Monday, July 4, 2011

Recipes, Remedies and Herbs for GAPS Intro

I had hoped to write this post sooner, but have been quite busy working in the garden now that summer has arrived to our neck of the woods.  And the fact that I have been working in the garden is a fantastic segue into today's GAPS article (if you have not already, please read my GAPS summary).

For (just a tad under) the last four decades (yes, I'm almost revealing my age, LOL), I have suffered terribly from allergies, particularly pollen.  I am/have been "allergic" to nearly every green thing that grows on the face of the earth.  Except for the dead of frozen winter, I have experienced varying levels of excruciating misery being outdoors.  This is our sixth week on GAPS Intro and I am ecstatic to announce that I have been actually enjoying spending time outside.  I am certainly not yet reaction-free, but I am at least 50% better...and for me, that's have no idea.  I am experiencing an amazing freedom from lifelong debilitating pollen allergies.  This defies the conventional understanding of "allergies," which, of course, makes me quite happy.  

Life is taking on a new flavor with the healing that I and my family are experiencing.  Another notable positive change is in my toddler, who since she was born has never slept through the longer than two to three hours at any stretch, and usually less.  This has been the typical pattern for all my children, and I have always accepted it as a result of their allergies.  But the most wonderful change has occurred in my insomniac daughter, who for the last two weeks has been sleeping for five hours without waking.  That is tremendous for us.  

Now that I've shared more of the wonderful results we are seeing with our gut healing protocol, I'd like to share those recipes and tips that I promised previously.  

The first week on GAPS Intro was quite difficult for us...our bodies were adapting and we experienced significant die off.  Once we adjusted to the new diet (we got over the worst slump at about day 5), we noticed a roller-coaster effect in our die seems to come in waves.  I understand that destroying the malevolent flora and repopulating with beneficials can continue through the first year of GAPS (maybe longer), and I imagine we will continue to experience peaks and valleys as we continue on the program.

To ameliorate die off symptoms and assist our bodies with the healing process, I made herbal teas that contain nutrient-dense plants, as well as herbs that have anti-inflammatory and cell proliferation properties.  I believe it advantageous  to nourish the body during a healing crisis, and to use botanical medicine to assist in the repair of the intestinal lining.

Our daily GAPS Intro tea (recipe for 6-8 cups...I use a large French Press)
1 Tb dried comfrey leaves
1 Tb dried peppermint leaves
1 Tb dried nettle leaves
1 Tb dried oatstraw
1 tsp. slippery elm bark powder
1 small chunk (about the size of a quarter) fresh ginger root
1 pinch (about 1/2 tsp) dried stevia leaves

Steep for 10-15 minutes.  The stevia is a slight sweetener for the tea, as it is best to avoid raw honey on Intro (although it is allowable to begin testing in small quantities in the final stages of Intro...but when beginning, the sugars will complicate your withdrawal/die off).  I admit that we erred with the raw honey early on during Intro and we paid for I strongly suggest that you avoid the temptation to sweeten your tea, your food, (and your pathogens LOL) until the end of Intro or even after transitioning to Full GAPS.  At that point, your body should be better able to tolerate a bit of raw honey without creating addictions and worsening your die off.

In addition to the herbal tea, I began administering herbal/food medicines to assist in pathogen destruction.  It can be difficult with younger children if your herbs are in capsule form, and certain herbs are quite bitter the method of having them drink the herb powder with water can be unpalatable.  In our case, I make herbal tinctures that I add to their drinking water.  When I have no tincture available, I use powdered herbs.  I was able to mix some herbs with our food and all my children tolerated them without complaint.  But I should admit here that my children since birth have been conditioned to mama's health concoctions and will take just about anything.  I found that certain remedies blended nicely into the squash soup that has become a staple of our diet (recipe to follow), and certain things were indistinguishable when added to our evening sauerkraut (also to follow).

Our daily remedy regimen

  • 2 Tb. diatomaceous earth blended into soup to serve our family...if making individual servings, use 1/2 tsp. for small children and 1 tsp. for larger kids and adults.  DE (fossil shell powder) kills parasites and is high in silicon, a building block for your hair, bones, nails, teeth, collagen, etc.  DE has essentially no flavor (slightly chalky) and actually helps to thicken the soup.
  • Herbal tincture (15 drops 1x/daily for small children, 2x/daily for larger children/adults) of black walnut hull, wormwood, pau d'arcocloves and garlic (I prefer to use fresh for tincture making).  This combination of herbs is antiparasitic, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial.  I did not start using this combination until halfway through GAPS Intro, as the herbs are potent and I felt our bodies needed time to establish some homeostasis with the initial healing crisis.  In lieu of using a tincture, take powder/capsules.  Cloves make a delicious accompaniment to the squash soup and garlic should be in all your meals, so you'll get the benefits of that miracle food as you eat.  
  • Cinnamon sprinkled in the soup, baked into the bread, added to the tea, or even just chewed on as sticks.  Cinnamon is extraordinarily healing to blood sugar levels and can kill viruses (as do cloves), including strains of Staph, malevolent E coli, and Candida.  This makes cinnamon a wonderful addition to the GAPS protocol.
  • Activated Charcoal = 1 tsp. powder mixed into water to drink (it's black sludge, but it doesn't taste bad at all) safe for any age.  AC is an excellent remedy for removing is a necessary and efficient multi-purpose remedy (see my First Aid post for more info).  I have found AC to be quite helpful during GAPS Intro in alleviating die adsorbs the toxic by-products of the pathogens and helps the overall detoxification process. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar = 1 Tb. 3x/daily safe for any age.  Aside from the incredible nourishment and healing powers of ACV, which is a future post in itself, ACV is particularly useful during GAPS as it combats acidic conditions.

Another important component to the detoxification process of GAPS is detox baths.  Baden at describes a nice detox protocol in her book and discusses it on her site.  I designed a simple detox bath using baking soda, Pascalite, and epsom salts (and/or sea salt...we alternated).  You can also add ACV.  You can even add charcoal, though it gets messy, LOL.  I like to save the full bore detox with the aforementioned five ingredients for a foot bath, which is easier to clean.  For a full bath, use warm (not really hot) water, and 1/2 cup each of the soda, clay and salt (if you want to add ACV, I like to just "dash" it into the tub...about 1/4 cup I suppose; the charcoal would be less, under 1/4 cup).  Sit in the tub for 10 minutes and then rinse off.  Be careful not to let the clay go down the drain (it can clog your pipes).  It tends to stick around the sides of the tub anyway, so you can wipe it out when you're finished.  Foot baths can be done in a small basin (even a large Pyrex baking pan works)...just use 1/2 the amount of detox agents and soak 10-15 minutes.  When detoxing, you want to be slow and will be drawing out toxins and that can make you feel ill.  So don't overdo.  

Finally, don't forget...water, water, water!  I know I am delinquent in my goal of writing my water article...but until it shows up, just remember that you need to drink copious amounts of pure water to flush out toxins during this process.  And be certain to consume at least 1/2 tsp of mineral-rich pure salt (I love Real Salt, Himalayan salt, and Celtic grey sea salt) for every gallon of water you drink.  Also, generously salt your food to taste...this is good for you!

OK, let us move forward to some recipes...Let me begin by emphasizing that you need to follow the food protocol outlined in the GAPS books; resources and info are available in my initial GAPS post.

Because the backbone of GAPS is nourishing bone/meat broths, you will be eating quite a lot of soup, especially on Intro.  Despite our consumption of fats and significant calories, we were still feeling hungry...I think it was more of an emotional hunger due to the restricted daily food regimen.  I found that just by blending our soup with cooked winter squash, we suddenly felt satiated.  Perhaps this is not a new Intro recipe for accomplished GAPS families.  But for us, this discovery was a great help to our initial Intro stages.

(I know it aggravates my friends that I rarely measure anything, thereby sharing obscure recipes.  And I'm going to do it again, so I hope you'll forgive me.)

First you need to make your bone broth.  For the sake of your nourishment and health, it is important to make stock from organic, properly fed animals; that's grass for cattle and sheep, browse for goats, and grass/bugs/organic grains...NO soy and NO GMO corn...for birds (I avoid corn altogether for various reasons).  We tend to not each chicken...but when doing GAPS, it became impossible to keep up our stock supply without chickens.  We purchased some from an organic pasture-based family farm near us (we also had some of our own because we had a few roosters in the freezer from our initial flock of layers).  I far prefer the flavor and nutrients of red-meat animal stock, such as beef, lamb and wild game.  You can purchase soup bones, which have some meat on, but any bone, especially joints will do.  You're after the marrow and the saturated fats.  Fatty fish is a good option as well.  We also regularly eat wild Alaskan salmon, so when we get whole fish, we save the "parts" for stock.  

So whatever bones/parts you have collected for your stock supply, it's simple to make good stock.  If you're using a chicken, just put the entire thing in a pot that can accommodate it and enough water to cover it.  If you're using soup bones or other animal bones, do the same.  Add a roughly chopped onion, a few carrots, some garlic, sea salt and peppercorns.  I also add a bay leaf when I have some.  Sometimes I add a small chunk of ginger.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 12-24 hours.  If using a bird, remove after cooking the stock and pull the meat off the bones for separate meals or soup.  Any red meat on bones tends to fall apart during the long simmer.  You can take it out and cut it up for soup.  You can do these broths in a crock pot if it is large enough.  Lamb shoulder is wonderful this way.  OK, that's the quick version.  For more great info on stock, see cheeseslave's post on bone broths and WAPF's excellent article on broths.

When your broth is finished, make it into meat/veggie soup by adding additional veggies, like zucchini and cauliflower, more fresh garlic, and simmering long enough to soften the veggies.  This is the base for the recipe below.

Intro Squash Soup
  • 1/2 of entire Cooked winter squash (we love butternut, but also use acorn, delicata, kubota; spaghetti squash is not a good option for soup in my opinion...but makes a great meal with olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground peppercorns!)
  • 6 or so large ladles of prepared bone broth (including the veggies cooked in it)
  • salt, pepper, dash cinnamon, pinch cloves
  • couple spoonfuls ghee and coconut oil (to make ghee, simmer butter til melted and strain off milk solids and all white froth)
  • spoonful coconut cream (this is SUCH a treat!)
  • Blend
  • Add some meat pieces
  • Enjoy the delicious nourishment and the absence of children crying over yet another bowl of plain broth...LOL!  It's not that bad, I'm attempting to inject levity.
Once you achieve stage 3-4 of GAPS Intro, you will be able to bake a bit.  Because my son is severely reactive (hives, swelling, asthma) to nuts, we are unable to use the nut flours recommended by McBride.  Now, coconut flour is not protocol for GAPS Intro (because of its high fiber content), but it was our only I used it as sparingly as possible.  I came up with a bread/cake that my family loves so much, it is going to become part of my baking repertoire for future, even when we are finished with GAPS.  We call this bread, but it's really like a is extremely moist and very satisfying.  We are going to set aside this bread until we move to Full GAPS because it is off Intro protocol and I'm seeing some flareups in the family that I believe are being exacerbated by the bread.  But I wanted to share the recipe for those of you who can use nut flour...try adapting the recipe and see how it turns out!  Or, wait until Full GAPS and make this delicious coconut bread!

Squash Coconut Bread (not protocol for Intro)
  • 1/4 of entire cooked butternut squash
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour (I imagine pecan or almond flour would be so yummy!...amount of flour would need to be adjust up for nuts, because they are not as dense/fibrous as coconut flour)
  • 3 generous spoonfuls ghee
  • 3 generous spoonfuls coconut oil
  • 8 eggs
  • Big dash cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 spoonful coconut cream
  • Blend
  • Pour into greased (with CO) large Pyrex baking dish (or equivalent)
  • Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes...I'll be honest, this is an estimate because I just know when the bread is done by smelling it...but my son timed it one day and said 40 minutes, LOL.  Test the bread for doneness by sliding a butter knife into it...should come out perfectly clean.  The edges will brown and perhaps the top a tad, too.
Having a bread/cake can make GAPS Intro actually enjoyable...having some "comfort food" is emotionally and physically fulfilling, especially after the initial Intro stages.  And it helps to have a food that can travel when you need to be away from home.  I have found that the above recipe, with some tweaking, makes a nice batch of mini "souffles."  And this eliminates the Intro coconut flour dilemma.  

Intro Souffles
  • 1/2 entire butternut squash
  • 8 eggs
  • generous dash(es) cinnamon and some cloves if desired
  • 3 spoonfuls each ghee and coconut oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • Blend, pour into greased ramekins (or muffin tins) and bake at 375 for 30ish minutes; check for doneness with the "clean knife" test

The souffles have an amazingly light and creamy texture.  And they are firm enough to eat by hand, just a tad "slick," LOL.

Well...that took more time and space than I anticipated, so I am going to save the sauerkraut for the next post.  

I hope this has been helpful to those of you considering or beginning your GAPS journey.  For a host of recipes and meal ideas, I recommend Cara's cookbooks/meal plans at  You will also find recipes and meal ideas at the GAPS info/help sites and in the books I listed at the end of my GAPS Summary post.  The "official" GAPS shop sells a cookbook, Internal Bliss, which is geared towards Full GAPS.

Until next time, be well and keep researching!