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  • WELCOME!

    Southern roots have given my family a love of sitting down to eat good home cooked meals together. Flavor was never in short supply, although as a young child processed food was. I went to school with a hand packed lunch in my personalized lunchbox every day. As I moved into junior high, I began making poor food choices as the "SAD" diet (Standard American Diet) became convenient and ever present.

    At 20, I was diagnosed with Grave's Disease, an autoimmune thyroid disorder. I struggled through poor health, daily medications, and eventually through a high-risk pregnancy. My son was diagnosed with Autism and Tourette's Syndrome at 6-years-old. The new challenges we faced led us to the GAPS diet, and down a nutritional journey as a family.

    Realizing that what we eat is foundational to optimal health I began researching, studying and cooking real food. I was led to the Nutritional Therapy Association to become a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I followed that by becoming a certified Epidemic Answers Health Coach to learn more about the new childhood epidemics: Autism, ADD/ADHD, asthma and allergies.

    I am passionate about incorporating real food (that tastes good!) to achieve optimal wellbeing. Kids and families are my specialty. Focusing on growing families with preconception support, fertility enhancement, pregnancy, post-partum support and first foods for babies. Working with kids on the spectrum to improve digestion and blood sugar regulation so that they can feel their best. Nothing about my approach is a one-size-fits-all, each plan is tailor made for the individual and family. Long distance clients welcomed!

GAPS Kitchen Tools – Stock Pot

TOOL: Stock Pot
NECESSITY: 5 out of 5
COOL FACTOR: 1 out of 5
FREQUENCY OF USE: Weekly or Bi-weekly
LOOK FOR: Stainless Steel

I am starting a new series of posts. My GAPS Kitchen Tools. It was going to be one post, until my list got so long that I didn’t want to scare anyone away from changing the way you eat. A good percentage are found in almost every kitchen so you may have some already!

When we first started GAPS we went through our pantry and cleared out all of the items that were no longer allowed. We saved a small stash in an out-of-the-way place for when my stepsons are over. There’s no reason to torture them with no grains just because the rest of us are on a crazy food plan. Although, we do buy the best quality grains available for them to eat. The next thing I did was evaluate which utensils needed to go; non-stick pans, BPA filled plastic containers, etc. And I made a list of the items I needed to buy. Slowly. One at a time, because let’s face it this food plan isn’t cheap.

The very first thing I bought was a big stock pot. The amount of meat stock or bone broth we consume in a week was greater than the capacity of my largest 8 quart pot. It can be done in a smaller pot, it just has to be done more often. Bone broth stays on low heat for 12-24 hours, and there’s no way I feel comfortable leaving my gas burner on that long more than once every two weeks when I can be home the entire time and monitor it. I tried making it in a crock pot. I tried every way under the sun with the crock pot, begging and praying for a way to make it work. It kinda worked for chicken broth, but every batch had a flavor of burnt or rancid fat. No thanks! Back to the stove! Stock and broth freeze beautifully. I store it in lots of different size containers so that they are easy to pull out for drinking or for cooking. Sometimes I need 2 quarts of broth for soup, and sometimes I just need a mugful.

You’ll hear me say over and over again that the best cookware is Le Creuset. It’s the safest, it’s cast-iron, and they have enameled and anodized pots and pans meaning food won’t stick. If you check out the link you’ll see why I don’t have a Le Creuset Stock Pot…. yet. It’s a bit pricey, but it is something you will pass on to your children. It will last forever. Like Legos. The next best is All Clad. Again, a little pricey, but lower than the Le Creuset. The important thing is you want to get stainless steel. Not aluminum. Most stainless steel pots have an aluminum induction base to help heat the pot, which is fine but the part your food touches should be stainless steel. I have heard that one way to tell if your pot is stainless steel or aluminum (if it doesn’t say on the bottom) is to see if a magnet sticks to it. If it does stick than it is for sure stainless steel. However, if it doesn’t stick it does not mean that it isn’t. Some stainless is magnetic and some isn’t, but aluminum will not hold the magnet.

Ok. Here is the pot I bought. It’s 20 quarts, which means I can easily make 2-3 gallons of stock/broth at a time. Yup. Two to three GALLONS. That will last us about 2 weeks with cooking and drinking. It is lightweight, which is good, because I add a couple of gallons of water and several pounds of chicken and pouring just the broth out takes a little muscle. I don’t use the lid often, but it is nice to have when I need to divide my cooking time. (When I have to leave my house during a batch of bone broth, I stick it in the oven for quick trips, or in the fridge. When I return I bring it back to a boil, skim the scum off and reduce to a simmer for the remainder of the cooking time). I purchased this one for around $50.

Chefmate 20QT Stainless Steel Stock Pot from Target

Chefmate 20QT Stainless Steel Stock Pot from Target

March 25, 2013 - 5:23 pm

Danielle - I love my stock pot (AKA my cauldron), its a 12qt Belgique. Its kinda heavy when full…but that’s okay because I inherited my fathers lumberjack arms 🙂 I was making enough broth for a small village though. I’ve since learned the beauty of evaporation and reducing. I like your oven idea. Great post! I’m looking forward to the next tool and its stats!

March 25, 2013 - 5:34 pm

Danielle - 2 more things.. Le Creuset is gorgeous and what temperature to you have the oven on when you put your broth in for a little while? I’m wondering what it needs to be to prevent the growth of bacteria and or keep it at a simmer.

March 25, 2013 - 5:38 pm

Brynn - I have read that for bacteria to start growing that the broth would have to be at room temperature for 4 hours. So if I have a quick trip I will warm the oven to 200 put the pot in and turn off the oven. When I get home the broth is usually still piping hot or at least well above room temperature. You just have to remember to being it back to a book and skim before you reduce to a simmer again on the stovetop.

March 25, 2013 - 5:39 pm

Brynn - You would have to experiment with temps to see what would keep it at a simmer of you wanted to leave on.

June 3, 2013 - 2:48 pm

Danielle - I know this is SO late but, thanks!

GAPS Meatloaf – Grain-free


I tested this meal on a Standard American Diet friend, and he said it was really good. Of course he’s a young man, and they’ll eat just about anything. He could have just been saving my feelings. Try it for yourself and see. I think it would go nicely with Nourishing Traditions Fermented Ketchup. I haven’t made it yet myself.

I used 3 loaf pans, because I was in a hurry, and also to keep the loaves short and keep them together. If you make one big loaf the cooking time will vary. This recipe does not include garlic, but you could add garlic powder or fresh garlic with the spinach for your tastes. Printable recipe card at the bottom.

Meatloaf

2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef
1 can organic tomato paste
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 pastured eggs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped
4 cups organic baby spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare loaf pans with ghee or parchment paper.
  2. In a large pan cook onion, celery, carrot, salt and pepper until softened.
  3. Add zucchini and spinach until wilted. 1-3 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. In a large mixing bowl add remaining ingredients. Add vegetables. Mix gently until well combined.
  5. Divide into loaf pans and bake in oven about 30 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Print

February 3, 2014 - 6:20 pm

Audry Strain Pettit - If I were to make this in a muffin pan instead, how long do you think it should bake for?

February 24, 2014 - 5:58 pm

Brynn Davello - I would check them around 20-25 minutes. When I use the mini loaf pans the meat is only 1 to 1.5 inches deep so it cooks pretty fast. The muffins may take less or the same amount depending on how much you put in.

February 24, 2014 - 6:23 pm

Audry Strain Pettit - I don't remember how long I ended up baking them for, but they came out great. My son loved them. Thanks

Chicken Piccata – Grain-free, Gluten-free, GAPS-friendly

I’ve added a new feature… printable recipes at the bottom of my food posts. Click on the picture and it should open in a new window to print or save to your desktop. 

Chicken Piccata - Grain-free, Gluten-free, GAPS-friendly

Chicken Piccata

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin (organic, free-range of course)
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Almond flour for dredging
2 tablespoons unsalted, pastured butter
Ghee for sautéing
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season chicken with and pepper. Dredge in flour.
  2. In large skillet over med-high heat melt 2 tbsp ghee When hot, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook each side for 3 minutes. Remove to plate.
  3. Add more ghee repeat with 2 more chicken pieces.
  4. Into the pan, add lemon juice, stock & capers. Bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from pan.
  5. Check for seasoning.
  6. Return all chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 min.
  7. Remove chicken to platter.
  8. Add 2 tbsp butter to sauce and whisk vigorously.
  9. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Print

Confessions of a Health Nut

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I have been feeling the need to tell my story. In as much as it relates to finding myself cooking liver for dinner. That’s right. LIVER!! Blobbily, slimy, bloody liver! First attempt was an utter failure by the way my friends. I couldn’t bring myself to make my family eat it. (It was saved and will be made into frozen pill shapes to swallow. So I suppose it wasn’t a complete disaster.) I wasn’t always this way. You know a crazy-crunchy-granola-health nut who has foods fermenting and cultures growing in her fridge. Seeking out organ meats from grass-fed butchers, and being upset at buying an organic chicken that doesn’t come with giblets. In fact, only 2 years ago my husband had to pull the giblet bag out of the turkey for me at christmas time.

Growing up my family ate fairly healthy. Eating out was a treat. My mom made us 3 meals a day, and we ate together as a family every day. Most of my grandparents and great-grandparents were from Oklahoma so hearty country meals were the norm. Dinner with the extended family was usually roast beef or fried chicken, 8 kinds of vegetables, bread and plenty of butter on everything. We would have mac n cheese and spaghetti often. Simple pasta dishes. I think jarred tomato sauce and kraft mac n cheese was the extent of our processed foods minus the occasional (maybe once a month) trip through a drive through. My great-grandma was our after school spot and she would make everything from scratch and canned her own peaches. Lord I miss her biscuits!

I grew into a young adult and turned into a lazy eater. There’s no other excuse. I have the skills and knowledge to prepare good meals and I choose the fast and cheap way. I was being lazy. Lucky Charms for breakfast, dollar meals at any drive thru for lunch and Hamburger Helper or other no-fuss boxed meal for dinner. I washed it all down with 6-8 Pepsi’s per day. Starting off every day with a minimum 32oz Super Big Gulp. Throw in a couple of candy bars, cookies or a piece of cake and you have a pretty good picture of my eating standards. I remember posting pictures of an Entenmann’s pound cake and a Pepsi as my “breakfast of champions.” Thanks to an auto-immune thyroid disease, that developed shortly after high school, I rarely put on weight, but I got to the point where I just didn’t feel good anymore. My teeth started sprouting cavities like weeds after a week of rain. I developed crippling IBS.. to the extent that my husband sent champagne and Immodium to me on our wedding day, because he knew the stress would cause an episode.

Within the last 5 years, I had started cooking more with my husband, but every meal still included a starch, and usually bread of some kind. Then we found Anna, our nutritionist, in our search for anything that would help with our son’s behavioral issues. When she recommended the GAPS diet she asked me to read Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride. It was an eye opener for me. Not only were my health issues related to my poor nutrient-deficient diet, but my son’s issues were because of my diet before and during my pregnancy. When we decided to try GAPS for Cullen, we decided to do it together as a family, not just because it would be cruel and unusual punishment to make a 7-year-old watch you eat the foods he loves in front of him, but also because we knew it would only improve our own health.

I tried to hold on to my Pepsi. I tried to just cut it back to one or two per day. I quickly realized that even holding on to that little bit made my cravings for sweets too strong to resist, so I slowly transferred to iced tea, making weaker and weaker batches to wean myself off caffeine. Now I might have very weak iced tea once a day, and I’m drinking my suggested daily intake of water. I have devoted hours more of my time to working in my kitchen. I make our yogurt, applesauce, salad dressings, condiments, nut butter, beef jerky, sauerkraut, ice cream and bone broth. Lots and lots of bone broth. Everything is from scratch with no additives, no preservatives and no pesticides. I’m hunting down sales and the cheapest place to find groceries. Trying to find soy-free eggs or chicken has been a battle and a half.

I was standing in front of my stove sautéing liver tonight, and I thought, “How did I get here?!?” I bought LIVER and I’m cooking it with the intent of eating it! And I am secretly hoping I will enjoy it! I have done a 180, dragging my carb-loving family with me into the world of grain-free and probiotics. I was talking to a friend today and she asked if I ever wanted to just give up. Absolutely, without a doubt there were moments I wanted to throw all of my pots out the window and never enter my kitchen again. But I kept trucking, because I truly believe in how much better I feel. Because my husband doesn’t have asthma attacks anymore. Because my son is finally making friends, and showing emotions. Because I get hugs from him at any time of day; not just when I tuck him in at night.

I went from a junk food addict to certifiable health nut. And I’m never going back.

February 21, 2013 - 9:12 pm

Anna Hammalian - Love it!

February 22, 2013 - 6:37 am

Leslie G. - Such a great story. I never knew you had so many health issues as well. It is shocking to me now when I see people guzzling a 32 oz soda, now that they can even function!! That was me a few years ago, a Dr.Pepper guzzling, candy binging, dessert having carefree lady. Then I had no energy, I was depressed and slept all the time, I kept feeding the cycle, until I stopped. I read Anti Candida Diets and did that, while consuming tons of grains, felt amazing…for a few months. That led to Nourishing Traditions to Body Ecology to finally GAPS. I am very thankful and would never go back either to a SAD diet. Brea farmers market has corn/soy free eggs, she feeds them the veggies they grow only…and it’s not soy or corn!

February 25, 2013 - 8:24 am

jessie - So how was the liver?! I tried cooking it about 18 years ago and could not even manage to put one bite in my mouth! That’s the last time I tried that. I should probably try again for the kids’ sake. I’ll stick with the dessicated liver pills for myself though – the problems of being raised a vegetarian!

February 25, 2013 - 8:40 am

Brynn - Jessie, It was inedible. And I was raised a meat-loving omnivore. I think I did a few things wrong 1) I didn’t soak it first 2) I overcooked it 3) I used roasted garlic which was a really bad idea! My nutritionist is giving me a good recipe this week when I see her again. I have a friend that grinds hers and puts it in smoothies raw, but I think I’d rather eat the cooked kind. My mom is the pickiest eater on the planet and used to love it as a child. I think once I find the best recipe, we’ll be able to eat it no problem. I think the key might be bacon…

February 25, 2013 - 9:05 pm

jessie - That’s too bad. I would love to hear when you get a recipe you like. My husband would probably agree about the bacon part! Or maybe your mom has the secret recipe. I have also heard of people cutting up the raw liver into little “pills”, freezing them and then swallowing them like pills (while frozen).

February 26, 2013 - 10:38 am

Brynn - That’s exactly what my nutritionist told me to do with the stuff I cooked.. but since I tried to puree it, I didn’t know how I could get it in a frozen pill shape. So I chucked it out. It was only $4 for the little bit I bought. I figured it would be better to do over.

August 29, 2013 - 9:08 pm

The Cause of Autism » Aspieventures - […] high. My diet was severely deficient in nutrients. You can get an idea of it in a previous post here. The other factors I know now is that my paternal side had a genetic predisposition towards the […]

GAPS Diet On A Budget

When I explain our food plan to inquiring minds I get, “You must spend a fortune on groceries.” Yes, it can get a little pricey at times, and there have been trips to the grocery store that have left my bank account weak in the knees. (Like the time I did all of our Christmas meal shopping at Whole Foods… and bought a goose.) Overall, I’ve found that with an eye on the mailers and shopping at 4 stores instead of one I can keep our groceries bills reasonable; if not low. A few things first before I get into the lists of what I buy where.

1. You should buy the best quality you can afford. If you can’t always get organic ingredients, fresh is still better than processed. I read in the GAPS FAQ’s that if you have to choose between organic meats and organic produce that you should always buy the produce organic because animals have immune systems to fight off what the farmers feed them, but vegetables can’t fight the pesticides. That being said, I try to stick to the less expensive meats and continue to buy organic. When I am making our bone broth I use only the best quality ingredients. We do save a bit of money by eating more veggies at mealtimes than we used to. Print out (or save on your phone) a list of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen produce items. The Clean 15 are the ones you can get away with buying non-organic. The Dirty Dozen are the most contaminated and should always be organic.

2. In the beginning I spent a lot of time, effort and money trying to replace the foods we were missing; like baked goods, breads and desserts. Most of them did not compare to the real thing (which only made me miss it more) and the ingredients for baking are on the higher priced side. Forget about bread, there isn’t a good replacement. There are some crepe recipes that make a decent sandwich wrap or tortilla substitute, but they use a lot of eggs. Unless you’ve got a good line on pastured eggs for cheap I’d save this for a treat also. Lettuce is great for wrapping around meat for sandwiches. Experiment with different kinds. I like to use romaine hearts for tacos, red leaf for sandwiches and boston for egg burritos. Mix it up!

3. Check online for bulk items and dry goods. I was buying our almond flour from Honeyville online, until I realized they have a store near me. Now I’m saving on shipping! I always check online for items like: tea, kombucha, flour, nuts, fruit leather, coconut oil, raw cider vinegar, etc. And there are quite a few companies that ship perishable foods like: meats, dairy, starter cultures, honey, etc. Amazon surprisingly has quite a bit of food stuffs.

4. Farmer’s Markets!! Usually lower prices than a grocery store; if you live near one make it a habit to stop once a week. The farmers that come won’t always have certified organic produce (it costs a lot for the certification and many small farms just can’t afford it). Ask questions, because many will be practicing organic farming. Some of the big markets will have eggs and occasionally pastured chickens. Bring a cooler with you just in case. Eggs don’t need to be refrigerated right away, but it’s always good to keep your meat cold if you are lucky enough to find it at a market.

Below is a list of what I buy and where I shop. These stores are regional, so Southern California residents are going to have the best odds for this working for them. Start taking notes on your local stores for the best deals near you if you don’t live close by any of these stores.

Sprouts

This is where I buy the majority of our groceries. They have raw milk and cheese (but not cream), pastured butter, organic eggs, grass-fed meats and the largest selection of fresh organic produce in my area. They have everything on my shopping list, but not always at the best prices. Their regular (non-organic) chicken is hormone-free and free-range so when I need to save some dough I will buy this. Their sausages are hand-made and they have a variety of chicken that are nitrate-free and made with the same chicken. Most are gluten-free as well.

** I always stop by Sprouts on Wednesdays. It is the day their weekly deals overlap so you get the sale price on everything from the previous week and the next week. When their grass-fed beef goes on sale it’s always a good idea to go the first day because they run out.

  • Grass-fed steaks/roast (ground beef only when it’s on sale, which is often)
  • Organic produce
  • Organic spices
  • Organic eggs
  • Raw milk
  • Raw cheese
  • Applegate products
  • Purified/Spring Water (I buy the big jugs and then take them back to refill)

Trader Joe’s

The one by us is small and doesn’t carry everything. I go specifically for these items because they are less expensive here:

  • Raw nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans) We make our own nut butter because we like cashew butter better than almond and I can’t find one made with raw cashews. (And it’s cheaper to make it ourselves. It takes 15 minutes)
  • Organic, free-range chicken. Whole chicken is a better buy than individual pieces and is easier to prepare. Also, they include the giblets, which the whole organic chicken at Sprouts does not. (I like to add those in our broth) If you are making bone broth regularly roast a chicken for dinner and save the remainder to make broth from.
  • Grass-fed, organic ground beef.
  • Organic, no additives fruit leather (No added sugar, 100% fruit puree). I don’t give these to Cullen often.
  • Trader Joe’s brand Organic Diced Tomatoes in juice. (We don’t notice any adverse reaction when we use these)

Mother’s Market

I would probably shop more here if it was closer to us. Their produce section is awesome. Watch out for their restaurant and deli case as most of it has some type of soy or vegan substitute.

  • Raw cream (can only get it here)
  • Organic Pastures raw cheese  (can only get it here)
  • Ghee (can only get it here)
  • Evolution Juice – for when I am lazy and don’t want to juice it myself. It’s cold-pressed and unpasteurized. They have it at Starbucks too, but not the organic kind.
  • Celtic Sea Salt
  • Organic, unrefined honey

Costco

  • Wild salmon – sometimes they have a good deal on fresh, but I usually buy the 3 lb. bag of frozen for $28 (less than $10/lb). They come individually sealed so I can grab them out of the freezer and thaw what I need.
  • Wild shrimp – frozen, not always in stock
  • Canned wild salmon
  • Organic coconut oil – giant Costco size, organic, cold-pressed for $10. GIANT
  • Lamb – from New Zealand or Australia. (I was told that lamb from “Down Under” is always 100% grass-fed)
  • Organic baby carrots
  • Any other organic produce they might have (I don’t buy the sliced organic apples though.. the preservatives worry me)
  • There is supposedly organic chicken breasts occasionally, but I have never seen them.
  • Aidell’s sausage for our non-GAPS kids.

I always watch to see what items are on sale. I look online at the weekly deals before I go out shopping. If I can think of any more items I will add them as I go, but these are the staples. Our grass-fed beef bones I have to drive to Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods in Riverside or Loma Linda. Or I just found a new source Lindy & Grundy in West Hollywood (also a drive, but the bones were $4.99/lb).

Feel free to ask me questions or leave your money-saving tips below!

January 31, 2013 - 4:31 am

Lillian - I appreciate you so much. Grandma

January 31, 2013 - 8:46 am

Brynn Davello - Thank you Grandma! I appreciate you more for helping us out so much with Cullen!