Cast Iron in the Homestead Kitchen

Folks don’t usually think of cast iron in December, especially here in Indiana, but with all the things that are going on at the homestead, we definitely have cast iron on the brain here.

About a month ago, Fred and I were shopping at Aldi.  We had originally stopped in for a few “essentials”, but by the time we left the store, we’d spent entirely too much money.  We got groceries, of course, but we also got flannel sheet sets for every bed in the house.  (Did I mention it’s winter in Indiana?) But my favorite find of all was the Crofton cast iron.

boxed cast iron cookware from AldiIt was the grill pan that caught Fred’s eye.  He knew I’d been wanting one for ages, but since I have a glass range top, my cookware has to be flat on the bottom.  I can’t have any ridges or rims.  And do you folks know how hard it is for a blind person to buy things online based only on the descriptions?

Anyway, I was basically acting like a small child right there in the middle of the store.  I took one of the pans out of the box and squealed with delight as I noticed that the bottom was flat and the cast iron didn’t have a surface that felt sandy or bumpy.  I tossed the pan into the cart before I even knew how much it was.  Then Fred proceeded to tell me that it was only $13 and they had other options too.  Boy, was I in trouble!

Next, I checked out a 12″ skillet, and if I hadn’t felt the weight of the pan in my hands, I almost would have suspected that it was some kind of Teflon coated pan.  The surface was so smooth, almost like it had been milled.  Since I had been struggling with some Lodge cast iron that wasn’t non-stick yet, I snagged that skillet too.  It was also $13.

I also ended up snagging a covered braiser.  I think I only paid about $25 for that piece.

I know a lot of folks might wonder why I’m such a cast iron fanatic, especially since I have a glass cooktop in my kitchen.  I guess I’ll start by dispelling a few myths.

  1. I thought you couldn’t use cast iron on a glass or ceramic stove top.  You can absolutely use cast iron a glass or ceramic cooktop with a few caveats.  Remember that cast iron is heavy.  Don’t drop it on your cooktop or you’ll break it.  Don’t drag it across the cooktop either or you run the risk of scratching it.  This isn’t a functional issue, but it’ll likely annoy you.  And lastly, make sure the bottom of your pan is FLAT.  If it isn’t, you don’t get the right heat transfer to the pan and you run the risk of creating a vacuum in that air gap that can break your stove top.  (I saw it happen once when someone set a hot lid on top of a glass cooktop.  It made a lid-shaped hole in the cooktop.)
  2. Cast iron is hard to care for.  In my experience, cast iron is a lot easier to care for than the other cookware in my kitchen.  In fact, because of that, I almost NEVER use anything but cast iron.  Frequent use maintains the seasoning so it doesn’t get rusty, and simple cleaning with hot water and a plastic scrubber or cast iron cleaner will keep your cookware in great shape!
  3. Cast iron is unsanitary because you don’t clean it with soap.  The issue of soap is a debated one.  Personally, I don’t use soap on my cast iron unless it’s an enamel coated piece or I’m trying to strip it to reseason it.  Outside of those situations, I’ve never had a use for soap with my cast iron, and the logic I use is this.  Cast iron does a great job at distributing heat.  Heat sanitizes.  If one uses cooking temperatures well above the boiling point of water, microbes won’t survive that, thus I don’t worry about getting sick.

A trend that I’ve really come to appreciate in cast iron cookware is the process of enamel coating.  I have a large enamel coated “dutch oven” (not the kind that you’d use on a campfire but the kind that’s basically a big covered pot), and it does an amazing job of cooking acidic soups or stews that I might not want to cook in cast iron that hasn’t been coated.

My new skillet and grill pan from Aldi are enamel coated on the handle and the outside of the cookware, and this makes care a lot easier in my view.  It means that I only have to worry about seasoning and rust on the cook surface rather than the entire pan.

I have enough cast iron at this point that I may need to reinforce one of my cupboard shelves.  The pans that I use most frequently though just sit on my stove top.  I’m certain that my fixation with cast iron will mean that I’ll have cookware to pass on to my children when they move into their own homes, and they’ll likely pass it on to their kids too.  And my cast iron isn’t even fancy or antique.  It’s just used frequently and treated right.

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Going Keto: Update for 12/04/17

It has been far too long since my last keto update, but I have nothing but great things to report.  Since I haven’t shared my progress for more than two months, I’m sure you can imagine that I have a lot of things to share.  I’ll try to keep it interesting.

The Metrics

I decided to enlist my daughter’s help with more progress pictures.  These pictures are only the second set that I’ve asked her to take since beginning this journey on September 8, 2017, because my weight loss is pretty slow.  Later, I think these photos will be a lot more impressive, but for now, they are what they are.

front view of Sarah standing in front of doorprofile image of Sarah in front of door

These photos were taken on December 2, 2017.  I weighed 264.6 pounds for a total loss of 23 pounds since September 8.

My daughter also took some basic measurements.  At two weeks and one day keto, my measurements were:

  • Hips: 60″
  • Waist: 48″
  • Bust: 51″

And at twelve weeks and one day, my measurements were:

  • Hips: 55.5″
  • Waist: 47.5″
  • Bust: 49″

I do have to say though that I question the initial waist measurement because I need to drop down a belt size and losing half an inch off my waist would not have accounted for that.

Labs

I had an appointment with my family doctor on October 11, and before the visit, we ran some labs.  At the time the labs were run, I had been following a strict ketogenic eating plan for one month and one day.  Here are some numbers of note.

  • Hgb A1c: 5.8%
  • Random Glucose: 74 mg/dL
  • Total Cholesterol: 229 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: 98 mg/dL
  • HDL: 63 mg/dL
  • LDL: 146
  • Vit D: 22.6 ng/mL
  • TSH: 3.590 mcIU/mL
  • T4: 9.5 mcg/dL
  • T3 Free: 2.35 pg/mL

There were a few items of note that we discussed at my October appointment.  First, I was happy to see that after only one month on a keotgenic eating plan, my blood sugar and A1c looked great.  I had assumed that the A1c had probably been higher and as I continued on my journey, that number would get better.  (I’ll get to that in a minute.)

My vitamin D level was still entirely too low despite supplementation, so we decided to continue the supplementation and retest before the end of the year.

My thyroid levels weren’t in the optimal range, and since I was having hypothyroid symptoms despite taking 30mg NP Thyroid each morning, we decided to increase my thyroid meds by 15mg and retest.

My kidney function (which I didn’t share above) was stable, but that was a little disappointing since I’m not going to recover full kidney function after taking Victoza in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

In preparation for my November visit with the doc, I had more labs drawn.

  • Hgb A1c: 5.9%
  • Random Glucose: 87 mg/dL
  • T3 Free: 2.11 pg/mL
  • T4: 9.1 mcg/dL
  • TSH: 3.740 mcIU/mL
  • TPO Antibodies: 17.7 IU/mL
  • Insulin: 7.0 munit/L
  • C-Peptide: 2.4

I was definitely frustrated with the second set of lab values.  Despite doing everything “right” with my eating, my A1c went up.  As a diabetic, I know I should be thrilled with an A1c of 5.9%, but the fact of the matter is, that’s still an average blood sugar of 133 mg/dL.

My healthcare provider and I discussed it, and we decided to try Tradjenta.  The hope is that we can get a better handle on the glucose that’s being made in my liver since it’s not coming from my food.  Paying for that medication is going to be a challenge though.  My insurance doesn’t cover it.

And then there’s my thyroid.  We increased my NP Thyroid in October yet my symptoms persisted and my lab values got worse.  We went ahead and increased the NP Thyroid to 60mg per day and we added 25mcg Cytomel.  I still think it’s a bit too early to tell if that’s making a difference or not.

Everything Else

Overall, my outlook is positive.  I’m happy with the progress I’m making, and aside from hypothyroid issues, I’m happy with how I feel.  I haven’t had trouble with acid reflux in weeks, the pain in my feet has significantly lessened compared to twelve weeks ago, and I’m very happy with my eating choices.  It’s really quite easy for me now, and I’m determined to do NOTHING to wreck my progress.  I refuse to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Eating on plan was so easy for me over Thanksgiving.  Even if we hadn’t eaten prime rib on Thanksgiving Day, I still would have had no troubles with food selections because there are so many things that are keto and satisfying to me.

I imagine that Christmas and New Year’s will be more of the same for me.  I’ve discovered some recipes that I absolutely love if I’m looking for something sweet, and I’m lucky that most of the people in my life support my positive changes.

In the end, I just remind myself to stay focused on the end goal.  And honestly, with keto as a tool, it’s about as easy as it could be.

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Recipe Review: Low Carb Pumpkin Bread

It’s that time of year where it feels like you can’t walk three feet without seeing pumpkin spice something, right? Well, I happen to like pumpkin and the warm spices of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon that happen to go along with it, so I thought I’d try a low carb pumpkin bread recipe.  It didn’t take much searching before I found something that looked tasty but didn’t look too complicated, so I decided to try some one Sunday afternoon with the help of my daughter.

sliced pumpkin bread on a cooling rackI made “Healthified” Pumpkin Bread from Maria Mind Body Health, and my recipe choice was definitely a winner! I was a little worried that the bread would taste too nutty and gritty since the recipe is based on almond flour, but the texture was smooth and moist like pumpkin bread that was made with wheat flour.

As is the case with almost every recipe I try, I made a few modifications to suit my tastes and ingredients.  First, I didn’t make the glaze.  I just wanted a basic pumpkin bread that I could enjoy with butter.  I’ve never had a glazed pumpkin bread, so it didn’t really sound appealing to me.

The second change I made was a substitution.  I added four teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead of the sum of the spices that were in the recipe.  I was afraid that four teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice would be way too much, but it was actually perfect.  In fact, maybe that’s why the nutty taste of the almond flour didn’t shine through.  It worked out well.

Lastly, I used Truvia and liquid sucralose instead of the sweeteners that were recommended in the recipe.  I like a blend of sweeteners to round off the sweet taste.  To us, doing that tastes more like sugar than any one sweetener alone, and none of us react adversely to sucralose, stevia, or erythritol.

As I had hoped, this recipe was delicious spread with warm butter, and everyone in the family loved it.  I intend to make it again but I’ll try making it in some silicone baking cups that I purchased recently from Amazon (review to follow).  Having muffins rather than slices of bread might be a little more convenient for my family.  I’ll add comments to my post with the results of that experiment.

If you’re following a gluten-free or low carb eating plan and you’re looking for pumpkin bread, I can’t recommend this recipe highly enough!

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Recipe Review: Easy Spinach & Mushroom Omelet Muffins

Attempting to effect self rescue from my food rut, I’m trying new recipes.  I found “Easy Spinach & Mushroom Omelet Muffins” on All Day I Dream About Food, and I thought the recipe looked delicious.  When I showed it to my daughter, she said we HAD to try it, so we made the muffins today.

The recipe was really easy to put together.  The instructions were clear and easy to follow, and the process made sense.

The recipe made 16 muffins for me, but perhaps that’s because I added extra cheese and two tablespoons of dried chives.  I used one silicone muffin pan and one aluminum muffin pan with this recipe.  I greased both pans with coconut oil and despite the eggs and the cheese, the muffins released easily from both pans.

I should also note that I baked this recipe in an electric convection oven, so I reduced the temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and they were done after baking for just 20 minutes.

close-up of muffins on a cooling rackAs soon as the muffins were cool enough to eat, my daughter and I tried one.  We both thought they’d make an excellent grab and go breakfast or snack.  I’ll bet splitting them and using them like English muffins would work well too for breakfast sandwiches.

It didn’t surprise me that my daughter and I loved them.  What did surprise me though was that my boys loved them too.  They both ate two, and they both asked if they could take them to school for a snack.  It looks like I’ll have to make a double batch next time which means I’ll need more muffin pans! Oh well.  I guess there are worse problems to have, aren’t there?

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Fall Food Rut

Fall has finally arrived here at the Wittekind homestead, and I have to admit that I’m feeling the effects of a fall food rut.  I don’t feel like cooking.  I don’t feel like eating.  In fact, I find myself wishing sometimes that food could be absent from my life altogether.  This has been a strange experience for me because normally, I love to cook and bake.  It doesn’t matter what eating plan I’m following; I can make all kinds of tasty stuff.  This rut has been hitting me hard though, so providing food for myself and my family has been a struggle.

“So what are you doing about it, Sarah?”, you might be asking.  Well, my strategy has been twofold.  I’ve been looking for inspiration and I’ve been working on planning.  Both strategies are important to my success, I think, so here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

On the inspiration front, I’ve been combing through some pretty great websites.  If I had only had these great resources when I first started eating low-carb back in 1997, things might have been a bit different.  In today’s world of Pinterest, ebooks, blogging, vlogging and the like, there are so many resources at your fingertips now.  It’s almost overwhelming, especially when you’d rather not be thinking about food at all.

I’ve also snagged a couple of cookbooks.  I don’t normally turn to cookbooks, but my most recent purchase was especially worth it, I think.

The planning front has been a bit more challenging for me.  I have no problem making grocery lists and picking foods that my family will eat.  The problem creeps in when it comes time to execute the plan.  I prefer freshly prepared food as opposed to leftovers, but that means I have to actually prepare said food.  It’s purely a mental thing at this point, and I realize that.  I think I’m basically at the point where I have to fake it until I make it.

Fortunately, I am a problem solver.  If I can identify a problem, I’m happy to do everything I can to change my circumstances rather than sitting around and acting helpless.  I thought that briefly sharing my struggle here on my blog might be helpful to other folks who might be facing some of the same challenges.

In my case, I think it boils down to the change I’ve experienced in my relationship with food over the past eight weeks.  Following a ketogenic eating plan means that I’ve spent a lot of time not being hungry.  This means that food is nothing more than fuel, and so food and I have become more like frenemies.  The all or nothing mentality that I must have with non-keto foods can’t be the same mentality that I have with food altogether, and changing that mindset is just going to take time.  In the end, I just have to keep reminding myself that what I do matters, and there’s nowhere to go but forward!

Resources:

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Going Keto: Update for 9/29/17

It’s been three weeks since recommitting to a ketogenic eating plan, and things are going GREAT! The scale is moving, I’m noticing a difference in how I feel, and I’m loving the little victories that wouldn’t mean much to most people but they’re HUGE for me.  Of course, there have been some challenges too, but I feel like those challenges toughen my resolve to whip this beast once and for all!

I’m going to start this update with some metrics.  Last Saturday, I had my daughter take some measurements for me.  She also took some pictures.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but having done this before, I know that I’ll want something more meaningful than a number on the scale to show my progress.

front view of Sarahside view of Sarah

These aren’t actually “before” pictures, but they were taken when I was within ten pounds of my highest weight, so I’m hoping as I proceed along my journey, the changes will be noticeable.

Also, as I said earlier, my daughter got out the measuring tape for me.  My hips measured 60″, my waist measured 48″, and my bust measured 51″.  While I definitely had an emotional reaction to those numbers, I also realized they’re just as important as any other data points I’m collecting.  It’s hard to quantify progress if you don’t know where you’re starting, right?

I’ve been tracking my weight from the beginning, of course, and it’s tracking downward nicely.  I’ve lost 8.2 pounds in three weeks, and I’m thrilled.

weight loss graph trending down from left to right

I’ve also experienced some other small victories since my last update.  Fridays have been pizza night at the Wittekind homestead for a while now.  Last week, I wasn’t even hungry for supper.  I was pre-occupied by one of Jimmy Moore’s live streams at The Ketonian Korner.  All the sudden, I had an epiphany.  I could smell the pizza cooking in the oven, and it smelled really good, but it didn’t trigger me at all.  I didn’t have obsessive thoughts about pizza and how I needed it.  In fact, I didn’t even have thoughts about needing food of any kind.  I was shocked by how empowered I actually felt, and that was a huge realization for me.  I was definitely a happy girl.

Also of note was my discovery of CRON-O-Meter.  I’ve played around with a lot of tracking tools over the years, and this one looks the best by far.  I realize that in my last update, I was talking about another tracking program, but CRON-O-Meter is a God-send.  Not only can I track more nutrients than ever, but I can track a multitude of biometrics like blood pressure, pulse, blood sugar, body temperature, and of course weight.  Perhaps the most exciting feature though is the ease with which I can add recipes.  Rather than using an empty day in Fitday to create the recipe and then copy all the information to a custom food, CRON-O-Meter does all the work for me.  It’s pretty darned spiffy!

I’m still dealing with some pretty tough fatigue, but I still have sick kids in my house, so I’m not ready to attribute that to something I’m doing wrong with my eating.  I’m also still experiencing mild reflux, but it’s markedly better than it was when I wasn’t paying attention to what I was eating.

Good things are happening.  I’m maintaining a positive attitude of gratitude, and I’m continuing to plow ahead.  Every day brings something new and I’m continuing to feel motivated and empowered.  What we do matters, folks!

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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!

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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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