Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hot Potato!

Sometimes when you go down the path of the GAPS / SCD list of allowed/disallowed (legal/illegal) foods you will come across someone who thinks you are *crazy* for omitting certain healthy foods. For people with a compromised gut there are steps to be taken before returning to the foods, particularly sugars and starches, we once enjoyed.

My friend, Elli, has been healing her rheumatoid arthritis for years with the Nourishing Traditions diet and has recently begun her GAPS journey. She has found a more complete healing with GAPS than she had been experiencing previously and has become a big believer in the GAPS solution. Her kids will soon be going on intro and hopefully I'll get her to write up a few posts sometime soon!

In the meantime, she has become a local cheerleader for GAPS. She is our local Weston A Price chapter leader and teaches cooking classes in her home so you could say she has somewhat of a "following" already. The other day she sent out a rah-rah-GAPS notice to her e-mail list and I guess someone responded with doubts. In particular, doubts about the need to eliminate potatoes. I particularly enjoyed the storytelling nature of Elli's response (to the full listserv) and thought I'd share it here.

Although you may not be eating potatoes today you may want to add them back in later and this will give you some things to think about when that time comes!!!

- Kati

My friend Sam responded to my email about GAPS in this way, "Those Peruvians have 3,000 different kinds of potatoes, and can outwork any white man. Explain that with GAPS."

What a fabulous question!!! I thought you might appreciate his question and my response below:


You are awesome!!

Those Peruvians started out eating potatoes with dirt. They watched the llamas, who dug up potatoes with their hoofs, rolled the potatoes around in mud, and ate them. The dirt has enzymes that helps neutralize the toxins in the old breed of potatoes. When Peruvians started eating wild potatoes, they copied the llamas, serving potatoes in a mud sauce, taking advantage of the enzymes available in the dirt.

Once the Peruvians started growing potatoes, they breed them so there were less and less toxins over the years. Even though there were less toxins in the potatoes, the Peruvians continued to ferment potatoes prior to eating.

We find that all over the world in cultures where people live close to the Earth - complex carbs get fermented prior to eating. Sourdough bread, fermented oats, and yes, fermented potatoes. Fermenting breaks down the complex carbs into simple carbs so your gut doesn't have to try to do that incredibly complex job.

Because our standard American diet does NOT require fermenting carbs, we've got gut problems and health issues that the ancient cultures lacked.

GAPS gets all of the complex carbs out, until the gut is in much much better shape. This usually takes 2 years or longer. Once the gut is healed, a person on GAPS can, if they want to, try out fermented carbs - sourdough bread, fermented oats, fermented potatoes, etc. If those fermented complex carbs agree with the healed gut, then the person on GAPS can include them in their diet. If not, the gut may still be fragile and require more healing first.

Here's an article in the Smithonian Magazine about the history of potatoes. Read it with your Weston A. Price glasses on.

I've pulled the paragraphs out about the way the ancients prepared and ate potatoes. Here they are:

Wild potatoes are laced with solanine and tomatine, toxic compounds believed to defend the plants against attacks from dangerous organisms like fungi, bacteria and human beings. Cooking often breaks down such chemical defenses, but solanine and tomatine are unaffected by heat. In the mountains, guanaco and vicuña (wild relatives of the llama) lick clay before eating poisonous plants. The toxins stick—more technically, “adsorb”—to the fine clay particles in the animals’ stomachs, passing through the digestive system without affecting it. Mimicking this process, mountain peoples apparently learned to dunk wild potatoes in a “gravy” made of clay and water. Eventually they bred less-toxic potatoes, though some of the old, poisonous varieties remain, favored for their resistance to frost. Clay dust is still sold in Peruvian and Bolivian markets to accompany them.

Edible clay by no means exhausted the region’s culinary creativity. To be sure, Andean Indians ate potatoes boiled, baked and mashed, as Europeans do now. But potatoes were also boiled, peeled, chopped and dried to make papas secas; fermented in stagnant water to create sticky, odoriferous toqosh; and ground to pulp, soaked in a jug and filtered to produce almidón de papa(potato starch). Most ubiquitous was chuño, which is made by spreading potatoes outside to freeze on cold nights, then thawing them in the morning sun. Repeated freeze-thaw cycles transform the spuds into soft, juicy blobs. Farmers squeeze out the water to produce chuño: stiff, styrofoam-like nodules much smaller and lighter than the original tubers. Cooked into a spicy Andean stew, they resemble gnocchi, the potato-flour dumplings in central Italy. Chuño can be kept for years without refrigeration—insurance against bad harvests. It was the food that sustained Inca armies.

Even today, some Andean villagers celebrate the potato harvest much as their ancestors did in centuries past. Immediately after pulling potatoes from the ground, families in the fields pile soil into earthen, igloo-shaped ovens 18 inches tall. Into the ovens go the stalks, as well as straw, brush, scraps of wood and cow dung. When the ovens turn white with heat, cooks place fresh potatoes on the ashes for baking. Steam curls up from hot food into the clear, cold air. People dip their potatoes in coarse salt and edible clay. Night winds carry the smell of roasting potatoes for what seems like miles.



Monday, February 27, 2012

A Face for Radio

I figure since I'm writing this about myself, I can say that... Seriously, this healing diet stuff is TOUGH on a Mama and I don't know about you but the dark circles from lack of sleep and pale skin from lack of sunshine (it is, after all, February) has left me with a face for RADIO. I am pretty sure I would not have agreed to do this one if it were on TV/YouTube. LOL!

Anyway, if you have an hour and want to spend it with me blathering on in the background, here it is: BlogTalk Radio with Beth Wiles. It was actually pretty fun and if at least one parent gets at a nugget of information / wisdom they needed then it was well worth my time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sour Cream Pork Chops Braised with Cabbage

This recipe is a modified Paula Deen recipe. The woman knows her pork chops, but I had to make some adjustments to make it GAPS friendly. These melt in your mouth and are just sooo good. My husband and I aren't big fans of pork chops, but these converted us for sure. They are also GAPS, SCD, LOD, Gluten-free, and Paleo friendly!


Four thick (3/4"-1") Pork Chops
Sea Salt to Taste
2 Tablespoons lard (or ghee, butter, goose fat, any legal fat really)
1.5 cups onions cut into rings
1 cup stock or broth, preferably chicken, but any will do
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried mustard (if you have a favorite Dijon that is legal or homemade, feel free to use that instead)
1 tsp paprika
1 cup (8oz) sour cream, or dripped yogurt if you really need to substitute
3/4-1 head white cabbage, depending on how much your family likes to eat
4 - 8 oz mushrooms, again depending on your family


1) Salt the Chops

2) Heat fat over medium/high heat. Brown the pork chops 4-5 minutes per side. Place onions evenly over the chops.

3) Combine spices, and broth (and Dijon if using) and pour over chops. Place cabbage and mushrooms over chops. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Remove cabbage and mushrooms, or at least most of them. Turn off heat, and stir in sour cream. Do not boil.

Serves 4... or less if you don't eat a giant pork chop each!


Kai's Story Part 2

Life is returning to normal.

Kind of. I guess "normal" with the exception that we went from a low-fat diet where I cooked all the time in an attempt to get my husband healthy, to a high-fat grain-free diet where I cook all the time to get everyone in the family healthy. Not too big of a change if you really think of it. Oh, and my son who previously couldn't talk doesn't stop now. I don't mind that at all!

Now that I have the hang of Low Oxalate GAPS and a good amount of recipes that my family likes, plus a routine for getting everything accomplished, my husband and I are venturing back into the world of having a social life and friends again outside of the diet. I'm also getting my house back together room by room. It is nice.

Kai is still rapidly improving. Amongst detoxing and periodic oxalate dumps, he is shining through as the healthy, happy boy he is supposed to be. His speech therapist came last Wednesday, and she feels that when she comes back in a month to check up on him to make sure he is still progressing and has no lingering problems, that it will probably be her last visit before he is discharged and declared caught up to his peers. She is sad about this because Kai definitely is not shy about showing how much he likes her by showering her with hugs, but she is, of course, still happy to see him talk. So, can this diet help with Apraxia/Dyspraxia of Speech? Yes! It most certainly can. Especially if your child has known food intolerances and digestive issues go for it!

These days, Kai is describing pages in books to us, telling us how other people feel, telling us what he did during the day, and all the adorable little things a two-year-old should be talking about. He still has some sort of skin issue on his head (psoriasis or dandruff or eczema of some sort), but he is just about symptom free. I am amazed by how quickly he healed. There are advantages to starting before you are even two years old!

I've started reading parenting books to help me figure out how to raise this energetic, mischievous, wonderful boy. I'm also working on keeping him on a schedule, including a nap, in hopes of helping him to eventually sleep through the night without issue, and not do things like fall asleep at the bottom of the stairs by our playroom while I'm making dinner. He likes his schedule, so this is working out well. I mention this because I think too often we get caught up in thinking that the diet should fix everything, but sometimes you need to go and look into the other aspects of child rearing to truly heal your child completely.

I enjoy our diet. I am feeling the healthiest and calmest I ever have. My husband is making large strides. Now I just need to convince my almost 9 month old daughter that she wants to eat solid foods (in addition to breastfeeding of course) and my family will be on the path I'd like. My daughter, by the way, is still developing wonderfully typically.

I've become sort of a mad scientist in the kitchen. I'm having some successes. I just got some French cookbooks as they seem like they will translate well to Low Oxalate GAPS with dairy tolerated. I'll share my successes with you for sure! I've tried many times to write something for this blog, but I always feel inadequate. Recipes, though, recipes I can do. I hope you like them.

What I can say is that it does get much easier. You start to enjoy the diet. You stop being embarrassed by it. You stop being overwhelmed by it. It becomes a natural, joyful part of your life. (Except for those days when you're detoxing, or someone you love is, but even then, you know it's temporary.) Don't ever give up hope. Fight for your health and the health of your family. You will find the way.

Then life will go back to normal, or it might even be more normal than it was before if you find yourself with a child who is finally developing typically. There is no better feeling in the world!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Fungus Amungus

Last night at Tribal Council we did not vote anyone off the island. We also took a break on serving "Surviver" worthy foods challenges and just served the amazing GAPS Donuts that Saved Christmas and some coconut macaroons. Oh, and a little Sauerkraut because we just love it so!

Also, I should fess up in case any stalkers are getting excited about the Tribal Council. It was really just the local monthly GAPS circle and no, nobody was sporting a loincloth. In fact, there was no skin showing whatsoever. Just a bunch of Mamas and a couple of kids in the ten-year-old range.

Anyway, I made a comment last night about "bad belly bugs" and the "dreaded yeast" controlling our brains. Any Mama who has gone through the dreaded die off on SCD / GAPS knows what I'm talking about. No, your child does not NEEEEEEEEED sugar (or cake) the way they are claiming, and don't think of that as your child. Think of your child as a puppet - it is the belly bugs talking from deep inside their gut! Your poor child is under the control of one tough opponent, the guys we affectionately call "belly bugs" in our home. It only lasts 7-10 days in most cases and then the sugar craving is gone and life gets a whole lot more healthy!

Similarly, at times when your children / significant other is making you C-R-A-Z-Y with erratic behavior, keep in mind that it just might be the bugs talking. I have started to think of my family (and myself) as some percentage of self and some percentage of Poltergeist. The percentages can change overnight and sometimes I know why they shifted and sometimes I start checking lunar calendars, Jupiter rising, mold counts, and fungal growth below the nails. Kidding again, kind of.

However, every now and then when the people I love are driving me over the edge, I stop and remind myself that it is not them I am frustrated with at the moment... It is the bacteria / viruses / fungus / parasites inside of them. Because my daughters and husband really ARE perfect. It's just those darn creatures from the other branches of the Animal Kingdom that we barely studied in school that are controlling them. Got a lot of drama? Hm, perhaps yeast. Got a child throwing temper tantrums and acting really strange? Hm, perhaps parasites / bacteria. Got a strange layer on the child's scalp? Hm, perhaps a fungus. Bizarre swelling / rash? Perhaps virus. You get the picture.

I once read about a parasite researcher with a theory that a cat-based parasite was controlling his behavior. And some of his contemporaries thought his research to be possible/credible. So it isn't just me with this "You are crazy but it's okay because you have no control over your emotions" theory.

So with this "theory" of mine backed up by an obscure researcher, I like to throw around this "zombie" theory totally irresponsibly like it might be possible and a fact to consider. Just because that's the way I roll (but always with the caveat that it is my own personal theory and yes, I know that I just my be crazy or at least obsessed, just ask my brother). And then last night, my future neighbor, Elli, threw down another piece of evidence with an AMAZING story from the rain forest for our youngest Tribal Council members who were paying any attention to the yammering ons of the Tribal Elders.

This is the story (approximately) she told:

There is an ant in the rainforest that, when under the mind control of a fungus catching a ride on its exoskeleton, will crawl all the way up to the top of the tree where it will do the fungus' bidding and die. The fungus needs to get to the top of the tree to proliferate but it doesn't have legs. So it mind controls the ant to do its bidding and the ant dies and the fungus lives.

Elli had more details but that is it as best I can remember it. So I woke up at 3 AM totally excited about this ant being remote controlled by a fungus on it's back. I mean... really... Talk about a proverbial monkey on your back! So I fact checked Eli's cool story and found it is even more incredible than she made it sound. The crazy fungus has been controlling the ants for over 48 million years! That is a lot of practice time for mind control of a group of zombie ants! And don't even get me started on the synchronicity of all the ants showing up in the same area at the same time and none of those fungi even have a watch! Shoot, my Mama friends and I can't even do that for a playground playdate. Although, in our defense, we are trying to round up multiple zombies under mind control that is, unfortunately, not our doing (as best we can tell, or the downstairs would be a whole lot more tidy).

So, if you find yourself in a zombie like state walking toward the pantry, or if your four year old is muttering about cake and lollipops 18 months into GAPs, or if you are listening on the phone to a friend's seven year old scream, "I want pizza," over and over... That may be the bugs talking directly to you, via their favorite medium, someone you love!

Zombies: It isn't just for humans anymore!

Fact Checking References:
Fungus makes zombie ants administer ‘death bite’ at noon
Parasitic Fungi and Zombie Ants