick).

Sauerkraut: It's not just for scurvy anymore!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mamas Care About S***

There is a dirty little secret each of us hides. Well, maybe flushes. And we don't like to talk about it. It's not polite.

WELL......... It is time to grow up and get past all that. Join me with a labcoat and glasses as we talk about the body as a system for a moment. What is the number one output from your system? Okay, how about number two? LOL - get it? Number two? How can you consider the health of the system without considering the output of the system? If I want to know the quality of the product from a factory, wouldn't I just grab a box cutter and head to the loading dock to check out some of the stuff in the boxes? Well, your poo is the product from you digestive tract and it contains excellent clues as to the health of the system.

Believe it or not there are actually websites dedicated to tracking poo. Like reading scat on a trail. Except incredibly bizarre because real live humans are willing to upload their toilet pics. I am hopeful they each removed the GPS info from their cell phone pics and NO - I never posted on one of those sites.

For the rest of us polite folk, we just don't talk about it. Surprisingly, doctors seldom ask us about it. That fact shocks me. I think there are some eloquent phrases to describe this reason - something about "delicacies" and "etiquette." Well, I call BU!!S*** on that. If the evidence of a crime were in front of a detective, don't you think (s)he would at least take a look?

So let's put on our clean, white labcoat and our detective hat. Here is a picture of the Bristol Stool Chart. No idea how many lab assistants it took to look in toilets and determine this charting tool. It's actually kind of funny to think about and how would YOU like to be the guy who is famous for creating this picture? No thanks. My last name may be a little funny but I don't want "Stool Chart" after it for the rest of my life. Ha!

What you want is poo that looks like a four or five. Some people say sixes are fine too - I personally am not thrilled to see those in my home. We are honest to goodness poo peekers in our home - I've taught my girls to always look at it and let me know. I am thrilled with fours, okay with fives and start looking for a big picture issue or solution if we have anything else on an ongoing basis.

Note: If you are doing the SCD/GAPS diet your stooling can shift back and forth quite a bit. Don't freak out if you get one random 3 or 6 or whatever. But if you get more than one start looking for a culprit or a solution. Keeping a food / supplement / emotional / poo journal can be very helpful. It took awhile to figure it out but cucumbers and zucchini had my older daughter living with 6s. Once we removed the foods she settled back into 4s and 5s.

So enough random chatter, since we have labcoats on today let's get in there and start dissecting the matter at hand.

The Big D

Diarrhea cha cha cha. Surprisingly I cannot remember the rest of that grade school rhyme but I realy consider that a good thing.

The reason loose stools / diarrhea are a big deal (a 6 or 7 on the scale) is that it means the person's bowels are moving too quickly and they are likely losing all the amazing nutrition they have put into their body. On this diet, that is literally flushing a lot of $$ down the toilet. I know about the loss of great nutrients this way from my older daughter's experience. It has been a big deal for her and something she struggles with intermittently. It seems to be related to allergies for her. In the meantime she is not growing much at all (her formerly "failure to thrive" little sister is catching up to her). Coincidence? I think not.

Diarrhea is one of the developing world's biggest killers of young children, killing close to 2 million children per year. If you expand the age group and set of nations it kills between 4 and 6 million per year. It should be taken seriously and not ignored. Stress can cause it. Diuretic foods / veggies / juices can cause it. Bacteria can cause it. Yeast can cause it. Food allergies / intolerances can cause it. Getting to the bottom of it (ha - didn't even have to try on that pun) can take awhile and you just have to experiment a bit to eliminate possible causes and find out which one is the primary underlying problem.

So, if you rank a 7 on the Bristol scale, how do you want to handle it? First, remove anything from the diet that can irritate your digestive lining. When the gut lining is irritated it just flushes everything out as fast as it can (AKA diarrhea). Remove nuts, seeds, roughage/fiber and just drink broth. Eat boiled or broiled meats, particularly easy to digest food like fish. Really go easy until you get it under control and then add things in slowly, starting with well-cooked vegetables. Sounds quite a bit like intro, right? Glad you thought of that! That is actually a great idea you just had - just go back to intro to get a little healing. Listen to your body and see what it is crying out for - your intuition will be a better guide than anything I can type. Observe how foods impact you and pay attention.

If you rank more like a 6 on the Bristol scale, particularly if you have undigested food, you may be looking at a yeast overgrowth issue or a lack of stomach acid / enzyme action (they are frequently linked). If this kind of poop has been going on awhile, then consider doing a little research on using HCl with Betaine to increase your stomach acid and give a boost to your digestive enzymes. Alternatively, you can start out a little more gently with apple cider vinegar (ACV) or sauerkraut juice twenty minutes before a meal. If you think it is yeast, there are a bunch of other things to consider toying with as well. I'll write a separate yeast post soon (and I'll come back and link it). But addressing low stomach acid may help with yeast as well because yeast can grow in a stomach that is not at its optimal level of acidity.

With the 6s and 7s on the Bristol scale, keep an eye on the foods you are eating and look for a culprit. Allergies can definitely show up like diarrhea. Just ask my little girl. Gosh, I hope these posts are history by the time she has a prom date. But in the interest of Mamas sharing information we'll keep going!

The Big C

For the anal retentive among us, constipation is a physiologic disaster. It'll make you grumpy and mean. Probably because all the toxins your body wants to get out of the way are sitting in your colon being reabsorbed.

Do you want to reabsorb that which your body is trying to dispose? Definitely NOT! So if you are anything less than a 4 on the Bristol scale you will want to take steps to get things moving. Here is a listing, in no particular order, of things to consider / try:

  1. If your constipation kicked in as a result of a change in probiotics (or fermented foods which are a great source of probiotics) consider going lower/slower. Probiotics are wonderful and necessary for improving gut health but they can also cause some die off as your body acclimates. It is a delicate balance and is particular to each body so listen to what yours is telling you and adjust accordingly!
  2. Consider your diet - are you consuming enough fat? Sugars? Both play a role in elimination of waste from your body. We don't do a lot of sugars in our home but I do keep up with the winter squashes since we are mostly avoiding fruit right now. But I notice a big difference in gut motility when eating a lot of fat versus not enough fat. And it's also a lot of fun to cook with loads of it. It makes my body feel GREAT!
  3. When you wake, first thing, drink a glass of water with a whole lemon or lime squeezed in it. Not only is this great for constipation it is also a nice bit of vitamin C which will nourish your adrenals. Some say it is helpful to the gallbladder and liver. Drink the lemon/lime water on an empty stomach and do not eat anything for thirty minutes and you can reasonably expect to see *some* difference in your bowels and morning digestion. Do it a lot and your body will begin to crave the morning lemon/lime water!
  4. Magnesium... magnesium is something I struggle with keeping in my body on this diet. Perhaps because my body is dumping oxalates (if that sounds like a foreign language I promise a future post) and perhaps because the grains I used to count on for magnesium are not in my diet anymore. Then there is the whole "health of our soils" that makes our food and water sources low in minerals they used to include. Regardless of the cause of low levels, magnesium is usually one of the first items I consider when talking about constipation. Feeling stressed out? Mean? Yelling at the kids? Got a kid throwing tantrums (who isn't eating processed foods / sugars)? Consider your magnesium levels. My favorite forms of magnesium are epsom baths (2 cups of a high quality epsom in a hot bath for 20 mins), Natural Calm (a magnesium supplement), or magnesium spray/cream. If you need magnesium but are not constipated then try the transdermal methods for getting magnesium into your body. If you are constipated, try an oral supplement + a bath/cream/spray.
  5. Increase quantities of broth/soup, particularly those with a load of gelatin in them. The gelatin is very soothing to the gut wall.
  6. Sauerkraut! And if the sauerkraut is too advanced for someone to digest just the sauerkraut juices will be helpful and taste wonderful added to a warm (but not hot - you don't want to lose the probiotics in the kraut) broth or soup.
  7. To help heal the wall of the colon butyrates are helpful. Just to mention it in case someone is curious. Butyrates are most commonly taken in the form of an oral supplement but the original delivery method studied and pronounced successful was via enema. Two birds, one stone? Sorry. Trying to keep it all light-hearted. Supposedly bifido bacteria make butyrates so if you are following a GAPS probiotic protocol versus an SCD probiotic protocol you may have a better supply of butyrates as a result.
  8. I saved the best for last. Really. How about a coffee enema? I have no personal experience (I swear) on this one but I'd be remiss not to mention it since Dr. NCM covers it in her book and the chat groups are all lit up with people talking about it. I personally focus on the magnesium but that may be because I need to chill out and I am *not* curious enough to find out caffeine's ability to be absorbed in the colon. Really.


Just a quick word on color - it should be a nice dark brown. If it is light yellow / greyish then that is likely a stomach acid issue and again I would suggest researching HCl with Betaine. Dr. NCM has a chapter called Digestive Enzymes that is particularly helpful in understanding this.

If the color is black that can be blood in the digestive tract and it is worth a quick visit to your doctor for a testing kit. Sometimes you can just call in and get them to put a kit at the front desk for you - you don't necessarily need a consultation to get the kit.

As far as other rainbow colors, sometimes poo can take on a shade of red (think of the red flaking off poo when someone eat beets) or orange-ish poo after a load of butternut squash. There can be shades of green, particularly with a lot of blueberries. What I have found in my family is that if a food is coloring things in a major way it is likely nothing to worry about but I do watch to see if perhaps it is another symptom of not fully digesting the food.


If your poo leaves a streak on the porcelain express, that is a symptom of fat malabsorption. Again, see the notes on considering HCl with Betaine. If there is an oil slick on the surface that is again a symptom of fat your body did not absorb as well. This may or may not be something to worry about - depends on whether or not you had escolar (an amazing tasting but exceptionally fatty fish) a day or two before. I'm really not kidding on that one. But the words "etiquette" and "delicacies" is coming to mind so I won't tell the story. ;-)

Also, watch the frequency of the poos. Plenty of Mamas get to know their baby's poo cycle as a young child. If something suddenly shifts, see the above notes on "D" and "C." Plenty of poo bloggers say it is ideal to poo once for every large meal you eat. I don't think our family has quite experienced that, even when things are all looking awesome, but certainly 2x / day seems pretty normal. Just 1x / day seems a bit on the "C" side of things and 4+ / day seems a bit on the "D" side of things. Just try to normalize it all and consider frequency in addition to the way it looks on the Bristol scale.

In Conclusion

Thanks for joining me today in the poo lab - you can drop your labcoat in the laundry bag on your way out. If you'd like we can all pretend we didn't just look at that / talk about that / get that on the labcoat. Someday we may be ready to admit that poo is a big deal but until we are there you can just hang out with me in the back of the room and we'll whisper about it. I don't want to be known as a freak either.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our Little Canaries

Our children today are our proverbial canaries in the coal mine. Have you looked around a preschool classroom lately? Good grief! As one teacher said to me a couple of weeks ago, "If you could just spend a couple of hours in my class you would be amazed. Almost 3/4 of my class has some issue of some sort. It wasn't this bad 5 or 10 years ago."

Have you seen the crazy cases of eczema? Asthma? Allergies? Allergies that look like ADHD? How about all the "normal" kids with terrible teeth, ultra pale skin, and no meat on their bones? How about the child with dark circles under his/her eyes? So what is it?

I am generally not one to join in public speculation and outrage about chemicals, toxins, vaccinations, food sources, and the like. I am making different choices today than I did previously and have become a fanatic about clean food. But as far as trying to find the smoking gun, it seems a worthy but frustrating pursuit. I believe there is not one single smoking gun. Few kids I know with issues have the same story so how would we decide what was the true "cause" for them when we can barely piece together enough pictures to make a baby book (or maybe that's just me - I am *terrible* about documenting my children's lives)?

I do, however, believe there is one sure cure. Heal the gut, heal the immune system, heal the body, heal the brain. I know our diet would help any number of children achieve their full potential.

So I have decided to put forth my personal efforts in healing children with existing conditions. Prevention? Would be lovely. Few will listen, even fewer will do. But have a kid that has an issue and you will find a very motivated parent. Parents want solutions and they are willing to go to great lengths to get them.

I hope that if we are able to consistently help children heal via natural methods, to let their bodies heal and rebuild themselves, that perhaps someone will have enough insight on the way in which they are healing as to find the way they are being broken in the first place.

Until then, let us watch these precious little singing birds. They are our warning signals. Once you know what you are looking for (dark circles, pale complexion, anxiousness, hyperactivity, lack of eye contact, chronic ear infections, chronic strep, behavioral regressions, etc., etc., etc.) you will begin to see that an overwhelming number of sweet little canaries around you are having a hard time. The answer is true healing, from the inside out. Put on your diagnostician glasses and see if you do not see issues facing many of our youngest members of society. *Something* is not right in our coal mine and some of our canaries are barely able to sing.

If you can just see all the children of the world as your own, all the mothers of the world as you are, we can make a huge difference.

-- Susan Sarandon

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Liver Lover

Sometimes, after you've been on the crazy train for awhile, you look around and think to yourself, "Where am I???" I have been on a crazy train ride these past few years and I am looking around my kitchen this morning thinking, "Wow. How did I end up in my grandmother's kitchen?"

The foods I've cooked today have included the usual squash, broccoli, cauliflower, soup, stock, etc.. BUT... today also included a lemon soak for the liver and now I am throwing it into my nearly famous (at least with my friends) pot roast. As I put the liver in the pot I started thinking that I have *got* to tell people about this amazing, nutrient dense food and how it has helped my family's health, particularly ZiZi's language skills.

Liver is the kind of food that makes people cringe. It is the kind of food that only a "mature" parent would bother cooking. Even really knowledgeable Mamas shy away from it. I used to be that Mama. Even after I had read about and embraced the concept of liver, I had not yet embraced the preparation and serving of liver. But these days I am totally crazy for a healthy, 100% grass-pastured beef liver and have turned into a bit of a fanatic.

I first added liver into our diet a couple of months ago. I know, I know... 15 months on SCD/GAPS and I didn't get around to adding in liver until month 13? Do as I say, not as I do (this is a quote from my dad). Liver had long been on my "hit list" of things I should have been doing all along but I have a weekly routine that keeps me sane and I had not figured how to flex the routine to incorporate the liver.

So in early September, I debated (against myself, one of my favorite ways to debate) various ways of getting the kids to eat it. Eventually I just stopped the analysis paralysis and dove in wholeheartedly. I am a 150% kind of Mama.

I went straight to the classic dish, liver and onions. I pulled out a liver that had been in my freezer awaiting the long end of the internal debate. I think it had been there for at least two or three months. I soaked the liver in lemon juice, rolled it in coconut oil, sauteed a heap of onions in coconut oil, and then "flash sauteed" the liver so it wasn't overcooked. To distract the children from the potential awfulness on their plate (this was my first time eating liver too so perhaps I was really distracting myself) we had a special dinner in the family room while watching the Redskins. The Reskins won. Hubby was happy. The kids ate their liver. Mama was happy.

The verdict that day was that it was "okay" from Ani and "pretty good" from ZiZi. Zi had seconds and asked for "that special turkey," AKA liver, the next morning for breakfast. Hm. Perhaps better than "pretty good?" Then Zi went off to school as she usually does and when she came home we took a picnic lunch to the playground.

That afternoon at the playground ZiZi was talking. A lot. She also separated from me completely and ran around like a totally normal kid. I noticed. A fab Tribal Mama commented on how ZiZi was noticeably independent that day. I think her words were, "I've never seen ZiZi play so hard and not come sit on your lap for at least awhile." I reported the news about the liver debut the prior night and we all grinned. For one of the Mamas it was an all-knowing grin (she is GREAT at giving liver to her family). For the other Mama it was a grin of joy watching ZiZi run around. For me it was the grin of a happy and proud Mama.

The following week I added liver to the bottom of the pot when I made pot roast. Another hit! The girls *loved* it this time and ate all of the liver and none of the roast. Which is saying something, because the roast was amazing. Suddenly our once in awhile pot roast was so important it was promoted to "something so good it goes into the weekly rotation." Pot roast now has its own day every week on our food calendar. Only four dinners are so amazing they qualify for this honor, two of them are liver related. I am still accepting applications for the remaining three evenings.

Wouldn't you know it? The day after the "liver roast" I observed the same outcome for ZiZi. Her mood was good and her speech/communication skills were up. I noticed the uptick lasted for about 3-4 days which is about what it had lasted the time prior as well. So I decided to get it into her diet 2x/week so we would be all language explosion, all the time. She is currently working to learn her alphabet sounds and shapes. She works quite hard on each letter so anything I can do to help her in the language department is a worthy pursuit!

Mommypotamus (one of my favorite bloggers) gave me the inspiration for my next liver recipe, a pseudo beef/liver chili. The whole family loved it, especially me since it was perfect for nights that Ani had soccer. So it went into the rotation as well (on soccer Thursday). My experiment is a bit different from the Mommypotamus recipe so I'll post it at the bottom of this note.

So now that we have been eating a lot of liver every week (roughly 1-2 lbs / week for our family of four) I have noticed a few things over time. ZiZi has stopped mixing up pronouns (she / her / he / him) and has had a decrease in "word search" time, where she racks her brain looking for the correct word for some "thingy". She has also recently started asking what various words mean. ZiZi's specialist has told us that the communication disorder will be one of the later autism spectrum symptoms to disappear but that it should happen over the next 2-3 years. With the addition of liver perhaps we may see it disappear a little faster than 2-3 years.

I don't have a neat and tidy study to tell you "why" the liver is doing this for ZiZi. I suspect it is related to the nutrient density, particularly Vitamins A, B12, and folic acid. But who knows? Wish I could point to something for this one so if you find a great study somewhere let me know! All I know is that it is working for her.

For myself I have noticed that I consistently receive a bit of an energy boost the following day or two after eating liver. It is always welcome and helps me keep up with the two cuties. So try it, you might like it (or at least the side effects). Just ease in gently. Grind it up and put it in burgers or try it in a chili. But give it a shot. Especially if you have a neurologically / nutritionally sensitive child you may see big changes!

Mama's Lazy "Chili"

1/2 to 1 lb of grass-fed beef liver, thinly sliced
2 lemons
2 to 3 lbs of grass-fed ground beef
Onions, diced
Garlic, diced
Extra virgin olive oil
Bottle of spaghetti sauce
Crushed red pepper, optional
Chili powder, optional

Step One: Soak the liver
Before cooking with liver you want to soak it in fresh lemon juice for at least 4 hours. According to various sources (Nourishing Traditions cookbook, for one) this will help draw impurities out of the liver and improve the texture. We do this whenever we use liver for any recipe. I am not the best planner so sometimes my 4 hours is a little short and other times it turns into 24 hours. The liver is very forgiving. I soak it in the lemon in a glass dish in the fridge, with a lid on top.

Step Two: Saute onions and liver
Pour some olive oil into a pot (I use my dutch oven) and saute the diced onions over low heat until they are transparent but not caramelized. After they have cooked for awhile you can add the garlic. Then add the liver and let it cook for awhile, stirring occasionally. Once it is starting to cook a bit, begin mashing the liver with your spoon. I usually mash mine into a pulverized pulp or at least into bite sized pieces, depending on what I have time / patience to do. If you have a meat grinder you could grind it prior to adding it into the pot. This would save the mashing step but then you have one more thing to clean up. Your call.

Step Three: Brown the ground beef
After the liver is as mashed as you want it to be add the ground beef, crumbling it between your fingers as you do. Brown the beef in the pot.

Step Four: Dump, stir, cover, wait
Pour in the spaghetti sauce and spices, if desired. I sometimes use a sauce with olives, sometimes garlic, whatever I have or want to try out. We have never been disappointed and the best one we ever had was a Mama's homemade sauce that was acquired on a sauerkraut trade. Stir the mixture well, put the cover on the pot, and simmer for up to an hour.

My girls do not like spicy things so our "chili" ends up being more of a really meaty spaghetti sauce. But it still tastes great. I also throw in veggies sometimes (chopped broccoli or cauliflower, slices of asparagus, whatever). Served over spaghetti squash is also great. Play with this one, it is very forgiving!

Friday, November 4, 2011

GF Epic Fail

A couple of us Mamas followed medical advice from various sources and put ourselves / our children on various renditions of a Gluten-Free (GF) diet prior to life on SCD / GAPS. My sample data pool is pretty darn small but interestingly the same thing happened with all three of us (the data set is me, ZiZi, and Stacylee).

When we went GF there was a minor uptick in feeling better / better energy for awhile. It seemed as though perhaps GF might be a piece to the puzzle but we weren't "so" much better off that we thought it was the answer. ZiZi and I both still needed iron supplements and all the neurological symptoms for both ZiZi and Stacylee were pretty much as they were prior to their diet change. Additionally, ZiZi continued to slowly slide off the height/weight charts. So, for ZiZi and me, I tried harder. We removed milk proteins (casein) as well and later tried even harder by further removing soy proteins and corn proteins.

After months / years of being GF we Mamas had "mastered" the diet. We had figured out which GF snacks the little ones liked and we had learned to make all kinds of regular foods (like pizza, breadsticks, etc.) so they tasted almost as good, or sometimes better, than the originals. I was proud of the dietary creative problem solving, particularly when people who did not need a GF diet said it was yummy and wanted recipes / mixes / brand names. Then other friends needed to go GF and I was a "go to mommy" and that felt great too.

However, there was something evil lurking just beneath the surface. Cue the "Jaws" music. The truth of the matter was we had replaced gluten with a lot of difficult to digest starches and sugars. The shopper in each household was buying a bunch of processed baked goods (or mixes - because that was "from scratch" cooking prior to this diet) filled with potato starch, rice starch, tapioca starch, amaranth, etc.. Go check a few labels for fun sometime. Processed GF is all sugars and starches. I even got handy and made my own GF mixes and threw in a little Xantham Gum for fun.

Perhaps predictably, within a year or so of the GF/GFCF/GFCFSFCF lifestyle, all three of us went downhill. Gut pain, bloating, gas, constipation, etc.. I even got a nice new diagnosis of IBS/IBD. No idea what the difference is there - it just hurt.

Now, I am not entirely sure that GF was acting alone. I think there were a few accomplices. First, oxalates definitely played a role in our household around that same time. But second, and perhaps the most important role as an accomplice, was a mother's deepest desire to keep things "normal" for her child. Can't have gluten, that's okay... here are a bunch of starches and it's all okay baby. Look, your friends even want to have some tapioca sticks with you.

Painful to acknowledge, when a doctor / nurse / nutritionist tells you that you may need to consider going GF what they are REALLY telling you (whether or not they know it) is that your bowels are having a bit of a time and need some healing. Guess what is not going to help them heal? All the GF goodies on the market or at that local GF pizza chain. Do you know what will help your bowels heal? A whole-foods diet, including any dips / sauces. Very little processing in your foods. Taking a load off your digestive tract by fermenting foods first (ala the Weston A Price way of cooking) so the first steps of digestion are done for you. Staying away from all processed foods and instead adding healing foods like broth and cod liver oil would also be a great place to start.

But few professionals in the medical establishment will say all that. Perhaps it's because their time is up with you but more likely, I think few have spent much time down this path themselves. Sometimes you have to have lived the experience and suffered the consequences to be able to warn the next guy. So here is my warning: judging by the explosion of GF baked / processed goodies, we are going to have an even bigger problem on our hands in another couple of years.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Steps: Broth

This post is dedicated to every Mama who wants the best health for her children and is looking for her first step on that journey. Broth is a great first step toward becoming an amazing chef and an amazing healer.

For centuries cultures around the world have used broth as a medicinal food. There is a reason besides the Campbell Soups marketing budget that chicken noodle soup bubbles to the surface of our minds when we hear someone is ill.

A well-made broth from a naturally raised animal provides tremendous nourishment to the body and building blocks for the gut wall. All the wonderful nutrients that animal used to build its strong body will be recycled into a medicinal broth for your body. Particularly for anyone whose gut has a difficult time extracting nutrition from solid foods, broth provides "bioavailable" (that is a fancy term for "even your sick gut can grab it") nutrients.

So here is my advice to any healing Mama early in her journey:

  1. If you do not already have a copy of Nourishing Traditions, consider purchasing this cookbook. If I could only have one cookbook this would be it. It is so much more than a cookbook - it is a nutritional education + cookbook all in one. Also, the recipes are so simple they can be easily tweaked to meet any dietary needs.
  2. So as not to slow down the process waiting for your copy of Nourishing Traditions read "Broth is Beautiful" from the Weston A Price website. No sense in me telling you my tricks - I learned them all from the master and this is the primary research document. ;-)
  3. If the first two steps have not answered enough questions, if you once considered going into biochemistry, or if you have a little "Cliff" from Cheers deep inside you, here is the answer to "Why Broth is Beautiful" from the Weston A Price website.

After 14 months on GAPS I have finally figured out a thing or two about making the broths. I have a bit of a strategy that works for me and is not covered in the links above so here are my other tips:

  • Look at the timing of the particular broth you plan to make and work it into a regular schedule that works. I really like the 24-48 hr beef bone broths because I can start them late at night after the kids are in bed and then deal with them a day and a half later. Once you find a pattern / routine that works for you just stick with it.
  • Please know that you can reuse your bones for additional batches. If there is still bone there is still mineral content to be leached. You will not get the gelatin (unless you are using beef feet / chicken feet) in your broth past the first or second batch. But you will still have great mineral water which is wonderful for drinking or cooking.
  • Use a large stock pot (stainless steel, no aluminum) and make loads at a time. As a side note, I hear people talk about making stock in their crockpots and I chuckle to myself because I would need some sort of commercial crockpot for my lazy ways. Also, there is the whole "what is in the paint on that crockpot" and I cannot think about one more possible source of contamination. But I digress...
  • I store my stocks (and soups) in canning jars in the fridge. It is generally consumed so quickly there isn't a need to move it to the freezer. If you do freeze some, chill it first in the fridge and then freeze it in quart size canning jars (or smaller). Be sure to leave at least 1-2" of space at the top of the jar so it can expand during the freezing process. Note: Some people reduce it prior to freezing so it takes less space. Just mentioning that - I personally don't keep enough in the freezer to worry about that step (and an extra step is not generally welcome in my kitchen anyway).
  • Rather than use veggies in making my broth I use onion peels. I particularly like to use the onion skins / ends from yellow onions as they have a wonderful anti-histamine compound in them called quercetin. This compound is also in red onions but not white onions. For some reason red onions bothers my family so we stick to yellow. Anyhoo... As I (or Chef Steve) peel and slice onions, leeks, fennel, or whatever we save the scraps in a bag in the freezer. After I add the vinegar to the water + meat/bones and let it sit for an hour I add the veggie scraps at that time along with my herbs (usually just bay leaves + thyme + sea salt) and let it go. Just make sure you poke everything under the water as they can get burned if they are out of the water for 24 hours on a low boil.

When a broth shimmers while warm and shakes like Bill Cosby's favorite J-E-L-L-O when you take it out of the fridge, THAT is a very healing broth! So... time to give it a shot. Easy Peezy, Lemon Squeezy. This is your first step to introducing an incredibly medicinal food to your family. Get the gelatin in the broth, keep the fat in the broth, turn it into an amazing soup, do whatever. I'll put a note out soon about soups, but just get started. Your gut will thank you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Seed Muffins

These are a family favorite for Thanksgiving and birthday parties. We can't wait for an excuse to make them again soon!

2 cups pumpkin seed butter (made with coconut oil + sea salt)*
3 lg bananas, very ripe
4 duck eggs**
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp champagne vinegar

Blend pumpkin seed butter and banana in food processor until completely blended
Add eggs and blend again
Add baking soda and blend again
Add 1 tsp vinegar and blend again

Baking: Divide into ~24 cupcakes, using paper lined tins. Bake @ 400 for 10 minutes, or until a knife that goes in comes out cleanly when you test it.


*I make our pumpkin seed butter from seeds soaked for 7+ hours and then dehydrated. There is a brand of "sprouted" pumpkin seeds available called "Go Raw" so if I don't have time for the sprouting process this is what I use. I can get those at Whole Foods locally. The sprouting process makes the seeds more nutritious and more digestible. When I make the pumpkin seed butter (I use a Vitamix or food processor and I just use pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, and sea salt) I store it in an old coconut butter jar that is exactly 2 cups so I don't have to measure out sticky pumpkin seed butter when I make this recipe.

**Note on eggs: Using duck eggs will make these cupcakes rise better and remain "full" and beautiful when they cool. My experience is that even amazing PolyFace chicken eggs will look full until they cool and then the tops will shrink back / fall in on themselves. There is a greater "rising agent" in duck eggs so they are awesome for baking and regarding taste you will never know it isn't a chicken egg! Other eggs with wonderful rising action are emu and ostrich eggs, although you have to be a little careful with those - they may rise a little higher than you are bargaining for so don't fill the cupcake holders too full.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crazy for Coconut Fish

My kids are crazy for coconut, particularly for what we call "coconut fish." This is another easy recipe and not very exotic. But the kids love it and Ani has taken to reciting this recipe to other moms at the playground which totally cracks me up!

Shredded, dried coconut
Coconut oil
Sea salt

Step One: Cut (knife or kitchen scissor - both work) the fish into fish sticks. If you have kids (or a husband who likes to eat like a kid) this step can make all the difference in the marketability of the meal.

Step Two: Pour the shredded, dried coconut onto a large dinner plate. I usually pour out about a cup of coconut for a pound and a half of tilapia.

Step Three: Rinse the tilapia and roll it in the coconut shreds.

Step Four: Pour coconut oil into a pan over low heat and pan fry the coconut fish. Sprinkle sea salt on the fish as it is frying.

The sea salt is *crucial* to the flavor - we use the Celtic brand and without it this recipe is totally ho hum. But with just a bit of sea salt and the coconut crunchies it is a major hit. There are other kids at preschool who now get this in their lunchbox after jealously eying Ani's leftovers last year. Enjoy!

- Kati

p.s. Many thanks to my friend Kim for the inspiration behind this wonderful and simple dish. We eat it every Tuesday so if you ever need a taste test that is the evening to show up.

These Pancakes Are "Off the Chain!"

Janice, you made my day when you wrote me the e-mail that said, "OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG These pancakes are off the chain." So this one is for you, Mama!

To get to this recipe, we added together, rearranged, and changed two recipes (one from and the second was e-mailed to me by my friend Molly). We tweaked enough that this shouldn't match anyone's recipe and if it does then it is because great taste buds ended up at the same spot.

2x 1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup of butternut squash, already baked
1/2 tsp of Celtic sea salt
1/2 cup of coconut flour
8 eggs
vanilla, optional
cinnamon, optional

Step One: Put the first five ingredients in the blender in the order given and blend well. I'm sure this sounds like I'm micro-managing you. Here is my reasoning:
Put the flour in last or it turns to cement in the bottom of your blender. Even with a Vitamix. Also, use the 1/4 cup measuring cup twice for the coconut oil instead of a 1/2 cup measuring cup so when you measure the honey there is no time or honey wasted as it will come out of the measuring cup easily.

Step Two: Add the eggs and, if desired, vanilla and/or cinnamon. Blend well.

Step Three: Pour a good quantity of coconut oil into a large frying pan on low to medium-low heat. I have an electric stove and our magic number is between the 3 and 4. Another tip: two pans is even better / faster. Last tip: pour the batter into the pan in small quantities so the pancakes are easy to flip.

Pour and flip, check oil in pan, repeat.


Grain-free Roast with Gravy

If it's Sunday, it's gotta be a slow cooked meal! My dad is *the* connoisseur of all things gravy. I made this on a Saturday for dinner with my parents and he asked a lot of questions and seemed to be taking mental notes. I think he might actually try this sometime. So that leads me to believe I'm really onto something. LOL!

This is adapted from a recipe in Cook's Magazine which was adapted from a recipe from Mary Todd Lincoln (if I remember the article correctly). It is EASY and would be a great thing to serve if you have someone you want to impress. Just try it once first so you have some confidence on the day you are trying to impress said individual(s). I'm documenting the full set of instructions since some people are more experienced cooks than others and this is a GREAT recipe for a very novice cook.

Special Equipment
Dutch oven

This is an excellent recipe for a weekend. Start the liver soaking (optional) at least 8 hours before you want to serve and start working on the rest of it 4-6 hours before you want to serve.

Grass-fed beef roast (fatty cut) or short ribs
Celtic brand sea salt, coarse grain
Onions (+ fennel / leeks / celery / whatever)
Extra virgin olive oil
Liquid (wine / stock / water)
Champagne vinegar
Bay leaves
Garlic (optional)
Liver (optional)

Step One: Soak the liver
Before cooking with liver you want to soak it in fresh lemon juice for at least 4 hours. According to various sources (Nourishing Traditions cookbook, for one) this will help draw impurities out of the liver and improve the texture. We do this whenever we use liver for any recipe. I am not the best planner so sometimes my 4 hours is a little short and other times it turns into 24 hours. The liver is very forgiving. I soak it in the lemon in a glass dish in the fridge, with a lid on top.

I am not a huge fan of liver but I am a huge fan of the nutrients it imparts and for some reason my body slowly begins craving liver now that I am eating it more regularly. Even if you do not like liver, try it in this recipe. The nutrients from the liver leach into the gravy liquid while the pot roast cooks. It is a sneaky way of making this gravy ultra nourishing. The bonus is that it turns out my girls crave the liver cooked this way. Even if you discard the liver meat after cooking you will have added to the flavor of your gravy AND boosted the nutrients you feed your family.

Step Two: Salt your meat
Rub about 1.5 Tbsp of sea salt onto the surface of the meat and let it rest on the counter for approximately one hour. I usually rub on the salt and about 15 minutes later I start prepping my onions. I definitely short change the hour and at other times get distracted and it sits for just over an hour. It is still always delicious (the best recipes are forgiving recipes, no?). I used to set the meat on a rack, per the magazine recipe's instructions but I don't like the extra cleaning of the rack so lately I just salt it and set it on the paper it was wrapped in and it seems to be fine.

If you want some yummy roasted garlic or want to impart a garlic flavor to your meat cut a few slices in the meat with a sharp knife and put a few cloves in the meat. I usually prefer just to put the garlic straight in the bottom of my dutch oven in step 3 but my dad is more of a "garlic nestled in the meat" kinda guy. Of course, this past weekend when he was here I forgot the garlic altogether, so that is fine too!

Step Three: Veggies
Cut off the ends of the onions, chop them in half, and peel off the dried layer(s). Set the flat side down and thinly slice the onions. I usually use around 2 very large onions. If you have some fennel or leeks or celery and would like to put them in as well then slice them thinly also. By thinly I am talking about 1/8-1/4 inch slices.

Add the thinly sliced vegetables and some olive oil (drizzle a time or two around the pan - maybe 2 Tbsp or so) and cook on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. You want to cook them enough that the onions start to turn translucent but you are not trying to caramelize them, which can take hours. They will begin to caramelize during the cooking process. I haven't decided whether the major importance of this step is in the beginning to cook down the onions or if it is just to reduce the volume of onions so there is room in the dutch oven for your roast!

Step Four: Prepare to throw it in the oven
When ready, pile up the onions in the middle and set the roast on the pile of onions.

This is probably the only important part of this recipe as the rest of the recipe is something that is in every experienced cook's repertoire. However, most of my friends do an extra step where they brown the meat and my big A-HA cooking moment was realizing you don't have to do that somewhat annoying and time consuming step. The pile of onions will keep your roast out of the liquid as it cooks and not let it stick to the bottom of the pan at the same time. You will get a browned roast without the extra work of browning it first. A-HA!!!

Add about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of liquid. I use homemade beef stock if I have it. Otherwise a little dry white wine or water will work. If you didn't use white wine then add about a Tbsp of the champagne vinegar. Finally, throw any herbs into the liquid you want to include. Bay leaves and thyme are my stand-bys but if you have other favorites feel free to add them too. Tuck the lemon-soaked liver into the liquid. Make sure it is in the liquid (versus the roast that you want to keep out of the liquid). This is also the time to drop in some garlic directly into the pot if you want to do that. Or set it on top of the meat if you want it baked. Yum!

Step Five: Slow cooked goodness
Put the lid on your dutch oven and pop it in the oven at anywhere from 275 (best temp) to 325. If I'm running late on time I cook at 325 and it takes about 2.5 hours for a 2.5 pound roast. If I have enough time I cook at 275 and it takes about 3.5 hours for a 2.5 pound roast. These times are approximate as my life is too busy to track these details carefully. But it is a very forgiving recipe and I've never been disappointed. If you pull the roast out of the oven and it isn't falling apart easily then give it another 30 minutes or so.

Step Six: The best gravy EVER!
All this typing is making me HUNGRY! Once your roast is finished then take it (and the liver if you added liver) out of the pot and set it on a serving plate and cover to keep it warm. Next, remove the bay leaves and any other herbs that need to be removed (I use fresh thyme and take it out here so I don't have to worry about the stems poking anyone in the gravy). Then get all the flavor off the sides of your dutch oven by using a wooden spoon and rubbing the onions on the sides of the pot to pull all the glutamates (the fancy word for yummy goodness) into the liquid for gravy. Finally, pour all the liquid / onion mixture into a stainless steel bowl and use a stick blender to blend it. Or pour it into your blender and blend it. Or do this step in a food processor, but a quick note that if you can keep it out of plastic as you do not want any chemicals leaching into your amazing food product.

So that's it!!! I'm sure I've missed something in this write-up so leave me a note if you have a question and I will edit the post as necessary. This is E-A-S-Y and you will look like a rock star. When people rave you can just sit back, smile, and give thanks to Mary Todd Lincoln!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shifting Context

Pick out the lovingly abusive parent:

    A parent who does not allow their child to eat cotton candy but brought along a healthy snack to the school party. The child feels a bit left out from the festivities.


    A parent who knows a child will "go crazy" after ice cream and but takes her for a "treat" before an extra-curricular activity. The child is reprimanded for inability to pay attention during the activity.

Sooo... Whaddayathink? Both? First one? Second one?

For many parents and grandparents, one of the hardest things about this diet is giving up "treats" as the children have known them. No more technicolor goldfish. No more snack bags. No more special trips for ice cream. No more juice boxes after a soccer game. Giving back "goody bags" at a birthday party. You get the idea.

As a parent / grandparent, should you feel sorry for the kid? Do you feel like the "bad guy?" Well, you can but that is a pretty pointless use of emotional energy. If a child needs to heal a child needs to heal. YOU are not doing anything TO him or her. YOU are doing something FOR him or her.

This is a context that generally bothers a parent / grandparent during the early months of being on a special diet. However, if the diet is REALLY working and provides consistent evidence that the child truly needs the special / restricted foods the parent / grandparent will gradually find their context of "normal" shifts slowly over time.

Lest you think my context is perfectly shifted, I too have been recently guilty of wanting to be the "fun" parent. Just the other weekend we were at ZiZi's school party and they had the most *amazing* farm-fresh apples. I threw caution to the wind and let each of the girls have one. This was cruel to my daughter with the apple allergy. But it had been awhile since she had had one and it was a fun day so what the heck. Poor kid had a pretty bad potty accident at the event (one of her usual side effects) and was totally out of sorts for days. My bad.

Once your context begins to shift you will find yourself with no sympathy for the child any longer. This can actually be a good place to be. Allowing someone to wallow and be a victim is not a great way to support him/her on a healing journey. Giving the child language around the food choices that empowers him/her is the way to go. Not that I'm telling you what to do, of course.

The other thing that will happen once your context shifts is you will slowly start to notice how we have become a culture of sugar and brightly colored, "blingy" treats. The average social gathering has sugar as a main attraction. The governments have been busy fighting the war against fats, but I say bring out a bucket of fried chicken for the kids instead of some unnatural shade of bright blue cupcakes. Their minds and bodies will be better for it. It is as if we don't "really" believe that sugar (and the crazy food colorings + additives) cause problems for anybody. Kid has a birthday at school? Celebrating the last sports team gathering? Holidays? Book fair? Bring out the inflammatory substances and add a side of hyperactivity to it just for fun.

Once your context has shifted, you will start looking around and feeling really, REALLY sorry for many of the children around you. They are being poisoned by the adults who love them. Many, many of them are eating so many prepackaged treats that you have to wonder about the chemical cocktails they ingest every day. Not to mention the sugar, which is added to EVERYTHING. Even bacon. Sometimes when I see those kids it feels a little unfair that my sweet babe eats the cleanest foods and still struggles to learn her letters and numbers. But time will tell and although it will take Zi awhile to catch up to her peers, she will catch up. The kid sucking down a blue colored, genetically modified high fructose corn syrup laden "energy drink" at age five... We'll just have to see how it goes for him.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mary Katharine's Story

Our family started the GAPS diet after a string of events that started with our 2.5 year old daughter suffering a severe eczema outbreak. As a baby, I could tell that she was milk intolerant. While breastfeeding I eliminated all dairy (except my beloved cream in my coffee) and things improved. She had a rough go of teething and I ended up nursing much longer than anticipated, to 2 years old when I became pregnant with our 3rd. She was always very verbal, very precocious for her age, petite, and a little stick of dynamite! We joked that she never walked anywhere, point A to point B was always a sprint, even if just 2 feet away.

Thanksgiving of 2010 she was hit with a bad upper respiratory virus. Certain it was pneumonia; we went to the KidMed the night before our flight to visit family. It was just a virus, we were sent away with a nebulizer, some steroids and the all clear to travel. She did have some GI distress with the virus as well. She got better, but she did not feel well and was not herself for at least 2 weeks. During this time she ate and drank little.

Once recovered pre-Christmas and Christmas festivities were in full swing and we were eating like our lives depended on it. Sippy cup upon sippy cup of Horizon Organic Milk were flowing (we introduced cow’s milk to her upon the recommendation of our pediatrician at one year and she seemed to tolerate it). December came and went, January arrived and as we were getting back into the swing of things the eczema started. First in the creases of her arms, then the legs, then the chest…this is when I knew a dietary intervention was needed. We pulled the most obvious, all dairy and soy, first and things improved significantly but still lingered.

I would notice little skin flares after eating certain things. We saw a Naturopath and had the enzyme intolerance test done. She and I were both intolerant to potato and the sugar-fruit combo. Huh? Potato? Based on her blood type (o), the ND recommended a grain free diet as well. So now we are *basically* grain free except the few on the legal list like rice. Again, things improved but still lingered. She was easily potty trained at 2 years old,but now she was having early morning bm’s in her diaper. I was getting an up close and personal wake-up call every morning and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Things were holding steady enough, I was about to have the baby, luckily my mom stepped in to cook and adhere to our current eating plan for now and in the back of my mind I was thinking that next I would pull eggs. What in the world was she going to eat?

Fast Forward to me “taking back over” after our baby was born. I was shocked at how the digestive situation had really declined. I was hearing about the messy poops from the family members but now seeing it with my own eyes really made me worry. She was clearly not digesting many foods. Some research led me to learn that she was having malabsorption issues. A checkup at the pedi showed she had dropped in weight percentile, nothing to worry about yet, she is petite, but something about that didn’t add up for me.

I had heard about GAPS from Kati about a year before, was abnormally intrigued by the whole thing yet stayed at an arm’s length because man, that diet is CRAZY! The whole time it was in the back of my mind though, and somewhere in the midst of all this I read the literature and just knew this was the only solution. There is an example in the book about 3 generations of women and their “ailments” and it was our EXACT situation. It could have been written about us. Nobody has any major disease, yet, but all the little quirky things could be chalked up to “leaky gut”. Since MK’s issues started so early, I knew we had to reverse things now to save her from years of lingering health problems and likely a full blown autoimmune disease.

The final straw was when the new baby had a quick and fast reaction to me “going off the dairy wagon” one post partum weekend with pizza and who knows what else while I was at it. His stool immediately changed. Another kid milk intolerant. Clearly they are all getting this from me. Me and all the crappy processed dairy I've consumed over the years.

We started GAPS intro in August 2011. The first 2 weeks were ROUGH. My son and daughter did the intro, my husband played along for the first weeks and was a big help and I started strict full gaps. They starved themselves, they puked, they lay lifeless on the floor napping and sleeping. The detox was intense. We psychologically tortured my poor mom who was in town to assist me. Then they started eating, quit fighting the broth and acted like pancakes made of squash, egg and nut butter were the best things in the whole world.

I started my 6 year old son on the program at the same time because he was also dairy intolerant but his symptoms manifested in different ways. He was chronically congested,generally fatigued and craved sweets, I mean CRAVED to the point that it was very frustrating. I had the same cravings and according to the GAPS literature if one child has a GAPS condition it’s safe to bet any siblings do too, they are just presenting different clues.

Shortly after intro we learned an important piece of the puzzle for MK. She had/has a yeast overgrowth in her upper GI tract. Our new pediatrician (yep, I switched) saw this in the back of her mouth at her 3 yr checkup. She prescribed Nystatin. I gave myself 3 weeks to try a non-pharmaceutical alternative. We saw immediate results in her digestion. Immediate. Things are consistently “normal” with her digestion and elimination. She’s put on 3 lbs in the last 2 weeks. Maybe she’s not supposed to be petite? We’ve had a couple setbacks here and there but trend is definitely in the right direction.

My son looks MUCH better, has better color, much better energy and his sweet cravings are completely gone. A piece of fruit is now a treat in our house and they enjoy it so, so much. We have months ahead of us but I am confident that following this approach will get us to where we want to be. My husband has even noticed things in himself from “sort of” following the diet with us. Like Kati said, the guys are reluctant to give up the beer J Who can blame them living with these crazy,driven, problem-solving, operating without a medical degree, self-diagnosing
crazy women?

Looking back, I know exactly how we got here:
  1. Various food intolerance in me, passed down to the kids. They should have never
    had a sip of cow’s milk and it wrecked havoc on their bellies.
  2. MK had several early ear infections, treated by antibiotics.
    I did probiotics, but not therapeutically and probably not each time. I remember the pediatrician told me they generally don’t recommend probiotics until the second round of antibiotics in the row. *growl* I knew better. After the 3rd EI, I saw an ND who helped us get on a non-pharmaceutical regime for fighting colds and EI’s and (knock on wood),
    we haven’t had one since.
  3. Lots of shots. We did a staggered schedule, but she still got them all. Lots of shots
    on top of a compromised gut, even just from food intolerance, are not a good idea in my opinion. ( There is definitely some science to back that up too).
  4. She had a horrible time teething. I put A LOT of stuff in her mouth. 95% homeopathic, but
  5. Gave her cow’s milk at 1 year old, seemed to tolerate but I’m convinced by long term breastfeeding held off her body from having an immune system reaction. She was protected until I quit making the antibodies for her.
  6. She got the flu mist last fall. I have a feeling this contributed to the yeast growth and/or healthy flora suppression in her mouth and throat.
  7. The Thanksgiving virus and GI distress further damaged her gut wall, making her very, very
    susceptible. Pour on top of a susceptible gut normal Christmas eating behavior and voila, eczema, the first sign of what was to come. If left unaddressed, what is next to come? I am finding that just in my circle of friends there is a huge link between baby/toddler eczema and ADD, ADHD, learning delays, asthma…yet all can be avoided with just one
    simple thing. The right food.

In reality, we are lucky to have caught this so soon and that our current symptoms are physiological (although I have seen a DRASTIC improvement in behavior, focus and drama). I figure this crazy cooking and living in our weird food bubble for a brief time is a small sacrifice for setting up a lifetime of good health. Also, by eating more cleanly my husband and I have noticed food intolerances in ourselves that we would have otherwise ignored or not attributed to the gut. I’ve known I was due for a big dietary overhaul for a while now and was even discussing recently with a vegetarian friend that I could see myself going that route. I have to laugh about that now, I couldn’t be on a more opposite end of the spectrum with GAPS! Thank goodness I didn’t go veggie, that would have only worsened my particular intolerances. Not to say a vegetarian diet isn't perfect for some, it just wouldn't be the best for me at this moment.

I do worry that at some point they’ll end up in the same shrink's chair as Kati’s kids, talking about how “I had avocado as a snack at school while the rest of my classmates at goldfish, I was so left out” and “my mom made me eat soup and I hated it”. Oh well, time will tell!

PS: We have always been healthy eaters! We were not eating the SAD
(Standard American Diet) or even close. We did fall victim to convenience foods and that’s where we are all just screwed at the grocery store. Just because it’s “all natural” or “gluten free” doesn’t mean shit. If it’s in a box or a package, don’t eat it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Maddie's Story

Maddie is a beautiful young girl who has stolen my heart. Maddie's mom, Janice, is a friend of friends and now a friend of mine too. We initially connected via our mutual friends because they knew what I was doing to help recover ZiZi and couldn't help but wonder if it might help Maddie as well.

Maddie is almost five years old and has been diagnosed with autism. She is non-verbal and usually when she is at my house she wanders around, mouths on things, sometimes eats chalk, and does not interact much with the other kids. My oldest daughter, Ani, tries pretty hard to get Maddie's attention and I remember an early visit when Janice was surprised that by the end of the visit they were seated together. Apparently Maddie usually shied away from that sort of thing. But Ani has a way with people and like her mama doesn't always take "No" for an answer.

I met Maddie and Janice when we were in the "biomed" portion of our recovery. We were on a ton of supplements and spending a lot of money on labwork, but we were getting some noticeable results. I passed along anything I learned to Janice. At that time I talked to Janice about a gluten-free, casein-free diet and the importance of giving kids real food, not prepackaged snacks. That first step was a lot of work and Janice has three other children and a husband who need time from her as well.

Then our family started SCD / GAPS. It was a wonderful change for ZiZi and her communication skills skyrocketed. I started talking to Janice about this dietary option. I couldn't help but think that Maddie was "in there" in her brain and all we needed to do was unlock her so she could tell us what she was thinking. I said this out loud to Janice once when they were over and Maddie stopped her random bumping around. She turned and looked at me and stared into my eyes in a way that gives me goosebumps even now when I think about it. It was like she reached right out and grabbed my soul. I felt bonded to her after that day.

So I called Janice every now and then and checked in. I would not let go of the idea of Maddie on this diet. I was probably the crazy small, cartoonish dog hanging onto the back of her pants. Her life was intense and she had a lot of people who needed her. Her mom had a surgery. Her father passed away. Life was really tough. I felt so trapped in my own kitchen that I couldn't offer much. All I could really do was just let her know I cared about her and her daughter.

This summer, when all the dust had settled, I told Janice we needed to give it a shot. She told me that some professionals she trusted had told her that diet wouldn't do anything. I countered that there was no down-side to feeding her daughter really healthy food for a few weeks to see if it would help. The wonderful thing about this diet is that there is not much "risk" or down-side to giving it a shot. Particularly if you begin with the full foods menu rather than starting with the dreaded intro.

So around August Janice made the switch. It has been almost three months and although Maddie occcasionally gets some foods that are not allowed on the diet her mother is working like a maniac, trying to make sure she has what she needs.

In the past three months Maddie has begun to pay more attention to people and to her program (her school and therapy exercises to help her learn). She has even become more aware of her surroundings to the point that her feelings are occasionally getting hurt now, for the first time in her life. This emotional capacity is a very big milestone.

Maddie is also no longer pulling hair. This had developed into a big problem over the summer and her mother had to leave the park more than once because of it. Maddie is much less agitated and aggressive. She is now more affectionate and seeks hugs and kisses. She wants to play with her younger sister and they are able to laugh together.

Maddie is listening to the requests from her parents. When they say, "Come here" or "Sit down" she is focused on what they say and able to react appropriately. Janice called me a few weeks ago thrilled that she had told Maddie her burger was hot and to blow on it. She said Maddie looked her in the eye (like, "Got it, Mom!"), turned to the burger, and blew on it. This may sound like a small thing but it was a big change.

Maddie is also initiating communication via sign-language with her family members. She is able to communicate her wants and needs which is a massive breakthrough. And last, but not least, yesterday she used the potty for the first time.

Maddie's improvements are noticed not just by her family but also by friends and her therapists. The only thing that has shifted in her routine is her foods. Her body craves the healing broths. She happily eats sauerkraut and meatballs. Her mom, like many of us, can barely make it out of the kitchen long enough to take care of all the other things that need to happen in a busy household. But somehow she holds it together and dares to hope for what the next 6-12 months can bring for Maddie. Janice is my kind of hero. She may not be honored at some charity gala this year but one day she will have the sweetest reward of all. One day, I dare to dream, Maddie will tell her mom that she loves her. Out loud.

Elevator Speech: Our Healing Diet

When we were preparing for our healing diet I took advantage of a couple of my girls' twenty minute epsom baths and spent that time drawing diagrams of the human digestive tract. We talked about intestinal villi, enzymes, food molecules, and that sinister villain, "the belly bug."

I don't always have an opportunity to speak to a captive audience (particularly in my bathtub) so over the past 15 months or so I have perfected my elevator speech for people who look at me questioningly as I pull out the cooler at a birthday party or picnic. I have found that it is best to generally stick to the science behind the diet and not get dragged into any of the reasons we are on the healing diet. Our diet can be boiled down to this in a nutshell:

Point #1: The human body runs on fat, protein, and carbohydrates. The bacteria in our gut utilizes the carbohydrates for energy. If there is a bacterial or yeast overgrowth the carbohydrates will continue to feed them.

Point #2 There are three main forms of carbohydrates (technically there are four but because I use the word "main" I am not going to split hairs on the difference between an oligosaccharide and polysaccharide):
Monosaccharide (think of this as a ball)
Disaccharide (think of this as two balls with a bar between them)
Polysaccharide (think about many balls strung together in different shapes, mostly long lines but also circles and star shapes)

Point #3 The human body can immediately use the single ball / saccharide without any sort of enzyme action or digestive process. The disaccharide must be split into to saccharide molecules before it can be used. The polysaccharide must be split, and split, and split, and split (you can keep going for dramatic effect). Unfortunately, some people have a deficiency in digestive enzymes to aid digestion of the disaccharides and polysaccharides.

Point #4 Anything your body is unable to digest and use will pass through the body. The carbohydrates you were unable to digest and use make wonderful food and energy sources for gut pathogens. To starve out the gut pathogens and allow for maximum healing our family avoids disaccharides and polysaccharides until our bodies are able to more easily digest them.

Point #5 This is a healing diet and after the healing is complete (six months past the last symptom) we will add back wholesome foods to see if our bodies can digest them.

From here you end up at a decision point on whether or not to go any further or tell any bit of your healing story, a friend's story, or whatever. Hopefully you read social cues well and are looking at your listener for those cues. Sometimes it is helpful to take a deep breath and wait for their social cue. I mean reaction.

If your listener has the slightest bit of interest in the science/background:
The basis for this diet is called Specific Carbohydrate Diet and it is the original diet from the 1950s/60s for celiac disease. It has historically been used for ulcerative colitis, IBD, IBS, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease. These days it garners a lot of interest and support for healing children from autism, ADHD, allergies, and asthma.

If your listener asks for a recommended book:
Recommend Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. All the other books do not explain the science well enough and do not draw all the parallels to the variety of ways this gut condition can present neurologically. Even if you send someone to check out SCD, this is the better book to read.

If your listener asks for a website:
If s/he is associated in any way with autism the is the easiest place to start. It is an SCD website but tailored very heavily to parents of children with autism.

If s/he is just asking in general then I would usually just suggest the GAPS website as a starting place:

If your listener asks for a video or doesn't want to read anything:
Here is a worthwhile 90 minute video of a presentation by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

If you can perfect this short elevator speech you may find greater levels of support and a little less eyeball rolling. Some people are haters and are going to be eyeball rollers regardless so don't take their dysfunction personally (I never do). The vast majority of people, however, tend to be curious and generally want to be supportive.

It really is pretty simple. It is about the physiology of our digestive system and giving it time to heal before going back to a life of sourdough bread and gnocchi. Which, by the way, I hope to go back to one day.

Tales of an Intro Past

At this point I have watched, assisted, and supported a number of mothers putting children through a formal "intro" for SCD / GAPS. There are a few consistencies between all the stories and they, strangely enough, match up pretty closely to an addict going through detox. I had never put that together until I was on the phone with a mom listening to her daughter scream, "I want pizza! I want pizza!" in the background. Her mother had a spine of steel and told me that she and her husband were both familiar with the cycle of addiction (from the professional assistance standpoint) and that she considered her daughter's behavior to be that of an addict.

Her comment really opened my eyes. I started thinking of the kids on intro a little differently than I had previously. Of COURSE their stubborn holding out for the old foods was addict behavior. Also, many of the kids got sick and vomited on intro and the reasons given were always: detox, yeast/bacteria die-off, or low blood sugar. I had previously assumed that low blood sugar was the biggest issue but what if it was more frequently toxins / detox?

So I started thinking back to some of the kids who had been on dietary "upgrade" journeys. The most severe detox reaction came from a beautiful young child with autism. Her journey toward GAPS was a long and slow one and there were many steps in between her previous diet and getting to 100% "Full GAPS" (she has yet to do a formal intro). One of the first phases of her journey was when her mother removed additives and preservatives from her diet. She screamed all day and all night for a week. She was nonverbal at the time and was unable to tell her mother how she was feeling but obviously she was not feeling okay. The detox from simply removing additive / preservative chemicals was intense. Today, when this same child has an infraction on "Full GAPS" she writhes on the floor in pain or is "off" for a few days while the offending substance clears her body.

My girls threw major tantrums when we first went on the diet. OK, OK, me too with my knife throwing incident. Our issue was the toxins from yeast/bacteria die off. Luckily for us we had been on a very clean diet for awhile before starting SCD and there wasn't any vomiting. For Stacylee the intro period was very, very difficult. The most severe I had witnessed up to that point. She was lethargic, pale, losing weight, and vomiting. Her mother was very scared. Stacylee came to our home on day three when she was vomiting and again on day six. On day three her presentation didn't seem too bad but by day six she needed some FOOD. She did start eating that day, but what parent thinks it is "OK" or "normal" for their child to vomit for days on end before being ready for food?

Because the intro is SO tough, scary, and lonely many people advise going onto the full diet first and then going back to the introductory stages after awhile. The double bonus is that whomever is doing all the cooking can get used to the new ingredients list / ways of cooking and stock up on ferments, broths, and veggie puree before beginning intro. The other thing they can stock up on is love, patience, and support. They have time to educate those around them and get them used to the changes.

Other parents feel pressed for time or are just "dive right in" kind of people. With no stock or ferments in their pantry and with family/friends who have no idea of the big changes ahead, they just get started. Those who find out what is "going on" may question whether it is necessary or healthy. Hopefully these chefs are doing intro hunkered down for two weeks or so behind closed doors because if their child is one of the kids who needs it the worst their child will go through detox the worst.

It is a long, soul crushing road but well worth the results achieved and the chef is generally rewarded very, very quickly. Here is a Facebook post from today - the little boy has been on intro for only two weeks:

[Name removed] has stopped 99% of his head-shaking... this is a form of self-stimulation done by people with "high-functioning" Autism. He's also stopped spinning and running around in circles and obsessively throwing himself against the glass sliding door whenever we get done singing the song he likes from "Wee Sing."

That is quite a change for just two weeks. Healing and sealing. Heal the gut, seal the gut, heal the brain. Soul crushing road, but worth it.