Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Egads Dads!

Most of us local Mamas have spouses "along for the ride" so to speak on our crazy SCD/GAPS dietary adventures. Some spouses have been through an autism diagnosis, the biomed route (loads of supplements to heal the body), the gluten-free diet, the gluten-free + casein-free diet, gluten-free + casein-free + soy-free + corn-free diet, elimination diets for allergies, Weston A Price diet, etc.. Is it any wonder that they are beyond DONE with diets by the time they arrive at SCD/GAPS?

So for the most part they support us with, "yep, sure, and uh-huh" to our obsessive rantings about sustainable agriculture, chemical free cleaning products, clean spices, and disaccharide/polysaccharide free menu options. It is not just my husband who, although supportive, grows weary of all the SCD/GAPS talk around the house.

These are good guys. They see the positive changes in the kids. They support their wives. They think only a mother would be crazy enough to do all this work. But some have dared to wonder aloud if the kids would just outgrow their issues and if we aren't just killing our Mama selves over nothing.

Sure they would... Just like the laundry magically gets folded and messes are magically cleaned up. Sometimes what looks like a kid outgrowing something is really a testament to the mother who did not give up. In fact, it is a wonderful thing if the Mama of the house has managed to make it all look fine to the outside world. If teachers just say things like, "Wow, ________ has recently turned a corner and is doing really well," just smile and nod. Explaining that you are tired to the bone just sounds a little like whining. But I digress. Maybe I need a nap.

So... I received two coincidental phone calls this past week. Two Mamas have husbands who, after being the mostly supportive dad and eating SCD/GAPS when the kids are present, went off the wagon last week for "business reasons." At home they had been mostly eating SCD/GAPS for months, although they did sneak treats here and there (perhaps almost daily, but just a little cheating since they aren't technically required by their own Mama to be on the diet). Last week both of them, for different reasons, were eating out most of the week. By day three they cried uncle. Well, at least their bodies cried uncle. I think both men were becoming intimately acquainted with their bathrooms as a result of all the processed, who-knows-what-laden meals they were consuming.

I am trying not to get a chuckle out of all this. Really, I am. But frequently the spouses give us Mamas SUCH a hard time thinking that these little changes don't *really* make that much of a difference. That cheating here and there shouldn't/wouldn't/couldn't be a big deal. We patiently explain the theory about starving out the pathogenic bacteria and that infractions, whether purposeful or not, reset the clock on starving out the bad guys. Keep in mind the size of the pathogens and that a tiny amount of cheating can feed a lot of bad bugs!

Anyway, these two dads (if they care to step back and analyze WHY they feel so badly) probably feel as though they are visiting the planet krypton. They used to have stomachs of iron and ate all that #$%^ without a problem. But now... now... Now their body has had a chance to get rid of some of the layers of toxins. Now when they put processed junk into their bodies their bodies know enough to rebel against the assault!

So, the big question is... how many times will they repeat the experience before deciding that _______________ doesn't agree with them. Or just admit that perhaps, just perhaps, their little apples didn't fall all that far from their tree. The kids being healed on this diet could come in the size / shape / ages of fathers as well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Love the Wavy Chopper

There is a lot of cooking on the SCD/GAPS diet. A lot. It is almost too much for any Mama to bear unless she really loves cooking and already knows how to cook circa 1880. Do you already make bone broth on the average day? Are you handy with fermenting? How is your liver recipe repertoire?

We homeschool our older daughter and so learning new recipes is a part of her education. It's a wonderful chance to teach her about her body, about foods and nutrition, and also a little math (measuring and fractions). I love listening to her repeat a favorite recipe (like coconut fish) to her friend or better yet to a mom at the playground.

However, I sometimes shy away from having the kids do work in the kitchen because of the supervision it requires. Cooking is not my favorite thing to do, so spending more time on it is not something I usually try to do. LOL! So with my 4.5 year old it is mostly a matter of her dumping ingredients in and turning on an appliance.

However, I have recently found that giving either of the girls a big batch of carrots / apples / pears to chop keeps them busy and gets a job done that I didn't have to do myself. A 4.5 year old (or 6 year old) with a knife? Well, not quite. I have an awesome secret weapon. The wavy chopper. I recommend it for any parent of a preschooler. See, we were a Montessori family before the homeschooling request from Ani. The Montessori catalogs are filled with all kinds of adorable child-sized housekeeping equipment. It honestly looks like you could start a preschoolers housekeeping service if you got a few of each from the catalog. Kids love to do this stuff, especially with the right equipment.

The beauty of the wavy chopper is that by its design it keep the child's fingers away from the blade/surface of the cut. So with a small cutting board and her own wavy chopper, Ani was happy to help me with the carrots. I even filled the sink in their play kitchen so they could take their time scrubbing the carrots. The beauty of the wavy chopper is they are so self-sufficient. I can do five other things while they spend 20-30 minutes on carrots and it doesn't bother me because it is one less thing for me to worry about (make that two - one is the carrots and the other is "what are the kids doing since it is so quiet").

Check out the wavy chopper if you could use a little assistance in your own kitchen and your kids are too young to use a knife (or if you are too busy/distracted to supervise knife skills). We got ours from Montessori Services. I highly recommend the one with the plastic handle but do not recommend the one with the wooden handle (the leverage is tough for a young child). The cutting boards we use are from Epicurean (we don't cut on plastic and most bamboo boards have formaldehyde in them). Also, you can find wavy choppers on!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The donuts that saved Christmas

Here is the infamous donut recipe from one of my favorite blogs.

My mom made, literally, like 5 batches of these before we came to visit and froze them. She used a mini-donut maker that made the cooking very easy and the cleanup even easier. Just do an internet search on "mini donut maker" and you'll see lots of inexpensive options. The final step of brushing with honey then coating with coconut is an extra touch that makes these look and taste fantastic, even to a non-gaps palate.

They freeze well and are perfect for when you just gotta have something "normal".

Enjoy!! Thank you Comfy Belly!!!!

GAPS through the mouth of an Italian Grandmother

The GAPS program is an honest look at what we have been feeding our bodies for so long. I find the Program fascinating, restrictive, difficult, monotonous and stressful. With that said, do I think it is effective? Yes, yes, yes! As a grandmother who likes to cook and create meal events (mostly involving refined carbs), retrofitting GAPS into my passion for Italian cooking traditions and social gatherings (of which food is a MAJOR part) has been challenging but doable. I realized a mindset adjustment was required.

My Italian cooking has always been more about nourishing the soul and keeping souls together (family gatherings)rather than stuffing their little tummies with treats that may cause long-term ill health. I can now approach any modified recipe with my previous passion. I am making this for my grand children and they will take delight in it. The end result is sound nutrition. I can have my cake and eat it too, figuratively speaking of course! I continue to perfect my “Nonnie” culinary instincts and provide the grandkids with so much more in the long run. We all win.

I use the anti-smoking campaign to help me understand the changes which will eventually have to occur in our society. In the 70’s, we all knew smoking had a negative impact on our health yet many of us continued to do so. Campaign after campaign, testimonials from people who suffered the afflictions from smoking, repeated surgeon general warning, etc. were presented to us on a daily basis. It took a very long time for that information to assimilate and for people to change. GAPS is on the forefront of change for how we eat, heal and nourish our children.

A GAPS family has to dedicate themselves to food preparation and food consumption in our crazy busy world dependent upon quick processed meals. Children will become responsible for food preparation, admittedly, according to their developmental ages. They will understand where the food comes from, how it is prepared and what the food can provide for their bodies. They can and will learn healthy habits from the get-go. Daddies must be on board (granddads too) to make this lifestyle change a success for the entire family.

The most difficult time for me understanding/accepting GAPS was during the initial stage (Intro) where I witnessed the “die-off” phenomena first hand with my young grandchildren. One child vomited and become listless. My first instinct was to give her something “sweet” to jolt her into feeling better. The second child refused to eat and looked frighteningly thin. These episodes were brief and eventually quieted down, But it broke my heart to see my grandkids so sick. It was hard for me to stay silent and supportive during the initial stages of the program. I probably misspoke on one or two occasions with suggestions like “What are we doing to these kids??” or “ Give her a popsicle or lollipop, please!!” My daughter’s confidence, calmness and resolute brought me back to earth, but I was emotionally exhausted when I returned home. My daughter’s commitment has brought us 7 months into the GAPS program. Yes, it is easier and calmer in some respects. We’ve soldiered through Halloween, Thanksgiving, birthday parties, movies, friends’ visits and of course, Christmas. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon in a month or two and presents no problem to us. Bring it on. We are ready. We are prepared. And the children are thriving. I have already thought of a food alternative rather than a chocolate piece of candy tucked into a Valentine.

I’m on board. I’m a GAPS Italian grandmother who uses coconut flour instead of white flour, ghee instead of margarine, raw honey instead of white sugar and make the most delicious baked mini donuts for my grandkids. Once I give them a catchy Italian name like my now extinct Cucidadi or Pignoli cookies, I will be happy. I’ve also learned to make the richest beef marrow stock! I grew up on bone marrow so this was not a stretch for me. And it is oh so good! No, I’m not making traditional Italian cuisine with tons of pasta anymore but the essence of Italian cooking remains. This is clean food made from scratch and with handfuls of love and shared together. I will continue this journey. I have so much to learn.

GAPS is not for sissies but I challenge any grandparent to come on board. You can create new traditions for the sake of the long range health of your family. You can do it. I cannot think of a better legacy to leave my wonderful Ryan, Mary Katharine and Ethan. But not so fast, I intend to follow GAPS for myself and the grandfather too. We want the best chance at a front row seat for our grandchildren’s future growth and development.


Anna aka "Nonnie"
P.S. The mini donuts will now be referred to as “zeppole”
(donut in Italian…) and of course, I am happy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Do you know how you can tell a professional blogger from a Mama? The professional bloggers get favorite holiday recipes out BEFORE the holidays.

Unfortunately, I am not a professional blogger. Maybe one day ;-) For now I will have to be content to share my favorite experiments AFTER the holidays. Today's recipe is a smash hit in our household and judging by the pan I brought to the GAPS circle chat last Sunday I think I'm onto something... Of course, it took me about five delicious iterations to get to this place so perhaps this will be a great jumping off place for you to do a few delicious iterations and find your own perfect blondie. I think it would be tasty with dried cranberries or something for a festive twist.

BTW, I call it a blondie (as opposed to a brownie) because it has the thick/chewy consistency like a brownie. I look forward to one day adding cocoa into this recipe (I'm sure with a heavy hand the first time I try - lol). If you try it that way definitely let us know how much you used and whether it needed more (because I am a firm believer in never needing less chocolate).


1 lb of sunflower seeds, soaked and dehydrated
1/4 cup of warmed coconut oil (or other oil)
6+ eggs (duck eggs are my choice, particularly for baking)
3/4 cup of honey, more if desired
2 tsp vanilla

Step One: Make sunflower seed butter
Put the pound of soaked and dehydrated (sometimes to save time I use the Go Raw brand instead of doing the soaking/dehydrating myself) into a food processor. Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the oil as the sunflower seeds are whirling around. If you've not made sunflower seed butter before you spin it until it eventually clumps into a big ball in the food processor. Stick with it through this phase and it will smooth out afterwards. Sometimes I stop the food processor a few times and scrape down the sides but with the oil it is less necessary to do that step.

Step Two: Add everything else
Add the rest of the ingredients to your sunflower seed butter and run the food processor again. The perfect batter is one that is not sticky and firm but instead one that pours easily / drips from a spoon (although it will still be a little sticky from the honey).

NOTE: In my egg count, keep in mind I am using duck eggs which are a little bigger than chicken eggs. The most important thing to pay attention to is the viscosity of your batter - is it dripping off a spoon easily or is it thicker? If you are using chicken eggs you may find 7 or 8 eggs is the ideal number. Also, if you use chicken eggs when you pull it out of the oven and it cools, it may sink compared to how fluffy it looked when hot. That is not a "problem" it is just because the chicken eggs do not have the same quantity of raising / levening agent in the duck eggs. If you want baked goods to be the ultimate in fluffy you'll have to give a duck egg a try!

Step Three: Bake
Grease an 8x11 pan (I particularly like duck fat but have also used bacon grease and plan to try palm shortening next), pour in the batter, lick the spoon, and put it into an oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Step Four: Catch it when it's perfect
The key to a good blondie is to cook it just perfectly. You do not want to overcook it or it gets quite dry (and these ingredients are just a little more expensive than the average experiment I care to throw out). Start checking it around 30 minutes by putting a knife in the middle and pulling it out. If it pulls out cleanly then you are done. If it is not done, check again in the next 3-5 minutes or so. Don't go by visuals since sometimes it can look a little "wet" on the top but actually be finished - I got fooled with one batch by the dessert mirage so just throwing that out there.

So how is THAT for a whole food? Five ingredients or less? No problem! This is such a tasty option filled with protein that I wouldn't have a problem giving it for breakfast on a special day. Maybe the next sleepover we won't have to serve butternut squash soup to some kids who look at me like I'm crazy.

This is a large batch so be sure to show a little restraint since eating the whole pan *might* be a little much unless you are a family of 12. I think it would freeze pretty well but we've not yet had an opportunity to test that. Again, if you do let us know how it goes.


p.s. If you are comfortable with your egg source enjoy licking the pan, the spoon, and be careful with that food processor blade as you lick it too.