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!



Coffee Booster: Product Review

Two awesome things about the keto/LCHF gaining in popularity:

  • More healthy people
  • More products and services for this growing market.

One such product is called Coffee Booster, a fat supplement you add to your morning coffee. It’s a way to streamline your bullet coffee. Instead of reaching for multiple items (butter, coconut oil, MCT oil and/or cream), you can just use a tablespoon of Coffee Booster. Here’s my review:

DISCLAIMER: The folks at Coffee Booster reached out to me and offered a jar for free in exchange for a review. Other than the free jar, I haven’t received any payment. And whether I like the product or not, I’m posting an honest review.

You can learn more about Coffee Booster at Facebook.com/CoffeeBooster and on Instagram @CoffeeBooster. You can also purchase it from my Amazon Store, where I feature every product I use and like.


DIY Italian Seasoning

meatballs

Yes I got up early. And I have just enough energy to whip up some meatballs, tomato sauce and a lovely smelling batch of Italian seasoning. Now time for a nap!

Thanks to my wonderful pup (I have to tell myself that right now), I woke up at 4:30 a.m. She decided that I was in bed long enough. And she had things to do…like play, eat, play, go for a walk, and play.

In between 2 play sessions, I decided to make some coffee to help wake me up.

D’oh! Never make coffee when you are sleepy…or with the lights off. Never! Bad things happen. Now I don’t know what happened since the lights were off, but it was the worst thing I’ve ever created.

Sure enough that awful taste woke me up. I think I brushed my teeth 20 times.

I’m hoping to catch a quick nap soon. But for some reason I decided I needed to make a batch of Italian meatballs. And that lead to whipping up some tomato sauce.

But before either, I had to make my own Italian seasoning. Why? Because I have no Italian seasoning in my house. I stopped buying it because I figured I can make my own. Of course I picked the morning with lack of sleep to do it.

Of course.

Soon all will be in the slow cooker.

Then the nap.

Italian Seasoning Recipe
The Italian seasoning smells wonderful. It seems like I got that right.  I kept it with 6 ingredients: basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage. I decided to leave the garlic powder out since I tend to use real garlic. I also left out the red pepper flakes…for now. I may reconsider. I do love heat.

This makes yields about 52 servings with a serving size of 1/2 teaspoon. Net carbs are 0g (0.2g total carbs).

Italian Seasoning
Serving size: 1/2 teaspoon
Yield: 52 servings

  • 2 tbsp. Dried basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp. Dried oregano leaves
  • 2 tbsp. dried marjoram leaves
  • 1 tbsp. Dried Rosemary leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp. Dried thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp. Dried sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes (optional; may use less for less heat)

Nutrition: 1 Calorie/0g Protein/0g Fat/0.2g Carbs/0.2g Fiber


The Science Behind LCHF & Fasting

why we get fatLately I’ve had a few questions about fasting and low carb/Keto lifestyle.

  • Should I eat breakfast?
  • How do I know I should fast?
  • Aren’t saturated fats bad for you?
  • Isn’t fasting the same as starving?
  • Won’t eating all that fat cause a heart attack?
  • Why I can eat brown rice or whole grains?

For me, when it comes to reclaiming my health and losing weight, nothing beats a low carb diet combined with intermittent fasting. Unlike the standard Western diet, there is actual science behind the therapeutic benefits of LCHF/Keto and fasting.

I’m not saying LCHF/Keto and fasting works for everyone. But the science for each is rock solid.  For me, understanding the science of why we get fat was key to making better decisions on what to eat AND when to eat.

So for those who are new to, curious or want a primer on LCHF/Keto and fasting I’ve posted a few videos below to help you out.

Also keep in mind to do your own research like I did. For me, the science was compelling so I gave it a try and sure enough LCHF & intermittent fasting worked.  That may not be the situation for you.

Science Behind LCHF/Ketogenic Diets

How LCHF Works

Fasting

Cholesterol & Heart Disease

 


Celebrating 50 (Again) Without The Scale

cupcake

This beauty was waiting for me in our hotel room. I guess turning 50 isn’t that bad! And yes, I shared this with my sneaky husband.

I’m writing this as I soak in a huge marble tub at a luxurious 5-star hotel.

Now this is how you celebrate turning 50. Not the messed up way I did on my actual birthday.

Of course I made peace with hitting the half-century mark. And it was at this point where my husband pounced – a long weekend getaway.

His plan: fun, guilt-free days away from chores, pets, the gym and (most importantly) the scale.

This was about celebrating my 50th by rejuvenating my soul with some pampering tossed in to the mix.

No scale! It was scary but it was exactly what I needed. So I agreed to letting any guilt go. Of course I was challenged as soon as we checked in. Awaiting me in our room – a birthday cupcake with cream and a fancy piece of dark chocolate (my fave) on top.

Yep…freakin’ fancy dark chocolate.

It seemed like a lifetime to decided if I was going to indulge or not. In reality it was more like 5 seconds. Yes, I quickly debated what to do. Then I looked up from the cupcake, saw my reflection in a mirror and noticed the huge smile on my face.

No guilt!

I didn’t eat the whole thing. Just a few bites. I indulged but stayed in control. After all guilt-free doesn’t mean I toss LCHF/Keto out the window. And it’s not like I do this everyday.

So we’re having a blast. No cooking, working out, cleaning, running errands or any cares for a few days.

Oh, and yes, our little excursion means I’m skipping my weekly weigh in this time around.  And after an awesome massage (the ultimate pampering), any guilt over that melted away.

It’s glorious.

Sometimes you gotta’ live a little.