Monday, March 16, 2015

Getting Started with Low Carb

If you are just starting out or would like more information about a low carb lifestyle, here is a list of links and reading materials for you to check out.  This is by no means all inclusive, but it's a great place to start!


Specifically for diabetics:
• Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution. A Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars.
(Recommended for all diabetics)
Recommended low carb books:
(Most are available on Amazon or Also be sure to check your local library to see if they are available for checkout)
• Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes
• Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
• Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back To Health by Davis MD, William
• The New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great
• Protein Power & Protein Power Life Plan by Drs. Mike & Mary Eades
• Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar-Your Brain's Silent Killers by David Perlmutter
• Eat Fat Get Thin by Barry Groves
• Natural Health & Weight Loss by Barry Groves
• Trick & Treat by Barry Groves
•The Diet Cure or The Mood Cure by Julia Ross
• Sugar Nation by Jeff O'Connell 
• Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution (see above)*

Websites & Blogs:
Dr Briffa (Canadian Low Carb Doctor and Author)
Fat Head Blog  

Great Recipe Sites:
Genaw (Linda Sue's recipes and recipe reviews)
Modern Savage Living (Low carb and paleo recipes along with lifestyle articles)

Fantastic Facebook Groups:
The Low Carb Dish! (Open public group for sharing recipes. Large membership. Very active. Tightly moderated to ensure good low carb information and the most success) 
Hardcore Healthy Living (Closed group filled with self-professed nerds and geeks following low carb and/or paleo lifestyles. Warning: adult humor)

Movies and Lectures:

*Note: The new Atkins plan allows wheat and other questionable ingredients. The new Atkins plan appears to be more about pushing their branded highly-processed, pre-packaged foods than great health. Stick to old school Atkins for best results.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The exploding kidney myth and ketoacidosis

One of the common myths about low carb is that it can cause kidney damage. This is not true. If your kidneys are healthy, low carb will not damage them. In fact, studies are starting to show helps repair damage to the small blood vessels in the kidneys.

 Unfortunately, people in the health care profession have not kept up with the latest research. Doctors, nurses and nutritionist throw out the "low carb causes kidney damage" line while ignoring the actual science. I have also noticed that a scary amount of nurses do not even know the difference between ketosis (a benign condition where your body is fueled by ketones instead of glucose) and ketoacidosis (a dangerous condition including high ketone levels AND high blood sugar, found in uncontrolled diabetes).

 If your health care professional doesn't know the difference between the two, or is trying to scare you by saying low carb will make your kidneys "asplode", you may need to educate them or find a different health care provider. Now, I don't expect people to just take my word for all this. See below for articles concerning ketosis and kidney issues. Read them over and decide for yourself.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Is the low carb honeymoon over?

Today's words of wisdom come from my fellow moderator on The Low Carb Dish, Tyler Buhl. Tyler isn't just a low carber, she is a low carber who has maintained her weight loss for over 25 years! She knows the ins and outs of the low carb way of life and has been more than generous with her time and advice.

This latest gem of wisdom from Tyler is invaluable for people just getting started on low carb who hit a stall or for people getting bombarded with advice from people who are also fairly new to low carb. Instead of listening to just anybody, take the advice of someone who has been successful at low carb for a very long time.

"Is the low carb honeymoon over?

The first 2 weeks-30 days on a low carb diet is bliss (well, except for a few days of ‘the flu’). Pounds are melting off rapidly, you have tons of energy, your health is improving. You are excited, motivated! Yay! Go YOU! --then you hit your first plateau or worse yet you gain….

Now comes the hard part. A low carb diet can be very accommodating in your first 30 days. Especially if you were eating very high carb before. Initially, you can ‘get away’ with some poor choices and have the perfect justification for it – “it didn’t stall me”, “I’m still losing”, “I’m still in ketosis”, “it worked for me”. You can only justify for so long though, before it catches up with you.

You hear it constantly- “Everybody is different” and that is SO true! But because Susie eats Atkins bars and low carb products without negative impact, doesn’t mean that it won’t make you gain like crazy!
Why do you always hear read ‘THE BOOK’*? Because, there is a process to determine the ‘right way’ to eat low carb for YOU and YOU alone. Doing the work and following the process is the way to ensure long term success and a sustainable lifetime way of eating. 

Just because something is ‘low carb’ doesn’t mean that it will impact your body in the same way it does for Susie. Starting with the very BASICS and going through the gradual process of adding and eliminating foods will determine what works for YOU.

And guess what? That just may not work for Susie." - Tyler Buhl

* THE BOOK can mean the Atkins' book, Protein Power (or Protein Power Life Plan), Wheat Belly, Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It, or any number of excellent low carb books. We nag people in The Dish to pick a plan and work it. If you are just trying to wing it on your own, you drastically increase your chance of failing. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bits & Pieces...of BACON!

This hasn't been a great year for grocery prices. Food inflation continues to increase and now there is a virus killing baby pigs and endangering pork supplies. This hits low carbers especially hard, but here is a quick tip...

If the price of bacon has you in sticker shock, look for the big bags of "Ends & Pieces". They are usually half the price of regular bacon. No, you wont get nice even slices for breakfast, but you will get great pieces for salads, adding to cauliflower mash, mixing with greens and lots of glorious bacon grease that is almost worth its weight in gold.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beef Jerky Time!

Beef jerky is a tasty, high protein snack that's easy to throw in your purse or gym bag for nourishment on the go. However, if you are buying it from the store, you can easily end up eating more sugar than you'd like. Making your own gives you a lot more control over the ingredients and it can be a lot less expensive, too.

Since I already own a dehydrator, deciding to make my own jerky was a total no-brainer. (No dehydrator? Go here to see how to make jerky with just a box fan) After searching through some recipes and found one that looked pretty good here. A few tweaks later and voila! A spicy, slightly sweet jerky that can be made either paleo or low carb depending on your choice of sweetener.

I really like the peppery bite and hubby likes it too. I don't see this batch lasting long!

Sweet and Spicy Beef Jerky*

2 pounds beef round steak, London broil, flank steak or other lean cut of meat cut into thin strips. Be sure to trim off any fat. (Make strips approximately 1/8" thick. The meat is easier to slice evenly if it is a little bit frozen)

1/4 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar, splenda or honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl or glass pan. Add the beef strips one at a time to make sure they are thoroughly coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Place strips on dehydrator trays, making sure the pieces do not touch. Dry on highest setting or 165º. See your user manual for approximate times.

* For a milder flavor, change the cayenne pepper to 1 tsp paprika and reduce the black pepper to 1 tsp.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Saint Patrick's Day is rapidly approaching. Even though I have plenty of Irish ancestry, I am not a fan of boiled cabbage or corned beef. I forgo the traditional holiday meal, but still take total advantage of the fact that cabbage goes on sale during the week or so before everyone pretends they are Irish and seeks out green beer. I use the cheap cabbage to make two incredibly healthy and tasty foods; kimchi and sauerkraut. I posted my recipe for kimchi here but somehow forgot to type up the instructions for the kraut. The recipe itself is pretty easy, but you can get a work out pounding the cabbage, which is a necessary step for proper fermentation. You also have to have patience since it requires time to ferment so plan ahead. Based on the recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, this is far superior to anything you can buy in the stores. For more about the health benefits of sauerkraut, click here.

SAUERKRAUT (Makes 1 quart)

1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon course sea salt
1 shredded carrot
4 tablespoons whey*

*if not available, use an additional 1 tablespoon salt

Mix cabbage with caraway seeds, sea salt and whey. Pound with a wooden mallet for about 10 minutes to release the juices from the cabbage leaves. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly until the juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Use a clean stone or a bag filled with water to hold the cabbage below the liquid. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. The sauerkraut can be eaten immediately, but it will improve with age.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The eye of the beholder

Like it or not, people are visual creatures. They use other people's appearance and celebrity images as a basis of comparison to themselves. It's basic human behavior.

I just want to remind you that presentation of celebrities on TV and in magazines is a great deal of visual trickery and should not be used as your standard of beauty. This recently published image of Ellen Degeneres in The Daily Mail shows why.
There is no intent here to denigrate Ellen. I happen to be a big fan of her comedy work. She is 55 and happens to looks 55 without her makeup. There is not a damned thing wrong with being 55 and looking 55. I'll be there soon enough myself. I just don't want people to feel bad if, when they wake up in the morning, they don't pop out of bed looking like a super model. The truth is super models DON'T EITHER!
 For even more examples, check these out...
Dove's Model Before and After Makeup
33 Celebreties Without Makeup 
Stars Without Makeup Slideshow
10 Horrible Model Photoshop Fails

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Poppin' tags...

Thrift stores are your friend when you are embarking on a low carb lifestyle. With rapid weight loss, body composition changes and downward-moving measurements, clothes become too big too fast to buy new. Save yourself a lot of money and head down to your local thrift shop.

In my area, Goodwill has a great selection, reasonable prices and daily sales. Other good thrift stores include the ARC and the Salvation Army. If your town lacks good thrift stores, consignments shops can also be a good bet. Keep in mind that the less money you spend on clothes, the more money you have for steak and coconut oil.

(Yeah, that's me. 210 lbs and shrinking.)

This entire outfit, including shoes, was less than $14.00. So you can really go poppin' tags with only $20 in your pocket!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Oatmeal Manifesto

The topic of oatmeal came up in a low carb discussion group today. Someone posted a recipe for oatmeal and banana pancakes. Since this was in a low carb group, several people commented that the recipe was in no way low carb. The original poster got defensive and stated that while oatmeal pancakes were not low carb, at least they were healthy because oatmeal is good for you. But is it really?

I say no, oatmeal is not a health food. The typical blood sugar spikes associated with eating oatmeal are bad enough, but when you through in the phytic acid content, it's only slightly better for you than wheat, which is a proven nutritional disaster. If you want to eat oatmeal because of the taste - eat it! Just be aware of the risks. Don't operate under the delusion that oats are some kind of health food. Not only are they not a health food, oats are definitely not something you should recommend to people on a low carb diet cruising for low carb breakfast ideas in a low carb forum. 

Whether or not you eat oatmeal (either in plain or pancake form) is up to you and based on your body. Even a tiny bit of oatmeal is enough to trigger serious inflammation for me. This makes me sad because oatmeal with cream and maple syrup is one of my old winter breakfast favorites. If you happen to be at your goal weight, have no problems maintaining your weight loss and don't have serious blood sugar issues, you might want to try steel cut oats soaked overnight ala Nourishing Traditions. After all, oats are comforting, filling and relatively inexpensive.

If you want to totally avoid oatmeal's carb count risks or the phytic acid content, there are some really great low carb pancake recipes out there. The Nourishing Days coconut flour pancake recipe is my personal favorite. To keep it lower carb, skip the honey and use some monk fruit or erythritol for sweetener.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Coupon Alert!

Heads up coupon clippers! On there are coupons on Nevella liquid sweetener, Hormel canned chicken, Atkins meals, Planters peanut butter, and Johnsonville Sausage. Usually coupons are just for junk, but there are actually low carb and paleo-friendly offers this week. I also noticed coupons for Oscar Myer Pulled Pork, Diet Pepsi and Pepperoni were on the list.

While I love to cook from scratch and think that is the healthiest, let's be honest. Life gets hectic. If you have some low carb/paleo packed food on hand it can keep you from diving in to a bag of potato chips from the 7-11. Visit here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Low carb on the go: McDonald's

2 McDoubles (no cheese) and a grilled Chicken Snack Wrap with mayo (no ranch) in between. Buns and wrap removed. Low carb, filling and only $4.25.

And here is the nutrition data. Only 8 grams of carbohydrates!

This is not a perfect meal. There are still omega 6 fatty acids in the mayo and high fructose corn syrup in the ketchup. But if you have to make a fast food run, you could do a heck of a lot worse.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WARNING! Know your HCG!

You may have heard about it from friends. You may have seen awesome before and after photos posted online. You may even work with someone using it. I am talking about the "weight loss miracle" known as HCG.

HCG is a natural hormone produced during pregnancy. In the 50's, a British Doctor did research at an Italian hospital and found that HCG hormone injections combined with a low calorie protocol and a low carb maintenance phase could induce long term successful weight loss. Even with the low, 500 calorie diet you follow while receiving the injections, you do not experience hunger because the HCG helps mobilize fat out of your cells and in to circulation. It is easy to understand the appeal.

If you decide to look in to HCG, you have to be very careful. There are several different forms of HCG on the market and most of them contain no HCG hormone at all. Because of a recent crackdown by the FDA on people selling HCG hormone, most of what you find commercially will be listed as homeopathics, all natural, hormone-free, encoded, imprinted or herbal formulas. None of these contain the actual HCG hormone and none of them were used during the studies done by Dr. Simeons in the 1950's. In order to help you avoid purchasing "fancy water" under the guise of buying HCG, I have listed information on the different types of HCG below.

1) HCG Injections: This is the real stuff used by Dr. Simeons. The injection mix contains actual Hcg hormone. The hormone comes freeze dried and must be mixed with bacteriostatic water and kept refrigerated. The HCG will be a brand name like Ovidac, Corion, or Hucog. It will not come premixed, nor will the label read Hcg 3x6x12x30x (or something similar).

Because of US law and rulings by the FDA, there are only 2 ways to get actual HCG injections.
a) 'Grey Market' through an overseas pharmacy, or,
b) through your doctor or a doctor-run weight loss clinic

2) HCG Sublingual Liquid: Also the "real stuff". Contains the same freeze dried actual hormone (Ovidac, Corion, etc...) which must be suspended in a solution of colloidial silver and/or liquid vitamin B-12 and alcohol. Items are shipped separately or as kits and you will have to mix the final form of the solution for yourself. DO NOT confuse sublingual HCG formulations with HCG drops or pellets! You CAN NOT buy sublingual HCG over the counter at a health food store or in the vitamin department at your local Walmart. Just like HCG injections, you will have to get your freeze dried hormone from an over seas pharmacy OR you will have to have it prescribed to you by your doctor or have it supplied at a doctor-run weight loss clinic.

WARNING: Recent research by Dr. Sheri Emma has shown that prescription HCG taken sublingually is UNDETECTABLE in the blood stream. Your body CAN NOT absorb HCG under the tongue. The only way to get HCG in to your system is via injections. Read her study findings here.

3) Homeopathic HCG Drops or Pellets: These are readily available from vitamin shops, online herbal remedy stores, and websites. They are sold "over the counter" because they DO NOT CONTAIN ANY MEASURABLE LEVEL OF THE ACTUAL HCG HORMONE. Being homoeopathic, the hcg is diluted again and again and again, supposedly giving the solution the "imprint" or "memory" of HCG. Homeopathic HCG will be followed by a series of numbers like 3x 6x 12x 30x 60x or a similar combination of numbers indicating the level of dilution. According to homeopathic theory, the more diluted a formula is, the stronger it gets.

The homeopathic HCG is then paired with a combination of amino acids, sometimes vitamin B-12, and a preservative such as alcohol or colloidal silver. The preservative used and amino acid, vitamin, herbal or mineral composition will differ depending on the manufacturer.*

4) Hormone-free HCG: Also readily available from vitamin shops, online herbal remedy stores, and websites. Like drops and pellets, they are sold "over the counter" because they DO NOT CONTAIN ANY MEASURABLE LEVEL OF THE ACTUAL HCG HORMONE. Instead of HCG, they may contain amino acids, vitamins and/or herbal blends. In some cases they may contain actual animal thyroid or hypothalamus gland. Read the label carefully.*

5) HHCG, Imprinted HCG or Electronically Encoded HHCG or HCG: Usually sold through internet sales, facebook groups and independent distributors. Like drops and pellets, they are direct to consumers and they DO NOT CONTAIN ANY MEASURABLE LEVEL OF THE ACTUAL HCG HORMONE. Instead of HCG, these formulas may contain minerals, sea salts, amino acids, vitamin and/or herbal blends, but are marketed as being electrically "encoded" or "imprinted" with the bioelectrical signature of the HCG hormone. This is similar to the theory of homeopathy that believes shaking "encodes" water with the memory of HCG, but instead this uses electricity and some sort of encoding machine to create the finished product.*

WARNING: Homeopathic drops, pellets, and encoded or imprinted HCG formulas contain no measurable amount of HCG . If they contained HCG, they would be illegal to sell without prescription in the United States. Even more importantly, THE SIMEONS PROTOCOL DID NOT USE HOMEOPATHIC DROPS, ENCODED DROPS, IMPRINTED DROPS OR ANY TYPE OF PELLET. The Simeons Protocol used REAL hormone formulas only. If you use homeopathic drops or pellets, etc..., YOU ARE NOT FOLLOWING THE POUNDS AND INCHES PROTOCOL and are not getting any real HCG.

NOTE: It is my personal belief that homeopathic and hormone-free drops can actually lead to weight loss, but not by the ingestion of imprinted HCG water, magical electric currents, or shaking water that once held a tiny amount of HCG. You lose the weight by the low calorie diet, the action of amino acids or herbal remedies added to the homeopathic solutions and/or the natural appetite suppression some people experience simply through ketosis. For some formulas, instead of HCG, you are actually stimulating your own body to produce HGH. While this can be an effective weight loss tool for some people it has risks and you should be fully aware of them. I believe the advertisement and selling of homeopathic, encoded, imprinted or hormone-free HCG to be deceptive and an intentional fraud. Rather than ordering from an hcg promoting company, check your local vitamin store to see if they have just an amino acid blend. It will be MUCH CHEAPER than buying anything with the magic letters HCG on the label.

Even better, read THE MOOD CURE by Julia Ross and get a real, tested idea of how amino acids can help you. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Healthy snacks?

I just checked this list of "100 Healthy Snacks" recommended by the Ohio State Diabetes Research Center.

About half of them would send my blood sugar through the roof. Raisins? Goldfish Crackers? Triscuts? Graham Crackers? Lime SHERBERT? These high-carb, high-sugar snacks are not a healthy option for anyone let alone a diabetic. They are junk food. Sure, some junk food now and then wont kill you, but if you are eating these foods because you think they are "healthy" and ALSO doing occasional junk food indulgences, you have a great formula for out of control blood sugar and weight gain. So, is Ohio State using a definition of "healthy" I am not familiar with?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Almond Butter Crackers

In a previous post, I reported on my test of the almond butter bread. It is a modified version of Mr. Peanut bread from the 24/7 Low Carb Diner. Both the peanut and almond butter versions are great bread substitutes that slice well and hold up or sandwich use. The greatness of these recipes don't stop at keeping the mayo off your fingers when eating a BTL. They can also be used to make delicious crackers!

First, bake your loaf of bread following either the almond butter or Mr. Peanut recipe. Then slice your bread thin and as evenly as possible. You should be able to get around 24 slices out of a whole loaf. Next, cut each slice in to 4 pieces. Then fry each slice of bread on both sides in either coconut oil or butter. The bread slices should be lightly browned on the edges. Place the fried bread pieces on a cookie sheet and lightly dust with onion or garlic powder and sea salt, then bake. I had my oven set at 300º and I baked them for about 10 minutes, turning the crackers at the 5 minute mark. 

The final result is a very crispy melba-toast style treat with a great texture perfect for dipping. If you miss crackers and their wonderful crunch, go ahead and give this a try. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wifezilla vs. 360º Vodka

When it comes to a low carber having an occasional adult beverage, you have to be very careful or you could accidentally end up drinking more carbs in 10 minutes than you normally eat in 2 days. The rules for alcohol labeling in general are a confusing mishmash and depend on whether you are selling, beer, wine or distilled alcohol. The government has even, at times, prevented companies from voluntarily labeling the carb content on their products.

While the federal authorities don't feel a need to help consumers make an informed choice when it comes to carbohydrate counts in distilled spirits, some companies have provided the carb content information when contacted by curious consumers. One of these companies was the makers of 360º Vodka. When low carber Ron Staats contacted them about the carb content of some of their flavored vodkas, he was told the carb content was zero. But that was several months ago and new flavors had been introduced so I decided to contact the company myself to see if the zero carb level still held true for new flavors such as Glazed Donut or my old favorite Double Chocolate Vodka.

This is the reply I just received via email today...

"Good Afternoon Ms. Duffy,

I am in receipt of your e-mail regarding our 360 Vodka.  Thank you for your inquiry.

Regulations for distilled spirits do not require this information.  The information you have requested is not available.

Thank you again for your inquiry and thank you for your patronage.


Denise Powell
McCormick Distilling"

Here was my response...

"While I know that carb counts are not required by law, I am very disappointed to know that you can't provide that information. Without that information I will no longer be able to drink any of your vodka products, nor recommend it to the readers of my low carb blog. I will also not be printing or sharing the list of recipes I have compiled featuring your vodka flavors.

I guess I will have to contact other spirit companies and see if i can get any of them to provide carbohydrate information. Because of my dietary requirements, unless your policy changes I will unfortunately have to pass on your products.

Linda Duffy"

Now I am not really expecting a reply, but I do think the only way the industry will change is if people take the time to let them know that without nutritional information, we will not be using their products. It's a shame I will have to stop buying 360º vodka as I was really enjoying their flavored vodkas. I just don't feel a need to worry about hidden sugars and starches. Sure, plain vodka is usually safe, but I will not support a company that doesn't feel the need to give relevant information to consumers just because the government doesn't make them.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Almond Butter Bread

Due to my pesky need to earn a living, I don't get to sit around and come up with recipes nearly as often as I would like to. Fortunately, other low carbers are out there in their kitchens playing mad scientist and coming up with some pretty cool recipes.

One I just tried was a low carb paleo-ish bread made out of almond butter. Cooking Caveman had a good recipe for almond butter bread posted on his blog. But then Tom Naughton of Fat Head fame tweaked that recipe and came up with a version that makes a great sandwich bread. I cooked up Tom's recipe tonight.

Batter ready to go in the oven

This recipe is dairy-free as well as low carb. While almond butter can be expensive, compared to commercial low-carb breads the homemade version is a bargain.

Fresh out of the oven

The flavor of the finished product is mild and not too nutty, but the texture is the bet part. It slices without crumbling even when you make the slices very thin. My test salami and avocado sandwich with extra mayo was great. I am adding this recipe to my list of favorites and I think you might too!

The bread flattened as it cooled and the loaf pan was a bit too wide.
Despite it's flatness it still sliced well and held it's shape. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recipe: Melon Salsa

We've all gone to the store, bought what we thought was a delicious cantaloupe, and instead ended up with something bland and boring. While there are ways to avoid getting a tasteless melon in the future, there is no need to waste the less than perfect melon you have now. The texture of a cantaloupe, even if it lacks flavor, is still very interesting. Firm yet creamy, a cantaloupe's texture is just as important to its appeal.

This means you can take advantage of the texture of a cantaloupe to make a very tasty salsa where its lack of sweetness will not be a problem. Along with saving a bland melon from the store, this can also be a good way to use up cantaloupe from your garden if you are forced to harvest early because of frost. Just yesterday I found cantaloupe for sale at Walmart for only 20¢ each. I could tell they wouldn't have much flavor because of the green color under the netting and lack of aroma, but since I had salsa in mind, I bought one anyway.

If you do have a bit of nice, sweet cantaloupe on hand you need to use up, you can also use a combination of melon and cucumber to make a refreshing tasty salsa without to much sweetness. The amount and type of peppers can also be adjusted to make this a mild or hot salsa. As always, feel free to experiment and have fun!

Wifezilla's Melon Salsa

1 large under-ripe cantaloupe - flesh chopped fine
(about 2 cups)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro - minced
1 medium sweet onion - chopped fine
1/4 - 1/2 cup jalapeño or other variety of pepper - minced
(adjust amount and hotness level to taste)
1 clove fresh garlic - minced
1 lime - juiced
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients well and chill to allow flavors to blend. Serve with slices of fresh jicama or as a side to grilled flank steak or chicken.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ask Wifezilla: Plantain Pancakes?

Q: Hey Wifezilla, do you ever use plantains to make Paleo Pancakes? I found this recipe and it sounded good. Does using green plantains make the carb level lower?

A: While plantains easily fit within the paleo category, they are too carby for me. At 31.9g of carbs per 100g, they have even more carbohydrates than bananas (23g per 100 grams). This does sound like an interesting recipe for someone without serious metabolic damage who can handle a higher carb level. I could easily see making these as an occasional treat for kids. 

For people who have to keep the carb level lower, I recommend the fluffy coconut flour pancake recipe from Nourishing Days instead.

As for using green plantains instead of ripe plantains, while the green plantains would have less sugar, they will still have lots of starch. The ripening process converts the starches to sugar, but both sugar and starch are a form of carbohydrates. So the ripeness level of the plantain would not really make much difference. 

Ask Wifezilla includes direct questions to me or questioned I have answered in groups or forums. To ask a specific question, send your inquiry to wifezilla at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shopping Alert! Flat rate shipping from Xylitol USA

If you use xylitol, erythritol or coconut sugar, now is a great time to stock up. Xylitol USA (Formerly Emerald Forest Products) is offering flat rate $6.99 shipping for a limited time. I have ordered from this company for years and really like their erythritol. No, I am not a paid spokesperson, just a happy customer passing along a good deal.

Compared to what I pay for erythritol locally, ordering from Xylitol USA is cheaper if I order at least 5 lbs. Not only is it less expensive than what is available locally in store, their erythritol is sourced from non-gmo corn. I works great in baked goods and has a similar structure to sugar, making recipe conversion to low carb pretty easy. Erythritol is less sweet than sugar though, so you may need to add a little stevia or splenda to get your recipe to the right sweetness level.

I have gotten samples in previous orders of the xylitol and it was good. Some of their candies...well...not so good. You might want to stick to the xylitol and make your own treats. Just remember if you are thinking of trying xylitol instead of erythritol, xylitol can cause gastric distress for some people and it is toxic to pets.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

RECIPE: Low Carb Sausage Stuffing

Stuffing is often something that people on a low carb diet have to forgo...unless you redefine what stuffing can be. This recipe replaces fattening breads with healthy squash, allowing most people watching their carb intake to indulge without guilt.

Meat from 2 acorn squash (baked in butter and cubed)
1 lb turkey sausage or other ground sausage (browned)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (or any combination of the two)
1 cup chopped baby Portabella mushrooms
1/2 cup almond or hazelnut meal
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
Optional: cheyenne pepper to desired spiciness level

Bake squash at 350º until tender but not mushy. Allow to cool, peel and cut squash meat into cubes. Brown sasuage and allow to cool. Combine all ingredients and bake in a casserole pan at 350º for approximately 20 minutes. You CAN use this to stuff a turkey, but the texture is better when cooked outside of the bird. You can also take this recipe and form in to cakes ( think crab cakes) and bake them. Squash cakes (below) make an excellent side dish for turkey or any other main course.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spaghetti sauce and the nightshade issue

While my diet has swung more towards paleo since I gave up dairy, there are still a few things I regularly consume that definitely fall outside of the paleo realm. One of those items is tomatoes. Some paleo dieters avoid them because they are a member of the nightshade family. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, ground cherries, and tomatillos are all family members. The working theory is that since these are recent (on an evolutionary scale) additions to the human diet, compounds contained in nightshades can cause digestive and auto-immune problems.

As I see it, nightshades are a lot like dairy. Some people have no problems with dairy, and in fact, benefit from good quality dairy products, especially raw dairy from grass-fed cows. Others, like me, should avoid dairy. Tomatoes, because of their vitamin content, can be more beneficial than harmful for most people, especially if those tomatoes are homegrown in rich, nutrient-filled soil and grown without pesticides. Others must avoid nightshades.

If you have auto-immune issues that still haven't cleared up despite following a clean, low carb/paleo diet, try eliminating members of the night shade family for a few weeks, then reintroduce them one at a time and see if you have a reaction. This is the same method I used to determine that I had problems caused by dairy.

If nightshades do not cause you gastric distress, trigger allergies, or increase arthritis symptoms, tomatoes could be a delicious part of your eating plan. They are still in mine, and this time of year I am harvesting plenty of tomatoes from the garden. I will soon have enough to make and can spaghetti sauce. This sauce is far superior to anything you can buy in the store, and by using fresh herbs, you get a much more complex and interesting flavor.

Spaghetti sauce in its' infant stage

The Lazy Person's Guide to Roaster Spaghetti Sauce by Wifezilla

You will need a electric roaster. The roaster is your main measuring device. Without an electric roaster, you get to guess, but basically you will be reducing the volume of raw tomatoes by at least half. The one is use is an 18 quart older model. This recipe also uses a stick blender with a chopper blade and fresh herbs instead of dried. Adaptations to available ingredients and equipment may be required. I water-bath can my sauce, but it can also be pressure canned. If you decide to add meat before canning, pressure canning is required. You can also freeze this sauce.
  1. Fill a roaster to the top with fresh or frozen SKINNED tomatoes or a combination of the two. (Frozen tomatoes are easy to peel and do not require an additional hot water bath.)
  2. Squish the tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher to make it easier for the tomatoes to cook down.
  3. Cook the tomatoes on 275 degrees overnight UNCOVERED. You can cover the top with a piece of metal screen or some cheese cloth to keep the bugs out of your sauce, but the moisture must be able to escape.
  4. The tomatoes should cook down until the roaster is only half way full. If it needs more time, just let it go until you have a half-full roaster or turn up the temps and stir as it cooks down the rest of the way. 
  5. Use a stick blender to chop everything up and make your sauce nice and smooth.
  6. Add 1 - 2 cans of organic tomato paste to make the sauce thicker. If your tomatoes are really meaty, you might not need to add any, but have the cans ready just in case.
  7. Add 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar and stir, then salt to taste. Because a lot of modern tomatoes are lower in acid than they used to be, I consider this a step that should not be skipped. High acidity is required for safe water bath canning.
  8. Let it continue to cook a bit as you caramelize 4 large sweet onions. Once onions are cooked, add to sauce.
  9. Get your canning jars ready. No, I did not forget about other herbs and spices, but that will be the last thing you do before canning. So trust me, just get your jars ready.
  10. NOW you can add fresh chopped basil, oregano, rosemary, minced garlic, etc... Sorry, we didn't measure. Just grabbed handfuls of whatever was ready from the garden. Several hand fulls of basil and oregano if I remember correctly and just a little rosemary and a few sprigs of thyme. 
  11. Immediately put in the jars and water bath can after mixing in the herbs. Prolonged cooking of the fresh herbs can make them bitter so you don't want them simmering for a long time. They are fine through the heat of canning though.
The recipe is more like a series of guidelines than a true recipe, but since I am more a freeform cook and the ingredients available to me vary, it is hard to be more specific. If you are the type that wants specifics, give this recipe a try.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Give a thought to gardening

Even in a tiny yard like mine you can grow your own produce. My entire lot, which has a 1000 sq ft house, a garage, a shed, a large duck pen and a pond system on it, is only .167th of an acre. By using several gardening methods including square foot gardening, deep mulching, container gardening and vertical trellising, I am able to grow melons, pumpkins, grapes, apples, pears, zucchini, beans, tomatoes, peppers, several herb varieties, kale, lettuce, kohlrabi, and even some exotics, flowers and flowering shrubs to attract the local bees and other pollinators.

I harvested this basket of food out of my back yard just yesterday morning. The tomatoes and peppers are just starting to take off, all the grapes are ready and I need to harvest more today and over the weekend. The squash, which got a late start, are just now ripening. Cucumbers and beans will be ready next month.

With the drought, rising food prices and the ever increasing genetic modification of foods from the store, you might want to consider your own garden. Food inflation has been creeping up year after year and projections for next year's harvest is grim. Even if you can not grow enough to entirely support your family's food needs, anything you can grow yourself is less you have to buy in the store. Not only that, there is a growing body of evidence that the nutriton level in commercially-raised food is dropping. This means you have to eat more food volume to get the same amount of nutrients that used to be in food years ago. Nutrient density is of particular importance for people with weight and digestive problems like me. Growing your own food and properly managing soil means the food you grow will be more nutritious than food you can buy.

While summer is almost over in the US, you can prep growing beds NOW for easy spring planting. In fact, fall is the time you plant garlic. Thinking of a garden as a spring to fall thing is very much a thing of the past. In some areas you can even grow greens through the winter. My kale survived several hard frosts and a few snow storms with no problems at all.

Give gardening a thought or two next time you see the sorry state and high price of what is available in the stores. Better food could be available right outside your back door.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A good use for soy

In general, soy is NOT a good food source. It messes with your thyroid, causes weight gain, and even inhibits protein absorption. Sure, properly fermented soy can be tasty and used occasionally without issue (for most people), but the soy in the typical American diet is not fermented and prepared safely. It is just added to everything because it is cheap and the populace has been duped in to thinking soy is healthy.

Fortunately there is an actual good use for all that soy that people should not be eating...

"Last week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it's purchasing 50 pounds of fake poop. A practical joke? No, not in the least.

Nor is this synthetic poop a plastic replica of the real thing; it's an organic version made from soybeans. The Gates Foundation will use it to test high-tech commodes at their Reinvent the Toilet Fair next week." (more)

So next time you see SOY on the label of some food item in the store, just remember this article. Soy is crap. Don't eat it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Recipe: Non-dairy Creamy Turkey Mushroom Soup

I spent last weekend with friends I hadn't seen in a while. Their children, whom I have known since they were infants brought THEIR children. friends' babies are having babies. Apparently while I was soaking in the cuteness I also soaked in some cooties. They don't call kids germ balls for nothing!

Anyway,  I woke up today with a tickle in my throat and congestion in my left ear. By the end of the day it had progressed to painful sinuses, pressure behind the eyes and a full-blown sore throat and coughing up crud. Fortunately I had some turkey bone broth simmering away because a hot, sinus-clearing soup was exactly what I needed. I dragged my pathetic carcass in to the kitchen and this is what I threw together. It's a tangy, spicy, non-dairy version of cream of chicken mushroom soup that is low in carbs, high in flavor, and should help you breathe a little easier when cooties get you down.

Yeah, it's a crappy cell phone picture, but I am sick. Cut me some slack!

Wifezilla's Creamy Turkey Mushroom Soup

4 oz shitake mushroom - chopped
4 oz baby bella mushrooms - chopped (or 8oz total of your favorite mushroom type)
1 large sweet onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
1/4 cup coconut oil
2-3 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 cup cooked turkey or chicken meat
1 can coconut milk (or 1/2 can coconut milk and 1/2 cup mayo*)
1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
2 tsp - 1 Tbsp ground black pepper (start with 2 tsp and go up from there)
1 Tbsp hot sauce
2 tsp cayenne pepper powder (or red pepper flakes)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp Xantham gum
Sea salt to taste
Optional: chopped chives or green onions for garnish

In a small cup, dissolve xantham gum and 2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil. Set aside. Caramelize onions over medium heat in 1/4 cup coconut oil. Add mushrooms to caramelized onions and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add garlic, being careful not to overcook garlic or it will get bitter. After stirring in garlic, add xantham gum mix and stir, then immediately add 2 cups of broth. Allow mixture to simmer a bit, stirring as it thickens. Add remaining ingredients and check thickness when all items are incorporated. If mixture is too thick, add a little more broth. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle with chives or green onions and serve.

  • Coconut milk flavor varies from brand to brand. If the type you are using has a strong coconut flavor or is a bit on the sweet side, use the half coconut milk, half mayo version.
  • If you don't have a problem with dairy, you can directly sub butter for the coconut oil and cream for the coconut milk. 
  • If you don't have xantham gum, tempered egg yolks can also be used to thicken the soup. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recipe: Caveman Coconut Cooler

Wifezilla's Caveman Coconut Cooler

1 cup frozen melon pieces
Juice of 1 lime
6 ice cubes
1 can of coconut milk
Stevia or sweetener of choice

Cut a cantaloup or other fresh, local melon in to ice cube-sized pieces. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Put 1 cup's worth in a blender. Bag up the rest and keep in the freezer for future use. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until ice cubes are crushed. Makes 2 servings.

While this is a more paleo friendly recipe, low carbers not on induction might enjoy this every once in a while.

Approximate carbs per serving:
Melon - 6g
Lime - 2g
Coconut milk - 5g
Stevia - 1g
Total: 14g

Remember, this is for 2 servings...around 10oz a piece. It is very easy to get carried away and drink it all. You might want to make this with a friend to be sure you share!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reasons to Low Carb That Nothing To Do With Weight

People usually turn to a low carb diet for the weight loss benefits. After following the diet for a while, they begin to notice other things happening to them that have absolutely nothing to do with weight loss, but are just as exciting. Every once in a while, a thread about these unexpected benefits pops up on low carb discussion forums. The lists are pretty impressive. One recent list on the Active Low Carb forum has been going for several days and is getting quite long. Here is compiled list from several forum members showing what low carb can do for a person even if they don't need to drop any excess pounds.

  • No more joint pain
  • No more migraines
  • Better looking skin
  • Better sex life
  • Waking up refreshed
  • Better moods
  • Reduction or complete elimination of diabetes medication
  • Nails are much stronger & healthier
  • Reduction of psoriasis symptoms
  • Reduction in acne breakouts
  • Skin is glowing or luminous, more elastic
  • Elimination of acid reflux
  • Teeth are much cleaner, plaque takes much longer to form
  • Allergies have cleared up
  • Don't constantly think about food
  • Age spots fading
  • Not as anxious
  • Sleep better
  • Blood pressure lower
  • Feet not swelling
  • Less bloated
  • More energy
  • Less food obsession
  • No more heartburn
  • No more stomach cramps
  • Healthy cholesterol, glucose and triglyceride levels
  • Improvement in gum health
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Rosacea flare-ups reduced
  • Healthier, shinier hair
  • Better tolerance of temperature extremes
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Decreased use of over-the-counter pain killers
  • No more binge eating
  • Reduction in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

As you can see there is much more to low carb than just getting skinnier. If you find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, overweight or not, low carb may be just the thing for you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Recipe: Lower Carb Broccoli Salad

I first had broccoli and grape salad at a pot luck about 2 years ago. Broccoli and grapes sounded like a weird combination to me, but I was feeling adventurous that day and took a spoonful. It was delicious. It was also on the higher end of the carb spectrum due to carby ingredients like raisins and the addition of sugar when following the traditional recipe. But with a little tweaking the carb count can be lowered, bringing it to line with many low carb eating plans. Here is my version of the broccoli salad recipe with a higher protein content and lower carb count than the original.

Wifezilla'a Lower Carb Broccoli Salad

2 heads of fresh broccoli, flowerets cut small and stems "slawed"
1 cup salted sunflower seeds
1 1/2 - 2 cups mayonnaise (make your own if possible)
1 cup diced jicama
1/2 large red onion - chopped
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Da Vinci Simple Syrup (or a couple of Splenda or Truvia packets)
1/2 cup red mini grapes (or regular seedless grapes cut in half)
1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients. If it appears on the dry side, add some more mayo. Chill for a few hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. Great for pot lucks, picnics, or a tasty summer lunch. If you want to kick it up a notch, add crumbled fresh cooked bacon right before serving.  The first version I tried did not include bacon, but many published versions do and it is hard to go wrong by adding bacon!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Asian Cabbage Stir Fry aka Crack Slaw

When you low carb, a simple tasty recipe that can be made in minutes is always appreciated. One such recipe has earned the name "Crack Slaw". Because of the name, I thought it was some variation on coleslaw and never bothered to look in to it. I already have plenty of ways to make a good cole slaw and wasn't really interested in attempting something new. Then someone explained that it wasn't a cold cabbage salad, it was an Asian-style stir fry that uses shredded cabbage as a base...and that it was a bit addictive...hence the name Crack Slaw. Well that was something entirely different and I decided to give it a try.

My rendition of crack slaw using bay scallops and a bagged chopped cabbage blend with a side of wasabi.

This version used Nappa cabbage, steak pieces, extra mushrooms and some cayenne pepper.

It was delicious and it is something I now make on a regular basis. Most recipes call for a bit of toasted sesame oil to be added right before serving. I consider that ingredient essential. It totally makes the dish. I also use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. If you are avoiding wheat or soy, coconut aminos are a tasty replacement for soy sauce and are available at many health food stores.

I have made this several times using different proteins, different bagged shredded cabbage blends or even shredding my own. It is a very versatile dish and can be easily changed to use whatever ingredients you have on hand. Don't let the name scare you. Crack Slaw is a nutritious and delicious low carb recipe you might want to incorporate in to your weekly meal plan. Here are a few different versions to get you started...

Wifezilla Quick Tip #1

This may sound weird, but adding chia seeds to any ground meat that tends to be on the dry side will help lock in moisture. Chia works especially well with ground turkey and ground buffalo. A couple of tablespoons per pound will do.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Five-O Chicken

This is the easiest, tastiest grilled whole chicken you could every make. You either cut up the breast or back bone of the chicken with kitchen shears, yell "SPREAD EM!" as you pull out the wait.. you flatten out the chicken and rub it with spices. (Note to self: Do not watch old Hawaii Five-O reruns while cooking). Next, put the bone side down on the grill and cook it low and slow. You don't even have to turn it. You CAN flip the chicken over and crisp up the skin a little more at the end, but I find the skin is crispy enough without that extra step. Cook time with depend on your individual grill, just make sure that the temperature is not too high or your chicken will  be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. 

Spread 'em Meat Bag!

If you have a gas grill like I do and it tends to run hot, place the burners on the lowest setting, then use the valve from the propane tank to turn the flame down a bit more. If it is windy, you wont be able to reduce the flame much and still keep it lit. In that case just use a beer can to partially prop open the grill lid.

The "proper" way to prep the chicken is to cut out backbone and then spread it flat. My son cut down the breast bone and that worked just as well. Full instructions on the proper method here, but it works either way. Choose whichever technique you prefer and happy grilling!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recipe: Cauliflower Helper - the non-dairy version

There are some really yummy versions of Cauliflower Helper out there. AnnaMarie and Sam from the Lighter Side Facebook group recently made some. AnnaMarie even posted a picture that got me feeling quite hungry. The only problem is that most recipes you find for Cauliflower Helper contain cheese. Me and dairy are still not on friendly terms, so their recipes were totally out of the question. Rather than pout about life's cruelty in denying me cheesy goodness, I got creative and came up with a dairy-free version.

Wifezilla's No Dairy Cauliflower Helper

  • 2 lbs frozen cauliflower
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 6 oz portobello mushrooms - chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion - chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter if butter doesn't cause you problems)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (make your own if possible)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • salt & pepper
  • additional coconut oil for cooking mushrooms if needed
  • chives (optional)
Brown ground beef. While beef is cooking, in a separate pan cook the 2 bags of cauliflower in coconut oil. When ground beef is done, remove from pan saving grease. Set ground beef aside. Cook onions in the beef drippings until caramelized. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms are soft. Add a little coconut oil if needed. When cauliflower is cooked, add beef, onions and mushrooms and stir well. Then add mayo, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. Stir and taste. Add additional seasonings if needed. I like a lot of pepper. Served topped with chopped chives.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Make your own kimchi

Fermented cabbage is an incredibly healthy dish. I recently used my homemade kimchi to cure an ulcer. Sadly, most of us have only tried commercial sauerkraut so think fermented cabbage is mushy, tasteless, and stinky. If you have been permanently scared away from the kraut but still want the benefits of the probiotics and vitamins of cabbagy goodness, why not give kimchi a try?

Wifezilla's Fermented Kimchi

6 heads of cabbage, cut in to bite sized chunks
2 pounds of carrots - sliced
1/2 pound of Ginger root - shredded
4 elephant garlic cloves - diced
Large bunch of chives - chopped
12-24 dried red chili pepper pods (the more you use the hotter it will be)
1/2 - 1 cup fine sea salt
1/4 cup whey
Filtered water
Sriracha Sauce (preferably fermented )
Daikon radish (optional)

Pound cabbage with salt*. Stir in other veggies. Add filtered water as needed to cover the cabbage mix. Cover with a ceramic weight or ziplock bags full of water to keep veggies below the brine level. Let sit for a couple of days. When it tastes how you like it, it's time to place your kimchi in jars. To each quart jar add 1 tbsp or more of the sriracha sauce. More sauce for more heat or less if you are a total wuss. Also add a dab or two of honey if you like a touch of sweetness with your sour. Leave some head space in each jar since it will continue to ferment, although slowly, in the refrigerator. Will be best after a week or two in the cold. Should keep for months so don't worry about making a big batch.

*A note on the salt... Based on recipes I found, they called for 1 cup of salt for every 2 heads of cabbage. I thought 1 cup would be a good starting point for 6 heads of cabbage. I was wrong. It was still too salty. Not EEEWW salty, but I had to rinse the veggies before putting it in jars and letting them ferment a bit more. A minor inconvenience, but you can avoid that by starting with 1/2 cup and tasting as you go.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Low Carb On The Go

It's been quite a busy social season for me. Normally I am a bit of a homebody. Lately on my calendar there there have been several weddings, anniversary parties, graduations and a few book clubs thrown in for good measure.

Being good at parties and events where the carbs are flowing as much as the wine is not an easy task. Traveling to and from these events and meeting up with fellow travelers involves coffee shops, restaurants and gas station stops. Temptation is everywhere.

While the smart thing would be to pack a cooler and a bag full of low-carb goodies, my schedule was so pressed for time the goodie bag was not very well planned out and I had to "live off the land" so to speak. Despite the rush and temptations, I had NO weight gain over the past weekend and also did not turn in to a giant whale during my other events during this busy spring. Here are a few ways I navigated the carb infested waters....

  • Sandwich rolls: At a few of the party buffets I was still able to make myself some sandwich rolls out of lunch meat, veggies and full-fat mayo. Don't stress too much about the fillers in the lunch meat, but shy away from anything that says "honey roasted" if you can. That is code language for "loaded with high fructose corn syrup". Lay out the meat flat, put a good size layer of mayo on the meat, add some chopped lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, etc... and roll up the meat slice in to a roll. At our vacation rental, as my friends chowed down on oatmeal, muffins and pastries, I made sandwich rolls for breakfast with a side of fresh strawberries.
  • Go nuts! Two of the carb-smart goodies I was able to grab before hitting the road included a large bag of smoked almonds and a container of cashews. As bowls of M&M's, pretzels and chips were placed out once we hit our destination, I placed out the delicious nuts and had no trouble steering clear of the bad foods. 
  • Chocolate is your friend: It's hard to feel deprived when you have good dark chocolate on hand. Green & Blacks, Dagoba and Lindt all have good dark chocolate bars that contain 85% cocoa and little sugar. Some stores have excellent house brands that are cheaper and just as tasty. For my last weekend I grabbed 3 bars of dark chocolate with espresso beans from Sunflower Market. When my friends were hitting the sweets, a square or two of my dark chocolate was all I needed.
  • Build a better latte: As many low-carbers have already discovered, Starbucks will make you a latte with heavy cream instead of milk and they also have some tasty sugar-free syrups. Unfortunately I also try to avoid dairy and Starbucks only offers soy as a non-dairy alternative. Instead of looking to a well-known chain for your coffee house gatherings, look around for an independent coffee house. All throughout Colorado we were able to find great coffee places that not only made the standard coffees, but had more options for freaks like me with allergies and dietary restrictions. One of the tastiest coffee's I had was an iced latte with almond milk and sugar-free caramel syrup in old town Salida. Just remember to check if the almond milk is sugar-free before you go ahead and order. 
  • Mexican food is flexible food: One of the easiest places I have found to stay in the low carb end of the pool is at restaurants that serve mexican food. At Lulu's in Fort Collins, they will turn any regular burrito in to a burrito bowl. Just skip the rice and ask for extra lettuce. At the Boat House in Salida, their chimichunga is loaded with pork and cheese and contains no rice. Even if you go ahead and eat the fried tortilla, the rest of the dish is fresh salsas, lettuce and avocado. Not a good option for people with dairy issues, but there is also the option of a taco salad minus cheese. Just don't eat the fried tortilla bowl. 
  • Go Mongolian! Mongolian BBQ restaurants are a new thing in many parts of Colorado, but these are quickly becoming one of my favorites. At Hu Hot in Ft. Collins, a friend an I were able to load up on all-you-can-eat veggies and meat while skipping the carby rice. The only potential pit fall is the sauce bar. With about a dozen different options, it is pretty easy to grab a sugary sauce that will send your blood sugar through the roof. Stick to mostly soy sauce and chili or garlic oil and you are pretty safe. A tiny splash of the other sauces will give you a bit of sweet flavor without the diabetic coma. 
  • Make your own liquor store stop: You never know what people are going to serve at weddings and parties, so it doesn't hurt to make sure your low carb favorite is on hand. Michalob Ultra is a good beer option for low carbers and white wine tends to be less carby than red. Get a few of your favorites, but buy extra to share. You never know if a fellow low carber is lurking in the shadows that may need some low carb support. If you are toasting at a wedding, take a sip to honor the happy couple, but don't feel obligated to slam the whole glass. At one of the weddings I recently attending, sparkling cider was served instead of champagne. It was so sweet even a regular sip would have bad news for me. I barely wet my lips, thought happy thoughts for the newly weds and inconspicuously dumped the rest behind a shrub.
The low carb lifestyle can be difficult during party season, but with a little though and planning, it doesn't have to be a dietary disaster. Even if you do slip up and eat the wedding cake, drink plenty of water and make a fresh start tomorrow.