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Archive for the ‘GAPS intro’ Category

Ok…so I’m a little hot under the collar.  Hot enough that while I’ve barely kept up with working 4 part-time jobs and homeschooling my children this week, I am still squeezing out time to blog in rebuttal.  Or shall we say rebottomal?  I’d like to keep this nice. :)

I wasn’t going to link the blog in question because I didn’t want to make it seem I had a personal vendetta.  I don’t know this lady.  I have only read a few of her blogs.  I’m sure she’s perfectly nice and knowledgeable and caring.  That is not where my beef is.  I’m looking strictly at the arguments she posted for avoiding almond flour and I disagree.  It is as simple as that.  I decided that if I *didn’t* link the blog I’d be doing the author a disservice by not allowing her words to speak for themselves.  So…because it is late and I’d like to sleep sometime tonight, I’ll dive right in.  I’ll be posting her reasons for avoiding almond flour, followed by my rebuttal.

Reason #1: Almond flour skews perception about quantity.  The author of this blog says she has calculated the number of almonds per cup of almond flour, and that that number is around 90 almonds.

Rebuttal #1: If your argument against almond flour centers on the amount consumed, you might want to weigh it to be sure.  I weighed a cup of almond flour, scooped into my measuring cup with a spoon as I always do.  It was 2.4 ounces.  I weighed 90 almonds.  They were 3.4 ounces.  That would be about 25-30 almonds per ounce.  A half-ounce to an ounce of almonds is considered to be one serving size, depending on your source of data.  Using these numbers, I looked at a few of the recipes I use on a regular basis.  The blueberry streusel muffins I’ve been making lately use 2 cups of almond flour per dozen muffins.  That would be 4.8 ounces per 12 muffins; if each person ate one muffin (which is typical for one serving in our household), each person would ingest .4 ounces of almond flour per muffin.  That is less than the lowest recommendation I’ve seen for a serving size by 20% and would be the equivalent of 10-12 almonds.  I don’t see anything excessive about that.  And really, I don’t feel that eating 2 or even 3 muffins would be excessive at that quantity.

Reason #2: Almond flour is very high in inflammatory PUFAs.  The author of this blog highlights why PUFAs are bad, and then says that they’re only harmful when consumed in excess.

Rebuttal #2: I don’t argue that excessive PUFAs can have negative health consequences, but I think I established above that the levels in an average serving of almond flour are not excessive.  From my personal experience, I can say that I experienced a clinically significant drop in inflammation markers (double the referenced norms to practically zero, per my rheumatologist a few months ago) while consuming almond flour nearly daily over almost two years.  Clearly the PUFAs did not cause an increase in inflammation in my body.

Reason #3: The fats in almond flour aren’t heat stable.  And here she has a valid argument.  Oxidation IS a bad thing, and almond oil will oxidize when exposed to heat.  But her main point is that consuming excessive amounts of almond flour is going to increase this risk to dangerous levels.

Rebuttal #3: This is my purely personal opinion: I don’t think the average person consuming almond flour is consuming enough to make this a serious issue.  And I think any oxidation during the baking process can easily be offset by increasing antioxidant-rich foods in the diet.  I don’t claim to be an expert but I am going to pull the “grad certificate in nutrition right here!” card.  Eating a varied diet is going to go a long way towards keeping balance in the cells of your body.

Reason #4: Almond flour is high in oxalates.  And here she just basically says that almonds have tons of oxalates.

Rebuttal #4: I guess I just got annoyed with this one because it is a generalization.  And again, I’m going to go back to my original rebuttal: the amount of almond flour in a serving of baked goods is not likely to be excessive.  Is the author advocating avoiding spinach, which also contains high levels of oxalates? No.  In fact, she says here that spinach can be part of a balanced diet.  *If* excessive amounts of almond flour and other oxalate-rich foods are being consumed regularly, you might see an issue here.  In the amounts I’ve shown that my family consumes, I’m going to say it is not an issue.

Reason #5: Coconut flour is healthier than almond flour.  Bam!  The author notes that coconut flour has plenty of saturated fats (no argument there) and that you can use less of it than almond flour.  And…that’s it.

Rebuttal #5: I admit it.  This is the one that really got me.  I weighed the coconut flour I would use for 3 of my Cinnamon Bun Muffins  (1/4 cup) and it came out to 1.2 ounces.  Per muffin, that would be .4 ounces…which is the same weight as the almond flour in one of my favorite almond flour muffins.  So let’s compare them, shall we?  You can input the weight of almonds in this calculator and the weight of dry unsweetened coconut here.  Per .4 ounce, almond flour has 3 times the protein, 9 times the calcium, and 3 times the magnesium in this comparison.  You can look at the rest of the nutrients and judge for yourself which flour is healthier.

Conclusion:  The main reason I felt a strong need to rebut the above blog is that I see so much confusion in GAPS/SCD circles about whether or not certain foods are going to kill them or set back their recovery.  Most of the information that is floating around is not based on science – it is based on opinion.  Please, please, please…do some legwork of your own.  Listen to your body.  Use common sense.  Eat as many different types of foods as you can.  Ask questions.  Make sure you are eating enough food to encourage recovery (another of my pet peeves!).  Realize that what is working for someone else may not be best for you.  And if you notice misinformation, do your best to make it right.  GAPS/SCD does work when done correctly and we as a community are doing ourselves a disservice if we let misinformation define us.

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I wanted to keep track of how much these ferments are costing to make at home, so here’s the first in my titillating series: lacto-fermented carrots.

  • organic carrots – 3lbs at $1.05/lb
  • 2 Tblsp whey – by-product of kefir, no cost since considered waste
  • 2 Tblsp RealSalt – approx 1 oz at $0.13/oz
  • 2 tsp dill – I can’t remember how much I paid since I keep this item on hand; maybe about $0.25?
  • 1 clove garlic – I dunno.  Should have weighed it, I suppose; about $6/lb so probably somewhere around $0.10
  • filtered water – less than $0.10

Yield: 2L (about 2 qts)

Cost: ~$3.75, tax included

We don’t eat these carrots every day, so this amount will probably last us about one month.

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I’ve been debating over whether to try the Pickl-It fermenting system.  I have heard great things about it and I keep wondering if it will improve my ferment success rate (which is probably around 90% right now, but ANY loss hits hard when you’re on a budget and you spend the time preparing the ferment).  I had considered making my own lids with airlocks to see if that was a more affordable solution (sorry, I have a hard time spending $20 or $30 per jar when I’d likely need about 10!!).

Anyway, I have a lot more thoughts on the Pickl-It but I don’t suppose anyone is terribly interested in them.  I’ll skip ahead to the part where I saw some glass jars for a third of the cost of Pickl-It jars at my local co-operative today and decided to try them as an interim step.  I guess they are made in Italy by Bormioli Rocco, and the brand is Frigoverre.  The label said that the plastic lids were airtight and I bit – hook, line, and sinker.  I bought a 1L pitcher for about $6 and a 2L pitcher for about $10.  Then I came home, ran them through the dishwasher, and immediately made sauerkraut and lacto-fermented lemonade.

I didn’t have enough cabbage on hand to fill the 2L jar – as you can see in the picture, the jar is only about half full.  I know this kind of negates the “air-tight” qualities of the jar so I’ll have to try again when I’ve got more cabbage.  I used about 2 1/4 lbs cabbage, so I could probably fit a full 5 lbs into this jar in the future.

I made 1/4 recipe of the lemonade to put in the 1L jar (which is a bit more than a quart) and 1/2 recipe to put in a half-gallon jar as a control.  I shook the lemonade upside-down to see if there would be any leaks in the pitcher, and it held up well!  So I’m excited.  :)  We’ll see if the results in that pitcher are any better than in the 1/2 gallon jar.

I am really loving the handles on these jars.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to grip a jar that is moist from condensation or is just plain too big for my hands and nearly dropped it!  It’s nice to have something to grab on to that won’t slip.

The fact that the lids are plastic doesn’t really bother me as I don’t expect the food to come into contact with the plastic for more than a second or two as I am rearranging jars in the fridge, etc.  The lid has a rubber gasket and a stopper that you turn clockwise and counterclockwise to seal or open the jar.

I’m thinking of picking up another one or two tomorrow while the Owner’s Appreciation sale is still going!

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I made some pumpkin custard without dairy last night.  I wasn’t sure if it would be as good as my usual dairy version, but I like it!  I want to try it next time with this crust (maybe subbing coconut oil for the butter to make it dairy-free).

  • 2 cups cooked and pureed pumpkin (canned would work if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 14-oz can additive-free coconut milk or 1.5 cups fresh coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)

Mix well in the order given and pour into a pie pan or individual ramekins.  Bake at 350 degrees until center is set – about an hour for a larger pan; individual ramekins will probably need 40-45 minutes in the oven.  This recipe would be suitable for GAPS Intro Diet as soon as you can tolerate the eggs and spices.  Also be aware that canned foods are not considered GAPS-legal.

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I love me some beef brisket.  :)  It’s my dad’s specialty, and I never fooled around with it myself since he did such a great job.  Plus, it’s pretty time-consuming.  My dad’s version consists of cooking in a slow oven overnight, trimming fat, then cooking in a slow oven all day in his special sauce.  After watching him do it a few times, I decided I would never attempt it.

Then I found a brisket in my freezer.  Eeek!!  Yes, I panicked.  My dad didn’t want to make it and quite frankly I doubted his ability to pull off the same brisketty beauty with my grassfed beef as with his grainfed version.  That meant…I had to do it.

So I dug up a few recipes online and tried to piece together a workable solution as I faced my brisket-making phobia head-on.

I didn’t want to run my gas oven for 24 hours straight.  That would be some expensive brisket!  And I didn’t want to make a sauce.  That left my slow-cooker and a dry rub.  Ok, decision made…now on to implementation!

My first attempt was good.  Not great, but good.  I found that my slow-cooker does not seal well and so the meat was too dry.  Not jerky dry, but still.  Flavor was decent, though it didn’t pack the punch I had hoped for…and, well, it was dry.  Without sauce, it was not something I’d want to make again.

Then my beef supplier had a bit of a sale on brisket and I bought some.  I know, I know…but I couldn’t help it.  :)  It sat for several months while I tried to decide what to do with it.  And then my friend from Romania came home and I decided to make dinner for him.  The last time I had made him a meal, it pretty much sucked.  I had not planned on him eating with us and we were going super-cheap that day so I was pretty sure he got the impression I didn’t know how to cook.  This time needed to be better.  A LOT better.  I looked through my freezer and found…The Brisket.

*angelic chorus*

I’ll be honest: I was frightened.  It would either turn out very, very good or go horribly, horribly wrong.  And up until I tasted that first bite, I was sweating.

*crickets*

It was very, very good.

*angelic chorus*

And here it is:

J’s Killer Brisket

You’ll need a beef brisket, honey, a dry rub, some broth, and a pan large enough to hold the brisket.  Prep should start the day before you want to eat it.

Dry rub:

  • freshly ground black pepper (I used about 2 tsp)
  • smoked salt (about 2 tsp)
  • garlic powder (about 1 tsp)
  • chili powder (about 1 tsp)
  • ground mustard (about 1 tsp)
  • cayenne powder (about 1/4 tsp)

So I ended up with a little more than 2 Tblsp dry rub.

Place the brisket in your pan and drizzle a spoonful of honey onto one side.  Spread as evenly as possibly, then sprinkle half the dry rub over the honey.  Flip the brisket over in the pan, drizzle another spoonful of honey over the remaining side, and sprinkle with the last of the dry rub.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, transfer the brisket to a slow-cooker.  Pour anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of broth into the slow-cooker (I tried to avoid pouring directly onto the meat so that the spices would stay in contact with the meat).  I’d use more broth if your slow-cooker was a bit leaky and less if it’s pretty air-tight.  Then turn the slow-cooker onto “Low” and cook for 10 hours.

When done cooking, remove the brisket from the slow-cooker and slice against the grain.  Feel free to eat all of the little bits that aren’t perfect slices.  Then feel free to pretend the brisket was much smaller than you anticipated when your family wonders what happened to that huge chunk of beef they saw you put into the slow-cooker that morning.  Premature brisket consumption can often be attributed to “shrinkage”.

If you won’t be eating it immediately, I’d suggest ladling 1/2 cup broth over the sliced meat, covering with foil, and setting in a warm oven until mealtime.

Okay, so 10 minutes of prep and then 10 hours of slow-cooking yielded me more “mmm”s than I’ve had all year.  This is definitely my new “go-to” for company meals.

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We *may* be having a bit of winter weather tomorrow, so I did a little baking tonight in case we have a power outage early in the day.  But I also wanted to avoid all the other last-minute storm-shoppers, so I didn’t do my usual Sunday run for fresh veggies to get us through the week.  I may be able to go Wednesday, so our menu later in the week is subject to change.

Monday

  • leftover nutty pancakes; broth
  • slow-cooked chicken & carrots
  • lamb stew and pumpkin brownies

Tuesday

  • leftover pancakes; broth (dentist today!!)
  • tuna salad
  • leftover stew

Wednesday

  • baked apples; broth
  • leftover chicken & carrots
  • brown bag – devilled eggs, apples, pumpkin brownies

Thursday

  • baked eggs and chicken skin; broth
  • turnip hash
  • burgers, guacamole, lacto-fermented salsa; green beans

Friday

  • baked eggs and chicken skin; broth
  • cod with lemon and broccoli
  • liver and onions

Saturday & Sunday

  • leftovers (just me)

I think we’ll start some raw milk kefir soon – maybe I’ll get out to pick up milk at the end of the week.  We’ll see.  My son is probably more than ready for it, but I hate to start it if he’s the only one who will drink it.  I’m not sure I’m ready for it yet but then I also don’t want to fork over $ for probiotics right now…and I know kefir is definitely a more cost-effective means of probiotic transport.  So I’m hedging on the milk issue right now.  hehehe

If I don’t stop by the store for more veggies later in the week, I won’t have any out-of-pocket expenses.  Budget-wise, the food for this week’s menu and snacks cost about $50 so well below my $75 whole-foods budget.  Yippee!

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I pinned this recipe on Pinterest this week and thought I’d try it out for a friend who likes lemon and coconut but is not on GAPS or gluten-free.  I was a little concerned that she might find them weird.  However, I plowed ahead and whipped these babies up in no time flat.  The only way I altered the recipe was to substitute honey for the agave nectar.  Oh, and instead of doing the baking-with-the-oven-door-open thing, I just set the oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes, then shut it off and left the meltaways in the oven for another 45 minutes.  My friend couldn’t wait for me to chill them – she just had to try one warm!  And she LOVED them!  I packed up another half-dozen for her to take home and she had several before she even made it out the door.  heehee ;)  My son, who doesn’t care for coconut, asked for extras after he tasted them.

Verdict: This is a suitable GAPS Intro Diet treat once nuts, coconut, and citrus can be tolerated.  They taste good, too!  I’d say that’s a win for the meltaways.

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