Homemade Baked Beans

I hate this recipe.

It takes so long to prepare, and I don't even like the result. Have I ever mentioned my phobia of baked beans?

I've never been able to eat them, even as a child. My mum and sister introduced my son to them and he instantly became an addict. I'm surprised he didn't cry when I told him they weren't GAPS friendly.

My daughter loves them too. I hate them so much I have to wear gloves whilst cooking them.

Anyway, if anyone else has children, obsessed with beans, like mine you can actually make GAPS friendly baked beans, and they freeze well, so you can make tonnes and freeze them in portions for bringing out later.

Anyway, my recipe goes like this.

About half a bag of haricot beans from waitrose.
300g tomatoes or organic passata
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1.5 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter
Lots of salt
A little pepper

Soak the beans overnight then rinse and boil for 25-30 minutes.
Melt the butter and fry the chopped onion and garlic until soft.
Add in the tomatoes, honey, vinegar and salt & pepper.
Blend until smooth.
Pour over the beans and cook until soft.

Try not to vomit whilst serving them.


Garden of madness

Books like this make me wish I was part of a book circle.

Tracey L. Higley even provides study/discussion questions at the back to make it that bit easier.

Garden of Madness is a historical novel which rivals 'The Other Boleyn Girl' for mystery and plot intrigues, but has none of the graphic sex scenes an our heroes act heroically.

When I first chose this book I expected it to have lots of the story from the book of Daniel, and to be heavily drawing from the bible. Actually the entire book takes place during the last few weeks of nebuchadnezzars madness, and so whilst filling in some blanks nicely, it can't conflict with anybody's interpretation of scripture.

The book is exciting and satisfying, and absolutely worth the five stars I'm giving it.

A productive day

It's been a productive day today.
Firstly, whilst Lila was napping, Matt and Will took a trip to the park, which left me nearly two hours to declutter my house.

I love to declutter.

I cleared out nearly two full bin liners of actual trash from around our house. All those broken bits of plastic and tyres from cars that the kids would not let me get rid of if they were present.

I also sorted through their art work, scanned and filed anything worthy of recording an threw out the paper.

I shredded a tonne of mail that we didn't need to keep but for some reason had been piling up on my table by the front door.

I also threw out a bunch of cables, a CD drive and a blue tooth headset driver that we no longer had the head set for. It's amazing how this stuff builds up.

But the best thing I did today was to fix my own computer, via whatsapp with my cousin Sam.

It needed a new power supply. It's symptoms were that it kept shutting down without asking me, then today it wouldn't switch on at all. If that happens to you, here's what you've got to do.

1. Take your computer apart. This was pretty easy once I worked out how. Most computers have a couple of screws on the back, but mine has a switch with a picture of a padlock that you have to slide into the 'unlock' position.
Once you've done this, the whole side of the computer should come off.

2. CAREFULLY dust inside your computer. Sam recommended vacuuming it, I used an ostrich feather duster. Your choice.

3. Undo the four screws that holds the power supply unit in your computer and slide it out.

4. Take coloured post it's or tape and label where each bit you unplug goes.

5. Take your separated unit to napkins or some other such store and ask for a new one.

6. Try not to be concerned when the guy starts sniffing your power supply. Apparently that's how they can tell if it's blown. (Glad we cleared that up as I was about to snatch it back and go to PC World).

7. Take your new unit home and match up the cables with the coloured ones on your old unit.

8. Plug them into their colour coded holes

9. Put the side back on

10. Switch on and congratulate yourself on being a master computer engineer.

Easy Peasy, and only costs about £12 :0)

Almost enchiladas

I seem to be recruiting more and more people to the GAPS diet, as people see the results in me and the kids, they want to try it for themselves.

I honestly can't tell you how easy cooking is once you get into it, but I also remember the first few weeks, when I was staring at my cupboards and thinking 'what will we eat?'

With that in mind I'm sharing yet another GAPS recipe today. This honestly wasn't supposed to be a cooking blog, and I'm no chef, but if you just need inspiration for a simple healthy meal, here it is.

Almost Enchiladas

Firstly you need to make some grain free wraps. This is really easy.

12 eggs
1/3 cup of water
4 tbsp coconut flour

That's it.

Whisk it all together, then fry off your pancakes one by one until you have a stack of 'wraps'

Next the filling.

Fry up some good quality organic mince (not lean - fat soluble vitamins are where it's at) with some finely chopped onions.

Chuck in loads of chopped peppers of very colour. I like there to be about 50/50 meat to veg. Then add a 300g jar of tomato purée and a little soy sauce. You could use passata instead of purée, but my son likes really strong flavours (it's an ASD thing).

Wrap the mixture in the wraps and nestle then nicely together in a loaf pan.

Sprinkle with delicious cheese and bake.

My kids went wild for this.

True Religion

My friend Louise has a board on Pinterest called 'Blogs to read'. Usually I would steer well clear of such a board as I barely have time to read the blogs I already subscribe to on my RSS reader, let alone any more, however this caught my eye.

The blog she had posted there is called Kisses from Katie and something about the attached picture made me want to read it.

I then spent the next two hours (when I planned to be in bed) reading and praying. Katie Davis is the most incredible inspiration, and whilst we have always planned to adopt, her story just opened up my heart to bleed for this cause all over again.

It's not orphan sunday again until november, but I wanted to share with you this trailer anyhow, and challenge you this easter to consider where you spend your money, and what you and your church family can be doing.

Chocolate covered Katie

If you are on the GAPS diet and you don't know about chocolate covered Katie you are about to have your life changed.

And no, it's not a porn site as my friend Sarah from StayingAwake blog first thought when I tweeted her about this amazing discovery.

Katie is a vegan who creates healthy desserts which are amazing. From brownie batter dip to frosting shots she creates incredible tasting, sugar-free, grain free and guilt-free desserts.

Some of them may need tweaking for GAPS (I use honey instead of stevia) but all are easy and delicious.

So, here is a recipe I made, inspired by Katie, with our own flair (Katie would never use dairy, but we love it!)

Sugar Free Chocolate Mousse

1. Desiccated coconut (unsweetened) blend with a little coconut oil until you get a kind of butter.
2. Add a banana and blend a bit more
3. Once smooth, add cocoa powder until you get a thick paste that starts to hold together.
4. Slowly add raw cream with the blender still running.

That's it. So simple, so delicious, so healthy. I even made it a second time using cream that I'd cultured to give my kids a little probiotic hit, and it went down just as well.

My kids go absolutely wild for this stuff, and you can even freeze it in lollies to make 'big mini milks'.


One of the things Matt has been really enjoying about the GAPS diet is the simplicity of the food. That's great for me, because it means I don't have to worry about a lot of prep-work!

I also like that my children are recognising what they are eating and can now tell you what celeriac looks like and the difference between a cucumber and a courgette. I want them to recognise the food they are eating, and know where it came from rather than accepting that it was in a packet on the grocery store shelves.

In fact, we had duck yesterday for the first time since Will has been old enough to question what he is eating. He asked me what was for dinner, I said 'Duck'.

'Mummy! You can't eat ducks!!'

'Of course you can. You eat chicken.'

'Oh yeah.'

That was the end of that, until dinner was on the table. Will says 'is this duck?' and I nod. At which point Lila picks up a piece, holds it high in the air, shouts 'quack quack!' then takes a massive bite and grins as the juices run down her chin.

My children were born carnivores.

So I was browsing pinterest this morning, and I came across this post about salad in Mason jars, and I'm sold. How easy would it be to just pour out a salad and chuck some meat on top, like Ree Drummond's Steak Bites?

Apparently by separating the dressing from the lettuce (by way of shredded carrot, or cabbage or something) the salad keeps quite happily in the jar for 6-7 days!

Wow. I can prepare all the salad on saturdays after a trip to the market for fruit and veg, and just pour the jars out for each lunch.

And using my own salad dressing, it's now GAPS friendly. Hooray!

No cheese crackers

I totally scored at tesco yesterday. TONNES of organic fresh meat was being sold off cheap because it's sell by date is tomorrow, which means I can stock it up in my freezer and we don't have to order any more meat for at least two weeks.

Mostly lamb and duck, but there was a little beef too.

They also had some great deals on organic veg, and we got a huge haul of red peppers really cheap.

The kids eat them by the bucket load, but I managed to save a few for dehydrating and a couple for this new 'no cheese' cracker recipe I wanted to test.

Oh my gosh it's good!!

You basically soak 3/4 cup of cashew nuts for each pepper, add half a tsp Celtic sea salt, and blend.

That's the batter done. Then you can bake it at a low temp, or dehydrate it.

I'm opting for dehydrating to keep all those nourishing vitamins and enzymes alive.

I also added a little black pepper.

These honestly taste like they have cheese and wheat in them, making them a GAPS win for my family.

I am a follower

I've been really sick recently, and whilst I have been released from the hospital, the antibiotics I'm on make it really hard to stand up without falling over.

On the plus side, that means I've finally gotten around to finishing reading 'I am a Follower' by Leonard Sweet.
Jon Acuff says Christian books never have any content in the last 40% that hasn't already been summed up in the first 60%. It's a harsh statement, but honestly this book didn't have anything that hadn't been summed up nicely on the back cover.

I genuinely had high hopes for it when I asked booksneeze for a copy, but it was a real let down. Painfully basic, with far too many tenuous examples of every point. It seemed like it had been written especially to give as many snappy sermon quotes as possible with no consideration for how the paragraph would read as a whole.

I know I've been quite negative with my reviews recently, which is partly why I've been reluctant to post them, but I'm really hoping to hit that gem like 'Why God Just Won't Go Away' again.

Nourishing traditions

'Technology is a generous benefactor. To those who have wisely used his gifts he has bestowed freedom from drudgery; freedom to travel; freedom from discomforts of cold, heat and dirt; and freedom from ignorance, boredom and oppression. But father technology has not brought us freedom from disease. Chronic illness in industrialised nations has reached epic proportions because we have been dazzled by his stepchildren - fast foods, fractioned foods, ersatz foods - all the bright baubles that fill up the shelves at our grocery stores, convenience markets, vending machines and even health food stores.'
- Sally Fallon, nourishing traditions

After both watching 'Food inc' last week, my sister and I were struck by the phrase 'you cast your vote three times a day' in relation to our meals. Their stance was that big companies like Walmart only purchase based on demand. When we choose our food we are voting in what they should buy.

Christine argued that she doesn't vote three times a day, but once a week, when she does her grocery shopping.

The packaging is like a well financed political campaign, desperately trying to steal our votes. The reality is that all the good stuff, fresh fruit and veg, unprocessed whole cuts if meat etc, is unpackaged. You can see its good or not, and purchase accordingly.

The processed goods are sealed away from view, with a tempting 'serving suggestion' that has been heavily photoshopped on the front. The beautiful packaging makes us want to spend our money, despite knowing that the fresh, steaming pizza on the front will actually look like a limp, soggy, reheated piece of dough after you've cooked it. No matter how carefully you follow the directions, it will never look like the Michelin star meal displayed on the front.

Nourishing traditions by Sally Fallon is so much more than a cook book. It's a book on nutrition that challenges preconceptions about what is 'healthy' and will help you to make great meals out of the ingredients you purchase once you've torn yourself away from the marketing frenzy of processed goods.

From fermenting to baking, appetisers to desserts, she covers all the bases in an informative way that even the most culinarily challenged person could easily pull off.

I highly recommend this book to...everyone.

Next week: We Go Below The Line

So there's only one week left until we start the 'Live Below The Line' challenge, and this year it's going to be harder than ever. This is on the most part because although I said I wasn't going to start the GAPS diet until after live below the line, we actually already started and seeing the improvement in our health, I don't want to go back.

I recently watched a documentary called 'Food Inc' too.

Now it's not just about health, but an ethical decision to want to stick to the diet. How can I justify getting sponsorship to raise awareness of extreme poverty, whilst buying products which exploit the worlds poorest and most vulnerable people?

That's right, people.

It's not just the animals that are abused in battery farming. Illegal immigrant workers are used for cheap labour in slaughter houses throughout the industry, whilst the subsidised corn prices in the US put third world farmers out of business and create famine, and genetic copyright laws are putting farmers under crippling debt or out of business.

If you haven't seen Food inc, you really should. You can watch it on netflix, who will give you a one month trial for free if you sign up with your facebook details, no obligation and you can cancel right after you watch it.

The most heart breaking section of the documentary is when they follow a family who have just $1 a day to buy food, so they buy fast food burgers from a 99c menu. The parents want to feed their children better, but they take a trip round a supermarket and show you that they can't afford broccoli ($1.29) or pears ($1 would only buy two, which wouldn't fill them up for the day). One of the reasons they can't afford any more is because the father is on medication for severe diabetes - caused by their diet. They can't afford the medication and a change of diet, and don't want to risk losing the father by coming off the meds.

These are the decisions faced by families in extreme poverty every day.

I'm going to be making some really difficult decisions about what I eat for the next week. I think thathomemade yoghurt is going to be key once again as it only costs me 55p to make just over a pint, but I'm honestly not sure where else I can save. Some very careful budgetting is going to need to happen if we are going to eat real food in an ethical way and stay below budget.

You can follow our progress by clicking on the 'Below the Line' tab at the top of this page, and if you'd like to sponsor me, you can do so with any credit/debit card or paypal account by clicking here and selecting the 'donate to me' button on the right hand side.

The best soup in the world. Ever.

Yesterday I stumbled across a recipe that I can only describe as divine. It's my own invention (I don't think I've seen it anywhere before) and it's amazing (even if I say so myself).

Carrot and Almond soup.

Try it before you judge me.

The almonds add a delicious creaminess that is GAPS friendly, even for those who are sensitive to milk.

I'll be perfectly honest, I don't weigh or measure, so all units of measurement are approximate.

1lb of carrots
2 pints of chicken stock
1 cup of onions
2 leaves cabbage, finely shredded
1/3 cup almonds
4 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp Ghee
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mint
1 tsp nutmeg

  1. Simmer the carrots in the chicken stock until they are totally soft
  2. Saute the onions
  3. Add the cabbage and cook for a few more minutes
  4. Add spices and lemon juice to the onions and cook for 30 more seconds
  5. Add spice/onion mixture to the carrots
  6. Add in your almonds*
  7. Blend

*When using nuts you should always prepare them properly. Soak them for at least 8-12 hours before use. If you want them crispy again, use a dehydrator. In this soup it is fine to leave them soft. It helps them to blend more easily.

Marshmallows and Well Hung Meat

Today I made my favourite GAPS meal so far, Shepherd's pie. Obviously the GAPS diet doesn't allow you to have potatoes, so I used butternut squash on the top instead. Success! It actually turned out really delicious, but that might be because I grated copious amounts of cheddar on the top.

If you want to see my growing collection of GAPS friendly recipes (outside of Natasha Campbell-McBrides book) the you can check out my Pinterest board.

This week I also made marshmallows, which turned out great, even though I don't have a candy thermometer, used leaf gelatin and switched out the corn syrup for honey. I also used coconut instead of corn starch and powdered sugar for dusting - so basically I didn't follow this recipe at all; but it turned out great!
So now I want to try and be a bit more consistent with results, and I thought that buying powdered gelatin (more easily measured) would be a good start. The problem is that I can't find it anywhere. I have literally traipsed all over town looking for it, asking in every health food store and butchers I can find. My local butcher actually very kindly gave me some for free, but it's savoury gelatin for making pork pies. No good for making delicious gummy worms.

But whilst on this trip I got to thinking.

When I first had William, I started to make healthier (or what I considered to be healthier) choices for our family. I wanted to put good fresh food into my sons mouth. I remember feeling happy that God had placed us in this little village, where I had access to local farms for produce, and a good green grocers and butchers both within walking distance of my home. I felt like we were blessed to live somewhere away from the hustle and bustle, where life's pace was a little slower and I could make good choices without having only fast food restaurants and greasy cafes to choose from.
Funnily enough, now I live in a town, and I thank God for my ease of access to all these things. There is a farm providing me with raw dairy, cheese, cream, yoghurt and butter, and free range eggs. There's a farmers market 2-3 times a week where I can buy local food at ridiculously good prices. Making good choices does take time, and a little more effort, but it really isn't about where you live - it's about choosing to do it.

The one thing I have been struggling with a lot is getting hold of free range, organic meat. My local butchers sell some good looking cuts at great prices, but make no claims on whether it's free range or organic, so I think we can safely assume that it isn't. Marks & Spencer's is right on our high street, but when I checked out their grocery aisle, despite selling many organic ready meals, I could not buy a free range organic chicken.

I found some meat on ocado, but for three weeks in a row now my delivery has come without the meat. Each time I'm told that they are 'out of stock' and my money is refunded., which leaves me short on my groceries.

But I think I have a solution.

Well Hung Meat. The company will deliver me a monthly amount of free range, organic, in season meat, kind of like a vegetable box scheme, but for meat. When you order their 'full selection' box, they will even throw in bones and offal for stock, and mince for you pets for free - perfect for those of us on GAPS who are making meat stock regularly. £124 sounds like a lot to spend on meat in one shop, but if you only did it once a month? That's only £31 a week, which I think is reasonable for most grocery budgets. It's more than we have spent in the past, but that's mainly because we used to fill up on cheap, processed, carbohydrates. If we are going to really value our bodies and what we put in them, the budget is going to need to be stretched in some areas and economized in others. After watching 'Food Inc' this morning I really feel like it's an social and ethical decision to stretch ourselves a bit more in this area (but that's a whole 'nother blog post)!
The Full Selection
I'm really looking forward to trying them out, and have emailed to ask about some dietary requirements (the selection boxes include sausages which we wouldn't be able to eat unless they were 100% meat and because we keep kosher we wouldn't be able to have pork products), but if they are able to meet those I think this may be the perfect solution. I'll have to clear out my freezer, but it's totally worth it to have all my meat shopped for automatically and not have to think about it.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Marshmallow Fluff

I saw a couple of recipes on pinterest recently that piqued my interest, GAPS friendly marshamallow and GAPS friendly marshmallow fluff.

Remember fluff? Now my american friends are like 'Sure, we pass it in the grocery store everyday', but not in the uk my friends. Over here, we have the option of buying it from selfridges for £5 a jar (approximately $9) or just fondly reminiscing about the early 90s when we used to be able to enjoy peanut butter and marshamallow sandwiches.

But not anymore. Not only is the GAPS recipe sugar and grain free, it's incredible frugal. All it takes is one egg white, 5oz honey or maple syrup, a pinch of salt and some home made vanilla essence.

If you want to try it, head on over to the cheeseslave for full instructions.

Prepare for some happy GAPpy children! We serve it with cut up fruit to dip in - because despite the fluff being GAPS friendly, the bread in a fluffernutter sandwich is not permitted.

This post is linked up at No Ordinary Blog Hop

Easy tomato ketchup

There are two things my son is really going to struggle to give up for the GAPS diet. The first is baked beans, which I have yet to work out a substitute for.

The second is ketchup; or should say 'was' ketchup, because I have found how easy it is to make your own GAPS friendly version, so now there is no need for him to do without.

This is genuinely one of the easiest recipes ever.

2 cups of passata
2 bay leafs
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp salt

Warm in a pan and allow to simmer (stirring occasionally to avoid burning) until its thick, like ketchup.

That's it. So easy, so good.

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