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keto baked fish and green beans
Cookbook Review: Keto In 30 Minutes

Keto: have you heard of it? Are you interested? Can you have delicious Italian food that’s Keto? Let’s discuss.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Here’s the next in my series of cookbook reviews courtesy of the nice folks at Callisto Publishers. They’re not sponsoring my post, they just sent me great books for review.  I’ve received a number of interesting new books, and I continue to receive more in exchange for reviews. I like them all, I can’t say anything bad so far. There is a low-carb book, a fast and easy vegan cookbook, and a cook book for folks with Lyme disease, plus a couple more cookbooks coming. Additionally, there is a book on modern etiquette, plus a few other non-food topics.

But today it’s all about the keto.

The John Walton Celebration Of Life

So it finally happened on July 28th, and we picked up The E Man and went to Generations Hall. Everything was first class, well done, and we met so many other fans of The Walton & Johnson Show. Everyone had a great time, a fantastic band called Superchargers played classic rock music, there was all kinds of fancy food, an open bar (BF and I abstained), and just a great time to celebrate the life of a veteran radio broadcaster.

AmyWithKenAndSteve

The meet and greet! Ken Webster on the left, Steve Johnson on the right, with BF taking the picture.

Ken Webster is the show’s producer they hired seven years ago, and he stepped on the air fulltime when John Walton became ill. Well, Mr. Walton passed away suddenly on July 1, and now Producer Kenny is on the air in Mr.  Walton’s seat. He’s doing a great job carrying the torch, and they have decided *not* to change the name of the show, or much else.

John Walton always said that when he left this world, he wanted a big, New Orleans-style going-away complete with a brass band and a second line and all that. It was provided, and I hope that he was with us in spirit (since his ashes were actually in the facility.) I don’t *do* second line, but everyone else did. Steve Johnson said during the event that they made a few phone calls and everything was just done–they had everything they needed. They definitely called the right people!

I’ll post more of my pictures in another blog post, including the very stylish food that was created especially for this first-class event.

What is Keto?

The term is short for “ketogenic,” which is a condition that makes your body burn fat. This is different than “ketoacidosis,” which is a dangerous condition if you are diabetic.

But going keto is pretty much going low-carb, with some restrictions. That is, you eliminate rubbish food out of your diet, and increase your healthy fat intake. I say “healthy fat,” because hydrogenated vegetable/soybean/corn oil isn’t what that means. There’s a fat-to-protein ratio to follow, making it more complicated than regular low-carb, and different than Paleo.

The Book

Called Keto In 30 Minutes, it’s written by Jen Fisch, author of the blog Keto In The City. How have I never heard of this lady? Oh, well, I get her emails now.

Unlike the 5-Ingredient Italian book, there are few pictures. But the recipes are clear and well-written, and work easily. Each recipe tells you how long it takes, if it’s “gluten free,” “nut free,” etc. Prep and cook time are included, along with calories and all that. And the food looks pretty tasty.

There is even a dessert chapter–didn’t think Jen would leave that out, did you? For a sweetener, she uses Swerve, which I’ve talked about here before, but she also uses stevia in some recipes.

Trying Out The Recipes

Personally, I think the recipes I’ve read all look delicious. Unfortunately, I live with someone who doesn’t agree with that statement.

I made the delicious Saltimboca alla Romana on a Sunday, when our unexpected dinner guests showed up. The next night was a previously enjoyed Giada recipe for a turkey meatloaf–I can’t believe he likes the feta cheese when it’s baked in.

Tuesday was the ketogenic dinner.

Now, to be fair, sometimes we get a little short on funds, and so we’re not popping down to Walmart or Winn-Dixie for some chicken, pork chops, ground beef or something else. I buy meat occasionally when I find good sales and stash it for later. So this particular week, we’re digging through the big freezer (I still need to write a post on that) to see what’s there and what we can whip up for dinner.

Well, it was one of these periods that I decided to “freezer dive,” and I was right–there was some kind of frozen fish in there that someone gave us a long time ago. I let it thaw in the fridge, and just needed a few ingredients to make it happen, like lemon and capers. (I did another freezer dive this week and made this Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce with just a few ingredients from Walmart and the ground turkey in the freezer. He said it was OK.)

I selected two recipes for dinner. Baked Lemon-Butter Fish is on page 84 in the book, and Parmesan & Pork Rind Green Beans is on page 121. Pictures of the recipes are below.

Other Ingredients

Well, I needed capers. I used to have a big jar in my fridge that I bought from Phoenicia Foods, but I guess that was left behind in the move. Don’t have an unopened jar, and of course, Walmart has these *teeny tiny* jars for about two dollars or so. But you know me, I gotta make it according to the recipe the first time.

I also decided on green beans, since we really like them. I only needed a few ingredients from the store to make these dishes, including. . .pork rinds. No kidding.

His Fish Is Always Fried

I didn’t tell BF what I was doing, which always makes him stammer nervously, “I’ll try anything you make, Honey.” (Actually, that’s not completely true. And he’s still afraid of my cooking and my driving.) He asked if the fish was fried, and was very disappointed when I said it wasn’t. I wasn’t trying to break his heart, but I guess that’s what I did.

Let me put it this way: If I told him I would prefer Ford over Chevy, it would be along the same lines of disappointment, since he’s a Chevy devotee.

I used the countertop oven to make it (another thing I’m late telling you about) and baked the fish first, then the green beans. Dinner was ready in about 30 minutes.

Dinnertime!

These dishes took 15 minutes each to make, and the fish was still hot when we sat down to eat. And now I can’t find all the pictures of the prep.

But here it is:

keto baked fish and green beans

This was my dinner plate.

I thought both dishes were delicious. However, BF had other thoughts on the subject.

BF's Dinner plate

This is all BF would consider trying. I think he had one bite of fish and fed the rest to the dogs.

He thought the fish tasted “slimy.” That’s why he doesn’t like baked fish. Frying it takes away the “slimy” in his mind.

Then the green beans–a different taste, roasted, and they aren’t over-cooked. I asked BF what he thought of the green beans. He didn’t look at me when he said, “oh, they’re delicious.” I said, “really?” BF still didn’t look up at me, and replied that they were “magnificent.” I thought he was serious. Then he started giggling. Then I started giggling. He was trying not to tell me he didn’t care for this form of cooked green beans.

Finally, I asked him what he thought of the green beans, and he said he wasn’t crazy about them. Why not just tell me? He was trying to be nice, and said he’d have a bowl of cereal later if he got hungry (and he did.)

Later he reminded me of one of his local car guy friends who, before his “chicken fanger weddin'” last year (with catering by Chick-Fil-A, my sarcasm added), decided with his intended to lose some weight by going keto for a while. (I didn’t attend the “weddin’,” either.) The guy did successfully get his weight below 300 pounds for the first time since high school (but he’s well over six feet).

BF’s comment: “He lost a lot of weight on that keto diet. And now I know why.”

BF is also a smart aleck. Here are the recipes.

Fish recipe

FISH!

No, he didn’t like these either.

ParmPorkrind Green Bean Recipe

These are the green beans. Yes, with pork rinds.

Trying Again

I wasn’t deterred by BF’s reaction, and I kept reading the book. (I’ve since left a review on Amazon.)

I planned on making the Double Pork Frittata on page 58, until I couldn’t find the diced pancetta that I *thought* I had in the freezer. Since I can’t remember where I bought it, I tried to acquire some at the local Walmart’s deli department. Of course, when I asked for it, the clerk thought I said, “da cheddah,” and told me all the cheese was against the back wall, close to the milk. When I told her it was a bacon-y kind of thing, she said, “oh, we don’t got dat.” So maybe next trip to Hammond or New Orleans.

I would have to cut my brain stem to work for Walmart.

With that idea scotched, I chose the Mushroom Frittata on page 59. Frittatas have been adopted by low-carb dieters as the ideal throw-it-together food, and there are so many ways to make one. I like this one, because it hits all the right buttons.

At least I could get goat cheese at our local Walmart, as well as bacon, mushrooms and fresh spinach.

Keto mushroom frittata

The setup

NOTE: watch what you’re doing with spinach, especially in Walmart. I nearly bought spinach mixed with kale! I also realized later that I didn’t need the dill, that would have been for the other dish. But I’m not adept with photo editing, so it stays there.

Making The Frittata

I like measuring out everything before I actually start cooking.

Goat cheese crumbles

So I cooked the bacon in the little oven (saves a lot of mess), let it cool, and cut it up.

Bacon cooking for keto frittata

MMmmm. . . .bacon!

While that was going on, I began to make the rest of the dish.

Sauteeing mushrooms with spinach added in

First steps. (Photo courtesy BF)

Then you add in the chopped bacon. Start cracking the eggs into a bowl or big mixing cup:

Eggs

Whisk really well, too.

Pour the eggs into the pan to cook with the mushrooms and spinach. Lift the edges of the frittata with a spatula so the runny, uncooked eggs get underneath the surface. This takes a few minutes.

Frittata cooking

Lift like this, so that there are no uncooked and/or burned areas. (Photo courtesy BF)

Then sprinkle on the crumbled goat cheese:

Goat cheese sprinkled on

Get that goat cheese on top (Photo courtesy BF)

Then bake it for 16 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I’m skint on pictures here, but this is what comes next:

Keto Mushroom Frittata

Ta-dah!

Verdict: tasty, delicious, and great anytime.

I offered some to BF, explaining what was in it. He looked like he would accept a bite, then smiled and said: “Nope. It’s a trick!”

I can’t wait for him to head out of town for Drag Week.

Dessert Is Da (Keto) Bomb!

Undeterred, I tried one more recipe.

I considered making that subhead “The F-Bomb,” but I’m thinking about Aunt Ruth looking at her screen and thinking, “certainly she isn’t going to say that!” No, you’re right, but the F stands for “fat,” not the other f-word. After seeing so many copywriters and others swear like sailors in their marketing materials, I’m a firm believer in *not* using that kind of language in my blog, no matter what I shout at others while driving.

You hear me, marketing departments of America? Don’t do that. We close your page, delete your emails, trash your direct response long-form copy letters and ignore you completely. Knock it off! Anyway. . . .

Of course, the other concern I have is with the Secret Service, FBI and other law enforcement agencies getting my little SEO-optimized blog caught in their scanning systems looking for troublemakers. Yeah, I make trouble for BF, not the kind they’re looking for. Well, if they do find me, I hope at least one agent tries this recipe.

If the web is your cookbook, “fat bomb” recipes are literally available in every corner. They’re quick snacks to make sure you get enough fat in your keto/lowcarb/paleo diet, or just to have something sugar-free and tasty to keep you away from the stuff you want to leave alone. Let’s face it–there’s nothing like a chocolate bar. Find a way around it, and you’re doing good.

Making A Mess

I was making some Cashew Bread one morning and cleaning a huge mess from the night before.  (I finally found cashew butter locally at Target.) So what do you do? Make more of a mess! Enter these chocolate treats.

So this “f-bomb” is actually called “Spiced Chocolate Fat Bombs,” and it’s in the dessert section on page 138 of the book.

Recipe For chocolate fat bombs

It’s pretty simple.

I had everything handy except the liquid stevia. But did that ever stop me?

Ingredients for Spiced Chocolate Fat Bombs

The setup. The chili was the jar that came from Houston, and I refilled it recently with a small bottle from Rouse’s. Ditto for the HEB coconut oil.

Not that the jar on the right is CHILI powder, not cayenne powder. It isn’t hot. If you decide to make these and add the hot stuff, you’re on your own there.

The coconut oil was already melted, so I put it on the stove to make sure the almond butter melted into it:

Stirring

A quick whisk of everything

 

Muffin tins and papers

Since I didn’t have any mini muffin tins handy, I just used these with the papers. Again, when did that ever stop me?

Carefully spoon this mixture into the cups:

Fat bombs in muffin tins

I used a spoon, and did this carefully

I got most of it into the papers. Then you refrigerate (or freeze) them until they’re solid, which takes maybe 15 minutes or so, less in the freezer.

Fat bomb solid

Yummy!

Despite the powdered stevia, they were pretty good; I used three packets. The chili powder isn’t hot but adds a different nuance to an otherwise straight-chocolate thing. And now I have a stash.

Fat bombs

I’ll be making more of these

These are great, and I’m glad. Much as I love chocolate, I’m getting burned out on Yeast Free Brownies.

Recipes That Are Not For Everyone

I know if Neighbor E were here, he’d enjoy the green beans, at least, and probably the frittata and dessert. Dunno about the fish. Miss Alice would probably enjoy it too, she has a wide-ranging palette. Can’t answer for the GER, I never know what he’s going to like or dislike. BF just gets the shakes when I say the word “frittata.” Even his sister is perplexed, because it’s just baked eggs with other stuff in it.

But when you’re cooking for yourself, you’ll enjoy what you like, and others may or may not agree with your tastes. So if you’re cooking for someone who thinks rice goes with everything, well, you’ll have some alterations to do. That is, make yourself some Cauliflower Rice, and make regular rice for anyone who wants it. Add options like that, and everybody’s happy (you hope.)

I Like This Book

Honestly, I do like the kind of food that’s in this book, keto or not. I’ve long had the preference for low-carb foods, and this one checks all the points. The next recipe I want to try is the Double Pork Frittata on page 58; I’ll have to source more of the pancetta. The other thing is that these recipes are, for the most part, easy to make and don’t seem to require a lot of hard-to-find ingredients. If I can find pancetta and prosciutto here in Central Louisiana, they’re not that hard to find–especially in Houston.

The thing about Keto is that you follow a ratio to stay in ketosis, that is, the condition that burns off fat:

  • Carbs, 5%
  • Proteins, 20%
  • Fats, 75%

This is on page 4 of the intro, also called the 5/20/75 ratio. She says it’s up to you to find the balance that works for you.

I’m not an expert, and I get the theory behind it, I’m just not really good at math, especially in my head. You’d think that someone who has been sewing since age 11 would be better at fractions, decimals and percentages, but I’m not.

Whether or not you want to go keto, this is a book with good food in it–and that’s always my first criteria. If you decide to go keto, you’ll need to do more reading, of course, and understand what it’s all about. Once you do, you can turn whatever you want for dinner (including Italian food) into a keto-friendly feast.

I’m also going to look at Jen’s next book, because. . .I’m thinking seriously about getting an Instapot soon. More on that later.

Until Next Time

I’ll try to get the recipes posted soon (another thing I’m late doing.) Many thanks to Callisto Press for offering me the chance to receive publisher’s editions to review books–I definitely appreciate it, and am enjoying reading them and looking at “new foods.” Sure, it’s still food, but new recipes that are faster and easier (so far.) Nothing wrong with a new recipe to expand your repertoire, right?

I’ve got more of these great new books to review and blog about, so if these two books aren’t appealing, maybe the future books will.

Until then, enjoy!

Muffins and Meatloaf

Hello, Dear Readers:

Now that we’re all over the holidays again, time to get back to some “regular” cooking. For some of you, that will mean “light” cooking, some will just be cutting out the wheat, dairy, red meat, or whatever. In my case, as I mentioned last time, I’m back doing yeast free because I’ve got a bug in my gut. Again. Got more Yeast Control, and started taking it last Friday with some nausea, so I guess it’s killing off the little buggers

I’ve written about the yeast-free diet before and Candida albicans. If you are experiencing gastric things like heartburn, gas, bloating, and other embarassing symptoms, consider reading more and get rid of the yeast overgrowth. It’s an infection, like any other kind, it’s just not visible. NOTE: I’m not a doctor, nurse, medical person or scientist–just a patient who reads and pays attention. The Green Willow Tree still sells Yeast Control, and even though the price went up $4, it’s still relatively inexpensive. Especially when you consider how much not treating will cost you.

Oh, BTW–the garden will be revamped real soon. However, I bought some green onions recently to make sure I had enough for a recipe I was making, and planted the white rooted stems. Guess what? Five out of the six are growing:

The little stubs. They're growing!

The little stubs. They’re growing!

Plant the bottoms,and they grow. The rest of them have been growing for five years. I chop them and use them whenever I want to, and I don’t buy them unless, like that instance, I wanted to have the right amount.

So. . .

Are you still on your obligatory New Year’s diet? Or have you fallen off the wagon already? Most people do by the second week. It’s fine, til you get HUNGRY. Or someone brings delicious food into the office.

If you’re trying to cut down on meat, or calories, or whatever’s new and popular in dieting, you may be considering going vegetarian/vegan. Many meat substitutes are made with soy and other ingredients humans should not be ingesting. However, over the weekend, I found this little item, called Neat, in HEB and thought I should pass it along:

Neat, a soy-free substitute for meat.

Neat, a soy-free substitute for meat.

I haven’t tried it yet, just looked. This is what’s in it:

IMG_1709

I’ll do some more investigative reporting and get back to you. Warning: if you are allergic to nuts, keep going–there are indeed tree nuts in this mix. YUM. . .

So I’m back on doing whatever I need to during the week, and housekeeping stuff mostly on the weekends. I belong to a number of groups on Facebook, many for writing and some for cooking. Neighbor K told me about Low Carb Among Friends, the group headed by George Stella. If you don’t remember that name, he had a low-carb cooking show on The Food Network; some of his recipes are still on FoodNetwork.com, if you search. Low carb faded away, except for die-hards like myself. I bought his first book, and I knew he had one more book available, but I never looked for any more. They’re all available, either as Kindle books or paperback. One day I’ll go look them up and maybe get the paperbacks.

Why not just get the Kindle version? Because. . .I found a great recipe on Facebook and couldn’t find it again, darnit! But after quite a lot of searching and re-posting it to my wall, I’ve got it for you at this link. (Scroll down past the article to find it.) Gluten free, using almond flour, and sugar free using Somersweet:

Two main ingredients

IMG_1678

And a few berries, meaning I can’t make them right now because that makes it not yeast-free, darnit–but they’re good. You start out with some berries, which, in my case were blackberries on sale:

Big, juicy blackberries!

Big, juicy blackberries!

Just cut them to the same size as blueberries and raspberries:

IMG_1679

The recipe is supposed to make 12, but I ended up with a few more. After you grease the muffin tin, start beating the eggs:

Eggs. . .

My favorite little hand mixer

And then add in some other stuff to make a batter:

Was that the blueberry batch?

That may have been the blueberry batch

Bake them, and let them cool:

IMG_1680

Don’t do this, BTW–you want to use the same size muffin tins for extras. Otherwise, if you forget like I did, they cook too fast and burn a little. . . .

And you have some delicious, fruity, gluten-free muffins for breakfast or anytime you want something sweet.

Yum. . .

Yum. . .

Simple as using a mix, and a lot healthier. (The actual recipe is below.) Except that I can’t have butter for a while, darnit. I’ll live.

Now for something completely different.

Quick question for you: Do you like meatloaf?

Lots of people are divided on the subject, much like cats (people either love them or hate them, but very little in between.)  My mother made it occasionally, but I can’t say it was particularly memorable. Then again, with 4 kids, meals don’t tend to be memorable, they tend to be as fast as you can. Meatloaf didn’t happen often, and honestly, it wasn’t one of my favorite meals until recently.

You know how I like to find meat on sale? Well, frequently ground beef is marked down for quick sale. One day I realized I had a lot of it and figured I needed to do something WITH it. . .hence meatloaf.

Additionally, I’ve developed a liking for meatloaf sandwiches, complete with mayo and other stuff, but I didn’t bake any bread this week. Didn’t feel like it this week.

Here’s the problem: in a loaf pan, they take FOREVER. One day I figured out how to bake it in about 30 minutes. But I digress. . .I’m getting ahead of the story.

See, meatloaf just needs some flavorings and a binder. You just dump them into a bowl, mix them up and bake them. Easy, right? Most standard meatloaf recipes call for bread crumbs. Not in my kitchen! If I do have bread crumbs, it’s from gluten-free bread, and I’ve usually eaten them anyway.

So what do you do, Miss Food Blogger?

Longtime low-carb devotees will tell you some Parmesan cheese will work well. And it does. . .long as you’ve not given up dairy. A couple of things I’ve tried have been ground chia seeds (not much!) and this past week, about 1/8 cup of coconut flour in place of the breadcrumbs. I still used beaten eggs as a binder, but somehow without the flour component, it can fall apart. The coconut flour worked great, and no crumbly meat loaf. I’m thinking that’s a keeper.

Since I’m also a devotee of the Tex-Mex, I started tossing in a can or two of chiles. Yes, THOSE canned chiles. I get the mild ones so that they don’t burn me, but if you like it hotter, by all means, get the spicier ones, or even the canned chiles in adobo sauce. (That’s hot!)

Another “essential” in most meatloaf recipes is the presence of something I used to like but now avoid: ketchup. Unless you make it yourself, and I have, ketchup can be as much as 25% sugar–usually in the form of the evil high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A few years ago, I found a store-bought ketchup brand with “100% pure sugar.” But. . .it’s still sugar, so I don’t mess with it. (That was for the weekend boyfriend who didn’t give a fig about any healthy stuff.)

So what did you do, Miss Food Blogger?

The simple and inexpensive solution was to simply use tomato paste. A whole can. No kidding, per pound of meat, one 6-ounce can of any kind of tomato paste, so long as it’s not flavored with stuff. I can’t find the picture, but I actually did buy tomato paste once with some kind of “Italian seasoning” in it, only to discover later that it had sugar in it, and quite a lot of it. Back to Kroger I went for a can of the correct type.

As I’ve said before–if I’m eating cake, chocolate, or something else confectionary, I know I’m probably eating sugar. But if I don’t know it’s in my tomato paste, or something else where you wouldn’t expect it, I get testy about that.

If you’re diabetic, or otherwise sensitive, you get it.

So here’s the set up:

Basics for the HeatCageKitchen meatloaf

Basics for the HeatCageKitchen meatloaf

Two tablespoons of chili powder and one tablespoon of cumin and coriander, and mix it all together with some garden onions and 1/8 cup of coconut flour:

The dry ingredients first

The dry ingredients first

And two pounds of meat, two beaten eggs, some garlic, and maybe some salt:

Getting there. . . .

Getting there. . . .

Stash it in the pan, bake at 350 for about 35 minutes, but keep an eye on it.

Now here’s the difference:

The flat meat loaf!

The flat meat loaf!

Yes, it’s FLAT. That’s the pan that goes into the toaster oven (it actually came with it) and after I line it with parchment paper, I pat down that mixture and bake it.

I know, this one split. . .I can’t find the picture of this week’s meatloaf, darnit. This week’s got a little over-done, but didn’t split. I think this is the one I used ground chia seeds in.

The pan is actually 12″ square, and is the broiler drip pan for the toaster oven. It can be used individually as a baking sheet, and can be purchased separately. Because I’ve used it so often as a baking sheet, I wore off the finish and now use parchment or foil for that. (It’s not stainless steel, I think it’s aluminum or something.)

If you don’t have a countertop oven, you can use a regular baking sheet and spread it out to whatever size you want it.

The key here is FLAT. And it takes less time than the loaf pan–a lot less.

However you make your meatloaf, there’s a chance flat might work for you.

So, that’s what’s up here, whilst my writer friends up north are digging through snow and ice and camping in until the state of emergency is lifted. One of those writer friends is in North Salem, MA–she just posted a picture showing snow that’s nearly 6 feet. Poor thing is from San Diego. . .and I am jealous. We don’t get snow in Houston very often, and it sure don’t look like a Hallmark card!

Here’s one of her pictures, if you’re in the South and don’t know what it looks like:

Snow from my friend Robbin in North Salem.

Snow from my friend Robbin in North Salem.

If you’re in the middle of all that, please take care, stay warm, and don’t go out unless you have to.

I’m in shorts and a T-shirt, and have been on my patio for a few days now. But that’s not every day, because Friday it’ll be cold again, and I’ll be back in front of the fireplace this weekend.

Stay warm, if you’re up north, and please be careful. If you’re in a baking mood, and you’re snowed in, now’s the time to bake, folks.

And if you’re of a mind, here’s my favorite yeast-free hot chocolate recipe, good anytime, even if you’re not yeast free.

Enjoy, wherever you are!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

George Stella’s Berry Muffins

Prep Time 15 min / Cook Time 25 min / Serves 12

SHOPPING LIST
Nonstick cooking spray
4 large eggs
2 cups almond flour
¾ cup sugar substitute
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup blueberries
1⁄3 cup raspberries

  1. Place oven rack in the center position and preheat to 375°. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add the almond flour, sugar substitute, vanilla extract, baking powder, and salt, and mix well, creating a batter.
  3. Gently fold the berries into the batter and fill each of the greased muffin cups 2⁄3 of the way full.
  4. Bake 20–25 minutes, until the tops of the muffins turn a light golden brown and a toothpick stuck into the center of one comes out mostly clean. Let cool 10 minutes be-fore serving.

NOTE: The recipe states that strawberries should not be used because of their high water content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Chocolate Quickie

Good evening, Dear Readers:

Just dropping in to say Hi, and to tell you about a recipe I tried this evening, FINALLY.

The weather here is warm, but will chill down later in the week. The AC is still on, but because it cools off a bit at night, I have to keep turning it UP. Oh, well.

I spent ALL of today taking online technical exams for two upcoming job interviews. Long and tedious, but that’s OK, I had a couple of other things going on at the same time. The first was OK, but the second involved proofreading. Now for a writer, this is usually no big deal. But the whole proofreading section was foodie based: restaurant menus and tabs, vegetable purchase receipts, that sort of thing. The worst part was reading and proofing the various descriptions of a fictitious vegetarian restaurant called “Garden Greens.” It read like a badly written romance novel–irritating to read, and then I had to proofread and find the errors. You talk about a headache; no wonder I’m so tired!

Tomorrow I head downtown for an interview for this company, and then I head to the Galleria area on Thursday to meet with one of so many job shops I hear from. They’re also known as temp agencies and headhunters. Mostly they just waste my time, but one of the jobs they have is for a copywriter, for which I am quite qualified. So, we’ll see, and maybe a stop for a coffee at Central Market on the way home.

One in a million is what sent me to my last job, and to the job at Boeing where I hung out with the finest IT people in the world for 8 years. Oh, well. . . .

I have a habit of printing off recipes and getting around to trying them “one day.” Of particular interest are healthier versions of popular things, and chocolate, as you might imagine, is tops.  One of the most popular recipes floating around online is the infamous “microwave cake in a cup.” There are many variations, and for us gluten-free/yeast-free folk, this is a bonus opportunity.

Dr. Steven Hotze, who I frequently refer to as “The God of the Hormones,” is big on healthy and yeast free eating, for obvious reasons. Physician’s Preference, his on-site vitamin store, publishes recipes on their blog all the time. This one, being chocolate, I printed and have moved around for over a year.

Tonight, I finally made this Microwaveable Chocolate Cake, and I have to say I am quite impressed. It worked!! Makes two, and I did, but only ate one. Honest!

Gluten free chocolate cake in a cup. Go for it!

Gluten free chocolate cake in a cup. Go for it!

Instead of Sweet N’ Natural, I did use SomerSweet, my favorite natural sweetener. Glad I bought a case a few months ago. Wish I’d bought more, but I only have so much room in the pantry.

I wrapped the first one in the wax paper, and I should not have done that. But that’s OK, it came out just fine, even if it doesn’t look like the one on P/P’s website. The second one just had wax paper on top. YUM. I don’t know how big those ramekins are, but that’s OK. Use what you have, right?

Mind you, it would have been perfect for Valentine’s Day, too. DUH.

Oh, and that potholder I made from a book called Pretty Little Potholders. Made two of them. Used up some fabric scraps, that’s for sure. Haven’t made any more; they don’t really insulate your hands that well, so I’ll figure out another method for the next batch I make that actually keep your hands from burning, probably doubling the batting recommended.

Enjoy!

Verdict on Wheat Belly

Do you have a Wheat Belly?

Hello, Dear Readers:

Warning, this is a long one. But important. Go get a cuppa before you start reading, because there’s a lot to learn.

I’ve completed reading the eye-opening book Wheat Belly, and what I learned from reading it makes me say what I said the first time I mentioned the book in this blog after meeting Dr. William Davis in my earlier post on the subject:

STOP EATING ALL WHEAT IN ANY FORM, IMMEDIATELY AND FOREVER.

No kidding. It’s that toxic, even if you’re not sensitive to wheat or gluten. The “wheat belly” refers to what most people think of as a “beer belly;” a paunch that just won’t go away; but what if you don’t drink beer? Reading labels, as we all should be, will yield more places where you’d never think a wheat substance would subside (beer, too.) And if you or someone in your household has that problem with wheat and/or gluten, you’d probably already know all about it. If you don’t, go get this book and read it. Read the whole thing, now. (You can also get a Kindle version if you prefer.)

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or medical professional. I’m a patient who reads and pays attention, and I blog about food and food-related subjects like this one. I am not suggesting anything I wouldn’t do myself, and not prescribing or pushing any drugs or agendas. And while we can’t all look like Hollywood movie stars, at least we can try our best to be healthy and well with the life we have. Thank you.

Now back to the editorial.

I quit eating bread, pasta, and all that more than 10 years ago after reading Suzanne Somers’ first books that discussed her Somersizing diet plan. Only on rare occasions would I have something with wheat, usually at a party, or something from Taco Bell or Taco Cabana. (Sorry. Mexican food is a weakness.) Hate to call Somersizing a “diet” because it’s more of a way of eating, but. . .the food was good, and it made sense after years of “low fat” and “low calorie” that ended up not doing much but leaving me starving–and didn’t keep the weight off. Once in a while, I’d have something, like at a restaurant, a party, or the occasional wedding. (You know I’m not missing wedding or birthday cake, right? Ditto for a really tasty looking cupcake.) But as a rule, I just didn’t have bread or pasta around anymore, and didn’t have it on a regular basis.

When I did the yeast-free diet, where you avoid anything that would turn to sugar and feed yeast in your system, the hardest thing was to give up dairy, but I did it, and am only now starting to eat cheese again. Not a lot, and not like I used to, but occasionally, like in the Wheat Belly Biscuits I made recently.

Of course, while reading these books and seeing milk, butter and cheese discussed in the book and used in the recipes, all I could think of was, “I can has cheez?” Oh, BOY!! I’ve started buying cheese and milk again, sometimes. Not gallons of milk, just quart bottles, or even a bit larger. Inexpensive chunks of cheddar, Colby and Swiss. (No Manchego yet.)

I will tell you that when you avoid high starch things like flour, or potato, and then have some, you get a strong reaction when you “try a little.” Last time I did was a couple of months ago. One of my neighbors, ironically, works for a large medical complex in the Houston area. Her department had a public outreach activity after work which involved food. She brought me some of it sometimes, not a lot, but them lemon bars were lip-smacking good. One lemon bar, or one little bite of cheesecake, no big deal. Even a couple of cookies were fine. Recently, she brought these little square chicken empanadas. OMG–they were perfectly baked squares of dough with a chicken and poblano mixture inside. They were SOOO GOOD! I think there were about 8 or 9. I had a couple when she brought them home, along with some of that incredible crab dip, but decided to save the rest for breakfast the next morning. Good idea, right? Well. . . .

I put them in the toaster oven, and when they were nice and toasty, I ate them, one by one. Then I sat down to do morning prayers. And after 20 minutes, I had to lay down and sleep. HAD TO. Could NOT stay awake. I slept for over 2 hours (probably close to 3) and kept having really weird dreams. Not only was I going to England with a weird guy I used to work with, and seeing myself go through the TSA line, (never in real life, OK?) I kept hearing my own voice behind me say, “You really need to get up now.” But I could. Not. Wake. Up.

There is no other explanation than the insulin spike from the white flour, which I normally avoid. I will avoid it the rest of my life. I was tired like I’d stayed out all night, when in fact, I hadn’t. Much as I appreciated the treats–which were very delicious, of course–eating them first thing in the morning was not a good idea.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had such a thing happen. Back in the day when I started doing SugarBusters (along with everyone else in New Orleans), I’d been doing it about three months, and was married for about a year or so. We went to my parents’ for Thanksgiving, and my dear Grandmother brought something she called “Ambrosia.” I didn’t know what it was, but boy, did she insist that I eat some. Trust me, I didn’t need any, and I tried not to eat any. (Do YOU tell your Grandmother no? Me either. Eventually you give in.)  It was so good, I had seconds. (A small bowl, I promise.) On the way home, thank heavens I wasn’t driving–I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I threw the passenger seat back and was out like a light quickly, seriously upsetting the husband unit. I could barely walk up the stairs to our apartment–I was that wiped out, and I had no alcohol at all. I staggered to bed and slept for 3 or 4 hours. I was OK until I had that Ambrosia stuff. He was actually MAD at me for going to sleep like that, but honest, I really couldn’t help it. Later, I called my Grandmother and asked her what was in it. “Cool Whip, dried fruit. . .” in other words, it was just about pure sugar. Being off sugar for some time, then having that much of it was like taking a sleeping pill after the huge insulin hit.

Not doing that again.

I’ve occasionally embraced whole wheat since reading Suzanne Somers’ books, but not often, because of the high carb count. All flour-based food products like bread and pasta, as well as corn, potatoes, carrots, beets and others have a lot of carb in them, which breaks down to sugar in your blood stream, so I just don’t touch them (and, I hate beets anyway.) So when I first saw the book, I figured Dr. Davis was just talking about the high carb count, sugar/empty calories and all that.

Boy was I wrong. SO glad I finally read this book.

Dr. William Davis describes a legion of maladies that are directly tied to our modern genetically modified wheat–arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, acne, osteoporosis (modern medicine tells us it’s our estrogen or lack thereof) and even mental illnesses can result from GMO wheat. Not a joke–but most doctors won’t look for it, they’ll just medicate the symptoms. It’s not just celiac disease–and many people who have this sensitivity and other symptoms of it don’t always have celiac disease, either.

Yesterday, the deaths of three public figures were announced: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, actress and original Mousketeer Annette Funicello, and socialite-turned-fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer. Now, most people assume that celebrities and “famous people” have access to the best healthcare in the world. That’s not necessarily true, they may just pay more. Now, I can’t answer for any of the deceased, (no cause of death was released for Mrs. Pulitzer), but any one of these ladies may very well have been helped by no longer eating wheat at some point before various maladies appeared. Annette Funicello would likely embrace the absence of wheat, since she lived in California, and she may have. The other two, maybe or maybe not–who knows, right? But the compounded health problems of many years come together at one point and manifest as one thing. In Mrs. Thatcher’s case, it was a stroke (and not the first one) was what ultimately got the Iron Lady. Annette Funicello had multiple sclerosis (MS) and died from complications–it develops over time, hence the possible wheat connection. It’s hard to pinpoint one specific cause, many so-called “chronic conditions” are a manifestation of many causes, like junk food, drinking too much and excess sugar eventually turns into Type 2 diabetes. That’s the obvious, but other conditions aren’t that way, like arthritis, which Dr. Davis discusses in depth.

In other words, after years of eating this science-project-gone-wild-thing they call “wheat,” the effects accumulate and do damage–sometimes permanent, like brain damage. It doesn’t come out of the air, there is a specific cause for something showing up at a certain point in the future. His patients who cut out wheat are surprised to see many seemingly unrelated conditions, like skin rashes, clear up when they stop wheat.

Wheat’s toxicity can do the same thing–one symptom over here, another trigger over there, and you find yourself in a health crisis that “comes on suddenly.” Could be a heart attack. Could be a stroke. I’m not presuming to know that much about these three women to say for sure. What I am saying is that after reading this book and assimilating the subject, many symptoms, problems and diseases can be cleared up or even avoided completely by the elimination and total absence of wheat and the so-called “whole grains.” No drugs or special equipment needed.

Yes, I know, we’re all going to die eventually.

But why live with chronic sickness when you don’t have to?

As I mentioned in my first post, this is not the same wheat from biblical times, or that our grandmothers and even mothers had. For the last 40 years or so, wheat has been tampered with, gene-spliced, and mutated into something that doesn’t even resemble natural (called “einkorn”) wheat on a cellular/molecular level. It’s not the same thing on any level, but it’s still referred to as “wheat.”

At this point, you’re probably wondering what you’re going to eat if wheat-based foods are cut out of your diet. (There are, in some people, actual withdrawal symptoms due to the opiate-like effect of this wheat.) Concentrate on what you can have rather than what you can’t, and focus on discovering new ways to have what you used to. You’re eating real food, and there are splurges involved. Dr. Davis and his wife obviously worked hard on these recipes, and the results are obvious when you try it, like the biscuit mentioned earlier.

You can eat some good stuff, it just takes a bit of an open mind and learning about it. But if you discover that you really are allergic to wheat, having “just a little” will teach you a lesson you’ll not soon forget. Ask anyone who *is* allergic. (No, luckily, I’m not.)

In the Wheat Belly cookbook, there is a flaxseed wrap on page 231 that you mix up in a few minutes and make in a pie plate in the microwave. I’ve only bought flaxseeds once, and that was for a sewing project! These pancake-like wraps are absolutely delicious, and I’ve made and eaten probably a dozen since last week. Pair them with the salmon salad on page 125, which uses CANNED salmon, (and homemade olive oil mayo), and you’ve got a great lunch, gluten free, and completely tasty. OMG. I could make a meal out of a couple of those. Who needs bread?

Ooh. . .I could turn that wrap batter into pancakes and make some Agave Maple Syrup from the second Babycakes book. . .OMG, brain’s firing on all cylinders. Holy Shish Kebab–look out!

Anyway. . . .

A couple of weeks ago, I found another related cookbook in Central Market–The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace. It’s beautifully illustrated with some additional good recipes in it, and has some additional options for gluten-free living. (This too is available on Kindle.)

OK, I know, I shouldn’t have bought it. I splurged. (I promise not to do that again.) But take a look at that cake on the cover and you’ll see why I couldn’t leave it. Besides, it was 25% off the cover price in Central Market. (My tax refund came in, OK?)

One thing I was disappointed in is the recommendation of Splenda (sucralose), which is something I won’t touch. They also list Stevia Extract in the Raw, and New Roots Stevia; I’ll try those when I get to it and let you know how they work. (Dr. Davis uses Splenda as a condition of cutting out other stuff, but I still won’t buy it.)

I baked a loaf of what the authors call “Stout Bread” on page 38, which uses less expensive garbanzo bean flour instead of a nut flour. While the raw batter tasted kinda funky, the final bread was warm and delicious, and I need to make me another loaf because I have killed all 12 thick slices of it since the weekend. It stands up to toasting and butter, and you really feel like you’re eating Texas Toast, hence the name “stout.” There is no beer in it, just a really firm texture that makes it filling and delicious. (Hey. . .I wonder if I can make French toast with it? All the synapses are firing again!)

So what happens when you go out of your safe little kitchen? Lemme tell ya. . .yesterday, I was in downtown Houston and stopped in Starbucks on Smith Street, the Safe Haven With Food. I asked, and there was only one thing that was any kind of gluten/wheat-free. That was something called Two Moms In The Raw, a little 2 ounce bar called “Blueberry Granola” that cost more than I’d like to disclose here, but was indeed gluten free. It does have gluten free oats in it, and everything is organic. (Even Starbucks’ “protein plate” has a small cracker and honey-sweetened peanut butter.) This bar was not bad, but it is a bit on the high side. Sweet, but not overly so, and very, very crunchy. I was very early for my appointment, and just needed a quick bite before I went. You can read more at their their website.

This was my first adventure trying to be deliberately gluten free outside of my own regular cooking, but there are a number of ways to find gluten free recipes online, just pick yourself a website. Do a search on Martha Stewart’s website for a start, and find something. Foodnetwork.com will likely have some too, but. . .prowl around and find something. There are a number of sites that are devoted to gluten-free as well, just do a quick search and find one or two you like.

One warning that Dr. Davis makes repeatedly is that many products marked “gluten free” are not necessarily suitable–which is why reading labels is an essential part of taking care of yourself. (That’s true generally, but especially if you’re sensitive to soy like I am, or wheat like my friend BR is.) When wheat flour is removed, they have to replace it with something else, so it’s either cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch or tapioca starch–all of which will trigger that glucose-insulin response, causing you to gain weight (Page 72.)

Back when I did low-fat, I used to chow down on all those fat-free foods. Guess what? Didn’t help. When they take out the fat, they replace it with sugar, salt and other chemical additives that give it taste and something called “mouth feel.”  So while the fat was low, and maybe the calories were low, the carbohydrate impact made it worse than eating the “regular” food, if you can believe that. I’ve actually seen “unleaded” versions of stuff that had more calories than the “regular” ones.

And, if you go strictly by calories, you could theoretically eat candy bars all day and lose weight and be healthy. But, sorry, it doesn’t work that way. WAY more complicated.

This is an important subject for a lot of people, and that’s why I’ve been working on it sort of part-time to do a complete assessment. Needless to say, I’ve got no problem giving up wheat, since I really did it already. But if you’re suffering with chronic health conditions, and you’re on that “whole grain” thing, give it a try and see if something changes. I think Dr. Davis tells his patients 90 days. Really, it takes a little getting used to, but once you are used to it, no big deal.

But what have you got to lose? Illness? Excess weight? Allergies? Like I said, I’m not a doctor, but what would be the harm in trying it?

Besides–I want to keep my readers around to keep reading my long, rambling essays. This is my longest yet, but the topic is important, so I made sure I said enough.

Now go read this book and give up wheat, and find something healthy and delicious that you just can’t get enough of.

Happy Dining!

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