The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet
By Monica Corrado
Selene River Press
When it comes to healing and food, if anybody can make a daunting, challenging situation a whole lot easier, it’s Monica Corrado. In this lengthy eleven-part book, she has combined information from her previous books with up-to-date information about the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) and the stages of healing.
Corrado begins with a clear explanation of GAPS and why so many people are facing such confusing and frightening symptoms. The first three sections cover the symptoms, diseases and malnutrition associated with a damaged small intestine. The message is clear: “Heal the small intestine, heal the symptoms.” To accomplish this, you must follow the steps outlined, realizing that healing takes time and occurs in stages. Steps include removing offending foods, starving pathogenic bacteria, “healing and sealing” the gut and rebuilding the microbiome. This is accomplished with deeply nourishing, easily digested and assimilated, anti-inflammatory foods.
Corrado carefully outlines the introductory and full GAPS phases as well as a post-GAPS transition phase. With few exceptions, the introductory phase is critical for healing and sealing the gut lining. Corrado lays the introductory diet out in six stages, beginning with stocks and nourishing soups and gradually adding foods like egg yolks, ghee, avocado, nut-flour pancakes and baked goods, and some raw vegetables and fruits. Though choices are limited, there is plenty to eat. However Corrado cautions that it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a full year to complete this phase, depending on the severity of symptoms.
Section 4 details the full GAPS diet, which could last a couple of years. This is highly individual; some people do so well that they continue eating this way for life. In full GAPS, one may add a few legumes and various nourishing foods, although the majority of legumes, all grains, starchy and fibrous vegetables and processed oils are off-limits. Cultured dairy, properly prepared nuts and seeds, raw honey, satisfying fats and stocks along with a large variety of vegetables and meats are all allowed.
Section 5 focuses on the transition diet, which again can take time to integrate fully. It is important to listen to our bodies and symptoms—they are our guide. One makes the transition gradually, adding small amounts of properly prepared grains and starchy vegetables, always monitoring symptoms. The successful introduction of these foods without symptoms, means you have officially made the transition.
While diet is the most significant component of the GAPS protocol, Sections 6 and 7 cover healing with probiotics, essential fatty acids and enzymes. Here Corrado also teaches the differences, benefits and importance of meat stock and bone broth, describing how to make a meal on meat stock and how to make the best-ever bone broth. The recipes sound delicious.
Next Corrado focuses on the benefits of culturing dairy products: what to look for, how to purchase these delicious, nourishing dairy products and why it’s good to make them yourself. For sensitive people, there’s a step-by-step guide to introducing dairy, beginning with lactose- and casein-free ghee. The narrative then moves through a variety of healthy dairy products, ending with aged, hard cheese. People respond to dairy in different ways, so it is important to pay attention. There are recipes and sections devoted to ghee, cultured butter, cultured cream, yogurt, kefir and sour cream, with discussion of how these fit into the GAPS diet.
Beverages and cultured fruits and vegetables are covered in Section 9 on lacto-fermentation. The benefits are myriad: better digestion, greater immunity, a healthier liver and much more. This comprehensive section is a course in lacto-fermentation, canning and pickling, making homemade lacto-ferments, types of and differences in starters, lacto-fermented beverages and why we must begin with fermented juices. There’s a wealth of information about proper lacto-fermentation techniques and equipment. Corrado also covers salting, brining and using whey, yogurt, kefir and vegetable starters.
Nuts, seeds, beans and grains are Section 10’s focus. We learn that seeds “would rather procreate than be eaten.” To keep from being eaten, “seeds evolved to be hard on our digestive system.” Corrado emphasizes, therefore, the importance of soaking, sprouting and fermenting techniques that neutralize anti-nutrients. Because anti-nutrients can further harm a damaged gut, nuts and seeds should not be introduced until some healing has already occurred. Again it is important to go slowly and pay attention. Corrado teaches us which nuts and seeds are best, how to store them properly and how to make nut and seed butters and flours. Describing the various pre-digestion techniques, Corrado notes that sprouting is better than soaking and fermenting works better than sprouting, but she also asserts that a combination of these techniques works best of all.
The GAPS diet allows some beans and legumes at certain stages—if properly soaked or sprouted. Coconut, too, has a place, beginning with the oil and moving on to the meat, milk, cream, coconut butter and eventually coconut flour. There are recipes for coconut milk, flour, breads, muffins and even pizza! The section also offers a bonus chapter on how to introduce grains after the gut is healed. The final section delves further into what and how to eat after following the full GAPS diet, emphasizing high-quality foods, traditional cooking techniques and plenty of nourishing stocks and broths. This can rightly be called a “well diet”—meaning the time-tested, traditional, immune-supporting, nutrient-dense diet known to most of us as the Wise Traditions diet. This book gets a double thumbs-up. It’s thorough, interesting, informative and provides a way to heal and return to a normal, healthy life while enjoying a slew of delicious, nourishing foods. Good job, Monica Corrado!
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2020