N is for Nuts

After a busy week, I’m still playing catch up on my AtoZ posts on the theme of being a Clumsy Carb Cutter .

Nuts are one of my favourite things to eat. I have to be very careful of them as I find it really easy to over indulge. In a moderate amount, they are a great low carb snack. My world would be a sad place if I developed an intolerance to nuts, the way I have with lactose.

As I mentioned before, I use ground almonds for baking. I bought peanut flour by mistake a few weeks ago, so I’ve been using that mixed with almond flour in some of the cookies. It has a few more carbs per 100g, but really tasty, if you love the peanut taste.

I buy bags of mixed raw nuts from Lidl as they are the best value. On the rare occasion I eat cereal, I always throw some in, or I just eat them on their own for a snack. As I mentioned, moderation is key in eating nuts. They are great for the low carb/high fat diet. They are high in fibre and contain a wide variety of nutrients, but also high in calories. So to get the best benefit from them,  just a handful/half a cup at a time.   🙂

L is for Low Carb Buddy

 Short post today as I’m away with family this weekend, but I wanted to give a shout out to Sam at Low Carb Buddy (LCB).

Sam is based in Bristol, UK and runs a Facebook page, an interactive group, a Pinterest page (with some fabulous recipes), and for a small fee, runs weekly interactive group chat sessions.

I’ve benefited greatly from my connection with LCB. Sam is very encouraging and always has great ideas and suggestions. She herself is on a Keto diet. Make sure to check her out on some of the links above.

Just to say, I don’t get anything from plugging her page/biz other than the satisfaction of cheering on someone who has really helped this ‘Clumsy Carb Cutter’ 🙂

K is for Kind

Following on from my thoughts in the ‘I is for If‘ post, I wanted to share another way my thinking has changed over the last few years. These days, I am kind to myself.

In the book I’m writing about this journey, I talk about how I used to hate myself. I could not bear the sight of me in a mirror. Sometimes if I caught my reflection, I would thump myself, and say the most awful things to the mirror. Those negative words would stay with me for days. They would ring around in my head. It took a long time to change that mindset; to speak and act positively towards myself. I must care for myself because God’s Spirit is within me.

Eating right, I have found, is not deprivation. Quite the opposite. It is another kind thing I can do for myself. It’s not always easy, but I try always to make choices that are for my benefit – even though my sweet tooth and old habits are always pulling at me.

Are you good to yourself?

I is for If

We’ve made it to Day 10! April is zooming past us.

Today I’m focusing on the ‘clumsy’ side of my AtoZ theme of being a ‘Clumsy Carb Cutter.’ I have long suffered from ‘clumsy’ thinking. I’m trying to improve that, by use of the word ‘if.

Every meal, every snack, every morsel is a choice. I’ve become a shudda, cudda, wudda person – but in a good way. I like to think about ‘what if…?

I was in despair about my weight for years. I never believed I could change. I prayed about it for so long, but thought my prayers were hitting the ceiling. Now I am gaining the courage to believe that anything is actually possible. (Even though I’ve been reading that in the Bible for years, I didn’t think it applied to me 😀 )

So I measure a lot of my day in ifs. You might think it sounds dreary; the worst thing you can imagine. I enjoy it though. It keeps me on track, it keeps me open to all possibilities. If I can make each individual decision the right decision, then I will continue to succeed. I’ve lost 70 lbs. If I lose another stone that will be 6 stone down. I’ll have lost 1/4 of my starting weight (you do the math…). If I can lose that much, maybe I can lose more than that.

If also works in the opposite way. If I don’t keep an eye on things, if I don’t watch what I’m eating, if I don’t keep moving… then I’ll go back to where I was before. Unfit, unhealthy and unhappy. I don’t want that life again.

Even as I look over this post, the ‘if’ thing reads like stuff and nonsense, but it really works for me. It’s a healthy mindset, keeping me accountable to myself.

What if… the possibilities are endless 🙂

H is for Have Mercy

I mentioned in my opening AtoZ post some of the changes that led to my five stone weightloss. Since then I have put on a little, lost a little, put on a little, lost a little… I am still five stone down. In some ways that is frustrating as I feel I could do with losing another five, but I can’t seem to get any further. In other ways, it is amazingly wonderful. For the first time in my long history of dieting, I have kept my weight off.

In the olden days, after a stall or a carbhorrific weekend, I would throw in the towel, pretending to still be trying for a while but in my head it would all be over. Bit by bit I would put all the weight back on and then some. So although I am not any further than that first year, I am still rejoicing and celebrating staying five stone down.

It’s almost three years since I started that journey. Within the first few weeks I really struggled, I grieved for sugar and sugary foods; truth was they made me feel better. I’ve shared about it back in 2016 (click here to read it). I knew I had to change, I knew that I was eating myself to an early grave. As I progressed, I was so happy to see those changes inside and out, but I was conscious I’d never really dealt with the why and  how of my weight gain.

In November 2017, I used the NaNoWriMo challenge, to write the story of being an overweight Christian. You might wonder how that differs from being an overweight person, but I was wrapped up in guilt and shame and I was lacking in trust of my God to help me out of the prison I was in. My faith had to be part of the story.

So I wrote it. With many tears I raked though painful memories and regrets, I fought the urge to leave out the ugly stuff and just poured it all out. By the end of it I felt like I’d been skinned. I was raw, embarrassed, ashamed, afraid and relieved. It reminded me of reading about Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Eustace had been turned into a dragon, and only Aslan could remove the gnarly dragon skin from his body. Eustace describes the pain of having the skin removed as the worse thing he had ever felt. He was only able to bear it, because the removal of the rough skin brought pleasure and relief.

Writing an honest book about being fat was extremely painful. It turns out that editing a book about being fat is no less so! But it is a relief to say some of the stuff out loud. The working title is “Have Mercy Upon Me O Lord, a Slimmer.” I’m praying that when my story gets out there, as painfully revealing as it will be, it will help people who feel the shame and embarrassment of overeating.

If you think it’s something that might help you or someone you know. Keep an eye out here for updates 🙂

E, F and G, are for Eggs, Flaxseed and Ground Almonds

After a crazy busy week I’m playing catch up. I hope you don’t mind if I blend some ingredients together today. (See what I did there 😀 ) These three have become staples in my diet. Together with coconut flour, they have made baking a part of my life again.

When I went low carb, I stopped baking. My go to recipes were poppy-seed cake and banana bread. I didn’t make them unless there was something on in work that I needed to contribute to. The beloved remarked that on the rare occasion I baked, the finished article left the house never to be seen again. I just could not have the cakes in the house. I have zero self-control.

I tried and failed a few low carb recipes and just stopped trying, but as I said in my ‘C’ post, you have to treat some of the ingredients in a different way. I could no longer just fire it all into a bowl, give it a whisk and bung it in the oven. Sometimes ingredients need to go in a certain order and need a bit more prep time.

When I had the problems with dairy, I worried I might not be able to have eggs either. I was at the end of my tether with it all. Thankfully, eggs are not a problem, cos I love them. Hard boiled on toast, in a salad, scrambled, poached, fried – whatever way you’d like to make them for me 🙂 They are a great source of protein, and a handy snack if you keep a couple hard boiled in the fridge for a day or two. Just grab and go.

It all depends on who you read as to whether they are good or bad for you in large quantities. The only thing I would say about it (NOT BEING AN EXPERT) is, if you are worried about eating too many eggs, eat only one egg yoke for every two egg whites. When I was going to the gym, the personal trainer recommended as many eggs as I could eat, and that was his suggestion, to keep the cholesterol level down.

Milled flaxseed is a great source of fibre, it’s very filling and is said to have endless benefits such as the ability to help lower cholesterol and help keep blood sugars level. It can go in salad, cereal, yogurt, smoothies, cookies, mug cakes and pancakes. I’ve also been given a flaxseed porridge recipe.

I have only one issue with flaxseed. It’s an acquired taste! I make a flaxseed pancake every so often because it’s only 6g of carbs (for my American friends, I always note net carbs) and it fills me to the brim for hours. I just don’t find it very tasty. I’ve taken to cutting the pancake in 2 or 3 and adding different things to it like a spoon of peanut butter or d/f butter with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. Here’s the recipe, give it a try, and see what you think.

2tbs flaxseed, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp keto sweetner, 1 egg. Add whatever flavouring you like… cinnamon, cocoa powder, sugar free jelly crystals…
Fry in some coconut oil for 1 or 2 mins each side.

Ground almonds (am I cheating here? 😀 ) are my go to alternative to flour. They make yummy cakes and cookies, including cheesecake base, AND the most amazing savoury coating for fish and chicken. Gram for gram, it’s more expensive than coconut flour, but I find it a lot easier to use, and sometimes I just don’t want the coconut taste.

My current fave recipe is one for dark choc chip cookies. Sometimes I use half ground almonds and half peanut flour – just to get the really peanutty taste. The darker the chocolate the better. 85 or 90% keeps the carbs down. My current batch are 2.5g of carb each. They are great breakfast biscuits when I’m running out the door to work (which is most days). The recipes I use are all online but shout me if you want them 🙂

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about the book I’m writing about weight. See you then. x

D is for Dairy (free)

Welcome to day 4. Hope you’re enjoying the AtoZ  Challenge. Today I’m going to chat about dairy, as recently things changed and now I can’t have much of it.

D is for Dairy Free

I was pootling along nicely with my low carb life. There had been some ups and downs, scale wise but in general I was doing well and happy with my progress. Then around the beginning of 2018 I noticed a change in my bathroom habits. I won’t go into detail, but after certain meals I would experience terrible pain in the southern hemisphere, and then with little warning would have to sprint like an Olympian to the loo.

It got to the stage where I stopped going for my long walks as I was worried about being caught short on the far side of the park. I thought maybe I was eating too many peanuts, or had gone overboard on the sprouts, so I just lived with it. Then other symptoms developed. I began to experience nausea in the mornings. I’ve never been pregnant, but if felt like what others described as morning sickness. It would only last for a few hours, and was usually gone by lunch time, then I would be ravenous.

On reflection, I remember having the nausea on and off over the years, but I’d always put it down to hormonal problems I’d been having.

It was only when incidents of a delicate nature *coughs* occurred while I was out for dinner, that I began to see a pattern. It seemed to be worse when I had melted cheese on something; a lot worse and it would come on very fast. I took myself to the doc who also suspected I had some issues with dairy and I went on a 2 week on, 2 week off dairy trial, for 8 weeks in all. The diary I kept pretty much proved the suspicions correct. After a meeting with a dietitian it was confirmed as lactose intolerance.

If you’re not familiar with the low carb life, you might not see the connection. Low carb goes with high fat intake. Taking cheese and cream etc out of my diet made things difficult for me. I totally lost focus, and losing focus for me means gaining pounds, which I did – about 10 lbs in a few months.

Sam at Low Carb Buddy was really helpful and gave me great advice about how to get healthy fats into my diet on limited dairy; recommending products such as coconut and olive oil, avocado and nuts. And there are plenty of dairy free options, which I used for the low carb mini cheesecakes. After a few weeks I was back on track and the best part is, I lost those extra pounds quite quickly.

I’m used to it now. Using dairy-free spreads and lactose-free milk in baking. And I can even have some low lactose cheese on occasion. I was worried that dairy free meant I could succeed in being low carb. But it is doable. 🙂

C is for Coconut flour/oil

Day 3 and I’ve caught up 🙂

C is for Coconut flour/oil

So today I’ll give you a brief overview of my dealings with coconut flour and coconut oil. Now if you want to go low carb and you don’t like coconut, it will take a while to get used to using it. What I find is that, though it smells quite strong, it doesn’t make everything taste of coconut.

I use the flour cos it’s cheaper than almond flour (ground almonds), and it goes a lot further. For every cup of almond flour you use, it’s about a quarter cup of coconut flour, and there are usually extra eggs in the recipe to help with the soakage 🙂 I made some big mistakes at the the beginning. The two greatest ones were 1. looking at the amount of eggs in a coconut flour recipe, thinking it must be a typo and using half the amount of eggs instead. I know, I know! I’m a doofas, and 2. I didn’t leave the mix long enough to let the flour do its soakage thing. Coconut flour needs time and lots of eggs. If you you’ve got plenty of both, it’s a great product.

Oh and a tip for if you are not fussed on the taste, I’ve been told that better quality flour leaves less of the taste behind. But I don’t mind the taste, so I haven’t tested this.

Coconut oil is much less of a faff. I’ve used with a stirfry, for frying flaxseed pancakes (more about those on Day 6), and for frying the fake bread I mentioned in the last post. It’s also in quite a few cake recipes. Just measure it or weigh it and use it as instructed.

I should acknowledge that I’ve heard coconut oil get a bad rap, so I can only share my experience, NOT BEING AN EXPERT 🙂 When I changed my eating habits, I started to include what I read were healthy fats into my diet as I reduced the carbs. Coconut oil is one of those fats. I’ve been eating it regularly for almost 3 years. I am a whole lot healthier than I was 3 years ago, possibly healthier now than since I was a teenager. I have no issues with cholesterol or blood pressure. I’m losing weight, and getting stonger. If there are any negative effects from coconut oil, I’ve yet to experience them.

Do you use it? Let me know your thoughts.

A x

B is for (life without) Bread

Day 2 of the challenge and we’ve stumbled upon one of the most difficult changes I’ve made.  B is for Bread

I love bread, a lot. I would happily eat bread for breakfast, dinner and tea. Fresh white fluffy yumminess. A slice, a roll, a baguette – I don’t mind the shape. I’m not fussy 🙂 As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, when I first heard that some people don’t eat bread I wondered how on earth they could possibly survive! Where do you put cheese??? I was later to find out that cheese is perfectly edible on its own. Shocked, nay stunned, to find you can pick it up with a fork, or heaven forefend, your fingers. It does not need a transportation system made of flour. Who knew? 🙂

I was fixed in a mindset about bread for years. I could not imagine lunch without it. I could not imagine soup without it. I could not imagine bacon and egg without it. And though I have not ruled it 100% out of my diet, it no longer rules me.

So what are the options?

Almost looks like bread doesn’t it…!

Well, as I said, cheese is quite tasty on its own, as are the other foods. One of the options is just not to have it. I know right? RADICAL. I used to think so too, but now it’s just part of what I do. A lot of the time I just leave it out. If I do have it, it affects what I do the rest of the day. I would only have it once in a day. And I’d make sure to have minimal starchy carbs for the rest of the day.

Another option is fake bread, which is quite bland; I wouldn’t make it to take a sandwich to work. But  I have enjoyed fried, with bacon and egg.  Before I give you the recipe, let me repeat my disclaimer…. I AM NOT AN EXPERT, in anything other than my own experience and the workings of my microwave. If you’re happy to try this on that basis then crack on … 🙂

1 egg at room temp
1 TBS butter (melted but cooled)
1 TBS coconut flour
1 TBS ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking powder

Stir all the dry ingredients, then whisk in the egg.
Spread over the base of a microwavable dish and microwave for 1.5 mins.

Thanks to Low Carb Buddy for the recipe.
Let me know how you get on if you give it a try… 🙂

To succeed in my low carb life, I’ve had to reduce the amount of bread I consume. that’s just how it is. And surprise surprise, it turned out not to be the end of the world.

L is for Leviathan with a Fish-hook

I’d like to mention another work from a fellow member of the Association of Christian WritersLeviathan with a Fish-hook, by S L Russell.  I’m afraid I haven’t read it yet, but it has been added to my Christian Fiction TBR pile. It’s part 1 of a trilogy and has had great reviews.

One of the things that comes across in reading the feedback, is that Russell has mastered the combination really great writing with a realistic Christian storyline.
It’s hard to get that right!

Here’ the blurb…

When Eileen meets Christopher, a young man with a mental illness living rough in the woods near her home, her quiet life is shaken.

Eileen is a Christian trying to live by her faith. Tentatively she befriends Christopher and gains his trust, but as his story unfolds she finds herself increasingly drawn into his life of fearful visions and spiritual turmoil.

A the tension mounts it is not only Christopher’s monsters Eileen must face, but her own. Can she handle what she has let loose?

Challenging and compelling, Leviathan with a Fish-hook will keep you hooked to the last page… and beyond.

If you’ve read it, please let me know. If you haven’t, you can try a chapter and find out about her other books by clicking here 🙂