Do you have certain items in your kitchen that you reach for surprisingly often? That you have just because your mom had them? Because you like the color? Me too. Here are 12 of my favorites, all of these make great gifts, for those who love to cook and those who just need the bare basics.
Used as soon as it comes out of the dishwasher:
1. 4 Cup pyrex, wide. This cracks me up, but I’ve finally gotten with the program and moved this measuring cup to prime cabinet space- the space that’s easiest to reach while cooking, and easiest to reach from the dishwasher. This guy is used to strain kefir grains, mix small batches of anything, mix pancakes in and then pour them onto the hot griddle, beat eggs, beat egg whites, drain sprouted lentils, strain out lemon seeds from lemons, and, oh yeah, measure. I use it with this strainer. All. The. Time. Buy my never-woulda-thunk-it most valuable player here.
Most likely to be seen on my spoon rest:
2. Thin stainless spatula. This guy is in charge of all my flipping, scrambling, and stirring on the stovetop. He’s used every day, and thankfully cleans up easily with a scratch pad, even when he’s been used to scrape the bottom of an oh-no-I-forgot-about-it pan of oatmeal. Buy this light weight happy flipper here.
I cook 90% of my meals from this book:
3. Best of Grain Free Meal Plans. Sure, this is my book, but I wrote it from the point of view of my daughter being on GAPS, and I needed a simple recipe book that my babysitter and mom could use to make food she could actually eat! They’re our favorites, they have ingredients that aren’t too hard to find, and the instructions are explained in a way that non-cookers are confident enough to give the recipes a try, and master chefs see ways they can dress them up with herbs and other flourishes.
I own it because my parents did:
4. Joy of Cooking. Need a refresher of the difference between dice and chop? It’s in there. Need a simple cake recipe because you’re supposed to bring cupcakes to your son’s preschool class in 14 hours and you just now remembered? It’s in there too- and the teachers will be blown away by how much better it tastes than a box. Want to know how long to cook a bone-in leg of lamb? It’s in there too. Joy of Cooking was my parents’ reference of choice, and it’s mine as well. Simple, clear, easy to understand directions – this book not only is a great reference, but reading it for fun is more educational than watching a cooking show.
The first thing I use every morning:
5. Guilty as charged: I’ve slid coffee, and single serve coffee at that, into the ‘yeah, well, I’m drinking it anyway’ category. I add butter or cream, grassfed of course, to prevent the caffeine blood sugar plummet, and usually omit sweetener unless we have some grade B maple syrup in the door of the fridge. I see you either shaking your head, ‘no no, I can’t read the blog of someone who drinks coffee from a pod every morning’ or nodding your head, ‘oh, thank you so very much, I was feeling so guilty about my coffee habit, this lifts a huge burden from my life’. I suppose we’ll see if you’re the former or the latter by if you’re still here tomorrow (joking). Buy my this-is-what-keeps-me-blogging coffee maker here!
Saves my sanity when cooking with the kids:
6. Parchment paper. They love baking, rolling things out, and making their own individual everything. I use parchment to transfer delicately-lopsided rolled out pie crust to pie pans, to shield the cookie sheet from cookie decorations being cemented on during the baking process, and for easy transfer of pizza from table top to the hot oven. Buy unbleached sanity-saving parchment here.
Time-saving gadget I plan on hooking up to a bicycle generator should we ever have to live off the grid:
7. I love my food processor! I’ve lived in places with very limited counter and cabinet space before, and this guy always makes the cut anyway. I like my food processor even better than my stand mixer! This guy shreds a gallon of cabbage for kraut at a time, blends up hard-to-mix coconut flour baked goods, shreds a variety of veggies for meatballs in seconds, and still has the energy left over to mix brownie batter and knead pizza dough. Buy this has-more-pieces-than-I-normally-approve-of-for-kitchen-use food processor here!
Small but powerful:
8. Small grater – I clean out everything I don’t use in my kitchen every 6 months, and this is the only grater other than my food processor that has remained. The bulky box grater that I skinned my knuckles on all too often while reaching for something next to it on the shelf was tossed, the larger more flimsy cheese grater was moved along, but this little gem stayed. I love it for not only cheese, but carrots and other veggies, lemon zest, and ginger! Buy my little grater with a big heart here!
I don’t care that it’s not healthy, I’m keeping it:
9. Nonstick waffle iron. Hearts, of course! We love waffles, and I’ve never worked up the courage to attempt them on stovetop with a cast iron version, so nonstick it is. Considering there is no other nonstick in my kitchen, and we don’t even eat waffles once a week, we’ll use our get out of jail free card with this. Buy my get-out-of-jail-free waffle iron here!
They’re basic, but they’re my favorite
10. Pyrex glass bowls. I have two, these little guys are a nice shape, heavy enough to stay where you want them, and they’re pyrex so they’re durable. Buy the clear glass mixing bowls we love here.
Worth it to spend more and buy less:
In the kitchen, I don’t mind paying a little more for good quality knives. I started one knife at a time, then found a deal on a set – I just have two paring knives and another chef’s knife due to duplicates. Buy the knives I recommend here.
I want to have a little fun too!
12. Phone charger, radio, and ipod player: This little guy is the initiator at many a dance party – for one or more – during the most dull kitchen chores. I dock my phone in the kitchen next to my calendar, and while it’s there I can use it to play Pandora and look up recipes as well. Buy the kitchen iphone dock and player I love here!
I have a friend who is holistically minded and has been cooking traditionally for years, yet is still overwhelmed by actually following a diet protocol that is needed for a family member. I totally understand, and this post is for all of you in a similar situation.
Those of us who have been 100% compliant with a diet for months or years at a time forget how difficult it is to change food habits at first. Eating is so much of a habit, that it’s an automatic process and changing it means changing many habits throughout the day- from what we buy at the grocery store, to how we plan our meals, to what we hand our child to eat while we’re on the phone (oh yeah, I’m totally guilty of that too).
I didn’t write out my meal plans, intro guide, or freezer book because this was *easy* for me! No, I wrote it out because it was so so hard for me to switch gears, and I wanted to make it a little bit easier for those who came after me.
I’m going to try to break it down even further here for you. See where you fit, and start there.
1. Are you a GAPS person?
Do you have symptoms of GAPS? Either chronic irritating things or an emergency situation that is making you virtually unable to function?
If you aren’t sure, read What is a GAPS Family here.
If you’re sure, but you need more info, sign up for the free informational GAPS series here.
Do you need to start even more basic than that? This post explains what Holistic Healthcare is all about and how it’s different from what you’ll get from your average MD or hospital.
2. Have you tried something simpler first?
GAPS is amazing for rebuilding the gut, but it isn’t the only way to cure health problems.
Your first step is to take out all processed foods, food dyes, and corn syrup. Often just the sheer amount of toxins found in the standard American diet are the culprit for generally feeling blah. Real Food: What to Eat and Why is a great book to start with.
Milk kefir is a powerful probiotic that aggressively goes after pathogenic bacteria. Making kefir is super simple, buy the kefir grains here, and then follow the instructions using the highest quality dairy milk you can find. It takes literally 3 minutes a day. You can do this.
3. Have you read the GAPS book?
If you want to do GAPS, you have to read the GAPS book. There is a lot of information online for free, but you really risk accidentally reading someone’s bias (we all have them), or totally missing something super important. The GAPS book gives the entire protocol, and also gives you an amazing understanding. Without knowing the ‘why’ it’s really hard to follow through completely with the ‘how’. And 100% compliance on GAPS is super important, or all your hard work can be trashed.
4. Do you have money set aside to start this?
If you needed a $800 prescription that could change your quality of life significantly, could you come up with the money? Think of GAPS as the same thing. If you’ve exhausted other options, paying some money up front to try GAPS with strict adherence is a worthy investment.
As you’re starting, I recommend you buy as much pre-made as you can. As you are used to your new style of eating, you can experiment with making more things yourself. Your job right now is to re-write your habits – grab jerky rather than crackers, have apple slices and legal cheese for movie night, not popcorn, soup is your new best friend, not sandwiches.
Premade sanity savers:
Pete’s Paleo pre-made meals: These are NOT GAPS legal, but they are 100% gluten free and will get you in the habit of eating meat and veggies. Use these as you are reading about GAPS, and going gluten free in preparation to start the GAPS intro.
Sugar Free Beef Franks * You can serve this, Bubbies Pickle, and a sliced apple, and a cup of broth, and that is GAPS legal, and dairy and egg free (2 common allergens). Be creative with food when you have time and energy, otherwise, this is a perfectly legitimate fallback meal.
Bubbie’s Ferments (also available in most refrigerated sections of health food stores. Choose Sauerkraut or Dill Pickles, the bread and butter contain sugar.
Packaged freeze dried fruit (to replace the chips or pretzels you’re used to grabbing)
Frozen organic broccoli, peas, sliced carrots, cauiflower, and berries. Stock your freezer with these.
5. Can you give this 14-30 days?
I saw a HUGE ‘this is 100% worth continuing’ change in my daughter within 5 days of starting GAPS. Everyone else I’ve known who has started GAPS, or even just gluten free, for health problems has seen enough of a difference to make you want to continue after 3-5 days, but I recommend you prepare yourself to give it 30 days.
I know I’ve already said it a million times, but you HAVE to give it 100% compliance. One bite of rice will set you back to ground zero again. Your gut microbes don’t care if it’s the holidays, if you forgot and accidentally had a sip of your friend’s milkshake, or ate a few fries off your son’s plate.
After 30 days, you most likely will have completely adjusted to your new pattern of eating, and the habit forming won’t take nearly as much energy. If you haven’t seen improvement in 30 days, I would see a practitioner, you may need a different course of action.
6. More resources
For the GAPS intro, I’ve written the GAPS intro e-book, which walks you through a lot of what we talked about up here. You can also subscribe to my free intro email series to help you if you don’t want to purchase the intro guide. Grain Free Meal Plans give variety and keep you out of food ruts.
Making the GAPS Decision
Deciding to go on GAPS is life changing for many people, it was for us. I first really felt *healthy* after doing GAPS for the first time, and my daughter came out of the ‘autism fog’ for the first time. The experience of doing GAPS was 100% worth it for us, and that’s why I spend so much time writing about it here, I hope you find the same thing :)
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