GAPS Kitchen Tools – Stock Pot

TOOL: Stock Pot
NECESSITY: 5 out of 5
COOL FACTOR: 1 out of 5
FREQUENCY OF USE: Weekly or Bi-weekly
LOOK FOR: Stainless Steel

I am starting a new series of posts. My GAPS Kitchen Tools. It was going to be one post, until my list got so long that I didn’t want to scare anyone away from changing the way you eat. A good percentage are found in almost every kitchen so you may have some already!

When we first started GAPS we went through our pantry and cleared out all of the items that were no longer allowed. We saved a small stash in an out-of-the-way place for when my stepsons are over. There’s no reason to torture them with no grains just because the rest of us are on a crazy food plan. Although, we do buy the best quality grains available for them to eat. The next thing I did was evaluate which utensils needed to go; non-stick pans, BPA filled plastic containers, etc. And I made a list of the items I needed to buy. Slowly. One at a time, because let’s face it this food plan isn’t cheap.

The very first thing I bought was a big stock pot. The amount of meat stock or bone broth we consume in a week was greater than the capacity of my largest 8 quart pot. It can be done in a smaller pot, it just has to be done more often. Bone broth stays on low heat for 12-24 hours, and there’s no way I feel comfortable leaving my gas burner on that long more than once every two weeks when I can be home the entire time and monitor it. I tried making it in a crock pot. I tried every way under the sun with the crock pot, begging and praying for a way to make it work. It kinda worked for chicken broth, but every batch had a flavor of burnt or rancid fat. No thanks! Back to the stove! Stock and broth freeze beautifully. I store it in lots of different size containers so that they are easy to pull out for drinking or for cooking. Sometimes I need 2 quarts of broth for soup, and sometimes I just need a mugful.

You’ll hear me say over and over again that the best cookware is Le Creuset. It’s the safest, it’s cast-iron, and they have enameled and anodized pots and pans meaning food won’t stick. If you check out the link you’ll see why I don’t have a Le Creuset Stock Pot…. yet. It’s a bit pricey, but it is something you will pass on to your children. It will last forever. Like Legos. The next best is All Clad. Again, a little pricey, but lower than the Le Creuset. The important thing is you want to get stainless steel. Not aluminum. Most stainless steel pots have an aluminum induction base to help heat the pot, which is fine but the part your food touches should be stainless steel. I have heard that one way to tell if your pot is stainless steel or aluminum (if it doesn’t say on the bottom) is to see if a magnet sticks to it. If it does stick than it is for sure stainless steel. However, if it doesn’t stick it does not mean that it isn’t. Some stainless is magnetic and some isn’t, but aluminum will not hold the magnet.

Ok. Here is the pot I bought. It’s 20 quarts, which means I can easily make 2-3 gallons of stock/broth at a time. Yup. Two to three GALLONS. That will last us about 2 weeks with cooking and drinking. It is lightweight, which is good, because I add a couple of gallons of water and several pounds of chicken and pouring just the broth out takes a little muscle. I don’t use the lid often, but it is nice to have when I need to divide my cooking time. (When I have to leave my house during a batch of bone broth, I stick it in the oven for quick trips, or in the fridge. When I return I bring it back to a boil, skim the scum off and reduce to a simmer for the remainder of the cooking time). I purchased this one for around $50.

Chefmate 20QT Stainless Steel Stock Pot from Target

Chefmate 20QT Stainless Steel Stock Pot from Target

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GAPS Meatloaf – Grain-free

GAPS Meatloaf

I tested this meal on a Standard American Diet friend, and he said it was really good. Of course he’s a young man, and they’ll eat just about anything. He could have just been saving my feelings. Try it for yourself and see. I think it would go nicely with Nourishing Traditions Fermented Ketchup. I haven’t made it yet myself.

I used 3 loaf pans, because I was in a hurry, and also to keep the loaves short and keep them together. If you make one big loaf the cooking time will vary. This recipe does not include garlic, but you could add garlic powder or fresh garlic with the spinach for your tastes. Printable recipe card at the bottom.

Meatloaf

2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef
1 can organic tomato paste
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 pastured eggs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped
4 cups organic baby spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare loaf pans with ghee or parchment paper.
  2. In a large pan cook onion, celery, carrot, salt and pepper until softened.
  3. Add zucchini and spinach until wilted. 1-3 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. In a large mixing bowl add remaining ingredients. Add vegetables. Mix gently until well combined.
  5. Divide into loaf pans and bake in oven about 30 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Print

Chicken Piccata – Grain-free, Gluten-free, GAPS-friendly

I’ve added a new feature… printable recipes at the bottom of my food posts. Click on the picture and it should open in a new window to print or save to your desktop. 
Chicken Piccata - Grain-free, Gluten-free, GAPS-friendly

Chicken Piccata

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin (organic, free-range of course)
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Almond flour for dredging
2 tablespoons unsalted, pastured butter
Ghee for sautéing
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season chicken with and pepper. Dredge in flour.
  2. In large skillet over med-high heat melt 2 tbsp ghee When hot, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook each side for 3 minutes. Remove to plate.
  3. Add more ghee repeat with 2 more chicken pieces.
  4. Into the pan, add lemon juice, stock & capers. Bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from pan.
  5. Check for seasoning.
  6. Return all chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 min.
  7. Remove chicken to platter.
  8. Add 2 tbsp butter to sauce and whisk vigorously.
  9. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Print

GAPS Diet On A Budget

When I explain our food plan to inquiring minds I get, “You must spend a fortune on groceries.” Yes, it can get a little pricey at times, and there have been trips to the grocery store that have left my bank account weak in the knees. (Like the time I did all of our Christmas meal shopping at Whole Foods… and bought a goose.) Overall, I’ve found that with an eye on the mailers and shopping at 4 stores instead of one I can keep our groceries bills reasonable; if not low. A few things first before I get into the lists of what I buy where.

1. You should buy the best quality you can afford. If you can’t always get organic ingredients, fresh is still better than processed. I read in the GAPS FAQ’s that if you have to choose between organic meats and organic produce that you should always buy the produce organic because animals have immune systems to fight off what the farmers feed them, but vegetables can’t fight the pesticides. That being said, I try to stick to the less expensive meats and continue to buy organic. When I am making our bone broth I use only the best quality ingredients. We do save a bit of money by eating more veggies at mealtimes than we used to. Print out (or save on your phone) a list of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen produce items. The Clean 15 are the ones you can get away with buying non-organic. The Dirty Dozen are the most contaminated and should always be organic.

2. In the beginning I spent a lot of time, effort and money trying to replace the foods we were missing; like baked goods, breads and desserts. Most of them did not compare to the real thing (which only made me miss it more) and the ingredients for baking are on the higher priced side. Forget about bread, there isn’t a good replacement. There are some crepe recipes that make a decent sandwich wrap or tortilla substitute, but they use a lot of eggs. Unless you’ve got a good line on pastured eggs for cheap I’d save this for a treat also. Lettuce is great for wrapping around meat for sandwiches. Experiment with different kinds. I like to use romaine hearts for tacos, red leaf for sandwiches and boston for egg burritos. Mix it up!

3. Check online for bulk items and dry goods. I was buying our almond flour from Honeyville online, until I realized they have a store near me. Now I’m saving on shipping! I always check online for items like: tea, kombucha, flour, nuts, fruit leather, coconut oil, raw cider vinegar, etc. And there are quite a few companies that ship perishable foods like: meats, dairy, starter cultures, honey, etc. Amazon surprisingly has quite a bit of food stuffs.

4. Farmer’s Markets!! Usually lower prices than a grocery store; if you live near one make it a habit to stop once a week. The farmers that come won’t always have certified organic produce (it costs a lot for the certification and many small farms just can’t afford it). Ask questions, because many will be practicing organic farming. Some of the big markets will have eggs and occasionally pastured chickens. Bring a cooler with you just in case. Eggs don’t need to be refrigerated right away, but it’s always good to keep your meat cold if you are lucky enough to find it at a market.

Below is a list of what I buy and where I shop. These stores are regional, so Southern California residents are going to have the best odds for this working for them. Start taking notes on your local stores for the best deals near you if you don’t live close by any of these stores.

Sprouts

This is where I buy the majority of our groceries. They have raw milk and cheese (but not cream), pastured butter, organic eggs, grass-fed meats and the largest selection of fresh organic produce in my area. They have everything on my shopping list, but not always at the best prices. Their regular (non-organic) chicken is hormone-free and free-range so when I need to save some dough I will buy this. Their sausages are hand-made and they have a variety of chicken that are nitrate-free and made with the same chicken. Most are gluten-free as well.

** I always stop by Sprouts on Wednesdays. It is the day their weekly deals overlap so you get the sale price on everything from the previous week and the next week. When their grass-fed beef goes on sale it’s always a good idea to go the first day because they run out.

  • Grass-fed steaks/roast (ground beef only when it’s on sale, which is often)
  • Organic produce
  • Organic spices
  • Organic eggs
  • Raw milk
  • Raw cheese
  • Applegate products
  • Purified/Spring Water (I buy the big jugs and then take them back to refill)

Trader Joe’s

The one by us is small and doesn’t carry everything. I go specifically for these items because they are less expensive here:

  • Raw nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans) We make our own nut butter because we like cashew butter better than almond and I can’t find one made with raw cashews. (And it’s cheaper to make it ourselves. It takes 15 minutes)
  • Organic, free-range chicken. Whole chicken is a better buy than individual pieces and is easier to prepare. Also, they include the giblets, which the whole organic chicken at Sprouts does not. (I like to add those in our broth) If you are making bone broth regularly roast a chicken for dinner and save the remainder to make broth from.
  • Grass-fed, organic ground beef.
  • Organic, no additives fruit leather (No added sugar, 100% fruit puree). I don’t give these to Cullen often.
  • Trader Joe’s brand Organic Diced Tomatoes in juice. (We don’t notice any adverse reaction when we use these)

Mother’s Market

I would probably shop more here if it was closer to us. Their produce section is awesome. Watch out for their restaurant and deli case as most of it has some type of soy or vegan substitute.

  • Raw cream (can only get it here)
  • Organic Pastures raw cheese  (can only get it here)
  • Ghee (can only get it here)
  • Evolution Juice – for when I am lazy and don’t want to juice it myself. It’s cold-pressed and unpasteurized. They have it at Starbucks too, but not the organic kind.
  • Celtic Sea Salt
  • Organic, unrefined honey

Costco

  • Wild salmon – sometimes they have a good deal on fresh, but I usually buy the 3 lb. bag of frozen for $28 (less than $10/lb). They come individually sealed so I can grab them out of the freezer and thaw what I need.
  • Wild shrimp – frozen, not always in stock
  • Canned wild salmon
  • Organic coconut oil – giant Costco size, organic, cold-pressed for $10. GIANT
  • Lamb – from New Zealand or Australia. (I was told that lamb from “Down Under” is always 100% grass-fed)
  • Organic baby carrots
  • Any other organic produce they might have (I don’t buy the sliced organic apples though.. the preservatives worry me)
  • There is supposedly organic chicken breasts occasionally, but I have never seen them.
  • Aidell’s sausage for our non-GAPS kids.

I always watch to see what items are on sale. I look online at the weekly deals before I go out shopping. If I can think of any more items I will add them as I go, but these are the staples. Our grass-fed beef bones I have to drive to Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods in Riverside or Loma Linda. Or I just found a new source Lindy & Grundy in West Hollywood (also a drive, but the bones were $4.99/lb).

Feel free to ask me questions or leave your money-saving tips below!

Grain-free Chicken Fried Steak

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Chicken Fried Steak

2-4 cube steaks, grass- fed. If you want a better cut of beef you can ask your butcher to tenderize any cut you prefer.

1/2 – 1 cup of Honeyville Almond Flour, this is the finest ground almond flour I have found and it makes a big difference.

Sea salt & black pepper

2-6 eggs, organic and free range

1-2 tablespoons bacon fat

DIRECTIONS:

1. I like to use pie tins but any two shallow baking dish will work. In one beat two eggs at a time and season with salt and pepper. In the other cover the bottom with almond flour and mix in salt and pepper to taste.

2. Dip each steak into egg wash and then into almond flour. Repeat egg wash and almond flour for thicker coating.

3. In a large skillet heat bacon fat to melt. Place steaks into pan and cook 5-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

I save my bacon fat drippings in a mason jar in the fridge, but if you would rather use another type of fat I recommend ghee, butter or coconut oil, although butter will burn easily and the other two may change the flavor.

Lemon Squares – Grain-free & dairy-free

I have been experimenting with baked goods, and outside of the actual GAPS cookbook there are not a lot of recipes that are “legal” for our food plan. I’ve tried muffins and they are a little on the dry side, and don’t feel like a treat, although they are great snacks. I won’t even go in to the whole bread debacle (I have given up bread, it’s not gonna happen). Lemon squares were one of my favorite things growing up, and I hoped that without the need for baking soda I could tweak my recipe to be legal. After several attempts.. Mission accomplished.

Lemon Squares

CRUST
2 cups blanched almond flour*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon ghee OR virgin, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil (melted)**
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (gluten-free, organic)
1 pastured egg

TOPPING
1/4 cup virgin, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil (or pastured butter if tolerated)
1/4 cup raw honey
3 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (I like to use Meyer lemons) Usually about 3-4 lemons.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish with ghee or coconut oil.
  3. To make the crust, combine almond flour and salt in a Food processor and pulse briefly. Add ghee, egg and vanilla extract and pulse until mixture forms a ball. Press the dough into prepared baking dish. The crust will be only on the bottom, it will not extend up the sides.
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until lightly golden.
  5. While crust bakes, make the topping. In a blender combine the coconut oil (or butter), honey, eggs and lemon juice. Blend on high until smooth. Remove crust from oven and pour topping over hot crust.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the topping is golden.
  7. Cool in baking dish for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours to set.
  8. Cut into bars and serve.

OPTIONAL
I have added a raspberry puree to these for a slightly more tart version and it was delicious. It’s a great option when raspberries are in season.

RASPBERRY PUREE

1 package of raspberries
2 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Puree raspberries in a blender until smooth.
  2. Pour through a medium-fine strainer to remove the seeds.
  3. Discard the seeds and place the raspberries into a saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Add honey and vanilla extract. Stir and raise heat to medium-high to bring mixture to a rolling boil stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the honey.
  5. Remove pan from heat and place in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  6. After you have poured the lemon topping into hot crust, pour raspberry puree into the lemon mixture. It should keep mostly separate so drizzle all over. Continue steps above for baking.

*Honeyville has the best almond flour. Bob’s Red Mill is too coarse and leaves a grainy texture in baked goods. Honeyville is less expensive too, so order it online and store it in your fridge.
**Coconut Oil is solid at room temperature most of the time. My grandma brought back a jar from Arizona and it had completely melted. It has not solidified again, and I am using it for baking as it is so easy to pour into measuring cups and incorporate. It is the Spectrum brand, so I am not sure if it is always liquid or if this was just a fluke.

Eggs. Where do I start?

For the purpose of this discussion I have to start with the chicken, no matter which came first, because how the hen is treated and fed affects the eggs. There are a ridiculous amount of egg options in the grocery store. Large, Extra Large, Jumbo, Organic, All Natural, Free-Range, Cage-Free, Omega-3 fortified, Soy-Free, Pastured, Vegetarian (huh? Ya.. I’m going to get to that). How do you know if you are getting a good egg? For those of us on a real food plan eggs are an essential protein, source of choline (a nutrient similar to B-Vitamins that works in tandem with folate, and keeps our livers from accumulating fat and has some links to developing brain function.) and vitamin D, among other benefits for your eyes, hair, brain and cardiovascular system. Good quality eggs are required. If you are not fortunate enough to be keep your own flock of chickens (or know someone who does) what kind should you buy? I’m going to break down the labels since it seems that consistency in labeling (or truth in labeling) is not in our immediate future.

Free Range vs. Cage Free

To almost any person with even a good dollop of common sense and elementary grasp of english language  you would think that these two terms are interchangeable. You would also probably imagine happy chickens on a wide open field or perhaps even in a quaint barnyard happily scratching away at the dirt. However, there is a slight difference in the terms and neither situation is what you would imagine. Cage-free generally means that the birds are not confined in a cage, but are confined in a barn or a warehouse with no access to the outside. Free-Range signifies that the birds do have “access” to an outdoor area adjacent to the barn or warehouse. Usually they are concrete or dirt pads, and the birds are fed inside so they rarely venture outside. The duration of time they are given access and quality of the outdoor area is not regulated. There is no oversight or audits to check either free-range or cage free conditions.

Organic vs. All Natural

Unless you know something I don’t I have yet to come across an unnatural egg. This in my opinion is a ridiculous label. Certified Organic eggs are uncaged and have access to the outdoors (again, the amount, duration and quality is not regulated).  The hens are fed an all organic, vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides. Organic eggs are usually the best quality eggs in a market. If you are buying from a local farmer however the eggs may be a better quality even if they are not “certified” organic. Certification takes money and many small farmers do not want the hassle. Farmers markets are usually the best place to find farm fresh eggs. You can get a good idea of how the hens are living by talking to the farmer.

Omega 3 & Vegetarian Fed & Soy-Free

Eggs are natural sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, but with the recent trend in consuming more Omega 3’s the industry has started supplementing the chicken feed with omega 3’s through the use of fish oil, alfalfa meal, algae, flax-seed and soy. I don’t see too many cartons that will tell you exactly what they are supplementing, but I believe that soy is used most often. Vegetarian fed means their feed does not contain any animal by-products, which eliminates things like chicken feathers and feces, but also takes away bugs! Last time I checked chickens were not vegetarians. They love to eat worms, grubs and the occasional reptile they come across. The basis for any quality meat or egg product is did the animal eat food that it would have in the wild? Chickens eat bugs.. stop forcing them to be vegetarians. Soy-Free eggs are from chickens that have not been fed any soy or soy derivatives. There have been studies showing that when a chicken is fed soy it is present in egg and the tissue of the bird and that is transferred to us when we eat them. The controversy surrounding the prevalent use of soy and the side effects are a post for another day. I avoid soy like the plague.

Pastured or Grass Fed

These are the best eggs to buy if you can find them, and they are hard to find! These birds do not live in crowded barns and fed an unnatural (for them) diet. They have truly free range of a grassy area where they are allowed to eat BUGS, and other natural behaviors. These may not be certified organic, but chances are that if the birds are in a pasture environment they are not being given any antibiotics or pesticides. There is quite of bit of research showing the nutritional benefits of pastured eggs being much higher than other types of eggs. Higher levels of vitamins A, B12, E, folic acid, beta-carotene and essential fatty acids were found in naturally pastured eggs.

Summary

From best to worst. Combinations of any are to be expected.

1. Pastured
2. Soy Free
3. Organic
4. Free-Range
5. Cage Free

My Egg Reviews

Since there is no reliable classification of store-bought eggs you have to do your own testing and reviews. I grew up eating eggs from my grandparents backyard, and my own when we once had a small flock of hens. The one thing you notice immediately is the color of the yolk. Farm fresh eggs have a rich golden orange color to the yolks. Many eggs you find in the store have a pale almost yellowish cast to them. The strength of the shell was another indicator that it came from a healthy chicken. Using these test factors I’ve tried every brand of eggs at my local Sprouts Farmers Market, Mother’s Market and Trader Joe’s.

 Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Organic Eggs.
These are by far the best eggs I have ever tasted. They even come with pictures of the hens in the pasture along with the company’s policies and a description of the treatment of their birds. I had been buying the Chino Valley Ranchers Soy Free Eggs at Mother’s Market, but they were out of stock and bought these instead. They were $6.99/dozen. A little pricey considering we can easily go through 4 dozen eggs per week at our house. I was surprised at the rich flavor, and it passed my two tests for yolk color and shell strength. I will be keeping these on hand for breakfast eggs, but I will use less expensive eggs for mixing in to baking recipes.

 Chino Valley Ranchers Organic Omega-3 Soy Free Eggs
These are my second choice for eggs, but I am having a difficult time finding them at the moment since Mother’s has stopped carrying them. The feed is soy free meaning that the eggs are also soy free. The yolk color on this is fair. I believe that these hens are in a cage-free environment (big barn/warehouse structure).

 Organic Valley Organic Cage Free Eggs “rich in flax seed”
When I can’t get to the Mother’s Market these are my eggs of choice. Because it says rich in flax I assume that they are giving flax instead of soy for omega-3 support. And since they are organic the hens do have some outdoor access. This company does have pretty strict rules for their products and they seem to care about what they are producing. These are the darkest yolks that I’ve gotten from the store in this category of eggs. This is the kind I buy most often, they are priced around $4.49-4.99/dozen.

The Sprouts and Trader Joe’s brand of organic, free-range eggs are just ok. The Trader Joe’s brand has very pale yolks and weak shells. The WORST eggs I have purchased so far have been the Archer Farms brand from Target. They didn’t taste very good at all, and when I used them in baking my finished goods had a strong sulphuric egg flavor. I would not buy those again.

I realize this has been an insanely long post about eggs. You’re welcome. All joking aside I hope some part of this was helpful.