February 27, 2011

The Princess Par-Tea

Whew!  Kenna's birthday party was yesterday--a long-anticipated event, I might add!  She got to the point Saturday where she was asking how many minutes until her "girls" came!  It was a wild success, for the most part.  I was a little shocked that every single little girl we invited showed up, aside from one who was planning to come but unfortunately got the flu.  So there were a total of 8 little princesses running around, plus parents and siblings.  Kenna was in heaven!

We invited the girls to dress up in their favorite princess costume, so of course I seized the opportunity to wear my Renaissance Fair dress! 

We started with craft time at the table.  I printed out princess coloring sheets for the girls to color while we waited for everyone to arrive.  Then the princesses decorated crowns (kits from the dollar store) with stickers and jewels.  Finally, we made "Royal Play Dough," which was homemade play dough that we sprinkled fine glitter on and had the girls work into the dough so that it was sparkly.  Charis helped make the dough the day before--this is the BEST homemade play dough recipe!  Even the boys were playing with it, despite its pink color!  We put the balls in ziplocks for the girls to take home.

Then it was time for the princesses to find their "lost" slippers!  Charis had hidden one of each of their shoes while they worked on crafts.  She hid a piece of homemade candy in each one, so they enjoyed a peanut-butter treat when they found their slippers again.

What's a kid's birthday party without a Pin the ____ on the _____ game?!  Charis drew the Cinderella poster herself and cut out clip art crowns for the girls to tape up.  Did I mention Charis was my Party Helper?!  She was AMAZING!  From food preparations to decorating the party room, I could not have pulled this off without her.  Having her help allowed me to have FUN instead of being stressed!

We had a "Royal Ball," during which we played some classical music and had the princesses dance around.  We gave them pink strips of decorating paper to twirl around.  They were to freeze in place when the music stopped.  It was so much fun to watch them!  Then Charis led them in a game of "The Queen Says" (i.e. Simon Says) while I finished putting food on the table for the "tea party."

You can't see it really well in the picture, but we did a Fruit Rainbow, which was a fantastic idea I stole from my college friend Lisa, as well as a veggie tray, deviled eggs, mini pumpkin muffins, and orange cookies.  (As an aside, everything we served was GAPS-approved!)  Due to the sheer number of bodies in the house (8 princesses, 9 adults, and 5 siblings), we opted to forgo actually having tea.  (We served sparkling flavored mineral water from Trader Joe's as drinks...and ended up getting plain water when some little princesses didn't like the mineral water!)

Then it was time for presents.  We had Kenna sit on a cute princess chair that our neighbors had given us the week before--perfect!  The little girls crowded around and oohed and aahed over her gifts. 

Here are the 8 princesses on the couch!  Four of them are AWANA Cubbies friends who sit at Kenna's table, 1 is a neighbor friend, and 2 are friends from our monthly family community. 

I spent so much time making a homemade cake that fit our current dietary guidelines that there was really no time leftover to spend on making it look fancy, so I borrowed a tiara from Charis to plop on there!

Kenna had trouble blowing out the flames!  I'm not sure what she was (or wasn't) doing, but it was funny to watch her try!  The two girls on either side of her ended up helping blow them out.

So, I have to be honest, the cake itself was somewhat disappointing.  Our family, and Sidra and her little girl (in other words, those of us doing the GAPS diet), liked it (well, Kenna only ate the frosting), but let's just say there were a lot of partially-eaten pieces left on plates after the party!  I made a HUGE mistake in speaking to the parents and saying something about there not being sugar in the cake, but of course the girls overheard, and I think that really tainted their opinion of the cake!  Lesson learned...keep your mouth closed until AFTER they sample, LOL!  It's good to eat, but it's more of a sweetbread kind of taste rather than a birthday cake kind of taste.  I can definitely see why they wouldn't care for it as much.  I think it does go to show how much our family's taste buds have changed!  Using honey and stevia as our only sweeteners has helped break the sugar addiction I know we all struggled with.  (It was a happy, ignorant struggle, to be sure, but trust me, we were sugar addicts who thought we were a healthy family!)

Our party favors also came from the dollar store...my goal was to find some "useful" objects and definitely not include candy, LOL.  We found chunky princess crayons, 50-piece princess puzzles, and adorable ice cream cone bubble containers.  All 3 items fit very nicely in the party favor bags.  I was pleased--a nice, inexpensive way to thank the guests for coming!  Kenna was happy there was a puzzle left over for her. :-)

All in all, it was a very fun event.  Kenna hasn't had her very own birthday party with guests since she turned one, and it was fun letting her be the star for the day.  Being one of the younger kids, she often just gets lumped in with what the older kids are doing, and I felt it was important for her to have her very own party, even though we don't typically do this all the time.  We're supposed to be having a family celebration with gifts and cake this evening, but she is currently sacked out on the couch!  I think she is still recovering from being sick on Wednesday.  She had a raging fever that day, and while that was the only day she had the fever, she spent a lot of time Thursday and Friday sleeping on the couch.  Saturday she was pretty lively, but for obvious reasons!  And today she was wiped out again.  Poor li'l princess!  We'll see how she feels when she wakes up, and I'll have to post more pictures of family gifts later.

February 22, 2011

New Breakfast Routine

The most difficult meal to adapt to when we started our new diet was breakfast--we were so used to having cereal and fruit every day.  Now I have to cook most mornings!  We have a fairly set routine now, and though it includes a lot more prep and clean-up, we're all happy with the food we've been eating.  Kenna is a great breakfast helper, and I've been making the kids do a lot more with the clean-up, so the days we've done school, we really haven't been too far behind.  Here's our breakfast schedule, more or less:

Sundays & Wednesdays--pancakes (either coconut or banana-peanut butter) with fruit
Mondays & Thursdays--scrambled eggs with sausage (turkey sausage, no sugar for the boys; Jimmy Dean's all-natural sausage with 1 gram sugar for the girls), raw veggies, some kind of muffin
Tuesdays & Fridays--fried eggs, sausage patties, raw veggies (I like to saute veggies with my sausage), some kind of muffin
Saturdays & any day of the week we are in a hurry--homemade yogurt with GAPS granola (made from raw and soaked pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coconut, honey, and cinnamon), fruit

When we first started the diet, I cooked for Ted and later cooked for the rest of us.  Ahem.  Ted now eats leftovers from whatever I cooked the day before!  We're trying not to use the microwave--it kills all the food's nutrients--but he unfortunately must use it at work for his lunch anyway.  I try to put things in the oven to warm for him, but a lot of times he just zaps his breakfast.

I make our muffins in bulk using variations from a basic coconut flour muffin recipe.  (I can post this later if anyone is interested.)  I HAVE learned that we much prefer to double the amount of vanilla called for, and depending on what type of muffin, I also add almond extract.  The original recipe was too egg-y for me.  (I like eggs, but I want a muffin to taste like a muffin!)  The recipe from the book makes 6 muffins. 

I'll pause here so you can laugh as long and loudly as I did.

I immediately quadruple any recipe from that book!  The first week of our diet I made 72 muffins--24 blueberry and the rest basic coconut flour.  Now I probably do a couple of baking sessions a week, as we like to vary what we make.  We like the carrot and pumpkin recipes as well, and tomorrow I'll try apple-cinnamon.  We've made homemade jam in bulk (there's even some in the freezer now!), which goes very nicely on the plain muffins for a treat.

Hopefully this gives a bit of a glimpse into our new life...is it any wonder I spend so much time in the kitchen, LOL!  Good thing we do a lot of school in there so I can multi-task!

What We're NOT Eating

So we've been on the GAPS diet for a whole month now.  I have been keeping a meal log so we can note any reactions and whatnot, and today's log finished 31 days!

I realized that I wrote a long post on the WHY of starting this diet, but I haven't really given much details about what all it involves.  I did post some links for those who were interested in more details, but I'll just give a quick rundown here of what our eating habits look like now.

1. NO sugar, aside from what naturally occurs in fruits.  For sweeteners, we use honey and stevia (I get it in the liquid form and use the dropper--very easy).  And cinnamon and vanilla go a long way toward making one's taste buds think there IS sugar involved in something, LOL.

2.  NO grains.  None.  Period.  This means: no pasta, no corn or corn products, no popcorn, no flour (with the exception of coconut and nut flours), no "normal" bread, no cereals, no oatmeal, no cornmeal...did I leave anything out?!

3.  NO starches.  No potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn starch, rice, etc.  (Is rice a grain?  Maybe that should be under #2.  Hmmm.)

4.  NO chocolate.  Sigh.  I'm still not very happy about this one, but I'm frankly amazed that I've gone 31+ days without it.

5.  NO soy or soy products.  (Do you realize how many items in the grocery store contain soy lecithin?!)  (I have to confess I do cheat and use a canola non-stick cooking spray, which has soy lecithin in it, but this is miniscule, and my diet "mentor" told me she uses it, too!)

6.  NO bad fats--only animal fat, butter, coconut oil, and cold-pressed olive oil allowed.  We use butter and coconut oil for cooking/sauteeing and olive oil for things like homemade salad dressings and mayonnaise.

7.  LIMITED (and specific) dairy--only whole (almost-raw) milk (drunk by itself infrequently), homemade yogurt that has been fermented long enough to be lactose-free, cheese in small amounts (but no mozzarella).  NO cream cheese or sour cream.  (But the homemade yogurt and dripped yogurt cheese works just fine as replacements.)

So, what ARE we eating?  Good, quality meats--grass-fed and humanely treated beef and pork and free-range chickens, for example, all hormone-free, of course.  Homemade chicken broth--drunk plain in mugs as well as in various soups.  Homemade yogurt.  Soaked and roasted seeds.  Eggs and more eggs--scrambled, fried, boiled, etc.  LOTS and lots and lots of approved fruits and veggies.  We have had more vegetables in the past month than we probably ate in the previous 6 months combined!  I've been thrilled to see my kids eating things I probably would not have thought to give them before, when it was easier to give them a cracker or piece of bread because I knew they'd eat it.

For example...we have discovered that little Lucan loves plain spaghetti squash and carrot sticks dipped in hummus.  (His dinner tonight consisted almost entirely of a large serving of green beans and some avocadoes.)  Tobin has realized he loves garlic broccoli.  Arden eats all colors of peppers like there's no tomorrow.  Charis adores our roasted squash bake, and Kenna cheerfully puts away all manner of vegetables.

We've had to be creative to fill up our growing kids, but we haven't been bored yet!

February 21, 2011

Kid Update

We're halfway finished with our Sonlight curriculum for the year, which means it's a perfect time for a little update on all the short people in our house.

An obsession with historical fiction keeps us trekking to the library frequently to keep Charis in books.  She has progressed far beyond the American Girl series and now reads all kinds of diaries/journals (fictionalized, but based on real people and events).  Her favorite authors are Kathryn Lasky, Andrew Clements, and Beverly Cleary.  When she's not curled up with a book, Charis is either playing the piano, working on a self-imposed writing assignment, or holed up in the craft room, making a mess on my stamp room floor as she creates gifts for loved ones.  (Latest project: two dolls in a box crib for Kenna's birthday present.  You can see one of her projects in the picture of Kenna below--she made "mice" and "cages" for her and her siblings to have as pets.  Such detail in the boxes!)  She is a HUGE help to me in the kitchen as well as entertaining the little ones, and I am so thankful that she is such a natural homemaker-in-training!  I truly enjoy working in the kitchen with her, and it's a delight to both Ted and me to watch her with her younger siblings.

Having found a new literature series to read (The Lightning Thief), Tobin also frequently escapes to spend some quality time with library books.  He will begin piano lessons on March 1, so we will have two piano students in the house!  Our piano teacher is thrilled to have another student, and I was thrilled that Tobin finally agreed to start lessons, LOL.  It's quite convenient, as she drives here and does the lessons in our dining room with the kids while I work on lunch or do what needs to be done with the other children.  Tobin also continues to fulfill his role as Ted's "Mini-Me," cracking jokes and puns at the drop of a hat.  He's getting more dependable with household tasks, and I find myself calling for him to do things for more and relying less on Charis in some respects, so that is definitely a good thing!

Although Arden is not as big of a reading fanatic as his older siblings, he does enjoy comic books!  He has read tons of classic Peanuts books as well as others that we let him check out from the library.  But given a choice, he would much rather be playing something:  Legos, chess, Wii, computer games, anything that involves running with a pointed object, and so on.  He and Tobin often disappear for hours on end to build and play with their Legos.  Arden is excelling in math, doing double-digit multiplication and nearly catching up to the book that Tobin is currently in.  I've decided to stop trying to slow him down!  Only this past week did he finally seem to "struggle" with a new concept, which he quickly mastered after a little one-on-one time with me.  He adores his little siblings and is such a gentle-hearted boy.

Eagerly anticipating her upcoming princess "par-tea," Kenna is still the happy, joyful girl she's always been.  I love how she comes downstairs in the morning with her hair sticking out in every direction wearing a huge smile.  That girl is just so HAPPY!  Her exuberance for life always lifts my spirits--one can't help but smile when she's around...assuming she's in a good mood, that is!  Watch out if she is crossed!  Kenna is quite tall (big, even!) for her age.  She turns 4 on Sunday, but her 4T clothes are nearly too small already!  I'm glad spring is close by so we don't have to worry about her ankles hanging out of her pants, LOL.  Kenna loves singing, being chased and tickled, and bossing Lucan around.  She loves thinking she is a big kid, listening in on our Sonlight reading and helping set the table every morning for breakfast.  She really is becoming quite a good little helper, sometimes even being more dependable than Arden, who is easily distracted!

Our baby isn't really a baby anymore, sigh!  He also is fast outgrowing all his clothes.  We are reaching the end of the hand-me-downs we received before we left Las Vegas, so I may actually need to go buy him some clothes!  Hurry up, garage sale season!  Pretty much all his pants are too short, so we have to creatively dress him when the weather is cold, LOL.  Lucan is shaping up to be like his big brother Arden in so many ways.  I remember Arden was doing 100-piece puzzles by himself when he was 2 1/2.  Lucan will be 2 at the end of March, and while he isn't close to 100-piece puzzles yet, he is quite capable of doing 24-piece puzzles and even a 48-piece one that Kenna got for Christmas (thanks, Ski!).  A recent obsession is the Hungarian New Testament that he found off our bookshelves.  I don't know if it's the size or the bright blue color, but he LOVES that thing!  He carries it around and randomly opens it and "reads" out loud to anyone who will listen.  It's very cute to hear him babble...maybe he'll be a preacher to Hungary someday, ha!  Another likeness to Arden is his sweet, gentle spirit.  When I picked him up from the toddler room on Sunday, his teacher described him in just those words--"He has a sweet, gentle spirit!"  Reminded me of a time when a godly woman from our church in Maryland spoke similar words over a one-year-old Arden, saying she didn't know exactly what it was, but she felt in her spirit there was something special about that little boy.

I am pleased to announce that I have indeed been feeling Baby J move over the last week or so, quite frequently, even.  I could tell my belly was growing (that happened starting the moment of conception, LOL), but not feeling any movement was beginning to worry me.  I'll be 13 weeks tomorrow and have my OB appointment in the morning.  I am trying hard not to FREAK OUT that I am 1/3 of the way through this pregnancy.  Oh, that Ted's deployment will go so quickly...

As much fun as it is to watch our children grow and become the people God created them to be, it's also fun to dream and imagine what they'll be like in 10, 20, and even 50+ years.  What a blessing each one of them is!

February 19, 2011

Sunny Days

This week my spirits were lifted with a change in weather.  We actually saw the sun!  For more than one day!  And the temperatures rose, and we left the house!  Without being bundled like marshmallows!

I can't even begin to describe how much of a boost that was for me emotionally.  Following our new diet has meant a lot of work in the kitchen, and while I do enjoy cooking and doing things from scratch, there is something to be said for those quick, go-to "convenience" type of meals that are fall backs for busy days.  My number of these kinds of recipes has greatly dwindled!  Once I revamp some of our old recipes, I think the menu planning will be less of an issue than it has been over the past month.  This past week even has been a lot easier than the first couple of weeks were. 

But anyway, the stress of menu planning, re-learning how to grocery shop, and the sheer work load, not to mention regular responsibilities like taking care of little ones, schooling, laundry, business efforts, etc., was REALLY getting to me.  God is faithful--He continually sent me encouragement through various emails or phone calls from friends, a new ladies' Bible study, my amazingly wonderful husband, and kids who wrote me adorable notes for Valentine's Day.  (They DO appreciate my efforts!  Maybe once a year, LOL.)  And He gifted us with some great weather this week so that we all enjoyed fresh air and sunshine, and that went a long way toward helping me feel more like my normal self.

Wednesday Lucan conked out during his room time and ended up taking his two-hour nap two hours earlier than usual.  So we all got to go outside for about an hour and a half in the afternoon to play and chat with neighbors.  Sidra and I are planning a vegetable garden this spring and summer!  We talked with Chris, who offered her garden plot, since she won't be using it this year.  I'm so excited!  That will be very therapeutic, not to mention money-saving, LOL, given all the veggies our family is ripping through.  And it will be my very first gardening experience!  What a great homeschool activity...not to mention a way to keep the kids occupied, LOL.  ("Stop hitting your brother. Go pull weeds!")

Thursday was quite windy, but that didn't stop the kids from heading outside as soon as we returned from PE and a trip to our market store for milk and meat.  Lucan bounced around on the trampoline and toddled around in the back yard for probably at least an hour, even after the air grew chilly and the wind blew the girls, who were playing with him, back inside.

Spring still isn't here--the house was 63 degrees this morning when we forgot to turn the heat back on last night--but there are glimpses.  There's hope. :-)

February 16, 2011

Pancakes Without Flour

These pancakes are a new favorite at our house.  Wednesdays and Sundays are now pancake days around here.  We have used two pancake recipes quite successfully--one uses coconut flour, and the other is what is pictured here.  I upped my recipe to feed our larger family.  As you can see, I fit 15 pancakes on our electric griddle.  They are about 3 inches in diameter.  (I've noticed you have to make these kinds of pancakes much smaller than what we used to make, as they are much harder to flip.)

Here's the recipe I used...you can adjust according to family size.

6 mushy bananas  (You can also use equivalent or approximate amounts of applesauce or pureed squash.)
12 eggs
1 1/2 cups peanut or nut butter (I used 3/4 cup PB and 3/4 cup homemade almond butter)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix well.  Use a small gravy ladle to spoon onto a buttered griddle.  My recipe made 80 pancakes...plenty for our family plus some leftovers for quick breakfasts for Ted. :-)  The original recipe was 1 banana, 2 Tbsp PB, 3 eggs, and 1/2 tsp soda.  Um, yeah.  Not enough for us!

February 13, 2011

Seven on Sunday

1.  Temps are above freezing!  The ice/snow around us is melting, and it's supposed to be in the mid-50s this week.  The sun is shining.  Life is good.  I look forward to leaving our cave this week.

2.  We've been living in a sick house the past week.  Lucan started last Sunday with a fever and only yesterday began acting like his normal self.  Tobin has been miserable the last few days and in fact missed the Avs hockey game with Ted and Arden Friday night, choosing to stay home and go to bed early.  Arden has been hacking the last few days as well.  And since Charis has had a stuffy nose for going on two weeks now, that leaves Kenna, Ted, and me the only unscathed people thus far.  Here's hoping things get better so we can enjoy the good weather...

3.  A paradoxically frustrating and encouraging thing:  the boys are apparently experiencing a "healing crisis."  Both Tobin and Arden have experienced a relapse, which has included a lot of coughing, wheezing, and needing to use their inhalers.  This is normal and to be expected as their bodies have been undergoing detox.  So far my own detox symptoms only seem to involve sneezing!  Odd, but it was mentioned specifically in the document I read, and I can't explain my sneeze attacks any other way!

4.  I'll be 12 weeks along with this pregnancy on Tuesday.  Hard to believe the first trimester is almost over.  I'm trying not to be concerned about the fact that I haven't felt any movement yet.  I know it's fairly early, but I felt the last 3 babies by 11 weeks.  Ted thinks I've just been too busy...I don't know.  I'll feel a lot better after I hear the heartbeat at my next appointment, which is February 22.

5.  Last week I joined a ladies' evening Bible study for a short time.  We are studying Max Lucado's book Fearless.  I saw the announcement in the bulletin and figured it was appropriate, given all that I'm facing this year.  The study just runs 6 weeks.  The group meets on an on-going basis, but I can't really commit to a long-term evening study.  I was blessed by the first meeting I attended last week and look forward to getting to know these ladies better.

6.  Yesterday was the AWANA Bible Quiz Team competition, hosted by our church.  Charis had been on the team last year and worked hard only to have the event canceled by bad weather, and it just couldn't be rescheduled.  So I was glad this year that both she and Tobin were able to participate.  As a whole, our (rather large) team didn't fare so well, but I think it was great that so many kids were involved.  Charis did win a "High Honor" award, and she and her teammate placed 4th for their book division.  Though Tobin was really not feeling well, he did pretty well, and I'm proud of him for participating.  (He was a bit reluctant at first!)  Next up...the AWANA games, and Arden will get to be part of that!

7.  I have a princess "par-tea" to plan.  Our little Kenna turns 4 in just two weeks!  She has requested a princess themed party, so I plan to recycle some of the activities we did for Charis's 5th birthday and make Charis my official Party Helper.  We will send the boys out for some fun and enjoy hosting a few dressed-up little girls for some games and tea time!  It will be fun and challenging to come up with treats that even our guests will enjoy, given our current menu options, but I look forward to baking something fancy and even more to helping Kenna celebrate her special day.  She has been looking forward to it literally for months. :-)

February 12, 2011

Amazing Shepherd's Pie

There are tons of recipes for those who follow the GAPS or SCD lifestyle, and there's no use trying to turn this into a recipe blog...BUT...the meal we had tonight was so amazing that I think even folks who follow the SAD (as Debi called it, the Standard American Diet) would enjoy this!

Bottom layer--
1 lb. ground beef (I used closer to 1 1/2 lbs)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
10 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice

Top layer--
1 medium-size cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed
2 tbsp butter
grated cheese for the top (we used a combo of cheddar and Monterrey Jack)

Saute ground beef a couple of minutes, then add cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat until beef is cooked through.  Add spring onions to the mixture and stir about 2 minutes, or until they soften slightly.  Remove from heat and mix in lime juice.  Place mixture in a pie baking dish.  (Note:  Don't let your ground beef dry out too much on the stovetop!  We didn't have this problem at all, since we used all-natural, grass-fed beef, which has lots of juices, i.e. healthy animal fats that our bodies need. :-)

Meanwhile, steam cauliflower and puree or blend with butter in a food processor until smooth.  Spread on top of the ground beef and add grated cheese to top.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

WOW!  Was this ever yummy!  I think the recipe could easily be doubled to fit a 9x13 pan to feed even more people or to allow for a good amount of leftovers.  I steamed some peas while the pie was in the oven, and they were a great complement to the Shepherd's Pie.  Ted and I stirred ours into the mixture, but I suppose the kids appreciated having the option to not have their peas touch any other food, LOL.

We also had salad and homemade raspberry jam with our coconut flour muffins...MMM!  The jam was a big hit and easy as...pie?!...to make:  stir 1 tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it melts, then slowly pour 1 tbsp honey in and mix.  Dump in a small (6-7 oz) package of fresh raspberries and simmer over low heat about 10 minutes, until mixture thickens.  Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.  (Ours will NOT last that long, LOL!)  Next time I will at least double and probably triple the recipe!

February 09, 2011

A Word About Carbs

My friend Debi asked a question about carbs in her comment on my last post.  I have to confess, I had never heard of "Ketosis!"  So I did a quick online search to see what she was talking about.  Obviously since I hadn't heard of it, I haven't been concerned about it being an issue for us, LOL.  But I want to be sure I have correct information, and of course I want to be sure the significant changes we're making are not part of any "fad" diet research.  So I welcomed the question as an opportunity to learn more.

In working my way through the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, I actually read some information today about carbohydrates.  This may answer Debi's question, and if not, Debi, feel free to comment. :-)

First of all, I learned--or maybe relearned, because I do vaguely remember some of this from high school science classes!--that carbs are made of monosaccharides, the most common of which are glucose, fructose, and galactose.  They easily penetrate the gut lining and do not need digestion.  Glucose and fructose are found in abundance in fruit and vegetables.  Galactose (which is one I don't remember hearing about before) is found in soured milk products like yogurt.  "Monosugars" from fruit and some veggies are the easiest carbs for us to digest and should be the main form of carbohydrate in the diet of any person with a digestive disorder--which includes allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune issues, along with a host of other GAPS issues.

The next size carbs are the double sugars--the sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and maltose (from digestion of starch).  We cannot absorb these sugars without a lot of internal work!  When a person has GAPS issues, these carbs cannot be absorbed and stay in the gut, becoming major food for pathogenic bacteria, viruses, Candida, and other toxic substances.  Even in healthy people, a lot of starch goes undigested.

Before doing this research, I thought carbs were breads, pastas, rice, cereal, etc.  Now I'm learning that THOSE kinds of carbs are exactly what causes so many health problems today--at least, in the form most of us eat them!  Most carbohydrates are ultra-processed foods in a completely different form from what God intended us to have.  I could probably write a lot about this, since I just finished reading this chapter, but I'll close with an interesting quote from Dr. Campbell-McBride:  "The more processed carbohydrates with or without gluten you give your GAPS child or adult, the more 'toxic' he or she will become and the more autistic, schizophrenic, hyperactive, or other symptoms you will see."

As our bodies heal, we will slowly return to eating grains properly prepared--that is, buying our wheat as a grain and cooking it at home as opposed to baking with pre-processed wheat flour.  We thought we were being so healthy to make our own breads and use whole wheat flour in cookies instead of white flour, but we weren't really much better off than the majority of Americans who purchase their breads and desserts! 

How long will this process take?  I wish I knew!  The kids keep asking, and secretly, I do, too, LOL.  The book says that people with severe GAPS symptoms need to expect to be on the diet 2 years in order to build back their supply of good bacteria while depleting the bad.  Since we aren't dealing with major issues like MS, autism, depression, ADHD, etc., I am hoping that we'll see significant improvements with our health within a year.  Of course, Ted's deployment kind of throws a wrench into his own healing process, but God knows what He's doing!  And Ted is even farther into the book than I am.  He's learning what he should and should not eat in order to promote healing in his own body, and he'll make the best choices he possibly can.  And I'll plan to mail him lots of homemade sauerkraut, LOL.  It's a probiotic. :-)

February 08, 2011

Super Bowl Munchies

Just a quick post...being on the GAPS/SCD diet doesn't mean we must forfeit good food.  In fact, our Super Bowl munchies this year were fantastic!  We stayed home this year...being on Eastern time means we don't really want to take the whole crew to anyone's house since it's a late evening.  Seeing the Packers win was very exciting, too...brought back memories of Ted's and my first Super Bowl after being married when the Broncos played the Packers!  (Green Bay didn't have such good luck that year, though!)

Anyway, we enjoyed lots of fresh veggies and guacamole dip, plus I made Provolone cheese chips to dip as well.  (The kids had theirs plain...they don't know what they were missing!)  Cheese chips = bake cheese wedges at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.  (Be sure to place on parchment paper!)  We do the same thing for taco shells but remove after 10 minutes, then drape over a broom handle covered with paper towels to form the shell shape.  Yum!

I also made stuffed jalapenos.  For one box from Trader Joe's, I mixed 1/2 cup of our homemade yogurt with 1/2 cup shredded cheese, some garlic powder, and salt and pepper, then spread inside the peppers.  We baked those (also on parchment paper) at 350 for 35-40 minutes.  Oh...my...GOODNESS!!!  SOOOO good!  I liked them much better than the deep fried ones from restaurants!

Some of the kids had leftover spaghetti pie...my basic recipe, but I used spaghetti squash in place of the noodles and homemade yogurt cheese in place of the cottage cheese.  Oh yes, and homemade tomato sauce.  Ted and I just munched our veggies, chips, dip, and jalapeno poppers and were pretty much stuffed.

Later on, for dessert, we tried something new, and it was a hit with everyone.  (All but Lucan, that is...he was in bed, LOL.)  I had frozen bananas on popsicle sticks, then pulled out of the freezer and slathered peanut butter on them, then rolled in unsweetened coconut.  YUM!!  We all agreed it was a very wonderful treat.  Much healthier than high-fructose corn syrup-laden ice cream, and very, very tasty.  It was nice to find an easy dessert that everyone liked!

February 01, 2011

The WHY Behind Our Diet/Lifestyle Change

For those who want to know WHY we're doing what we're doing...this is a pretty thorough explanation!

About a year ago my friend and neighbor Sidra went on the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) after doing much research and going to many doctors to figure out what was wrong with her.  Though she wasn't actually diagnosed with MS, all the signs were there, and had things not changed, that was probably the road she was heading toward.  She mentioned what she was doing, and it sounded a bit extreme at the time, although I figured it was necessary given all she had been going through physically.  I was amazed that her 5-year-old son, Samuel, was also on the diet.  They were doing the Intro GAPS diet, which is very, VERY restrictive and focuses on healing the lining of the gut walls and repopulating the good bacteria in the gut while starving the bad bacteria.

I didn't think much more about it until the summer, when at some point she said to me that the diet was good for people with allergies and asthma.  Samuel has had a number of food allergies and also struggled with asthma, to the point that Sidra wouldn't let him go anywhere during the fall and winter months for fear he would be exposed to something, which would then have him severely sick for weeks on end.  Sidra specifically mentioned Arden, knowing that he especially deals with allergies and asthma.  Out of curiosity, I looked at the GAPS web site, but not for long...it looked too weird for me.

Meanwhile, in June I dealt with a very nasty yeast infection, something that I've pretty much never dealt with before.  Another friend, Stefanie, helped me overcome the symptoms with homeopathic remedies after the OTC stuff I tried actually made things worse, and finally I got past it.  Then, in November, another one hit. This time the remedies didn't do much of anything, and I was in major misery.  I was desperate and spent some of my insomniac hours online, reading various articles and web sites about Candida and how to control it.  Once again I looked at the GAPS web site and even asked my mom what she thought about it.  I cut out sugar and started eating a LOT of plain yogurt in the mornings.  Days later when nothing had changed, I finally made an appointment on base and got some prescription medicine to deal with it "once and for all." 

Or so I thought.  Five weeks later ANOTHER infection hit.  This time I was unable to get in to see the doctor I had seen before, and since it was a Friday, I got my own 3-day OTC remedy, which thankfully did seem to help this time.  The doc called me on Monday to follow up, and when I mentioned my dietary changes, she pretty much said that diet wouldn't affect the problem.  I had already been thinking completely otherwise, so I just thanked her and hung up, deciding that I really needed to look into things for myself.  Three infections in 6 months?!  And the doctor didn't seem to think that was unusual or worth investigating??

Well, the holidays came, along with learning I was pregnant, and I began to be more concerned about the best way to take care of my body.  After the new year rolled around, our neighborhood ladies' Bible study got together, and Sidra was sharing how God had allowed her to help so many families from her church to start the GAPS diet and see positive changes with their health.  The next day I got an email from a friend at church asking for prayer for her 2-year-old daughter, who was very ill with a lot of intestinal issues.  It was a complete case of God's timing--I asked Bethany if she would mind if I sent her message on to Sidra, and then I called Sidra to let her know what was going on.  I ended up talking with Sidra for nearly an hour, and after the conversation, I really felt like this was something OUR family needed to be doing.

And I didn't like it!  Not one little bit! 

I decided that really, I COULD NOT do this diet if only a few members of our family were going to follow it.  No WAY was I making multiple meals and dealing with complaints from those who couldn't have what the others were having.  So I talked to Ted about it, figuring that he would say something along the lines of...yeah, maybe it can help some people, but it's not for us.  And then I'd be off the hook.

But that wasn't what Ted said.  He heaved a big sigh, and pretty much verbalized what I had been thinking.  "I think this is something we need to do."  Doh!  There went my last excuse!

For the next couple of weeks, we did some more research.  Sidra come over to our house one evening and spent several hours telling us about various phases of the diet (which we ended up not doing--we haven't done the Intro diet at all) and some of the reasoning and scientific principles behind why we should be eating or not eating certain foods.  We took notes.  I attended a Weston A. Price chapter meeting at which Sidra spoke for about 20 minutes on the GAPS diet, then ordered some cod liver oil and a ginormous vat of coconut oil from the main speaker of the evening.  (What is this world coming to...I am voluntarily going to put cod liver oil in my body!!!)  We also learned about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is similar to GAPS, and per Sidra's suggestion, we decided to do more of a combination of the two since we don't have as severe of issues as some others who are on the diet start out with.  Plus, with being pregnant, I need to make sure I get good things like milk!

I had just done a big commissary shopping trip right before all this started happening.  Sidra encouraged me to just use up the food that we had so that we didn't waste our money, and then plan to shop for the new diet when I was ready.  During these weeks of preparation, we began talking with the kids about all of this, telling them that when we start the diet, this or that would not be allowed and so on.  We talked about wanting to get the boys OFF their allergy/asthma medicine (Arden has been on Singulair and Claritin or Zyrtec daily for at least 3 years now, and Tobin has been on Flonase off and on for a few years).  Tobin and Arden could see the wisdom in this, as they have had to have albuterol inhaler treatments frequently during the winter...usually winter is not a time with these kinds of problems for them.

So...now you know the thought process behind this decision!  Probably more detail than anyone really wanted or needed to know, but people have been asking, so there it is!  More to come.