Paleo Burrito Bowl

18 March 2012

The end is near! We are in Stage 5 of the GAPS Intro diet and we are all thriving. It has been a tough month, but we have never enjoyed food they way we are now. Friday night we indulged.

Since day one of drinking countless cups of bone broth, all I have wanted was Mexican food. I literally had dreams about guacamole, green chili salsa, and beef fajitas. Thursday I passed Chipotle and nearly cried, but then I was inspired and nearly heard angels sing.

Ideas of how I could recreate the Chipotle Burrito Bowl with GAPS allowed foods started swarming through my mind. I called my insanely creative husband, and we came up with a plan. Victory was ours....

Paleo Burrito Bowl

2 heads cauliflower ($2)
2 acorn squash ($3)
2 Free-Range Chicken Breasts ($6)
1 Onion ($.33)
1 Bell Pepper ($1.50)
Guacomole ($1)
4 T Taco Seasoning, divided
2 T extra virgin coconut oil, divided
4 garlic cloves minced
1 lime
1/4-1/3 (depending on preference) cup chopped cilantro ($.50)
*all listed ingredients are organic

Total: $14.33 (a splurge, but far cheaper than what I could have fed my family of 5 at Chipotle and it was grain-free)


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

1. Peel, de-seed, and cut acorn squash into small cubes. Toss in 1T coconut oil and 2T taco seasoning. Put in large skillet and cook on medium heat until the squash is very tender (mashable with a fork).
2. Meanwhile, cut cauliflower into chunks, remove stems, and place in food processor with the cilantro. Pulse together until the cauliflower is very small (like small grains of rice). Put cauliflower in water in a medium pot and cook on med-high heat for 20 minutes.
3. Season Chicken with 2T of taco seasoning, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
4. Slice onions and bell pepper. Saute bell pepper, sliced onions and garlic in 1T until the onions are transparent.
5. Make the guacamole! Place 2 avocados in food processor, add juice of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, and 2T of pre-made salsa (make sure to check for xantham gum if you are grain-free and sugar)
6. Drain the cauliflower in a strainer - there are some small bits of cauliflower. Squeeze the juice of the lime into the cauliflower and stir.
7. Start layering the foods how you like!

This meal was absolutely amazing! We all fell silent and inhaled food like we hadn't had anything to eat in weeks. Really we hadn't had anything that good to eat in a while, but this meal was exceptional. Brandon and I were intentional about having leftovers for a late-lunch during our kids nap-time the next day. ;)


10 Healthy Eating Tips

17 March 2012

(taken from this site - italics are mine)


#1 Eat lots of Organic Vegetables and Fruits!

Veggies and fruits are low in calories, provide filling fiber, vitamins and minerals, and protect your health in many ways. Organic produce has superior nutrition without the insecticides and poisons found in ordinary produce. Eat as much of your produce raw as you can. Cooked or frozen is acceptable, but stay away from canned. Naturally fermented (lacto-fermented) vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchee, are very good for you as well.

#2 Eat Meat and Animal Products.

There are vital nutrients found in animal foods that cannot be found elsewhere. Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and milk are important staples in our diet. And their protein is important for preserving and building lean tissue – the muscle that burns calories!

#3 (If you're going to eat grains...) Eat Whole Grains-- Properly Prepared.

Grains should be soaked, sprouted, or fermented to be digestible for most people. Whole grain products that have not been properly prepared can cause mineral deficiencies and intestinal problems.

#4 Add Raw Milk Products to Your Diet.

Raw (unprocessed, unhomogenized, unpasturized) whole milk from grass fed cows is beneficial (for adults and children). It will boost your intake of calcium and other nutrients, and help your body shed unwanted fat

#5 Eat lots of "Good" Fats

The omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids in butter, some fish (especially cod liver oil) coconut and palm oil and nuts are vital to health. Saturated fat, despite what you probably heard, will help you lose weight, does not cause heart disease, and is actually something the body needs for healthy functioning.


#6 Cut Out “Junk” Carbs-- Sugar and White Flour.

They sabotage your healthy diet in all but the smallest amounts. Use soaked whole grain flours and small amounts of natural sugars such as raw honey and organic maple syrup. Stay away from corn syrup-- it is worse than sugar.

#7 Greatly Reduce “Junk” and “Bad” Fats

Trans fats and processed oils (most of the oil you will find in the grocery store for cooking) are not only high in calories, but are loaded with harmful fatty acids that contribute to disease and obesity. Use butter and coconut oil for cooking, and other healthy oils like flax and olive oil raw for salads.

#8 Stay Away From Modern Soy Foods.

Soy is not a meat replacement and can block mineral absorption, inhibit protein digestion, depress thyroid function and contains potent carcinogens. Traditional soy foods are fine, if taken in small amounts and properly fermented, like in soy sauce, miso and tempeh. Avoid all products with soy proteins and isolates added to them.

#9 Avoid Processed Food.

Canned and processed produce, boxed meals, processed meat and cheese, protein powers and powered milk contain toxins and things that keep you fat-- such as MSG, rancid fats and cholesterol, hydrogenated oils and trans-fat, white sugar, and white flour, not to mention all the added colors, preservatives and artificial vitamins. Use unrefined sea salt and herbs to season your food instead of refined salt and MSG.

#10 Reduce or Eliminate Processed Alcohol.

Processed alcohol consumption tends to cause weight gain. Traditional homemade fermented unpasturized beverages, low in alcohol, on the other hand, are good for you in moderation.

What's in Your Bread Bag?

15 March 2012

When people ask me what bread I would feed my family, the answer is always the same: organic sprouted bread. I highly recommend sprouted bread; however, I understand not everyone lives in a sprawling urban area and has access to stores that carry healthier options at lower prices. If sprouted bread is not an option, then please check your ingredients! High fructose corn syrup, sugar, food coloring, and many times a high level of salt fill the bread that is a common staple in most American's diets.

Before eliminating grains, I was able to read Bread Matters and it really opened my eyes to what was lurking in my bread bag. This chart is taken from the book. I aded the "Questions to Ask" category, and everything else I added is in italics.

IngredientWhat does it do?What’s the problem?Questions to Ask
FlourMain ingredient: source of carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals, vitamins and other micronutrients.Many nutrients are depleted in refined (white) flours.If, as a society, we believe grains are a part of a healthy diet, are we referring to bleached and refined flours or wholesome grains that haven’t been stripped?
"Vitamin" replacements: Calcium Sulfate, Folic Acid, Nicain, Reduced Iron, Riboflavin, Thiamin MononitrateReplaces vitamins and minerals lost while processing the flourSynthetically derived; synthetic vitamins lack transporters and co-factors for your body to recognize, assimilate and utilize the nutrients.If the vitamins and minerals were not removed, would we have a whole food source of vitamins and minerals?

Necessary to make flour into dough.
SaltAdds flavor; strengthens the gluten network in the dough; aids in keeping the quality of the bread (as a water attractant and a partial mold inhibitor.)Under pressure from food agencies, the bread industry is gradually reducing levels of salt in bread.What is the source of the salt? Is it the cheapest table salt that is normally stripped of minerals with chemicals to keep it from clumping?

Types of Salt
YeastAerates bread, makes it light in texture, and may contribute to flavor.Excessive use may lead to digestive problems. Excessive yeast can wreak havoc on a digestive system.With the significant rise in grain consumption, why are we surprised that we now hear so much about gluten intolerance, candida overgrowth, and “leaky gut?”
FatHard fats improve load volume, crumb softness, and keeping quality. Hydrogenated fats have been commonly used, though plant bakers are phasing them out.Not essential in traditional bread making, though often used. Hard to do without some fat in industrial bread.What are the sources of fat?
High Fructose Corn SyrupHFCS is an artificial sweetener derived from corn that has undergone an enzymatic process to convert glucose into fructose. Bakery items use HFCS 42 – meaning 42% fructose and 58% glucose.All HFCS is derived from genetically modified (GM) corn. It is labeled “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, yet has health and environmental concerns, and some HFCS contains mercury, a neurotoxin.Are you familiar with the facts about HFCS? How about genetically modified foods? There is not enough room to write about GM corn, but here are some guidelines from the Mayo Clinic.
Non-fat dry milkDecreases staling rate, and improves crust color and softness.Not needed in bread-making.As a consumer, do you care about whether or not hormones and antibiotics are given to the cows whose dairy you consume?
Flour Treatment AgentL-ascorbic acid (E300). Can be added to flour by the miller or at the baking stage. Acts as an oxidant, which helps retain gas in the dough, making the loaf rise more.No nutritional benefits to the consumer (because degraded by the heat of baking.) Increased loaf volume may give the false impression of value.Have you noticed that homemade bread is often more dense than store-bought bread? This is why.
BleachChlorine dioxide gas to make flour white, used by millers for decades until banned in the UK in 1999. In other countries, eg theUS, flour may still be bleached.No nutritional benefits to the consumer. Chlorine is a potent biocide and greenhouse gas.Most of us would not intentionally ingest bleach, so why do many not think twice when making a bleached sandwich?

Great article from
Weston A. Price
Reducing AgentL-cysteine hydrochloride (E920). Cysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid. Use in backing to create more stretchy dough, especially hamburger buns and baguettes.No intended nutritional benefit, though also sold as a supplement. May be derived from human hair or duck feathers:
Cysteine & Hair
Soy FlourWidely use in bread as “improvers.” Has a bleaching effect on flour, assists “machinability” of dough and volume and softness of bread. Enables more water to be added to the dough mix.More than likely derived from genetically modified soybeans. Over 90% of the acres of soybeans planted in the US are genetically modified.Again, are you familiar with genetically modified foods, and why they are not good anyone? Have you read about the dangers of soy? If not, here is a good read: Weston A. Price

EmulsifiersWidely used in bread “improvers” to control the size of gas bubbles, to enable to dough to hold more gas, and there grow bigger, to make the crumb softer, and to reduce the rate of staling. They include:
E471: Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
E472e: Mono- and diacetyltartaric acid of esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
E481: Sodium strearoyl-2-lactylate (SSL)
E422: Glycerol mono-stearate (GMS)
E322” Lecithins – naturally occurring, mainly derived from soy
No nutritional benefit to consumer.
Soy lecithin may be derived from GM soy.
Increased loaf volumes gives misleading impression of value and post-baking softness may be confused with “freshness.”
Are you getting the most value if health is affected by emulsifiers? Do you associate softness with freshness?
PreservativesCalcium propionate (E282) is widely used. Vinegar (E260 acetic acid) is also used, though less effective. Preservatives are only necessary for prolonged shelf life. Home freezing is a chemical-free alternative.No nutritional benefit to consumer. Calcium propionate can cause “off” flavors if over-used and may be a carcinogen.Have you had the opportunity to see how long store bought bread versus homemade bread or sprouted bread?
EnzymesCame to the rescue of industrial breadmakers when additives like azodicarbonamide and potassium bromate were banned. Bread enzymes fall into various categories and have varied functions in breadmaking;
Maltogenic amylase

No nutritional benefit to consumer.
No requirements to be included on ingredient declarations, because they are currently treated as “processing aids.” Even if the EU law in amended, the single word “enzymes” will be all that is require on label, leaving consumers in the dark about the origin the particular enzymes used.
Often produced by genetic engineering, though this is unlikely to be stated on consumer product labels.
Use of phospholipase derived from pig pancreas would be unacceptable to vegetarians and some religious groups, but there is no requirement to declare enzymes, let alone their source.
Some enzymes are potential allergens, notably Alpha-amylase. Bakery workers can become sensitized to enzymes from bread improvers.
Amylase can retain some of its potency as an allergen in the crust of loaves after baking.
Transglutaminase may act upon gliadin proteins in the dough to generate the epitope associated with celiac disease.
There are many concerns over added “enzymes.” Are you concerned about added potential allergens, another genetically modified food source, and the lack of exact information provided?

When we were purchasing bread, I bought two large loaves of organic sprouted bread from Costco for $7. Kroger, Target, and Walmart sell Nature’s Own whole wheat breads and buns which are HFCS-free, and Nature’s Own has an organic bread. Ezekiel bread is also a great company, and can be found at Kroger, Sprouts, and Whole Foods in the freezer section.

Or you could try making your own! I have tried several times to bake my own whole wheat bread and I was never satisfied with the results. Kitchen Stewardship did a great series on finding the perfect homemade whole wheat bread recipe that is worth a read. If you have a recipe to share, or you try one of Katie's, please share with readers.


GAPS, Hippie Tea, & Liver

14 March 2012

Many changes are happening around my house. So many things to praise God for and to be excited about! We spent a month traveling over the holidays, came back and got in the groove of home educating, my husband and I are walking through a program for church planters, and on and on the list goes.

One of the biggest changes I want to share (really I want to shout about it) is that our 6 year battle about food with my oldest son is over. Done. We started the GAPS Intro diet and it was the biggest challenge of motherhood to date. Including my insanely long childbirth with my oldest son. There were tears, there were detox symptoms, there was vomiting, a ton of time in the kitchen, and there was a whole lot of bribery happening. By the time we hit GAPS Stage 4, my son who detested meat and anything green was eating everything we put in front of him. This same son is our child that has had a hard time gaining weight since he was 8-months-old. Within two weeks of starting the diet he gained two pounds! I danced, I screamed, and then I called my mother-in-law.

The diet blew the lid off of our grocery budget for three weeks, but if someone would have told me that GAPS would be the end to our war, I would have borrowed money to make it happen. Not only did we see an improvement with my son's taste buds and weight, but all of us have noticed great digestion, and we are all seeing mental, behavioral, and emotional improvements. We are now working our way back into the full blown GAPS diet (which is where we have been for the last year without grains on a paleo diet).

Another change has been adding in several new super foods. I learned, and really "learned" is a stretch because of how easy it is, how to make kombucha at home. The kids have been loving this new drink in our diet, and it has affectionately been nicknamed "hippie-tea." We have also been experimenting with making our own kefir, and trying it in smoothies and homemade popsicles. Our other addition has been eating liver. I know I just lost some of you there but wait....

Liver can be tough to get past mentally, but there are plenty of benefits to eating this typically detested food. Liver is high in B vitamins, iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and many other minerals and nutrients. These vitamins and nutrients reduce fatigue, boost brain power, helps heal leaky gut, and eating liver is nourishing for your liver. There is a little validity to the concern over the liver having some toxins; however, "toxins the body cannot eliminate are likely to accumulate in the body's fatty tissues and nervous systems." (read more here) Based on everything I have read, the benefit of the antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients in the liver far outweigh the cons, and I highly recommend getting liver from grass-fed and organic cows. Grass-fed and organic cows do not have to try to eliminate pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.

I was hesitant to take the plunge into organ meats. In fact I had a beef liver sitting in my freezer for 6 months and in a frenzied decluttering binge I threw it out. So when I read that liver helps get over leaky gut and was so high in nutrients, I decided it was time to order more through our beef co-op. When the order came in I turned to my beloved Nourishing Traditions book, called one of my best friends for a pep talk, and then got to it.

How I prepare the liver:

- Place 1 lb of liver in bowl, cover with lemon juice, and let soak over night. (Soaking the liver in lemon juice helps draw out excess blood, helps reduce the liver's strong flavor, and does pull out any impurities that may be found in the organ.)
- Once the liver was soaked, I drained the lemon juice, and put the liver in my food processor. Yes, this was a bit strange.
- I replaced 1 lb of liver for 1 lb of pork in my meatballs, and I also added a few stems of fresh basil to the recipe.

Then I waited. My family ate them and really enjoyed them. There was a nice rich flavor, and everyone said that they were my best yet. Once dinner was over I broke the news. My sons shrugged, and my husband wondered why I was secretive about it because it wasn't a big deal to him.

Making broths, and fermenting teas and milk was a part-time job for a while. I am thankful that God has provided so many resources for us to nourish our bodies well. By His grace, I will continue to share what I am learning and what our Crunchy Bunch is up to.

A Poem for My Readers

09 March 2012

Niccola Granola has a blog
and a husband, 3 kids, and a dog.
Life tends to get a little busy,
she avoids going into a tizzy

Her PC full of blogs dies,
and Niccola Granola cries.
Then we travel North in the snow,
and the holidays come and go.

A new year with plenty of goals,
we evaluate our different roles.
Family, health and homeschooling,
meanwhile the emails are pooling.

The blog had to be put on hold,
until life got a little more controlled.
Things are a lot more steady,
now Niccola Granola is ready.

Rants, raves, recipes, and posts,
the things that interest us most.
Thanks for checking back,
and being patient with the lack!