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!