Here in the UK, the blackberries are just ripening. I'm surprised - they are much larger and juicier than I expected after our recent dry spell. I love blackberry picking - free foodies is always a big attraction with me - I love a bargain!! Before we started GAPS I would pick hundreds of them and turn them into low sugar blackberry jam. If you've never tried making this, you'd be surprised how easy it is. No boiling to reach the setting point. The instructions are all in the packet if you buy Pomona's Universal Pectin and it's fantastic. You can do low sugar, or honey, or any other sweetener you like. It tastes beautifully fruity. Unfortunately, we can't have pectin on the GAPS diet, but I will return to low sugar jam making as soon as we are through. I used to make enough to see us through the year - some of strawberry and raspberry too. Son 1 would liberally spread it on his soaked breakfast scones (which were actually Buttermilk Biscuits from Nourishing Traditions), I liked it on soaked bread, Or we would put it in our rice pudding - Ooo! I'd better stop as I'm making myself wish I could have some and that will never do!
If you are not on GAPS and are interested go to their web-site:
You can find out all about it. If you then click on 'order' at the top, you will be directed to a page where you can select your country and they will tell you who to order through.
Don't be put off by the price, each packet makes a lot of jam if you use the basic recipe.
So this year I've got to think up new ideas for blackberries if I still want the pleasure of picking them (once I've forgiven them for pricking me and catching hold of my best skirt that is!) Here are my ideas so far!
Blackberry jello - mousse
I tried combining several recipes for mousses and soufflés from non-GAPS books and came up with this. It has a surprise to it; I thought it was a mousse, until we dipped our spoons in!
Three sheets gelatine
1/4 cup honey + 2 tbls
3 egg whites (pastured as they will be eaten raw)
1. Place three sheets of gelatine in a bowl of cold water. I use Dr. Oetker's. (or equivalent for 3/4 pint, 15 fl oz)
2. Wash 150g blackberries (pick them first of course! )
3. Put them in a pan with the smallest amount of water you can and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and mash them through a sieve into a bowl.
4. Return to the saucepan. Add 1/4 cup honey. (This can be decreased or increased according to your needs.)
5. Gently heat again until steaming, but do not boil.
6. Squeeze the water from the gelatine sheets and put them in the pan with the blackberry mixture.
Stir until dissolved (that should only take seconds).
7. Plunge the hot saucepan into a bowl of cold water and allow the mixture to completely cool while you do the next step.
8. In a clean jug, whisk the three egg whites until they stand in soft peaks. Add 2 tbls honey (or more, or less as you need/can tolerate). Whisk again just to incorporate.
9. Using a metal spoon, fold the egg white mixture into the cooled blackberries in the saucepan. Don't mix too hard or you'll stir all the air out.
10. Divide the mixture between 4 ramekins. Put in the fridge to set.
Serve with a generous serving of sour cream and enjoy the surprise!
See instructions here.
The inspiration for this kvass came from the Gut and Psychology hand book by Dr. Natasha Campbell Mc-Bride. She says you can use any combination of fruit and vegetables to make kvass. I have to admit, this is a bit of an experiment. The last time I made a kvass it was beetroot. I drank a glass straight down and oh boy! I paid for it. I didn't believe that one innocent looking glass of liquid could make me feel so bad. Now this isn't beetroot, which is known for being very potent, but never-the-less I am still very wary of anything labelled Kvass! I'm told such beverages are full of wonderful probiotics, so here goes! Take it gently! A pleasantly gently fruity taste and if you strike right, fizzy too!
1/2 cup whey Kilner jar (or similar air tight container)
1 organic apple
handful of blackberries
Prepare 1/2 cup whey by dripping milk kefir through a cheesecloth. Use the cream cheese as a dip for veggie sticks. (see here for kefir instructions)
Take a 1 litre kilner jar (or equivalent)
Wash and cut up an organic apple (one of your own if you have an apple tree), and put it all in the jar, core and skin too.
Put a handful of washed blackberries in as well.
Pour in the whey.
Fill to the top with filtered water. I found a lid to weight the apple down under the water as it wanted to float up.
Fasten the lid and leave to ferment on the kitchen worktop for 2 days.
Now you can drink it and keep topping it up with water until the fruit is spent.
Blackberry and apple pie - grain free
Comforting Autumn food at it's best, but how to do a pie on the GAPS diet? The best I have found yet is here:
This is a good recipe for the crust, but I prefer to have my apple mushy (rather husband and Sons do!)
So I use Bramley apples and cook them gently in a little water first - you could add butter to give a lovely buttery flavour and add more fat! This way, you could add a handful of washed blackberries in to cook with the apple.
Don't forget that generous helping of sour cream - again!
Don't forget little things, like adding a spoonful of pureed and de-seeded blackberry to sour cream/GAPS legal yoghurt to make a delicious desert, with some honey if you can take it, to your taste.
Or, putting the puree into ice-cube moulds and freezing them - we do this to strawberries too and take one in a pot of cream on picnics - makes a lovely after lunch treat.
Oh yes, our love of sweet things is not dead yet! I have to confess, it probably never will be and when I discovered how to make toffee (it was by accident - honest!) I was over the moon! Toffee without refined sugar!
So then I started having ideas... now what can you do with toffee???
While I was thinking I came across the toffee biscuits recipe - they weren't called toffee biscuits, but basically you make toffee as a base to add in the other ingredients, so they got nick-named toffee biscuits and got an impressive 10/10 from all the family.
I then tried my own idea and came up with the toffee power bars, packed with seeds and goodies. Son 2 is usually very reserved in his praise of anything I concoct, but again they got a resounding 10/10. See what you think and see if you can improve on them! Get creative!
Try just making toffee first: Mix about equal amounts of honey and butter in a pan, bring to boil and keep stirring. The longer it boils, the hotter the mixture becomes and if you have a cooking thermometer you can take it to the desired stage, soft ball, soft crack/hard crack. I have got one, but hadn't used it on this occasion and it probably boiled for the best part of 5 minutes and it was hard crack. I poured it onto a metal plate to cool and had a slab of the most wonderful toffee!
If you only let it boil for a minute then you can have a lovely caramel sauce to pour over ice-cream or just with sour cream to pep up a desert for a special occasion.
I love snacks that are so easy to make and delicious to eat, that make the family love them and not crave unhealthy alternatives. This has to be a winner! It doesn't even need cooking!
Adapted from 'The Unrefined Kitchen' recipe for No-bake cookies:
Place 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup homey in a pan. Bring to a boil and boil for exactly 1 minute. Take off the heat and add in 2 cups of desiccated coconut. Once cool they should harden if left in a cool place and can be stored in an airtight container.
Toffee power bars
Be careful - don't over do it! Just one!
This is a recipe for you to play with. You can add in whatever you fancy - as long as it's GAPS legal if you are on GAPS, if not, keep it natural.
1/3 cup butter (3 oz)
1/3 cup honey
Put into a saucepan and cook on moderate heat until the butter has melted and it starts to bubble. Keep it bubbling and keep stirring for 2 minutes. You can go longer if you want a really crisp toffee experience, but this is nicely chewy.
Then mix in your add-ins. I used
1 small packet of mixed seeds (about 200g) I soaked mine first and dehydrated them in the oven but it won't change the outcome if you don't soak them.
1-2 tbls cocoa powder, raw or normal
1 tbls cocoa nibs
About 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
Spread the mixture into a tin. Use the size tin you have. Obviously the larger it is the thinner the biscuit (but you can always cut them wider!!). Once they are cold put them in the fridge to set.
Then put them in a box and keep them in the fridge.
It seems as if everybody is jumping on the coconut bandwagon. The supermarket now sells coconut oil, albeit at a price; Meridian have started adding coconut to their peanut butter, Lidl now sell coconut water and coconut recipes abound.
Is this the latest food craze? Probably, and it will pass just like all the rest. But some of us have known about the benefits of coconut for a long time and will carry on using it just like we usually do.
Coconut does have amazing properties:
It contains the least calories of any other saturated fat - not that I am calorie counting on the GAPS diet.
It contains Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) which can be digested without putting a strain on the liver and gall bladder, hence excellent for anyone suffering from liver and gall bladder problems and those with poor digestion.
It has anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties
It stabilises blood sugar levels - ideal for the diabetic
Restores thyroid function - so we are using it for Husband
Is great for repairing and moisturising the skin.....
Has a an SP factor so can be added to home-made sun creams - or used as one by itself if you are fairly conditioned to the sun but just want a little more protection. It has worked very well for us on the beach this year, but we have been out and about in the sun since April, gradually increasing our exposure without using sun creams.
The list could go on!
The best coconut to consume, water or flesh, is fresh coconut that you have bought yourself. This however is expensive and time consuming. It's great fun though! (See below)
I would caution against buying coconut water from the supermarket as it will be pasteurised and have no goodness left in it, like pasteurised milk. Or it will be from old coconuts which I understand will also be water depleted of nutrients. You need water from young coconuts as that is the most nutritious.
There are good sources of coconut oil and flesh. Health food shops stock organic versions at a reasonable price.
Recipes utilising coconut are wide and varied from savoury meals to puddings and desserts. A quick search on the web will give you plenty of ideas as will the GAPS handbook. We tend not to use coconut oil in cakes and biscuits, as we can't afford it in large amounts, so I use butter instead. But we do use a spoonful in smoothies. Other than that we mainly use it on our skin!
I came across this on Dr. Mercola's web-site the other day and he invited us to share it so I thought I would. I found it fascinating.
Learn how the coconut tree provides all-around benefits -- from its husks and roots to coconut oil -- through our infographic "Plant of Life:
How to open a coconut
Since I have found coconuts in our local supermarket being thrown out for 21p each we have discovered the delights of coconut water - only a sip each, but I gather each sip is worth it.
See here for the benefits of coconut water:
We have found the easiest way to get the water out is to insert a screwdriver though two of the three 'holes' on the top of the coconut, (two so the air escapes through one and water the other). Sometimes it's easy and other times we have to use a hammer to knock the screwdriver through.
Having drained the coconut, I filter the water through a cheesecloth (a clean tea towel would do) before drinking it.
Sons love the next bit as they have to take a hammer to the coconut shell to break in to the flesh. They take it into the garden and give as many hefty blows as it takes to crack it, usually neatly, into two halves.
You then need to separate the flesh from the shell, which is a bit fiddly, but easily achieved with a sharp knife. Wash the flesh before using it.
Try these - reduce the honey if you need to:
It's a good year for beans! They were a bit slow to get going, but now everyone seems to have plenty.
Beans need plenty of water to fatten the crop, so ensure to water at least every other day if there is no rain, or not much.
You must also pick them frequently or they go to seed and stop producing. Look carefully, they hide amongst the leaves and you think you've found them all, but you have only to miss one for that plant to stop production. We all have a turn of looking just to make sure!
If you have a glut then you can freeze them: wash, trim and slice and plunge into a pan of boiling water for a minute. Then plunge into cold water to rapidly cool, then place in bags in the freezer. They cook up from frozen in minutes.
Onions are ready when the tops are brown and bent over. At this point you can gently lift them from the soil and leave them on the surface a few days to dry out before storing them. We use old net bags and hang them in the garage. They store well.
Carrots may be ready now, watch out for them going to seed as then you won't be able to use them as they go very tough. Definitely look over the crop and start thinning them out if you haven't already.
Tomatoes are ripening up nicely now. Hopefully you haven't suffered from blight due to spells of damp weather! Keep watering them as the fruit forms, especially if they are in pots or under cover. The more you water, the better the crop.
If you have a glut, look up GAPs recipes for making tomato sauces that you can freeze.
Keep an eye out on the back of the leaves for clumps of yellow butterfly eggs and remove them before they hatch.
Kale you can pick leaves as you need them and they will keep coming.
Again, there has been a good crop this year. A very versatile plant, good sliced thinly and fried, added to quiches, soups, or even make cakes (like my chocolate cake here!) Keep picking and watering and feed fortnightly as they are very hungry plants.
My squashes haven't done very well at all as they took a bashing in the wet windy weather soon after they were planted, so are only just bearing fruit which won't have time to ripen now. But I will try again next year. I have got marrows coming though.
Once the leeks in the nursery bed are pencil thickness you can plant them on. Make a whole 2 in. across and 6 in. deep and drop the leek into it, having carefully dug it up with a fork. Water it in, but don't back fill the whole. The leek will grow to fill it (well, that's the idea, it's our first time and we are watching what happens!)
Should be ready to pick now as you need them. Take the largest. You don't want to let them get too woody and spoil.
Our apples haven't done well at all, which is a shame as we hoped to use some for juicing. The Bramleys have done a little better. If you have got a good crop, then enjoy, use the fallers too.
Again you could cook and then freeze for use in winter puddings.
Meantime we've enjoyed our crop of strawberries and raspberries, which both did well, and are just picking the last of the blueberries. We had eleven figs on our fig tree (pot contained) which is the most we have ever had. We have planted successional lettuce and spring onions so are enjoying those.
All in all it has really boosted our limited diet and we are starting to feel the lessening on the grocery bill as we don't need to buy so much veg. at the moment, which is great as it's top quality produce, and better than we buy anyway - better than we can afford!
It's been very hard work keeping on top of the allotment and garden, but a little here and a little there gets us by. It's not weed free, but it's certainly not weed infested and we've only done occasional hoeing sessions. Our dig free method has done us proud again!
Salt is another of those 'problem foods' which quickly causes a conversation about GAPS broths to come to a quick conclusion. The minute one suggests adding salt to make broth flavoursome I sense the curtains being drawn as of course salt is a misunderstood cooking ingredient and of course, 'not good for us'.
Much of this has to do with the current 'health' information we receive from the world around us that equates high salt intake with heart disease. As is often the case, we listen to what is said and have no time to fully investigate the claims made and duly avoid salt, as I did for many years until I discovered that it probably had made me ill, along with a low fat, high wholegrain diet.
So here I intend to help you discover the truth about salt, what is bad and what is good, so that you can use it properly and so nourish your body.
First it needs to be understood that not all salt is equal. One type is natural, the other, which we generally call 'table salt', is not. Table salt is not health imparting, whereas natural salt is. Most ready-made foods which we buy from ready meals to cakes and biscuits contain table salt.
So what is wrong with table salt? Well, it's not natural, it's been processed.
This processing involves heating it to a high temperature in order to dry it, which changes it's chemical structure, leaving only sodium chloride behind. Table salt is not however pure sodium chloride, only about 98%; the rest is made up of toxic chemicals that are then added to it - substances to stop it caking and to help it flow out of the salt pot nicely. It is then often bleached as the processing turns it purple which we would find rather distasteful!
If you compare table salt to natural salt, you will find that it doesn't fit nicely in a little salt cellar. For starters it seems rather damp. Secondly, it is not a nice white colour but a rather off putting dirty grey.
Natural salt also contains sodium chloride (about 84%), but it also contains many other trace minerals which our bodies need.
So when you are looking to add salt to your broth, or any other food, you would do well to find the best salt you can buy. Many mistakenly think that as long as it says 'sea salt' on the packet it will be ok, but these have often be bleached and have anti-caking agencies added too. So you want one that is untampered with as possible.
I personally find Maldens Sea Salt to be both affordable and easily buyable as many supermarkets in the UK stock it, but there are others. Himalayan salt is favoured by many, containing 84 trace minerals essential for our health. This is the sort of salt your body needs, whereas table salt is toxic to the body and therefore best avoided. If you are moving towards a more natural diet, then you will want to consider your salt carefully. If you use natural salt, then you can add it your food without guilt, knowing it is supplying your body with valuable nourishing goodness.
But as with all things, moderation is the key. You will need to add it to broths though, or they will taste like dishwater!
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.
One of the hardest things about changing to a grain free diet is what to have for breakfast.
Having been heavily grain dependant for years, it took us a while to find something we were happy with. Different members of the family have their preferred dishes. Sometimes we all have the same.
Most days we all have something different.
I scour other web-sites looking for ideas, but many are too complicated for every day use. So here I list easy to prepare nutritious breakfasts that are practical for a busy family.
Please share if you have other ideas, as we love to hear of new breakfasts to try!
We always have a mug of broth on the side and sauerkraut with our savoury course, followed by a serving of fermented dairy, either sour cream or milk kefir with a small portion of fruit when available. We are currently loving strawberries, raspberries and blueberries from our garden and cherries from the farm shop! We love berry season!
Egg based breakfasts:
Scrambled egg, plain or with mushrooms, spring onions, cheese, cooked in lots of butter. Serve with salad if desired. On a work day Husband just has cheese in it.
Omelette, again cooked with whatever you fancy: mushrooms, spring onions, cheese, tomatoes, other favoured throw ins. Serve with salad or on its own with home-made ketchup.
Fried eggs, poached eggs (my favourite), with salad and salt and butter melted on top.
Nitrate free, grain free sausages (we get ours from a farmer market stall) with/without eggs, with prosciutto ('Parma' nitrate free - most supermarkets have it), fried tomatoes and mushrooms - for when you have a laid back sort of day and have time to make it.
Pancake made in the traditional GAPS style with cooked squash mashed into the egg, and butter.
Son 2's favourite breakfast staple: banana pancake. Mash a ripe banana into the egg and fy gently. Serve with sour cream and honey! Delicious. We have used stewed apple and that was good too.
Waffles: we don't have a waffle maker but tried frying them and what we had was good. Several GAPS friendly recipes here:
You can of course always drop an egg into a mug of boiling broth and stir it in, to gently cook the white, and to add extra nutrition.
Don't forget a bowl of soup is also very nutritious and you can add an egg yolk or two into that to add extra protein.
French Toast Omelette - Grain free I'm not an eggy person, but I found this to my liking. I tried it the first day with the cheese filling (I used cheddar cheese), but the next day I just made the 'toast' bit and spread it with a dribble of honey, then put a good dollop of sour cream in place of the cheese and rolled it up - now that was a feast!
http://myhoneypie66.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Breakfast (scroll down the page to the bottom)
Non -egg based breakfasts
We like to have an egg free day every week to avoid allergy so these are our favourites:
Son 1 prefers to have left overs from our evening meals, so I try to cook more so he can have it the next morning. Reheat in stock. Serve in a bowl.
Fish is a great, light, wake-me-up. Our favourite is wild caught salmon from the frozen aisle of the supermarket. Trout is also very nice.
We have mackerel and herring in season. Son 2 and Husband like soused herring.
Serve with salad.
Pork belly slices. We discovered these on holiday and loved them so much they have become a regular fixture. Serve with salad, fried mushrooms, ketchup or on their own with a mug of broth or soup.
Kefir smoothies with fruit (occasionally chocolate!!)
Porridge thickened with chia/flax seeds - our favourite is in the above book (Aztec porridge - chocolate porridge MMmm!).
Two cauliflower porridges - worth trying though they sound strange!
Home-made GAPS friendly granola: Too expensive for every day, but a lovely weekend treat.
We like this one:
served with milk kefir/yoghurt/sourcream (or a combination of all three!) with summer berries on top if available and an extra drizzle of honey!
These have been written with the GAPs diet in mind, with honey replacing sugar, but they can be easily modified to suit dairy free diets too. For a traditional diet you can use any milk as a substitute for milk kefir and standard cream in place of sour cream. For a dairy free diet then coconut milk will be a good substitute. I haven't tried a nut milk, but it may be possible.
Making a GAPS trifle is a little more difficult than otherwise as you can't just go and buy a packet of trifle sponges, ready made custard and an easy make jelly packet (which as you can tell is what I used to do!).
Nevertheless it is possible to make one with a bit of forward planning for a special occasion.
Trifle sponges: Make a batch of GAPS legal muffins and break two or three of them up and place them in the bottom of the dish. (You could use chocolate cake here!)
Jelly: There are various ways to do this. You will need gelatine. I use this.
Whatever option you take I use three sheets to set 13.5 fl oz or 4 to the pint. Each pack sets 2 pints.
Option 1: Milk jelly
1. Soak three sheets of gelatine in a bowl of water for five minutes.
2. Pour 10 fl oz home-made kefir and add to it 3.5 fl oz water. Put in a saucepan over gentle heat and watch it as you don't want it to boil. While it is heating up add to it 1/4 cup honey.
3. Once it starts to steam, take it off the heat and squeeze the water out of the gelatine sheets and pop them into the hot milk. Stir until they are dissolved putting it back on the heat if need be but don't let it boil or it might not set. The gelatine dissolves quite quickly.
4. Add to the milk/gelatine mixture 1 cup of berries of your choice and blend them in to the milk.
5. Pour the mixture over the 'sponge'. Leave to cool before putting in the fridge to set.
Option 2: Chocolate jelly
1. Carry out steps one and two as above.
2. While the milk is heating add 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1 tsp vanilla (make sure it is GAPS legal, or omit) and whisk to mix the milk, honey and chocolate until smooth.
3. See step 3 above.
4. Pour the mixture over your (chocolate?) sponge.
Option 3: Fruit jelly
Follow steps 1 to 5 for milk jelly, but use 13.5 fl oz of all water.
Once the jelly is set you can make the custard. This is like making a proper custard.
1. Pour 11 fl oz of milk kefir (or a mixture of milk kefir and home-made sour cream) into a saucepan with 1 tsp vanilla (make sure GAPS legal).
2,.Bring the mixture slowly to the boil. Then set aside to cool a little.
3. Beat 3 egg yolks in a jug, together with 1/4 cup honey.
4. Once the milk is cooler (just so as not to cook the eggs the minute you pour them over them), pour the milk over the eggs and mix well together.
5. Return to a clean saucepan and over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. (Approx 10 mins)
6. Immediately plunge the saucepan into a bowl of cold water and stir to cool.
7. Once cool, pour over the jelly.
8. If you are serving to non-GAPS friends, you will probably need to serve them ordinary cream. If it's just for you then pour sour cream over the top to finish.
Variation - Chocolate custard:
If you made a chocolate jelly, you may want chocolate custard, in which case, just add 1/4 cup (or less to preferred taste) cocoa to the milk at stage one and whisk as it heats up.
You can tell our taste for chocolate hasn't diminished!
We have a chilly ice-cream maker which I keep in the freezer and when I want to make the ice-cream, I mix it all together and then pour it in to the Chilly and it makes the ice-cream while we eat the first course. Other ice cream makers will work just as well.
Here is our favourite recipe.
Approx 700 ml home-made sour cream
1/2 cup honey
1/3 -1/2 cup chocolate depending how strong you like it
1 tbls vanilla (GAPS legal)
2 pastured egg yolks (as they will be raw)
Mix all together in the food processor or otherwise.
Pour in to the ice cream maker and follow the maker'sinstructions.
Depending on the size of your ice cream maker you may be able to add more cream.
It's one of those flexible recipes so see how yours goes!
Variation - I've done this before GAPs but not since, but I will try soon:
Add 1 cup frozen/fresh berries of your choice to the mix instead of chocolate.