I take this toddler lesson to heart with GAPS. It's easy to be sad when grocery shopping, wandering the aisles of forbidden foods. It was especially difficult at Christmas, when Trader Joe's had tempting chocolate treats and peppermint hot cocoa right by the check out aisle. There were times that I came close to tears, but then I'd put on a brave smile and say to my kids, "All done whining. I be a happy girl."
Being a happy girl is a choice. And a big part of making that choice is looking for things to celebrate, things about which you can genuinely be happy. I could have ruined our Christmas with whimpering and whining about all the treats we couldn't have (and don't think it would have taken the rest of the family more than 5 seconds to follow my lead), but instead I looked for ways to make our Christmas wonderful, even without the forbidden foods.
Instead of baking cookies for the neighbors, we used the time to do some much needed cleaning and decluttering.
Our stockings were hung with care (on the windowsill, because we don't have a fireplace in our living room), but they were not filled with chocolates or hard candies. I had to get a little creative and dig through the dollar bins at Target to find sparkly nail polish, a Rubik's cube, earrings, erasers, and other small, inexpensive but fun items. The kids didn't miss the candy and I didn't miss the sugar-induced melt-downs.
The biggest concern was our Christmas Eve dinner. Since the early days of our marriage I've refused to do a big Christmas dinner. It just didn't seem fair to have everyone else in their pajamas, reading books, and playing games, while I had to go into the kitchen and work for hours to produce a feast. Instead, our special Christmas meal is on Christmas Eve. And the tradition is crab and clam chowder. The french bread on the side we could live without, but the crab and the clam chowder are non-negotiable.
Crab is no problem, as far as our diet goes. We were even far enough along on GAPS that we could have butter with our crab. Yeah! Another reason to celebrate!
But clam chowder... how do you make clam chowder without flour or milk? A daunting task, yes, but not impossible. I turned to my go-to friend, the internet, and found an almost paleo recipe for clam chowder. One minor tweak and I made GAPS-friendly clam chowder that was amazing.
We served up the feast and I took a tentative first sip. Christmas would still be Christmas, even if the chowder was kind of yucky. But it was good. Really good. I think I even like it better than my old reliable Joy of Cooking recipe. The coconut milk made it creamier without the heavy floury taste that a roux can give clam chowder.
I can't promise that I'm all done whining for good. You know me. I love a good glass of whine. But for our Christmas, I was a very happy girl.
GAPS-friendly, Paleo Clam Chowder
6 Tbsp butter (from grass-fed cows)
6 slices bacon (from clean, pastured piggie), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery with greens, chopped
8 sprigs thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme, if that's all you've got)
salt and pepper to taste
4 tsp. hot sauce, optional
1/4 cup blanched almond flour
2 pints coconut milk
4 cups chicken broth
1 celeriac root, peeled and shredded
4 cans whole or chopped clams and their juice
1- Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the bacon, onion, celery, and thyme. Season with salt, pepper, and optional hot sauce and cook for 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.
2- Add almond flour and stir to combine. Cook 1 minute.
3- Add coconut milk, broth, celeriac, and clams. Raise heat and bring to a boil, then lower and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and remove thyme.