Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cheese Crisps - about a 1/2 carb each

Last night, I was experimenting with making cheese crisps.  These are snacks similar to crackers or tortilla chips  made out of cheese.  They're quite simple to make.  I tried three kinds last night:  American cheese (the real stuff, not cheese "food"), cheddar cheese, and pepper jack cheese "food".   The American cheese slices I cut into 16 squares a little less than an inch across.  The other cheeses I just sliced thinly off the end of the block.  All three turned out with very different textures.  The American cheese crisps were the most crunchy and reminded me a little of tortilla chips.  The cheddar ones were a bit greasy with little bubble holes in them but still yummy.  The pepper jack cheese "food" turned out with a similar texture to a saltine cracker.  I will continue to experiment with different types of cheese and share the results on my blog. 

As I was munching on these this morning during work, I was thinking about my crunchy taco recipe.  For the tacos, I told everyone to use cheddar.  After last night's experiment with cheese crisps, I think I'm going to try tacos with American cheese next time.  On a side-note, I just received a blog comment this morning from someone talking about cheese crisps and taco shells.  Isn't it awesome how life is full of little synchronicities like this? 

Cheese Crisp Recipe 

Servings:  As many as you want.  Check the cheese package for carb counts.

Ingredients
Cheese  (American, Cheddar, Pepper Jack, you name it)
Optional Spices (salt, garlic powder, chili powder, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with silicon mat or parchment paper.  Do not grease.
  2. Cut cheese into desired size squares as 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Depending on the type of cheese you use, they may spread out or hold form.  American and cheddar will come out much larger with rounded edges even if cut into squares.  Some "un-real" cheese "foods" will hold their shape.
  3. If using spices, mix spices and toss cheese in them.  Or, sprinkle on just before baking.
  4. Spread squares out on lined cookie sheet. 
  5. Bake for about 8 minutes.  Cheese will crispen up as it cools.  After cooling, if rubbery then put back in the oven for another 2 minutes.
  6. Serve with dips, salsa, or enjoy plain.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Valentines Day Gift Idea

If your lover is on a low-carb diet, I have the perfect idea for a Valentines day gift.  Instead of a box of chocolates, give a netrition low carb gift box.  These gift boxes contain a variety of sugar free candy, low carb snacks, and baking mixes.  Now they can indulge in yummie comfort foods without cheating!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eating Stella Style

About a month ago, in preparation to my starting my low-carb regiment, I picked up another low-carb cookbook.  I've tried six recipes out of it and must tell you that "Eating Stella Style" is the best low-carb cookbook I've come across.  Just about every recipe looks great.  The following is a summary of what I have tried so far from the book.

Some of the successes are:

  • Easy Tzatziki Sauce - a simple Greek cucumber cream sauce that is out of this world! 
  • Pork Souvlaki - marinated pork kabob (excellent with the Tzatziki sauce).
  • Crazy Egg Meatloaf - meatloaf with a twist... it's stuffed with whole boiled eggs.
  • Breadless Bread Pudding - This was a quite tasty dessert.  I think next time I will top it with blueberries or strawberries with whipped cream.  To me, it was nothing like bread pudding.  Really it's just a cheesecake with ricotta instead of cream cheese.  This is a traditional way to make cheesecakes in many cultures however very different from the cheese cake that you see in the United States. 
Failures:

  • Baked Zucchini Fries - This recipe is the only one so far that didn't work for me.  I didn't think it'd turn out right but thought it was worth trying.  The spices were overpowering and the "fries" never got crisp.  Even with the ends burnt the were soggy and floppy.  I'm not sure where I went wrong but don't plan on trying this one again. 
Even though the Zucchini fries didn't work, the rest of the recipes all look spectacular.  So far, 80% of what I've tried has been great.  It's by far my favorite low-carb cookbook.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Today is a "Carb Up" Day

I have lost 12 pounds in a little over a week.  Today is my first "carb-up" day.  My strategy of including "carb-up" days is very contraversial.  Most of my readers don't think "carb-up" days are helpful.  But by occasionally increasing carb intake, I am attempting to keep my metabolism from adjusting to the low-carb diet.  I am taking 4 days off each month, typically 1 day per week.  It was hard to take myself off the low-carb today as I've been on a great ketosis streak and have had few cravings for carby foods.  But I do believe that it is good to break the rapid weight loss streak as it should help sustain weight loss and avoid plataues over the long run.  Also, having floating "carb-up" days as part of my official plan allows me to eat the foods I am craving without feeling like a failure.  So, today I had pizza for lunch... one of my favorite foods and I have no reason to feel guilty.  It's all part of the weight loss strategy.  Tomorrow, I'm back to low-carb with only 3 more "carb-up" days available this month.  It will take me 2-3 days to get back into ketosis which is where the pounds fall off very quickly.  But it's worth it to protect my metabolism and to allow me to feel "normal" once in a while. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Status Update: End of Week 1

This week has gone pretty good.  I have lost 9 pounds, some of which I am sure is just water.  My waist has shrunk by 2 inches and my hips by 1 inch.  I feel good.  Other than a little sledding in the park, I have had almost no exercise.  The only vitamins I am taking are potassium and chromium.

Key Measurements:

Weight: 327 pounds
Waist:  Sucked in 52 inches, relaxed 55 inches, puffed out 57 inches.
Hips:  54 inches

Key Calculations:

Body Fat:  36.37%
Lean Weight 208.8 pounds (estimated)
Pounds Lost:  9
Pounds to left to lose:  92

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5

It is the 5th day of the year and also the 5th day into my low-carb adventure.  I'm in Nashville, Tennessee this week.  For lunch yesterday, I at a Chili Relleno and Juevos con Chorizo (Eggs with Chorizo sausage) at a restaraunt called Las Palmas.  For dinner we went to the Long Horn steakhouse where I had a salad, sauteed mushrooms, and grilled Salmon.  Today, for breakfast, I choked down Drury Hotel scrambled eggs & sausage patties (tastes like it must contain lots of soy).  It's almost lunch time and I think we're going out for buffalo wings.  For snacking, I bought a 6 oz. can of Blue Diamond brand Bold Jalapeno Smokehouse Almonds which taste awesome.  Everything is going great except that I woke up yesterday with ketosis breath.  I had forgotten about this nasty side effect of rapid weight loss.  I know the bad breath can be improved by drinking lots of water to flush out ketones.  Regardless, I still bought a pack of sugar free chewing gum. 

Egg Salad for Sand-which - 1 net carb per serving

Here is a very low-carb, simple sand-which that I grew up on.  The recipe below is for two but you could make one big sand-which out of it.  I usually put this on low-carb bread which has six net carbs per slice but I suppose it could be served in other ways such as on a bed of lettuce. 

Servings: 2 at about 1 net carb each.

Ingredients

3 boiled eggs
2 T. green onion
1 T. yellow mustard
2 T. Mayonnaise
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Instructions

  1. Boil eggs:  Place eggs in sauce pan with cold water.  Put on burner at high heat until water begins to boil.  Cook an additional 15 minutes.  Place pan in sink and run cold water into it until eggs are cool enough to handle. 
  2. Peal eggs and place in bowl.  With a fork, mash up eggs.  Mixed in diced green onion, mustard, mayo, salt, and pepper. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years Resolution: Lose 100 pounds!

Yes, I am back.... up to 336 pounds that is.  This is exactly what I weighed when I started this blog and a low-carb diet back in 2006.  It is a tie with my previous all-time high.  I am very angry with myself for gaining back 85 pounds.  Why has it been so easy to put off starting a diet?  It was always, "well I'll begin next month" or "I'll begin after the holidays".  Well, the holidays have passed and I'm out of excuses to wait.  Besides, the new year is a fabulous time to start something new.  My New Year's resolution is to lose 100 pounds.  This may sound extreme, but I know it is possible.

For those of you who are new to my blog... you need to understand some of my key obstacles.  My job is the biggest problem.  I travel a great deal and am gone usually 3 to 4 nights a week.  Most of the time, I am staying in Nashville, Tennessee.  The hours at the Tennessee office are 7:30 to 6:30 PM.  My co-workers typically meet up at the hotel lobby around 7:00 PM to head out to dinner.  Considering that Nashville is on Central time and my home clock is Eastern, this is more like heading out to eat at 8:00 PM.  Which puts me back in the hotel around 10:00 PM or so just in time to get ready for bed.  Eating late and going straight to bed is a definite recipe for gaining weight.  Also, because I'm traveling, I can't cook and must dine out.  On top of this, I often find myself traveling overseas.  When dining in other countries, I find it difficult to ask for details of how food is prepared and in places like France, they frown on making substitutions or changes to their menu items.  When at home in Lexington, Kentucky, life is much easier on the diet.  But my wife is now pregnant and therefore is reluctant (rightly so) to join me on my diet.  Our 3 year old son and her may wind up eating different food than me or at least supplementing it with breads and other carby things that I can't eat.  This makes it impossibly to empty the house of temptations.  Medically speaking, I am obese and have sleep apnea but am otherwise healthy.

My stats as of January 1st, 2010:

Weight:  336 Pounds
Waist: Sucked in 54 inches,  Relaxed  57, Puffed out 57.5
Hips:  55
Thigh:  Left 34.5, Right 35
Calf:  Left 20, Right 21
Bicep:  Left 18, Right 19
Forearm:  Left 14, Right 14
Neck:  19
Chest:  51.5
Wrist:  7.5

Calculations:

BMI:  48
% Body Fat 39.2
Lean Weight 204 Pounds
Pounds of Fat:  132
Target Weight (15% body fat):  235 Pounds
Pounds to lose:  101

I am now on day 2 of my journey toward losing over 100 pounds.  Yesterday, I woke up late and had a ham and cheese omelet with low carb toast.  For dinner, I had a large green salad topped with a big portion of chicken salad (like you put on sandwiches.  Today, I had for breakfast bacon and eggs and a piece of low-carb toast.  For dinner, I've started a big batch of PJ's Divine Chili Verde.  This is a wonderful slow-cooked spicy soup made with pork and tomatillos.  I highly recommend you check out the recipe on the Divine Low Carb blog (thedivinelowcarb.blogspot.com).  I had bought a gigantic pork loin to make the soup and am marinating the rest of it for tomorrow's kabobs.

My strategy this time is as follows.  Keep all meals less than 15 net carbs.  I can have snacks under 10 net carbs as long as they aren't within one our of a meal or another snack.  Also, I will have 4 "carb up days" per month AKA cheat days.  Typically these will be 1 day per week but I will let them float and cluster if need be.  These days off the diet serve two purposes.  One, to keep my metabolism up and prevent my body from conserving energy or going into starvation mode.  And two, I can strategically use these days for special occasions such as birthdays vacations, etc. without feeling as if my will power wasn't strong enough.  This keeps me in a positive frame of mind and gives me something to look forward to.  My favorite carby foods are not out completely but are allowed only on these special "carb up" days.  The downside to this is that a "carb up" day will kick my body out of ketosis (fat burning mode).  Whenever ketosis is broken, it will take three or four days for me to get back into ketosis.  So I might not see those whopping 20 pound per month losses that are common in the first couple months of low-carbing.  But in the long term, I think this plan will prevent my body from trying to conserve energy and will therefore result in more weight loss for the long run.  I will explain my theory on weight loss in more detail in a future post.