All posts by Starlene

10 Gift Ideas For Someone on the GAPS Diet

GAPS Gifts

So someone you love is on the GAPS Diet and you don't know what to get them. What does GAPS even mean? Well, for starters, GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet. Many people who come to GAPS have digestive ailments, which you may or may not have known about since a lot of the time people don't share such details. Another reason people come to GAPS is because of “psychological” issues. Maybe your loved one suffers from depression. The GAPS Diet has also been known to help children with various issues, like autism.

I thought it would be helpful to share some items that a person who is doing the GAPS Diet might appreciate having.

1. Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet Book

Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride

Anyone who is  on the GAPS Diet should have a copy of the book that tells you all about the diet. But sometimes people can't afford to buy the book. If you discovered your friend didn't own a copy of the book, I'd suggest that as the number one thing to buy.

2. What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on GAPS Intro

What Can I Eat Now - 30 Day on the GAPS Intro ebookThere are two parts to the GAPS Diet. There is the Introduction part of the diet, then there is full GAPS. I personally feel that it is easiest to start with full GAPS because there is already a big learning curve, but sometimes people need to start with Introduction. I have written a blog post here that discusses the options: Which Should I do First? Intro or Full GAPS?  My friend Cara from Health, Home and Happiness has a great product called What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on GAPS Intro which is a great gift for someone who is planning to do Introduction.

3. Beyond Grain & Dairy: 113 recipes for GAPS

If your friend is on the full GAPS part of the diet, my e-book Beyond Grain & Dairy is going to be a great help in ideas for what to eat. I served these meals to my family and we all loved them, and didn't feel deprived at all. You can even buy this book as a gift, just choose that option after you put the e-book in the cart and hit checkout, then you can put in your friend's name and email address. And here's a coupon code for 50% off: BGDSAVE50

4. Detox Baths

You might have heard your friend talk about taking a “detox” bath. Dr. Natasha recommends that we take detox baths on a regular basis to aid the body in removing toxins.

My favorite detox bath consists of hot water and Epsom salts. When I'm really focusing on helping my body to detox I'll take one or two hot baths every week and add two or more cups of Epsom salts each time. Your friend is probably going to be taking quite a few detox baths, so she might appreciate having a bag of Epsom salts.

5. Spiralize Your Veggies

There is a lot of cooking with the GAPS Diet and lots of soup. Soup, soup, soup and more soup. One of the ways I keep soup interesting is to change up how I make it. I might make spiralized zucchini which is super easy with a spiralizer. This handy kitchen appliance is usually less than thirty dollars and is such a great help in creating substitutes for noodles or spaghetti. This spiralizer has seven blades, boasting various shapes like angel hair, fine and coarse shredding, fine or coarse “wavy” noodles, and a thicker “curly fry” blade.

6. Food Processor that slices AND dices!

Another handy appliance is a food processor that dices in addition to slicing and shredding. It really can make the different between one more boring pot of soup and one that's interesting when you change up on the way you prepare the vegetables. Dicing in a food processor is so much faster than doing it manually, you'll never go back to using your knife.

7. Natural Skin Care Products

One of the things we need to think about as we do the GAPS Diet is to decrease the toxins we are exposing our bodies to on a daily basis. Have you ever taken a look at the ingredients list on your favorite lotion, lip balm or soap? I would be willing to bet there are colorants, chemicals and things you can't even pronounce. One of my favorite companies is owned by Renee Harris. I am an affiliate for Renee but she is also a good friend, and I love her products. I appreciate that they are all-natural, most items are five ingredients or less and every ingredient can be pronounced. Her flagship product are her hard lotion bars and they work wonders with dry skin. I also love the muscle balmlip balm, and the goat milk soap. Your friend that is on GAPS should be actively working toward reducing her toxin load, and MadeOn Natural Skin Care Products can help with that.

8. Chocolate Treats (Yes, chocolate is allowed  on GAPS!)

Chocolate Treats

In Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's book she stated that chocolate is not allowed; however, a couple of years after the book was published she updated her views at her FAQ, and hip-hip-hooray we can have cocoa on GAPS after digestive ailments have subsided. Baker's Dozen Chocolate Treats is one of my e-books and all the recipes are GAPS legal or can be easily modified so that they are. It was a very happy day for chocolate lovers when Dr. Natasha made this modification. Check out my post with more than 20 chocolate recipes, all GAPS legal.

9. GAPS Guide by Baden Lashkov

When I start learning about something new, like GAPS, I find it helpful to have at least two books on the subject. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Dr. Natasha's book is required reading. But I also found Baden's GAPS Guide to be very helpful. Baden implemented the GAPS Diet for herself and her son and from her experience wrote a comprehensive guide to clarify the steps for her fellow parents and others supporting those with mental and physical symptoms.

10. 24-Hour Yogurt Maker

Yogurt is one of the fermented foods your friend will want to have while on the GAPS Diet. It's very important to allow the yogurt to ferment at least 24-hoursallow the yogurt to ferment at least 24-hours which reduces the lactose significantly. My favorite appliance for making 24-hour yogurt is the Instant Pot! Your friend might have heard that Dr. Natasha doesn't approve of pressure cooking, but the Instant Pot has a lot more functions. Admittedly its biggest claim to fame is pressure cooking but most models make delicious 24-hour yogurt, function as a slow cooker, steams and sautes and more. And… your friend will one day transition off GAPS and could incorporate the pressure cooker aspect. I have done some research on using an Instant Pot and I personally feel it is a very helpful tool in my kitchen, especially for making broth.

I hope you find something you can buy your friend or loved one who is on the GAPS Diet (even if that happens to be you!).

I'd love to hear from you in the comments if you are doing GAPS. What would YOU love to receive as a gift to help you on your GAPS Diet Journey?

GAPS DIET JOURNEY is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to AMAZON.COM. GAPS DIET JOURNEY is an affiliate for several companies and may be compensated through advertising and marketing channels. Therefore, this post may contain affiliate links.

Add Variety to Your Soup

Add Variety to Your Soup With These Simple Ideas

Add Variety to Your SoupOne of the things you may encounter while doing the Introduction part of the GAPS Diet is that you may end up feeling bored with the food. Soup, soup and more soup. You may even begin to dread the thought of eating. This is not the best situation when you are working to heal your gut!

It is very important to enjoy the food that you are eating so here are some ideas to incorporate to make your next bowl of soup fresh and new.

Cut the Vegetables into Different Shapes

One thing you can do to  stave off the boredom is to cut the vegetables in different shapes. Slice vegetables into thin or thick rounds. Dice, coarse chop, slice, the shapes and sizes are endless.

For example, if you're putting carrots in your soup, as you are selecting the carrots you will be using consider choosing slender carrots that are finger-sized,  and then slice them very thinly.

Or you could divide the carrot in half, use the thin end to slice very thin and the thick end to cut into small cubes.

There are food processors that will dice vegetables and they are a wonderful tool to add some variety to your soup. Sometimes I dice everything going into the pot: carrots, onions [affiliate link], celery, squash, etc.

I also like to use my spiralizer to turn vegetables into long thin spaghetti-like strips. My favorite vegetable to spiralize is zucchini squash, but you can also spiralize carrots, onions, beets (easier to spiralize if you steam until fork tender), turnips, celeriac, etc. Leave the strips super long or cut into shorter strips.

If you don't have a spiralizer, a julienne sliceris another great way to get skinny strips of vegetables.

Consider using a potato peeler to make noodle-like strips of vegetables.

I love cutting cabbage in wide strips – this to me is very much like having egg noodles in my soup.

Maybe for one pot of soup you will make all of the vegetables diced, another pot you will make all of the vegetables in thin strips like noodles, or spiralized. You could make your soup with big chunks of vegetable or create a mixture of different sizes and shapes.

If you're cooking for children consider using special shape cutters to make the soup especially appealing.

Change Up the Taste with Spices

They say variety is the spice of life and if you've been through my Broth Challenge you received a free download with 25 different ways to spice up your broth. This of course works wonderfully with soup!

Here are two of my favorite ways to season broth:

Taco Seasoned Broth

Cold Buster Broth Combo

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves [affiliate link] fresh raw garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger [affiliate link]

Creamy Blended Soups

Blended soups are creamy and so delicious! A stick or immersion blender comes in handy for these soups, if you're not opposed to a few tiny bits and pieces. You may even find you prefer a little texture. For super smooth soups use a regular blender. If you are blending hot soup, do not fill your blender pitcher more than half full and be sure to use the blender lid and hold it down for an extra measure of protection. Not only do you not want to be burned by soup splashing out, but it can make a huge mess and no one wants to deal with that!

Add some Variety with Dairy

If you are on the GAPS Diet, there is a limit on the types of dairy you can have. Mainly properly aged cheeses, and 24-hour yogurt. Click here for a list of cheeses you can use. Properly fermented yogurt is very tart, but tastes suprisingly delicious added to soup. If you're trying to preserve the benefits of the yogurt's beneficial bacteria, consider having your soup lukewarm.

Experiment with the Temperature

There are plenty of soups that are eaten cold on purpose. Trialing this with your own GAPS soups can lead to more variety.

Healthy fats are an important component to GAPS but once in awhile it's okay to skim off the fat, especially if you want to try eating the soup cool enough that the fat hardens. If you don't like how it tastes lukewarm or cold, simply heat it up a bit more!

Use a Variety of Meat

My favorite broth is chicken, but that can become boring week after week. You may be on GAPS Introduction for a month and you're going to want some variety. Start with an easy pot of chicken soup, or maybe you want to try making chicken soup in your Instant Pot, but remember to oncorporate a variety of meat. Beef, pork, turkey, lamb and fish are readily available at most stores. If you have access to other kinds of meat feel free to experiment. Maybe your husband hunts and you have deer on the bone in your freezer, or maybe you can get goat meat on the bone where you live. On GAPS Introduction you want your meat well cooked, two to three hours minimum. Remember to save the bones because you can use them later on to make bone broth. Remove all the little bits and pieces of skin, cartilege, etc. and if you're a picky eater, or feeding picky eaters just blend these bits up until super smooth and add back into the soup. No one will know but you.

Also remember to change up the way you serve the meat. Leave it on the bone, remove from the soup and serve on the side so the meat can be picked off or eaten like a drumstick, or cut the meat into chunks, small dice or “pull” it with two forks into strips.

Presentation and Pretty Dishes

Last but not least, don't forget presentation. If there's one thing I've learned from watching Gorden Ramsay it's the importance of not only the way the food looks, but also the dishes. One of my favorite things to do is shop thrift stores for unique and pretty bowls and plates. I especially adore oval shaped bowls and plates.

A sprig of parsley [affiliate link], sprinkle of shredded cheese or dollop of yogurt can go a long way to make a bowl of soup look much more appetizing.

Remember that silverware and napkins can also make the meal look more appealing.

I would love to hear from you in the comments, let me know if this post has inspired you to come up with some new and fresh ideas for making soup!


GAPS DIET JOURNEY is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to AMAZON.COM. GAPS DIET JOURNEY is an affiliate for several companies and may be compensated through advertising and marketing channels. Therefore, this post may contain affiliate links.

I’m Losing Weight on GAPS Intro But I’m Thin Already


Most who embark on GAPS are going to be tickled to find clothing getting loose and baggy. The National Institutes for Health reports that 35% of American adults are obese and another 34% are overweight so 69% are not at an ideal weight. It's easy to jump to the conclusion that the remaining 31% do weigh the “right” amount; however, one thing I have learned in my experience with the GAPS Diet and gut health – a slender body does NOT necessarily mean you're in good health.

Maybe you are one embarking on the GAPS Diet already underweight, with concern at the possibility of becoming thinner. Let's see what Dr. Natasha has to say on this topic.

From Dr. Natasha's FAQ page:

Am I going to lose weight on the GAPS diet? I am already underweight and find it very difficult to gain weight.

Regular consumption of grains and processed carbohydrates causes water retention in the body. As you stop consuming these foods, you will lose that excess water and hence lose some weight, which usually happens in the first few weeks. Without the water retention, you will get to your real weight and size, which will show you the real extent of your malnutrition. As you follow the GAPS nutritional protocol your digestive system will start absorbing foods properly and nourishing you; you will start building dense bones, healthy muscles and other tissues and organs and gaining weight as a result. You may remain fairly slim for the rest of your life (as it may be your constitution), but you will become strong, vibrant and full of energy.

Water Retention

So the first thing Dr. Natasha points to is the fact that carbohydrates cause water retention in the body which is going to cause a loss in weight as your body lets go of that retained water. Now you're going to get a true picture of your real weight which indicates you are malnourished.

Are You Malnourished?

One of the things going on when you are underweight is that you are malnourished. Your body may be unable to absorb nutrients because your gut is not functioning properly. Dr. Natasha calls this gut dysbiosis. The GAPS Nutritional Protocol can benefit you by giving your gut and digestive system the chance to regain normal function. It won't happen overnight, and you will probably lose weight in the beginning.

One thing that I recommend to people when they start on GAPS is to start with “full GAPS” first. You're already removing a large variety of foods and I believe this is enough of a shock to the system. After two or three months, go for the Introduction Diet.

I have asked Dr. Natasha about this and she does say that it is okay to do full GAPS first and that some people heal only on full GAPS. However, if you have diarrhea, severe digestive issues or food intolerances, you're wise to start with Introduction.

You're Going To Be Really Hungry

At the beginning of starting Introduction, I think the hunger is strong for a couple of reasons:

  1. First of all, the fibrous foods you've been eating (like bread and pasta) are bulky and fills the stomach. The foods on Introduction aren't as “filling”. One of the things that I realized for myself personally, is that I tend to eat those foods compulsively (almost addictively)  and this compulsion overrode my ability to stop eating at satiation. I would eat to a point where I thought I felt satisfied but time and time again, I would end up feeling bloated and uncomfortable. I started to suspect that I was stopping at satiation, but the food was swelling up in my stomach. Who knows?
  2. The other reason why I think that we feel really hungry is that our body is finally getting nutritious foods that we can be easily digested and hunger kicks in, in a way that it hasn't before.

Therefore, it is critically important in the first stages of the Intro diet that you eat as much as you want of broth, meat, vegetables, and good healthy fats. It may take time to get full on these foods and they tend to be more expensive than bread and pasta, but this is important for nourishment and to prevent to weight loss.

Dr. Natasha stated above that your body is going to start absorbing foods properly and you're going to start building dense bones and healthy muscles. This matches up with my experience of some who start GAPS and feel like they are famished on the diet. They can't seem to get enough to eat!

Create Variety

One of the complaints I hear regarding Introduction is that it is b.o.r.i.n.g. Stage 1 allows homemade meat stock (different from bone broth), boiled meats, and boiled vegetables (onions [affiliate link], carrots, broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, pumpkin [affiliate link], cabbage). Soup is the perfect food for the first stage of Introduction and although soup may seem boring, there is a large variety of meats and vegetables that can be added to it to make different tastes.

Something else that I find that helps to stave off the boredom of having soup, is to cut the vegetables in different shapes, or blend the soup thoroughly so that it can be sipped. If you tolerate 24-hour yogurt add a couple spoonfuls to the blended soup to change the flavor. You're also getting your fermented foods when you do this!

You can also remove the cooked meats and vegetables from the soup, slather some healthy fats on the meat and veggies then drink the broth from a mug.

It is important that there be at least 1 cup of broth with each meal because of the healing properties of homemade meat stock. Consider making concentrated broth by doubling the amount of meat and bones, or reducing the water. Then you can drink 1/2 cup broth instead of one cup.

Fiber Dependence

Another thing I learned that plays into early weight loss when beginning GAPS is the fact that you are reducing the amount of fiber in your diet. Either component, full or Intro is going to reduce the amount of fiber because you are removing foods that contain fiber. i.e. bread, pasta, grains, fibrous starchy vegetables.

However, Introduction reduces the amount of fiber even more so because you have now removed fruit and raw vegetables, and are consuming mostly meat, broth, well-cooked vegetables, and fermented foods.

Your body may have become reliant upon fiber in order to have a normal bowel movement. Starting on GAPS Introduction and dramatically reducing your fiber intake can cause constipation.

On the other hand, this may in part shed some light on GAPS Introduction works so well for someone with diarrhea. Perhaps the person with chronic diarrhea does not tolerate fiber well, and removing it from the diet removes the irritation to the digestive system.

In our modern world, a great number of us have been on several rounds of antibiotics throughout our life, which has likely reduced (or wiped out) your gut bacteria. If you have had your appendix removed, some experts believe your body may have an even harder time maintaining the correct bacteria in your gut.

Another thing that happens is because of eating less fiber, your stool becomes smaller which can make it seem as if you've weight. By the way, it's perfectly okay to have a smaller stool. The one little problem there is that your body has been accustomed to a larger stool and now you may not “hear” the “urge to go”. You'll have to “listen” more closely and go right away if at all possible because you may lose the “urge to go” and now you are starting on the path to becoming constipated.

Since your body now contains less stool because you've reduced your fiber intake, you've reduced the size of your stool, so you will also weigh less.

Are you on the GAPS Diet, or just getting started? 


GAPS DIET JOURNEY is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to AMAZON.COM. GAPS DIET JOURNEY is an affiliate for several companies and may be compensated through advertising and marketing channels. Therefore, this post may contain affiliate links.

Cherry Extract

Homemade Cherry Extract Using Vodka or Bourbon

Cherry ExtractI've been making my own homemade vanilla extract for years. I've also experimented with Apricot Extract and now I would like to share Cherry Extract!

I started three jars of Cherry Extract:

  1. Bourbon whiskey with cherries and vanilla [affiliate link] beans
  2. Bourbon with cherries
  3. Vodka with cherries

I am totally loving the Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage Caps and these jars are just perfect – they are Ball Jar Wide Mouth Pint and Half Jars – I have never seen jars like these but totally dig them. They are super tall – I guess one primary reason is so you can can asparagus but they were exactly what I was looking for.

All three jars were tucked away in a dark cupboard and stayed there for several months until I brought them out into the light of day to see how they turned out.

The resulting extract was really good. I have a friend who likes to make mixed drinks and she loves the cherries!

Cherry Extract in Vodka

This foray into making extract started when my son mentioned almond extract. I had never used it before and barely knew it existed. I set out to figure out how to make it since usually it is so much cheaper to make extracts yourself, rather than to buy them.

I discovered that almond extract is made from bitter almonds [affiliate link], or it can be made using cherry pits or apricot pits. Some people use peeled almonds but apparently this practice comes nowhere near the flavor achieved with bitter almonds or stone fruit pits.

There is a small problem in that there is apparently is a minute amount of cyanide in the pits if you break them open. I've been researching this on and off for days, and I still can't decide how I want to proceed. Some sources state if you heat the pits you will destroy the enzyme that causes the problem, while others say the amount is insignificant unless you ingest large quantities. Some sources say crush the pits, while others say that's not necessary and avoids the cyanide issue altogether.

So in the meantime, I decided to start some cherry extract. I think it will be good in ice cream, or baked goods… like maybe certain loaves of bread.

I've read having cherry extract is a way to have cherry flavor when it's out of season.

I am having a blast making my own extracts, the options are just endless.

Here's how I made my cherry extract:

  • 1 cup vodka or bourbon
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted and cut in half
  1. Place the cherries into the alcohol and seal.
  2. Place in a dark cupboard for three months or longer.
  3. Enjoy!

Here are some sites with information:

Do you make any of your own extracts?

GAPS DIET JOURNEY is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to AMAZON.COM. GAPS DIET JOURNEY is an affiliate for several companies and may be compensated through advertising and marketing channels. Therefore, this post may contain affiliate links.