What’s for dessert?

This is the most delightful, awesome little truffle-like dessert thing. And I owe it all to Jamie Saal VanEaton, of Your Lighter Side. Thank you, Jamie!

Disclaimer: Jamie used mascarpone cheese in hers; I used cream cheese. She used Truvia in hers; I used Truvia in the centers, and Splenda granulated in the chocolate coating (because I ran out of Truvia). For the recipe, head on over to here.

The pictures here are mine. I guess I made them right, because my pics look remarkably like Jamie’s. These little balls of heaven certainly taste divine.

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The Tour is still on

I’ve been absent and I apologize for that. For the past couple of weeks, I have been packing up my life and putting it in storage in preparation for the Diet to Live For Tour. Now I am living with a friend, along with my daughter and three cats, and still working on getting the Tour on the road.

While preparing, I am also helping that friend to continue her journey down the Low Carb/High Fat, no-grains trail. It’s been a month now since she started this way of eating, and she feels better than she has in a long time. She’s also lost 9 pounds of her belly fat.

At this time, I don’t have much to report. I’ve been eating my coconut oil/cocoa powder/cream ‘pudding,’ along with plenty of proteins and fats. I cannot wait to make my first presentation to eager newbies!

Stay tuned for (hopefully) more frequent updates. I promise to not be gone so long in the future. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of one of my typical breakfasts.

Bacon and eggs, yum!

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Review of The Primal Blueprint

The Diet to Live For is nothing new. In fact, it is really old. Its premise is to eat healthy, sustainable, humanely-raised foods. Stop eating junk food in the form of processed, refined flours and sugars, and instead focus on eating proteins and fats and vegetables, with a little fruit for sweetness. Dairy is allowed, as are some artificial sweeteners, like erythritol, xylitol, and stevia (the jury is still out on whether or not sucralose is OK – I still eat it to avoid sugar). It’s pretty much the paleo-style diet advocated by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., and others, except for the dairy and artificial sweeteners.

What I didn’t realize when I came up with the Diet to Live For is that someone had already created it. Mark Sisson, in his Primal Blueprint book and website, has been talking about this very same diet for years now. He breaks his simple-to-follow plan into 10 easy ‘laws’ (because, as he says, “Commandments was already taken”):

1. Eat lots of plants and animals
2. Avoid poisonous things
3. Move frequently at a slow pace
4. Lift heavy things
5. Sprint once in a while
6. Get adequate sleep
7. Play
8. Get adequate sunlight
9. Avoid stupid mistakes
10. Use your brain

Such simple advice, and yet not very intuitive for those of us eating the standard American diet (SAD) of lots of carbohydrates in the form of refined wheat flour and sugar, and well as the preservatives inherent in packaged foods.

In order to be healthy, Sisson tells us to eat like Grok, our Paleolithic hunter/gatherer ancestor, instead. Grok didn’t have processed and refined foods to eat. He ate what he and his mate and children could gather (berries, nuts, leafy greens, some tubers) or hunt (insects, small animals, and occasionally larger game). They learned what foods were dangerous through trial and error, and stayed away from them. The Grok family followed Sisson’s laws 3, 4, and 5 in the process of following the food. They slept with the natural light and dark of nature, going to sleep shortly after sunset and waking with the sunrise. If they needed extra sleep, they took naps. Play was probably a natural part of their day, as it has been noted by studying modern hunter/gatherer groups that getting food and shelter took far less time than bringing home the bacon does today. They lived in nature, so obviously got plenty of sun for Vitamin D production. If they avoided stupid mistakes (like maybe falling off a cliff or being eaten by other predators) they lived long, productive lives. They also used their brains in figuring out how to get food.

Sisson tells us to follow Grok’s example and do these ten things regularly, and we can become healthy and slim. He urges his readers to follow the “80% rule,” which basically says strive to follow the Primal Blueprint at least 80% of the time, and health will be the result.

I believe that we can all heal ourselves through our diet. Sisson agrees, and says in the welcome section of the book, “My intention in this book is to show you the immense personal power you have to control your health and fitness destiny.” My dream is to help people realize this, as well, and Mark Sisson has made it all the easier for me. I can now point to his book as a health plan that anyone can follow.

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Primal Chocolate Pudding

I finally got to Whole Foods and bought some coconut manna, sometimes called coconut cream or coconut butter. It’s rather grainy, like a nut butter, and oh, so coconutty and delicious. My goal lately is to get more good fats into me, so I decided to make something dessert-like but healthy. Thanks to Tony Federico at Fitness in an Evolutionary Direction for this wonderful recipe for Chocolate Coconut Oil.

In his recipe, he adds no additional sweetener, letting the coconut oils provide the sweetness. I’m still working on getting rid of my sweet tooth, so I added one packet of Walmart’s version of Truvia. This really hit the spot!

Primal Chocolate Pudding

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Another N=1 Experience

On Saturday evening, I drank 2 cups of caffeinated coffee. I’d given up caffeine about a week or so ago, and had been feeling pretty good. My reason for giving it up is that I felt that the caffeine stimulated my adrenals to produce cortisol, and this was making me feel jittery and was quite possibly delaying healing my adrenals.

While visiting a friend, I had coffee after a lovely primal dinner of Parmesan crusted chicken breast and creamed spinach. I used a couple of packets of Truvia and some heavy whipping cream, my favorite additions to coffee. I sort of expected to feel jittery and hyped-up like I used to on caffeine, but I didn’t. My daughter wanted some of my coffee, but I’d just polished off the cup, so I made another one I could share. She only took a couple of sips, because she really doesn’t like sugar-free anything yet. I drank this one down, as well. Yum.

My friend and I are in the process of creating a business to sell the many photos I’ve taken on my travels, and we worked until midnight choosing pictures for her to play with on PhotoShop. Now, usually I am not a night owl – I crash by 10 to 11pm and am up by 6:30 to 7:30am each morning – but that night I was like the Energizer Bunny. I just kept going, and going….

My daughter finally dragged me away at midnight and we headed for home, where I got myself ready for bed. I wasn’t too sleepy yet, so I read book four in the Sookie Stackhouse series (the one that True Blood is based on) until 3am!

I woke up at 7:30am Sunday morning, but managed to go back to sleep and didn’t actually get out of bed until around 9am. The caffeine had a delayed reaction, because I certainly felt jittery and jagged, almost a hung-over feeling. My stomach was uneasy, and I was having leg cramps. A cup of my usual decaf espresso with cream and Truvia, along with a few pieces of my homemade sugar-free chocolate settled me down. At 11am, I was ready for some real food. I decided to fix some bacon and eggs to get some good protein and fat in me before I headed to Whole Foods Market to get my virgin coconut oil and Promised Land cream in the half gallon jar.

My take-away from this experience? Not only am I gluten sensitive, I appear to also be caffeine sensitive. One more thing to avoid on my path back to health. Below are some pictures of the lovely dinner my good friend Heather prepared for us, along with her cat, Wookie, in his ‘bed’ (which is actually a glass bowl on top of the dining table.

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The Diet to Live For Tour

My passion is showing people how they can heal themselves through their diet and through their intention. I love many things (travel, meeting new people, learning about history and cultures, food, talking). However, the three things I keep coming back to, over and over, are that I love to travel, I love to talk, and I love to eat.

What if I could combine my love of travel and discovering new people and cultures with sharing my Diet to Live For with others? What if I could live in an RV and drive around the United States, giving talks and demonstrations on the low carb/high fat-paleo-primal lifestyle? I lost a significant amount of weight (25 pounds) in only 6-7 weeks, simply by giving up grains and eating more saturated fat. My story was detailed here. Now I want to share that with more people. This is a journey, a process, and people need to know that, just as they didn’t get fat overnight, it takes time to heal the body and lose the weight.

I see myself giving cooking demonstrations, using low carb products. I see myself driving a beautifully ad-wrapped RV like Baker does and being sponsored by the low carb products that I use myself. I’m calling it The Diet to Live For Tour. This trip can help many people suffering from type 2 diabetes, as well as metabolic syndrome and prediabetes.

Because I have always been an optimist, and because I know that I create my own reality (with God’s help, of course), I know that this is a viable project, and that we can be on the road in a month. What I need now is an RV and a way to fund this trip, as well as places to stop and give talks about the Diet to Live For. I would love for you readers to chime in with ideas for how to accomplish this. Any ideas? Come on, brainstorm with me. Help me get this message out to the country!

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Coconut Flour Pancakes – Good Enough to Live For

The other day I discovered this great recipe for coconut pancakes that don’t taste too ‘coconutty.’ Since I have a big jar of coconut flour and needed to use it, I decided to try them. Because Lisa of the No Pain No Grain blog has a husband who hates coconut, I trusted her that these would possibly fool my daughter.

Anyway, I made them up according to her recipe, and can definitely vouch that they are very pancake-like and hardly even smell like coconut, much less taste like it. They are simply yummy pancakes, but with no grains, no gluten, and very few carbs.

I had them with Truvia-sweetened yogurt and defrosted berries, along with some bacon. Oh, so good! My daughter, suspicious of anything without wheat flour in it, refused to even taste them. Oh, well. More for me! It took me 3 days to finish them off, and that’s a winner in my book any day.

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The Benefits of the Diet to Live For

What is different for me since giving up grains, eating super-low-carb and losing 25 pounds:

It’s easier to move. This includes getting in and out of small cars, which in the past was a herculean effort on my part. I had to shift my legs out of the vehicle, then gather my strength to stand up. I realized the other day that I didn’t need the ‘oomph’ to get out of my friend’s Mustang. I just stood up!

It’s easier to get in and out of the bathtub. My knee is still sore from falling on it a few months ago, but I now have the energy to get up faster. There’s more room in the tub, too. I used to hate apartment tubs, because they are so small. Now, while they are pretty small, they don’t seem quite so tiny. (I still dream of a deep claw-foot tub to soak in.)

More energy! Walking across parking lots and campus is no big deal (except for the triple digit temps, of course).

It’s easier to choose healthier foods. Vegetables in butter now taste like ambrosia. I eat less. Rarely do I eat to feeling overstuffed, and when I do, I’m miserable. Yet when I don’t stuff myself, I no longer feel deprived. It’s much easier to not eat sugary junk food when I have the munchies. Yes, I still want something to munch on, but now I choose nuts, or the ‘pumpkin cheesecake’ (thanks, Sheila!) I fixed last night (⅓ cup cream cheese, ½ cup canned pumpkin, 1 packet Splenda, a little cinnamon – nuked for about 40 seconds and then stirred together and eaten warm).

Attitude shift. When I was heavier, I hated those perky people who were skinny and had all that energy. I wanted to scream at them, because I just couldn’t understand how they did it. I was practically immobile. Now that I’m lighter, I ‘get it.’ You just feel better, it’s easier to move, and you feel so much lighter. Your steps are lighter, too.

No caffeine. This isn’t a direct benefit of the diet, but one I’ve just discovered: I feel better when I don’t ingest caffeine. Drinking caffeinated coffee or tea, I could feel the rush of adrenaline/cortisol through my body and it didn’t feel good. I felt jittery and over-energized. In Ireland, when I was having 3 shots of full-caffeine espresso, I would feel like I was in hyper-drive and could keep working long past my usual limit (not necessarily a good thing for people with exhausted adrenals). When I didn’t drink it, I couldn’t move. I was lethargic and dragging and couldn’t understand why. Now that I’ve given up most of it, I just enjoy my cup of decaf coffee with cream. In fact, I think it’s as much the cream I’m enjoying as the taste of the coffee. I also don’t need the coffee to wake up in the mornings anymore. If I’m really out of it from either not getting enough sleep, or waking up during a sleep cycle, a shower pulls me out of the stupor.

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Still here, still eating LCHF/no grains, and still looking good

I just realized how long it’s been since I last posted, and well, that’s too long! Being back home in Texas is kind of boring, so I forget to post. Before, I had all those wonderful pictures of Ireland to share, as well as lots of adventures.

Here’s a little update on my weight loss journey:

Weight: 180 lb

This is a total loss of about 60 pounds (230 lb) from 6 years ago, when I first started trying to lose weight by giving up sugar and caffeine. I found out I was diabetic 3 years ago (2008), so in 2005 I had no idea what low carb meant. I just gave up eating junk food and sodas and tea and coffee. At the time I lost 30 pounds in 3 months. By the same time the next year, I’d gained it all back, plus 10 pounds. Oops. I started again, and eventually lost that 40 pounds, and it sort of stayed off. I attribute my going back to college and walking a lot more to being able to maintain that weight loss. Still, I weighed around 200-205 pounds.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I went low carb (around 90-100g/day) to try to manage it by myself. That only worked for about 6 months, then my blood sugars crept up and I found a doctor. I did not lose any weight during that time that I’m aware of (no scale), but I did feel better.

Over the next year, I went a little higher on the carbs (125-150g/day), then lower and lower carb, until I decided to try full-on Atkins in May 2010. Sticking religiously to my 20g/day, I lost 10 pounds. Then I gained 5 back, while still eating the same. As an experiment, I added back 20-40g of carbs/day and lost 8 pounds. Truly this made no sense to me, but I accepted it. So, over the next 6-8 months, I lost no more weight, but kept my carbs down to around 50g/day average. With time, my weight started creeping up—again. I went from 196 back to 202 pounds.

In February of this year, as you all know, I took off for Europe. All the walking helped me get in better shape, but I didn’t lose any weight that I’m aware of, and my carb count crept right back up to I’m sure over 100-150g/day. And so did my blood sugar, as I ran out of and stopped taking both my blood pressure medication and my Metformin.

On May 19, a year after trying Atkins and following the rules and not losing much weight, I gave up all grains and 90% of the sugars I was eating. Eating only meat, saturated fats, and a few vegetables, I lost 25 pounds in around 6 weeks. The best part was watching my big belly deflate. My clothes got looser and looser. The blouses that I used to be “poured into” were suddenly just right. I had to keep hitching up my pants, as they were slipping right off my hips. I was ecstatic, and my improved mood attracted more and more people to me.

As of now, I seem to be maintaining my weight loss, but not really losing. I’m not disheartened, though, as the skin on my upper arms has gotten quite floppy, and I’ve heard that a slower weight loss when you’re as large as I was helps the skin catch up and tone itself. Not sure if that’s true, but I’m so thrilled to be down this low, I just am happy to keep it off.

Foods I’m eating:

I’m still not eating any grains of any kind. That means no breads, no cakes, no power bars/low carb bars, no crackers. Just proteins and fats and non-starchy veggies.

I’ve discovered microwaved cheese ‘crackers’ that are so crispy and yummy that they truly satisfy my urge for crunchy chips. I can’t remember what lovely blogger told me about this, but all you need to do is microwave about a tablespoon of grated cheese (the blander the better, in my opinion) for 40 seconds on high. You must use parchment paper, or they stick, and doing one at a time is best. All the fat drains out of them (I didn’t like this part, but they are crispier without that liquid) and they are fabulous.

Oven-baked cheese ‘crackers.’ Thanks to George Stella and his cookbook Eating Stella Style, 2006 for this recipe. He uses two American Cheese slices and cuts them into a total of 32 little squares. He uses salt, chili and garlic powders to season them, then bakes them on parchment paper or silicon mats at 400ºF for about 7-7½ minutes, until they are crispy and brown. I have one caveat: I found 400º too hot, so I cook mine at 350-375ºF for about 8 minutes or so. My high-carb daughter loves these.

My daughter and I eat a lot of tuna salad, loaded with onion, celery, zesty dill spears (Vlasik), apple, mayo, pickle juice, and lemon. I eat mine with my cheese ‘crackers.’ I also add some extra sea salt.

A couple of nights ago I pan-fried a luscious rib-eye steak, and we had that with steamed broccoli and cauliflower, swimming in butter. We eat the steak with sour cream, and my daughter made herself some garlic bread. I didn’t need it.

Here are some pics of foods I’ve been eating, plus the latest picture of me. I can’t save a pic someone else posted on facebook that shows me ‘before,’ so go here.

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Eating Low Carb/High Fat

Lordy, I made the most delicious low carb/high fat pizza ever. Pizza, you say? How can you eat pizza on a no-grain diet?? Easy. You use bacon for the crust. I got the idea from Juba on the Fat Head Facebook group. In his ‘recipe,’ he took three slices of thick bacon, cut them in half, and then wove the six pieces together to form a basketweave, hand-sized plate. I didn’t have the thick bacon, so I used my regular, thin-sliced, and did the same. I baked it on a rack over a foil-lined baking pan at 375ºF until it was practically burned on the edges, but looked fairly done in the middle. This took around 20 minutes, and I flipped it about halfway through.

After letting it rest for about 5-10 minutes so it would crisp up, I added my toppings. My fridge is rather bare right now, so I made do with what I had: mayonnaise, thinly sliced white onion, fresh tomato, chopped fresh garlic, sliced black olives, mild Hatch chilies in a can, and cheddar cheese. I put this back in the oven and turned the heat down to 350ºF and let it go for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese was melted and bubbly.

Oh.My.God. This was so delicious, it was like a little bit of heaven! The bacon-y goodness married well with mayonnaise and the tomato. The chilies were practically non-existent because they are so mild, but the garlic added quite a kick. Now I wish I had another one. You should try this. It’s easy, and you can put whatever toppings you desire on it.

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