First Week on the GAPS Intro Diet: What I Ate, How I Felt and the Effect it had on my Family 

GAPS INTRO STAGE ONE

Day One: 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock and lots fresh herb tea (made from boiling water and herbs grown in my garden and dried out at home).

I felt like I’d been knocked for six, but put that down to caffeine withdrawal. Had a cheeky afternoon nap while Freddy watched a film sitting on my lap and the girls watched a different film upstairs. That was basically how the day rolled, and I paid the price with a truly horrendous bedtime. I was not going win any parenting awards that day, but hey ho!

Day Two: 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock, little bit of boiled meat from stock and herb tea, with a tbsp of loose leaf Oolong added.

Definitely felt more human, but wasn’t functioning at full capacity. We had another day at home, which certainly wasn’t easy, however I was much more able to step in to diffuse meltdowns and didn’t feel completely broken by the end of the day.

leg rash before and three days into GAPS

GAPS INTRO STAGE TWO

Day Three: 1L water kefir, 2L Chicken stock (twice with egg yolk) and herb/Oolong tea throughout the day, slow cooked brisket with garlic, onions, carrot and butternut squash in the evening.

I sprang out of bed at 5-something for the first time in months and realised I wasn’t grumpy. Also the strange rash that appeared on my left leg on 29/07 has massively gone down. It was very sore, itchy and inflamed but is noticeably better in all areas.

We had a lovely day with friends, and I was absolutely fine preparing food and not getting tempted to eat it. I did end up feeling a bit queasy after the stock with egg yolks so won’t be doing that again – it passed quickly though. My two girls had a sleepover in my eldest’s room and put themselves to bed, which is a total and utter miracle in itself!

Day Four: 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock and herb/Oolong tea throughout the day and slow cooked pork blade with garlic, onions, turmeric and carrot in the evening.

Another early wake up, but rather than struggle to get out of bed I was more than happy to get up earlier than the rest of the house and did some editing work on my novel. I felt good today, although noticed a bit of nausea after drinking the tea, so will leave the Oolong out, as I’ve discovered it’s quite high in caffeine and I think I need a complete break from caffeine. Had some very challenging moments with my eldest daughter but managed to stay calm throughout, which is a huge achievement.

Day Five: 1L water kefir, 1L chicken stock and herb tea throughout the day. Soup for lunch made from stock and veggies out of last nights dinner with a little bit of boiled chicken and home made ghee drizzled over the top, boiled chicken and sauerkraut for dinner.

Didn’t have any nausea after drinking the tea, so I think staying off the Oolong for the time being is a good move. I found that I was hungrier today than I have been, but I realised that I drank less stock than other days, as I was out all afternoon, so that’s probably why. No reaction to the ghee or sauerkraut which I’m very happy about. The inflammation around the strange leg rash is completely gone, and the rash itself is now just a few spots. It’s been incredible watching it disappear each day, and to think the doctor prescribed steroid cream (which I didn’t use).

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Day Six: 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock and herb tea in the morning. Boiled chicken, sauerkraut and ghee salad for lunch. Fasted from 1pm through to 11am.

Months ago my husband and I booked tickets to an outdoor festival and stay overnight in a hotel – it’s a rarity for us, so we weren’t about to miss out. I couldn’t take food and drinks into the event, so made sure I drank plenty of stock before heading out, and had a nice filling lunch before going in. Then I took it as a great opportunity to a little fast. Intermittent Fasting is incredibly beneficial for the body, check out what the fabulous Mark Sisson has to say on the matter in this detailed article.

GAPS INTRO STAGE THREE

Day Seven: breakfast out: plain poached egg yolks, avocado and smoked salmon. 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock and herb tea throughout the afternoon. Beef shin casserole in the evening.

We went to a lovely breakfast restaurant at around 11am, and I ordered plain poached eggs and only ate the yolks, avocado and smoked salmon, along with fresh mint tea. I have to admit, seeing my husband tucking into his ‘Full American’ which is essentially an English breakfast with a stack of pancakes on the side, did make me envious. It looked so amazing. It was the first time I’ve looked at non-GAPS food and wanted to eat it, but of course didn’t.

Overall 

I’ve noticed a massive improvement in my mood, and am much more upbeat than I have been in a very long time. The food prep side hasn’t bothered me in the slightest, but I have come from a starting point of strict paleo anyway. I haven’t had any significant detox symptoms, largely I think because I haven’t eaten processed food or refined sugar for so long.

The best thing is that I’ve got so much more patience with the children, and am heaps calmer than I was this time two weeks ago. Hubby and I reconnected at the weekend too, and I’m confident that brighter days are here for our family now.

I moved quickly through the first two of the six stages of intro, and plan to eat stage three food for at least a week before moving onto stage four. I haven’t had any stomach or digestion issues, which is wonderful.

All in all I’m feeling great, long may it continue!

 

 

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Creamy nutty chicken (gluten & dairy free)

chicken

I roasted a chicken over the weekend and made this dish with some of the leftovers for tea last night. It only took about ten mins to make and to be honest I wasn’t really expecting much, but it was so yummy I just had to share. Having wonderful seasonal veggies like asparagus, cauliflower and leeks readily available (and at their best right now) makes these types of meals really easy. I have a feeling this will end up becoming a regular mid-week feature for hubby and me over the coming months.

Ingredients (for two, could easily be doubled or tripled up for a bigger portion):
Handful of cooked chicken
Handful of cooked root veg
Large leek or two small ones – chopped chunky
Leaves from a large cauliflower – thoroughly washed and chopped fairly small (cabbage would also work)
6 spears of cooked asparagus – chopped in half
Tbsp coconut oil
Tbsp tamari
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter (cashew or almond butter would also work)
160ml tin of coconut cream

Method:
– sautée the leek in coconut oil over a med-high heat until soft

– stir in the tamari, fish sauce and nut butter, mix well then add the cauliflower leaves/cabbage

– turn the heat down low and cook with the lid on for about five minutes until the leaves are soft and flavours have mingled

– add the chicken, asparagus and potatoes, give it all a good stir then pour over the coconut cream. Cook for a further few minutes until piping hot, and serve immediately

The Perfect Roast Chicken

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My main food focus so far this year has been about getting away from supermarkets and shopping more locally. I’ve managed so far and have been buying our meat in bulk from the farm shop or farmers markets. I can safely say I’m a convert and won’t be going back.

A decent sized (1.5-1.8kg) farm assured chicken should cost around £10, and supermarkets flogging them for a fiver or less is criminal in my opinion. By doing this they’ve falsely created an idea that chicken is cheap, and subsequently people want it that way. They don’t care what conditions those poor birds have to live in and be subjected to. They don’t care that it’s been pumped full of water, growth hormones and antibiotics. They just want it as cheap as possible. I live in hope that more people start shopping locally, and buying their meat from smaller farms that actually care about their livestock. It’s time for us all to start taking responsibility for the food we put on our tables.

Sorry, rant over! My point was supposed to be telling you my method for roasting a chicken not going off on a tangent about animal welfare! This is my fail safe step by step, you don’t need any seasoning or extras and you’ll be left with a stunning tasting chook.

Method:
– preheat your oven to 200C fan/220C non-fan/425F/GM7

– remove the packaging and butchers string, and pluck any stray feathers

– place the bird on a large non-stick baking tray and blast it for 20 mins if it’s under 1.3kg, and 30 mins if it’s over

– remove from the oven and flip the bird over in the tray so it’s breast side down

– place back in the oven and reduce the heat to 170C fan/180C non-fan/350F/GM4

– continue roasting for 20 mins per 500g of meat

– remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 20 mins before serving

Really Easy Chicken Nuggets (gluten & dairy free)

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We had a delicious roast chicken for dinner the other night, and there was lots leftover. A moment of inspiration led me to give this a try, and you know what? It really worked. Such a simple way of creating a much loved favourite, it will definitely be my go-to recipe in the future. Served up with home made chips and another favourite in our house – peas – this meal got the seal of approval from both my girls. Who needs McD’s or ‘Shergar King’?!

Ingredients (for 2 little people):
12x 1inch sized pieces of skinless, boneless cooked chicken
3 gluten free oatcakes (I like Nairns)
Free range egg
2 tbsp light olive oil
Tsp tamari
Med sized potato

Method:
– preheat the oven to 190C fan/200C non-fan/400F/GM8

– peel the potato and cut into thin chips. Coat in one tbsp olive oil and the tamari then arrange on a small non-stick baking tray. Roast for 20 mins

– when your chips have had ten mins, beat the egg lightly in a bowl, add the chicken and mix well to ensure each piece of chicken is covered with egg

– in a pestle & mortar or bowl using the end of a rolling pin, crunch up the oatcakes until they resemble breadcrumbs. Lay them out flat on a plate

– at this point put a large non-stick frying pan on the hob, and start warming the other tbsp of olive oil over a med-high heat

– coat each side of the chicken pieces in the oatcake crumbs, then add to the pan

– cook for 2-3 mins on either side until nice and golden in colour

– leave to cool before serving with the peas and chips (which should be ready to come out of the oven the same time as the chicken comes out of the pan)

Lemon & lime chicken drumsticks

lemon lime chicken drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are fab party and picnic food – easy to eat, super tasty and loved by children and adults. What’s not to like? My fail safe recipe couldn’t be simpler and always go down an absolute treat.

Make up your marinade first: for every 10 drumsticks mix together the freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon, half a lime, one tbsp of honey and one tbsp of soya sauce or tamari for GF. Pour all over the chicken and give it a good massage to ensure each piece is thoroughly coated, then arrange on a non-stick baking tray.

Preheat the oven to 180C/375F and roast up the chicken for about 40 mins, until cooked through and the skin is nice and golden. There will be lots of lovely juice at the bottom of the pan, which I like to reduce down to a delicious gravy to be used at a later date.

 

Chicken tray bake

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This awesome one-tray meal has become a family staple for us since I returned to work. It takes about five mins to prep and there is only one tray to wash up. Delicious from-scratch cooking does not get easier than this!!

Ingredients (for two adults & two kids):
1kg chicken thighs
1kg seasonal squash
Large leek
Juice of a lemon
Juice of a lime
Tbsp sesame oil
Tbsp tamari

Method:
– preheat the oven to 180C/365F

– chop the squash into 8 chunky pieces and thoroughly wash the leek, then arrange with the chicken thighs on a large non-stick baking tray

– in a small bowl squeeze out the lemon and lime juice, and pass through a sieve. Add the sesame oil and tamari, stir well then pour over the contents of the tray

– roast in the oven for 40 mins and serve immediately with seasonal veg (cauliflower, kale and spring greens are very good at the moment here in the UK)

 

Eat the fridge casserole

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This über flavoursome dish was inspired today by needing to eat up what was in my fridge, to make way for the christmas shopping. By sticking to the first half of the method, I’m certain you could use any leftover meat and still get really tasty results.

Ingredients (for two large bowls):
2 chicken thighs
2 rashers of bacon
6 chipolatas
2-3 tbsp fat (I used duck fat, although olive oil or butter would work just as well)
50ml stock
50ml white wine
Large red onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 a celery
100g mushrooms
4 carrots
1/2 a butternut squash

Method:
– preheat the oven to 175C/350F and brush half of the fat over a large baking sheet

– peel your carrots, parsnips and squash and cut into small chunks. Arrange on the tray and roast for 30 mins

– in the meantime, melt the other half of the fat in a large ovenproof pot over a med-high heat. Finely chop the onion, garlic and celery, and fry until soft. Adding a little stock if necessary, to stop from burning

– peel and quarter the mushrooms and chuck in at this point. Cook for a few mins with the lid on to create some liquid, then put the contents of the pan into a bowl and set aside

– return the pan to the heat, and brown off the chicken and sausages. Chop up the bacon and add to the pan. Pour in the wine and rest of the stock, then add the veg in the bowl and give everything a good stir

– turn the heat off and allow the pan to sit on the stove until the veg in the oven is ready

– when the veg has had half an hour, remove from the oven and add to the pan

– reduce the oven temp to 160C/325F and cook for an hour with the lid on. Serve immediately with green veggies