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.

 

 

 

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)

Sumac Pork Chops in Pesto Sauce

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Measuring progress

In my previous post I told you about some of the physical, emotional and mental effects of eating a diet that is high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. This can be very subjective and one could argue that they experience the same without having to lower their carb consumption. If that’s you, more power to you – I’m not here to change everybody’s WOE. I’m here to show you what works for me.

Aside from the feel good aspects of this diet I am also experiencing more tangible and measurable effects of having reduced my carb intake to about 30-50g a day and increasing my fat consumption. I’ve started measuring the production of ketones in my body. What are ketones you ask? Let me explain…

When you switch your fuel from carbohydrates to fat by consuming below 50g of carbohydrates per day and increasing your intake of fat to meet your expenditure goals, your body will no longer have the ability to breakdown carbs to create glucose for energy. Instead, your body will start breaking down fats for energy and the byproduct of this breakdown is what’s called ketone bodies. There are 3 ways of measuring your ketone production:

Urine Ketone Strips ( measure acetoacetate )
Blood Ketone Monitor (measures beta-bydroxybutryate (BHB))
Breath Ketone Analyser (Ketonix) (measures acetone which is made from a breakdown of acetoacetate)

Urine Ketone Strips in my experience have proven useless as they barely registered any ketones in my urine at all. I only started using them about 2 months into my diet and there is a possibility that if I had used them at an earlier stage of my ketosis I might have been able to register some ketone production. The reason for this is the fact that the type of ketones (acetoacetate) that one can measure in urine are the ones that the body has no need for so it excretes them – so called  “wasted” ketones. In other words, if ones diet is extremely high in fat and the body breaks down that fat to produce ketones some of them will be used by the body for brain function and energy, but if there is too much of them (ie. more than needed to fuel your body) they will be eliminated via urine. Moreover, if one has been following the LCFH diet for an extended period of time the body becomes very efficient at using its ketones and does not have an abundance of “wasted ketones” to release. Hence, my poor results with measuring urine ketones.

Blood Ketone Monitor has given me a better result as I have registered 0.6 mmol/L of blood ketones. However, I am not able to do any type of analysis of my blood ketones because I’ve only measured one time so far. The trouble with measuring blood ketones is that, while it is the gold standard for accurately measuring ketone levels, it is also the most expensive. Or maybe we are seeing some sort of cause and effect here – because it is a gold standard it is also the most expensive (after all Big Pharma is after your money). The monitor itself is not very expensive, in fact if you live in Canada most manufacturers will send it to you for free (I got mine free from Abbott), but what will drain your wallet if you want to measure regularly are the strips. The cheapest I have been able to find them was on Well.ca  – a box of 10 will run you 25.99$ + economy shipping of 5.95$ or express shipping of 14.99$ (free shipping only starts at 29$) – so one test will cost you 3.30$. Helpful hint to save money is to buy 2 in one order and you will shave off the cost of shipping and one test goes down to 2.59$ – still pretty steep. So personally I will not be measuring blood ketones regularly, but only at times when I know I have been 100% adherent to the diet and have not been using any sweeteners in my food. But here is my result:

This is my one and only ketone and glucose measurement to date. As you can see from the picture below, the ketone reading of 0.6mmol/L puts me just at the start of nutritional ketosis.

 

 

This is the blood ketone range – the Nutritional Ketosis starts at about 0.5 mmol/L, it’s followed by Optimal Ketosis and Post-Exercise Ketosis. Starvation Ketosis and Ketoacidosis are not desirable. The former because the purpose of this WOE is not to starve but to eat to satiety and the latter only matters for those who along with high ketone levels have high blood glucose level due to unstable insulin levels (usually Type 1 diabetics)

Breath Ketone Analyser aka Ketonix has just arrived as an early Christmas gift from my partner in crime, so we started blowing right away. This device measures breath acetone and has a slightly different range than blood ketones and does not seem to correspond closely to the levels of blood ketones. As you can imagine, since the initial cost of the device is the only cost associated with this method, I’ve done quite a few tests already. The results have been all over the map, I’ve gotten readings between 4-14ppm which I am very happy with, to say the least. The highest readings have consistently been recorded after my morning workout which includes 45-60 minutes on a bike and 60 minutes weight training and the lowest readings happened at the end of the day.

These are the ranges of Ketone readings for a Ketonix as defined by the maker of this device. Nutritional Ketosis according to “Measuring Breath Acetone for Monitoring Fat Loss: Review“ by Joseph C. Anderson (Obesity (2015) 23, 2327–2334. doi:10.1002/oby.21242 ) is between 4-30ppm.
This is a reading of my ketones that was taken sometime in the afternoon. While I have seen people display their own readings that were much higher than this (going into the red zone) I believe that this is a pretty decent reading. I don’t subscribe to chasing the ketones and trying to achieve the highest reading possible. After all, you want your body to be utilising them, not producing an overabundance of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today 3-4 hours after a morning fasted workout the reading shows above 12ppm.

 

And this is a snapshot of my ketone readings so far. As you can see it seems to be all over the place, hitting low and high notes depending on my activity level and how much fat I am consuming.

Up until now I didn’t have any tangible results other than feeling physically, mentally and emotionally better than I have ever felt during my high-carb days – I couldn’t really tell if I was doing this right. These ketone numbers – even though many would argue are completely unnecessary – do give me some sort of validation. Both, myself and my partner are in it knee deep and once we started measuring ketones we’ve entered into a  “ketone competition” with each other where we both want to outdo the other person. While the competition is very innocent I do think it is a healthy competition to have because the bottom line is, each of us wants to eat optimally for this WOE and what can be better than two people making sure they eat well so that they can be healthier than the other one? If you ask me, this is an ultimate thing in any relationship, since usually couples tend to trip each other up rather than be the motivating force for each other.

From Farm to Table to Plate

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keto for the win!

keto eggs
                     3 full eggs, 5g coconut oil, 160g english cucumber, 15g blue cheese, salt and pepper.

Today I read  something very refreshing, something that I’ve always believed and preached myself : there is no size that fits all when it comes to food. You have to figure it out by yourself, by trial and error to see what will work for you. This takes time, 100% adherence and perseverance. You can’t just look at somebody else and what they eat and hope that the same will work for you. It might, but chances are it won’t.

Why was this refreshing to see somebody preach that not everybody is the same in how their bodies respond to food? It’s because there is way too many people out there throwing claims about what works and what doesn’t that many people blindly follow and see no results. It’s especially true for those who follow IIFYM  – they give you the impression that you can eat junk and get ripped. They put down anybody who doesn’t follow their pack, not to mention belittling anybody who subscribes to the “clean eating” way. It boggles me why people feel they have the right to call anybody names just because they chose to eat rice and broccoli! And it goes both ways. Why won’t everybody just mind their own plate? If you want to show me your way, go ahead and do it, but don’t put me down because I know that I don’t have enough self control to eat one pop tart – I’d have to eat them all. So, instead I chose to stick to whole foods, make my own baked goods in small quantities and skip the hype.

For a fact I know that my body does best, composition-wise, when my carbs are low and fats are high. So keto eggs2this trio was on the menu for today’s lunch and it was splendid! Fats also make me feel satiated and less likely to want to snack mindlessly in between meals. What’s more, when I eat a fatty meal I don’t get the urge to reach for something else right after I’ve had my last bite. In fact, I don’t feel hungry for the next 3-4 hours. With carby meals it’s quite the opposite: I eat the meal and before I even finish it I’m calculating in my mind if there is any more room to eat more. 45 minutes post carb meal and my stomach is growling. So, I’m going to stick with higher fats and lower carbs, which pretty much means no junk. Mostly eggs, salmon, veal, nut butters and leafy green veggies. Do what makes you feel best and forget the rest!   

Macros for this lunch meal are: 343cal, 7c, 24f, 20p. 

 

When you know you won’t need the carbs

IMG_20151226_075054294_HDRThere is something about pancakes that is just so comforting. Yes, I said it, even though I don’t believe in using food for comfort, because I know that that’s when we get in trouble with food. If every time you need to be comforted you turn to food – and if you are anything like me, that would be often – then you start eating when you don’t feel hunger, and then the energy that your body doesn’t need it will store as….  I think you see where I’m going with this. However, that’s no reason not to eat pancakes, just eat them when you are hungry 🙂 

Another problem with pancakes (at least for me) is that they are usually made with some sort of flour which means carbs – unless I’m about to go to the gym I try to limit my consumption of flour products. So, this big-ass pancake has no conventional flour added:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7 eggs whites
  • 10g almond flour 
  • 5g Beyond Yourself Whey Isolate
  • 1tsp Sweet Leaf Stevia
  • 1tsp of baking powder
  • Flavour Extracts of choice
  • Toppings: 66g blueberries, 15g slivered almonds, sprinkle of BCAA, 20g natural peanut butter

DIRECTIONS:
Whip the egg whites with stevia and extracts in a food processor until they form peaks. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the toppings. Gently fold into the egg whites and pour out on a lightly greased with coconut oil spray nonstick large frying pan. Once browned on each side transfer into a large plate and top with your toppings of choice.

MACROS with the toppings:
Cal: 426, p37g, c15g, f24g 

IMG_20151226_075110057_HDRIMG_20151226_075101439_HDRBecause I’m home bound due to sickness and I’m not about to exert myself physically at the gym, I don’t need a lot of carb energy. So, instead, this one has a higher amount of fat that is coming from the almond flour, almonds and the peanut butter. And trust me, it’s just as good or better than a conventional pancake. 

Enjoy! 

Keto Buns

garlic2Ask a random person at the grocery store about what, in their opinion, is the worst macronutrient – fat, protein or carbohydrate – and I guarantee you, most people will say fat. You think people have moved on from the era of fat phobia but they haven’t. Take for example an exchange that I was a part of in the line-up at Winners this summer. I was waiting my turn to pay for my stuff and as is the case at most checkouts you can’t help but “check out” all the items around you. Maybe that’s why it’s called a “check out” because you’re constantly “checking out” what else you could grab. I digress. So, there are mostly bags of chips waiting to be checked out, both looked at and purchased ;-)… But there are other items too. I kept grabbing various bags of snack, because as it happened we were looking for hiking appropriate snacks. That means they had to meet 2 criteria:

1. They had to be light weight – Randy’s criteria.
2. They had to be minimally processed – my criteria. Yes I know, go get an apple, right? “Too damn heavy” – says Randy 🙂

I had a bag of sliced dried apples in my hand and said to Randy “Oh, look, this is not bad at all, just apples.” To which a random woman said something about “them (media) always being about what’s good and what’s bad, it’s all bad, people getting all confused about the contradicting information….” and another woman behind us making some other comments. I thought that was going to be it, but no, the best was yet to come. Randy spotted a hazelnut halva bar, grabbed it and said in a drooly kind of way “Oh loooook!” I replied “Now, that’s bad!” to which the woman in the front replied “No, that’s good!” – in an even more drooly way.  She was quite defiant about it, as if though she wanted to contradict me, so I replied “I beg to differ! That’s nothing but bad news!” Next, we went on to point out all the coffees lined up at the shelf (we always look for different flavoured coffees)… We started sniffing each bag through the little holes intended for sniffing… The woman in the front then said something about coffee being bad for you to which I said “There is nothing wrong with coffee! Did you know it actually aids in weight-loss!” But she had the last grunt, saying something inaudible, probably an insult in my direction and it was her turn to pay for her “goodies” she found at Winners.

This perfectly illustrates people’s unwillingness to understand and to accept that what we have been led to believe to be true by the media and the government is not true. But to backtrack to my macronutrient debate, fat is not the enemy. It has a high caloric value (9 calories per gram), but that’s its only crime – meaning that you can’t eat as much of it as you would protein and carbs (each coming at only 4 calories per gram). But the problem is, people don’t, generally speaking inform themselves. They think they do, but really what most of us are doing is unquestioningly absorbing popular media’s message: Fat will make you fat.

However, if you do a little research of your own, without the commercial media breathing down your neck you’ll soon find out that dietary fat does not equal body fat. Here are some topics and books worth digging into if you don’t want to take my word for it:
“Why we get fat and what to do about it” by Gary Taubes
“Good calories, Bad calories” by Gary Taubes
“Salt, sugar, fat” by Michael Moss
“Fat chance” by Robert Lustig
“The big fat surprise” by Nina Teicholtz

Even though anything with the word DIET in it sends shivers down my spine I also highly recommend you look into the Paleo Diet and Ketogenic Diet – both of which point out the benefits of higher fat, lower carbohydrate intake, especially for sedentary people (let’s admit it, most of us are). But as with anything you need to exercise sound judgement. 

“Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain 
Paleo Hybryd Diet by Nate Miyaki
“The Ketogenic Cookbook” by Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich

And on your phone and tablet you might want to give a try to this great little app, it’s called KetoDiet and it is packed with tons of recipes and information about a ketogenic diet. In fact, these little cherubs that have been gracing my plates as of late are featured in this app. You can also visit the website for additional recipes and information. 

These Keto Buns are definitely going to be a staple for my low carb and high fat days! Here is a
slightly modified version:

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INGREDIENTS: 

  • 74g almond blanched flour
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.3 oz Flax meal
  • 2 TBSP Psyllium Husks (ground) 
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (I skimped on this)  
    DIRECTIONS:
  • Mix all the dry ingredients well in a large bowl.IMG_20150807_114122
  • Add egg and egg whites. Integrate well.
  • Add water and mix.
  • Form little flattened balls and place them on a cookie sheet.
  • If you are using the sesame seeds sprinkle them on top and press on with your hand.
  • Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  MACROS:
    My batch yielded 7 buns and macros per serving (1 bun) were:
    132cal, 6.7p, 9.2c 8.5f 

IMG_20150807_114542   KetoBuns2

Hazelnut Cheesecake – Christmas Indulgence Dilemma Part 2

So here we are. It’s Christmas Day and it’s slightly different this year because I haven’t been thinking of Christmas gorging from November onwards. Don’t get me wrong, I like a treat. In fact, I have a very big sweet tooth, and salty tooth too 😉 But I also realize that it won’t do me any good if I constantly “treat myself”. This would, in the end, lead to feelings of guilt and regret since I spend so much time at the gym. And I don’t want to sabotage my workouts by hiding the hard earned muscles under an unnecessary layer of fat. Because, yes, all excess food will turn into fat. Regardless of what it is that we eat, if we eat more than our bodies need to function properly it will be deposited as excess fat.

Now it is Christmas so I have made a special treat to enjoy. I have seen various pictures of enticing cheesecakes floating around so I decided to pull my resources together to come up with my own recipe. As everything that I cook, bake and turn into edible meals, this one is no exception in that it’s not made with traditional ingredients for a cheesecake. But don’t be too quick to dismiss it as “a healthy version” therefore “a no good version” or “a tasteless version”! This cheesecake could easily stand up against the hardest critic of cheesecakes, it’s that yummy!

Hazelnut Cheesecake
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Recipe By: Angelika Thomas
Serving Size: 16
Yield: 16 slices

Ingredients:

Cheese mass:

400 g Fat free cream cheese
900 g Fat Free Greek Yogurt
100 g Casein Protein Powder ( I use this one)
6 Egg Whites
48 g PB2 Chocolate (the best tasting powdered peanut butter)
10 drops Liquid Stevia
1 tsp. Hazelnut Extract
50 g Hazelnut Butter
20 g Chunks of Baker’s dark chocolate

Crust:

3 cups Almond Flour
4 tbsp. Peanut Butter
8 tbsp. Unsweetened Coconut milk

Directions:

1. Crust: Combine the almond flour with peanut butter, coconut milk and any extracts you want to add. Simply put all the ingredients in a bowl and start kneading with your hands until all combined

  1. into a dough. Put in a round cake form and press down with your fingers to cover the entire surface of the form. Set aside.

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2. Cheesecake: In a large food processor combine all the cheesecake ingredients: cream cheese, Greek Yogurt, Casein Protein Powder, PB2, stevia, extract. Adjust any ingredient to your liking. Once combined transfer half of the batter into the cake form. Spread evenly with a spoon so that the batter covers the entire surface of the crust. Next sprinkle half of the chocolate chunks on this first layer of cheese mass. Spread some of the hazelnut butter on this layer of the cheese mass. I did it by dropping pea sized drops of the butter onto this layer. Pour the rest of the cheese mass on top and again make sure it covers evenly the entire surface. Take a small plastic baggie, cut a small whole in one of the corners of the bag and fill it with the remainder of the hazelnut butter. Make a pattern on top of your cheesecake by squeezing out the hazelnut butter through the whole you created (you can let your imagination run wild). Sprinkle the rest of your chocolate chunks on top.
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  1. 3. Put the cheesecake in a preheated oven for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven. I set mine to 385F. Enjoy!

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Macros per slice out of 16:
Calories: 242 Fat:15.99g Carbs:8.59g Dietary Fiber: 3.63g Sugars: 2.29g Protein: 13.11g

Eggplant Egg Muffin

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Baked sliced eggplant sprinkled with parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

Most days workweek breakfasts are very quick and dirty: boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, cream of rice or oats made the day before or on a fast day no breakfast at all. But today was different. Today I thought “What the heck, I have the time and the food, and I want to eat with my eyes first, let’s get creative and make this breakfast a bomb.” So Instead of the above, I made myself an Eggplant Egg Muffin and it was truly amazing.

Now, the fact that I’ve had the Eggplant already made the night before certainly helped, because all I did this morning was to fry up an egg and assemble the thing. And the Eggplant was simple as pie. I cut it up in 1/2 inch think slices, laid the slices out on a cookie sheet, brushed it with melted coconut oil and sprinkled with spices and grated parmesan cheese. And we are talking not a whole lot of cheese, just a bit of a taste, nothing overwhelming. As for spices, I’m always a proponent of creativity, but for this batch I used Pink Himalayan salt (because that’s what I got in my spice rack), pepper and smoked paprika. But as always you can let your creative juices take over here and run with it. I then popped it in the oven at 415F for about 30-45 minutes. Note, you have to watch it, because they burn easily and depending on the oven, you might have to lower the temperature – my oven seems to perform better at about 400F rather than the typical 350F. You got to know your oven. And voilà, you have a tasty side dish that you can reheat the next day or use it in your Eggplant Egg Muffin 🙂

I’d be lying if I said this was it for the pre-prepared ingredients (of which I seem to be the queen around my household). You are probably spotting something resembling ground meat and you would be right. The typical Egg Muffin (somebody correct me if I’m wrong, not from around here after all) would sport some sort of deli meat and I usually don’t touch deli meats with a ten foot pole, let alone eat it (maybe more about this some other time). So I substituted deli meat for ground veal since I always have a batch of ground veal cooked kicking around in my fridge. I marinate it with some walnut oil, dijon mustard, herbs and spices and brown it in some coconut oil and put it in a container for whenever I need it.

So this is pretty much it. I layered the eggplant, which acts as a bun with fried egg, spinach, ground veal, slice of tomato, couple of slices of cucumber, 10g of mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with fresh chives for a little heaven in my mouth 😛 If you’re thinking “what about sauce or mayo or something?!” Let me tell you that this thing is so moist that there is no need for any sauce. 

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Here are some macros for the whole thing without tomato and cucumber, mostly because they have negligible energy. And may I just say that this breakfast was quite filling and satisfying. In fact whenever I do consume a higher fat meal, I feel satiated for longer than if I ate an oatmeal breakfast. I had this at 5AM and did not feel the need to eat again until 9:30AM and even then I was not starved. 

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Enjoy!