Food Heals

I took a break from blogging, and well, a lot of the rest of my life, so I could give more attention to my health and to that of my daughter, who was diagnosed with epilepsy late last year. I’m getting my groove back and in fact, have decided to re-launch my business, Lost Arts Kitchen, and offer personal chef services for people in the Portland metro area who are looking to heal with food. To read about our stories of recovery, check out the latest post on my Lost Arts Kitchen blog.

Sweet Success with Sauerkraut

Hey GAPSters! I’ve just posted on my Lost Arts Kitchen blog about how I make consistently delicious, crunchy sauerkraut. Check it out!

Hot & Sour Soup for the Ailing Home Cook

Tom Kha Talay

Whenever I get a cold, I crave Tom Kha, Thai hot and sour coconut soup. Recently, I was quite miserable with a scratchy throat, headache, and mild fever. Everyone around me says it’s die-off. Whatever, I felt lousy. Gargling with warm salt water and breathing steam helped some, but mostly, I just wanted my comfort soup.

The last time I had a cold like this, I couldn’t drag myself to the store to get the ingredients essential to this soup: lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal root. At the time, my husband was working long hours far from home, so I couldn’t ask him to pick up some take-out soup for me. I finally rallied enough to pick up take out myself, but was determined that next time I had a cold, I’d be prepared. When I felt better, I went to the Lily Market, a nearby Thai market that I’ve shopped at for a decade, and picked up the essentials. I spoke with the owner, who years ago took me around the store, showing me all I needed to make a good hot and sour soup, about my emergency soup plan. He agreed that freezing the essentials would be fine and let me know that I could also get dried galangal root.

He then proceeded to give me a short Thai language lesson. Tom means soup. Tom Kha means coconut soup. Tom Yum is hot and sour soup. Tom Kha Koong is coconut soup with shrimp. Moo = pork. Gai = chicken. Koong = shrimp. Talay = mixed seafood. Nuekua = beef.

When I got home, I put my essential soup ingredients in a freezer bag and stowed them away. I also picked up some bagged frozen wild-caught seafood mix and ordered a case of coconut milk from Azure  Standard. I was all set for my next cold.

Clockwise from upper left: mature and young galangal, baby bok chok, whole and chopped lemongrass, kaffir limes leaves, cilantro

What are those essentials? Kaffir lime leaves come from a lime tree that produces small limes with bumpy rinds. The rind and leaves are used in Indonesian, Thai, Laotian, Cambodian, and Phillipine cuisines. The leaves give the soup some of its sour flavor. Lemongrass is a fibrous stalk that also provide a lemony tang to the soup. Galangal is related to ginger and has a similar aroma, though with an added note of cedar and it does not have as peppery a flavor. Because of their fibrous nature, these ingredients are not usually consumed, but add to broth to flavor it. You can remove them before serving or just let those you are serving know not to eat them. Because they could be quite irritating to the gut, GAPSters might consider putting these in a loose bag made of cheese cloth, to fish out before serving.

I won’t claim that my Tom Kha is completely authentic. This is an emergency version that delivers the soothing, sinus-clearing hot-sour combo without a lot of fuss, for the ailing home cook or perhaps a partner who doesn’t do that much cooking. To be prepared for to make this soup whenever a cold strikes, keep on hand

  • galangal root, lemongrass, kaffir leaves, peas or mix vegetables, and bagged mix seafood or shrimp in the freezer;
  • dried mushrooms, fish or chicken stock, chili flakes, crispy peanuts, and coconut milk in the pantry;
  • ginger, lime juice and fish sauce in the fridge;
  • onions and garlic in storage.

Wild Caught Seafood Mix includes octopus, squid, pink shrimp, and mussels

Of course, if you happen to have the frozen or canned items fresh, that’s great, but this is for those times when you don’t and you’re feeling too lousy to go shopping. The soup pictured above has bok choy, for example, because I made it again this week, after I started feeling well enough to go shopping.

A note about fish sauce: I looked at over a dozen brands and the only one that did not list sugar as an ingredient was Gouramy Fish Brand.

Emergency Tom Kah Soup
Serves 4-6

1/2 cup dry mushrooms (shitake is what I used) or 1 cup of fresh
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons galangal root, sliced 1/8-inch thick
3 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed, sliced into inch-long pieces, and lightly crushed
4-5 kaffir lime leaves
1 quart fish or chicken stock
1 can 15-ounce can coconut milk
2-4 tablespoons lime juice
a pinch or more chile flakes (my kids don’t tolerate much heat, so I just start with a pinch and add chile sauce to my bowl)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 pound of mixed seafood or shrimp, fresh or frozen
1 cup frozen peas or a couple baby bok choy, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced

If you are using dried mushrooms, rehydrate them in a bowlful of boiling water. Save the liquid–you can add it to the soup or save it for another soup later. If you are using fresh mushroom, quarter them and put in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Melt coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Add the ginger and cook another minute, then add galangal, lemongrass, limes leaves and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, lime juice, chile flakes, and fish sauce. Gently simmer for a minute or two to allow flavors develop, then taste. Is it sour enough? Hot enough? Salty enough? Adjust seasoning as needed. Turn the heat up to medium-high again, add the seafood and simmer until the shrimp are opaque. Add the garlic, frozen vegetables and mushrooms and cook just until the vegetables are warmed through. Serve with crispy peanuts, fresh limes, sliced fresh chiles, and cilantro if you have those on hand. Otherwise, just slurp up that hot-sour goodness and feel better soon.

Chicken Paprika with Red Bell Peppers, Grain-Free

I’ve been making chicken paprika for almost five years now, since trying it for the first time when a friend made it for me after my son was born. I’ve changed up my original recipe, making it grain-free and including more broth. Check out what I did with the leftover meat and gravy.

Chicken Paprika with Red Bell Pepper
Serves 4-6

1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons paprika, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 chicken (3 to 3-1/2 pounds), cut into serving pieces (reserve back and neck for making stock)
2-4 tablespoons ghee, lard or schmaltz
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-2″ squares
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup sour cream, creme fraiche, or yogurt

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix salt, 1 teaspoon paprika, and black pepper. Sprinkle salt mixture over chicken pieces. In a wide saute pan, melt fat over medium-high heat. Place chicken pieces skin side down in pan and brown, cooking for about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove from pan. Add more fat if necessary, then add onions and saute until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add red bell pepper and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Add remaining paprika and cook for another minute. Remove pan from heat and use an immersion blend to puree the peppers and onions. Add chicken stock and blend some more. Return chicken to pan, cover, bring to a simmer on the stove, then move the pan to the oven and braise in oven until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes (you can also finish this on the stove, just turn the heat down to a bare simmer). Blend in sour cream and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes longer. Serve with garlic-cheddar biscuits (I made these without any sweetener and they were fantastic).

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Chicken and Olives

I’ve been obsessing for a week or so about these red crackers over at Nourished and Nurtured. Finally got some red bell peppers and roasted them this morning, but I decided to add some cheese and bake them rather than dehydrate them. Well, the crackers need a little more work. Actually, they might have been really good, but next time I need to not run outside to chat with a friend who unexpectedly shows up across the street, looking at the house for sale. The crackers were a little over cooked.

With plenty of roasted and pureed red bell peppers left, I knew I had something good for dinner, but it took a while for inspiration to strike. Finally did, right before dinner, which was going to be quiche, but we had leftover chicken and gravy from the Chicken Paprika I made last week and the thought occurred to me that the puree + gravy + chicken would be a good soup. So, go make Chicken Paprika and then come back here and make some soup, okay?

Anyway, once again, leftovers save me from working too hard and once again, Luc whined about the soup, then tried it and loved it.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Chicken and Olives
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons ghee or schmaltz
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1-2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2-3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 quart gravy leftover from Chicken Paprika
1 chicken breast and 1 thigh leftover from Chicken Paprika
1-1/2 cups roasted red pepper puree
2-3 garlic cloves, fine minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 or so slice black olives

In a heavy-bottomed large sauce pan, melt fat over medium-high heat. Saute onion, carrots, and celery for about 10 minutes, until the onions are beginning to soft. Add gravy, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Remove pan from heat and puree the vegetables with an immersion blender. Add chicken, roasted red pepper puree, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and black olives. Reheat if necessary. Serve with sauerkraut.

Natasha Campbell-McBride on GAPS Diet Journey Radio

I’m listening in right now to Starlene Stewart interview Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome on on Starlene’s first ever GAPS Diet Journey Blog Talk Radio show. She’s explaining the basics of GAPS, why people develop it, and how her protocol helps people recover their health.

Breakfast in a Muffin

Breakfast in a Muffin with Sauerkraut and Duck Liver Pate

As I’ve mentioned, breakfast has become quite elaborate since we started GAPS. It’s been fun, I love making breakfast, but now that I’m getting into a groove with all the rest of our GAPS food prep, I’ve been feeling like it’s time to reign in our weekday morning meal. I was thrilled to see this post full of easy grain-free breakfast ideas over at Nourished and Nurtured and was especially keen to make the egg muffins, with some tweaks. While I love the egg muffin concept–a portable, savory, protein-dense and grain-free breakfast–I wanted something more solid than the egg muffins I’ve had in the past and I also wanted some vegetables. So, the wheels started to turn and I decided to do some experimenting this week.

On Sunday, I hosted a Demarle party. My friend Sally came over, cooked some goodies that showed off the cool features of this awesome, non-toxic silicone bakeware. She suggested cooking bacon in the oven on a Silpat and that’s just what I did on Monday morning. I cooked a bunch of sliced end pieces from our honey-cured, home-smoked bacon at 400F for 20 minutes or so. Why hadn’t I done this before? I made a pile of bacon without having to flip a single piece and clean up was so easy. Just pour the rendered fat through a fine metal sieve into a jar, let the pieces drain a bit, then serve. Leftover bacon ends made it into these egg muffins this week, as well as fried onions, roasted Brussels sprouts and sauteed chard. Totally convenient to have pre-cooked bacon on hand. If you don’t already bake your bacon, you gotta try it.

Back to the muffins. They turned out great. Tasty, filling, and they didn’t fall after baking. They stayed moist, even after being refrigerated and reheated in a toaster oven.

Savory Breakfast Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons bacon fat, duck fat or ghee
1 large onion or 2-3 shallots, diced
1 bunch chard (4-6 leaves, with stems), chopped
2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 eggs
2 cups grated colby or cheddar cheese
2-4 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400F. Place bacon on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Remove from oven and drain (filter and the rendered bacon fat, natch). Meanwhile, melt fat over medium high heat in a large saute pan. Saute they onion until lightly browned, then add the chard stems and cook until softened. Add the chard leaves and cook until wilted. Remove from heat. Whisk the eggs together. In a large mixing bowl, mix the almond flour, salt, and pepper. Add eggs to almond flour and mix thoroughly, then add bacon, onions, chard, cheese, and garlic. Scoop 1/4 cup of mixture into 12 muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes, or until just set in the center.


  • Replace bacon, chard, and colby with smoked salmon, spinach, and 8 ounces of cream cheese (not GAPS legal)
  • Replace bacon, chard, and colby with ham, kale, and edam or cheddar
  • Replace bacon, chard, and colby with pork sausage seasoned with Italian seasonings, diced roasted red bell pepper, and Monterey jack cheese or fontina

Breakfast in a Muffin

Kimchi: The Prettiest Ferment

I posted about making kimchi today on my Lost Arts Kitchen blog. Come see all the purdy pictures!

Week 4

Um. You might be wondering what happened to Week 3. Well, Week 3, we stuck to the protocol, but I was swamped with other commitments and didn’t keep track of my intake. I am less and less hungry these days. I wake up between 5:30 and 6:30 am, whether I’ve gone to bed at 10pm (rare) or midnight (common). I have a bit of water and my thyroid med, then I don’t have anything else for two or three hours. I’ve been experimenting more with our morning juice, included garlic, ginger, and beets.

We’re basically on Full GAS now, though I’m still cooking lots of soups and stews. I have had a couple seemingly random allergy/asthma attacks, late a night, and would like to figure out if they’re food-related. I thought it could be from tomatoes, as it happened after eating Bolognese sauce, but it happened again after I hadn’t had any tomatoes for several days. I’ll keep track of them as they happen and see if I can determine a pattern.

Breakfast has become an incredibly elaborate affair. Juice, involving multiple veggies, then the kids breakfast, still oats and ghee, but this week, I’m taking out the maple syrup and sugar-sweetened fruit syrups and making cooked apples to go with their oats. Since we just smoked a new batch of bacon (honey-cured), we’ve been having that with breakfast. After that’s cooked, I fry onions, adding leafy veg once the onions are nicely browned. Then I cook eggs. I was up at 5:17 this morning and just finished breakfast a few minutes ago…it’s 10:33. The good news is this big late breakfast holds me over ’til 3 or 4 o’clock. I snack a bit on olives or cheese while I prepare dinner and I’m good.

My energy, especially considering how little sleep I’ve been getting, has been pretty good. I’m almost wondering if I should cut back a bit on my thyroid med? I might cut out 1/2 a grain of the 2-1/2 I’m taking now and see if I get more sleep. Not that I necessarily want to sleep more, but it’s supposed to be good for healing.

My feet are still bothering me, but I’m standing a LOT, with all the GAPS cooking + buying club food prep I’ve been up to lately. All things considered, they’re not as bad as they could be.

I read HellaD’s post about External Baths and then more here about the benefits of Epsom salts and have made a commitment to soak every other day. I’ve put it on my calendar in hopes that I will not forget. I would love it if that baths would help with the joint pain. On the days I don’t take baths, I’ll encourage the kids to and put Epsom salts in their bath.

Day 22 Bought 10 pounds of halibut fish frames at New Seasons today for $0.99/pound. Once I get the beef broth finished, I’ll make a big batch of fish broth! It was beautiful out this afternoon. I sent the kids outside to play and they didn’t come in ’til dusk. So looking forward to more warm weather.

  • Juice: Carrot and celery juice
  • Breakfast: Beef broth, bacon, sauteed onions and chard, two fried eggs, sauerkraut, duck liver pate
  • Lunch: Skipped
  • Snack: Green olives
  • Dinner: Goat Korma with Fragrant Cauliflower

Day 23 Mike’s been getting a lot of garden prep done and I need to plant peas asap. I’ve never waited this long.

  • Juice: Carrot, kale (from garden), ginger, green apple
  • Breakfast: Beef broth, bacon, sauteed onions and bok choy, two fried eggs, sauerkraut, duck liver pate
  • Lunch: Skipped
  • Snack: Salami and Swiss cheese
  • Dinner: Cabbage, Onions & Apples with Sausage

Day 24 Dry brushed my skin and then took a long soak in the tub last night. Looking forward to doing that more. Almond flour arrived finally…we were completely out! Baked some delicious apple-cinnamon muffins this morning. Had an mild allergy attack around 11pm.

  • Juice: Carrot, celery, beet root, parsley root
  • Supplements: CLO/Vitamin D, O3FA
  • Breakfast: Bacon, sauteed onions and bok choy, two fried eggs, sauerkraut, duck liver pate (forgot broth)
  • Lunch: Snacked on apple-cinnamon muffins
  • Dinner: Onion soup with sirloin, spinach salad

Day 25 I was a little concerned that making fish broth would make the house stink, but I turned 10 pounds of halibut frames into fish stock and the house smelled SO good. I really want to make some crab soup or clam chowder. (How do you do that without potatoes?) Also made a fresh batch of kimchi and blogged all about it.  Another huge breakfast, no lunch, and practically no dinner. I’m not trying NOT to eat, but I’m not driven by hunger. Took another Epsom salt bath.

  • Juice: Carrot, celery, beet root, parsley root, daikon, apple, ginger…one of my favorite combos so far
  • Breakfast: Beef broth, bacon, sauteed onions and bok choy, two fried eggs, sauerkraut, duck liver pate
  • Lunch: Coffee at cafe, a bite of Luc’s brownie (cheat alert: rice flour and sugar)
  • Snack: Homemade cream cheese and gravlax
  • Dinner: Skipped
  • Late night snack: Monterey jack cheese, pickled salmon

Day 26 Slept almost 8 hours last night. A rarity. I noticed this morning while carrying a basket of clean clothes upstairs that my knees didn’t hurt as much as usual. Overall, I feel less achy in my joints, mostly noticeably my shoulders. Is it GAPS or could the Epsom baths be helping so quickly? I had another bath this evening after dinner tonight.

  • Juice: Carrot, celery, beet root, parsley root, daikon, apple (forgot the ginger and it bummed me out)
  • Breakfast: Bacon, sauteed onions and kale from the garden, two fried eggs, sauerkraut, duck liver pate
  • Lunch: Skipped
  • Snack: Larabar and some Parmesan cheese
  • Dinner: Cioppino with Parmesan cheese and Sauerkraut

Day 27 Canned nine quarts of beef broth, six quarts of fish broth (plus one quart that broke in the canner), and 1 quart of duck broth. Last night I went to bed around 10pm and slept ’til 5:30 or so. Mike didn’t clean the kitchen when he got home late last night. I was pretty frustrated to wake up to a messy kitchen (longstanding issue), so I just made myself a simple breakfast and got out of the house for a while. Came home to a clean kitchen and house, made muffins, and soaked cashews and peanuts. Finally made sauerkraut. We’re going to run out before this batch is ready, but still have plenty of kimchi, plus the batch I made a few days ago. I am obsessed with food.

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with smoked salmon and cream cheese, coffee
  • Lunch: Slice of beef tongue, slice of cheese, olives
  • Dinner: Apple cinna-muffins, coffee

Day 28 I hosted a Demarle party today, cheated a bit having a slice of cheesecake (sweetened with sugar). Made a delicious dinner, made even better because everyone ate some of everything I prepared and seemed to enjoy it all. Or at least, there were no complaints.

  • Juice: Carrot, beet, daikon, ginger, apple, 1 scoop of kelp
  • Breakfast: Almond flour pancake, bacon, 2 fried eggs, fried onions, duck liver pate,
  • Lunch: Quiche rancheros, carrot muffin, roasted butternut squash and onions, cheesecake, coco-cocoa crack
  • Dinner: Roast duck with cherry-balsamic sauce, roast leeks, green salad, pickled chard, coco-cocoa crack, glass of cherry hard cider

Apple Cinna-Muffins

We ran out of almond flour late last week, just as I was beginning to realize how much I lurve the combination of apples and cinnamon. My kids have become absolutely obsessed with applesauce and cinnamon and I was thinking about how I could make a more portable apple-cinnamon snack to pack. Muffins! But I had no almond flour in the house. Until late yesterday. Our big box of almond flour finally arrived from Honeyville and this morning, I made these. Annabel has been telling me all day to make these all the time and it looks like I’ll bake them again tomorrow, as they are all gone.

Popping muffin out of Demarle pan. Easy-peasy.

Our house did not have a dishwasher for the first nine years we lived here. After our umpteenth argument about undone dishes, my husband and I finally bought a used portable dishwasher last fall, but I’m still in the habit of minimizing the number of dishes I use when I cook (well, Mike, as #1 dishwasher, thinks I still use too many, but really, I try). I’m particularly obsessed with minimizing while baking as there’s almost always at least three vessels involved (one for dry ingredients, one for wet, and one for baking), plus measuring cups and spoons. Whenever I can, I use my 2-cup Pyrex measure for wet ingredients all at once. For example, to measure the ingredients for these muffins, I first added the egg to my measuring cup. It came almost to the 1/4-cup line. I then added the ghee, stirring to incorporate it with the egg, until it came to the 1/2-cup line. Next, I added the honey until it came to the 1-cup line. Finally, I added the vanilla and stirred everything together.

I adapted this recipe from Elana Amsterdam’s Apple Cinnamon Muffin recipe in The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. Hers calls for arrowroot, which I have not found necessary; grapeseed oil, which I replaced with ghee; and agave nectar, which I replaced with honey.

Apple Cinna-Muffins
Makes 20 mini-muffins or 10 standard muffins

2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/4 cup ghee at room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large or 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, mix the almond flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a measuring cup, mix the egg, ghee, honey, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Mix in the apple. Spoon batter into muffin pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

Shared at Monday Mania.

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