By the age of 40, Megan had been diagnosed with 5 serious health conditions, including arthritis, Hashimoto's, and other auto-immune diseases.
(Megan is my real-life friend of more than 20 years; we met in college.)
Five years ago, she was told by a doctor that she didn't have long to live, so she and her husband said goodbye and she wrote memories and adoring thoughts regularly in her children’s baby books — so they’d know her, how much she loved them and longed to live.
Her children were not well, either. Each of her 3 children were born with asthma or serious food and environmental allergies.
Then, 4-1/2 years ago, her eyes were opened to the connection between gut health and overall health. Her whole family started following a gut-healing diet: GAPS. It was their only hope to try to reverse the auto-immune diseases, allergies, and asthma.
Today? Megan is well! Her children are well! Health conditions are reversed or in remission.
You see, gut-healing diets do work.
Sometimes they're hard to follow, though. Foods are restricted and you feel like you're eating the same boring things over and over again. That makes it hard to stick with the plan.
Yet Megan and her family had a completely different experience. Rather than feeling deprived, they've been feasting for years, even on a restricted diet. Enjoying their food. Loving their food. Feeling completely satisfied.
Huh? How is this possible?
Because Megan has a gift for making food beautiful. She's devoted the last several years to perfecting feast-worthy grain-free and sugar-free baking techniques.
In particular, her grain-free bread method is amazing. I haven't seen it anywhere else and it makes absolutely delicious, moist, and digestible baked goods like panini sandwich loaves (pictured above), sourdough bread, muffins, scones, and more. They're to-die-for and oh-so-easy to make.
I'm sure you're interested in hearing more about her recipes and techniques, and I have good news for you. Megan released her brand-new eCookbook today — Eat Beautiful: Grain-Free, Sugar-Free and Loving It (softcover version as well).
She put together an eBook and video package for you at 50% off.
To talk about her health story and her beautiful foods, Megan and I got together for a video chat (see below). Go ahead and click play now. This video is actually just part 1 — tomorrow I'll put up part 2.
In case you prefer reading, also below I'll paste the complete transcript of today's video, plus give you all the info on Megan's new cookbook.
Wardee Harmon: Hi everyone, I’m Wardee with Traditional Cooking School and I have a guest today. This is my dear friend Megan. She’s come down to join me today from Eugene. She and I have been friends since college. Truly, we’re kindred spirits and we have been for a long time. I am really thrilled to introduce you to her.
me, Megan, and her husband Tim waayyyy back when 🙂
Megan Stevens: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Wardee: I want to tell you a little bit about Megan. Megan, her husband and their three children live in Eugene, Oregon and they own a gut-friendly traditional food café. This is drool worthy because every city should have one of these.
Megan: I agree!
Wardee: So, Megan, I was hoping you could tell everyone who’s listening about your café.
Megan: Sure. We could consider it a Weston A. Price traditional café or paleo or gut-healing but hopefully also meets the needs of anyone who walks in off the street.
We started off as an ice cream shop and frozen yogurt shop; making our yogurt with kefir, which is really high in probiotics. As I went along on my own healing journey I began to embrace fat, and love fat, for my own healing purposes. So then we started using cultured cream to make the ice cream, basically crème fraiche.
And then, again, everything that developed in our café is basically a reflection of my own healing and learning process. We very soon after introduced bone broth and bone broth soups. Those became popular pretty quickly. The demand for those is rising. We definitely have doctors who refer patients to us and former vegan people who come to us for healing and need the bone broth.
And I am someone who loves to bake so I started making bread with a unique grain-free baking technique so we make paleo sandwiches on the grain-free bread.
You can come in and get lunch or dinner. We also have kombucha on tap, we have probiotic veggies that we serve with the sandwiches. So it’s a fun, very healthy environment and people love getting dessert as well as a meal in the same location.
Wardee: We live about an hour away but whenever we go to Eugene we make sure to stop by. Sometimes we miss Megan, because she’s not there, but we go anyway because the food is wonderful.
I feel like we need to connect the dots though for anybody who is passing through Eugene so tell us the name.
Megan: It’s called Vanilla Jill’s Scoops and Soups and it’s in the Whiteaker district of Eugene.
Wardee: So be sure and check it out if you’re nearby. Thanks for sharing that, Megan.
Wardee: I think it’s the perfect lead in for what I’d love you to share next which is your health story.
Here’s a little bit of background, although Megan’s going to fill in all the gaps. About five years ago Megan was misdiagnosed with heart disease and told she didn’t have long to live. Obviously, that isn’t true because look at her now – she’s sitting here healthy and glowing.
The story of Megan’s café parallels her own healing journey. So, Megan, why don’t you take the floor now and tell us about where you were five years ago, and even before, and how is it that you’re sitting here now.
Megan: Sure. I’ve always been someone who loves nutrition and twenty years ago I was a vegetarian.
Wardee: I was too at the same time. Remember? We bonded over that.
Megan: Because there was so much misinformation out there.
Wardee: I know.
Megan: And I didn’t like the way animal husbandry was going in America so I didn’t want to eat meat from confined animal feed operations. So I stayed away from meat but then I really thought that vegetarianism was better for me. But I always had gas. I didn’t realize that when I went to a traditional diet that would go away – which it did. So, yeah.
I did have a very significant gut dysbiosis because I was on heavy antibiotics as a child. Leading up to the birth of my third child I was doing a traditional diet. We had four gluten-free sourdough starters on our counter. Each one different because we were rotating. Even at that time I knew we had some health issues going on. We wanted to avoid further food allergies so we were doing gluten-free sourdough starters.
Yet my daughter had a really serious case of asthma, my son was born dyslexic and my littlest guy was born with constipation as well as eczema. My daughter had eczema as well. I already had two auto-immune diseases, a bladder disease and in my thirties I started waking up with arthritis. Pretty debilitating arthritis especially in my left hand. My husband and I would look at each other and I’d be like “Oh, I’m in my thirties. What is going on here?” I had no idea it would all trace back to my gut-health.
Shortly after my final child was born I woke up with chest pains. Really quite scary chest pains. Went to the doctor, was admitted to the ER. I spent quite a bit of time going through all of the testing that many of us have gone through. Long story short, in the long run we figured out that it was really my gut that was causing the symptoms.
Wardee is actually the one who told me about the GAPS diet. I went on the GAPS diet and immediately had healing. I had a rash all over my face that went away immediately because of GAPS. Also my arthritis went away immediately.
Through the intro stage of GAPS diet was able to heal interstitial cystitis which is a bladder disease that in the medical community they say there is no cure for. I am completely symptom free and have been for years.
I would really encourage, there is so much healing that can happen through the GAPS diet and also obviously there are other healing diets that can be great as well. But I think the moral of the story is that by pulling out grains and sugar from our diets we allow our digestive systems to heal and that in return allows the rest of our body to heal. You know, it’s a really long process where we need to restore the proper flora balance. But I’m on that journey and I’ve come this far and I would definitely encourage anyone else who’s interested to take the leap because healing diets are quite miraculous.
Wardee: Yes. And that is so encouraging. I’m feeling goose bumps just sitting here. Because I’ve known Megan, through all of this time, and I’ve seen her when she was very unwell. And today as she arrived to do this little visit I just immediately remarked how much better she looks. Her skin is glowing and she’s almost the picture of health. I’m so happy for you.
Megan: Thank you.
Wardee: So, Megan. One thing that you’re know for is that your gut-healing foods are beautiful. That’s key to your success at your café, Vanilla Jill’s. And it’s also, I believe, a key to the success that you and your family have experienced being on a gut-healing diet for so long and being able to stay on it and enjoy it. So if anything I think that you have made gut-healing foods beautiful. And your site is Eat Beautiful, it’s really appropriate. So I want to ask you to dive into that more and talk about the success that you’ve had that others don’t always have on a gut-healing diet. Tell us about that.
Megan: I should probably say too that our family has been on the GAPS diet for almost four and a half years.
I guess the best place to start is a farmers market. Even the most gourmet cooks, who can eat anything they want, would go to the farmers market and find beauty and delight in what they can buy there. Or someone who’s on a tighter budget and loves to be outdoors in their garden, would find no more magic than in the garden than they can find anywhere else. A garden is abundant, it’s beautiful.
If you think about a vine-ripened tomato and you slice that on a plate and put fresh basil and drizzle extra virgin olive oil, you already have the most beautiful food in the whole world. All of those foods are GAPS friendly.
Now granted, there are people who can’t have nightshades but there are variations on a tomato, obviously, so when you go to your garden or go to the farmers market there are so many foods that can delight any of us. We should all, I believe, be cultivating our family life to be going out into the garden or the farmers market to be picking peas right off the vine. I think many of us already do that. But I think in essence, that’s it.
The most beautiful foods are whole foods. You’re never going to open a package and say “Oh! This is really beautiful.” You just aren’t.
The nice thing about whole foods is they will always satisfy you more than factory made foods and more than just straight sugar, too.
I was absolutely addicted to sugar. But the problem was it never satisfied me. One of the things I love about baking grain-free is I completely feel satisfied when I have a treat. Whether it be our paleo sandwiches, a muffin, or a scone; I’m eating it with bacon and maybe, you know, some lovely tea. But everything is homemade so when you’re sitting around the table everything is beautiful. You know…
Wardee: It feels like a feast.
Megan: It totally does. Exactly. And you’re remarking with your other family members, “mmmm.” Making sounds, you know, the whole time and looking at all the beauty on the table. I think that’s what we need to focus on. We’re not focusing on “Oh, we only get to have a, b, and c.” Instead it’s “Oh! Look at this bounty. Look at this beauty we’re all enjoying together.”
And even bone broth is beautiful really. I realize there’s a learning curve there but I think that’s the perspective we need to come to healing diets with.
a beautiful salad Megan made for us on a family vacation
Wardee: This reminds me of something which I want to share with everyone. Now this was before your GAPS and your gut-healing journey. We went on a family vacation and it was your night to cook dinner. Instead of a salad, Megan took all of the salad ingredients and chopped them beautifully — so there’s beauty in the chopping. I’m going to pull out a picture and I’m going to splice it in here so you can all see this. And then she took a platter and she did all of the salad toppings in individual piles. So we could create our own salad at dinner and it was really beautiful! Our kids, who were a lot younger then, they still talk about it to this day; “Remember that salad that Megan made.”
Wardee: It really was beautiful.
Wardee: Well, thanks for joining me, Megan. This has been wonderful.
Megan: It’s my pleasure and my privilege to be here. Thank you.
Wardee: Before we wrap up, I want to be sure and let you all know that Megan has a brand new cookbook.
It’s Eat Beautiful: Grain-Free, Sugar-Free and Loving It. I can promise you will love it. The link for you to check it out is TraditionalCookingSchool.com/Megan.
M-E-G-A-N. That will take you right to the book.
Megan is throwing five videos to go with her eBook. Four of them are recipes that she demonstrates for you and one of them is to tell you all about her brand new grain-free baking technique that gives more digestible and better grain-free baked goods. You definitely want to check that out. That is a well-kept secret and it’s worth the book alone.
Megan: Thank you, Wardee.
Come back tomorrow for part 2 of this video series, and on Friday when Megan is my guest on Know Your Food with Wardee podcast!
I Finally Have a Gut-Healing Cookbook To Recommend
I couldn't be more thrilled to share Megan's eCookbook with you. You might notice on the cover image that I wrote the foreword (such an honor). All these years that I've been talking about gut-healing diets, I didn't really have an awesome cookbook to recommend.
It contains all the recipes Megan perfected through her family's years on a gut-healing diet.
This eBook and video package is currently 50% off. One of the bonus videos you'll get explains the grain-free baking technique she uses to make amazing panini sandwiches for her gut-healing cafe in Eugene, Oregon!
As you turn the pages and try the recipes in Eat Beautiful, I know you will feel and experience the same thing I did when I first met Megan: hope. Hope that your healing journey will end someday, and that along the way, the food you eat will deeply nourish your body, as well as thrill your soul (and your tastebuds) with its beauty.
How do you make food beautiful? Do you have a healing story to share?
Thanks for joining me today! Be sure to come back tomorrow for part 2 — Megan brought a beautiful, feast-worthy picnic lunch and we're showing it to you.
This post was featured in 82 Ways To Heal Your Gut.
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