For those of you who follow me on Instagram (username: kaylamariedenny), you have probably noticed that my food pictures have gone from tasty gluten free treats to meat broth soups and bone marrow. I’m confident that I’m not gaining fans in drones with my new dietary approach, but then again that’s not the point.
A few weeks ago I started on a new diet called GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome). This diet is widely known and praised in the autistic community and is beneficial for anyone experiencing intestinal issues, such as leaky gut syndrome. GAPS is designed to heal the intestinal lining and restore the proper balance of good bacteria vs bad bacteria in the stomach and intestines. This is done by nourishing the body with easily digested, enzyme rich foods like meat broths, cooked veggies, cooked meats, fermented vegetables, and grass-fed animal fats like clarified butter (ghee) and lard. Similar to Paleo, grains and sugar are not permitted since they damage the integrity of the intestinal wall and promote yeast overgrowth.
The first time I heard about GAPS was from one of my allergists who also treats many autistic children. He suggested that I look into the diet to heal some of my allergies. I did look into it but was overwhelmed by the strict parameters and decided to shelve it for another time. Then, a few months ago I participated in an online summit called Lyme Less Live More (I wrote about it here).Throughout the summit I listened to many discussions about proper gut health and the various methods of repair. The GAPS Diet seemed to have significantly helped many Lyme patients to repair their guts, so much so that they were able to tolerate long-term antibiotic therapy when they could not have done so before. This was quite appealing to me since stomach issues were the reason that I had to stop taking my conventional antibiotics. I had intestinal issues even before I began long-term oral antibiotics, and I always felt that I needed to do more to heal my intestines, after all, health starts in the gut. I had tried juicing but didn’t tolerate it well and eventually set my juicer aside. What I was hearing and reading about the GAPS Diet made sense to me, and I was ready to give it a shot. To read more information about GAPS, click here and/or here.
There are two main phases of the diet- the intro phase and the full GAPS diet. Since my diet has been free of gluten, refined sugar, dairy, and nuts for over a year now, I didn’t think I would have a super hard time transitioning over to the GAPS Diet. The first phase of the diet is super strict though, basically requiring you to subsist on meat and vegetable soups for up to a week. Let’s just say that I may have initially overestimated my will to resist starchy foods like rice and potatoes, which aren’t allowed. I’m typically very good about following my diet plan and will only allow myself to cheat every few months, usually in the form of Chick-Fil-A waffle fries. A lot of people have commented on my eating habits and some even seem to be in awe of my dietary decisions, but I honestly don’t think that it’s that big of a sacrifice in the grand scheme of things. I am willing to bet that if you were as sick as I have been, you would be willing and eager to do/eat just about anything in the name of health. Anyway, I had planned on starting my GAPS experience with the intro diet, but after the first day it was clear that I would be sneaking in a few rice chips and fresh berries. I decided that it would probably be a wise decision to ease into the diet, rather than forcing myself into it cold turkey, and so I’ve tried to just cut back on my starch intake and have nixed my tasty gluten free treats altogether. I do allow myself a small piece of unsweetened cacao everyday though to help with the sugar cravings. At some point in the future I do plan on adhering completely to the strict intro phase, but until I feel a little bit better I’m not sure I have it in me.
Below are two of my favorite new, GAPS approved recipes. The first is for butternut squash pancakes, which were to my surprise, quite delicious. The recipe is grain free and is super simple to make. These would be a great option for those who are on Paleo or are looking to cut out grains or carbs. It should be noted that the consistency of the pancake is somewhere in between a pancake and a crepe, and the the recipe that you see below is adopted from The Blog of Summer Harms. The next recipe is for a decadent homemade applesauce, which seems appropriate for this time of year. It honestly tastes like the insides of an apple pie and is sure to warm your heart and soul. S O. G O O D.
Butternut Squash Pancakes
2 cups cooked butternut squash
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. honey, optional (I don’t use honey in mine as they are sweet enough for me without it)
Combine all ingredients in a blender or in mixing bowl to use a hand mixer. Grease a cast iron pan with coconut oil or grass fed butter and bring to low- medium heat. Use a large spoon to pour small dollops of batter (2-3 inches in diameter) in the pan. Flip when bubbles appear on top and pancake is cohesive. These can be enjoyed immediately or reheated in the oven or skillet on the stove. Makes around 16 pancakes. Top with desired topping- I love sunflower seed butter, honey and warm homemade applesauce (recipe follows).
Fancy Apple Sauce (read: apple pie filling)
4 medium apples of your choice, peeled and sliced thinly (we prefer Granny Smith and Honey Crisp)
4-5 small pats of butter
5-6 Tbsp organic agave (you can use more or less depending in how sweet you like it)
Cinnamon to taste (we use a TON)
Place one layer of sliced apples in a medium size saucepan. Top with one or two pats of butter, a few tablespoons of agave, and cinnamon (we’re quite generous with the cinnamon, but you can add however much you like). Repeat this step two or three times until you run out of apples. Let simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. As the applesauce cooks it will become mushy, cook for a shorter amount of time if you like your applesauce a little chunky and for a longer amount of time for a smoother texture. Remove from heat and enjoy it while it’s still warm!
Makes 6-8 servings. Eat by itself or use as a pancake or waffle topping, over ice cream, and even in cobblers and pies.