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.
Mix all the dry ingredients, making sure to get rid of any lumps.
Add eggs, extracts, butter and coconut oil and mix well.
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.
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.
Form cookies and put in the over at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.
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:
You'll be glad you didn't settle for the store bought mayo!
1tbs Dijon Mustard
1tbs Lemon Juice
1tsp Himalayan Salt
200ml Avocado OIl
Whip the egg, mustard, lemon juice and salt together in a food processor.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
Coat the chop with all the spices and let sit for about 5 minutes while you prep your frying pan.
Turn on the burner at medium heat and let the Coconut Oil or Butter melt in the frying pan.
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.
Let it cook on one side for 5-10 minutes before flipping it to the other side.
Once browned flip and let cook on the other side.
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 😉
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.
In my previous post I told you about some of the physical, emotional and mental effects of eating a diet that is high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. This can be very subjective and one could argue that they experience the same without having to lower their carb consumption. If that’s you, more power to you – I’m not here to change everybody’s WOE. I’m here to show you what works for me.
Aside from the feel good aspects of this diet I am also experiencing more tangible and measurable effects of having reduced my carb intake to about 30-50g a day and increasing my fat consumption. I’ve started measuring the production of ketones in my body. What are ketones you ask? Let me explain…
When you switch your fuel from carbohydrates to fat by consuming below 50g of carbohydrates per day and increasing your intake of fat to meet your expenditure goals, your body will no longer have the ability to breakdown carbs to create glucose for energy. Instead, your body will start breaking down fats for energy and the byproduct of this breakdown is what’s called ketone bodies. There are 3 ways of measuring your ketone production:
Urine Ketone Strips ( measure acetoacetate ) Blood Ketone Monitor (measures beta-bydroxybutryate (BHB)) Breath Ketone Analyser (Ketonix) (measures acetone which is made from a breakdown of acetoacetate)
Urine Ketone Strips in my experience have proven useless as they barely registered any ketones in my urine at all. I only started using them about 2 months into my diet and there is a possibility that if I had used them at an earlier stage of my ketosis I might have been able to register some ketone production. The reason for this is the fact that the type of ketones (acetoacetate) that one can measure in urine are the ones that the body has no need for so it excretes them – so called “wasted” ketones. In other words, if ones diet is extremely high in fat and the body breaks down that fat to produce ketones some of them will be used by the body for brain function and energy, but if there is too much of them (ie. more than needed to fuel your body) they will be eliminated via urine. Moreover, if one has been following the LCFH diet for an extended period of time the body becomes very efficient at using its ketones and does not have an abundance of “wasted ketones” to release. Hence, my poor results with measuring urine ketones.
Blood Ketone Monitor has given me a better result as I have registered 0.6 mmol/L of blood ketones. However, I am not able to do any type of analysis of my blood ketones because I’ve only measured one time so far. The trouble with measuring blood ketones is that, while it is the gold standard for accurately measuring ketone levels, it is also the most expensive. Or maybe we are seeing some sort of cause and effect here – because it is a gold standard it is also the most expensive (after all Big Pharma is after your money). The monitor itself is not very expensive, in fact if you live in Canada most manufacturers will send it to you for free (I got mine free from Abbott), but what will drain your wallet if you want to measure regularly are the strips. The cheapest I have been able to find them was on Well.ca – a box of 10 will run you 25.99$ + economy shipping of 5.95$ or express shipping of 14.99$ (free shipping only starts at 29$) – so one test will cost you 3.30$. Helpful hint to save money is to buy 2 in one order and you will shave off the cost of shipping and one test goes down to 2.59$ – still pretty steep. So personally I will not be measuring blood ketones regularly, but only at times when I know I have been 100% adherent to the diet and have not been using any sweeteners in my food. But here is my result:
This is my one and only ketone and glucose measurement to date. As you can see from the picture below, the ketone reading of 0.6mmol/L puts me just at the start of nutritional ketosis.
Breath Ketone Analyser aka Ketonix has just arrived as an early Christmas gift from my partner in crime, so we started blowing right away. This device measures breath acetone and has a slightly different range than blood ketones and does not seem to correspond closely to the levels of blood ketones. As you can imagine, since the initial cost of the device is the only cost associated with this method, I’ve done quite a few tests already. The results have been all over the map, I’ve gotten readings between 4-14ppm which I am very happy with, to say the least. The highest readings have consistently been recorded after my morning workout which includes 45-60 minutes on a bike and 60 minutes weight training and the lowest readings happened at the end of the day.
Up until now I didn’t have any tangible results other than feeling physically, mentally and emotionally better than I have ever felt during my high-carb days – I couldn’t really tell if I was doing this right. These ketone numbers – even though many would argue are completely unnecessary – do give me some sort of validation. Both, myself and my partner are in it knee deep and once we started measuring ketones we’ve entered into a “ketone competition” with each other where we both want to outdo the other person. While the competition is very innocent I do think it is a healthy competition to have because the bottom line is, each of us wants to eat optimally for this WOE and what can be better than two people making sure they eat well so that they can be healthier than the other one? If you ask me, this is an ultimate thing in any relationship, since usually couples tend to trip each other up rather than be the motivating force for each other.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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:
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:
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.
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 KetogenicWOE – 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.