Monday, July 30, 2007

Bumper Crop of Cucumbers & Zucchini

I have a ton of cucumbers and zucchini from our garden and am leaving town in a few days... We don't have time to eat them all, so I need to figure out uses that will preserve them for later consumption.

I think I am going to try to make some low-carb bread-and-butter pickles. While Sweetzfree (concentrated sucralose) would be the ideal sweetener, I think I'm going to try it using Splenda. This is because Splenda is easier to purchase. If the pickles turn out well, I'll be posting the recipe.

Does anyone have other ideas for me in how to use up my cucumbers and zucchini? I guess I could shred and freeze the zucchini or maybe make pickles out of it also. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More Recipes Coming

I am working on perfecting 1 carb peanut butter cookies. So far, they're good but not good enough to post. I'm afraid that by the time that they are good enough that they'll be 2 or 3 carb peanut butter cookies... but even that wouldn't be so bad.

I am also working on a number of meat entrees. I've not been posting many meat recipes as they are easy to come by. But there are a number of dishes that my wife and I eat regularly that would probably still be worth posting.

Right now, I have about 50 recipes posted on this web site. If I add meat recipes, I'd have enough to fill my own cookbook. In fact, I think that I may do just that. I'm not sure the best way to market it. I am leaning toward publish on demand through Lulu.com which would allow marketing through Amazon.com but not through actual book stores. If anyone has tried their hand at writing books, I'd love to hear how you went about it. Regardless, it will be several months at least before I will have it ready to present to publishers.

Falling Off the Wagon?

My family didn't get to go on their beach vacation last week. As we were leaving town, I learned that my 97 year old grandmother had broken her pelvis. So, instead, we made the 12 hour car trip to Kansas to check on her. Being that we stayed with relatives we thought it would be easier to go ahead and take the week off of the diet. It's just too difficult to explain our dietary requirements to someone else who is planning the menus.

We have re-scheduled our vacation for next week. And, we still plan to take next week off the diet. I'm not sure what we'll do this week. It almost seems not worth dieting this week as it'd take 3 days to slip into ketosis and we'd not realize much loss before we leave town again. However, I am a bit concerned that we might gain back quite a bit by being off the diet for 3 weeks straight. I know it sounds simple... we should just stick with low-carb regardless of the vacation. But, my wife and I love sampling regional foods and vacations are by their very nature centered around enjoying things that you don't get to do every day.... for us, eating what we like best is something we were looking forward to.

I've been doing some form of low-carb dieting for 11 months. And, I have lost 85 pounds. But, I've not yet reached my goal. And, I'm too close to give it up. So, I'm taking these 3 weeks to do what I please and am determined to return to the low-carb "lifestyle" when I return from the beach. Yes, I'm dreading doing my weight and measurements when we return. But, I will be honest and let you all know how much damage I can do in 3 weeks.

I'll likely not be posting much the next couple of weeks. But, I promise you that I will be back. And next year, I will look even better at the beach.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bulgarian Shopska Salad - 2.5 net carbs per serving

Low carb doesn't have to be all meat. Bulgarian shopska salad is one of our summer favorites. Several years ago, I learned the recipe from my brother's wife who is from Bulgaria. Making this with home grown garden tomatoes makes it extra good.


Makes 6 servings at 2.5 net carbs each.


Ingredients:

2 medium tomatoes (6 net carbs)
2 cucumbers (3 net carbs)
1 cup crumbled or cubed feta cheese (6 net carbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped Fresh Parsley (optional, add 1 net carb)

Instructions:

Chop up tomatoes and cucumbers. Either crumble or dice feta. Mix all ingredients. Depending on the brand of feta, you might want to add a little salt.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Altering Cycle Around Vacation Schedule

Vacations on my plan are high-carb. Yes, read my plan in the diet log at the right of this screen. I wrote it in the rules so it's not cheating. Since I am leaving on vacation soon, I decided that rather than cutting my next cycle in half that I'd just shorten the previous two cycles by a couple of days each. So, instead of being high carb this coming weekend, I did high carb Tuesday through Thursday of this week. Which means that today is day three of my carb-up.

I have been on the road and it has been nice to not have to steer my co-workers away from certain restaurants that aren't health friendly. The night before last, we all went out for pizza. Last night, we dined at Darfon's which has an excellent variety of foods. The thing that looked the best on Darfon's menu, the thing that I craved the most, was the steak. Go figure. The pasta and sandwiches just didn't look appealing. The desserts weren't tempting. And even today, my body isn't craving starchy or sweet foods. Why is it that the days I had set aside for doing high carb have resulted in no cravings for such foods and thus no enjoyment in eating them? On most carb-up days, the more carby foods I eat the more that I want. Perhaps my body has become fully adjusted to the 14 day cycle (11 down 3 up).

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Biscuits - 1 net carb each

My biscuits are made from scratch just like grandma used to make. Well actually, my grandmothers both make biscuits from a can. But you know where I'm trying to go with this. I have been working on this recipe for some time now. The primary ingredients are vital wheat gluten flour and protein powder (plain, not vanilla!). I have found that when cooking with protein powder, foods tend to be a little dry. This is why I add the cream cheese to the recipe. The cream cheese helps keep it moist without making the batter too soggy. My biscuits go wonderfully with low carb sausage gravy. Or, you can do as I did today and make up a batch of sausage, cheese, and egg biscuits. However you eat them, I am willing to bet you will feel as if you are cheating on your low carb diet.

If you try these, please comment. I'd love to know hear your opinions and suggestions.


This recipe makes 14 three inch biscuits at 1 net carb each.


Ingredients:


4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 package)
1 stick of butter
1 T. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2/3 c. Hood Calorie Countdown Dairy*
1 egg


Instructions:


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Put butter and cream cheese in microwave safe mixing bowl. Microwave 30 seconds to soften. Add all dry ingredients to bowl. With pastry cutter, mix until crumbly. If you don't have a pastry cutter, you can do this in a food processor. Just don't over-do the mixing/cutting. Add egg and dairy to bowl and continue mixing until all is moistened. Do not over mix or you risk the biscuits being too heavy.

Form all dough into ball and place between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll to 3/4 inch thickness. Use top layer of parchment paper to line the cookie sheet. Cut dough with three inch cookie cutter or upside down drinking glass. Ball up scraps, re-roll and cut again. Place biscuits on top of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


*Can substitute buttermilk or cream for Hood calorie countdown dairy beverage, but be sure to add the extra carbs.
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Comments added Sept 11, 2007: These do not freeze or microwave well.

Carb Cycling Findings

I noticed something interesting today. Since I began my 14 day cycles (every other weekend high-carb), I have been losing almost exactly 5 pounds a month, consistently (for 3 months). The last 6 months of doing straight low-carb everyday, my weight loss per month varied between losing nothing and losing 11 pounds. While the average weight loss is the same, carb cycling has given me much more consistent results.
I only wish more people would try my 14 day carb cycling plan so that I would know for certain whether or not it is truly more consistent than low-carb-everyday.

Pictures from Our Garden

The following pictures are from my back yard. I have many more vegetables growing that are not displayed here. My plants are not all necessarily low carb but they are delicious.



Grapes

Tomatillos

Yellow Wax Beans

Mystery Peppers. What are these? They're very hot.

One of 8 varieties of tomatoes


One of many varieties of flower, probably not edible.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Pizza Crust - 2.5 net carbs per slice

I love pizza. There are so many wonderful varieties and toppings. If it weren't for my diet, I could eat pizza daily and never get tired of it. However, my love for pizza also makes me very picky about them. In my humble opinion, it is usually the crust that makes or breaks a pizza. The better the crust, the better the pizza.


Although I have tried, I've not yet successfully made a low-carb yeast risen crust that meets my high standards. I am keen on hand-tossed pizza dough that, when baked (preferably on a stone) is crisp yet chewy. I shall continue on the quest for a fantastic low carb pizza crust that tastes as good as real pizza. And by real pizza, I don't mean Domino's or Little Caesar's!

In the mean time, this recipe is pretty good. I think it's as good or better than Domino's but not as good as Papa Johns and definitely not as good as any number of neighborhood pizzerias. I wouldn't say that it is great but it's probably the best low carb pizza that you will find anywhere. I have worked it and re-worked it. I'm happy with my recipe overall. But, if I wasn't on a diet, it wouldn't be my pizza of choice. With that said....

This recipe makes a 12 inch diameter pizza with a total of 20 net carbs. If sliced into 8 pieces, each piece has about 2.5 net carbs.


Ingredients:

4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 pack)
2 eggs
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese (powdered not fresh)
1/4 t. garlic salt (or table salt)
1/4 c. flax meal (aka ground or milled flax)
1 T. baking powder*
1/2 cup almond or hazelnut meal/flour
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Toppings (add the carbs)


Equipment:

Non-metal mixing bowl
Cookie sheet
2 pieces of parchment paper
Rolling Pin


Instructions:


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In mixing bowl, microwave cream cheese for 30 seconds to soften. Whisk with eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients except mozzarella. Add mozzarella cheese. At this point, you may need to mix by hand.

Roll dough into ball and place in between two large sheet of parchment paper. Using rolling pin, flatten dough (between parchment papers) until between 1/4 and 3/8 inch thick. Remove top layer of parchment paper. Place pizza dough with bottom parchment paper onto cookie sheet.

Do not add topping yet. Bake crust at 400 degrees for 16 to 18 minutes or until golden. You want the dough done but not dark brown. Remove from oven. Add desired sauce and toppings. Return to oven for another 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

*If you prefer, you can use 1/2 cup of carbquik baking mix instead of the wheat gluten and baking powder.

The Anniversary Dinner & Vacations

If you've been following the blog, you'll know that my wife and I were not in agreement on what to eat on our anniversary. She wanted to forgo the diet and I wanted to stay low carb. I hadn't thought of making the carb cycle short and making my next one longer, extending to the start of my vacation. Regardless, my wife and I went out for our anniversary dinner last night. Unfortunately, we were unable to be at home and had to eat in a rural part of the state where we had very few restaurants to choose from. So, we ended up at a basic steak house. I stuck with the low carb diet and she ordered some beef tips along with fried cheese and onion rings. Dessert wasn't an issue as everything else had filled us up. There were no hard feelings. She didn't stick exactly to the diet, but she didn't splurge. I don't think my watching her eat onion rings made her feel as guilty as she had expected.

After dinner, we ran by a store named Cato's. There, I helped her pick out a dress. It was a size 20. Before the diet, she wore a 28. Buying such a small dress seemed to make her happy. It is the first size 20 that she has bought and it fit her absolutely perfectly, all over. Brandi, if you are reading this, I hope you don't mind me sharing your size... If so, I apologize for letting the cat out of the bag (insert foot in mouth).

Today, Brandi headed off on a one week vacation with her mom, sister, and other female relatives. She will be taking this week away from the diet. I, on the other hand, am back at home, eating low carbs. Tomorrow, I leave town on business. Because Brandi and I are going to Virginia beach in two weeks, I think that I may shorten this and the next carb cycle. I may decide to make this cycle end on Tuesday (after only 8 low carb days) then do 2 or 3 days of carb-up followed by 8 or 9 days of carb-down. This will bring me to the start of our vacation which is to not be low carb. I am not sure of my wife's cycling plans. I think she intends to do this week's vacation off the diet followed by one week of low carb followed by another week of vacation off the diet. We'll see. I'll try not to pressure her. We'll just let the scales do all of the talking for me... heh, heh, heh... With that said, I guess I'll talk no more of her diet plans for July here or in person.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Dieting Together as a Couple

I started my diet alone. After about a month and a half, my wife joined me. We both had about the same amount of weight to lose. Often, it seems a blessing that the two of us are on the journey together. But sometimes it almost makes it harder. When she doesn't cheat, I think she does so out of fear of letting me down. I'm not sure that this is necessarily a good thing. Every now and then she wants to take unscheduled "cheat" days. This would be okay with me except that she feels too guilty doing it alone. In her mind, she can't take a day off unless I also take the day off. As a result, it sometimes feels like she is begging me to cheat rather than being supportive.

Of course, there is always a good reason for taking a day off. There's numerous holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. You'd be amazed at how many excuses you can come up with when you want to do something decedent. We are going on a beach vacation in the latter half of July and have mutually agreed to take the entire 9 days away from our diet. I am okay with this. It was part of our original diet plan that vacations would be high carb days.

But now, Brandi is wanting me to take off for our anniversary this Friday. This would mean having a high carb day smack in the middle of our low carb portion of the cycle. This would basically render my 2 weeks useless. I'd be lucky if I lost a single pound due to the timing of the high carb day. And because of our vacation coming up, it would mean basically that July would be a wash with no significant weight loss. I really want to at least get my first 14 day cycle in for July! I am close to my goal of losing 100 pounds and would love to do so by by mid August as it would mean I had done so in less than one year.

Last night, we were arguing about whether or not to forgo the diet on our anniversary. I told her that she was welcome to do so alone. I figured that no matter where we go for dinner, I can find something on the menu that would be low-carb. I have even done so at the Olive Garden which serves mostly pasta. To her, the restrictions would ruin the evening. And, if she ate high carb foods alone, take dessert for instance, she'd feel guilty and like she was letting me down. I had accused her of not being supportive. She responded that she'd been more than supportive and would have been perfectly content staying fat and happy. Thus implying that she is not happy while on the diet even though she has lost 70 pounds.

To be honest, I'd love her either fat or skinny. However, I do want for both of us to be healthy. My primary motivation for doing this diet in the first place was so that I would live long enough to see our son grow up and to spend my retirement years by my wife's side. When I was 85 pounds heavier, I felt as if I might not live a long happy life. I worried that I'd not be able to go hiking with my son when he is old enough for scouts. And yes, I know that our anniversary only happens once a year. But there are so many special occasions and I am so close to my goal. Right now, I plan to stick to my guns and not give in on our anniversary. Who knows. I might change my mind and share some dessert... It feels unfair to have to choose between being healthy and enjoying our anniversary together. Argh!

Fried Green Tomatoes - 4 net carbs per serving

Here's another Southern specialty made the low-carb way. Instead of cornmeal and wheat flour, we have used an alternate low-carb breading. This drops the entire recipe's total carbs from 56 to 14.5 net carbs or from 14 to 4 net carbs per serving. The carbs are pretty low, so feel free to go back for seconds.


4 Servings @ 4 net carbs per serving


Ingredients:

1 egg
2 Medium Green Tomatoes (10 net carbs)
2 T. Vital Wheat Gluten Flour (3 net carbs)
2 T. Almond or Hazelnut Meal (1.5 or 1 net carb)
2 T. Parmesan Cheese (0 net carbs)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bacon Fat or Vegetable Oil


Instructions:

Mix egg in bowl. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl. Heat skillet with a little bacon fat or vegetable oil on medium. Slice tomatoes 3/8 inch thick. Dip in egg then in dry ingredients. Place in frying pan. Cook until brown, turning over once.
Often, these are served with a horseradish sauce much like that which is typically served with a blooming onion or onion peddles. My wife doesn't like horseradish so, we typically eat ours plain. They're excellent either way.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Country Cucumbers - 1.5 net carbs per serving

My summer vegetable garden is finally producing. We've eaten a handful of cherry tomatoes and a few big, ripe "better boy" tomatoes. Most of our hot peppers are turning red and need to be picked. The zucchini plants are loaded with little six inch zucchinis that will be ready for eating in a couple of days. My pickling cucumbers are not yet producing, but the regular burpless kind are loaded. I just love this time of year. For whatever reason, home grown vegetables blow away those that you can buy at the grocery store.

I would like to share with you a very simple recipe for simple country style cucumbers. This is by far my favorite use of cucumbers. These are a perfect low-carb side dish or appetizer for a hot summer day. Each cucumber has about 3 net carbs. I am counting half a cucumber as a serving. I'm not listing quantities for the ingredients. You can make as much or as little as you'd like and salt according to your taste.

Ingredients:

Sliced Cucumbers
Crushed Ice
Water
Salt (1 tsp per cup of water +/-)

Instructions:

Whether or not you peal your cucumbers is up to your own preference. I like to peal stripes down long-ways down the cucumber so that the slices have little dark green squares. Put cucumber slices in a bowl. Cover with crushed ice, salt, and water. You will likely need more salt than you'd expect, perhaps as much as a teaspoon per cup of water. I suggest adding a little salt at a time until you like the way it tastes. Serve in bowl with water and all. Guests can scoop what they want out of the bowl and put on their plate.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Glamazons, Bringing Big Back



This is a clip from the last episode of America's Got Talent.

The girls say that their goal is to show people that you can be sexy at any size. It's about getting to be the best person that you can be in the body that you have.

The best part is the judges' response. They totally accepted them as being talented and sexy regardless of their weight.