The Oliver Weston Company

Fundamental foods for health and healing

Designing a winning breakfast

Hannah SpringerComment

Have you ever struggled to get the right balance at breakfast? I know I have. The easiest thing is to grab a slice of one of our gluten-free breads (try one of our whole-foods GF sourdoughs with goat cheese and sliced tomato!), or our Paleo cinnamon granola with fresh berries, coconut milk, and a teaspoon of hemp seeds. But let's face it, a breakfast like this will only sustain you for a brief time. Why not try one of our made-to-order sausage mixtures (with added organ meats for those of you looking for that extra nutritional boost)?

The image above shows the way I eat most mornings, usually with a delicious vegetable puree (made with ghee) alongside. Butternut squash and carrot puree are my favorites. When I don't have one of these on hand I will reach for a small scoop of refried beans or maybe leftover mashed potatoes since I know I need some carbs at breakfast. My work demands long hours on my feet and I like to have a really sustaining meal like this by late morning.

My go-to sausage combination is pork and turkey with organ meats, of course made with our specially-sourced local pastured meats raised the right way (free of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and GMOs). You can choose from pork, turkey, or lamb for your sausage of choice, and now we offer the convenient option of getting your selection preformed into patties! We add our special blend of organic spices to the meat, then form and freeze each customer's patties and package them in a ziploc bag. Each night before you go to bed just grab one of these patties from the freezer and put it in the fridge. Bake it in a toaster oven for 17 min at 375 degrees; you don't have to wait for the toaster oven to heat up first, just pop it in and go take your shower. Don't forget the sauteed greens (a fantastic balance for a protein-rich breakfast) and the indispensable beet kvass and fermented veggies!

How GAPS can help your family, our GAPS menu selections, and why all parents of babies should know about this diet

Hannah Springer
Oliver at age 18 months, after successful treatment with GAPS for major digestive issues

Oliver at age 18 months, after successful treatment with GAPS for major digestive issues

 

The GAPS diet (created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of the book Gut And Psychology Syndrome) was designed to clear up a variety of health issues stemming from gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in the microorganisms of the gut that generally goes hand-in-hand with compromised gut integrity (leaky gut syndrome and damaged gut lining). Symptoms that are helped are digestive issues, autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, brain fog, hormone imbalances, food sensitivities, systemic inflammation, and behavioral issues. Many people with more serious complications like autoimmune disease need to go further than this diet, while many others can do a less-intense option like Paleo (which allows starches like sweet potatoes and arrowroot). It is important to find what works for you, but I have found GAPS to be incredibly useful for my children and myself, beginning with Oliver who had a compromised gut and was unable to break down food as a small toddler. It turned out that I was feeding him incorrectly and had damaged his digestive tract. Another post will need to be written on this later.

GAPS has been my go-to whenever the kids have seemed to be craving sweets (like fruit) in lieu of proteins (it's been a very long time since this has happened, though), and also whenever a stomach bug comes around, to resolve diarrhea. I find it to be overall a highly beneficial diet for keeping the immune system strong, clearing up acne, and keeping the body from becoming too acidic (signs of this are fungal issues like athlete's foot and yeast infections, canker sores, cold sores, and sore tongue). In general we eat a combination of GAPS and Paleo plus plenty of potatoes at our house.

Here is a list of our current menu items that would fit the full GAPS diet. Two items are up for debate: navy beans and red lentils are allowed on full GAPS for people who tolerate them so it is up to you to figure that out. If you have digestive issues you may want to avoid all legumes. Hard cheeses, sour cream, and butter are allowed on full GAPS as well, but again with the same caveat that the person should be able to tolerate them fine. Most people on full GAPS benefit from having ghee on a regular basis.

On full GAPS you can enjoy (this list is relevant to our current menu as of posting date and would change accordingly):

  • all our broths (chicken, beef, pho, and fish), an indispensable "medicine" for healing the gut!
  • all of our soups are suitable with one caveat: simple chicken, fish soup with greens, butternut squash soup (contains ghee), and Harvest Gold lentil soup (only if lentils are tolerated)
  • salmon salad
  • chicken tenders
  • beef Bolognese
  • beef & navy bean chili (if beans are tolerated)
  • turkey meatballs with NO quinoa
  • our meatball, burger and sausage mixtures are all suitable and highly nutritious especially if you add the organ meat option. These do require some prep work on your part unless you select the meatball "in the pan with sauce" option.
  • breakfast custard (dairy option contains sour cream, non-dairy option contains coconut milk which is completely additive-free--both are delicious!). One custard contains only 2 tbsp of honey, so if you cut it into 8 pieces each piece has 2/3 tsp of honey. The custard makes a GREAT snack if you're able to have honey.
  • pate (there is a butter option and a no-butter option). VERY nutritious and energizing
  • Paleo granola (contains honey but it is completely grain-free)
  • cashew bread (toast first, or fry in a pan with some butter or unflavored coconut oil like you are making a grilled cheese sandwich. I like this cooking method for making open-faced salmon salad or tuna salad sandwiches.)
  • almond flour sandwich rounds
  • red velvet loaves
  • desserts: our chocolates + our cashew silk pie are GAPS-approved, but depending on the health issue you are dealing with you may want to avoid all added sugars. Keep in mind that chocolate, nuts, and sweeteners can all make your body more acidic.
  • all our ferments are delicious and are an essential part of a healthy daily diet for everyone

It can be hard to get enough carbs on GAPS so have on hand plenty of very ripe bananas (with brown spots so there is no starch left in them), butternut & other winter squashes (rich in carbs but no starch), green peas (frozen is fine), carrots (cook them before eating), and beets if you like them. These are all non-starchy sources of carbs. I've also found avocados to be my best friend since they are filling, and salmon and tuna salad (get some of our Primal Kitchen mayo, or grab it at the store if you're going to make one of these). I would really recommend the granola, pate, and the breakfast custard since having something you can quickly grab and snack on is really important. You can dip veggie sticks in the pate or put it on the cashew toast.

In summary, a diet free of grains and refined sugars is usually beneficial for just about everyone, and going a bit further than that with GAPS by further limiting diet while adding in HEALING foods can help clear up many pesky health and behavioral issues. Keep in mind that the vast majority of the dietary intake should be savory items like vegetables, bone broths, meats/poultry, seafood, eggs, raw kefir & cheese (where tolerated), ferments, and healthy fats, with fruits and nuts taking up the rear, followed by occasional allowed treats that use natural sweeteners.

If you are interested in learning more I highly recommend the book Gut And Psychology Syndrome; it is a fascinating and enlightening read and you will likely learn a lot from it even if you decide not to use the diet in an intensive way yourself. I think of it as a good guideline for a healthy and nourishing diet for the general population, but if you are a parent of a baby or a soon-to-be parent then it is INDISPENSABLE reading for you. You can save yourself a lot of grief and save your little one(s) as well if you understand from the get-go how the very delicate infant digestive system works and how to properly transition your baby to solids.

Please email me through our contact page for help finding what you need from our menu selections to suit your special diet.

How much broth is "enough" broth?

Hannah SpringerComment

Every so often I have a new customer who orders a quart of broth from me and then resurfaces months later for another quart. My dear customers: this is not enough broth. If you are making it yourself, that's fabulous! If you are getting it somewhere else, that's fine, too! But please please PLEASE be sure you and your entire family are having bone broth. Every. Single. Day.

Bone broths and lactofermented vegetables are the two absolutely indispensable foods that need to be in everyone's diet. (I would add liver to that list, but that's a topic for another day.) Bone broths boast an impressive array of easily-absorbed minerals (think bones and teeth) and gelatin which comes from collagen and is an essential component of our joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and skin, including the lining of the digestive tract. Want youthful skin with great elasticity? Avoid refined vegetable oils, use high-quality traditional animals fats, and DRINK BONE BROTH.

Our upgraded super-gelatinous beef broth.

Our upgraded super-gelatinous beef broth.

How much broth should I have every day? One cup is the absolute minimum, two cups for excellent digestion and immune function, and as much as a few quarts a day for serious health issues (GI disorders, cancer, etc).

How do I use bone broth? The easiest way is to make soup! (And remember that if you are purchasing our premade soups that counts toward your daily broth intake.) Here are some other ideas:

  • Replace the cooking water with broth when making whole grains and beans.
  • Use it in any recipe that calls for packaged broth.
  • Boil it down and feed it to your baby from a tiny spoon (the water will evaporate leaving a concentrated highly-gelatinous mineral-rich syrup).
  • Have a cupful, sprinkled with fresh minced parsley, scallions, or cilantro for an elegant and digestion-enhancing touch before a meal.
  • Drink a mug of it at bedtime.
  • Give it to your little ones in their bottles and sippy cups, lukewarm or straight from the fridge. Older kids might like to eat it cold, as a jelly (Oliver and Weston do!).
  • Replace your mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffee ritual with bone broth.

You will feel the difference immediately, and your bones, joints, teeth, skin, tummy, and immune system will THANK YOU.

I can't afford that much broth! Well, you can definitely make it yourself -- the internet abounds with great recipes!

Our orthodontic nightmare, and its easy, natural solution

Hannah Springer3 Comments

There is something about dental issues that has a unique ability to rattle me, especially when it comes to my children. Many parents of young children know the horror of seeing a new tooth pop up where it shouldn't, and experience the sinking feeling of knowing their child will need extensive orthodontic work -- much of it painful and all of it expensive! -- to correct the issues. This was my feeling when Hugo texted me a photo as I was in the hospital recovering from Figaro's birth this past May. Eeek! A nightmare worthy of Halloween!

Look closely for the adult tooth coming in BEHIND the baby teeth in the bottom row.

Look closely for the adult tooth coming in BEHIND the baby teeth in the bottom row.

I immediately dialed my trusted dentist, Dr. Martha Cortes, who is the person I trust implicitly for all things dental-related. I wanted to know what she would do if this were her son. At Oliver's cleaning just four weeks prior (Oliver's age: 5.75), she had provided us with a "myomunchie," a special pliable silicone device to be worn and chewed by him twice a day to expand his palate. I was extremely doubtful that this simple therapy could work for such a disastrous situation, especially since time was of the essence: if Oliver's baby tooth didn't fall out soon an extraction would become necessary to prevent further issues.

Oliver's top teeth at this time--note the lack of extra space.

Oliver's top teeth at this time--note the lack of extra space.

Dr. Cortes told me to take a deep breath and listen carefully. She didn't say "Try it and see." She didn't say "This is a disaster!" She told me unequivocally that the myomunchie would do the job. Given our limited means for exploring other alternatives (the Crozat approach looked good but so expensive!!) we decided to give it a try. Oliver commenced munching on the myomunchie twice a day for five minutes in conjunction with some very simple "facial aerobics" exercises he'd been assigned at the office. Very soon, the baby tooth fell out naturally and the badly misaligned adult tooth took its proper place. Now, five months later and, without being completely diligent about all of this, Oliver's palate has visibly widened. His already handsome face is even handsomer and we are completely amazed and delighted converts.

Oliver's teeth after 5 months of using the myomunchie.

Oliver's teeth after 5 months of using the myomunchie.

This therapy is very reasonably priced and, depending on the severity of the issue, takes about 15-45 minutes a day. Families who would like to address more serious issues and/or reap the greatest benefits would do well to choose the monthly therapy sessions as well. Click here for a brief article on the myomunchie approach, which is quite new to the U.S., and contact Dr. Cortes's office for a free consultation (tell her I sent you!).

Please note that this therapy is recommended for children ages 3-6 as this is the time of greatest growth, though I've also seen the age range 4-8 recommended. It is also very important to supply key nutrients to support this rapid growth, particularly minerals and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Think bone broths, egg yolks, fish eggs, liver from pastured animals, small oily fish, raw dairy from grass-fed cows, and cod liver oil. (Oliver and Weston like the Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil blend in Cinnamon Tingle.)

Recipe: meatballs & marinara

Hannah SpringerComment
meatballs marinara.jpg

Meatball night means happy boys at our house. I like to serve them very simply, with just a sauce and a fermented vegetable, like sauerkraut. All you need is:

  • 1 lb of our raw, thawed meatball mixture (or your own)
  • 2 cups of plain strained tomatoes (I like Bionaturae organic glass-jar strained tomatoes which is really just a plain tomato sauce)
  • dried oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, unrefined salt, and Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano (omit if dairy-free)

Using very clean hands (greased with a bit of beef tallow if you like) form meatball mixture into bite-sized balls. Place in a glass baking dish. Top with plain strained tomato sauce. Sprinkle on a generous amount of oregano and garlic powder, a bit of black pepper, and a few pinches of salt, plus cheese if you're using it.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes in a 350-degree preheated oven (a large toaster oven works great for this!). Remove foil, serve, and top with more Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese. Enjoy the silence while everyone digs in contentedly.

Seven ways to use bone broth

Hannah Springer

To truly enjoy the health benefits of bone broth it's important that it be an essential part of your daily diet. In our house we use bone broth in the following ways:

  • to braise meats
  • to make gravy (we make reduction gravy, which is thickened naturally through evaporation (boiling) rather than through adding flour or cornstarch)
  • in soups & stews
  • to cook rice for Hugo (simply replace the water with broth; if you consume other grains, pasta, or beans cooked from scratch you can replace the cooking water with broth for a big nutritious boost and improved digestibility)
  • as a soothing hot beverage (Oliver and Weston like it straight from the fridge, in their thermos, bottle, or sippy cups)
  • as a bowl of ultra-simple soup before a meal, with fresh herbs sprinkled on top (scallions, cilantro, basil, parsley) and sometimes a bit of sriracha mixed in (and yes, I like this sometimes as my bedtime snack!)
  • and Oliver and Weston's favorite: "jelly" broth! (our broths vary from batch to batch, but the trotter broth is always a firm jelly)

Bone broth: a recipe for good health

Hannah Springer

Many of our customers are first referred to us by a health practitioner for our traditional bone broths. These broths form the foundation of a nourishing diet and should be consumed daily for a healthy immune system, excellent digestion, and strong bones and teeth.

Bone broth is a rich source of gelatin (derived from the collagen found in the skin, bones, and cartilage of animals) which has many amazing properties, and other important elements useful in treating many disorders. Here are some reasons to enjoy bone broths daily:

  • Collagen strengthens and repairs joints, bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, cartilage, and the lining of the GI tract
  • Gelatin in bone broth provides hydrophilic colloids which attract digestive juices to the surface of cooked food particles, thus aiding in the digestion of cooked foods. Cooked foods are generally harder to digest than raw because they contain hydrophobic colloids which repel liquids, and therefore repel digestive juices away from the food particles. Bone broth can help remedy this problem.)
  • Gelatin is not a complete protein but it has the wonderful property of serving as a protein sparer, which means it helps the body better utilize the complete proteins that are taken in. This makes it a must in the diet of those who cannot afford to eat, or who choose not to eat, large quantities of meat.
  • Bone broth provides the amino acids glycine (for improved digestion) and proline (for the formation of collagen)
  • Gelatin is useful in treating many illnesses, including digestive disorders (hyperacidity, Crohn’s, and colitis), and chronic disorders (including anemia, diseases of the blood, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, and cancer). 
  • Bone broth contains glycosaminoglycans, special compounds commonly deficient in individuals with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Bone broths contain all the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow, and added vegetables and herbs in electrolyte form, which means they are very easy to assimilate. When acidic wine or vinegar is added during cooking, it helps to draw minerals into the broth, particularly magnesium, calcium, and potassium. 
  • Also present in broth are components of cartilage and collagen which have been proven to be excellent in the treatment of cancer, bone disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis. Broth helps prevention of and recovery from infectious diseases, and was used in the treatment of colds and asthma by the 12th-century physician Moses Maimonides.
  • Fish broth is especially rich in minerals, including iodine, which is found in seafood. Broth made using the heads of fish, which contain the thyroid glands, will also contain thyroid hormone and other substances that nourish our own thyroid glands. As many as 40% of Americans, including babies and children, suffer from thyroid deficiency with symptoms like weight gain, susceptibility to infection, inability to concentrate, fatigue, and depression, so the importance of regularly incorporating good fish broth cannot be overstated.
  • Fish and meat bone broths also allow us to make the most delicious soups, stews, braised meats, slow-cooked beans and whole grains, gravies, and sauces, so if health reasons aren’t enough, the flavor and pleasure gained from enjoying good bone broth certainly is!