Thursday, May 5, 2011

Going Raw

It's been ages since I've posted. I probably have no business doing a blog in the first place. But, I just had to post about my latest food adventures!

I did the GAPS diet faithfully for one month in January. Then I began to incorporate those old favorites, popcorn and raw milk, back into my diet. I didn't really see any changes in how I felt. Then, one day in mid-March I suddenly decided that I wanted to focus on eating food raw as much as possible. Since then I have made a number of very exciting discoveries!

First, I quickly realized that I much prefer eating green leafy veggies like kale, collards and mustard greens raw over eating them cooked. I chop the green into pretty tiny pieces and then marinate in olive oil and lemon. When I eat them, I mix them with other common salad veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. I like to add dulse and raw soft goat cheese to my salad, as well as home-made lacto-fermented veggies like sauerkraut and pickled cucumber. For dressing I liberally add more olive oil and raw vinegar and perhaps some crushed garlic.

At first I stuck to what I know with the raw meat. I ate thinly sliced fresh, raw rib-eye cow steak from grass-fed animals. I usually just added some olive oil and lemon and some of Lewis Labs' nutritional yeast (which is delicious). But I do love variety and color in my meals. I may eat the same sort of thing over and over again but that thing has to be interesting and exciting.

So I gradually started experimenting with different meats. I've done goat, bison, lamb and venison, and all of them are totally delicious. The all taste better raw than cooked, as far as I'm concerned (especially the lamb, goat and venison). I don't do chicken anyway and raw pork does not appeal to me. And of course I have done an interesting mix of fish and seafoods. I always try to marinate the red meat for a few hours in olive oil and lemon. And I only like to eat the meat thinly sliced. Also, it is very important to buy very high-quality tender meat and fresh is always best.

The standard way I eat the red meat is with the olive oil, lemon and nutritional yeast paired with sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes. If I'm in the mood I sprinkle the whole thing with balsamic vinegar. This is actually quite fabulous and I highly recommend everyone try this recipe. I don't think the balsamic is the healthiest thing, it is not raw and it has grape must in it, but it is so good!

Another way that I prepare the meat is; after marinating I add a tahini dressing or I dip each piece in some homemade pesto. I also sometimes make homemade basil mayonnaise and mix that with the meat. But whatever dressing I have on the meat, I always try to have some fresh herbs mixed in. My favorites are dill, cilantro and basil. But one could get very creative with this and have quite an array of tasty sauces and dips to eat with the meat.

Tahini Dressing (1 serving)
1 tbsp. raw tahini
1 tbsp. raw yogurt
1/4 clove garlic mashed
squeeze of fresh lemon or orange
(sea salt is optional and really not necessary, raw food is so full of flavor I use hardly any salt lately)

Mix ingredients and smother meat in the dressing. Simply wonderful! This is especially good with lamb and goat.

Homemade Basil Mayonnaise
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. mustard
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves and other herbs (dill is divine)
3/4 cup olive oil (or other healthy vegetable oil)

Add all ingredients to food processor, except the oil. Blend well. Slowly, ever so slowly, add the oil as the machine is running. Stop every so often to check consistency. You want it to be thick and to not separate out in the fridge. Olive oil does have a strong flavor so using another veggie oil may be good. Just make sure it is unrefined and mechanically pressed and of course organic. Sunflower oil and sesame oil may be a good one for this.

I just want to share one last dish I have been greatly enjoying lately. I have been buying fresh, raw octopus, chopping it up into small pieces and marinating it in lemon and olive oil for a few hours. Before eating it I drain the juice and then I mix it with the above homemade mayonnaise. It is a seafood salad!! I do this with other fish as well, like raw shrimp.

So, my most exciting discovery is that I can thoroughly enjoy eating raw meat with a variety of delightful tastes! I love what I'm eating now. The flavor of each food is so pure when not cooked. It feels so good afterward but it is also fun and tasty during. How cool is that?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Update on GAPS: The Enema and More

I believe I am now on day 16 of doing the GAPS diet. I have been doing very well. I would like to mention one thing that threw me for a loop. Last week I began taking a probiotic with a strength of 30 billion CFU (colony-forming units) with strains of: lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum and lactobacillus bulgaricus. I started off slowly and noticed little change. However once I upped my dose to 2 capsules I got a nice experience with cramping and diarrhea. After that I continued to take about 120 billion or more CFU per day for several days.

What I noticed was that even though I didn't have diarrhea things moved quite quickly through me. I thought this was positive but then I started having signs of problems. I was more hungry, I had a few cramps in my foot, my eye began twitching and I woke up with a nightmare. Having hypothyroidism I believe that it is easy for me to show symptoms of a calcium imbalance quite easily and I believe that is what was happening. So I discontinued taking the probiotics and within one day the symptoms were gone!

I'm mentioning this because I think it is important to note that probiotics should be taken with care. If your body does not have time to absorb your food you will not be getting the nutrients you need. I also want to emphasize that if I hadn't been paying attention I could have missed these subtle signs. It is always important to observe our bodies.

Besides that I've been doing very well. I was missing popcorn terribly because I felt like I was being deprived. I like my evening snacks and this is a favorite snack for me. So I struggled to find an alternative. First it was nuts, but I don't think nuts are an ideal food for me. Then I made a yogurt shake with banana and berries. That was good but somehow it wasn't hitting the spot. And then I tried a recipe from the GAPS book. I have made some modifications:

"Apple Crumble"
1-2 chopped apples
leftover pulp from juicing veggies
3 eggs
1/2-3/4 cup melted butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. honey
ground nuts (optional)
raw whipped cream (not for GAPS people, but perhaps cultured cream would work)

Mix veggie pulp with eggs, butter, vanilla, honey and nuts. Spread apples on the bottom of a pie dish. Cover apples with the veggie mix. Bake at 250 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with plenty of cream.

It is quite tasty and satisfying to me. So I'm not missing the popcorn as much anymore. And it is so nice to be able to put all of that veggie pulp to good use. I always feel bad about throwing it away.

And now on to the important business of reporting on the enema! I hate to let anyone down with this was quite uneventful. It was much easier than I thought it would be and I felt quite relaxed and calm afterward, as if I had gotten a really nice massage! Imagine that! So, for anyone curious about doing a coffee high enema, don't be afraid. Here is a link to a page that explains the coffee enema:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 8 GAPS: Time To Transition

Today I incorporated some dairy into my diet. I feel no different but I kind of messed up on lunch because I didn't have a high-protein main course available. And at breakfast I didn't have time to cook eggs so I didn't get enough food. This left me hungry prematurely, again. I will continue like this for a few days, using yogurt and cheese. And I will see if I have any adverse reactions. I don't suspect I have issues with dairy but I wanted to make sure.

After today I think I will hold off on posting for awhile, unless there is some interesting change. I'm still waiting for the enzymes and the enema stuff.

Day 8:

1 home-made sausage cooked lightly in stock. Spinach and bok-choy cooked lightly in stock. Yogurt, banana and raw egg yolk shake.

3 eggs cooked omelet style with cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Celery, cucumber and cilantro salad with sauerkraut and nutritional yeast. Raw liver shake (2 chicken livers soaked in fresh lemon juice, 8 oz. beet kvass, 4 oz. veggie juice, 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp. raw honey, dash of cinnamon).

Veal marsala (Veal cutlets dressed with salt and pepper and lightly cooked in stock, butter and coconut oil. Cutlets removed from heat, garlic and mushrooms added to sauce and cooked lightly. Marsala added and mushrooms cooked further. Mushrooms removed from heat, butter added and sauce reduced. Simply divine!!). Lacinato kale lightly cooked in stock. 8 oz. water kefir.

At night I get hungry and then I crave something crunchy. Mostly I miss popcorn. I am looking for a good crunchy, salty, buttery snack that has no starch. Any ideas?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 7 GAPS: My Grocery List

I've made it through 7 whole days! I hate saying that because it has been a walk in the park and no big deal at all. I do wish I had a good evening snack though. I get hungry around 10 PM. Maybe I should just go to bed!

I thought it would be cool to write my grocery list because I think half the battle with eating well is planning. It is also important to have plenty of easy, quick recipes to refer to. I don't follow recipes for the most part, even though I love doing it, because I just don't have time. I cook really, really simple food, as can be seen from my meals :)

So this is my grocery list from today:
bok choy
lacinato kale
green peppers
(all organic so far)
ground pork (pasture-raised)
ground beef (grass-fed)
2 rib-eye steaks (grass-fed)
veal scallopini (pasture-raised and staying with mama)
Manna bread (for my daughter)
mineral water

And that's it. This came to 190$. No processed food. Enough food to last me for about 3 days (I buy my eggs and dairy elsewhere). The water was about 15$ of that. So, I guess eating this way is not cheap but I don't really ever go out to eat so in the end it may even out.

Day 7:

3 scrambled eggs with stock and sea salt. 2 pieces of homemade sausage. Bok choy and spinach cooked lightly in stock.

Rib-eye steak cooked lightly in stock and butter with sea salt and black pepper. Steamed broccoli with butter and sea salt. Cucumber, celery, sauerkraut salad with olive oil, raw vinegar, nutritional yeast, freshly ground flax seeds and sea salt. 8 oz. of veggie juice with 1 raw egg yolk.

Rib-eye steak cooked lightly in stock and butter with sea salt and black pepper. Kale lightly cooked in stock. Cucumber and celery salad with sauerkraut, olive oil, raw vinegar, and sea salt. 8 oz. of veggie juice with 1 raw egg yolk. 8 oz. of water kefir.

My version of Steak with Demi-Glace-ish Sauce

I'm not sure if this is how to make a real demi-glace sauce. It's probably just an extremely simplified version of it. But this is how I make it:

I sprinkle sea salt and black pepper on both sides of the steak. Then I cook the meat covered on the lowest burner in a small amount of stock (1/8 cup?). When the meat is brown but still very, very rare on the inside I remove it from the heat and cover it to keep it warm. Then I add a whole lotta butter to the stock and turn up the heat to medium-high. With the cover off the stock evaporates and quickly reduces to a thick sauce. I like it to be quite thick so I watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. When it's done I pour it over my steak. It's really quite delicious and perhaps part of the reason why I am able to eat so much steak and still enjoy it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 6 GAPS Diet: What is "holistic"?

This GAPS stuff is getting pretty easy. It is just part of my daily life and I don't seem to miss anything. The only thing is that I am still hungry earlier than usual! This is kind of annoying.

The other big news is that I had what I believe is a "die-off" reaction today. I started taking a new probiotic (PB) today. It is supposed to have 30 billion CFU (colony forming units). It sounds like a lot but I think we have over 1 trillion little guys in our intestines on a normal day. Anyway, I took my new PB after lunch and about an hour later I felt it. Without getting too much into the gore, suffice it to say that I had cramps and then diarrhea. After I got rid of the diarrhea I felt perfectly normal, as if it had never happened. That was weird!

So, I went to hear a talk today on the "Gut-Brain Connection". It was given by a doctor who works with severely autistic children. She was very sweet and seemed quite dedicated to her work and appeared to truly want to help people. She had some interesting details about different sorts of overgrowth issues and how that can adversely affect the brain. In her discussion of treatment she mentioned diet, PBs, herbs, antioxidant supplements, antibiotics and movement.

I would recommend her to someone with an autistic child but I was slightly disheartened to see that she still is following a western-oriented approach to care. I know they mean well but so many doctors make this mistake. Actually, I don't know if it's a mistake or if they are responding to patients' "needs".

This woman talked about all the testing they do; stool, urine, blood, saliva, etc. And they pinpoint the specific "bad organisms" and attempt to control them or kill them. But to me this appears to be an allopathic approach. Of course they use diet but they also use herbs, oils and antibiotics when necessary. Is this really getting to the roots of the problem? Perhaps, but probably mostly by chance I'm sure. There are countless unknown organisms in our guts, if we only find the ones we know and try to attack them then how are we going to cure ourselves? It seems that even holistic doctors cannot get away from the allopathic model of: "you take this for this" (ie: there is a "symptom" and lets take a remedy to get rid of that particular symptom). How does this differ from taking medications? Except that the substances may be less toxic, the approach is still the same.

I questioned her on this point and she said, "well that's why we use the herbs". I think she is missing the point. Herbs may alleviate some symptoms but I can't see how they'll cure the core issue. Why does someone have autism? Is it because they don't consume enough herbs? No. I can guarantee not. I'm not claiming to have all the answers of course. But I think that a holistic approach is more constructive. Why focus on individual manifestations of imbalances? Nutrition is king in my opinion and everything else is directed at managing symptoms. Let's call it what it is.

Anyway, maybe this doesn't make any sense and I'm just babbling. Perhaps I need to hash this out more in my mind and I would welcome comments on the question of what it means to be truly holistic in your approach. To me it means forgetting about the label of the disease (and this has taken me quite some time to come to terms with) and working on improving the health of every cell in the body. This is done by nourishing those cells properly. With the right nourishment the cells will do their jobs properly. Attitude matters as well. But it's important to remember that the brain cells need to be nourished properly for them to function properly. So it can be difficult to have the right attitude until your brain starts getting what it needs.

In my own personal experience I have come to a place where I don't want to focus on my "immune system" or my "thyroid issue". What I want to do is elevate the state of health of my whole body and with that strengthen my weaknesses. I don't want to know the name of the yeast that has taken over in my belly (or whatever "reason" someone will come up). I want to restore balance, give my cells what they need and make sure they get rid of what they don't.

Day 6:

3 scrambled eggs, 2 home-made sausage, sauerkraut, sliced celery.

Leftover veal stew meat with kale. Sauerkraut, cucumbers and celery with nutritional yeast (Lewis Labs). 8 oz. water kefir. 8 oz. vegetable juice with 2 raw egg yolks.

Rib-eye steak lightly cooked in chicken stock, butter, sea salt and black pepper. Steamed broccoli and string beans with freshly ground flax seed, butter and sea salt. Pickles.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 5 of GAPS Diet: Eat 3 Square Meals

Today I missed lunch and I was starving!! I ate breakfast late, at about 9:00 and then later went to a meeting. I was only able to eat 1 boiled egg before the meeting and so ended up eating "lunch" at about 4 PM! Yikes, I was so hungry!! And after I ate my lunch I was hungry again by 5 PM. This reminded me of something I already know about myself. If I don't eat 3 square meals at about 4-5 hour intervals it makes me hungry and it throws me out of whack. I know this varies from person to person but I've found that I do best eating those 3 square meals, without snacking.

Day 5:

3 scrambled eggs cooked with chicken stock and sea salt. 2 pieces of home-made sausage cooked slow and low with beef stock. Kale lightly cooked in chicken stock.

1 boiled egg.
Ground beef and kale cooked in stock. 8 oz. of water kefir.

Veal stew meat (cooked all day at 175 degrees in beef stock, tomato paste, sea salt and black pepper). Kale lightly cooked in stock. Leftover fish chowder soup. Sliced cucumbers with lacto-fermented pickles, celery and sauerkraut, dressed with olive oil, raw vinegar and sea salt.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 4 of GAPS Diet: Under The Weather?!

I was surprised to see that I was a bit under the weather today. I haven't been sick in over 2 years, not even a cold. Occasionally I get tired for a day and I notice this often coincides with other people in my family being sick. So, when I say "under the weather" I mean "tired". But it is quite a noticeable notice so I know it's not just from lack of sleep or something. Today I felt like that, groggy and tired. I pretty much carried on with my normal day-to-day stuff and eventually felt normal (after lunch I think).

The reason why I mention this is because I have noticed that these tired episodes only occur when I don't have milk for one reason or another for a few days. I know milk is demonized a lot but of course raw milk from healthy grass-fed cows is a completely different food from the boiled junk they sell in the stores. I haven't had milk, yogurt or cheese for 4 days now and I just wonder if there is some correlation....


Day 4:

3 scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil, 1 piece of home-made sausage, spinach and bok-choy cooked in beef stock

Ground beef lightly cooked in beef stock with kale and asparagus. Celery, tomatoes and cucumber salad with sauerkraut, nutritional yeast (Lewis Labs), olive oil, raw vinegar and sea salt. Fresh vegetable juice. Raw liver shake (1/2 chicken liver raw, freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon, 6 oz. home-made beet kvass, dash of cinnamon, 1 tsp. raw honey).

Creamed cauliflower fish/clam chowder. Sliced cucumbers with sauerkraut, freshly ground flax seeds, olive oil, raw vinegar and sea salt. 8 oz. water kefir. A few blueberries.

I noticed that eating 3 eggs made me feel much better. Eggs do well for me in the morning. The sausage is necessary as well, but not as much when I eat the eggs. Food was good today! Especially the ground beef soup. And I was proud of myself for coming up with a good idea for the clam chowder. I was a bit concerned because I usually make clam chowder with cream and I am not eating cream right now. So I steamed some cauliflower and then added it to the stock and blended it with the hand-held blender and it turned the soup into a nice white, milky-like texture. It actually tasted fantabulous and the children didn't know it was cauliflower. They gobbled it up! This is a great discovery for replacing dairy (for me that is) in soup. When I'm back on cream I'll do both :). And it thickened up so I didn't miss the arrowroot powder, which I usually use as a healthy thickening agent.

Creamed Cauliflower Fish and Clam Chowder:

1 bulb garlic
4 tbsp. butter
sea salt
1 quart fish stock (home-made)
1/2 quart chicken stock (home-made)
2 dozen Littleneck clams (soaked and cleaned in filtered water)
1 small head of cauliflower
2 fillets of light-colored but firm fish (snapper, tiliapia, halibut, yellowtail, rockfish, cod)

Begin steaming cauliflower. In a separate pot saute garlic in butter and sea salt until garlic is soft. Add both stocks and clams. Cover the pot and bring to a low boil. Cook clams until they open completely. Discard any clams that do not open. Turn down flame to low, remove cooked clams and let cool. Add firm but cooked cauliflower to broth. Use hand-held blender to pulverize cauliflower completely. Add fish and cover pot. Allow fish to cook for just a few minutes. Meanwhile cut up clams into small pieces (or as desired). When fish is done add back clams and voila.....

This is a very quick and easy meal to prepare and it's quite tasty!