Going Keto: Update for 9/19/17

I’m really happy with my progress since recommitting to a low carb, high fat, moderate protein eating plan back on September 8, 2017.  I’m already feeling so much better even though I’m fighting some sort of bug that the kids brought home.  Some annoying symptoms have gotten a lot better, my blood sugar is stable, and oh yeah, I’ve dropped a little more weight.  I’m a happy girl!

Since my last update, I’ve dropped another 2.4 pounds for a total of 5.4 pounds lost altogether.  As I’ve said before, I’m more worried about getting healthy and less worried about a number on the scale, but since it’s something that I can quantify for folks, I’ll be noting weight changes in these updates.

What has really surprised me though is how quickly I’ve lost my cravings for sugar.  Avoiding things that don’t support my health goals was tough at first as it always is, but now, I feel pretty ambivalent about food.  It’s nice to not have to eat because I’m starving or shaky or cranky, and while I’ve experienced this all before with a low carb eating plan, it snuck up on me this time around.

I still have emotional issues with food for sure.  This past weekend, I was having a moody moment and in an online chat, one of my friends randomly proclaimed, “I want cake!” Before that, I hadn’t been thinking about anything sweet.  In fact, I hadn’t been thinking about food at all.  But when she mentioned it, my brain switched on with some obsessive thoughts.  I had to deconstruct the whole experience logically and remind myself that I really didn’t want cake, but it totally shocked me because the thoughts came out of nowhere with the simple suggestion of cake when I was feeling vulnerable.  I viewed the whole thing as a success in the end, but it was disturbing for sure even though I was in no danger whatsoever of eating cake.

And of course, there’s great news on the acid reflux front.  When I’m eating trash food, I suffer terribly with reflux.  I get sore throats, a hoarse voice, burning in my throat and the worst chest pain ever.  Since going keto though, the only thing that has bothered my reflux has been some big name coffee that I won’t mention here.  Imagine how surprised I was though when I got my Holler Roast Coffee and drank some with no pain.  I was so happy! I know I still have to heal my esophagus, but drinking coffee without burning and chest pain sure was nice!

I have noticed something though that I’ll have to watch carefully.  I seem to be having some allergy symptoms that are associated with food.  It’s too soon to know for sure, especially because I think I’m fighting a virus of some sort, but I had some periods of facial flushing last week after eating.  What was more alarming though was a rash that appeared on the right side of my face.  It started on my cheek with flushing and itching that spread around my eye, over the top of my ear, and on my scalp above my ear.  I took some Zyrtec (which I hadn’t been taking regularly ’til then), and the rash stopped itching within an hour or so.  Unfortunately, all I’d had that morning was some coffee with cream, and I haven’t done another test since then to see if it happens again.  I’m definitely keeping an eye on symptoms and foods though.

Other than that, I don’t think I have anything exciting to report.  I hope to get my daughter to take some pictures soon so I can post them along with my updates.  I hate having my picture taken with a passion, but having a visual record is nice when you’ve made significant progress.

Is there anything else you’d like to see in my blog updates? Comment on this post and I’ll see what I can do for you.  Until then, remember that what you do matters! Go and do good things!

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Going Keto: Update for 9/10/17

Although it’s only day three since I officially recommitted to a low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein eating plan, there’s so much to report! I’ll try not to write a book here, but I do have a lot of things to share.

First, I know folks will wonder about my weight since weight loss is often a goal with nutritional ketosis.  My starting weight was 287.6 pounds on Friday, September 8, 2017.  This morning, I was down to 284.6 pounds.  Using up muscle glycogen causes you to shed water, so this initial loss is neither exciting nor impressive, but it is worth mentioning for the purposes of my update.

Second, I wanted to start testing my blood sugar again, but I knew I’d run out of strips, so Fred and I went into town on Friday night so I could buy some more.  Much to my disappointment, Wal-Mart didn’t appear to carry my strips anymore, so I had to pick a new meter.  I HATE picking new meters because the questions I have as a blind person are hard to answer with nothing more than online research.  I didn’t want to pick another store brand cheapy meter because I don’t like having to get a new meter every two to three years.  I didn’t want a meter with ridiculously expensive strips though, so we started to evaluate our choices balancing meter features with strip cost.

After looking at a number of meters with a wide range of feature sets, I settled on the Contour Next One by Bayer.  It caught Fred’s eye because it has a display that he thought I’d be able to see, but the small sample size and bluetooth connectivity were deciding factors for me.  I couldn’t wait to get the meter home and try it!

Although I haven’t been testing like Dr. Richard Bernstein recommends, I have noticed a trend.  My blood sugars are staying under 100 mg/dL, and when I felt like I might be experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia, my blood sugar was 83 mg/dL.  Suffice it to say, I’m very happy with my readings and the meter.  (I plan to do a product review on the meter and the CONTOUR DIABETES App in a future blog post in case anyone’s interested.)

Along with decent blood sugars and a little bit of weight loss, I am also feeling more satiated as I focus on consuming less protein and more fat.  I need to work on my water and mineral intake though as I experienced some dizziness upon standing yesterday and the start of some leg cramps early this morning.

Lastly, I wanted to share something that might make some people laugh, and I’m fine with that.  This morning, I successfully cooked Wright bacon on the stove top.  Why is this impressive, you might ask? Well, throughout most of my adult life, I’ve cooked bacon in the oven.  It’s less messy that way, but more importantly, I don’t have to flip it.  (I can do so many things as a blind cook, but flipping bacon has always been something I couldn’t seem to master.)

The problem with Wright bacon is that it’s too thick to cook in the oven, so I almost never got slices of bacon with my meals.  I wanted some yesterday though, so I thought I’d try making three pieces in my 14″ frying pan.  That way, I had plenty of room to work.  I got out some silicone tongs because I thought that might help me flip the bacon, but things didn’t go as I’d hoped.  I started the bacon cooking, but my daughter had to flip it for me because I wasn’t able to feel through the tongs the way I thought I’d be able to.

I decided to try again this morning, but this time I decided to use a turner.  Surprisingly, it worked perfectly, so I got three HUGE slices of bacon along with eggs fried in bacon grease for breakfast.  It was so satisfying, not only because I was being nourished by real food but because I’d finally succeeded at cooking bacon on the stove top.  Yay, me, and yay, bacon! (A celebratory listen to Rub Some Bacon on It is definitely in order!)

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Back to a Ketogenic Diet Thanks to Naysayers

Last week, while listening to an episode of The Survival Podcast, I experienced something that surprised me.  I felt irrationally triggered by a naysayer, and as a result, I’m committing to get my health back on track by following a well-formulated ketogenic food plan.

What Triggered Me?

I was listening to “EXPERT COUNCIL Q&A FOR 9-1-17” (episode 2077 of The Survival Podcast).  Around 36:25 into the podcast, Jack announced a question for Gary Collins on the differences between ketogenic and paleo diets.  Given Collins’ passion for primal and paleo lifestyles, I was definitely not expecting what I heard next.

His tone of voice was dismissive, and he almost seemed to mock folks who follow a ketogenic meal plan. He defined a ketogenic diet by saying,  “A ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet which is usually 80-85% of your calories are consumed in fat, roughly 5% or zero in carbohydrates and the remainder in protein.”

Setting his definition aside for the moment, I kept listening.  He went on to say ketogenic diets are only “good for a two to three week window”, they’re “trendy”, and they’re used for weight loss when people are “going on vacation in Hawaii and want to look good in a bathing suit”.

One of my favorite quotes was, “I know a lot of these yahoos teach you can ketogenic diet long term.  Trust me.  It doesn’t work and it’s not worth it because think about it.  That’s a lot of fat!”

Who are the “yahoos”? Jimmy Moore and others? And why is eating a lot of fat a problem? I guess it all comes down to Collins’ idea of how people eat while following a ketogenic approach.  According to him, “Most of these people their breakfast is a stick of butter you know melted and cooking two eggs in it.” He goes on to desribe “a half a stick of butter in a cup of coffee” and “a lot of bone broth” as the foundation for a ketogenic diet.

He also claims that going keto means that you’re missing out on anti-oxidants, fiber in the form of vegetables, and the real kicker — carbohydrates.  “You do need carbohydrates somewhat.  You can’t just eliminate them long-term forever.  It doesn’t work unless you come from a different ethnic background such as the Inuit or the Eskimos who lived on high fat content because they have very little vegetation and a very short growing season.”

His overall recommendation was to “do paleo” and then “experiment with keto in between”.  Then he wrapped up his answer by explaining why fat is good but too much fat will make you fat.  I was stunned!

My Rebuttal

Collins’ understanding of what constitutes a ketogenic diet is fundamentally flawed and he uses a number of logical fallacies to convince his listeners that keto has no merit long term.  What’s more, he doesn’t even really address the listener’s question.  I expected to hear comparing and contrasting talking points, and what I heard instead were ad hominem, evasion, and false analogy arguments that left me entirely unimpressed.

So what did he get wrong? First, and most importantly, the majority of folks who follow a well formulated keto plan do not eat zero carbs as a lifestyle choice.  Are there folks out there who’re living on nothing but bone broth, eggs, butter and coffee? There might actually be, but if those folks do exist, they’re certainly the exception and not the rule.  Pointing those folks out as an example of keto perfection is misleading at best.

He also gets the underlying science wrong when it comes to chemistry and metabolism.  His opinions seem based on old dogma rather than current data and real world experiences.

Lastly, he uses name-calling to set himself apart from others who’re doing fantastic work in a space that isn’t yet mainstream.  It seems to me that falling into an us against them mentality only serves to make Gary look bad instead of spreading the message of primal/paleo living.

What’s Next for Me?

Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking seriously about bariatric surgery.  That doesn’t mean I’d given up on low-carb or keto; it just meant I thought I needed yet another tool in my toolbox to take control of my health again.

Then I heard Gary’s segment on TSP.  I decided that I was going to write a formulated rebuttal on the episode’s webpage.  I made sure I had all my ducks in a row first though by having plenty of resources to cite.  In gathering those resources, I had an epiphany.  In all my years of low-carb eating, I have never achieved long term nutritional ketosis, and as a result, I experienced a lot of the challenges that can be so discouraging.  Surely I owed it to myself to give it a try, and that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I’m actually really excited, and I’ll be sharing my journey here on my blog.  I’m feeling optimistic, encouraged, and empowered, and I haven’t felt that way regarding my health since medication side effects damaged my kidneys.  I’ve lost a lot of ground since then, but I’m ready to take it back!

Related Links:

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Warm Blankets — A Summer Car Kit Essential Item

During the “dog days of summer”, you wouldn’t necessarily think of warm blankets as being essential, but it’s amazing how much they can help in some pretty unexpected ways.

Almost two years ago, we got an Ivy Hawkins waterproof utility blanket from Sam’s Club, and we anxiously added it to our car kit.  Most people think of blankets in the winter, and that was in fact when we got it, but we purchased it with the intention of keeping it in the car all the time.

This particular blanket claimed to be 100% waterproof, and if I recall correctly, the product packaging featured someone using it in rain and snow to change a tire.  Sounds useful, right? And along with the fact that it’s waterproof, it also came with a built-in strap that made condensing the blanket easy.  Again, we thought this would be a useful feature in our car.

Fortunately, we hadn’t had cause to use the blanket for anything other than a seat protector until this spring.  We attended a friend’s outdoor wedding, and it POURED.  I had a poncho with me, but I gave that to one of my boys, so I grabbed the blanket and used it like a cape.  It kept me dry and warm, and I thought it was worth every penny we paid for it.

Fast forward now to last Friday.  My daughter had gone out with friends to a football game, and her friend’s mom was going to bring her home since my husband had to work late.  My daughter texted me that she was going to be a bit late because traffic was awful at the high school, so I put on my jammies and laid down to watch some TV.

Fred came home earlier than expected, and we had just settled in to watch some Star Trek reruns on Netflix when the phone rang.  It was my daughter, and I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.  She was as calm as she could be as she proceeded to tell me that they’d been in a car accident.  It took me a minute to realize what she was telling me because she was so calm.

“We just got hit.”

“You just got hit? Where?”

“We got rear-ended.”

“No.  Where are you?”

“We’re in the ditch.”

“On our property?”

“Yeah.”

“Is anyone hurt?”

“No.  We’re just in the ditch.”

“OK.  We’ll be right up there.” Then I hung up the phone, grabbed my phone, slid on some shoes and headed outside.

I knew that it was unusually cool for an August night in Indiana, but I didn’t bother putting on more clothing.  The shorts and t-shirt I’d planned to sleep in were going to have to suffice so that I could make sure everyone was OK and render aid if needed.

When I got up to the ditch, everyone had climbed out of both cars and they were all just kind of milling around.  My daughter was such a help because she was able to answer questions calmly, and when I reminded both drivers to put on their emergency lights, my daughter ended up being the one who turned on the blinkers for the car she’d been riding in.  The driver was still pretty shaken up.

After we made sure that everyone was OK and we got people out of the road, I called 911 and got the sheriff headed out our way.  After that, there was nothing to do but manage the scene and wait.

It was then that I realized people were probably going to need blankets.  It was in the 50s at that point, and there were two small children and three folks who weren’t wearing adequate clothing for the weather.  In fact, the driver of the other vehicle was wearing shorts and a shirt that left most of her torso exposed.  Combine that with the fact that everyone was pretty emotional because of the crash and you have a nice recipe for very cold people.

My 9-year-old son was such a help.  He grabbed the blanket from our car kit and ran it to the driver of the other vehicle.  Then he went inside to grab more blankets from the house, and finally, he even ended up grabbing some jackets.  It was the least we could do, and I actually think that it helped to keep folks calmer when they weren’t shivering in the chilly night air.

The sheriff’s deputy who responded to the scene seemed so surprised that we had intervened the way we had.  My husband brought his mower up to the road so we could have more light and he was prepared to help pull the car my daughter had been riding in to a spot in the yard where it had a chance of being driven away.  We tried as best we could to see to everyone’s emotional and physical needs because it’s the right thing to do, and the officer said that he just wasn’t used to seeing that.  I confess that made me a bit sad and even angry because I’d want strangers to treat my family the way I treated the folks who were involved in that crash.

It wasn’t until the driver of the other vehicle returned our car blanket that I realized how important something like a piece of fabric could be in a situation like that though.  She seemed so grateful as she handed it to me, and I was thinking, “I’m glad such a simple thing could make such a big difference.”

We think about needing blankets when it’s cold outside.  We might even think about blankets being used to make a tire change more comfortable and less dirty.  Some of us might even think about using blankets to treat shock in folks who’re badly injured.  I hadn’t really thought about blankets being used in Indiana in August to keep people warm though.  They were useful though, and you better believe that if we have an opportunity to get another blanket like the one we got at Sam’s Club, we’ll certainly be doing that.  We’ll probably be giving some as gifts too!

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Bacon Cinnamon Rolls — The Great EXperiment

In 2015, a conversation with a member of my Civil Air Patrol unit sparked the idea of bacon cinnamon rolls.  We all thought it sounded like a fantastic idea, but I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t want to ruin a great thing.  (Anyone who has tasted my cinnamon rolls would understand.)

bacon cinnamon rolls on plateEarlier this year, the topic of the “Rick Rolls” (named after the man who inspired me to give them a try) came up again.  I kept saying, “Yeah, I’m gonna have to try that,”, but I hadn’t had an excuse to make cinnamon rolls.  Since life tends to give us what we need though, I had a chance to try the bacon cinnamon rolls for the first time last week, and it was unanimous.  The “rick Rolls” are amazing!

I based my bacon cinnamon rolls on the Perfect Cinnamon Rolls recipe that I’ve been using for ages.  Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients — Dough

  • 1 c water
  • 1/4 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 stick salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 5 c bread flour
  • 1 tbsp yeast

Ingredients — Bacon Cinnamon Filling

  • 1 stick salted butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c real bacon bits

Ingredients — Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 8oz brick cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
  • 4 c powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

Note: The icing recipe is a quadruple batch because I almost never make just one batch of cinnamon rolls.  If I don’t end up using all the icing though, I’ve put it in the fridge and it keeps for a while there.  I haven’t tried freezing it though.

Procedure

The link to the original recipe has fantastic directions for making the cinnamon rolls.  I’ve used a bread machine to make the dough and I’ve used my stand mixer and dough hook to make the dough.  Both methods work well.  I have noticed though that if I use the “spoon and level” method for measuring the bread flour, I always have to add extra bread flour.  I’m fine with that though.  I’d personally rather start out with a dough that’s too wet.

When it comes to making the actual cinnamon rolls though, I do things a little differently.  I lay out a large piece of heavy duty foil on my counter and I grease it with some of the butter that was left over in one of the wrappers that I used in the recipe.  Then, I make my dough rectangle on the foil and I mix the cinnamon, brown sugar, and bacon bits together with my hands in a medium bowl.  Next, I spread the melted butter on the dough rectangle with my hands, and I sprinkle the bacon/cinnamon/brown sugar mixture on top.  I make that part even with my hands too.  It sounds messy, I know, but I find it easiest.

By making the dough rectangle on foil, it makes it really easy to roll the dough.  I start by picking up the long edge of foil that’s closest to me and fold it away from me so that the dough overlaps itself by a couple inches.  Then I carefully remove the foil from the dough that I just folded onto itself so I can finish rolling it.  When the dough has been rolled so that there’s only two or three inches of dough and filling left at the part that’s farthest away from me, I use the long edge of the foil on the other side to help me finish the roll.  I pull it up and toward me so that the dough and filling are brought up and over the roll that’s already been made.  Then just like I did in the beginning, I carefully remove the foil from the top of the roll so I can pinch the seam and finish the roll.

The original recipe claims that you can fit all these rolls in a 13″x9″ baking pan, but I’ve never been able to do that.  I usually get 15 rolls out of a batch and I rise and bake them in disposable steam table pans that I get from Sam’s Club.

I don’t understand why folks are intimidated by making cinnamon rolls.  Once you’ve done it a time or two, you get a rythm and discover that it’s really pretty easy.  It helps, of course, when you’re using a great recipe, and this recipe definitely qualifies!

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Meet Leader Dog Denver

Sarah & Leader Dog Denver

Sarah & Leader Dog Denver giving a Civil Air Patrol safety brief

On January 11, 2017, I met my third Leader Dog, an amazing Labrador Retriever named Denver.  Our meeting was a long time coming, but when I touched him for the first time, I knew that everything I’d gone through up to that point was absolutely worth it!

I still remember returning my second Leader Dog, Dream, back in 2006.  Because of the way my life was at the time, I had a hard time imagining that I’d want another Leader Dog.  Sending her back was the right decision for her and me at the time.  I remember thinking, “I’ll just let them issue dogs to the folks who really need them.  I shouldn’t use up those valuable resources.”

It’s interesting how things change over time though.  Kids get older, medical issues change, and perspective changes.  When I decided to apply for dog number three in 2015, I was determined to let nothing get in my way.  I missed the confidence that comes with a Leader Dog, and frankly, I missed the skill.  (While my husband and daughter are great guides, Leader Dogs are better!)

Although Denver and I haven’t even known each other for a month yet, I have no doubts about our bond, the perfection of our match, and the success we’ll have as a team for many years to come.  Thanks to excellent breeding, and amazing puppy raiser, and skilled and caring Leader Dogs for the Blind staff and volunteers, Denver has my heart, my trust, and my confidence!

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Product Review: Nature’s Best Zero Carb Protein Powder, Banana Cream

As someone who has followed a low-carb eating plan off and on for almost 20 years now, I have extensive experience tasting protein powders.  With that said, I think I’ve just tasted my favorite of all time — Nature’s Best Zero Carb Protein Powder, Banana Cream Flavor.  It’s amazing!

Before today, I’ve only tasted two other flavors of Nature’s Best Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder.  The espresso flavor and the strawberries and cream flavor are both good.  In fact, until I tasted the banana flavor, I wasn’t certain I’d find a better tasting protein powder.  Now though, I have a new favorite! I’m not sure I’ll use anything else.

I make my protein shakes in a shaker bottle per the instructions, but this product is one of those rare products that could actually be stirred into water with a spoon.  It takes little effort to get it to disolve.

To me, the banana flavor is real; it isn’t overpowering or artificial tasting.  The sweetness is just right when you mix it per the instructions, and the texture isn’t grainy or gritty.  Best of all, with this one, it comes as close to tasting like it isn’t low-carb as a shake can get while actually being low-carb.

The wheels are turning.  I can think of a lot of variations so one doesn’t get bored, but it’s so good I can’t imagine that happening for me.  It’s DEFINITELY worth the money if you’re looking for a protein supplement that’s fortified with vitamins and minerals that also tastes AMAZING, this product is the way to go!

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Recipe Review: Pressure Cooker Beef & Broccoli

I’ve been experimenting with pressure cooker recipes.  Last night, I made Pressure Cooker Beef and Broccoli Recipe, and I wanted to share my thoughts.

image of beef and broccoli

Continue reading

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IN Cottage Food Law: Cream Cheese Frosting Without Cream Cheese?

The other day, a TSPN Zello friend from New York mentioned the sale of baked goods from her homestead, and it got me thinking.  Could I do the same thing here in Indiana? If so, what are the rules?

chef apron and hatAfter a little research, I determined that Indiana has fairly reasonable cottage food laws.  I can sell most baked goods, produce, jams and jellies, and even lacto-fermented pickles at farmer’s markets or at a roadside stand.  A commercial kitchen is not required because cottage food production doesn’t occur at a “food establishment”.

My research triggered a myriad of questions though.  What constitutes a “roadside stand”? Are there other regulations specific to my county? Can I combine the sale of products covered by the home based vendor law with other items like crafts, livestock, eggs, etc? Continue reading

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Sesame Orange Chicken & Rice in the Power Pressure Cooker XL

With still more inspiration from Pressure Cooking Today, I discovered another recipe that’s definitely a keeper! Here’s what I did.

sesame orange chicken on rice

Ingredients Continue reading

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