Recipes · Way of Eating

Dranks

 

Now that I have noticeably visible results from following the low carb high fat way of eating since February, and I’m pretty vocal about it on social media, a lot of people ask me questions. I love it! I don’t always have the answers but I love to chat about the way of eating that has changed my waistline!

One question I get a lot is ,”Are you allowed to have a drink?”

First of all, I’m allowed to do whatever I want. This lifestyle is my choice. Secondly, I have found that having an occasional drink that is in line with the basic principles of this way of eating has not derailed my progress at all. See my previous post entitled The Sweet Spot for more on my thoughts about being regimental about a way of eating if it’s not required for your survival.

My two favorite things to drink are:

  • Dry red wine- Pinot Noir is my favorite, and I like to have glass of wine on the back porch on Friday night with Mark, listening to music while the kids play. They usually come and sit with us once it starts to get dark, and it’s a nice way for our family to kick off the weekend!
  • Pool Drink- this is my little creation that I drink at the pool. Full disclosure, I usually make more than a single recipe of it to sip on over the few hours we are at the pool, and put it in my favorite Corkcicle tumbler, which keeps it super cold the whole time. More full disclosure. Sometimes I make an extra in case anyone (coughmecough) needs a refill. I bring the extra in my Corkcicle canteen.

Pool Drink

Add the following ingredients into your container of choice, over ice. Shake or stir, and enjoy.

  • 1 shot of gin or vodka (pick your poison.)
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • LaCroix Sparkling Water in your choice of flavor to top off (I prefer lime)

You can tweak this recipe in a number of ways. I have used flavored vodkas (raspberry is my favorite- be careful to check the carbs in flavored vodkas though!) Sometimes I also add a splash of raspberry extract to give it a raspberry lime flavor. If you experiment, I’d love to know what combos you come up with!

Let’s segue quickly into a few progress pics. We had family photos last week, and I can’t tell you how much more fun it is to do that when you feel confident & good about what you look like!

Here are a couple of my favorites:

View More: http://bluevinylcreative.pass.us/larameefamView More: http://bluevinylcreative.pass.us/larameefam

Photo credit to: Blue Vinyl Photography

* This blog will occasionally utilize affiliate links, for which I receive credit. It doesn’t cause anyone to pay more for the item in question, but it helps me be able to create content for this site. You are in no way obligated to use my links, and I will only link to the exact products I use myself, to help you achieve the same results I achieve with my recipes

 

 

 

Way of Eating

A Week In The Life

I’ve had a number of people ask me, “What do you eat?” “How do you know what you can have?” “Aren’t you hungry?”

The answers are: “All kinds of stuff!”, “I took the time to learn!”, and “NO!- and if I am, I eat something extra!”

People seem to get easily overwhelmed by the thought of making a big dietary change, and I get it. There IS a learning curve- but once you take the time to educate yourself, and just start to play, you’ll find your flow!

I decided to grab a quick photo of everything I ate last week to give anyone who is curious a visual. You’ll note that there is a lot of repetition in my week. I am a lover of routine, and a big weekend prep cook. These 2 things combine to make my weeks see a lot of similarity in meals, but it works for me!

New this week- a Facebook group! I’d love to be able to have a more convenient way to discuss posts & answer questions, so join in! Add your questions & comments under the topics I add when we put new posts up!

IMG_4306

IMG_4307
Monday- When I wake up, I always have a small cup of coffee with 1 Tbs of heavy whipping cream- this does not open my eating window, but it DOES help convince me to get out of bed! At 11 am, I open my eating window with a large cup of coffee. Between 1:30 and 3:30- whenever I get hungry- I have my first food meal. On Monday, it was a homemade ketogenic Asiago bagel with an over medium egg on it. I enjoyed a LaCroix throughout the afternoon. For dinner I had my homemade Creamy Tuscan Chicken with roasted broccoli, then for dessert, I had a DELICIOUS homemade ketogenic vanilla bean ice cream bar. 

IMG_4308

IMG_4309
Tuesday- The usual coffee routine. I had tested a recipe for a keto cake over the weekend. It had a fair number of issues, so I probably won’t be making it again, but it tasted ok. I had a piece with my big cup of coffee. For lunch, I had a homemade keto everything bagel with cream cheese, tomato, smoked salmon & capers. The rest of the day was the same as Monday. 

IMG_4322

IMG_4323
Wednesday- The usual coffee routine, then a toasted homemade keto Asiago bagel with butter and cream cheese with some roasted Brussels sprouts on the side for my first meal. Dinner was a big Italian salad, followed by a keto ice cream bar.

IMG_4332

IMG_4333
Thursday- Coffee routine, then a pre made salmon meal from the fridge. I had a snack of guacamole with pork rinds- I KNOW! Don’t knock it until you have tried it, and DEFINITELY try to find some homemade ones. They sell them at Farmers Markets near me. The ones at the store are gross! Dinner was a toasted keto everything bagel with butter and cream cheese.

IMG_4350

IMG_4351
TGIF, right??? Friday began like every other day with my coffee routine. Meal 1 was an over medium egg on a toasted & buttered keto everything bagel. Dinner was the last of the Creamy Tuscan Chicken with the last of the roasted broccoli, and I tested a recipe for Lemon Blueberry keto muffins- BIG WIN! You’ll see that recipe in an upcoming post! 
Way of Eating

Sweets for the Sweet

I think one of the major game changers with the way we are eating now is that we found a way to satisfy our sweet tooth that doesn’t detract from everything else we are doing.

We were always able to be moderately successful doing a typical low carb diet- similar to Atkins. We’d lose a few pounds, but we could never really stick to it for more than a couple months. I think what really held us back using that way of eating was the amount of fruit and yogurt we were eating to satisfy our dessert cravings. Our bodies treat fruit in much the same way as they treat candy!

I was never able to find a sugar substitute that was pleasant tasting, and honestly, the chemical based ones always made me uneasy- se we’d default to eating lots of fruit, because the net carbs seemed ok.

When I began trying out keto, my friend Nora taught me a lot to get me started and one of the first things she introduced me to was Swerve! It is the most sugar-like sugar substitute I have ever encountered! It is natural, since it is stevia based, and does not cause cancer in laboratory animals. (big win!). It doesn’t have the unpleasant aftertaste or bitter flavor that some stevia products have. It just tastes sweet!

We can now stay away from fruit and indulge in creamy desserts like my Crustless Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, homemade ice cream made with heavy cream + my homemade keto cannoli cream.

If you have struggled with finding a sugar alternative that is palatable, give Swerve a try! This week, I am experimenting with a cake that is sweetened with Swerve- stay tuned for a report in a future post!

* This blog will occasionally utilize affiliate links, for which I receive credit. It doesn’t cause anyone to pay more for the item in question, but it helps me be able to create content for this site. You are in no way obligated to use my links, and I will only link to the exact products I use myself, to help you achieve the same results I achieve with my recipes

18119074_10154557719664067_8859117712611005553_n
Nora, my keto buddy!
Way of Eating

Seeing is Believing

IMG_4124
This week marks 25 pounds officially GONE!

Not gonna lie- I’ve tried a lot of diets, and ways of eating. No, I have never been morbidly obese, but it has always been in the back of my mind that there is a propensity for obesity in my family- and I don’t want to go there! When you pair that with the fact that I love food (I mean, I really love it!), I’ve always been nervous that I was heading down a dangerous road! I love to cook, bake, grill, create, and I love to eat the results! Decadent desserts are my specialty, but in all honesty, I cook good food! People like to come and eat at my dinner parties. I’m not a food snob. I like a cheeseburger combo at McDonalds as much as I like the most elegant plating at a 5 star restaurant.

There were two things that were consistent struggles with every diet I tried, from the Cabbage Soup Diet, to Weight Watchers, to Slim Fast, to the Atkins Diet: a sense of deprivation and just flat out HUNGER! Those two things together are a lethal combo that will have you buying a huge crusty loaf of Italian bread, slathering thick slices of it with butter, and realizing that cabbage soup isn’t so bad after all!

Once the initial adjustment period of entering our new way of eating abated, I found that it’s not hard to stay on this lifestyle! It really is a lifestyle, not a diet. The amount of fat in the foods that you eat prevents hunger, and once your body adjusts, hunger really becomes a very different feeling, if you feel it at all. I wouldn’t believe this if I hadn’t experienced it myself.

In the past, it seemed that we would go on a diet before a vacation- because doesn’t everyone do that? I mean, we want to look good in our beach pictures, right? We’d limp along and lost 10 pounds or so, and then get on vacation and go off whatever plan we were on. We’d get back home and that would be it. We’d just go back to whatever we were doing previous to the pre-vacation diet.

True story- we went to Disney for spring break this year, and we went off plan on our current way of eating. (If you’re interested in our family vlogs through the Disney vacation, check out our YouTube Channel). I’ve shared my thoughts previously about taking breaks from our way of eating. This practice may not be for everyone for a number of different reasons, but I don’t judge other people’s choices, and I appreciate the same courtesy!

We indulged in a number of treats at Disney- but one of the craziest things is that Mark and I REALLY loved getting the salad from the food court at our resort, that with the exception of a few peas and chickpeas, is essentially on plan for our way of eating. It was the thing we came home saying we wish we’d had one more of! We kind of quested through Disney in search of that one treat that would really make us say, “YES!! This is what I’ve been missing!” And while we did enjoy a number of the things we tried, we just couldn’t find that thing that made us even consider giving up our new lifestyle permanently.

When we arrived home after vacation, we didn’t even give it one extra day of being off plan. We both were actually looking forward to getting back into our pre-vacation routine. We had each gained back a few pounds, but found that we were back to where we started pre-vacation at about mid-week of our first week back. We did not go back through any of the withdrawal symptoms, or carb flu symptoms that we experienced when first embarking on our new way of eating.

So, since hunger hasn’t been a challenge for us, what about deprivation? 100% NOT A THING! This lifestyle is nothing like a meal replacement diet where you are drinking an unpalatable shake instead of eating food, or you’re restricted to one food, or restricted to a small list of acceptable foods.

We eat delicious grilled meats, savory casseroles, awesome salads, ridiculously good roasted veggies with lots of butter and parmesan cheese, and we have REALLY good desserts!  Yes, I said desserts!!

Stop back next week to learn how we were able to tackle the challenge of craving sweets in a way that works with our lifestyle- and my Keto Cannoli recipe!

Way of Eating

The Sweet Spot

March was when I found my sweet spot with our new way of eating. It was when I developed the basic daily outline that I am still following to this day & that I anticipate being able to continue to follow indefinitely.

I was a little nervous that after a month without dairy, I would re-introduce it & find that I could no longer tolerate it, but thankfully, that was not the case. I also worried that because dairy has carbs in it, it would throw off my progress. This also proved not to be the case.

Here are a few of the reasons why I do not refer to the way we eat as following the ketogenic diet, but rather refer it to it using the cumbersome description of low carb high fat diet with elements of the ketogenic diet:

  • The ketogenic diet follows very strict guidelines for macronutrient percentages, and we do not calculate them
  • We do not test our blood sugar or blood ketones regularly, or at all
  • We occasionally cheat. We have chosen to adhere to this way of eating to lose weight, to feel better & to make sure that we enter our older years in good shape. We do not have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Neither of us currently has diabetes, heart disease, chronic high blood pressure or any of the things that we hope to avoid in our later years by eating this way.
  • I respect those who adhere to the ketogenic diet 100% all the time & understand that they find it frustrating to encounter people who aren’t as devout as they are.
  • Basically, I don’t want anyone to call me out for not being keto enough. I’m ok with not being keto enough for someone else. I’m keto enough for ME!

In finding my daily dietary flow, I needed to find recipes that could be made ahead. With my work schedule & the boys’ after school activities, I just don’t have time to stand at the stove every night. While we love to sit down at the table to a dinner as a family, the truth is that we rarely seem to find ourselves all at home & eating at the same time during the week at this phase in our lives.

The other factor I needed to consider is familiarity. Yes- I could make all kinds of ketogenic recipes that require obscure ingredients & lots of prep time- but that’s just not for me. I tried a number of recipes during 28 Days in Hell. I learned that ketogenic substitutes for starchy foods are just disgusting to me. I grew up on New York style pizza, delicious pasta & Italian pastry. I’m sorry, but a muffin made of coconut flour tastes like some kind of poison & a horror movie procreated, and that muffin is the demonic spawn. The lining of my stomach continued to taste those horrible creations even after I managed to get a bite choked down. It’s easier for me to just abstain from starchy foods- and their not-quite-up-to-par substitutions.

Each weekend, I choose 2 make ahead recipes & a meat to grill, plus a ketogenic dessert. I prepare these things on Saturday, and keep them in the fridge. During the week, it’s quick & easy to heat up a portion and eat an on-plan meal. This also helps avoid grabbing something that isn’t on-plan in a fit of hunger. If what you are supposed to eat is all ready for you to just grab & eat- why bother cheating?

One aspect of the ketogenic diet that we adhere to pretty completely is the concept of intermittent fasting. Google it if you are unfamiliar with it, as there are many interpretations. It’s also important to know WHY you are doing something- so don’t start intermittent fasting without an understanding of what it does to your body & why you should bother doing it. We confine all of our calorie consumption to an 8 hour window in the day. Consuming anything that has more than 50 calories will “open the eating window”.

Here is how my day goes:

  • Upon waking, I make a small cup of coffee and sweeten it with a drop of Stevia Glycerite Liquid Extract* and about a teaspoon of Swerve*. This combination is the perfect amount of sweetener for me. It took some experimentation to find the right combo, and to find a sweetener that doesn’t have an unpleasant aftertaste, or just an unpleasant taste in general. I add 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream to my coffee, as this has 50 calories and does not open my eating window.
  • At any time after 11 am, I make a large cup of coffee and sweeten it with 2 drops of Stevia Glycerite Liquid Extract and about a tablespoon of Swerve. I top it off with heavy whipping cream. I do not measure the heavy whipping cream. I just add it until I like the color of the coffee. I like my coffee like I like my man- strong and sweet! This is what I consider my first meal of the day. 
  • Around 2 pm, I have my second meal of the day, which is either a portion of something I have ready in the fridge, a salad with meat on it, or a plate with some deli meat, cheese & a handful of almonds.
  • Between 5 & 6, I have my final meal of the day- a portion of something that is ready in the fridge and a portion of whatever ketogenic dessert I have in the fridge for the week.

For some, this routine might become too boring or predictable. For me, a lover of plan & routine, it is what works!

Stop back next week to learn more about how hunger & cravings changed when we adapted to our new way of eating.  

* This blog will occasionally utilize affiliate links, for which I receive credit. It doesn’t cause anyone to pay more for the item in question, but it helps me be able to create content for this site. You are in no way obligated to use my links, and I will only link to the exact products I use myself, to help you achieve the same results I achieve with my recipes

Way of Eating

Delving Back Into Dairy

Mark & I entered March feeling good about dropping some pounds during February, but ready to add some variety back into our diets. Again, I will speak for myself here, but I missed dairy SO MUCH! Honestly, making a cup of coffee with heavy cream was AMAZING! I actually gave up coffee during February after unsuccessfully attempting to enjoy it with coconut milk or almond milk (2 more ingredients I spent a lot of money on and didn’t use very much of). I just can’t do black coffee, or hot bean water, as I prefer to call it, and the dairy free milk options weren’t able to perform for me. 

See photos below for the difference in a cup of coffee with almond milk vs. heavy cream.

Just being able to add cheese back into our meals made me so much happier. I also got a book called Quick And Easy Ketogenic Cooking by Maria Emmerich. The recipes in it were so  enjoyable for us! It also has a really great overview of the principles of the ketogenic way of eating. In fact, I recommend it to everyone who asks me to explain keto to them.

A few of my favorite recipes from Maria’s book  are:

  • Healthy Hash Browns- I had to eat so many eggs during the 28 Days in Hell phase that I am still adverse to them on their own. This recipe has eggs in it, but they are nicely camouflaged.
  • Mushroom Ragu- I modified this recipe to include ground beef & sausage, and it’s a favorite dinner, either over zucchini noodles, or just by itself with a salad on the side.
  • Grand Marnier Fat Bombs- Fat bombs aren’t really my favorite. It feels like eating a chunk of coconut oil 7 i don’t love that texture. But these were the most pleasant ones I found. Mark really liked them!

If you want to buy the book & you use my link, I’ll get Amazon credit. You’re certainly not obligated to do so, but if you’re enjoying the blog, purchasing on the links I share will help me be able to bring more & more content! I will never post an affiliate link without identifying it as such.

Stop back next week for a rundown of a typical day’s food & why I don’t refer to the way we are eating as strictly ketogenic.

Way of Eating

28 Days in Hell

Throughout January of 2017, Mark & I became interested in the ketogenic way of eating. We did some research & decided we wanted to try it. If you are interested in trying it, I highly recommend doing some reading & research. I will reference aspects of the ketogenic way of eating in this blog, but none of my posts are advice or recommendations- so you should research on your own to learn & understand the fundamentals before thinking about changing your own lifestyle.

A disclaimer for this post: It’s important to mention that while I talk about a lot of things I didn’t like about the beginning of our lifestyle change in this post- I wouldn’t change a thing. But I’m a keep-it-real girl! I’m not going to paint it as puppies & princesses, because it SUCKED! So, while you’re reading about all the stuff I hated about making the transition, remember- this story has a happy ending!

We jumped in with an intensive 28-day ketogenic induction plan on February 1. Looking back from today’s perspective, I would not have done what we did again. Mark may not feel the same, so I won’t put words in his mouth.

For me: Yes, it seriously re-booted my system. Yes, I lost weight. Yes, I broke bad habits. Yes, I learned I am capable of surviving a SERIOUS lifestyle change. But I feel that, for me, it didn’t have to be quite as difficult or expensive as it ended up being. I don’t regret doing what we did, but if I could change the past, I would have researched MORE & developed a plan of my own! (This is why I keep harping on how important it is to research.)

Here are a few of the reasons I would have done it differently:

  • The program we followed had us eating a lot of unfamiliar foods. I found many of the recipes unpalatable, which made a difficult transition even more difficult.
  • Many of the recipes on the plan required expensive, difficult-to-find ingredients. I had to order them online & have them shipped, adding to the expense. Many of them still sit, barely touched, in my cabinets. Anyone need a bottle of Yacon Syrup? Or a tub of butter flavored coconut oil? Didn’t think so…
  • The plan was dairy free, which added to each of the aforementioned challenges, and caused EXTREME frustration with some of the recipes on the plan. Dairy substitutes just do not perform like real dairy in recipes.
  • The plan was extremely calorie reduced. Knowing what I know now, my body doesn’t need a severe calorie deficit to lose weight if I am eating the correct foods. I don’t doubt that I would have gone through the horrible carb withdrawal that most everyone goes through when removing carbs from their diet, but I think it might not have been quite so horrible if I’d been consuming a few more calories.

Because for me, the only thing that makes horrible things better is laughing at them, I will share some excerpts from the daily log I kept during our ketogenic induction, or as I like to fondly refer to it: 28 Days in Hell. I am trying to choose excerpts with as little swearing as possible.

Prep Day:  “I prepped as much of the food as possible, which involved cooking about 4 pounds of bacon. My house smells like a bacon factory, and I do not like it. No amount of diffused essential oils will dissipate the smell.”

Day 1: “Coconut milk & almond milk just don’t make a nice creamy cup of coffee. I confess I have a little addiction to Almond Joy creamer. It’s full of sugar and chemicals, and I love it so.”

Day 2: “Breakfast was supposed to be poached eggs with a dairy free Hollandaise sauce. I made the Hollandaise sauce yesterday, and basically wasted about $52.00 worth of obscure ingredients. It is curdled into chunks and has a ½ inch thick oil slick on top of it. I consider it inedible.”

Day 3: “If Keto Flu is a horrible headache and a weird kind of fuzziness in the head, then I have it.”

Day 4: “The word of the day is definitely HEADACHE!!”

Day 6: “I’m starting to think I know what people feel like on Survivor (aka the best show ever). My stomach is definitely trying to digest itself. If I stand up too quickly, I get lightheaded.”

Day 7: “Still feel like hell. Horrible. Can’t concentrate, headache, dizzy… I can feel my heartbeat in my eyeballs.”

Day 8: “I am down 8 pounds from where I started. I’m still incredibly bitter about this whole diet, and I intend to complain like a little %$#& for the duration.”

Day 10: “My rings are fitting looser, and so are my jeans.”

Day 11: “This headache just comes and goes, but I feel so much better than last week.”

Day 15: “Down 10 pounds total from the start.”

Day 17: “Valentines Day. I tried making a ketogenic brownie as a treat for Mark + I. While I will admit it wasn’t as bad as some ketogenic recipes, it was still pretty unpleasant and I couldn’t bear much more than a few bites of it. The kids got Valentines chocolates and I almost clawed them out of their hands.”

Day 18: “13 pounds lost so far.”

On day 22, I had to take a trip to the doctor because I fell getting out of bed. I was pretty sure that, in fact, I was now dying due to this ordeal. To my relief, I learned that I was suffering from vertigo related to allergies causing my ears to back up with fluid- and not actually dying. Experiencing the vertigo left me not up to keeping my detailed log of grievances though- I had to focus on keeping upright!

We did stay on plan for the full 28 days, and then added dairy back into our diets. Stop back next week to learn how we modified things in March!

Enjoy a few photos grabbed from my social media during 28 Days in Hell.