Coconut Macadamia Chocolate Cups

When I first came to Canada I was convinced I hit a jackpot in respect to the country I decided to call my home. I still do, but for different reasons now – 16 years after I first set foot in this country than upon my arrival. Back then I marveled at the conveniences of daily life like the abundance of ready to eat meals, or the cheapness of processed foods and the ease at which one could  (and still can) avail of food at fast-food restaurants at a very small cost. 16 years ago those conveniences were extremely appealing to me because where I came from , even though they were available, not very many families could afford them – processed foods such as candy were only bought sporadically (usually on a payday that happened once a month), visiting a fast-food restaurant was only a special occasion thing and as for ready-to-eat meals in cardboard boxes – they were only slowly emerging at that time and had a very high price tag. So, all in all I had not to that point partaken in all the “eye-candy” nutrition that now all of a sudden was at my fingertips. And of course, I fell for those cheap conveniences – you can read about it more in my About Page, but I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened next. Long story short – I’ve learned a lot about food in the past 16 years that now I chose carefully what I put in my mouth. That doesn’t mean I don’t like food or that I have some unhealthy relationship with food, if anything I’ve learned to understand food and nutrition better than ever before – I’ve taught myself about the dangers of malnutrition. And to me malnutrition does not only mean lack of proper food, to me it also means eating highly processed, fake foods. And this is why I spend time preparing my own food from scratch instead of going for the convenience of ready to go meals. Like I said I still like food and that includes treats  – that’s why, just like for my savoury meals I do not settle for store-bought treats. What you get from a wrapper is loaded with sugar and other additives that I would rather avoid in my diet. People who know me know not to offer me candy and we have an understanding that they can skip me when when they do their rounds offering people sweets. On the other hand, those who don’t know me, find me weird for turning down free candy. And I’m fine with that – the weirder the better. So, I came up with my own version of chocolates a while back that contains only the ingredients that I am willing to consume. This recipe was made for valentines this year – I guess I’m too slow for themed blog posts ;), but to have a lovely chocolate cup does not require that there be a holiday, does it? Hope you enjoy them nonetheless!

These beauties were so delicious that I almost felt guilty for indulging in them.

The ingredient list is fairly straight forward. If you don’t have vanilla powder on hand you can sub for liquid or skip all together. Same goes for Butter Rum extract – you can either use what you have or skip. I know Macadamia nuts are not a common occurrence in our households because they are quite pricey – so you can also sub. Those are not essential ingredients. So they can be replaced with something else or omitted altogether.

 

Coconut Macadamia Chocolate Cups
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 23
  • Serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 74
  • Fat: 8
  • Saturated fat: 4
  • Unsaturated fat: 3
  • Carbohydrates: 2
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 1
  • Fiber: 1
  • Protein: 1
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Low Carb Sweets
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Perfect treat that won't make you feel nauseous.
Ingredients
  • 80g Cocoa Butter
  • 50g Coconut Purée
  • 40g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 15g Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • Dash of Vanilla Powder or Extract
  • Few drops of Butter Rum Extract
  • Stevia to taste
  • Macadamia Nuts or any other nuts of choice
Instructions
  1. Melt Cocoa Butter in a double boiler.
  2. Add Coconut Purée and integrate with the melted Cocoa Butter.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except for Macadamia Nuts and mix well.
  4. Place a nut of choice in a silicone mold - I used a peanut butter cup mold, but any will do and fill up with the chocolate mixture to cover the nut.
  5. Place the mold on a cooling rack and slide into your freezer. I highly recommend the cooling rack technique, because otherwise you will make a mess trying to place the silicone mold into the freezer without stabilizing it first. It is rather flimsy.
  6. Leave it in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until chocolate has set.
  7. When fully hardened put the individual chocolate cups out of their molds and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

      I’m not sure how helpful my videos are, but these chocolates were so simple to make that it was a breeze to put together this little video. With the ease and really not much time put into making these I don’t see why anybody should settle for sugar laden factory made chocolates… Maybe I’m just an odd-one out – hell I know I am, but I like to know that I am putting only good quality ingredients in my food. Sure, it’s easier to pick up a chocolate bar at a grocery store, but it’s way more satisfying to make them myself 🙂 Enjoy and give me a thumbs up.

 

 

 

My Meatless Keto Week

Couple of years ago I’ve got sucked into the social media trend and started using Instagram. I had joined the Facebook wagon a long time before that in 2007, but I kept resisting IG for quite a while. I didn’t see the purpose of it, after all if I wanted to share some pictures I would have simply created an online photo gallery, which I did do multiple of times at different sites such as Flickr or Picasa. But, by looking at my sidebar where I feature my IG pictures, you know I eventually caved in and joined in on the fun.

Why am I saying all this? Well, I, like just about anybody out there, am very impressionable by what I see. In other words, if you walk the talk you will have my attention and I will be interested in what you are saying. If you don’t walk the talk and it shows, I will ignore your preachings. And before anybody even begins to form the criticism of that statement by saying that people use photoshop and filters to improve what they put out on IG, let me say that I am aware of that and I believe I can see through it. So, long story short, I’ve been fascinated by a vegetarian bodybuilder for a while now – her name is Geraldine Morgan.  In fact, I must give her credit for my Basic Savoury Pancake, because her food posts have inspired me to make one myself.

If you’re following any dietary news, especially in the bodybuilding sphere, you know there is a lot of controversy and dispute as to what’s the best macro ratios for building muscle. In fact, some will argue that you absolutely cannot build any amount of muscle by avoiding meat aka animal protein. Well, have a look at Geraldine and tell me she doesn’t carry a great amount of muscle on her frame! She can easily put to shame not only some women but also males trying to build muscle!

I’ve got so inspired by her posts, her work ethic and simply by her appearance that I decided to go meatless for a week. I would say I did rather well and didn’t really miss meat that much. I’ve actually increased my protein intake slightly, my carbs went up just a notch only because I decided to include some fruit in my morning post-workout meal and I was still able to keep my fats at a comfortable level to stay in a ketogenic state by including a lot of home-made nut butters, avocados, eggs and coconut oil. It was quite liberating not to have to worry about my main protein for a meal – I simply stuck to eggs, my savoury pancake (which can also be called a protein pancake for its high protein content) and last but not least my old time favorite cottage cheese creation. I supplemented liberally with hemp seeds, vegan protein powder, nuts and to a lesser extent with chia seeds. I liked it so much that I think I will continue this regiment into the second week!

And this is an example of what I would have for breakfast every single morning with the exception of the orange which I swapped for blueberries and plums. If you have been following my sweetener resolution you will now know that I’ve only been able to reduce my stevia usage, but not eliminate it completely – I still have a very strong sweet tooth that I am trying to control. I still believe I am doing pretty good and this type of breakfast makes everything better, every single morning 🙂

Orange Chocolate Mousse
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 12
  • Serving size: 150g
  • Calories: 72
  • Fat: 0.5
  • Saturated fat: 0.2
  • Carbohydrates: 2.8
  • Sugar: 2.4
  • Sodium: 15
  • Fiber: 0.3
  • Protein: 14.5
  • Cholesterol: 3.8
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: high-protein
Prep time: 
Total time: 
This can be transformed 100 different ways by playing with flavours.
Ingredients
  • 500g Dry Pressed Cottage Cheese
  • 500g Skyr
  • 125ml Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • Stevia to taste
  • 4 drops of Orange Extract
  • 20g Unsweetened Cocoa
Instructions
  1. Combine Cottage Cheese, Skyr and Milk until smooth in a food processor.
  2. Add more milk if desired.
  3. Add Stevia, Cocoa Powder and Orange Extract.
  4. Process until very smooth.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Notes
Please note even though I am promoting this as a ketogenic meal it is not very high in fat. This DOES NOT prevent it from being a keto food simply because one can add as much fat to this meal as desired. Toppings is where you can play with the fat content.

 
Orange and chocolate go quite well if I may say so. I reinforced the orange flavour by using a very powerful Orange Extract. By adding Cocoa nibs I was also able to add a chocolaty kick. No sugar in any of the ingredients and only a fraction from fruit. You can easily skip the fruit if you wish to.

 

The consistency is quite creamy and satisfying.

 

The texture also does not disappoint – I added a serving of chia seeds for some added fats and a serving of hemp seeds for more protein.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as tradition would have it I put it all together in a quick video – actually it ended up being my longest video yet – but I believe that all 8 minutes of it is worth your time! So have a look and give me a thumbs up if you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more.

I found my calling

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while or following my social media posts, you know that my most notable obsession is making and devouring pancakes. However, they come at a certain price for me – guilt for having indulged is something sweet. There is a certain pleasure in eating my pancakes: they are sweet, fluffy and featuring an array of toppings. I top them with nuts, nut butters, chocolate ganache, coconut purée, coconut flakes, pieces of chocolate, not to mention mounds of cinnamon finished with a crunchy, sweet layer of erythritol. You get the picture… This does not instill any amount of self control in me, I always want more once my pancake is gone. But I promised myself to tone it down, because I want to wean myself off the sweet dependency and be able to taste and enjoy the food’s natural flavour, not some artificially made sweetness.

Like anybody out there I want to have my cake and eat it too, but in my case it’s a pancake: I don’t care for cakes that much. Funny thing, I figured out a way to have it and eat it too – without resorting to any gimmicks, tricks, secrets or other questionable ways – without the guilt of eating a treat. How? I turned my sweet pancake into a savoury dish! Voilà! I’m eating a pancake at least twice a day and it’s not rising my insulin levels or my cravings. Let me introduce to you my one and only Basic Savoury Pancake aka a Wrap.   

 

Basic Savoury Pancake
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 1
  • Serving size: 1 pancake
  • Calories: 94
  • Fat: 1
  • Carbohydrates: 1
  • Protein: 19
Recipe type: Wrap
Cuisine: Low-carb
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This is a game changer for me: no more cravings after having my pancake!
Ingredients
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • ½ scoop of Pea Protein Powder
  • Spices
  • ⅓ cup Milk
Instructions
  1. Whip egg whites on high until slightly stiff
  2. Add pea protein powder and spices and mix until integrated.
  3. Add enough milk of choice for the batter to become quite runny for a pancake that can be swooshed around in the pan for a larger surface
Notes
NOTE 1: I opt for using egg white but you can just as successfully use whole eggs. The reason why I am using egg whites is because I like to add fat in the form of avocado, nuts and nut butters. So in essence I am saving my fat macros from the pancake and adding them back in my toppings.

NOTE 2: I am experimenting with different sources of protein lately. Inspired by one of the Arnold Classic competitors I am giving meat a bit of a rest and replacing it with vegetarian options. I still like meat and I am not turning vegetarian or vegan at all, just experimenting with different options. Somebody once asked me if vegans/vegetarians can follow a ketogenic diet and I never did find out, other than googling and getting mixed messages. So, here I am spreading my wings: my choice of protein for this pancake apart from egg white is Pea Protein Powder.

NOTE 3: You can use any milk you wish, I opted for unsweetened Almond Milk. You can add as much or as little as you wish. Thicker batter with not spread very easily on your pan, whereas with a thinner batter (which you will achieve by adding enough milk) you will be able to spread and achieve a larger, more foldable pancake that you can use as a wrap if you wish.

When I first attempted this creation I was a bit sceptical as to how filling this bad boy was going to be, mostly because I’m only using 2 egg whites, so volume-wise it does not seem like a whole lot of food. My regular sweet pancake calls for 250ml of egg whites – so visually, when I start whipping up my egg whites the volume seems incredible – and truth be told my sweet Basic Coconut Pancake is rather large. But I decided to switch things up a little bit for my savoury equivalent. The reason for this is simple – I wanted to concentrate more on the toppings for the savoury pancake rather than use up all my macros in the pancake (that’s also why I opted for egg whites in the batter, rather than whole eggs – I wanted those fats on top). And my toppings for the savoury pancake made the whole dish quite satiating.

And toppings is where it’s at, my lovely readers! The possibilities are endless – let your imagination run wild! Same as being able to switch up the flavour of the pancake by playing with the spices, you can top the pancake with different things every time you make it. The pancake is quite malleable when you thin out the batter enough, so it’s perfect for lunches in place of a traditional store bought wrap – you can stuff it with anything you desire. And, did I say it takes literally no time to put it together? Well, it’s true, you can make it in under 5 minutes!

This was my very first Savoury Pancake I made and it came out much thicker because I did not dilute the batter as much – it was quite yummy! Toppings include caramelized red onions and walnuts and some sautéed shrimp for added protein.

 

Second attempt came out just as good and at that point I was hooked! This time I made the batter slightly thinner which allowed for the pancake to be folded – now that I think of it, these could very easily be turned into quesadilla style wraps! Anybody up for chicken quesadillas? Oh, the possibilities! I served this one with mushrooms, onions, avocado and walnuts and a side of baby spinach topped with grated beets in home made simple vinaigrette.

 

It was that good!

And as tradition would have it I put together a quick video to show you it really isn’t that difficult or time consuming to cook from scratch:

 

So what’s my calling? I think I’d be perfectly OK to be the Pancake Lady until I’m old and wrinkled 🙂

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.

 

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:

 

How will I ever live without potatoes on a LCHF diet?

Once you’ve tasted well prepared potatoes in any form you will undoubtedly want to go for more. It’s a fact, they are addictive – after all they behave the same way sugar does when it enters your body: they elevate your blood glucose, give you a quick energy boost and then make you crash and crave more.

Let’s take potato chips, can you stop at one? No, you can’t. Now, with potato chips there is more at play than just the fact that they are made out of a potato (supposedly – there is more chemistry in a potato chip than there is actual potato) – the companies making potato chips have their own recipe for making you want to go for more than one – but I digress, this is a topic for another post. Potatoes, when prepared correctly seduce you with their deep and savoury starchiness and give you a mouthfeel that is not reproducible by any other food, or is it? You feel like you’re eating fluffy clouds not potatoes… Next the starch content raises your blood glucose and soon your body will release insulin to manage the glucose, turn some of it into liver and muscle glycogen and store the rest where it can – mostly in your buttocks. Because you know damn well that one serving of mashed potatoes will not do, you’ll want some more and some more, and you know that you will douse it with a heavy, creamy coating of gravy.

Living a LCHF lifestyle does not mean you have to forget about ever having mashed potatoes. OK, you have to forget about it, but if you are open-minded you can easily create substitutions to your favorite dishes. And they might actually turn out better than the original! Just give it a try. Here is a step by step instructions on how to go about it and it’s pretty darn easy and won’t take you much more time than preparing “the real thing”.

STEP 1: Steam or boil a head of cauliflower – yes, of all things available you will substitute potatoes with cauliflower! Mostly because it has a mind flavour that will soak up the flavour of anything you decide to add to it.  

STEP 2: Transfer cooked and cooled cauliflower into a food processor and process on high until you reach the consistency of a mashed potato.

I bet you you couldn’t tell it wasn’t a potato in my food processor! Now, you could skip the food processor and mash the cauliflower by hand, but it is so much easier this way and you’ll achieve a silky smooth consistency.

Now that I think of it, I should have done a side by side comparison of potato vs. cauliflower mash to show you that there is no visual difference. However, I would have been stuck with a bunch of mashed potatoes at the end that I would not know what to do with… Do birds eat mashed potatoes?

STEP 3: Melt 1tbs of butter or coconut oil in a large frying pan and add your mashed cauliflower in the frying pan.

I used to be afraid of butter, but I remember very clearly growing up that butter was the primary fat used in my mother’s kitchen. I rarely saw any bottles of vegetable oil kicking around, it was always butter. She’d make her famous boneless pork chops and fry them in butter. Mind you, there is one step in her pork chop recipe that I definitely skip and that’s breading them in breadcrumbs… Instead I’d use spices, nutritional yeast, coconut flour or coconut flakes if I was to coat my meats… I think I just put my creative engine in a drive mode 🙂

STEP 4: Now comes the fun part that you can play with to your heart’s content by adding whatever you have in your spice arsenal. I used salt and pepper, garlic and onion powder, pesto herb blend by Especias des Sol ¹  and a leftover shredded parmesan cheese. You can play with different combinations, though, and make these take on a different flavour every time you make them, there really isn’t a rule to this, well, maybe just one: have fun with it.

I cannot stress it enough how important it is to not shy away from your spice rack – throw away the rules and try new things. Buy a spice you’ve never heard of before and add it to your cauliflower mash, see what it does to it, how it changes its flavour. Cauliflower doesn’t have much flavour on its own so it’s important to add some to it, otherwise it will be bland.

STEP 5: Next add a splash of heavy whipping cream and integrate everything together by mixing with a spoon or a spatula.

In the past, heavy whipping cream used to be an ingredient, just like butter, that would have never graced my grocery list with its presence – simply because it’s a fat. This reminds me, I must update my grocery list to include it permanently on it instead of having to add it to the list every single week. I don’t use a lot of it and you don’t need a lot to make anything taste rich. Also, don’t settle for the less fatty alternatives or worse yet the fake creamers – those all come with carbs and additives, this one has 0g of carbs and 0 additives.

 

Stir everything until well integrated together.

STEP 6: Let cook for another 5-10 minutes for the mixture to thicken a bit.

Doesn’t this look like the best mashed potatoes cauliflower you’ve ever seen?

STEP 7: Transfer into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme or more pesto mix. 

Cauliflower is an excellent substitution for the starchy potato in that it is packed with nutrition at only a fraction of caloric density. 100g of boiled cauliflower will cost you 23 calories of which only 4g is carbohydrates, 100g of boiled potato is about 4 times as calorically dense at 87 calories and a whooping 20g of carbs. And the flavour and mouthfeel are very comparable if not on par with the potato.
Stats for a boiled potato look pretty decent, until you compare them to the alternative.
And here is what I opt for instead of the potato, it won’t make me heavy and droopy.
Of course, the above calories comparison will change as you change what you add to your mix (olive oil, butter, cream) – but those are all fats that will add needed flavor. Remember, you’re deriving your energy from fat by replacing unneeded carbs for fat – no need to fear or avoid adding fat to your meals.

 

I’m fairly sure that if this mash was served to an unsuspecting person they would not be able to tell they are not eating potatoes.

And that’s a wrap for this instalment of “How will I live without _______ (fill in the blank) on a LCHF diet?” Just because you grew up eating a certain food item which in effect made you bloated and sick doesn’t mean that you have to continue eating it and feeling like you are slowly killing yourself. You can find a healthier alternative for most of these foods and if you can’t, so what? If there is a better way to fuel your body that doesn’t make you groggy, tired and lethargic every time you eat, then it’s a small price to pay to get rid of those offenders from your diet for good.

¹ I found this blend at Winners quite by chance – that’s what happens when I visit my favorite store on a spur of a moment – I end up with spices that come in handy I never know when I am going to be able to use. Now, you probably shouldn’t run to Winners to look for this Pesto mix, because chances are you will not find it. I don’t expect to find it again, either. However, you can easily make this mix yourself with store bought dry herbs. Take equal parts of dry basil, garlic, sun dried tomato, oregano and sesame seeds (I’d probably lower the amount to 1/3 of the other ingredients) and put in a coffee grinder. Grind as long as it takes to integrate and make mixture into a powder. Voilà! You made yourself a Pesto mix! Especias del Sol. (back to top)

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 .

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. 

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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…

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

 

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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.
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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…
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All I can say is that I didn’t eat it 🙂

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

 

 

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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 🙁

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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: 

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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 :).