Saturday, January 10, 2009

If you're on Facebook...

... you need to become a "fan" of Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories - Bad Calories. Click here to go to the Facebook fan page.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Low-carb snack idea: Pepperoni chips and sour cream dip

Work with me here, folks... I know it may sound a bit strange at first.

OK, so you take some sliced pepperoni (either pre-sliced or slice it yourself) and put it on a plate. Nuke it in the microwave for a minute or so, then turn over the slices and mix them up a bit. Nuke for another 30 seconds... more if they're not to your crispiness liking.

Basically, we're trying to make pepperoni "chips".

(Tip: I put the pepperoni on a paper towel for the initial 60-second zap in the microwave. Causes less mess and splattering.)

Once your "chips" are ready, take your favourite (plain) sour cream and use it as a dip! The cold sour cream works as a nice tangy companion to the spiciness of the hot pepperoni chips. There you go... low-carb chips and dip. Of course, you can also use salsa or a combination of salsa and sour cream for the dip.

As a variation, you could also cut a large pepperoni stick lengthwise into smaller "sticks" and microwave those if you'd prefer another shape to the pepperoni.

It's best to buy the pepperoni with the lowest carb count possible, of course! Check your labels!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sweet-free challenge update

Since December 29, 2008, I've been following the sweet-free challenge. This challenge consists of one thing and one thing only: not letting anything sweet touch your tongue. My current sweet-free challenge lasts until February 2, 2009. Depending on weight loss, I may or may not extend it.

Food-wise, I find it quite easy to follow. Beverage-wise is another matter because I'm pretty much forced to drink only water, tea and coffee. No diet soda, diet drink mixes (Nestea, etc.) for me! Whatever - it's not the end of the world... just annoying. At least it's gotten me off aspartame, which is good! I won't restart after this... so only Splenda-based drinks for me!

After my holiday Gainageddon when I gained +9 lb in one week, I lost -7 lb after the first week of the challenge. I never hop on the scale in the middle of the week, but I did this morning. I usually weigh myself on Mondays, by the way. Anyway, I was up a bit this morning but didn't bother figuring out exactly how much... perhaps +1 lb. I ate a big meal last night, so that could be the culprit. I don't think I've been retaining fluids, since I've been drinking tons of water.

I'll wait until Monday's regular weigh-in to see how things go! There's a reason why people should only weigh themselves once per week! I won't be getting on the scales between scheduled weigh-ins anymore! Better to remain consistent.

So that's it for now! So far, so good! A bit bored on the beverage end of things, but in the grand scheme of things, it's certainly not the end of the world and definitely not a deal breaker!

I'm posting a snack idea tomorrow. Nothing earth shattering, but it may help a bit if you're looking for something quick and low-carb to munch on!

If I can do it, so can you!

No excuses!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Low-carb "hot cereal": Bird seed porridge

(Revised February 8, 2010.)

This is a great alternative to wheat-based porridge. It's full of fibre and healthy goodness... and low in carbs, course! I got the basic recipe from the Internet, but for the life of me can't find it again, so I can't credit the original source. This is my own version, tweaked a bit:

- 1 tbsp raw sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
- 1 tbsp flax seeds (already ground or whole - doesn't matter)
- 1 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds (already ground or whole - doesn't matter)
- May add another 1 tbsp ground almonds or walnuts (optional)

Please note that the seeds noted above are raw and unsalted.

Grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet. (I got a Magic Bullet for Christmas and LOVE IT... a smaller companion to my Vita-Mix, which I use for bigger jobs.) You can grind the seeds to whichever consistency you prefer - chunky, powdery, etc.

You can get all the above seeds at any health food store or bulk store. Everything is quite affordable, however the chia seeds can be pricey. They go a long way, though. And yes, the chia seeds are the same on the "chia pets". They're very good for you!

To the ground-up mixture, add:

- about 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- cinnamon (1/2 tsp or more to taste)
- pinch of nutmeg (to taste)
- pinch of ginger and/or cloves (to taste)
- pinch of kosher or sea salt (optional, but a good idea to add some flavour)

Stir, place in microwave on high for about two minutes.

When done, stir and add:

- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds ("pepitas")
- 1 tbsp nut butter (I prefer almond or hazelnut)
- 1 heaping tsp (or so) coconut oil or butter
- dash of pure almond extract (this really adds some flavour - any other sugar-free unsweetened extract would be good, too... vanilla, maple, etc.)
- OPTIONAL: sweetener (Splenda, stevia) - I am not using sweetener and prefer it sweet-free... not everything is meant to be sweet.

Stir in the seeds, nut butter, oil/butter and extract. The roasted/toasted seeds added in the second step add some nice crunch and texture. The nut butter adds some good fat and heartiness. The oil/butter adds some good fat and flavour.

This pretty much turns into a gelatinous lump of "dough", but it's delicious. I love it! (The chia seeds act as a thickening agent, which is the likely cause of the "gelling" affect.) Dive in with a spoon or fork!

Try it! Experiment with it! You'll love it, too, I'm sure. This is especially good with some boiled eggs. I bring this to the office often as my breakfast.

Sorry, I don't have nutritional information for this recipe. It would change every time depending on which nuts and fats you use.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Atkins Diet TV Show

Click here for the link referenced in the video.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Week #81: Down -7 lb for a total of -115 lb

After last week's huge Christmas week gain ("Gainageddon"), I managed to lose most of the +9 lb I put on during the holidays. Thanks to the sweet-free challenge and a renewed commitment to water consumption, I lost -7 lb in one week. To say I'm relieved is an understatement.

Next week, the remaining +2 lb of the gain should be gone and I'll be trucking once again toward my goal of losing -240 lb.

I spent all of New Year's Day cooking... cauliflower "mashed potatoes", a roast, chicken, chicken soup, turnips, boiled eggs, etc. Since then, I've barely had to use the stove in five days, but that's OK. Remember, being prepared is half the battle!

The sweet-free challenge is working wonders and I'm rockin'!

If I can do it, so can you!

No excuses!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Low-carb pizza crust made with cauliflower

If you're missing pizza in your low-carb way of life, this is a great substitute for the traditional high-carb wheat-based crust.

For the original source of this recipe, click here.

First of all, you need a batch of riced cauliflower. The easiest way to do it (for me, at least), was as follows:

- Throw a head of cauliflower into a food processor
- Process until the cauliflower is the size of grains of rice, like this:

Pretty simple, huh? Next step: take the riced cauliflower and place it in a covered microwave-safe dish and nuke it for a few minutes. For two cups, I nuked it for eight minutes. Two cups of raw riced cauliflower reduced to one cup (which is what you need for the recipe). Save the rest of the raw riced cauliflower for other batches. (Trust me... you'll be making this again!)

So, now that you have your one cup of cooked, riced cauliflower, you can proceed with the recipe:

- 1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
- 1 egg
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 tsp fennel (I used fennel seed)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp parsley (I used more than that, and used chopped, fresh parsley)

Preheat oven to 450F.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. (You can also use a Silpat sheet, I suppose. I used the cookie sheet but will use a Silpat sheet next time. Parchment paper could also work, although the oven temperature is a bit high.)

In a medium bowl, combine cauliflower, egg and mozzarella. Press evenly on the pan. Sprinkle evenly with fennel, oregano and parsley.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (15-20 minutes if you double the recipe). (I baked it for 12 minutes but it could have stayed in a bit longer.)

Top with your favourite low-carb sauce and cooked pizza toppings, then place under the broiler for a few minutes and ta-dah! A pizza!

This recipe turned out great. The texture of the crust did take a bit of getting used to, however. It was a bit moist, but held together perfectly. It wasn't unpleasant by any means, but it was a bit bland. I would definitely add some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes next time (to the crust) to make it a bit tastier. Using a Monterey Jack cheese with hot peppers instead of the mozarella would also turn up the heat a notch.

I processed an entire head of cauliflower in the food processor, so have lots and lots of riced cauliflower left to make more of these during the week. It's my new favourite thing... and you can definitely change the type of cheese you use and add various herbs and spices to your heart's content. It's very versatile.

This made a full meal for myself. I was definitely full afterwards!

Nutritional information for the crust: Calories - 434; Fat - 25 g; Carbs - 8 net (13 total); Fibre - 5 g; Protein - 41 g.