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…


Just Accept It & Move On

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.


Keto Carnivore…Our Way

IMG_3528-300x300The 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.

  1. We’re not the same – someone with IBD is going to keto differently than someone eating for athletic performance.
  2. 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:

My Garden

BigOne

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.

Wish us luck!


Summer of Hip Therapy & Bad Eating

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.

 

 


My 30-Day Carnivore Challenge

Freezer

Starting to stock up for our 30-Day Carnivore Challenge. This is how you kick off 2019!

I’m so happy 2018 is over. It was a rough year for me. I felt pulled in too many directions and started stress eating again. Also, as the number on the scale started climbing, I just couldn’t find the motivation to stick to keto.

But that was last year. Today is a new day (and year). And, most importantly, my motivation mojo is back.

No, it has nothing to do with New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t believe in making them. But I do enjoy the freshness of a new year and all the possibilities that come with it.

For the first time in nearly a year I’m shaking up my diet, at least for the month of January. Yep, it’s my new 30-Day Challenge – I’m going pure carnivore for 1 month.

Right in time for World Carnivore Month.

Awesome!

Why The Carnivore Diet?
So many reasons! First, I love trying new diets that directly attack my insulin resistance. Which begs the question: why not try the ultimate keto diet? I’m conducting my own personal experiment, with me as the lab rat. As a veggie lover, can I give up all my wonderful greens and go meat only? Will I get an energy boost? How will my hormones respond (especially my nemesis: cortisol!)?

Second, I’m looking to kick some bad habits – snacking and drinking wine, primarily. When you eat a big juicy 16-ounce rib eye for breakfast, there is no need or desire for snacking. Or so they say. And as for the wine, the carnivore diet doesn’t allow for alcohol. So, in a way, I’m also doing a 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, too.

Third, I just need to shake things up. The scale was going in the wrong direction for months. Thanks to the wine and not staying strictly-keto all the time, I started having sugar cravings again—something I thought left behind all those years ago when I began this journey. As for the stress eating, I’m testing a new mindfulness app that seems to help me relax and not worry so much (more on that in a later post).

There’s another reason (so many good reasons): I’m helping my husband out. He’s using this challenge as part of an elimination diet. My husband has serious IBS issues and he had a medical scare in November. Everything turned out fine, but he was a very sick and weak puppy for about four days.

With the version of carnivore we’re doing, the following items are forbidden:

  • Pork, chicken, seafood (we’re red meat only)
  • Vegetables or fruits
  • Dairy or cheese
  • Coffee or tea
  • Eggs
  • Sauces, and nearly all seasonings and spices

After the challenge, my husband is going to slowly add things back into his diet to see how he does.

There are a couple of exceptions:

  • For the first few of days, we are drinking half-caffs to help wean us off of coffee.
  • Heavy cream is allowed only for the half caffs
  • We can use salt for seasoning (zero carbs!)
  • I’m going to use black pepper.

When he is strict keto, the husband’s health improves about 90%. We’re testing to see if his remaining IBS symptoms finally disappear with carnivore.

Today we’re taking our measurements and hitting the scale before our first steak of the day. I’ll post those tomorrow. I’m curious to see what changes we’ll see in 30 days.

I’ve been watching videos by Dr. Shawn Baker, who’s sort of a big name in Carnivore right now, and I plan to get his book. If you’re curious about the diet, check out his videos on YouTube, or read the book with me: The Carnivore Diet.

Happy New Year to all!


Sick Again!

Ugh! Either this cold is tougher than I thought or I caught something else. Runny nose, sore throat, sinuses throbbing, and an overall crappy feeling. To make matters worse the hubby is now officially sick.

The last few days I’ve been running myself ragged trying to get my mom’s apartment ready for her. I’m making sure she can move around with her walker easily. That means moving furniture, reorganizing rooms and putting things in storage.

Then there is the issue of the 2nd bedroom, which was being used as storage. I have to box everything up before we can set up my sister’s bed.

So of course, it is the perfect time to get sick all over again.

I think my body is telling me something. So I’m going back to bed for a little R&R before the packing frenzy begins.

The good news…I never want to eat much when I’m sick. So this can help my keto reset.

 

 


Keto Reset Day 16: A Late Night Victory

Yesterday was a bad day. I woke up cranky. I don’t know why. But dang it, I was not someone not to be trifled with.

Well my mom woke up in a similar mood. I should have saw it coming the day before. We briefly chatted about giving up her apartment and looking for assisted living arrangements. The last time we had this chat, she was an emotional wreck for a few days. I should have learned from that…but I didn’t.

Now she was on a mission. And it was going to be accomplished. Period.

We headed to her apartment to get her wedding ring set. Perfectly reasonable…but that doesn’t mean that “Cranky Dot” liked it.

However she wasn’t 100%. Her arthritis was bad this morning. Every move was painful. She felt really tired – I thought she was still recovering from a cold. And her breathing at times was labored.

There was a lot of walking involved to get to apartment. Much further than she has walked since breaking her hip. Physically she overexerted herself.

But there was the emotional side of this trip too. She was overwhelmed. Coming back to her apartment was hard. I think she is really starting to understand that she won’t be living her again. But wanted to prove herself, and me, wrong.

The result was a way too stressful day…for both of us. Tempers flared at times. She had a lot of near misses and almost ended up on her backside. So of course my frustration mounted.

After spending all morning together, it was time to get her to her physical therapy and a much-needed break for me.

Don’t get me wrong. Any other time we spend ½ a day in close proximity to each other it is a very good day. We have fun. But today, was a special supersonic black hole of emotional mess for both of us.

Mindfulness vs. Wine & Chocolate Pudding Cake
So what did I do? I was hungry and went out to eat. Yes I ordered low carb – a bun-less bacon cheeseburger with a side of grilled broccolini. Perfect. Until the wine showed up.

Before ordering the wine, I pulled out my phone and turned on my meditation app. Surely there was a 2 minute meditation to take help me relax in a busy, loud restaurant.

Maybe…but “Cranky Dot” wasn’t falling for it. Soon “Cranky Dot” morphed into “Self-Pity Dot” and she ordered one more glass…and was eyeing the chocolate pudding cake.

Thankfully “Keto Dot” appeared and stopped me half way through the second glass and turned my attention to the full water glass on the table. I ended up drinking 2 of those.

About 90 minutes later, mom was ready and I picked her up. She needed to rest and went up for a nap.

Emotionally spent, I scrapped plans for cleaning out the basement. I thought the drama for the day was done. While I was upset I ordered those 2 glasses of el vino, I was happy I pushed that damn cake out of my mind. Plus, my first reaction was to turn on my meditation app. It didn’t work this time, but I did reach for it first!  So it was a partial victory.

Evening In The Emergency Room
Unfortunately the day wasn’t done. A few hours later mom had a bad fall. She was reaching into the closet for her robe and fell backwards. Besides worrying that the bad hip might have a crack, she hit her head…hard.

The next several hours were spent in the emergency room, waiting for the CT scans, x-rays, blood work and lab results. Thankfully no breaks…just a lot of bruises. But her iron levels are too low. She can’t absorb iron that well thanks to her bariatric surgery many decades ago. Which looks to be the cause of her tiredness, shortness of breath and sluggish movements.

While waiting for the results I had a personal victory. Over the last few months, any visit to the hospital always resulted in a trip to the vending machine. When you are a stress eater, quality of food doesn’t matter.

Last night. I wasn’t interested.

When we got home very early this morning, I experienced another victory. I made a small meal for mom (she missed dinner). The hubby pulled out a small box of wine that I use for cooking. He poured me a glass. I said no thanks and went to bed.

Refusing wine…granted it was crappy box wine so not too difficult to pass on. But all things considered, it still is a small victory.


Keto Reset Challenge Day 14 – Everyday Beauty Is Back With Abandon!!!

mud mask

My first mud facial in more than a year! It felt so great, it’s time to get back to doing these twice a week.

A mud facial here…eyeliner there…soon I’m back to exfoliating once a week. Yeah, baby! My beauty routine is back with abandon. What does this have to do with my Keto reset? Everything!

Most people think keto or low carb reset is all about the food. It’s not. There is so much more. There is a reason people talk about making a lifestyle change. Healthy living/dieting is 95% food and 100% mental. When I start focusing on how I look each day and I’m not thinking about weight that is a good thing.

Wednesday morning was when I finally felt like I was turning the corner with this blasted cold. After brushing my teeth, instead of heading downstairs for some coffee, I looked at myself in the mirror for a few seconds. Then I just naturally reached for my make up drawer and put on my tinted moisturizer.

Next up the eye primer. Eye shadow and liner followed in short order. Next thing I know I’m brushing on bronzer and slapping on lipstick.

Without thinking about it, my old 10-minute make up routine just kicked in.

Happiness ensued…until I noticed the bed head that I was wearing. Curlers plugged in and within 15 minutes, I’m sporting a quick and easy hairstyle.

I use to call this Everyday Beauty. Just taking a few minutes each morning to doll myself up for me and no one else. I started wearing make up when I went low carb. It wasn’t vanity. It was about showing myself a little TLC after years of beating myself up.

Thankfully this reset restored that sense of pride in oneself. I didn’t have to work on it.

It just happened.

That tells me I’ve turned an important corner in this reset. I was too focused on eating the right things (always important) that I forgot about the mental side of getting healthy.

Learn About Dot’s Weight Loss Make Up Make Over Here and learning about what to wear as I slimmed down.


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 Day 5 — Feeling Horrible

Yesterday I attributed my low energy level to purging the last bit of bad carbs out of my system (A.K.A. The Low Carb Flu). Well today I woke up with a sore throat. After drinking lots of hot tea, taking medicine and napping on and off today, my sinuses are a runny mess. Ugh!

Fingers are crossed that it’s just a mild head cold.  The silver lining in being sick? I have no appetite.  Well that’s one way to shed some re-gained pounds.

Off to bed again.