Grassland Beef - U.S. Wellness Meats
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Featured Chef / March 2021

Jillian Vander Ploeg

Certified GAPS Practioner & Registered Nurse, Healthy GAPS Mama
Huron Twp, Michigan

Jillian Vander Ploeg is a Certified GAPS Practitioner, Registered Nurse, wife and mom. In the past, Jillian has struggled with food intolerances and sensitivities until converting to a GAPS diet.


Tell us about yourself:

Hi, I’m Jillian! I am a certified GAPS Practitioner, an outpatient Registered Nurse, a wife to an amazing supportive husband, and a mama to two beautiful babies. In my mid twenties, my health quickly changed. My anxiety started increasing to the point I was having severe panic attacks on a daily basis. I started suffering from terrible digestive issues, which doctors labeled as “IBS,” that only grew worse. I became afraid to leave home. I started losing weight. At my lowest point I reached 109 pounds (a total weight loss of around 36 pounds). I looked physically sick and felt even worse inside. I tried elimination diets, but despite minimizing or removing these foods, my symptoms persisted and I could never target a specific trigger to my symptoms. I felt hopeless and discouraged.

I was introduced to the GAPS diet and learned about the miraculous benefits of healing & sealing the gut wall. I knew deep down that this was what I needed to do. After a few months on the protocol, I started to see my body healing. I was able to gain weight again as I was absorbing nutrients. My anxiety significantly decreased and was of rare existence. I was able to eat things that I could not tolerate before the protocol as my body began to heal. I had a new found understanding and appreciation of what it meant to take care of and to nourish your body. I had more energy, my skin was more radiant, I looked healthy again, and I felt better inside and outside. It not only helped me to be a better wife but a better mama as I was no longer consumed by my symptoms! I am living proof that the GAPS diet works and I still am doing the diet to this day. I was led down this path of healing and hope for a reason and purpose, and that is to share that you can heal too!

How did you get involved in Cooking?

I have always enjoyed cooking and baking growing up. When my health took a turn for the worse and I started the GAPS diet protocol. My entire lifestyle changed and cooking at home became an essential for my health & wellbeing. Cooking at home, to me, is something that can be enjoyed with your whole family and opens up endless opportunities for new recipes and tastes to explore all while taking care of your microbiome!

Describe your Cooking Style:

My cooking style is focused on whole, healing, and nutrient dense foods. I like to create new recipes and tweak old recipes to make them delicious and nutritious. My recipes follow the GAPS Nutritional Protocol, which means we eliminate processed foods, processed carbohydrates, sugars, and anything that causes harm to our gut health and replace these things with essential building blocks to restore health! Eating good foods for your body can not only be nourishing, but taste amazing too!

How did you learn about Grass-Fed Meats?

When I started the GAPS protocol and became a practitioner, I sought other ways of finding healthy grass-fed meats from other sources. As a mom, it is not always an easy task to make a trip to a local grocery store or find reliably sourced meats! When I discovered U.S. Wellness Meats, it was a game-changer for me! I am not only confident in the meat I am buying, but you can tell a difference in the quality and flavor as well!

What is your favorite recipe featuring grass-fed meat?

My favorite recipe is my Healthy Taco Bowls. They use U.S. Wellness Meats Ground Beef and it is such a simple and quick meal to make that the whole family can enjoy. I love that you can use a variety of toppings and it also makes great leftovers! It is full of flavor, comfort, and makes you feel good!

You’re stranded on a desert island; luckily, you’re stranded with your top 5 ingredients and one must-have kitchen tool:

  • Whole Chicken from U.S. Wellness Meats. This can be used to make essential meat stock. It can also be made to eat whole or in a soup. It contains the essential components for rebuilding the gut wall.
  • Pasture-Raised Eggs: Having eggs from healthy chickens who are allowed to live as they should in the sun and eating dirt and worms means amazingly nourishing and nutrient dense eggs that are great for our bodies!
  • Grass-Fed Butter: Because healthy fats are essential to our health and healing despite what the processed food industry likes to tell us!
  • Cabbage: To make fermented sauerkraut. This is full of Vitamin C and beneficial probiotic bacteria to help rebalance our digestive ecosystem.
  • Onion & Garlic: These both fell in the same category for me. They have numerous health benefits and add so much flavor to any dish!
  • My Essential Kitchen Tool: A Large Stock Pot! This can be used for anything essential. It can be used to make chicken meat stock, soup, the works! If you have to get real crafty on a desert island you can still use this to cook your eggs, etc!

Best Cooking Secret/Tip/Advice you’ve learned:

Health starts at home, in the kitchen. The best secret and tool I have held on to, is making homemade meat-stock. It is an essential part of the GAPS Nutritional protocol alongside with fermented foods. Meat stock provides the building blocks for the intestinal lining to heal and seal the gut wall. 85% of our immune system starts in our gut. It is essential we take care of it!

Favorite Quote for Culinary Inspiration:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates
“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.” -Hippocrates

Anything else you want to share?

Through the GAPS Nutritional Protocol, I was able to:

  • Heal numerous food intolerances and sensitivities
  • Heal my digestive symptoms, chronic gastritis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) diagnosis
  • Be able to absorb nutrients and maintain a normal body weight
  • Resolve mental health issues: panic attacks & severe anxiety
  • Eliminate my PTSD from trauma from my illness
  • Eliminate menstrual pain & PMS
  • Regulate my thyroid
  • Spend time with my family and friends again, go on walks, being able to socialize and enjoy life not living in fear of my symptoms


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