You don't have to be!
All real cooks are experimenters! After all, that's how they discover new recipes. Being on GAPS certainly throws you out of your comfort zone (unless you were pretty much cooking traditionally already) and makes you try new things. It makes you realise that very often there is no SET way of cooking something. It can be done in other ways and you get brave trying things out! If you just want to start eating more healthily but are not over-confident in the kitchen, don't despair.
When I was teaching I was always bemused by the National Curriculum. It wanted me to teach 5 year olds how to change a recipe. At that stage, I could only cook according to a recipe myself and the thought of changing one seemed rather odd. Nevertheless I dutifully took the class group by group into the helpers room (once!) and 'changed' our recipe by adding some dried fruit to it. That's all I could think of. Then I ticked the little box to say we'd covered that part of the curriculum! Maybe you can recall such 'cooking' lessons from your own childhood. Now I understand what they were getting at. They wanted them to be REAL cooks from the word 'Go'! I still think that 5 was too early to worry about teaching them that...better to teach them basic cooking skills first, but that's another story!
I now find myself throwing foods into a pan with impunity... a bit of this and a bit of that.. let's see what happens! However, there are things I still follow a recipe carefully for and I think that's the key. If you want a meal to turn out as you expect for a visitor, then that is not the time to experiment, stick to something tried and tested! If you are baking a cake, then you probably need to follow the recipe closely, unless you are inventing your own recipe. But for beginners, there are some things that are very forgiving - you really can't go far wrong!
One simple recipe adapting step you can take on the road to healthier cooking and while your family transitions, is, once you have started to make more home-made goodies, to take any standard recipe and cut the sugar in half. This will have two effects, one they probably won't notice - it'll be the same looking product, and secondly it will start to re-train their taste buds.
Then there are soups. Anyone can make a soup and you'll be an expert at the end of the intro diet! Not all of my made up soups taste delicious, but you soon learn what your family likes and what they don't and you learn from your mistakes! Always start with some gently sautéed onion and always use home-made stock (or equivalent bought, but not made of stock cubes). Then what else you add is up to you. Some vegetables, like leeks and mushrooms like being sautéed with the onion, others can boil in the stock. Add salt and pepper to taste, garlic and herbs if desired and blend it together with a stick blender, then serve it up with some butter and/or sour cream. Soup can be thin and watery, others thicker - make it how you like it and how you feel. Soon you'll be knocking up a nutritious meal from whatever you find in the fridge!
Stews similarly are very easy. You can choose the ingredients your family will like. Sometimes you can get ideas from recipes from magazines and they might not be GAPS legal, but you can often use the idea to substitute with GAPS legal foods. I found a lovely fish stew that way. Look in old recipe books
(I say old as many newer recipes rely on tins and packets of readymade stuff). There is lots of inspiration. Learn to adapt recipes. Many GAPS recipes were invented that way. People want something they can't have, so they made a version of it using GAPS legal ingredients.
Then there are quiches. I have made a quiche with an almond crust, but most of my GAPS quiches are crust less. When I looked at all my recipe books for quiche, I find none agree on the precise ratio of eggs to liquid. For a 10 inch round dish, some say 3 eggs, some 3 eggs and 3 whites, some 6 eggs, so I often find myself using what I've got. Leftover egg whites/yolks? Pop them in! I think 3 eggs is the minimum for it to set well. Again the liquid amount varies. By the way, I substitute milk kefir in place of milk for GAPS quiches, but you could use sour cream, home-made yoghurt or coconut milk.
Try: For 3 eggs and 3 whites -170ml milk kefir, (6 -6.6 fl
For 6 eggs - 4 fl oz milk
For 2 large eggs plus one yolk - 10fl oz (275ml) milk
Can you see how many variables there are?
Then of course what you put in your quiche can be as varied as you like; cheese, onion, leeks, mushrooms, cooked veg - broccoli, cauliflower, peas, proscuttio.....
Basically they all cook at 160 deg C. (fan), 180 deg C. or Gas 4 for approximately 45 minutes.
I also found the Introduction diet 'Almond Bread' very versatile. Three eggs and two cups of almonds are the base, but I found that one cup of almonds and one of squash/courgette worked even better, producing a lighter, fluffier, moister texture. Some folk seem to add butter, others use butter but don't add squash....and they all turn out ok! So when it says in the GAPS book, experiment, it means just that. You can't really go wrong. My next experiment is to try adding in cheese to make cheese muffins, with some mustard powder as that brings out the cheesy flavour well and salt of course. (By the way, the family loved the 'cheese muffins'.
Not everything I make always turns out a I expected, and it can be disappointing, but don't let that put you off. Nobody becomes an expert without a lot of failures along the way first! Just don't let it discourage you...pick youself up and go again. What went wrong? What you do to improve on it next time?
See what you can make today!