Friday, March 29, 2013

Natural Childbirth Part 1 - The Bradley Method

Starting in college I had this idea that I really wanted to give birth naturally when I had kids. My mom had given birth naturally and said she felt it was totally doable. A lot of women in my church were also giving birth naturally. It sounded like such a great idea, but in all honesty I had NO idea what I was talking about. NO idea!

Getting pregnant was a lot more challenging than I expected. I got pregnant with our first child after several months of "trying" to get pregnant, but quickly miscarried at 5 weeks. It was heartbreaking. Then a few months later I had a season of major health issues that I needed to work through before trying to get pregnant again. But right before our first baby would have been due we got the wonderful news that we were pregnant again! We were starting our big adventure in parenting!

Right away we had some friends recommend to us The Bradley Method. This is a childbirth training program that both helps bring amazing education on pregnancy and birth, but also provides practical training and methods to aid natural childbirth. The focus of the Bradley Method is to give parents the all the resources, knowledge and preparation they need to make the best choices for them and their baby regarding the birth and to be as prepared as possible to do birth without any unnecessary medical intervention. In this, the parents are actually in the decision-making driver seat as opposed to just showing up and doing whatever the doctor recommends you do. Upon our friends recommendation, we signed up for a 12 week class and our education began!

Twelve weeks seems like a huge time commitment. I look back on those weeks with much fondness though. Each night was our special night to focus on baby and then we would get home and snuggle on the couch together and watch some PBS. Ah, memories! Now we are lucky to get 30 quiet minutes on any given day without our sweet bunch screaming around us. But I digress :). From our very first class I was SOOO glad we were taking it. And I began to wonder why I had previously thought I could go into birth and just somehow manage to do things naturally. I knew nothing of labor and nothing about delivery. Some women can go in cold and manage a natural childbirth. I don't think that I could have been one of them. Education is key to having a natural childbirth - I am convinced of this!

So here is what our education included in our Bradley Class:

  • We learned about why a natural childbirth is desirable and the possible effects of the different medical interventions.
  • We learned about how a healthy diet can support a healthy pregnancy and labor. Bradley includes a checklist of what things to include and what to exclude. For me eating became my full time job and I would say that this was a huge step in my developing convictions on healthy eating. I don't know that I would follow their nutrition advice to a t today, but for me at the time it was an excellent start!
  • We learned about pregnancy and how the baby develops.
  • We learned about the stages of labor and how to recognize each one.
  • We learned about practical pain management techniques, and we practiced this in class and regularly at home (Moms, this involves getting massaged by your partner regularly!).
  • We learned about how to form a birth plan and how to communicate your birth wishes with your doctor or midwife.
  • We learned some of the practicals of breastfeeding.
  • We also talked about when things don't go as planned, and how to handle birth surprises or problems.
  • The class also focuses on training the dad to coach the mom and support her in the birth goals.
  • And more!
While I believe the benefits of the Bradley Method are amazing, some are a bit put off by it. I think that whether or not you choose a natural childbirth, the education is awesome. But Bradley Method has a clear opinion on natural childbirth, and it would be tough to take the class and not feel that. However, I personally LOVED my experience and feel it was invaluable in every single birth experience I had. I highly recommend investing in this class if you have any interest at all in a natural childbirth!

In my next post I am going to talk about some of the benefits to a natural childbirth and why I am such a huge advocate!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pureed Carrots

Breakfast is the most challenging meal for me to make right now. Joel tested very high in his sensitivity to eggs and that was a big go-to for us for breakfast. I am limiting him to one egg dish per week until we start the GAPS intro diet. We also used to eat oatmeal or buckwheat a couple of times a week. So when I first started trying to plan what we could eat on this diet I just didn't know what we could possibly eat for breakfasts!

Sausage and bacon seemed like simple solutions for some of our meals. But then what would we eat with that? I ended up trying out some different veggie purees. These can be made sweet treat with just a little bit of raw honey added. I made butternut squash puree last week and this week I tried out carrot puree. Here is what I did:

Pureed Carrots

  • 2-4 Tbsp coconut oil (I used lots, but you could easily do it with less)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1-2 lbs carrots sliced (I probably used a little less than 1 1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 cup or more of broth
  • dash of salt
  • honey (optional) - I didn't use this as I found the carrots were sweet enough on their own.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Put sliced carrots on cookie sheet or other pan. I used my ceramic Pampered Chef baking pan. Cook carrots until softened (maybe 15-20 minutes). Meanwhile heat the coconut oil in skillet or stainless steel pan. Add the onion and saute soft. Add onions, carrots, broth and salt to vitamix and use tamper to blend until smooth. Add more broth or water if needed.

I have also made this by steaming the carrots and onions together and then adding everything to the vitamix and blending. Bot times the kids have loved this! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Yummy GAPS Tomato Sausage Stew

At the time I am writing this, we are about 3 weeks into the GAPS diet. Our stomachs seem to be doing great! Joel was having some tummy problems the first couple of weeks but they have improved this week. We have been dealing with sniffles for the past two weeks which is frustrating, but that might be an issue of us working out our probiotics since the colds appeared immediately after switching to a new brand. I don't think it is merely that we caught colds because it doesn't ever take us this long to get over colds. But who knows? I am praying we will get over this hump soon!

Anyway, I am continuing to experiment with lots of new recipes. Today for lunch we had a yummy sausage tomato stew which I also made a couple of weeks ago. This is very simple and easy to make, and for us it just hits the spot. Today I made the whole recipe for the sauce, but I decided to halve the sausage and freeze half of the sauce for a later time. I served the stew with snap peas on the side and some various leftovers we had in the fridge. The first time I made it I added peas to the stew and served it with a salad.

Tomato Sausage Stew (GAPS-friendly)


  • 2 lbs sausage* (beef or other kind)
  • 1 - 24 oz bottle strained tomatoes (I use this brand)
  • 1/2 onion, quartered or coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium zucchinis, cut up
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • additional spices (I just added a 1/2 tsp or so of basil)


  • Brown sausage in a medium skillet or stainless steel pan
  • Meanwhile add the rest of the ingredients to a blender or vitamix
  • Blend until you have a smooth puree
  • Add the tomato sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Then simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. I just for 5 because we were in a hurry to eat and it turned out just fine.
*One note on the sausage - almost all store bought sausage has sugar added, which is NOT Gaps legal. Whole Foods does sell some sugar free sausage, but you have to be careful about the ingredients. I have opted just to make our own sausage, which is also a cheaper option, by adding a spice blend to ground beef or pork or lamb. I modified a recipe I found online and will post it at some point soon :). 

Monday, March 18, 2013

GAPS-friendly Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrots are a staple in our home. We used to eat a fair amount raw or sliced up in different dishes, but since starting the GAPS diet I have been using carrots in some more unique ways...veggie juice, carrot puree, carrot ginger soup. I had never had carrot soup before but as I am trying to get more and more soups into our meal plan I have been experimenting with a lot of different ideas and this one sounded good. No recipes I found worked 100% for the GAPS diet so I created my own, keeping to the basic routine I have been doing for soups: saute some onions and garlic in coconut oil or other GAPS allowed fat (tonight it was leftover beef fat from our sausage - and can I say YUM!), add in the main veggie, add some chicken stock, simmer until done and then add in some salt and pepper. This is very simple and so far has given some really tasty results.

I think I mentioned in one of my posts that our third child was boycotting the soups our first week on the diet. He is still hit or miss, but overall he is eating much more of the soups I make. Tonight he said he loved the carrot ginger soup we had and I think he finished it all with a very good attitude. We had this soup with some salmon and then cucumber slices on the side. Here is the recipe:

Carrot Ginger Soup

  • 1/4 - 1/2 C coconut oil (we are using lots of fat right now to bulk up our calories)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 Cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1-2 inch chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt
  • pepper
Heat up the oil in a large stock pot and then add the onions and saute for several minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute a couple of minutes more. Then add in the carrots and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock, bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat until carrots are soft. Add the salt and pepper and then puree with a hand held blender or in batches in a blender. 

The first time I made this I took half of the soup and pureed it in the vitamix with about 1 lb of chicken. I served it to for lunch with avocado slices and a few more pieces of chicken on the side. Then we had the rest as a side dish the next day. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

GAPS week one menu

Here we are - week one on the GAPS diet. I guess we are jumping in in some ways and also easing into it in some other ways. I completely altered most of our meals, but Nik and I attended a wedding our first official night so that was a lost cause for me. And then the kids had regular snacks at Sunday School today. I need to figure out something for them for that. But otherwise we are doing it and it is going okay. Erik is striking the soups I am making, but am praying he will come around because he used to LOVE soups - any kind of soup!

I am writing out all of our meal plans ahead of time and then logging what we end up actually eating on here so I can track it for future meal/snack ideas. This should give you a good idea of what we are eating/not eating.

Week One Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: Fried apples with leftover beef muffins
  • Lunch: Mushroom soup, shredded turnips and celery root fried in coconut oil (this was really good!)
  • Dinner: Grass-fed beef hot dogs, carrot fries, cucumber slices (This was for the kids while I indulged at the wedding).
  • Snacks - bananas, homemade lemon gummy candies
  • Breakfast: Coconut milk/berry smoothie; handful of raw almonds (soaked and deyhdrated)
  • Lunch: Mushroom soup, homemade lamb sausage (this was yummy!), leftover carrot fries
  • Dinner: Salmon, large green salad, mashed butternut squash
  • Snacks: apples, bananas; butternut squash with honey and coconut oil
  • Breakfast: Butternut squash with honey and coconut oil, bacon, sliced green peppers
  • Lunch: Homemade chicken lunch meat, avocado mayo, lettuce for wrapping, tomatoes and carrots
  • Roast chicken with onions, carrots & parsnips (I have since discovered parsnips are not gaps legal :( ), large salad with dressing made of olive oil and ACV, leftover Mushroom Soup
  • Snacks: almonds, fruit leather, apples, blueberries fried in coconut oil
  • Breakfast: "Hashbrowns" made of celery root and turnips fried in leftover bacon fat, home made beef sausage, carrot sticks and hemp milk. Erik was extra hungry and had an egg afterward. NOTE: I am not doing eggs for any of our meals b/c this is something we have to limit for Joel right now.
  • Lunch: Onion Broccoli Soup w/meatballs
  • Dinner: Roast chicken leftovers
  • Snacks: apples/bananas, almond flour "butter" cookies

  • Breakfast: Blueberry-banana coconut milk smoothie, macadamia nuts
  • Lunch: Carrot Ginger soup with chicken, avocado slices on the side
  • Dinner: Curry chicken w/green peppers and mashed cauliflower (So gooood!)
  • Snacks: bananas, pureed butternut squash with coconut oil and raw honey
  • Breakfast: Sausage, butternut squash puree with coconut oil and honey
  • Lunch: Leftover carrot soup with hot dogs
  • Dinner: Spaghetti w/zucchini noodles and a large, but plain salad
  • Snacks: Green smoothie, Fried bananas, more bananas
  • Breakfast: Pumpkin pancakes
  • Lunch: Broccoli soup w/white bean hummus and veggies
  • Dinner: Round roast, salad, artichoke hearts
  • Snack: Berry chia seed smoothie; fruit; nuts

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

GAPS - here we go

I have debated about this for about a year now - whether or not to put my family on the GAPS diet. If you have never heard of this, here is a link that explains the gist of it. I will dumb down the basics even more to say that it is a diet that restricts certain foods that irritate the gut with the goal to HEAL. It is a short term diet, meaning that it is not meant to be lifelong. However, you have to faithfully live on this diet for about 1 1/2 - 3 years in order for it to really work. No cheating allowed :).

Since we began our journey to healing several years ago, I feel that just about everything we have tried health-wise has been about improving our symptoms by removing foods form our diet and adding in healthier or more well tolerated alternatives. This has been so valuable and I have learned things that will forever affect how we eat. I don't envision us ever going back to the way we once ate. At the same time, I also feel that everything we have done has been about maintaining our current level of health without much hope that at some point Joel could go to a birthday party and have one cupcake and not throw up a couple of days later. Do I ever plan to regularly give him unhealthy refined cupcakes? NO! But do I want him to be able to tolerate wheat and dairy and be able to indulge on a rare occasssion? Yes!

The GAPS diet is really the first diet I have ever heard of that talks about healing the gut so that you can once again enjoy foods that your body cannot currently tolerate. Is it crazy? Yes! Is it incredibly restrictive? YES! Will people probably think we are more crazy that they even thought in the past. Probably. And will it cost us an arm and a leg? Yes - that too. But I cannot resist the hope of that simple word - healing. If it delivers and Joel's and my bodies are healed and we can visit friends for dinner without having to list a slew of no no foods, it will have been worth it. And if it doesn't deliver I don't see that much will be lost. And we will have gone on a family adventure together, weathered the good and tough times through it, learned greater levels of discipline, and probably gained at least some greater level of health.

I have debated over whether or not to do this diet for so many reasons: cost, what other people will think of us, and fears over whether I can do this right or not. But God has been challenging me to take more risks and to step out in faith. I believe He will heal my baby boy. He can do it supernaturally but that hasn't happened yet, so I am stepping out in faith that He might do it through the GAPS diet.

So, we are starting to ease into the GAPS and will do the full diet until the summer. Then my plan is to do the intro diet, which is the really tough part where you go through an shorter more intense elimination diet. I plan to at least attempt to keep logs of our meal plans, recipes, etc. I don't want to do anything crazy like this if it can't possibly benefit someone else. So if you are interested in the diet stay tuned and you can get a bird's eye view through us!