suggestions, recipes, and ideas for staying low-carb

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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.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chips and Guacamole

Holy Moly, did I just say chips? I know you can't have tortilla chips on the low-carb lifestyle. But, you can have a low-carb tortilla wrap, and do what I do with it when I just want some salsa. I take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut my wrap into triangle shapes. Then, I throw them in the fryer for about a minute, flipping them halfway through, and sprinkle them with salt to taste while they cool on a paper towel. Now I have tortilla chips. Pretty cool, huh?

Now, for the guacamole...

Take 2 medium avocados, cut them in half, and pop out the pits. Place them in a bowl along with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon lime juice, and mash until it is the consistency of your liking. Add in a small Vidalia onion, chopped finely. Add in one medium tomato, ripe, chopped. And finally, add in 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro. Taste it, and if you need to, add a little more of any of the previous ingredients, and serve with you tortilla chips.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Great Low-Carb Chili

What Superbowl Party is complete without a great chili? For this low-carb version, you will need the following ingredients:

two medium onions
four cloves of garlic
three to four pounds of ground beef (or turkey if you prefer)
five tbsp chili powder
four cups beef bullion
tabasco sauce to tatse

Saute your onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Brown you meat, and add the chili powder and beef bullion. Cook over medium heat until your meat is tender, and the bullion has boiled down a bit. Sprinkle cheese over top of the chili, and serve. This recipe makes eight to ten buffet sized servings. Everyone will enjoy this, and no one will notice that it's low-carb.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Down, Set, Hike

With the Superbowl coming up in the next couple of weeks, it might be tough to stay low-carb. Everyone knows that Superbowl parties are famous for unhealthy finger foods. If you are worried about your snacking habits, and ruining what you have worked so hard for, tune in for the next few postings here on Loving the Low-Carb Lifestyle. Over the next few days, I will be giving recipes for great tasting, low-carb snacks and appetizers that you can take to the parties with you. Or you can host the party yourself, and be sure that you have low-carb snacks on hand. Low-carb snacks are coming, so stick around.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Importance of the Almighty H2O...

I'm going to take just a minute to do something that I don't often do. I am going to preach to you about the importance of water. Water is the source from which life comes. Water does many things for the body that are key to its functioning right.

For example, did you know that water acts as a lubricant for your joints? Not many people realize that they need the hydration that water gives in order for their joints to function at their best.

A lack of adequate amounts of water can also lead to poor muscle tone, as well as muscle soreness. This is obvious if you work out hard without staying hydrated, because it can cause your muscles to be twice as sore.

Without enough water, your body can build up toxins that are detrimental to your health. Your body needs hydration to consistently flush out the build up inside. Water is needed for waste to be removed. Lack of water can cause the waste to increase, and form kidney stones.

The most important reason for most people to take a look at their daily water intake, however, is the idea that water is linked to a healthy weight. Water is a vital part of digestion, as well as metabolism. Without enough, you could be keeping excess body fat. Here you are, watching what you are eating, but you are sabotaging all of your efforts by not consuming enough water.

The reason I am taking my time to remind you of this, is because I, myself, just evaluated my water consumption, and it was no where near where it should be. I have spent the past two days getting my body used to hydration. I hope you will look at your water habits, and maybe spend a few days getting your body back into hydration mode.

Jimmy Moore: Man of the Hour

I would venture to say that almost everyone has heard of Jimmy Moore, especially if you have decided to join the low-carb lifestyle. You can't google the words low or carb without coming across his awesome blog. He is such an inspiration to any low-carber. He is proof that the low-carb lifestyle is well worth it. He has had tremendous success, and the most incredible thing about him is that he is using his knowledge and great story to help motivate others. His blog is one that I visit almost every day. I find him to be such an inspiration at life. If you are the one person on the planet who hasn't encountered Jimmy Moore's blog, head over there now. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Induction?

I recently came across some information about induction. Induction, for those who do not know, is the phase of your new healthy eating lifestyle where you stay as strict as possible. For some people, the induction phase lasts 3 days. For others, they go for 10 days. There are also people whose induction phase lasts for two full weeks.

The decision on whether or not you choose an induction phase is ultimately up to you. There are pros and cons to opting for an induction phase. To me, the pros far outweigh the cons. The idea of detoxing my body from all of the carbs that have built up, and the possibility of losing 5 or more pounds is the motivation that I need to go low-carb in a strict way.

If you can't decide what you want to do, I recommend reading Jim Stone's article about the induction phase. He gives some great insight, as well as opinions from others.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Are Carbohydrates the Enemy?

Carbohydrates are not the enemy to everyone. Some people can eat carbs all day, everyday, and never gain an ounce. However, for those of us who are affected negatively by carbs, we may sometimes feel that they are the enemy. We must learn the magic number. This is the number of carbs that we should stay under everyday in order to help us to maintain a healthy weight.

For some people, that may mean learning two magic numbers. The first is the number of carbs that they should stick to each day in order to lose the weight that they are wanting. Then, they must learn the number of carbs that they should stick to in order to maintain their new, healthy weight.

It seems like those of us who have to worry about carbs have such an unlucky lot in life. Think of it this way, though. We have already identified that carbs affect us in a negative way. So really, we are already on our way to a more healthy lifestyle. Look at the glass as being half full. Besides, your energy level should increase with the low-carb lifestyle. Therefore, instead of thinking that we have to watch what we eat, think of it as we choose to increase our energy, and the weight loss just goes along with the energy increase.

Fizzling Out

Do you have trouble when it comes to continuing to eat healthy? Are you one of those people who starts out on fire for new things, only to lose momentum a few weeks, or even days, into it? Do you have bad luck losing weight, because you just can't stick to a healthy eating plan?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are like most of the population. The truth is, most people have trouble eating healthy. If this was not the case, the United States would not have such a high percentile of overweight and obese people. The majority of people have trouble sticking with a healthy eating plan. There are many reasons for this.

One reason is that people lead very busy lives. People have trouble finding the time to spend gaining control of what they eat. It is so much simpler to run through the drive thru, especially since you go right by there when running one of your many errands.

Another reason is the pressure of cooking. Many people have never learned to cook, and knowing how to prepare healthy and delicious meals is important when trying to watch what you eat.

A really big reason, and the one that I am the most guilty of, is the lack of immediate results that people see. I am someone, and maybe you are too, that wants instant gratification. I want to drop 5 pounds, just because I cut pasta from my diet two days ago. It doesn't work that way, and I know that. But, still, I know that is a problem I encounter when trying to eat healthy. If I have not seen results within a few days, I want to throw in the towel. I am learning to get past that, however.

All of these reasons contribute to the "Fizzling Out Factor" when trying to eat healthy. A way to combat these reasons is to join a forum. It's a free weight loss tool that you can access anytime, and from anywhere. There are many weight loss forums online, and also many that specialize solely in low-carb. Find one that you are comfortable with, and join. Do a little research, and find the one that most appeals to you. You will have a close knit group of people that you can come to with questions, comments, or concerns. It's a great way to keep yourself accountable on your journey toward a healthy lifestyle.

Get out there, and find what will help you succeed, and make the best choices for your low-carb lifestyle. If you come across something you think others would want to know about, let us all in on your discovery. Love the low-carb lifestyle!

Enlisting Help

Studies show that when a person is held accountable for things, that is the time that they are most successful. This is the case when it comes to getting healthy. If a person can recruit a friend to join the low-carb lifestyle with them, they will have much better results. It just seems easier to stay on track when there is someone that shares a common goal.

Another plus to having an "accomplice" when trying to eat healthy is having someone call you on it when you get off track. It is more difficult to justify the cheating factor when you have another person who stays on the same eating plan as you do. Then you have someone to say, "If I can eat healthy, you can eat healthy." Enlist the help of a friend to get healthy with you. It can't hurt.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Achieving Peace

Last night at 6:00, I began my journey toward achieving peace, both inside, and out. I rejoined my Wednesday night Yoga class for the first time in over a year. It was probably one of the two best things that I have done for myself in the last year. The other best thing that I have done is getting back to my low-carb lifestyle. I have been super busy over the past year. I changed places of employment in July, which has been great. We also started a new business back in April. This is on top of my husband's other business that I help him to run. On any weekday, I leave the house at about 6:45 in the morning, and head off to teach 5th grade. I generally leave there at about 3:15, except on Mondays and Wednesdays, when I do after school tutoring until 3:45. From there, I go to our new business, and work until closing at 8:00. I get home at about 8:30. On Saturday, I work at the business from 9:30 to 5:30. These make for really long days. No matter how hard I have tried over the past year, though, I have not been able to work my schedule to be able to fit in 2 hours a week for Yoga. I actually have a year gym membership that expires in May. I have only been back about 5 times since the new business and jog change. When I paid for the year, I was going 4 or 5 times per week, but not anymore. Last night, from 6:00 to 8:00 was wonderful. I feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and on track toward getting back into shape. Yoga helps your mind achieve peace, and also your body. My body realized in those 2 hours how little I have been taking care of it for the past 14 months. I have been taking care of so many other things, that I forgot to take care of one of the most important things I have. If you feel stressed, and beat down, I highly recommend signing up for a yoga class. I am so excited that I did.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sweet Treat

I have a low-carb version of Watergate Salad that I would like to share with you. The ingredients are simple, and putting it together is simple, as well. You will need:

8 ounces whipped topping
small packet lime jello mix
6 tbsp cottage cheese
3 tbsp crushed pineapple (sweetened with Splenda)

Basically, you mix the above ingredients together in a resealable container, place it in the refrigerator for a few hours, and you have a great sweet treat. If you prefer, you can replace the lime jello with orange, and the pineapple with canned mandarin oranges. Or try your own concoctions. Figure out what you like best, but make sure the fruit that you use is sweetened with Splenda.

I like to keep both lime/pineapple, and orange/mandarin at the house for myself. My only word of advice is not to eat too much. As with all sweets on the low-carb lifestyle, moderation is the key. It is low-carb, but not if you eat the entire bowl!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Delicious Low-Carb Pie Crust

If you have ever had a slice of the low-carb cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, then you know how great low-carb can really taste. The problem is getting your low-carb cheesecake to taste anywhere near that good. I have tried many different low-carb recipes for cheesecake, and found that the Somersize recipe is actually delicious, and has a great, creamy taste to it. It's wonderful. There is, however, one thing that would go wonderfully with this recipe: a low-carb crust. For this, I have a great recipe.

You will need the following ingredients:

1/2 cup of butter, softened
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp of salt
1 cup of almond flour
or if you don't have almond flour
3/4 cup of almonds (crushed) along with 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour

Mix your softened cream cheese and butter in a small bowl until well blended. Add in your flour mixture, or almond flour, and salt, and mix well. Place the somewhat sticky mixture on wax paper, and flatten it a little. Wrap the mixture, and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Remove it and let it sit out for about 15 before use. With a light dusting of flour on the board and rolling pin, roll out the crust. This is meant to be a complete crust, bottom and top, so it will make two crusts for cheesecake, as there will be no crust. You can freeze the second crust for later use, it you like. Place it in your pan, and bake it at 350 degrees until it is a light golden brown.

Fill it with cheesecake, bake, and enjoy the great taste!

Saving Money with the Thrifty Florida Mama

Everyone knows that eating healthy can sometimes be expensive. This is true with almost all eating plans. The low-carb lifestyle can sometimes be costly. Ensuring that you've gotten good quality meats and cheeses is never cheap. Fresh vegetables, which are very good for you, can also put a hurting on your wallet. No doubt about it, though, the nutrition and goodness of watching what you put into your body far outweighs the cost. Wouldn't it be great if you could keep track of what you are eating, and not go into serious debt. If you are looking to stay healthy, while staying out of the poor house, you should hop over to my friend Angie's website, called Thrifty Florida Mama. I don't know of anyone who can find a better deal than she can. She gives tips on how to stay on a budget. She also has bargain prices that she comes across, along with links to coupons. Check it out. Your purses and wallets will thank you, and so will your body.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Getting Started

The best way to get started on the low-carb lifestyle is to decide how many carbs you want to attempt to stay under each day. When doing this, try not to get out of control. The biggest mistake in this diet is setting unrealistic goals. This is true in your weight loss goals, as well as the amount of carbs you plan to consume. If you are someone who lives on carbs, you don't want to cut back as much as someone who really doesn't eat many carb to begin with.

Once you have established your low-carb goals, it is time to implement them. Begin by going very low-carb, almost extreme, for the first three days. During this time, your body will cleanse itself of all of the carbs that have been building up over years. After those three days, stick to your guns. Do not decide that one order of pasta, or one dessert will be okay. This is simply not true. If you choose that slice of chocolate cake, you will be back to day one again. You will start all over, and need to do the three day extreme low-carb routine once more.

If you choose to stick with the low-carb lifestyle, you will see results. Once you have gotten started, it will come easy to you. It will be second nature for you to read labels, and even when you don't want to, you will find yourself deciding whether or not it is worth it to eat a piece of YOUR OWN birthday cake. Try, however, not to become the low-carb Nazi. Don't push your beliefs on others. Instead, just let them know how well low-carb is working for you.

A Few Observations

Here are a few of my observations concerning the low-carb lifestyle:

Weight loss seems to occur in a strange way for me. I don't know if this is the case for all people, but I notice on myself that I go for what seems to be weeks on the low-carb eating plan without losing a pound. Then, all of a sudden, poof, 5 pounds seem to fall off. It seems like when I don't want to bother with watching what I eat anymore, if I just stick it out for a few more days, it pays off.

I do know one thing, though. I never feel better or have more energy than when I am eating low-carb, and high-protein. I have tried low fat and low calorie diets, but they seem to take away all of my energy. I feel tired all the time, and I also find myself grouchy. Eating a low-carb diet is the complete opposite for me. I find that I have more energy. I think it is because when I consume carbs, I get a false high, and have a great boost in energy for about 30 minutes. For those 30 minutes, I feel great. Unfortunately, the 30 minutes have to end sometime. That's when I hit the low. My options, at this point, are to be extremely tired and moody, or to eat more high-carb foods, and continue the cycle. When I choose not to eat the high-carb foods in the first place, the cycle never begins.

Another thing that I notice is that my skin seems to be clearer and brighter when I am eating foods lower in carbohydrates. This leads me to believe that carbs affect my skin in a negative way. Not just my attitude, energy level, and weight.

Are there certain observations that you have made in relation to the carb dilemma. If you notice that you feel better eating low-carb, by all means stick to it. Even if you never lose a pound, at least your daily life will be affected.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Make '08 Your Year

Start the year off right by cutting carbs out of you life. You'll see great results by doing this. You'll feel better, you'll look better, you'll have a better life.

If you are new to the low-carb idea, no doubt, you have heard opinions from both those agreeing with low-carb, and those protesting it. The first thing that you need to realize is that you should go slowly into it. You can't expect to completely cut all carbs from you daily life. This is an unrealistic idea. You cannot possibly do this. Instead, your goal should be to gradually cut the carbs that you consume in a given day, until you have gotten down to the amount you want to stick to.

In order to see results with this new eating plan, you need to stick to it. You cannot go into this with only good intentions. You need to follow through with this. You will begin to see results very quickly, but you will only continue to see those results if you stick to it. Cheating is not an option on this eating plan. Every time that you cheat, you have to get all of those carbs out of your system, before you begin to see results again.

Make 2008 the year that you get healthy, and get results.