When too much of a good thing is bad

If you have ever been on any type of regimen to lose weight or to become healthier (which btw. are not always synonymous) you’ve probably come across the notion that as long as you eat healthily you can eat a lot and it won’t matter. I hear it all the time. I make a sugar-free cake and all of a sudden my brain thinks it’s a free for all, eat-the-whole-cake kind of a deal. But whether you use healthy sugar-free ingredients or not it’s still a cake  – if you have one too many slices it will go right into your thighs and buttocks. Why is it so hard to remember?

Food is energy and it doesn’t matter what type of food it is (perceived to be healthy or unhealthy), if you eat more than you can use, it will most certainly be stored in your body especially when you’re already carrying too much weight on your frame. If you are already super lean, then it might be a different story (more about that in a future post), but for now, let’s assume that we all have some padding we could spare.

A common misconception that fuels the if-it’s-healthy-there-is-no-limits mantra is the idea that there are healthy and unhealthy versions of sugar. Let me explain: there’s been quite a bit of stirring news in recent years about the dangers of consuming too much white sugar that now almost everybody agrees that white refined sugar is bad and should be avoided or its consumption be minimized. You’d think that this is a positive outcome, but you’d be wrong. We still crave the sweet taste so we arbitrarily decided that we will find sugar replacements or “healthy versions” of sugar. We’ve been taught that because honey is made by bees it is somehow different than white sugar and it’s even considered a healthy sweetener – how many times have you heard somebody say to have some hot water with honey when you’re sick? Honey will not only not cure your cold, but it will make you sicker by spiking your blood glucose, the same way that white sugar will.

Another fraud that we have have fallen victims of at least once in our lives is being perpetrated by the the organic food industry : think organic molasses, organic coconut sugar, even simple white sugar parades as a healthy alternative because the label reads it’s organic. This is the biggest and most successful food scam that I have ever seen – not only are you still eating sugar, you are also paying through the roof for it. A 4.4lbs pound of non-organic white sugar sells for $1.99 and 2lbs of the organic variety is $5!

Does it change your purchasing habits if you see a label that reads “Wholesome”? It must be good, right?

The list goes on… if you think you are somehow doing yourself a favour by switching from sugar to Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup, Coconut Palm Sugar, Brown Rice Syrup etc. you are fooling yourself. They are all metabolised by the body the same way  as sugar – in the liver – and have a glycemic index around that of white sugar – anywhere between 50 and 70. Sure, you could be harming yourself even more by consuming maltodextrin whose GI is 100, but you could also be doing much better by not fooling yourself with “healthier” versions of sugar.

Pure Canada Maple has a great little spin on their website about the benefits of consuming Maple Syrup that touts its antioxidant, mineral and vitamin content. It looks impressive enough to make me want to chug on some straight from the bottle… until I remember that it is a sugar and it will make my body go bonkers trying to deal with a surge of blood glucose, my insulin will try to lower it and redirect it into liver and muscle as glycogen and when that’s full and it will be full very quickly, it will deposit the rest on my thighs. I also looked at their little comparison table trying to convince us that the nutritional information of Maple Syrup is so much more superior to that of other sugars… until you look at the calorie and sugar content that is on par with its neighbors:

Source: Pure Canada Maple

What counts the most is the damaging sugar content in all those sweeteners – this is the deciding factor of how much these sugars are going to harm your body and in effect negate the other micronutrient content. You can get your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from other sources that will not spike your blood glucose and make you fat.

This idea that there are better options of white sugar paired with the first notion that if something is healthy we can eat unlimited amounts of it, followed by the revelation that there is no such thing as healthy sugar alternatives creates an atomic bomb kind of problem. If the sugar alternatives are just as bad as white sugar (and they are) but we perceive them as better, less harmful and as a result eat more of them then we might as well have  been eating the white stuff in fear and moderation all that time and be better off for it. Now, we’re eating more of the sweet stuff and the results is we are harming ourselves more than before!

So what’s the solution? – you ask. When I first started being aware of the damaging effects of sugar on my body in 2005 what really did it for me was to get rid off all sugar altogether. I went cold turkey to heal my body and it worked like a charm. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to do that, most of us want to have the cake and eat it too. Damned be all the social media food porn that teases us with the picture perfect images of various treats! Yes, I blame the social media – when I first started using IG, I swear to my food processor, I did get dummer! I bought in to all those pretty pictures of supposedly healthy sweet alternatives and started experimenting with substitutes myself. Mind you, my substitutes were never the above mentioned sweeteners, because by then I knew better. I picked my sweeteners of choice based on their blood glucose effect, forgetting completely that it’s still the sweet taste that mattered
and whether a sweetener has calories and high GI rating or not, it is still telling our brain that sweet stuff is coming. So my vices were and still are: Pure 100% Stevia, Pure 100% Erythritol (or a blend of those two) and to a lesser extent 100% Xylitol. When I say 100% pure I mean without any bulking agents – remember you have to look at the ingredient list – if your Stevia, Erythritol or Xylitol contain bulking agents like Maltodextrin or even Sugar, you might as well just be eating straight white sugar. Those 3 sweeteners have no or very little effect on blood glucose which is good, but consuming them daily does mess with my brain. I never thought I would say this out loud – because prior to my use of these sweeteners I consumed sugar based foods only once a month – but I now believe that the sweet taste (regardless what sweetener it comes from) consumed on a daily basis makes me want to eat more than I would normally eat. And it’s not even the idea of them being calorie free, I simply get a feeling of dissatisfaction and disappointment when the treat is gone that I reach for another piece and another and another, until the feeling turns into a disappointment with myself…

All this to say that the sweet stuff is here to stay and as much as I can make sure that packaged stuff doesn’t
contain any added sugar, I can’t in my right mind say that I will never consume any sweet treats. I’d be lying to myself and you. Our weekly grocery shopping includes many items that are high carb and high sugar because other members of my family do consume them. So I am surrounded by the carbage that taunts me on a daily basis. Do I like the taste of carbs? Yes! Do I have weak
moments? Yes! And I try to deal with them by creating my own “better” recipes that don’t contain sugar. Does it work? Most times it doesn’t, because I, like everybody else, have learned to believe that the sugar replacers are somehow better and my inhibitions get lowered and self control goes out the window and before I knew it, my latest low carb creation – The Poppy Seed Cakes – was gone!

If you read this far, you probably gathered that my New Year’s Resolution is not doing as well as I would have hopped and you would be correct. Granted, I’m not having my sweet treat every
day, but when I do my sweet tooth kicks in with triple the strength and I want to eat a horse made out of chocolate 😉

So I decided to try something new – this is probably an old wives tale, but I don’t care – they say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so starting today until March 18th I’m quitting Stevia, Erythritol and Xylitol (the only sweeteners I’ve been using for years now) to see if my sweet cravings subside. So, no treats, no pancakes, not even once a week. I’m fed up! You should join me too and let me know how you’re doing in the comments section.

In the meantime, I leave you with the creation that became the source of inspiration for this long rant – Poppy Seed Cakes. It is, of course an all time childhood favorite turned low-carb, but I momentarily forgot that it was still a sweet treat and inhaled them quicker than the speed of light – I am not even kidding. By now, they are all gone, of course. If you think you can apply self control better than me, I highly encourage you to try them, because they were truly off the hook delicious – I guess that’s partly to blame for their disappearance 😉

I was not quite as successful as I would have liked with the icing on top, but it did add a nice sweet component, if just a bit too crunchy…

Poppy Seed Cakes
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 43
  • Serving size: 30g
  • Calories: 158
  • Fat: 47
  • Saturated fat: 21
  • Unsaturated fat: 8.4
  • Carbohydrates: 16
  • Sugar: 2.2
  • Sodium: 70
  • Fiber: 9.8
  • Protein: 12
  • Cholesterol: 95
Recipe type: Sweet Treat
Cuisine: Low carb
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Be warned - these are to die for!
Ingredients
  • 250g Poppy Seeds
  • 4 Eggs
  • 125g Coconut oil
  • 125g Butter
  • 300g Almond Flour
  • 130g Coconut Flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond milk
  • 1tsp Almond extract
  • Liquid Stevia to taste
  • 4tbs Truvia (spoonable)
  • 1tsp Baking powder
Instructions
  1. Poppy Seed Mixture:
  2. Bring 1 cup of Almond Milk to a boil and add your Poppy Seeds, 1tbs Truvia, Stevia and 1tsp of Almond extract.
  3. Reduce the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.
  4. When cooled off process Poppy Seeds through a grinder to break down the seeds - repeat 4-5 times.
  5. Add 2 Egg Yolks, mix well.
  6. Gently fold in 2 whipped Egg Whites into the poppy seed mixture.
  7. Set aside.
  8. Dough:
  9. Mix together in a bowl: Coconut Flour, Almond Flour, 2tbs Truvia and Baking Powder.
  10. Add 2 Eggs, melted Coconut oil and Butter and mix well.
  11. Assembly:
  12. Using silicone muffin cups line the bottom of the cup with a tablespoon of the dough, pressing with your fingers line the bottom completely.
  13. Add a tablespoon of the Poppy Seed mix.
  14. Cover the Poppy Seed mixture with another layer of the dough.
  15. Repeat until all your dough and Poppy Seed mixture is used up.
  16. Preheat the oven to 350F and bake 45 minutes or until your cups turn brown on the tops.
Notes
This recipe was originally supposed to be in a shape of a roulade called Poppy Seed Roll, but having very little experience baking with these ingredients I had to improvise quickly. When I realized that rolling this closed would pose a problem I turned the recipe into individual cakes by using silicone muffin cups. The dough would just not stick and hold together the same way traditional flour does.

Traditionally, since this recipe calls for potato starch and regular white flour it does come out being fairly dry, so my mom would make an icing to drizzle on top. She would use icing sugar with hot water to create it, but of course that's a no-no in my books. So I used a bit of Erythritol with hot water, but as you can see it did not produce a good looking icing. My recipe tester also disapproved by scraping it off. He found it too sweet. Next time I might grind Erythritol into a powder to imitate the icing sugar texture.

 

They turned out amazingly well, given the fact that it was supposed to be a roll rather than a muffin 🙂
The filling was very dense but at the same time retained a lot of moisture from Almond Milk. Traditionally, though, the recipe would call for some dry fruit such as raisins – but those are not allowed in any keto recipes. You can also add chopped nuts into the Poppy Seed mix like walnuts, but I found that I did not need to increase the fat content in this recipe due to all the Coconut oil and Butter already used, so I skipped the nuts. Maybe next time I’ll play with different versions.

 

The bottom line is : whatever you decide to be your sweetener of choice for your treats make sure you use it as a treat, not as a constant, daily component of your meals – that’s why we call them treats, because they are supposed to be infrequent.

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Pork de Volaille

Since pork is known as the other white meat and it has now largely replaced chicken breasts from my diet it only makes sense that I incorporate it in my meals a lot. The most recent creation – which I decided to call Pork de Volaille (polish equivalent of Kotlet Devolay) – is the easiest dish I know, other than of course just frying the meat with spices  in some coconut oil.

Even though it might not look like it, this recipe is another example of a transformation of a high-carb dish into a low-carb alternative. The original version packs quite a bit of carbs in the form of dried prunes. In the original recipe,  each pork roll would be stuffed with mushrooms, onions, smoked sausage and a big fat pitted prune. And as you might have already guessed I simply skipped the prune to turn it into a low-carb, keto-friendly Stuffed Pork Roll.

Most people think of dried fruit as a healthy alternative to candy – dried fruit fulfills their sweet tooth and at the sand time  is associated with  being healthy because it bares the name fruit and is packed with fiber. The fact remains, though, that fiber will do you no good in the face of high sugar content. The sugar in dried fruit will raise blood glucose and cause an insulin spike just as much as pure sugar does – so those who are insulin resistant should avoid dried fruit, especially when paired with high fat ingredients as is the case with this meal. Dried fruit is just a glorified candy, nothing more.

Back to the meal at hand….

 

Ingredients are quite simple and can be found in most pantries already : chopped onion (white or red), dill pickles, mushrooms, sausage and of course a boneless pork chop that you will need to tenderize and flatten with a mallet. Any cut of pork will do, really, but if for any reason you would like to keep this meal lower in fat and stick to white meat you can go right ahead, it will be just as flavourful.

 

Forgive the appearance of my lovely plants, but I couldn’t resist the bright colours.

I decided to serve the pork with a side of my Tuna Salad and it paired quite nicely!

 

The stuffing of the sausage, red onion, mushrooms and pickles gives this meal a depth of flavour that will grow on you with each and every bite.

 

I leave you with another video that will unveil the whole process for this delicious Pork de Volaille. Enjoy! Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for updates and like my videos to help me develop a presence for those interested in this WOE.

 

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Keto Tuna Salad

My mind has been in full overdrive mode (I’m not sure what I should attribute this to – I’m thinking ketones? …) trying to remember all the delicious recipes from my childhood. I recall vividly spending hours in the kitchen with my mother chopping/mixing/slicing various foods that were used as components of her recipes. It usually happened around holiday season (Christmas, Easter etc) when school was out and I felt that since there was no school work I might as well bond with my mother and learn a thing or two in the process.

Most of those recipes called for some type of starchy vegetable, so I have made it my mission to turn all of them into low carb alternatives that I can enjoy guilt free and not have to worry about being kicked out of ketosis and having my blood sugar spike up.

One of my old time favorites was a traditional Tuna Salad – mind you, it was not some ordinary tuna salad that you might find on the web by googling the phrase. No way! This was the most delicious, satisfying Tuna Salad on the face of the planet earth! The polish name, if you are so inclined, was Sałatka z Tuńczyka.

The problem with replicating the recipe today is that it was both heavy on the starches and on the fats. The original recipe called for quite a bit of cooked rice, corn and peas – all of which I do not include in my diet nowadays. And,  of course,  the choice of fat for the tuna salad was, most times, commercially made mayo, which also is a no-no due to highly inflammatory vegetable oils used in most mayo production. So, you know I ketofied my mom’s recipe and here is how I did it:

I totally eliminated corn and peas and I replaced conventional rice with cauliflower rice. As for mayo… Lately, I heard somebody dismissing mayo as not being that big of a deal in keto diet – insinuating that there are better ways of incorporating fats into ones diet – and while I admit I would chomp on an avocado sooner than I would eat mayo out of a jar, the truth of the matter is that mayo packs tons of flavour to any dish, if done the right way. So, I used my previously made Simple Mayo in this salad instead of settling for a grocery store bought jar.

Keto Tuna Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 19
  • Serving size: 100g
  • Calories: 89
  • Fat: 6.2
  • Saturated fat: 1.1
  • Unsaturated fat: 5
  • Carbohydrates: 4
  • Sodium: 162
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 5.3
  • Cholesterol: 38
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Keto, LCHF
Prep time: 
Total time: 
The combination of flavours is a spectacular mix of tangy, sweet and salty.
Ingredients
  • 1 Head of Cauliflower
  • 1 Leek
  • 1 Sweet Pepper
  • ½ Fresh Cucumber
  • 2 cans of Tuna Fish in water
  • 3 Pickles
  • 3 Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 150g Simple Mayo
  • 1tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 1tsp Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Turn your cauliflower into cauliflower rice by processing it on high in your food processor.
  2. Chop sweet pepper, cucumber, pickles, leek, eggs.
  3. Mix all of the above ingredients together with tuna and salt and pepper.
  4. Add Simple Mayo and mix well to coat all the ingredients with it.
  5. Voilà! You have made yourself a delicious side.

 
Voilà all you need for this delicious salad and all you need to do is chop to chop the veggies and eggs and empty the cans of tuna, add mayo, salt and pepper, mix and you’re ready to dig in. Cooking is that easy!

 

Here you have it, all chopped, measured and ready to go. This humongous bowl of salad literally takes no more than 10 minutes to put together – including chopping, grating (in food processor) and mixing.

 

If you are taken aback by the amount of food that you’ll end up with here is some news for you : it’s called prepping for the workweek. But to be perfectly honest I will say that this salad will not spoil before you have a chance to eat it, so you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1.5 weeks! What’s more, it’s not the type of meal that you would make for one serving – too much doing for not much food. And last but not least – this meal will develop a depth of flavour you have only dreamed of the longer it sits in the fridge. This is quite factual – the pickles, leek, tuna and mayo combination will only get better as it ages. Trust me, I’ve grown up with this meal, I know what I’m talking about 😉

You can use this as a meal on it’s own by measuring more than 100g (my suggested serving) or you can use this as a side dish with whatever meat that you happen to be serving. If you find it’s not enough food, how about having 2 sides? The sky is the limit, as usual.

And for your viewing pleasure I have put together another instructional video:

 

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Breaded Pork Chops the LCHF way

A staple meal in my mother’s kitchen when I was growing up was breaded boneless pork chops and boiled potatoes. And it wasn’t happening just in my mother’s kitchen –  early Sunday afternoon you could hear the reverberation of the meat mallets pounding the pork chops in perfect unison. It was like in a Swiss clock – at 12PM – all the women took to their kitchens to cook breaded pork chops for their families.

Part of me really misses this tradition, part of me really misses the taste of the grease from the bottom of the pan drizzled all over my boiled potatoes. It was so simple, yet so satisfying that we would fight for the drippings from the pan and if there were any extra chops left, you know they would not last long and would never make it into the fridge for later consumption. Somebody would always sneak into the kitchen to grab the last one when everybody else retired to their respective bedrooms.

Today, I won’t even come close to breadcrumbs – I tried in the past, only to get really disappointed by the amount of grease that bread crumbs can absorb. And as you probably gathered by now, bread and flour does not belong in my WOE these days. In fact I haven’t had bread in years. But does it mean that I can never again have my childhood favorite meal?

Well, you know I found a way to have my Breaded Pork Chops and eat them too. Only my Pork Chops do not include heavy coatings of bread crumbs and flour – they are light as a feather 🙂

Pork is said to be the other white meat, especially pork tenderloin. This cut is pretty lean, so I didn’t mind using quite a bit of butter to fry my chops. The butter added some very needed flavour and moisture to my chops.

 

To tenderize the pork chops I used a simple meat mallet, I wrapped the individual chops in some plastic wrap to prevent splattering meat juices and bits of it all over my kitchen and gave it a good whack with the mallet on both sides. You can see the indentations of the mallet all over the meat. I then seasoned the chops with salt and pepper and voilà it’s prepped and ready to go.

 

Now for the messy part : my “breading mix” is composed of 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast, 1Tbs of Coconut Flour, 3Tbs of unsweetened Coconut Flakes and some more salt and pepper. You could easily incorporate some other spices like paprika, cumin, turmeric, etc. As usual, every time you make this, you can turn this into 10+ different variations of the same meal by playing with the spices. And for the wet ingredients I used 2 eggs (you will need more or less depending how many chops you’re working with).  The technique here is to dip your chop in the egg wash on both sides and then place it in the dry mix, flip and coat the other side. You can repeat this twice if you feel that your chop is not sufficiently covered. I only coated once, as you can always sprinkle some of the dry mix on the spots that did not coat properly.

 

And here is the assembled meal – the pork chop looks very much the same way as what I was used to having as a child, but the rest of my plate looks nothing like the pile of boiled potatoes. Notice that I kept the drippings of butter from the bottom of my pan and drizzled them all over, it’s that yummy.

 

I replaced the starchy potatoes with fried lime fennel, side of caramelized mushrooms and some sliced radish. It was perfectly satisfying and I did not feel like I needed to lie down after consuming it.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here you have it – you may consider this another instalment of “How will I live without _______ (fill in the blank) on a LCHF diet?” – this time a perfectly breaded porkchop without the unnecessary carbage. You can enjoy the delicious breaded pork chops and not worry about the carb content in your meal – there is some carbs in coconut flour, but the amount is truly insignificant when looking at how much actually adheres to each chop. Note : that I had 5 chops and did not use up all of my “breading” mix.

 

 

 

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