Unwanted Visitors


I had the wind knocked out of my sails five days ago…and then again tonight. To say I’m disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover the emotions I’m feeling. How can I STILL have this headache? What else can I possibly do? Did I miss something somewhere? Am I eating something that was supposed to have been removed? I keep going over everything in my head. I keep looking through my fridge and pantry, reviewing menus of the past days – comparing everything to the GAPS Diet book. I keep coming up empty.

In sports training they say pain is the body’s way of signaling something is wrong – well what the heck is wrong?!?

So what now? That’s what I’ve been asking myself the past several days. I truly believe my answer is somewhere in my diet. So I’m going to go back and start over. I’m going to redo the GAPS Intro diet, but this time I’ll finish the whole thing. I’ll go (painfully) through each and every stage, cataloging everything I eat and noting everything I feel. I was planning on doing it again at some point anyway. I’m still weaning myself off my migraine medication, and that process can’t be rushed, so I’ve decided to time the Intro Diet with the ending of the medicine. I think that’s the only way I’ll know if this is really going to work or not.

Oddly, I haven’t thought of going off the GAPS diet through this. Several have asked if I will, but honestly, now that I’ve made the transition, I don’t even want to eat the way I used to. I have removed ALL processed foods. I’ve given up sugar, starches, and grains. I’m eating organic meats, eggs, nuts, dairy, vegetables, fruits, cheeses, you name it! Raw honey is my only sweetener. Our meals are home cooked and yes, we have amazing baked goods. I made a batch of blueberry muffins using coconut flour – a weeks’s worth of breakfasts for me and Lydia. We ate them all that day – they were THAT good. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. And regardless if this helps my headache or not, it’s a healthier way of eating…ok, maybe an entire batch of muffins isn’t exactly the healthiest, but I’m learning to scale the treats back (starting next week, I swear).

Before I started this I knew there would be bumps along the way, and adjustments would have to be made. I still believe it’s possible to do what I set out to do. So my journey continues to eating my way healthy!

Pumpkin Smoothie Recipe


I’m halfway through my ‘Thanksgiving Desserts’ post, but I just can’t stop thinking about today’s lunch – so I decided to post my recipe here really quickly and I’ll do my best to finish up the desserts tonight.

I had some leftover pumpkin purée in my fridge, and I’ve been wanting to use it before it went bad. Last night I started thinking about smoothies and figured I’d do a search for a pumpkin smoothie. I saw lots of variations out there, but ended up putting together my own. Let me just say: O.M.G. This is bar none my FAVORITE drink on the planet!

Here’s what I did:

3/4 cup puréed organic pumpkin
1 & 1/2 frozen organic bananas
1 cup organic coconut milk (full fat)
1 cup cold filtered water
1/4 (heaping) tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Toss all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Top with additional spices if desired. Makes two full glasses, so feel free to hide in the back of the fridge for later share.

What Did My GAPS Thanksgiving Dinner Look Like?

Thanksgiving Dinner 2013

Funny/sad thing – that’s not a picture from my actual Thanksgiving Day dinner. Nope. All of my beautiful photos of my full table – fancy place settings and all – were accidentally deleted instead of sent to me. I didn’t have my phone on me when dinner was ready and rather than run around the house looking for it (and let all that hard work get cold), I asked Lydia to take the photos of our table. We even had a really awesome one of Belén photo bombing the shot. Only after we were done eating and the dishes were being washed was it discovered that the photos were gone. The above photo is actually of our Thanksgiving leftovers the next night. But I had to include our table centerpiece created by our three-year old (Belén).

When I first started seriously thinking about switching over to the GAPS diet I wanted to wait until January 1, 2014. It seemed logical to me – everyone is starting some type of diet or exercise program, and we would be able to enjoy the holidays without the stress of missing out on favorite dishes and treats. But luckily Lydia convinced me not to wait any longer. My headaches were out of control, so why extend that discomfort for what boils down to two days of feasting? I’m so glad we started when we did. I’m already lowering my daily dose of medication and I haven’t had a headache so far. I know it’s early (today marks 27 days on the diet), but I’m encouraged just the same.

As for missing treats this past Thanksgiving holiday? Nothing could be further from the truth! Bad weather derailed our plans of being with my mom at her house this year – so last minute I was scrambling to get a turkey and come up with a menu. This would be my first Thanksgiving solo, without the support of my mom. She and I pretty much spend every Thanksgiving together and tag-team the meal. As much as I’ve seen my mom prepare and cook a turkey, I had never actually done one myself. Apparently I pay attention pretty well because my turkey came out perfect (I did start my day with a frantic call to mom making sure I knew what I was doing)! My stuffing was deemed Lydia’s now all-time favorite. Her sister joined us for the holiday and couldn’t get enough of the gravy (I literally made this one up). It was wonderful! I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome and my only wish is that my mom could’ve been there to see taste it.

Here’s our full menu:

A Thanksgiving survivor

A Thanksgiving survivor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turkey: I purchased an organic, pasture raised turkey – 11.5 pounds (not the one pictured here – I believe he was pardoned). I used a dry rub of paprika, fresh thyme, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper all over the bird. Then I draped a cheese cloth that I had soaked in a butter & white wine sauce over the turkey (covering the breast and part of the drumsticks). Every 30 minutes I would baste the bird (still containing the cheese cloth) with the butter/wine sauce. Once the bird was done cooking, I used some extra butter/wine sauce to assist me in slowly pealing off the cheese cloth so the skin wouldn’t tear. This turkey was crazy moist and the flavor was amazing!!

Gravy: I will never make gravy any other way again. I took a chance and completely made this up as a guess. Earlier on the GAPS Intro Diet I made this carrot and cauliflower mash that tasted pretty good on meat. Since I can’t use anything like flour or cornstarch (both illegal foods when on GAPS) I needed a way to thicken the gravy. After I pulled the bird out of the oven and collected all the pan drippings, I threw in a hand-full of frozen cauliflower and two chopped up carrots and boiled them until the veggies were soft. Then I pulled out my immersion blender and ran it until the gravy was smooth. This was the most flavorful gravy I’ve ever tasted. My sister-in-law could not stop raving about this! And what a great way to sneak in a few extra veggies for my suddenly picky preschooler. I’m telling you – even if you’re NOT on GAPS, try it. You won’t be sorry.

Stuffing: I was really worried about this one. I can’t eat bread (flour). How was I going to make something that tasted like real stuffing? This is where I lucked out with an internet search and ended upon Sharon’s Paleo Fondu blog and her Thanksgiving Sausage and Gibl’et Herb Stuffing. I cannot rave enough about this stuffing. It was made from her recipe for Paleo ‘Cornbread’ muffins. The ingredients include coconut flour, tapioca flour, salt, *baking powder, baking soda, grassfed butter, raw honey, eggs, kefir, fresh thyme, sage and parsley. The muffins were amazing before I turned them into stuffing. I have this page book marked because I could see them pairing perfectly with a big bowl of soup. My only regret is I wish I had doubled the muffin recipe because it really didn’t make as much stuffing as I would’ve liked. Lydia has asked me to make the stuffing again for her birthday (next week). I’m not sure we’ll be doing it that soon, but it just shows how much this was loved. In addition to the muffins, Sharon’s stuffing included the neck and giblets/liver from the turkey, onion, garlic, pork sausage, celery (I’m not a fan and left this out), more fresh sage and thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper.   Rather than cook this separate in a dish, I opted for stuffing the bird. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing this one again for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Honey Glazed Carrots: I peeled and sliced (about 1 inch thick) six or seven carrots. I sauteed them in olive oil for about seven minutes (until they start to turn goldish-brown). They I added in some stock left from cooking the turkey neck and giblets/liver/heart (about 1/2 a cup), 1/4 cup of raw honey, and 1 TBS of apple cider vinegar. I let this boil for about 15 minutes until the liquid had cooked down and took on a sauce-like consistency. These were great, but on the sweet side – next time I would reduce the amount of honey.

Cranberries popping

Cranberries popping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Cranberry Sauce: I just happened to receive a box of organic cranberries in my weekly produce delivery, so thought, OF COURSE! Cranberry sauce! This was pretty simple. I had about two cups worth of cranberries, so I boiled them in 1 cup of water, almost 1 cup of honey and added some zest from an orange. Easy. Simple. Done.

Pumpkin/Coconut Soup: this was actually a quick dinner I threw together on Wednesday night in between prepping several of my dishes for Thanksgiving. But it turned out so well, that I decided to add it as an appetizer of sorts. I found the recipe over on Caitlin’s Grass Fed Girl blog for Easy Savory Pumpkin Soup. As luck would have it I had all the ingredients ready to use which included: 2 cups pureed pumpkin, 1 cup coconut milk (full fat), 4 cups homemade broth, 2 tsp fresh Thyme, 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Throw everything in the pot and simmer and serve. It took me about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table and it was great! To make it a little more hearty, I added in some ground turkey meat that I browned with some more fresh Thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Desserts are what’s left, but it’s getting late and this is already long enough. I’ll be back with the three treats tomorrow!

*Note: Baking Powder is not a GAPS legal food, but in my desperation for a good stuffing I decided to risk a headache. 


Oh Lucky Me – We Completed Week Three!

Don’t worry – I’m sure I’ll run out of rhymes any minute now for my titles. But, we DID it! I don’t feel like I have any of the original cravings like when we started. Yes, I will always miss real pancakes, pizza, chocolate chip cookies…(I could go on for a while here), but I think I’ve been able to find enough GAPS friendly treats to push me into a more determined mode.

For half of this week Lydia was in Sierra Vista, AZ which made things really challenging to stay the course – FYI airports aren’t really a specialty food dieters dream location. She was also unfortunate NOT to get a hotel with a kitchenette – so her week consisted of lots of fruit, peanut butter, and rotisserie chicken. Back at the home front I had baked a GAPS friendly meatloaf and whipped up some mashed parsnips the night before she left. It was an amazing dinner – but then I had to eat it for four nights in a row. I really don’t ever want to see another mashed parsnip on my plate ever again. Many of my lunches consisted of a banana with peanut butter on it. It’s not easy to cook for one whether you’re on a specialty diet or not. Creativity goes a long way here.

I did stumble upon a few fun treats this week:

Butter Cookies – made out of almond flour, salt, butter, honey and cinnamon. It’s nothing like a sugar cookie, but the consistency was DEFINITELY a cookie! But I called it more of a savory cookie because the salt was pretty pronounced. Next time I might look at putting in less, or eliminating it all together. I found the recipe in Cara’s (from Health, Home & Happiness) ‘Grain Free Meal Plans Fall’ issue. She doesn’t have this recipe listed on her website – the only way to get it is to purchase the meal plan. Or you could head over to my place and I’ll whip up a batch – they are super easy.

Banana ‘Ice Cream’ – I mentioned that I just purchased my first food processor in last week’s blog, well this is one more reason why I LOVE my food processor. All you really need to do is add a couple frozen bananas and a small amount of water and you will have the smoothest, creamiest banana flavored ice cream. You will swear there is actual cream and sugar in this treat – but there’s NOT! I also experimented a little with the recipe included with users manual which added coconut milk, honey and vanilla. To be honest, I really didn’t notice a huge difference, so I’ve decided to just stick with the plain bananas and cut out a few extra calories. Add some strawberries and a few walnuts and you’re in for a super yummy treat!

Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

I found this recipe over at lavendilly (click here for full recipe). The ‘pancake’ is made using one banana (mashed) and one egg. I use that as a single serving – so if there are two of us eating I would use 2 bananas and 2 eggs. I also find you get a better consistency if you mix this in the blender (or food processor) rather than just mixing it in a bowl with a fork. The topping is made in a saucepan using blueberries,  cinnamon, honey and butter. I cannot brag about how good this actually is! It feels like you’re eating a decadent crepe with blueberry compote filling. It really is quite the treat! Trust me!

What Did We DO? We Completed Week Two!

Last week we decided to skip ahead in the plan to make it more likely that we would stick to it. Once we did that, following the plan became a lot more loose and I started playing a game of ‘Pick & Pass’ – I’d pick meals that looked interesting to me and I’d skip those that weren’t all that appealing. Jumping around like this meant that we finished the entire 30-day plan in about a week. We were faced with a delemma: move on to full GAPS or stay on the Intro Diet. Long story short, we decided to do one more week of the intro soups and foods, so I basically went back through and made our meals out of recipes throughout the entire 30-day Intro plan. I’m not sure what my rationale for this was – even the book states that many people do NOT do the Intro Diet and instead just go into full GAPS – but regardless, two weeks worth of Intro is what we did.

Some of our highs and lows? Let’s take a look:


  • I now know how to render fat from any meat into tallow. Why on earth would I do that, you ask? Because on the Intro Diet you aren’t allowed to have any dairy products and butter is dairy. When you want to add a more rich, deep flavor to a dish, tallow is a wonderful way to do so. When I first saw “4 tablespoons lamb tallow” I didn’t even know what that was. I had to do a google search of “How do I make tallow?” In enters my next foodie favorite: Homemade Mommy – Keeping it REAL in a FAKE food world and her recipe for beef tallow. *(If you go and check out her blog, please remember – the people I cite are listed because I found their recipes to be very useful and easy to follow. I do not necessarily agree with their opinions on other matters. As always with any blog you follow – take away what you need and leave the rest!)
  • I was able to justify purchasing a food processor! I can’t believe I waited this long to get one!
  • After the shock of it wore off a bit I’m finding I really enjoy cooking and am not that bad at it.
  • IMG_1733
  • Flavor – let me just say WOW! When you stop eating all the fake junk and sugar and just eat real whole foods you’d be surprised how amazing food really tastes. Lydia and I both agree on this one. We keep saying “I’ve never had X taste so good!”
  • My headaches are changing. I will start to feel like one is coming on, but then it just goes away. I haven’t had that happen – a headache go away on it’s own. I am still taking my daily medication, so I can’t exactly say I’m cured. I was advised by my general doctor to wean myself off of it again. By January I should be medication free, so I guess the real test of all this has to wait until then.
  • We completed our allergy test for dairy products and both of us came up allergy free (jump for joy) so coffee is back on the table (there is a GOD)! Sweetened with honey, of course. I’ve actually been discovering I really don’t want it sweet anymore – so less than a teaspoon is about all I need.
  • Part of the full GAPS diet includes detox baths. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in the house doing this aspect of the diet. I’m not sure if it really helps, but who cares! I get to take a long soak in a tub – I’m there! I have to dump some stuff in that tub? OK, I’ll pretend I’m at the spa. I don’t have to plan this. I don’t have to cook it or eat it. I get to shut the door and disappear for about 20-30 minutes. Yup – probably the BEST part of this process. There are four different detox treatments, for lack of a better word: first day is one cup of Epsom salt added to the water, the next day is one cup of baking soda, next is apple cider vinegar, and finally seaweed flakes. The only night that isn’t my favorite is the apple cider vinegar night. It smells like you’re sitting in a tub of salad dressing (or wait, maybe I’m just obsessing about food again. Nope. Definitely salad dressing). But I promise there is no lingering smell of it when you get out. The stated purpose of the detox bath is to help rid your body of all the toxins we are exposed to each day by drawing it out of your skin through the bath. It is recommended that you take a different detox bath every day. As much as I wish I could, I don’t get to do this every day. But I would say I can at least do this four times per week. Any more, in my humble opinion, is just bonus.
  • Oh, and I’ve lost seven pounds.


  • Some days I want a pancake so bad I think I’m going to scream. And sitting by watching Belén chow down on a bowl of cereal in the morning seems like cruel and unusual punishment – my all-time weakness is a big fat bowl of cereal.
  • Belén pretty much hates all the food I’m cooking from scratch. This isn’t meshing with her preferred diet of macaroni and cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, and pizza. I know it will take some time. She’s three, so this is a naturally picky stage. But it’s frustrating none-the-less. I keep putting small amounts on her plate of the main dish and then add a few other items I know she’ll eat (i.e. fruit, peas, those veggie/fruit pouches, cheese, etc.). Everyone keeps assuring me that one day, if I keep offering her the food, she will actually eat it. She’s always good at taking the prescribed number of bites (we shoot for three, sometimes two). Most times she says ‘Ooo, yumm!’ but still refuses to eat it. UGH!
  • Meeting up with friends and family is suddenly more complicated. I don’t trust the food at restaurants right now (both my ability to stay the course and trusting that the ‘correct’ foods I order will actually BE safe and not have hidden additives) and we are discovering just how many social events actually happen around food.

    English: Photo by R L Sheehan of commercially ...

    English: Photo by R L Sheehan of commercially available packages. For Wikipedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • The planning that now takes up most of my time can be tiresome. Every meal has to be planned – in itself that doesn’t sound like much – but every meal also has prep work that needs to be done. Sometimes I’m prepping a snack a few days before it will actually even be eaten because of the process it goes through. An example is this new trail mix I’m making from Health, Home & Happiness. The ingredients call for raw almonds, organic raisins, and organic dried cranberries. Two days before I want this snack I have to start soaking the almonds in a salt water bath for 12 hours. Then they had to sit in my oven at the lowest temperature for the entire day. If that alone wasn’t enough, I couldn’t find any organic dried cranberries without added sugars, so I had to make my own. That process was similar to the almonds. All that just for a snack. It’s really hard not having the easy access foods. I now see how much I took the prepackaged food at the grocery store for granted. The good side to this is you definitely learn how to make larger portions of the food and freeze for future ‘quick’ use.
  • I also sort of hate all the research I’ve done and now realizing what’s actually in our food. Because this is a new venture, I think about it a lot right now (like a child with a new toy). I can’t help but walk by people eating food at a restaurant and thinking about all the things that are bad for him/her in the food being served.
  • It can also be difficult having to explain what the heck we’re doing to everyone. I feel like people understand if you were to say ‘I’m gluten free now.’ But no one has really even heard of GAPS. And this is a drastic change from what most people are used to. Enter my idea to create another blog!

Week One – DONE!

We’ve made it to the end of week one and I can honestly say ‘Thank goodness THAT’s over!’ I had every intention of wanting to complete the full Intro Diet – a six stage process  spanning 30 days of slowly reintroducing food to your system in an attempt to rule out what triggers your symptoms vs. what does not, starting with basic chicken stock, raw egg yokes (added into soups), well cooked meats and a handful of well cooked veggies. Before we even got to Day One I did the due diligence of cleaning out the now ‘illegal’ foods from my pantry and refrigerator and completed the suggested shopping list and food preparations to restock my kitchen with healthy healing foods to make this first week slightly easier.

I was lucky enough to come across a HUGE resource by someone else who had already gone down this path and (luckily for me) had decided to not only document it, but provided a meal plan to share with others just starting out. I don’t remember how exactly I came across Cara’s ‘Health, Home & Happiness‘ blog, but I am forever grateful that I did. She provides a ton of free GAPS friendly recipes as well as complete meal plans for sale (shopping lists included). I purchased and set out to follow her ‘What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on the GAPS Introduction Diet, a printable guidebook.’

Let me just say this is no easy diet. I was completely shocked on so many levels. Our world of eating out more nights a week than at home came to a crashing halt. There were no frozen ready-to-go quick fixes for any meal. Everything needed to be thought out well in advance. And I was now cooking Three. Meals. A. Day. EVERYDAY! At the end of day two I wanted to cry – I’m pretty sure I actually DID cry. Here’s why:

Day One’s menu consisted of the following:

  • Intro Butternut Squash Soup (this is simply cooked butternut squashed blended into your homemade chicken stock)

    English: Butternut Squash pumpkins

    English: Butternut Squash pumpkins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Boiled Broccoli
  • Sweet Onions (whole onions cooked in chicken stock until soft all the way through) – yup! JUST onions!
  • Chicken meat with Soup from the morning

Day Two’s menu consisted of the following:

  • Meat Patties (topped with a now favorite carrot and cauliflower mash)
  • Meat Strips
  • Onion Leek Soup
  • Squash Chunks

Now I will say, you are allowed to eat as much of the above as you want. So it’s not that we were hungry, but rather totally bored with the lack of variety, combined with a sudden withdraw of all sugars, grains, dairy, etc. Oh and I should also say we decided to give up coffee as well, because neither of us drink it black. Tears.

I wasn’t going to make it. I was ready to throw in the towel and just order a freaking pizza for dinner. But I really needed to be successful with this. This isn’t just some ‘fad’ diet for me to loose weight – this is my last chance at hope for a pain free and drug-free existence. BOOM (shock-a-lock-a) – willpower renewed! But I did have an idea – If we could just skip forward a few days to where there was more variety – like eggs, avocado, honey, nuts, and herbs for flavor!

So that night when Lydia came home I proposed that we jump from Day 2 all the way to Day 11. By doing so we could have ‘pancakes’ topped with honey, a wider variety of cooked veggies, and GINGER to make a warm ginger/honey tea to sip in the morning while desperately missing our once beloved coffee. She gladly agreed and even suggested we skip a little further ahead to Day 21 so we could start introducing fresh fruit. So that’s what we did!

Giving ourselves this ‘cheat’ allowed us to make it to the end of the week. I’m certain if I had continued on with day three I would’ve quit. This isn’t really something I wanted to do to begin with, so any chance to bail out by saying “It’s just too hard” would’ve been taken. I am feeling super accomplished to have made it this far. So what got us through? We ended our week with items on the menu such as:

  • Freshly pressed carrot juice


    Applesauce (Photo credit: stephycupcake)

  • Roasted vegetables (with seasonings)
  • Summer Squash Pancakes with honey (it’s what got me through)
  • Butter lettuce salad with tomato, avocado and onion with a fresh homemade basil garlic dressing
  • Veggie Omelets
  • Homemade applesauce
  • Homemade breakfast sausage
  • Butternut Squash and Beef Casserole
  • Fruit salad (apple, pear & banana) – a new favorite dessert!
  • Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
  • Zucchini Bread (GAPS legal – very different from my mom’s)