encouragement · Food · Keto · Weight Loss · Wellness

Keto…Thus Far…

When I first changed over to the Ketogenic Diet, I did so purely on my own.  I didn’t have help, or anyone’s brain to pick about it.  I just had to sort of figure things out as I went.  A couple of months back, I posted a how-to article for those interested in this way of eating, aka “WOE.”  (You can access that article by clicking here.)  Since that time, I have had even more success with weight loss and health benefits from living a clean, ketogenic lifestyle.

I began this journey on March 8, 2017.  Since then I have lost 30 pounds, and I have shed 15 inches overall from my body.  I am still not quite to my goal size/weight, but I am well on my way (just 20 pounds shy of my official goal).  Along with the fat loss, I have experienced some desired results with my hormones and with my issues due to PCOS and Adenomyosis symptoms.  I am experiencing regular, and much lighter periods, with much less pain than ever before.  I feel like I am having somewhat “normal” periods for the first time in many, many years, I haven’t had a migraine since May, and the all-over shooting pain that I would have for two weeks of every month has completely disappeared from my life…and I know that this is all because of Keto…namely, the absence of wheat and grain from my diet!

Going Keto hasn’t been a seamless effort, as I have had to learn by trial and error, doing a ton of “Googling” in the midst of it all, but I do feel that I have finally got this thing mastered.  So, I wanted to just take a little time to share my victories, failures, and the lessons learned from all of it, with those of you who may be on a similar journey and could use some tips to help you along your way.

  1. Meals:  The most important part of this lifestyle is finding some easy, delicious, go-to recipes.  I have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to this WOE, and there are endless amount of Keto recipes, but I have a few that are tried and true that I am sharing below in the “links” with y’all today.  However, I do like to keep things as simple as I possibly can with meals.  The more complicated and stressful a “diet” is, the more likely we are to just give up on it, right?  So how do you keep it simple with Keto?  Two things:  meat and veggies.  Refer to your favorite Keto food list (click here to access mine), choose a meat and a few vegetables, and cook them up your favorite way.  I prefer tossing my veggies in some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and oven roasting them until they are little crispy.  Sometimes I take them out a little early, grate some fresh parmesan or cheddar cheese on top and return them to to oven for the last 5 minutes or so.  Delicious…every time!  For meats, you can grill them, pan sear them, roast in the oven, slow cook in a crock pot…really just whatever suits your time-frame and your palate.  Figure out what works best for you and stick with it.  Be creative with herbs and spices too!  Don’t be afraid to season, season, season!  And don’t forget, butter is your friend (a pan seared steak with butter and herbs is a favorite around here)!
  2. Plateaus/Stalls:  Know this right now…and just go ahead and accept it…prepare for it…you WILL stall out from time to time.  I have had two or three periods of days and even weeks where I lost absolutely no weight whatsoever.  I have even fluctuated up to 7 pounds up then back down to my current low within a week.  This is why, even though weighing yourself is important and gives you a feel for what foods will make you retain water and feel bloated, you can’t always trust in the honesty of the scale.  It doesn’t always reflect your fat loss.  Keep eating within your macros, consume clean food choices, and stay active.  You will absolutely see results both on and off of the scale!  I promise!  There is something called a “whoosh” that takes place after a stall almost every time, and if you just hang on and trust the process, you will get your “whoosh” and feel that gratification you need to stay motivated!  (Click here to read more about this.)
  3. Intermittent Fasting:  I started practicing intermittent fasting to get over my first stall, and when I realized how easy it was for me to do, I decided to do it most days.  I have never been one to want to eat anything at all before lunch, and I have always hated feeling like I have to force myself to eat when I am not necessarily hungry yet, so this system works very well for me in my daily life.  However, if you are one that wakes up hungry, this may simply be a discipline that you will want to employ when you need to get past a hump in your weight loss journey.  Basically, you just stop eating for a 12-16 hour period of time and allow the remainder window of time for your calorie consumption for the entire day.  So, I take the last time that I ate in the evening, and I don’t eat for the next 12-16 hours.  It is quite easy to do, because this type of fast happens mostly when you are asleep overnight.  Anything over 50 calories will break a fast, so usually what I do each morning is have a cup of coffee with some heavy whipping cream in it (which is less than 50 calories).  That is all I need, plus lots of water, until I begin eating around noon or so.  For an even better explanation of IF, click here.
  4. Cheating:  I feel compelled to stress to you…DO NOT CHEAT!  It is almost never worth it.  It will most assuredly cause you gastrointestinal upset, bloating, water weight gain, lots of discouragement, and make you have some serious cravings for sugar and carbs!  However, let’s be honest and realistic here…cheating happens.  When it does, the best thing to do is get a good fast in, and jump back on the Keto train.  Don’t let it get you down…even if the scale goes up some.  It isn’t fat gain…just water.  Remember that.  Also please note:  IF YOU HAVE A REGULAR CHEAT DAY EACH WEEK YOU ARE NOT LIVING A KETO LIFESTYLE.  DON’T CLAIM IT IF YOU AREN’T GOING TO LIVE IT!!  JUST CONSIDER YOURSELF EATING LOW-CARB AND GO ON WITH YOUR LIFE.  Keto is short for “KETOSIS” and if you are cheating regularly, there is no possible way you are staying in Ketosis or becoming fat adapted.  Kinda defeats the purpose…don’t you think?
  5. Eating Out:  I’m here to tell it…eating at restaurants can be Keto friendly!  You just have to be careful about ingredients (less is more), and steer clear of foods that have sauces, rubs, and glazes.  Grilled meats (especially fish) are a safe bet, and a Caesar salad and/or some steamed or grilled veggies.  At a Mexican restaurant, a great option is fajitas.  Just make sure you tell them no beans, no rice, and no tortillas.  Get your fork and some hot sauce and dig in!
  6. Snacking:  People always ask me what I eat for snacks.  Truth be told, I don’t do a ton of snacking, but when I do get the yen for something between meals, or in the evenings, I have some favorites:
    • pork rinds dipped in sour cream or guacamole
    • uncured beef sticks, salami, ham, pepperoni (etc.)
    • dill pickles
    • full fat cheeses
    • roasted, salted almonds
    • peanut butter
    • berries
  7. NSVs:  Non-Scale Victories – events that make you feel confident and motivated…even when the scale isn’t moving.  Examples:  before and after pics, smaller clothing sizes, compliments, overcoming cravings, turning down junk at parties and such…  These victories are vital to your success, because the scale sometimes lies to us.  Make sure you share these NSVs with friends and family.  Give yourself those well-deserved pats on the back as often as you can!
  8. Recipe Links:

I would also like to link you over to my Keto pin board on Pinterest.  Click here to visit it.  There are tons more recipes that I have saved, as well as a lot of great Keto advice articles.  I am constantly adding to my board, so follow if you want.

Also, Stephanie (Nitty) and I (Gritty) had recently posted a blog detailing our successful endeavor into a few Keto recipes that looked good to us.  You can access that by clicking here.

I hope this update has been of some help, and (as always) feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about this way of life.  Also, like and share on social medias, please and thank you!

I am still on this journey of mine, so I am sure there will be more updates in the future.  So stay tuned!  Keto on!!

 

Food · Keto · Weight Loss

Keto…when you wanna cheat-o!

Hey there everyone!  Has anyone else been craving carby-goodies lately?  Sometimes a girl just wants a greasy slice of pizza…or a gooey cinnamon roll!!  Well this week, we (Nitty & Gritty) decided to do a collaborative post that might help you out with your yen for some junk food.  We got together and made a fantastic Keto friendly meal…even dessert…and it was so good that we wanted to share it with y’all.  (In case you don’t know what Keto is, click here to read more on it, but basically it is a very low carb, high fat way of eating that will help you lose weight and correct some health issues that you may be having.)

Both us have been seriously craving pizza lately, so we took to Pinterest and found a pizza crust recipe that is not only Keto approved, but it also looked fairly easy to prepare, and came with some great reviews.  We made an Amish Broccoli Salad for a side, and then we finished the whole thing off with some low-carb (yes, also Keto approved) cinnamon rolls.  So, below we have shared each recipe, step-by-step, with pictures and everything.  We made it all from scratch, and we ate it up…because it was so delicious.  🙂

1.  Amish Broccoli Salad

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This salad is a people pleaser.  It is seriously delicious…and you won’t be able to stay out of it!  Pictured above are the ingredients that we used to make ours.  We have listed them below, followed by the how-to instructions.  Enjoy!

Salad:

  • 2 bags fresh broccoli/cauliflower medley (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 package uncured bacon (fried crisp and crumbled)
  • 1/2 large red onion (diced)
  • 1 brick of sharp cheddar cheese (cubed into bite-sized pieces)

Dressing:

  • 2 TBSP white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. Pyure sweetener (possibly a little more)

 

Toss the salad ingredients until everything is evenly distributed.  In a small, separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and vinegar until smooth.  Next add in the sweetener, tasting to see if it is to your liking.  If it isn’t sweet enough, add a bit more sweetener.  After you get the dressing mixed up, simply put it in with the salad and toss it all until everything is coated well.  Please note, we made a little extra dressing for our salad, because we thought it needed more.  So just do your own thing and make it how you want it.  You can also add shelled sunflower seeds and nuts if you want.

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2.  Fat Head Pizza

(We don’t know WHY it’s called Fat Head!!)

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Above is a picture of everything we used to make our pizza.  We have listed the crust ingredients below, but the toppings are purely up to your preference.  We used green bell pepper, red onion, bacon (uncured – cooked and crumbled), and hard salami (cut into chunks).

Fat Head Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella (we used whole milk mozzarella, as pictured above)
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • 2 TBSP cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia, of course – and it does make a difference)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tsp. garlic powder*
  • 1 tsp. onion powder*
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning*

*The seasonings are not set in stone.  You may use as much or as little as you want, or leave them out completely.  It’s your pizza, so make it how you would like it to taste.

To make the crust, start with the cheeses.  Measure both the mozzarella and the cream cheeses into a medium sized microwave safe bowl.

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Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and then microwave for another 30 seconds.  If your cheese is stringy, you need to microwave for another 30 seconds until it is a dough-like consistency.

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Stir in egg , almond flour, and seasonings.

 

Wet your hands and spread the dough thin and evenly onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Use a fork to poke air holes into the dough, then place into a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven, and add your desired toppings.

 

Then continue baking for another 6-8 minutes, or until your pizza is a golden brown and all toppings are cooked and cheese is melted evenly.

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Building Your Pizza:

  1. When you remove your crust from the oven after the initial 8 minutes, you will want to start with your sauce.  Try to find the sauce that has the least amount of carbs.  We used Simply Nature Organic Marinara, with a net of 5 carbs per 1/2 cup.  Spread your sauce evenly over crust.
  2. Next, you’ll want some more mozzarella to sprinkle over your sauce.  We suggest getting a separate bag of cheese for topping your pizza.
  3. Finally, top with the meats and/or veggies of your choosing and sprinkle with more cheese!

3. Fat Head Cinnamon Rolls

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Fat Head Cinnamon Roll Crust:

  • 3 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (we used the same cheese that we did in the pizza crust – whole milk mozzarella)
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill again)
  • 4 TBSP cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia is the best)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of Pyure brand sweetener (this is a Stevia/erythritol blend, and it is far superior to any other sweetener that we have tried…highly recommended)

To make dough, in a large bowl melt the mozzarella cheese for 1 minute in the microwave and stir.  If it is still stringy, microwave for another 30 seconds and stir.  Continue to do so in 30 second increments until is it melted and at a doughy consistency.

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Next, add cream cheese, almond flour, eggs, and sweetener.

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Mix until everything is incorporated.  You have to really work it in, but keep at it.  It may get stringy while you are mixing, if so, pop it in the microwave for another 20-30 seconds to get it back to that melted, dough consistency.

Spread the dough into a rectangle, onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  It should be a little thicker than your pizza dough, but not so thick that you can’t roll it.

Filling:

  • 2 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Pyure sweetener

Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough.  Next, sprinkle the cinnamon and sweetener (that has already been combined) over the butter.

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Next, roll the dough length-wise into a log.  Try not to tear the dough, and then seal the edge.  Slice the log into approximately 12 spirals.  Place them in a lightly greased, round, 9-inch cake pan.  They will be touching on all sides.  Any excess filling that squeezes out during the rolling, can be spread over the top of the spirals after you get them in the pan.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees, until the rolls are a golden brown.  We had to bake them much longer than this time.  It was more like 30 minutes.  Just make sure you keep an eye on them after 15 minutes or so.

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Glaze/Icing:

  • 4 TBSP cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pyure sweetener (to taste and desired consistency)

Mix together with a spoon or fork, adding sweetener as you go, tasting after each addition.  When you have it like you want it, spread over warm rolls (still in the pan).

 

We are so sorry there aren’t any pictures of them on plates, but we scarfed them down before that ever even crossed our minds!  We just want to add, also, that the kids in the house gobbled them up!  They were asking for more, and had no idea that this was a sugar-free, low-carb treat!

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Well that concludes the breakdown of our night of Keto indulgence.  We hope that if you are like us, craving things you miss eating from time to time, you will find it easy to make some of these goodies for yourself and get cheating off of your brain!  This stuff is seriously delicious!  We give it all 4 thumbs up!

As always, please like and share our blog!  Keto on!

Canning · DIY · Food · Frugal · Gardening · Preserving · Summer

When in doubt…pickle.

The bees are busy and buzzing in our backyard this time of year! We have a full garden with lots of blooms for them to visit. Not to mention we have a yard of clover that we purposely do not spray with chemicals just for their well being. I try to take care of them and they take good care of our garden plants and fruit trees. In particular this time of year we rely on them to pollinate our cucumber plants. There’s nothing quite like the smell and taste of a cucumber straight out of the garden. Those waxy specimens you get at the grocery wane in comparison. When the cucumber bounty is coming in, we are using them every way we can think of; in salads, as crackers and of course we make pickles! In our house we love little jerkin pickles. The beginning of the growing season is the best time to get the most “little”cucumbers all at once. You can do whatever size you like, spears, slices or whole pickles. The process for all of them is the same. If you’re a beginner canner I highly recommend trying pickles first. They’re so easy to make and they help you understand the process you need to do in order to can.

Canning can be done using a water bath canner or a pressure cooker. When canning pickles, jams, jellies, fruit butters, tomatoes, salsa, pretty much any fruit or vegetable that is acidic a water bath canner is safe to use, but for meat and starchy vegetables like green beans and corn you need to use a pressure cooker to ensure the temperature gets hot enough to eliminate any harmful bacteria that can spoil your food. However, tomatoes of any kind can be canned in both a water bath or a pressure cooker, a pressure cooker just shortens your processing time from about 45 minutes to about 15 to 20 minutes. For pickles you will always use a water bath canner, a pressure cooker would cook the cucumbers and they’d be very soft and soggy. Because of the vinegar used in pickling, making them acidic, a water bath canner is the preferred method to canning pickles. The same is also true for jellies, jams, and fruit butters in that a water bath canner is the easiest and generally preferred method of canning. In the pictures below is my water bath canner on the left and a pressure cooker on the right. I do have one, but they’re super heavy and I didn’t feel like digging it out for a photo shoot.

Ok, so first things first, you pick your cucumbers and give them a good cleaning in the sink. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of clean jars. Go ahead and halfway fill your canner with water and put your jars in to have them sanitizing in hot water. A canner holds 7 jars so I usually try to have at least 8 jars ready. Now, back to the cucumbers, start slicing or preparing them based on what kind of pickles you want (slices, spears, whole, etc…). Remove your sanitized jars from the canner using a jar lifter and carefully place them on a kitchen towel. Hint: hot glass is temperamental and can crack and break easily. You can then begin stuffing the jars as tight as possible with your cleaned and cut cucumbers. Try to get the jars as full as possible so you don’t have to use as much pickle brine and also so there is less air in the jars which can lead to shorter shelf life.

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Now, once jars are full of cucumbers, you start getting your pickle juice cooking on the stove. I use a pickle mix, Mrs.Wages kosher dill mix. You do not have to do this, I just love the quality, convenience and consistency of the mix. There is directions on the back for the measurements of water, vinegar and pickle mix. It’s pretty straight forward you combine all the ingredients and bring it to a boil. Once your brine is boiling, remove from the stove and place near your stuffed jars. One by one using a ladle and canning funnel fill your jars within a half inch from the top rim. Once all jars are filled, wipe the rims to remove any spilled liquid and then cap the jars with your heated ring and lids. Put them on together and just hand tighten, don’t over tighten or your jar can bust in the canning process.

Alrighty, jars are filled with cucumbers and hot brine and they’ve also have lids. The next thing to do is get your jars into the water bath canner. Using your jar lifters, one by one carefully place the jars into the rack inside the canner. When all 7 jars are in canner, put the lid on canner and double check the heat is on high. You want to get the canner up to boiling as quick as possible so that you have good and crunchy pickles. Once you see steam coming from the lid you can begin counting your processing time, which for pickles in pint size jars is 10 minutes. Once your 10 minutes is up remove your jars using jar lifters again and place the jars one by one onto a kitchen towel. You do this because placing them on a cool countertop can bust a jar. Always, always use towels on the counters when canning. The pic below is a typical jar lifter used in canning.

Before long, probably within a few minutes you should hear the magnificent sound of your jars “popping” and therefore sealing. Woo-how you did it! Easy-Peasy!! Just repeat this process until you run out of cucumbers and brine. Your pickle loving self/family should have tasty pickles for the year to come. This whole process only takes about 2 hours. It’s a great way to get your feet wet in canning. If I can do it, you can do it. Good luck on your canning adventures. Here’s batch 1 of 2 for me from last Saturday!

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Canning · DIY · Food · Gardening · Preserving · Summer

We Be Jammin’

Oh the sounds of summer: kids playing, pools splashing, late night music, frogs croaking, crickets chirping and jars sealing. You gotta admit those are some good times…yep, I really said jars sealing. Growing up I spent many summer days and nights helping and watching my Mamaw can green beans, tomatoes, pickles, and jams. I grew accustomed to hearing those jars pop all night long as they were cooling off and sealing.  That was the sound of sweet success!! Now that I’m grown with a family of my own, and my grandmother has long since left this world, I can’t wait for my first canning every year. To hear those familiar pops takes me back to my Mamaw’s kitchen. How I’d love for her to see me canning like she did.

Nowadays in our home, my babies get excited each time a jar pops. They know all our effort is paying off. I think they also know that the strawberry or blackberry jam is gonna be awesome for breakfasts and on their PB&J’s too! These moments are the ones I cherish, and I can only hope they will too.

If you’ve never canned before, in my opinion, jam or pickles are the easiest for getting started. I’m just gonna give a brief run down of the basics to canning strawberry jam from start to finish. For any of you out there who are kinda skittish about canning, or maybe think it’s too much trouble, I hope this brings clarity to any questions you may have.

First things first, wash and cut your strawberries. Try to have good, firm, ripe berries. You really don’t want bruised or over ripe fruit. (Canning rule of thumb is: high quality in = high quality, long-lasting canned goods.)  Once you’ve washed and cut berries into halves or fourths, then you smash or crush them. I use my meat masher thingy from Pampered Chef to get them good and crushed.

From there you follow the recipe on the pectin box or container. I use Ball brand fruit pectin. It gives you exact measurements for your strawberries, pectin, and sugar. I’m pushing my recipe to the max (be careful when tripling or quadrupling jams/jellies) with 8 cups crushed berries, 8 TBSP pectin, and 9 cups sugar. Add strawberries and pectin first to the pot with 1Tbsp butter. Bring this mix to a full rolling boil. Once it can’t be stirred down, add all of your sugar to the pot. Bring this mix back to a full rolling boil. Let it boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.


While all that’s going on, have your jars heating (sanitizing) in the water bath canner. You also need to have your rings and lids heating up in a smaller pan. This way once your jam is finished boiling, your jars and lids will be ready to go as well. Ok, rolling boil has done it’s minute, now your ready to jar and lid your jam. Simply ladle your mix into your jars, be sure to use a canning funnel. Fill each jar within a 1/2 inch from the top. Fill up all your jars, wipe the top edges of each jar to remove any loose jam, then top them with the hot lids and rings. Once all the jars are topped, use a canning lifter to place jars gently in the water bath canner. Put the top on the canner and wait for the boil to come back. When it begins to boil again (you’ll see steam coming out of the lid) that’s when you start your timer. For jam, processing (boiling) time is 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of processing, remove jars with jar lifters and place on a kitchen towel. Let them sit here to cool and seal. You’ll hear them within a few minutes start popping, which is the evidence of sealing. It’s a wonderful sound…I love it!

Let the sealed jars continue to cool overnight without moving if possible. You can eat immediately, but I generally recommends letting them cure for a week to ensure full setting and flavor. After all of your effort, you now have some amazing jam to last you throughout the year. Just a little added hint: homemade jams and jellies make great gifts.

Good luck…and happy canning!

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