Having the right tools for special treats when on a restricted diet is very helpful. My GAPS Diet has significantly improved the severe symptoms I was having from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I say “special treats” only because when you are on a restricted diet like that of GAPS, SCD, Paleo-type diet, etc, your whole viewpoint of treats is switched from the sweet goodies of the past, like muffins, cookies, candies, etc., to other foods that are as convenient to grab but much better for you! Of course, they will be only convenient to grab, if you have made them in advance. That’s just the way it is when you have to make almost everything from scratch.
So today I am going to describe how I have been helped tremendously by dehydrating food and snacks for myself while traveling as well as keeping myself emotionally satisfied with my diet. I have to admit, getting creative has been a by-product of a healthy diet. There may be people who will not be able to eat the same foods as what I might be showing here, however, in some cases, I have earned these foods back by the GAPS Diet. What was indigestible 18 months or so ago, I have been able to add back in, which makes these treats much more of a “treat” for me.
The first thing I needed to get was a dehydrator. I have linked to the one I use currently but there are other models to pick from. The one I want in the future is the very celebrated Excalibur which I wish I could have bought when I first started. I just couldn’t afford it, nor did I realize how often I would be using it. Part of the excitement about the Excalibur is that you can use it for other things like when making homemade yogurt as it keeps a steady temperature and this can help tremendously in the winter when the house is cold. Plus, all my friends who dehydrate have it and for years I have heard how happy they are with it. The batches of food and the square flat trays to put them in far exceed the ease and volume of my little work horse but I can’t complain since I get things done for now on mine. But my Nesco has been very good to me for years now and hopefully, once my time with it is over, I will be able to upgrade.
The next thing I needed to do was to learn how to dehydrate, why to dehydrate, and how to store the dehydrated foods. Soaking nuts and seeds greatly improves their digestibility. For some people, this makes all the difference allowing them to have nuts when they normally could not. For that, I took the GNOWFLINS Dehydrating eCourse I have told you about in other posts, and this is just one of the online courses she offers for traditional food preparation (in the picture, you will see the sauerkraut she taught me to make too)! These foods need to be made as naturally as possible for these special diets which is why they are considered traditional methods – naturally fermented vegetables and for the jerky, no nitrates or sugar and for the fruit, no sulfur or added preservatives which are necessary for me to make as I don’t allow myself these treats with those undesirable additions. These courses taught me almost everything I know about soaking, dehydrating and preparing traditional foods based on methods like those in Nourishing Traditions, the book by Sally Fallon, made popular a few years back. But this course taught me so much more considering I was a beginner in the world of dehydrating. But what I found was that she went over and beyond the beginning stages, while covering the basics. I was able to learn recipes and so many useful tips along the way. I highly recommend her courses (which I still take monthly). She is a great teacher and helped me learn the details behind soaking, fermenting and the nutrition of it all. I usually like freestyle cooking so this got me started and I varied things from the basic recipes knowing that I was now making food in the most natural and digestible form as possible.
So now that I got the basic starting tools out of the way, I will show you some ideas of the filler foods I have made over the last year or so. I thought it would be fun to do a visual post to give everyone ideas. One picture I don’t have for some reason is my homemade beef jerky which I really wanted to show you. I have not been able to locate my pictures of those. If I find them or make some more in the near future, I will insert them in another post. But for jerky, you can either shape them by hand (quite a bit less dependable for even drying) or you can get a jerky gun which I just absolutely LOVE and recommend over the hand formed method.
First up represents “chips” for the sake of the all important “crunch” we look for occasionally. Our favorite is zucchini chips with salt and garlic powder. YUM! I don’t have a picture of those but I make a dip out of my homemade mayo which I have linked to my Pinterest board. To that I add parsley, garlic, and onion powder to make a dip that tastes similar to ranch dressing. Once in a while, this just hits the spot for that ol’ potato chip crunch and dip. In the picture you will see banana chips which are also a favorite and deliver the same crunchy delight as the zucchini chips. The options are endless when you get creative. We have made sweet potato chips (my husband’s favorite but I can’t have sweet potatoes due to a sensitivity), apple chips, kale chips, and various others. Here’s a link to a Google image search for dehydrator chips so you get an idea of the variety of ways you can enjoy veggies this way.
Next up are the creations I have made with dried nuts. I have done so much with these. I have used the food processor to grind together dates, honey and a nut mixture (sometimes adding cocoa powder) to make a wonderful homemade fruit and nut bar for traveling. And so I don’t eat them all at once, I take the time to wrap them individually and store them in a glass jar in the refrigerator. I have found a food processor (the one I use is linked here – okay, it’s not blue but I wish I had the blue one) to be a necessary kitchen tool for my diet needs.
If you can tolerate nuts, this opens up a giant smorgasbord for you! Everything from my favorite treats including the special holiday one seen here made with ground nuts and chocolate layers (I made this up a bit but it is based on this recipe courtesy of tgipaleo.com) to simply making homemade almond butter. Of course, it is best to keep nut consumption down to a minimum to keep the diet’s Omega fats balanced. Here’s a good article on the subject by The Urban Poser.
And for the daily additions like almond milk for smoothies, I will show you the process I do for this. I soak a handful of raw almonds for about 24 hours with a little Real Salt added. Usually I do this in the morning and by the next morning, I remove the soaking water, rinse the almonds, then add about 2 cups of filter water back and blend it well until it looks quite milky. At that point, I take my nut milk bag and filter out the pulp, squeezing well, and then use the pulp for a second round of blending with another 2 cups of filtered water. That’s it! The almond milk is ready for whatever use you desire. Here is a link to almond milk recipes for your inspiration. I tend to be a creature of habit and have been loving smoothies made with frozen bananas, alcohol free vanilla, and gluten free cocoa powder (some cocoa powder is made on equipment that has been used with gluten products). It sure makes me happy to be able to feel like I can have a smoothie for a change! I hadn’t had one for over a year until I felt I could have nut milk again. I couldn’t tolerate it before. So I know I’m healing! I will leave you with some pictures leading up to my delicious smoothie! I hope this post has given you ideas on how to use dehydrating for variety in your diet!