Starting My 2021 Ketogenic Garden

It’s gardening time! Sure it’s February, but I’m getting a jump on my spring and summer vegetable gardens.

It’s early February. It’s 39 degrees outside, a winter storm is forecast for tomorrow, and I’m busy sowing seeds that will produce delicious ketogenic vegetables. Not outside. I’ve been busy starting seeds indoors for the last 2 weeks. In January, it was my spring onions, spinach, cabbage, kohlrabi, and herbs.

Today it’s more leafy greens for my spring garden — Swiss chard, leaf and romaine lettuce, bok choy, collards, arugula, and more spinach.  I’m also starting my summer garden with peppers and eggplant.

My beds are covered in snow, but in just a few weeks I start directly sowing carrots, beets and turnips. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to start working in the yard again.

How I’m Handling Higher Carb Vegetables
I know beets, carrots, leeks and turnips are not considered low carb. And I rarely purchase them. But let’s look at how many net carbs are in half a cup of each.

  • Beets = 5g
  • Carrots  4g
  • Leeks: 6g
  • Turnips: 3g
  • Beet Greens: 2g
  • Turnip Greens: 1g

I do love tomatoes. It’s no wonder they are the king of the garden. My only complaint? I don’t have a big enough back yard to grow more.

Okay, the leeks are very high. But I mostly use leeks for flavoring a big pot of soup. The bigger the pot of soup, the lower the carb count. And leeks make a great roasting rack with onions and carrots. There is some carb transfer, but my roasts always taste amazing.

With the exception of the carrot, I prefer the greens to the taproots when it comes to root vegetables. Yes, I plan to eat the beetroot and turnips, but those vegetables don’t trigger carb cravings.

Now, carrots are a different story. I LOVE carrots. I’m growing three different types of carrots. Far too many for me and the husband. Why would I tempt myself with a high carb vegetable I love when I’m watching my carbs so closely?

First, I do love carrots, but I don’t have very many recipes where I cook with them. Maybe I’ll add a quarter cup of diced carrots to a stir fry for color and flavor. But that is a rare occasion. I also love big salads come summertime. I plan to pluck a fresh carrot out of my yard to go with my freshly picked salad greens. But I’m not going to do that everyday. I’m tracking my carbs so I don’t go overboard.

Second, I plan to give a lot away to family, friends and neighbors. That’s the wonderful thing about gardening. You get the urge to share your bounty!

Last year I grew native Milkweed to help the Monarch population grow. Milkweed is the only plant Monarchs will lay their eggs on. This was one of 18 caterpillars/cocoons I spotted on my plant.

In reality, I find the act of gardening, more than eating what I grow, the most satisfying.  Don’t get me wrong, I prefer eating what I grow. But compared to working the soil with my hands, getting up every morning to inspect my seedlings, figuring out how to protect my zucchini plant from the dreaded squash vine borer moth (I will win this year!), spotting the season’s first honey bee, and creating a haven for Monarch caterpillars, eating the food just isn’t as exciting to me.

The journey is in many ways sweeter than any root vegetable, melon or tuber I can grow.

Rules for My Ketogenic Garden
I do have some rules for this year’s garden to help me stay ketogenic during the growing season.

  1. Plant what I (and my husband) like to eat.
  2. Share with family, friends and neighbors.
  3. Tracking my carbs doesn’t stop because I grew the food!
  4. Have fun!

Are any of you growing keto this year? If you are, what are you planning to grow?


Sidelined by Knee Pain, Turning Focus to Keto Diet

I did everything right. I eased into my new workout routine slowly to avoid injury. Yet, my knee decided that it does not like 15-minute daily walks. Technically, it isn’t my knee causing the pain. It’s the iliotibial band (IT band), a flexible fascia that runs from the hip to the knee. I’ve felt this pain before. The band is rubbing inside my knee and is starting to swell.

Shifting My Focus to Keto
As I nurse my leg back to health, I’m turning my full attention to getting into ketosis. I screwed up by not doing a menu plan this week. As a result, we ate out way too much. I let my busy schedule became an excuse to go out rather than stay home and cook.

If you want to get healthy, you must put in the work. This week, I didn’t.

My mistake was not planning. I knew how busy I was this week. All I needed to do was make a casserole and use the slow cooker a couple of times.  Leftovers are a busy gal’s friend when you are trying to eat healthy.

Lesson learned.  Last night, after another long day, I browned some ground beef while dicing an onion, garlic cloves, tomatoes and peppers. My keto chili will last a few days. Tonight, I’m whipping up a bacon cheeseburger casserole.

Time to Start Food Journaling Again
I have my target macros and am recommitting to a realistic menu plan for my schedule. What is missing is my food journal. I have no idea if I’m hitting my daily macros, eating too many carbs, or in ketosis.

I know a lot of people think keeping a food log is unnecessary. “Just eat real food until you are full!” I’ve heard this many times. Sound advice for someone whose hormones are in balance and metabolically sound.  But as someone who hasn’t been consistently keto for a few years, I need more discipline. By tracking what I eat, I’ll become more mindful of my choices. In addition to tracking my carb count, I’ll figure out how to course correct if my daily energy level starts flagging, or I’m stuck in a plateau.

For a tracking tool, I’m going old school: pen and paper. At least until I have a chance to research any new apps out there. As you may know, I haven’t been a fan of certain food log apps, like My Fitness Pal. Much of the data is incorrect, and I usually end up doing more work than the app had promised. Which is fine.

Tracking My Blood Ketone Levels
Finally, I’m going to start tracking my ketone levels. My new Keto Mojo arrived.

Although I’m starting today to track what I eat, I’m not going to start tracking my ketone levels until February 1st. I want a solid week of cooking at home, menu planning, and food tracking under my belt before I start pricking my finger with a needle.

I’m rebuilding my good habit routine. I won’t be perfect (I wasn’t this week!). But if I worry about perfection, I’ll never reach my goals.


Getting Back Into Low Carb Menu Planning

Menu planning always kept me on track with my health and fitness goals. Given my weight gain over the last few years, it’s clear that I made a huge mistake not sticking with this habit. Well, that changes this week!

I just posted my first menu for 2021. Going forward, I plan to post  my weekly menus here every Saturday morning. Thankfully it wasn’t that difficult to jump back into planning my meals. Thank God for muscle memory. However, I wasn’t quite on the ball when it came to food prep for these delicious meals. That’s my chore this afternoon.

The meals I’m making this week are all focused on hitting my new macro-nutrient (protein, fat and carbohydrate) targets, which you’ll find below. However, those are just targets and my menu is only as good as my hunger.

For example, today (Sunday), the menu shows I’m breaking my fast at lunch time with a New York strip steak, sauteed mushrooms and cabbage and onion noodles. That sounds delicious. Just one problem. It’s nearly 3:00 p.m. and I’m still not hungry.  This is a very good thing!

You see I got into a habit of eating when my husband wanted to eat. And his eating time was driving more by time of day rather than actual hunger.  So, I’m eating when I’m hungry, and ONLY when hungry.

I’m sure the hunger will kick in during my food prep time. If so, then I’ll eat a larger dinner than expected. That should help carry me into my 24-hour fast tomorrow.

Dot’s New Macros
I used Keto Gains’ Macro Calculator for my macros. I added the fiber information as I’m incorporating elements of Dr. Ted Naiman’s P:E Diet into my keto lifestyle. Fiber is one of these elements. For now, I’m tracking net carbs. That means I’ll eat vegetables high in fiber to keep me at the 20g net carb mark.

Calories (kCal): 1,661
Protein: 168g
Fat: 101g
Net Carbs: 20g
Fiber: 30g

I’m planning a post on the P:E Diet this week.

Updated Dot2Trot’s Menu Page
I removed my old menus from the site. Having gone through them, I noticed a few of the carb counts are out of date. Yes, the nutrition content of food changes thanks to adjustments in farming and the food manufacturing process.

Foods are routinely tested to determine if the nutritional information is accurate.  Those changes are reported using the US Department of Agriculture FoodData Central database, and updates to food labels.

So remember: Periodically check the labels of your favorite foods!


Building My (Sort of) Keto Garden

seeds

The start of my seed collection with more on the way. Yes, I’m out of control.

Since the Winter Solstice, there’s an excitement building in me. The days are growing longer. Which means gardening season is right around the corner. Last year I really didn’t plan my garden. It was very willy-nilly.

Well this year the garden will have more structure and focus on growing (mostly) keto friendly vegetables and fruits. And I’ve even set a few goals for myself.

1. Have fun
The fun part is easy. From perusing the seed catalogs to building raised beds to starting seeds early, I love it all.  But will I feel the same when things don’t go right? I killed a few plants last year and I know I’ll kill more this year. But I’m learning from my mistakes. I just have to keep in mind that gardening is more about the process than the results. Read More


Happy World Carnivore Month!

steak

My typical carnivore dinner: 2 eggs over easy and a rib-eye steak. Yummy.

I’ve designated 2020 as an awesome year for my health. The husband and I went carnivore a week before we rang in the New Year. Although we hit a few snags – namely wine – we found our groove in time for World Carnivore Month (WCM).

Does this mean I’m no longer eating veggies and berries? Nope. I should be back to filming delicious keto (and carnivore) dishes soon. It’s just that my husband needs to get serious about his gut health and the Carnivore Diet is the ultimate elimination diet. I’m joining him for support and as a reset, and God knows I need one.

Hardcore Carnivore
There are many ways you can do the carnivore diet – with limited diary, no dairy, lean meat with added fats, fatty meats only, grass-fed & free-range meats only, all beef, keto carnivore, 90% meats and 10% vegetables, etc.

I know there will be comments to proclaim what the one true carnivore diet is. Well I call “Shenanigans” on you. Like all healthy eating lifestyles, make it your own as far as what works for you.

Per my husband’s suggestion, we are going all-beef, with eggs. No spices, herbs or seasonings with the exception of salt (obviously!).

The only plants we’re consuming come in the form of coffee and tea. That means the only dairy is heavy cream for coffee, and that is limited.

brisket

Last night’s dinner – a lovely beef brisket.

How Much Meat Do I Eat In A Day?
I don’t usually measure my food on carnivore. I’m really focused on eating when hungry only. However, I have noticed a gradual increase in how much beef I’m eating. So I did some measuring.

Before carnivore, I typically ate about 14 ounces of meat in a day. The first week of carnivore I was eating roughly 20 ounces of beef/day. I’d say right now I eat between 24-36 ounces (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)/day.  If I’m super busy doing physical work I can easily eat 2 pounds/day. But If it’s a lazy day, it’s a struggle to eat 24 ounces.

I’d guess that my husband is between 3-4 pounds of beef a day. But he too had to build up to that amount.

So Far I Feel Awesome…When We Don’t Mess Up
My energy level is up and I’m experiencing fewer aches and pains in my problem hip and knees when I stick to carnivore. But we’ve had some slips due to very poor planning and bad habits. Things like wine and very anti-keto snacks (popcorn is the devil!).

I don’t beat myself up for those slips…I don’t have to. My body punishes me with:

  • Poor sleep
  • Low energy the following day
  • Hip pain
  • Swollen legs

For me, slip-ups happen with boredom. If I’m not busy I’m my own worst enemy. Thanks to physical therapy and gardening my mobility improved. But once that first frost hit, I didn’t have a plan to stay as active.

Bad habits came back with abandon. And I’m feeling it in my hip. Not good.

shed

We had to tear down our old shed last summer. Now we have a ton of work to do to get our backyard ready for the new shed.

Rather than waiting for spring (47 days away in case you were wondering), I’m focusing my efforts on some DYI projects around the house:

  • Painting the basement
  • Cleaning up the backyard
  • Finishing the raised beds
  • Redecorating the spare bedroom/office
  • Organizing closets
  • Replacing plants in our landscape

Some of these projects, I kept putting off. Others are more urgent with spring fast approaching (like clearing out the space for our new shed).

What I love is all of these projects are needed, take time to get right, and keep me active physically and mentally. There is no reason to get bored and eat something I don’t want to eat.


Whole Lotta Cookin’ Going On

chicken zoodle soup

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.

So over the last few days I’ve whipped up some of my favorite and easy dishes: chili, chicken zoodle soup, Scotch eggs, taco omelets, and huge Cobb salads.

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.

taco casserole

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.

hungry pup

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!

 


An Abundance of Tomatoes

tomato harvest

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 (though glasses 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.

Bye for now…


Over 140+ Low Carb Recipes

I started this blog years ago to keep myself focused on living a low carb lifestyle. Over the last two years, I’ve also built a YouTube channel for others who want to eat Low Carb (or eat Keto), but who don’t know how, or who need ideas. I used to keep all my recipes in the “video description,” but that was difficult for people to print. To fix that, I added a blog menu item called Low Carb Recipes. Previously, if you clicked it, you’d go to a page showing all 140+ low carb recipes listed one after another. Well, I just categorized it — with pictures! Or rather, my husband did. I came up with the categories, and he put it together. So now you can choose by keto desserts, keto casseroles, low carb breakfasts, low carb meat dishes, keto side dishes, etc., all at a glance. I guess I’m telling you because:

  • I haven’t posted here as much as I wanted to originally, and I want you to know what I’ve been up to over on Youtube.
  • If you were discouraged by the jumbled organization of the recipe page, I wanted you to know I was too, and that it’s changed.

So there you go 🙂  Hope you like the recipes! Please let me know if there are any dead links or mismatches. We tried our best to make sure every picture goes to a recipe page, but we may have missed something.

Merry Christmas!


Day 10: Keto Reset Day – Lowering Stress With Food Prepping

Feeling like I’m over the worst part of this blasted cold, yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a long time. Food prepping for the week. Granted, it happened on Hump Day, but that’s neither here nor there. Doing something so simple felt great. It’s an habit I started when I went low carb and it’s been MIA for too many months.

What To Do With All These Tomatoes?
I deviated from my grocery list slightly by picking 2 pounds of tomatoes – Campari, heirloom and San Marzanos. Why? Oven-dried tomatoes of course! Great for salads, pesto, quiches. Nice add-ons to the dishes I’m making this week.

Of course, they take 8 hours or so to dry out, but they do taste spectacular. Frankly the taste is even better when they sit in a delicious extra virgin olive oil (frankly, the amazing oil coming out of California is replacing Greek and Italian olive oils in my home).

Rinse, Chop, Make Ahead, Repeat
While the tomatoes took hours to make, the rest of my food prep took just 2. I quickly dispensed with the veggies: washing, chopping and storing – about 30 minutes total.

Next up, the cooking portion of my prep work: whipping up hard-boiled eggs, testing my Instapot (that poor spaghetti squash!), and preparing a make ahead meatloaf to pop in the oven for dinner.

The nice thing about all this prep work was how relaxing it is to work in the kitchen. Just turn on some music and focus on the simple task at hand. No worries. No melt downs. Heck, even when I knocked over my big tumbler of water, I just laughed as I cleaned up (and played a little ice cube soccer with the pup).

Food Prep Takes Stress Away…It Really Does
Two hours of my time to save me hours during the week. So simple. Yet it’s too easy to fall back into that bad habit of mine — sitting on the couch scrolling through a Twitter feed.

Not only is that bad habit a waste of time, but it added to my stress. How many times I felt rushed to try to cook meals for my family. A little bit of food prep yesterday and I saved 20 minutes this morning making a Swiss and mushroom omelet for my mom. My husband just reached in the fridge and quickly put his lunch together (my meatloaf the day after is awesome!).

No fuss, no muss…or stress eating!


Keto Reset Day 2: What Am I Eating?

For the challenge I decided to take another look at my macros. Normally I like to take a look at these numbers about every 6-8 months. Well with my weight gain, limited movement and doing this reset, it’s a perfect time to revisit my macros.

While I’m not focusing on calories, I want to stay within 1400-1600 kcal a day. For the reset, my macros break down as 68% fat, 27% protein and 5% carbs.

macros

I’m not going to fret about hitting my macros spot on every single meal. I’m using this as a guide. On days I am really hungry, then I’ll add more fat. Those days where I’m not as peckish, then I’ll cut back on fats and carbs.

However, I’m going to still go with eating my typical daily protein range of 12  – 14 ounces (84g – 98g).

If you want to calculate your macros, there are 2 keto sites I use that have easy calculators: Ruled.me and KetoDietApp.com.

Getting Strict With Food
I decided to follow Dr. Eric Westman’s guide for going very low carb. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m track all the carbs I eat. No more eliminating fiber from my carb count. I’ve made a few tweaks but that’s because I’ve discovered certain foods I’m snacking on way too often like cheese and nuts.

Which means I’m reducing the amount and variety of vegetables I’m eating. And berries are forbidden this month and maybe longer.

So what exactly am I eating and avoiding? Drum roll please….

Dot’s Food List

Animal Protein

  • Grass fed beef, lamb, veal, venison
  • Free range pork
  • Free range eggs, poultry
  • Wild caught seafood (nothing battered)
  • Uncured, sugar-free bacon, ham, and deli meat

Leafy Greens: Up to 2 Cups/day

  • Cabbage (all types)
  • Greens (all types)
  • Lettuce (all types)
  • If it is a leaf, I can eat it!

Non-Starchy Vegetables (1 Cup/Day)
Below isn’t a complete list but gives you an idea

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers (bells & chilies)
  • Pumpkin
  • Radishes
  • Snow peas/Snap peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Fats & Oils: Cooking

  • Bacon fat
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Chicken fat
  • Duck fat
  • Ghee
  • Lard
  • Red palm oil
  • Tallow

Fats & Oils: Dressings, sauces, flavoring and eaten cold

  • Avocado oil
  • Butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Mayo
  • MCT oil
  • Sesame oil

Foods In Limited Quantities

Cheese

  • Allowed up to 2 ounces in a day; I’m only allowing this 2 times a week
  • Includes hard, aged cheeses like Swiss and Cheddar
  • Brie, Camembert blue, mozzarella, Gruyère
  • Cream cheese, goat cheese
  • Avoid processed cheeses like Velveeta
  • Check the label: carb count should be less than 1g per serving

Cream

  • Up to 2 tablespoons a day
  • Includes heavy, heavy whipping or sour creams
  • No Half and half or milk
  • No milk

Mayonnaise

  • Up to 3 tablespoons a day

Fatty Fruits & Other Foods

  • Avocado: ½ per day
  • Olives (black or green): up to 6 in a day
  • Nuts & Seeds — while allowed I’m actually giving them up for the reset
  • Condiments
    • Lemon/Lime Juice: up to 2 teaspoons in a day
    • Reduced sugar/sugar-free ketchup in very small amounts
    • Soy Sauce: up to 2 tablespoons in a day
    • Pickles (dill or sugar-free): Up to 2 servings in a day

Snacks

  • Packaged/deli snacks should be less than 1g of carbs per serving
  • Pepperoni slices
  • Pork rinds
  • Jerky
  • Ham
  • Deli meat roll-ups with cheese
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Salami

Sweeteners

  • Stevia drops
  • Monk Fruit
  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol

Do Not Eat List

Sugars

  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Corn Syrup
  • Beer
  • Milk
  • Yogurts
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit

Starches: “Complex” Carbohydrates

  • All grains
  • Rice
  • Cereals & oatmeal
  • Flour
  • Corn
  • Cornstarch
  • Breads
  • Pastas
  • Muffins
  • Bagels
  • Crackers
  • Beans and peas
  • Most root vegetables – carrots, parsnips, corn and potatoes (all types) as well as French fries and potato chips

Fats to avoid

  • Margarine & hydrogenated oils
  • Mayo made from soybean oil
  • Salad dressings with more than 1-2g of carbs per serving
  • Avoid “lite” or “low fat” or “Fat-free” foods because these are commonly higher in carbs and loaded with sugar.

While it is just day 2, I’m really feeling great. I’m already sleeping better and my energy level and mental focus are much better. Woo hoo!