Aug 22, 2012

Healing Tummy Troubles with Real Food: 9 Month Update

by guest blogger Wendy Donley

Nine months ago this week, we took the plunge and started as a family on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).  It was our stop-gap attempt to bring healing to our daughter’s thoroughly confused GI system.  We called it “Bad Bugs Be Gone” and approached it with gusto.

How many efforts have I made at writing this blog post in my mind since that time?  I have wanted to send out an update on our growing-up girl for months now, but every time I think about how to communicate the changes in Caris since beginning the SCD in November, I come up short on words.
It hit me today why that’s true - and it’s the very best reason of all to write!  Caris leads an ordinary life.  She plays like an ordinary eight year-old, she sleeps like an ordinary eight year-old; she reads, rides, runs, jumps, and oh, so many other ordinary things.  And that’s extraordinary!  

The more I think about just how remarkable “ordinary” is, the more it brings me to tears.  Caris is experiencing ordinary days for the first time in six years.  The constant groaning is gone.  There are no long faces; no lengthy visits to the restroom; no tears at mealtime.  Her days are amazingly, breath-takingly ordinary.

There was a lot of hard work to get here, but now that we’re coasting with this SCD lifestyle, I can honestly say the late nights and early mornings of food prep and research seem like a distant memory.   What began as a family commitment (offering moral support to our girl) evolved into a strict adherence to the SCD for Caris and a nearly grain-free diet for the rest of us.  

In the nine months since beginning the diet (though I like to think of it more as a “lifestyle” than a diet), Caris has experienced five birthday parties in our immediate family; Christmas and the festivities surrounding the holiday season; Valentine’s Day; Easter egg hunts; summer camp; two weeks of Vacation Bible School; overnights with grandparents; and many social gatherings.  We have never once heard her complain about what she can’t eat.  Remarkable!  That in itself if evidence of the clear changes that have taken place in her belly that make her willing to happily pass over certain foods.  

One of my favorite memories is of making “monster cookies” for the girls’ Bible study leaders.  Caris helped with such joy in her heart.  Rather than lamenting about not being able to try them, she absolutely beamed as she poured and stirred, talking about how much her teachers were going to enjoy them.  
Another time, my mom reported that Caris had taken a piece of candy.  She was concerned she had secretly eaten it.  I assured my mom I didn’t think so, but inquired with Caris about the candy anyway.  She produced it from her pocket “for dad.”  This scenario has repeated itself again and again with Valentine’s candy and VBS snacks.  The adults around Caris worry . . . she simply smiles as she lovingly seeks out someone else to bless with the special treat.  

What has developed in her is amazing as we see her serving in the kitchen, preparing snacks for her younger sister that she won’t be able to share, or planning ahead for what might be part of her next meal.  In the past, even talk of food made her anxious knowing there would be pain and discomfort.  She was always either begging to eat (confusing pain and hunger cues) or begging for relief (doubled over on the arm of a chair).  Now, she is my joy-filled grocery assistant and my servant-hearted kitchen helper.

These glimpses into our “ordinary” girl are evidence for us of the extraordinary changes that have come about through the SCD – all by God’s tremendous grace in our lives.  We are grateful!

p.s.  It looks like we’re not the only ones who have found success on the SCD.  Check out this article
And since some of you may be considering a GAPS style diet such as the SCD for yourself or a family member, I’ll put together a separate post with weblinks and resources we have found most beneficial on this journey.
If you have not read Caris' story, part one, please do so now.  You will be amazed at how far this girl has come in 9 months - with the help of real food.

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Aug 20, 2012

Butternut Squash - Stovetop

Butternut squash is beginning to appear at the farmers markets.  Usually I oven roast them and turn it into soup.  But it's still a bit hot outside for soup.  

Tonight I prepared it stovetop.  Friday night, I wrapped it in foil for the grill.  Any way you fix it - yummo!

First I peeled the squash with a vegetable peeler.  Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Then cut it in equal-ish sized pieces.  You will need a good knife for this endeavor.  Wimpy knives need not apply!
Heat your pan (I used cast iron, but a wok works well, too) over medium high heat.  Add some sort of fat.  Bacon grease is yum - tonight I used ghee - but coconut oil would be delish, too.

When the oil and pan are hot, add the squash.  You will be tempted to stir but don't.  The high heat will help to caramelize the natural sugars in the squash.  After a few minutes then you can stir.  Find something else to do in the kitchen to take your mind off the temptation to stand and stir.
After 10 minutes (maybe it was 15...I got distracted trying to clean up my kitchen and not stir too frequently) the squash should be just about right.  The color deepens and the texture is like that of a ripe cantaloupe.
It's even easier to prepare for the grill.  After removing the skin and seeds and chopping to equal sizes, wrap in a foil envelope.  Add a generous amount of butter and put it on the grill for 25-30 minutes.

My daughter calls it candy.

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Aug 17, 2012

Linky Love

- NPR's Fresh Air interviewed fermentation king Sandor Katz.  Whether you're a novice or a pro at preservation using lacto-fermentation, you'll probably enjoy the interview.  One tidbit I learned: not one person in the history of the US (on record) has been made sick using this food preservation method.

- Baby Steps for Cooking from Scratch by Simple Mom.

- 11 real foods you can stop buying and start making by Nourished Kitchen.

- Is your mattress toxic?  A must read if you're in the market for a new mattress.

- Why You Should Shun Cheap Groceries - because we all need to be reminded that paying more for REAL food is the right thing.

- Drought Hurting Small Farmers - yet another reason to visit your local farmers market.

-Rub some bacon on it - YouTube video that will make you chuckle.  Don't blame me if you're singing the catchy jingle later today.


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Aug 13, 2012

Compromise In My Kitchen: 80/20

Keepin' it real here.

There are days I don't feel like cooking.  There are days when I forget to pull something out of the freezer.  And then, there have been the past three months where I have found myself on the couch more than I care to admit (helloooo first trimester of pregnancy!)

What are my convenience foods?  Where do I compromise and not make from scratch? (This compromise is what is often referred to as the 20 in the 80/20 Principle.)

Sometimes my best gal pal, HB, gives me some of her delicious soaked bread or another friend makes bread from sprouted grains.  I go back and forth about making bread, finding the time to do it and liking my results.

For a very long time we did not eat bread because I was reading too many bad things about it.  Life got very busy and I caved.  The loud pleadings of my son (who could eat PB&J everyday) convinced me live a little and buy him a loaf of bread.

Buying grocery store bread is not the best because the grains have not been properly prepared (soaked or sprouted).  Typically, mass produced bread has all kinds of ingredients that I wouldn't add if I made it myself.  But it sure is convenient to buy bread.  People often ask why brand we eat.  I choose "Health Nut" because the ingredient list seems to be a relatively good one, and omits high fructose corn syrup. And we like the taste and texture.

We can eat a lot of cheese.  While I would like to give my children only raw cheese, they don't always like it and it is a bit expensive.  Plus when you heat raw cheese to melting (like on a pizza) you've destroyed some of the natural enzymes - one reason it costs more.

Unashamedly I buy a lot of cheese from Kroger - in all shapes and varieties. (I do not buy Velveeta, which is a cheese-food-product, or the kind of cheese that has individually wrapped slices.)  We eat  slices and hunks of Colby, Swiss, and cheddar, as well as the kids' favorites: mozzarella cheese sticks.  Probably one of my last hold outs will be the oh-so-convenient shredded cheese in a bag even thought the anti-clumping additives are not so good for me.  It sure saves time and energy in the kitchen.

Homemade tortillas are super yummy.  I've made them before and would like to make them again.  However, being that I have a two small children, I can't spend all day in the kitchen so I give myself some grace and buy tortillas more frequently than I make them.

Currently my favorites are Alvarado St. sprouted wheat tortillas from Azure Standard.  When I fail to order enough, I have purchased from Kroger, Whole Foods or Drug Emporium Food for Life's Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain tortillas.  And when I'm feeling really cheap and careless (frequently) I buy the run of the mill white tortillas with the horrible oils.

Coconut Milk
Once I posted how to make coconut milk.  Yes it is easy and cheap to make - as are most things homemade.  Yet we must also factor time.  Coconut milk is one of the few canned foods I buy regularly.  I don't have a particular brand to recommend.  Just be sure it is full fat.

No Compromise
If I run out of bone broth I will beg, borrow or steal some from a friend before buying it at the store.

My Fast Dinner Ideas
Most always in the fridge:
-eggs from pastured, local source

Try to keep these stocked in the pantry:
-peanut butter (great with apples, celery or bok choy stems)
-honey from a local source
-jarred pasta sauce (for this fast, nutritious, cheap meal)
-popcorn to be popped in coconut oil
-dried fruit (raisins, dates)
-crispy nuts

Fast, Easy Dinners
hard boiled eggs (usually boil a dozen a week)
eggs poached in marinara
grilled cheese or quesadillas
Seasonal Dinner Fast - Asian Stir Fry
Lori's Black Bean "Burgers"
and of course I must give a shameless plug for our batch cooking days - freezer meals are the bomb.

Where do you compromise with food?  Have any fast dinner ideas to share?

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Aug 12, 2012

Real Food Lunches for Kids (& Adults)

from August 2010:
Here are some real food suggestions for lunch.

The first two pictures are my first grader's lunches.
Above: shredded carrots, popcorn -popped in coconut oil, raw cheese sandwich, water and Spiderman high fructose corn syrup and artificially colored poison (hey - we adhere to the 80/20 rule!)

Below: raw cheese sticks, water, popcorn, organic apples, peaches, oatmeal bake.
Below is lunch from Lisa Lipe: pastured hard boiled egg, raw cheese, organic apple, pastured chicken sandwich with lettuce and lacto-fermented mayonnaise on sprouted wheat bread.

Below is HB's kindergartner's lunch: mild cheddar cheese and wheat bread sandwich, popcorn popped in coconut oil, apple, soaked granola with extra raisins, in the sippy cup: water kefir, and of course, a napkin note because man does not live on bread alone.
Erin also has elementary aged children.  They get cheese or hummus quesadillas (on sprouted tortillas and fried in coconut oil), carrot sticks, organic applesauce, and homemade organic popcorn or granola for snack.  If they didn't eat an egg at breakfast, she would probably send a hard-boiled one in their lunch. 

Other ideas for real food lunch include:
 - egg salad
 - hard boiled eggs
 - crispy nuts
 - probiotic potato salad
 - hummus and veggies
 - Lacto-fermented pickles
 - chicken salad
 - yogurt (full FAT) and granola
 - leftovers from the previous night's dinner
 - soup in a thermos


PS - thanks goes to Jessica W. for this tip: I've found that buttering the jam side of PBJs is an easy way to add healthy fats. The butter also acts as a barrier between the jam and bread. I make lunches the night before; it keeps the jam from soaking into the bread.

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