The Imperfect Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies

Remember my Poppy Seed Cakes recipe that almost turn out to be a disaster but I somehow managed to save it by switching gears and turning a roulade into a cupcake like treat? Well, it sort of happened again this weekend. Even though that initial Poppy Seed Cake recipe almost ended up in the garbage bin I really liked how the final product tasted so I reused the almond flour batter to make some cookies. Surprise, surprise they also almost did not materialize. I guess I have a knack for pulling recipes out of a fire when they flop 🙂 

I won’t bore you with a big write up about how these almost did not come to be, instead I leave you with the recipe, some pictures and a video that explains it all. I will say, even though I was quite apprehensive to put my voice into the video, I enjoyed the process and hope you enjoyed listening to my cookie story at least half as much. It was not easy to put myself out there for everybody to judge. But hey, nobody’s perfect, least of all me and my recipes.  

You really won’t need much for this cookie – if you are worried about the 2 ingredients that might not be readily available at your local grocery store you can skip them – I’m starting to think they might have been the reason why this cookie almost flopped. 

The Imperfect Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 14
  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 230
  • Fat: 20
  • Saturated fat: 10
  • Unsaturated fat: 10
  • Carbohydrates: 9
  • Sugar: 2
  • Sodium: 33
  • Fiber: 5
  • Protein: 6
  • Cholesterol: 44
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
The cookie that almost wasn't meant to be...
Ingredients
  • 150g Almond flour
  • 120g Coconut flour
  • 20g Lucuma powder (can skip if unavailable)
  • 20g Sacha Inchi powder (also can skip)
  • 115g melted unsalted Butter
  • 50g melted Coconut oil
  • 50g 90% Dark Lindt Chocolate
  • 2 Eggs
  • Leftover nut butter of choice
  • Almond and Vanilla extracts
  • Sweetener of choice - I used Erythritol
Instructions
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients, making sure to get rid of any lumps.
  2. Add eggs, extracts, butter and coconut oil and mix well.
  3. Do not forget to sweeten your batter, otherwise it will taste more like a cracker than a cookie, which wouldn't totally ruin it, but people will laugh at you if you still call it a cookie.
  4. If you wish you can put the chocolate chips and nut butter into the batter like I ended up doing in the end or you can attempt to fill the inside of the cookies with each. I can spare you the frustration - it won't work, so you might as well just integrate all the ingredients in the batter.
  5. Form cookies and put in the over at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.

 

 

 

Are you struggling to add fat in your diet?

It’s frightening to realize that thanks to Ancel Keys – the man who made us all fear fat – we now might find it difficult to add healthy fats back into our diets. I’ve been following various online discussion groups and have seen this question pop up many a time : “How do you make sure to get a sufficient amount of fat in your diet?”

A lot of your fat intake will come from fatty meats like beef, lamb, pork and fatty fish, but it’s not as simple as increasing your intake of those proteins to reach the desired amount of fat. The reason why this is not the most optimal way of increasing fat intake lies in the fact that most people on a ketogenic diet will need to closely monitor their protein intake and make sure not to exceed what their bodies can utilise for the building and the repair of body tissues. This requirement will, of course, vary largely depending on physical activity and goals of each individual. But generally speaking protein should be kept at a safe level – which is about 20% of total calorie intake –  as to prevent gluconeogenesis from occurring. In short, we are concerned with conversion of excess protein into glucose which might have a similar effect on the body as consumption of carbohydrates. So what are the ways of increasing fat without necessarily increasing protein intake at the same time?

One of the ways to include a healthy dose of fat is to use mayonnaise. You could go and find a good quality mayo at your grocery store, but you would probably have to pay up to 3-4 times the price of a standard canola oil mayo and you’d still be consuming unnecessary ingredients. And if you settle for the lowly canola oil or worse soybean oil mayo you might as well ditch it in the garbage because that’s the wrong type of fat that will cause inflammation and wreck havoc with your arteries. So I propose spending literally 5 minutes in your kitchen to whip up your own mayonnaise – here is how:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Mayo
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 58
  • Serving size: 5g
  • Calories: 29
  • Fat: 3.3
  • Saturated fat: 0.5
  • Unsaturated fat: 2.8
  • Carbohydrates: 0
  • Fiber: 0
  • Protein: 0.1
  • Cholesterol: 3.2
Recipe type: Dressing
Cuisine: LCHF and Keto
Cook time: 
Total time: 
You'll be glad you didn't settle for the store bought mayo!
Ingredients
  • 1 Egg
  • 1tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1tbs Lemon Juice
  • 1tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 200ml Avocado OIl
Instructions
  1. Whip the egg, mustard, lemon juice and salt together in a food processor.
  2. Once above ingredients are fully incorporated start slowly adding the avocado oil while the processor is on high speed. It is important to complete this very slowly or otherwise your mayo will split and that's a very undesirable attribute.
  3. You will know when your mayo is "done" which might be before you use up all your oil because you'll hear a different sound coming from the blades mixing the mayo. It will sound fuller and thicker.
Notes
Every time you make this mayo you can turn it into whatever flavour you want. You can play with spices in any way your hearts desires by adding them at the very end of the process. Have you ever heard of sriracha mayo? Well I have, but the store bought type has tons of sugar added to it that I would rather skip. So I make my own Sriracha Mayo by following this recipe and adding some sriracha spice or sauce at the very end. You want a lemon mayo? Add lemon zest and some lemon pepper. How about herb mayo? No problem pull out some herbs (herbs de provence, thyme or oregano ) and play with it. See what type of mayo will become your favorite and then you have it in your arsenal.

I've kept this amount of mayo in my fridge for up to 2 weeks, after that you will notice oil separation occur - it's still good to eat, you just have to stir it, but for safety I'd probably ditch it at this point. Most people use mayo quite liberally, so there is no need to worry that this small amount will go back, you'll use it up fairly quickly and you might even have to make another batch before the week is over.

Note about the serving size - you will quickly realise that 5g is not very much, but it is only a suggested serving size and you can increase it to your desired volume. However, you don't want the majority of your calories coming from a condiment, after all it's pretty much pure fat. The function of condiments is to add flavour, not to overwhelm your plate. Treat it as a flavour enhancer and you will agree that you don't need a huge amount.

And for the visual aid I put this one together for you. This video is only 2 minutes 52 seconds long (but took 5 to shoot – the time it takes to make this mayo) and it really is all it takes to whip up your own delicious mayo with minimal ingredients:

You might be wondering how I use this mayo since I certainly do not use it in the conventional way by spreading it on a slice of white bread or a whole wheat wrap. In fact, it’s worth repeating, for the sake of clarity and understanding for those who are beginners at this WOE, that once you get over the fear of fat and start incorporating it in your meals the most important thing to remember (after selecting the right kinds of fats) is to remove all starchy carbohydrates (bread, wraps, cookies, pasta, rice etc.) from your diet. The reason for that is that fat (good or bad) eaten together with sugary/starchy carbohydrates will most assuredly be deposited as body and organ fat and will not have the chance to act as it was intended to for energy source, vitamin absorption and hormone regulation etc. The second most important point to keep in mind is that even though this is a high fat WOE it is not advisable to crank up the fat intake all that much. You really don’t have to go out of your way to seek out fat. This is especially true for people who already carry a lot of fat on their frames. Just think about it : you want to use fat as energy and you also want to access excess body fat for this purpose, if you eat a lot of dietary fat the fat you consume will be used for energy and any excess will be turned into body fat that will be deposited on top of what you already are carrying. At the beginning, the idea is to access your body fat to fulfill your energy needs. And only after you have burned a significant amount of body fat will you be able to increase your dietary fat.

My most favorite way to use mayo is to smother my eggs in it – there is nothing quite as satisfying as mixing those 2 flavours together. I don’t necessarily go as far as making deviled eggs as that is way too fancy for a regular lunch at work – I simply put a dollop of my mayo on a halved egg that’s buried somewhere in my coleslaw or other greens. I might simply use it as dipping sauce for my meat or make a tuna salad with it. Another great use for mayo is in dressings – many store bought salad dressings and other condiments use commercial grade mayo as a base – well, now you can do that too with your own mayo! And the beauty of using your own mayo in dressings is of course the fact that your mayo will have the highest quality ingredients of all the mayo out there.

You can use it in any way you desire – don’t limit yourself by following the conventional dogma.

 

 

 

Sumac Pork Chops in Pesto Sauce

This post has been written sometime during the morning hours of Christmas vacation that I enjoyed at home this year – a rarity in the fast paced life of a workforce gal. I’ve been feeling very inspired this Christmas to write at the expense of my gym visits, but that’s OK, because I ended up with a string of posts that I was going to start posting in weekly instalments come January 2017. But this one must come early as a token of appreciation for having received the most touching compliments already.

When you embrace the fat on your plate you will quickly realize that it doesn’t take much food to satiate you. It takes time though to switch your thinking from I must fill up the plate to the brim to it’s OK to see the bottom of the plate. We’ve been programmed to believe that if we don’t have enough to eat, we might die of starvation before the next meal. However, the truth of the matter is that it would take us much longer than the meager 2-3 hours in between meals (that most people allow between meals) to starve to death. Most of us carry enough body fat to fuel themselves for quite a bit before we’d die….

So this is what I endeavour to make my plates look like, unless, of course I’m making a big bowl of salad 🙂

This is a very simple meal that packs on tons of nutrients and will satisfy the hungriest among us. I know because I fed it to a very hungry meal tester only to see a wide smile on his face when he was done.

 

Sumac Pork Chops
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: LCHF
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Fat loaded, grain and sugar free dinner.
Ingredients
  • 1 large Pork Chop (bone in)
  • Himalayan Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • Dash of Smoked Paprika, Onion and Garlic Powder
  • Generous Coating of Sumac
  • 1 Tbs of Coconut Oil or Butter
Instructions
  1. Coat the chop with all the spices and let sit for about 5 minutes while you prep your frying pan.
  2. Turn on the burner at medium heat and let the Coconut Oil or Butter melt in the frying pan.
  3. Place the chop in the frying pan - it's important that the frying pan be hot in order to get a nice browning on your chop. You'll hear it sizzle when it touches the pan - that's a sign the pan was hot enough.
  4. Let it cook on one side for 5-10 minutes before flipping it to the other side.
  5. Once browned flip and let cook on the other side.
Notes
The only way to screw this one up is by constantly poking at the meat in the frying pan. The most important thing to remember is to leave it alone - once you place it in the frying pan, let it cook. If you keep moving it around it will not develop a nice crunchy exterior. Leave it alone and you will be amazed at the flavour and texture. Only flip once.

This goes pretty much for any meat you are preparing this way, if you want a nice crispy exterior let it develop it by keeping away.

Of course, you have to be vigilant not to let it cook for too long or your meat with burn 😉

 
Quick and easy sauce/dressing that has a million and one applications and can spice up any meal, from an unsuspecting salad to a juicy steak.

 

For this meal to be LCHF there is no starch on the plate. Instead, I decided to up the fat content by adding 1/2 an avocado to the plate and generously coat the chop in my own pesto sauce. And since I had some of my roasted grape tomatoes left I added them to this meal for splash of colour and flavour. I should mention that I don’t do anything special with the avocado – I splash some lemon juice on it, sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli powder. I like to taste the avocado rather than cover it up in other flavours and the best way of achieving it is by leaving it as is with minimal spices.

 

 

 

 

 

We tend to be so busy with life, work, house chores and other responsibilities that we forget to unwind and enjoy our meals. Many times food is just simply inhaled when it should be savoured. When I offered this meal for consumption I’m pretty sure that the presentation made a huge difference in the experience of eating. Maybe, just maybe, for some of us the presentation will make us slow down a notch and eat with more care, as if though it was a delicate piece of art that needed not be disturbed, as if though eating it with purpose was able to preserve the integrity of the art even after it’s been consumed.

This is important not only for the experience of eating and savouring the flavours but also for our brains to have  the time to release hormones –  the little messengers telling our body to feel satiated. If you slow down you will also notice that the empty spaces on your plate are not that big of a deal either.

Ps. Day one with no sweeteners was a success – I stayed away from my liquid stevia even at night! It is a transition though, because after my evening meal I still felt like I needed a dessert. So I reached for my favorite fat source – Pure-Creamed-Coconut – added a pinch of unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla, mixed it all together and had my way with it. Normally I would add a generous splash of stevia in this concoction, but not last night – I let the natural sweetness of  coconut be enough and it was. I also noticed that without the overpowering sweetness of stevia I didn’t feel like eating the whole package in one go. So, my theory on eating more than necessary to satiate when using sweeteners is already coming true.

Low Carb High Fat Living

I have been living a low carb life now for several months and can confidently say that my body has switched to burning fat for fuel. Here is how I know that it did:

I feel like a million bucks
I have high energy levels
My intake of carbohydrates has been minimal
I do not hit a wall when I go without food for extended periods of time
I am not hungry first thing in the morning
I feel more alert than before
I’m producing ketones (stay tuned for the next post in which I’ll tell you all about it)

But still… all those positive aspects of eliminating carbs from one’s diet are not enough to convince some people who insist that this WOE (low-carb, ketogenic, atkins etc.) is very restrictive and limiting – even in light of the fact that what’s being restricted is what some call carbage (carb+garbage). In a LCHF diet you’re only eliminating things that have long time ago been defined and identified as unhealthy and fattening. You are getting rid of:  grains, starchy vegetables, sugars and most manufactured packaged food items. So, think: rice, pasta, flours, potatoes, everything that falls into the category of TV dinners, cookies, pastries, all types of sweets, cakes, etc. And you’re left with full fat dairy (if you are not intolerant to it), oils (olive, avocado, macadamia, walnut, coconut), eggs, all fatty meats, organ meats and above ground vegetables (mostly green) and some fruit (avocado, tomato, berries). Personally I would not call this restrictive, I’d say it’s a type of a diet spring cleaning that we perform when switching up to this WOE – have a look at what I have been doing with the foods that remain on my LCHF diet. Notice, I love the idea of eating out of big ass bowls 🙂

Scrambled eggs have become a real staple in my diet. And so has blue cheese and avocado. The white dollop to top of the smoked salmon is my homemade mayo (Skip the store bought type as it contains unnecessary and unhealthy oils). Now, I have just learned something about the smoked salmon I have been eating: it contains brown sugar, so I will not be including it in my meals unless I find one that has none added. It’s not a huge amount, but I’m simply not contributing my hard earned money to the madness of preserving everything with sugar.

 

 

Greens have become an integral part of my meals for micronutrients, volume and the fact that they contain an insignificant amount of carbohydrates. Whole eggs also grace my plates on a regular basis – prepared in all possible forms. In this meal, I decided to get my fats from multiple sources, instead of using all egg yolk for fat – I switched it up and laid the egg on top of some ground lamb. I used to use ground veal, but I haven’t been able get it lately so I simply switched to lamb which is an excellent source of fat. It’s a must every weekend for me to get some type of ground meat that I will marinate overnight with spices and herbs and the following day just fry it up and transfer into a container to be used at various meals throughout the week. As you can see I do not use a huge amount – about 100g. I’ve also have been roasting garlic in batches to add to salads or dressings. Sometimes I like to snack on roasted garlic cloves – don’t knock it till you try it, it’s my type of candy, you can’t overeat it and it does have a nice nutty sweet taste.

 

Fish of choice is of course Atlantic Salmon spiced and fried in coconut oil with a side of broccoli, spiralized zucchini, avocado and walnuts.

I used to cringe at the word “fried” and instead would often describe the activity as “sautéeing” , but since my transition into the dietary world of fat I have accepted this culinary technique as a valid way of preparing food without any negative connotations. To be perfectly honest my negative associations with frying foods come from the branch of deep frying foods and I still would not venture into this type of food preparation simply because even if you use the good stuff (coconut oil or palm oil) the control over how much fat one is actually eating while consuming deep fried foods is totally relinquished. You can’t possibly calculate the amount of fat you will be ingesting while consuming something that has absorbed the deep fryer oil.  On top of that, if you decide to consume deep fried foods in a restaurant, be it fast food or otherwise, you are risking consumption of highly inflammatory fats such as canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil and peanut oil… just to name a few. Those should be avoided at all cost but unfortunately most, if not all restaurants, are using those unhealthy oils, especially for deep frying. Just think about it, go into any grocery store and compare the price of canola oil to coconut oil – the former is cheap as dirt as compared to the latter. So it’s more cost effective for a restaurant to resort to the cheap stuff.

Sometimes there is nothing better than a boiled egg, so boiled eggs I make. Only when I feel that I am low on protein will I supplement it with some extra egg whites. As per usual I used spiralized zucchini to add some volume to my meal, 50g of tomatoes, caramelized mushrooms, cornichons and some Grass-fed Beef Snack Sticks.

I find the ordinary grocery store to be extra lacking in quality processed meats. Occasionally, I like to add some pepperoni, beef jerky, bacon or other cured meats to my meals, but you will be hard pressed to find those without added sugars. I don’t know about you, but when I eat meat, I want to eat meat… not sugar. So, I have to resort to finding those gems online. I tried the Nick’s Sticks and must admit they were very tasty and did not contain any unnecessary ingredients. The only downside was the price – I bought them at Amazon at $4.79 (free shipping) for 2 sticks for a total of 48g. While they were a nice addition to my meals I would not make them a regular grocery list item. However, this is the type of food I would certainly add to the list of foods to take on a hiking expedition for flavour, portability and weight. They would go very nicely in scrambled eggs on the trail 🙂

 

I have been loving bowl meals, period. It’s a very convenient way to integrate a lot of low caloric foods like lettuce, kale, zucchini, shredded cabbage and spinach with some more dense foods like oil dressings, avocado and fatty proteins like salmon. I usually layer all my ingredients starting with the lettuce-like items, then comes cucumber, tomato, nuts (if using any), and I top all that with diced avocado, and on one side I’ll put my protein and on the other side I’ll add a warm, cooked vegetable. In these two bowls that vegetable was red cabbage that I had fried in some coconut oil and spices until it softened a bit. I deal with sides the same way I deal with most meats (like the ground lamb) – I cook them in batches and use them throughout the week as needed.

This bowl was so pretty I almost did not want to eat it. Well, not really. As soon as I dug into it I was sold! I used a different type of coleslaw in this meal – it contained shredded broccoli, cauliflower and kale – I could really taste the difference in the different textures. I also added chopped dill that made this bowl very refreshing. And to dress it up I used my staple full fat greek yogurt and blue cheese dressing.

There is nothing better than eating from a bowl! I don’t toss the ingredients together prior to eating, I integrate everything together as I eat and eventually the dressing will coat every single morsel of food. It’s the best thing ever, it seems like a neverending exploration into the bowl of goodness.

I don’t consider myself a picky eater and I will try almost anything at least once and if it’s very good I will eat it all day, everyday until I find some other type of food to try. So I don’t understand when people complain about variety and insist that they have to eat something different every day – if it tasted good on Monday it will certainly taste good on any other day of the week, no? But if one insists on this idea of variety I find that you can have a staple base meal (like those bowls) and switch up an ingredient or two if you really need something different every day. So for example,  you can make a couple of different dressings from which to pick, change up the protein and some vegetables and you will get the feeling that you are eating a different meal every day, even though you might not have created a completely different meal. And for goodness sake…. use spices and herbs, they make a world of a difference .

From Farm to Table to Plate

If you remember my quick post about produce – From Farm to Table – you might be wondering how I use those precious Farm finds, or maybe not. Maybe your culinary genius has already created some scrumptious dishes with the produce you have acquired at your local farm. Whatever the case may be here is what I use my carrots and beets for:

img_20160926_115250992_hdr-01
This is a sample lunch that consists of 2 poached eggs with a blob of home made mayo and a ton of vegetables including grated carrot and beet mix with a simple vinaigrette….

 

img_20160926_153831989_hdr-01
I always cook in big batches, so as you can imagine the batch of grated carrots and beets makes its appearance in several dishes in the following days… It did so for this supper dish, this time accompanied by roasted broccoli, green beans and a handful of kale leaves drizzled with my avocado dressing…

This is nothing spectacular but when you “limit” yourself to fresh, natural food items you will realize that there is not much you need to do to your food to make it taste delicious. 

I quickly peeled a bunch of beets and carrots and grated them in my 12 cup food processor – it literally took me 5 minutes. I transferred the grated mix into a large plastic container and put it in the fridge. In the meantime in a smaller food processor I put the following for the dressing:

  •  1/4 cup Avocado Oil or light Olive Oil
  •  1/4 cup Grace Organic Coconut Vinegar (you can use any type of vinegar you have, lemon juice will work as well)
  • 1tsp Yellow Mustard
  • 1tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 5-6 cloves of roasted or fresh Garlic

Process everything on high and transfer into a jar for storing in the fridge. When you are ready to serve your meal scoop out as much of the carrot and beet mix as desired, pour some of your dressing over it and let sit for 5-10 minutes – for the vegetables to absorb some of the dressing goodness – and you are set. This is so simple, yet extremely satisfying. 

You might have noticed that I have been trying to lean towards a fat centric diet lately – that’s because I feel best when fueled with fat as opposed to carbs. It also has to do with the recent reemergence of some startling news about how the sugar industry created false evidence that dietary fat is the bad guy rather than sugar.

In short the sugar industry knew all along that consumption of sugar should be minimal, but they did not want this to come out in public so they paid the equivalent of today’s 50k to some University scientists to fudge the data and point the finger at dietary fat and hence the fat phobia era had began. Since then just about every packaged product started displaying in bold letters “low-fat” or “no fat” making people believe that it is a good choice since everybody “knew” that fat was the enemy and should be avoided. However, nobody really questioned what the food manufacturers replaced the fat with, because let’s face it, if you remove the yummy stuff (aka fat) you end up with food products that taste like cardboard. Nobody was really concerned with this question, because all they knew was that the bad stuff has been removed so whatever remained was OK to eat. But we know now that the replacement – sugar – is far more dangerous to our health than a bit of healthy fat.

The truth of the matter is that when fat is removed it is in 99% of cases replaced with some form of sugar. Today we know that it’s the cane sugar that is responsible for most of the ills of the world, so people in the know – scientists such as Robert Lustig, David Ludwig, Gary Taubes, John Yudkin, Tim Noakes, David Perlmutter  and many others – are trying to teach about the importance of switching from carb-high diet to high-fat diet that is very low in starch in order to live long, healthy lives. Just Google William Banting to find out how it all started.   

So a natural progression for my browsing habits is to seek out information on a Ketogenic WOE – I’ve even joined several Facebook Groups that focus on using fat as fuel and eliminating starchy carbohydrates from ones diet in order to achieve a ketogenic state. I will admit that some of these groups, IMHO do not recognize that calories still matter and people in these groups go overboard with fat consumption which really doesn’t help with attaining the goal of bodily fat loss. Very few and far between actually understand that if you carry a lot of fat on your body your goal should not be to douse every meal in tons of fat, because the excess will still be deposited as body fat regardless of whether or not its consumption is accompanied by carbohydrates – total calories still matter with this dietary approach. Now, there are a couple of groups that promote fat-centric diets but also promote adherence to macro oriented eating and monitoring calorie uptake. However, one of these groups that I really enjoyed visiting also goes the other extreme way where natural foods such as carrots and beets are deemed unacceptable because they contain fructose….

Yes, all vegetables will contain a certain level of fructose (it’s more obvious for fruits) but they are also accompanied by fibre, vitamins and minerals that will make the consumption of such fructose acceptable, at least in my books. However, certain proponents of the Ketogenic Diet shun everything that contains fructose, unless it’s less than 1g per 100g  – if you are interested in exploring the different levels of fructose in fruits and vegetables to see how they compare there is plenty of resources out there. However for me, this is where I draw the line – I consider this way of thinking extreme and therefore dangerous and if carrots and beets are not allowed on any WOE then maybe it’s the wrong way of eating. I understand the concept of banning processed sugary junk from ones diet, but in terms of vegetables there is only one that I consider unworthy of my plate and that’s a potato.  

Deadman’s Bay Hike fueled by fat

I’m proud to say that I’ve been making a conscious effort to include myself on our weekend’s hikes and this past Sunday I finally figured out a way to not let unaccomplished tasks ruin my enjoyment of the hike. You know the saying “If you want it done, do it yourself”? Not that I ever wait for anybody else do my shit, but when I woke up at 5AM to head out to the gym to get my dose of endorphins prior to the hike it suddenly dawned on me that going to train at the gym will not get my shit done (d’oh) – what will is actually dong it. So I decided to yet again skip the gym (Jeez I have to stop the skipping or I’m going to lose all my muscle mass – JK) and instead get my food ready for the coming week. By the time I was done – at about 8AM – I was in a great spirits and was actually looking forward to some leg exercise on the trail – funny how it works sometimes. 

I was somewhat disappointed when I heard from my partner that we might not go out after all because there doesn’t seem to be much sun outside. Let me elaborate: he has done this trail many times before, so for him to go on any trail he’s visited before the weather must be splendid because it’s an opportunity for photography. With an overcast sky it seemed like pictures might come out only mediocre. So when I heard him say it might not happen, at first I felt bummed out, thinking that now I wouldn’t get any exercise in at all that day. But my mind works in mysterious ways and can quickly switch gears – I immediately started planning all the things that needed my attention and I was quickly off in the land of cookery and blog writing…. That was short lived because within an hour the sky cleared up just enough for us to decide to head out anyway, plus he needed my help with the custodian report. So just like that we decided to go. 

img_20161009_105221627_hdr-01
I will admit that I can’t fully take credit for the pictures I’m taking on our outings. Yes, I frame them, I shoot them and I edit them, but when it comes to finding a good shot is not always my own doing. You see, if you are hiking with another person and that person stops to take a picture a natural thing for you to do is to whip out your camera and shoot at the same time… Because otherwise you’re just standing there and waiting like a dummy 😉 So as a result we both end up with similar shots which seems to annoy the initial picture taker. What can I say…

img_20161009_110623546-01

 

 

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome. ~ William James

 

img_20161009_111554748_hdr-01

img_20161009_112437134_hdr-01
I feel like I keep repeating myself, but a picture of a landscape without some interesting clouds is never going to have as much of an effect on the viewer as one with a bit of a wave in the sky. Now, you don’t want a completely covered sky, just a bit of sun peeking through.
img_20161009_115108821_hdr-01
We are about to be hit by the remnants of the most recent hurricane Matthew and I am quite worried that the wind might take down all the pretty fall leaves of the trees. It would be a shame because I have just started taking pictures of the fall colours and was hoping for a few more outings…
img_20161009_115329342_hdr-01
All I can say is that I didn’t eat it 🙂

img_20161009_111728611_hdr-01img_20161009_112345274_hdr-01

img_20161009_124648528_hdr-01

img_20161009_122031555_hdr-01
I found these bushes quite interesting to shoot – I spent a while trying to capture their colours.   

 

 

img_20161009_125755519_hdr-01

img_20161009_140802462_hdr-01
By this time the sky was so overcast that no matter what I did to edit the picture I was not able to bring any life to the sky 🙁

img_20161009_133343706_hdr-01

You might be wondering about the mysterious title of this post, so let me explain as none of my posts would be complete without some food talk. As I have mentioned before I have been running a small experiment on my body – I’m trying to become fat-adapted. In a nutshell it’s a WOE that involves lowering the carbohydrate intake to about 50g total and 30g net. This means that one has to derive energy from fat, so fat intake increases to make up for the missing carbohydrates. This in turn makes the body utilize fat as a source of energy – however the process does not happen overnight and requires a strict adherence to one’s diet. It takes on average about a month for the body to create ketons as a result of reducing the amount of carbohydrates and those ketons are then utilized for running the body. Why am I trying to do all this? Well, it turns out that fat adapted body will burn body fat more efficiently than a body that runs on carbs and don’t we all want to get rid of some jiggle from our frames? 

So, at about 8AM I had a fat hearty breakfast that consisted of 2 eggs, 50g of ground lamb, 120g Keto Buns that I made into a loaf and some low carb veggies: 15g carbs, 25g fat and 33g protein and it looked like this: 

img_20161009_080723332_hdr-01img_20161009_081530251_hdr-01

 

The slice you see to your left is not a conventional type of bread. It was made with almond flour, ground flax seed, coconut flour and psyllium husk powder. This makes it a high fat bread that will not raise your insulin levels in response to carbohydrate intake.  

 

We then went out at about 11AM and hiked close to 10KM. All throughout the hike I did not feel that I needed to stop for a snack in order to keep going. In fact, only after arriving home at about 3PM did I feel like I could eat again. Why I am saying this? Well, like I mentioned above, fat-adapted people are able to utilize the already present source of fuel – body fat. So what that means is that when exerting yourself the body turns to available fuel source instead of making you feel weak – you certainly know the “hitting the wall” feeling when you run out of steam and just have to eat. Well, I did not get that feeling even though I spent a span of 7 hours without food. This is quite liberating if you ask me and on top of that – if this is what’s happening – I’m getting rid of the jiggle without the hunger pangs! I don’t know about you but I’m willing to limit the chew factor if I’m getting two birds killed with one stone :). 

 

Picco’s Ridge Path Take 2

For the past couple of years I have been saying that the seasons have officially shifted their positions. It seems that summer only starts in August these days, but as a result it sticks around much longer than it used. So, this past weekend it seemed like a no-brainer that we would head out into the woods – since the weather gods blessed us with some sunshine. May I add that it’s like a religious ritual in our household to compare notes on the weather systems and whenever one of us gets some good news about the upcoming weekend’s weather we share it with the other person with the understanding that something might be happening outdoors. And so it did – Saturday was the day. 

We were planning to come back to Picco’s Ridge Path for a while – it being Randy’s favourite path to hike mostly due to its roughness and high difficulty level. So the verdict was in –  we were going to tackle it again. We parked one car at each end, which meant we were going to hike it one way – that would give us roughly 14.5km. To me, that’s a good hike that requires a better part of the day to be completed – this is probably due to my European origins. Randy tells me that European style of hiking limits how far they can go since they do not attach particular attention to the weight they are carrying, shoes or clothing they are wearing etc – this slows them down greatly making them unable to cover great distances and 14km becomes a full day of walking – think multiple rest periods, slower pace, etc. American style long distance hiking, on the other hand, focuses greatly on weight of pretty much everything hiking related – I’d call it a minimalist approach. Whereas the Europeans will carry everything they feel is necessary to make them feel comfortable while camping (not so much while hiking), Americans are prone to prefer to do without some amenities for the sake of being able to go further. So, you see, even though I carry absolutely nothing on our day hikes and my clothing – including shoes and any layers – are the lightest they can possibly be, my European roots are stronger than that and for now I consider 14km a pretty good hike. Rest assured that I’m working on my endurance daily, so just watch me – I’ll toughen up soon enough. But of course, I digress…

It was a pretty rough start to this hike at about 11:00AM by the time we got the cars situated and ended up at the South Trail End in Portugal Cove. That day I decided to skip the gym visit that I would ordinarily have on a Saturday morning to train legs – I figured that I was going to be using my legs all day long so I might as well preserve my energy for the walking and so I slept in and did not get my dose of endorphins first thing in the morning. That was a mistake, because in consequence all I could think about as we were getting ready for the hike was the fact that this was going to be it – we would hike the remainder of the day and nothing else would get done in the house. You see, I’m not very productive during the week in terms of household duties – I am way too beat out at the end of the workday to do anything after work (after all, my day starts at 3AM) – so the weekend is when I can catch up with stuff. That morning I let this simple thought overtake my mind that I almost ruined the whole experience. Thankfully I didn’t – I had enough sense in me to not take the bailout offer from Randy when he realized something was off – I simply said we were going to do it.

I thought my mood was going to be sour for the duration of the hike but it turned out not to be the case and the moment my feet hit the trail I was good to go – I’ve forgotten all about the household chores! I don’t know if it was the outdoors, the company or the fact that we started the hike at our most recent shakedown spot where we camped out back in late August – maybe it was a combination of all three and the fact that I’m starting to be more accepting of this activity being a part of my life now. I’ll never know, because what’s the point dwelling on figuring out things that finally truly work? Isn’t it better and easier to just enjoy them as they are? I think it is…

img_20161001_154536745_hdr-02
Even though this section of the ECT is known to hikers as the most underdeveloped of the entire Trail, it starts off pretty easy with convenient boardwalks and stairs over sudden elevation. Seeing this beautiful boardwalk you might be thinking “what’s the big fuss”, but this only continues for a very short section of the trail and you are soon left with a lot of bog and no conveniences of a typical trail.

 

img_20161001_155626276-01
You can tell right away that these steps have not gotten much use yet as they are fairly new and a rarity on this trail. You do get an appreciation though for what’s to come in terms of elevation – these were so steep they can seriously do some damage to your quadricep muscles – moreso than the stepper in the gym. Just sayin’ 🙂

 

img_20161001_132524886-01
I’m not quite convinced that this picture does any justice to the type of climbing that this trail entails, but I am not exaggerating when I say it feels like you are climbing Everest 😉

 

img_20161001_143116105-01
This was past the “easy” board walk part, it felt like we were on top of one of those mountains – that’s probably because we were, but my ability at orienting myself in my surroundings and then recalling my position later is very limited…. We decided to each try a panorama shot, or rather Randy came up with this idea and I monkey-copied him immediately 🙂 Turns out my camera is pretty darn capable of stitching a decent panorama photo.

 

img_20161001_143039222_hdr-01
We clearly don’t do posed pictures of each other often, unless of course it’s me in the picture (see below) – I am more than willing to put up a little show for a photo shoot 🙂 I was particularly happy about the clouds that decided to make an appearance sometime mid-way. They add so much oomph to the scenery, it’s unbelievable….

20161001_145842_richtonehdr-01

20161001_145826_richtonehdr-01
Voilà – she’s in her groove.
20161001_153222_richtonehdr-01
See, always ready to strike a pose. I feel pretty lucky, though, because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of guys willing to switch gears and focus on the lesser beauty than the outdoors 🙂 Girls, I’m telling you, try this trick with the leg – it’s so bloody slimming! I have thunder thighs but you would not guess that from these pictures!

 

img_20161001_130837842_hdr-01
This part of the trail I remember distinctly because it was so very lush that I spent a good moment trying to get down on my knees to capture it. It was right before the biggest stream on the ECT that does not yet have a bridge over it. It really felt like we were walking through some tropical area of the world or some land of the elves (minus the temperatures in the teens – which for end of September in NL is quite a treat but not for tropics).

 

img_20161001_130745053_hdr-01
I had a most amazing feeling walking through this area! It made me think that if I can become this enamoured with a trail in NL (place that I don’t consider an overly exotic place) I can only imagine what’s to come when we head out of the province and explore other places… This was truly an unexpected feeling that I have not yet shared with my partner…. until now that is 🙂

 

img_20161001_120418313_hdr-01
Of course I got down on my hands and knees more than once on this hike! How could I not? The light was perfect and was hitting these mushrooms so beautifully. I’m not an expert on mushrooms and never will be, I’d probably need somebody to confirm the edibility of Chanterelle mushrooms if I was to pick some, out of fear that I confused them for some other highly poisonous mushroom, even though they are very distinctive and easy to recognize. I’m pretty sure this one would kill me if I ate it, but thankfully I was not planning to, I just found it fetchingly beautiful to shoot 🙂

 

20161001_134946_richtonehdr-01
So, here is the river I was talking about earlier – this section has some shaky logs laid on top for crossing. And here is my shoulder – I’m chomping on some seed crackers and cashews.

 

20161001_134952_richtonehdr-01
And another shot curtesy of Randy trying to depict the strength of the flow.

I’m both saddened and happy to say that this is as far as we have gone on this hike – we turned around here and headed back to the car parked in Portugal Cove. It made me sad because I think I’m slowly catching the hiking bug – the one that makes you push and challenge yourself to see how far your body can take you. It seems that the body can, in fact, go to great distances if you only let it – if you limit it with your mind you will only go so far, but let your mind be limitless and the body will not stop – mind over matter, they say.

What made me happy about this unexpected detour was the realization that my partner has my back at all times. When you realize that your safety and your comfort are far more important than any challenge, adventure or CPH you become truly happy and at peace. For me, this happened at this little, yet quite monumental river where Randy scoped the crossability of the river in two different spots only to come back across and say “This is pretty shaky and the water level is quite high – I’m not risking you falling in a getting soaked. We can go back the way we came.” I didn’t object, because I knew if I was to be stupid stubborn about it this hike could have ended up quite terribly – so without a word I agreed. We will certainly come back when the temperatures allow for some toe dipping (intentional or not)!

 

img_20161001_135327527_hdr-02You know this post would not be complete without some food talk, so here it is. I decided to take only fat high snacks on this hike as I am actively trying to switch gears nutrition-wise to become a fat burner. I have mentioned this before in my recipe post for these crackers. – so this was the first time I tried getting all my energy predominantly from dietary fat during a hike. Pretty much everything we eat has traces of carbs, unless of course you are eating pure coconut oil. A serving of these seed crackers has 15g of fat, and both protein and carbs are around 7g each – so most of the energy comes from fat. And let me tell you something, you don’t need a lot of these to feel satiated which is both a curse and a blessing. I don’t know about you but I enjoy the act of eating – I think most everyone does, so the fact that volume-wise there is not that much to chew on takes away from this pleasure. However, from the hiker’s perspective this is a blessing because less volume equals less weight on their back and that would make any hiker happy. But this is a topic for a whole new post….

On this hike I had 30g of these Seed Crackers, 30g of another type made out of chia seeds and 1.5oz of cashews, which I only ate because I felt I wanted to chew for a bit longer – yes, I know, the carboholic in me is strong and is dying a slow painful death, but it’s on its way out, I promise.  

For a more in depth look at Picco’s Ridge and White Horse Paths you can have a look at a post written by my better half titled Should I hike Picco’s Ridge and White Horse