There are an increasing number of people who for one reason or another becoming either gluten or dairy free, or both. To meet the need, supermarkets now have an ever increasing range of 'Free from' foods. Many people are familiar with these aisles. When I tell people that we are dairy and gluten free, they automatically assume that we can eat any product labelled gluten/dairy free. They are often very surprised when I explain to them that actually, the GAPS diet is not about swapping conventional dairy/wheat products for processed alternatives, but rather, a completely new way of looking at food.
What do I mean?
Well, for the GAPs diet, we don't just swap out milk and then consume any alternative. We look closely at the alternative and evaluate each product separately for its merits or otherwise. Take coconut milk for example. Many cans of coconut milk are not the pure substance. They have other added ingredients like Guar Gum. Therefore I look for either Blue Dragon brand, or Biona as I know they are pure coconut milk with no added nasties. Many think we can drink Soy milk. But Soy has many drawbacks - despite being touted as healthy by many. Here Dr. Axe explains the problem - basically it contains phytoestrogens which mimic the bodies own hormones and can cause problems. Take almond milk, and you will find it is not pure almonds, but again has other ingredients added that on a healing diet we can't consume and that's without considering the source of the almonds and whether unsoaked nuts are good for us.
For the GAPs diet, we can have alternatives...but they've got to be pure -which means either finding something that is pure - or yep ..making it ourselves, which actually works out cheaper in the long run, but is still expensive and very time consuming! So one tends to avoid it - especially if you are doing such a diet on a budget with a family. Four people drinking lots of coconut milk? Then watch the price of your groceries rocket sky high! We tend to keep these things for a rare treat.
So how do we get round the problem? In our family we do invest time and money fermenting our own milk (into milk kefir) or fermented cream (sour cream). I make daily batches. These fermented dairy alternatives are actually worth investing in as they supply the body with essential probiotics, encouraging the growth of good bacteria in our bowels, which helps to keep our bowels healthy and therefore the rest of the body can work better too. They also taste delicious too. If you didn't see my post on recipes for milk kefir, see it here. On the rare occasion we have hot cocoa or coffee we use a slab of butter as the 'milk' substitute. This actually makes a creamy beverage, though it still looks like 'black' coffee.
What about wheat alternatives?
Well if you examine the labels on the 'free from' cakes and biscuits, you will see too that actually they are no different from the ones in the conventional aisle in that they too include all manner of 'other' ingredients that are far from natural - including sugar. Therefore on the GAPS diet or anyone who is serious about their health will want to avoid them and make their own. Dr. Natasha cites families who have tried to improve their children's behaviour using 'free from' foods but had seen little difference, but once they changed to truly free from foods- i.e. made them themselves with GAPs legal foods, they often saw dramatic changes. Once again, these things take time and do cost more. so in our family we again keep them for rare treats. If you want recipes for the most easy treats I have found (or invented), see the 'snacks and treats' link on the side-bar.
How do we cope without these things?
Well it has taken time. When we first started the diet 18 months ago (wow - that time has gone fast!), we found the transition very hard and I was constantly trying to come up with home-made alternatives to all the foods we used to eat. Two things changed that: firstly realising that I was introducing foods too quickly and we were reacting, and secondly, as time has gone on we have adjusted to the point where we are no longer so attracted to the foods we used to eat. I'm not saying I wouldn't love a home-made pizza with tomato and cheese (two of the things we have yet to introduce as we suspect husband might have reacted to either of them), but we can suffice very comfortably on mainly meat, veg and fat and fruit and fermented dairy. We feel full and satiated.
It's still not easy being 'different'. On Sunday there was tea after the evening service and although we wouldn't normally stay, we got talking (with bank holiday the next day). Round came the delicious smells of carrot cake and ginger cake and then plates of chocolate biscuits. Once more we found ourselves explaining that we couldn't eat them. Then came questions, well what can we eat? Couldn't we bring our own food to eat? It sounded really strange to have to say that well - we could, but we just don't eat like that any more - we rarely have snacks - only if I've had a bit of extra time to make them, and we wouldn't eat that late at night.... but it sounded lame, and there were other things to talk about. Son1 tried explain that we eat a lot of broth and soup - well you can imagine the looks he got!
Talking about the Sons - they need medals. They politely turn down these tasty morsels and genuinely (well it seems genuine!) say that they wouldn't like them anymore. Time will tell, but for now I know we still have our chocolate supply in the freezer and the mention of chocolate in any form lightens their eyes!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. A member of the medical profession should be consulted about all matters relating to your health. This information is for advice only.
I love mince pies! I was just thinking how much I would miss the warm, comforting flavours traditionally consumed at this time of year, when I was struck with the idea of recreating them. So here are two recipes with that end in mind. One for what I have called 'Mince pie Muffins' and the other are revamped butter tartlets. I hope you enjoy them. I asked the Sons how many they rated them out of ten, but I didn't get an answer - they just gobbled them up so fast I took it they liked them! I can't taste them at the moment as I am only eating meat, vegetables and fermented dairy to try and get my carpel tunnel back under control as it was beginning to disturb my sleep again, which was a shame since I had nearly got rid of it. It's worked, So I just need to be careful now how I reintroduce foods!
Grain free Mince Pie Muffins:
Refined sugar free, gluten free, wheat free
1 cup diced courgette
1/2 up coconut flour
1/4 cup (2oz) butter (solid)
rind of one unwaxed lemon
1 Tablespoon fresh pressed orange juice
1 desert apple finely chopped
4 oz currants/raisins (the amount is not overly important, a cupful will do)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Peel, slice and chop the courgette and whizz it in a food preocessor until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the coconut flour and whizz to combine.
Add the butter, whizz again.
Add the eggs and whizz until mixed in.
Add the fruit and spices and baing soda
Mix one last time.
Spoon into 12 muffin cases (if you are fortunate, you might get 13).
Bake for 25 mins. Gas 4, 180 C. 160 F. fan. 350 F.
I can imagine them served warm in custard........ MMmmmmm! Best warm from the oven.
Store in the fridge.
Grain free 'Mince Pie' Tartlets
Refined sugar free, gluten free, wheat free
The smell from the pan after making the filling was irresistable, I had a tiny lick! The smell from the oven was wonderful - but I had to resist - this time. Maybe soon.....
You need a crust for these. I have used this one here, but you can use any grain free crust recipe you have.
My crust was more like a crust layer at the bottom, rather than coming up the sides of the tartlet.
Expect it to be a swishy mixture, not a hard ball of dough but you should be able to scoop a teaspoonful into each cupcase and then gently flatten it with your fingers. My crust was more like a crust layer at the bottom, rather than coming up the sides of the tartlet, but if you double the crust recipe you can make a proper looking pie case.
1/4 cup butter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
4 oz currants/raisins
rind of 1 lemon
rind of 1/2 orange
1 tablespoon freshly pressed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
Once the crust is baking, melt the butter in a pan. Then mix in the eggs. I whisk them to get them evenly mixed in. Then add all the other ingredients. Stir well and divide between 12 tartlets.
Bake for 15 mins Gas 6, 200 C. 180 c. fan, 400 F. The middle mixture should be firm, but wacth the crust doesn't burn - it will go brown round the edges. Keep your eye on it!
Serve with sour cream - if desired.
We get excited when we come up with a new snack, and this time, surprisingly, it's not chocolate! Yet it got 10/10 from all the family, so I thought I'd share it with you. Not too coconutty, in fact you can't taste it, but beautifully spongy!
We had to come off nuts for a while to see if one of us was reacting to them, and so I've been baking more with coconut flour. I don't like using too much of it as it's expensive. Neither do I like using 6 eggs - coconut flour recipes all seem to need lots of eggs. So I experimented, and came up with these. I hope yours turn out like mine and you like them as much as we do! I initially made them with our funny squash that we still haven't identified, but fortunately they work with courgette too!
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup courgette, peeled and diced
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup butter, salted, or if unsalted add a pinch of salt
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp baking soda
Rind of 1 large lemon finely grated - preferably organic an not waxed
1/2 cup butter
Rind of one lemon grated (preferable organic and not waxed)
2 generous Tbsp. honey
1. Put the courgette into the food processor and blitz it - scrape down the sides as necessary until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add coconut flour and blitz again to combine.
3. Add butter and blitz until mixed in thoroughly.
4. Add honey and eggs and mix to combine.
5. Add bicarbonate of soda and grated lemon.
6. Put mixture into muffin cases.
7. Bake at 16o deg (fan oven) 180 deg, or Gas 4 for 25 minutes, until well risen and golden on top and firm to touch.
To make the icing, grate the lemon rind into a bowl, add the other other ingredients and mix until smooth.