Over the next few weeks, I will be posting information about the critically important foods that our family introduced into our diet, foods which provided immediate health benefits. For example, after two weeks of consuming meat stock with every meal, my son's Esophageal irritation disappeared, which meant that he stopped coughing and vomitting on food. My own 'dust allergies' (stuffy nose, itchy eyes, having an antihistamine every day) have reduced to almost non-existent since introducing probiotic food. I haven't taken an antihistamine in months.
I was preparing our family for the GAPS diet when I began introducing these foods, so for us it was laying the foundations for what was to come. If you or your children suffer from chronic health issues, behavioral or digestive, then these 5 foods should become a very important part of your life as soon as possible. However, I have since become absolutely convinced that every family, whether you have chronic health issues or not, should be consuming these 5 foods on a daily basis, if only to maintain health and prevent future disease. These will all be familiar to you, or to your parents generation, because it is how our grandparents used to eat. It is nothing knew, we are just 'relearning' what our ancestors already knew: that what you eat determines how you feel. We, as a generation, have been kidding ourselves if we think that all the processed packaged food on our supermarket shelves wasn't going to come with a hefty price tag: our children's health. We have a saying in our family: The longer the shelf life, the shorter the human life. But I am going to quickly climb down off the soapbox, and get back on topic, cough, cough, hmm.
The 5 essential foods are:
1) Meat stock and broth (made with organic, grass fed/ pastured meat)
2) Fermented dairy products (24 hour fermented) such as yoghurt, sour cream and kefir youghurt (a turkish probiotic that heals and seals the gut as well as re balancing gut flora.
3) Sauerkraut (homemade or refrigerated if store bought (therefore unpasteurised), and therefore teaming with good bacteria to balance your gut flora.)
4) Organic pastured eggs
5) Fermented Cod Liver Oil
So let's talk about the NUMBER 1 essential food: Good quality meat stock and broth.
We all use stock in our soups and gravies, but most of us are using the powdered or UHT version that you buy in the supermarkets. When I talk about using stocks and broth, I must stress that I am talking about making your own: do not use commercially available soup stock granules or bullion cubes, they are highly processed and are full of detrimental ingredients including preservatives and stabilisers.
From the www.gaps.me website:
"Meat and fish stocks provide building blocks for the rapidly growing cells of the gut lining and they have a soothing effect on any areas of inflammation in the gut. That is why they aid digestion and have been known for centuries as healing folk remedies for the digestive tract."
For people with damaged guts, meat and fish are an excellent source of nutrition, which comes in the most digestible form for humans. So it is actually a really gentle and healing food to eat. Animal products are also the number 1 food when it comes to getting the right vitamins. These are some examples of the vitamins found in good quality organic meat and organs: Vitamin B1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, Biotin, Vitamin A, D, Folic acid, and Vitamin K2.Your vitamin C and K1 have to come from fruit and vegetables.
And as you cook meats, bone and fish in water, a lot of nutrients get extracted into the water, making it a highly therapeutic drink to have with your meals. This process also makes the meat itself more easily digestible. The more gelatinous the stock that you make, the better.
If your stock, once refrigerated, turns into a jelly, you have hit the healing jackpot! The way to ensure this is to buy joints that have gelatinous ligaments, like chicken drumsticks or carcasses, necks, feet, tubular marrow beef bones, with the soft tissues attached. These elements can provide some of the most effective healing remedies for the gut and the immune system, so don't shy away from them!
I make a meat stock every second or third day, and the kids and I drink a cup of stock twice a day. My son, who took a while to come around to drinking a cup of meat stock (he was allergic to all meat when we began this journey!), prefers to get his dose of stock hidden in Chicken Butternut soup, which he is now addicted to, and gets quite upset if I serve him a meal without it! But he also drinks a cup full of broth now without complaint, which is a miracle in itself.
Here is a recipe for Chicken Broth that you can make at home:
1 x Stockpot/ a big casserole dish (the bigger the better, so you can make a bigger batch of stock to keep in the fridge or freeze for later)
1 x Big Ladle
2 x 1L Glass jars for storing in the fridge (or lots of smaller 500ml jars for freezing and storing)
(You can swap out the whole organic chicken for a leg of lamb, fish, or for some tubular beef bones with a small cut of roast beef, like blade):
1) Put a whole Organic chicken into the stockpot (you can even do this with a frozen chicken), and cover it with filtered water. Don't use tap water if you can avoid it. It's full of chlorine and fluoride, and we are trying to make a clean, chemical free stock. I fill my stock pot up to almost an inch from the top to maximize the amount of stock I am making.
2) Add a handful of peppercorns, and a good sprinkling of Himalayan Rock salt (this is an unrefined and unprocessed salt, which retains a wide variety of minerals like magnesium and zinc. You can get it is most supermarkets these days. It's the PINK one!).
3) Let the meat sit in the water for an hour to draw out the minerals, and then put it on the stove top. Bring to the boil, and then let it simmer for at least 2 hours. The longer it simmers, the more gelatinous your stock will be. 5 hours is probably as long as you need.(I only simmer mine for 2 - 3 hours, because we initially had a problem with high histamine foods, and the longer the simmer, the higher the histamine count in the food was. Just writing this post has helped me to see that I can start simmering for longer now, because we have healed that issue!)
4) If you would like to flavour your stock, you can add leek leaves, cutting of carrots and whole onions and garlic to the water while it's cooking. You don't have to peel or chop these if you don't want to, they can be drained out and discarded at the end.
5) Once the stock is finished, let it cool down a bit before pouring the stock into your big storage glass jars, and put it in the fridge. You can then heat it up portions in a milk pan to drink with meals. You can also pull every bit of meat off the carcass and set it aside for salads, sandwiches, or do what we do:
Pour the stock into a soup bowl, add the chicken, poach or soft boil a couple of eggs and add them to the stock, and if you have cooked some vegetables in the stock, add these to your bowl. (If we are going to have this meal, then I add vegetables for eating about an hour before the stock is finished, like peeled and chopped carrots, butternut, celery, leek, garlic, cauliflower etc.)
It is the cleanest, most wholesome meal you can have, and we make a point of having together as a family it at least twice a week.
Our health turned around once we started having good quality meat stock daily, so get your tools and start making broth!
TIP: Don't use cheap glass. Only the best will do. I found out the hard way, and when I picked up a 2L glass jar of Broth, the bottom broke off, and I had hot, fatty broth pour it's way into my crockery cupboards and all over my floors. It took me HOURS to clean up, and I learnt my lesson!!
UPDATE from Facebook Post (24/3/15) -
Bone Broth vs Meat Broth! The critical difference between the two, and something that is frequently misunderstood, is the cooking time, and WHY shorter cooked is better for the initial stages of healing.
Bone Stock/Broth is a very strong stock, that is cooked for long periods of time (24 hours or more), to the point where the bones sometimes break down into the water. This is a highly medicinal liquid, but it is NOT RECOMMENDED for the healing stages of repairing your gut. It... is too hard on the gut, and is only recommended for at least a year after you begin a healing protocol like GAPS. It is also much higher in histamines, and most people with a damaged gut have issues with too much histamine in their system, often from a particularly pathogenic bacteria.
A damaged gut needs gentle healing foods, and Meat Stock/Broth is what is recommended on GAPS: it is cooked between 1 and 4 hours (less if you are struggling with histamines). You can use a whole cut of meat on a bone, or meat left on the bone after cooking a leg of lamb, for example. I use organic chicken carcasses, chicken drumsticks, and any left over carcasses from our sunday roast.
While both bone and meat broth are full of gelatin and collagen (if you choose the right ligaments and bones), this meat stock doesn't require your gut to work in order to absorb all the minerals available.
PS: I refer to stock as a liquid that has been cooked only with bones, salt and pepper. Broth has had veggies like celery, carrot and onion added to the mix. This is my differentiation, but I am not 100% sure that it is the correct differentiation!