Breakfast

We eat the same breakfast everyday, DH and I. Bunkers has some sometimes, too, but he’s not as dedicated as we are and sometimes likes to have something else.

Anyway, we have been eating this breakfast for almost a year and it just never gets old! It’s SO good.

You might read through the ingredients and question some of them or think it might taste gross, but I urge you to try it with all the ingredients and see how it is! To us, it tastes like a delux burger…! I don’t know how that can be… but it does!

As always, I recommend getting local farm fresh eggs. They just taste so much better and you won’t believe me until you try! Every place we have lived I have found local families selling eggs on Craigslist. I go pick up the eggs, so I am able to see the living conditions for the chickens and check out what they are being fed. Usually they are about half the price of store bought organic eggs. Which, is an issue in and of itself! 

If you feel like mixing it up (which sometimes we do!) you can opt to cook up bacon and cut it up into this bowl instead of the sausage. Or pre-cooked chicken!

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Ingredients

2-4 eggs (I eat 2, DH eats 4!)

1/3 pound ground pork made into breakfast sausage (click here for recipe!)

1/4 cup sauerkraut (Bubbies is great if you can find that. If not, look for raw organic kraut in the refrigerator section, not the stuff in jars by the ketchup)

1/4 avocado

1 oz cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon horseradish (we also buy Bubbies raw horseradish paste. This is optional, I suppose – but it’s so good! And really good for your immune system! I encourage you to give it a try. I don’t really like horseradish, but I just love these egg bowls!)

Salt and pepper to your liking

Method

Prepare your eggs how you like. Scrambled works great, or fried with runny yolks works great, too! You just cut it up in your bowl to mix with the other ingredients.

Prepare your sausage. We follow this recipe that I have posted here on my blog and just brown it into medium crumbles (larger than how you might prepare taco meat, for example) in a skillet.

Place all ingredients into a large enough bowl and give a good stir. I like to, while the eggs and sausage are cooking, put the rest of the ingredients into my bowl and then pour the hot eggs and sausage on top so the cream cheese melts and the remaining ingredients warm up.

As you can see in the picture, this breakfast goes very well with a nice mug of hot chicken broth, too!

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Chicken Strips (Ketogenic Diet Friendly)

Chicken strips were one of my favorite foods as a child and I am a bit ashamed to say that I enjoyed them once or twice (or a dozen times) from Safeway during my pregnancy. It was absolute junk comfort food for me at that time! Now that I know they can be made quickly, easily and deliciously at home I no longer have cravings for the commercial stuff with wheat and CAFO chicken.

Behold:

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Yes, they are as tasty as they look. I promise!

My dear sweet husband actually made these. He really wanted to try them out and Bunkers and I were out, so he whipped them up before we got home. What a guy!

So, the ‘breading’ he used is pork rinds. We buy pork rinds on Amazon for general snacking (Bunkers gets some in his lunch each day. I think DH eats some each day, too. I just eat them when I am feeling snacky, which doesn’t happen very often but I am happy to have pork rinds available for when it does).

We actually buy a product called ‘Pork Dust’ (I still can’t decide if that’s a genius name or a revolting one…) on Amazon to use specifically for recipes such as this (it also works to replace bread crumbs in things like meatloaf!). It’s a little pricey, but this is something we make relatively infrequently (I don’t know why! It’s so tasty!) so the cost is not a burden. We used about 1/2 of the bag to make a ton of chicken strips. You can, however, just crush up pork rinds. I haven’t done this, but I have heard tell of people blitzing their pork rinds in the food processor until they were a bread crumb consistency and that sounds like it would work just as well!

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Ingredients:

2 chicken breast (1 lb of chicken)

1 egg

1/2 Tablespoon water

1/2 pound of ‘pork dust’ (crushed pork rinds)

Method:

Mix together in bowl egg and water.

Cut chicken breast into strips (1/2 inch by 3-4 inches).

Dip chicken breast into egg mixture and then into bowl containing pork rind bread crumbs, coating chicken strip in pork rind bread crumbs.

Place on baking sheet (recommend parchment paper on sheet).

Cook for 15-18 minutes in pre-heated 425 degree oven.

These are fabulous dipped in mayo (add some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and make a kickin’ sauce!) or mustard!

The Ketogenic Diet

Last year I started the ketogenic diet (keto). I started it for two reasons: to lose weight and to control my migraines. After having four migraines in one week I decided enough was enough. I literally couldn’t function. On the keto diet, I don’t get migraines and I feel super awesome! What’s not to love?!

 What is The Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet was initially discovered/established to help children with epilepsy. The keto diet supports brain function. Migraines are said to be a mild form of epilepsy and that is why migraine sufferers have found relief on a keto diet.

Put simply: the keto diet is very low carb and very high fat with moderate protein rounding out your daily intake.

This diet works to put your body into a state of ‘ketosis’, which is where your body uses ketone bodies for fuel instead of glucose (sugar). Did you know your body could do that?

The human body is designed to quickly switch to glucose burning during times of plentiful carbohydrate consumption. Running on glucose means that the body can make use of all of the extra glucose you’re consuming but not using straight away. What does it do with it? It stores it away. And that’s how we get fat. In a nutshell. Gary Taubes has a fabulous book that I highly recommend that you can find on Amazon that talks about the science of it all. It’s a quick read and I really can’t recommend it enough!

In ketosis, the body switches to using that stored fat for fuel. Back in hunter gatherer days this was a perfect system. The natives would plump up in summer when berries, roots, tubers, and other high sugar fruits and vegetables were plentiful. Then they would burn all of that off over the winter when they were living off of game meats and any stored foods. Lean times and plump times. 🙂 But, even during the plump times for those natives they were switching back and forth between ketosis and glucose burning – sometimes within a day.

What do I eat?

The keto diet is so simple. It’s a restricted diet, but I find freedom in that. I don’t need to plan a different dinner for every day of the month. Or a different lunch for every day of the week. Or three different breakfast options. I eat the exact same thing for breakfast every day and have for almost a year. I’m not bored of it at all! It’s tasty and nutritious.

Ketogenic foods:
  • All unprocessed meats (no sugars used in processing, or very little): beef, bison, deer, elk, rabbit, pork, etc (organic and grass fed/pasture raised)
  • All unprocessed fowl: duck, chicken, turkey, etc (organic and pasture raised)
  • All unprocessed fish (no sugar cured or sugar smoked): salmon, tuna, oysters, mussels, crab, etc (wild caught or sustainably farmed in the case of shell fish)
  • Eggs (pasture raised is a must)
  • Butter (grass fed and pasture raised is a must)
  • Coconut oil (organic and unrefined)
  • Low starch vegetables in moderation and with butter or other approved oil: spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. See a list here.
  • Very limited fruits after two solid weeks in ketosis: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc. Low sugar fruits. I think avocado is a fruit and that can be eaten daily in the correct portion (1/3 or less).
  • Nuts can be eaten as part of small snacks or in recipes, but they are to be in very small quantities.
  • High fat dairy products: cream, cheese, butter, etc. Some people find they don’t tolerate dairy or it causes them to crave sugar; or it flares up medical issues or stalls weight loss. I recommend keeping dairy limited. Butter is the exception here as it is nearly pure fat.

Here’s a link to a more comprehensive list of what foods to eat or avoid: Ketogenic Diet Food List

How to Get Into Ketosis

The whole goal of the ketogenic diet is to be in ketosis. So how do you get there?

To be burning fat for fuel it needs to be your primary source of food.

The ketogenic diet usually looks like:

  • 70% of your calories from fat
  • 25% of your calories from protein
  • 5% of your calories from carbohydrates

There is such a thing as a ketogenic calculator! You enter in some information about you (height, weight, activity level, etc) and it tells you what your macros (the percent of fat, protein or carbohydrates) should be and roughly how many calories you should consume daily.

Regarding your macros: there are two types of ketosis. Nutritional ketosis and medical ketosis. Nutritional ketosis is where you want to be if you want to lose weight, pump up your workouts, treat diabetes, and feel fabulous. Medical ketosis is what people with cancer, epilepsy, severe migraines, autism, ADHD, etc use to treat, prevent and cure those diseases. The difference is that nutritional ketosis keeps your blood ketone levels at a lower range than medical ketosis. To achieve this, in medical ketosis you need to adjust your macros so that your fat intake is closer to 80%. In nutritional ketosis 60-70% is ideal. You can play with your macros and see where you feel best and see the best results.

After a number of days (this is different for each person – it could be 2 or it could be 7) of very limited carbs your body will switch over to burning fat for fuel and you will be in ketosis.

How do you know if you’re in ketosis?

There are a number of ways to test to see if you’re in ketosis. In our house we use urinalysis sticks and a blood ketone meter.

When you’re just starting out and/or have a fair amount of weight to lose you’ll get good enough results with the urinalysis sticks. If you’re not overweight or if you’ve been doing keto a while (OR you’re doing medical keto as a treatment for various ailments) then the blood meter is a better indication of whether or not you’re in ketosis.

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There’s more information here about tracking ketones/ketosis, but for me simply testing my urine and/or blood helps me to keep track and know what’s working and what isn’t. If I get kicked out of ketosis or the readings go down, then I can look at what I ate yesterday and figure out what’s affecting me.

Once you’ve been using the pee sticks or blood monitor for a bit and you’ve been solidly in ketosis you’ll start to know if you’re in or out of ketosis just by how you feel. The pee sticks are cheap and easy to use, so I use those frequently. The blood monitor isn’t expensive, but the stips are, so that I use less often. Maybe once or twice a week.

My husband isn’t overweight at all and he doesn’t register ketones on the pee sticks because his body is utilizing all of the ketones for fuel and he’s not ‘spilling’ them into his urine. He’s able to use the blood monitor to check his levels. Even if you still have weight to lose you may or may not be spilling enough ketones to register on the pee sticks, as well. So the blood monitor is a nice tool to have. I have found the strips for a good price on ebay!

The First Two Weeks

The first two weeks can be a mixed bag. Some people say it SUCKS. Some people notice physical improvements and weight loss right away and have no complaints. Some people are in the middle. The bottom line is this: you have to get through the first two weeks. And unlike some other diets – you will have more success if you dive in feet first instead of easing into a ketogenic way of eating. So, instead of trying to just lower your carbs each day until you reach a ketogenic level, just jump right in and start low carb. You will feel much better much quicker if you do.

The first week can be particularly hard. As your body makes a huge change from using glucose to ketones for fuel you’re likely to feel something. A lot of people experience ‘keto flu’ in the first week – which is just as it sounds: flu like symptoms with less energy than you may be used to. I haven’t had this any of the times I have entered ketosis, but I have heard many, many people talk about experiencing it, so I figured it was worth mentioning.

One thing that I have dealt with in the transition into ketosis is the cravings and mood swings. About end of day 2 and definitely on day 3 I start getting serious sugar/carb cravings and get really moody about it. Just have to power through! Will power is required only for the first week or two, I have found, and then after you’re established in ketosis you don’t crave sugar anymore.

Another thing to be on the look out in the first two weeks: weight gain. It happens for some. Others lose a large amount of weight in the first two weeks. Others just a couple pounds. It’s another mixed bag! But, for some people the transition causes weight gain of a few pounds, but again – just have to power through these first two weeks to see the real results on the other side.

Don’t get hungry!

In the first two weeks it’s SO IMPORTANT to not let yourself get hungry. I’m serious. That’s when the shit hits the fan! This is so important. Especially for the first week – it’s so critical! I cannot stress this enough! If you are not in ketosis or just on the verge and you let yourself get hungry your body/brain is going to go overboard on your carb cravings. You’re going to get all moody and cravy and then pissed off and you’re going to throw your hands up and say “F THIS!” and eat cookies and cake. Trust me. Ask me how I know. Take my word for it!

I do suggest tracking your food intake (with something like My Fitness Pal or Fitday.com or whatever you like) at least for the first month so that you can get a solid grasp on how many carbs you are actually eating each day. The first week, however, because it’s so important to not let yourself get hungry, don’t hold too tightly to your daily goals – EXCEPT FOR CARBS. Keep the carbs where they should be. But, if you’re starting to feel hungry EAT SOMETHING! Pepperoni with cream cheese is a great low carb snack that’s really quick. Have another bullet proof coffee/tea. Eat a pat of butter. Whatever works! Just don’t have a rumbling tummy.

And you’re going to be hungry. If you’re aiming for 1,800 calories a day (which is another topic entirely – calorie goals are just a ballpark and have almost no real bearing on weight loss within a ketogenic diet – baring eating 6,000 calories of cream cheese in a day or something equally silly) and are still hungry that’s totally fine. Seriously! Eat more! Eat 2,500 calories every day the first week if you need to. Listen to your body. You might feel like you’re eating so.much.food. But I promise it will even out. Once you’re in ketosis and you have gotten through the first two weeks your appetite will lessen dramatically and after a good month or two (when you enter keto adaption) you may find that you can’t even get yourself to eat 1,000 calories some days! It sounds too good to be true, but I promise it’s a reality!

Another option:

The last few times I’ve fallen out of ketosis (after our last vacation and then again after some holiday over indulgences!) I have used an ‘egg fast’ to get back into ketosis very quickly and with less fuss. You can find more information about egg fasts on the web, but it’s essentially this: you eat eggs and fats and little else. For me this looked like:

2 eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner fried in butter and topped with a sprinkle of cheese or a dollop of homemade mayonnaise.

Bullet proof tea with each meal

I had none of the craving issues I have had in the past and was back into ketosis within 24-48 hours.

Keto Adaption

So, then what’s keto adaption?! That’s when your body is perfectly happy to burn ketones instead of glucose for fuel and you having a few more carbs daily or a carb heavy meal once or twice a month is not going to send you out of ketosis resulting in you having to work hard to get back in again. For most people, keto adaption is obtained after being in ketosis for a couple months or more.

It’s a tricky thing. You don’t want to test this out before you can be reasonably sure you’re keto adapted. The results can be awful! Your body will rebel and you’ll feel awful AND you’ll have to go through the whole sucky first and perhaps second weeks all over again! Totally not worth it. Again, ask me how I know!

My deepest piece of advice with regards to keto is this:

Do not cheat in the first two months of starting keto. Not once.

It’s hard. I know! It really is. But see how fabulous you can feel and tell me honestly if that dumb cookie is worth it? It’s not. You know what it tastes like and, honestly, it’s not even going to live up to what you THINK it tastes like. Your taste buds will have changed a bit with doing keto and even stuff you might have absolutely loved before now are quite bland and perhaps even nasty.

For some people, keto adaption allows you to up your daily carbs. For example, initially you might need to stay under 20 carbs to keep in ketosis, but once keto adapted you might be able to stay under 30 carbs. Or maybe even 40 or 50 carbs! It’s different for everyone and you need to track your food intake and monitor your ketone levels and how your body feels to know where your threshold is.

The Beauty of Keto

For me, the true beauty of the ketogenic diet is keto adaption. Once in that place, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Literally!

Keto lets you stay healthy (you’re going to feel so amazing!), lose weight, get rid of cravings, AND enjoy a ‘treat’ every once in a while. It’s imperative not to abuse this, though, and indulge. Once a month is a good amount (once you’re keto adapted!) and that allows you to go out to eat with friends or be treated to a meal in someone’s home without feeling like the odd one or having to make all kinds of special requests or substitutions to a dinner host.

With that said: my family has chosen to cut gluten out entirely. And that’s not too terribly hard a restriction to get around anywhere you go. Especially now. Gluten does some nasty things to my son (diarrhea, eczema, and awful moods) and it gives me some awful digestive upset.

ALSO with that said: It’s not hard to eat keto at restaurants! Almost anywhere you go will have a meat option that you can get grilled or fried (without breading!) and served with a side of buttered vegetables. And no one is going to think twice about it, it’s a common thing to order a steak and steamed veggies!

AND ALSO with that said: some people chose to just not do cheats at all, keto adapted or not! Because even if you’re keto adapted you may find that 1) you’re just not interested in high carb foods anymore! 2) it’s just not worth risking falling our of ketosis 3) it’s not worth risking feeling like crap after a cheat meal or 4) cheat meals stall weight loss (which is the issue for me).

Keto Results

For me, the ketogenic diet has been a lifesaver in more ways than one. Last year I lost 40 pounds in a little under six months (with more cheats than I would like and I plan to cut cheats out while I lose the rest of my weight) and I only had 1 food related migraine (I had a cluster of four migraines one other time before we realized that running our gas fireplace was causing those ones) in 2014! Which was a miracle for me as a mother of a toddler.

I have the goal to lose another 40 pounds in 2015 and to hopefully not have a single migraine!

Other than weight loss and keeping the migraines at bay, ketosis helps me to feel fabulous. I have energy and my moods are more stable. All it takes is a weekend of cheat foods and getting bumped out of ketosis to remind me why I love being in ketosis!

To see some results from others, check here to visit Diet Doctor’s website and see the reader submitted testimonials.

Resources

If you’re interested in doing keto, you’ll need more information than what I have posted here. Here are some of my favorite links. Click around and soak up all the information like a sponge. It’s okay if you’re overwhelmed – I was at first, too! Just take it all in and re-read things and give yourself some time to absorb it all and formulate a plan. Unlike other diets where you can ease into it, you will be much more successful on keto if you can start it with 100% effort.

http://ketodietapp.com/Blog/

http://www.dietdoctor.com/ (click around the different topics under the diet doctor headline: health and weight loss, videos, etc. Lots of good info, just not a great layout)

http://www.ruled.me/ (has lots of ads for their services, but if you’re overwhelmed or can’t commit to researching a bunch, consider buying their menu plans and other services! It could really help you!)

Disclaimer:

In case it wasn’t obvious, this is in no way medical advice and/or a replacement for medical advice. You need to do your own research to see if the keto diet is right for you. Talk with your doctor, but do know that keto flies in the face of what most medical professionals have been taught, despite what science has proven (and disproven). If you have diabetes and are on insulin, you will need to be so very careful with your carb levels and insulin doses so that you don’t get too low blood sugar. The keto diet can treat (and from what I have read from others with first hand experience: cure) both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes so long as careful consideration is given to insulin doses and your blood sugar is closely monitored. Your insulin dose will almost certainly need to be adjusted and hopefully one day you can discontinue its use! 🙂

Edited to add:

I do take a few different supplements to go along with our ketogenic diet and I will plan to make a post about that soon! My supplements are very important to me and I believe them to be one of the pillars of my success on the ketogenic diet.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

I wanted to share this recipe because it’s seasonally perfect, it’s tasty AND it’s grain free. We are on a ketogenic diet (I wrote about that here) so we have to modify things often. I switched out wheat flour noodles for spiralized zucchini noodles and you can hardly tell the difference, I think!

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This recipe is enough to feed four adults, or have leftovers for lunch the next day if there’s just two of you!

You’ll need to have chicken stock on hand and it’s *really* not the same without homemade stock! So see my post here about oven roasting a chicken and using the carcass to make stock.  You will also need pre-cooked chicken pieces, so, really, just make the oven roasted chicken the night before and you’ll be set for this recipe. Often, we make our oven roasted chicken one night and eat some with dinner, then start the crock pot with the carcass after dinner and then the stock/broth is ready by the time I am making dinner the next night. It works out great!

Ingredients:

4 cups loosely packed pre-cooked chicken chopped into bite size pieces

2 quarts chicken broth

6 tablespoons butter

6 cups loosely packed spiralized zucchini (about 4-5 small zucchini or 2 large zucchini)

1 cup chopped carrots (you can do more if you prefer, but carrots are a high sugar vegetable, so we keep the quantity low)

1 onion, chopped

Optional: celery. I know that’s a common chicken soup ingredient, we just prefer it left out. Also optional is a diced tomato. Not a common chicken soup ingredient, but it is so lovely to add in July or August when tomatoes are so yummy!

1.5 tsp garlic granules/powder (NOT garlic salt. Just dried garlic. Or use fresh garlic, I just prefer dried garlic in soups)

2 tsp dried basil or a handful of fresh chopped basil (I prefer fresh, but that’s not always available to me)

1 tsp turmeric (this not only adds a classic chicken soup color, but is a nice way to get some turmeric in! It’s so good for you!)

1 tablespoon Himalayan salt (do not sub table salt. Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. I don’t use table salt, so I can’t vouch for a straight across sub! It’s not good for you anyway. You can find both Himalayan and Celtic sea salt on amazon for great prices!)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on if you want it spicy or not. this amount isn’t overwhelming)

Pepper to taste

Method:

Melt butter in a large stock pot and add carrots and onion (and celery if using). Cook until almost done.

Add in zucchini noodles and fry together for 2-3 minutes.

Pour in broth. Add in all spices (EXCEPT if you are using fresh basil, that gets added later). If you were adding tomatoes, you would add them now as well.

Cook until simmering and all vegetables are soft to your liking.

Add in chopped cooked chicken and fresh basil if using. Remove from heat asap.

Allow to sit for 4-5 minutes before dishing up.

Sometimes I like to sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top!

This soup reheats really fabulously as well. I hope you enjoy!

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Cardamom Berry Jam

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I found inspiration for this jam on Pomona’s Pectin’s website. I read about a cardamom jelly recipe there in passing (by which I mean while nursing a sleeping toddler!) and never ended up going back to find the recipe. So, when it came time to can blueberries I just winged it! And it all came out delicious!

I didn’t photograph the process because I just didn’t assume I’d be putting it up on my blog AND I just don’t think to take pictures of what I’m cooking! Haha. I’m an amateur blogger, what can I say? But I did take some pictures yesterday while I was making blackberry jelly. I think any kind of berry would be good in this recipe!

At any rate, here’s what I did!

Cardamom Berry Jam

Ingredients:

4 cups mashed and ‘sauced’ berries (cook berries over medium heat for about 15 minutes, all the while mashing. Once soupy, measure. For blackberries and raspberries I strained the mixture to remove most of the seeds)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Pomona’s Pectin

Follow cooking and canning directions as detailed in the Pomona’s pectin package. That’s what I do! 🙂

***Add cardamom in the very beginning when you are cooking your berries.

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Baby Popsicle and Slow Growin’

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It was 70 degrees today! A real scorcher. It has been about 10 degrees below average and wet this spring, so the last few days have been SO welcome! We even shared a baby popsicle today. I made them by blending a banana, frozen strawberries and coconut milk in the food processor until smooth-ish and poured them into these little toddler sized popsicle moulds. I bought the mould last year but Bunkers was supremely put off by how cold they were, but today he really liked it! It was nice and messy, too!

Since it has been so cold, all of our sprouts are growing very slowly! And the poor pretty flowers I put together a few weeks ago are looking quite sad… we’ve had a half dozen days in the last few weeks where it hailed and just downpoured and they took a bit of a beating. I should have put them under cover… but most of hail happened at night and I couldn’t get up. I hope they recover!

The sprouts are very slow growing. I’m hopeful they will pick up after this week of sun. It’s supposed to be cold and rainy again this weekend, though! I hope more consistent sun is on it’s way!

Also, I dyed my hair with henna (three times!) this week (and I got a trim – my first haircut in 14 months! And only my second since Bunkers was born!) and I love the final color! It’s quite close to my natural color so it goes nicely with my skintone and maybe I can refrain from dying it for a bit… I like to change it up! 😉

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Water Kefir

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I’ve since learned that water kefir is an anaerobic ferment and should have an air tight lid, not cheesecloth! Just FYI! 😉

I started making water kefir this last week and we are really enjoying it!

I got some water kefir grains from a friend in my AP mama group. I was SO excited. And that’s an understatement.

I watched a ton of YouTube videos on water kefir making, I read several blog posts and websites on it and bought all my ingredients. It requires sugar, and we didn’t have any in the house! We don’t use sugar in cooking, but you can’t use honey in kefir making. I bought organic light brown sugar and organic rapadura. I also bought un-sulfured black strap molasses.

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If you’re interested in making water kefir, here are some resources I found helpful:

Dom’s Kefir In-Site

Green Mom Zoe’s Water Kefir Tutorial (includes two video tutorials)