Category Archives: Low Carb Soapbox

Things I’ve learned as a home cook

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(Sorry, couldn’t resist the photo. It’s ridiculous, right?)

I was watching “The Taste” on TV and I was really excited that a home cook made it SO far in the competition.  I shouldn’t be shocked, Nigella Lawson herself is a home cook.  But the big thing is, I really loved seeing someone with no formal training totally kicking ass.  Marina had lived on multiple continents, and wasn’t afraid to do crazy things… I mean, she made a soup with rooster testicles.  C’mon.  She’s crazy, but in a good way.

I’m not an expert cook, but my cooking is always getting better and better.  I have a couple of things that I’ve learned over my many years of cooking.

  • Play with your food.  If you’re at a restaurant and you’re eating something good (or bad!) tasting, figure out why you like it or hate it.  Pick it apart.  Is it cooked wrong?  Are you liking the seasoning?  Is this something that you could cook at home?
  • Try something crazy.  I’ve been cooking since I was tall enough to stand at the stove, and helped out with cooking since I could stand at all.  I’ve added some CRAZY things to my food.  My sister will tell you that I used to add cinnamon to the pasta water.  But sometimes when you try something crazy, something amazing comes out of it.  I discovered that adding orange juice to pancakes tasted amazing.  Obviously that’s not a LCHF food, but it sure tasted good back then!
  • Find a recipe site that you really like.  I love Nom Nom Paleo for savory dishes, and Comfy Belly for baked goods.  Their style is similar to mine.  If the recipes appear on their sites, I can be pretty sure that I will like them.  If I go to a catch-all site with user-submitted recipes, I don’t have as big of a success rate.
  • Challenge yourself.  I didn’t grow up eating a lot of these recipes.  My mom DID make amazing food (her chicken stir fry is INSANELY good) but I didn’t learn how to make chicken stock from her like most people do.  I had a desire to make it, and learned how to make it.  Maybe you’ll find a recipe that is unlike anything you’ve ever done before.  Maybe you’ll find a veggie at the farmer’s market that you’ve never cooked with (hellooo bok choy).  Whatever it is, jump into the water and man/woman up.
  • Perfect is for prissies.  My food isn’t always pretty.  Master cooking the food first, then worry about fanciness.  Food is no good if it looks good but tastes like crap.  Focus your energy.  You can be prissy later.

Home cooks, what are your tips for people trying to become better at cooking?

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How a waitress in Wisconsin reacts to a meat-free grain-free order

“I’d like 3 over-easy eggs, please.”

“And what kind of meat with that?”

“No meat.”

“And what kind of toast?”

“No toast, please.”

“OOOOOooooohhh.” (In a tone like I just said “My family was just brutally murdered by a werewolf.”)

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It’s not paranoia when it’s real

I scrolling through the day’s news when this article came up: it’s about how the drug Ambien, which has been approved for 20 years, has now had the recommended dose for women cut in half due to it recently being discovered that it works differently in women.

Too often, we get caught up with the idea that if something has gone through an approval process, it’s safe.  That’s not the case.  And too often, things are considered safe until they are proven toxic (think BPA).  Even when there is a government process for inspections for things like meat safety, they are stretched so thin that there is no way even a tiny percentage of your food to be inspected.

Eat healthy, and you’ll have to take less (or no!) medication.  Know where your food comes from.  Buy from your local farmer’s market, and get to know your vendors.  Err on the side of caution.  Only take medication if you absolutely have to, and only for the shortest length of time needed.  Read food labels.  This is your body, and you only get one of them.

Day 9: Sofritas and musings on shoes

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today I went to Chipotle and got a sofritas (tofu) bowl with guacamole, sour cream, pinto beans, lettuce, and cheese.  I’ll be honest… I didn’t miss the meat.  It literally tasted the same.  Score!

I was thinking today about a pair of shoes I bought a few years ago.  I WANTED them to fit.  They were cute, they were like what other people wore, and they were a good deal.  But every time I wore them was a disaster.  I’d get blisters within a quarter mile.  I didn’t get the arch support my poor feet needed.  They squeezed and tortured.  Yet I still put my feet through that laced suffering over and over again.  I didn’t need a podiatrist to tell me that those shoes weren’t good for me, my feet were SCREAMING at me that I needed to stop wearing those shoes.

If you’re someone who still eats a food that still hurts you,  you need to seriously ask yourself why.  I don’t care if that “hurt” is diarrhea, joint pain, migraines, or heartburn.  Your body is telling you that it shouldn’t be eating that food.  You don’t need to take tylenol or antacids or eat some fancy yogurt to fix it.  There is no pill for common sense, and common sense would tell you to stop eating that food.  I know you probably like the taste of it, maybe it’s a cheap food, maybe it’s convenient or is in lots of things, but you owe it to your body to listen to what it is saying.  You don’t need a doctor to tell you that when you eat bread/tomatoes/insert-name-of-your-offending-food, it hurts, and when you stop eating it you feel better.  You also don’t have to be allergic to an item to have an internal sensitivity to it.  I’m not allergic to tight shoes, but I get blisters from them.  I’m not allergic to wheat but it gives me migraines and joint pain.

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Day 8: Those plate-face looks

Day 8 was sort of a rush in the morning, and I quick packed a bag of walnuts, pecans, and sunflower seeds.  Awesome decision!  That was some great fuel.  My husband and I went to Pizza Ranch for dinner.  If you’ve never been there, it’s basically a pizza buffet but they also have a salad bar and fried chicken.  I grabbed some cheese pizza and ate just the toppings, and then went up to grab myself a salad.

Here’s where the heading of today’s blog post comes in.  I made myself a delicious garden salad and topped it with buttermilk ranch dressing and sunflower seeds, and dished myself out some cottage cheese as well.  As I was walking back to my seat, I got some of those plate-face looks.  You know, when they look at your plate, then look at your face.  It’s that “That’s a lot of fat” look.  It’s even worse when you’re overweight, because they think that you got fat eating that way, when you’re actually losing weight by eating fat.  I feel like I need a t-shirt.

I’m pretty much immune to the look, but I wish people wouldn’t do it!  How ridiculous.

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What I learned from 6 weeks of no weigh-ins, plus my last meat meal for a month!

As previously mentioned, I just went 6 weeks without weighing in on a scale.  I’ve always thought of myself as being pretty objective with the scale usage; I thought it was just a tool to give me a number, and I didn’t think it controlled my emotions or actions. Man, was I wrong!

  • Within the first week, I was having dreams about weighing in.  Pretty crazy.  For something to be so ingrained that when I stop doing it in my waking life that it enters my dreams, that’s intense.
  • I felt like I NEEDED to know what the scale said.  Never mind that I could feel whether or not my shirt or pants were getting tight or loose.  Or that I owned a tape measure.  Or the other items that I’ve mentioned are ways to track progress.
  • But I also felt kind of free… but maybe too free.  While it was nice to be able to eat a peanut butter ball at Christmas and a couple of clementines and not see that sugar bloat show up on the scale, I think that not seeing that reaction may have led me to take more liberties than normal because I wasn’t going to see the damage for 6 weeks.

So, I think it was an interesting thing to do.  I’m at at the same weight I was 6 weeks ago, and that includes holiday gatherings and current bloat so I think I’ll still call success.  I also went from dancing between two shirt sizes to being definitely in the lower shirt size during those 6 weeks.  The scale isn’t going to stay in the closet anymore but I think I’ve gotten a healthier head about what the scale says.

To the topic of meat… tonight I had my last meat meal for a month!  We went to a local hole-in-the-wall burger joint and I had a bacon cheeseburger and took off the bun.  This place, like many burger places around here, puts butter on the burgers. Pure heaven.

Superhusband is still a little skeptical about this whole Vegetarian Challenge Month thing that I’m doing, and is definitely not participating.  I’m going to be doing some research finding some local places that are both veggie and meat friendly.  I was also thinking about some ground rules that I wanted to establish that some vegans and vegetarians may be wondering about:

  • I will still be eating cheese and eggs, so this is truly a vegetarian challenge, not a vegan challenge.  I’m sure I’ll be having some vegan dishes as I have vegan dishes several times a month.  Heck, hubby will probably be having his favorite accidentally vegan dessert some point soon.
  • I will not be eating any meat including fish or chicken during this challenge (cuuuz that wouldn’t be vegetarian).  I say this because some people still think that vegetarians eat fish.  I also won’t be using rendered animal fat.lamb
  • Going along with the last bullet point, there are some instances that restaurants use animal fat to make things taste yummier (like, rolling a baked potato in bacon fat).  If I’ve heard that a place does that with a dish, I won’t eat it.  However, I’m not going to go out of my way to find these things out.  This is mostly for my sanity.  I’m aware of this issue.
  • My exact ratios/carb counts may not be in total line with LCHF.  I’m going to work to keep my fats as high as possible, while still creating actual meals.  It’s one month.  Not a big deal.  The world will not end.

So there you go!  Starting tomorrow, for all of February, I will be meat-free.  Please feel free to comment with your favorite meat-free recipes to keep me fed! 😀

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Just eat real food. Really.

Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It can be really tempting to get really dialed in on carbs and figure things are great.  I mean, it’s a low carb diet, my carbs are low, so things are good… right?  But then you step on the scale and it hasn’t moved.  Or worse, it’s gone up!  You remember that sometimes the scale is a big fat jerk, so you check your measurements… oh no, they haven’t moved either.  The detective work begins!

You’re not fat-phobic, so you know that the issue isn’t that you’ve taken out the carbs but forgotten to replace them with fat.  That, as we know, is a good way to want to chew off your own arm.  Fat promotes satiety and is your fuel.  Good, we can check that off the list in our diet forensics for the day.  You’re eating above-ground vegetables just like you should, because they are full of essential nutrients and it’s weird but even though you hated them before you’ve really developed a love for them.  You’re only eating fruit occasionally, because while fruit has some great nutrients too, it’s still nature’s candy, and you know that candy and sugar is something that is limited and should only be enjoyed rarely.  The same nutrients that are in fruits can be found in vegetables.  You do love having berries, but those are very low in sugar.

Really, the only other thing worth mentioning that you’re eating is some Atkins bars and sugar free candy, but those aren’t worth mentioning because they don’t have carbs in them, right?  Wrong!  Oh, man, I get so mad at this.  Not at anyone who has eaten them or bought them, but at companies that still mark products containing sugar alcohols as have zero net carbs (or don’t count the sugar alcohols as carbs).  Here’s the issue.  A lot of sugar alcohols, especially ones that end in “-itol” (and ESPECIALLY ones containing maltitol) get processed by your body at least partially as sugar.  That means that even though Atkins or any other company marked that they’d have zero effect on your blood sugar, they do.  That also means they are going to drive your hunger.  If you go check out any low carb message board, you will see many people stall their weight loss or gain weight by eating those bars.  Not only that, but “-itol” sugar alcohols are really rough on your gut.  The only thing I’d recommend saving them for is if you get really constipated.  They’ll clear the plumbing really quick!

It’s not just the “-itol” sugar alcohols that raise blood sugar.  Aspartame, sucralose (splenda), truvia (Erythritol/rebiana blend), and even stevia can cause a Pavlovian like insulin response in your body.  So, even though there may not be any actual sugar in it, your body still responses like it was sugar in a lot of people.  It will cause a blood sugar drop, causing you to get hungry.  So then you eat more.

Also, that “measures cup for cup like sugar” sweetener?  That’s mostly not even mostly your favorite artificial sweetener.  Check the label.  The first ingredient is maltodextrin.  Maltodextrin gets metabolised as a sugar.  Awesome, right?

So the bottom line out of all of this is: just eat REAL food.  Seriously.  Don’t be afraid of real food like meat, veggies, cheese, eggs, and other amazing things like that.  Just don’t eat frankenfood like Atkins candy bars, “nutritional shakes”, diet soda, and watch the pounds drop.

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Around the Web: Butter Consumption reaches 40 year high

Image courtesy of Supertrooper / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Supertrooper / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Three cheers for butter!  I heard this story this morning on NPR.  It seems the average American now eats 5.6 pounds of butter a year.  Of course, that’s quite a lot less than the 1930’s version of us that ate 18 lbs, but it’s a start!  The story itself is well worth a listen as well as a read, David Greene was clearly a bit put off by the thought of people eating that much butter.  I find the story refreshing.  After all, butter is perfectly healthy for you, delicious, and natural.

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/08/260648127/the-last-word-in-business

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Holiday Eating

It’s the holiday season, and I’d bet you’re facing a lot more challenges than normal.  People are bringing in cookies to work, there are parties and gatherings where food you normally don’t let yourself eat are handed out, and you’re missing traditional foods you used to have pre-LCHF.  You may feel that you can’t be social without eating carby foods, or feel rude turning down foods.

Here’s a couple of holiday survival tips:

  1. Bring fruit to pass at work instead of cookies.  I’d bet your coworkers will actually enjoy the respite from the sugar overload of cookies.
  2. Bring a dish to pass at gatherings that you feel comfortable eating.  Crock pot meatballs, veggie platter, deviled eggs, cheese tray, etc.  When you can fill at least part of your plate with something low carb, your tummy will thank you.  Plus, it makes you a great guest!
  3. Make new traditions.  Maybe you used to always serve lasagna for Christmas dinner and are worried about upsetting that tradition.  Seriously, do you think it won’t be Christmas without lasagna?  See, sounds silly!  If you’re getting backlash on the menu change from family members who aren’t LCHF followers, make a compromise and prepare some previously traditional dishes as well as LCHF friendly dishes.
  4. When all else fails, follow the Vinnie Tortorich saying from Fitness Confidential “It doesn’t matter what you eat between Christmas and New Years, it only matters what you eat between New Years and Christmas”.  Seriously, if you gorge on a couple of meals, it’s not a big deal. Eat some cookies, some lasagna, drink some wine, and yes, the scale will go up, but it’ll go back down.  What’s more important is that during the rest of the year, you’ve set a healthy lifestyle that allows you to occasionally eat something that isn’t LCHF.

Do you have any additional holiday coping ideas? Comment below!

English: Plateful of Christmas Cookies

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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“Less bad for you” versus “Better for you”

If you know me personally, and have asked me to help you choose between two food items that aren’t good for you, my first answer is probably “well, both are bad for you.”  Your standard response is probably “Yeah, but which one is better for you?”  I always make a slight word edit to the sentence at that point.  I prefer to use the phrase “less bad” versus “better”.

“Better” gives people the impression of a really shiny object with just a little bit of dirt on it, just a minor flaw from perfect, when in all likelihood you’re probably asking me to help you choose between ice cream and french fries.  “Less bad” reminds you that both options are bad options, one of which is just less.  Neither are good, but depending on your situation, one may be “less bad”.

Minor difference, but it is amazing how just changing the way we describe things can completely change our decision-making.

English: A photo of The Thinker by Rodin locat...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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