GAPS Recipes for Chronic Physical and Mental Illness
The main list of recipes you will find in the GAPS books. Here I would like to make some important points about GAPS recipes.
Use meat stock, not bone broth!
Homemade meat stock is the staple of the GAPS Diet. The more meat stock a patient consumes, the quicker they recover. Meat stock contains all the necessary nutrients for your gut lining to rebuild itself from quality materials and to heal and seal all the holes in the gut wall (the so-called ‘leaky gut’). I would like to bring to the reader’s attention that in the GAPS Diet we use MEAT STOCK, not bone broth! I do not recommend bone broth on the GAPS Diet for one year at least, for some people much longer (several years). Bone broth is made from bare bones (often cooked bones, left from previous meals) cooked for a long time in water with some acid. It is rich in minerals and amino acids, but in the GAPS Nutritional Protocol we need much more than that!
Meat stock is very different: it is always made from raw pieces of animal carcass with bones, joints, fascia, cartilage, fat and a good amount of muscle on it. To make meat stock we use a whole bird (chicken, duck, pheasant or any other bird) with the skin on and preferably with feet, neck, giblets and head too, or a joint of pork, lamb, beef or game (neck, ribs, tail, spine, feet, head, leg, shoulder, shank, etc). To make fish stock we use the whole fish with the skin, head, tail, skeleton and fins. Use all the parts with tough, chewy tissues to make meat stock – the parts that require long cooking in water to make them soft enough to be eaten and digested. So, pure lean muscle (such as a steak meat) is not suitable. The meat stock takes a few hours to make and it provides a meal for a family with well-cooked meat and a delicious stock or broth, which is good to drink and for making soup.
Seeds of plants must be properly prepared to make them digestible!
In the GAPS Diet we can use nuts, oily seeds and cooked beans for making bread, cakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles and various deserts. We grind nuts and oily seeds into flour consistency to replace flour made from grains. But, before we can use these new ‘flours’, we must prepare the nuts, seeds and legumes properly. All nuts, legumes and grains are seeds. Plants equip their seeds with special chemicals, called antinutrients, to allow them to survive the journey through an animal’s digestive system. If an animal consumes the seed whole without damaging it, the seed will travel through unchanged and land on the ground in its own perfect fertiliser (animal manure or bird droppings). This step is an important way for many trees, grasses and herbs to propagate and to spread to new territories. So, natural seeds are largely indigestible. If an animal chewed the seed before swallowing, the antinutrients would affect its digestive system negatively and, if absorbed, cause damage to the body. The human gut is particularly badly equipped to digest seeds and their many antinutrients: enzyme inhibitors, lectins, phytates, oxalates, salicylates and other. For thousands of years people in traditional cultures have realised this fact through experience, and developed ways of preparing seeds prior to eating them in order to destroy antinutrients and make seeds more digestible. These methods are soaking, sprouting and fermentation. Please, read the second GAPS book (Gut And Physiology Syndrome) to understand this issue fully and to learn how to prepare seeds properly. These techniques are also described in detail in The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet by Monica Corrado, which I warmly recommend.
Learn to ferment foods!
Until the last hundred years or so food was seasonal, local and very perishable. People searched for a way to preserve food and found that fermentation – employing microbes to preserve the food for us – is the best way to make food keep for a long time, sometimes for years. All around the world people have developed different ways of fermenting food: vegetables, grains, nuts, beans, lentils, fruit, milk, meat, fish and even eggs. In the Western world the best known traditional fermented foods are cheese and yogurt, sauerkraut, beer, vinegar, wine, soused herring, Mediterranean ham and salumi (salami, pancetta, fermented sausages, etc). Some Asian fermented foods are also known in the West, such as kimchi, miso soup and soy sauce. Apart from these commonly known foods, there are hundreds of less well-known fermentation recipes used by traditional cultures all over the world. Fermentation has become popular again in the last decade, and something beautiful is happening: traditional recipes from different countries are becoming available to the whole world through books and online publications. More than that: people now combine different traditional recipes, modifying them and creating new ways of fermenting food.
Apart from keeping food for longer, fermentation provided us with another major benefit: the food becomes much easier to digest and absorb. Microbes have an unsurpassed ability to digest plants and animal products, break down tough structures, release nutrients from these structures and create new nutrients (B vitamins and vitamin K2, for example). As a result, fermented foods have become far more nourishing for us than their raw counterparts. For example, a handful of sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) can provide almost twenty times more bio-available vitamin C than the same amount of raw cabbage! In raw cabbage vitamin C is locked in the cellular structure of the cabbage and our digestive system cannot extract it. In sauerkraut the microbes have extracted vitamin C and made it easy for us to absorb. It has been recorded that in the Middle Ages British sailing ships always had barrels of ‘sour cabbage’ on board to prevent ‘bleeding gums’ (scurvy). In those times people didn’t know about vitamin C, but they knew how to prevent its deficiency during long sailing trips. Fermented vegetables and fruit can be some of the best vitamin C ‘supplements’ in the world. Not only does this vitamin get released from the tough vegetable structure during fermentation, but so do many other nutrients. The whole plant structure is transformed into something that is much easier to digest and far more nourishing.
The third major benefit we get from eating fermented foods is the beneficial (probiotic) microbes which live in those foods. These microbes make little homes in the particles of food, where they are protected from the stomach acid. These particles of food carry probiotic microbes all through your digestive system, allowing them to do good work in all parts of your gut. Fermented foods are natural probiotics, bringing you alive and active beneficial microbes with all their healing abilities. These microbes produce enzymes to help you digest food. They alter the pH and other parameters in your gut to encourage growth of other microbes and stimulate larger diversity in your gut flora. And they engage your immune system, making it more balanced, better educated and more capable of doing its complex jobs properly. Fermented foods are much less expensive than commercial probiotics, particularly when they are homemade, and can be quite effective as probiotic ‘supplements’, particularly in the maintenance stages of the programme.
Please, read the GAPS books to learn how to use different forms of food fermentation and how to incorporate these wonder foods into your daily diet.