Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Day of Unrest

Sunday is not exactly my 'rest' day. With work, three kids, a hubby in full time school, classes to attend, and all the other stuff that makes up life, I have to make sure that I'm well prepared for the week ahead. In case you haven't noticed, nutrition is pretty important to me. I'm loathe to get myself in a situation where I don't have a decent meal backing us up. So, with Saturday being hang out with my posse day, Sunday has been relegated to making sure we have good eats in the fridge so 'quick' doesn't become synonymous with 'crap'.

So, let's go on a pictorial journey shall we? Fun, huh? Join me in my kitchen to see what was up for some of this week's menu. Sorry, I didn't get pictures of my two slow cookers bubbling away some bison roasts that I later sliced up and put in the fridge.

So, here's where you see my dirty little secret. I make my fermented veggies in my giant, ceramic sink. I clean it first! For this veggie mixture I used some easter egg radishes, carrots, purple carrots, green and purple cabbage, green onion, some leek, ginger, and garlic. Oh, some green and red onion, too. I covered it in sea salt, pounded the snot out of it and then packed in jars. I'll give more details in another post.

O.k., this was a problem. Remember those boxes of organic plums I had? Well, aside from the jars of prunes I've made, I needed to come up with some other options. So, here's my plum butter cooking down. See the dirty wooden spoon on the side? I used my tongue to clean up that mess. So bloody good. I cooked those wonderful plums with cinnamon and cardamom. Aye yi yi. Can't wait to eat that with some pastured pork one day.

I'm not big on baking. That's not to say I don't like it, I just don't think there's much place for those sweet "neolithic paleolithic" treats around my waistline. To make matters worse, I hear Kurt Harris' torturous condemnation every time I pick up a spatula. 

Still, with three kids, I do like to whip up a little ditty every now and then and then freeze some for those birthday party moments when the rest of the class has a sugar-loaded cupcake and my little urchin sits there with her bowl of fermented vegetables. Yes, that really did happen. So, my kids are thrilled with a muffin. These are made with coconut flour, ghee, some dried fruit I made, bananas to sweeten, and a mother load of eggs. They are moist and they are divine. That's my ghee in the background. I make it from raw, pastured butter and I mix it with organic, extra virgin coconut oil. We eat it with everything. Everything.

Canned plums. I added some allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. See mom? You can have some at Christmas. I source out the old jars, with glass lids. Newer jars, with the metal lids are lined with BPA. I'm not down with the BPA.

My post workout fuel source. Love me some sweet potats.

A peek in my 110 degree oven. Plums becoming prunes. I store the prunes in glass jars. I avoid buying any fruit in the winter, having prepared some ourselves. I also just don't think we were meant to eat much fruit in the winter (or at anytime really). A little dab will do ya'.

Pummeled and packed into jars. Now I just have to wait about a week and we'll have fermented vegorama.

O.k., so he's not a fermented vegetable or a dried plum, but come on! How could I not show you Pablo the Great Overseer. He perches himself up on that chair and makes sure I'm doing my kitchen duties to his satisfaction. He's a tough one, that little ginger cat. He keeps me on my game.


  1. I love how "real" your blog is (the veggies in the sink, the messy spoon). But it's still really pretty - I love the picture of the canned plums!

  2. Thank you so much, Amanda. That's so nice of you. I love your picture!

  3. Thanks for sharing your weekend activities! It inspires me to use my time more constructively rather than spending it in front of the T.V. like a veggie (fermented of course).

    P.S. Your kitty is adorable!

  4. Thanks, Anonymous. T.V. is the devil. Just in case you wanted my thoughts on that ;)

  5. Hi Tara,

    My name is Matt and I've enjoyed keeping up with some of your blog posts. I also frequent marks daily apple from time to time and spotted a post from yourself regarding the GAPS diet and gut health and the positives you got from it.

    My guts are a bit of a mess, and I suffer from chronic fatigue as well. I have all the typical autoimmune type sensitivities - nightshades, dairy, eggs, grains, legumes etc. They are more delayed reactions and consumption of eggs for examples will bring on some very uncomfortable brain fog over the course of a few days.

    I was wondering if you did consultations or might be able to offer some more in depth advice by way of perhaps an email exchange as to how I might think about getting started with probio's, either capsules or ferments for someone that is extremely sensitive. My tolerance for even sauerkraut is very low and I'm feeling a little discouraged about my options for trying to heal the gut.

    Many thanks

  6. Hi Matt,

    I feel your pain. Literally. I've had a lot of ongoing issues with the same types of inflammatory responses to foods that you describe. I think more people do than they even realize. The good news is that you've been able to tie certain foods to negative reactions in your body so you can at least control the amount of inflammation you're dealing with while you go about healing your gut.

    The first thing I would recommend, if you haven't already, is to get the Gut and Psychology Book and read it cover to cover before starting anything. There's also an online GAPS Yahoo group that is an incredible resource for all of your questions (there will be many). I have found that it's really imperative to do the intro diet, as explained in the book. Don't skip this step.

    I would recommend avoiding probiotics right now. As your gut starts to heal, you can look at revisiting that idea if you feel it's warranted. You mentioned that your tolerance for sauerkraut is very low. Is this sauerkraut that you made yourself? If it was purchased, even if it's live, there may be strains of probiotics within that your body is just not ready for. When you do the GAPS intro diet, you will start with minute amounts of fermented foods (I mean sips of just the juice, never mind the actual vegetables) and allow your body to adapt and heal on a slow timeline.

    I know it seems discouraging, it's a slow, methodical process, but it's completely doable and I think you will find great satisfaction using Dr. McBride's book and the Yahoo! group. I would also recommend buying "The Gaps Guide" by Baden. It's a fantastic companion to the book.

    I tried many things before finding the GAPS diet to heal my, and my clients', guts. When implemented correctly, I have seen amazing results with this protocol. Please let me know if I can help you out any further.


  7. That's very helpful Tara thanks. It's such an inspiration seeing/reading what your eating and enjoying now having had trouble in the past.

    It sounds like you get allot of pleasure from your ferments, broths, paleo'esque cooking etc and good health I imagine. Having to deal with this at the tender age of 25 isn't easy but I guess it gives me plenty of time to try and heal.

    I actually have recently purchased the GAPs guide book. For the most part I have been on a pureed diet very close to intro, consisting of cooking my veggies well (I don't tolerate these very well, due to the fiber, inflammatory effects, sulphur sensitivity and blood sugar swings from starchier choices) then putting in a blender with some meat stock. This is then accompanied by some meat, often ground turkey, lamb or pork, chicken breast, livers or game meat. I'm not too convinced I'm digesting beef and game meat too well though. Fats I do coconut oil, olive oil, goose/duck and any fats from cooking the meats, lard and fish oil.

    The Sauerkraut I used was home made but purchased if that makes sense. I found a couple who were experienced at making it and have a small business selling online. I had tried store bought in the past but it was cheap and tasted too much like vinegar.

    Food sensitivity wise oddly I tend to crave the trouble I have with dairy, eggs, sauerkraut, onions and garlic and these 'ramp me up' with some horrible brain fog, which can occur days after ingesting the food.

    Then there are the sensitivities which are more digestive based such as grains and legumes (which typically come out undigested and are irritating), nightshades, citrus (tomato's in particular seem to putrify in gut - nasty!) and fruits, again due to fermentation and/or blood sugar swings.

    I did start the sauerkraut far too high as well, taking a tablespoon raw (not juiced) with each meal, which for me due to hypoglycemia and small regular meals was 5 tablespoons. This ramped up my immune response significantly resulting in brain fog, feeling wired etc. A sure sign of a leaky gut and faulty immune system.

    Symptom wise constipation (more a feeling of, as I don't tend to go longer than a couple of days without a BM) and an congested liver are my most troublesome symptoms. This manifests as a dull ache under the rib cage on the right, and from what I've read is fairly common, as a result of either transitioning to a higher fat diet or due to the heavy toxic load of Candida and gut dysbiosis. Just to be sure I had my enzymes checked and an ultrasound on my abdomen and things were 'normal', according to mainstream doctors.

    So intro with tiny amounts of sauerkraut juice might be a good starting point? It's possible I might react less to capsules but I'm keen on getting nutrients from food if at all possible. A tad daunting though as my previous sauerkraut experience put my head in a spin!

    I'd be interested to read up on your experience if you are prepared to share or have it documented somewhere. I know each of us are different but many out there seem to share similar troubles. I would absolutely love to be in a position to enjoy ferments, kefir, perhaps some butter or ghee and eggs, more veg etc not just for my health but for the pleasure of creating healing foods and feeling more in touch with nature. Unfortunately at the moment my body has other ideas!

    I'm very aware I'm rambling a little. One question I did have was the recommended preparation of meats on intro? I have found boiling/slow cooking meat does make it more digestible in the mouth but the prolonged cooking time i suspect makes it harder for the body to digest. It's recommended not to overcook meats but I'm not sure how to not overcook when boiling.

    Anywho, I'll let you get on!

    Many thanks,


  8. Hi Matt,

    I know, it can seem so daunting, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I started dealing with this stuff early in life, too. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on, but I figure I still have a lot of life in me yet :)

    My first (and only) recommendation for you would be to forget everything else. Stop researching, stop looking at other healing modalities and just follow the GAPS protocol 100%. That means not just 'trying' it, but giving yourself over to it entirely. You may be on the intro for a few weeks or a few months (for me it was months). From there, you will progress to GAPS where you will stay for a long while. Healing takes time. I would approach it as a healing way of being, not a diet that you have to do so you can get on with eating the foods your body doesn't want.

    I still don't eat those other foods. Actually, I should say that every now and then I'll eat some organic dark chocolate or some raw, organic dairy and I may react to it or I may not. More times than not, I react to it. I really notice the inflammation when I'm in the gym and my muscles burn and fatigue much more quickly than they should.

    So, that would be my advice to you regarding the GAPS. I know of no other method to heal one's gut as effectively.

    As far as meat preparation goes, what you're trying to do is really give your digestion a break. Cooking meat in stock is an effective way to break down the muscle fibers to make it more digestible. It's not something you'll have to do forever, but it's effective for what you're trying to achieve, initially, on the program.

    I'll think about writing more about my story soon. I'll have to put some thought into how to frame it.

    I wish you health and happiness.