Evenings are quite cold now. Time for my carb chicken zoodle soup.
Sorry for the lack of posts recently. The husband and I decided to pack up the pup and take a road trip to Texas to visit my sister. We loved the trip and it’s always great to see family. But once home, I got back into the kitchen. The thought of eating out again made my head spin.
I also had a good time trying out a few new recipes. The biggest mistakes I made with my garden this year? Not enough low carb/keto recipes for all the food I grew. Planning is well ahead for 2020. I finally figured out what I want to grow. Now it’s time to start concocting some tasty and keto friendly dishes.
Layering the first test of my taco casserole. A few more tweaks and it’s a go!
This week I tried out 3 recipes. Two need work. The third…a disaster never to be spoken of again.
Shredded chicken taco casserole (too many eggs, not enough smokey salsa!)
Roasted poblano soup (too many carbs!!!!),
“What was I thinking” casserole (always make sure the diced zucchini you grab isn’t actually cucumber instead).
After several days of cooking, experimenting and cleaning, the itch to go out for dinner hit me real hard. Thankfully my husband just ignored my hints and I went back into the kitchen to cook some Peruvian chicken with green sauce and green beans.
My constant companion while I cook. Just waiting for morsels to fall or a few scritches.
Dinner was delicious. We saved money. Most importantly, I’m loving being back in the kitchen.
And the timing is good with Thanksgiving just weeks a way. Let the cooking (and recipe testing) commence!
This tomato (and pepper) harvest lead to me getting my butt back into the kitchen and rediscovering what I love.
Although the garden is winding down, in the last 2 weeks we’ve seen huge harvests of peppers (hot and sweet), beefsteak, yellow pear, and heirloom tomatoes. Granted, most of the yellow pear tomatoes are green. We owe that harvest to a squirrel who decided to jump on the plant and shake it clean of fruit.
Despite the ongoing battle with the neighborhood fluffy-tailed rodents, I’m actually quite grateful. That squirrel helped me get back into the routine of cooking our food again. This past year we’ve spent an awful amount of time in restaurants. It was just easier (and less painful) than standing at the stove. Also, we were “getting out of the house” all that. Despite choosing restaurants where we could still eat low carb, we didn’t always do so. And we drank wine …
I figured once my hip stopped hurting, I’d get back into the kitchen. But the pain came and went and we still were eating out. A little honesty: since my most recent reset, we’ve eaten out twice. To be fair, that was an improvement – we used to go out almost every day (and boy did it take a toll on our wallet).
That said I’m still not happy with myself. I hate the idea of letting food go to waste—and my hard work in the garden—and so I’ve started cooking again. I broke out a few tried and true low carb recipes – slow cooked meatballs in yellow tomato sauce, roasted tomato soup, chicken & zucchini au gratin, low carb meatloaf (with a ghost pepper twist), and chicken parmesan.
We mostly stayed true to our keto reset (thoughglasses of wine did pop in a couple more times). No, we weren’t perfect, but I rediscovered my love of cooking healthy, delicious meals for us. I simply can’t give in to the ease of having someone else make and serve our food. Besides, my cooking is better anyway!
Right now I’m planning my garden for 2020. The plan is to grow more peppers, tomatoes, squash, and greens than I did this year. Which means I need to come up with more keto/low carb recipes for all that food I’m growing…
This is a great lesson to me: if you’re constantly trying to get out of the house, do something that makes staying home more appealing.
Well it’s day 5 of our keto-carnivore challenge and I can honestly say yesterday was the low point. Coming off of a very bad day at the office, the husband ordered gluten free pizza. And yes, I had some.
Talk about textbook emotional eating. It doesn’t take much for us to decide we need to “blow off steam” by eating out or bringing home a bottle of wine. After a couple of glasses, you do dumb things…like order gluten free pizza.
Oh, and it wasn’t very good pizza either!
I was upset with both of us last night as I went to bed. My last thought before drifting off: “Well, Day 1 just starts tomorrow.”
This morning the frustration is gone, replaced with resolve.
Day 1 of our reset was September 21, not September 25. We messed up. Badly. We’ll do better at the next meal.
Accept it and move on.
The only change we’re making to our keto carnivore challenge is no alcohol of any kind allowed. Period.
The one thing about eating low carb, both blessing and a curse, is that everyone has an opinion on how to do it. I love how you can go into any online community and get help with nearly every challenge or issue.
On the other hand, I hate when I hear, “you’re doing it wrong.” There is only one way to eat low carb, don’t cha know? And the people who believe that are the first ones who to let you know loudly and proudly.
Well. I hate to break it to the don’t-cha-know crowd: there is more than one-way to keto.
We’re not the same – someone with IBD is going to keto differently than someone eating for athletic performance.
Our diets change as we change. As we age, our bodies have different needs when it comes to nutrition.
I tried going back and doing my tried-and-true low carb style – the one that helped me shed all that weight. This time around, though, it didn’t work. I felt tired and hungry. My joints—already hurting—seemed to hurt a little more. Was I perfect? No, because I’m human. But something was different this time around, and I think that “something” is me.
Now, I love to do 30-day challenges. Why? I like to stretch myself and see what does and doesn’t work for me. It’s almost like test-driving a car to see if I really wanted to buy it. Also, frankly, it’s just fun to shake things up and experiment.
Today, the hubby and I are officially keto-carnivore for 30 days.
What is keto-carnivore?
We all grew up with the food pyramid, where grains, breads, and cereals made up the foundation of the “Standard American Diet” (SAD in deed). Then fruits (2-4 servings) and vegetables (3-5 servings), followed by low fat dairy and lean meats, and fats were used sparingly.
With the keto-carnivore food pyramid, red meat (beef, deer, bison, lamb) is the staple, followed by fish. Pork and poultry are limited. Dairy (cheese, creams, butter) and fats like avocado (oil and fruit) coconut oil, and olive oil are used sparingly. Eggs are also part of the pyramid and we group them with red meat.
There’s one big caveat to our keto-carnivore challenge:
Yep, that’s 1.5 pounds of heirloom tomato you’re looking at.
Other than avocadoes, I’m not buying fruit or veggies, but I am growing them. We don’t want to waste them. Most of the plants we’re growing are low carb, so yes, we will incorporate them into our diet. If we grow them, we’re eating them.
As luck would have it, yesterday we had a big harvest.
Peppers – green bell, chili and ghost
Tomatoes – Yellow pear, plum, and some big-ass heirloom yellow tomatoes including a 1-½ pounder.
We normally eat 2 meals a day. To handle our little bounty, I’m limiting our veg intake to the first meal of the day. Dinner is meat only.
Now, hot peppers are not what I would consider “low carb,” so I’m using them in dishes that spread the carb count across multiple servings. I’m talking beef chili and spicy pulled pork barbacoa – dishes that will last us days. They can also be used in marinades where not all of the carbs will be absorbed (but I still count them anyway).
The key is we’re staying below 20g of total carbs daily when we have any vegetable. I fully expect that by Wednesday of next week we’ll be strictly meat only…until the next little harvest.
The nice thing about this challenge is it pretty much ends around when I expect the first frost to hit. If we’re happy with the results, and I see a noticeable change in how I feel, we may decide to go full-time keto-carnivore.
The netting helps keep the cabbage looper caterpillar from laying eggs.
I am growing a cabbage on my deck, and lucky for me I decided to do so, because a fat rabbit ate most of the other cabbage growing in my yard. Bastard!
After we’d put our cooking videos on hold, I needed to find something to keep me busy. With the long hours needed for my husband’s new project, this had to be something I could do given my limited mobility.
I’ve always wanted my very own garden. I had one when we first moved into our little “Love Shack.” It was tiny, but I loved it (except for another rabbit that ate all my lettuce). But alas, it was not meant to be, as my husband had to put in a huge deck right where I was planting.
My tiny container garden.
Due to my hip pain and lack of mobility, I ended up watching a lot of YouTube, which we all know is the “gateway drug” for anyone who loves hobbies. Gardening videos were the hook for me. I started reading everything I could on square-foot gardening, container gardening, annuals and perennials, making your own growing soil…it was a enormous rabbit hole.
I told myself to start small – a simple container garden. Just buy a tomato plant, herbs, a few flowers, and container soil from Lowes. Easy-peasy, right? Turns out that’s just not my style. I decided to grow from seeds. Oh, and if I’m growing from seeds, and I grew a lot more than I expected: eggplants, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers (including a Ghost Pepper!) zucchini and yellow squash, watermelon, onions, scallions, green beans, lettuce, pumpkins, strawberries, cucumbers, basil, thyme, rosemary, catnip and big ass sunflowers.
Cabbage and snow peas are my fall crops.
My tomato corner, featuring a Red Beefsteak, Yellow Brandywine and Yellow Pear.
I loved growing my own food. For me, it tasted better than anything from the grocery store. But the real benefit was it got me moving.
When your leg feels like it’s disconnected from your hip, the last thing you want to do is walk. On top of that there’s the pain… The last thing you want to do is move around. But the pain doesn’t go away unless you move.
The garden became a type of physical therapy. Every day, rain or shine, pain or no pain, even before coffee, I’m in the garden watering, fertilizing, harvesting, and trimming plants. At dusk, I’m treating the plants for disease or fungus – that is when I’m not fighting caterpillars, vine borers, Japanese beetles, and those dang rabbits.
My newest addition – a Meyer lemon tree – which arrived a few weeks ago. I moves indoors soon for the winter.
When I first started, my movement was difficult, but I wanted the garden more than the comfort of not moving. It took a few of months before the walking, bending, squatting, and kneeling didn’t hurt as much. Of course, I had a few big spills (my balance sucks) but that didn’t deter me.
I think the garden also helped me get back into the keto game at some level. This week, I told you that I was feeling mighty sorry for myself thanks to my unstable hip. That self-pity lead to eating a lot of highly processed carbs and weight gain. At a subconscious level, the healthy me was screaming to take control, and I believe the garden was a voice for that.
There was no rhyme or reason to what I picked gardening. I just wanted to see if I could grow something from seed…or so I told myself. With the exception of the watermelon and beefsteak tomatoes, my garden was pure keto.
Heck, even with the watermelon, I only grew one small one, and I only ate ½ a cup (the husband devoured the rest).
A bit of the husband’s photography. He fell in love with our sunflowers.
It’s almost mid-September and my garden only has about 4-6 weeks left before the first frost hits, but I couldn’t be more excited. I’m busy planning out next year’s garden. We’re getting rid of the lawn and building raised beds. I just love growing our own vegetables, and the idea of making a truly ketogenic garden excites me.
We’ve been so busy this spring and summer. It looks like fall and winter are shaping up to be just as, if not more, hectic. Obviously posting and making cooking videos have taken a back seat. But my cameraman/editor husband and I are fine. We’re just super busy.
This spring we made the decision to put a hold on making new videos. A big work project landed on my husband’s lap that demanded all of his time spent on filming and editing our videos. The project’s end date was late August…but here we are in September and it is still rolling along. Now it’s looking like the end date is closer to November/December.
As for me, the one word to describe the past 8 months is “frustration.” My unstable hip dominates everything I do. For months on end sitting, standing, stretching, walking or rolling over in bed caused intense pain. It’s been difficult to do basic things like cooking, cleaning, walking to the mailbox, or grocery shopping. I found if I sat for more than 30 minutes I wouldn’t be able to walk more than a foot or two without risk of falling.
No matter the amount of physical therapy or stretching “3 times a day,” it just felt like my hip muscles were getting pulled into a tighter ball instead of lengthening. I know my orthopedic doctor warned me it would take about 18 months to stabilize the hip. But patience with one’s self goes out the window when you’re use to physically doing what you want when you want.
Rather than being patient with myself and having that laser-focus on my health, self-pity won out this summer. So rather than focusing my time on getting healthy I went back to my old bad eating habits.
To say my carb count “crept up” is putting it mildly. There were days (most) I ate like the old 300+ lbs. me, and days where I was strictly keto (far too few).
So this summer I added a lot more weight…and didn’t care. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. I knew what I was doing was wrong and frankly, stupid. But as they say, you need to hit bottom before you turn your life around.
It wasn’t until August that my hip started really responding to therapy. I became more mobile and flexible. The pain isn’t constant. For now it feels like I’m over a hump. My trainer recently cleared me for biking and interval running. That’s huge!
And sure enough, around the same time that mental funk started lifting too. I’m starting to eat out less, cutting back on alcohol, and making better food choices. In September I decided to do another keto reset (for the zillionth time…but whose really counting) with a 30-day challenge.
Since I’m on a video hiatus, I decided to go back to where it all began for me…this blog. I’ll try to do 1-2 posts a week. The posts will focus on my reset — the successes and failures.
The carnivore challenge is wrapping up this week for my husband, but I stopped it for myself a little more than a week ago. I enjoyed carnivore, but my hip pain took a lot of my enthusiasm out of it. I honestly believe that you need to seriously work out while doing carnivore — something I can’t do right now. Anyway, I’ve already begun my next food challenge: a keto version of Paleo’s autoimmune protocol (AIP).
While some of the concepts are not necessarily new to me, I loved that he explains the science behind food, cravings, and appetite in easy to understand terms. I’ll have a full review of the book next week. Needless to say, it has me all fired up.
Originally, I’d planned to try Wolf’s 30-day reset as my January 30-Day Challenge. Wolf spends a lot of real estate in his book on gut health and IBS. His 30-day reset sounded perfect for my long-suffering husband. I also hoped the reset could help me rediscover my keto mojo.
But alas, the husband suggested we do Carnivore first, and I was so happy about his enthusiasm that I decided to wait a month and do carnivore instead.
With my hip pain and subsequent arthritis diagnosis, inflammation is my new enemy. I feel the AIP approach is just what I need.
Our Macros For This Challenge
I used a combo of the the KetoGains and Dr. Ted Naimen’s calculators to determine our macros for this challenge. We’re upping our protein and lowering our fat intake. We learned from the carnivore challenge that protein keeps us satiated way longer than fat. If you’re curious, this Robb Wolf video explains why I’ve been feeling hungry and snacking way too much (hint: not enough protein in my diet).
As for reducing our dietary fat, we want to burn our own fat rather than the dietary fat we eat. While most keto folks live by the 70% fat, 20% protein and 5% carb numbers, it just isn’t working for us.
Our dietary fat is coming from lean meats, offal, seafood, the healthy fats we use for cooking (just enough prevent food from sticking), and dressings.
So, no more extra pads of butter on meat. My hubby’s really bummed about that (lol).
Looking at the numbers, I’m sure you’re asking “Why is John eating 40g of carbs? What about ketosis?”
Remember: this challenge is about eating for health, not chasing a number. In John’s case, eliminating his IBS symptoms and healing his gut is of primary importance. The expected weight loss is a nice side benefit.
Food List: What We Can & Can’t Eat
Because we’re focused on foods targeting autoimmunity and inflammation, our menu seems restrictive (and it is), but I’m confident I can still make awesomely tasty meals.
Foods to Avoid List – Coffee & Chocolate Make the List
Nightshades – Tomatoes, potatoes, sweet & hot peppers, tomatillos, goji berries, and eggplants; spices from peppers (paprika, cayenne, red pepper, chili, black pepper, etc.). Also pimentos are verboten. So careful when eating olives. This is not an all-inclusive list.
Nut & Seeds – Includes all nut butters, flours and oils; coffee (!!!), cocoa (no chocolate!) and seed-based spices such as: allspice, anise seed, all peppers, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, celery seed, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, coriander seeds, curry, cumin seeds, dill seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, nutmeg, paprika, poppy seed, sesame seed, all peppercorns, star anise, vanilla bean.
NSAIDs – These are anti-inflammatory meds, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), diclofenac, diflunisal, etodolac, and maproxen (Aleve). It’s not a complete list so check you’re medicine cabinet.
Foods OK To Eat List – The Specifics
Lean Meats – It isn’t necessary to eat grass-fed, pasture raised, organic meats, but when budget allows, it is our first choice.
Fish & Shellfish – Wild-caught is preferred, but if budget only allows farmed, that’s OK. Our goal is 2-3 times per week.
Vegetables & Fruit –
Colorful vegetables & fruit (red, purple, blue, yellow, orange, white – the more color the better!)
Because my husband has a larger daily carb allowance, he can have up to 2 servings of fruit each day. As I am doing the ketogenic version, I can have fruit, but I need to stay within my daily carb allowance. Also, fruit fructose needs to stay below 20g.
February 1st is tomorrow, so I’m finalizing the first week menu this afternoon and hitting the grocery store tonight. We also need a plan to deal with Sunday’s Super Bowl party we’re attending. Yikes!!
This means I’m going simple for the first week menu: A giant salad for lunch, some protein and cooked veggies for dinner.
For Sunday I’m pulling a trick out of our carnivore diet: big-ass steaks a couple of hours before the party. There’s no way we’ll even look at the big spread of non-AIP food! However, my husband plans to drink a couple of beers. As for me, my goal is to drink a glass of wine early in the game and then stick with water…lots of water.
I sometimes forget there are people who read the blog, but who don’t necessarily subscribe to the Youtube channel, or that if they do, they don’t go there and check it all the time. Which is fine. I subscribe to something like 30 channels and don’t check them either. But I think this one, where my husband demonstrates a typical day on our 30-day carnivore challenge, was pretty good, and thought you might like it.
What does it all mean? How do I get back on my feet again? Is training for a 10k completely out of the picture? Are any of these new problems related to my chronically tight calf muscles?
Physical Therapy Here I Come
The answer to the first two questions is up to me. I have to do the work, and a lot of it. Tomorrow I meet my physical therapist for a 90-minute evaluation that puts me through my paces. From there I’ll have PT twice a week for at least six weeks (maybe longer) and daily homework that tackles the hip and my supposed chronic calf problem (more on that later).
The osteoarthritis is very mild and my doctor assured me that with physical therapy and a year to a year and a half of work, the hip pain goes away AND I put off surgery until my golden years.
Diet will be a big part in minimizing osteoarthritis. I’ve put on way too many pounds after my cancer diagnosis in 2016. To me, that’s the trigger in this latest saga with my left leg.
As for the IT syndrome, it’s normally associated with knee pain. However it does cause a dull ache or a sharp, acute pain in the hip. The band runs along the outside of the leg. While there are lots of causes for the inflammation, my doctor things muscle tightness in my glutes and quads are leading culprits.
All I know is when he started bending my leg like a pretzel, I wanted to smack him upside the head.
Oh And About My Calf Problem
It turns out that my calf isn’t causing the pain in my Achilles tendon. Two years of stretching down the drain. Ugh!
When we discussed my chronic Achilles pain thanks to my overly tight calf muscles, the doctor quickly started stretching my foot and examining the calf, and announced “Your calf isn’t tight…it’s your hamstring.”
So I spent 2+ years not addressing the root cause of my pain. So say I’m a little annoyed is putting it mildly. But at least I’m on the right path.
Path Forward: Exercise, Nutrition & So Much More!
From what I surmised, my whole left leg is jacked up. My doctor assured me that with PT and strength building I’ll be moving around with ease soon enough. But it will take 12-18 months of hard work for me to feel 100% again.
I just need to exercise some caution. My inclination is to go full bore…and cause another injury. Maybe that dull, nagging pain in my hip can keep my natural tendencies in check.
As for diet, I’m reading a very interesting book, Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf (Mr. Paleo himself), and I love what I’m reading. Although I’m eating carnivore for the rest of this month, I’m actually more excited about next month. That’s when I’m doing Wolf’s 30-Day Reset.
I just finished the book and plans for my reset began this morning. Unlike my failed keto reset, I’m feeling confident that the 30-day reset be different. My head is back in the game after being benched for 2 and 1/2 years. It is a shame that it takes pain or a medical crisis for me to act, but hey, at least I have time to act.
I’ve had success with keto, but paleo seems to have more of the full picture — nutrition, sleep, gut biome, inflammation and movement (to name a few!).
Paleo really zeros in on overall health. Weight loss is a side benefit. I had that attitude when I started my little low carb journey in 2012. And it worked! Now it seems like everything I’m reading about LCHF/keto all about weight loss and the blasted macros!
That doesn’t mean keto is bad at all. In fact I’m thinking of doing a keto version of paleo after the 30-Day Reset.
It’s just that you need the right mindset when changing your way of eating. My greatest success happened when I viewed my journey as a science experiment with me as the scientist and guinea pig. I was on a journey to get healthy. No pressure from the scale.
Hi all. I put together a list of the top “must have” tools in my low carb kitchen for a video on kitchen tools. Note that these are all affiliate links, which means that if you click on an item and buy something, a tiny portion comes my way automatically, at zero cost to you (and for that I thank you!).