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Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in about GAPS!  The good news is that in a relatively short amount of time, my body has become much happier.  After stalling at Stage 2 for what seemed like years, I experienced a bit of a quantum leap and subsequent stages went by quickly.  I’ve now finished introducing most Stage 5 foods, and am gearing up for Stage 6 – and there’s no indication that I’ll have any problems at this point, as long as I stick to foods that are legal for those on the full GAPS diet.

This is great news!  It means, among other things, that when I forget to pack a lunch I don’t have to starve.  This afternoon, halfway through a long rehearsal, I found myself really hungry and without any pre-packed food.  After a quick trip to the deli counter at my co-op, I returned with a poached chicken breast and a golden beet & kale salad – featuring raw vegetables, ladies and gentlemen, all of which went down just fine, thank you very much.

The kale was a big step, and the fact that I seem to have digested it without incident means that less-fibrous raw lettuce (a Stage 5 food that I haven’t officially introduced yet) won’t be a problem.  This is a very good thing, and just in time for summer; I don’t have to slave over hot soup during the dog days of August – I’ll be able to enjoy cool salads and smoothies again.  Ah, smoothies!  I’d almost forgotten about you!

And maybe in the next week or two I’ll work up to these absolutely luscious, completely GAPS-legal brownies from Cheeseslave – holla!

So, as I near the end of the introduction phase of GAPS, I can absolutely say that it has been worth it.  It has not been easy; that I’ll admit.  Although I haven’t blogged much about this side of it, the introduction phase dredged up some significant healing crises for me over the last six weeks: I endured some of the worst depression and anxiety I’ve ever experienced, plus a crazy case of hives across my back and chest that burned and itched for days and days.  Even though these were painful experiences, I knew their origins and knew that some powerful healing was taking place through the diet, so there was no question that I would stick with it.  As a pleasant side effect, I’ve lost almost 15 pounds and feel more energetic.  I recommend the diet highly to anyone who thinks they might benefit from it, and would be glad to provide support for those who are ready to take the plunge themselves.  Feel free to comment here, or contact me privately (see the About page).

Full GAPS (and Cheeseslave brownies), here I come!

This post, which first appeared on my blog in 2007, reminds me that I do indeed circle back on emotional experiences again and again.  Hopefully they are the kind of circles that actually represent one spiral up the mountain…

Photo courtesy of borogoves.

The last month has been characterized by a sort of emotional/spiritual malaise that has settled on my soul like dead weight. I haven’t been motivated to do much beyond what’s necessary; nothing has ignited excitement or passion lately. Work leaves me flat, and a bit worried. I’ve always felt like I had to find THE THING that I’d want to do for the rest of my life, and then do it with absolute dedication and focus. The problem? I have gone through two and a half careers that I loved for a year or five, then lost interest in. Is that happening again? I’m too old to keep changing careers! But I don’t want to spend the majority of my week doing something that I don’t enjoy… Read the rest of this entry »

Furled.  Photo courtesy of Davedehetre.

There’s a natural ebb and flow to life, with seasons of effusing one’s essence out into the world, and seasons of pulling in to gather strength for the next storm.  I am in the midst of a decidedly furling season.  Some personal earthquakes are in process, taking place in private corners of my life and very much needing my attention and energy.

The only thing arousing much enthusiasm or passion at the moment is the thing I keep coming back to on the blog: healing through traditional foods wisdom and the revolution that’s taking place far and wide across this country for free access and choice to real food.  I catch a spark of excitement every time I read about things like the recent rally on Capitol Hill, protesting the year-long FDA sting operation of an Amish dairy farmer and fighting for the right to drink raw milk.  Or the mother who healed her son’s cavity with cod liver oil and butter oil.  (You read that right.)  Or why Ron Paul is my new favorite politician.  These stories represent a shift toward self-reliance, choice, freedom, and independence from the centralized food system that is doing much more harm than we are being told.  People are taking back their food freedom, and sometimes it’s a hard-won battle!

I’ll have some exciting news to share next week about Maggie’s Nest, and in this moment I am realizing that I really, truly love learning and sharing all this food wisdom.  I love hearing about people who are healing their families with food.  I love the healing I’m witnessing in my own body as I continue with the GAPS diet, and I love the thought that by the end of the year I may very well be a certified GAPS practitioner, so that I can spread  the word to those suffering with diseases I now firmly believe to be originating in our modern relationship to food.  I love helping people find their way to their best selves, and there’s hardly anything that could be more fundamental than the vibrant self that comes forward when the body is well nourished.

Today I’m grateful to witness in my furled self the spark of passion that keeps lighting up the dark places in my weary soul.  And I’m eager to stoke that spark to life and see what’s wanting to come forth.

Wow, heading into Week 6 already…all of a sudden it seems to be going fast.  Over the last week I’ve had much better success re-introducing foods, and am feeling confident that the rest of my re-introductions will go smoothly.  Last week avocado made the grade, and over the weekend I had to do some creative eating and all of it panned out well.

I spent the weekend in Austin with a dear friend (the same dear friend that drove quite a ways to see me for my birthday on Tuesday) and brought a grocery bag of GAPS-friendly foods to eat: a thermos of chicken-veggie soup, a container of homemade yogurt, the rest of my fermented salmon, plus jars of ghee and raw honey.  On Saturday evening I attended a game night with some friends of friends, and there was quite a spread of delicious-looking foods.  Nothing was GAPS intro-friendly, however (why would it be?) and at some point I eyed the black olives.  Hm…I thought.  Well, they’re not raw, they’re cured.  And olives are pretty fatty, and not very fibrous.  I gave it a try, and ended up eating seven big fat olives with no problems.  Then on Sunday I ran out of the food I had brought with me for the weekend, and scoured Central Market for something from the prepared foods aisle – grilled salmon and asparagus was the best I could find, and those both went down just fine, even without probiotics or broth to go with them.  I think my body is starting to heal!

So this week I’m finally breaking out of my soup rut, and trying some solid foods that I can eat on their own – with sides of broth and probiotic, of course, but not necessarily mixed right in.  This post from Keeper of the Home, called “Recipes and Ideas for What to Eat on the GAPS Introduction Diet” has inspired me to try some more daring ideas, like maybe stuffed mushrooms or meatloaf – exciting, right?  Right now there’s a small butternut squash cooking in the oven, to be used for the Stage 3 pancake re-introduction (more below), and also for the squash meatball recipe that got me salivating on that Keeper of the Home post.  If I end up handling the squash okay, I feel like it’ll open up my options quite a bit.  It’s also one of my very favorite foods, so no complaints there.

The Stage 3 pancake also includes nut butter.  The first time I re-introduced nut butter it was an awful failure, but it was very early on (day 3?) and the nuts had not been soaked so I’m sure they were full of anti-nutrients.  This time around I was careful to buy pecan butter from a source I trust (Artisana, which makes exquisite nut butters including my beloved coconut butter) so if it’s a failure, I’ll know that my body just isn’t ready for it.

I’m a little confused as to why, in Stage 3, a relatively complex food like the pancake is introduced.  Of the three ingredients (egg, nut butter and winter squash) only one has been previously re-introduced, and it occurs to me that if the re-introduction doesn’t go well, I won’t be exactly sure how to attribute the problem.  So, I’m reintro-ing winter squash separately, first.

Also, in a bold move, I bought two apples and a banana over the weekend.  Whole eggs seem to be giving me a problem still (although the yolks seem fine) so ripe banana may have to be tried as an egg alternative in the pancake.  And the apples…well I suppose it’s just wishful thinking more than anything else.  I might slice one reeeally thinly and saute it in a ton of ghee…and see what happens.

Overall I’m feeling better than I have been for the last two weeks, although I can’t say that I feel all the way better.  More resilient, though, for sure.  So we carry on.

Photo courtesy of Julie McLeod.

On Monday I wrote a little about the mood issues that I’ve been battling for the last several days, and unfortunately that battle continues so almost all of my energy has been focused on taking care of myself as best I can.  I’m going to do my best to post as often as I can, but I don’t know when I’ll get back to a post a day.  Thanks for your patience, friends.

I was fortunate enough to spend half of yesterday with a dear, dear friend; it was my birthday and I knew that it would be nourishing to spend the day with an actual person in my circle of loved ones, rather than alone on the plains of west Texas.  We walked and talked for hours, had a lovely light dinner together (my GAPS intro-friendly dish?  Asparagus spears poached in veal stock.) and both of us remarked how the companionship and support felt like cream on parched bones.  It was much needed, and as satisfying to give as to receive.

After we parted ways for the evening, I was lucky enough to have an evening relay of phone calls that continued to fill me up.  A birthday is an awful day to feel low, but a great day to be reminded of all the wonderful, loving and supportive people in your life.  The Facebook greetings alone had me in tears, and the soulful conversations with amazing people who I am lucky enough to call friends, reminded me of just how good things are.

As much as this traveling job feeds my wanderlust and creates a pretty adventurous life, I can’t say how much (especially right now) I miss having the people I love around me, to lean on and to be leaned upon.  The nurture and nourishment that comes from connection is one that I hope I never take for granted again.

Which connections feed and nourish you?  Maybe there’s someone you can reach out to, now.

I don’t know why, but this picture just makes me giggle.  My little egg looks a hungry baby slurping up its yolk!  Okay, that sounds a little gross now that it’s out there…I’ll move on.  (But behold that beautiful, thick, deep orange yolk!  That’s a sign of a nutrient-rich egg!)

Week 3 rocked, with all re-introductions going very well!  In addition to my broth, sauerkraut juice, and cooked meat and veggies; I can now eat homemade yogurt, raw egg yolks, casseroles (meat and veggies separate from broth), and now – dunh dunh DUUUUHN! – soft-boiled eggs!  It’s a banner day, friends.

Now, I just ate the above-pictured egg, and although it went down with no pain at all (unlike the poached eggs I tried to eat at the end of my first week on the diet) I still need to wait and see if any symptoms develop over the next few days.

Number one symptom for me, oddly enough, is cellulite.  I always had cellulite on my thighs, all my life – even when I was at my skinniest with only had 130 pounds on my 5’10” frame.  It vexed and perplexed me to no end, being the primary reason why anyone rarely sees me in a bathing suit.  But three years ago I went through a period of cutting out a lot of foods as an experiment, and I found much to my surprise that cutting eggs from my diet also cut the cellulite from my thighs!  I later learned that this is a common reaction to food intolerances; not necessarily cellulite, but “false fat“.  It’s pretty fascinating, and worth a quick read.

This is exactly the kind of unexpected gift of my many food experiments over the years: a steadily growing awareness of my body’s signals with regards to its food.  Besides producing cellulite, for example, in the past I’ve also found that eating eggs produced fierce sugar cravings.  Strange, right?  But definitely worth knowing.  Some people take the attitude of “I don’t wanna know”, but really, I can’t tell you how empowering it is to learn to listen to my body, and choose to follow what it’s telling me.

So, what’s next?  Well, I’ve had trouble figuring out the fermented fish, the last re-introduction on Stage 2…and for now I’m going to skip it.  I did buy a beautiful piece of Sockeye salmon this weekend, and if I can figure out how to ferment it by today or tomorrow then it will go in the rotation, but otherwise I am, with cautious optimism, moving on to Stage 3 foods.

First up, actual sauerkraut and not just the juice.  I know, I know!  Let’s not get too overheated with excitement!  All kidding aside I am excited about this step, because it signals the first raw food I’ll have had in quite a while and of course many people think sauerkraut is just about the healthiest food on the planet, being so chock-full of probiotics and digestive enzymes as well as a host of vitamins that are enhanced by the fermentation process.  So sauerkraut goes in next, followed by avocado.  Avocado did not go well when I tried to re-introduce it in the first week, but l.ooking back I did it too quickly and ate too much of it.  So 1 teaspoon at a time will hopefully do the trick

It’s really helpful to summarize my progress once a week, so thanks for reading!  If you’re on the diet, let me know where you are and how it’s going.  I love the community that I’m finding around GAPS!

Some of my most popular posts can be found under the tag “Clean&Simple”.  Here I’ve posted recipes as well as stories from my journey toward using fewer commercial products for cleaning my home and my body.  A lot of these stories have gone very well, and in fact when I get home from this rotation I’ll probably make up a big batch of this laundry detergent so that we don’t have to buy any more until, oh, around 2016.

One of the most popular posts over the last few months has been my confession that I stopped using shampoo last year.  The no-‘poo craze has really caught fire on the internet, gaining avid supporters at Mark’s Daily Apple, Simple Mom, and other sites that I frequent.  After reading about it at MDA last June, I bit the bullet and gave it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

Well, Week 2 is over and it went much better than the previous week!  The key? Go slow.  Last week I took the time to let my body rest in Stage 1, soaking up the bone broths and a small amount of probiotics.  Near the end of the week I (re-) introduced my first Stage 2 food, ghee or clarified butter, and my body has responded very well!  The smooth introduction gave me some confidence to continue introducing foods, but I promised myself that I would only introduce one food every four days.  This structure has helped me to stay focused, and I even devised a chart to help me track my progress so I don’t forget where I am in the diet, reintroduce too quickly, and end up losing clarity again on which food is causing what symptom. Read the rest of this entry »

Well friends, I am now 8 days into the GAPS introduction diet.  How’s it going so far?  I never dreamed it would be so easy to eat the same thing over and over again – but when it’s something as delicious and comforting as homemade chicken soup, steeped in flavorful broth and surrounded by fresh onion, carrot, squash and garlic, sprinkled with sea salt and lemon juice…it really is delightful.  I can’t say I don’t miss other foods, but this really is just about the easiest way to start out a restrictive new regimen.

Added to the daily soups, starting on Day 2 last week, were raw egg yolks.  These weren’t just any eggs, of course; these are pastured eggs from our local co-op, with dark orange, thick and sturdy yolks.  Mixed into a bowl of soup, the raw yolk distributes and turns the liquid to gorgeous, creamy, yellow goodness.  Wow.  That has been a revelation.

Another revelation?  Whole garlic cloves simmered in chicken broth.  O.M.G. Last week Eric and I stopped by the Asian market down the street, where he loves to pick up these baggies of peeled whole garlic cloves – $1.50 for a good pint of ’em.  Now, I’m not crazy about garlic (I hope this doesn’t disqualify me from my dream of someday becoming a gourmet chef!) – I find the taste to usually be harsh, and too much cooked in the wrong way will give me heartburn for days.  But I know that garlic is an incredibly healing food and recommended during the GAPS intro diet, so I threw some whole cloves into my chicken soup.  A half-hour later I popped one into my mouth and absolutely relished the mellow creamy texture that spread across my tongue.  Heaven!  I am keen to try this in other applications as well, maybe as a garlic-mayonnaise spread?  Or simmered with leeks and mushrooms in stock, then immersion blended into a creamy garlic soup?  Hm.  Much to look forward to.

This food has been so comforting that I find myself reluctant to introduce new foods.  I did give avocado a try on Days 3 & 4, but amazingly, within an hour it was clear that my body wasn’t ready for it!  I would never have guessed. Introducing small amounts of raw milk kefir and ghee (clarified butter) went better, and I’m hopeful that I won’t encounter any delayed reactions.

The next food to introduce is small thin pancakes, made with nut butter, egg and butternut squash and fried in ghee.  I have all the ingredients for it, but I notice I’m half-eager and half-reluctant to try.  I’d almost rather believe that it’s a future possibility, than find out that it’s not.  Isn’t that interesting?  Regardless, I am going to try it either today or tomorrow.  I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

On Wednesday I fly to Texas to begin my six weeks there, and the reality of tending to this diet while in a hotel room armed with only a mini-fridge and a slow cooker (the microwave will NOT be used) is growing more daunting by the minute.  Honestly, beyond slow-cooked soup and refrigerated (commercial but good-quality) sauerkraut, I really don’t know how it’s going to work.  Again, I’ll report as I go along.  My latest idea is that maybe, by wrapping glass jars in towels and setting on a heating pad, I can make yogurt in the room.  Yes, I know you can buy yogurt in the stores, but for the GAPS diet you have to make your own so that you can ferment it a long time (24 hours at least) to ensure that all or most of the lactose has been eaten up by the beneficial flora.  C’est la vie.

Well, here’s to the adventure!

{photo credit}

Today a gluten-intolerant friend of mine shared the following sentiment with me:

“I am teetering on the edge of having the courage to start [GAPS]….  Honestly, I think it should take less courage to try this diet on the very good chance that it WILL improve my health, than to…deal with [gluten sensitivity] for the rest of our lives!!”

And yet, curiously enough, it’s often overwhelming to consider trying something new.  After all, living with a food allergy/sensitivity has already taken a tremendous amount of energy.  We’ve had to read ingredient labels incessantly, give up some of our favorite foods (cold cereal for me – wah!), become a high-maintenance dinner guest, and listen to so many people wonder how we ever do without the foods that make us sick, that make us hurt, that make our bodies not work as well as they should.

It’s already taken a lot, and maybe, we think, maybe it’s easier just to live like this than to take on even more restrictions!  Even if it’s not forever.  Even if it might heal us for good so that we don’t have to be that high-maintenance guest or bring our magnifying glass to the grocery store anymore.  Even with all that, is it worth it?

I get it, friends, I really do.  And I wonder, if you’re thinking about trying GAPS (or something else, for that matter), let’s lay out all the fears and obstacles right now.  Are you worried that you won’t be able to stick with it?  That you don’t have the time to cook homemade foods?  That you’ll be hungry, or unsatisfied?  Or maybe the idea of die-off symptoms is scary all by itself?

I want to hear all this stuff from you. It’s often helpful to just get it all out, to let yourself whine and worry and express all that stuff that’s keeping you from moving forward.  And really, by getting it all out, who knows what could happen next?  Maybe courage.  Maybe comradeship.  Maybe clarity.  Who knows?

The Author

This is a site about saying yes to life - written by a multi-passionate rock star who loves to take life between her fists and kiss it full on the mouth.

"Make my boy realize that, at the end of the everlasting why, there is a yes. And a yes and a yes!"
- Mr. Emerson,
A Room With A View