Tag Archives: whole foods

Curried Chicken Salad

This bird is absolutely indispensable!
Day 1:  Roasted chicken.  Pulled leftover meat off of the bone and put it in fridge, along with the chicken remains.
Day 2:  Made broth from the chicken bones and undesirable scraps.
Day 3, today:  Use leftover meat to make “Curried Chicken Salad.”
What will Day 4 be?  Giblets are always good for you…



2 cups of cooked chicken
1/4-2/3 cup of mayonnaise (make it egg free with avocado mayonnaise)

1/2 stalk of celery, finely chopped

1/2 of a small onion, diced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 and 1/2 teaspoonful of yellow mustard (prepared, not powdered)

2 tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon of curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons of raisins

2-3 tablespoons of chopped nuts


In one single large bowl, mix everything together except the raisins and chopped nuts.  Start with only 1/4 of a cup of mayonnaise.  Mix very well.  I like my chicken salad nearly shredded, so I stir it a lot until it shreds.  If the chicken salad seems a little dry, add some more mayonnaise to your liking.  At the end, stir in raisins and chopped nuts.

We serve it on Romaine or Boston lettuce and roll it up.  We eat it plain.  We eat it stuffed into a tomato.  We eat it with carrots.  We eat it on celery.  We love it on a raw piece of zucchini, just like a cracker!

Family “gustar” report

5 out of 5 success.  Every time.  One picky eater didn’t like the nuts and raisins for a while, but she got tired of picking them out and now just eats them–and likes them.  To accomplish this amazing food feat, no food replacement besides apples, carrots, and celery was offered instead of the chicken salad.  “Supper is in four hours.”


Although we have removed processed foods and grain-products from our everyday food repertoire, the time I spend in the kitchen now has been reduced to what it used to be before our big change.  We feel better.  We look better (this is the line that will get most people listening).  And most importantly, our bodies function better.  The time it takes initially to figure out what to make, how to make it, where to find shortcuts, and how to get the crew to eat it pays off immensely.

As always, I am here to try to answer any of your questions as to why or how to undertake this health changing endeavor!  Please, give it a shot.

Eat to live.

Stocking the Pantry

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
o get her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare,
And so her poor dog had none.

Well, send that poor dog to my house.  I’ve got soup bones aplenty in the freezer!  No starving here!  Our cupboard has changed significantly since we removed grains, milk, and processed foods, but with my pantry ingredients, I can whip up something pretty fast now for the kids.

A long time ago my sister told me to write up what was in my pantry.  At first, when you start a “nutritional rehab” program, the pantry stock is always changing.  You buy ghee, only to realize three of you don’t tolerate it.  You stock up on coconut milk, only to realize it gives you a headache.  The 12 jars of almond butter arrive in bulk, and you realize two in your family have gastrointestinal symptoms from it.  So over the past year, it was maddening to buy too much in bulk, even though it’s much cheaper!  Don’t pitch things, though!  Over the course of the year, we were able to add most things back in.

The list below is what we keep on hand.  My kids and husband can eat most of these things, but I can’t.  Not everything I list is SCD or GAPS compliant, but it usually is.  We started out very strict and have been able to branch out with time (except me).  If I list a specific product, you can click on it to see a photo about it or read a description of it, usually from the Amazon page.  Amazon is not always the best place to buy it, however, so shop around.  Also, sometimes, the link is to a big bulk order, so if you do decide to order it, watch out for that!

Coconut products

Natural Value full fat coconut milk:  No BPA to mess with my estrogen receptors and no guar gum to upset my stomach.  Because wpid-IMAG0537.jpgthere is no guar gum to bind the coconut milk together, the milk is not homogeneous.  If you need smooth milk, a mild heating will provide you the uniform consistency you want.  For baking, I just give it a quick stir and use it as is.  I keep a can in the refrigerator and add a scoop to warm berries and cinnamon for an easy sweet snack.

Let’s Do…Organic Shredded Coconut, unsweetened:  Texture is a small, fine, dry flake.  I add it to trail mixes, use it in smoothies, add it to granola, and use it in desserts.

Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil:   Nutiva is probably my favorite coconut oil.  I’ve used a few others, also.  Wilderness Family Naturals has a lot of coconut products, and I bought a big coconut oil bucket from them.  It was good, too, but Nutiva is my favorite.  I really wish it came in a glass jar.

Artisana Organic Coconut Butter:  Artisana has such a smooth coconut butter!  Much smoother than the Nutiva brand, which seems almost gritty.

Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour:  I use this for pancakes, muffins, and cakes.

Coconut aminos:  I use these in place of soy sauce.

Sometimes I also keep coconut cream and larger flaked coconut around, but they are not “must stocks.”


Roasted, salted almonds:  I buy these at our local markets or buy in bulk on-line.

Sliced almonds:  I buy these at the local supermarket, too–the thin kind you find in the baking section.  I keep them on hand because the Paleo Parents has the BEST recipe that calls for them.

Raw walnuts

Raw pecans

Occasionally, we rotate through pistachios, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts.  I stick to individual nuts and not the mixed nuts.  The mixed nuts and pre-made trail mixes usually have extra starches added to keep them smooth, silky, and unclumped.

Nut products

Almond Butter, unsalted, unsweetened:  We’ve tried a lot of different brands and have yet to settle on a favorite.

Honeyville almond flour:  I buy the huge box because we bake a lot.  (The link is for the smaller bag.)  Personally, even though I love them, I don’t tolerate nut products well, but having almond flour on hand is a must if you have kids or entertain.  The coffee cakes and cupcakes I make with almond flour disappear quickly at potlucks and ladies’ coffees.  My kids “fit in” because I can still make chocolate cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies.  An absolute necessity to keep them on our nutrition change.

We also occasionally keep tahini, sunflower butter, peanut butter, or cashew butter on hand.  Peanut butter and cashew butter gave us all problems initially on GAPS/SCD, but the kids really seem to have developed tolerance to them now (cross my fingers).

Canned meats

Natural Value wild caught albacore tuna in spring water, sea salt added, BPA free:  I could not find a link for this.  I must have wpid-IMAG0539.jpgordered it from Azure Standard.  We use other canned tuna, too, always searching for wild caught, BPA-free, and either in water or olive oil.

Wild Alaskan Salmon, with bones and skin

Sardines in olive oil, preferably with skin and bones

Canned goods

Farmer’s Market organic pumpkin, BPA free:  I use this for soups, muffins, breads, and pancakes.

Cut green beans:  Various brands or home-canned.  Canned is not as nutrient-dense as fresh or frozen, but for expediency and eating, the canned variety can’t be beat.

Canned tomatoes, home-canned and Eden’s organic, crushed tomatoes in glass jars:   The Eden crushed tomatoes are not really atwpid-IMAG0538.jpg all like crushed tomatoes; they are more like plain tomato sauce, so they whip up a fast spaghetti sauce!  I buy them through a company called Azure Standard, which is an organic food delivery system.  I mix the Eden’s tomatoes into meatloaf, chili, and taco sauce.

Applesauce:  We make this every fall and can it.

Condiments and Sides

Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve Balsamic vinegar, aged 18 years:  I’ve linked to Amazon so you can read about it, but the Amazon order is for 12 bottles.  You may want to look around to get one bottle to see if you like it.  Balsamic vinegar must be pure to be “legal” on GAPS/SCD.  Even still, it’s sweetness makes you wonder.  No matter.  This balsamic vinegar is the best I’ve had by far.  because of its age, it’s already thick, and I don’t have to reduce it for sauces and dressings.  We apply it to salads, vegetables, and meats.  I could drink it from the bottle if I knew it was “good” for me.

Organic mustard

Organic ketchup:  I cheat here with the kids because their issues are/were not so significant as mine, and the ketchups I buy have sugar in them.  I do use organic, however, because apparently tomatoes are guilty of high chemical levels.

Mayonnaise:  On a good week (and in the beginning of our nutritional rehabilitation), I make my own, but in a pinch I cheat and use a canola based product made with honey.   It is by Spectrum.

Red wine vinegar

Bragg’s apple cider vinegar

Crofter’s organic strawberry fruit spread:  This contains both pectin and grape juice concentrate, illegals on SCD/GAPS.

Coconut aminos:  See above.

Red Boat fish sauce:  I use this in curries.


Olive oil:  I have been experimenting with all kinds of different brands of extra-virgin, first cold-pressed olive oil.  I really, really like Trader Joes’ California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but I only get it when a friend brings me a bottle back from “The Cities.”  I like to get the olive oil in glass.  I’ve been using olive oil to bake lately rather than coconut oil.  Addendum:  While just shopping online, I found Trader Joe’s Olive Oil.  A bit expensive but great for a special salad dressing.

Coconut oil:  See above

Palm shortening:  Its utility is for birthday cake icing.

Loriva toasted sesame cold pressed oil:  A nice twist for stir-fries and curries.

Purity Farms Ghee:  When we started our dietary change a year ago, most in our family had reactions to ghee.  Technically, you’re not “supposed” to react to ghee because the proteins have been removed.  Let me tell you, we still reacted to ghee.  A year later, my daughter can have ghee (and other dairy) with no ill effects.  So maybe this change is doing something.  Time and diligence will tell.

Fermented Foods

Bubbie’s pickles:  I slice these thin for hamburgers and slice into spears for the kids.  Sometimes I chop them up and sprinkle them over things, like sloppy Joe sauce.

Sauerkraut:  I make my own, and I buy Bubbie’s, too.

Sunja’s medium spicy kimchi:  It’s a bit spicy, but my kids will eat a small bit of it.  My local organic store carries it.

Herbs, spices, flavorings (and baking soda)

Almond extract

Baking soda:  Arm and Hammer is easy to obtain, and the label looks “pure” and “clean.”


Celtic sea salt:  I always try to get the fine ground, and I keep in mind there is NO iodine in it.  We snack on some seaweed now that we’re about a year into our endeavors for iodine.  GAPS/SCD don’t incorporate seaweed in the early phases of the diet.


Cocoa powder:  My favorite comes from Penzey Spices.  I buy both the dark and the Dutch.  The Dutch chocolate makes good coconut milk hot cocoa.

Curry powder

Garlic powder


Italian Seasoning:  This is great on fish, and I use Morton and Bassett’s brand because I like it so much.


Onion powder





Vanilla:  Here I’ve been tricked!   Even high-quality vanillas may add sugar!  If you’re ordering on-line, you can’t always see the label.  For example, Penzey’s spices are super-fresh and reliable, but their vanilla has sugar added!  I use only vanilla that has alcohol, vanilla bean, and water.  Supposedly all of the proteins have been left behind in the distillation process, so I don’t fret about the original grain being a “gluten container.”  I’m still experimenting with vanillas to find my favorite.

My spice cupboard overflows beyond what is listed, but these are the staples that take care of me day in and day out.  Penzeys Spices taste incredible to me, and I think their prices are reasonable.  They list all the ingredients in their products, I just missed the fact their vanilla had sugar in it!

We also use Montreal Steak Seasoning on grilled chicken and steak, and Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic on pan-fried fish, but because they list “spices” as an ingredient, I think these should be used with caution.  Again, I didn’t use these until our symptoms had resolved, and I added them back in and watched.  They made the cut for my family (and me!).


Local raw honey:  I like to use this in teas for its known positive qualities (antibacterial, local pollen immune boosters).  Some recipes I use (like frostings) do better with the stiffer, raw honey.  Also, it’s helpful to use as “glue” when making cute snacks for the kids.  Sometimes I’ll use it in baking, and it always seems to do fine.  It’s just not as easy to get out of the container as the pourable honey.

Local “liquid” honey:  Easy to pour for baking.

Maple syrup:  My dad makes and sells maple syrup on a small, local basis, so we break SCD/GAPS law here and use it.  I appreciate the fact that it has quite a few minerals packed into a little punch for the kids.  Does that offset the sugar nemesis?  I don’t know.  Sugar is sugar is sugar.  I won’t eat it much at all until I’m either functioning like I want or have given this SCD/GAPS/Paleo autoimmune (whatever you want to call it) thing a 100% go and it fails.  I think having maple syrup on their pancakes is one of the tricks that helped keep the kids on board with this diet intervention.

Agave:  I have on hand for baking, but we almost always use honey for baking.

Liquid Stevia drops:  Too many Stevia drops, and my family won’t eat it.  It gets a funny taste.  We don’t use Stevia much, but it’s helpful for a smoothie that isn’t just quite “there” or a barbecue sauce that needs just a touch of sweetness, but I think I’ve already added too much honey.  For us, it’s a “sweetener booster” for recipes where the baseline level of sweetness just doesn’t “make it.”  I don’t think it’s GAPS/SCD legal, either.



Dried currants:  Great to have on hand for making cute snacks (think, eyes) and also better tolerated by kids in cakes, muffins, and cookies.

Dried bananas:  We like to make our own in the dehydrator.

Dried dates

Dried figs

Good Life chocolate chips:  These have sugar added, so they’re a real treat for us.

SeaSnax seaweed in olive oil:  Not SCD compliant, and only GAPS compliant after the introduction.

Coco-roons:  They have different flavors.  Clean ingredients, and I don’t have to make them.

If you made it reading this far, maybe you’d take the time to let me know YOUR favorite product!  Mine would probably have to be that balsamic vinegar I mentioned!

What I Like from US Wellness Meats

wpid-IMAG0514.jpgI like the idea and theory that grass-fed animals have a better omega-3 profile than grain-fed animals.  We buy local grass-fed South Dakota beef, loved as much as a beef cow can be loved by its owner.  Our most recent purchase came in at $3.00 per pound across all cuts.  However, sometimes, I like to vary it up a bit with sausage I don’t have to make or have some hot dogs for the kids.  I have been purchasing from US Wellness Meats for this purpose.  Their delivery service has been impeccable:  prompt and always frozen solid.  I have been happy with their service.

As with all things, some people will like things and some people won’t.  Grass-fed beef has a different flavor, and took a little getting used to.  Depends on what grass they ate.  Where the grass grew.  How much fat they had on them.  Many factors.  If you’ve had ghee, I feel like strong-flavored grass-fed meat tastes like ghee.  I don’t notice it much at all in my hamburger and hamburger dishes.  Steaks, roasts, and broths have a stronger flavor.  I make sure and marinate my steaks well to help mellow that flavor.

We’ve tried several things from US Wellness Meats.  Since the meat is more expensive, it’s nice to know what other people have tried and liked.  I am going to list what we’ve tried and what we thought of it, in hopes that somebody may benefit from our experiences.

Awesome and I like to keep on hand:

Sugar free pork breakfast sausage

Beef breakfast sliders

Wild pink shrimp

Good and I like to keep on hand:

Sugar free beef franks

Beef snack sticks nitrate and MSG free

Beef jerky sticks spicy

Good and I occasionally buy:


Beef snack stick ends–They are often out of these otherwise I’d stock up on these.  The kids like them.

Medium marrow bones

Won’t buy again

Polish kielbasa beef sausage–I think my homemade sausage tastes better than this.  It wasn’t bad, but not worth the price.

Beef tenderloin Wellington–I didn’t add enough seasoning probably, and the grass-fed flavor shone through.  Not a bad thing, but it was too strong for our palates.  However, it was very moist.

Free range drumsticks–No issues with the flavor or anything.  They’re fed grains, so I figured since I can get chicken less expensive at the supermarket, I’ll just go ahead and get fresh.

Liverwurst–Probably a delicious liverwurst.  I’m not a liver lover, so I couldn’t get past that.  I gave it to my Romanian friend, and she thought it was great.  She didn’t think the liver flavor was strong at all and could tell there were other organs in there besides liver.  I’m not that good.

The Smell of Heaven

wpid-IMAG0807.jpgIf heaven has a smell, I know it is that of the steam rolling out of a maple syrup shack in the late of winter.

My dad and uncle work together each year to make maple syrup, as their grandfather did before them in the very same woods.  As I write, they are “boiling” maple sap now in a sugar camp far, far away.

“Maple season” (or “sugar season”), the brief time when sap runs through the tree and can be made into syrup, occurs usually in late February or early March.

As winter loosens its grip on nature and mud makes its first appearance, sugar, stored as starch in the maple tree’s roots, begins to rise through the trunk to the limbs of the tree to feed the developing buds.  Freeze at night and thaw in day.  Freeze at night and thaw in day.  A cycle of freezing and thawing promotes the sap’s running through the tree.  During this time, and this time only, can sap be tapped from the tree for maple syrup; one year this may be late February and another year it may be mid-March.001

The number of days or weeks a sugar season lasts will be uncertain and controlled by the temperatures; a few degrees up or down can shut the sap running off.  If it freezes too hard at night, the sap may not run.  If the day is too warm, the sap may not run.  Once the trees bud, you’re done for sure.   Completely predictably unpredictable, even when you think it’s predictable.  Life.

“Tapping” the trees refers to drilling a hole in the tree and placing a spigot to drain the sap water into a bucket or into tubing.

Great Grandpa Grover collected sap in buckets, but Dad and my uncle use tubing to drain and run the sap from the tree to large collecting tanks set throughout the woods.  The “woods” is a large stand of trees and is frequently called a “sugar bush”, although “sugar bush” can also imply the building the syrup is boiled in too.  Tubing runs like a giant spiderweb networking the forest.

wpid-IMAG0711.jpgBefore tubing can be run, a 3/8 inch hole is drilled into healthy mature sugar maple trees, which are usually anywhere from 40-100 years old and at least 12 inches in diameter.  More than one hole may be drilled in a tree, depending on its size.  The hole does not damage the tree, and it seals up without ill effect.  Apparently other maple trees(such as silver maple) can be tapped besides sugar maples, but I don’t know about that.  We and most other people use sugar maples.

After the hole is drilled, a spigot (or spile) is inserted.  If a bucket is to be used, it is hung now and the top is covered to keep out unwanted debris and animals.  Otherwise, tubing is connected to the spigot to drain the sap.  The clear sap water, which is nearly tasteless and only has a suggestion of sweetness, runs through the tubing to other tubing until, ultimately it drains into large collecting tanks placed throughout the woods.

The sap that has collected in the holding tanks must be tranported to the building with the evaporator.

Our “camp”, the building with the evaporator where the sap is boiled, is at the edge of the woods.  Periodically 004during the day the level of the collecting tanks in the woods are checked.  My dad or uncle will take an ATV through the knee-deep mud to do a “tank check”.  I smile when I think of the exasperation in my uncle’s voice when he comes back from a tank check, and the sap has surprisingly overflowed the tank.  When a tank is full, a tractor (it has to be International for this family) pulling a transportable tank will be taken back to transfer the sap from the collecting tank to the transfer tank drawn by the tractor.   Back at the camp, the sap is now again transferred into a tank inside the sugar house (the building with the evaporator).

The evaporator condenses 40 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of maple syrup.

wpid-IMAG0810.jpgThe sap flows into a large evaporator pan that sits over a rip-roaring firebox fed by wood.  Sometimes the fire blazes so hot, the doors burn red.  The size of a sugar camp’s evaporator varies.  Some don’t even have an evaporator but do it in a pot over an open fire.  Mom and Dad’s honeymoon was spent in New York searching for a new evaporator for the sugar camp.  The two didn’t even make it to the Statue of Liberty.  But I believe they got the evaporator.  The evaporator is a series of pans with channels allowing the syrup to flow in such a way that there is more control over thewpid-IMAG0797.jpg syrup’s development and temperature.  At the start, it’s clear sap water, only 2-3% sugar.  By the end, it’s delicious smelling syrup.  A “hydrometer” is used to determine the density of the syrup and thus the sugar content.  Sap becomes syrup at 219.5 degrees fahrenheit and 67% sugar.

It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap water to make 1 gallon of syrup.

Because you have to wait for the daytime temperature to bring about a thaw and cause the sap to run, maple syrup is usually made in the evening and night.  The atmosphere is warm and cozy.  Family, friends, and neigbors stop in and visit while roasting hot dogs, pork chops, and hamburgers on the hot doors of the stove.  Aunt Holly’s “sugar candy” occasionally graces the buffet.  Syrup is made late into the night and wee hours of the morning, always carefully monitored.

Canning it Off

Our evaporator has a faucet at the point where the sap becomes syrup.  The syrup can be taken out.  It is poured through a cheesecloth into a wpid-IMAG0800.jpgfinishing tank, where it is reheated to boiling and canned (or bottled) off.

Sugar is Sugar is Sugar but…maple syrup is unique.

While I mostly think that “sugar is sugar is sugar”, maple syrup does have the advantage of providing in a 1/4 cup serving:

  • 100% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of manganese
  • 37% of your RDA of riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • 18% of your RDA of zinc
  • Magnesium, calcium, and potassium run about 7% of the RDA

There are 50 calories per tablespoon or 217 in that 1/4 cup serving.

Now, I am not telling you to do this in any way, shape, or form.  Remember, I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mom.  But my mom used to give us kids maple syrup in our milk when we were constipated and swears by it.  I think I had it daily–now I know it was the dairy–but that’s another story.

As I regulate all sugar in my house, I place our maple syrup in a condiment squirt bottle and try to ration it like crazy, using as little as possible and then adding more if needed.  It is not allowed on SCD and GAPS because the sugar content is mostly sucrose, but once you move past the year or two on your diet, give maple syrup a thought.  It makes great barbecue sauce and baked beans.  On my grain-free waffle recipe, it’s spot on.  Yum.

What’s the Grade?

Maple syrup is graded, and the grading system varies whether it’s from Canada (who produces 80% of the maple syrup) or from the United States.  Now everybody has their preferences, but if you ask me, skip the “light” and “fancy”.  You might as well buy Karo corn syrup.  The rich, magnificent maple flavor that you want comes in the “lower” grade syrup.  The cheaper syrup!!!!  (But obviously make sure it IS REAL MAPLE SYRUP!)  When I tell Dad I need syrup, it’s the dark stuff he gives me.  Save that light stuff to sell to people who don’t know better.  I get fussy if he gives me the light stuff; it’s a little runnier, clearer, and although sweet, there’s very little maple flavor.

Interestingly, grade cannot be controlled or made by the maple farmer.  It is Mother Nature.  Certain soils and trees produce more or less light syrup.  Certain weather conditions over the year influence grade production.  How much the farmer gets of what grade will change from year to year.  And usually the earlier in the season the syrup is made, the lighter the grade.  It is lighter earlier because the first runs have the higher sugar content and thus don’t have to be boiled as long. By the time the end of the season arrives, the sap’s sugar content is down a bit and so it must be boiled longer, condensing all the nutrients that impart that delicious, rich MAPLE flavor–not to mention more “nutritious”, as far as sweeteners go!

History of Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is characteristic of the North American continent.  The legend tells that an Iroquois chief’s wife discovered a trough of maple sap, either in an old hollowed stump or underneath where her husband had thrown his tomahawk into a maple tree.  She used the sap as water to boil some meat, and the rest is history.  Although Benjamin Franklin wanted to make America self-sufficient sugar-wise on maple syrup rather than refined white sugar, that never panned out.

wpid-IMAG2381.jpgMy mom and dad use maple syrup liberally.  Once opened, store maple syrup in the refrigerator.  If the sugar crystalizes on the bottom, heat the syrup and it will dissolve again (or fish the crystallized chunks out and eat them like candy). 

  • Pancakes, waffles, and French toast
  • Oatmeal
  • Ice cream
  • To sweeten applesauce either before or after canning
  • To top fresh sliced bananas with a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Mix into baked beans
  • Great for barbecue sauces
  • Mix with unsweetened almond butter along with a little vanilla and salt]
  • Drizzled on top of meat loaf so that as it bakes it caramelizes
  • Use interchangably with sugar when baking, but you must reduce the liquid content by 3 tablespoonsful.

Closing Remarks

Although this article is about maple syrup, really it is about family.  I have the best family in the world.  We’re crazy and nuts, but I cannot tell you how I will always cherish the time spent with my dad, sisters, aunt, uncle, cousins, and now my wonderful husband and children during syrup season.  Mom always stayed home if she could.  I always wondered why.  Now that I have three of my own, I know!  Free night for mom!

I cherish the memories of “sugar season”, and it warrants a special trip home.  I’m telling you , there’s nothing finer than a night at the sugar camp with my family.  I hope that you, too, will find a special time to spend with your children, that they might share it with the world someday in their own way.