GAPS: HOW TO HEAL YOUR GUT, IMPROVE COGNITION & GET A CRASH COURSE IN COOKING, ALL IN JUST 14 DAYS
A few weeks ago, I lightly mentioned that in order to kick my sugar habit, which got pretty bad by the end of the year, I was going to to try out the GAPS diet and give my digestive system a well-deserved break. GAPS, which stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome is a condition whereby a leaky gut and an imbalance of stomach flora, can lead to digestive issues, fungal over growth and an array of psychological disorders such as depression, dyslexia, brain fog, ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia and Autism, particularly in that of children.
It is a way of eating, which I had wanted to try out for a long time, but due to the restrictive nature of it, I never found myself quite prepared. The diet consists of an intro phase and then onto the full GAPS and you move through the stages at a speed that works for you and the condition you are currently in. The goal is to repair your digestive system by giving it break from difficult to digest foods and supplementing with homemade broths, starve the bad bacteria of sugars and repopulate the gut with good bacteria using home fermented foods. Stage one of the intro diet is pretty much just soft boiled meats and non-starchy vegetables, broths and home fermented vegetables and dairy. It is an amazing way to get to know your body and to identify any food intolerances you might have as they are gradually added back in. What’s great about it also, is that by healing the gut and sealing up the tight gap junctions in the small intestine, which can become permeable overtime from an inflammatory diet or an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, many food intolerances actually disappear due to the body’s autoimmune response to a leaky gut no longer being necessary.
These first few weeks of the year were hard. Like really hard; I wasn’t drinking coffee, I wasn’t eating chocolate and I also wasn’t able to eat out anywhere because everything I ate needed to be prepared in a very particular way. Needless to say, I think my digestive system is now the best it has been since I can remember paying attention to it. But that’s not what this email is about. You can ask me questions if you have questions and if you have any behavioral or gut issues, looking into GAPS would be a great place to find answers. What I want to highlight today is how something that was so restrictive, turned into such an amazing crash course in the kitchen. It has expanded my current cooking knowledge and so I want share some of the recipes and techniques that are simple, delicious and nutritious alternatives or additions to the things you might be eating every day.
2 BROTHS, 1 CHICKEN
I’ve talked about this stuff so much already. Yeah it’s good for you, yeah it’s going to heal your gut but up until this year, I was only making one broth per chicken. GAPS taught me how to make two. Try taking your whole chicken, and boiling it with some herbs and vegies. 2-2 ½ hours will get you a whole lot of chicken to make salads with and one large pot of broth. Collect all your meat, put that broth in a jar or container and take the remaining bones and add a new round of water to your pot. Let this one simmer for a good 24 hours to really let all of the minerals leach out of the bones. 1 chicken, 2 broths, 2 different flavors and a very happy tummy.
I’m not paying $30 a jar for this stuff anymore because I’ve learnt how to make gold myself! This stuff is so easy to make; I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure it out. Get yourself a big pack of organic, grass fed butter. Put it all in an oven safe dish and set your oven to 60-120°C (140-250°F). Leave it for an hour or so and when you come back to it, all of the milk solids from the butter will have either dropped to the bottom or floated to the top to be scraped off and thrown away. What you are left with is pure milk fat, a vitamin rich, shelf stable cooking fat which can be heated to high temperatures and is tolerated well by those with dairy intolerances.
Yeah no joke, you can make really good pancakes with really healthy ingredients. I’ve done it before where you mash up banana with egg, but this is even better. Take any kind of squash, (we’ve been using summer squash), peel it, di-seed it and mash or chop it up into little pieces. Add an egg and a spoon full of your favorite nut butter. Pour it in a pan with some coconut oil and you’ll get thin little pan cakes that are just as good as the unhealthy mixes you’ll find in the supermarket AND you’re body will actually benefit from the real food that was used to make them!
Even if you aren’t the most kitchen savvy person in the world, you know how to cook eggs. A couple stages into the GAPS intro diet, eggs make a big debut. So to make the most delicious eggs possible, to go along with our broths and boiled meats (which got old real quick), we consulted one of our favorite cook books from one of our favorite east side restaurants, Sqrl. The book is called Everything I Want To Eat and here’s what I learnt.
The perfect soft scramble, using nothing but eggs.
- Heat some butter up in a pan, make sure the whole thing is coated and bring the temp down to medium low.
- Beat your eggs excessively, so that you get some air running through the mixture. This is crucial for light fluffy eggs!
- Poor your eggs into your pan and using a soft scraper, keep the eggs turning and moving, being sure not to let them stick, until they are softly done
- That’s it… best scrambled eggs ever.
And what about soft boiled eggs? I learnt how to do that to!
- Bring a pot of water to boil and once it does, turn the heat down so that it’s like champagne bubbling.
- Gently drop your eggs into the boiling water, set a timer for 7 minutes and stir the eggs in a circular motion for 2 minutes. This will send the yolk to the centre of the egg.
- After 2 minutes, let them continue to boil until your timer goes and then get those guys in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
- That’s it again! They’ll come out just like your favorite restaurant!
SOUR CREAM, KEFIR & YOGHURT
Even though many of us are intolerant to dairy, fermenting it makes it a lot easier to digest. And it literally takes 5 minutes of your time. Get yourself a probiotic starter, heat up some cream or milk, cool it back down, add in your starter and mix it all up. Leave it for 24 hours and you’ve got the best sour cream, kefir or yoghurt you’ve ever had. It’s sugar free, preservative free and full of probiotics which will make your tummy feel good!