Probiotic Homemade Yoghurt

Although we haven't started GAPS properly yet, we are introducing more GAPS friendly recipes to get the children used to the flavours, and me used to the cooking, before we go full on into it. I have however cut all grains and processed food from my diet and I feel awful. The die off symptoms are powerful, and I can't believe how toxic I must have been to feel this bad during a detox.

It's also confirmed to me that I should not start the children on the diet properly yet. We don't all need to be having short tempers and feeling terrible at the same time. When they detox I want to be in a good place to comfort them.

I am trying to introduce more probiotic foods for all of us though and today's new food is homemade yoghurt made with raw milk.
It's very easy to make, particularly if you have a dehydrator, but you can also do it in a slow cooker.

We do have a dehydrator, so here are the instructions we used:
  1. Put raw milk and culture into a jar (use a belgian culture for a really creamy yoghurt)
  2. Place jar in dehydrator and set temperature to 43C
  3. Leave for 12 hours
  4. Place in the fridge for two hours
The yoghurt will be runnier than store bought yoghurt. You can change this by using half cream instead of milk or by passing it through a really fine cheese cloth and collecting off some of the whey.

The yoghurt is delicious as is, but I know my kids won't eat it, so we've put a split vanilla pod in there to infuse. They'll eat anything with vanilla.
The best part is that once you have made this yoghurt once, you never need to buy cultures again! Just reserve two tablespoons of your original yoghurt and use it to start the next batch. Easy and frugal, my favourite type of recipe!

Ginger baths

I feel horrible. I have caught a cold that Will has had for about a week, and despite telling him that it was just a cold, I'm feeling far too much self pity right now to believe it.

I'm hoping in not completely heartless and that I'm having some detox symptoms on top of the cold. I haven't been doing the full GAPS intro diet, but we have been eating mostly GAPS friendly recipes. Whilst seeing some improvements in Will, I've been feeling headachey and having hot flushes. These kind of 'die-off' symptoms apparently happen because as the bad bacteria etc... From the gut start to die, your body has to process them and apparently that can make you feel worse before you feel better.

The dr who invented the diet suggests detox baths, with Epsom salts or bicarbonate soda in them, but I've been doing a little research and many GAPS patients sweat by ginger baths if you are feeling coldy/fluey.

Here how it works:

Into a hot bath add a couple of spoons of freshly grated ginger. Sit in the bath for at least twenty minutes. Close to the twenty minute mark, you may find yourself feeling intensely uncomfortable, sweating, heart racing. Breathe through this until the twenty minutes is up. It helps to keep a cold glass of water and a cold washcloth near by to help with the reaction.

With great care in case of dizziness, get out of the bath. A cold shower to finish off is sometimes helpful, but not necessary if you cant handle it. Dry off, then wrap yourself in a blanket and go to sleep - or get on with your day of you have small kids!

Making Peace with GAPS

So I've decided that I can't read articles like this one, and not do something - but equally this is too huge of a decision to make for my family without careful, first hand, research.

So I've decided to do the GAPS diet on my own to start with.

We've ordered the Bio-Kult probiotic, which we will be giving to William, but not immediately starting him on the GAPS diet. I will do the diet myself and see how it goes. If I feel there are significant improvements in my health, then I will introduce it to the rest of the family.
I'm not going to be starting straight away though. I intend to begin after Live below the Line as in reality I would barely be able to afford the chicken to make broth for the introduction phase, let alone anything else or any probiotics.

So for now I'm going to be trialing various GAPS friendly recipes with the family, although not at every meal, in an attempt to ease our taste buds into it, and in an effort to cut down on the rubbish we eat.

I'll review them as honestly as I can, beginning with two recipes we tried yesterday.

Firstly Courgette 'Pancakes'

Don't allow the name to mislead you, this was nothing like a pancake.
More like an omlette.
Maybe I'm making it wrong.

The recipe had no quantities, it simply read 'eggs, grated courgette, nut butter'. Although it was edible, we felt it could do with salt, maybe being part of a fry up, rather than served on it's own. No one was thrilled about it, although everyone ate it. I hope to find something we are more enthusiastic about though.

Secondly Chicken Tots.

These went down really well. The recipe calls for 1 cup of chicken, 3 cloves of garlic and 1/2 a cup of vegetables (we used spinach and sugarsnap peas). Blend together and then fry in Ghee. The first few fell apart whilst I was trying to make them, so I added an egg to bind it all together, which seemed to work well.

We'll definitely make these again, although next time I think I'm going to try baking them in the oven like crocodile nuggets. We served them with sweet potato chips (not GAPS friendly) and peas.


Oh GAPS diet! Why do you plague me so?
For those who don't know, the GAPS diet or 'gut and psychology syndrome' diet is this super strict, super healthy diet.

The more I read about it, the more convicted I feel that we should try it. But it's soooo hard! And antisocial! We'd never be able to have tea at someones house again. We'd never be able to eat for free at school. We'd never go to a restaurant...

I was introduced to the GAPS diet after my son was diagnosed with classical autism. Proponents of the diet claim it cures all manner of illnesses - including autism.

I couldn't believe it, but the more I looked into it, the more cases I found of people claiming to have been cured.

One of the changes we've made over the last year was to start making all of our own bread. This means that I can choose the flour and raising agents used, and whilst Will has refused to eat rye bread or sprouted grain bread, this has actually meant that he cut back massively on the amount of bread he eats.

For more information on how wheat affects autism click here.

Whilst his bread intake has cut back, he seems to have become addicted to nuts; or more specifically honey/dry roasted nuts. Surprise, surprise it turns out the coating contains plenty of wheat. So if he can't get his fix from bread, he's just found an alternative source.

We also made the switch from pasteurised to raw milk a few weeks ago. Chatting it over with my husband, we have seen an improvement in Will's behaviour since we changed, not huge, but definitely less melt downs and a willingness to reason.

But he's really very high functioning, surely the only people who actually do the GAPS diet are people with incredibly bad crohns disease or autism so severe they barely communicate. Is it really worth putting my family through it, when we are coping fine as we are? We won't be able to eat molten chocolate lava cookies!!

But how much better off could we be? Certainly my ME is now well managed, but would I have new energy levels and boosted immune system if I looked after my body more carefully through diet?

So as you can see, I'm still completely torn over this. I don't know what I want to do.

Can anyone help me?

Is there anyone out there soon GAPS with kids/husband who aren't particularly thrilled about the idea?

I'm linked up at No Ordinary Blog hop

Molten chocolate lava cookies

No one can be good all of the time and it's basically the law that you should bake something outrageously chocolatey on valentines day - at least that's what I'm telling myself as I indulge in the most ridiculously delicious thing I've made in a long time...

Molten chocolate lava cookies.

I got the idea off pinterest.

Here's my recipe:

250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, melted
200g dark brown soft sugar
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
800g chocolate chips (or smashed up chocolate bars, your choice)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease a muffin tin.

2. Sift together the flour, bicarb and salt; set aside.

3. Cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and caster sugar until well blended.

4. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy.

5. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

6. Stir in 250g of chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.

7. Blob cookie dough into the muffin trays, making a well shape in the middle of each one, being careful to use only half the mixture.

8. Divide up the leftover chocolate and place it in the wells of the cookie mixture.

9. Seal them in with more cookie dough.

10. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking trays for a few minutes before serving with delicious vanilla over cream.

You can thank me later ;0)

Live Below the Line 2012

In three months time it will be Live Below the Line 2012 (7th May-11th May), where we will be challenging ourselves to once again live on just £1 a day, to reflect the budget that 1.4 billion people have to live on.

This year will have the added twist that as we are trying to eat more 'Real food' now, we spend a little more things like milk, and because we make our own bread it won't be as easy as saying a 'loaf costs X amount, therefore a slice costs Y' because the slices won't be cut as evenly, and the cost of ingredients involved will be a huge task to work out. How do I account for my starter for example?

I've got three months to figure all that out though.
There are a few things we'd like for you to consider doing this year:
  1. Taking part in the challenge. You can sign up here and read the rules here.
  2. Consider sponsoring one or both of us (we are both raising money for the same charity, but can't help getting competitive about it!)
  3. Just follow our blog, Gracies Below The Line. Raising awareness of extreme poverty is one of the reasons we are taking on this challenge, so we'd love for you to keep reading and share with us in this experience. Posts might be fairly sporadic over the next few months, but we promise to update at least daily during the challenge.
If you do decide to sign up for the challenge, do get in touch. We'd love to encourage you and be encouraged by you. If you blog about it, let us know so that we can link back to you from our site.

Money Saving Gluten Free Vanilla Extract

I'm so thankful to my friend Meri, who recently introduced me to Katie Riddle (@riddlelove) and I'm so enjoying following her. One of my favourite things she has introduced me to though is making vanilla extract.

We get through a TONNE of vanilla extract in our house since we switched to eating more real food and using sour dough. I add vanilla to pretty much everything, but it is expensive.

Katie Riddle's method of making vanilla extract not only produces a gluten-free gaps diet friendly vanilla extract (Did you know that your regular vanilla extract contains gluten? Me neither until today) but it's going to save us a lot of money.
You need:

12 vanilla beans (I got 50 for £10 with free delivery from VanillaMart)
1l Vodka (£13 with free delivery from Ocado.

So I figure to make 1L of vanilla extract is going to cost me £15.40.

My regular vanilla extract costs me £6.99 for 60ml. That's £116.50 a litre, so I'm going to save just over a hundred pounds by the time I use the whole bottle up. That's incredible!

In fact, I'm also going to have loads of extra vanilla pods (why did I buy so many?!) so I'll probably make a few batches and store them in the basement. Which means I could end up saving around £400.

Reality check. I'm probably going to end up giving a lot of vanilla extract away, but I will still have saved a LOT of money and blessed a few people.

Plus I get to enjoy guilt free vanilla in everything...Mmmmmmm....

This post is linked up at no ordinary blog hop

Super food: Raw Strawberry Ice Cream

Did I really just use 'ice cream' and 'Super food' in the same sentence?

Yes, yes I did.

I have the BEST raw ice cream recipe that doesn't take hours to make and doesn't need any fancy equipment.

Have I got your attention yet?

As if that wasn't enough, it doesn't contain any raw eggs, so pregnant ladies, you can do this too.

Hopefully over the summer you grew a glut of strawberries, and although you dried some, preserved some and ate some, you managed to freeze a nice load too. No?
Well, then Tesco is your friend. We used all our strawberries (who am I kidding, we ate all our strawberries) but lucky for us the freezer section in Tesco stocks frozen berries for just such an occasion. Failing that you could buy berries and freeze them yourself - your call.

Basically you want to stuff your blender, we use a Le Mini, full of frozen strawberries and turn it on. Whilst it is crunching them up, add a little raw cream, spoon by spoon.

Go slow. Initially it's just going to freeze like a coating on the chopped up berries, but as they defrost a little it will suddenly start to puree.

Et voila, delicious, soft, creamy ice cream goodness. That's really all there is to it.

If you accidentally added too much cream and your ice cream looks a little sloppy, just put it back in the freezer for a few minutes.

You can use any type of frozen fruit, and you could switch the cream for coconut cream or kefir for a different taste with different health benefits. Variety is the spice of life.

We added a freshly squeezed lime to ours for an extra zing.

And the best part is that this recipe is majority fruit, so it's the kind of recipe I like my kids to eat. Dessert every night maybe?

Or not. I wouldn't want to spoil them... ;o)

There are no pictures of my ice cream because it was eaten so rapidly I had no time to pull out a camera.

Here is a photo of somebody else's ice cream which is pretty much what it looked like.

I'm linked up at No ordinary Blog Hop

Why I love Saturdays

Technically Saturdays should look just like any other weekdays to us, as Matt still has to work, it's just me and the kids.

Something about Saturday's is different though.

We run a lot of errands in the morning, which is a terrible idea because the shops are super busy and being home educators we could go anytime we want, but I really enjoy the energy of the town on a Saturday morning.

We've made it a weekly ritual to buy lots of fruit and veg on a saturday, the market is so much cheaper than the superstores, and I generally let the kids eat as much as they like as we wander through and all the way home. This usually results in nobody wanting any lunch, which is fine by me.

We put Lila down for a nap, then Will and I set to work preparing the bounty we've just bought. Usually I do the preparing and Will does watching and snacking, but that's okay too.

Today we've chopped and are currently drying three trays of red peppers, one and a half trays of sugared limes and half a tray of lime zest. We're also brining the seeds from the butternut squash we roasted this morning. They'll be ready for drying tomorrow and the butternut squash is going to make a delicious squash and sage risotto for dinner.

I think it's the rhythm of preparing food every Saturday that makes it enjoyable. I love ritual, but wouldn't like to do all this when I'm in a hurry midweek.

This week Matts match has been cancelled too, so he should be home soon, and a chilled afternoon with daddy is something we always look forward to.

I love Saturdays.

(Less Guilty) Chocolate Cake

Well it may not be guiltless chocolate cake, but it's certainly less guilty than some of the cake recipes I've previously posted...

This cake uses coconut oil (best) but if you don't have any, butter is still much better for you than olive oil.

I also used stoneground whole meal flour, which is better nutritionally, but has quite a different texture to white flour. The subtle coconut flavour makes the texture totally acceptable though.

You need a bit of time to make this cake, but if you've been using sourdough anyway, you've probably become accustomed to this by now.

So, here it is:

1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup (preferably raw) milk
1/2 cup (raw) cream
2 cups Stoneground wholemeal Flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 large eggs + 1 yolk (freeze the white)

Mix together the starter, milk, cream and flour, then cover and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180c

Cream together the oil, vanilla, cocoa, salt, eggs and sugar.

Mix in the baking soda then pour into the starter mixture and blend together until smooth.

Pour into a greased baking tin.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

I covered ours in ganache, but I'm told espresso frosting is also fantastic (think buttercream with a shot of espresso)

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