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Six months on GAPS diet/GAPS brownie recipe

Charley and I have now passed the sixth month mark on the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet and are well into our seventh month. We have gone on several trips since I last wrote and eat out at restaurants quite regularly.

I do have to say that I never do quite as well on restaurant food as I do on home-cooked foods, though.

My youngest son finally decided to start the GAPS diet and after three weeks, this is the email he sent me: “Hey, I just wanted to thank you for sharing this GAPS thing with me. It has been pretty amazing, the changes I’ve seen so far. And I’ve only been doing it about three weeks. I thank God for it, because I know he answers prayers. Change is real!”

He has been eating things he hadn’t been able to eat for years. His wife also told me that she has no PMS symptoms — something she endured for about 20 years. 

I also talked one of my coworkers into starting the diet because his wife has some rather severe health problems. He told me yesterday that he has lost 21 pounds in the 21 days he’s been on the diet. Try that with any other diet! And the difference with this diet is that you are actually getting healthy while on this diet because it doesn’t restrict any health foods from you and you can eat as much and as often as you like. It’s not a “diet” diet; you’re not on it to lose weight. You’re on it to get healthy. One of the added benefits, however, is that you do lose weight if you need to. I am hoping that this diet helps his wife, as she doesn’t really have any other recourse. 

I have to admit that after losing 12 pounds, I have been putting some weight back on. Whether the weight is due to my adding more bone mass or whether I have been eating too many foods with honey, I’m not sure. But I feel fine and my energy is great. 

I have had several people ask me for my brownie recipe, so I will post that. I took it to work for my coworkers to sample and they all said they liked it. One even said she preferred that to regular brownies. I added some frosting, for which I will also post the recipe.

Almond flour Brownies

2/3 c. honey

1/2 c. melted butter or coconut oil

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 c. almond flour

1/2 c. cocoa 

1/4 tsp. ea. baking soda and sea salt

Mix all until smooth and bake in greased 8x8x2″ pan at 350° for approximately 25 minutes. Cool before cutting

Frosting

3 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter or mixture, melted

2 Tbsp. cocoa

2 Tbsp. canned coconut milk

Honey to taste

Mix and frost brownies.

 

 

 

Norma Natasha Project Month 5

Well, we survived a three-and-a-half-week vacation and stuck to the GAPS diet. I was busy beforehand making bone stocks, fermenting foods and making grain-free breads and brownies to take, along with packing thermoses, pans and a heating element to use in hotel rooms while we traveled. We had to take along two large ice chests, but we stuck to our diet and found that with (a lot) of planning we can actually leave our home for an extended time.

I also found that Ruby Tuesday offered GAPS-friendly foods. We were pleasantly surprised when we ate there last weekend and found that one of the sides they offered was roasted spaghetti squash. Although they told me they serve real butter, I do have my doubts about that. 

We continue to feel good and about the only thing I’ve noticed is that I still get a rash on my face once in awhile and I also had a small black thing come out of the corner of my left eye. I assume I had some toxins there, perhaps from eye makeup, that eventually came out. My eye was irritated for awhile, but I finally picked it out. 

Cooking for GAPS has become routine and I noted that I had five things fermenting on my counter yesterday — sauerkraut, cortido, pickles, bread, yogurt and cheese — along with a big vat of bone stock.

I re-read Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book on the GAPS diet and found that once you can eat fermented milk and cheeses with no problems, you can try raw milk. That was good news because my friend Lila Streff’s goats have just come fresh and she has a lot of milk to sell. Charley and I tried it and have not noticed any problems. Although goat milk is easy to digest, if you have gut bysbiosis, you may not be able to. Charley and I had trouble last year with goat milk, as it gave us both acid reflux. We really like Lila’s goat milk, so we are excited to be drinking it again. (Not to mention ice cream — made with honey, of course!)

I have ordered a bunch of cheese-making equipment so we can enjoy goat cheeses all year. I have made soft cheeses before, but not many hard cheeses. This will be a learning experience and I dare say that if I had not been on this diet, I probably wouldn’t have had the energy to do it.

At a meeting on Saturday, a woman mentioned that the local bakery sold gluten-free breads and I answered that bakeries and restaurants will have to start offering GAPS-friendly foods because so many people are switching to GAPS after being gluten-free because with GAPS you have the promise of eventually being able to eat everything after a couple of years or so, whereas with gluten-free you have to live with a restrictive diet forever and probably even add more foods to the list of things to avoid. She said her doctor had recommended the GAPS diet to her. Before I left to go home after the meeting, two more women asked me about the GAPS diet.

I was excited today when my youngest son emailed me that he is going to try the GAPS diet. He has been wrestling with that for several months now and I encouraged him to do it because of his many food intolerances. I also had a call today from a woman who wants to come over to my house to find out more about the diet. She has an autoimmune disease that the doctors have told her there is no cure for. After hearing about the GAPS diet, she has hope of getting better. A man just stopped in the office today also to tell me he and his wife are on the GAPS diet and are now free of allergies. He also said he has no cravings.

So word is spreading about this wonderful diet that gives hope to those who had no hope before. I am glad that I can be a part of helping get the word out. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to make a change until their life is so unbearable they have no choice. After going through the introduction diet, I’m here to tell you that it does get better, there is an answer and it is definitely worth it!

 

Norma Natasha Project 3 months

Charley looked at me last week and mentioned that my face is thinner. In three days, Charley and I will have been on the GAPS diet for three months. There are definitely changes in my life and in my appearance.

For starters, I have lost 12 pounds. I fit into clothes a size or two smaller than I was wearing before. That alone is worth the diet. All the clothes I saved for when I lost weight was not just wishful thinking. It has become reality. In fact, some of the clothes I recently purchased in a smaller size are now feeling a bit baggy.

I have had a couple bouts with rashes on my face, which I believe is from die-off. We have increased our Bio-Kult, garlic and olive leaf pills, which assist in the die-off. I think I am eating plenty of fat, but Charley is still having a hard time doing that. Because of that, he doesn’t have as much energy as I do. He seems to be trying to still rely on carbohydrates for that. He likes to eat a lot of fruit and other sweets, such as peanut butter brownies or banana bread.

I remind him the GAPS diet is based on three things: bone stocks, fermented foods and eating saturated fats. (Along with avoiding all grains and unfermented lactose, I should add). I have read a couple of blogs or letters from others who have tried the GAPS diet, but find their energy wanes and so they believe they need to eat more carbs. I suspect they are not eating enough saturated fats for their bodies to transition from burning carbs to burning fats. Once your body starts using fats for fuel, it will burn the fat off your body — as long as you are not eating too much food. Saturated fats also provide you with plenty of energy, are the building blocks for your hormones and supply your brain and nerves with the fats they need to operate correctly and provide the structure for your skin to prevent it from wrinkling.

Why would a person want to go back to eating more carbs for energy? Especially if you want to lose weight? I suppose old habits die hard and old ways of thinking are hard to replace. We’ve all heard about the “dangers” of eating too many fats — especially saturated fats — so I suppose that way of thinking and eating has made inroads into our way of eating and thinking about how the body works. Unfortunately, none of that is founded on sound science.

Most importantly, I suppose, is how I feel. I seem to go effortlessly into project after project. I say effortlessly because I had to force myself before to start a project. Now when I come home after a full day’s work, I launch into cleaning out drawers and closets. Actually, cleaning out closets comes with a benefit. Trying on clothes to see if they fit has a silver lining. It’s like getting a whole new wardrobe without having to buy anything! Fun!

The acid reflux has not disappeared but is definitely on the wane. I am having trouble sleeping at night because I have so much energy I don’t feel like sleeping. I find that after sleeping more than eight hours a night when I first started the GAPS diet, I now sleep much less and feel just fine during the day.

Charley and I are planning a nearly four-week road trip. I have been busy making broth, peanut butter brownies, fermented foods and lists of what we have to take along with us so we can stay on this diet. We will  take our juicer and our hot plate so we can juice and cook in our motel rooms. This will be a good test to see how well we do while we are traveling. We will stay for awhile with friends and will go out to eat, so we will have to make healthy choices and take along things like salad dressing and kimchi.

If all goes well — and I have no reason to think it won’t — by the time we get home again, we will have finished four months on the GAPS diet. And we should be feeling still better and hopefully I won’t gain any weight like I usually do when I vacation.

Only 21 months left!

 

The Norma Natasha Project Month 3

As of Dec. 20, we have now started month three of the GAPS diet.

Our anniversary was a few days before that, but we couldn’t go out to eat as is our usual custom. Instead, we stayed home and I fixed a special meal of duck with cranberry reduction sauce, spaghetti squash, salad with homemade French dressing, green beans and orange mousse for dessert. I have to say it was certainly the most memorable meal we have ever had for our anniversary. The duck was scrumptious with crackly skin and tender, juicy meat. The cranberry reduction sauce was the perfect accompaniment and the dessert was wonderful! We may never eat out again for our anniversary. That may or may not be a good thing, but since we will still be on this diet next year at this time, we may start a tradition.

I find that we can eat many things now that we ate before — with a few alterations of ingredients.

Thankfully, a friend has continued to donate bones for stock, so we always have plenty.

With the detox part of the GAPS diet, I have noticed that my nose is getting better. A few months ago, I started having problems and couldn’t figure out what had happened because, as far as I knew, I hadn’t changed anything, nor was I eating any differently. However, all of a sudden, my sinuses started draining, my nose was dripping, my eyes were watering, my throat was sore and I started having sharp pains in my ears.

Luckily, I read an article in the Weston A. Price Foundation newsletter that if you have a mercury filling taken out of your teeth not done by someone trained to do that safely, within a year you will develop an autoimmune disease. I remembered that shortly before I started having these problems, I had had a mercury filling removed from a tooth — and not by someone trained to do it safely. 

I credit the Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS diet’s detoxification plan for alleviating many of those problems. Although I still have sores in my nose, including a crack at the bottom of my nose, and draining sinuses, the sore throats are gone and the other problems have lessened. The GAPS diet includes slow detoxification via juicing and baths with epsom salts, sea salt, seaweed or apple cider vinegar added. It also reduces our total toxic load by not using personal care products with known carcinogens. 

As an example of what we are eating, for lunch today we had barbecued venison on nut flour buns, fermented cabbage, cranberry sauce and peanut butter brownies. For dinner tonite we will have butter chicken (an Indian dish) and Indian cauliflower. It will not be served over rice, as all grains are prohibited. As I said before, we eat very little, but find that we are very satisfied.

The good news is that Charley said he doesn’t even miss popcorn! Nor do I.

 

 

 

The Norma Natasha Project Week 8

Charley and I have now been on the GAPS diet almost eight weeks and it seems to be getting easier — not only the food preparation, but also adjusting to the new way of eating.

The acid reflux I battled for years is essentially gone and only reoccurs when I eat too much too close to bedtime or when I add a new food for which I am not yet ready. But that hasn’t happened for awhile. Charley has lost 12 pounds and I had lost 11, but have recently gained three back. As we are doing Super Slow exercises, I am hoping that I am adding bone and muscle mass.

One thing I have noticed is that my dreams are very vivid and I seem to have a lot of them. I understand that not remembering dreams is because a person is lacking in a certain mineral ( I can’t remember which one) and when that mineral is supplied, dreams become very vivid. That is an indication that I am now digesting my foods. As the saying goes, it’s not what you eat, but what you can digest that matters. Evidently I am digesting my foods better now. I am taking fulvic acid, which Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends for minerals, because they are so easily assimilated into our bodies.

I received an email from a friend to whom I had recommended the GAPS diet because I knew she had some rather serious health problems. She had developed hives all over her body for which the doctors had no solution other than steriods, which she couldn’t take very long because of the side effects. She was sent to a specialist and they suggested that perhaps she was allergic to herself.

She wrote that after being on the GAPS diet for a couple of months, she had gone to the doctor and her blood pressure was way down, as was as her bad cholesterol. In fact, it was significantly lower, she said. She also mentioned that she had lost a lot of weight.  She said the doctor acted very surprised.  Her hives are also completely gone and she is now off all medication.  The doctor told her that whatever she was doing, it was working.  She told him about the GAPS diet and he wrote it down and said he would look it up online.  He said it sounded like it would be helpful for some of his other patients. She thanked me for telling her about the GAPS diet, as she had never heard of it before. 

I told Charley that I was amazed — not that it had benefitted her so much, because I understand the science of it and why it works, but that someone had actually listened to me!

My oldest son and family were here for Thanksgiving — which was the first day Charley and I started the full GAPS diet. I let them taste my freshly-made juice, which they loved. In fact, they bought a juicer when they got home and sent money to my youngest son to buy one, too. My daughter-in-law is starting to incorporate GAPS foods into her meals and the wife of my youngest son is planning to start the GAPS diet Jan. 2. 

Two down, one daughter-in-law to go. And Charley and I have only 96 weeks to go.

 

 

Norma Natasha Project Day 26

My son told me he didn’t want to go on the GAPS diet because it is too restrictive. I told him, with his food allergies, he’s already on a restrictive diet, so he would just be trading one restrictive diet for another one. The difference with the GAPS diet is that after two years (or so) you will be able to eat anything you want. However, it is advised that you never go back to eating a lot of refined, chemical-laden foods or high-starch and sugary foods. Grains may also have to be limited, but not eliminated.

I don’t blame him for being apprehensive. I have promoted other diets to my children, husband and coworkers before. But those diets, no matter how highly followed, never worked for me. The difference, I now see, is that my gut needed to be healed. Those diets work for other people who don’t have the problems I (and a lot of other overweight people) have.

I know a lot of people think overweight people are lazy or undisciplined. I know that isn’t always true. Nobody ever threw themselves into a diet or exercise regime more than I did. I witnessed friends, family and coworkers achieve great success while I never improved. I do believe this diet will make the difference. For encouragement, I’d like to post a link for you to check out of another woman who was on the GAPS diet for a full year. She posted her before after after pictures and they are a source of encouragement for me to stay on this diet. However, she noted that the pictures show only the weight loss. They don’t begin to show the improvements in her health over the past year.

And that’s what I am working for: health, not weight loss. There are a lot

The Norma & Natasha Project – Day 16

Tomorrow is my birthday (no, I’m not saying which one) and for once I will not be celebrating with food. I will celebrate by shopping!

I noticed this morning as I looked in the mirror that I look different. In 15 days, I have lost seven pounds and have lost the puffiness in my face from all the water I was retaining. That’s a good way to celebrate a birthday! (along with shopping)

Charley has also lost seven pounds and the amazing thing is that we are eating an inordinate amount of saturated fats, which most people believe make you fat. We are proof that that doesn’t happen. It is too many (and the wrong kind of) carbohydrates that make you fat.

This morning I started Phase 4 on the GAPS diet. We breezed through Phase 3, which included adding scrambled eggs fried in lots of saturated fats, eating the fermented foods instead of just the juices from them, adding avocado, 24-hour fermented homemade yogurt and nut butter/squash pancakes.

The pancakes took two hours to make because Charley didn’t want to take the time to put in the griddle so I had to fry them one by one in a little pan. I told him it couldn’t take two hours to put in a griddle. He agreed that next time he would put in the griddle for me. The pancakes were nothing like any pancake I’ve ever eaten, but good in their own way nevertheless. I noticed that even though we had several sacks of candy bars to hand out for Halloween at the back of the office, I wasn’t even tempted by them. (I still haven’t had the opportunity to be tempted by cheesy popcorn at this point, so I’m not sure how much of a temptation that would be). I will have to find a replacement for popcorn, as in the full GAPS diet, I can have cheese.

However, since I had gotten into the habit of having just a little something sweet after dinner (mainly because it was either eat some of it or let Charley have it all), this was a pleasant surprise that I haven’t even wanted something sweet and that was something I just realized last night.

On another positive note, Charley was gone on business overnight and took along GAPS food to eat, which worked out just fine and he managed to stay on the diet even while eating with others in a restaurant. He took along a hot plate and heated his food up in his motel room before meeting the others for meals.

In Stage four, we will start eating breads (well, not breads like anything I’ve ever made), start eating roasted or grilled meats, add olive oil to all of our meals and add freshly made vegetable juices, starting with carrot juice.

I just happen to have a bumper crop of carrots in my garden, so carrots are good. They are also good to eat, as far as drinking their juice goes, as it is quite sweet. In fact, it is the sweetest thing I have had on this diet (which should tell you something about this diet).

The only problem I have had is that I have still had some lingering acid reflux, but after two days of none, I started taking Bio Kult, a very strong probiotic which is intended to replace the pathogenic bacteria and yeasts in my GI tract that I am starving out by not eating carbohydrates. In fact, some people on this diet are able to start with only 1/16 of a capsule — and I started with a full capsule. Baden, the author of GAPS Guide, said Bio Kult will knock Candida albicans out and mop the floor with it. The only problem is that Bio Kult decided to mop the floor while I was trying to sleep.

For breakfast this morning I ate a piece of the bread to start off Phase four, which is made from ground nuts which have been soaked to get rid of the phytates, a piece of squash, three eggs and a little salt. I have to say they tasted decidedly like ground nuts. What else could I have expected? I like the pancakes better.

I find that I think about food most of the day, specifically what I can eat in the NEXT phase. I certainly have to do a lot of planning ahead, as most of what we eat takes days to prepare, such as bone stock, fermented vegetables, yogurt and soaked and dehydrated nuts. It’s a lot different from my “other” life when I’d check the refrigerator or pantry to see what was on hand. If I couldn’t find anything that appealed to me, there was always the option of eating out. That option doesn’t exist anymore – at least for several more weeks or months. Maybe years.

If all goes well with the remaining phases, Charley and I will be done with the introduction phase and go on the full GAPS diet on Thanksgiving day. I didn’t plan that, but it looks like that’s how it will work out. I am already thinking about roast turkey, dressing made with GAPS bread, homemade cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie made with a coconut crust. I will have a lot to be thankful for on that day.

Only 715 days left.

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