Recipes and Ideas for What to Eat on the GAPS Introduction Diet
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Recipes and Ideas for What to Eat on the GAPS Introduction Diet

lots of butternut squash

Image by carbavor

We’ve just begun our 3rd week on the GAPS diet, and all is well.

We are beginning to see some very positive results in our family, including less eczema for the baby and toddler, a decrease in heartburn for my husband, and some behavioral improvements with our toddler as well. We’ve all experienced some toxin die-off, and our cravings for sweet and carbs has been lessening.

The hardest part of any helpful but restrictive special diet like GAPS is knowing what you can make, when all of your regular foods and meals go out the window. I have experienced this challenge (and am still experiencing it) almost daily, but thankfully there are many great resources out there and ways to make doing this diet as painless as possible.

Help for the Intro Diet

The very beginning of the Intro Diet was the toughest part for us. My kids began balking at the idea of another soup by the end of day 2. So what to do?

  • Keep your soups as varied and interesting as possible. This can be done even with a limited array of ingredients to choose from. Really mix and match your veggie and meat choices up. Lots of sea salt helps with flavor. See this tutorial on making soups from scratch without a recipe for more ideas.
  • Let kids drink their soups, either with a straw or in a mug.
  • Add in a few simple, digestible foods if that will help you get through the beginning stages if you’re really struggling. Personally, we chose to add in free-range eggs and peeled, cooked, organic apples. Eggs were usually boiled or scrambled. The apples I cut into thin slices and “fried” them in a pan with a bit of water for steam until they were soft and cooked through, and gave them a small sprinkle of cinnamon for added appeal. Applesauce was good as well.
  • If you need to start adding in other foods, just stay diligent with the bone broth. We still try to drink some broth in a mug with almost every meal, whether we have soup or not.

3 brown eggs

Image by EpSos.de

Beyond the First Few Days…

We stayed pretty strict on our soup, eggs, cooked apple and broth regime for the first 3-4 days. Then we began adding in cooked veggies and stews/casseroles like:

  • Squash fries– I made mine with butternut squash, and either beef tallow (the best!) or coconut oil and sea salt. Try to avoid burning them (or don’t eat the pieces that get a bit burnt)
  • Well-steamed cauliflower or broccoli with a bit of coconut oil and salt
  • Roasted beets, but I used coconut oil instead of olive oil
  • Green beans, lightly steamed/fried in a pan with some water and a bit of oil
  • Stews with small chunks of parsnips, carrots, turnips, peas, celeriac (less fibrous than regular celery), onion and garlic.
  • Roasts or whole chickens done in the crockpot, served with a bit mug of broth and one of the above veggies
  • Fish patties- made with ground or canned salmon, a couple eggs, salt and pepper
  • Avocado- nice and ripe, eaten either straight out of the shell, or mixed with a touch of lemon juice and sea salt, and some juice from our lacto-fermented pickles (this gave it a surprisingly nice flavor!). This “guac” was nice for dipping fish or meat in.
  • Chicken, beef or turkey patties. Ground meat, mixed with eggs and light seasonings or fresh herbs (like cilantro). Later on, you can add a bit of nut butter to these as well, for adding taste and texture. Just fry them on a low temp in coconut oil or beef tallow.
  • Spinach Rollups (stage 2)- These use egg to make a “wrap” (and I added a bit of water to my egg mixture). Then fill with a yummy meat/spinach mixture. We used beef, but chicken would be nice, too.
  • Squash meatballs (stage 2)

These kind of foods can gradually be added in every couple of days, as the body seems able to handle them. We found that we were able to add these foods in quite quickly and easily after the soup intro.

Adding a Bit More Variety

I think this is where we got a bit too eager to add new foods into our repertoire and started moving too quickly. My advice would be to take these next steps slowly, more slowly than you would like to. Really stop to make sure that each person is doing well with the new addition before moving on. We are having to backtrack slightly to our list of foods above, because these newer foods aren’t sitting with us quite as well as we would like, and then we can move forward again.

Here are some of our next steps as we progressed through the Intro Diet:

  • Ripe bananas. These add so much variety to the diet when it comes to making treats. Banana cake, banana nut pancakes, banana smoothies! I freeze most of them, for smoothies, or to thaw for making baked goods.
  • Soaked almonds, then cashews, then peanuts (Valencia peanuts because they have less of the molds that peanuts sometimes have). Soak the nuts 12-24 hours in a bowl of water, then dehydrating or drying slowly in a very low-temp oven. You can then grind these in the blender to make nut “milks” or for smoothies. Or make nut butter by lightly roasting them (I use a low temp, like 250-300 F) in the oven, then use this method to create the “nut butter” texture in a food processor.
  • Ghee (clarified butter). I used Organic Valley Pasture Butter and this method for making my ghee, which was very easy.
  • Homemade kefir. I use my raw milk for this, which makes a really nice, thick kefir.
  • Cooked blueberries. I cook a big batch up at once, and then I freeze some in small portions for adding to frozen smoothies, and also keep some in the fridge.

With these new foods, suddenly we can make squash pancakes, (stage 1) banana nut pancakes (stage 2) with blueberries, nut “brownies” (stage 2), banana cake (stage 1), lots of smoothies (blueberry banana, banana nut butter, blueberry kefir), and more.

Recipes and Ideas for What to Eat on the GAPS Introduction Diet

Image by D’Arcy Norman

Quick and Easy Snacks

A few that have worked well for us:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Fruit leathers, made with cooked apple or apple/blueberry, then dehydrated
  • Leftover squash, banana or nut pancakes (they’re good cold)
  • Bananas
  • If we’re in an absolute pinch, we’ll eat peeled, fresh apples, but we try to avoid these if we can

What About Cultured and Lacto-Fermented Foods?

Because this diet is already a bit intensive to do, I didn’t want to be making my own lacto-fermented veggies at the same time. I opted to buy some ready made instead.

I chose to use Bubbie’s kosher dill pickles and their sauerkraut. Both are truly lacto-fermented, made with nothing but cucumbers or cabbage, water, and salt. They taste great and make life so much easier on GAPS! We try to have one or the other every day, with lunch or dinner.

Now we are slowly adding some kefir to our diet, for another cultured food, though I think we are going to briefly back off on it then reintroduce again later. I am also going to make a few more fermented veggies from Nourishing Traditions, like Ginger Carrots, Pickled Beets, and later on, Salsa and Mustard. Next I would like to try making some beet or fruit kvass to drink.

Where Can I Find GAPS Intro Diet Friendly Recipes?

Unfortunately, the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome does not include the Intro Diet, which Dr. Campbell-McBride added on after writing the book 10 years ago. There are some great recipes in there, but many of them just don’t work with the Intro Diet.

I have found these sites helpful instead. Not all recipes work, but if you look through them, you will find a number of recipes

PecanBread– This is actually an SCD site (specific carbohydrate diet). It is very similar to GAPS, though, and has many, many suitable recipes. I love this site and have found it so useful.

SCD Recipes

GAPS Guide- I don’t have this, but wish that I had bought it, because many people in the Yahoo GAPS group seem to find it really helpful.

GAPS Guide website– This has a nice list of recipe resources as well.

Looking for more GAPS recipes and resources?

Cara from Healthy, Home & Happiness has several amazingly helpful resources for those on GAPS:

  • 30 Days on the GAPS Introduction Diet- What Can I Eat Now? This is an essential guide to helping you get started and get through the challenging early days and weeks of the intro diet!
  • Grain Free Meal Plans Freezer Cooking Guide. Prepping meals and meal components ahead of time is a HUGE sanity and time saver when you’re doing gaps, and this ebook guides you through the process of stocking your freezer to make life on GAPS easier.
  • Grain-Free Meal Plans. Do you prefer to just let someone else do the thinking and planning for you, and follow along a pre-made menu plan? Then you’ll definitely want to check these GAPS-friendly plans out.

My three biggest tips for making the GAPS diet work for your family?

  • Stock up WELL on the foods that you will eat often. I have a funny looking shopping cart, loaded with tons of apples, squash, bananas, avocados, and other veggies, and then large bags of nuts. And the poor farmer I buy eggs from- sheesh! But staying well stocked keeps my stress levels down.
  • Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. Add in breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks, to keep things as easy as possible.
  • Make large batches of meals and snacks whenever possible. Leftovers are a very good thing. You will get hungry often (as will your kids and hubby!) and you don’t want to spend your life in the kitchen.

Any tips from others on getting through the GAPS Intro Diet? What kinds of foods did you eat and what resources were helpful to you?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

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47 Comments

  1. The looks I get when I go to buy produce are quite funny! With four young kids and huge post of veggie & meat soups everyday, we have to get a full cart of produce for just ONE week! Only half of us can have eggs yet (this is making things difficult and keeping us in Intro longer) but even so, we are going through more than 1 DOZEN eggs per DAY!!! I’m so thankful that I have a good source for these!
    Thx for posting this info and help! There are so many out here who need all the help and ideas we can get! I have found myself making almost all meals from my head now that we are about 8 weeks in and since soups are fairly easy. I am just now stretching out into baking, roasting different meats & veggies (by the way – the kids thought brussel sprouts sauteed in coconut oil & seas salt were sooo good that they begged for more at snack time!!).
    The kids love their ferments (beet kvass is their fave) and we love Zukay salsa also for times when we can’t ferment our own!
    BLessings,

    Andrea
    .-= mom24ยดs last blog ..Wordless (Brainless) Wednesday =-.

  2. You’ve got a great variety going on! When you’re on GAPS you certainly don’ t have to worry about getting enough veggies in your kids, do you?

    I was just thinking last night that I felt blah- I never felt like that on GAPS, I always felt really good. I might do a ‘tuneup’ once a month or so, just because the diet is so full of nutrient packed food!

    I linked (my name, in the comment) to my ’roundup’ of GAPS recipes if you were interested. I liked the SCD stuff too.
    .-= Cara @ Health Home and Happinessยดs last blog ..Soaked Whole Wheat Bread Recipe =-.

  3. Thank you for all the wonderful tips and ideas! My daughter and I are on our third day of being on gaps intro. We are getting a bit weary of soup! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yesterday morning, Maria (my almost two-year-old) seemed rather weak and just not herself, so I decided to add in the eggs for extra nutrition. She already loved eggs, so she sure welcomed that! Today I added in the cooked apple, and between the two of us, we ate three apples! She just loved it. I do have a question about adding fruit…I read in the gaps website that you need to wait a few weeks till you can add fruit. Is that really necessary?

    We both have real problems with being able to drink broth by itself. We just do not enjoy it. Any tips? Or do you think it’s enough broth if we just have a little soup at the beginning of most meals?

    The main reason we’re doing it is for Maria’s eczema and constipation. You mentioned that one of your children had eczema and that it is clearing up. Did you do anything else? I have been putting coconut oil mixed with tea tree oil on it, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I think it does help her feel better though. Do you think it would be better to skip putting anything on? Last night I also started giving her baths with just plain vinegar, and no soap. She also has not pooped (except for a teeny little bit) since we started, and I am concerned. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    I so appreciate all your helpful ideas on your blog!

  4. We’re having a really hard time because my daughter (the main reason we’re doing this) is allergic to all nuts and seeds, and isn’t handling blueberries or bananas well right now. She will not always eat soup either, so we’ve had to feed her a lot of scrambled eggs, uncured bacon, grass-fed burgers (no buns), baked chicken thighs, etc. She won’t drink much either. But she’s NORMAL. Her behavior is fine, she’s happy and feeling well, so it’s not die-off. It’s so hard because she can’t have some of her favorite foods that she DOESN’T react to, yet she “can” have things that are clearly bad for her. We’re going to have to do some serious revision here I think….
    .-= Kateยดs last blog ..Thoughts on Children =-.

    1. @Kate, That’s tough! Could you do apple or pear sauce, or cook them in slices? What about juicing veggies and fruits? That goes over well with my kids, and it would get some different nutrients in her. Could you try introducing coconut, or is that off limits as well with her sensitivities?

      I would definitely post this question on the GAPS yahoo group. I bet someone would have some good answers for you, better than I do!

  5. Thanks for this great post, Stephanie. Makes me feel not so alone as we walk thru the same journey (also on the 3rd week of GAPS.) One of our recent breakfast treats is what we’re calling “breakfast ice cream.” I put frozen banana, avocado, applesauce (optional), coconut oil (best when liquid), and some water (as needed) in the blender. It’s so sweet and dreamy creamy. The avocado and coconut oil give it some staying power and since we’re using SOOOOO many eggs, it gives a nice breakfast alternative. Well, back to the kitchen to get some more chicken stock going! Keep up the good work – you are blessing your kids and husband in an amazing way!!!

  6. I had to laugh when I saw the truck load of butternut squash. This is day 11 and I don’t know how many squash I’ve peeled already. Not my favorite task, bUt it’s worth it for the taste. My favorite is the Kambocha (i think that’s the right spelling). Chop it up in a pot with some hamburger meat and a little water. Also cooking my onions on low heat adds some sweetness to some meat or eggs (and it’s a cheap veg of course).

  7. One should watch the ph of children well anyone when drinking kefir. You just need to get a ph kit. Kefir is so strong that it can upset childrens Ph. Yogurt is the better choice for children b/c it keeps the ph more even.

  8. I just wanted to make sure that all of your readers who are on GAPS know about this recipe blog: http://grainfreefoodie.blogspot.com/. It has been SO helpful to our family and given me hope that I really can do this! I like to sit in front of this blog while I do our menu plan. The peanut butter fudge recipe has been such a blessing around here lately – getting in lots of coconut oil and a sweet treat all at the same time.

  9. Excellent post. I can’t find where celeriac is allowed on GAPS. I have been avoiding it because it isn’t listed, is there an update that includes it? Also, I wanted to mention how important it was for us to add lots of fat. We made coconut cream drops to get some extra fat into our diet because we just couldn’t seem to get enough. I found the recipe on GAPShelp yahoo group. It is just butter, coconut cream concentrate, pinch of ground vanilla beans, touch of honey. This really helped us and it was easy to whiz up in the food processor and then drop by spoonfuls onto some foil. After a little while in the fridge you can just put them into a bowl. I know some people eat coconut oil straight from the spoon but we couldn’t do it. We were able to introduce butter early so that helped (much less expensive than making ghee).

    About the bananas, even organic bananas are gassed with ethylene gas (GMO corn derived) to start the ripening process. A lot of people are sensitive to it as well as the other hidden GMO corn in our produce. Even organic apples and citrus fruits can have GMO corn wax (as well as cucumbers, peppers, squash, eggplant) and tomatoes and potatoes (not GAPS legal) are gassed, too. We have had an extremely hard time finding fruit that isn’t contaminated with GMO corn so that is something you might want to consider if your child is sensitive to fruit or has eczema. Peeling apples can remove most of the wax, but the peels are porous so some still remains – the very sensitive can react to it and the gassed bananas just can’t be tolerated. We haven’t had a banana in a very long time. I also recommend an alternative probiotic without maltodextrin(GMO corn derivative) instead of Biokult if your child has eczema (classic corn reaction).
    .-= kcยดs last blog ..Fermented Onion Relish (Homemade and Corn-free) =-.

  10. The Every Other Day Diet, or EODD, is a diet that can change your whole perspective on dieting forever. The EODD is a natural weight loss diet plan, that helps you lose weight fast!

    1. The main focus of the GAPS diet is actually not to lose weight (although that does happen for people who need to lose weight), it’s to heal your gut, from which stems a host of maladies.

  11. Thank you SO much for these meal ideas. We’re slowly getting ready to implement the Intro Diet full swing and I’m getting a headache just trying to figure out meals. This has really helped me and I really want to thank you for that.

  12. I’m interested in starting the GAPS diet, but really don’t want to go through the Intro Diet. I’ve already been eating grain/gluten free for a couple of years, so I don’t think it will be that intense of a switch, but the Intro Diet looks very intensive. Is it absolutely necessary to go through the Intro Diet if you’ve already been eating grain/gluten free for a couple of years?

    1. @Thomas DeKorte, If you’ve already been eating that way, it may not be as important for you. The Intro diet is for those who need more intensive healing. It is pretty crucial for those with serious digestive disorders, or other issues stemming from gut issues. If you are doing GAPS more for general health reasons, the Intro may not be as important. But, I’m no doctor. ๐Ÿ™‚ It would be interesting to hear what Dr. Campbell-McBride would say.

    2. The intro can be as extensive or as short as needed. It’s really a question of how much healing you want to see? You experience the most healing by doing intro. It’s recommended IIRC to do it at least once. I did mine in a couple of weeks. I was gluten free for several years beforehand but not grain or starch free. I definitely saw changes by doing intro and plan to do it again in the fall/winter time. If you have serious health issues I would definitely do intro. Otherwise, I would still consider it, at least once.
      Magda

  13. I have been on the GAps diet for a few days now- with an uninterested wife which carries over to the children so i definately have a divided home but Im more concerned with healing myself> I have crohns and excited about the idea of healing myself_ Your whole site has encouraged and blessed me. and i cant tell you thanks enough i needed to see this today. I have been expereinceng eczema pretty strong recently which i normally only get in the winter looks like it might be a die off symptom. so thats good. Thank you again> messangers come anyplace and anywhere- you have been an excelent steward of info

  14. I am seriously considering starting this diet after our wedding as my fiance struggles daily with stomach issues. A couple things… He is unable to have nuts & seeds and I am allergic to bananas. Is the GAPS diet still do-able, or will these restrictions make it even more difficult?

    Also, I LOVE your blog! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing this information! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Hi Stephanie!! I know you wrote this post ages ago, but I am just getting into researching more about the GAPS/SCD diets. I am nervous and don’t know if we can afford it. Can you give me an estimate on how much it might cost to go on GAPS for a family of 4? (well….3 1/2 including our almost 1-year-old!). Eggs are out, as that is my daughter’s #1 food to avoid (followed by gluten and dairy). My husband and I don’t have known sensitivities, but I have my inclinations that we would benefit as well–especially my husband. He has mild asthma but has suffered from migraines and fatigue, etc. and a plethora of other symptoms his whole life! He grew up on a farm in MS, and he just told me this weekend he remembers inhaling the pesticides!!!! YIKES!!!!

    My biggest concern is that since my daughter has gone egg/gluten/dairy free, I have been using A LOT of rice/quinoa/GF pastas to stretch our meals, as quality meat and produce are so expensive.

    I have committed to studying up on GAPS/SCD during October, so we can possibly start it either in November or after the holidays. I’m thinking it will be easier to do during the winter, but I also know the holidays will be hard.

    Sorry for this huge comment on this old post! Thank you SO much!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. @Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker, It’s so hard to say exactly how much it costs, but I felt that it was about 20% more expensive than usual? And that was with me feeling a bit pinched and working really hard to keep costs down. I know some people say it costs them more than that. Take a look at some of Modern Alternative Mama’s post on her grocery budget while they were GAPS free. I think she was able to reduce her costs quite a bit (although she did already have a lot of meat in her freezer, which makes a huge difference).

  16. I would love an update…I am considering GAPS for our family. We currently follow The Nourishing Traditions style of eating but I think we need a bit more healing. How long did you stay on the diet? Did you think it was worth it? Are you back on soaked legumes, brown rice again and has that gone ok?
    http://www.treasurehuntergirl.blogspot.com/
    Hugs
    D
    x

  17. Thanks for this post. There is so much good information here. I am growing more and more interested in GAPS and it sometimes doesn’t seem doable. You’ve made it seem doable!

  18. HI, I am new to the GAPS DIET and was wondering how long should I do the introduction GAP diet and is their a book for the introduction GAP DIET? I am lost please help!

      1. Hi, just browsing through some of the comments – great article, by the way ๐Ÿ™‚
        I bought the GAPS book recently and it has been revised, and the introduction diet is included and described in detail. It can also be found on the net, I can’t recall the exact site, just google it and you’ll find it. I’m just getting ready. I have made meat/bone broth and soups many times, so that’s no problem, and my sauerkraut turned out great. Next step: sour cream and yogurt.
        Good luck and all the best.

        Dorothea

  19. Thanks so much for this post! I was about to go completely nuts with the intro diet ๐Ÿ˜€ We just went ahead and started without a real plan b/c I couldn’t cook anything normal anyway with my son’s sudden intolerance of dairy. Almost everything I made had dairy of some sort in it. So I just got some bones and veggies and made stock and we went for it. Adding a banana was like a miracle ๐Ÿ™‚ Just thought I would mention that your link to pecanbread.com needs to be updated. I guess they moved their site. Thanks again!!

  20. Hey Steph!
    I was looking up stuff to do the GAPS intro and drag a couple friends/clients along with me and saw this… then scrolled down to the bottom and realized it was YOUR website. So glad to see you are putting all your knowledge to good use! Take care! Keturah

  21. Stephanie, I have been reading about the GAPS diet and discovered your website. I am wondering if this diet can help me any. I just had the routine physical with blood work and all. In the past I have been relatively healthy with no serious health problems. Now all of a sudden everything has gone haywire, underactive thyroid, borderline type 2 diabeties, plaque in caroitid artery, of course weight gain and LDL 110, HDL 87, and tric. 85. I thought I was doing everything right. I have alittle OCD so I don’t think I would have a problem following the plan. My husband also suffers from some health problems(high blood pressure, high cholestrol, panic attacks). Thank you for reading this.

    Gigigrandma

  22. I try this recipe yesterday and it taste delicious..Keep me updated on new soup recipe you have..

  23. Stephanie and all here who have added comments – Thank you so much!! The information has been so helpful as I began the GAPS Intro diet 3 days ago. The chills, fever, sleepiness, increased pain, nausea, etc. have lessened today. When I added 1/4 t. of juice to my soup from the Bubbie’s S. the first night I had a terrible increase in pain (I have chronic pain situation and billions of food intolerances), so I read to stop for a week, and try again – I’m going to try homemade coconut kefir next, as I tolerate coconut and this may be better, I don’t know – maybe in a several days my system will be ready for any probiotic? My question is: do you have to wait until you can tolerate the probiotics before leaving the Intro diet? Thanks!

  24. I carried a thermos of soup out with me after just eating. Deviled eggs with homemade mayo, roasted chicken thighs or legs carry well, and 1/2 to 1 whole avocado with olive oil, lemon & salt. I’ll have to try the fruit leathers.

  25. Plain applesauce in a store-bought container, plus olive oil and cinnamin, or baked apples with cinn and butter.

  26. Just wondering if this diet is possible if you are allergic to eggs. Also I’m confused about begining the diet – is it only soup in the beginning???
    THANKS!

  27. Hi Stephanie! Reading those first few lines that you wrote were so encouraging! My family and I are on the 5th day (give or take a few) of the GAPS diet, and we’re getting somewhat wearisome of the chicken broth. It’s so nice to know that you’re on the 3rd week and still doing fine!
    Thanks a ton,
    Charity

  28. Oh, by the way, sorry about the mistake I made in my last comment. I saw after I hit “post comment” that you posted this in March of 2010, so you’re probably off of the GAPS diet now :).

  29. Thank you so much for your this article with all the tips to help me start! Now I really thing it’s doable. My four yo and I have a lot eczema. I’m willing to try anything to keep us from depending too much on steroid creams. My eczema flare has been on overdrive for five years ever since my four yo was born. I just had a skin biopsy to end the guessing game. They think it might be mastocytosis causing an overproduction of histamine. Crossing my fingers it’s not.

  30. I have been meaning to start the GAPS diet for my family for about 6 months now, but found myself too busy (and too intimidated) to even start planning. I’ve finally started to plan meals with a lot of dread and worry, but after having read your post, I feel a lot better about it. I feel like my family of 6, including three hungry boys, can do this. Thanks soooo much for sharing your experience!

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