Chickpea Burger

I have never felt this incapacitated as I do now and have been since October 2016. I like to research new ways of training, adding things I’ve never tried before and I remember distinctly having found a YouTube video with a different type of shoulder training around the time my shoulder started bothering me. I was very eager to try it, moreso because it was performed by one of my ketogenic diet gurus. Lo and behold, the following day my shoulders were on fire. I didn’t pay much attention to the discomfort since a healthy dose of soreness is good for progress. That is until it got worse and it no longer felt like the regular DOMS I’m used to getting. Fast forward to today and I might as well cancel my gym membership because I have completely stopped training upper body due to this injury. One might think “Big deal! Take care of it!” however to me – even though I am taking care of it – it is a huge deal.  

This injury has affected me in ways that I cannot begin to describe as I am unsure that I comprehend them myself. Not being able to do what I do that pretty much defines who I am is like cutting off a bird’s wings and still asking it to fly. I have been training at the gym for the majority of the last 8 years, if not longer. I am not a professional competitor, I don’t make a living with this activity – It’s what I do to feel good, to start my day in a positive way. I’m a cranky morning riser, so getting that rush of adrenaline first thing in the morning is what makes me go – and now that’s mostly gone. On days that I do go to the gym to train legs I still feel like I am unable to workout with the intensity that I know and love – so it seems that it’s a wasted time.   

When you depend on your fix and it’s not delivered your life starts to crumble. You start doubting your self-worth, you don’t see a point in carrying on, you become depressed and moody for the smallest of reasons. In your mind it all comes down to one thing – you are not able to do what you love and it makes you miserable no matter how much you’re trying to resist the misery.  

This has been my reality for much too long and I know it’s affecting more than just me…. Right now I am trying to find a way to be OK with the way things are until things get better, but it’s difficult when there is no improvement, no light at the end of the tunnel and all odds seem to be against me. My mind is unwilling to look at the bright side of things and be hopeful without compassion and understanding – instead, it inevitably gravitates towards the worst case scenario. How does one fly with no wings? 

So as a way of being OK for the time being I have started to experiment in the kitchen a bit more – trying to find ways to incorporate more and more plant-based protein in my meals. It’s more a way to occupy my mind than anything else, but I have been finding quite interesting to try new things and to develop my tastebuds so that I don’t depend on the same old, same old. Here you have it –  today’s supper was a Chickpea Burger with a side of homemade Sweet Potato Chips. 

 

This is my idea of “fast food” – it was fast to put together, it was delicious, but it didn’t clog my arteries the way that a regular fast food burger would and that’s a bonus!
This little patty pack in a lot of nutrition and flavor. No, it doesn’t taste like meat, it tastes way better! I haven’t been eating beef in a long time, so I don’t feel like I am missing anything, anyway 😉

Chickpea Burger
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 5
  • Serving size: 50g
  • Calories: 193
  • Fat: 9.5
  • Saturated fat: 1
  • Unsaturated fat: 4
  • Carbohydrates: 20
  • Sugar: 3.6
  • Sodium: 24
  • Fiber: 7.5
  • Protein: 8
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Better than meat burger!
Ingredients
  • 300g cooked Chickpeas
  • 100g grated Carrots
  • 30g Tahini
  • 70g Avocado
  • 20g Hemp Seeds
  • 15g ground Flax Seeds
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1tsp Cumin
  • 1tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 10g Nutritional Yeast
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic
  • ¼ cup of Lemon Juice
Instructions
  1. Reserve the carrots and 50g of Chickpeas for later
  2. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mass is smooth.
  3. Add the rest of the chickpeas and carrots and pulse only slightly to incorporate, you want to leave some chickpeas somewhat chunky.
  4. Form patties and brown on both sides in a non-stick frying pan.
  5. Assemble your burger with the bread of choice - I decided to use Ezekiel bread because that's what I had on hand. Also, I used a leaf of purple kale - it has the most beautiful fragrance and purple veins. As a side I served my very own Sweet Potato Chips that I made simply by slicing the potato on a mandoline, spraying the individual chips lightly with some coconut oil spray and sprinkling a tad of pink Himalayan salt. As a spread for the bread, I used my own hummus.

 

What rock have I been hiding under?

The one that nobody would come looking for me, I suppose. But to be brutally honest I’ve been somewhat incapacitated by miserably cold and gray weather that’s been sticking around this rock for way too long and by a persistent shoulder injury. The rock I live on has a tendency to “gift us” with a prolonged winter that for people like me means depression galore. That paired with the fact that back in October of last year I injured my shoulder and it hasn’t healed since made for quite a miserable human being, who literally did not want to lift a finger. But I’m working on recovering my shoulder’s health and (knock on wood) sun has finally decided to show its face around here. So, with baby steps I’m edging out from underneath the heavy rock I’ve been living under.

All this hiding did not go to waste, though. Even though, I have not felt inspired to make any blog worthy meals, I have continued to cook to nourish myself. But I also took a long and hard look at my eating habits and I have re-evaluated my nutritional approach. Let me explain:

At around this time last year I have fully immersed myself in what’s known as the ketogenic diet whose approach is to switch the body’s energy source to fat instead of carbohydrates.  I’ve read all there is to read about this dietary approach and I plunged into it (slowly at first) believing in the premise – made famous by Steve Phinney – that in the beginning, a portion of the 70% of fat should come from body fat that we are trying to burn and not necessarily from dietary fat as shown in the diagram below:

So, when I started the ketogenic diet my dietary fat only came to about 50g, which coupled with the very low carb requirement made for a rough start. All of a sudden, all my starches were gone (sweet potatoes, other root vegetables, oats, gone were the indulgent pastries, I even modified my grocery list to remove permanently the high carb options, I no longer bought fruit and instead have been seen explaining to the Bulk Barn employee why pork rinds are a better option than conventional chips) to be replaced with fat.

So, eating 50g of dietary fat and deriving the rest of the 70% from my body fat, keeping my carb intake from all sources at a maximum of 50g and making sure my protein remained moderate as well (because if you know anything about the keto diet you will know excess protein is a no-no) I found that results came quick. I quickly moved on to the second phase, where fats were increased ever so gently and on to the 3rd and 4th phase. But what ended up happening was, that even though the macronutrient ratio increased on paper, the volume of food on my plate did not change significantly and I like volume. This was a problem – I like to eat.

There was another problem that I was frantically trying to hide from myself – I’ve been addicted to the free-foods of the fitness industry. Ever since I’ve set up my IG account I’ve been the victim of the knowledge of the masses (aka pseudo-knowledge), falling prey of all the “latest and greatest” devoid of nutrition food-stuffs that spammed my IG feed. Yes, you can rest assured that I’ve tried most of those artificially sweetened food-stuffs. And while they are promoted as calorie-free, guilt-free alternatives I no longer believe that eating them is without cost to our health. I do believe that they leave us craving more of the wrong stuff, they mess with our hormones, our perception of taste and our food inhibitions. This constant bombardment of fake food-stuff along with a high fat diet made me uncomfortable in my own body.

But it’s not just my own faulty experience that made me rethink my approach, I have also been observing other keto fellows, just to discover that there are only a few of them who are fully thriving on this WOE and achieving body compositions worth a mention. Without naming anybody, I will say that most of the ketoers (people who follow a ketogenic lifestyle) tend to become very plump, if not overweight. Is a keto diet meant for weight loss? According to Phinney and Volek yes, it is, but some claim that it is not meant for weight loss and rather for health gain. Whatever the case and whatever dietary approach one chooses to follow one thing is for sure in my books – as long as we keep fooling our our bodies by feeding it fake stuff we will continue to be fat and sick.

While under my gloomy rock I kept going back to my food journals from the pre-IG era and I couldn’t help but notice the absence of fake stuffs and the overwhelming presence of real food in my diet. I ate starchy vegetables, oats and fruits galore and I felt and looked good all while keeping my fats in a healthy range of 50-60g a day – all coming from real food. So, I kept thinking: “How is it that all of a sudden I am afraid of a piece of fruit or a plateful of veggies and feeling so under the weather and deprived?”  

I started looking around, reading, searching youtube for a whiff of fresh air – inspiration if you wish, finding similarities among the most unlikely channels, all centered around best fuel for physical performance. I revisited and scrolled through Geraldine Morgan’s – a bodybuilder vegan – IG account that seems to disappear from time to time, but if you are interested you can check her out on her FB page. And then it hit me with a force of an avalanche : I’ve been always preaching real food and we all know where Popeye’s strength and big muscle come from – spinach!

So my focus shifted to researching vegan/vegetarian bodybuilding and I stumbled upon a youtube channel unlike any others by a fellow Canadian – Derek Simnett of Simnett Nutrition  – and his easy going approach to performance fuel immediately grabbed my attention and made me put my sweet potato and oats back on my grocery list. Heck, I even bought dates and bananas! However, I haven’t eaten meat in the past 2 weeks and I feel great and haven’t lost all my muscles.

Am I a vegan or a vegetarian now? No. If I have to label myself as anything I prefer to call myself the real food monster. I still eat fat, only it’s plant-derived fat, I no longer believe we have this extreme need for dietary fat, we only need enough for vitamin absorption, hormone production and brain function. Excess fat will be stored like any other macronutrient that we over-consume. I have been forgoing consumption of meat, only because I find preparation of it very energy consuming. I haven’t become an animal activist by any means, but I do find meal preparation so much easier when it does not involve meat as the protein source. I’ve learned that plants have a lot of protein that’s easy and quick to prepare – in fact it would have never occurred to me that a fully plant based meal can deliver just as much protein as a meal centered around a piece of meat! Have a look at my typical breakfast and lunch:

Who would have thought that in 2 plant based meals one can get 53g of protein? Not me! I’ve been pre-programmed to believe that the only viable source of protein is meat and that we need a lot of it. What’s more, the volume of those 2 meals had me chewing for a solid hour 🙂  

I leave you with a video by Derek in which he explains what he eats in a typical day. Note that his protein intake is not high by bodybuilding standards, even though he points out he finds it high for that day of eating. If you look at any of his other videos you will see he has built quite a bit of muscle eating this way, which goes to prove that protein over-consumption is not necessary for ideal body composition. Have a look for yourselves:

 

Longing for the simple, easier ways

Do you ever get the feeling that as you grow older you seem to have lost something that used to make your life complete and no matter how hard you try you are not able to find that something in the here and now? Most times you can’t even put a finger on it, it’s a fleeting feeling, a memory, a situation, an intangible and an indefinable emotional state… Other times you know exactly what it is: it’s the way things used to be when they were fresh, new and exciting… Why is it that this feeling had to go away? Because we are surrounded by constant evolution, information overload and “experts” regurgitating the latest truths and discoveries. Most times change is good – when it builds on that feel-good feeling, but other times change covers up what we knew to be true and skews our reality by letting us believe the past can no longer be. We know it’s there, because we get tiny little glimpses of it here and there, only for it to blur into obscurity with new experiences… new situations…. new feelings… new information.

For me, those glimpses happen when I hear my shutter click, which I haven’t heard in years now. I’ve disabled the fake shutter sound my phone’s camera produces because its fakeness is exactly the type of new reality that obscures the reality. Nevertheless, every offspring of my shutterless phone camera brings back those memories of what was. Only how to uncover it all and bring it back to life? 

    

So where is food in all this? Right front and center. To be honest, I’ve been longing to get out of the rut I’m in food-wise. I miss the times when I knew my thing and stuck to my mantra of food is fuel. I’m sad to admit to myself that somewhere in the abyss of thoughtless social media screen scrolling I have lost that conviction. Everybody wants to taste the sweet nectar of colorful, supposedly guilt-free devilish creations that we immerse ourselves in once that screen lits up. It seems that those images look more enticing and tempting than the most provocative body part.

So, I’ve laid aside the social media feed for a while and instead have been scrolling through MyFitnessPal history to where I know my food simply worked because it fueled not tempted with pretty colors. Back then I didn’t display it publicly because it was simple, unexciting and easy… But it worked. So I found a recipe that I used to use for my treats and overnight oats and turned it into a colorful dessert… 

Ultimately, that’s what it is. It’s not a breakfast item or even a reasonable treat, it’s way too large – between all the smoothie base, the fruit, and all the other toppings this would probably fulfill half of my energy intake for a day and then some.

Of course, my plant had to take over this picture. Even though it looks like it does not belong in the color scheme, I couldn’t resist but to make it the focal point. If there is anything I miss from the old way of photo taking, it would be a good macro lens for shooting flowers. Nothing beats an SLR macro.
It seems like the bowl is smiling at you or maybe it’s laughing… hard to tell.

You’ve probably seen these smoothie bowls all over IG, Pinterest, and FB. Mine is not as impressive as what you’ve probably seen because I did not manipulate the colors in this picture half as much as what some “experts” do. I’m also not going to tell you it’s a health item because it isn’t.

I encourage you to search for a “how to” video for these smoothie bowls and you will be blown away to find out that they are the ultimate in consumer manipulation. Come on! Purple raspberries? And pink blueberries? They represent fakeness at its best. I don’t deny editing my own pictures, but the transformation that those smoothie bowls undergo is what’s wrong with the perception of reality on social media these days. Not to mention that if you were to eat one of these you probably would not have to eat until the wee hours of the night, it would be that filling. 

In spite of my apparent negativity towards these creations, or rather towards the misinformation they spread, I do make the cottage cheese and yogurt base every single weekend, but the amount that I poured in that bowl to take a picture usually lasts me an entire week, as opposed to one meal. I use the smoothie base for my overnight oats, but they are nowhere as exciting and beautiful as the Smoothie Bowl pictured above or the ones floating on social media. So I’ll spare you a boring picture of my everyday breakfast, but don’t be fooled by the pretty colors and the illusion of well-being and health that these try to portray on social media. 

Smoothie Base
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 13
  • Serving size: 100g
  • Calories: 82
  • Fat: 1.1
  • Saturated fat: 0.5
  • Carbohydrates: 5.2
  • Sugar: 3
  • Sodium: 47
  • Fiber: 1.2
  • Protein: 14.3
  • Cholesterol: 3.5
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Not all that glitters is gold
Ingredients
  • 500g Dry Pressed Cottage Cheese
  • 500g Plain Skyr
  • 37g of MRM Mocha Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 1cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 20g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 12g Lucuma Powder
  • 20g Mesquite Powder
  • 1-2 TBS instant coffee
  • Stevia or Erythritol to taste
  • Extracts if desired
Instructions
  1. Put Cottage Cheese, Skyr and Almond Milk in a large capacity food processor and blend on high until smooth.
  2. Add all the dry ingredients and extract (if using) and blend on high until well incorporated.
Notes
Note 1: I use this yogurt base for my overnight oats. I measure out 2 servings of this Smoothie base, add about ¼ cup of milk, 20-30g of dry oats and mix well. I will top with some berries, sprinkle of cinnamon and dust it with stevia if I feel I want it extra sweet. Put in the fridge overnight for the oats to absorb some of the moisture and plump up. This is a perfect breakfast for the coming hot summer days 🙂

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Raw Vegan Chocolate-Goji Cookies

I will admit to being a bit of a snob when it comes to some dietary approaches. For example, I have always scoffed at such claims as Gluten-free, Vegan, Organic etc. I’ve always considered those labels just a money grab by big food companies who put them even on things that are inherently gluten-free just to be able to charge a premium for it. Just think about it, if water gets a label “gluten free” don’t you feel like you’re getting taken in? I do. So, I view products with these claims as gimmicks and if I want to make my meals follow a certain dietary approach I just make them from scratch instead of buying ready to go meals that supposedly are gluten-free, vegan or organic etc. Also, if you think that you are going to be healthier by following any of these “diets” think again, the gluten-free, vegan or organic versions of regular junk are still junk – they are just parading as better than the regular. This is not to say that if you really have a gluten intolerance, celiac disease or simply want to eliminate gluten from your diet because you believe eating gluten-free is healthier doesn’t mean you can’t do so, just don’t fall for the fancy packaged foods, because they are just as bad as the gluten variety.

I’ve mentioned in one of my previous blog posts that I draw my current inspiration from a vegan bodybuilder – as a result I inevitably ended up emulating some of her recipes. These are a modified version of her recipe and I can’t recommend them enough. If you are looking for an alternative to overly processed and sweet cookies that our grocery store isles are laden with, this is a recipe for you. They are a child’s play (literally) to make and you might be surprised how rich and decadent they are. If you do prefer a sweeter cookie you can make them as sweet as you like, but I opted out for very little sweetener. This way I was able to let the ingredients speak for themselves rather than making a sweet bomb.

Raw Vegan Chocolate-Goji Cookies
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 20.5
  • Serving size: 65g
  • Calories: 259
  • Fat: 19
  • Saturated fat: 2.6
  • Unsaturated fat: 12
  • Carbohydrates: 10
  • Sugar: 3.1
  • Sodium: 82
  • Fiber: 5
  • Protein: 15
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: LCHF
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Decadent dessert to go with a cup of tea.
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put all the nuts, goji berries and seeds in a food processor and pulse until they are ground. They don't need to be ground extremely fine - pulse about 10 minutes. Not too long because you will turn them into a paste.
  2. Transfer your ground nuts, goji berries and seeds into a large bowl.
  3. Add melted coconut oil, nut butter, maqui powder, protein powders, lucuma powder and a few drops of stevia (more if you want a sweeter cookie)
  4. Integrate all the ingredients together.
  5. Add enough water for the dough to become slightly sticky - I think for me it was about 1-2 cups, but you really need to go by how the mixture feels and how well you are able to form your cookies.
  6. Weigh out about 65g of your dough and form into a cookie shape.
  7. Roll in some unsweetened coconut flakes and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  8. Transfer into an airtight container and store in the fridge.
Notes
NOTE: As for my choice of protein powder that's what I had on hand so that's what I ended up using. Any protein powder will do - the ones I used are plant based, but if you prefer whey or casein you will be just as successful.

NOTE: The ingredients that are not easily found in the grocery store I personally purchased online (see links) but they are not indispensable in this recipe. They add antioxidants and minerals to my recipe but you can just as easily skip them with no repercussions to the recipe.

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: