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Quiche TLC

Quiche is easy to assemble, economical, delicious, and extremely versatile. It is “fair game” for any meal, at any time of day. It should be a part of every low-carber’s cooking repertoire!

Quiche is basically just a savory custard which is baked in the shape of a pie, with various added ingredients, usually (but not always) including cheese, cooked meat, and vegetables. This makes it an ideal dish in which to use up leftovers! In fact, I often make twice as much as I need for a meat-and-veggie meal, on purpose, knowing full well that the leftovers can be efficiently transformed the next night in a quiche which will seem like an entirely different meal. “Real Women” (and men) just don’t have time to reinvent the wheel every night; anytime that I can cook two meals at once, I consider myself blessed.

BASIC QUICHE

  • 2 cups cream – any style works – nutritional counts based on half-and-half
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 to 2 cups cooked chopped meat and/or vegetables
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cheese – typical “classic” quiches almost always specify swiss cheese, but you can use anything you like. I usually prefer to use 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (the real stuff please, grated freshly off a block and not simply poured out a green can) and 1 cup mixed, shredded other cheeses. Occasionally, I use some cream cheese or even feta, goat, cottage, bleu, or ricotta.

PREPARATION: Scatter the chopped filling ingredients and cheeses into a well-greased pan, no need for any crust, and pour the well-beaten egg and cream mixture over the top.

Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake another 30 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to set out at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving.

*Reduce the cream a little when using moist filling ingredients, such as canned or frozen vegetables.

I figure 8 servings per quiche – assuming (for example) you used 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar, 1 cup chopped cooked broccoli, and 1 cup (5 oz) chopped cooked chicken while following the above guide, each serving would then equal: 240 calories, 18 g fat (9 sat), 4 g carb, 16 g protein.

Here are some of my favorite variations on this theme; follow the same basic assembly and cooking instructions and customize to your heart’s content!

GARDEN QUICHE

  • 3/4 cup diced unpeeled zucchini (1 small)
  • 3/4 cup minced red bell pepper (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 Tb. grated white onion
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) shredded extra-sharp white cheddar
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups cream

8 servings: 211 calories, 17 g fat (9 sat), 5 g carbohydrate, 9 g protein, each.

FLORENTINE QUICHE

  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, drained thoroughly (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup chopped cooked ham or 1/3 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 2 Tb. minced onion, sautéed in 1 Tb. oil or butter (or cooked along with the bacon)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups cream

8 servings: 210 calories, 15 g fat (7 sat), 4 g carbohydrate (1 g fiber), 14 g protein, each.

MEDITERRANEAN QUICHE

  • 1/2 cup pitted, sliced olives
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Provolone cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 small Roma tomato, seeded, chopped and drained well
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, finely chopped and well-drained
  • 1 cup chopped cooked meat (optional but I like to use chicken breasts)
  • 1-1/2 cups cream
  • 4 eggs

8 servings: 228 calories, 15.5 g fat (8 sat), 5 g carbohydrate, 16 g protein, each

SEAFOOD QUICHE

  • 2 cans drained lump crabmeat or tiny shrimp
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tb. chopped fresh dill weed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 Tb. pimento 2 cups cream
  • 4 eggs

8 servings: 236 calories, 17 g fat (9 sat), 4 g carbohydrate, 16 g protein, each.

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3-Ingredient Tartar Cod

Tartar CodYou can use any kind of fish here, of course, and dress it up or down, make it sweet or savory depending on the relish used… next time I am cooking for adults,  I think I will try hot pepper relish instead of dill.

I served this with a butternut squash soup that was almost as easy to prepare, and the perfect fall side dish. I will share that easy yet decadent recipe next.

 

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Classic Cheese Crisps

This recipe comes from my first labor of love, COOKING TLC: Truly Low Carb Cooking, Volume 1, ISBN 0971492913, Copyright 2000.
Popular for years before I ever heard of them, these are hardly original, but I consider them a MUST in every low carber’s repertoire. There are lots of ways to prepare these, but a skillet works for me every time, something I can’t say for the microwave method.
  • 1/3 cup semi-hard to hard sliced or finely shredded cheese, such as Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, etc.  Don’t try to use very soft cheeses such as Feta, Mozzarella, Brie, etc.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Sprinkle cheese in a thin layer over the bottom of the entire pan. Okay, are you ready? Here’s the biggest secret: Leave it alone for several minutes! I mean it, don’t even TOUCH it until you see the following – unless the pan is too high and it is burning. First it will bubble up all over, then it will start to look almost lacey (with lots of holes in it); finally you will see clear grease start to run off. When it is lightly golden brown, start carefully teasing up the edges until you can eventually pick it up and turn it over. I just use a fork and take care not to scratch my pans.

The second side will cook very quickly in comparison to the first. When it is golden on the bottom side, remove it and drain any excess grease. Shape it into forms or cut into shapes before it cools too much. To form a bowl, simply lay over an overturned bowl and gently push the sides down to shape them. Don’t burn yourself!

Per each, made with Mild Cheddar: 120 calories, 10 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 1 gram carbohydrate, 7 grams protein

homer

Mmmmm …………. CHEESE CRISPS! (always said by me in the exact same dreamy, drooly tone Homer uses for donuts.)

Form You really can easily form a warm cheese crisp into almost any desired shape.
Fill Cheese crisps make terrific wraps, taco shells, salad bowls, chips for dipping, the list goes on and on!
Enjoy This one is chicken salad with fresh cut garden red lettuce and cherry tomatoes added.
Cheese Crisp BLT Oh, yeah – a CC BLT!  Mmmmmm. DO NOT feed one of these to your non-low-carbing friends or they’ll never leave you alone (to eat) again. Just let them go on thinking you’re a poor, deprived dieter… WE ALL KNOW BETTER! 🙂
TRY A CHEESE CRISP PIZZA! Just add pizza spice and toppings.

cheese-crisp-pizza1 cheese-crisp-pizza2

Try a shrimp taco on a cheese crisp! RECIPE HERE

shrimp tacos
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HIDDEN CARBS: Find ‘Em, Count ‘Em!

HIDDEN CARBS: Find ‘Em, Count ‘Em!

 If you don’t know about hidden carbs and want to make the most of your low-carb lifestyle, you really MUST learn how to find and avoid common hidden carbs in the foods you thought were “free” . (Not much in this life is *really* free – is it?) I compiled this list originally way back in the year 2000 and still find it useful.

Sometimes a label states 0 carbs per serving when there are actually quite a few carbs in a “real” size serving of the food! As a dedicated low carb eater, make it your business to KNOW whether a label is correct as written, or not. You won’t believe how often the answer is NOT.

For example:

Heavy Whipping Cream per the Manufacturer’s Label:

Serving = 1 Tablespoon

60 calories

6 grams of fat

0 grams of protein

0 gram of carbohydrate

Now, Fat is 9 calories per gram, protein is 4 calories per gram and carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram. Therefore your numbers would look like this:

6 x 9 = 54 calories

0 x 4 = 0 calories

0 x 4 = 0 calories

Total: 54 calories

As you can see, there are 6 calories unaccounted for. It’s unknown what they are from, but it’s a good chance those extra calories are from hidden carbs. Therefore the carb count could be up to 1.5 instead of 0. It can really add up when you eat 1 cup of this stuff in a recipe! Actual carb count for 1 cup heavy whipping cream at 38% butterfat is 6.6 carbs, or .41 per Tb. Because it is less than .5 carbs per serving, the manufacturers are allowed to round it down to 0 when it is obviously NOT 0.

So, for ANYTHING that says it has 0 carbs, check the calories and add up the fat and protein. If there are calories left over and there is sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose or any other ose (except for sucralose or cellulose gum) in the ingredients, it is in all likelihood a hidden carb. It is safest to assume that it is a carb, anyway, if you are resistant to loss and must be scrupulous about your every carb, as I must be.

 *** THE SUGAR ALCOHOL EXCEPTION – Sugar alcohols are not counted like other carbohydrates. The individual manufacturer’s are permitted under current FDA rulings to determine nutritional information for these sweeteners. Most do NOT have 4 calories per gram, some have only 2. Most low carb diet plans permit you to subtract these carbs from your daily count and manufacturers used to routinely omit them from the labels (that is changing now, thanks to the new label guidelines). A word of warning: In my experience, sugar alcohol carbs seem to cause people the most problems with stalls and gaining – I suggest you use these products with caution during active weight loss and omit them entirely during induction. They are a great occasional treat, and used in moderation, can make maintenance a real pleasure. But they play havoc with the formula above and they can play havoc with weight loss as well!

Some Common Hidden Carbs:

Eggs: 0.6 grams per egg

Spices: for example, onion and garlic powders = 2 carbs PER TEASPOON, according to Lifeform. Label states one serving = .5 tsp, for 0 carbs. According to the USDA, garlic powder has 2.036 carbs per tsp less .277 gms. fiber and onion powder has 1.694 carbs per tsp. less .12 gms. fiber. (Lifeform rounds things off, too, and so counts both of these at 2 carbs.)

Artificial sweeteners: Packets say zero, but they are actually 0.9 grams (almost 1 *each*). This applies to Splenda too, which has 24 carbs per cup of the granular. For a truly net-carb-free sweetener, try my secret weapon,Fiberfit.

Mayonnaise: go for the one that lists sugar as far down the list of ingredients as possible. Better yet, make your own – it’s surprisingly easy.

Flavorings/Extracts: your guess is as good as mine as far as these go since they report them all as zero, but many of them are mostly alcohol, so beware if you use a lot and are stalled.

Coffee: 0.8 grams per 6 ounce cup. Note that an average coffee mug HOLDS 9-12 oz. and I personally thrive with caffeine.

Crystal Light, SF Kool-Aid and SF Tang (dry mixes): 5 calories per 8 ounces equals 1.25 grams of carbohydrates (the label says zero!). 2 quarts = 10 grams! *Pre-mixed Crystal Light is made with acefulsame-K and sucralose, and as far as I know, there are no hidden carbs in it. However, the citric acid may be of concern for other reasons (see above).

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Shrimp Tacos

shrimp tacos

shrimp tacos

Truly Low-Carb Shrimp Tacos

Serving shrimp taco filling in a cheese crisp means I can make it gluten-free and induction friendly, but if you prefer fewer calories and can tolerate more carbs, or grains, you could always use some sort of wrap or a real taco shell instead. This was dinner on Monday – it took just 30 minutes to prepare and cook, and it was DELICIOUS. Not just because hubby and I went to the grocery store together on our motorcycles to buy the shrimp, either… but that very well may have improved my mood and creativity and thus the final results.

Serves 2 decadently. No more than 30 minutes prep/cook time, total

  • 1 fresh lime – juice and zest – about 2- 3 Tb. juice, and scant 1 Tb. zest
  • 3 Tb. sour cream
  • equivalent of 1/2 tsp. sugar (I used 3 drops fiberfit)
  •  salt and black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped (mostly just well-bruised) fresh cilantro leaf
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 pound pre-cooked shrimp
  • 1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese, divided

In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice and zest with the sour cream, sweetener, and 1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/4 – 1 teaspoon black pepper, depending on your taste.

Add the cabbage, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño, and toss to combine. Chop the shrimp roughly and toss in a hot skillet just until warm. Add to the slaw mixture and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Prepare two individual cheese crisps, form into taco shapes, and divide the shrimp mixture between the two crisps, or simply roll them into soft taco shapes for less mess while eating.

PER SERVING – 7.2 net carbs with 573 calories: 38g total fat (23.6g saturated, 10.6g monosaturated); 9.6g carbohydrates (2.4g fiber; 3.1g sugar); 48.8g protein

In case you’d like to prepare this with a different sort of wrap: FILLING ONLY, per serving: 5.8g net carbs with 173 calories: 5.1g fat; 7.7g carbohydrates (1.9g fiber; 2.4g sugar); 24.2g protein

 

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Mockaroni and Cheese

Mockaroni and Cheese

MOCKARONI AND CHEESE

This is a great low-carb, gluten-free substitute for an old favorite and it has become a frequent side dish at my house. If you only knew how many people have said to me “If you had told me there was tofu in it, I would not have even tasted it – but I LOVE IT!” Many people who don’t like tofu OR cauliflower like both in this dish – so do at least give it a try, as written.

From Truly Low Carb Cooking Volume I

Mockaroni and Cheese

  • 16 ounces firm tofu
  • 1 head of cauliflower, about 3 cups
  • 4 cups of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1/2 cup crushed pork rinds (You may substitute bacon bits or turkey bacon bits. or just omit this.)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Grease one large or two small casserole dishes, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).

Press and drain any excess water from the tofu in a paper-towel lined colander. Chop drained tofu and scatter in the casserole dish. Top with cooked bite size pieces of cauliflower, and grated cheese.

Beat eggs and cream with seasonings and pour over contents of casserole dish.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and crushed pork rind crumbs over the top.

Bake 45-60 minutes, until top is well browned. If necessary or desired, place under broiler briefly to crisp top.

12 servings, each: 358 calories, 28 grams fat (15 grams saturated), 5 grams carbohydrate (1 gram fiber), 22 grams protein

Copyright 2000, Truly Low Carb Inc. –  All Rights Reserved

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Boneless Buffalo Bites

Boneless Buffalo Bites

Boneless Buffalo Bites

Boneless Buffalo Bites

Delicious, fast, and low-carb, my Buffalo Bites can be made with chicken, pork, beef, tofu, even fish! They are a family favorite, and induction friendly.

 Makes 4 servings – each: 246 calories, 15 g fat (6 g sat), 0 g carb, 24 g protein

  •  2 tsp. oil
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken pieces
              • 1/2 cup Frank’s Redhot™ or similar wing sauce
              • 3 Tb. butter

Heat a nonstick pan with oil over medium-high heat.  Chop meat into bite-size pieces (you can use any meat you desire, even fish or tofu.) Cook and stir until almost done, and crispy. Add butter to pan, followed by hot sauce. Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir until sauce has reduce

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Festive Fajita Salad

Festive Fajita Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Optional onion and bell pepper strips (add jalapeno strips if you like HOT)
  • Steak or chicken strips
  • Hot Pepper sauce
  • Shredded cheddar, jack, or pepper jack cheese
  • TrulyLowCarb Picante Sauce (or  use half as much of a commercial salsa)
  • Sour Cream

Sauté onions and peppers with meat until veggies are tender-crisp and meat is cooked through/crisp.

Add several tablespoons (to taste) of hot pepper sauce to the pan. WARNING – Do not inhale or lean over the pan at this time! …. ooh-chi-mama, the fumes….. My favorite sauce is made with Scotch Bonnet peppers and 2-3 Tb. over 2 pounds of meat is plenty spicy for me.

Shake the pan gently, to burn the sauce onto the outside of the meat.

Melt cheese over the top and then slide the hot mixture right onto a bed of lettuce.

Top with vegetables and up to a a 1/2 cup of my Picante Sauce or 1/4 cup commercial salsa, a dollop of sour cream, and occasionally splurge with a sprinkling of toasted tortilla strips. YUM. Fast, easy, filling, and never boring. I eat this probably once a week.

Carbs and calories CAN vary wildly, depending on quantities and ingredients used – but: A very large meal-size salad (as in, enough to satisfy even my husband) made with 2 cups Romaine, 4 ounces chicken, 1 teaspoon pepper sauce, 1/4 of a small onion, 1/3 of an average bell pepper, 3 ounces cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Truly Low Carb Picante Sauce, and 2 tablespoons sour cream has: 9 net carbs – 628 calories, 39 grams fat (22 grams saturated), 13.4 grams carbohydrate (4.4 grams fiber), 58 grams protein.

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Picante Sauce a.k.a. Salsa – 3 carbs per half-cup

Vol 1 Picante Sauce

Vol 1 Picante SaucePicante Sauce

Another recipe loved by EVERYONE, not just dieters or low-carbers! Goes together in minutes and keeps in refrigerator for 4-7 days.

Recipe Notes: If not using thickener, I recommend straining off most of the juices (save them to use when seasoning ground beef for taco salads or wraps?) You may use all canned tomatoes (2 cans total) with excellent results, if fresh tomatoes are not in season or available, or take this shortcut: use 2 cans Mexican-style canned tomatoes (I prefer Rotel™) and skip or adjust the lime juice and green chilies.

12 servings, each about 1/2 cup: 33 cal, 2 g fat (0 g sat.), 4 g carb (1 g fiber)

GET THE RECIPE

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Gluten-free Chips and Wraps on demand, in minutes?

Cheese Crisp BLT

Gluten-free Chips and Wraps on demand, in minutes?

You bet! Unless you have a problem with dairy, my best workaround for that particular situation is that old stand-by you just may have forgotten about – a  personal favorite of mine from Cooking TLC Volume 1 and never far from my own mind …………. CHEESE CRISPS! (always said by me in the same dreamy, drooly tone Homer uses for donuts.)

You can easily form a warm cheese crisp into almost any desired shape.
Cheese crisps make terrific wraps, taco shells, salad bowls, chips for dipping, the list goes on and on!
This one is chicken salad with fresh cut lettuce and cherry tomatoes added.
Oh, yeahCCBLT!  Mmmmmm. DO NOT feed one of these to your non-low-carbing friends or they’ll never leave you alone (to eat) again. Just let them go on thinking you’re a poor, deprived dieter. WE KNOW BETTER! 🙂

CLASSIC CHEESE CRISP RECIPE

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Stalled?

WHEN WEIGHT LOSS SLOWS OR STOPS

Don’t just ride the same old wave if you are not losing weight. BUT… don’t cut yourself short, either. To determine if you actually are losing, compare your average weekly weights: Add up your weights for seven days, and then divide that number by seven. That is your average weight for that week. Compare that number to your average weight for the previous week. If you are a woman and like most women, don’t even bother with your weight during the ten days surrounding your menstrual cycle!

Now, if you aren’t losing and aren’t gaining, You absolutely MUST keep in mind that you could be building muscle tissue at the same rate you are losing fat…. Many of us are so protein deficient when we start eating LC, our bodies seize all the suddenly available protein and use it to build new muscle at a ferocious rate. That’s a good thing, because muscle burns calories by virtue of its very existence, insuring future losses, PLUS, muscle may weigh more than fat, but it takes up a whole lot less space and looks a lot better “on”! I’ve lost many inches when the scale wasn’t moving at all. I weigh MUCH more at my current size than I did at the same size when eating low fat, and that’s okay too, because I am so much stronger and look so much better at the same weight.

Look at what you are doing. Anything that might be a problem, you can weed out for a full week or better yet, two weeks, and decide if it could be stalling you. Try lowering your carbs, raising your carbs, upping your fat, upping your fiber, cutting out bars, cutting out artificial sweeteners, cutting out caffeine, dairy, whatever. But don’t try it for just a day. Try each thing for a full week. If you’re a woman in your “childbearing years” your cycle will dictate when you can trust the scale enough to even conduct these experiments (what a bitch that is, huh? Only two and half weeks out of each month when you can feel fairly certain that any sudden change might not just be “bloat”.) Make sure you are taking your measurements and checking your body fat calculations. If you are exercising, or even if you’re not (you should be!) remember that you could be building muscle tissue at the same rate you are losing fat. If you don’t know how to figure your body fat calculations, try one of these sites, as tracking this will help you to determine if you really ARE building muscle tissue, or not:

Here’s one online calculator: You will need your weight and waist measurement: Calculator You should note that there are TONS of calculators out there and they all seem to come up with a different measurement. I myself figure my BF% using the formula in Protein Power, and I find that works pretty well for most people.

 CHECKLIST FOR STALLS

 RATIOS: Track your percentages of fat, carbs, and protein. If you’re not losing, go back to 20 carbs per day maximum for a couple weeks. And track it, don’t just “think” you are below 20, even if you are pretty sure. You will be shocked when you see how fast those carbs add up in a program like Lifeform, which adds up all the hidden ones. A salad & a serving of veggies often adds up to 20 carbs alone. And that is before cheese, cream, etc. Make sure your fat percentage is high. Make sure your protein is not too high. Up to 52% of protein ingested CAN be converted to glucose (and fat!), so you don’t want to eat more than you need. But you must eat sufficient quantities, to protect your muscle mass, which is what you need to burn fat. Protein Power includes a good formula to compute your protein needs. Mine happens to be 120 grams per day for my 140 pounds of lean mass. Based on my lean mass, I came up with a goal weight of 185 pounds, much higher than my wedding weight of 160. (And I ultimately got into my first size 14 when I still weighed 210 pounds! and so decided THAT was actually my goal weight.) Muscle weighs more — but looks much better! If you are within 20 pounds of your goal and can’t seem to lose, maybe you don’t need to lose any more…

 FRUIT: I ate fruit very rarely until I reached maintenance. Even though it was the one thing from “the old days” that could always make my mouth water. Definitely give it up if you are in a stall!

 ARTIFICAL SWEETENERS: I treat myself to a Diet Rite with sucralose about once a week at this point but some people cannot tolerate ANY artificial sweeteners at all, since just the taste of sweet can cause an insulin spike in very sensitive people. I do okay with sucralose, myself, and I like it the best by far, which is why I sell Fiberfit.

 STAY AWAY FROM ASPARTAME – the more I learn, the more I think it is VERY VERY BAD stuff. (Hey, I found the best new way to drink pop – with an Isi soda siphon and DaVinci syrups! And while you look at it, check out the Isi whip cream maker too.)

CITRIC ACID: Dr. Pepper is one of the few diet pops on the market that contains none. Citric acid is present in many, many foods. Be aware, because it is reported to stall some people – and in most American products where it is added, it is derived from corn, not oranges!

GUM: I almost never chew gum. It reportedly can cause an insulin spike just because of the sweet taste. When I do indulge, it is in a single piece of Dentyne’s “Ice” or “Eclipse” gum, which has only 1 carb per piece. Wrigley’s Extra is a good substitute with 2 carbs.

SUGAR? One time I ate ONE Sara Lee Cheesecake bite with only 4 carbs in it and I gained 2 pounds that day – and my total carbs – not net carbs but total carbs – counting that little treat were under 20 for that day. Another time I used 5 carbs worth of evaporated milk in my coffee because I was out of cream and that one cost me three pounds. If you are indulging in ANYTHING with the real stuff in it, and you are stalled, give it up.

NUTS: Nuts are a good snack, and I eat a lot of pecans, macadamias, almonds, walnuts, and sunflower and pumpkin kernels, but do try to take it easy on them, no more than 1/4 to 1/2 cup per day is a good rule of thumb, due to their high calories and/or sodium content. Stay away from peanuts and cashews entirely, which are not really even nuts, but legumes.

SKIPPING BREAKFAST?: It is an absolute necessity that I eat breakfast within one hour of rising or I WILL NOT lose weight that day. Period. Doesn’t matter what else I do or don’t do. Perhaps you are the same. *Exception — if I have a little something (like coffee with cream) then work out hard and don’t eat for an hour after the workout ends, I do just as well. I heard that this helps facilitate fat burning, and it seems to be true. But if I don’t eat a little something and go about a normal day without some major sweat involved early, I am sunk.

RESTRICTING CALORIES?: Fuggetaboutit! At least at the beginning. Count your carbs more strictly instead. Strive for HIGH high fat and LOW low carbs. The exception to this is in the case of someone who already has verified that their carbs are low and their fat high and who still isn’t losing weight OR inches – you could be overdoing it. Try limiting your calories for a few days and see what happens. The closer you are to goal weight, the more you may actually need to count those calories. And if you have been keeping them low for a while and it’s not working – you might not be eating enough! I myself go directly into starvation mode (read that STALL) if I lower calories consistently. Our bodies tend to adjust to the things we throw at it – be sure to keep yours on its toes by changing things up occasionally.

SALT?: Be aware the eating very salty foods may cause a temporary and sudden gain of several pounds. Try not to freak out about it, because it will likely pass just as suddenly.

ATTITUDE IS IMPORTANT: so pick a good one! Some of us just have to work harder, and sacrifice more, and still accomplish our loss at a much slower rate than many others. It’s not fair, but hey – real life seldom is. Fortunately, when I feel as good as I do on low carb, I find that an acceptable trade off. (Most days.) If you are as resistant to loss as I was, I hope you do, too.

HIDDEN CARBS? Be sure to not miss this very important post.

NOT TAKING SUPPLEMENTS? Some people need them more than others. Try it!

EXERCISE: Not doing any? I always thought it was a dirty word. I love to do sports but I hate to “just exercise”. If there’s a ball I want to catch, I will run. Getting me fired up about walking or running for its own sake is pretty tough, though. But it is necessary to succeed with your weight loss program. Yes, you can lose 50 or 100 or 200 pounds without exercising. But if you want to look GOOD when you are done losing, you had better make an effort to tone what you’ve got left! Your skin is much more likely to shrink back into shape when you lose weight in combination with exercise. So just DO IT. I mean, let’s be brutally honest here – those of us with lots of weight to lose most likely have addictive personalities anyway. Why not put that trait to work FOR us, this time. Exercise is as addicting as anything else, and much more rewarding! I myself walked my ass off – literally. This diet would NOT have worked for me without exercise, that is painfully obvious. Some people do fine with none. And some people, like myself, do not! Luckily, I have come to enjoy my walking so much that it is no longer just “exercise” but has become “me time”. It is something I get to do, all by myself, three times a week, and I don’t feel guilty for doing it (taking the time for myself). I feel better after doing it (because a happy Mommy is much a better Mommy … and wife!) After the first couple months, I added wrist weights, and some light lifting for my triceps, biceps, and pecs (darn gravity anyway!) and I even did a few crunches yesterday after the 3 miles w/ weights and the lifting. *grimacing*

07-04-00 2 weeks after that – today I did 150 crunches! And I now workout on my metal monster Nordic track instead of walking, which wears me totally out. I couldn’t even use this thing, before walking myself into some kind of shape over the last few months.

07-20-00 It is two weeks later than that and today I did 20 minutes on the NordicTrack followed by 150 crunches (half of them in the advanced position!) followed by 150 arm lifts with dumbbells, followed by a 2 mile powerwalk with wrist weights. Whew!

11-11-00 I now do FOUR HUNDRED crunches at a time and a full weight lifting routine. *And thank God! because I BROKE my BACK on January 5, 2002 and can only imagine how much rougher the whole thing would have been if I hadn’t been in shape when it happened. I am happy to report that I was able to maintain MY FULL LOSS even after such a severe injury, which left me bedridden for six full months (not to mention permanently impaired… but everything does work again, even if it hurts, and I am grateful.)

February 2001: Sold the metal monster and now I power-walk on a new treadmill and do ab crunches. I still enjoy my workouts but I more often settle for 250 crunches and 40 minutes on the treadmill with light hand weights… I am more likely to do this workout regularly when I don’t overdo, and I think consistency is key.

Find SOME kind of exercise that YOU enjoy – then do it. And keep doing it!

[signoff]

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Advance Food Prep Is Crucial

Advance food preparation is the one thing that can practically ensure low-carb success.

Regular, advance food preparation is the single most important thing low-carbers must do in order to succeed. It’s really not difficult, even if you don’t know how to cook, except for being time consuming. A lot like exercise, as far as that goes, but I assure you that both activities are worth your effort! I can’t stress this enough — this can’t be just another “diet”. If you want to feel good, have more energy, better health, and/or lose weight (and most importantly, keep the weight off), then you will need to make lifelong, not just temporary, changes.

Fortunately, hunger is one thing you will NOT need to grow accustomed to when living a low-carb lifestyle. It is imperative that you make good choices at all times, however, and you will only do so when you have plenty of wholesome low-carb food available. Most people will need to dedicate one day per week to food preparation. If you work five days per week, spending an entire day in the kitchen can seem like a burden, but it’s worth it because it can make the rest of your week go so much better. After a while it will become second nature to you to plan ahead and you’ll find you can spread the tasks out over the week, but while you are trying to establish good low-carb eating habits, I recommend a regular, once-weekly shopping and prep session.

First, shop.

Decide what you like to eat best from among your allowable food list, and then shop accordingly. Go to your favorite grocery store or member’s warehouse, and stock up.

  • I suggest choosing some green leafy veggies first from the produce section (romaine or leaf lettuce, endive, radicchio, escarole, spinach, kale, etc.) Next, select what you like from the following: asparagus, avocadoes, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe melon, celery, eggplant, daikon radish, hot and/or bell peppers, mushrooms, radishes, tomatoes, green beans, green onions, regular onions, and chayote, spaghetti, zucchini, or yellow crookneck squash. Avoid all root vegetables and fruits not previously mentioned, as well as any mentioned that might not fit into your particular eating plan.
  • Next, visit the meat section and select some meats you like to eat – perhaps some good cuts of beef, bacon and sausage, some chicken, some ground beef, some pork, and some fish. If you want some more “convenience” type meats, get some cans of tuna and chicken, some deli meats (ask them for nutritional info if it is not posted, since some deli meats are full of fillers and even sugars) or even hot dogs (Hebrew National™ and International Glatt™ brands don’t add any sugar and are both kosher, if that matters to you) or bratwurst. A favorite of mine for low-carb convenience is pre-cooked bacon. It is packaged in layers and you can grab a few pieces anytime to just heat in the microwave — though not as good as what you cook yourself, and not something you should overdo, because of all the nasty nitrates, when speed is imperative, pre-cooked bacon can’t be beat. Rotisserie chicken is usually acceptable, but it may be worth asking to see the ingredient list of any marinade they inject into the chicken before roasting it. Prepared buffalo wings are usually okay, too – just be sure to read every label, and don’t be afraid to interrogate the employees at the deli counter (or anywhere else) for nutritional information.
  • Get some good oils for cooking (grapeseed, macadamia, and olive are the healthy oils that I use for cooking) and for things like salad dressings. Walnut and sesame oil are both great for salads, but should never be heated.
  • Get some salad dressings with full fat but no added sugar (check all labels) or better yet, whip up some home-made dressings. Blue Cheese, Ranch, Caesar, and Italian are usually good choices, as are vinaigrettes. Other allowable condiments include real mayonnaise, seasoned vinegars, mustards without added sugars, hot sauces, and Worcestershire sauce (which has a trace of sugars but in the amount typically used, does not present a problem for most people).
  • If you can eat nuts, get some macadamias, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and/or walnuts – but pass up peanuts, pistachios and cashews. Get some spicy pork rinds (trust me on this; they make a great substitute for bread crumbs in lots of recipes, even if you don’t care to eat them as a snack). Wasa Fiber Rye™ crackers and LaTortilla™ low carb tortillas are available in most grocery stores now and have a high fiber content, making them good choices.
  • Be sure to go to the frozen foods section and get some bagged legal veggies for busy nights when the fresh ones are just too much work. Buy canned black soy beans if you can find them. Canned vegetables such as tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, etc., are always good to have on hand in a pinch. Buy some frozen entrees like chicken tenders, pre-pressed burgers and fish fillets — these can all go on a contact grill frozen and still be ready to eat in minutes! TIP: After cooking on a contact grill, simply unplug it, put a wet paper towel on the still-warm surface, and close it again. By the time you’re finished eating, you’ll be able to wipe the grill surface clean easily so it will be ready for your next quick and easy meal.
  • Don’t leave without a visit to the Dairy section for some sour cream, cream cheese, cream, real butter, buttermilk if you like it, eggs, and cheese.

Next, prep. 

 I’m going to describe one of my own weekly prep sessions – you will need to vary this according to your own tastes, but most low-carbers will need plenty of clean salad greens.

  • If you’re like me, and dislike the sour taste of pre-washed salad greens, you will want to wash your own. I fill a clean sink with a mixture of water and produce cleanser and let the greens soak for a while. I mix three heads of romaine or red leaf lettuce with one bunch of spinach and one small head of iceberg, for a nice mix of healthy, leafy, and crunchy. Then I wash, peel, and chop the other low carb vegetables we like in our salads and place them all in vacuum seal containers. Well dried lettuce can last for weeks without turning brown when vacuum sealed. It will last up to a week when layered in clean toweling and then sealed in regular plastic bags, because the paper or cloth will absorb extra moisture. TIP: Don’t chop greens with anything metal ahead of time, because it will cause the edges to turn brown prematurely.
  • While my greens for the week are soaking, I hard-boil a dozen eggs. TIP: For easy peeling, use older eggs and prick a small hole in the end of each one with a pin or thumbtack. Always start them in cold water with a splash of vinegar and a spoonful of salt added. Once they come to a boil, shut them off, put on the lid, and allow them to set in the hot water for twenty minutes. Pour off the hot water and replace it with ice water until the eggs are completely cool, then drain and refrigerate. The shells should slip right off when the time comes.
  • Poaching chicken or other meat is best done at a very low simmer. Boiling toughens meat proteins and causes that ugly scum to appear on top. I always save the liquid for use in soups or other meals, and either strip up the cooked meat for use in chef salads, or else chop it and add mayonnaise, along with lots of chopped celery and a little bit of red onion, salt, pepper, celery salt, and a teaspoon or so of lemon juice. Delicious chicken salad, ready at a moment’s notice — I’ve been known to eat it for breakfast! Some weeks I make egg or tuna salad instead of, or in addition to, the chicken salad.
  • Plan breakfasts: make a batch of muffins or crustless mini quiche in muffin tins. Pre-cook breakfast meats to save both time and mess. I like to bake both pre-formed sausage patties and bacon slices in the oven. If you can find a stacking cooling rack, it’s perfect for this use and will really simplify the whole process. I even line the drip pan with disposable foil to save time when cleaning up.
  • I make some sort of casserole each week like my Volume 1 TacoSagna or Mockaroni & Cheese and freeze it in individual portions, so I can have a hot lunch anytime. Meatloaf is another good make-ahead meal — just replace the bread crumbs with low carb ones or substitute Parmesan cheese, wheat bran, or textured vegetable protein.
  • Don’t forget to attend to your sweet tooth and make some kind of artificially sweetened treat, unless you are one of the rare ones who can totally forego that occasional pleasure. I am not; I would never have lost ten dress sizes in one year and made it for the long haul without an occasional ‘sweet treat’. And the long haul is what it is all about. Feeling deprived is what always led me to stop low fat diets. I simply did not allow that to happen with low carb – and neither should you! But do remember that most people lose more weight when indulging in homemade treats and staying away from packaged low-carb convenience foods, especially those with high concentrations of sugar alcohols such as maltitol (common in most pre-made sugar free desserts.)

Finally, enjoy! Now that you have stocked your low-carb kitchen, just think of all the great meals you can whip up.

  • For breakfast, you can choose from any sort of egg dish – hard-boiled eggs, omelets, crustless quiche , or my favorite — scrambled or fried eggs served with steak, ham, sausage or bacon, along with a thin wedge of cantaloupe melon. You can choose to eat cheese, or any other meat, fish, or even vegetables. Leftovers of all kinds make great breakfasts. What about a protein shake along with a handful of fresh berries and some nuts on the side? (DaVinci sugar free syrups can make ANY shake mix taste good!!!) Even a low-carb protein bar is better than no breakfast at all, although this should not become an everyday thing by any means. Fiber crackers spread with cream cheese and low carb fruit spread or smoked salmon on top make for a nice change occasionally. Breakfast burritos are easy to fashion ahead of time out of taco meat or spicy sausage paired with things like onions, peppers, black soy beans, scrambled eggs and cheese inside of a low carb tortilla or homemade egg crepes. Wrap these individually and freeze, then wrap in a damp towel to reheat in the microwave.
  • For lunch, choose from any protein source paired with a healthy vegetable. I usually try to have an ‘entree salad’ such as steak sautéed with onions and peppers and cheese, served over a bed of greens in place of bread. Enjoy previously forbidden salad ingredients like real bacon and hard boiled eggs and chunks of blue cheese! Enjoy fancy salads with ingredients such as warm goat cheese and pecans. My all-time favorite lunch is my Fajita Salad. You could also roll up sliced deli meat and cheese around celery sticks, pickles, or green onions. Pile fiber crackers high with egg, chicken or tuna salad, any of which could be stuffed into celery sticks or hollowed-out tomatoes or peppers, as well. Wrap up sandwich fillings in a low-carb la tortilla or a large lettuce or Napa cabbage  leaf.
  • For snacks, you can eat cream cheese in celery sticks, hard-boiled eggs, doctored-up unsweetened yogurt (homemade is best!), berries, Heavenly Mousse (yummmmm!), melon, nuts, olives, cheese crisps, raw veggies with ranch dip, and pork rind or vegetable nachos with taco meat, black beans, TLC picante, guacamole or sour cream.
  • For dinner, the possibilities are truly endless. You can make a low carb version of almost any meal you already like. Craving fried chicken? No problem: bread it with egg & pork rinds, wheat bran, parmesan cheese, or almond flour and then fry it as normal. Cream of mushroom or broccoli soup made with real butter and heavy cream is both heavenly and fast. Sauté chicken in butter and olive oil, pour in a little whipping cream and some Parmesan cheese, and you’ll have delicious Chicken Alfredo with no effort. Eat it over steamed or stir-fried shredded cabbage or zucchini “noodles”, broccoli and cauliflower, or my favorite: fresh steamed green beans. Craving pizza? No problem: get some pepperoni, sauté some mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers and combine them with some no-sugar-added tomato sauce (like Hunts™) and mozzarella cheese over the top of a cheese crisp or low-carb tortilla. Craving Mexican food? No problem: make fajitas with low-carb tortillas or tacos on cheese crisp shells, and you can enjoy real sour cream, guacamole, and cheese on top! Make red chili with black soy beans or green chili with pork or poultry. Enjoy filet mignon or grilled salmon and steamed asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower with cheese or Hollandaise sauce over the top. Enjoy stir fry (without the starch) of beef and broccoli. Enjoy grilled chicken topped with bacon, melted cheese and mushrooms.

The key word here is ‘enjoy’. If you’ll just concentrate on all the wonderful food combinations you can eat, you will find yourself thinking less and less about those few things you are no longer choosing to eat. Low-carb eating is far more versatile than low-fat eating, but it does require a change in mind-set. Become a label reader! When I started this Way of Eating, I literally spent hours in the grocery store going down the aisles and reading labels. I found some surprises, and learned a lot. Eating low-carb is easy, and it should never be repetitive or boring, not when your menu choices are so varied and abundant.

YOU CAN DO THIS! JUST PLAN AND PREPARE TO SUCCEED.

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How To Start A Low-Carb Diet (and be successful)

Help Not Hype

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Please don’t try to succeed on a low carb Way of Eating without buying and reading at least one (1) low carb book, in its entirety, so that you will understand the metabolic process you are trying to achieve. Without a basic understanding of ketosis, you will have a much harder time making this work ~ and hey, MAKING IT WORK THIS TIME is the whole point, right? RIGHT!

My personal recommendations for low carb books include: Dr. Atkin’s New Diet Revolution, Atkins for Life – I had better include this one, since I was honored by being quoted in this book by the legendary Dr. Atkins himself! look for me in the index!, Protein Power, Life Without Bread: How a Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life, and The Schwarzbein Principle.

The Corinne T. Netzer’s Complete Book of Food Counts or something similar is a great reference to have, too (on ANY diet). Yes, you can look things up online, but a printed reference is a heck of a lot more convenient than running to the computer (or squinting into your phone) every time you want to eat something! Online carb counters are listed here on my main Links page.

FORGET THE KETOSTIX

The idea of using ketostix to make sure you are in ketosis sounds good – until you realize that all they really measure is the burning of fat. Any fat. Whether you are burning adipose tissue (existing stored body fat) OR you are burning dietary fat, you will produce ketones, which will register on the ketostix. And if you are on a low carb diet, you will burn some kind of fat, so whether you register on the stix or not doesn’t necessarily correlate to actual weight loss!

Then there’s this, excerpted from GO Diet: There are two main ketone bodies produced. One is called “acetoacetic acid” and the other is named “beta-hydroxybutyric acid (HBA). Acetoacetic acid can spontaneously break down to form acetone and this is the compound which gives people on this diet a faint, but distinct smell on their breath. Other low carbohydrate diets advocate the use of ketosticks to detect these ketones in the urine, as a sign that you are really burning fats. However, these sticks, which are expensive, only detect the acetoacetic acid and acetone, which are less than one fifth of the ketones produced. The HBA goes totally undetected by this test. Many people never produce enough acetoacetic acid to cause these sticks to turn color, yet testing their blood for HBA shows plenty of ketones.”

Now for some good news: I never really noticed the so-called keto-breath, or the body odors that the books talk about. (Neither did/do my friends or family, who would not HESITATE to tell me – trust me!)

Now, the color of the stix, in my opinion, has a lot to do with how much water you drink. The more concentrated your urine is, the more concentrated the ketones will be. A high ketone reading in the absence of weight loss could be due to a lot of things, but mostly it is due to high fat ingestion, which is what a lowcarb diet really is. It just isn’t politically correct to call it that. Your body doesn’t dump the ketones consistently, either, so it is difficult to know whether an absence of ketones might simply be your own lousy timing. Timing, after all, is everything! And if you don’t drink enough water, excess ketones will necessarily have to be excreted somehow other than through your urine. And my guess is that when they get excreted through your skin and respiration, they stink to high heaven. So, for many, many reasons, drink all the water that your plan recommends. Then drink some more. And don’t put too much stake in the readings of ketostix.

The best indicators of how you are doing on low carb  – far better than than the color some expensive little strip of treated paper turns when you (you know) will be:

— how you feel (once you get past the inevitable week 1 slump)

— how you look – I am serious. When I put those two pictures together that you see on the My Story page, I was totally shocked – and so gratified, too – to see how much better I could look at the same weight. Do not let the scale alone, or even your measurements alone, be your indicator of success.

— how your clothes fit – Do yourself a favor and take those painful-to-face measurements right at the beginning, so you really know where you are. The first time I took mine I cried, but I wish I had done it earlier because in the next month after I did take them, I lost four inches just from my waist alone while the scale never moved. Is it a stall if the scale doesn’t change for a month? Doubtful, if you are being true to the plan you are on. Is it possible that you have stalled? You bet! What to do?

If you are having trouble, get a software program that calculates your exact nutritional intake and analyze what is going on. The one that I used first is called Lifeform. Now defunct. In 2004, I switched to DietPro and I still use this one regularly.

If you use a mac, there is one out there called Dietsleuth. Do a search and hunt it down. There are free places to keep track online, too, like FitDay.

During induction, I recommend that you:

Stick to meat, dairy, and veggies only. Try to not use any artificial sweeteners, fruit, or grain based products, high fiber or not. Get the full 20 carbs each day from lettuce, salad vegetables, low carb veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans. I also ate small amounts of tomatoes and bell peppers on my salads – even during induction. If you really really have to have something sweet, you can eat sugar free gelatin. Try to find Jolly rancher brand, which is sweetened without aspartame.

By the time you eat 1 large or two small salads per day, with a 2/3 cup serving of other vegetables, that will usually add up to almost 20 carbs (with cheese, cream, and salad dressing included, they add up much faster than you would expect.) After two weeks of this, you will find that you have to remind yourself to eat, that you no longer really *want* the bready things or the sweet things as much. I did not add the low carb versions of these things back in until I had been eating induction-style for about 6 weeks. I think this gave me the ability to keep these food items in perspective. I still don’t crave them, I crave fruit and veggies and dairy products, if anything. When I start thinking about fake sweets too often, I force myself to go several days without any at all, and then I am back in balance. It is a constant balancing act, and I must remain vigilant to insure that my sweet-tooth/bread cravings do not take over. I expect I will have to be like this forever.

ONE MORE TIME: Eat your veggies, they go a long way towards filling you up with something less calorically dense than meat, and trust me – you NEED the fiber (and nutrients) that they contain.