Monday, January 30, 2012

Day of Reckoning

Hello, low-carb friends.  I was in Galveston, TX last week on a petites vacances with my husband.  I enjoyed some delicious pineapple and fish throughout the week, and I managed to indulge in some creamy desserts with mango and coconut.  While on vacation, I find that I do better when I live the 80-20 rule: be diligent for 80% of the meals, and allow off-limits treats for 20% of the meals.

So, although I did indulge in some high glycemic fruits and sweet things while in the near-tropics, I didn't go overboard on my regular meals.

Now, I promised you a food diary from my travels.  I do not have the food diary.  It, er, got lost. 

I did do a couple of good, really good things, this vacation that I don't usually do:

  • I intentionally exercised.  There were plenty of strolls, but I made it to a fitness center and worked out with free weights.  Ah, the happy soreness of muscles recently pushed through a regimen of flys, presses, and anything that elicits a ladylike grunt.  I like it!
  • I only had three glasses of wine the entire week.  I don't know about you, but I tend to throw sobriety out the window when I'm away from home.  But I just didn't feel like it this time.  Was it the warm weather?  The blog accountability?  The ladylike grunting from the previous bullet point?  Perhaps it was the observation of people too old to party like they're 21 and seeing what complete buffons they were.  And are.  Pass me the water, please.
This week is "detox week" for me, which really means just a return to sensible, low-carb eating habits and the shunning of all fake things.  Oh, the headache I have from a few sweet indulgences last week!  My tummy is rumbling ("I want mago gelato, and I want it RIGHT NOW."), my head is banging around for a diet soda, but thank goodness my refrigerator and pantry are absent of items too tempting for a middle aged woman stalking for sugars so she doesn't claw her husband's eyes out. *

Here's to a healthy week!

*It would never come to that.  I could always make a cocoa smoothie.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Pizza Crusts

Low-carb cooking has come a long, long way since I first tried Atkins back in 2003. There are so many tasty and inventive recipes out there.

I created a board on Pinterest where I am amassing quite a collection of low carb recipes and trying a couple each week. You can follow my board by clicking here. Let me know if you need a Pinterest invite and I'll send you one.

One of the first recipes I pinned is Rebekah's cauliflower pizza. I always think of it as Rebekah's recipe, but  the original creator is Jamie of Your Lighter Side (a fantastic low carb blog).

I made it recently. It was delicious and easy, my family loved it. The only negative is that it needs to be a bit more crispy for my taste. Next time I will take Rebekah's advice and make mini-pizzas.

Mushroom, pepperoni, bell pepper pizza on cauliflower crust. With lots of cheese! 

I also came across this recipe in my Pinterest recipe search. It's a flaxseed-based crust. I made it for my family earlier this week and got mixed reviews. It's heartier, and a bit more crisp, but the flavor and texture makes one think more of a pizza box than a pizza.

Classic pepperoni and extra cheese. 

Perhaps some butter, seasonings and garlic added to the flax meal, parmesan and egg batter would help. I will give it a try sometime soon. It's a very healthy and fiber-rich crust. If you are looking to add more fiber to your low carb diet, this is the way!

If I had to chose between the two pizza crusts, the choice would be cauliflower all the way!

Have you tried any new low carb recipes lately? 

Please share! 


Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Q&A

Do you have a favorite exercise?

I’m not a cardio person.  I like walking, but only enjoy it as a means of transportation to a destination.  I’ve never been a fan of walking circles in the neighborhood, and I’m even less a fan of walking on the treadmill – though it’s better than walking in snow and ice or 108 degree summer days!

My favorite exercise is weight lifting, and my favorite move is the assisted chin-up.  I use a wide-shoulder stance.  When I was first introduced to this move, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I was mad at the very patient trainer I had at the time who wanted to prove to me, her client, that I was stronger than I thought I was.  I was hooked right away, even though I struggled and grunted just like the big boys in the gym do.

It’s one of those exercises that has real-life application (like hauling yourself out of a swimming pool or over a fence) and instant gratification (I’m lifting myself!).  I’m far away from doing this exercise without the assist, but I’m farther down the road then I was when I started this move over a year ago!

My other favorite exercise is the leg press.  Women have strong legs in general, and I have really strong legs in particular.  Even though my thighs are encased in fat, when I flex my hamstrings you can feel the hard leg muscles underneath.  As we age, we all need solid leg muscles so we won’t be prone to falling and breaking our bones.  Strong leg muscles (and bones) equal longevity!  So load up the plates on your leg press if you have a gym.  If not, squats and lunges are your best friends.


On the not-so-frequent occasion that I do exercise, my favorite is hiking. I love hills, I like to have a destination and being out in nature does wonders for my spirit. Unfortunately, I am too scared - or too smart - to hike alone in the wilderness. We have far too many cougar and rattlesnake sightings around here for me to feel comfortable being alone in the hills. 

When I can't find a friend to hike with or can't convince my husband to join me, I go for walks. There is a retirement community up the road from where I live. I found a hilly loop that is about 3 miles long. The community is safe, clean, has wide sidewalks and plenty of fresh air due little traffic. 

I also have a lake nearby that is 2.25 miles long. It's a poplar place for people to fish, kayak, walk, ride bikes, or simply walk. My husband and I bought a pass for the year so we don't have to pay each time we use it. The goal is to use it frequently enough that it pays for itself a few times over. 

As far as toning exercises go, I do not like to lift weights. I do girl push-ups (on my knees) and try to do 40, but not usually in a row. I do as many as I can, then rest, then resume. I also do 100 crunches, again, not all at once. Form is more important than repetitions. I get more out of 25 crunches done properly and with purpose than I do 100 crunches done quickly and with disregard for form. 

Exercise used to be a huge part of my life. I was a personal trainer and exercise instructor in my mid-30's. These days, in my mid-40's, I have gotten so far away from regular and frequent exercise, it feels foreign to me. It's become a "thing" that I am working on remedying, but with poor results. There are seems to always be something more pressing or more interesting to do other than exercise. And I have a feeling it has to do with my passion for blogging. 

What is your favorite exercise? 

Do you feel that you exercise enough?

Rebekah and Adrienne 

We are asking for questions from our readers for Friday Q&A. 
If you have one for us, leave it in the comment section 
or send either of us an email and we'll be sure to answer it!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Carmelized Onion, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crustless Quiche

Do any of you remember the blog, "Euro Chic"? It was one of the first I started reading when I got into this wonderful blog world.

The author was a beautiful career woman in her early 30's. She posted pictures of herself in classic and stylish outfits, wrote introspective thoughts on living a French chic lifestyle and kept her readers abreast of her growing social life in Boston. She was elegant and intelligent and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life.

Euro Chic would often post recipes on her blog. One recipe that I kept in my regular rotation was a Carmelized Onion, Mushroom, and Goat CheeseTart. I made it many times. It was a great dish to take on picnics.

Unfortunately for us all, Euro Chic stopped blogging and shut down her blog last year. I neglected to print or save a copy of her recipe and so the exact ingredients and directions are unavailable.

Thankfully, I made it frequently enough that I remember most of the ingredients and steps. I have modified it here on Sugarless, Flourless and Fabulous by making it crustless and therefore, low carb.

Carmelized Onion, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crustless Quiche
Adapted from Euro Chic


2 large red onions, sliced about 1/4 inch thick 
3 cups sliced mushrooms - I used 4 cups. It was a little too much. If you love lots of mushrooms, use four. 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
9 organic eggs
Salt and pepper to taste ( I use white pepper - it's prettier in this dish)

First, caramelize the sliced red onions. This takes about 30 minutes (see below for what you can be doing in the meantime). Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan. Add the onions and stir. Cook the onions over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until they have shrunken considerably and turned a golden color - not browned, but carmelized.

Remove the onions to a bowl and set aside. 

Melt the rest of the butter in the same pan and add the mushrooms. Sauté them until just cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms and add to the bowl of onions. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir.

While you are busy sautéing and caramelizing, get out your blender. Turn your oven to 350 degrees. Crack 9 eggs into the blender, add the cream and 8 ounces of the goat cheese - the rest of the cheese will be going on top later. 

Blend the eggs for about 30 seconds, don't over blend. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil. 

Pop it into the oven for about 7 to 10 minutes. All you want is for the egg mixture to set up a bit. Check on it frequently to make sure it's not getting firm. It should be jiggly. 

Take the casserole out of the oven and add the onion and mushroom mixture. Stir to combine. Place dollops of the remainder of the goat cheese on top. Place back in the oven and bake another 30 - 40 minutes. It's ready when the goat cheese dollops start to brown a little.

Take it out and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. This is a great dish to make ahead for to-go breakfasts and lunches. And it can even be served as dinner dish, just add a green salad with a tangy vinaigrette. 


* I vaguely remember there being an herb added to this dish but I can't recall what it was. Thyme? Tarragon? Next time I'll experiment. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pilgrim's Progress

Greetings, low-carber’s.  We are past the half-way point of January, the traditional month for fat-loss resolutions and the dirty habits and eating methods we allow to re-capture our lives before the month is through.

How’s it going so far?  Are you struggling with some of the healthy changes you’ve made, or is it smooth sailing and easy-peasy?

I’m going to be out of town for a few days of vacation (November, December, and the first half of January are very busy times for my work) and am going to struggle with you as I encounter my biggest saboteur: me away from my kitchen and sheepish justifications for eating garbage.

·    “I’m on vacation!”
·     “Oooh, I’ve never had banana crème brulee before!  Just this once…”
·     “How many glasses of champagne have I had?  That can’t be right…”

And the worst one, and don’t tell me you haven’t done this:

·    “I feel bad about my body.  I hate myself in this swimsuit/shorts/sun dress.  And now I want a brownie.  Brownies make me sick, but gosh they taste good even if I will be a bloated, gassy mess tomorrow.  But since I won’t be thinner tomorrow – no matter how many carbs I don’t eat – I say ‘screw it’ and eat the brownie.  Two brownies, please.”

Keeping a food journal at home is easy – at least compared to being away from home.  It’s not so easy when you are on a needed-break from regular life.  But I’m bringing the journal with me, and I’m going to report back here on Monday, January 30th, what I ate. 

Even the off-course things. 

Even the dreaded brownie-moments.

How are you staying accountable to yourself, especially if you just need to maintain an already healthy weight and lifestyle? 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Mock Salade Nicoise

The easiest thing to eat when on a low-carb regimen is a green salad.  One day for you who live north of Texas it will be Spring again.  Until then, you can still make a salad that isn't full of dreaded cucumber and ranch dressing.

Salads can be composed, they can be full of crisp things from the garden, or you can make something like mine which is an amalgem of leftover roasted vegetables and a can of tuna.

I read an interview a couple of weeks ago wherein the journalist wrote that his interviewee was serving him a salade nicoise for lunch.  I thought that sounded heavenly and expensive.  I remembered that article while I was starting at the contents of my refrigerator today trying to determine what to have for lunch. 

The Ingredients:

At one net carb per ounce, feta cheese packs so much flavor and adds a briny kick.  All these ingredients were purchased at Costco.

Leftover roasted red potatoes, fennel, and asparagus instead of traditional haricots verts.

The result:

I added a pinch of sea salt flakes, a nice olive oil, and lemon juice for a quickie vinaigrette.

The bubbly:

A workable substitute for those who'd like a glass of champagne on their lunchtime trip to Marseilles.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Q&A

What off-limits food or foods is your greatest challenge in following a low-carb lifestyle?

It’s hard to nail it down to just one.  There are many temptations out there that sometimes (I allow to) sneak in:
  • Popcorn (but just at the movies); it's surprisingly lower in net carbohydrates than I thought, but it's still a grain.
  • Alcohol - also low in carbohydrates, but it is a mammoth stall-inducer in weight loss.
  • Any confection from Fran's, a chocolatier in Seattle.  I can inhale sea salt caramels like no one else I know.
The most sinister of all temptations for me is French fries, but only if they are a certain variety.  I like the thin, shoestring variety, and there are two restaurants in Austin who make them to perfection: Cover 3, who also covers them in herbs and parmesan cheese, and P. Terry’s – a natural fast-food chain with the best skin-on, greasy and salty French fries on the planet.  And I’ve had lots of fries…
I encounter fries on a weekly basis when my husband and I have a burger each Friday at lunch before setting off for an afternoon of counseling projects.  He shoves fries into his mouth with wild abandon which causes severe cognitive and marital strife inside my head because he’s thin and has excellent blood work stats.  For the last couple of weeks I’ve intentionally brought my food journal with me to the restaurant so I can be reminded why I’m restraining myself, that it’s not just for esthetic torture.

The best thing I’m eating on a low-carb regimen that I didn’t eat before was pan-fried pancetta and slices of salami with cucumber – all without nitrates, of course.  I have to be careful that I don’t indulge in these high-fat treats without regulation. 


What tempts me varies from day to day, week to week. Lately, I have been missing comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, French onion soup with a big slice of French bread, and chicken pot pie. Instead of indulging in those foods, I am waiting it out. I know the cravings will pass and for me, none of those foods are worth the side effects of bloat, water retention, and sluggishness. 

The foods/beverages I always miss and will, on occasion, treat myself to because they are sometimes worth it, are:

  • French croissants - the smallish, flaky, buttery kind they make in Paris. Not the gigantic, doughy, flavorless croissants I usually find here. Not tempted by those one bit. 
  • Champagne
  • English muffins and crumpets for breakfast
  • Pizza - crispy, thin crust, like the pizzas I ate in Italy

To help satisfy my cravings for pizza until my next trip to Italy, I am going to make a low-carb pizza with a cauliflower crust this weekend. I discovered this recipe on Rebekah's other blog, Cupcake Caramel, and have been wanting to make it for months. 

English muffins, crumpets, and croissants are reserved for very special occasions. When I do indulge in one, it must be the very best I can locate. 

The only decent croissants in Sonoma County can be found
at Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg 
and Chloe's

Like Rebekah said, most alcohol is low-carb, but your body burns alcohol off first before burning carbs and fat, thereby interrupting and stalling your weight loss. Having said that, I do enjoy a glass of champagne or wine a couple times per week. It's my treat of choice. 

What are your greatest food challenges when it comes to low-carb living?

Rebekah and Adrienne  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What I Ate Today

Today’s post is a detail of what I’m eating.  My net carb count will end up being 20.1 net carbs.  Yay! 

I hope this post illustrates to some of you who are struggling; low-carb is neither boring nor is it misalligned with gastronomic pleasure and fussy sensibilities.

Egg muffins with chorizo, spinach and mushrooms.

The spaghetti squash lasagna - even the husband likes it!

Magazine picture of dinner: veal medalions with almond cream sauce.  I'm making mine with chicken, but you could use turkey or pork, too.

My total net carb count does not include the figs.  If you don't have figs, dried apricots would be just as delicious (but high in carbs).  I just leave them out to keep the carbs down.

Yum, asparagus - I'm sure some sauce will end up drizzled over these beauties.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Prepare for Temptation

Let's face it: we all have moments of weakness when trying adhere to a new way of eating. Thankfully, weak moments don't happen to me very often anymore. I've been at this low-carb thing on and off for nearly ten years.

But I still have them. In fact, I had one just yesterday. That little voice in my head managed to convince me that I deserved to stray from my plan and I set about locating a treat in my kitchen.

It wasn't so long ago that I brought stuff like this into our home

But I was ready for this weak moment. You see, I have learned over the years that I must prepare for temptation. If you are following a low-carb plan, you may want to prepare yourself, too. Here's how:

1) This one is number 1 for a reason. Make your home as temptation-proof as possible. Don't bring items that tempt you into your home. If you have residual foods leftover from your carby, sugary days, donate them, give them away or toss them.

If you live with someone who likes to have sugary and high-carbohydrate foods in the house, ask him or her if you can move them all to one section of the kitchen, preferably out of your sight (like to the garage). Make a special place in your refrigerator and your pantry for "your" foods and make that special place visible and easy to access.

2) Eat before you leave the house for a social event. Whether you're attending a cocktail or dinner party, going out with friends to clubs or bars or even out to dinner when the location is unfamiliar to you, eat a little something sensible. You'll be less likely to eat those french fries your girlfriend ordered at the pub or pick at the bread basket at the Italian restaurant your in-laws chose for their wedding anniversary celebration if you've got half a roasted chicken breast and some fresh vegetables on board. 

3) Prepare ahead of time. Take 30 minutes every couple of days to wash and slice vegetables, making them easier to grab than those Cheez-Its your kids love to eat. Keep your home well-stocked with your favorite low-carb snacks like olives, nitrate-free deli meats, nuts, and cheeses. And always have a small stash of sugarless candy on hand for emergencies but please don't get into the habit of eating candy everyday.  

4) Know where to find low-carb meals when you're on the go. Last month, I wrote a post about staying the course when out and about in our high-carb world. You can read it here.  

5) Distract yourself. In a moment of weakness, try doing any or all of the following: 

~ Journal about it. What's bothering you? Are you bored? Upset? Happy? Stop and ask yourself. 
~ Go for a walk. 
~ Call a friend.
~ Make a pot of tea.
~ Wait it out. Chances are you won't be tempted and will have gone onto something else by the time ten minutes have passed. 

Weak moments will happen to you. We are only human after all. But taking the time to prepare for temptation will make them happen with less frequency and with less damage. For instance, my weak moment yesterday consisted of a container of frozen raspberries*, one too many string cheeses and a sugar-free cherry Jell-O with whipped cream. Not too bad! 


*Raspberries are okay on the Atkins diet once you have lost the bulk of your weight. I am not there yet, so I avoid fruit. My hope is that by summertime, fruits such as berries and melons will be part of my regimen. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Recipes Review

Often when I am cooking low-carb meals, I rely on assembling whole foods: roast chicken, a salad, green beans, grilled fish, etc.  About once a week I crave a big yummy casserole, particularly in the winter.

My apologies for not having any pictures – my iPhone doesn’t do justice to anything.  But I will give you the links of recipes and their source, as well as my honest opinion.

The first is right here at home: Adrienne’s Chicken, Broccoli and Curry casserole.  This is a classic casserole with a mayonnaise base and is very, very easy to put together.  I cut Adrienne’s recipe in half to fill a 6x9 casserole dish, also knowing that my husband would turn his nose up at it.  Planning to eat it all week for lunch, I didn’t make it past Day 4 because I kept picking at it!  I also added a pinch of sea salt flakes to the top after it baked because it didn’t have quite enough seasoning for me.  I also used the full amount of curry powder recommended (I like it spicy).  And if you want to be even more authentic, try making this casserole with cauliflower instead of broccoli.  Recommendation: absolutely!  Net carbs: 10-15 per serving, depending on the vegetable used.  Remember, full-fat mayonnaise has carbs.

The next recipe I tested was one featured on lowcarbhighstyle’s blog: Curry Meatballs in Creamy Tomato-Coconut Sauce, adapted from a recipe on Mark’s Daily Apple.  Another, good, savory recipe with heft that I served with steamed spaghetti squash instead of the recommended cauliflower rice (steam cauliflower, rice it or pulse it in a food processor, voila: a facsimile of rice).  I needed to add a bit more salt to the meatballs, which I think would also taste fantastic made out of ground turkey or chicken thighs in addition to the ground beef in the recipe.  I recommend making the meatballs ahead of time, baking them in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees, and freezing them.  You could then serve them with the sauce in the recipe, another sauce, or plop into soup to make a mock version of Italian Wedding soup.  Recommendation: yes, high yum factor.  Net carbs: 8-10 per serving, NOT including cauliflower or squash.

My final recipe which I had for lunch today is a lasagna made with spaghetti squash I found at this website:  All of the traditional flavors are present, but if you’re looking for the chewy pasta noodles, this does not deliver.  My favorite part of any lasagna is the gooey, partially-burnt, crusty corner piece that’s nearly stuck on the pan (fond memories of eating cold lasagna for breakfast on a Saturday morning in high school, and making sure I was up by 6 AM to beat my brother to the corner piece, are flowing through my head right now).  I went rogue from the recipe specifics in that I added two tablespoons of leftover homemade pesto to the ricotta mixture, and I added plenty of herbs and garlic to the ground meat as it was cooking.  Next time, I will steam the spaghetti squash and sauté it a bit in a mostly dry pan to rid it of moisture.  Recommendation: yes, with caution.  Make this for yourself before you serve it to company, a finicky eater, or bring it to a potluck.  Net carbs: recipe states 5, but you’re probably going to eat a bigger helping unless you serve this with a salad.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Q&A

We're starting a new feature at Sugarless, Flourless and Fabulous: Friday Q&A.  If you have any questions to which you would like us to respond, feel free to email them to us!

Today's question(s):
  • How long have you been sugarless and flourless?
  • Do you plan to maintain this for life?

I have been sugarless and flourless, a bit inconsistently, since June 2011.  I had researched Atkins for three months before finally giving it a go.  I would eat low-carb for a day, and then we'd go out for TexMex food and I would cram the basket of chips and salsa in my mouth and, like Scarlet, think about being low-carb tomorrow.  It wasn't until I decided I was done with this nonsense and planned to do Atkins for thirty straight days of Induction that I saw any results.  As I posted Wednesday, I was seduced by the enticing carbohydrates of Italy and Spain this last Fall and I fell completely off the wagon.

I'm back on the wagon, and feel amazing!

As for life maintenance, I absolutely will continue low-carb eating.  I pull from two different low-carb philosophies: Atkins and Paleo/Primal.  I'm doing Atkins as a tool for counting my net carbs so I can continue to lose the unwanted and unnecessary body fat.  What I don't like about Atkins is the employment of "fake" foods with soy flour and sugar substitutes (note: the original Atkins does not incorporate Atkins brand shakes and bars, so be warned).  This is where my research into Paleo/Primal eating comes in: no grains at all, highly limited use of dairy - and only if it is full-fatt, no fake sugars at all, rice on very special occassions, and focused exercise routines.  Also, Paleo/Primal practically mandates, so much as it is available and you don't pay $5 for a cucumber, that your food should be organic and wild (grass fed) if it is meat.

I'm seeing better results in the gym by lifting very heavy weights for short durations compared to when I lifted light weights for many repetitions to "tone".  You don't want to tone; you want to build muscles so you can improve your bone density, keep those tendons supple, look amazing in your underwear, and eat more bacon.

I have been eating sugarless and flourless (a.k.a low-carb) on and off since 2003. I vividly remember the night I watched Larry King interview Dr. Atkins. I had tried eating low-carb several months earlier and could not even make it through a single day without sugar. When I saw the riveting interview with Atkins, I became convinced that his plan was the answer to my weight problem. I was so intrigued by what he proclaimed his diet could do, I had to try it myself.

The very next day, I began the Atkins Diet in earnest and stayed on it for a few years. I experienced not only a 25 pound weight loss - from 185 pounds to 160 pounds (a size 6 to 8 for my 6'2" stature) - but I slept great, had much more energy, clear skin, less painful menstrual cycles, no bloating and no PMS. I was friendlier, my mind was sharper, and no longer experienced the afternoon crashes I did before when sugar was ever-present in my life.

One summer, my husband and I took a 31-day RV trip, visiting several western states. Little by little, the carbohydrates and the sugar crept back into my life. I was on vacation after all! It was time to enjoy and let go and that's exactly what I did. By the end of the trip, I could only wear pants that had elastic waists and drawstrings. I was officially off the plan and I didn't care.

Eventually, I gained back all the weight and then some. I stopped weighing myself at 194 and am confident I crossed the 200-pound threshold, an all time high. I don't believe in going backwards in any area of my life. So I tried new ways of eating:  vegetarian, small portions, Weight Watchers. None of it worked. I had all but resigned myself to middle-aged spread and a size 14.

Then, through the wonders of blogging, I met Rebekah, my co-writer of Sugarless, Flourless and Fabulous and Amy, who writes for lowcarbhighstyle. Reading about their successes on their blogs and recalling my previous results convinced me to commit to a life without sugar and flour.

I restarted my low-carb lifestyle last fall. I have gradually - not rapidly - gone from 184 pounds earlier this year to my current weight of 172. I would like to lose seven to ten more this year.
I do plan on living a low-carb lifestyle indefinitely.

Will I ever eat sugary treats and pastas and breads again? Of course! When it's a special occasion or when I am traveling to a place where the carbs and sugar are worth it (not eat a croissant or Nutella and banana crepe in Paris? Ignore pizzas and scoops of gelato in Italy? I think not). But for the majority of the time, low-carb is how I'll be living. I am committed to feeling and looking my very best. And for me, this plan is the way for me to achieve that.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Low-carb Breakfast Ideas

Before committing to a low-carb way of eating, breakfast was my highest sugar and highest carbohydrate meal of the day. From grits to English muffins to waffles to sugary yogurt to croissants...breakfast was always a carbohydrate and sugar feast. Not such a great way to begin each day.

Because I leaned so heavily on carbohydrates and sugar for my first meal of the day, I found low-carb breakfasts a real challenge. To make matters worse, I don't care for eggs, a staple for low-carb breakfasts. The only way I can consume eggs is if they're loaded up with lots of things I do care for like sausage, cheese, vegetables, condiments and seasonings.

Here are my two standard egg breakfasts. The first one is a weekend sort of meal as it takes a little time to prepare and the other is a make-ahead dish, great for busy mornings.

Low-carb Breakfast Tostadas

Makes 2 servings

2 La Tortilla Factory original size low-carb tortillas  (4 net carbs each)
4 large organic free-range eggs
2 - 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 avocado, sliced
Salsa - as much as you want (find one that has no more than 1 gram of sugar per serving)
Full-fat sour cream - as much as you want, within reason
Fresh chopped cilantro - as much as  you want

Scramble the eggs like you usually do using heavy cream and a little water. When they are finished, heat your tortillas either directly on your gas burner (don't walk away and forget about them and start a fire) or heat them up in a skillet. I like to get them a little charred for more flavor.

Load your eggs onto the heated tortillas, then pile on the cheese, salsa, cilantro and avocado. This is by far my favorite way to eat eggs.

Basic Egg and Cheese Casserole 

For a make-ahead egg dish, I like this casserole I got out of a recipe book I bought at our favorite Lake Tahoe bed and breakfast. I wrote a detailed blog post about it last year. 

For my latest casserole, I used 6 scallions, sliced, a package of Jimmy Dean sausage, cooked and crumbled, and sharp cheddar cheese. 

On most mornings, I will pack up a few small squares of this and give it to my husband to eat at work as, like me, he has no appetite until later in the morning. 

This casserole makes about 6 to 8 servings. 

On mornings that I can't *do* the egg thing, I enjoy a plain yogurt with 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, a little stevia and a squeeze of lemon or tiny drop of vanilla extract. 

At 5 carbohydrates per container, Siggi's is the lowest carbohydrate, lowest sugar, highest protein plain yogurt that I've found. It's called 'skyr' and it's similar to greek yogurt in taste and texture.  Siggi's skyr is from Iceland and is described on the Siggi's website as: 

"...the traditional yogurt of Iceland. It is made by incubating skim milk with live active cultures. The whey, the water naturally found in milk, is then strained away to make for a much thicker, creamier, concentrated yogurt. So to make just one cup of skyr, with all that water going out, you need 3-4 times the amount of milk required to make a regular cup of yogurt. As a result of this process skyr comes out with 2-3 times the protein count of standard yogurt."

I get my Siggi's at Whole Foods. 

These are my favorite sugarless and flourless breakfasts. 

What are yours? 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Recasting Update

I had such success with Atkins last summer in fat loss terms, and even better success with my digestive issues and fussy skin when eating a more Paleo-themed diet and exercise regimen. 

Going to Europe this past autumn to celebrate my 40th birthday, I ended up messing it up big time.  While I didn’t gain the fat back, I did gain some digestive issues because (to use phraseology honed in Junior High) there’s, like, yummy croissants and gelato and pizza over there.

While I was able to make many corrections once home, there was this holiday called Thanksgiving and football games.  I didn’t eat bread, but I did have some gluten-free stuffing from a box, and my intestines howled.  HOWLED.  Just because you are following a gluten-free regimen doesn’t mean you can snarf down gluten-free treats.  The thought of that dish makes me curl up inside in the most pejorative of connotations.

Christmas.  I did have a bread-free Christmas and New Year’s, but darn it if I didn’t thrust a champagne bottle (well, bottles…) in my hand and shout “Carpe diem!” off my balcony.  I forgot about the next day’s seizures.

Through all of this, I didn’t gain a single inch.  I gained pounds, which is the result of water my body was retaining in order to process all the garbage I was feeding it.  And why do I call it garbage?  I had treats made from grain-free ingredients (almond flour, coconut flour, etc.) and alcohol and copious amounts of chocolate.  But, too much of a good thing does not yield exponential experiences of food nirvana.  It’s just more.

So I am here with you, starting the 2012 off right with a focus on eating properly to nourish my body, take off those pounds of flesh that didn’t come off last year, and meeting my health goals one item at a time.  In the past week, two pounds have vanished, and I’m ready to do the work again (in this case, refraining from too much of a good thing!) to add to the deficit.

What changes are you making for 2012?  Are you starting a low-carb eating regimen for the first time, coming back to it after an absence, or are you maintaining a low-carb regimen and enjoying the benefits?


2012 Healthy Living Plan

For decades, I made a lengthy list of resolutions every January. Most of the "to-dos" and "not-to-dos" revolved around losing weight, getting healthier, and toning up. Most of those "to-dos" and "not-to-dos" were abandoned by March and I was left feeling like a failure.

Last year, I made not a single resolution - just skipped it entirely. This year, wanting to make changes but not make "resolutions" (I don't like that word much), I am creating a plan: A 2012 healthy living plan.

Over the years, I've discovered the only way for me to become slim, trim and fit is to have a strategy, a plan, with boundaries and structure. When I attempt to make healthy changes willy-nilly, I have no focus and eventually gain weight and become lazy and inactive.

In honor of our new year and so that I don't make a too-long and watered down list, I thought of 12 ways to improve upon my health this year.


2012 Healthy Living Plan 

1) Be prepared. For dinners, meal plan weekly and shop for the items needed on the weekend. For lunches and snacks, spend an extra hour or so washing and cutting vegetables, making chicken, tuna and/or egg salads, dividing snacks like nuts and olives into small containers to make them convenient to take along for lunches.

2) Drink more water, fewer faux sugar drinks and less or no alcohol.

3) Add a variety of proteins and vegetables to my diet. I often find myself getting stuck on having beef or chicken multiple times per week and relying heavily on broccoli and cauliflower as my vegetables. Variety is the spice of life, you know.

4) Move more. Walk, tone and stretch at least three days per week for a minimum of 120 minutes total. I don't believe in hard-core workouts. Exercise doesn't have to be painful and torturous. A simple 30+ minute brisk walk with some hills followed by 30 - 40 girl push-ups and 100 abdominal crunches is a good enough workout for me.

5) Buy organic whenever doing so is possible and the cost reasonable. Several years ago, I paid $5.00 for an organic cucumber and it wasn't even one of those English types. I'm still mad.

6) Sleep. Get more of it and better quality. Exercise helps me sleep better as does having a cup of relaxing tea before bed.

7) Limit nitrates. Find nitrate-free options for favorite foods like bacon and deli meats.

8) Find new recipes to add to my repertoire by combing low-carb websites and cookbooks.

9) Limit faux sugars of all kinds. Try using a stevia-based sweetener whenever possible.

10) Keep carbohydrates to no more than 40 net per day.

11) Start a food journal. I kept one for years but eventually got away from it. Rebekah convinced me in this post to start a new one.

12) Appreciate my body. Respect, honor and care for it because it's the only one I am ever going to have and I need it to last another fifty years.

What is on your plan for 2012? 


Monday, January 2, 2012

Hot Coffee - crutch or lifesaver?

I drink hot tea every day, and my choices vary depending on my mood or the time of day.  In the morning I’ll have decaffeinated green tea flavored with fruit essence (mango and pomegranate being my favorites), at night I’ll drink chamomile several times a week, and in between I’m partial to Earl Grey or Harney & Son’s Paris blend.  Tea is fantastic for the new low-carber for a couple of reasons.  For one, there are no carbs in tea!  And two, it fills your stomach in between meals – critical when you’re starting a regimen and ridding your body of carb cravings or whatever else you’re giving up.
However, when I drink coffee, I can almost skip a meal – and I never skip meals.  Give me a grande decaf drip with room for heavy cream, and I can skip breakfast.  I have to believe that there is a fundamental difference between hot coffee and hot tea, so I decided to investigate.

I found evidence to the contrary of what I just stated above. 

Atkins and other lifestyle eating programs strongly advocate that caffeine should either be completed removed from your diet or at least severely limited.  Caffeine can interrupt with your sleep levels, but it can also trigger sugar cravings.  Drinking caffeinated coffee on an empty stomach can be damaging to your stomach lining, and if you include coffee as one of the liquids you are tracking to consume, you will probably end up being dehydrated.  There exist a host of health concerns, some of which you can read here and here at Mark’s Daily Apple.

So now I’m really confused.  I drink 100 ounces of water a day – give or take 8 ounces.  I drink decaffeinated coffee and primarily decaffeinated teas.  I put 1-2 ounces of heavy cream in my coffee and never use a sugar-substitute (it’s all about the cream for me).   And I also need to consumer quite a bit of food to fill this nearly 6-foot tall frame.  But I’m still not hungry after drinking a big mug of coffee with cream.

I don’t think it’s wise to use hot beverages as a regular trick to fool your stomach and mind into thinking you’ve had a meal.  After all, your body does need proper food to keep it functioning.  But I do occasionally find myself in situations where if I can’t participate in whatever food orgy is occurring around me, I can indulge in a generous cup of creamy coffee.  And then I don’t feel so left out, or worse – diving in to something I shouldn’t.

While my research resulted in a big goose egg, I will continue to use decaffeinated coffee with cream as an end-of-day treat or at luncheons when the dessert course is being served.

How about you – do you have any tricks for staying the course? Does coffee inhibit your ability to deal with cravings?