Shelf-Stable Keto Long-Term Food Storage

As a practically-minded “prepper”, I found myself thinking about survival needs this morning after responding to a question on a Facebook discussion group.  A gentleman wanted to put some long-term food stores in his bug out trailer, and he was looking for suggestions that’d fall in line with a ketogenic way of eating.  I had some thoughts that I shared with him, but it occurred to me that I haven’t written about this topic in a LONG time, so we’re overdue.

This question is a common one in the survival/food storage space.  “How do I build a food storage and rotation plan without resorting to carbs?” While the answer can be complicated, I’ve never thought that answering by saying, “If it’s a true emergency, you’re not going to care what you eat,”, handles the dilemma.  The fact is, “emergencies” can take many forms, and for those of us who depend on a ketogenic way of eating for our health and well being, that answer is dismissive and unproductive.

As most of my readers know, I have reversed diabetes and kidney disease with a ketogenic diet.  Other folks I know are managing conditions like type 1 diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and mental illness with keto.  A disruption to that eating pattern, especially during a time of extreme stress, is something that we have to plan to avoid, so here are some thoughts I have about keto and emergency food stores.

First, let’s talk about the actual foods that one can store to stay on track with a ketogenic way of eating.  Then, we’ll discuss strategies to make that food last.

The majority of my keto food is stored in my freezers and my refrigerator.  Part of my emergency plan for food if I were sheltering in place involves keeping those freezers running.  It also involves an ability to cook said food. We have a small generator and stored fuel so that we can keep the freezers cold.  We also have the ability to power appliances with our cars if necessary.

The problem with this strategy though is that it relies on us sheltering in place with the resources we have at our house.  If we had to leave our home for some reason, it wouldn’t exactly be practical to haul coolers full of frozen meat to some place off site.  So how do we reframe our thinking for those times when we don’t have the resources of the homestead? How do we shift our food choices from refrigerated and frozen foods to shelf-stable foods? I have a few thoughts.

Before I share those ideas though, it’s worth mentioning that we have several “diets” happening in our house at the moment.  I follow a version of keto that’s almost carnivore. My 12-year-old son does as well. My daughter eats a more veg-heavy version of keto, and my husband just follows a low-carb diet.  Lastly, my 14-year-old son eats the standard American diet (for now).

For the purposes of this article, I’ll share strategies that can work everything from liberal low-carb all the way to strict carnivore.  I’m not saying I have all the answers, but submitting some food for thought might help others come up with ideas that’ll fit their personal needs.

Canned Foods

Personally, I don’t use a lot of canned foods in my day-to-day eating plan.  I do, however, have a huge selection of canned foods in my long-term food stores that get used, albeit slowly, in meal prep.  Some of my personal favorites include canned proteins like seafood, chicken, beef, Vienna sausages, a Spam knock-off that we buy at Aldi, and canned bacon.  I also have home-canned meat and stock which are rotated more quickly than store-bought foods.

Also, don’t forget about canned vegetables that can be used to add some variety.  Artichoke hearts, asparagus, spinach, green beans, mushrooms, chiles, and tomato products can be used to stretch protein and fat stores, and it can make meals more interesting.

Lastly, don’t forget about things like coconut milk and canned cream.  While these items are a little more expensive, you can get them at any grocery store, and they provide you with that all-important fat that’ll help with satiety.

Dry Goods

When folks think about this category, they typically think about things like jerky, trail mixes, and nuts.  While these foods are nice to have, I don’t think they should be the primary basis of your food storage plan.  The carbs in nuts add up quickly, and they’re also somewhat fragile. I keep nuts in my freezer so the oils don’t go rancid, but if you’re keeping these kinds of foods in your car, storage unit, or trailer, you’ll have to use a very consistent rotation plan to keep these foods from going rancid or moldy.

Dry goods that I include in my preps (other than nuts and dried meat) include things like a protein powder meal replacer, sea salt, other dried herbs and spices, tea, coffee, and chocolate.  I also keep some keto and whole-food bars on hand.

Like the nuts and dried meat, these items require careful consideration for rotation, and here, that’s less of a problem for us because the items I listed above are used here with more frequency than some of the canned goods I mentioned earlier.

And last in this section, I’d like to give credit where credit is due.  A gal in the Facebook group I mentioned at the beginning of this article suggested adding seeds to your preps.  I thought that was pretty genius, actually, but not for the reasons that some might think.

More than likely, if you have to leave the safety and comfort of your home, you’re not going to find a place to grow some lettuce or kale, nor are you guaranteed to have that as an option because of circumstances or climate.  One could, however, pack sprouting seeds. They’re quite easy to manage, and you could theoretically be eating sprouts within 5-7 days. Having access to something fresh could be a complete game-changer for morale. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it!

You may have noticed that I didn’t include any “designer” dry goods like freeze-dried meats, eggs, or vegetables.  While I do have these items in my preps, I wanted to limit the scope of this article to foods that are easily accessible and not prohibitively expensive.  Adding these foods to your preps can add some variety, but they aren’t necessary.

Fats

For most of us who’re keto, this is usually the part that we really worry about.  If you’re like me, you use a LOT of butter, and while you could take butter with you, it doesn’t last indefinitely at room temperature.  And canned butter, while it exists, is expensive and impractical.

All that being said, here are some of my thoughts on practical fats that are shelf-stable.  I have MCT oil, coconut oil, ghee, lard, avocado oil, and olive oil that I use in rotation along with my butter.  The avocado oil and the olive oil are more fragile, so their rotation has to be managed, but the other oils hold up almost indefinitely.  I have some coconut oil here that I’ve had for 8 or 9 years and it’s still fine. Also, I have some MCT oil that I’ve had for 6 to 7 years, and again, it’s fine.  Let your nose be your guide though.

Other fat sources can include things like nut butter and condiments.  I have some avocado oil mayo and dressings that I really enjoy, but frankly, if the choice was soybean oil mayo in tuna or a meal of carbs, I’d rather have some soybean oil mayo in my tuna.  My situation would likely be short-term, and I can totally live with that choice.

Supplements and Medications

While it’s not directly related to food, I feel it’s important to remind folks about medications and supplements, particularly electrolytes, that can support a person through a physically and emotionally stressful situation.  Plan to thrive!

Other Considerations

I’ll be the first to admit that I wouldn’t be terribly happy eating meals based only on the foods I mentioned above.  While my macronutrients would be well managed, I’m simply not used to eating out of bags and packages. For that reason, some planned fasting would likely be a tool that I would implement.  The fasting will help my body deal with any physical or emotional stress to which I’d be subjected, and it would eliminate boredom and dissatisfaction with limited food choices.

And lastly, don’t forget that falling off the wagon, especially in a time of extreme stress, will just make your situation more unmanageable.  If you plan for situations like this before they happen, you’re supporting your health and you’re doing the absolute best that you can do given tough circumstances.  We’ve all heard the saying before, right? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. For that reason, we have to get a dialog going now before we find ourselves in situations where we have to rely on shelf-stable preps.  It’s the only way we can thrive in spite of bad circumstances. What we do matters!

And don’t forget to watch the blog for a follow-up article where I’ll share meal ideas using the kinds of food stores that I mentioned above.  Knowing what to store is one thing. Applying that knowledge in meal prep can be an entirely different challenge.

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Keto on the Cheap: 11 Weeks DONE

In this “keto on the cheap” update, I have several encouraging bits of news to share, and as always, I have some insights as well.  Finally, it seems like I’m falling into a pattern that makes things easy and sustainable for my family, but I’m not letting my guard down.  The holidays can be a stressful time for some, but we’re determined to thrive right through the trifecta of temptation events — Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

First though, I’ll share my stats from the 11-week mark.

  • High Weight: 290.2lb (May 2017)
  • Start Weight: 259.4lb (9/1/19)
  • Current Weight: 237.2lb

Yep! That’s right! I finally made it back into the 230s! I haven’t seen numbers in the 230s for 14 months.  Hitting these new, old milestones keeps me encouraged, and I’m building confidence about my ability to make my way of eating a true lifestyle.

On the financial side of things, we’ve done a lot better about minding our budget, probably because over-spent for a couple pay periods and added extra food to the freezer.  We came in about 10% under budget past period and we’re on track to do the same thing this pay period. Granted, that won’t immediately off-set the two pay periods where we were 60-70% over budget, but as I discussed last time, hitting a certain number on a grocery budget isn’t the only marker of success for keto on the cheap.

A day or two ago, I was thinking about another aspect of this journey that affects the bottom line.  My husband woke up and in pretty short order, he was ready for breakfast. He doesn’t typically follow a ketogenic diet, but he eats low-carb — I’d guess 50 to 70 grams of carbohydrates per day.  It struck me how quickly he’s ready for breakfast when he gets up each day. He’s usually having a “meal” after having been awake for 45 minutes or so. This pattern is very different from my pattern or my keto teens’ patterns, and it got me thinking.

“People” like to say that keto costs less because you fall into a pattern of time-restricted eating.  Also, folks who follow a ketogenic diet tend not to snack. It seems logical that if you’re eating when you’re hungry and you’re stopping when you’re full, you wouldn’t consume extra food that costs more money, right? The problem with that logic though is that when we DO eat, we’re eating nutrient-dense foods that frankly cost more money than grain-based food stuffs.  I often like to joke that there is no “broccoli subsidy” nor is there a “ribeye subsidy” sadly.

After a little more thought, I came to a conclusion about how keto can actually cut food costs.  I’ll call this idea “how to avoid ribeye creep”. When I first recommitted to keto in September, I didn’t restrict my calories.  As long as the food was on my “yes list” and as long as I didn’t eat more than 20 grams of total carbs in a day, I didn’t really care if I needed a pound of bacon, six eggs, or a pound of ground beef to feel satiated.  As I got fat-adapted though, I started eating less frequently, so I got it in my head, albeit unintentionally, that I could afford the foods I enjoyed because I wasn’t eating as much food now. While that’s completely reasonable and understandable, it doesn’t really help your financial bottom line.

Yes, I love ribeye.  I feel really great on ribeye.  I could live on ribeye! But there are other foods that I can eat that afford me the same success, and they cost a lot less than a pound of ribeye every day.  And as I started to turn to these foods when I was hungry, the grocery bill started going down because I wasn’t as hungry AND I was intentionally choosing less expensive foods.

For example, my son and I LOVE roasted chicken thighs with crispy skin.  He and I have been eating them every day for several weeks now. Sometimes we eat other things alongside the chicken thighs and sometimes we don’t.  The fact that fatty meat that costs as little as $.77/lb fits into our food plan really helps the bottom line. Yes, I get it. Beef is probably a better choice than chicken, and we do eat inexpensive beef too, but by adding something that’s cheap that we love ALMOST as much as ribeye, we can get a handle on the “ribeye creep” that a lot of folks justify by saying, “Keto saves money here, here, or here so I can afford to spend more money on food.”

I’m not suggesting that folks shouldn’t spend their money on quality food.  Please don’t hear that. What I am suggesting is that you can succeed on keto without the lack of a “ribeye subsidy” as your excuse.  Is it better to buy quality meats and organic vegetables and dairy? Probably so. Should an all or nothing attitude prevent you from taking charge of your life and your health? I don’t think so, because I strongly believe that a diet or CAFO beef and big poultry chicken will help folks get to their goals much faster than doing nothing.  I’ve seen it too many times to think otherwise.

I just ask folks to consider some of these things when thinking about how keto can become a lifestyle instead of a “diet”.

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Managing Addiction One Choice at a Time

We have a long-standing birthday tradition in our family.  When a family member has a birthday, he or she chooses a “birthday restaurant”, and the family enjoys a special meal together.  We’ve been doing it for years now, and it has always been a great experience.

In August, my husband and daughter decided that we’d try a new place that we’d never visited.  The place is called “Sushi Club”, and it’s known for their all-you-can-eat sushi. The rest of us were on board with the decision since we all enjoy sushi, and it turned out to be a fantastic choice.  Every kind of sushi that we tried was excellent. The service was fantastic, and the atmosphere surprisingly nice even though you wouldn’t have necessarily guessed that from looking at the outside of the restaurant.

As we headed back home, I said, “You know, that’s where we’re going for my birthday,”, and the whole family was happy with my choice.

Fast forward to September when I recommitted to eating keto again.  Despite the fact that I was wholly committed, my birthday meal at Sushi Club still came up from time to time.  I fully intended to stay the course with my eating until my birthday meal. Then, I planned to eat sushi with my family and “get right back on track” with my next meal.

In November though, I started looking at some of the work of Dr. Robert Cywes.  He’s a bariatric surgeon by trade, but he’s trying to work himself out of a job by teaching folks about the keto way of life to manage carb addiction.  His ideas really resonated with me personally because I’ve always known that I’m a carb addict, but I hadn’t woven that idea into my thinking for long-term success.  That’s why I’ve been battling my weight all my life — not because my “diet” failed.

As I continued to listen to more podcasts and watch more videos, my thinking was changing.  I started thinking about eating carbs as a “relapse” and not a “cheat”. In reframing my thinking about my “drug” of choice, I felt like I could start to see my choices for what they were — relapses in an addiction that can and will kill me.  That might sound harsh to some, but it’s not for me because that’s my reality.

Anyway, as I continued to reframe my thinking, I was starting to have second thoughts about my choice to eat sushi for my birthday.  On one hand, I was fairly certain that I could come through the experience without sliding down a slippery slope, but on the other hand, I was worried that my choice to eat sushi would leave me vulnerable to a full on bender that would last through the Christmas season into the new year.  That thinking was starting to provoke some anxiety for me for sure.

A couple days ago, I shared my thinking with some of my friends.  These friends happen to be really good at sharing perspecitives that I hadn’t thought of without telling me what to do, so we had what I thought was a really productive conversation.  We talked through the pros and cons of deciding to eat sushi, and by the end of the conversation, I knew what I was going to do (even though I didn’t share that with my friends right then.)

Later that evening, I was talking with Fred.  “I think I’m going to make a decision that’s going to make the rest of the family unhappy.”

“OK?” He seemed a little worried.

“I don’t want to eat sushi for my birthday meal anymore.”

Being the sweet, supportive husband that he is, he just said, “Well, I’ll strongly believe that we should do whatever you want because it’s your birthday,”, and then he was prepared to just end the conversation.  I knew he’d react that way, but frankly, I wanted to talk about it more. I think I needed that conversation to solidify my choice in my own head, but he was ready to move on to something else.

I ended up sharing a bit of my rationale with him, and then he asked me where I thought I’d like to go instead.  “Amazing Joe’s!”, I told him, and he was happy with that choice because they have such good food and it’s really easy to eat on plan there.

After talking with Fred, I knew I was eventually going to have to share my news with the kids, especially because we’d just been talking about going up there earlier this week.  I pulled my daughter aside yesterday and told her first.

“What? Why not?” She was really surprised and she sounded disappointed.

I was just really matter-of-fact with her.  “I’m 90% sure that I could eat sushi without any issues, but that leaves a 10% chance that eating sushi would trigger a relapse.  Any other time of year, I MIGHT take the risk, but the risk of a relapse before Christmas and New Year’s is a risk that I’m unwilling to take.  I’ve worked too hard to get where I am now, and each relapse makes it that much harder for me to build forward momentum.”

My daughter’s such a smart girl.  She listened carefully and then said, “Ooooh! You’re right.  I hadn’t thought about the whole Christmas thing. That makes perfect sense.  We definitely shouldn’t eat sushi.”

I really love that kid.  She’s on her own journey right now because of PCOS, so I knew she would understand, but on the other hand, the kids are more liberal with their off-plan eating than I am even though they have already discovered that it’s hard to get back on track after a relapse.

This whole process of deciding not to eat sushi has taught me a lot.  First and foremost, the decision has alleviated the anxiety I was starting to feel about the precautions I’d need to take to guarantee my success.  It has also helped me to realize that celebrating success with my drug of choice is like an alcoholic celebrating his sobriety with a few drinks. It just doesn’t make logical sense.

Going through the process of choosing, talking about the choice with so many people, also gave me confidence in my own decision-making skills.  Was my desire to eat sushi and my justifying of the choice the addiction talking? I don’t think so, but I’m just not willing to risk it considering the number of relapses I’ve had that started with just one bite or just one meal.  I’m just not there yet, and that realization actually makes me happy because it keeps things simple. My drug of choice has no place in my eating plan, period.

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Keto on the Cheap: Update and Strategies

I know that I haven’t posted an update in a while, but I’m still here kicking butt and taking names.  I have been on track without a “relapse” for 69 days now, and while progress on the scale is slow, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way things are going!

Here are my stats as of today.

  • High Weight: 290.2lb (May ‘17)
  • Start Weight: 259.4lb (9/1/19)
  • Current Weight: 243lb

On day 66, I hit a new low of 241lb, so I know I’ll be seeing the 230s before I know it.  I just have to be patient with myself and understand that my biggest victory is that I’m more than halfway through day 69 of NOPE (no off-plan eating).  It definitely feels good to have that accomplishment under my belt (that happens to be about 2.5” smaller now than it was 69 days ago.)

As for my budget, we’ve completely blown it.  I’m just being honest. But as I was discussing that fact with a friend yesterday, he asked me to consider some other victories and metrics in the challenge that I set for myself.  Sticking to a budget isn’t the only point of “keto on the cheap”.

Bulk and Case Pricing on Meat

I have an immersion circulator for cooking sous vide style that I absolutely love.  On of the benefits of cooking sous vide style is the fact that I can take less expensive pieces of meat and turn them into incredibly delicious meals.  For us, the jackpot has been the purchase of whole sirloin tips at our local Sam’s Club. These cuts cost about $3.25 per pound. We bring them home and cut them into thick, amazing steaks and one nice-sized roast, and we pay an entire dollar less per pound compared to buying the steaks and roasts that have been cut from the whole sirloin tip.

And there’s something else I learned that might help folks.  If I had enough money to buy a whole ribeye, I’d save about a dollar per pound on that cut also, but the meat guy at Sam’s Club will cut it for me for FREE! That means that by buying whole cuts, regardless of the type, I can same money when compared to the pre-cut and pre-packaged steaks.

Similar money can be saved by investigating case pricing.  Most items at my local Sam’s Club are discounted by about 10% if you buy by the case.  I can’t think of anything specifically that my family uses where that kind of discount would benefit us, but the option is there.

Macronutrient Density

Another strategy that we use around here is the choosing of foods for their macronutrient density.  While I don’t count anything at this point, I can tell you that I experience more satiety when I choose foods that are nice combinations of proteins and fats.  For instance, today, I have eaten three roasted chicken thighs. I didn’t discard the delicious crispy skin, and as a result of that, I don’t know that I’ll eat anything else today.  It’s not because I’m trying to count calories or follow some sort of time-restricted eating regimen. I’m simply not hungry. And if I do get hungry later, I’ll have something, but since it’s after 6:00pm as I write this, I doubt there’ll be more food for me today.  That means my food today will have cost us $2.18. (Don’t worry! They were enormous chicken thighs.)

I have definitely noticed though that if I nibble and graze, even on foods that fall in line with my way of eating, I consume more food which can cost more money.

Lastly, I want to remind folks.  I’ve said it before and I’ll continue saying it as long as it needs said.  Don’t let perfection be the enemy of “good enough”. If you have to start out with ground beef, chicken legs, and store-bought eggs, then start there.  Just start SOMEWHERE because your health depends on it. Your eyes depend on it. Your kidneys and your feet depend on it. Don’t put it off because you can’t be “perfect”.  None of us are perfect, but a lot of us are still changing lives!

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If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)

There is a concept to which some cling in the “diet” world that says, “Eat whatever you want ‘if it fits your macros’.” While this might sound appealing to some, I contend that it’s a terrible idea, and I’ll share my rationale below.

This concept isn’t new, sadly.  I remember a time in the late ‘90s when my best friend was following a popular calorie restriction program that required you to “count points”.  Fiber grams allowed you to offset some of the calories, thus fiber-rich foods tended to be worth less points. Eventually, folks started trying to “work the system” by eating whatever they wanted alongside fiber supplements.  In essence, they were the early adopters of the IIFYM eating model.

Then, in the early 2000s as low-carb eating became more popular, I saw people doing things like “saving” carbs so they could continue to put sugar in their coffee or eat junk food in place of nutrient-dense carbohydrates like vegetables.

Since my experience over the last 20+ years has been primarily keto, I want to discuss IIFYM in that context, although I’m sure many of these points will apply to whatever eating plan a person chooses to follow.

IIFYM in the Context of Grief and Loss

A lot of folks have a pretty strong emotional attachment to food.  It’s human nature, right? We celebrate with food, we reward ourselves with food, and the process of eating can be a very social experience.  When we change our meal plan though, some folks, especially those who have an unhealthy relationship with food, will experience feelings of grief and loss.  This is where the idea of IIFYM comes in.

The five stages of grief and loss are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  I’ve personally experienced all these stages at one time or another when I’m trying to make positive changes in my life, but denial and bargaining are often paired with the IIFYM way of eating.  “Well, this way of eating doesn’t have to apply ALL the time, so I can keep eating bad stuff as long as I’m still playing by the rules.” In reality, that’ll only set you back in the long run.

Inflammatory Effects of Poor Food Choices with IIFYM

The ketogenic way of eating is inherently an anti-inflammatory diet.  When we choose foods that simply fit the macros though without paying attention to food quality, we increase inflammation, glycation, and sometimes even stress hormones as a result.  Claiming that a jelly donut counts the same as an entire day’s worth of vegetables is flawed logic. It relies on the idea that a calorie is a calorie regardless of where it comes from, and both anecdotal and scientific evidence have shown that this simply isn’t the case.  Quality does matter, regardless of what eating plan you’re following.

Way of Eating vs. “Diet”

I’ve seen it so many times.  “I’m going to go on this diet and then when I lose my weight, I’ll eat ‘normal’ again.” IIFYM fits perfectly into this logic because folks are simply looking for a way to make it through until they can go back to the terrible habits that made them unhealthy in the first place.  Looking at a healthy human diet like keto as something that’s temporary though means you’re likely to end up right back where you started — sick, fat, and miserable.

“Diets” sell products and make people lots of money.  A “way of eating” requires nothing but smart choices at the grocery store or farmer’s market.  “Diet” in the commercial sense implies an intervention that’ll end when you’ve met your goal. A way of eating implies something that’s sustainable for a lifetime, and IIFYM has no place there in my opinion.

IIFYM is Like Heroin Instead of Methadone

As I discussed earlier, the IIFYM model is often used by those of us who have unhealthy relationships with certain kinds of food in certain situations.  I can tell you from my own experience though that using IIFYM when you’re trying to deal with food addiction is one of the quickest ways to guarantee failure.  It’s like saying to a drug addict in rehab, “We’re going to let you have a little bit of your drug of choice as long as you can fit it into the program.” It makes no sense.

Some will contend that food addicts should quit cold turkey without any sort of methadone, and that’ll be a topic for another day.  Using “just a little bit of heroin” while you’re trying to quit heroin essentially guarantees failure or relapse. Ask me how I know because my drug of choice has always been food.

The whole concept of IIFYM encourages backward thinking and I would strongly advise anyone who’s serious about their health and longevity to avoid this trap.  It’s usually just the grief or the addiction talking, and those guys can say some pretty convincing stuff sometimes when you’re vulnerable. If you’re going to put in the effort to make your life better, don’t short-change yourself.  It’s not worth it!

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Apples, Apples Everywhere

Fall in my neck of the woods means apples and lots of them! They’re in grocery stores, orchards, roadside stands, and produce auctions.  While I don’t eat apples personally because they don’t fit into my eating plan, I love a good deal that allows me to put some food into the pantry.  Fortunately for us, my mom found such a deal at a produce auction, so we ended up with two bushels of apples for $24.

So what did we do with all those apples? We made applesauce, apple butter, and dried apple rings.  And as I started to put back food with my mom for the great apple push of 2019, we even canned some apple jelly.  (She already had juice that she’d canned, so that made the jelly really simple.)

It had been a long time since I’d made applesauce, so I appreciated Mom walking me through that.  Canning was usually something that I did with my dear friend Sue who passed away last year, so doing it with another special person in my life was so nice.  We used a standard recipe and we did not add sugar. When I brought it home for my family to taste, my son said to me, “I didn’t think I liked applesauce, but this is AMAZING!”

We also made some no-sugar-added apple butter that was pretty delicious.  A little of that stuff goes a long way, and it’s a thousand times better than the garbage that you buy in the store.  My family will eat it on toast and sandwiches, but the best way to enjoy it in my opinion is by stirring a bit of it into plain yogurt.  Mom and I also discussed using it to make a glaze for pork. I haven’t tried that yet, but I’d imagine that thinning it with a little apple cider vinegar would make a tasty glaze indeed.

My favorite method for putting back apples though is drying.  My 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator can dry about 18 large apples in 7 or so hours, and drying those apples makes the house smell so good! I use a tool that cores and spiral-slices the apples, I place them on the trays, and in about seven hours, you have dried apple deliciousness.  After the apples are completely cool, I pack them into freezer bags and keep them in the freezer until they’re needed.

My family loves to snack on them, but I was also considering a caramel apple cinnamon roll attempt (for folks who eat that sort of thing.) We’ll see how that goes.

Of course my family enjoyed some of the apples for fresh eating as well, but temperature conditions in my house aren’t that great for apple storage apparently.  I ended up having to feed some of them to the chickens, but that’s OK. Maybe I’ll end up with some apple trees later.

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Keto on the Cheap: Day 40

I’m forty days into my “keto on the cheap” reset and I couldn’t ask for things to go better! I’ve accomplished so much over these past weeks, and I figured it was time to do another update.

First of all, I’ll share some stats.

  • High Weight: 290.2lb (May ‘17)
  • Start Weight: 259.4lb (9/1/19)
  • Current Weight: 244.8lb
  • % of Total Lost: 5.63%

I also thought I’d share how my macros have averaged out of the last forty days.  There were three out of the last forty days that I wasn’t able to track for one reason or another, but I still ate on plan, of course.

  • Calories: 1286 kcal
  • Fat: 102 g
  • Net Carbs: 12.4 g
  • Protein: 77 g
  • % Fat: 69.4% calories from fat

And since I haven’t done an update in a while, I’m sure you’re also wondering about the money side of things.  You might remember that I set a budget of $300 per two-week pay period for our family of five. Tomorrow marks the end of the third pay period since I started this challenge, but I already have the numbers.  On average, we have overspent our budget by 11%.

Over the first four weeks, there were only two of us following a ketogenic way of eating.  During this pay period though, we added a third family member, my daughter, to the mix. And interestingly enough, this last pay period was the only one where we didn’t overspend our grocery budget.

Observations After the First 40 Days

Regarding my budget, I may have to increase it a bit, but I don’t think I’ll consider that until I have at least another two pay periods worth of grocery expenses.  My original grocery budget of $400 per pay period may be more realistic, especially when my husband starts eating on plan again, but I’m not giving up. I really think this level of spending can be sustainable for my family.  Time will tell though.

As far as my stats go, I want to make a couple points.  First, I am absolutely thrilled that I’ve lost 14.6lb in forty days.  I was looking at my data, and I’ve lost 6.4 of those pounds in the last thirty days.  After the initial water shed, I think 6.4lb per month should be a perfectly sustainable weight loss for me, and it means that I should be in the low 230s by Christmas.  Considering I haven’t been below 233.8 since September of 2013, this is huge for me.

I’m also amazed by how easy it has been this time around to stick to my plan.  I’ve done this enough times to know that the first couple weeks are quite a challenge, but it didn’t work out that way this time.  I was able to fall into a pattern quickly, and I’m feeling fantastic. I have a lot more energy this time around, and I seem to be sleeping better too.

Lastly, I want to talk about my macros.  I’ve tracked my macros all along because I’m a numbers gal.  but I haven’t been concerned about the macros that some folks would say matter.  My plan requires that I stay under 20 grams of carbohydrates each day, and ideally, I’d like to see my percentage of calories from fat around 70-75%.  My carbs have been spot on, but I’d like to see my fat percentage a bit higher. The problem is, eating this way is self-limiting, so I’m just not hungry.  It’s been suggested to me that if I increase my activity, I’ll be hungrier, but that simply hasn’t been the case so far.

Honestly, I feel best eating ribeye, butter, and eggs, but since I’m trying to keep costs down, I’m not doing that right now.  I might see what I can do later on to accommodate that tendency, but right now, I’m going to just keep plugging away at things and making slow but steady progress.

The online community I’ve found has been so helpful.  And the fact that more folks in my house are focusing on their health helps me too.  I got to go back to the gym this week for the first time in ages, and I can’t tell you all how amazing I felt.  My daughter has a complicated schedule for one more week, but once she finishes one of her college classes, we’ll be able to go to the gym twice a week.  That may not sound like much to some, but I couldn’t be more thrilled!

If you’re enjoying these updates and want to be part of the conversation, don’t forget to join me over on my Claiming Liberty Facebook page or my Claiming Liberty Discussion Group.  I’m planning some content for YouTube and I’m always available to chat on social media.  In the mean time, remember that what we do matters! We can get busy livin’ or we can get busy dyin’, and I think you know which one I’ve chosen.

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Keto on the Cheap: First Pay Period Food Costs

One of my goals with my keto reset has been getting a handle on food costs.  So often, I hear things like, “Keto is so expensive! I could never afford to do that.” In reality though, it doesn’t have to be expensive, and I hope to illustrate that over the coming weeks.

When I first designed this challenge for myself, I set a grocery budget of $150 per week.  Since we get paid every two weeks, that means that to meet my goal, we need to have spent less than $300.

So how did we do? Well, we spent $317.96 last pay period, so we didn’t quite make the goal.  That being said, I’m still ecstatic because I can’t remember the last time we spent that little money on groceries.  What’s more, we only spent $13.90 eating out which is also an amazing improvement over the pattern we’d established for ourselves.

To give everyone some context, there are five of us in the household.  My 11-year-old son and I are the only ones eating low-carb; my husband, my 14-year-old son, and my 17-year-old daughter are not.

As I look back at the grocery expenses, there are some places where we could do better.  We spent $10 on ice cream (before I had started my challenge), we spent $10 on sushi, and we probably spent about $30 on diet soda.  (It’s store brand soda, but that’s still a LOT of money to spend on zero-calorie beverages. That’s 10% of my budget.) Lastly, $17.49 funded my 14-year-old’s school meal plan for September.

You can see that there’s room for improvement, definitely, but overall, I’m pretty happy about the first pay period.i

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Blind Lady Anecdotes: Feeling Green

At some point in the early ‘90s, I decided to make a batch of peanut butter cookies.  I had a recipe that was amazing, and I thought that the family would appreciate some home baked cookies, so I started making them.

Unbeknownst to me, my dad wasn’t feeling well.  He was having some sort of stomach trouble, and the smell of the cookies was making him feel worse.  He came out into the kitchen to talk with me about it, and out of nowhere, he asked, “Why are those cookies green?”

I was confused.  “What do you mean, green?”

He answered, “I mean they’re GREEN.  They’re very, very GREEN.” Then he walked away disgusted.

Apparently while making the cookie dough, I grabbed the bottle that I thought was vanilla.  With my limited vision, it looked like vanilla, and of course, it was shaped like a vanilla bottle so I thought I was good.  For some dumb reason that I’ll never understand to this day, I didn’t smell it though; I just added an entire teaspoon of green food coloring to my cookie dough!

Honestly, if Dad hadn’t told me that the cookies were green, I never would have known.  They tasted great, Of course, Dad was put off by the color, and as I recall, the rest of my family was concerned too.  As I recall though, my siblings helped me eat the cookies and we all got a great laugh out of the whole thing.

Needless to say, I ALWAYS smell the vanilla before I add it to my recipes now.

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New “Blind Lady Anecdotes” Series

In August, I  started writing a book.  I love to write, and I’ve dreamed about writing my own book since I was in middle school.  Until recently though, my problem had been inspiration. I couldn’t think of anything that I thought would interest other folks.

Fast forward to August.  I was sharing one of my humorous “blind lady anecdotes” with friends when it hit me.  I could make a compilation of these stories and publish it for folks to enjoy. After discussing it with family, I decided to start writing.

I have already immortalized a number of these short stories in the cloud for future editing and publication, but yesterday, I got to thinking.  What if I published a few of these stories on my blog? In doing that, I could get some interest going and maintain extra content for other endeavors (like ebooks or a members’ area on my blog.) And with that thought, an idea was born.

On Thursdays, I will share one of my blind lady anecdotes.  I’m not doing this to encourage folks to laugh at blind people.  I’m doing this because I believe keeping things light helps us find a common ground.  It helps folks feel more comfortable about asking questions, and it keeps folks from thinking they have to avoid us because they’re going to say something to offend us.  Everyone who knows me know that I can’t live life taking myself too seriously, because if I do, I’m just unhappy. That’s not helpful at all! I tell my kids all the time that you can laugh or you can cry and laughing’s a heck of a lot more fun! Life’s too short; let’s enjoy it!

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