Raw Peppermint Brownie Butter Bites

I came across this type of recipe on Facebook multiple times over the holidays.Brownie bites

In case you haven’t noticed, many of the recipes I blog on are ones I want to be able to find for my own use.

These are a delicious snack, great for soothing any chocolate cravings you may have and of course, I have adapted it below to make applicable if you are on the GAPS Protocol.

Raw Peppermint Brownie Butter Bites

  • 1/2 cup Almond flour or 1/4 cup coconut flour (I suggest a reduced amount on the coconut flour as it is denser)
  •  1/2 cup cocoa powder
  •  1/2 cup butter – melted (increase by 2 TBS if using 1/2 c coconut flour)
  •  1/4 tsp vanilla
  •  1/4 cup honey – one may use maple syrup if not on GAPS
  •  2 drops Young Living Peppermint oil
  •  1/4 cup coconut flake – optional

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Brownie bites dough

If still soft, place in refrigerator until firm.  Roll into 1″ balls.  Coat in coconut flake if desired.

Brownie Bites balls

Makes about 3 dozen.  Note: for dairy free option use coconut oil.


Schedule Your Food & GAPS Classes

Are schedule is complete for our 2014 – 2015 series of classes. We welcome you to join us.

Healing Foods Classes

Learn to create cultured beverages, Soups & Stews, Fast Ferments, Delicious Dairy and more

Register & View the 2014 -2015 class listing here http://reneerenz.com/healing-foods-2014/

GAPS Connections

This is a series of bite sized lessons in a community setting to help you understand the GAPS Healing Protocol and how to best implement this in your family and lifestyle.  Classes run January to May

Register & View 2015 schedule here http://reneerenz.com/gapsconnections/
Past series attendees are welcome to attend class free of charge. Bring a friend. 

For those of you not in the area consider an online class about Tradition food preparation

The Secrets of The Funky Kitchen  “How to Prepare Traditional, Wholesome Foods in 30 Minutes or Less a Day!”

with Sarica Cernohous  – Sept 9th  Register here:  http://tinyurl.com/khlzkaw

Her book is a fantastic resource for creating Traditional Foods.  I highly recommend this resource as all the basics are included:

  • Fermented vegetables
  • Bone Broth
  • Water Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Proper Grain preparation and more!

My favorite recipe is the Brined Radishes.


Keep an eye on the calendar for other exciting upcoming events.

Love the Sun

Does sunlight cause skin cancer?

Or is the sun really an immune booster?

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride lists in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Top Ten Influences which boost Immunity

#10. Exposure to sunlight and sensible sunbathing.

Top Ten Influences which Damage Immunity

#8.  Lack of Exposure to Sunlight

Watch the below video for the Myth Buster on Sunlight and Cancer

Problems with sun exposure are due to lack of nutrients.   Increase nutritional intake and antioxidants in your skin and you will not burn and will have a decreased cancer risk.

Sunlight is by far the most important source of  vitamin D .sun

Wonderful food sources include: Green Pasture fermented cod liver oil, eggs, butter, liver and fats from pastured animals.

As I changed my own nutrition, embraced healthy fats and take my Green Pasture Cod Liver oil – my fair skin which used to always burn even with sunscreen, now gets a healthy tan without the use of toxic products.  And I hold my color better throughout the winter months.  I also had other improvements in hormonal issue (note vitamin D is really a hormone), mood, cognition and more.  Embrace the sun as you embrace your wellness journey.

Your Gut Lining

The purpose of the GAPS Healing Protocol is to “heal and seal” the intestinal tract. This restores the balance and function of the body’s immune system and natural detoxification. As Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride states “autoimmunity is born in the gut”. The following video contains a fabulous visual explanation of this.

The gut flora is your internal soil. Maintain the health or your soil and reap the rewards of your efforts.Reap-Sow

Grain Free Pizza Crust

Going Grain one of the foods most often missed is pizza. I know you can make a crust using almond flour, but to me this flavor does not go with pizza flavors. I went for quite sometime without pizza in my life until I came across the cauliflower crust. Who would think that you can make a delicous simple crust with cauliflower, eggs, cheese and spices?


Cauliflower Pizza Crust ingredients

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
The cheese and cauliflower crust set up beautifully when allowed to cool, forming a tasty, hand-holdable crust (especially the next day) that also lends itself to bread sticks and other recipes.2013-05-18_11.26.15[1]

Tools: It helps to have a food processor for this recipe. One can use it not only create the cauliflower “rice” but also shred the cheese.2013-05-18_09.55.36[1]
for the crust:
2 cups processed raw cauliflower (to the size of couscous)
2 cups shredded mozzarella (other cheeses can be substituted such as ricotta, Monterey jack and as an early GAPS cheese the cream cheese you get from dripping yogurt works well.)
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp dried fennel seed (or your favorite seasonings i.e. basil, oregano, parsley)

Note: Basic ratio is 1 cup cauliflower: 1 cup cheese: 1 egg use this to create any sized crust or multiple smaller crusts as desired.

for the toppings:
1/2 cup pizza sauce – I make my own using strained tomatoes or tomato paste and spices such as garlic, oregano, basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese – or thin slices
Vegetables or meat of choice (artichoke hearts, onion, green pepper, spinach, olives, pepperoni etc)

Preheat oven to 425°F Combine crust ingredients in a bowl. Press into a circle on a greased 12″ pizza pan by sprinkling the crust mixture around the pan and then gently pressing the mounds together. This prevents thick spots in the center of the pan.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are a golden-brown color. Allow to cool for five minutes. Gently slide a spatula around the edges to loosen from the pan slightly.
Top crust with sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings you would like. Place under a broiler on high for 3-5 minutes, or until golden and bubbly, or bake for 10-15 minutes more in a 425 °F oven until golden and bubbly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes for the crust to solidify. Cut and serve. SERVES: 8 2013-05-18_11.57.59[1]

Crust can be frozen without the toppings after the first baking. Simply thaw, top and then bake for 12-15 minutes in a 425°F oven. Personally I have not had the best results with the freezing. I have kept the crust in the refrigerator for about a week.
Crust can be doubled, but extend baking time.

2014 Schedule – GAPS Connections & Healing Foods

Make your New Years Health Resolutions happen!

 Join us in 2014 for GAPS Connections & Healing Foods classes.  Learn about whole food nutrition and a healing protocol to restore your natural immunity – GAPS™.  GAPS™ stands for Gut & Psychology Syndrome which establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system, the immune system, and the brain.  Downloadable Schedule  GAPS 2014 flyer

Register today and save!   Classes will be canceled if less than 5 individuals are preregistered.

All classes held at 1020 West Devon Ave  Elk Grove Village IL 60007

Each GAPS™ Connections session will last about 2 hours and will include:

  • a GAPS™ lesson – simple lessons to help you implement a healing protocol
  • food samples or live cooking demo.
  • opportunity to share news about local suppliers of food, supplements or kitchen equipment
  • tips from experienced GAPS participants
  • a question and answer session
  • an opportunity to purchase GAPS books, DVDs, and GAPS Workbooks.

 View full schedule   Special Note – all those who have participated in the full series before are welcome at no cost – just bring a friend! 

 Healing FoodsLearn the how’s and why’s of making your own delicious healing foods – hands on.

We will explore and create a variety of simple, nourishing, and family friendly foods.

These basic cooking skills will

  • save you time
  • save you money
  • and could save your family’s health! 

Learn more about why these traditional foods are so essential to our health and how to get your families to enjoy them.  Hands on preparation and tasting make this class not only practical but fun and delicious!  View Dates & Times

Renee Renz is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®, and  a Certified GAPS™ Practitioner. Renee firmly believes in the phrase “You are what you eat,” adding “and also what you eat eats”. She is a staunch advocate for local farmers and natural food co-ops, an active Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter leader and KYF Chicago Board member. Renee is co-founder of GAPS™ Connections support and education group, and provides individualized consultations to anyone seeking to restore their health and vitality through natural, nutritional healing.

Edie Brennan is a Master Certified Healing Foods Specialist and Certified GAPS Practitioner.  She is passionate about helping individuals and families achieve abundant health and wellness As a busy mom of three little lacto-fermented- pickle- eating cuties, she has learned to take a no frills, practical approach to making delicious and nourishing foods that families will love.

Gluten – Celiac – Sensitivity Oh my!

Gluten-FreeWhat is your awareness of celiac or for that matter gluten?  The Gluten free/Allergy free expo was recently held in Schaumburg (did you see me at the Norwex booth?).   At the expo did they share that gluten is found in all grains, not just wheat, rye, barley and oats.

Following are the types of issues one may have with gluten

  • allergy – acute or delayed reaction creating some sort of inflammation which leads to  → tissue damage → and subsequent disease
  • intolerance  – this is where gluten is not digested well and a protein called Zonulin is created which enters the bloodstream and creates an immune response with the following cascade of events:
    • gut dysbiosis → leaky gut → acquired allergy (could be to any food) → tissue damage → disease
  • sensitivity – not a disease, but a state of genetics which  if continually triggered builds cumulative inflammation over a lifetime eventually converting into an autoimmune process.  Gluten sensitivity can manifest in hundreds of ways with symptoms such as migraine headache, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, psychological disorders, bone loss, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, cancers  etc.
  • Celiac  –  a rare manifestation of gluten sensitivity which affects 1 in every 133 healthy individuals[1].  In Celiac’s, gluten consumption causes an immune response that damages the small intestine and reduces nutrient absorption. As damage progresses, a variety of multi-systemic symptoms may develop such as other autoimmune disorders, as well as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions and in rare cases, cancer.   

Learn more about the types of gluten issues in this 37 minute video.

A gluten-free diet is essential to treatment for any of the above gluten issues. Unfortunately gluten can be hidden in a variety of unexpected sources, including salad dressing, supplements, and envelope glue.

Personally, I can attest to the differences in living gluten-free versus grain free.  While eating so-called gluten-free foods removed many of the irritants reducing symptoms, many are still highly processed foods which break down into sugars and feed the pathogens within.  Thus symptoms may be reduced, but are not resolved.   By following the GAPS™ protocol  removing all grains and many starches from the diet allows the body to fully heal whether you are dealing with an allergy, intolerance or sensitivity to gluten or any other form of gut dysbiosis.  Once healed one may then explore slowly  adding these foods properly prepared back into the diet if one is truly able to process  and uptake healthfully.

Making Ghee

A significant portion of the population has an issue with digesting dairy and specifically the lactose sugar or the proteins.  Casein is the most well-known and researched dairy protein.  One’s dairy issue may be due to an allergy, but it may also be due to issues with gut function. When improperly digested the milk protein casein results in casomorphins: a peptide with an opiate structure.   Researchers have shown that these peptides are taken up by various areas of the brain, many of which are responsible for vision, hearing and communication, therefore leading to processing issues.

When milk is properly fermented a large percentage of the proteins get pre-digested and lactose is consumed by the fermenting microbes.  Proper fermentation is 24 hours for yogurt – unfortunately most commercial yogurt is not fermented long enough.  Thus fully fermented milk products are much simpler for the human gut to properly digest.  If even this seems too much for your gut to handle, but you would like to add some dairy into your diet? A good starting point is Ghee or Clarified butter.

gheeGhee is generally well tolerated by most people as it contains simply milk fat, no milk proteins or lactose.   When purchasing commercial ghee, as with any product, read the labels and know your source as they may contain preservatives and other additives.  Ghee is fairly simple to make at home and then you know that it is pure.

Ghee has a nice nutty flavor.  Ghee may be used plain or for cooking, baking or frying as it will not burn as butter may due to a small content of whey.  As ghee is often the easiest dairy product tolerated, ghee is a great place to start when introducing or re-introducing dairy.    Start with a small amount to see how well it is tolerated.  Slowly build up your daily use.  Once this is tolerated in the diet for 6 weeks or more you may consider trying organic butter.

Making Ghee

Start with organic unsalted butter (any added salts may contain flow agents or fillers).  Organic butter is best as non-organic butter contains pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.

Ghee may be made in the oven or on the stove top.

Oven: Preheat to 140-200°F. Place butter in a metal or glass pan and leave in the oven about 30-50 minutes.

Stovetop: place butter in a pan and warm over medium heat.  Melt butter and allow it to cook uncovered in the pan for 20 – 40 minutes.

The melted butter will separate with white bits which float and sink.  It will bubble a bit as you can see and here in the below video.

Reduce the heat and allow it to gently simmer until the milk solids separate, the liquid becomes clear, the bubbling subsides and it should smell a bit caramelized.  You do not want it to become brown, this means you have cooked it too long.

Stain the golden liquid through a fine mesh strainer.  If you want to be certain to fully remove all particles you may strain several times or add a coffee filter to the strainer.

2013-03-22 10.18.39

Store in a clean glass container.  Cover once fully cooled.  Ghee may keep unrefrigerated for up to 2 months or longer refrigerated.

Microbiome Affects the Brain and Behavior

Microbe-based therapeutics?

– sounds familiar to those who have read about the GAPS Protocol.

(Gut & Psychology Syndrome written by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride)

Alter your gut biome and alter your health.  

The below TedX talk gives a nice visual explanation of the gut-brain connection.  

It shows how microbes in our gut can be a factor in our brain health and issues such as:

  • anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s
  • autism
  • depression
  • multiple sclerosis


Elaine Hsiao makes the statement

“What if we could without a single invasive procedure treat disorders like autism, depression and multiple sclerosis.  Microbe-based therapeutics might offer us a way to build a stable community structure that can impart long-lasting effects without the need for continuous treatment. “

We can!

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has proven this in treating thousands of individuals with the GAPS healing protocol.  Using diet, supplementation and detoxification one can heal from within from a countless list of ailments, disorders and illnesses.  True healing results in long-lasting effects without the need for continuous treatment or dangerous side effects.

Interested in learning more?  Contact me or your local Certified GAPS Practitioner