My Best Beef and Mushroom Soup

Before you think I'm boasting, I'm not saying this is the best beef and mushroom soup in the world, just that it's my personal best at making this soup. I think I'd have to taste a lot more soups before I could categorically say none of the soups anywhere in the world were as good as mine. It might be true though...

Matt and I LOVED this soup.

The bonus is that it's super simple to make too.

Firstly you need some beef stock. This was the easy part as I just used the left over bones from our roast this week. Let it simmer in a lot of water in your slow cooker for a day or two with some vegetable off cuts and a little vinegar (which helps to leach mineral from the bones).

*Top Tip* Everytime you peel veg or chop the bottom of an onion or celery, don't compost that stuff straight away! You could plant and regrow it, or you can keep a little ziplock bag in the freezer and add all this stuff. That way, when you come to make stock you can chuck it all in and you don't have to waste half a carrot/onion etc...

Once you have strained the bones and peelings out of your stock (now you can compost those peels!) pour 6 cups of stock into a food processor (or pan if you are lucky enough to have a stick blender). You can freeze the rest.

In another pan fry one large onion, two carrots and two cloves of garlic (chopped up) in butter until soft, then toss them in your broth. Add some more butter (like loads. I use three or four tablespoons) and fry a whole punnet of mushrooms. My punnet was 350g so use that as a measurement guide if you buy loose ones. Finally add two handfuls of curly kale, just because I happened to have an abundance in my freezer.

Put the mushrooms and the kale in the blender and blend away until everything is smooth.

Finally, and here is the secret my friends... Maldon Smoked Sea Salt.

Oh yes.

You can find this beautiful substance in tesco for a mere £1.98 but it makes all the difference in the world to the flavour of your cooking. I can (and do) literally eat this from the packet and contrary to popular belief that wouldn't be bad for me (so long as I also drink plenty).

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Anyway, back to the soup. Add this. Add lots of this.

Serve with a little stir of homemade sour cream.

Here's the ingredients list:

  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms
  • 2 handfuls of curly kale
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • smoked sea salt

If you are looking for more, healthy, slow cooker recipes (as well as the paleo baking bible) also downloaded for free this week a paleo slow cooker cookbook. You can too if you have an amazon account. It's called 26 easy slow cooker paleo recipes.

***Update*** The eBook was free when I purchased it - Amazon are now charging £1.99 :0(
But you can still borrow it for free if you are a prime member :0)

Cooking from my kindle (Free Ebook)

I'll be honest, I find the idea of storing a recipe book on my phone slightly odd.

That said, I frequently find myself pulling up websites with recipes on my phone to work from in the kitchen, so there really shouldn't be any difference.

Yesterday I downloaded a book called 'Piece of Cake Paelo: The effortless Paleo baking bible' from Amazon.

Before we go on any further, I'd like to caution you that Paleo and GAPS are not the same thing, however many of the recipes are fine and others can be adjusted much more easily than standard recipes into something that my family can eat.

My second important note is that this is not everyday food. Most of these recipes rely heavily on coconut flour or almond flour. Whilst both of these are fine in limited quantities, you wouldn't want to eat a lot of them because of their phytic acid content.

The cookbook opens with -

'...I am wading into the sometimes controversial, yet always delicious waters of baked goods. There, I said it. Baking and Paleo. It's nothing if it's not delicious. It's also a way to stay within the boundaries of a paleo lifestyle and still be relevant to the world around you'

Yep. Believe it or not baking is a controversial issue in the paleo/primal world. My sister calls it 'faileo' when you make a fake version of something else instead of just enjoying the foods in their unprocessed state. Some people believe that any processing, even in your own kitchen, is damaging to food.

I am not those people.

I loved baking on a regular basis before I found out what it was doing to our bodies. I still love baking, but do so much less regularly now and with more nourishing ingredients. So... anyone promising me a pear-cinnamon streusel and a chocolate lava cake recipe in one sentence is my new best friend.
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I haven't baked any of the recipes yet as I only discovered this book yesterday, but it's free, so I'm not going to hesitate to recommend it.

Nourishing Chocolate Soup

It's really cold today.

Despite it being 9:05am and having been up for over three hours I still have not opened the curtains downstairs. They are just so insulating and we have single glazing.

I was trying to create something warming, delicious and also nutritious for my children's breakfast this morning and I came up with, what I modestly believe to be, the perfect solution.

Chocolate soup.

Is there anyone out there who wouldn't serve chocolate soup to their family on a cold day? I pity your family. Unless you are my friend Sarah who's son, for some inexplicable reason, doesn't like chocolate. Strange child.

Still, chocolate soup for the rest of us. I was inspired by the 'Chocolat con Churros' I enjoyed so much in California and on honeymoon.
chocolat con churros
 Here's what you need and if you click on an ingredient it will tell you a full list of why it's good for you and your little ones:

125g grass fed butter melted over a low heat - tonnes of essential vitamins and fats*
4 large pastured eggs - vitamins, fats* and proteins
100ml double cream (preferably raw) - see butter :-)
8 heaped tbsp organic cocoa - magnesium, zinc, iron and antioxidants
4 tbsp honey - antibacterial, antifungal and it tastes good

Melt your butter and stir in the honey, cream and cocoa powder. Do not let it boil - just warm it.
Whip together eggs and then slowly pour in the warm ingredients whilst mixing. I think the heat from the other ingredients cooks the eggs sufficiently, but if you are concerned you could always return it to a low heat (whilst stirring) for a few minutes.

It's drinkable immediately, as it's only warm, not hot, but the kids like to dip fruit in it first. I recommend bananas.

Not only is this deliciously rich and warming, but because of the protein content, my children will stay full and won't start nagging me for snacks before lunch.


*for those of you worried about my cholesterol levels (mum) these are good fats. They will actual help protect me from heart disease!

Home Truths


The observant ones among you (who don't use an RSS Feed reader or a mobile phone to view this blog!) may have noticed I have a cute new button on the left for The reason is that my incredibly talented friend Hannah has just started home business illustrating scriptures.

They are really gorgeous and not only add charm and beauty to your decor, but are the perfect reminders for having around to help your children hide verses in their hearts. If they walk past a scripture everyday, it will be one they always remember - as will you for that matter!

Here are a few of my favourites, but you should head on over to if you'd like to see more. Also, you should follow Hannah on twitter and you can even send her suggestions for scriptures you'd like to see illustrated.

They are really reasonably priced (currently only £4 for a print!) and we will certainly be buying a few when we move house in the summer!

HT - Father of Lights.jpg

Baby shower part 2

This Mama Makes Stuff

So another friend, Sarah, also had a baby shower this weekend, but unfortunately I couldn't attend this one :0(

Still, I wanted to make something for her new baby boy, and I stumbled across the idea for recycling t-shirts into baby gowns on Pinterest.
I immediately loved the idea because t-shirts are so soft and lovely, and baby gowns are so much easier for night time nappy changes than onesies.
I think this one is my favourite

I ran down to my local thrift store and managed to get a couple of t-shirts and some thin sweaters, in case it's a bit cooler. Buying large sizes meant I could improvise some little matching hats to go with each on as well.

I made my own pattern up, but there is a simple one here you can print if you aren't confident to do that. It's good to choose shirts with longer sleeves because they are easier to make little hats from. Also, look for stuff with cute cuffs or piping etc... and see if you can work this in as it saves time and gives a more professional finish.

It really doesn't take too long, I did all four of these in an afternoon between a picnic with friends and dinner with my band, so you should be able to do a few more if you have a full evening.

My collection for baby Max

Baby shower!

It's my friend Faith's baby shower this evening.

We got her a snake called Adam.
I don't know why.
My kids just liked it and wanted to get it for her.

I think because her son is called 'Adlai' and 'Adam' looks kind of similar?

The best part was that we had just bought this snake when we agreed to meet her in town for some juice. I hid the snake in a bag under Lila's pram and warned William that he mustn't talk about it in front of Miss Faith because it would spoil the surprise.

The thing is Elisha's speech has been improving in leaps and bounds, so we spent just over an hour with jabbering on about 'Adlai, snake!' whilst William and I desperately ignored her and tried to act natural!

Anyhow, wanting to get her something a bit more practical, I made her some diaper rash ointment.

Faith's starting out on the whole real-food-try-to-avoid-chemicals journey too, so a bottom butter without all the sulfates, parabens, silicone, formaldehyde and synthetic fragrances in should make her feel good about changing her new baby's diaper, plus it smells great.

I'll own that it's probably not the most aesthetically pleasing item she'll receive. Bentonite clay has a habit of making everything it touches looks like mud, but the good news is I tested it (repeatedly) on my hands and it doesn't leave any colour when rubbed in.

Plus it makes my hands soft and lovely.

If anyone else would like the recipe, here it is:

2/3 cup coconut oil (antifungal and soothing)
1/2cup bentonite clay (calms inflammation)
1/4 cup vitamin E oil (promotes collagen repair)
1/8 cup beeswax
20 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops chamomile essential oil
5 drops rose essential oil

You can leave out the essential oils, but they smell lovely and they have calming soothing properties. I'm hoping they'll make for a contented little baby who lets his mama rest.

Heat the beeswax and coconut oil over a double boiler (or in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water) until melted.

Stir in the clay (be careful not to inhale).

Stir the essential oils into the vitamin E. Good oils are volatile and easily denatured/evaporated, so don't mix this into the clay/wax mixture just yet. You want the mixture to be cool, but still mixable, keep stirring it and checking with a finger until its not much above skin temperature.

Stir it all together and pour into a cute jar.

Rub any extra into your hands and smell them obsessively.

Strawberry and Chocolate Delicious

Yeah, that's what happens when I let my kids name a recipe.

We went through a phase where everything was given a number (Will had learned a recipe for '15's from a friend), but we are becoming slightly more descriptive when naming things now, so strawberry and chocolate delicious gives you a better idea of what the recipe is, than say '4's.

We have a lot of leftover food from our valentines celebrations (anyone else always seem to over cater?) so lunch today was always going to be made from something red.

Snacks this morning included watermelon with lime juice squeezed over it and pink 'iced tea' (sweet melissa with honey and a little dried beetroot), but by far the biggest hit was somewhere between mousse and a milkshake - too thick for a straw, but the Lila struggled not to make a mess drinking it off her spoon.

Think the consistency of yoghurt; and like yoghurt this recipe has great probiotic benefits too, plus, you know, it's classic and valentinesy to have strawberries and chocolate together.

Here's the recipe if, like us, you have a lot of leftover berries.

7-8 large strawberries (try to get organic, strawberries measure high in residual pesticides)
100g of homemade cream cheese or (normal cream cheese if you aren't up for making it!)
1/2 cup kefir (switch for milk or cream if you don't keep kefir - then go buy some kefir grains!)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3-4 tbsp honey (it's a treat, you won't eat this every day)

Blend together and enjoy.

Simple and delicious. I even left the green parts on the strawberries. Their totally edible and the kids won't notice them with everything else in there - much easier than chopping them all off.

Cholesterol update

So I got my new blood lipid analysis results back from the doctor yesterday, not the best, but a definite improvement.

Not only have my LDL levels have dropped by 0.8 mmol/L, which is not massive, but it's more than the 10% my previous consultant had said I would be able to achieve in 6 months (bear in mind it's only been 3 months!), but my HDL level has increased too, taking my ratio down by 0.66 or a 23% reduction.

Interestingly, my GP was not very impressed and still wants me to go on statins. The conversation got a little bit heated, and with both children with me I decided to back down and just not respond to anything else, although I have agreed to go back and have the thrombophilia screen done again in half term. I personally think it's a crazy suggestion, as I bruise like a peach and take a long time to stop bleeding if I cut myself, so the suggestion that I may clot to easily seems bizarre, but I'm willing to do it if it helps to give people peace of mind.

Even that seems like a total shock considering how needle phobic I was a year ago. GAPS seriously has changed my life. I didn't find the last screening particularly pleasant, but I went and did it without being doped up on diazepam and needing someone to hold me down!

Now some of you might be wondering why my cholesterol would be up, seeing as my weight loss is massively slowed now and I'm convinced that eating cholesterol doesn't give you cholesterol. It's something I have puzzled with too. 

Chatting to some other people who are doing the GAPS diet, there seems to be a consensus that if you had ME/CFS when you started GAPS, your cholesterol raises during GAPS. Why on earth would that be?

I have a hypothesis. One of the big problems for sufferers of ME/CFS is lack of vitamin D. In fact, one of my friends entirely cured herself of ME that had plagued her for twenty years with just vitamin D supplementation. It's a cruel fact, because most ME sufferers struggle to get outside, which means they get less sunlight to help synthesise vitamin D, and hence it becomes a self-perpetuating disease.

Why is this relevant? Because of HOW vitamin D is synthesised. You don't absorb it from sunlight, sunlight reacts with cholesterol to produce it. So, if during this process of healing, my body discovered itself to be woefully low on vitamin D, what would my liver's response be?

To produce more cholesterol.

Some of my closer friends may remember that we used to have a sunbed in our bedroom to help me get through winter without too much fatigue. I got rid of it shortly after starting GAPS having decided I was so much better that I didn't need it anymore. Unfortunately, I think I may have made that decision a little prematurely! I'm going to try and work on getting out a bit more, continue to take my liposomal vitamin C supplement and exercise more consistently.

It's also worth noting that your body uses LDL cholesterol specifically to bind to free radicals and reduce inflammation, hence why LDL cholesterol levels shoot up after a tooth extraction or surgery. Similar to a Herxheimer's response to antibiotics, if my body was rapidly healing and dealing with years of toxin build up, it would quite rightly be producing more LDL to bind those substances. 

If you want a (very) brief overview of how cholesterol works in our bodies and why statins are a terrible idea for a girl my age, then you should watch this short segment from Dr OZ.

For a more detailed look at how cholesterol works in our bodies I recommend the book 'The Great Cholesterol Con' which is only £5 on amazon right now.

Freezey Banana Thick Shakes

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Inspired by my sister's sugar-free banana mousse recipe, I created a new smoothie for my kiddies today and it's a total hit!

It contains pasturised cream though, so only for advanced full 'GAPS' dieters I'm afraid :0(
That said it's still probiotic, sugar free, grain free and delicious. You could probably leave out the cream, it just won't be as satisfying. You could probably use homemade sour cream as a replacement now that I come to think of it, for some extra probiotics.

You will need:

  • 3 frozen bananas (yeah, ordinary bananas will work, but you won't get that ice cream texture to your shake)
  • 500ml of kefir 
  • 250ml double cream 
  • 3 tsp of cinnamon
Blend it all together and enjoy. 

If you are not on a sugar free diet (or you are new to it) you may want to add a tablespoon or two of honey, but my kids and I enjoyed it just like this with the bananas for sweetness.
Also, whilst I would go organic on the dairy (if you can't get raw) and cinnamon (spices should always be organic as they are dried and concentrated which means any pesticides used are too!), bananas are a low spray crop, so I wouldn't worry too much about getting them organic. Just try to find some fairtrade ones if you can. 

Food Diary

So many people ask me 'what do you eat?' when they hear the list of foods that we cannot eat. GAPS is a really expensive diet (thank goodness it's only for two years!) and whilst there are ways to eat more cheaply, you will never be able to just fill up on cheap carbohydrates.

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I try to make savings where I can, by bulk buying anything I can - and not just food! We are fortunate to have a large airing cupboard where I can store large amounts of toilet rolls or dishwasher powder, and a basement where honey, fabric softener and laundry detergent are all stacked up. Saving money on cleaning products is an excellent way to boost your grocery budget.

I've talked before about buying smart and getting familiar with the 'clean fifteen' and 'dirty dozen', but recently people have been asking for an actual list of what we eat over a week. In all honesty I drew a blank. I don't meal plan (sorry) so I don't always know.

This week I determined to keep a food diary, for my friend Laura, so here it is:

Breakfast - Omelettes with cheese, tomato and onion
Lunch - Strawberry and Chocolate Kefir Smoothie [ frozen strawberries blended with kefir and a little cocoa powder]
Snack - Pear and Kiwi, cheese
Dinner - Roast Chicken with Carrots, broccoli and tomatoes, Jelly sweeties

Breakfast - bananas and custard
Lunch - Strawberry and Mango Kefir smoothie
Snacks - chocolate orange mousse [double cream, honey, cocoa powder and tangerine essential oil]
Dinner - Lemon and sage fish with roasted carrots and courgettes + salad

Breakfast - Clafoutis
Lunch - Kiwi, strawberry, pear and banana kefir smoothie, homemade chocolate
Dinner - Faux Mac and Cheese (without the nuts)

Breakfast - Fruit and yoghurt
Lunch - Sprouted Green Lentil Hummus and vegetables to dip, cheese, 
Snack - Kefir Milkshake
Dinner - Carrot Soup, Jelly Sweets

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs with cheese
Lunch - Chocolate Chia frozen shakes (with half milk replaced by kefir) 
Dinner - Meatballs (made from cow heart) in tomato sauce with cheese, salad

Breakfast - Fruit juice with kefir
Lunch - Omelettes with cheese and salad
Dinner - Hummus with veggies, fruit and cheese

Breakfast - yoghurt with fruit and honey
Lunch - Choc chia/kefir shakes, cheese, fruit
Dinner - Omelettes with cheese, fruit

Actually this has been a bit of a splurge week; we didn't eat soup nearly as often as we would normally. I'm not quite sure why that was, but it means I have a tonne of chicken stock from that roast chicken on Monday in my freezer! Weeks often look different depending on whether my children are having a growth spurt or not will vary it wildly.

So there you go. Very simple, basic food, but made with quality ingredients. Some days it doesn't look like they've eaten much (and sometimes they haven't) but you should also bear in mind that I don't limit them on quantity if it's wholesome food. I may have put 'scrambled eggs' but what you might not realise is that my five year old will eat four eggs by himself, or drink nearly a pint of smoothie.

The only things I limit them on are fruit (in it's whole state, without any yoghurt or kefir) and things containing honey.

Hope this helps.

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