Recipe: SCD/paleo burger patties with guacamole & steamed vegetables

Here’s the recipe I promised you for the AMAZING burger patties I made the other night. They’re SCD/paleo/GAPS, super easy to make an they’re knock-your-socks-off good! How do I know this? K said, “I feel like I’ve just eaten at a restaurant” after finishing hers – which, let me tell you, is high praise!

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Bear in mind that the bun and chips aren’t SCD or paleo. The plate on the left is 100% SCD/paleo/GAPS

Ingredients

  • 800g mince (I used half ostrich and half venison; I haven’t tried these with beef)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 small tin (50g) tomato paste
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander, stems removed and leaves chopped (divided)
  • A good shake of ground nutmeg
  • A good shake of ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mixed veg of your choice
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • lemon juice

Method

1. Add your onion and garlic to a pan and soften for a few minutes. This is not essential but it’s a good idea for anyone who requires their veg fairly well cooked.

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2. Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients, minus 1 handful of coriander, into a large bowl and add the onion mixture once ready.

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Get in there with your hands and work all the ingredients together, mixing well. I asked K to add a few more dashes of salt and pepper as I mixed.

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3. Now shape your meat into patties. I made 6 big patties, but you could easily turn these into 8 or 10 smaller ones. Place them on a lined chopping board or plate, and allow to firm up in the fridge for a few minutes. This probably isn’t essential, but I gave mine 20 minutes of chill time.

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4. While the meat is chilling, make your steamed veg. I used carrots, zucchini, green beans and broccoli. If you don’t have a steamer, simply put your veg into a colander and place it over a pot filled with about 3-4cm of boiling water. Cover the colander with a lid and steam until desired doneness. I usually cook mine for about 10 mins. Just be sure the water doesn’t evaporate, as you’ll burn your pot! (I’ve done this more times than I care to admit!)

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5. Add a drop of coconut oil to a pan, heat to medium, and add your patties. I fried mine in two batches. Because I hate using oil (it makes me a little queasy), I added dashes of hot kettle water to the pan whenever it needed moisture. I know that purists would recoil in horror at this, but it kept the patties so moist while still allowing them to brown. Cover with a lid while cooking, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

Guacamole

While the meat is cooking, make your guacamole. Place the avo and coriander in a bowl, drizzle with lemon juice and add a good crack of salt and black pepper. Mash it all up together with a fork.

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And voila! There’s your 100% SCD/paleo meal, super healthy and (I promise) totally delicious. Place 1 – 2 patties on each plate, top with guacamole and slices of gherkin, and serve with veg. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance, go ahead and add some cheese to your burger too 🙂

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K’s plates always look a little more fun than mine!

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Day 94: Simplifying food prep

Preparing food for any kind of special diet can be extremely time consuming – and, for those of us who avoid processed foods, there’s never the  option of just ‘grabbing a takeaway’ or buying a ready-made meal. I think that the amount of effort (or perceived effort) that goes into preparing clean, healthy food every day can put people off this kind of diet, but it really needn’t – there are so many ways around it.

Chop and freeze bags of veg for quick weekday cooking

Chop and freeze bags of veg for quick weekday cooking

Admittedly, I can spend 3 to 4 hours in the kitchen on a Sunday, prepping for the week. But for the rest of the week, I can rustle up an entire dinner in 30 minutes or less, because all my veg is already cooked and I only have to worry about the meat.

I-Hate-Cooking

Having been a slave to my kitchen for the past three months, here are some of my favourite tips for making food prep go a lot faster:

  • Make batches of boiled eggs for a simple and filling breakfast or snack. Bonus: they’re super easy to transport. I boil six at a time to last me three mornings.
  • Buy pre-chopped veg. Yes, it costs more (so I don’t often buy it), but it’s such a lifesaver when you’re short on time. Plus, I can’t lie – I love ‘spoiling’ myself with a bag of butternut chunks and saving myself the 10-minute slog of peeling, chopping and de-seeding. Same goes for green beans and that endless topping-and-tailing!
  • When possible, cook different veg together. Instead of separate pots for broccoli, cauliflower, beans and carrots, toss them all into one large pot and cook them in one go (if you’re doing SCD, obviously you won’t be able to do this right at the start). Bonus: Fewer dishes!
  • Choose thinner cuts of meat. Not only are they healthier, but they are much quicker to defrost and cook.
  • Always make extra quantities of coconut milk and freeze the leftovers. When I need coconut milk for a meal, I often just pop the frozen chunk into the pot and it melts in minutes. Oh, and if you’re low on coconut milk, just add a bit of water to stretch it out.
  • Cook as many vegetables as you can manage over the weekend. Refrigerate about three days’ worth, and then freeze the rest in batches for when you need them.
  • Not in the mood to cook a big meal? Mash up two small bananas with two eggs and a sprinkling of cinnamon, and fry up some SCD pancakes in a pan coated with coconut oil. Mine always turn into a scramble but it’s just as delicious.
  • Not in the mood to cook at all? Put together a plate of veg from the fridge, plus a couple of boiled eggs and some avo if you have it, and boom – a perfectly balanced meal of protein, carbs and healthy fat with zero prep. Win.
  • Always cook big batches of food and freeze the leftovers. This works especially well with curries, mince, soups, etc. There’s nothing better than pulling out a pre-cooked, home-cooked meal when you don’t feel like cooking (but you do feel like a proper home-made meal).
  • Use your microwave. Put your veg into a microwave-safe dish (not Tuppaware!), add a dash of water and microwave, covered, until cooked. Much easier and quicker than using the stove top – but watch out for the steam!
  • Invest in good knives and vegetable peelers. This makes the world of difference when you’re preparing loads of veg. I recently bought a vegetable peeler that cost the same as a small house, but WOW has it made peeling butternuts a dream!
  • When it comes to wine, choose screw caps over corks!

Please share any food prepping tips you have – I’m always looking for shortcuts.

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Day 90: SCD challenge complete – a review of the past 90 days (but it’s only the start!)

Today marks 90 days on SCD – the goal I set out to achieve based on the challenge in Surviving to ThrivingJordan Reasoner and Steve Wright – the authors of the book and founders of SCDLifestyle.com – used the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) to help heal their guts after being ravaged by IBD, and continue to survive – and thrive – on the diet today.

I came across this diet last year, after researching alternative ways to fight my ulcerative colitis. I was newly diagnosed and my symptoms were under control thanks to steroids and chronic medication, but I knew I wanted to take a more active role in healing myself, and I knew that diet was integral to that. Most importantly, I knew I didn’t want to be on meds for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to January 2014, and after reading the book, I finally made the commitment to do its 90-day challenge. And here I am, 90 days later, having followed it to the T (albeit cheating once!).

Why I decided to document my 90 days

I started this blog for others who may have wanted to take up the challenge but who, like me, were unable to find any resources that explained, on a day-by-day basis, what it would be like to be on this diet. After all, the idea of the diet is terrifying! It’s extremely difficult, it takes a TON of patience, willpower, perseverance and commitment, and it’s definitely not easy – at least at first.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I went for it. And what I can tell you is that:

  • It is difficult
  • It is doable
  • It is absolutely worth it
  • YOU can do it

Apart from anything else, knowing that you are taking an active role in your own health, and discovering that you have the stamina to stick with something really hard, even in the face of daily – hourly – temptation – gives you a sense of accomplishment that is hard to beat.

Many of us fighting IBD got here due to poor diet – at least in part. I don’t know about you guys, but prior to SCD, I never met a sweet treat I said ‘no’ to. In fact, I discovered on this diet that saying ‘no’ is the best yes you can give your body (read about that here).

I realised that I needed to take responsibility for my health, so that if I ever end up facing surgery one day, at least I’ll know I did everything in my power to prevent it. How could I allow myself to continue on my unhealthy path knowing that I might be throwing myself under the bus? Moreover, I really hope to get off the meds one day – who wants to spend their life on Asacol and steroids?

After researching SCD for several months, I decided it would be worth a try – thousands of people swear by it. I finally took the leap and I’m so glad I did.

Did SCD work for me?

SCD has definitely helped to reduce some of the discomfort I experience, but more to the point, it’s helped me to pinpoint what is causing it (veg, mainly. Sob).

It’s also helped me to look more closely at some of my ‘less ideal’ eating habits, like binge eating, over-eating at meals, eating too fast and not paying careful attention to everything that I put into my body.

It’s allowed me to overcome my fear of flares. As you’ll know if you have IBD, the thought of flares is terrifying: you never really know when they’ll hit, but you may know that certain foods can trigger them. On SCD, I’m not eating ANY foods that are known to cause my flares (this is different for everyone). It’s great to not live in fear of the next flare striking.

It’s also taught me (out of necessity rather than choice!) how to make the most amazing foods at home – like nut milks, 100% natural meals and YOGURT! I make my own yogurt, guys (recipe here). I mean, that’s insane! It’s taught me how to pay even closer attention than I did before to food labels; it’s taught me how much crap can be found in foods that we’re tricked into believing are good for us. And it’s opened up a whole new world of fresh, natural, organic foods (including desserts!) that actually help to heal my body as I’m eating them.

Has SCD ‘healed’ me? Well I can’t say at this stage. I’m still taking my meds, as it would be silly for me to come off them without the green light from my doctor. However, at my last check up in February, there was ZERO sign of inflammation – something that I’ve had since 2012!

Also, I was really hoping that SCD would help me overcome bloating, but that’s still a work in progress – as is the quality and consistency of my BMs. But again, this is okay – there’s no blanket cure that works for everyone, which is why any diet such as this must be tweaked over time to meet your body’s needs.

What next?

I’m going to do another 10 days on SCD, and then I’m rewarding myself with a well-deserved holiday to Malaysia and Bali (actually, the timing is purely coincidental, but I like the way it worked out).

I plan to transition to a paleo diet, as I feel that my body copes better with meat and protein than with veg and carbs, and also, I like the idea of paleo – I’m hoping it’ll work for me. It’s also grain, dairy and refined sugar free – items I intend to avoid indefinitely (plus I’m lactose intolerant) – and I love that it’s so clean. When I get back from Bali, I’m hoping to turn out whole apartment into a paleo zone! It’s going to be so much easier if we’re both following the diet.

Today’s meal

Did I cheat today, on day 90? Nope! Although I did do something naughty that I warned you guys about waaaaaaaay back in the early days: I ate at a restaurant (probably only the third or fourth time I’ve done this on SCD), and I didn’t ask them to cook my food without seasoning (here’s what not to do at a restaurant if you’re on SCD).

I ordered steak and veg, and luckily all the vegetables had already been added (successfully) to my diet: zucchini, green beans, broccoli and spinach. The steak, too, was fantastic, though it all came with seasoning and I suspect the veg had butter on it – eek! Bear in mind that dairy is totally fine on SCD after about 30 days, IF you can tolerate it. Butter is SCD legal, as are certain cheeses.

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This photo was very hurried as we were in a trendy restaurant and I didn’t want people thinking me a hipster

And of course, you’ll see the stem of my wine glass – we had the most delicious merlot to accompany our meal, and I toasted to the final 10 days on the diet. So cheers to that!

Day 79: Coconut ginger chicken with cauliflower rice

Does it seem like I’ve made a massive leap from soggy broccoli and pureed carrots to proper gourmet meals? Ha! It feels like that to me… but the days have really flown on this diet.

Over the past week I’ve realised that I can actually already make some pretty awesome dishes based on foods I’ve already introduced. That, combined with the fact that I’m slowly introducing the skin and seeds of well-cooked vegetables means that I have much more freedom to create exciting meals.

Tonight, I cooked a delicious chicken dish that I made up from ingredients I can already eat. I can’t actually believe how good it was, so I’m going to share the recipe here.

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Coconut ginger chicken with cauliflower rice

Ingredients

  • 400g skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • Half a lemon
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 400ml coconut milk (homemade – I made mine ‘lite’ by diluting 1 cup with water)
  • 250g broccoli florets
  • 200g baby marrow, peeled and sliced into batons
  • 2 handfuls cherry or baby roma tomatoes, sliced into halves
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 small head of cauliflower

Method

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to a pot with the garlic and all the juice from half the lemon. Add a little hot water and fry on med-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink.

Add the coconut milk, ginger and vegetables to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until veg is tender and flavours are infused.

While the chicken is simmering, ‘rice’ the cauliflower by grating it,then place it into a microwave-safe bowl and add a little water. If you like, sprinkle some lemon juice over it for extra flavour. Microwave for 10 minutes or until cooked.

Just before serving, add the coriander to the pot and stir to incorporate. Serve the chicken over the cauliflower rice and garnish with extra coriander if desired.

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This dish was so good and I absolutely plan to make it again (and again and again…)

I also can’t wait to experiment with other foods and flavours. It’s so exciting to be creating completely SCD-legal dishes that are not only helping to heal my gut, but are totally yummy too 🙂 I served tonight’s meal with organic rose wine called Live a little. Appropriate, methinks!

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Day 76: Thoughts on introducing lightly cooked and raw fruit & veg on SCD

Nearly 3 months into this diet, I’m getting pretty tired of eating (not to mention preparing) peeled, de-seeded and cooked-to-death fruit and vegetables. But more than that, I’m starting to detect noticeable improvements in my GI health. So, I’m slowly taking steps towards eating food that is more lightly cooked, and which may still have its skin and/or seeds. 497cfd13f9573104af6aa46246cbb2f2

If you’ve closely followed the SCD phases, you should (theoretically) be able to handle your fruit and veg in a less and less cooked state as the phases progress. That said, I’ve been warned by a nutritionalist to stay away from raw vegetables, as they’re very difficult for the gut to digest.

I’ve never been sure whether you need to re-introduce foods when you start eating them without peeling and de-seeding them – for example, what if you react to tomato seeds but not to the flesh? That said, introducing each item in the first place is time-consuming enough. Imagine doing it all over again!

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Since I haven’t found much guidance in this regard on SCDLifestyle.com, I’ve had to figure it out for myself, and here’s what I’m doing:

  • On days that my belly is feeling happy, I am starting to test unpeeled/non-de-seeded foods that I’ve already introduced – for example, adding whole cherry tomatoes to my meals, or eating baby gem squash with skin and seeds. So far, so good.
  • I’m starting to cook my veg for shorter periods of time – ie, green beans until just soft; not falling apart.
  • I’m drinking juice with pulp in it to acclimatise my gut to fruit. So far I’ve introduced very little fruit to my diet.
  • I’m (carefully) introducing vegetables that caused me problems in the past, prior to SCD, such as onions and broccoli. Progressing the right way

To my mind, the aim of the first 90 days of SCD is to heal the damage that’s been caused by disease. That’s why we treat our guts like babies’ guts, feeding them only the most basic, easily digestible foods. But as our guts begin to heal (and this is where you need to pay attention to your body and your symptoms/lack thereof), they should be able to handle SCD-legal foods in a less pulverised, more natural state.

While the phases on Pecanbread.com are an excellent guideline (and I’ve adhered to them closely), it’s also important to remain actively aware of your progress and your body’s individual needs, preferences, dislikes and idiosyncrasies, and to take conscious steps to tweak the diet to these needs. Sure, it’s okay and even recommended that you follow the diet to the T for the first few months, but it’s vital that thereafter, you adapt it to be optimally effective for your body.

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For example, some people may never be able to handle tomato seeds, no matter how healthy they may be. Other people may battle with foods while they’re sick, but once they’re healed and in remission, they may find they can eat those same foods without adverse effect. Keeping a food diary is vital and being actively aware of your symptoms at all times is ESSENTIAL.

I’m still eating fewer bananas (so far only ONE today!) and as I sit here after supper, which included cherry tomatoes complete with seeds and skin, I feel okay. I am however still struggling with BMs and finding it hard to figure out exactly why. Constipation has set in once again, even though it feels like I haven’t changed much in my diet. Time to scrutinise my food diary!

Do you have any thoughts or advice on progressing to unpeeled, lightly cooked or whole fruit and veggies?

Day 28: Cooking ahead (you’ll thank yourself tomorrow)

Today was a ‘home’ day – one of my favourite kinds of Saturdays. I’m not one to be filled with the joys of spring summer when it’s 31 degrees out in Cape Town (88F). The beaches are jammed, the traffic is chaos, and every cool place in the city is taken over by hipsters and shmodel types. Welcome to Cape Town 😉 Nah, it’s not that bad. We just happen to live in a trendy part of the city, so I guess it’s our own fault.

We live on this street...

We live on this main road…

Above this Italian deli...

above this Italian deli…

that sells all these amazing fresh foods...

that sells all these amazing fresh foods…

and all of these two. I don't go in here any more!

and all of these too. I don’t go in here any more!

Anyway, I also had a ton of freelance work to do today (I work full time and I freelance), so I was pleasantly surprised to be done by 3pm, and have a few extra hours on my hands to play with. If you’re doing SCD and you have a few extra hours lying around, I know that the last thing you probably feel like doing is cooking. But trust me, it’s worth it. And you’ll thank yourself on Monday when you reeeeeally don’t feel like the schlep.

What I made today

First up, I cooked up a big batch of gem squash – at least enough for 3 days – and about the same amount of butternut. I discovered that the slimy feeling I get on my hands, combined with immediate and intense peeling after handling raw butternut, happens to other people too! Check this out. It briefly made me wonder what butternut must do to one’s insides if that’s what it does to one’s hands, but I banished the thought rather sharpish. Butternut and I have no beef, so I’m not about to go looking for problems where there aren’t any.

Even though the skin it tough, I find it easier to peel butternut before I cook it - especially because it has to be cooked until it's so soft. Peeling the skin off when the whole thing is falling apart is SUPER frustrating!

Even though the skin is tough, I find it easier to peel butternut before I cook it. Peeling the skin off when the whole thing is falling apart is SUPER frustrating!

Next up was a batch of pear puree, which I made with some Asian pears I found at the supermarket yesterday. I’ve never seen Asian pears and the price was quite gob-smacking, but at this point, I spoil myself when I’m able to since my diet is so limited.

Asian pears

Asian pears

Have you ever used them? They’re harder than normal pears and the flesh is more apple-like than pear-like. I was very excited about the result, but it was disappointing. I find that plain ‘ol boring pears have a stronger and more satisfying taste. These were quite subtle and bland – plus I added a little too much water when pureeing, turning it all into a bit of a soup. Luckily I have a draw full of straws left over from my sister’s bachelorette party. Perhaps I can pretend it’s a smoothie.

I cooked up the last of my mushrooms, to continue testing tonight (third and last day). I felt fine after eating them for supper, but that was 4 hours ago and I’ve had two loose BMs since then, which is unprecedented on this diet so far, and can only be the mushrooms. This just drives home the importance of adding only one thing at a time.

Lastly, I made some roast garlic, which is the next thing I’ll be testing, from tomorrow. I learnt a really cool trick for making roast garlic paste a few years ago: Take the whole bulb and slice the top off (see below). Drizzle with olive oil and roast in a muffin tray. I didn’t do any drizzling – I simply put some olive oil on my fingertips and rubbed it over the cut ends, as I suspect oil is too much for my body to handle right now. I roasted the garlic for about 1 hour at 180C (350F). It turned out perfectly and I can’t wait to try it from tomorrow.

Roast garlic

Roast garlic

… And then I nearly cheated

These days, I barely notice when someone waves a chocolate bar under my nose because it’s just so far beyond anything I want to put in my body right now (doesn’t stop me fantasising about chocolate binges from time to time though 🙂 ).

However, I threw together this delicious fruit salad for K for breakfast, finished off with vanilla yogurt and guava juice, and all I wanted was to guzzle all that lovely looking, non-pureed, perfectly fresh fruit. It’s completely second nature to me to pop a piece of raw fruit or veg into my mouth while prepping, totally without thinking about it (I almost did it with the mushrooms too), so I really need to be careful of that. But ohhhh, look how GOOD this looks!

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Watermelon, sweet melon and grapes. SOON.

Yogurt cultures??

Speaking of yogurt, does anyone know where I can get yogurt cultures in Cape Town (or anywhere in SA for that matter)? If not, where do you get them in your country? I’ve tried countless health shops but no one can help me. I’m dying to make some SCD yogurt so this is really frustrating.

Can’t believe I’m nearly a third of the way through this. Apart from a few isolated incidents, I really feel great 🙂