Autoimmune paleo recipe: Butternut and sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

It’s been freeeeezing in Cape Town, the perfect weather for soup. But I’m not one to slave over a pot for hours on end – not after SCD anyway! I’m all for quick, easy soups that taste like they’ve been bubbling away for hours…

My sister served us a delicious cauliflower soup yesterday, when she and her husband had the family over for Father’s Day. Feeling inspired, I decided to see what kind of soup I could come up with using ingredients I already had at home, and this was the result.

AIP butternut & sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

AIP butternut & sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

It’s tasty, filling, easy to make and totally budget friendly 🙂 Plus, K said that it tasted like ‘restaurant quality’, which is high praise considering that a) she hates butternut soups and b) we have amazing restaurants in Cape Town!

This recipe can easily be made SCD-friendly by omitting the sweet potato. Simply add extra butternut.

Butternut and sweet potato soup with coconut and ginger

Yields 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 500-600g butternut, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 200g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (omit for SCD)
  • 1 medium-large onion, quartered
  • 1 medium-large carrot, sliced into rings
  • 6 or 7 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Dried rosemary
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Garlic salt
  • Knob of ginger, grated
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt & a good crack of black pepper
  • 250ml coconut milk or coconut yoghurt

Method

Preheat oven to 200C/390F.

Place all the vegetables (except the ginger) on a roasting tray, drizzle with coconut oil and season with cinnamon, dried rosemary, mixed herbs and garlic salt. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.

A trick I learnt recently: If you want to know whether your vegetables will taste good after roasting, run your finger along the bottom of the roasting tray after seasoning, and give it a lick. If it tastes good, so will the veg!

A trick I learnt recently: Run your finger along the bottom of the roasting tray after seasoning the veg, and then give your finger a lick. If it tastes good, so will the veg!

Just before the vegetables are ready, place the ginger into a large pot and saute in a little water for 2 or 3 minutes. Add two cups of boiling water, plus the salt, pepper and bay leaves. Add the roast veg along with any juices/seasoning. Bring to a boil.

Allow the vegetables to simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, take out the bay leaves and add the coconut milk/yoghurt. Blend using a stick blender. Add a little extra boiling water if it’s too chunky to blend – I found that I needed another cup or so.

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Add a little extra water if it’s too chunky to blend

Return to the heat for a minute or two before serving.

Slurrrrrrrp! Enjoy 🙂

 

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Day 83: Dairy-free SCD yogurt recipe – a SUCCESS!

I’ve been promising this recipe for weeks, and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long. This yogurt is smooth, tasty and BEST of all, it has the PROPER yogurt consistency thanks to the addition of gelatine (which in itself has loads of health benefits). What a success – finally it doesn’t feel like I’m eating chewed-up nuts when I have my SCD yogurt 🙂

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This recipe is based on a few different ones that I’ve tweaked/combined, but I mainly used the recipe from Thetastyalternative.com. I’ve included the links at the end.

As always with homemade yogurt, you need to plan ahead: It takes about 30 hours from step 1.

Dairy-free cashew-coconut yogurt – SCD & paleo friendly

Makes 1 litre

1/2 cup cashew nuts

1 cup shredded/desiccated coconut

15ml vanilla extract

15ml-30ml honey

6g gelatine (make sure you have room temperature water on hand too)

Yogurt starter cultures (ensure that they’re lactose free if need be)

Method

Step 1: Soak your cashews in water for around 8 hours. I put them in a sealed container and keep them in the fridge, then rinse them when done.

Step 2. Make cashew milk. Cashews are the most awesome nuts to make milk from because they break down completely – no need to strain the milk. Put your cashews into a blender with 2 cups of water (filtered if you like). Pulse a few times to break up the nuts, then let it run on high speed for a few minutes. Check to make sure the nuts are completely broken down (if not, blend a little more), and then leave to stand for 10 or 15 minutes. Remove the thin layer of foam that forms on top.

Cashew milk - very smooth and creamy

Cashew milk – very smooth and creamy

Step 3. Make coconut milk. Add your coconut together with 2 cups of hot (not boiling) water to your blender. Blend for about 3-5 minutes, until it’s nice and creamy looking. Pour the milk into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, and strain it. Then, gather up the bag/cheesecloth and squeeze until you’ve extracted all the milk. Of course, you can use the pulp for cereals, bakes, etc, or dry it out and turn it into coconut flour.

Step 4. Heat your milks. Add 2 cups of coconut milk and 2 cups of cashew milk to a pot (you may have a little leftover), together with the vanilla extract and honey. Heat on a very gentle simmer until you reach 85C (185F). Always remember to stir the mixture well before taking a temperature reading. I use a clay pot for this step. Keep a close eye on the milk and don’t let it overheat, boil or burn.

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Step 5. Cool your milk. Take your mixture off the heat and allow it to cool to 43-49C (110-120F). While you’re waiting (I usually place it in a sink full of cold water and ice packs), mix 6g of gelatine with 75ml room temperature water and let it sponge.

Step 6. Add your gelatine. When the milk has cooled to the right temperature, add your gelatine. Ensure that it is well incorporated by using a stick blender to give it a good proper mix. I always clean my stick blender with boiling water before hand to make sure it hasn’t got any other bits of food/flavour still stuck to it.

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Step 7. Cool again. Place the pot back into the cold water and let it cool to around 38C (100F). Give it a good stir.

Step 8: Add your yogurt starter. At 38C/100F, add your starter to the mixture. You could also use 5 capsules of probiotics instead. Give the mixture another good spin with the stick blender.

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Step 9. Incubate . Pour your mixture into a sterilised container, and place it into your yogurt maker. It will need 12 hours here, so overnight usually works best.

Step 10. Refrigerate. After 12 hours, remove the container from your yogurt maker and give the mixture a good stir to re-incorporate any gelatine that’s separated. Let it stand for about an hour, then put it in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

Your yogurt is ready! I always add honey to mine because I find it quite tart, but it’s not necessary. It’s a delicious, excellently textured yogurt that is a real pleasure to eat. Enjoy!

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Look at that texture!

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Absolutely delicious, especially with a little extra added honey

Check out these great blogs:

– Thetastyalternative for this amazing yogurt recipe which I have shamelessly hijacked.

– WellnessMama for the instructions on making coconut milk.

– Cookies and Kate for the tips on making cashew nut milk.

Day 66: Important observations about SCD so far

I’ve been on this diet for 66 days, and even though it’s not a massive amount of time, it’s long enough to have realised that my progress has fallen into two distinct categories:

  • Extremely strict
  • Experimental (within the bounds of legal, stage-appropriate SCD foods)

I haven’t once knowingly cheated on this diet and I’ve stuck to the 3-day rule (at times 4 days) since the start. But I’ve also become less fanatically strict and terrified of introducing new foods. Maybe it’s manifesting more psychologically than physically, because I’m not running around shoving random bits of food into my mouth. But it does mean that one big problem has crept in: Bloating.

Can totally relate

Can totally relate

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it because when I’m healthy and not in an active flare, the worst symptom I have is bloating, which also causes pain and that lovely, totally-not-embarrassing ‘talking’ that most often happens when I’m sitting in an echoey boardroom with several of my bosses, a handful of clients and the perfectly preened magazine editor.

Yet here I am, 66 days in, experiencing bloating most days. So, below is what I have deduced about my particular reaction to foods on SCD. As always, bear in mind that everyone tolerates food differently.

1. Bananas cause me significant bloating. I’ve known this since day 4 or 5 when I introduced them, and you’ve known it too because I haven’t shut up about it. I try to eat fewer but usually I fail because…

2. I’m a snacker which makes SCD REALLY hard. Who wants to snack on a dry meatball or a cup of carrot puree? So I snack on bananas. All. The. Time. And then for dessert I have banana ‘ice cream’. I do in fact always have prepared vegetables and ripe avos in the fridge, but bananas are also easy to eat on the go or take with to work, social occasions, movies, etc.

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3.  Other things besides banana make me bloated. What are they? I’m not sure. Because in this experiment that is the SCD, you need to use your own body as the control, and I’ve often failed to do that effectively. You need to feel good and bloat-free before introducing new foods, and while I’ve done that to some extent, I have also compromised my results by continuing to eat bananas while testing other foods.

This means I’ve often experienced bloating while testing, but I’ve always blamed it on bananas. However, I’m now noticing that I can eat other foods (ie: meals of meat, assorted vegetables and avo) and end up bloated – and because of the muddied test results, I can’t pinpoint the culprit.

4. You have to introduce SCD yogurt CAREFULLY. As good as it can be for you, dairy-free SCD yogurt is made up of not one but a number of ingredients – and some of these (most notably nut milk and honey) can be problematic.

Nuts, even when blanched, blended, strained and squeezed into milk, can aggravate a sensitive gut, which is why they shouldn’t be introduced until 3 months on this diet (or 3 months symptom-free, which I reached in about February). Honey is also tolerated by some but not by others, and both nuts and honey are considered potentially ‘problematic’ foods for people on SCD.

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5. Nut milks and honey are probably adding to my bloating. They’ve made a fairly recent but regular appearance in my diet in the form of my yoghurt, and since their debut I’ve come to really enjoy them. Is the benefit of the probiotics outweighing the bloat? I can’t honestly tell you because while my BMs are satisfactory and quite regular, I haven’t noticed a marked difference since introducing the yogurt. But I do love the sweetness of they honey and yogurt is such a perfect after-dinner treat.

6. I felt my best during intro and phase 1, but my BMs were terrible. Swings and roundabouts? Maybe, but there must be more to it than that. There must be more that I can do to control my symptoms so that I can heal and enjoy a varied diet without bloat.  This means that I probably need to go back to the drawing board – or at the very least, stick to meat and veg for a few days and see if it helps.

7. This diet is about more than mindlessly following the phases. It only works if you listen to your body and respect your symptoms, and if you actively work to manage them. I haven’t always done that. I haven’t always been fully committed to being symptom free as much as I’ve been committed to eating legally and according to the phases. In other words…

8. Just because a food is SCD-legal and allowed in the phase you’re on, doesn’t mean it works for you. I found out that mushrooms don’t agree with me so I avoid them. But I’ve ignored the ill-effects of other foods and now I have this major bloat problem which is really a huge tangled mess. You have to be actively involved in really feeling your symptoms, identifying what’s causing them and eradicating problem foods from your diet – if only temporarily. Mindless eating is not going to cure you, even if you’re eating SCD legal foods.

So those are my observations for now. On this diet, I am definitely my biggest ally and also my worst enemy. It’s also why I haven’t yet opened my new jar of macadamia nut butter: The cashew butter was going brilliantly until, after 3 days, I caved and ate the remainder (about half of it) with a spoon straight out of the jar.

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My goal for the coming days: WILLPOWER. I’ve already made so many sacrifices that I can’t allow these little weaknesses to trip me up now. Now to just find the motivation to do better…

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Day 65: 3 awesome things today

My latest batch of SCD yoghurt is complete and it’s pretty darn perfect! It has the gloopy consistency of the real shop-bought variety, but without all those pesky bad things added to it. It’s cashew milk-based and it tastes delicious, especially with an added dash of honey.

I’ll post pictures and the full recipe later this week. It was definitely a case of ‘third time lucky’ for me, and now that I’ve got the basics right, I can play around with ingredients and flavours. SO EXCITING!

How does this fit into the phases? Well honey is allowed after 30 days, and most nut milks can be added in phase 3, where I am now.

As for the 2 other awesome things:

2. Bananas and eggs – mixed!  I suddenly remembered about SCD pancakes made from bananas and eggs, and attempted to make a batch. They were a disaster – didn’t solidify and simply couldn’t be flipped. So rather than waste my mixture of two large bananas and one egg, I turned it into a scramble. It looked hideous but it tasted delicious! A filling, healthy breakfast or snack that I highly recommed.

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Mix. Scramble in pan (oil optional). Be brave. Dig in. Fall in love.

3. Better BMs: For me, nothing has been as up and down on this diet as my BMs. The first few weeks were constipation central, and they’re still pretty unpredictable. But the past few days have treated me kindly, with regular (for me) BMs and feeling like I’m properly empty.

Bonus: Veep & other series: If you’ve been hit by a flare or, like me, simply needed two straight days on the couch to recover from life, you’re probably in need of a fresh batch of series. I discovered Veep this weekend, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which is a political comedy and brilliantly written. It also stars Tony Hale (Buster from Arrested Development) whom I love. And come on, Arrested Development is just the BEST.

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‘Glasses are like wheelchairs for the eyes.’

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Also stumbled upon a new series called Resurrection – only two episodes out so far, and it’s quite eerie, but I think it’ll be good. We’re also loving the new Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, and as always we’re slaves to Grey’s, even though every series inevitably leaves us gutted. I tell K that the stress of watching Grey’s is bad for my colitis.

It’s nice to stop talking, well, shit every now and then 😉 Series recommendations, anyone? 🙂

 

Day 56: When you have to take a few steps back on SCD

I feel like I’ve really been on the back foot these last few weeks on SCD. Until about mid-phase 2, the diet was going brilliantly. But I feel like since I introduced the yogurt (which was comprised of several new foods I hadn’t yet introduced), and then made the carpaccio mistake last weekend (repeated yesterday and definitely the cause of the diarrhoea for both K and I), I’ve been struggling to get back to good.

Tonight we had friends over and they know of my health troubles. Because of the carpaccio we ate last night, I’ve had terrible cramps and diarrhoea all day. This of course is not ideal when you invite guests to your tiny apartment, where the bathroom is in a very central position. And even though they know about my UC, I still didn’t want to dash off to the bathroom every few minutes and subject them to the audible fireworks that follow when I’m hit with GI distress.

For most of the night, it felt like a demon was reaching inside my body every few minutes, grabbing my stomach with a gnarly hand (I just know it was gnarly – demons don’t do manicures) and twisting it around like play-doh. It seemed like great fun for the demon, but not so much for me. I tried throwing pain pills at it, but it just laughed and twisted some more. I tried to make it drunk on red wine, but I think that just fuelled its fire. The only thing that seemed to work was when our friends (as lovely as they are) finally left at 1am and I had the bathroom all to myself. TG (thank god).

Selfie tonight at +- midnight

Tonight’s selfie

I’ve also been testing my yoghurt again and I’m not sure that it’s agreeing with me either. I know for sure that meat and most phase 1 and 2 veggies (that I introduced) are kind to my gut and we get along just great. The yoghurt, however, is seems to be the problem child – along with this damn carpaccio which, after slaying us with awful symptoms twice in one week, we will certainly be avoiding.

For now, I think I need to get back to basics – meat and veg, limited bananas, probiotics, vitamins and water only (sob). I’m hating the gas, bloating and discomfort, which is one of the reasons I started this diet. I’m tired of feeling gross and bloaty, especially when I’m trying to be sociable.

A common problem for anyone with IBD!

A common problem for anyone with IBD!

Probiotics – what’s your take on them?

I stopped taking my probiotics a few days ago because I wasn’t actually sure whether they were making a difference or not. I can’t detect any significant changes, good or bad, since stopping about five days ago. Given the current state of my GI tract, however, I think going back to them can only do me good.

What’s your take on probiotics? Can you notice a difference when you do/don’t take them?

How to fix SCD when it breaks

I’m no SCD expert and I’ve been on this diet for less than two months. But what seems to make sense is to go back to when I was fine, and to start again from there. As with anything that goes wrong, be it a maths equation or driving directions or a diet, you simply need to stop, find your way back to the main road, and try again.

Tomorrow is a new day, and while you should endeavour to make EVERY day your best, it’s good to know that an SCD mistake today isn’t irreversible.

A cat, because cats make me happy, and this one makes me particularly mirthful.

A cat, because cats make me happy, and this one makes me particularly mirthful. I think he’s given up on trying to suck in

SCD yogurt recipe (step by step)

My first batch of SCD yoghurt was delicious, but it didn’t really agree with me, which is sad. You can read more about it here and here. I’ll try it again in the future when my gut has had more time to heal. If you are able to handle nuts, you should definitely give it a try. The flavour was wonderful.

This week, I attempted to make the yoghurt again, this time using almond nut milk instead of whole (ground) almonds. The yoghurt has turned out wonderfully, though I’d make it a bit thicker next time. Here’s how I did it, step by step.

Ingredients

2 cups blanched almonds

Honey

Vanilla extract

Gelatine

Yogurt starters cultures (lactose free if you’re lactose intolerant)

Tools

Blender

Sieve

Cheesecloth, nut milk bag or clean, unused stocking

Medium-large pots

Thermometer

Sterilised jars and spoons

Yogurt maker

Preparing your almonds

About 3 days before you’d like to have your yogurt (remember, this is SCD, so everything takes a little longer!), take 2 cups of blanched almonds and soak them, uncovered, for up to 2 days. You can soak them overnight to shorten the process, but the longer you leave them, the creamier the milk will be.

Working with unblanched almonds: If you, like me, have unblanched almonds, simply plop them into a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes, and then you’ll easily be able to squeeze them out of their skins. K helped me with this, and we turned it into a bit of a competition!

Preparing your almond nut milk

Once you’ve finished soaking your nuts, give them a good rinse, and then add them to your blender with 2 cups of water per cup of nuts – so four cups of water in total. I did mine in two batches. First, pulse the blender a few times to break up the nuts, and then blend at full speed for 2 minutes. The nuts should be nicely broken down at this stage.

Next, you need to strain your milk. Take a sieve and line it with cheesecloth or, in my case, a nut milk bag. Place it over a clean bowl, and pour the nut milk into it.

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Then, gather up the bag or fabric, being careful not to spill, and squeeze out as much of the milk as you can (using clean hands!). You should get about 2 cups of milk for every 1 cup of nuts.

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Storing your almond milk 

I didn’t have time to make my yogurt right away, so I refrigerated the almond milk in clean jars. There’s debate about how long it can last in the fridge – some say 2 days; others say 2 weeks. Your nose will certainly tell you if it has gone off. I added some to my coffee this morning, after 5 days in the fridge, and it seems fine.

Voila - homemade almond milk!

Making your almond milk yogurt

Now the fun part! Heat your almond milk, together with 1 tbsp honey and 1tsp vanilla extract, gently on the stove in a large pot or Dutch oven (I used the latter).  I used 1 litre of milk. Actually, when I say ‘I’, I mean K, because she did this part for me while I was stuck working late!

Keep the heat low and stir constantly to avoid scalding the milk. When it reaches 185F (85C), remove it from the heat. Be sure to stir it before you take temperature readings. Now, let it cool down. I sped up this process by putting the pot in a sink of iced water. Keep an eye on it if you do it this way – it can cool more quickly than you’re expecting.

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In the mean time, mix 4 tsps of gelatin with 1/2 cup room temperature water. I used 3 getaline leaves (1 leaf = 1 tsp), but I definitely think more was required. You might need to play around here.

When the yogurt reaches 110-120F (43-49C), add your gelatine and mix it in using a stick blender. Then, when the yogurt reaches 100F (37/38C), add your yogurt starter, and again use your stick blender to fully incorporate it in the mixture.

How much yogurt starter? The guys at SCDLifestyle.com suggest using 1/8 of a tsp for every 2 quarts, which is what I use. So you’ll need 1/16 of a tsp for 1 litre, if my maths (and conversions!) are correct.

Now, transfer your mixture to your sterilised yogurt maker container (or whatever containers you’re using) and place into your yogurt maker for 12 hours only. Do not touch, shake, move or disturb the yogurt maker at all during this time, as the culturing process is extremely sensitive to movement.

After 12 hours, carefully remove the yogurt from the yogurt maker and allow it to sit for 1 hour. At this point, some people stir the yogurt while others believe that it’s still very sensitive to movement. I don’t touch it. Lastly, place it in the fridge for at least 8 to 10 hours, which allows the gelatine to thicken.

Enjoying your yogurt

My batch is a bit thin, but definitely closer to the consistency and taste of real yoghurt, so I’m really thrilled. I eat mine with some extra honey, as the taste is quite tangy and requires a little sweetening. The honey isn’t necessary though, but you do need to add it to the yogurt to give the cultures something to feed on.

The yogurt will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you’re just starting out, add it in TINY amounts every day to allow your body to get accustomed to it. The cultures are powerful and you need to be careful. I overdid it on my first go-round, which was a very silly thing to do. It was just so tasty!

My yogurt with a lovely drizzle of pure honey

Day 46: Dying or just… die-off?

I was so excited about reaching the half-way mark yesterday that I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer about the crappy symptoms I was experiencing. But yesterday and today have been less than perfect.

On Monday night, I started getting that weird sore/burny back-of-the-throat sensation that feels a lot like flu. When I woke up yesterday morning, my voice was croaky and my throat on fire. I thought it strange because I never get sick (not that kind of sick anyway), and there was no reason for me to be ill. I dragged myself out of bed for work, feeling a little like death.

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Then I had a brainwave: I remember reading in Surviving to Thriving that the yoghurt can cause die-off symptoms due to its powerful probiotics. I figured that that was the root of my symptoms.

I sucked on Strepsils throughout the day to ease my burning throat, though all the while I had the nagging thought that I probably shouldn’t be eating them. By the time I got home, I was as bloated as Goodyear blimp, and feeling pretty rough.

The culprit?

The culprit?

I had more yoghurt (because hey, I’m enjoying it, and still testing it), and proceeded to get more bloated as the night progressed. I also ate too much at dinner, so by bed time I was full up to my throat (that’s when the food won’t go down any further cos there’s just too much of it in your body!) and feeling very kak. That’s a lovely South African term for which there isn’t really an exact translation, but loosely speaking you could say it means ‘super shit’.

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Today I started with a clean GI slate. Awoke with no bloating, but the throat was still knifey and I still felt quite flu-ish (by the way, this also explains why I’ve been more freeeeezing than usual at work). I limited my coffee intake today, again avoided bananas, and the only thing out of the ordinary that I had, again, was Strepsils.

By 3pm, I blimpily decided that Strepsils were the culprit. I came home, ravenous, and shoved four bananas into my gullet in quick succession, figuring I was already bloated already, so what the hell. Don’t  ever do that. I know that for a lot of people like us, there’s always tendency to over-indulge. Just because food is healthy doesn’t mean that bingeing is. And it’s likely to leave you feeling quite, well, kak.

Selfie taken tonight

Selfie taken tonight

So I’ve had dinner now, and I’m SOOOO bloated. And gassy. In fact K tells me that I was super gassy in the night (cringe. Shame, poor K), so I’ve narrowed it down to the yoghurt or the bananas. Right now, my gut is probably the gassiest it’s ever been on SCD, and it’s moany, groany and whiney. Awful!

Tomorrow I’m going to avoid all foods that may even remotely not agree with me, and only have yoghurt so that I can be sure, either way. I was so good with testing for the first 40 or so days, and I’ve become a bit more slack these past few days. It wasn’t intentional; it’s just the way it’s worked out with the Strepsils, and with the yoghurt having more than one ingredient.

A few points about the yoghurt

– I’m currently on phase 2 (although all things being equal, I’ll move on to phase 3 tomorrow), and on this phase, you’re only supposed to have nut milks, and not actual pieces of nuts. My yoghurt contains ground nuts, and not just nut milk, which may be aggravating my system. Next time, I’m going to make it with nut milk instead.

– My yoghurt contains honey, which I hadn’t yet introduced.

– I may also be reacting to the cultures in the yoghurt.

– I dripped my yoghurt the other night to make it thicker, as per SCDLifestyle.com’s suggestion. It did make it thicker, but perhaps a bit too thick – even though I dripped it for less than an hour. Next time I’ll keep a closer eye on it and drip it for a bit less time, so that it doesn’t become like cement, but is no longer completely liquid either.

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So these past two days haven’t been great for my belly. I’m going to have to do some careful re-tracing of footsteps, and take things slow, so that I can return to a place of comfort. And no gas. And no bloating. Because this really sucks! UGH! I know it’s possible and luckily I know that I’ve only added two different things, so it can only be one of the two (and Strepsils aren’t permanent anyway), but it’s still frustrating. Three steps forward, one step back. That’s how it goes on SCD.