Q & A: October 23, 2011

Welcome to CHEESESLAVE Q & A! Every Sunday, I answer your questions. I’ll answer as many questions as I can each week. If I didn’t answer your question this week, please check back next week.

Welcome to CHEESESLAVE Q & A! Every Sunday, I answer your questions. I’ll answer as many questions as I can each week. If I didn’t answer your question this week, please check back next week.

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1. Question: Suggestions About Making Granola?

I am moving towards making my own granola and read about soaking the oats on your granola recipe. I am curious how you use your dehydrator to keep the soaking oaks warm now that the weather is cooler (we get down to 40 at night)? I am having a difficult time not draining the oats (there is so much liquid!). Should I not drain it? Also, how does one clean those sheets and trays?!?!



The lowest setting on the dehydrator is 95 degrees so you could put your bowl of soaking oats in there overnight. You can also just put a few dish towels around the (covered) bowl and put it somewhere warm. A (defunct) microwave is perfect.

I have also used a reptile mat for my ferments like this one: Oceanic R’Zilla 09937 Terrarium Heater Heat Mat.

I have never drained the oatmeal when making granola but you can if you feel like it’s too wet.

You can wash your dehydrator sheets with soap and warm water. If you like, you can put parchment paper liners down.

2. Question: Opinion On Going Off GAPS Temporarily?

Hi Ann Marie,

I don’t know whether I should be on the Full GAPS or not. I tend to be able to tolerate many, if not all, foods. I ate a cupcake that was homemade but probably not with the best ingredients just to test if I had any reaction to even conventional foods, and I felt fine. I think I should go off the GAPS diet for a week and see how I feel. What do you think? I’m pretty sure there are others who are in the same situation as I am.

Thank you,


Hi, Erica, I don’t know how long you’ve been on the GAPS diet, or why you’re on it, and besides, whether or not to do GAPS is really up to the individual. You intuitively know best what you need to do for your body.

For me, I started with gluten intolerance, chronic fatigue, arthritis, and a host of other health issues. It took me about two years to heal. I wasn’t following the GAPS diet (it didn’t exist back then) but something similar. If I had followed the GAPS diet, perhaps I would have healed faster; I don’t know. I stayed on a modified version of my GAPS-like diet for much longer than 2 years, i.e. I still avoided sugar and white flour and processed foods.

More recently (last month) I decided to put the whole family on GAPS intro. We only stayed on it for a couple weeks. My husband is still on full GAPS but my daughter and I are just eating a WAPF diet. I really don’t believe that she and I need to be on GAPS. We have both taken Biokult every day for about 2-3 years since she was a baby, and I think that really made a huge difference. I noticed that when I was on GAPS intro, I could eat 1/2 to 1 cup of sauerkraut and/or kimchi per day, plus kombucha and sour cream, and have no die-off reaction. Of course, I have no food allergies and can eat anything.

When I cook meals for the family now, it is not difficult to make a GAPS meal and then if I want, I can add some whole grains or starch for my daughter and myself. For example, I’ll make eggs in the morning for everyone, but Kate and I also have whole wheat toast. Sometimes I will make coconut flour pancakes, which everyone can eat. Much of the time, I still cook GAPS meals. For example, last night I made mariscada — a Portuguese shellfish stew with pureed tomato, broth, scallops, shrimp, and clams.

I say trust your gut and do what feels right for you.

3. Question: Advice On Improving Health For Me And My Baby?

I just found out that I am pregnant again! My first baby is now 18 months old. I really had wanted to wait at least 2 to 3 years to get pregnant again, in order to let my vitamins stores build up. Since that didn’t happen, what can I do now to ensure my baby will be the healthiest he/she can be?

Daily, I currently take Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend (1 teaspoon per day because it’s so expensive), Biokult once a day, turmeric, lots of organic berries for vitamin C, 3 cups of homemade kefir from raw milk, raw egg yolks and extra farm eggs when available, nutritional yeast for B-vitamins, avocados, a cup of homemade stock plus 1 teaspoon extra gelatin, at least 2 Tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil, around 1 cup of homemade kombucha, a lot of raw cheese, and 1 teaspoon desiccated liver daily (I can’t stand liver, so I eat it this way).

I eat grass-fed beef often (home-raised!) and try to eat seafood 1 to 2 times per week. I also take wild salmon roe occasionally. I try to eat bread with sprouted or soaked flour and to put tons of Kerrygold on my bread when I do eat it. I have homemade sauerkraut but don’t eat it often.

Do you have suggestions on how I can further improve my health, and thus my baby’s health?

Thank you!


Hi, Janelle! Congratulations!

Your diet sounds great. However, since your babies are too close together, you will need to do even more to make sure your next baby is healthy.

I would absolutely take more fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend (click here for sources). At least 2 teaspoons per day, if not 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) per day. I know it is expensive but maybe there are some things you can cut out of your budget so you can afford it.

Also, I’d start eating liver. Supplements are great but 1 teaspoon per day just ain’t gonna cut it. That only works out to be a little over 2 tablespoons of liver, or one ounce, per week. In the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers, they recommend 3-4 ounces of liver once or twice per week, which equals 3-8 ounces per week. Since your babies are spaced too close together, you should probably eat even more.

I know, liver is something most people don’t like. But I truly believe it is an acquired taste and anyone can acquire it. According to Jeffrey Steingarten, author of The Man Who Ate Everything,

(one of my all-time favorite books,) you have to eat something at least 10 times to acquire a taste for it.

My favorite way to eat liver is liverwurst or Braunschweiger. I happily eat it 3-4 times per week with whole wheat crackers or on a sandwich. You can order liverwurst online, and sometimes you can find good quality liverwurst in health food stores or gourmet shops. Liver pate is another good option.

Wait, I take that back. My absolute favorite way to eat liver, after liverwurst, is foie gras. If you can find a restaurant that serves foie gras in your area, it’s so delicious. I even turned Kelly the Kitchen Kop into a liver lover after her first bite of foie gras! Yes, it’s expensive, but you’re making an investment in your baby’s health.

Other organ meats are important too, in addition to liver. Organ meats are so much more nutrient-dense than muscle meats. These include: heart, kidneys, glands (adrenal, thyroid and thymus,) brains, tongue, stomach, and pancreas (sweetbreads). It’s almost impossible to find brains these days but you can buy heart, kidneys, glands, and tongue from farmers, and/or online. I often enjoy sweetbreads at restaurants (I order it whenever I see it on the menu). It doesn’t taste anything like liver — it’s quite delicious! I also order stomach in the form of menudo and tripe sausage when I can get them at restaurants. (Some people worry about getting everything organic but I don’t worry when it comes to organ meats — it’s so hard to find them that when I see them, I order them.)

I would also up your double or triple your intake of seafood. You want to eat seafood 2-4 times per week minimum. The best thing you can eat is shellfish. Shellfish, particularly mollusks, are right up there with organ meats in terms of nutrient density. If you think about it, it makes sense because when you eat shellfish, the whole animal is eaten. Examples include: clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp, lobster, crab, octopus and squid. There are lots of great recipes you can make at home from calamari (breaded fried squid) to fried clams to clam chowder. See my recipes page for more ideas.

Also, if you can, add fish eggs to your diet. Salmon roe and whitefish caviar are relatively inexpensive and they’re equivalent to organ meats and shellfish in nutrition. Again, expensive, but worth its weight in gold.

Lastly, if you are still nursing your first, you may want to start thinking about weaning him or her and make sure he or she is getting plenty of nutrient-dense solid foods. I know this is controversial and I will probably get negative comments, but I truly believe that it is not a good idea to nurse a child while pregnant when the babies are so close together. Nursing really depletes your body of nutrients, and so does pregnancy, so this is a double-whammy on your body.

I was born only 13 months after my sister was born, and my mom was nursing my sister while she was pregnant with me. She ate ice cream every day for her milk (it was probably grass-fed since this was the 1960s).

Guess who ended up with straight teeth and who ended up needing braces? My older sister needed braces. I believe this is because the baby in utero gets the most nutrients. It’s too bad they didn’t have the Weston A. Price Foundation back then — she could have fed my sister liver and egg yolks and cod liver oil to boost her nutrition.

Wow, now that I just wrote all that, I want to go out and eat some organ meats for dinner tonight!

4. Question: Is Plain Club Soda Or Seltzer Water Bad For You?

Hi, Is plain club soda/seltzer water (don’t know if there is a difference) bad for you? I am aware of kefir method, but I have to pick and choose what I do since I work full time and kefir is not it. However, I have recipes for flavoring club soda using fruit, but I am not going to bother if it is just as bad as pop. What do you think?



Carbonation really is not good for you. It’s best to drink naturally fermented drinks, which are naturally carbonated, such as kombucha or kefir soda pop. You can also buy sparkling water which is naturally carbonated.

That said, I drink seltzer water if there are no other choices when I am eating out. It’s hard to find sugar-free, aspartame-free, caffeine-free drinks in restaurants!

5. Question: Advice On Getting Enough Nutrition From GAPS / Dealing With Depression?

Hi Ann Marie,

First off, I read Gut and Psychology Syndrome about a year or so ago. I didn’t follow the diet to the letter, but enough so that I figured out that grains and dairy are a big problem for me. And sugar of course. I stayed on a restricted diet for about four months.

What prompted me to not stay on the diet were time restrictions (making food, etc.) and depression. I never was plagued by depression before. It was not the normal blue days that a person gets on occasion, it was more the type where I just functioned without much feeling and made myself do what needed to get done. Very debilitating. I also got leg cramps, so I took nutritional yeast (don’t know how GAPS-friendly that is), but it helped with the cramps and depression.

So I guess my question is.. Can we get enough nutrition on such a restricted diet?

Oh and I am 55 years old and grains make me break out and dairy makes my joints ache. When I was completely off of grains and dairy, my face was almost perfectly clear and I didn’t have any aches. So I am glad to have discovered that, but it is not any fun being depressed. Any ideas?

I would like to solve this issue as I have been doing the diet again for about two weeks and the depression is starting to set in.

In spring, I purchased your cooking class and loved the recipes. It helps with ideas of what to make. So thank you for that.



The fact that grains make your face break out and dairy makes your joints hurt tells me that you probably do need the GAPS diet. But instead of just eliminating certain foods, you have to rebuild the gut lining (bone broth) and restore healthy gut flora (fermented foods and probiotics).

I wonder if you have a magnesium deficiency, as depression and leg cramps are common symptoms of magnesium deficiency. I just finished reading The Magnesium Miracle and it is a fascinating book.

I am planning to write a post about magnesium deficiency within the next week or two. From what I have read, easily over 50% of the U.S. population is deficient in magnesium. This is due to the fact that our soil is so depleted due to modern farming methods and chemical fertilizers. Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and many drugs also deplete the body of magnesium. As does a high-fat diet and being deficient in vitamin D.

Bone broth is rich in magnesium, but you may also need to supplement. Epsom salt baths do help to provide magnesium. You may also need additional supplementation. I am currently taking a mineral supplement (Country Life Target-Mins Total Mins Multi-mineral Complex,) ionic magnesium (Trace Minerals Research Liquimins Ionic Magnesium) and I am using a transdermal magnesium oil (Ancient Minerals Ultra Pure Magnesium Oil) which is the easiest to absorb, particularly for people with a damaged gut.

Look for my post coming soon but in the meantime you can get the book and start experimenting with supplements. It’s very safe to supplement with magnesium. If you have a loose stool, you are either taking too much or the wrong kind — as I mentioned, some forms are more difficult to absorb than others, particularly when you have gut damage.

I would also pick up a copy of The Mood Cure.

Magnesium helps us to use amino acids but if you are deficient in amino acids, you need to take those, too, for a period of time in order to produce the neurotransmitters that combat depression.

6. Question: Directions For Saving And Using The Soaking Water From Rice?

Hi Ann Marie,

Thanks for your posts on GAPS diet! They are so reaffirming and wonderful. I think we’ll be going through the Intro with my 4 kids and husband soon. They are all really healthy, but two have some fine-tuning needs. Plus, it never hurts to go through it again. Your tip on buying extra crock pots was golden! Thanks.

Can you please direct me to your post on saving & using the soaking water from rice? Thanks so much! I couldn’t find it with a search on the site.



I have never actually written about it on the site (I should!). I learned how to soak brown rice from Stephan Guyenet on his blog Whole Health Source: A New Way to Soak Brown Rice.

7. Question: Are Cavities The First Sign Of Nutritional Deficiencies?

Hi Ann Marie,

Are cavities the first sign of nutritional deficiencies? If so, how come some people don’t get cavities when they are eating an unhealthy diet? Or do nutritional deficiencies take a while to appear? I had anorexia for nearly 4 years, and never once did I have a cavity during that time.

Thank you,


There are lots of signs of nutritional deficiencies. It can be anything from PMS to anxiety to fatigue to white spots on the fingernails.

Interestingly, one of the first signs of zinc deficiency is loss of appetite. It’s a vicious cycle, because loss of appetite causes you not to eat which ends up causing more zinc deficiency.

Cavities would take longer to show up since they are actual holes in bone, which take time to develop.

8. Question: Do You Know Of Any Traditional Foods To Stop Hair Loss?

Hi there,

I stumbled across you blog recently, and really love all the resources! I’ve very new to Nourishing Traditions, but am trying to be extremely diligent about learning. Thanks for everything you put up!

Anyway, here is my question:

Do you know of any traditional foods to stop hair loss? I’m 26, and have had hypothyroidism since college. Recently, I started to get spots of alopecia areata, which seems to be the worst symptom I’ve seen yet. I’m eager to learn what traditional foods I should be focusing on at present.

Thanks so much!


Hair loss is a very common symptom of hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function. You need to work with a naturopath or holistic doctor to help you balance your hormones. Many times people will hypothyroidism will need to take thyroid gland, such as Armour. You may also have low adrenal function, which tends to (but doesn’t always) accompany low thryoid function.

9. Question: Advice For Investors For Our Farm?

Hi, Ann Marie!

My husband and I are trying desperately to start our own farm outside of St. Louis, Missouri, where raw milk is in high demand. We have registered Jerseys picked out, a contract on a farm, and a customer base of 118 families. Unfortunately, we have a larger family and not much start-up capital, and are hoping to find people that invest in grass-based farms.

We have talked to Slow Food St. Louis, but they have already maxed out their contributions to an urban organic produce farmer. The same people are trying to start up a chapter of Slow Money locally, but don’t have it up and running yet, so they can’t help us either. Everyone thinks we have a good business plan, but no one has money! Do you have any advice for us in finding an investor? We appreciate your support of local sustainable farmers and love reading your blog!

Thank you!
Carrie and Alex


I wish I could help but I’m not an expert in these matters. Maybe someone will have some ideas in the comments.

If it were me, I’d start small and bootstrap. That’s how I started and grew my business.

You could also network with people in the Weston A. Price Foundation. If you’re not planning to go to the upcoming conference, I would definitely go. Not only will you meet lots of people who may know potential investors, but you will learn a lot about how to start and run a farm-based business.

10. Question: Diet Suggestions For Mom Dealing With Cancer Treatment?

Hi Anne Marie,

This week my 67-year old mother will begin radiation for breast cancer. She has chosen radiation over chemotherapy and despite my misgivings about any conventional cancer treatment, I am trying to support her as best I can.

I know her bone strength will be taxed as will her energy. I have convinced her to allow me to prepare plenty of nutrient dense soups and stews for her (since I do this already for my own family) and have somehow managed to convince her to supplement with fermented cod liver oil (hopefully her appetite will continue to allow it, but I am not optimistic if she ends up with food aversions as is wont to happen).

She is a big yogurt fan, so I am hoping, at a minimum, to keep that in her diet for calcium and as a fermented food.

The “real food” way of eating is going to be a challenge for her but she acknowledges the need to try. She is working hard to break her sugar addiction, and is allowing me to bake soaked bread for her weekly. I would love to see her go grain free, but I don’t expect I will be able to convince her of that. Still I have to work within her appetite and comfort level without completely taking over her life or patronizing her.

Is there anything else you can recommend?



Please read this article by Dr. Thomas Cowan: A Holistic Approach to Cancer.

11. Question: Is Raw Liver OK To Consume While On The Preconception/Pregnant/Nursing Diet?

Hi Ann Marie,

Can a women on the Preconception/Pregnant/Nursing diet consume liver that is raw instead of cooked? I usually just cut partially frozen liver into small pieces, and eat it this way. Is this fine?

Thank you,


Yes! As long as the liver is frozen for 14 days or more, there should be no pathogens.

12. Question: More Information Regarding Topical Application Of Fermented Cod Liver Oil?

Hi Ann Marie,

I really enjoy reading your blog and thought you may have more info regarding the topical application of fermented cod liver oil. I remember you posted a while back about the challenges you were facing getting your daughter to willingly take her cod liver oil. I think you said that you could also administer it by rubbing it on the child’s bottom. I didn’t get a chance to search through your archives to find the exact post so I was wondering where you might have read this and if there have been any studies regarding the amount of the nutrients absorbed though the skin.

My daughter is 11-months-old and nearly 100% breastfed, not by my choice but hers. Any food I’ve tried to start her on has followed the WAPF recommended first foods, and I’ve also referenced the GAPS diet protocol for introducing new foods. The problem is that our little gal wants nothing to do with bone broths, egg yolks, non-starchy vegetable purees, liver and the like. She’ll eat a little ripe banana here and there but I really don’t want her to become a sweet foods/ fruit addict. She is growing just fine and seems content otherwise and I am eating as nutrient-dense as a busy working mother with a little one possibly can.

I was just hoping to get some good fermented cod liver oil into her and when I’ve tried the syringe method she just squirmed and got it everywhere but down her throat! If I could rub it on her bottom and have that be effective that would certainly give me some piece of mind for now. I am also taking it but wasn’t sure how much of the vitamins made it to her via breast milk.

Thank you so much for all of your hard work!


Fermented cod liver oil is absorbed via the skin. As far as how much is absorbed, we don’t know. There are no studies. Most studies are financed by drug companies. Fermented cod liver oil is not a drug; it’s a food, and so it is not patentable.

However, I’ve been reading about transdermal magnesium oil (see above) and apparently is is much better absorbed via the skin than orally. This leads me to believe that fermented cod liver oil is probably well absorbed via the skin, too.

I still have a lot of FCLO gummy fish so that is what I am giving my daughter (she happily took cod liver oil when she was a baby but started rejecting it when she was about 3). When I run out (they don’t make them anymore) I will have to start giving her the cod liver oil gel. She hates it, though, so I’ll give it to her on her bottom until I can find a way to give it to her orally.

You have a bigger issue. The fact that your daughter is 11 months old and will not eat solid food, that may be a real problem. I have heard mothers who have GAPS babies go through the same thing.

If I were you, I’D get on a good probiotic and if you and/or the baby need it, I’d start on the GAPS diet. I’d also give the probiotic to the baby. If she has a damaged gut, it’s only going to get worse as she gets older. Doing GAPS with older children is a lot tougher.

My daughter had signs of abnormal gut flora when she was a baby, including cradle cap and colic. I started giving her raw milk formula, and later Biokult (when she was about 9 months old, when I found out about it.) She continued to take Biokult every day and still does. Her gut flora seems very good now, as she has two normal bowel movements per day, has no food allergies, and rarely gets sick.

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Please submit your questions to questions AT cheeseslave DOT com. I’ll answer your questions every Sunday in the order I receive them.