Health


Ready for soup season? The beginning to any good soup is, of course, broth! Bone broth is a wonderful way of getting minerals and nutrients to your body. Bone broth has minerals, amino acids, and gelatin. These all promote healthy connective tissue and strong bones and teeth. Bone broth also is soothing to your gut and is a non-fibrous way of getting nourishment if your gut feels irritated.

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What is bone broth?

Bone broth is the result of boiling bones (and a few other things) with water to make a delicious liquid! The only difference between bone broth and stock is that bone broth is cooked longer than stock, has a different amino acid profile, and is more watery.

The cool thing about bone broth is that it is made from, well, basically kitchen waste. Here are the main components:

  • Bones of any kind, chewed steak bones, chicken carcasses, chicken necks, soup bones, chicken feet (they add a lot of gelatin, which is great for your gut!)
  • Vegetable scraps such as onion skins, zucchini tops, cores of hot peppers, carrot tops, etc.
  • Water
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Salt

There are endless add-ins you can throw in the pot to add more minerals and medicinal properties. Here are just a few to get your imagination going:

  • Ginger root
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric fresh or powdered
  • Peppercorns
  • Herbs such a rosemary, thyme, or sage
  • Celery
  • Soy sauce or Coconut Aminos

Broth-Making Methods

  • Crockpot– I use the crock pot because it’s simple and I feel safer about leaving it going when I’m gone or in bed.
  • Stock pot– This is the best method to use if you have a lot of bones and want to make several gallons at a time.
  • Instant pot– This is the quickest method, taking only 3-4 hours.

How to Make Broth

Alright, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. But trust me, this isn’t hard and you definitely can do it!

 

Put the bones in your pot. Experiment with how many bones you need to make a good tasty broth. I’ve found that one chicken carcass per crockpot full of water is a good ratio. If you are doing a big stock pot, you might want two or three chicken carcasses. This time, I’m using chicken necks.

 

 

Add veggie scraps. I am using onion skins and ginger root.

 

 

Cover with water.

 

 

Add a dash of apple cider vinegar. This helps pull extra minerals from the bones.

 

 

I added turmeric powder and kelp granules for extra minerals.

 

 

Put the lid on and cook:

  • In the crockpot, put on low and leave for 12-24 hours
  • In the stockpot, bring to a boil, then reduce to low for 12-24 hours
  • In the instant pot, cook under high pressure for 2-3 hours, let pressure release naturally at the end.

 

 

Once it’s done, let it cool, pour the broth through a strainer into a large bowl. Taste for saltiness and add salt as needed. It’s always better if your helper is grumpy and tired, too. Just trying to share tricks of the trade, y’all.

 

 

Pour into jars or any container you have. I use half gallon mason jars. Refrigerate for up to a week. Mine is being kept company in my fridge with 20 pounds of pig fat to render into lard and gargantuan onions!

If you freeze it, make sure you have only filled your jars 1/2-3/4 full, otherwise it will expand and you will have a bunch of cracked mason jars. Don’t ask me how I know…

 

How to use bone broth

  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Drink the broth straight from a mug 
  • Chili
  • Make sprouted rice
  • Add it to mashed potatoes instead of milk

 

Hope you enjoyed this! Share your ideas of how to use broth, as well as any other add-ins you put in your broth that makes is super yummy or nutritious! I’d love to hear what other people do.

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If you are looking to make better use of your money, your grocery budget is a good place to start trimming. If you approach it with the right attitude, it can even feel like a game or a wonderful challenge to see how you can spend less. 

But I want to balance my advice with this: consider not skimping too much on your grocery budget. If you are eating high-quality healthy foods, you can count them as preventative medicine. It is an investment in your future.

Here are my tips for keeping a low grocery budget, yet also eating nutrient-dense health foods… and no couponing needed!

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Have a list and stick to it– Keep a list and remember to take it shopping with you! (I often forget that step) Try to stick to it as closely as you can. Of course it always makes sense to stray from your list if you find a really great deal on something that’s on sale that you can use.

Rely on the filling-but-cheap staples– this includes foods like beans, oats, peanut butter, rice, and potatoes. Some great meals you can make with these ingredients include baked potatoes, peanut butter oatmeal, chili, and beans and rice.

Buy bulk grass-fed meat– I have successfully found and bought grass-fed beef on Craigslist from a local farmer. The price usually ranges from $4-$6/pound in my area. That’s a great price compared to the store. Downside: you are expected to buy at least a quarter of a cow, which means you need a chest freezer and a large chunk of money at one time. Upside: You can get great parts of the cow like soup bones (for making broth) and fat (for making tallow or lard!).

Find the sale section of your grocery store– It’s usually in the back somewhere. Check it each time you go. I’ve found some awesome deals!

Find in-season foods at farms and preserve it– This might include pumpkins or squash in October (either store whole or cook and freeze) and u-pick fruits in the summer time (freeze or can). 

Forage or grow as much food as you can– We figured our garden saved us $600-$800 this summer. Pretty awesome. We have also foraged blackberries, apples, and elderberries this summer and saved hundreds of dollars.

 

foraging

 

Embrace tomato paste– It’s usually around $1/can and since it’s concentrated, it stretches well in soups and sauces. Adds richness and flavor for little money.

Focus on the cheap-but-nutritious produce– This includes carrots, kale, lettuce, cabbage, onions, and bananas. 

Make your own sauces: This will save you money, but it will also help your diet stay healthy since most store-bought sauces have sugars and unhealthy fats in them. Some sauces you might consider making might be peanut sauce, salad dressing, and spaghetti sauce.

Make your own staple foods: These practices will keep your costs down and your nutrition high: broth, apple cider vinegar, mayo, bread. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon has a lot of really good recipes for the basics.

Make your own fermented foods: The ones that I make are sauerkraut, kombucha, and sourdough bread. You could also make fermented dairy products like yogurt, kefir, and sour cream. 

I hope this helps you in your journey to stick to your grocery budget! 

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This is an overview of the GAPS diet. I am not an authority on this subject and I don’t know every single detail of the diet. However, I have spent a lot of time reading about this diet and implementing it for my family. If you want to know more, visit the GAPS website and read the book. I hope this at least piques your interest and will be a springboard for you doing your own research!

Our family has found a lot of health and healing from the GAPS diet (I lost 30 pounds in 6 months on the GAPS diet!) and I think it has the ability to heal a variety of health issues.

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

Who is the GAPS diet for?

This diet was developed by Dr. Natasha McBride to help with a range of psychiatric, psychological, immune, and digestive problems, including:

  • Autoimmune disorders 
  • Widespread inflammation
  • Dyspraxia
  • Schizophrenia
  • ADHD and ADD
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • IBS
  • Dyslexia
  • Asthma
  • Allergies

GAPS stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome because of the link between the gut health and brain health. Your gut wall acts as a fortress that processes everything in your gut, making sure it is in a correct form that your body can use. When your gut loses its health, your whole body begins to suffer. A damaged gut’s can’t produce enzymes that help your body break down food particles. You can begin to have what is called “leaky gut”, which means that, over time, your gut wall has been damaged with poor eating and has developed holes which allow particles to enter your bloodstream that wouldn’t be able to fit through a healthy gut wall. Your body doesn’t know what to do with these partially undigested food particles and can develop allergies to these foods. 

The way to heal the brain is to heal the gut wall. The GAPS diet does this by taking out difficult-to-digest foods and replacing them with easy to digest, nutrient dense foods that allow your gut wall to heal. By eating probiotic foods, you will also re-colonize your gut with good bacteria, which help you to get the most nutrition out of your food. 

How do I follow the GAPS diet?

There are two sections to the diet:

  • Full GAPS– This is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet consisting of mostly meat, vegetables, eggs, and nuts. It is recommended to follow the Full GAPS for 1 1/2 -2 years for full healing. 
  • Intro Diet– a short-term cleansing and healing for the gut wall that takes 3-6 weeks to complete.

Let’s look at these two parts of the diet in more detail:

 

This is how I get my kids to eat GAPS Intro soups- I blend them and serve them with a straw!

Intro Diet

This part of the diet consists of six stages and takes 3-6 weeks to complete. Fairly healthy people might be able to complete it in 2 weeks. For people with more severe digestive issues, such as IBS, Crohn’s, Autism, and depression, this diet will take more like 6 weeks. Each stage builds on the one before.

Stage 1– Homemade meat stock, boiled meat, boiled vegetables, and sauerkraut juice

Stage 2– Continue with soups, add egg yolks

Stage 3– Add scrambled eggs, avocado, and fermented veggies

Stage 4– Add baked meats, fresh juices, and nut flour bread

Stage 5– Add cooked fruits and raw veggies

Stage 6– Add raw fruit

This is a very difficult diet to follow, but It is worth every bit of work. It is hard to make broth constantly, and after a few days of soup, you get pretty ready to sink your teeth into something crunchy. But it does an amazing job cleaning your system and healing.

 

Full GAPS

You will spend the majority of your time on this part of the diet. Visit this page for the Full GAPS food list, but here are the basics of what you eat:

  • Raw dairy
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Homemade bone broth
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Lots of oil (good fats such as animal fats or coconut oil or avocado oil)
  • Fruits
  • Honey (small amounts)
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, and water kefir.
  • Low starch legumes such as lima beans, white beans, and lentils
  • Eggs

 

Sauerkraut

Supplements

It is recommended that you supplement Full GAPS with: 

  • Probiotics
  • Essential Fatty Acids such as Cod Liver Oil, Nut/Seed blend oil, and Fish Oil
  • Vitamin A which is found in Cod Liver Oil
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements

For us personally, we have only taken Cod Liver Oil, which supplies vitamins A and D, Omega 3 fatty acids and DHA. We also supplement with a magnesium foot soak. We also eat fermented food almost every day (sauerkraut and kombucha) instead of taking probiotics. We just don’t feel like we have the money to spend on probiotics. This is my cheap “hack” on probiotics, and although I doubt we get as many strains, it’s better than nothing.

 

Detoxifying the Home

Make sure you quit using chemical cleaners, soaps, shampoos, candles, air fresheners, laundry detergents, and lotions. Dr. McBride also suggests not getting new carpets, furniture, or paints since they off-gas chemicals. Don’t get any new mercury (amalgam) fillings and decrease your exposure to lead and other heavy metals. You are cleansing your body, so make sure you aren’t burdening your body with things that will make it difficult to completely heal.

You really can’t go wrong by trying this diet. It is full of whole, real foods that will nourish your body. 

Recommended reading

 

Explanation of the GAPS diet by Dr. Natasha McBride-

 

A GAPS cookbook with great recipes and encouragement-

 

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Everyone knows how wonderful apple cider vinegar is, and the hype is very founded. It improves health and can have several household uses. I use it a variety of ways, from conditioner to salad dressing!

Here are some benefits of apple cider vinegar:

  • Maintains a healthy blood sugar
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps with acid reflux
  • Has active cultures

 

If you buy raw apple cider vinegar with the “mother”, it is about $6-$10 per quart. That’s not really a bad price, but I’m always up for doing something myself and saving a little money!

 

Ingredients

  • Apple juice or apple cider. Some people say you can’t use pasteurized apple juice, but I have made it with pasteurized juice several times and it works just as well as the raw stuff. Sometimes you can get organic apple juice in a handy glass jug, then you can just ferment it right there in the jug!
  • Raw, unpasteurized apple cider with the “mother”.  This is your starter, which has good bacteria hungry for apple juice!

 

Instructions:

  1. Pour your cider into a glass jar or jug. Make as much or as little as you like!
  2. Add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar starter’s good bacteria will begin to eat the sugars and convert them into vinegar.
  3. Cover with a cloth and a rubber band.
  4. Let it sit for 2-3 months.

 

After a week of fermenting, it will become bubbly and taste like sparkling cider. You can stop there and enjoy the best sparkling cider you’ve ever had. But you’ll probably feel guilty about that decision when you’re back at the store buying a bottle of ACV.

Then comes what I call the “nail polish remover phase”. I have never drunk nail polish remover, but I can imagine it would taste like this. You will think your project has failed. You will want to give up. But trust me, if you let it go a little while more, you will have vinegar.

It is ready to use when it is super sour and has lost the nail polish remover taste. It does take a long time to ferment, but it requires very little of your time and effort. Gotta love projects like that!

 

 

We have been blessed to be able to forage windfall apples near our house, so we went the extra mile on this apple cider vinegar batch and made our own apple cider. We juiced our free apples to make completely free apple cider vinegar.

Turning our fresh cider into vinegar is a good way to make the cider shelf-stable and enjoyable all year long. I am thankful for my freezer and refrigerator, but I am always interested in finding ways to use them less and less.

 

 

It looked like apples pooped all over my table but let me tell you, that was the best cider I have ever had.

 

 

It was a fun Sunday afternoon activity for us to all do together. It almost felt like an apple party. I have really enjoyed preserving seasonal food more and more every year. It makes me thankful that I don’t have to completely rely on my preservation skills for our all of our wintertime food, and it also makes me admire the women who didn’t have grocery stores or refrigerators.

 

 

Once the cider was made, we poured it into various jugs and jars.

 

 

Instead of using a starter, I’m using the “mother” that has formed most generously from a previous batch. It is similar to a Kombucha SCOBY in that it is made of bacteria and yeast. It has a similar texture and feel as a SCOBY.

 

 

Lastly, I set the jugs on top of my fridge where they will live for several months! (As you can see, I don’t clean the top of my fridge.)

The foam on top is because the juice is unfiltered. I will filter it after it becomes vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is a great project to kick off your fermenting journey with– it is simple and rewarding.

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*UPDATE*

It is now December 13th, and the vinegar is totally done. It took about 3 months to lose its “nail polish remover” taste. It is the most sour thing I have ever tasted in my life! It has a great flavor and is pretty concentrated. I only ended up with a little more than a gallon. I think some of it evaporated as it fermented. This stuff loves to make big freaky white mothers though!

 

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I’m excited to share my experience with the GAPS diet. I hope it inspires you to pursue health and healing in your own life, no matter where you are! I also discuss  learning to accept the body you have and focus on health and strength, not chasing that “perfect body”.

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

 

I got married when I was 19. Before our wedding, I was stressed, and like any bride, eager to not regret my body in the wedding pictures. So I ran a lot and ate very little and got my weight down to 139 lbs. I liked my body, I liked my wedding pictures, and I was ready to take on the world.

 

 

Yeah, let’s just say the next 6 years hit me like a locomotive. They were beautiful years of holding babies, nursing babies, and loving babies. But they were also desperate years of back-to-back pregnancies, sleepless nights, and tired days. Yet no matter what the challenge, food was something I could count on to comfort me. Desserts were a “reward” for getting through the hard day. And they did make me feel better. Kind of. 

After our fourth and final baby was born, I was 180 lbs and I felt frustrated with all the extra fat on my body. I never had been fat before and I didn’t feel like myself. But I never thought that losing so much weight would be a option, so I decided to embrace it and bought a bunch of “fat clothes”. 

 

Starting the GAPS diet

Six months later when we decided to follow the GAPS diet as a family, our major motive was Trent’s health, but I also secretly hoped it would help me lose weight. 

In the midst of our whole family becoming healthier, I began to see the fat basically melt off my body very steadily. I was losing 1-2 lbs a week, and before I knew it, I had lost 20 lbs and my friends were starting to comment about how good I looked. That felt great. 

 

 

After 4 months of following the Full GAPS diet, we took a few weeks to go back and do the GAPS Intro diet, and I kicked my last 10 lbs. I was 150 lbs, a wonderfully healthy weight, and feeling great about myself. I had new clothes, I fit in my “goal jeans”, and I didn’t cringe when I saw a picture of myself.

I also had much more mental clarity, sustained energy, and a heightened sense of well-being.

 

Learning to Accept My Body

About a year and a half later, I am still 150 lbs and still feeling pretty great. And we don’t even follow the GAPS diet anymore! We eat several gluten-free grains (like sprouted rice!) and even splurge every few weeks when we encounter “junk food” the we’re out-and-about.

Do I still kinda hate parts of my body? Absolutely. 

Do I see other women and wish I had their body? Yes.

But I am choosing to not let it take over my life. There will never be a perfect day where I am completely satisfied with my body. 

I have also realized that, even if I lost every ounce of fat on my body, I would still not look like a supermodel. I just am not built that way. And that’s OK. I want to be healthy and strong and that is my priority at this point. 

 

 

Is GAPS the only way to lose weight or be healthy?

While I think the GAPS diet is an amazing way to heal your gut and lose weight, I don’t think it’s the only way you can achieve your health or weight loss goals. My mom has lost 20 lbs in 8 months following the Keto Diet. I know others have found healing through the AIP Protocol and SCD diet.

One thing I really like about GAPS is that it allows you a period of time where you heal your gut wall. Once you are healed, your gut is no longer “leaky” and is able to properly digest the foods you do eat. This can be a wonderful reset for your system.

Understand that following the GAPS diet is a big commitment of time and effort. You will spend many, many hours making broth, straining broth, chopping veggies, blending soups, and mixing salads. You have to be committed before you start or you will fail. But the time you spend in the kitchen will be well-spent when you start feeling healthy, thinking clearer, and seeing your kids thrive.

 

Recommended Reading

This explains everything you need to know about the GAPS diet:

This is a beautiful GAPS cookbook that helps you through each stage:

 

Feel free to share with us all in the comments what diets or protocols have helped you reach your health or weight loss goals!

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