Monday, December 31, 2007

Recipe: Low-carb coleslaw


Low-carbers know that commercial and restaurant coleslaw is full of sugar. I guess that's why so many people like it!

This particular coleslaw recipe is so close to restaurant-style that you won't be able to tell the difference.

To make things more convenient, I use a commercially prepared coleslaw salad mix (shredded cabbage, few carrots for colour). 1.5 lb of mix works well for this recipe. I use three 8-oz bags of Belleisle brand, personally. You can also simply shred some cabbage on your own, but I find that this makes the coleslaw really soupy unless you're diligent at draining it really well. It's much easier to buy it already shredded in a bag.

(By the way, if you use a mix with red cabbage in it, your coleslaw will turn pink. Tastes good, but the colour is strange.)

For a finer consistency, I run the cabbage mix through the food processor for five seconds. (One 8-oz bag at a time.) This takes less than a minute to do and the consistency is much closer to restaurant-style coleslaw when you do this. Depending on your preference, you can leave it as is, of course.

So now that you have your cabbage prepared, here's the recipe for the dressing:

- 1/3 cup Splenda (or equivalent low-carb sweetener)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Mix it all together with a whisk.

Throw in the coleslaw. Mix it all together and let sit for two hours before serving for the best flavour. This is one of my favourite recipes and I have it often.

Click on the photo for a larger version. (This is the batch I made this evening.)

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Week #28: Gained 0.5 lb over Christmas for a grand total of -81.5 lb to finish off 2007

I certainly didn't "cheat" over Christmas, but I definitely over-ate. With food constantly in front of you, it's difficult not to! But I ate completely low-carb and am happy about that - I just ate too much. My mother even made a traditional Christmas meat pie for me using Carbquik - a low-carb baking mix (similar to the high-carb Bisquik). Very close to the original, so I was happy about that, too! Was that the culprit? Perhaps... but it was worth it! Ha!

In the grand scheme of things, gaining 0.5 lb is a victory for a diet over the holidays, and I certainly consider this a "victory." Of course, I would have loved to have stayed the same - and that was my ultimate realistic goal - but 0.5 lb is nothing, really. I will certainly lose again next week as the routine (and regular water consumption!) gets back into gear. And if you consider the entire month of December as the "holidays" - as many do, I did lose 9 lb during December weigh-ins (even counting today's slight gain). So it's all good!

It's funny... I knew I gained this week. I could just tell... I even told some people that. Even 0.5 lb shows up when you're really paying attention.

One thing I overindulged in - even if they're low-carb - was nuts! They're packed with nutrients and good fats, but they're also very high in calories - so you have to watch yourself. I don't count calories at all, but you still have to use some common sense. My strategy was to eat nuts out of the shell, which required me to crack them open. Slows down the consumption, for sure! I wish they were available year-round. I think my nut consumption (as a snack) needs to be curtailed a bit for a few weeks so as to kickstart the losses again. (By nuts, I mean nuts from a tree... not peanuts or cashews, which are legumes.)

Many people have asked me what my weightloss goal is. By the end of 2008, I want to lose another 125 lb. and hit at least the
-210 lb mark a year from now. By June 17, 2009, I want to hit my goal of losing 240 lb. And if I hit my goal way before then... that's great. But the main thing is: I will (!!!!!) hit my goal. Period.

Am I disappointed at this week's gain? My answer: I lost 81.5 lb in 6.5 months and I'm thrilled about that. "But, you didn't answer the question," you say. Yes, I did.

Concentrate on the positive. What you think will become reality. I am already at my goal weight. My body just hasn't caught up yet. :)

No excuses.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Recipe: Low-carb pecan sandies


These are a really nice cookie with the texture of shortbread... except that they're low-carb and healthy! My comments/variations are in italics.

- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground pecans ("pecan meal")
- 1/2 cup almond flour ("ground almonds")
- 1 cup Splenda (or equivalent)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder (heaping)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (heaping)
- 1/2 tsp mace or nutmeg (I used mace - heaping)
- 1/2 cup vanilla whey powder (I used low-carb vanilla protein powder)
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten

Preheat oven to 325F.

Beat butter in a large bowl until it's fluffy and light. Add Splenda, blending well. Add egg, and beat again. Add salt, baking powder, spices, ground pecans and almonds. Beat until completely incorporated. Add whey powder and gluten and finish mixing. Dough will be sticky and a little gooey but should hold together.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay dough onto paper. Use a spatula to smooth dough into even layer, about 1/4" thick. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Score with a sharp knife while cookies are still hot. Makes 5 dozen cookies - 1.3 effective grams of carbohydrate per cookie.

(I didn't get anywhere near 70 cookies, but had about half that. I made them larger than intended obviously, but they certainly weren't huge. I used a 1-oz. cookie scoop to measure each cookie's batter. Click the photo for a larger version.)

Source: Low Carb Luxury.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Recipe: Low-carb beefed-up meatloaf


I brought this to a holiday family gathering over Christmas and it was the hit of the party! Everyone raved! This is a moist, delicious - and different - take on meat loaf. I'm making a double batch to freeze over the weekend for lunches when I return to work after the holidays. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

This would be delicious with a nice low-carb coleslaw, salad, or piping hot bowl of low-carb vegetable soup!

As always, my comments and variations are in italics.

Tomato topping:

- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce (look for no sugar added, i..e Hunts)
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste (look for no sugar added, i.e. Hunts)
- 1/4 cup sugar substitute (i.e. Splenda)
- 2 tsp white vinegar or water (I used vinegar)

Meatloaf:

- 2 lb ground chuck (may use meat loaf mix with ground pork) (I used 1.5 lb lean ground beef and 0.5 lb lean ground pork. It came out perfect!)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced small (I sauteed it before I put it in the mixture)
- 1/4 cup roasted or fresh red bell peppers, diced (I used Krinos brand bottled roasted red peppers pickled in wine vinegar brine - very nice. A bit of sugar added, but just a tiny amount. Found in the "international" section of the supermarket.)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 lb prosciutto, or any type of ham, thinly sliced (I used prosciutto from the deli section of the supermarket - paper thin, so it's easy to roll)
1/4 lb provolone cheese, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl, mix together the tomato topping ingredients. Set aside. You may add a few drops of water to thin to a ketchup consistency. (I certainly didn't need to add any water. I made a double batch of meatloaf but only one batch of the topping. It was enough for both.)

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, eggs, parmesan, vegetables herbs, and seasonings.

Working on a waxed paper lined sheet pan or counter, form meatloaf mix into a 10" X 8" flat rectangle on the waxed paper. Place a layer of prosciutto slices on top, followed by a layer of provolone slices. (I alternated layers, i.e. couple of slices of ham, then couple of slices of cheese, then ham, then cheese, etc., until I ran out.) Roll up the stuffed meatloaf mix like a burrito and seal the edges all around by pinching the meat.

Place the roll, seam side down, into a 5" X 9" loaf pan. Spread a heavy coat of the tomato topping to completely cover the top of the meatloaf. Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the temperature on a meat thermometer registers 165 F. Drain fat and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. (Very important to let rest. I'd even go 20 minutes.)

Per serving:

Calories - 509; Fat - 39 g; Saturated Fat - 17 g; Carbohydrates - 7 g; Fibre - 1 g; Net Carbohydrates - 6 g.

Recipe courtesy of the great low-carb chef George Stella.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

Here's wishing all Lowcarbdude.com readers a safe, happy and festive holiday!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Week #27: Down by another -3 lb for a grand total of -82 lb!

I had a really good week! Lost a total of 3 lb for a new grand total of -82 lb in 27 weeks! Needless to say, I'm thrilled. I love "changing decades" on my loss total and see the -100 lb mark coming fast and furious toward me!

Today, I'm cooking up a storm of low-carb treats for Christmas. The "assumption" that someone has to drop off their diet for the holidays is such a crock. If you want to stay loyal to your health and your well-being, get organized and make a decision. I made mine: To refuse to give in to the patterns of the past and "forget" my diet during the holidays... and inevitably finding myself many dozens of pounds bigger by the summer, when I still hadn't got back on track.

And besides, no one has yet been able to tell me how eating garbage that's bad for me and that will make me sick is in any way honouring the birth of Christ. (That question usually stops them dead in their tracks. Ha!)

If I'm sounding more determined and a bit harsher than usual, it's because I've been encouraged by a few people to simply forget about low-carb over the holidays and go back to my old way of eating.

No.

Period.

No excuses... even for Christmas.

I'll try to post a couple of recipes and pics before December 25th after I accomplish some of my cooking goals for today.

Next week: The last weigh-in of 2007! Where will I end up?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb On YouTube (Episode 19)

Today's episode is all about Dana Carpender, a well-known low-carb cookbook author. (I have nearly all her books, by the way.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lowcarbdude.com mentioned in today's Moncton Times & Transcript!

Click here to read the article on the website or see below. My interview is at the end of the article.

Dietary dilemmas: Holidays can be challenging for those with health conditions or trying to lose weight

By Cathy Donaldson, Times & Transcript Staff
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Appeared on page B1, Moncton Times & Transcript

It's become an annual ritual at our house.

On Christmas Eve, you'll find me happily chopping in the kitchen, preparing the ingredients for the stuffing to accompany the next day's turkey feast.

Make that two stuffings.

My mother-in-law has celiac disease, a disorder of the small bowel caused by a reaction to a gluten protein found in foods like wheat, rye, barley and oats. The treatment: a lifelong gluten-free diet.

So, while I use wheat bread for the stuffing that most of the family eats, gluten-free rice flour bread forms the basis of a second stuffing for my belle-mère.

While the small added task is no hassle here, mealtime can sometimes be challenging for those preparing food for holiday guests with dietary or other health concerns -- not to mention for the guests themselves.

"It's definitely an issue for many people," says Judy Burgess of Moncton, an executive member of the local chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association.

"I just spoke to a girl in our chapter who has lots of parties to go to coming up. Some relatives are saying to her, 'Oh, a little bit (of non gluten-free food) won't hurt. Just scrap the pie filling off the crust.' Some people don't realize that we can't do that because of cross-contamination concerns. The goal is to be 100 per cent gluten free."

Taking chances with food when you have such dietary conditions is not a good idea, says Judy, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1958 at the age of 11.

"You're doing damage to your small bowel whether you have a little bit or a lot (of non gluten-free food)," she says.

Fortunately for Judy and other celiacs -- and those who may host them during this festive season -- more gluten-free products are now available in stores, providing additional choices.

Specialty items can be quite expensive, however, with gluten-free bread costing as much as $7 a loaf, for example. An avid baker, Judy cuts costs by making much of her own food, such as breads and sweets.

If you have relatives visiting during the holidays who have special dietary needs, try to determine in advance what you can do to accommodate them, says Judy.

"It's really up to the person with the disease to call and ask what's being served and how it's being made," she says. "For example, if you're celiac and there isn't going to be gluten-free bread or rolls at the dinner you're attending, you can say you'll bring your own. Be willing to help yourself out and not put complete pressure on the hostess."

Sharon Zeiler, senior manager of Nutrition Initiatives and Strategies for the Canadian Diabetes Association, says it's important for anyone who wants to stay healthy to watch their diet during the holiday season, but especially important for those with health conditions.

"It's a busy time of year and people's routines get changed because of holiday parties and the stress of shopping, preparing and so on," says Sharon. "For diabetics, it's really important to take some time to eat before you go to a party so you're not tempted by all of the treats there."

If you really want to eat something at a party, like a piece of cheesecake, go for it, she says.

"But if it's not a 10, if you really don't think it's fabulous, just have a few bites and leave the rest," says Sharon. "Unless it's really special, it's not worth it."

Another option at treat-laden parties is to take a small plate and sample items, she says.

"We also try to encourage people who might be worried that there is something they can eat to bring a tray of vegetables or a fruit tray," says Sharon. "Most supermarkets now have them ready-prepared and hostesses are thrilled when you bring something."

Remember to focus on the family and friends you want to visit at holiday gatherings, not on the food, she adds.

"Avoid standing next to the buffet table," says Sharon. "It's really easy to keep picking up chips or nuts or whatever. If you're away from those, then the focus is on the conversation."

Portion control is also important, especially at sit-down meals.

"We have on our website (www.diabetes.ca) a handy portion guide," says Sharon. "You can use your hand to get an idea of what the portions should be. For instance, a piece of fruit should be about the size of your fist and a piece of cheese shouldn't be any bigger than your thumb."

Diabetics can drink alcohol in moderation, provided their blood glucose is well controlled, says Sharon.

"It's often a good idea to check with your health care professional about it," she says. "Consider making drinks that are half diet pop and half (alcohol).

Or maybe have one glass of wine and then a glass of club soda so you are aware of what it is you're drinking."

Keeping active during the holidays is also vital for diabetics as well as the general population, she adds.

"Whether it's taking everybody out for tobogganing instead of going to a movie or going ice skating or suggesting a walk after a big dinner, those are all good things," she says. "It really helps people with diabetes control their blood glucose and you don't feel so guilty."

Brian Cormier of Moncton, a local writer and author of a web blog entitled www.lowcarbdude.com, has been experimenting recently with low-carb holiday treats, both sugar-free and wheat-free items.

Since mid-June, Brian has lost about 80 pounds on a low-carb diet, avoiding foods like potatoes, bread, pasta, flour and sugar.

He expects this holiday season to be a bit tougher than usual as he forges ahead with his dietary plan.

"We associate certain kinds of food with certain times of the year," says Brian. "At Christmas, you're talking about the big meals and especially the sweets, the candies, the special desserts, the special cookies, all that stuff. It makes it a little more challenging."

And, depending on your cultural background, there may be even more temptations, he says.
"If you're Acadian, like I am, there's poutine râpée, which is like one big snowball of carbs," he says. "It's grated potato and boiled potato and you put sugar on it after that. That is definitely a no-no for me this year."


Brian has managed to find a solution for at least one of his favourite Christmas dishes, a meat pie called "pâté" that his mother makes.

"I ordered a low-carb baking mix called Carbquik from a grocery store in Toronto," he says. "My mother is going to use that to make the crust for my meat pies."

As for sweets, Brian says he'll be making his own sugar-free selections.

And when it comes to alcohol, he says that if he indulges, he'll opt for hard liquor as opposed to beer since the latter is such a high-carb drink.

The internet is teeming with recipes for sugar-free, low-carb foods, he notes.

"I've found so much stuff there that's really delicious," he says.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Week #26: Down by another -2 lb for a grand total of -79 lb!

Hi everyone! Well, I started down this path exactly six months ago tomorrow (on June 17th)... so this is a major milestone.

Today, I got on the scale and was down by another -2 lb for a total of
-79 lb in six months. I'm very happy, to say the least... and hope to hit the -80+ mark next week just in time for Christmas. That will be my Christmas present to myself.

A few Christmas parties this week... a couple (literally) of glasses of red wine, a sit-down meal, etc. It's a challenging time of year, but I stayed away from the sweets (of course) and stuck with the cheeses, chicken wings, deli meats, etc. at a house party that I attended. At a big sit-down dinner I was at last night, I stuck to grilled seafood and salad. The lady sitting next to me even offered to eat the croutons I picked out of my caesar salad! Ha!

So yup... a challenging time of year, but stick to your guns! You won't regret it. People will start to want to shove food down your throat, but stay true to yourself. Besides, no one has yet to explain to me how eating sugar and stuff that's bad for me somehow honours the birth of Jesus. (Think about that. Good argument, huh? You'll get blank stares, trust me.)

So... two more weigh-ins left in the year. I'll hopefully be over the -80 lb mark by then... at least I should be, considering the steady losses. January brings a new year and new determination to get this "coat of fat" off. I can't wait to see where I end up at the end of 2008. If I haven't reached my goal by then, I'll be well on my way! Either way, come hell or high water, it's gonna happen.

Until next week! Cheers!

No excuses!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Low-carb recipe: Gingerbread cookies

Step one: Place mounds of batter on cookie sheet.



Step two: Bake the"mounds" for five minutes, then flatten with a fork.



These cookies are wonderful (and very Christmas-y) as-is, but if you want to frost them, they make a big splash with guests or your kids! Just mix 8 oz. cream cheese with 1/3 stick of softened butter. Blend in four packets of Splenda and a dash of vanilla extract. Blend until creamy. A drop or two of food colouring will allow you to make gingerbread "ornaments".

- 1 3/4 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup oat flour (finely ground whole oats)
- 1/4 lb (1 stick) softened butter (if using salted butter, omit the salt later in the recipe)
- 1/2 cup granular Splenda
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar Twin
- 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt (omit if you are using salted butter)

Preheat oven to 300F.

Cream butter with Splenda and Brown Sugar Twin in a large bowl. Add water and spices and mix well. (Personally, I would have increased the spices by 50%.) Gradually add almond flour and mix to a stiff dough. Form into small balls and place on greased cookie sheet at least 1" apart.

Bake at 300F for 20 minutes. After five minutes in oven, press cookies down with a fork in a criss-cross manner. Continue baking, being careful not to burn and adjusting time for your oven.

Makes about 2 doz. cookies - 1.4 effective grams of carbohydrate per cookie.

Source: Low Carb Luxury

I made a big batch of these and I found that they were a bit bland at first. But they aged well in the refrigerator and were better a few days later, I thought, than when they were fresh! Definitely watch the salt in these. I made them with salted butter and added the salt, too. I think they would have been much better with 50% more spices and a bit less salt.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Week #25: Down by another -2.5 lb for a grand total of -77 lb!

Another great week. I'm down by another -2.5 lb for a grand total of
-77 lb in 25 weeks!! Although I didn't get as much water in me this week as I would have liked, it didn't seem to have harmed me much. Weird week, with travelling, a snowstorm, etc. I have to get better at adusting the diet to days that are outside the routine. Well, I shouldn't say adjusting the diet... I should say adjusting the water. The diet always goes well... it's the water intake when I'm out of the routine. The big upcoming challenge is Christmas, of course. I have two parties just today + supper with a (thankfully low-carbing) friend who's in town... It will be a day of eating, but I'll have access to all low-carb stuff, so it'll be fine. Then again, I don't really care if I eat these days. When you stop OD'ing on carbs, those highs and lows disappear. Everything becomes much more stable and you stop experiencing those "crazy" hunger urges like you're starving.

No excuses!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Low-carb diet reduces inflammation and blood saturated fat In metabolic syndrome

"Metabolic syndrome is a condition afflicting one quarter to one third of adult men and women and is an established pre-cursor to diabetes, coronary heart disease, and other serious illnesses. Patients have long been advised to eat a low-fat diet even though carbohydrate restriction has been found to be more effective at reducing specific markers, such as high triglycerides, characteristic of the syndrome. Now, a new study indicates that a diet low in carbohydrates is also more effective than a diet low in fat in reducing saturated fatty acids in the blood and reducing markers of inflammation."

Click here for more from Science Daily.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Week #24: -2 lb for a grand total of -74.5 lb!

Another good week. I'm down another 2 lb for a grand total of -74.5 lb in 24 weeks. Feeling great and really feeling the loss. All is good. Christmas is coming fast so I really need to get my head around preparing some treats that I can freeze for the holidays.

I've been reading Gary Taubes' book "Good Calories / Bad Calories." It's fascinating, folks! You really should pick it up if you haven't done so already. The absolute fallacy that the low-fat folks have been peddling on us for the past 30 years is, quite frankly, terrifying. What a load of garbage. Unfortunately, as fat consumption has dropped, obesity and diabetes are running rampant. This is the first generation of children who may not live as long as their parents. Fat doesn't make you fat. We need to get that through our heads and start attacking the real culprits, sugar and starches! And no, it's not what you put on the potato... it's the damn potato!

Until next week, I hope you all have a wonderful low-carb seven days!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Week #23: -1.5 lb for a grand total of -72.5 lb!

At this morning's weigh-in, I lost 1.5 lb for a total of -72.5 lb in 23 weeks. I tried to push the marker on the scale to the -73 mark... ha! (don't we all!)... but it just wouldn't make it. I travelled a couple of times this week, so the water drinking took a hit. That could be part of why the loss wasn't larger. I certainly didn't eat anything I shouldn't have. I'm travelling at least one day this coming week... but that shouldn't slow me down by too much. See y'all!

The key to all this is being prepared! I have a bunch of casseroles portioned and frozen. Making my lunch for work consists of taking a container out of the freezer. That's it! Supper, too, is often the same thing - but I do make something different several times per week, especially when I'm having fish, hamburger patties, etc.

No excuses!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Getting ready for a low-carb holiday season

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

I have tears in my eyes from trying to force myself not to decorate for the holidays. I have no idea why the urge is so strong and so early this year.

Despite the couple of houses on my street that have already been decorated (one with a tree that's been in the window since Remembrance Day), I know that if I set up for the holidays this early that I'll just get really sick of it before the big day even arrives.

Well there's that, and the fact that my tree will be naked by Christmas if I put it up now because the cats will have swatted off all the decorations by Dec. 25. Apparently, my blood-curdling screams to stay away from the tree are no match for a few dozen hanging "cat toys" (at least according to their furry little brains) that shine and glisten so temptingly. It's like trying to tell a teenager to stop listening to loud music. They can see your mouth moving, but their attention is elsewhere.

I need a new artificial tree this year. There are many nice ones around and there are sales everywhere, it seems, but I'm going to stick with a plain old fake tree -- no fancy pre-lit ones with embedded purple tinsel or ones so high-tech and expensive that you can't afford any gifts to put under the stupid thing once you buy it.

Besides, a few years ago, I bought a whole mess of blue LED Christmas lights, the ones that don't get hot and that are energy efficient. I've always been fascinated by blue Christmas lights and I finally have enough to decorate every tree in a forest, so I really didn't want to go out and buy a pre-lit tree with white or multicoloured lights when I'd just be pining away for my beloved blue ones.

I find blue lights so relaxing. There's nothing better than sitting on my nice comfy sofa staring at all those relaxing hues of blue, a blanket over my lap and listening to beautiful soft holiday jazz wafting its way through the house. That is, until I spy that lone little paw out of the corner of my eye swatting away at an ornament in the semi-dark and trying to make it go for a complete loop around the branch like a daredevil kid on a swing set who's swinging himself way too hard.

I scream. Cat runs. Relaxation ends. Ella Fitzgerald, thankfully, still continues to sing away in the background and I begin to relax again until, inevitably, that little paw reappears out of the corner of my eye. Sigh. Can't I ever have anything pretty?

Maybe I'll just put the tree up on New Year's Eve at 11 p.m. and take it down at 12:01 in the middle of Auld Lang Syne. For those 61 minutes, I'd guard the tree with a machine gun and a truckload of dynamite. "One false move, kitties, and you'll both be singing the Purina Cat Chow song to St. Peter before the clock hits midnight!"

I've also been experimenting with low-carb (sugar-free, wheat-free) holiday treats for weeks, now. I began eating low-carb on June 17, which basically means that I avoid potatoes, starchy vegetables, bread, pasta, flour, sugar, etc. What I do eat is meat, non-starchy vegetables, berries, eggs, cheeses, seafood, nuts, etc. It's working beautifully for me because I'm a very carb-sensitive person.

Some people have trouble with cigarettes. I've never smoked. Some people have trouble with booze. I could care less if I ever drank. Some people have trouble with video lottery machines. I may put $5 in them per year. No attraction to me, really.
But put a bowl of sugar in front of me and I'd sniff those little crystals of sweetness up my nose like they were cocaine. I'll have to avoid much of that stuff for the rest of my life -- except in very (very!) limited quantities -- once I hit my goal weight. With 71 pounds gone so far, I'm well on my way.

This holiday season, I want to make sure that I have some goodies around that I can munch on when visiting friends and relatives. Since Christmas is one of the times per year when the sugar industry's profits go through the roof (including Valentine's Day, Easter and Halloween), it's best to be prepared ahead of time since it'll be impossible to avoid the stuff for the next six weeks.

It's more difficult during the holidays because food and tradition go hand in hand. There are only certain candies around at this time of the year. I mean, what's Christmas without taking a bite out of a yucky orange cream chocolate only to put it back and hope no one finds out it's you? Or literally feeling cavities grow in your teeth after sipping on that incredibly rich commercial eggnog that's been in the stores for weeks, now?

Thankfully, I've managed to find a solution for at least one Christmas favourite. My mother makes an Acadian meat pie from Prince Edward Island called "pâté" every holiday season. This year, she'll be making it with some low-carb flour that I found on the Internet, so at least I can enjoy that. It's bad enough that I have to avoid that starch-laden Acadian Christmas favourite -- the poutine râpée -- this year, but having to avoid pâté, too, well . . . that would have been rough.

I guess it's all a matter of making choices. I could get a pre-lit tree without blue lights, but I don't want to. I could just not put up a tree at all, but what would my cats entertain themselves with during the month of December? I could forget about my diet for the holidays, too, but what good would that do me? Zero.

Nope. This year, I'll be untangling my blue lights, yelling at the cats to leave the tree alone and sticking faithfully to my diet. And I'll be loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks show: Interview with Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories - Bad Calories

"For the last thirty years, medical advice on obesity has been very clear. Eat less and exercise. But what if that was all wrong, a big fat lie, as Gary Taubes would put it? Mr. Taubes is an award- winning science writer based in New York, and in his latest book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, he explores the history of diet and exercise advice from the late nineteenth century until the present. According to his research, eating fatty foods doesn't lead to heart disease, cholesterol levels aren't something to worry about, and exercise doesn't help you lose weight. In fact, according to Mr. Taubes, everything the medical profession advocates, in terms of eating and exercise, is at best a waste of time, and at worst, may actually be killing us. He says it isn't fat we should be worrying about, but instead carbohydrates, especially white flour and white sugar. He thinks the current obesity epidemic, the rising levels of diabetes, even cancer and Alzheimer's disease, may all be a result of our modern diet of carbs and sugars."

You need to listen to this show. Click here to visit the episode's homepage. You can download the entire show and listen to it at your leisure. This is an important book! Listen to this interview!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb On YouTube (Episode 14)

Foods that you probably shouldn't have on a low-carb diet...

Week #22: -0.5 lb for a total of -71 lb

After a few consecutive weeks of big losses, my body slowed down a bit this week, but I still lost 0.5 lb for a total of -71 lb in 22 weeks on low-carb! I'm very happy about that. Had a great week and am starting to plan ahead for Christmas and researching all the goodies I can make that are sugar-free and low-carb! Having lots of fun doing that.

Looking forward to what the next week will bring!

No excuses!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Low-carb diets could slow prostate tumours: study

"Eating fewer carbohydrates, like breads, chips and cakes, may slow tumour growth in patients suffering from prostate cancer, finds a new study on mice.

The thinking is that consuming fewers carbs lowers the levels of insulin in the bloodstream, which feeds growing cancer cells.

The findings are published in the Nov. 13 online edition of the journal Prostate.

"This study showed that cutting carbohydrates may slow tumor growth, at least in mice," said Stephen Freedland, a urologist at Duke University Medical Center and lead researcher on the study, in a release. "If this is ultimately confirmed in human clinical trials, it has huge implications for prostate cancer therapy through something that all of us can control, our diets."

Researchers theorized that because insulin-like growth factor (IGF) has been implicated in earlier research in growing prostate tumours, cutting off the food supply to the tumours would mean a reduction in their size and rate of growth.

They divided mice that had been injected with prostate cancer cells into three groups of 25 mice each. Though all ate the same amount of calories per day, one group ate a high-fat, low-carb diet, another a "Western" diet of about 40 per cent fat and 44 per cent carbs while yet another group consumed low-fat, high-carb food.

The animals that were fed the low-carb, high-fat diet had tumours that were 33 per cent smaller than those on the Western diet — though their tumours were the same size as those mice fed the low-fat, high-carb diet. Those on the Western diet had the shortest survival time and largest tumours.

"Though both the low-carb and low-fat mice had lower levels of insulin, only the low-carb mice had lower levels of the form of IGF capable of stimulating tumor growth," said Freedland.

The authors link the Western diet to the development of prostate cancer due its its high animal fat content, reliance on simple carbohydrates and high caloric content.

The researchers hope to next study the effect of low-carb diets in human trials next year."

Click here for the original news article.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Recipe: Low-carb gingersnaps

Just remember that these aren't very sweet, so you have to compensate in the spiciness. I found the original spice amounts insufficient. I'll increase them a bit in the next batch. I'd also make a double batch because the yield from the recipe is quite low unless you're making cookies for Smurfs. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

- 3 oz. almond flour (3/4 cup) (I weighed mine)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ginger (definitely not enough - I'll double this to 1/4 tsp next time)
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- Pinch nutmeg (I'll put 1/8 tsp next time)
- Pinch allspice (Ditto)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white
- 4 teaspoons granular Splenda or equivalent liquid Splenda (I used granular)
- 1/4 tsp blackstrap molasses (make sure it's blackstrap, not the regular molasses you may have hanging around your house - if you're watching carbs / sugar)
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl, blend spices and salt with almond flour. Stir in remaining ingredients until well blended and a sticky dough forms.

Drop dough by teaspoons in 24 tiny piles on parchment-lined 12 X 17" baking sheet. (OK, I got only 9 small cookies out this. If a person was to make 24, they'd be miniscule. I could have cut them in half, I suppose, but they're supposed to be cookies, not M&Ms!)

Very lightly and gently pick up each piece of dough and roll into a ball; put back on baking sheet making sure to space them evenly 6 across and 4 down. Cover the balls with plastic wrap (you can use a small piece and move it around as needed) and take a baking powder can, that has about an 1/8" rim around the bottom, and press down firmly over each ball of dough. Be sure to press all the way down to the baking sheet. (I just used the bottom of a glass. My baking powder container wasn't this type.)

Peel off the plastic wrap and repeat until all the cookies have been shaped. Prick them with a fork. You may have to gently hold the cookies down with one hand while pricking so that the dough stays put.

Bake at 325F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool on a rack. (I took mine out at 15 minutes but they could have probably been in a couple of minutes more to "dry out" a bit more and make them crispy - if that's what you're looking for. My cookies were larger, though, so they could have probably been in a bit longer. They're perfectly good, however.)

Makes 24 cookies Can be frozen. (Again, I only got nine using a very small cookie scoop, however I could have cut those in half and had 18 much smaller cookies. How someone would get 24 out of this batch is beyond me.)

Per cookie (if making 24): 22 calories; 2g gat; 1g protein; 1g carbohydrate; trace dietary fibre; .5g net carbs. Because the carb count is so low, there's no significant difference using granular or liquid Splenda.

Recipe courtesy of Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Recipe: Faux Sweet Potato Casserole

I love sweet potato casserole and this is certainly a reasonable facsimile. It's kind of like eating hot pumpkin pie filling, but it really goes well with ham! I've made this a couple of times already. I wasn't fussy about the streusel topping, though, and just left it off the second time I made it. Click on the photo for a larger version.

Casserole:

- 1 small can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) (I used a 14-oz. can of organic pure pumpkin puree that I found at a health food store. Otherwise, just open up a big can and measure out about 14-15 oz. in a measuring cup.)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar Twin
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- pinch of salt (to taste)

Streusel topping:

- 1/4 cup pecan meal (I saw almond flour used in another version. I might like that one better. Not as gritty as the pecans? Pecan meal is just ground-up pecans... similar to "almond flour". I bought it at a bulk food store.)
- 1 tbsp butter, softened
- pinch of cinnamon (to taste)
- 1 tbsp Splenda
- 1 tbsp unflavored protein powder

Mix all of the casserole ingredients together and transfer them to a medium-sized, lightly greased casserole. In a small bowl, mix together the streusel ingredients and cut them together to form small crumbs. Sprinkle on top of the pumpkin mixture in the casserole. Bake at 350F until warmed through and the streusel sets a bit.

Week #21: Down another 4.5 lb for a total of -70.5 lb

Wow! These have been a great few weeks. I'm definitely on a role. Since I cut down on the amount of fruit I was taking in, it's really kickstarted the loss again.

Berries are allowed on low-carb, however I tended to over-do it a bit. Since I've cut down on berries (strawberries / raspberries) to only once or twice per week, the weightloss has really gone into high gear again. Obviously, I was eating too much of it.

I've also been really good about drinking all my water. The only time it's a bit more difficult is if I'm travelling for work - but those are normally only day trips and I can usually manage to get quite a bit in. (Not a good idea to be wincing in "I gotta pee" pain in the middle of a meeting! Ha!)

So things are going extremely well. I'm especially pleased to have sailed through the -60s quite quickly and changed "decades" this week. -70.5 lb feels good... real good!

No excuses!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb On YouTube (Episode 12)

This week's episode is all about "stalls" or "plateaus."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Week #20: Another 4 lb gone for a total loss of -66 lb

Well, this was a great week! I lost 4 lb for a total of -66 lb in 20 weeks. I'm a happy man this morning!

I suppose I could get nitpicky here and there about this and that, but the results speak for themselves, eh?

This week, I need to be committed to drinking all my water - crucial to losing weight!

Next barrier: the -70 lb mark! I'm comin' to getcha! Yes I am! Yes I am!

No excuses!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Recipe: Kim's low-carb flax meal cinnamon muffins

Despite the huge amounts of cinnamon and vanilla in this recipe, I couldn't taste either one. I guess they're needed to tone down the strong taste of the flax meal. These look and taste like bran muffins, if you ask me. I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top of mine for some extra crunch before putting them in the oven. I also put about 1 tsp in the batter. I'll probably add more next time. I bought the sesame seeds at the sushi counter of the grocery store. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp oil (I used canola oil)
- 1/4 cup sugar-free syrup, such as DaVinci or Torani (I had ordered some DaVinci syrup online. See the post immediately preceding this one for more on sugar-free syrups. Plain sugar-free syrup is also known as "liquid Splenda." It's important that the syrup be sweetened with sucralose (Splenda), not aspartame.)
- 2 tbsp water (I forgot to add this! Didn't seem to matter, though. They came out fine.)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 cup flax meal
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp cinnamon (the amount is correct)

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. (I used a whisk.) With a fork or spoon, beat in oil, syrup, water and vanilla. In small bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients, then stir into egg mixture. Let stand 5 minutes. (Holy macaroni. I forgot to do this, too! Maybe they would have risen higher in the oven had I done this. I found them to be quite small, despite tasting fine.) Spoon into 12 well-greased muffin cups (without papers). Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes (I left mine in for 15), or until they are lightly browned and seem set to the touch. Remove from tin at once to cooling rack. Store in refrigerator.

Makes 12 muffins Can be frozen.

Per serving: 85 calories; 7g fat; 4g protein; 4g carbohydrate; 3g dietary fibre; 1g net carbs. (The carbs added by the sesame seeds would have been nil, since the net carb count on the seeds is zero anyway.)

I thought I'd read this recipe carefully when I was making it. Sheesh! I forgot the water and letting it stand for five minutes. I'll do that next time, for sure. They still tasted fine, though! Enjoy!

Courtesy of Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes.

Buying sugar-free syrups for baking in Canada

Once you get more adventurous in your low-carb recipe experiments, you'll likely want to start baking again. Frankly, I miss eating baked products from time to time, i.e. cookies, muffins, breads, etc. Usually, the flour in low-carb baking is replaced by ground nuts (i.e. almond flour) and ground seeds (flax meal).

You'll find, however, that many recipes call for sugar-free syrups. Most times, you'll see DaVinci brand sugar-free syrups called for because they are sweetened with Splenda. Plain DaVinci sugar-free syrup is often referred to as "liquid Splenda." The benefit of cooking with these syrups is that they are 100% calorie and carb-free. Granular Splenda does have minimal carbs. Baking with liquid Splenda, therefore, is beneficial in that you reduce the carb count even more in whatever you're putting together.

Now, depending on where you live, this could be a good or bad thing. I don't think DaVinci syrups are widely available at retail, but you can definitely buy them online. I bought liquid Splenda online for $12.99/bottle plus shipping. Now that the Canadian dollar is surging, I'm hoping that prices will drop by at least 25%. If you want to know where I bought mine, simply click on the ad at the top of this blog. That's who I used... and they were great!

The dilemma, however, is that needing to buy stuff online to cook with is a real pain in the you-know-what. It's inconvenient and can be expensive.

So today, right here in li'l ol' Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, I went on a quest for sugar-free syrup. First, I checked out some specialty retailers at a couple of farmers' markets. Nothing. Then, I tried a couple of high-end specialty food stores. Again... nothing.

Then a light went off. Who uses syrups to flavour things? Coffee shops!

So I went to the mall and checked out Second Cup. They did indeed have syrups, but for some weird reason I didn't ask if they were for sale or if they were sweetened with sucralose as opposed to aspartame. Sucralose (Splenda) is preferred, of course!

Then I went to Timothy's. They, too, had sugar-free syrups. This time, I asked if they sold them separately and they said yes - $11.99/bottle if I remember correctly. I then asked if they had sugar-free. Yup! Vanilla and hazelnut, I think. I checked the bottle... aspartame. Crap! Well, at least I knew I could buy a bottle not far from home if I was stuck, despite the aspartame.

Out this way, finding a Starbucks is like finding a moose dancing ballet on top of a moving train. Tim Hortons is by far the dominant coffee chain, but they don't have syrups there. Luckily, there was a Starbucks located in the Chapters Indigo bookstore next to the mall I was in, so I went over to see what kind of syrups they had.

Did they sell syrups separately? Yup! $9.95/bottle (great price!). I asked to see a bottle and the guy working behind the counter handed one over. I thought for sure it would say they were sweetened with aspartame. BUT NO!! Sucralose! Holy macaroni. Boy, was I happy.

They had four kinds: vanilla, caramel, hazelnut and cinnamon dolce. Unfortunately, they don't sell tons of the stuff to customers so their stock was limited. Apparently, they need to keep a reserve of four bottles for themselves. With that said, they were able to sell me a bottle of vanilla and one of caramel (the most popular flavours for baking - yay! - click on the photo above for a larger version)... and I'll return for hazelnut (my favourite!!) and cinnamon dolce.

So... if you're looking for sugar-free syrups sweetened with sucralose (Splenda), head to a Starbucks near you! I'm going to call Second Cup tomorrow and check what brand of syrup they carry (I'm 99% sure it's Torani - another sucralose-sweetened syrup), so hopefully they sell to the public, as well! That would be exciting. I'll post an update tomorrow. (UPDATE - Nov. 4/07: Yup! Second Cup carries Torani and they sell it to customers. Torani is sweetened with sucralose, so it's A-OK!! Cost is $11.95 for 750 ml, quite a bit pricier than $9.95 for 1 litre at Starbucks. But they sold me some right away with no hesitation, unlike Starbucks, who had to check their supplies first. They would also order me any Torani syrup available. Yay! I bought a bottle of sugar-free hazelnut. The other flavour they had was vanilla, but I'd already bought some at Starbucks.)

It's best, however, if you're serious about experimenting with your recipes and keeping the carb count as low as possible, to stock up on a half-dozen bottles or so of the DaVinci sugar-free plain syrup ("liquid Splenda") through Low Carb Grocery or another online retailer if you're outside of Canada. The unflavoured stuff is called for in quite a few recipes. I've got one bottle and will purchase more before Christmas just to stock up.

Tonight, I'm a happy low-carber who's looking forward to getting back into doing some baking, which I really love! With so many people I know who are diabetics, I'll be able to bake some treats for them now.

For more on purchasing liquid Splenda, click here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb On YouTube (Episode 11)

Here's another video by Jimmy Moore and his wife Christine. Today's episode is all about what is eaten on a low-carb diet. Don't forget to check out Jimmy's amazing blog: Livin' La Vida Low-Carb.

If there's one thing I hate when buying salad...

... is finding rotten lettuce leaves. It's a stupid and careless move on the restaurant's part. The leaf showed here was in a salad I got from Quizno's (downtown on Main Street, Moncton) today. (Click on the photo to see this huge honkin' leaf in all of its rotten glory.) First of all, the leaf is HUGE - at least 6-8" inches long. Who the heck puts a tree like that in their lettuce? In fact, half the romaine lettuce in the salad was rotten. By the time I noticed, I was already back at the office, so I picked through it to at least be able to eat the chicken - some of which was still half-frozen, despite having gone through their oven. I was absolutely starving and had to eat something. What a sorry excuse for a meal. Major quality problems at this store. I'll go to the one on Champlain Street in Dieppe from now on. The one downtown is just not up to snuff. There's no excuse for this! And it's too bad for all the low-carbers out there to have to avoid a restaurant that serves a relatively low-carb menu item. But who wants to eat rotten food?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Not a great start to my promise to make Halloween at my house health! Maybe next year. Ha! This is from my weekly column that appeared in yesterday's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Appeared on page D8, Moncton Times & Transcript

"Have you seen the ghost of John? Long white bones and the rest all gone! Ooh! Ooh! Wouldn't it be chilly with no skin on?"

When I was in elementary school, this song would echo through the doors of Sister Lorette Gallant's music class and down the creaky, wood-lined hallways of Aberdeen School. Halloween was a good time for getting kids excited with some fun music that would have us looking forward to her class all day!

Of course, we didn't need much prodding for getting excited about the one night of the year when we were allowed to stuff our faces with sugar. Although I've now sworn off the stuff, I remember looking forward to that sugar rush and rifling through our pillow-cased loot so that I could get to all the good candy first.

I always felt sorry for those poor yellow suckers, though. They always seemed so lonely since they were usually the last things eaten sometime in early November.

It's a little-known fact that this is also National Dentists Buy Expensive Cars Week across North America. Wherever children go door to door, dentists will be cackling with glee and their receptionists getting to work extra early tomorrow in order to deal with all those calls from moms and dads (probably mostly dads).

Never mind the sugar headaches, tummy aches and hyperactive episodes that many kids will have tonight, the sounds of parents' teeth breaking on candy and crowns coming off due to those super-sticky candy kisses will be like a symphony of rocks being thrown against a large picture window. "Bang! Crack!"

To a dentist, Halloween is the sweet sound of a credit or debit card being swiped in their office. Cha-ching!

To cut down on the tooth-rotting amount of sugar that will be handed out throughout the area tonight, I decided that I was going to hand out healthy treats this year. I proudly and sanctimoniously announced that fact on my two blogs, to friends, and to pretty much anyone else who would listen. I was hearing rumours that Al Gore was having his Nobel Peace Prize revoked in favour of me.

I was going to personally put the "healthy" into Halloween.

So I trotted off to one of the local warehouse stores. I knew that I'd probably be able to find a 50-pack of organic seaweed surprise bars or something or other. I imagined the teary-eyed children at home, happily eating the pure, healthy goodness that I'd lovingly tossed in their little plastic pumpkins the night before. It would be something you'd see on the front of a Christmas card -- if it were Christmas, that is.

I decided to bite the bullet and shell out the cash for some bars I'd never heard of before. You know they're good when you've never heard of them, right? Unfortunately, by now, I was even starting to annoy myself.

If I thought for one bloody minute that every kid who came to my house was going to write me a letter of thanks after opening up their Uncle Brian's Organic Clump'o'Goodness bar, then I was surely kidding myself.

What was I going to do? Change the entire branding of Halloween with a few over-priced boxes of bars that I'd never try myself?

If I were lucky, I wouldn't find my house covered from head to toe with bathroom tissue the next day along with warnings scratched on my driveway with chalk: "Don't mess around with Halloween, dude. You've been warned, mister."

Ooh. "Dude" and "mister." These guys mean business.

Of course, the astronomical price of those likely yucky bars didn't do much for my desire to change the world. And let's face it, I didn't have the $2.6 billion in my bank account to pay for the 48 organic watchamacallits in my cart.

So, I reluctantly talked myself out of them and picked up a box of 48 full-sized "regular" bars, certainly enough for the 35 or so kids who will show up at my door tonight.

I do feel guilty. I mean, as a member of society, I shouldn't have caved in to the pressure of cheaper junk food. I should have sprung for the more expensive organic stuff.

But you know what? Having a bunch of ghouls and goblins showing up at your door all happy, then arriving back home later only to mock your personal choice in Halloween candy is something that I would never subject myself to.

As a kid, I remember that there was always a house in the neighbourhood that would give out the worst stuff. It was like they read books on what kids hated, then ran out and bought a truck full of it like some evil Halloween haters extraordinaire. I didn't want to be the subject of an Oprah show about bad neighbours who ruined Halloween for small children in cute costumes.

So yeah . . . like I said, I returned the good stuff back to the shelf and grabbed the bad and threw it in the cart.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I'm pretty much on the record for despising Halloween. I think it's barbaric and simply an excuse for brats to cause trouble. But there are the cute ones, though, like the sweet little kids dressed up as Winnie the Pooh who don't have a clue what they're doing. "Say thank you, Megan." "Tenku!" little Megan manages to drool out.

So tonight, if you're one of the lucky kids to come by my house, enjoy your treat and be thankful that I decided not to save the world this year.

Otherwise, you'd be throwing some organic clump of something in the garbage tomorrow morning while your father's on the phone with his dentist trying to pronounce "candy kiss" with no teeth.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recipe: Low-carb Italian chicken casserole

This is so easy that it's a joke, especially when you use one of those roasted chickens from your supermarket. I made this for the second time tonight. There's nothing to cook! You just need to take apart the chicken, put it together and throw it in the oven for a bit in order to melt everything.

If you're in the mood for a cheesy, gooey Italian meal, give this a try!! Courtesy of the excellent Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes website.

- 1 roasted chicken (from the grocery store, or roast your own)
-
medium tub of ricotta cheese (I used ricotta the first time and didn't like it. Not a fan. I used 2% cottage cheese this time. I prefer the texture of cottage cheese.)
-
shredded mozzarella cheese (I just used "handfuls")
-
grated parmesan cheese (I just used "handfuls")
-
1 jar of low-carb tomato sauce (I used a bottle of organic marinara sauce with no sugar added)
-
1 teaspoon of dried basil (I just sprinkled some on each layer without measuring)
-
1 teaspoon of dried oregano (I just sprinkled some on each layer without measuring)

Spread 5 tbsp of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Shred the roasted chicken, and spread half in the dish. Layer cheeses on top, and then cover with sauce. Put the rest of the chicken on top of that, and make another cheese layer. (I actually made three layers, not two.) Cover with tomato sauce, and TONS of mozzarella cheese on top. Sprinkle with dried basil and oregano. Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown! (There was no baking time or temperature for this recipe. I used 350F for 45 minutes, but it could have probably a good hour and five minutes after that with cover of the casserole dish off.)

(I sprinkled dried basil, oregano, parsley flakes and pepper after each layer of cheeses (i.e. three times total). I also sprinkled minced garlic on the top cheese layer and threw on a few thin slices of a small tomato for looks.)

For added flavours, and fibre, add cooked veggies, or spinach!

This is a delicious and fast casserole. It's versatile, so you can pretty much add what you want. If you're craving lasagna, this is a good substitute. I think this would also be good with sausage meat or meatballs, too.

The photo above is from the one I made tonight. I probably could have let it brown a bit more on top, but you get the idea. I just put the tomatoes there for "looks," but they taste good, too! This is a very large casserole. The photo is taken on top of my stove and you can see that the large casserole dish takes up two full burners! (And yes, I need to clean under my burner grates. Ugh!) Click on the photo for a larger version.

After 62 lb...

My watch doesn't fit anymore. I'm going to have to get a few links taken out of the strap.

Just goes to show that excess weight affects everything you wear, even a watch!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Recipe: Low-carb rhubarb flummery in the slow cooker

Again, here's another excellent recipe from Dana Carpender.

I'd never heard the word "flummery" before, so I looked it up online:

"Flummery" (from the Welsh llymru) is a sweet soft pudding that is made from stewed fruit and thickened with cornstarch

Sometimes things don't have to be complicated in order to be delicious. This takes a few hours to make, but it's very simple. (You can probably make something similar right on the stovetop, but I liked the aroma of rhubarb wafting through the house. Do NOT use cornstarch, as well. It is NOT an ingredient low-carbers use.)

- 1 lb of rhubarb (I bought a bag of frozen, cut rhubarb and weighed out 1 lb on a food scale)
- 1/2 cup of Splenda
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/8 tsp of orange extract (I will probably double that the next time I make this)
- Guar or xanthan gum (I used 1 tsp of xanthan gum and will probably double it next time)

Place the rhubarb in your slow cooker and stir in the Splenda, water and orange extract. Cover the slow cooker, set it to low, and let it cook for 5 to 6 hours. (I left it in for 5.5 hours and it came out perfect. I'm sure that 5 hours would have sufficed, though. I mean, it's rhubarb. It cooks very fast.)

When the time's up, the rhubarb will be very soft. Mash it with a fork to a rough pulp. (I mashed it with a potato masher right in the slow cooker. The next time, I'm going to throw it in the mixer and whip it.) Thicken the sauce to a soft pudding consistency with guar or xanthan gum and serve hot or cold. (I ate it both hot and cold. It was thicker and more like a pudding when it was cold because the xanthan gum kicked in.)

This dessert is great with a little heavy cream or whipped cream.

Yield: 6 servings, each with 16 calories, trace fat, trace protein, 4 g carbs, 1 g dietary fibre, 3 g net carbs.

I really liked this. I think having it cold with some whipped cream on top would be awesome. I just ate it "straight up," so to speak. I'll definitely add some whipped cream next time. I personally think the number of servings is really out of whack here, though. Six servings? I dunno. They'd be quite tiny. Four would be more realistic. Perhaps a good palate cleanser after a big meal, though - the smaller you go.

Click the above photo for a larger version. This is from the batch I made, and that bowl is a small dessert bowl... and that was HALF of what was made, so divide that into three even smaller portions and you'll see that six portions out of that batch would be quite small. I think four is much more reasonable.

Enjoy!

Week #19: Down by another 2 lb for a total of -62 lb

I had another great week at the scale! I lost 2 lb for a grand total of 62 lb lost in 19 weeks. Pretty ordinary seven days. I drank all my water and was pretty good on everything else. So far, I'm averaging more than 3 lb per week, so I certainly can't complain!

People seem to be enjoying the recipes, so I'll keep posting those as I try things out. Do you have a favourite low-carb recipe? E-mail me! I'd love to check it out.

Thank you to everyone who's been sending in all those wonderful comments via e-mail, Facebook and on this blog. They're all very much appreciated.

If I can somehow inspire you to lose weight, too, that's something that I'm truly happy about! You can do it! And so can I!

No excuses!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Healthy Halloween treats

UPDATE - Oct. 28/07: Ha! So much for that noble idea. I went to Costco and bought 48 full-size boxes of Smarties. *sigh* There were some organic items, but I would have had to take out a second mortgage on my house. Wow. Maybe next year...

I've decided that I'm giving out pseudo-healthy Halloween treats this year. Although it's virtually impossible to find anything without gobs of sugar in it, I'm going to try and at least find the "best of the worst" stuff to hand out. I could put a reasonably healthy mixture of dried fruit and nuts together (too high in carbs for me, but most of the rugrats can likely handle it), but parents usually chuck the treats that haven't been professionally packaged - and I don't blame them.

So I'm going to have to find the "best of the worst" stuff to hand out. I don't even mind buying full-sized items. I just need to figure out what to get. I only get 30-40 kids at my door on Halloween night, so I don't mind handing out something full-sized and pseudo-good for you - even health bars or something.

Any suggestions? Preferably on the low end of the sugar scale, natural and packaged so I don't waste my money and have everything thrown out by parents when the kids get home?

Another recipe later today!

I've currently got "rhubarb flummery" in the crockpot. After I test it out, I'll post my review and the recipe here online later today - with a photo, of course!

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb On YouTube (Episode 10)

Today's episode is all about supplements!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Low-carb slow cooker recipe: Lamb stew provençal

I ate this for lunch most of the week. Very good! I felt guilty about eating that cute little lamb, but man he/she was delicious. :)

- 3 lb lamb stew meat
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 whole fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise (also called "anise")
- 1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 15-oz can of black soybeans, drained (these are MUCH lower in carbs than regular black beans. Can be found in health food stores, usually, or organic section at supermarkets.)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon concentrate
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/2 tsp dried savory ("summer savory")
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- guar or xanthan gum as thickener (I used a roux of Carbquik and water + the xanthan gum)

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil and brown the lamb on all sides over medium high heat. (Yes, use a LARGE skillet. It's a lot of meat!)

Place the fennel, onion, and garlic in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the bay leaf and rosemary. Dump the (drained) soybeans on top of that. When the lamb is done, put it on top of the beans.

In a bowl, stir together the broth, bouillon, basil, marjoram, savory and thyme. Pour the mixture over the lamb. Cover the slow cooker, set it to low and let it cook for 8-9 hours. (I shut mine off at eight hours on the button and it was just perfect.) When it is done, thicken the liquid with the guar or xanthan gum (optional). (I used the roux of Carbquik and water, too. You can get xanthan gum in the organic section of the supermarket where the organic flour, grains, etc. are.)

8 servings each with 348 calories, 17 g fat, 41 g protein (assuming soybeans), 8 g carbs, 4 g fiber, for 4 g of net carbs!

The only thing I would perhaps change next time is the soybeans. Not sure if I want to eat a lot of soy. They could probably be dropped without changing much. Would lower the carb count a bit.

The above photo is from the batch I made. Click on the photo for a larger version.

Source: Dana Carpender

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some words of wisdom

"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires... courage."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

I have disabled anonymous comments on this blog because of a couple of incidents of people hiding behind their anonymity to send in vicious comments about my weight. Yes, in this day and age, people still have nothing better to do than to send in abuse. Rare and far between, mind you, but even that was too much.

I apologize to all those perfectly reasonable "anonymous" commenters who will not be able to comment from now on because of this, however I absolutely 100% refuse to open myself up to such negativity. I'm sure you all understand. Someone who is significantly changing their weight doesn't need that garbage. And although those comments never reached you, dear readers, because I deleted them, they did reach me. Sure, I got over it an hour later - but that was one hour too long.

No excuses!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Anonymous comments no longer accepted

Please be advised that, effective immediately, anonymous comments to this blog are no longer accepted.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gary Taubes' appearance on Larry King: Are the cracks starting to widen in the low-fat diet myth?

The venerable Dr. Andrew Weil is a fan of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories book. Even Oprah's diet guru, Dr. Mehmet Oz, admitted he eats a relatively low-carb diet. Here they are on Larry King on Friday night with guest host Joy Behar. (I missed this! I can't believe it!)



Here's an excellent rebuttal to Dr. Oz from "FoodDudeTV" after his appearance on Larry King:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Low-carb recipe: Phoebe's pumpkin and sausage soup

I made this tonight and it was awesome! The photo is from the actual soup that I made. Click on the photo for a larger version.

PHOEBE'S PUMPKIN AND SAUSAGE SOUP

- 1 pound pork sausage (I used hot Italian sausage.)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped, about 5 medium (I'll definitely increase this next time - even double or triple it - sliced very thinly. The soup needed more "stuff" in it, I found.)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 15-oz. can pumpkin (I used a 14-oz. can of organic pumpkin and threw in a couple of tablespoons of other pumpkin I had in the fridge. Even without that extra pumpkin, I'm sure the 14-oz. can would have been fine.)
- 4 cups chicken broth (I used organic.)
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (i.e. whipping cream)
- 1/2 cup water
- Salt and pepper, to taste (I used two big pinches of kosher salt and a healthy dose of freshly ground pepper.)

In a large pot, brown the sausage along with the onion, mushrooms and garlic; drain fat. (There was no fat to drain in mine. I actually added a bit of water to avoid burning.) Add the pumpkin and broth. Add Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes. (I simmered on "low" on a small burner and stirred reasonably often.) Add the cream and water; simmer 10-15 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning.

Makes 8 cups or 8 servings. Can be frozen. Per serving: 277 Calories; 21g Fat; 15g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 4g Net Carbs.

This soup was delicious! I will definitely be making it again. By using hot Italian sausage, I definitely gave it a major kick. If you don't like spicy food, you should use a mild sausage, but I really liked the bite mine has.

This recipe is courtesy of the excellent Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes website.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Read this excellent interview with Gary Taubes re: his new book: Good Calories, Bad Calories

Gary Taubes' new book - Good Calories, Bad Calories - is shaking up the medical community with its well thought-out arguments for the benefits of a low-carb diet. I've lost 60 lb on low-carb since June 17 and swear by it! It's a fast, healthy and effective way to lose weight. I no longer eat sugar, junk food, potatoes, pasta, etc. And yes - there is life after potatoes, pasta and junk.

I'm not diabetic, but it pains me to see diabetics continue to eat potatoes, pasta and bread with the blessing of their doctors. Moderation, shmoderation! People don't need to eat this garbage. There are indeed alternatives for these foods - alternatives that will keep your blood sugar stable. And it's not just diabetics who should seek to avoid spikes in their blood sugar levels. Everyone should do it!

Click here to read an interview with the author that will appear in tomorrow's edition of the Los Angeles Times.

(Taubes mentions at the end of the interview that he'll likely avoid pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving. He doesn't have to, though. There are many excellent low-carb pumpkin pie recipes out there. I guess even he needs some good low-carb recipe books, eh?)

Week #18: Down 2 lb for total of -60 lb

Another good week! Finally put the 50s decade behind me and am on my way to the 70s! :) The water was good this week. I think I overdid it on salty food, though. Not sure if that affected things. I need to increase the veggies and salads. I was weak on that this week. I'm testing out some new recipes from my new low-carb slow cooker cookbook, so am looking forward to that! Onwards and upwards! Oops... I mean downwards!

No excuses!

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb On YouTube (Episode 9)

Low-carb guru Jimmy Moore and his wife Christine's latest video blog is all about "reading the instructions" - i.e. making sure you're doing the right thing! Doing "Atkins" has become a synonym for low-carb. Just make sure you're really doing Atkins.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Recipe: Dottie's low-carb pumpkin pound cake

This is a great recipe that I tried for the first time last night. It came together in no time and baked really well! If you love pumpkin pie, you'll LOVE this... and it's low-carb!

DOTTIE'S PUMPKIN POUND CAKE

- 1 cup canned pumpkin (choose "pure pumpkin", not "pumpkin" or "pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 cup granulated Splenda or equivalent liquid Splenda (I used granulated Splenda)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla (sugar-free vanilla, preferably)
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used a heaping 1/2 tsp to add some extra zing!)- Pinch to 1/8 teaspoon salt (I used a big pinch of kosher salt)
- 5 eggs (I used extra large, but I'm sure large would do. Normally I have "large" around for baking but didn't have any last night.)
- 6 oz. almond flour, about 1 1/2 cups (I weighed out 6 oz. of almond flour - same thing as ground almonds)

Grease an 8" X 4" loaf pan well or line with foil and grease foil. (I buttered a glass 8.5" X 4.5" loaf dish. That's the smallest I had.

In medium bowl, beat pumpkin, Splenda, baking powder, vanilla, spice and salt, if using, with electric mixer until well blended. Beat in eggs, then almonds. Add a little water, if needed, to make a thick, but pourable batter. (I didn't need to add any water and I can't imagine that anyone else would.) Pour into pan and bake at 300º for 60-75 minutes until cake pulls away from sides of pan a bit and toothpick comes out clean. (I cooked mine for 65 minutes and it came out perfect. I could have probably left it in another few minutes, but it looked great at 65! ) This comes out so moist that the extra baking time will be OK.

Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and peel off foil (if used). Cool completely on rack before slicing. Store in refrigerator or freeze. Makes 1 loaf or 12 servings. Can be frozen.

With granular Splenda:

Per serving: 130 calories; 9g fat; 6g protein; 7g carbs; 2g dietary fibre; 5g net carbs.

With liquid Splenda:

Per serving: 122 calories; 9g fat; 6g protein; 5g carbs; 2g dietary fibre; 3g net carbs.

I will try this with liquid Splenda next time, but am a bit fearful of making it too moist. The finished produce is bordering on "too moist" right now... actually it's just right!

I will definitely make this again! Very easy to make and extremely tasty! The extra bit of pumpkin pie spice was worth it! (Yes, the above photo is the actual one I made! Click on the photo for a larger version.)

Recipe courtesy of Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I hate those damn blood pressure pills!

Late last year, my doctor put me on blood pressure medication in order to get it down into the normal range. This was the first time in my life that I'd been prescribed regular medication, i.e. "take this forever" medication.

Having been overweight for pretty much all my life, I guess that I'm quite lucky that I don't have even more medical issues. My cholesterol is very low - even though I'm reading a lot lately that cholesterol may not be that much to worry about. (And people with normal or low cholesterol have heart attacks, too!) My sugars are completely normal.

I know that pills are a way of life for many people due to illnesses and conditions, but high blood pressure due primarily to obesity is completely avoidable.

I hate those damn pills! And I'm determined to get off them if I can. I realize that even some thin people need high blood pressure pills - my mother is one of them, and I know others who are normal weight and need medication to keep their blood pressure in check.

But when you're overweight, you have the ability to at least see if a major lifestyle change will be enough to take you off these meds.

I've lost 58 lb in four months. My blood pressure was under control when I started my new low-carb way of eating, but this was due solely to the meds. I wasn't doing anything to help it along.

When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure a little over a year ago, I was at 170/100. Very high. Three months ago, my pressure was at 135/90 - or something like that. Today, it was 110/80. Everything is certainly moving in the right direction.

As I continue this journey to a regular weight, I told my doctor that my goal is to get off the meds. Of course, we'll have to see how things go. I realize that some people can't get off them, but I'm certainly going to try. I can't imagine that losing A LOT of weight won't have a very significant impact on the dosage or even my need for them at all.

So that's my goal: getting off those damn pills!

Yet another reason why the low-carb way of life is the way to go.

No excuses!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Week #17: Down another 1 lb for a total of -58 lb

This is great! Another 1 lb gone for a total of -58 lb!! This week, I attended a conference and was out of town for a few days. I did not stray one iota from low-carb (and was not tempted in the least), but the water drinking really took a hit! I was working at the conference, so it was difficult to keep up with the water when you're running around for 12-15 hours per day! With that said, I did get a tremendous amount of exercise and was very happy to have that big chunk of weight gone already because having to do all that walking and running around with an extra 58 lb on me would have been terrible. So it's all good. With this week being spent in the office, I will be drinking water like crazy and looking forward to a good loss next week. I don't normally set weight-loss goals because I can't force my body to get rid of what it isn't ready to release yet... but I'm really aiming for at least 2 lb next week and cross that -60 lb threshold!

No excuses!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another mention by Jimmy Moore!

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb's Jimmy Moore mentioned me in his latest blog entry. (It's about my post on ChocoPerfection bars.)

Thanks for the shout-out, Jimmy!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Week #16: Down a whopping 7 lb for a grand total of -57 lb

Holy moly! I really watched myself this week. I drank LOTS of water and restricted my fruit intake, which I had increased too much (obviously), because of small weight losses in the two previous weeks. It's all good!!

I got my first batch of low-carb groceries that I ordered online, so I will be eating a bit more variety in the coming weeks (I'm not bored, though... and even if I were, it would be MY fault because being bored on low carb is not possible if you are truly dedicated to finding new recipes and ways of making things.)

No excuses. Period.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb On YouTube (Episode 7)

This episode is about Jimmy's favourite low-carb books.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

ChocoPerfection bars

After reading time and time again on Jimmy Moore's blog that ChocoPerfection bars were an amazing low-carb treat - and free of that dreaded maltitol garbage - I decided to order some from Low Carb Grocery, a Canadian online retailer. Whoa! I received them today and they are DELICIOUS. I tell ya, I can't tell the difference! And only two net carbs per bar! Amazing. These will definitely be a staple in my home for whenever I want a treat.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Plea to grocery stores in Moncton, N.B.

OK, could you people PLEASE start stocking some low-carb items? With the number of diabetics around, you'd think this stuff would sell... and that there'd be a demand! Unfortunately, many of the diabetics I know DO NOT take good care of themselves and are constantly dealing with sugar levels that are all over the map. (I'm not diabetic, by the way.)

You'd think that there'd be a demand for low-carb products from diabetics... but from what I've seen, they're just as happy to keep eating stuff that they should NOT be eating, including bread, sugar, etc. Shoppers Drug Mart used to stock some things, but they don't anymore.

If you can't digest gluten, there are TONS of products out there for you. It's reasonably easy to find gluten-free items in all major stores - which I think is great! So why not low-carb? Why not rebrand the stuff as low-glycemic or something related so that diabetics will be drawn to those products, thus creating a demand?

Luckily, I can find Atkins shakes and bars - although I'm not eating the bars this time around. And, of course, many high-end organic products are available. But it would be really really nice to find things like low-carb baking mixes (Carbquick, for one) and things like that.

Of course, I will order this stuff online, but it's not terribly convenient. I'd much rather buy something locally.

But, I'll do what I have to do. And if local grocery stores don't stock low-carb products, then so be it. I will give my money to stores outside Atlantic Canada who are willing to stock what I want and ship it to me.

And NO, a small section of candy for diabetics (all of it sweetened with that maltitol garbage that - quite frankly - makes a person practically crap in their pants) is NOT an appropriate low-carb section. Give me a break!

If anyone knows of any stores in the New Brunswick that stock a reasonably fine line of low-carb items, please let me know.

Week #15: Down 0.5 lb for a grand total of -50 lb

After losing quite a bit of weight relatively quickly, I seem to have hit a plateau. Although disappointing, these plateaus are entirely normal as a person's body readjusts. I did manage to lose a bit, though: 0.5 lb, which now puts me at an even -50 lb in 15 weeks. I'm very happy to have hit the -50 lb mark! Very motivating. I really really have to work on my water, though. I blogged about it before but still have drifted a bit away from drinking at least two litres of water per day (my own personal goal which seems to work well for me re: weight loss).The losses will start up again in a week or two after my body is finished readjusting - and I re-commit myself to water!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Low-carb crustless crab quiche

Wow!!! I made this and nearly died... but in a good way. It was very very delicious and super easy to make. I also froze some and portioned it out. It came out very well from frozen-to-microwave-to-reheated state. For the crab, I splurged and purchased some frozen king crab legs, removed the meat and cut it up into chunks. The expense was well worth it, but I'm thinking that I'll go broke if I make this too often -- so a good quality can of chunky crab meat will do it for next time!

Carol’s Crab Quiche
Courtesy of Kudos For Low Carb

8 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup crab meat (real not imitation)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup shredded cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon chopped fresh dill weed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Combine ingredients in a deep 9-inch round baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes until eggs are set. Remove cover and let the top brown slightly. Serves 6. Nutrition information per serving: Calories 467, Fat 36 grams, Carbs 4 grams, Protein 20 grams.

I baked it for 35 minutes and then removed the cover of the casserole dish for five minutes - for a total of 40 minutes baking time. I used a large'ish oval covered casserole dish and it came out fine.

Enjoy! This is really good!