Thursday, May 29, 2014

Recipe: Stawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is one variation of our famous strawberry salad. I am so glad that strawberries are one of the lower carb fruits, because they are my favorite. We've experimented with some variable ingredients in this salad, like spinach instead of butter lettuce, and pecans instead of sunflower seeds. As long as you have the strawberries, blue cheese, onion and balsamic dressing, the basic flavor profile is there.

As delicious as it is beautiful.
Strawberry Salad

1 bag of ready to eat butter lettuce or other salad greens like spinach or spring mix
10-12 strawberries, thinly sliced
1/3 of a cup of blue cheese crumbles
1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons shelled sunflower seeds, almonds, or pecans
Kent's Magical Balsamic Vinaigrette

This dressing made me love salads. That's powerful stuff. This is more of a formula than a recipe. You can use any kind of vinegar or oil, or add whatever extra herbs or spices to customize it to the salad you're using it with. We really like it with pear flavored vinegar. It is also nice with a little sesame oil and peanut butter to make it Asian style. The possibilities are endless.

Kent's Magical Balsamic Vinaigrette

Kent usually make this so that each part is equal to a half cup. That way, it makes enough for two or more family sized salads. 
1 part balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 part splenda (we tried stevia, and for some reason the brand we tried, Stevia in the Raw, made the vinegar taste bitter, so we are sticking to Splenda for salad dressing only, and we try to use stevia for other things.)
1 part olive oil
1/2 part water, to thin it out a little
1 heaping spoonful minced garlic from a jar
a few dashes of soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk it up in a bowl, or shake it up in a jar. Viola!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Recipe: Creamy Whipped Cauliflower

I've never really been a fan of cauliflower, but the only way I'd ever had it was cut up on a crudite platter. Cauliflower is really an amazing secret weapon for low carb dieters, however, because of it's versatility in imitating other things, from rice to mashed potatoes. It takes on the flavors of whatever you season it with. Here's our super easy take on mashed "potatoes." This is what changed my mind about cauliflower!
Creamy, dreamy cauliflower
Creamy Whipped Cauliflower

1 medium head of  cauliflower
4 oz (half a tub) of any flavor of sour cream based chip dip (We used AE bacon french onion)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
cracked black pepper to taste
other seasoning to taste (we used this stuff called Fire Sprinkle that is our friend Drew's secret recipe-it's a spicy barbeque flavor. You could use Mrs. Dash or any other seasoning blend you like.)

Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower. Break it up into medium sized florets. Put the florets into a soup pot and cover with water. Put a lid on it and bring to a boil. Boil until the florets are fork tender. It can't really boil too long, so just walk away for awhile. When the florets are tender, drain the water and put them into a blender or food processor. Add the chip dip, salt and butter. Blend until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl and top with freshly cracked black pepper and other seasoning to taste. This makes 2 large servings, and would be a great easy side to make when you bring home a rotisserie chicken in a hurry.
A big 'ol pile of smoked meats- chicken drumsticks and some pork ribs.
Here's the directions from the Traeger website for cooking the chicken drumsticks. We bought some that were already seasoned with barbeque flavor.

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).

Arrange the chicken legs on the grill grate and smoke for 30 minutes. (If you don't have a smoker, do this in the oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. If you have the option of convection, use it, it works even better this way.) Increase the temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg (but not touching bone) reaches 165 degrees F.

How do you think cauliflower compares to potatoes? Kent has nicknamed it "fauxtatoes"!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Keto on the Go: Pepperjax

Keto on the Go is my way of showing how a person on the ketogenic low carb diet can eat out at restaurants without sacrificing their hard work by blowing it! The goal is to be able to find something everywhere someone else suggest you meet for dinner, without being a Fickle Finnick. If you have a restaurant you'd like to me to review, let me know in the comments below!

She's a meaty mother. She'll get a hold on you, believe it.
Pepperjax recently opened in our town, and Kent and I had to check it out, since we are always looking for something new and different in our culture-starved town. (Actually that's not true anymore. Waterloo, Iowa has gotten some better restaurants in recent years that represent more cultures.) Unfortunately, we went the week before we started this diet, so I had what they're famous for- a Philly Cheese steak. It was awesome, and I don't regret it, but now I also have the memory of how good the bread was. Sigh. I wanted to try it again, and see how I could get the flavor I craved, but with a drastically lessened carb count.

The next time, I ordered the rice bowl (with no intentions of eating the rice). I got it "Gunner" style, which means double the meat, and it also apparently requires that all of the cooks on the line yell out "Gunner!" Sorry guys. I would hate any job that required me to shout on command. I also requested light seasonings, because the normal amount is pretty salty, so I had half as much as usual. They ask you what else you want cooked with the meat, and I really appreciate that is is customizable, since I HATE green peppers. I got my steak cooked with onions and mushrooms. I had two slices of whatever the mild white cheese is on top.

The awesome thing about Pepperjax is that they have this serve yourself sauce bar over by the drinks. It is nice that if you want something to dip in besides ketchup, it's all available at no extra charge. They've got an Asian au jus sauce, regular au jus, mushroom sauce, and "Kickin' Chili" sauce on the the warm sauce bar. There's ranch, spicy ranch, raspberry vinaigrette, and Dorothy Lynch dressing on the cold sauce bar. The variety of sauces is because you can make any meat a sandwich, rice bowl, burrito, nachos, or salad. I generously ladled on the warm mushroom sauce, and took one ladle of au jus. I probably ingested a few grains of rice that were stuck to my steak, but it was worth it to me to not have to launch into a big explanation to the line cooks about how I really just wanted a bowl of meat. Especially when it was brand new and there was a line out the door waiting behind me.

It was tasty and filling. I paired this meal with a fine vintage of tap water, to counter the (satisfying) saltiness. According to the nutritional info from the Pepperjax website, it looks like this added up to an 8 carb meal. It was $10.18 altogether, so not the cheapest meal, but not the most expensive for a sit down, semi-fast food place either. And when your $10 is all for meat, that seems like a decent deal. I will definitely get this again, particularly in the winter when I am craving comfort food smothered in gravy. Grade: Thumbs up!

Copycat Recipe: Applebee's Shrimp and Parmesan Sirloin

Can we match, or even, I dare say, improve upon our restaurant favorites as home? Let's find out, shall we? This week's copycat recipe...

I really love the shrimp and parmesan topped sirloin from Applebee's. But I knew we could do it better! So we made it ourselves at home, using ribeye steak- our preferred fattier, therefore, more flavorfully keto steak, over leaner sirloin. It was also my chance to see how it tasted paired with my favorite way to cook broccoli, which I dreamed up while wishing the side of veggies I was eating at Applebee's at the moment was more exciting.

Our inspiration.

Expectations: exceeded.

Grilled Ribeye with Shrimp and Cheese

2 ribeye steaks
16 shell on, raw large shrimp
Johnny's all purpose seasoning
1 bag of Kraft Touch of Philly 5 Cheese Italian Blend shredded cheese

Peel and thread shrimp onto skewers. Season with Johnny's on both sides. Tenderize both steaks, and season with Johnny's on both sides. Cook steaks on charcoal grill until medium rare. Cook shrimp skewers on grill as well, turning once, until opaque. Top steaks with shrimp and a handful of cheese. Put under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese melts and starts to brown. Season with cracked black pepper. Serves 2 (large portions)

Choppin' brocoli, choppin' broco-li-hee!

Steamed Seasoned Broccoli

1 large head of broccoli
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tblsp. minced garlic in a jar (including juice)
the juice of one lemon

Cut broccoli into small florets. Put into a large microwavable steamer bag. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and lemon juice. Steam according to directions on the bag (typically 3 minutes). When done, shake in bag to combine all ingredients and serve. (Be careful of steam when you open the bag!)

Overall rating: A+ We totally exceeded our expectations, but we should have known- with these ingredients, how could we go wrong? Next time we may add some Cavendar's Greek seasoning to the shrimp skewers. Or try to make our cheese into more of a sauce. I realized later that the Applebee's version mentions white wine in the cheese sauce. But overall, it was totally delicious, and we were once again remarking about how decadent this diet is as we savored it's umami. Winner!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Recipe: Smoked Salmon Salad with Creamy Lemon Garlic Dill Dressing

We have a stockpile of salmon in our freezer right now. When we got our new car in February, the salesman from the Volkswagen dealership chatted with Kent, and found out that he works at a company that designs computer games, and is therefore fairly computer savvy. He asked Kent if he'd be willing to help him with his computer, which wasn't working, so Kent went over and ended up replacing the hard drive and revamping it for him. As a token of appreciation, we received a bunch of the salmon and trout that he had caught. This is just the kind of funny stuff that happens to Kent, being a nice guy and willing to help people. We'd already tried some of it grilled, and wanted to try to smoke it at home. Kent loves his Trager pellet-fed smoker, and found a recipe on how to smoke his own salmon. It turned out great! I wanted to use it to make some sort of recipe that used the same flavors as one of my all time favorite pasta dishes, minus the pasta, of course. This is what we came up with.

Pre-mixing, so you can see what's in it!
 Smoked Salmon Salad with Creamy Lemon Garlic Dill Dressing

1 large filet of smoked salmon (probably need 2 if using store bought)
1 package of Spring Mix salad greens
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 of an English cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 package of sugar snap peas, roughly chopped
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 a pint of cherry tomatoes, each one cut in half

For dressing:
1 cup mayonaise
1/2 pint of buttermilk, approximately
1 Tablespoon dried dill
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
Juice from that lemon
1 Tablespoon minced garlic from a jar, including garlic bits and some of the juice
1/2 Tablespoon cracked black pepper
pinch of Maldon or other salt

Whisk mayo in a bowl, and add buttermilk a little at a time until the consistency looks right. Add remaining ingredients and whisk to combine.
I like to use my mandolin slicer to get perfectly uniform slices of radish and cucumber. I even used it for the red onion, and that method completely eliminated any onion tears. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients. Take a picture for Instagram. (Wait, that's just me.)
Pour all dressing on the salad and toss to combine. This makes enough for 3 huge salads, so if you plan on taking some for lunch the next day, set aside some of the dressing first and pack up your lunch portion of salad before you put the dressing on the rest to keep it crisp.

Here it is all mixed up and ready to eat. It is so hard to force myself to stop and take pictures first, but I do it for the greater good. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Keto on the Go: McDonalds

LEAF lettuce please, not shreds!
When a person is looking for some cheap, fast, high fat food, McDonald's is the place to go. Hardee's offers a Low Carb Thickburger, and it's pretty good, but it is also $6. Sometimes you just want something super cheap, like a $1 McDouble. You can order them normal and just use the bun as a holder, but not eat it. We have had success in the past ordering a burger with lettuce instead of a bun, and it comes in a little dish with green leaf lettuce on either side for no extra charge. Kent was frustrated today, because the drive through worker obviously couldn't grasp what he was asking for, and told the cook to give us shredded lettuce. Not very helpful for picking up our burgers! Lesson learned- be specific and don't assume the teenager taking your order understands what you are talking about. But, we also realized that this could be good sometime if we actually ordered it with shredded lettuce and Big Mac sauce for a Big Mac Salad. This time though, we just ate our burgers with silverware. A couple of these and a Diet Dr. Pepper make for a pretty satisfying $3 lunch!

Recipe: Boursin Mushrooms

Boursin mushrooms are so easy and so delicious. If you have never heard of Boursin cheese, it is a soft, spreadable cheese that is flavored with garlic and herbs. Kent first had these at Trostel's Dish, a small plate tapas restaurant in Des Moines. They were very easy to recreate, considering they only have two ingredients.

It's like a cupcake of cheese.

Boursin Mushrooms

1 package of button mushrooms or Baby Bellas
1 package of Boursin cheese

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms. Use a fork to poke a couple of sets of holes in each mushroom, so any juices can drain out while cooking. Use a spoon to scoop some Boursin cheese into the inside of the mushroom cap. We like to use the spoon to smooth and shape the cheese down into it so it is flush with the mushroom, but feel free to be more rustic about it. Fill each mushroom, place on a baking sheet with a rack to let the juices drain and prevent sogginess. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden.

These are awesome with scrambled eggs for breakfast! I think they would also go very nicely with a steak for a dinner side.

The finished product.

With scrambled eggs and bacon for brunch. Money saving tip: Did you know that bacon "ends and pieces" are way less expensive than normal bacon? Just because they are shorter and get kind of curly when cooked. Just as tasty, though! Normal bacon is $6-$7 a pound, and we got 3 pounds of ends and pieces for $8 at Walmart.

Quick meal ideas for breakfast or snacks

Here are some really fast ideas for grazing breakfast foods or snacks that are ready made or super fast to prepare. I think that one of the challenges to this low carb way of eating is to be prepared at all times to avoid succumbing to carb temptation. If you are ready with things that are delicious alternatives to the stuff you're trying to avoid, you won't feel deprived, and your will power doesn't even feel tested!

I am very happy to report that I only had two temptations this week, on the same day. Girl Scout cookies and the offer of free donuts. I managed to resist them both. Probably because my own snacks were awesome too! I've also lost five pounds in my first week. This is very encouraging. As Kent told me, the addiction to seeing results will be much more fun than the addiction to eating the carbs. I can't wait to see more of it! Here's what helped me this week:

English cucumber sticks with Hummus Quartet (original, roasted garlic, rosted red pepper, and jalepeno cilantro flavors) from Aldi.

I have been eating a one ounce cup of mixed nuts every morning with my cup of iced coffee. It is interesting that since I haven't been eating sugar, I can detect the natural sweetness in foods more easily. I could really tell how sweet a pecan is compared to a cashew.

Dill pickle, turkey meat stick, and string cheese. Grazing breakfast of champions! I've been putting a week's worth of these in a bag that I keep in the fridge at work, so I don't have to think about taking something with me every day. I'm notorious for running late in the morning. I also bought a huge pack of string cheese and separated them all before putting the fridge. Now we have a string cheese and jello cup drawer. How luxurious!

Sugar free gelatin cups are awesome! Before we started this diet, we were addicted to Cozy Shack tapioca pudding cups topped with spray whipped cream. Turns out, the whipped cream is perfect for low carbers. Only one carb for 2 tablespoons. Pictured is orange gelatin with vanilla whipped cream. I also REALLY like chocolate flavored whipped cream on a black cherry gelatin.

In an effort to add fat to our diet, and replace desserts, I put heavy whipping cream into a glass of diet root beer. It is just like my favorite part of a root beer float- when the ice cream melts into the soda. So good! Also delicious in orange soda for a creamsicle experience.

That's it for now, but I will post more ideas as inspiration strikes!

Recipe: Keto pizza crust is a reality!

Kent found this recipe for gluten free, ketogenic low carb pizza crust, thanks to the Reddit low carb forum. We were excited to test it out. Here's the original source of the recipe-  I haven't looked through the rest of that blog yet, but if this recipe is any indication, she is a genius! We are looking forward to modifying this original recipe and trying different cheese combinations, as well as adding herbs and other seasonings to make it custom to whatever kind of pizza we make. We started with my favorite this time- sausage and mushroom. I am hoping to make barbeque pork pizza and Thai chicken pizza in the future. One thing to keep in mind is to go light on the pizza sauce, as tomatoes can be sugary. Alfredo? That's a whole 'nother story!

Dreamy ovals of melty perfection.

Low Carb Pizza Crust
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup whipped cream cheese
1 1/2 cup plus or minus 1-2 Tbsp almond meal
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Place the cheese in a medium bowl; microwave till melted. (2 minutes for us.)
LET IT COOL enough to handle with your hands, this is crucial or you could burn your hands. (This took maybe 5-7 minutes.)

Once you can handle it safely, add the cream cheese, egg and almond meal; mix with your hands until it forms a ball.  This will be very sticky at first; add the almond meal in gradually until you get the right consistency. It seems like it won't come together, then suddenly it does- have faith. Also, be sure to remove your rings before this step.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and set it aside.  Put a sheet of parchment paper on the counter, approximately the same size as your cookie sheet.  Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough as thin as you like, we went pretty thin, and I think that helps with the final texture. Pick up the parchment paper and put it on the cookie sheet.  Place in oven and bake till edges start to turn golden brown.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven; add sauce and toppings.

Return to the oven on the top rack till cheese is melty and the edges of the crust are browned.We like to kick on the convection in the oven to encourage more crispiness.

This recipe made two oval pizzas, approximately 10 inches long by 8 inches wide. It was enough that we each got stuffed on half of our pizzas, and were able to save the other halves for lunch the next day! Almond meal sticks with a person.

One time saving tip: my local HyVee store used to put out ready made pizza toppings in a display case, but I didn't see any the other day. I went over to the pizza kitchen area and asked, and they packaged up what I wanted, so I got 28 ounces of pre-cooked Italian sausage meatballs for $2.09. That is cheaper than if I bought the raw sausage and saved us tons of prep time. Win!

Much golden. Such chewy. Wow.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hi, my name is Emily, and I'm a sugar addict.

This blog is brought to you by these two, Kent and Emily Stowe. This was taken the day after we met each other. 

I'm kicking the sugar habit, and this time I'm serious.

I am only five days into this low carb thing, but I really believe it is helping me. I told my husband Kent it is like when I learned to drive (fairly late in life- I was 26 when I got my license) I initially had a fear of it, then one day I just decided I was ready and I could do it. It helps when the things it is holding you back from doing outweigh the fear. I feel the same way about this diet. I had tried it in the past, but just didn't have the willpower to overcome the first few days when the sugar cravings overpowered me. I'm not sure what is motivating me this time- pain, fatigue, depression, mental fog, or stress- take your pick! I just decided it was time. Everyone has to do things when they are ready, or it'll never work out. If you do it for someone else, it will be hard to stick to if your heart's not it. If you do it because you truly want it for yourself, it is easier to do. Kent is really happy that I am the one to kick us both into gear. He knows it works from personal experience, having lost 100 pounds himself this way in the past, but he later gained it back and has been discouraged. This is due to the comfort of getting married and the ease of eating out at restaurants and not paying much attention. And of course, having a wife who loves sweets, so they're always in the house. I may have decided it was time to change, but we can't do it unless we both work at it together. I like having the feeling of being on a team. It's not a threat of accountability, it's a positive way to encourage each other and talk about what we are doing and learning without annoying everyone else!

The reason why the low carb diet is perfect for Kent and I is because of our health problems. I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes about four years ago, and I was crushed. I'm extremely needle-phobic, so the thought of daily insulin shots made me cry. Also, I wasn't even 30 yet then, and I instantly felt old, with all of the drugs and medical appointments. It was depressing. So depressing, that I stopped taking my medicine and going to the appointments. Because if I just pretend it isn't happening, it's not, right? Nope! I was in denial and it was dangerous. I sort of half heartedly took my medicine, but not regularly, and rarely checked my blood sugar because I knew I wouldn't like what I saw.

When I met Kent, he told me that used to be very overweight, and had lost 100 pounds by eating a low carb diet and lifting weights. I couldn't believe his before pictures, he looked like a totally different person! We were instantly smitten and joined at the hip. When we first started dating, we did a lot of cooking together, because it is something we both enjoy doing. He is the meat expert- he's into grilling and smoking meats, and I love making salads and side dishes, so we were the dream team. He lived with three other guys, and those roommates never ate so well as when I was there and we would cook our feasts. We started out sticking to the low carb recipes he knew and experimenting with new collaborations, and it was really fun. I managed to get off of my diabetic medicine through changes in my diet alone. It was impressive. But then life happened, and we didn't make it a priority to cook together anymore. We got busy planning our wedding, I changed jobs, and we slowly fell into a rut of work stress and tiredness, which led to eating out a lot to avoid having to do dishes. This cycle of eating less healthy food and being tired continued up until very recently.

Here's us when we got married in 2011. Shout out to Rob Baker, of Photogenic Chicago, our awesome photographer! 
Kent starting having digestive issues that worsened until he was experiencing debilitating stomach pains after eating certain foods. We were pretty sure that the problem was gluten, because his Dad has a diagnosed case of Celiac disease, and his siblings also had issues. Ironically, this disease also runs in my family, but luckily, I haven't experienced any of the symptoms. But I certainly could develop a sensitivity later in life- it happened to my older sister. Kent tried to eliminate gluten from his diet, and it seemed to help. But sometimes he would slip up in hunger desperation and eat something he shouldn't. The problem seemed to get worse, and the better he was in general, the worse it was if he slipped up. His body was mad at him for doing so good then eating something glutenous. He recently decided enough was enough, and he had to stop hurting himself. A hamburger bun just isn't worth it! Not only was it giving him immediate pain and suffering, it was taking a toll on his insides for the long run.

The solutions to Kent avoiding all grains and gluten, and me avoiding raising my already too high blood sugar were one and the same- stop eating sugar and carbs. It is funny, because there are so many diets that all basically say the same thing. The "don't eat anything white" diet, No Flour, No Sugar, Atkins, Southbeach, etc. If you say you're doing low carb or Atkins, then everyone gets all judgey about how that will be so bad for you, all you'll eat is bacon! But if you say you are cutting out sugar, everyone will say, wow, that's so healthy! And they are the same thing! We've been eating a lot of big salads topped with grilled chicken or steak and they are so good. I've been having a string cheese, a meat stick, a pickle and mixed nuts for breakfast. Also coffee with sugar free flavored syrup and real cream! My lunches have been leftover salad, or today I have tortilla wraps with cream cheese, dill, ham and pickles. And pork rinds with chip dip. I found low carb tortillas that are 5 carbs each at Fareway. That is so much better to me than wrapping stuff in lettuce leaves, because it just feels normal and not diet-y.  They also have 4 carb pita bread at Walmart! Kent is still avoiding that stuff due to gluten though. You can really get crazy and make pizza crust out of cheese and almond meal, or from cauliflower. We haven't tried that yet, but we did have mashed cauliflower, and it was just as good as mashed potatoes!

The ketogenic low carb is the most hard core version of normal low carb diets, (allowing for fewer carbs per day) so it really kicks the fat burning into gear, but you don't have to do it forever. It will help break the sugar cravings faster, then later if you just avoid most breads and obviously sugary things, you should be able to maintain whatever you lost. As for fruit, berries are the lowest carb fruit, so we can still eat strawberries and raspberries! We got whipped cream in a can, and it is only one carb, even the chocolate kind. I've been using it on my sugar free jello cups. There are a lot of low carb dessert recipes out there, especially cheesecakes and puddings/mousse using cream cheese, whipped cream, eggs, sour cream, etc, just sweetened with splenda. Crusts can be made with nuts. So it doesn't seem too restrictive at all.

Carbs are pretty much any bread product, rice, pasta or starchy vegetables like potatoes, or anything sugary. The rule of thumb with dairy is that the higher the fat, the lower the carbs, so it can be a little hard to wrap your mind around the fact that heavy cream is healthier than skim milk, but it really is. You actually want to consume as much fat as possible, which is why this diet isn't too hard to stick to. You can eat broccoli smothered in cheese! You're never hungry, and everything seems decadent. When you check labels on foods, look at the total number of carbs, and subtract the grams of fiber to find out the net carbs. (Fiber and carbs cancel each other out.)

Here's a good guide to how it works: The Keto Diet in a Nutshell. This site tells all the details much better than I can, so why bother trying? I'd rather just share this link than reinvent the wheel. The other best site for comprehensive information is this one: 10 Benefits of Low Carb Ketogenic Diets. It really dispels a lot of common misconceptions about low carb diets and their perceived dangers.

There are some warnings of people getting headaches when they first eliminate sugar from their diet, but so far, I haven't had any problems, other than just longing for donuts. It is super important to drink lots of water, which is always good for you anyway! Cheat days are possible, as long as they don't turn into cheat weeks and months. We plan on still letting ourselves eat sushi once in awhile, and maybe have a few goodies at holidays. We both want to lose a lot of weight- probably 100 pounds each, so that is why we are focused on the Ketogenic level of low carb dieting. We do not intend to be this strict forever, it is just the most effective way to lose the weight. Hopefully, the weight loss will increase our energy, and make future carbs easier to burn off. 

Luckily, I haven't had too many temptations so far, and I did manage to avoid them, but the stuff I've been eating has been really good, so that is helpful. I feel like I definitely have more energy already, am sleeping better, and my arthritic ankle hurts less. I think it might be reducing inflammation or something. My blood sugar was 137 this morning (I should be between 100-120) so that is pretty good considering the fact that I ran out of my medicine a couple of weeks ago, so I'm sure it was getting higher. It has to keep going down because I'm not eating anything that will raise it!

I also feel like I'm thinking more clearly. I was so frustrated on Friday because I just could not understand this project I was working at my job on and felt terrible like I was letting my boss down, because I thought he needed it by the end of the day since he is on vacation all this week. I know I looked distressed when I went in to tell him I couldn't get it done by 5:00, because I was having a lot of trouble. He was like, oh, it's fine, we can finish it when I'm back and I was so relieved. (I'm still used to my last boss being disorganized until the last second then the burden falling on me to scramble to save the day.) Anyway, I worked on it again today and it all made sense, so I think the sugar was making me stupid! It really does feel like a fog has been lifted from my brain. That's a relief to not be dumb, I was getting worried that I was losing it.

So, long story short, I really think there is something to this- I've lost 2.5 pounds since Sunday, and I am looking forward to seeing that number go down steadily. I'm not going to disclose how much I weigh now, but I'll be happy to in the before and after pictures once I'm 100 pounds lighter! The only thing that I will miss is my awesome wardrobe. I'm a bit of a fashionista, and love to take daily outfit photos to post on Instagram. I have perfectly good self esteem now, and although it will be awesome to be thinner, I am mostly hoping to change how I feel. And I know that those things can go hand in hand. But, as my friend said, you already buy clothes all the time now, so you might as well buy them in smaller sizes! Truth.

If you are interested in reading up further on this diet, I recommend it.  It is prescribed to treat kids with epilepsy, and it also helps fight cancer (sugar feeds cancer cells) and Alzheimer's, in addition to the weight loss and reversing diabetes stuff. It seems pretty magical, really. That is why it is so hard for people to believe that it can possibly be healthy- it seems to good to be true. But, it is isn't as easy as it sounds- sugar is like a drug, and it is hard to beat addiction. That's why those cheat days will be few and far between, because it will require extra willpower to get back on track. The whole point is to get most of your calories from fat, then protein, then just a few carbs. But don't worry, it isn't just plates of bacon, we are eating a lot of veggies! And, like I mentioned earlier I even found low carb pita bread and tortillas, so it is not a total bread free existence!
So, this is the start of the journey for me, and a return to healthy eating for Kent. I am grateful that he has so much experience to guide me, and I think he is grateful that I have so much enthusiasm about starting this to keep him motivated too. I look forward not only seeing results in how we feel and look, but also to sharing the awesome food that we make with you on this blog. It truly is a decadent diet, and with our collective gourmet tastes and kitchen skills, it is going to be a delicious trip!  Let's do this thing.

We are ready to get cookin'!