suggestions, recipes, and ideas for staying low-carb

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Low-Carb Cocktails

With New Year's Eve being tomorrow, people will be partying the night away. If you are attending or even hosting a party, you may be interested to know that there are some mixed drinks that aren't full of carbs. When you are trying to stay low-carb, it's definitely best to only consume alcohol in moderation. This doesn't mean that you can't have any alcohol. You just need to choose the healthier ones.

Here is a low-carb version of a margarita. These taste great, and your guests probably won't notice the difference.

1 jigger (1.5 oz) tequila
2 Tablespoons (1 oz) lime juice
1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) water
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 Tablespoon's worth artificial sweetener
Ice - small handful
Margarita salt or kosher salt

Preparation:Wet the rim of the glass and dip into a small plate of salt.Combine all ingredients. You can either serve it over ice or blended in a blender.

This is a recipe for a low-carb strawberry daiquiri. This is a great sweet treat for a party.

1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1 Tablespoon lime juice
I jigger rum (1.5 oz)
Sweetener to taste
Small handful of ice

Preparation:Put in blender and push the button. Serve immediately.

Happy New Year, everyone. Here's to making 2009 low-carb.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Blog

I recently found a low-carb blog that is full of recipes. It's always helpful to have as many resources as possible when you are going low-carb. I like this blog because of how versatile it is. It gives information for various recipes. It's a lot like this blog because of the fact that it also has suggestions and ideas for low-carbing. Maybe that's why I liked it so much. Go visit The Pitter Patter of Losing Pounds, and you'll be glad you did.

Crock Pot Soup

Even though the weather here in Florida isn't really calling for soup, it is winter, and traditionally, this is a soup time of year. This chicken soup has a Mexican taste to it. The carb count is pretty low, and the protein count is high. It's a great meal for ending the day. It also heats up nicely as leftovers, and makes a convenient lunch at work tomorrow.

You will need:
1 14 ounce can of chicken broth
1 small can of Ro Tel Diced Tomatoes with Lime Juice & Cilantro
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup frozen stir fry (yellow, green, red peppers)

Toss all of the ingredients into your crock pot. Cover and cook on low heat for 7 hours. If you are pressed for time, you can set it to high for 3 1/2 hours. I like to sprinkle shredded cheese on the top of the soup while it's still hot. It melts, and adds great flavor to the soup. You can also put a scoop of sour cream on top. If you stir the sour cream in, it will thicken the soup.

This is a great way to use up some leftover chicken.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Beware the Flu

With the holiday season also being infamous for beginning the cold and flu season, it's great to have a low-carb soup recipe. The following recipe is an easy to make, 15 minute chicken soup. The ingredient list is short, and the directions are simple. Make this for when you are sick, or when you just want some delicious soup.

You will need the following ingredients:

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon diced shallot
1 tablespoon grated carrot
3 ounces cooked chicken breast (shredded)
1 and 1/2 cup chicken broth

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and carrot and cook until the shallot has softened. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook the mixture, stirring it for about 1 minute. Add in the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is heated through. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

I like to add some shredded mozzarella cheese to the top of mine. That is completely optional, but it adds a great flavor.

How to Survive the Holiday Parties

Are you looking for a low-carb idea to take with you to a holiday party? At this time of year, it's inevitable that you are going to be invited to some kind of get together. The first thing that you always ask after being invited is "What can I bring?" If you are a fellow low-carber, you know that it's tough to stay low-carb when you are attending these parties. It seems that people only know how to make sweets at this time of year.

Here are a few tips on how to stay low-carb, but not have to avoid going to holiday gatherings:

1. Eat something high in protein before you head out the door. This will help you to not evereat at the party.

2. Go straight to the vegetable tray. This is a much better option than pigs in a blanket, or cracker and seafood dip.

3. Look for meatballs. Often meatballs make their way to holiday parties. Even though they sometimes have sauce that isn't low-carb, the protein in the meatballs can help to offset the carb count.

4. Offer to bring something, even if they say it isn't necessary. Don't overstep your boundaries, but let the host know that you make great deviled eggs, or that it's tradition for you to supply a party with a cheese tray. This way you are guaranteed something low-carb and high in protein.

These tips can help you to avoid the average 7 pound weight gain people expect during the holiday season.

Low-Carb Eggnog

If you like eggnog, keep reading. If you try to stay low-carb, eggnog is not really an option. There is an eggnog that you can have and still stay low-carb. You have to make it on your own, but is you are an eggnog drinker, this will be worth it to you.

You will need:
4 large eggs
2 cups milk (I like Carb Countdown by Hood)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sweetener (I like Splenda)
1/2 cup brandy or dark rum (I like brandy better)
1 and 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg

The directions are simple. In the induction phase of the low-carb lifestyle, you should leave out the alcohol.

Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Combine the milk and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer, and then gradually whisk it into the eggs. Place the new mixture back into the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Cook while whisking it constantly until it reaches 175 degrees. This should take between 1 and 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat. Whisk in the sweetener, the alcohol, the cream and the vanilla. Let it cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate it until cold. About 1 hour will be good. After you have poured it into the glasses, you can dust it with the nutmeg.

Fairly easy, and a great holiday treat makes this eggnog irresistible.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why Breakfast?

In the last post I talked a little bit about breakfast. This post, I am going to go more in depth.

Statistics show that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The Mayo Clinic has found that people who eat breakfast in the morning have more energy throughout the day, have better chance of weight loss, and perform better due to increased concentration.

Schools with low-income students are required to serve breakfast at reduced prices, or free to those who qualify. The reason: students who eat breakfast perform better. You can often see teachers eating cafeteria breakfast, also, because they know the part it plays in overall success.

During standardized testing, most classroom teachers have snacks for the time between each test, because eating something healthy can give your brain that extra boost you need.

Keep this in mind the next time you think you don't have time for breakfast. Make time for breakfast. It's imperative that you fuel your body for the day that lay ahead. Weather it's few slices of bacon, some cottage cheese and peaches, or a hard boiled egg, give yourself something to hold you over until lunch, which in this busy world may come until dinnertime.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Most Important Meal of the Day

One of the things that seems to be difficult is to find something low carb to eat in the mornings. Breakfast has always been a meal of pastries and sweets. Muffins typically have over 600 calories. Of course, they do make low fat muffins, but that tastes like eating the cardboard box that they were shipped in. Even though you know you should avoid fast food, when you are running out the door in the morning, and you realize that you are starving, and you know you can't make it through to lunch, you end up hitting the drive through.

Here's the way to solve this problem. The following recipe can be prepared on Sunday night. It's enough to last through the entire week. I like to make the casserole, and take it to work in single serving sizes. That way, when I get to work, and everyone else is eating McGriddles and Breakfast Burritos, I can heat a serving up in the microwave, and I have breakfast, too.

Follow these directions, and your casserole will make others want to trade their breakfast for yours.

You will need:
8 eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
salt/pepper
1/2 pound pork sausage or half a pound crisp bacon
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the sausage or bacon in small pieces. For sausage, just use a fork to break it apart while cooking it. If you are using bacon, my advice is to cut it with kitchen shears right into the pan. While that is cooking, you can be mixing the eggs, salt and pepper, and cream together. Stir the meat and both cheeses into the egg mixture with a spoon. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish, and bake it for 45 minutes.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Are You Addicted to Sugar?

It sounds like a funny question at first, but in all honesty, it is a problem that plagues many Americans. Some doctors would disagree with you when you say that you are addicted to sugar. I absolutely believe, however, that there is a such thing as sugar addiction. There are many symptoms that you can attribute to sugar addiction. If you are curious as to whether or not you have a sugar addiction, answer the following questions:

1. Do you have to have something that contains sugar at least one time per day? (remember, this includes fruit)

2. Do you feel great after eating sweets, only to "crash" after an hour or two?

3. Do you make special trips to the store, or special stops on the way home from work, to pick up something sweet? (a Hershey bar from the vending machine at work before leaving counts)

4. Have you ever vowed to cut down on sweets, only to fail after a few days, and consume the amount you would have eaten those days during a few hour period?

5. Do you ever eat one Oreo, and find that you can't stop until you have finished the entire bag?

6. Can people pinpoint when you haven't had your sugar fix, because you are so moody?

7. Can you pinpoint when you haven't had your sugar fix, because you have a headache from sugar withdrawals?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you most likely have a sugar addiction. If you answered yes to all of these questions, you most likely are me. I have self-diagnosed sugar addiction. There is really no need to get a diagnosis on this, as it is so unbelievably obvious.

Knowing that you have a sugar addiction is the first step to beating the addiction. If you have a sugar addiction, eating something that contains sugar will cause you to want to eat something more that contains sugar. Knowing that you should avoid sugar altogether is a great way to get your addiction under control.

Sugar addiction will never go away. It is always with you. Identifying your sugar addiction is the first step in overcoming this problem. There are actually twelve step programs for sugar addicts, and it may be a direction you should go. Whatever you choose to do to combat this sugar addiction, remember that one sweet leads to another sweet, leads to another sweet, leads to a sugar induced coma.

PCOS and Low-Carb

Another reason that I shouldn't be allowed to play on the Internet. I have found multitudes of information on the benefits of living the low-carb lifestyle. Earlier I came across a bit of information about PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)

If you don't know anyone who has been diagnosed with this disease, you may not know much about it. Here's a quick overview of what it is.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a problem in which a hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with a woman's menstrual cycle, and also make it difficult to get pregnant (cause infertility). PCOS may also cause unwanted changes in the way you look. It can cause weight gain, unwanted hair growth, acne, etc. If it is not treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) is common, affecting as many as 1 in 15 women. Often the symptoms begin in the teen years. Treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems.

Interestingly, it is thought that PCOS stems from hyperinsulinemia. Big word, huh? Basically, that is "carbohydrate intolerance." Even more interesting. Do you know what the first step in treating PCOS often is? Bet you can guess... It's low-carb dieting. Many doctors suggest that their patients go low-carb as a first attempt at combating PCOS and successfully conceiving. In fact, many women with PCOS report that low-carb dieting was the first and only step that they took to successfully conceive, and that it worked.

There are many women who suffer from PCOS and do not even know it. The following symptoms are associated with PCOS:

Acne
Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
Extra hair on the face and body (often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back)
Thinning hair on the scalp
Irregular periods (often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year; some women have no periods; others have very heavy bleeding)
Fertility problems
Depression
Cyst on their ovaries (these are not harmful, but they do cause hormonal imbalance, causing the infertility)

These symptoms do not need to all be present for you to have PCOS. Sometimes they are mild, and other times they are severe. If you are currently experiencing some of these symptoms, or know someone who is, it wouldn't hurt to consult a doctor. You may not be suffering from PCOS, but it is a good idea to rule it out.

Another Low-Carb Link

Attention Men: This blog will help to benefit your health.

This is not to say that female readers need not continue. I may not be a man, but I have many men in my life that I care about, and after reading an article about low-carb diets, I have contacted them all to remind them to pass on the potatoes and macaroni at dinner tonight.

Research shows that a diet high in carbs contributes to a more rapid growth of prostate tumors. It seems that having too much insulin in the blood contributes to outcomes in patients who already have prostate cancer not being as favorable. Basically, if you or someone you know has already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it would be beneficial to maintain a low-carb lifestyle. High-carb yields higher insulin levels, along with more weight gain, and what appears to be quicker tumor growth. Though the studies were conducted on mice that already had tumors, it can't hurt to think in preventative terms.

In studies that were conducted for determining the affect that carbohydrates have on the growth of prostate tumors, the overall result was that "diets associated with reduction in insulin level may have benefits for prostate cancer patients..." This is a direct quote from the authors of the study.

This is a promising discovery. It may be true of all tumors. Wouldn't it be great to know that the "low-carb craze," as it has been dubbed by many skeptics, is helpful in slowing the growth of cancers? What a world, huh...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Truth About Fruits

Even though most people grow up being told to eat your fruits and vegetables, the truth is that fruits are very high in sugar. There are some that are healthier than others. Fruits can be broken down into groups that include those low in sugar, moderate in sugar, and high in sugar. You should always find out the nutrition facts of food before consuming it, whether you are trying to stay low-carb, or not. Here are some common fruits broken into groups for your low-carb convenience.

The list of fruits that you should absolutely avoid due their extremely high sugar count are:

bananas
cherries
figs
grapes
kiwi
mangoes
oranges
pears
pineapple
plums
pomegranates
tangerines

Fruits that have a moderate amount of sugar in them should be avoided mostly when you are living the low-carb lifestyle. These include, but are not limited to:

apples
apricots
blueberries
cantaloupes
grapefruit
honeydews
nectarines
papaya
peaches
strawberries
watermelon

If you are going to eat fruit while living the low-carb lifetsyle, there are some that are lower in sugar, and are a healthier choice. Some fruits lower in sugar are:

blackberries
cranberries
lemon
lime
raspberries

The sugar in fruit is somewhat different than granulated sugar, but in effect, it is the same on your body. I, for one, feel very sick after I eat most fruits. They feel heavy on my stomach, and I lose energy. If you are someone like me, and notice the same reaction to fruits that I have, you would be wise to avoid them. There are people who don't have the same reaction to fruit that I do. For those people, eating fruit everyday may be just fine. For me however, eating fruit daily is just not an option.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's For Dinner Tonight

With the frequent job layoffs, and the skyrocketing prices of everything, one thing that can be helpful to your budget is to meal plan in advance. The cost is much higher for most items at local, smaller grocery stores. When you meal plan in advance, you can shop around for better prices.

The first step to meal planning is to have some kind of inventory of what you already have at your house in the cabinets and the freezer. For example, if you have 40 pounds of chicken (like I do thanks to a local market meat sale), a good place to start would be to find some recipes with chicken. I like to search allrecipes.com, but there are lots of recipe sites out there.

Besides saving money, meal planning adds convenience to your week. Most people are super busy during the week, and factoring in a trip to the grocery store on the way home from work just takes too much energy. The thought of having to stop for an ingredient is draining enough, but actually making the stop is too much.

The final plus to meal planning in advance is that you can control the nutrition facts in your recipe. If you are a low-carber, which I would assume you are since you are reading this, you can substitute ingredients to stay low-carb.

There are a lot of reasons to meal plan. It's not a difficult thing to do, and it saves time, money, and stress. If you don't already meal plan, hopefully this post will inspire you to do so.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Quick Observation

A quick observation that I have made is that I seem to struggle with dieting more when I am at work, than when I am anywhere else. I have no problem sticking to my diet when I am at home, or when I am out doing "chores." When I am at work, however, it seems like all I want to do is snack. I don't know what the reason for this is, but it is most definitely the case. The great thing about me making this observation is that I can now prepare for this.

There are some great snack foods that come in handy when you figure this out about yourself. My favorite for this type of occasion is bacon. I love to eat a few pieces of bacon when I am wanting to snack. (notice I said wanting to snack, and not hungry) The benefits of snacking on bacon are high protein content, and virtually no, if any, carb content. In that same thought, cheese is great. I just buy blocks of cheese, and cut it into cubes. It takes a little time, but costs less this way. Another snack I like to have, but must plan in advance for, is hard boiled eggs, which I sometimes make into deviled eggs. They are convenient, but you have to consider others when picking this snack. It is important to remember that some people have a problem with the smell. If you share a space with someone else at work, make sure it isn't offensive to them.

If you are pressed for time, and can only make a quick stop on the way somewhere, there is always beef sticks, like Slim Jims, or my favorite Jack's Links. Also, most convenience stores have pork rinds which are high in protein and low in carbs. Think of some other low-carb snacks that are convenient, and make a list of them. Make them in advance, so you never get into a bad carb situation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sample Menu Plan

I recently came across a low-carb starting plan, and I was very unhappy with what I saw. As you should know from my earlier post, you should consume very few carbs on the first few days of the low-carb lifestyle. It takes a little while for the carbs that are stored in your body to get out. For this reason, you want to stay very low-carb while this process is taking place. The suggestion meal plan that I came across while playing around on the Internet doesn't seem to agree with me. While I did agree with much of the food that is listed, there were a few items that did not belong on the menu for the induction phase of low-carb. The plan was as follows:

Monday
Breakfast-Two egg omelet with sausage and roasted red peppers
Lunch-Reuben sandwich (corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut) on one slice low carb bread, and green salad with low carb dressing
Dinner-Grilled chicken breast and steamed asparagus and yellow squash and mixed salad with vinaigrette or low carb dressing
Snack-Celery sticks with low carb dip

Tuesday
Breakfast-Two poached eggs with smoked salmon in cream dill sauce, and half small tomato
Lunch-Grilled beef patty with steamed broccoli and cauliflower and mixed green salad with olive oil & balsamic vinaigrette
Dinner-Roast chicken with herbs with broccoli with Parmesan curls and Endive and radish salad with vinaigrette
Snack-Red pepper sticks with low carb dip

Wednesday
Breakfast-One low carb muffin and one hard-boiled egg
Lunch-Cobb salad (avocado, tomato, chicken, hard-boiled egg, blue cheese and bacon over lettuce) with olive and balsamic vinaigrette
Dinner-Salmon with Steel’s Wasabi Teriyaki sauce and steamed green beans with sesame oil cabbage slaw with low carb Cole Slaw dressing
Snack-Olives and Cheddar cubes

Thursday
Breakfast-Two scrambled eggs with two slices of bacon and one slice of low carb bread
Lunch-Shrimp salad over lettuce and tomato slices with low carb dressing
Dinner-Broiled lamb chops with Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil and mixed green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette
Snack-Atkins Advantage shake

Friday
Breakfast-Two low carb pancakes with low carb syrup and three turkey sausages
Lunch-Large tossed salad with tuna, tomatoes and low carb dressing
Dinner-Roasted pork tenderloin and sauteed spinach and red peppers
Snack-Stallone high protein low carb pudding

Saturday
Breakfast-One low carb muffin and two slices of Cheddar cheese
Lunch-Steak and pepper fajitas on low carb tortilla and Romaine and avocado salad with Olivado Avocado oil and lemon
Dinner-Grilled tuna with spice rub and zucchini and mushrooms skewers
Snack-Atkins Advantage bar

Sunday
Breakfast-Poached egg on one slice low carb bread, two tomato slices and two slices Cheddar cheese
Lunch-Chef Salad (roast turkey, cheese, red onion and sliced tomatoes over romaine) with olive and balsamic vinaigrette
Dinner-Turkey meatloaf and green bean, snow pea and pepper medley
Snack-Olives and Cheddar cubes

Now that you have seen the suggested meal plan, see if you can spot my three biggest problems with this meal plan for the induction phase.

Give up? If you know me at all, you know I am going to tell you the flaws that I found. Usually, the flaw would be something with grammar or spelling. This time, though, it's the content, and not the spelling. My first issue is that there is flour product eaten 6 of the 7 days. Sometimes it's low-carb bread. Sometimes it's a pastry, like a muffin. It also comes in the form of pancakes and tortillas. They do make sure that the reader realizes that it's a low-carb version, but still, during induction, low-carb flour products are a no-no. Even after induction phase, they should be eaten in moderation. The next issue that I have with this meal plan is that you eat salad almost everyday, and sometimes twice a day. Vegetables are wonderful, and you can of course eat them on the low-carb lifestyle, but in the induction phase, this is just too much salad, and not enough protein to go with it. The other problem that I had when I saw this was the way I felt like it was advertising products. I enjoy all of the products mentioned, including Atkins products and Stallone products. However, I thought it was in poor taste to "advertise" in this way. I was left uneasy with the entire menu plan.

I did like the idea of menu planning, though. It's especially important to menu plan for the first week. During the first week, you will still be craving carbs, because you are technically "addicted" to the carbs. By all means, menu plan. But, when you do...watch out for those hidden carbs, and eat the low-carb food you like. Don't fall for slick advertising campaigns.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Meatloaf Calling Your Name?

Here's a great meatloaf recipe that keeps your carbs under control, but also gives you that comforting feeling in your tummy. With the temperatures dropping, you need something like this for dinner.

Ingredients

Tomato Topping:
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup sugar substitute (recommended: Splenda)
2 teaspoons white vinegar or water

2 pounds ground chuck
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1/4 cup roasted or fresh red bell peppers, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Optional

1/4 pound prosciutto, or any type of ham, thinly sliced
1/4 pound provolone cheese, sliced

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix together the tomato topping ingredients. Set it aside. You may add a few drops of water to thin to a ketchup consistency.
In a large bowl, mix together the beef, eggs, Parmesan, vegetables, herbs, and seasonings.
Working on a waxed paper lined sheet pan or counter, form meatloaf mix into a 10 by 8-inch flat rectangle on the waxed paper. Place a layer of prosciutto slices on top, followed by a layer of provolone slices. Roll up the stuffed meatloaf mix like a burrito and seal the edges all around by pinching the meat.
Place the roll, seam side down, into a 5 by 9-inch loaf pan. Spread a heavy coat of the tomato topping to completely cover the top of the meatloaf. Place it in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Drain the fat and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Comfort Foods (Repost)

Comfort food is something that everyone wants, at one time or another. The trouble with most comfort food, however, is that it is generally high in carbs, meaning that if you live the low-carb lifestyle, like so many people do, it's off limits to you. The good news is that there are ways to make the comfort foods that you love, and still stay low-carb. All you have to do is modify the recipes a little.

For example, one of my favorite comfort foods is a good basket of onion rings. I love to dip them in a thick ranch dressing. They go great with a burger. The problem with onion rings is that the breading has carbs, and that makes it a no-no. There is a way, however, to make them lower in carbs than usual. The following recipe comes from George Stella. If you don't know who he is, as a low-carber, you absolutely need to find some information about him. Short version, he is an avid low-carber with a show on Food Network. He has lost a tremendous amount of weight, and has great recipes.

Ingredients
3 to 6 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream or water
3 large yellow onions

Breading:
2 1/3 cups soy flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Directions
Place a heavy pot over medium-high heat with at least an inch of vegetable oil. Heat oil to 350 degrees; it is important to monitor and maintain the temperature, or the soy flour breading and your oil will burn. (Portable deep fryers at home are great for this.)In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and cream to make an egg wash. In a separate larger bowl, mix the breading ingredients together.Peel and slice the onions in thick slices and carefully separate the rings. Then dip individual onion rings in the breading, then the egg wash, and then back in the breading again, making sure to coat well. Pat off any excess breading and carefully place into hot oil, in batches as necessary, and fry until golden brown and crisp, just 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Soy flour is made from toasted soybeans and has already been "cooked."Therefore it has a tendency to brown faster than plain flour when frying.

You can also use this same breading recipe to make other fried foods such as okra and cheese sticks. Oh, and it's also great on deep fried chicken.

Hopefully, you will enjoy these onion rings. I make my ranch dressing at home, so I can keep track of the nutrition facts. It's also better than any other ranch dressing that I have tried before. The next few posts will be about more comfort foods. If you enjoy comfort foods, come back and visit soon...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How's the Diet?

Wow, long time, no post... Summer went by way too fast. I have no valid excuse for my lack of posting, but I will say that I became the student over the summer. I went to workshops, and had an online class that took up mostly all of my time. Pretty hectic and stressful, and I am thinking of going back for my Master's. I have spent so much time writing. If you are someone who only knows me from blogging, you might be interested to know that I am an aspiring writer. I spend most of my free time, which is virtually non-existent, as I am a small business owner and full time school teacher, writing. I love to write. It is currenty just my passion, and hobby. I am hoping to make it my full time career, as I have recently discovered that it is my sweet spot. For those of you wondering what I am talking about, you can follow my journey, and find out about your sweet spot on my other blog. Max Lucado has written a phenomenal book about finding your sweet spot, and curing your common life. It's wonderful, and I can't rave about it enough.

At any rate, even though this blog post is not about low carb, it is a short update on where I am in my life. I intend to get back to the low carb blog, as well as continue my newer blog about finding your sweet spot and enjoying the life that God gave you. Hope everyone is doing well, and the holidays don't stress you too much.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Few Tips on Induction

There are a few tips that you should remember when you are in the induction phase of low-carb eating. Some people don't think about these things, and they definitely affect your success. Induction can last anywhere from three days to two weeks. I feel like after three days, I can start to be a little less strict, and consider my induction to be over. There are some who feel induction should last for two weeks, but if I am too strict like that for too long, I always worry that I am going to give up in a hurry. The following tips can help you to not only survive induction, but to get the best possible result from it.

Tip # 1:
Only eat when you are hungry, and only eat enough to make you not hungry anymore. Don't over eat when you are in the induction phase. Your carbs should be limited to 20 per day, and you should not just eat all day long because the food is there.

Tip # 2:
Try to drink lots of water, and steer clear of caffeine. Water is always the best thing to drink when you are trying to get healthy, and you should drink large amounts of it. It's fine to drink carbonated drinks, but they should be free of caffeine when you are in the induction phase.

Tip # 3:
Do not consume alcohol during induction. Alcohol can have an affect on many of the factors that are involved in low-carb dieting. There are low-carb alcohols out there that are fine to drink in moderation while you are living a low-carb lifestyle, but they are not acceptable to have during the induction phase.

Hopefully these tips can help you to have a great induction phase for you new way of eating. It is an important part of low-carb life, and should not be done lightly. Jimmy Moore has done a few videos explaining the dos and don'ts of low-carb. They can be found here. Good luck.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

To Begin With...

How to get started on the low-carb lifestyle...

The first thing that you need to do if you are considering cutting back on your carb intake is do a little bit of research on what low-carb dieting means. There are many versions of low-carb diets out there, and without doing the proper research, it will be difficult for you to predict which version will give you the best results. You can research in a number of different ways. You can ask people you know what they know about low-carb. You can join forums online, and ask all the questions you like. You can do Internet searches to find out information about low-carb. There are also a lot of books on low-carb dieting that you can buy.

The best books on low-carb are written by Dr. Atkins. He is the leader of the low-carb craze, as it is so often called. He has some fantastic books that explain low-carb in detail. I recommend buying at least one of his books, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to go ahead and purchase more than one. All of his books contain information that is important, and the information contained in each one differs. My favorite is Atkins for Life, which contains great information, as well as six month's worth of meal plans.

After you have purchased some books, you need to brush up on the low-carb lingo. For example, the word induction is a word that many people may not know. If you have no book to tell you what induction is, you can find out what it is here.

Finally, once you have learned the terms that you will need to be familiar with for the low-carb lifestyle, you need to begin to shop for your new lifestyle. The first thing to make sure that you have on hand is canned tuna fish. Tuna is, ounce for ounce, one of the highest sources of protein around. Peanut butter is something that I like to keep on hand. Fresh vegetables and peanuts are also great to have. Ground beef is wonderful to have in the freezer because it is so versatile. It can be made into almost anything. I also like to have cheeses in my refrigerator always. Any kind of cheese will do. I love them all.

Hopefully this will help you to know where to begin now that you have decided to go low-carb. The next post will help you to know what to do once your induction phase is over. Come back, and find out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Beginning the Low-Carb Lifestyle

In response to the question posted by Angie from Thrifty Florida Mama, I would love to post a step by step, how-to on the low-carb lifestyle. It can be quite confusing if you haven't read any of Dr. Atkins' books. Most people think I just eat meat all day long, kind of like a lion. Contrary to popular belief, there are more foods on the low-carb lifestyle than meat, cheese, and water. That being said, those three are my favorites. Tomorrow's post will be a tutorial on how to get started, what to do after induction, when it's okay to stray from low-carb, and what to do when you have reached your goals for getting healthy. I will also give some suggestions for books to buy, snacks to always have on hand, and any other advice I can think of between now and tomorrow's post. So....Until tomorrow, enjoy your sugars and pastas, because soon, you'll be with me, Loving the Low-Carb Lifestyle.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Crock-Pot Chicken Parmigiana

If you miss Italian food due to the whole low-carb/no pasta thing, have I got great news for you. It's an Italian meal, involving a few easy steps, and the ever-so-lovely crock-pot. This one is a little work, so you want to make it on a day that you know you will have a little extra time in the morning. This isn't one you can rush. By the way, notice ingredient that is number eight on the list...drum roll please...it's eggplant.(my new favorite)

You will need the following ingredients:
6 whole chicken breast (or 6 halves)
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup pork rind crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese grated
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 small eggplant, peeled, cut into
3/4-inch slices
1 can (10 1/2oz) low carb pizza sauce
12 slices Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Cut whole chicken breasts into halves. In bowl, beat egg, salt, and pepper. Mix pork rind crumbs and Parmesan Cheese into separate bowl for dredging the meat in. Dip chicken into egg then coat with crumbs.

In large skillet, sauté chicken in butter or margarine. Arrange chicken and eggplant in crock pot with eggplant on bottom. Pour pizza sauce over chicken. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Add Mozzarella cheese 15 minutes before serving. Top with Parmesan cheese.

If you want my opinion, which I hope you do since you are bothering to read my blog, it's the crumbled pork rinds that make the meal. Very crunchy, flavorful.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Crock-Pot Italian Beef

Getting back to the crock-pot meals, this is one that is great. It involves a few more steps than some of the others, but it's still a pretty simple meal. The last ingredient is something that I always have on hand at my house because of the great dip you can make with it, which I'll post later.

You will need the following ingredients:
3 to 4 pound rump roast
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce (no sugar added variety)
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash soy sauce
1 package Italian salad dressing mix (Good Seasons)

Put roast in crock pot. Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from heat and pour over roast in crock pot. Cook all night on low or 6 to 8 hours on high. About 1 and 1/2 hours before serving, flake meat apart and continue cooking.

Delicious!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Not a Crock-Pot Recipe

I must say, I am enjoying all of the wonderful low-carb meals that can be made in the crock-pot, but yesterday, I was watching The Victory Garden, (yes, I'm a PBS nut, and my husband makes fun of me all the time) and it was a look back at past episodes. One of the scenes was cooking with vegetables from the garden. He began to make something with eggplant, which, I have to admit, I don't recall ever tasting it. However, after watching him make his meal with eggplant, I immediately went to the store, bought an eggplant, and made dinner. This recipe is a new low-carb take on an old favorite. It's a wonderful low-carb lasagna with eggplant in place of the noodles. It's pretty simple to make, and it was delicious.

You start by cutting an eggplant into slices that are a little less than 1/2 an inch wide. From an average sized eggplant, you get 7-10 slices. He did not peel the eggplant, but next time I make it, I will peel after I cut it. It makes it easier to eat. Next, you grill the eggplant for about 3 minute on each side, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, and some extra virgin olive oil that has been brushed on . Then, layer the eggplant, spaghetti sauce (with or without meat), and mozzarella cheese. Mine was like this: eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese. Depending on the size of the eggplant, and the baking dish, you may not get that many layers. Once you have finished layering the lasagna, place it into an oven that has been preheated to 450 degrees, and bake it for 15 minutes. This is the quickest lasagna I have ever had, and now that I know it's good, next time, I will be adding ricotta cheese, and other ingredients to make it my own.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crock-Pot Pork Ribs

This is the recipe for the simple, yet delicious, crock-pot pork ribs. This is one of the easiest recipes that I have found, so far. You throw all of the ingredients into the crock-pot, set it, and "forget about it."(imagine that in my thick, yet unimpressive, Italian accent)

You will need the following ingredients:
3 lb. Pork country-style ribs cut into serving pieces
1/3 c Flour
2 tb Oil
1 1/2 c Apple vinegar
1 c Water
1 tb Salt
1/2 ts Pepper
2 lb. Small zucchinis, cubed
16 oz Carrots; cut into 2" pieces
1 lg Onion; coarsely chopped
1 sm Cabbage; shredded
1 ts Caraway seeds

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on LOW for 5 hours. Pretty simple, huh? Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Short Message From Me...

I have to say that no matter how well you are doing on your diet, or how much success you are seeing in yourself, nothing compares to having someone else notice. It's so easy to be discouraged when you are trying to get healthy and on track, but it's not anywhere near as easy to be encouraged. However, I have had two days straight of encouragement from both family, and friends. And, to those who have been so generous as to say they notice some weight loss, I genuinely say "Thank You." Your compliments have been appreciated, and have made all the difference in the world.

Shrimp In Tomato And Feta Sauce

Everybody loves seafood, or at least I do. I could live the rest of my life on seafood alone, and be ecstatic. Unfortunately, in order for seafood to be low-carb, you usually have to prepare it in the most boring way: baked with a little lemon juice. In my quest for more crock-pot recipes, I came across a great one that has shrimp and feta cheese. It has a few steps, and you do need an extra 15 minutes, but I think it's worth the work.

You will need the following ingredients:
2 T Olive oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove garlic, minced
28 Oz Canned Tomatoes1 Can Tomato puree
6 Oz Tomato paste
1/4 C Dry wine or vermouth
2 T Parsley, chopped
1 t Dried oregano
1/4 t Fresh ground pepper
2 Lbs Jumbo shrimp -- peel, devein
3 Ozs Feta cheese, 1/4" cubes

Heat oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.Add the tomatoes, the puree, the tomato paste, wine, parsley, oregano and pepper.Cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on LOW. Increase the heat to HIGH and add the shrimp. Cook just until the shrimp are firm and have turned pink, about 15 minutes.Stir in the feta cheese and serve immediately.

Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Enjoy!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Crock-Pot Cajun Chicken

This is the first crock-pot recipe I tried. It's simple enough, and had great flavor. It was flavored well, but not too spicy. Enjoy!

You will need the following ingredients:
1 1/2 lb boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1" pieces
1/8 tsp garlic powder
5 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 to 2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried whole basil
1 tsp dried whole marjoram
1 tsp dried whole oregano
1 head of cauliflower

Sprinkle chicken with garlic powder. Combine tomatoes and remaining ingredients except cauliflower in a crock-pot, chicken on top and sauces and herbs poured over chicken and vegetables. Cook on high for 5-7 hours. Serve over steamed cauliflower.

What A Crock!

The wonderful women that I work with are always talking about the great meals that they make in their crock-pots. It seems pretty convenient when I hear them talking about these meals. They also sound like fantastic meals. It seems like every meal they make in the crock-pot has meat that falls off the bone. They talk about the great flavor, and how easy it is to just fill the crock-pot, and then come home to the meal. I decided to look into recipes for the crock-pot, and then decide if it was a purchase I wanted to make. Let's face it, with teaching for eight hours, and then heading to my personal business for another five hours, I need something that is ready to eat when I get home, or I am eating at 10:00 at night. That is just not healthy, and I realize it. Unfortunately, almost all of the recipes that I came across were loaded with carbs, mainly because they all contained potatoes. So, what's a girl to do? I want the convenience, but certainly not the carbs. Then, it happened. I found some recipes that are designed for the slow-cooker (that's the machine, not the person), and are lower in carbs. I am going to be posting these recipes for the next few days, maybe weeks, if I can find enough. Hopefully, they will all taste as great as the few that I have made so far. Thanks to my great friends at work for pointing me in the direction of the crock-pot.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Do It For Real

An important thing to remember when being on the low-carb eating plan is that each time you eat something high in carbs, it's like sabotaging your weight loss. When you are on a low fat diet, and you eat a greasy cheeseburger, all it does is make your fat grams for that day higher than they should be. On the other hand, when you are on the low-carb way of eating, and you eat a hot fudge Sunday, it not only makes your carb count for that day high, but it also starts your eating plan over at day 1. If you recall, days 1-3 on the low-carb lifestyle are induction days, which means very low-carb, and very high protein. It takes up to 3 days for remaining carbs to completely leave your system, and because of that, you start over anytime that you eat something you shouldn't. You have to do the low-carb plan for real. Don't do it half-a**ed.

It may sound like it's not worth doing the low-carb thing, because you can't have something sweet, even if you really need it. This is not the case. It's completely worth working to stay low-carb. The pros of this way of life far outweigh the cons. You feel better, you look better, and it's healthier.

What you need to do is always have a low-carb treat on hand. That way, when you feel like you just have to have something that is not generally on the low-carb lifestyle, like Breyer's Carb Smart ice cream, or Atkins pasta, there is something in the cabinet or freezer for you.

The low-carb lifestyle does take some getting used to. You do have to adjust your life a little, but it is totally worth it. Cheating on the low-carb lifestyle is something that is not worth it, however. Stick to the guidelines of this way of eating, and you will see the changes that you are hoping for.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Had a Bad Day Again...

Bad days are contagious, but hopefully, everyone around me has had the vaccine. It seems as though I have had more than my fair share of bad days in the last week. I do realize, though, and take responsibility for the fact, that I have let them turn into bad days because of my own negative attitude. There have been some unfortunate events that contributed to these days, but, ultimately, it was me who chose to let them alter my outlook.

I am not bringing this up so that people can pity or feel sorry for me. I am simply segwaying into the suggestion that, even though it might be tough, you should not let the "bad day" ruin your healthy eating. It is so easy to just go home after a tough day, and get out the 1/2 gallon of Breyer's Chocolate ice cream. However, there are other ways that you should deal with your problems.

The two main ways I like to relieve my stress are both therapeutic, as well as healthy and contribute to getting in shape. First, I like to journal. This is therapeutic, because I can get a lot of feelings out on paper. It's contributes to getting in shape, also. The way that it does this, is I journal what I have eaten each day. If I notice that I am higher in carbs than I should be, I do tuna for dinner. If I notice that I haven't had enough water, I try to remedy the situation. Journaling is a fantastic way to relieve stress. I also like to take a walk, long or short. If I have the time, long is great. I don't always have the time for a long walk, but even a short one will relieve stress, and burn calories along the way. I also, when I have the time, like to get in a little yoga. The slow, intense stretching, and deep breathing are very relaxing. It's a great way to get, or stay, fit. Journaling and exercising are helpful in keeping my stress level in tact.

Everyone has a bad day, but the important thing to remember is not to let it ruin what you are working towards. I have been struggling lately, and maybe you have, too. We can make it through this, though, and be better people because of it. (I probably sounded a little like a motivational speaker just then, but I sure could use some inspiration, and it seems to be coming out in my writing.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Heart Fuze

There is a fantastic product on the market. It isn't new, but there are still some people who don't know about it. It's called Fuze. It's a great fruit drink with only 10 calories per serving. Sounds great, huh? But, here's the kicker. They make a Fuze Slenderize, which is even better. It's got only 10 calories, and it's low-carb. There are only 2 carbs per serving. The best part is, they have 6 Slenderize flavors, each with 4 vitamins and minerals that help you slim down.

Fuze Slenderize contains Chromium, which is a micro nutrient known to improve the amount of energy you get from food.

Fuze Slenderize contains Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant essential for vision, growth and healthy skin.

Fuze Slenderize contains SuperCitrimax, which helps users maintain a normal appetite and increase energy in healthy individuals, which in turn helps support a healthy metabolism.

Fuze Slenderize contains L-Carnitine, an amino-acid which boosts energy.

Fuze Slenderize is a fantastic product that you can buy at Sam's. The cost is less than $1.00 per bottle, making it less than $.50 per serving. I absolutely love it, and so do the kids that I teach. They bring it in to school with them, and love the fact that we have the taste for Fuze in common. If you want to know more about Fuze Slenderize, go to their website. You can even sign up for the newsletter and coupons.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Great Greek Chicken Recipe

I, for one, love Greek cuisine. Greek cuisine is just the best food around. I could eat it all day, every day. The main problem with this is that Greek cuisine is not very low-carb friendly. For example, the first encounter I had with Greek cuisine was at my sister-in-law's brother's engagement party.(a little confusing) We were in the midst of a huge celebration, and the waiters started bringing out the food. Can I just say, it was fantastic! The part that I remember the most, however, was the first thing they brought out. It was a side salad with this awesome greek vinagrette. The best part, though, was when you got to the bottom of the salad. It took me a few minutes to realize what I was tasting. It was a wonderful layer of potato salad beneath the salad. At that point, I was sold. Since then, I have enjoyed Greek cuisine every chance I get. If there is a Greek festival within 200 miles of my home, I convince someone to go with me. I absolutely love Greek food. The problem is that they are usually full of carbs.

There are, however, some lower-carb foods that can be found at a Greek table. They often use a lot of feta cheese, which I also happen to love. I recently found this recipe for Greek Chicken at a diabetic recipe website, and it was very easy to make. It was also delicous.

You will need the following ingredients:

2 Lemon, fresh

1 cooking spray

6 Chicken, broiler/fryer, leg, with no skin or bones

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp ground oregano

The recipe is simple.

1 Cut 1 lemon in half. Slice the other lemon thinly and set aside.

2 Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a shallow baking pan with olive oil-flavored cooking spray.

3 Place chicken in pan and brush with extra-virgin olive oil and juice from halved lemon. Drizzle with oregano and lemon slices.

4 Bake chicken for 50 to 60 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center when cut with a small knife.

5 Remove from the oven and serve hot.

I like to serve mine with a sliced tomato and feta cheese salad. I loved this recipe when I made it. Hopefully, you will, too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Advanced

If you have been exercising for a while, and know what you are doing, you might find this to be a helpful tool on your journey. It's a good website that contains tips for the advanced workout. Enjoy.

Beginner

Here is a great website that I came across. It's a good tool if you're just beginning to get into exercising. I hope it helps point you in the right direction.

Adding Exercise to Your Daily Routine

A great way to increase your success in weight loss is to add exercise to your daily life. So often, people change their eating habits, but don't think to change anything else. It's important to have healthy eating habits. However, if you want to see faster results, it's important to burn calories, and break a sweat. Thirty minutes per day of exercise can help you to see results.

There are many ways in which to add thirty minutes of exercise to your day. You don't have to go out and join a gym. You don't have to sign up for an aerobics boot camp. You can get plenty of exercise without making a huge life change. Taking a stroll around your neighborhood is a great way to add some exercise to your day, and also relieve a little stress at the same time. Playing tag in the yard with your kids in the evening is also a way to incorporate some exercise, and add a little family time to your day.

Think about some ways that you can add a half hour of cardio to your routine, and jot those ideas down. Try to complete one idea each day, and you'll be in the exercising habit in no time.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why it's Important to Menu Plan

I am someone who never thought about meal planning. After all, it's just my husband and myself every night for dinner. What did we need to plan in advance for? I would just sort of fly by the seat of my pants, as they say. Each day, on the way home from work, I would think of what would be the easiest thing for the night. There were so many problems with this way of thinking, and I didn't realize it until a few weeks ago. There are three main reasons for me to stay on a menu plan.

Reason # 1:
When you menu plan, you pay more attention to the nutrition facts of your meal. It's so much easier to see what you are putting in your body when you know a few days in advance what you are having. It's also easy to adjust for lower carb content.

Reason # 2:
When you menu plan, you save time. You make one shopping trip for the week, and buy what you need to make the meals that are on your menu plan. This means that there will be no stopping on the way home from work at the grocery store to pick up cucumbers for the salad that you just decided to make for dinner.

Reason # 3:
Probably the most important reason during a time of financial crisis: When you menu plan, you save money. When you make your menu for the week, it's usually before you do your grocery shopping. By doing it in this order, you can plan the different places that you should go to do your shopping. For example, if you know that breakfast sausage is on sale at Publix this week, and it is part of your menu plan, you make sure that is one of the places you stop. If you haven't menu planned, and you decide on your way home that the meal you want to make needs breakfast sausage, you stop at the most convenient place that you pass, and end up spending maybe twice as much. Also, like I said yesterday, you can buy things in bulk and save money, if you know you will need them this week.

Menu planning really has helped my household to save time, money, and be healthier. I think it can help your household, too. Give it a try for a few weeks, and you'll be hooked. Hope this helps lower your stress level.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Low-Carb on a Budget

With the constant talk of recession on nearly everyone's lips, it's tough to not worry about your finances. When you have worries such as this one, it's not uncommon to notice a little weight gain. Stress often causes you to put on some unwanted pounds. Unfortunately, when you are worried about finances, you really don't want to committ to an eating plan, because many times, you worry about how much it costs to eat healthy.

Eating foods that are unhealthy costs very little. For example, the cheapest food that I can think of is Ramen Noodles. On average, a package of Ramen Noodles costs somewhere between $.50 and $1.00. With that one package, you can either feed two people, or make two meals for yourself. Now, when money is tight, that might sound like the best thing for you. However, if you look at the nutrition facts for Ramen Noodles, you will see that no matter how great of a deal you get on these, they are not worth what you pay. First of all, the amount of sodium is grotesque. But, of course, you know what nutrition fact I am most interested in...carbs. The amount of carbs in one serving of Ramen Noodles is almost twice the amount of carbs people on low-carb plans should consume in one day. It's important to realize that eating healthy is definitely worth spending a little extra money each week at the grocery store.

There are ways, however, to save money, and still stay on the low-carb eating plan. For example, one thing to remember is that it is okay to buy store-brand, as opposed to name brand. A peanut is a peanut, whether it's a Planters or not. Another way to save is to buy your veggies at local markets instead of grocery stores. The local market in my area has a great selection, wonderful prices, and they often let you sample what they offer. What better way is there to know what you're getting, and get a good deal? My final tip for low-carb on a budget is to shop at places like Sam's, BJ's, and Costco. You can get great deals there on all of the items that should be on your grocery list. I can get great deals on things like cheeses, olives, and of course meat, which is a staple on the low-carb lifestyle. Olives last a long time, so buying them in bulk is fine. Cheeses and meats are both foods that you should consume regularly on this meal plan. If you're worried about buying too much at a time, it's good to know that meats, and most cheeses, can be frozen and last a good while. For tips on how to freeze cheese, go to Angie's blog. She can help you out.

We are all feeling the financial crunch right now, but we must make sure that it doesn't affect our eating habits. It's important to keep your health in mind, even in times of what is being referred to as a recession. Hopefully, some of these tips can help you to stay low-carb, even when on a tight budget.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Suit Up

When you decide to go into the battle taking place between you and carbs, it is important to get out your armor. The armor that you need for this battle is knowledge. You need to research low-carb living, and make sure that you understand what it's all about. There are many different books out there that are dedicated to low-carb dieting.

Research around, and find the version of the low-carb diet that will be the most successful for you. You want to choose the one that will help you to lose weight in a timely manor, but at the same time, you want to choose one that you and your willpower have a chance of sticking to.

Find certain foods that are low in carbs and appeal to you most. You may find that there are foods that if you keep them on hand as often as possible, you have more success. Pepperoni slices are a good example of this. They, along with a few slices of cheese, are convenient and low-carb/high protein. Snacks like this can keep you on track throughout the day.

Another helpful tool for this battle is a menu plan for the week. The hardest thing about being low-carb is trying to find a spur of the moment meal to eat. If you plan in advance, your chance of succeeding is much higher.

Just remember, never go into battle without your armor. Make sure you understand what low-carb is, and why you can benefit from it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Little Honesty

I'm going to be honest, and put it all on the line. I have dropped the ball, so to speak, when it came to my low-carb lifestyle. I have been in what I call "Survival Mode," basically just doing what I needed to do to keep sane in this crazy world. Life has been going on around me, but from my perspective, it has stood still. Things that are beyond my control have been occurring, and I hate that more than anything. I have had a little me time this weekend, though, and during this time, I came to a realization. I realized that I am in a "funk." I'm not me. I don't know who I am, but I don't like it, and I want to be me again.

Step number one...Back on my journey to being healthy again. There are so many things in my life that I cannot control. My eating habits are one of the few things that I can control. That being said, it's on. I am taking back control of my eating habits and my body. Hopefully, I can inspire others to do the same thing. Join me, if you will, and let's get healthy together.

To make a long story short, I'M BACK.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's Comforting

Comfort food is something that everyone wants, at one time or another. The trouble with most comfort food, however, is that it is generally high in carbs, meaning that if you live the low-carb lifestyle, like so many people do, it's off limits to you. The good news is that there are ways to make the comfort foods that you love, and still stay low-carb. All you have to do is modify the recipes a little.

For example, one of my favorite comfort foods is a good basket of onion rings. I love to dip them in a thick ranch dressing. They go great with a burger. The problem with onion rings is that the breading has carbs, and that makes it a no-no. There is a way, however, to make them lower in carbs than usual. The following recipe comes from George Stella. If you don't know who he is, as a low-carber, you absolutely need to find some information about him. Short version, he is an avid low-carber with a show on Food Network. He has lost a tremendous amount of weight, and has great recipes.

Ingredients
3 to 6 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream or water
3 large yellow onions

Breading:
2 1/3 cups soy flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Directions
Place a heavy pot over medium-high heat with at least an inch of vegetable oil. Heat oil to 350 degrees; it is important to monitor and maintain the temperature, or the soy flour breading and your oil will burn. (Portable deep fryers at home are great for this.)
In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and cream to make an egg wash. In a separate larger bowl, mix the breading ingredients together.
Peel and slice the onions in thick slices and carefully separate the rings. Then dip individual onion rings in the breading, then the egg wash, and then back in the breading again, making sure to coat well. Pat off any excess breading and carefully place into hot oil, in batches as necessary, and fry until golden brown and crisp, just 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Soy flour is made from toasted soybeans and has already been "cooked."
Therefore it has a tendency to brown faster than plain flour when frying.

You can also use this same breading recipe to make other fried foods such as okra and cheese sticks. Oh, and it's also great on deep fried chicken.

Hopefully, you will enjoy these onion rings. I make my ranch dressing at home, so I can keep track of the nutrition facts. It's also better than any other ranch dressing that I have tried before.

The next few posts will be about more comfort foods. If you enjoy comfort foods, come back and visit soon...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Feeling Hungry?

Recent studies have proven something that should make all low-carbers very happy. Food that is high in protein helps you to feel full for longer. This means that when you consume a meal that is low in carbs and high in protein, you will not get hungry as fast as if you had a meal high in carbs. This translates into higher energy, as well. We all know that when we are hungry, it seems as though our energy is down. You focus on your stomach growling, instead of whatever it is you should be doing.

Interesting that it has taken us this long to figure this out, though. What is it that people say about Chinese food? You eat it until you are full, but thirty minutes later you are hungry again. Now think about the average meal at a Chinese restaurant. Your side dish is either fried rice, or lo mein, which is noodles. (carbs, carbs, and more carbs) Your entree usually has some kind of meat, but it is often battered and fried. You can add wontons to your meal, which is basically pastry dough with cream cheese. Finally, you end your meal with a fortune cookie. At the end of the meal, you are stuffed beyond belief. You think to yourself, "I'm never going to be able to eat again." What happens within an hour? You are starving, go to the refrigerator, eat your leftovers, and start the cycle all over again. Don't think that I am bashing Chinese food. I enjoy it every now and then. I am simply stating that Chinese food is proof that a high protein count makes you feel full longer than a high carb count.

When you get hungry early in the afternoon, and you know dinner is far away, try this. Eat a few chunks of cheddar cheese, or make a few deviled eggs. Or, if you feel like it, have a little bit of both. After all, it's low-carb, high protein, and you'll feel full until supper time.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Friday's Taco Salad

Friday's meal is for Mexican Night...Ole'! For Friday, a nice taco salad will do wonderfully. You can pretty much freestyle this one. Whatever ingredients you like in your taco salad can be used, as long as they don't break the low-carb theme we have going. For my taco salad, I use the following ingredients.

This should serve 4
2 pounds ground beef, which cooks down to about 1.5 pounds
1 large onion, chopped
1 packet Old El Paso taco seasoning (mild)

Ingredients for one salad:
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1 cup of lettuce
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp sour cream

Brown the beef, along with the onions, and add the seasoning mix as directed. Spoon some of the beef into a bowl, and add the rest of your ingredients. If there are other ingredients you wish to add, that's fine. You can also make some guacamole, or tortilla chips to accompany this salad. Feel free to do what you want with this meal. It's Friday night!!

Thursday's Stir Fry with Shrimp

Thursday's meal is a stir-fry with shrimp. Shrimp are extremely high in protein, which is great for weight loss. You will need the following ingredients. With stir-fry, you can add or delete ingredients as you like.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 pound uncooked, cleaned medium-sized fresh shrimp
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup shredded fresh spinach leaves
1/4 pound fresh English Peas
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Begin by heating a large skillet or wok on high heat for 2 minutes with oil. When it is hot, add the onion and celery and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, sliced mushrooms, and minced garlic, and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute or until the shrimp turn pink. Lastly, add the shredded spinach and English peas and stir-fry for 30 more seconds. After combining the cornstarch, water, and reduced-sodium soy sauce, add it to the shrimp mixture. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally over medium-high heat, until the mixture thickens. Serve immediately. This is a great meal to bring the family together. It's got the vegetables already in there, so there is no need for a side dish. Enjoy, and remember, tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday's Turkey Burgers

Wednesday's meal is a turkey burger. Wednesdays seem to be busy for most people, and this is an easy meal. I like to make low-carb tortilla chips to go with this one, and instead of a salad, I usually pile my veggies on the burger with no bun. You will need the following ingredients.

1 pound ground turkey
2 cubes beef bouillon
slices of cheddar cheese to top them

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey and the bouillon and mix well. Form into four patties. Grill over high heat for 3 minutes per side, or until internal temperature equals 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Place the slices of cheddar cheese on top, and let it melt. Enjoy these burgers, and also the middle of your week.

Tuesday's Blue Cheese and Swiss Chicken

Tuesday's meal is chicken with blue cheese and swiss. It's super easy to make, and tastes like it took hours to prepare. A great side dish for this one is steamed broccoli, and also a salad of mixed greens. The following is the list of ingredients you will need.

4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
4 Slices of Swiss Cheese
4 Tablespoons of BlueCheese
Seasoning to taste

Season and bake the chicken breasts until they are done. Remove them from the oven and top them with 1 tablespoon blue cheese. Next, cover them with a slice of swiss cheese and return them to the oven until the swiss cheese is melted. These are great, and you can make more than 4, depending on the size of your family.

Monday's Pork Tenderloin

Monday's meal is a pork tenderloin. It's a fairly easy recipe that goes great with green beans and a mixed greens salad. The ingredients you will need are as follows.

2 pork tenderloins, about 2 pounds
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, or about 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, halved
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking pan with foil, spray with cooking spray and place in oven. Trim fat from pork tenderloins and butterfly the meat, cutting them nearly in half lengthwise. Open the pork tenderloins and lay out, pounding to flatten with the palm of the hand or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Chop rosemary if using fresh. Rub pork tenderloins all over with cut sides of garlic halves then olive oil, then sprinkle rosemary on both sides. Remove baking pan from the oven and place pork on hot tray. Return to oven and roast for about 20 minutes (about 155° to 160° internal temp). Remove and let stand 5 minutes, then slice. Serve and enjoy. Happy Monday!

Monday-Friday Meal Plan

The next five posts will be meal suggestions for a Monday through Friday low-carb week. People on a low-carb lifestyle generally have more success when there are others in their households who live the low-carb lifestyle as well. The following meal ideas can be used to feed on e person, or an entire family. I will give the suggestion for a side dish that can go with the entree, or you can mix and match. Hopefully you and your family will enjoy these meals as much as I do.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fuel from Food!

I am a 5th grade teacher, and as most everyone knows, the FCATs are coming up all too soon. I am going to use that as an excuse for my blog posts being so few, and far between. I promise to get back into gear now. Anyway, they begin on Tuesday, and for 5th graders last over a week. At school today, a reminder went home with the students to give to their parents about making sure to eat healthy for the week. When I read over it, after I had passed it out to my class, I was immediately impressed, and also knew I was definitely doing the right thing with low-carb.

The heading to the handout said "Make sure your students have the best FCAT Fuel." It went on to remind parents that there are certain foods that are considered Brain Foods. These Brain Foods are what parents should be feeding their children for dinner on the nights before the FCAT. The list had all of my favorites. It included nuts, fish, beef, chicken, eggs, green vegetables, and of course dark chocolate. These are the foods that are said to improve brain function. Is there anything that you notice about them? I'll give you a minute. Yep, that's right. They are all vital parts of the low-carb lifestyle.

The best part about this handout is that is specifically states that parents should avoid feeding their children pasta, corn, rice and potatoes, and any complex carbohydrates that burn through your energy just trying to digest them. I was very happy to see something like this. So many people fight the "low-carb craze." It seems unnatural to them, because they have grown up on carbs. What they don't realize, though, is that it is the healthy choice for most people. Hopefully everyone will catch on, and our country won't be famous for its high percentage of obese people.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Do You Want to Win the Low-Carb War?

If you do, here are some tips that can help.

1. Pick an eating plan and research it. In my opinion (as if you have no idea what I am going to say), low-carb is the way to go. However, I do realize that not all people can do low-carb. That being said, pick the plan that is best for you, and move on to step number 2.

2. Set a goal. If it's a certain number on the scale, write that number down on a piece of paper. Put the number in your wallet, and look at it often. It can also be helpful to strategically place the number in various places of your home. For example, place the number on your refrigerator or freezer door. Another good place for it is on your bathroom mirror. Anywhere that you will see it on a regular basis is a good place to have it. This is a great way to help you achieve your goal.

3. Stick to your plan. There's nothing like a dieter who starts an eating plan, only to ruin it within a few days. Don't be one of those people. Don't be the person who decided twice a week that the new way of eating starts tomorrow. If you go through life continually doing that, you end up gaining weight, instead of losing it. One reason is that every night before you start over again, you eat everything in the house. It's as if it will be the last meal you ever eat. Instead of being that person, be the person that sets a goal, devises a plan, and adheres to it, no matter what.

4. Reward yourself for a job well done. Once you have lost the first 5 pounds, treat yourself to a new pair of shoes, or something else that will keep you motivated. DO NOT reward yourself with a carb day. That can only lead to a derailing of your success.

Focus on changing your life, not just your weight, and enjoy the new, healthier you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Have You Had Your MUFA Today?

Some of you are thinking, this gal has gone off her rocker. What the heck is a MUFA? Others may know what I am talking about. A MUFA is something that I have had in my diet for a long time, but until recently, had no idea how important it was. MUFA stands for monounsaturated fats. I have always consumed these MUFAs while living the low-carb lifestyle, but I never knew how improtant they were. After watching an interview with the authors of the book The Flat Belly Diet on Rachael Ray's show earlier this week, I pieced together some information.

I researched The Flat Belly Diet, and what it was all about for the past few days. The way the diet works, is you consume four meals that should be four hundred calories throughout the day. With each of these four meals, you are to eat a MUFA. The important part is, though, your MUFA must count as part of your four hundred calories, not in addition to those calories.

There were some things about The Flat Belly Diet that I disagree with. It seems that The Flat Belly Diet is geared towards being low-calorie, more so, than being low-carb. Well, you know me, I'm loving the low-carb lifestyle. I don't feel that low-calorie is the way to go for my personal body type. So, I decided to take some of the suggestions, and leave the others behind. I decided that I am going to try my best to incorporate a MUFA into each meal. It seems I have more success when I am eating more MUFAs anyway.

If you don't know what a MUFA is, I will give you the list. MUFAs, again, are monounsaturated fats. The four categories of MUFA that I like are oils, nuts and seeds, avocados and olives, and chocolate. Oils are specific, like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grape Seed Oil, and Soybean Oil. If you sautee your chicken in one of these oils, and put it on a mixed green salad with cheese and eggs, you have done great with a low-carb meal, and including your MUFA. The nuts and seeds category includes a lot of different snacks. Peanuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and sunflower seeds are all on the list. These can be a quick snack, or you can add them to your meal. Pecan Encrusted Tilapia is a great way to include your MUFA, and be high protein at the same time. The avocados and olives category is pretty self explanatory. Olives make a great snack with some cheese. Avocados are great to add to your salad, or you can make a tasty guacamole to dip your low-carb tortilla chips in. Finally, my favorite, but least often consumed MUFA is chocolate. Dark chocolate, especially, is a good MUFA. Living low-carb, though, you must try not to have an abundance of chocolate, as it is not a low-carb food.

I like the idea of eating more MUFAs throughout the day, and I am thankful for having been reminded of this by The Flat Belly Diet on Rachael Ray. Hopefully this MUFA information, and list, can be of help to you on your journey towards living low-carb.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

One More Negative Effect of Carbohydrates

It's obvious that I have had a little time this morning to conduct research about low-carb. In addition to finding out that I suffer from Low-Carb Tunnel Syndrome (read the blog entry below), I also found another interesting bit of information. I came across some information that might even change the thinking of people who are against low-carb. The reasons to opt for low-carb are unlimited. They range from weight loss to higher energy levels to lower cholesterol. Researchers have now given us one more reason to pass on carbohydrates.

Scientists in Stockholm have found high levels of a substance that is believed to cause cancer in foods that are high in carbohydrates. The substance is believed to be in foods such as french fries, breads, potato chips, etc. Notice anything that they all have in common? They are all foods that you should steer clear of when on the low-carb lifestyle. The substance is called acrylamide, and is classified as a medium hazard probable human carcinogen. It has been known to cause stomach tumors, both malignant and benign. This little bit of information was enough to detour me from that order of french fries.

Low-Carb Tunnel Syndrome (LCTS)

This is too funny. While researching information this morning about the reasons to live a low-carb lifestyle, I came across an article. I found the information inside to be a little disturbing, but very entertaining. It turns out that Dr. Howard Peiper has made a contribution to the low-carb lifestyle. He has given a name to people who choose to live low-carb. He has diagnosed people who only eat low-carb foods with a disorder. These people are said to be suffering from Low-Carb Tunnel Syndrome.

This was one of the funniest things that I have ever come across. I choose to eat in the way that is best for my body, and my health, and I get labeled as having a disorder. Upon further research, I found that Dr. Howard Peiper has written books about low-carb. One of his books is a guide to low-carb eating. To me, this was too much. Someone who supports the low-carb lifestyle has gone and labeled the people who choose to follow the low-carb lifestyle. It sounded to me like Dr. Howard Peiper was in need of creating a little publicity for himself. I guess it worked, though, because here I am talking about him, and here you are reading about him. Go figure.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Little Workout Advice

This may not be about low-carb, but it does have something to do with weight loss. Finding just the right music to listen to while working out is something that can have quite an affect on your success with exercise. Choosing music that motivates you is the best way to give your workout the kick that it needs. You can read more about this at the Calorie King website.

Sometimes, deciding what music you want can be a problem, though. To solve this problem, I took the easy approach. I did the famous "Google Search." I searched, via Google, for other people's suggestion to the best workout music. I came across a huge variety of what other people choose to listen to while working out. There were some suggestions that I took, and others that I wondered, "Can they be serious?" After coming up with my personalized list of music for my time on the treadmill, or elliptical, I went and downloaded the music, legally, of course, and made my own CD. Actually, I made three different CDs. What can I say? There were some great suggestions out there, and some of the suggestions made me think of other songs I wanted. Now, with three CDs, I can use a different one each time I workout, and never get bored. Hope these suggestions can help you to rev up your monotonous workouts.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Let's Talk Skin

No, I don't mean on a chicken. I mean the skin on your body. Of course you know that carbohydrates have an affect on your body, but did you ever stop to think about the affects they have on your skin? Sugars, in fact all carbs, can make themselves known in your face. Eating sugars, and other carbohydrates, can cause inflamation in organs of your body. And, for those of you who failed biology and anatomy, your skin is an organ. Therefore, carbs can cause inflamation of your skin. I recently came across an interesting article online about this very issue. Please follow this link, and read the story for yourself. It should make you cut back on the carbs, or at least think twice before grabbing that chocolate...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Quick and Easy Tray

It sounds pretty obvious, but just in case you forgot, a meat and cheese tray is perfect for your low-carb Superbowl Party. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, fill your tray with meat, cheese, olives, and pickles. Pick your favorite meats and cheeses and fill the tray. If you have blank spots, add in dill pickles and olives. Put a dish of blue cheese or ranch dressing in the center, and you have a great dish for the big game.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hot Wings

The best food for a Superbowl Party is, hands down, hot wings. I don't think that I have ever been to a Superbowl party that I haven't enjoyed some deliscious chicken wings. There are many different sauces out there that you can dress your naked wings with, and it's important to find the sauce you like the best. Always check the label for hidden sugars, which can make your low-carb attempts go wrong. I like to cook my wings at 350 degrees until they are just crisping on the outside. This takes about an hour, and you need to turn them 3 to 4 times during cooking. After they are done, I toss them in my homemade buffalo sauce.

For my buffalo sauce, I use 2 tbsp butter for every 6 wings. I use 1 to 2 tbsp Louisiana Hot sauce for every 6 wings. I also add a tbsp low-carb ketchup to thicken and lightly sweeten my sauce. Once the wings are done, I mix the amount of sauce I will need, and toss the wings in it. It's wonderful if you have a nice blue-cheese dressing to serve with them. I make my own, but there are great store bought dressings out there, so just taste and look around. Be creative, and have fun when making Hot Wings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kickin' Marinated Shrimp

Shrimp make a great party snack at Superbowl time. Here's a recipe for great marinated shrimp. You will need the following ingredients:

1 pound fresh cooked shrimp, deveined
1 1/2 teaspoon lime peel, finely shredded
1/2 cup lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced

Rinse your shrimp, and pat them dry. Set aside, while you combine the other ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix the ingredients together, and add your shrimp. Toss them to make sure they all get coated. Cover the shrimp in the marinade, and refrigerate for 3 hours. During those 3 hours, stir the mixture 3 times. Finally, drain the shrimp, and place on a serving tray. These will be gone before you walk away.

Phenomenal Cheese Spread

The name says it all. This cheese spread is out of this world. It will have your football fans raving, even if their team loses. You will need the following ingredients:

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (my favorite cheese)
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon each, crushed basil and crushed oregano
1/8 teaspoon each, crushed thyme and dillweed

Put all ingredients together and mix at medium speed, until they are combined. Immediately following, spread the mixture onto cucumber slices, or baked pepperoni slices.

For baked pepperoni slices, just place pepperoni side by side on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the pepperoni at 325 degrees for a few minutes. About halfway through the process, blot the pepperoni with a paper towel, and flip them over. The cheese spread tastes excellent on the baked pepperoni. Serve them to your guests, and accept compliments graciously.

More Delicious Dip

Here's a great tasting dip that you can eat with or without your homemade tortilla chips. For this one, you will need the following ingredients:

16 ounces sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
6 to 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
6 to 8 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
8 to 10 ounces corned beef, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise

Dry your rinsed and drained sauerkraut with paper towels. Place it in a large bowl, along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir all of the ingredients together, and transfer them into 2 quart casserole dish. Bake it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Serve it while warm with low-carb tortilla chips (see recipe below for tortilla chips). Everyone will enjoy this great creation.