Monday, October 15, 2012

Best Voicemail From the Doctor, Ever.

The best voicemail from a doctor. Ever. Goes like this:

"Your test results are perfect, and by the way, do you realize that you are 32 pounds lighter than you were in 2006?" 

Thanks, and yes, I do. :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Low Carb Pregnancy

Should you...or shouldn't you?

There is a lot of chit chat on the old world wide web about whether your low carb lifestyle should be abandoned when you get pregnant.  When I was pregnant, I remembered wondering whether my dietary choices would have to change as a result of my growing baby bump.  There was little information out there.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled on dietary advice on this exact topic from a long-time low carber and registered dietician, certfied diabetes educator, etc., Valerie Berkowitz, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., C.D.E.

Not only does Ms. Berkowitz have the credentials and experience to give this kind of advice, she practiced this advice when she was pregnant with twins, with excellent results.  

So, I won't keep you in suspense.  In her 2002 article, A Mother-to-Be does Atkins, Ms. Berkowitz discussed following the Atkins Lifetime Maintenance Plan during her pregnancy.  She describes her daily dietary intake as about 100-150 grams of protein, 70-90 grams of carbs, and approximately 1,800-2,000 calories per day.  Notably, she gave an example of a typical daily menu during pregnancy,  and it appears that she got most of her carbs from fresh, whole fruit and vegetables, not from starchy stuff and refined sugars.  

Are you in the midst of a low carb pregnancy?  Want to add a few healthy carbs to your diet?  Check out this article about the top 25 healthiest fruits for you to eat, along with a description of their nutritional value and benefits.  

photo.JPGWhat about a smoothie?  
Combine 1/2 large banana, 1/2 peach, 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries, 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries, and 1 container of Fage full fat plain yogurt, and blend.  Add water and a little Truvia to sweeten if needed.  

You will end up with about 43 grams of net carbs, good protein, probiotics, a ton of dietary fiber, and more micronutrients than I can possible count...

You know what, make that 2 smoothies, and you've hit your daily carb allowance for pregnancy.  Good on you, Mama!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

LCHF Creamy Chocolate Coconut Shakes

LCHF.  It stands for Low Carb High Fat.  Historically, I have focused on the "Low Carb" portion of this WOE, because that is the most challenging part for me (and for most of us on LCHF) to comply with, as we typically start off with a serious carb addiction. "High Fat", however, often gets shunted to the wayside, either because it seems effortless, or because we think that we are already eating an acceptable level of healthy fats, or because some of us still have the "fat is evil" mindset lurking about upstairs, especially when it comes to saturated fat..

Dietary fat is not evil.  Regular consumption of varied, healthy and good quality fat is good for the body, and delicious.  Saturated fat, in particular, is important for your health.

So, don't do yourself a disservice and hyperfocus on "Low Carb".  Make it your goal, this week, to make sure you get a little more "High Fat" in your diet.

One delicious way to achieve this goal is to blend up this week-supply of Creamy Chocolate Coconut Shakes and have one serving everyday.  Savvy readers may notice that I have repurposed and adjusted my Coconut Vanilla Custard Ice Cream recipe to make this shake.

Here's the recipe:

LCHF Creamy Chocolate Coconut Shakes (about 6 servings)

3 cans regular unsweetened coconut milk;    
¼ cup high quality unrefined, organic coconut oil
1/3 cup truvia
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
4 oz chopped unsweetened chocolate (I use Callebaut)
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract


  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, whisk together the coconut milk, coconut oil, truvia, and salt. Bring the mixture just to a boil.
  2. While the coconut mixture is heating, whisk the egg yolks until pale and aerated.
  3. Once the coconut mixture has come to a slight boil, whisk about 1/3 of the mixture into the yolks.
  4. Add another 1/3 of the mixture to the yolks, whisking quickly, then return the combined mixture to the saucepan.
  5. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon, about 2-3 minutes. Do not boil or the eggs can coagulate.
  6. Place chopped chocolate into a large bowl.  
  7. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl, and let sit for 2 minutes, until chocolate begins to melt.  Stir to combine.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to come to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  9. At this point, I usually put the shake mix into a tupperware container and refrigerate.  It will firm up in the fridge a bit.
  10. Then, when I want to make a shake, I will scoop about 6-8 oz of the shake mix into a blender with a couple of ice cubes and blend until frothy.  
This is a very versatile recipe:

I found that the shake base, straight from the refrigerator, has a delicate mousse consistency that is very nice to eat with a spoon for dessert.  

A dollop would also be well-placed on top of my LCHF chocolate cupcakes.  Just make sure to serve right away, as the shake mix will loosen up at room temperature.

As well, you can heat the shake mix until steamy (don't boil) for a very decadent hot chocolate.  

Last but not least, you can always throw the cooled shake mix into your ice cream machine (per manufacturer's instructions) and let it go for 20 minutes, to turn it into frozen custard.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fasting Glucose is Down!

My fasting glucose was 103 at 6:30 a.m. today!
Hooray!  I tested at 2 a.m. (when I woke to use the bathroom), and it was 105.

What did I do differently?  How can I duplicate these results!  I am wracking my brain to figure it out!!

Acupuncture on Monday and Chinese herbs (Rehmannia 6) twice daily.  Check.

Metformin 500 mg in the morning.  Check.

Last night we ate an early dinner (5 - 5:30).  Nutritionally, dinner was mostly fat (salty organic butter; homemade pesto) and protein (about 10 oz of shrimp, sauteed in the butter).  I also had a serving of sauteed broccoli mixed with the pesto and a few bites of pasta (just a few. don't shoot me.)  It was probably about 5 grams of carbs.  Check.

I took the Rehmannia 6 at about 8.  Check.

I had a late night snack at 9.  Nutritionally, the snack was basically all protein and fat: about 3-4 ounces of leftover steak cooked in homemade tomato sauce, with a tiny dollop of mayo, all mixed together and eaten cold.  (Sounds gross, but totally delicious).  Check.

Metformin at 9:30.  Check.

Also: I am drinking water at night.  No alcohol.

Will keep you all posted!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tongue Chronicles: Are We All Yin Deficient?

Yin.  I didn't even know what that was until a week ago.  Now, it's got me thinking.  Here's the story.

As many of my dear friends and readers know, I have had endocrine issues for years, starting with obesity at age 9, transforming into gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy in 2007.  The saga continued in March 2010, when I was diagnosed as "pre-diabetic" by my MD, following an oral glucose tolerance test and HbA1c.  I was put on metformin and monitored, but with no healthy diet changes yet made, my numbers did not change much.  

Fast forward to January 2011.  I started LCHF, and noticed dramatic improvements to my health and well-being.  Among those improvements was a change in my HbA1c and daily blood glucose readings for the better.  

Fast forward to the present day, and labs from my last two PCP and endocrinologist appointments have come back with a "normal" HbA1c.  I give all of the credit to LCHF.  Carb restriction is the way to go, without a doubt.  There is no better diet to help control your blood glucose.

However, for many of us who have a history of metabolic and endocrine disorders (Diabetes, Obesity, PCOS, anyone!?), diet is not enough to get your glucose down to where it needs to be.  This has certainly been true for me.

I take blood glucose readings pretty regularly with my glucometer, at home.  While adherence to a LCHF diet has improved my glucose readings tremendously throughout the day, I am still getting high glucose readings in the morning.  This is frustrating and confusing, because I fast during the night when I sleep, and so why in the heck would my fasting glucose at 7 a.m. be the highest of the day??!!  

I tinkered around with the timing of dinner, and found that earlier dining and no snacks aftert 7 p.m. helped to get my fasting glucose down from 139 to 117, on average.  That's still too high for me.  I am a young woman who is interested in having more children, and the American College of Obstetrics recommends that fasting glucose be below 100.  

There are a lot of theories, including the Dawn phenomenon and the Somogyi effect, to help explain why fasting blood glucose is so high in some people.  The Dawn phenomenon essentially posits that counterregulatory hormones (growth hormone, cortisol and catecholamines) cause the glucose level to rise overnight. For people with diabetes who do not have enough circulating insulin to keep this increase of glucose under control, the end result is a high glucose reading in the morning.  The Somogyi effect can be called "rebound hyperglycemia", and essentially posits that diabetics become hypoglycemic during the overnight period, and the body seeks to protect itself by releasing hormones that create glucose, in response to dangerously low levels of blood glucose.  One way to determine if either of these things are happening to you is to test your blood glucose at 2 a.m.!  That sound great!  Not.

So, I drew this conclusion: fixing my diet is not enough to get my blood glucose completely in control.  There is more going on than meets the eye, and it has everything to do with unresolved hormonal issues. 

I have made an appointment with my endocrinologist, and will see him tomorrow.  He will undoubtedly prescribe me some form of long-acting insulin to take before bed, to keep me low for the morning.  I can do this.  I have done it before.  I will do it now, if need be.

imageI ALSO started seeing an acupuncturist (is that the right word?), for the first time, last Monday.  He took one look at my tongue and diagnosed me with a chronic yin deficiency.  Apparently, I have a cracked tongue (not a split tongue, thank you very much), and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) dictates that a cracked tongue indicates yin deficiency, you know.  Here are some creepy photos of yin-deficient tongues for your enjoyment.  

Here are some of the apparent symptoms of yin deficiency:

  • Afternoon mild fever
  • Night sweating
  • Five Centers Heat
  • Scanty, dark urine
  • Dry stools, no pain
  • Thirsty, with no desire to drink, or just in small sips
  • Dry mouth and throat at night
  • Mentally restless but tired, vague anxiety, fidgety
  • Defensive
  • Frequent waking during night
  • Red line inside eyelid
  • Mild red, painless spots
  • Overextended
  • Red cheeks;
  • Tongue is red with little coating, peeled, and possibly cracked
  • Rapid pulse.
I have several of these symptoms.  Interestingly enough, I happen to have mild, red, painless spots - my dermatologist calls them guttate psoriasis.  

This is Rehmannia.
Pretty, but unpalatable.
So, the acupuncturist is treating my yin deficiency with acupuncture (which doesn't hurt) and vile Chinese herbs.  "Herbs" is a very benign word, and cannot begin to conjure up how disgusting the prescription really is.  Called "Rehmannia 6", though they typically carry this in capsule form, the office was out this week, and I had to take the powdered version, ten tiny spoonfuls each day.  It is like eating lemon-scented sand.  Just as gross as you can imagine. There is literally no way to prevent myself from gagging.  Ugh.  

But, how do I feel?  

The answer: Pretty good.  

This Chinese medical treatment is definitely having a diuretic effect on me, which is good because I was feeling kind of bloated.  I feel less thirsty, and my water output is up.    My fasting glucose readings haven't changed much, though I did just have a 114 reading on Wednesday, which is the lowest I've seen in a while.  

Here's the skinny on TCM: for those of us who are used to Western medicine, TCM sounds a little crazy.  Yin is substance, yang is energy.  Yin is damp, yang is hot.  I need more yin-derived dampness to tamp down my normal levels of hot yang...  Odd, and a little dirty?  Just me?  Okay.

Sound a little wacky to you?  Think again.  

Check out this 2003 article from the journal Endocrinology (link is to the full free .pdf version).  On page 3752, there is a diagram which depicts leptin and ghrelin as yin and yang, respectively.  When in balance, yin/leptin and yang/ghrelin "maintain an appropriate and tight regulation of body weight and food intake".  When out of balance, obesity, anorexia and cachexia result.  

I'm giving TCM a chance.  What about you?

I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to post pictures of my tongue.  Let's keep it classy, world wide web!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fat People Only Gyms? Not for me.

Check out this recent article in Time about a gym that has banned skinny people from exercising there. I read about this phenomenon in a Fitday article, where the question was asked, would such a thing be helpful or harmful.  I "weighed" in.
Here's my gut reaction:
It is a stupid idea.  What happens when that woman who is 50 pounds overweight loses her 50 pounds?  Will she be kicked out on her now-slender keister?  
No gym can sustain its existing clientele if the clientele's achievement of their health and fitness goals will mean that they are no longer welcome at the gym, either expressly or impliedly.  
It is a gimmick.  I suspect that these gyms are banking on the presumption that these overweight women will never reach their weight goals.  Now, that's a gym you can trust.  That's a promise of success you can believe in.  Not.
I am a woman who is carrying 50 extra pounds.  I go to a gym that is very inclusive.  I started going about 30 pounds ago.  Fat, thin, old, young, male, female - it doesn't matter.  Am I intimidated sometimes because I am not as athletic as some of the other people in my gym?  Certainly.  I am the kind of person who trips walking up the stairs.  But that's my issue, and I have to deal with it.  I am fat, and I am working on it, as evidenced by the fact that I am at the gym in the first place, sweating and panting.  I am not ashamed to be there.  
When I started, I would go to the gym first thing in the morning, to get the hang of working out before the gym got too busy.  I go now whenever I want to.
If you are big, and you want to go to a gym, enroll in one that you can afford and that will provide you with the resources that you need.  Meet the people who run the gym before you sign up, and if they treat you poorly, don't sign up.  Hold your head up and be proud, because you are trying.  That is half the battle.  If you try long enough, you just might be surprised at the results.  Just do it.
What do you think?  
I am not trying to be harsh, here.  I'm guessing that there are a significant number of obese people out there who would be comforted by a segregated gym.  It's just that segregation rubs me the wrong way.  
If you are an obese person, you are probably a very tough and strong person, because you have dealt with years of discrimination due to the extra weight you carry.  We both know that it is not easy being fat.  In our culture, FAT = LAZY and UNDISCIPLINED.  I've been there.  It is heart-breaking.  
Guess what?  It is not true.  If you are reading this blog, it means that you care enough to want to make a change in your health.  Exercising, no matter whether inside or outside of a gym, means that you are not lazy and undisciplined.  Watching what you eat means that you are not lazy and undisciplined.  Be proud of yourself for giving good health a try.  Remember that those thin people have probably never had to walk a day in shoes like yours.  
Face the world with your head held high.  You belong no matter where you go.  Most of the thin or athletic people you would see in the gym aren't even thinking about you.  If they knew you, they would be proud of you for trying.  They may not care whether you succeed, but they don't want you to fail.
Don't let fear motivate you.  Don't let it become just one more excuse for why you shouldn't help yourself.  
Do go and see your doctor before you begin a new fitness or diet regimen, and get their input.  You may need some extra help or oversight at first, and they can advise you of that.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

LCHF Recipe: Philly Cheese Steak Lettuce Wraps

I am enamored of lettuce wraps.  They completely rock.  I had my first one at California Pizza Kitchen - thai chicken and shrimp.  Yum.  Since then, I've been completely hooked.

Here's the basic technique: you saute finely chopped veggies, meat and then add some kind of sauce to bind the mixture into a not-too-drippy filling.  You then scoop the filling into an iceberg lettuce leaf.  Hold it like a wrap sandwich, and eat it.  I've done this with a bunch of flavors, including my own take on Asian chicken (very close to CPK's version), and traditional taco meat with toppings.  

Last night, we used the lettuce wrap technique to help us finish about 8 oz of left over rib eye steak from Monday's dinner.  It was so good, I took a picture (it tasted better than it looked, but you could pretty this up with some chopped scallions or something).  

Now, I'm sharing it with you.  

Here's how the recipe goes.  It will serve 2-4 people, depending on how hungry they are.  It would also be a phenomenal filling for stuffed mushrooms, if you are having people over.

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 8 oz left over rib eye steak, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, lettuce cups carefully removed

  1. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add veggies, sprinkle with salt and cook, without browning too much, until veggies are soft and aromatic.
  2. Add chopped steak to the skillet, and stir to combine.  Continue to cook until the beef is heated up.  
  3. Turn off the heat.  Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, and shredded cheese, and stir until thoroughly combined and cheese is melted and well incorporated into mixture.
  4. Serve immediately in lettuce cups.  Delicious!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Your Unique DNA Signature

Today, on Living Social, you can buy a deal for a "DNA Self Discovery Kit" from ConnectMyDNA for $29, which will compare your genetic markers with living population groups around the globe.  It is cool, cool stuff, and can give you some insight into where your predecessors came from.  

Why is DNA Self Discovery relevant to you, and what are haplogroups and haplotypes?  Check out these links for more information:

First, there have been a number of scientific studies which have investigated the relationship with certain haplogroups and type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity (check the Google results here).  Note: this test does not promise to give you results that you can take to the doctor!

Second, there is discussion in the primal/paleo community regarding whether you should eat primal/paleo according to your haplogroup, i.e., eating as if you were a paleolithic European because your haplotype demonstrates that your people were from Europe, as opposed to eating foods that may have been available to paleolithic populations in Africa or Asia 40K years ago, because your haplotype demonstrates that your people were from Africa.  

Something to think about!  For $29, why not give it a whirl?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ridiculously Good LCHF Brownies

These fantastic brownies were adapted from the Cooks Illustrated recipe for "classic brownies".  Notably, Cooks Illustrated does not see fit to print this recipe gratis, so you will just have to google it yourself and consider whether you will check out one of the several blogs that have reproduced the recipe for your gustatory pleasure.

This is what I changed from the original: I omitted the nuts.  I substituted 1 1/4 cups of cake flour with a scant 3/4 cup of coconut flour.  I substituted 2 1/4 cups of sugar with 1 cup of Splenda brown sugar blend.  I will also specify that the chocolate I used was Callebaut unsweetened chocolate, which I bought in a 1 lb brick from Whole Foods.  I also prefer to make brownies in an 8x8 pan instead of a 13x9 pan, so my timing is calibrated a bit differently to account for that change.


Scant 3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces Callebaut unsweetened chocolate , chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
1 cup of Splenda brown sugar blend
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking dish with foil and butter the foil. 
  2. Whisk to combine coconut flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. 
  4. When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. 
  5. Add eggs on at a time to chocolate mixture, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined, then whisk in vanilla. 
  6. Add the coconut flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
  7. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 40-45 minutes, depending on your oven (check at 35 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter). 
  8. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, then cut and serve.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amusing Bacon Humor

To the gym for "skinny jeans"!

One level of Dante's inferno?
I got up at 6 this morning, was at the gym by 6:20, and did the 30-minute exercise circuit (like they have at Curves) until about 7.  Then, I showered at the gym, blow-dried my hair there, went home, got dressed, and drove to work.  I got into the office at 8:20.  In my book, that's a pretty good morning!

Why am I motivated to kick a little tush? 

Answer:  I have a wedding to go to on August 4th.  It is at the Ritz Carlton. 

I have a gown that I bought for an event in 1997.  This gown is gorgeous and has been worn by me exactly once.  It is a fitted black sheath with a halter neck and a deep slit up the leg.  The gown is classic and though I've been out to the shops to see if I can find something, there is nothing to beat this gown.  Every fiber of my being wants to wear this gown. 
Do you remember the "skinny jeans" measure of success post?  Well, this gown is my new "skinny jeans" and I am on my way.  (The old "skinny jeans" got to be so baggy and saggy that I donated them to Goodwill last September).

The problem: the gown doesn't fit.  Oh, I can get it on, but it is too snug, and the zip doesn't zip all the way up the back, and it is just not hot.  Yet.  I am guessing that I have about 10 pounds to go before it looks good on me, and about 15 before it could be considered comfortable. 

The solution: kicking my own ass.  I recently watched a documentary on paleolithic man, and how it is believed that they survived the bottleneck that killed off all of our human like competitors who were not homo sapiens.  The thought is that they ate meat, worked hard to catch their meat in the mid-day, feasted at night, then did the whole thing again the next day.  Essentially, they exercised earlier in the day, and ate more at night.  I have been doing the opposite of this: eating more in the mornings, going to the gym at night. 
I can't exercise at mid-day.  Nope, I have to work. 

So, I've decided to give exercising in the morning a try, and to hydrate copiously and eat sparingly after that until dinner, where I feast on good things.  Meaty, vegetable-ey things.  That's the plan anyway. 

The complication:  I hate mornings?  Yesterday, that would have been a ringing, affirmative, declaration.  Today, though, there is some hope that I may be a morning person.  I won't confirm or deny it yet, but, so far...

I feel good.  I woke up naturally at 6.  It wasn't a struggle.  There was no alarm to scare the living crap out of me - ahem - to wake me.  I was up, turned to the hubby for a snuggle, and was told, kindly, that he had another hour left to sleep so could I please go back to sleep or something.  Not today.  I got up, dressed myself, and hauled off to gym.

And I feel good now.  I have energy.  There have been no yawns at all this morning.  Maybe I felt some endorphins this morning on the drive to work?  Not sure what that feels like, but it could explain the positive energy that led me to roll down the windows, amp up the U2, and rock out like a super freak during morning traffic.  I was happy.  I am pretty sure that I made a bunch of my fellow commuters laugh this morning with my antics.  I am happy and awake.

Can I keep this up?  Who knows.  I am working on it though!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fat-splosion: Thoughts on Fasting and Eating Fat

I get a lot of emails from readers who stumble upon my Fat Fast post, and ask me how it went, and what the results were.  It happens often enough that I thought I would revisit the Fat Fast for you, and give you a brief redux on my experience with fasting, and with this WOE, in general.  Take from it what you will.

Here goes: 

The Fat Fast (which is a term of art courtesy of Dr. Atkins himself, so don't give me flak, you fasting purists, because I know what you mean by fasting and that's not what we're talking about here) completely sucked.  I wouldn't do it again.  This is what I wrote at the time.  I stand by it.  I hate calorie restriction.  I'd rather not eat than count out macadamia nuts, one by one, and cry when I reach the daily dose, whose small handful I can consume in its entirety in 2.1 seconds flat.

If I was going to try fat fasting again, I would try it without calorie restriction for 24 hours, i.e., just eat 80% or more of my calories from fat, and the rest from protein, for 1 day.  I wouldn't count calories because counting calories blows and that is why I do low carb.  I would just eat macadamia nuts, guacamole, bacon, and other (healthy, organic) saturated fatty delights to satisfaction but not fullness, being aware, at all times, that I could have as much as I wanted (read: brain games).  I would make chocolate whipped cream with faux sugar and cocoa powder and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.  I would change the name from "Fat Fast" to "Fat-splosion" because then I wouldn't feel like I was depriving myself.

But that is not going to happen anytime soon.  Here's why:

Guest Post: Using Exercise to Manage the Stress of Cancer

Thanks to David Hass for preparing this guest post on using exercise to manage the stress of cancer.  David can be reached via email, and check out David's blog, here.

Using Exercise to Manage the Stress of Cancer
Whether you've recently been diagnosed with cancer or are going through treatments, stress plays a major role in your life. Even cancer survivors will experience a variety of stressors in their day-to-day activities. While stress itself is unavoidable, how you react to those negative situations can improve your cancer symptoms and side effects or make them worse.
Cortisol and Stress
Everyone reacts to stress in different ways. If you feel threatened by a situation you consider uncomfortable, the body releases hormones to help you deal with the problem. If the problem is prolonged as in the case of cancer, the hypothalamus in the brain will encourage the adrenal glands to release a steroid hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol mobilizes and regulates the amount of energy you need to handle the situation.
That makes cortisol directly responsible for slowing metabolism. A slow metabolism encourages weight gain when you're under stress. Cortisol produces cravings for fatty and sugary foods, and it influences other hormones that play a more generalized role in appetite. Cortisol also causes the excess fatty acids circulating in your blood as well as your fat stores to deposit themselves within your abdomen. It actually moves stored body fat to your belly.
Prolonged elevated levels of cortisol can also lead to problems with high blood pressure, excessive triglycerides and elevated glucose levels. That sets you up for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. While the current trend is to reach for over-the-counter medications that interfere with cortisol's functions, medication isn't the answer because restricting cortisol eventually leads to an inability to handle even small amounts of stress.

Friday, April 27, 2012


My husband sent me this by email today, with the subject line "I may have to turn you in."  That may be funny, but what is happening to poor Steve Cooksey is not. 

Are the members of the North Carolina Board of Dietitics/Nutrition bored?  Are they now canvassing every blog that talks about food on the internet?  Wow.  That's a big honey-do list, if ever I've heard of one.

Hey, does that mean that every Weight Watchers group leader in North Carolina is violating this rule?

How about every know-it-all you ever ate lunch with at work?

You know who they should arrest?  Paula Deen and her son, who now have a TV show called "Not My Mamma's [Artery Clogging, Deep Fried, Crap Food that Caused Said Mamma to Have Type II Diabetes and Hide it From the World but Now Profit From it as the New Face of Pfizer]".  I caught two minutes of it on FoodTV last week.  Horrible. 

From the Carolina Journal:
CHARLOTTE — The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send a blogger to jail for recounting publicly his battle against diabetes and encouraging others to follow his lifestyle.
Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to "practice dietetics or nutrition" without a license. According to the law, "practicing" nutrition includes "assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups" and "providing nutrition counseling."
Steve Cooksey has learned that the definition, at least in the eyes of the state board, is expansive.
When he was hospitalized with diabetes in February 2009, he decided to avoid the fate of his grandmother, who eventually died of the disease. He embraced the low-carb, high-protein Paleo diet, also known as the "caveman" or "hunter-gatherer" diet. The diet, he said, made him drug- and insulin-free within 30 days. By May of that year, he had lost 45 pounds and decided to start a blog about his success.
But this past January the state diatetics and nutrition board decided Cooksey's blog — — violated state law. The nutritional advice Cooksey provides on the site amounts to "practicing nutrition," the board's director says, and in North Carolina that's something you need a license to do.
Unless Cooksey completely rewrites his 3-year-old blog, he could be sued by the licensing board. If he loses the lawsuit and refuses to take down the blog, he could face up to 120 days in jail.
Regulatory overreach? I'd say so.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Recipe: Scallop and Black Plum Ceviche

Pretty and delicious.

This is a tasty recipe (see video here) from Mark Bittman (The Minimalist).  Though it is not as low carb as my usual recipes, it was a nice, light, refreshing change. At about 5 grams of net carbs per gigantic serving, it fits within my carb budget.

I made it with tarragon.  Surprise!  I discovered that I dislike tarragon intensely, so next time I make it, I will add either mint or parsley for some green and a little flavor.

The recipe comes together in a snap, and sits for just about 20 minutes before eating.  Although I portioned it to make 4 servings, this recipe would be great to serve as an impressive (and super easy) appetizer at a dinner party.  It would probably make 8-12 servings.

  • 1 pound fresh sea scallops, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 plums, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint or parsley, or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • Salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

  1. In a bowl, toss together scallops, plums, tarragon, lime juice and zest. Season with salt and cayenne. Let mixture sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  2. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kale Chips for Dinner

Check out this dinner: butter fried salmon, sauteed red cabbage and onions, and crispy kale chips with homemade horseradish sauce!  
Tasty Dinner!

Low carb and pretty primal, it was delicious! 

Here is how to make kale chips:
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

  • Tear your thoroughly dried kale into 2 inch square pieces (removing the ribs), and toss in olive oil.
  • Lay kale pieces out on a large cookie sheet, making sure that the pieces are spread out and do not overlap.  To ensure extra crispiness, bake the kale atop an oven-safe cooling rack for better air circulation below the leaves (below).
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes, checking the kale at 10 minutes to ensure that it does not burn (burned kale is horrible).  The kale should be crispy along the edges.
  • Remove from the oven, and immediately sprinkle with fine sea salt and a little garlic powder (spice it up as you like with, e.g., cayenne, cumin, onion powder, etc). 

    Enjoy your crispy chips!

Friday, March 2, 2012

LCHF Sauteed Kale Recipe and Tips on Cooking Kale

Check out the ribs on that baby.
I am all about the kale, people.  

Check out these recipes that I found online for Kale (chips), Kale (salad), and More Kale (sauteed).  Last night I made sauteed kale - I just winged it.  It was a success! 

Here are a couple of pointers for cooking kale: 

This plant is tough.  The ribs of the leaves are just not going to break down with fast cooking methods like a sautee, so they have to go.  I bought a whole bunch of kale yesterday, and just used the top leaves of the bunch (essentially, giving it a 6" haircut or so).  I removed the ribs, rolled the kale and did a fine chiffonade.  This is a good technique for getting very thin kale ribbons.  I gave the ribbons a quick rinse with tap water, shook out the excess water, but left some drops clinging to the leaves.  The extra moisture helped the kale steam when they it was first added to the hot pan, softening the plant a bit.  When the water evaporated (pretty quickly), the kale fried up in the buttery goodness that was in the pan. Yummy.

Here's my quickie recipe:

Kate's Sauteed Kale
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 cups of kale, chopped into a fine chiffonade
    1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  1. Melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
  2. Add chili flakes and garlic to the melted fat, and cook until garlic is softened but not brown.
  3. Add kale to pan, and toss to coat in the melted fat. 
  4. Add lemon zest and salt to kale, and toss to combine.
  5. Sautee kale for 3-5 minutes.  The kale should be vibrant green, and slightly softened.  Serve!
I served this kale with garlic-y, parmesan crusted, butter fried, wild-caught haddock.  It was really delicious! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eating for Your Mitochondria?

I just watched the video of this amazing presentation by Dr. Terry Wahls.  She suffers from MS, and was able to reverse the progression of her symptoms through adherence to a diet that she created. 
You need to see this.

This diet is designed to provide your body with sufficient amounts of the micronutrients that it needs to fuel your neurological system and sustain the myelin sheath which protects your brain.  (MS deteriorates the myelin sheath). 

In short: its all about the brain.

In a nutshell, Dr. Wahls recommends the following diet for brain protection and preservation, and observes that it is essentially a model of what our hunter gatherer ancestors ate eons ago:
  • 3 cups of dark greens daily, including kale and parsley;
  • 3 cups of colorful fruits and vegetables daily, including berries, peppers, peaches;
  • 3 cups of sulfurous vegetabls daily, including onions, broccoli, asparagus, and cabbage;
  • 1 serving of organic, grass-fed beef daily;
  • 1 serving of wild caught fish (not sure if its daily), including herring and salmon;
  • 1 serving of organ meet, weekly, including liver, kidney, "hard tongue" (whatever that is)
The diet is a tall order.  I'm not sure that I can get in 9 cups of veggies every day.  I'm not sure that I've ever eaten kale, although I am going to grab some and play around with it.  Not sure whether you can eat kale in a salad, though, as it seems pretty fibrous and I've only ever seen it cooked.

Anyone have any good kale recipes?

Also, the video contains a number of cites to published literature that is available on pubmed.  I would like to write those down and print them out to review. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Fat Files: The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Neck

Today, I weighed myself, and surprise, I am down to 196 pounds on the button.  That's 35 official pounds down since I started LCHF/primal last year...  Yikes.  So I did some measurements and discovered that my neck has shrunk down to less than 14.5"
<--- Check me out.
Maybe I'm finally over my weight loss plateau.  
I also noticed that I have not updated my Numbers Do Not Lie page in, oh, 17 weeks.  Striking.  That's embarassment at plateau-ing, for ya. 
Here's what I am up to these days.  The theme is "back on track".
Fitness: I am back at the gym, trying to get some challenging workouts in.  I have contacted a local health and fitness coach, who I am going to meet up with on March 10th, to see about getting some training.  The good things are (1) he was recommended to me by someone I know who is in the business (but who is not local and thus cannot train me himself); and (2) he advocates primal nutrition for optimal health, and seems to be into the "lift heavy things" and "chronic cardio is bad" school of thought.  So, that meshes with what I've learned, in theory, about primal nutrition and fitness from Mark Sisson.  I say "in theory" because I am not doing so hot with the primal fitness aspect of this lifestyle.  I am still a little intimidated by the fitness world, and I loathe trying new things in front of a gym full of strangers.  That's why I sought out this trainer.  I am hoping that this will change some things for me and get me back on track with my weight loss.
Diet: I hate to admit it, but I have been slackin'.  I'm not completely non-compliant, but I am being a little too lenient with my food choices.  I have been eating out quite a bit, which is a no-no due to the presence of hidden carbs and quality questions regarding the source of the food that comes out on the plate.  I do better (we all do better) when we eat at home.  This is easier said than done when you are a busy mamasita.  Like me.  Also, I have to admit that I have been nibbling on forbidden things.  A bit of rice here, a little spoonful of pasta there, and just a dollop of "do you mind if I have a bite of that" all adds up to a slippery slope back to fat.  I don't want to go there.
Let's do this!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

LCHF Coconut Shrimp with Orange Chili Dipping Sauce

Each prepared shrimp weighs in at about ¾ g carbs, so half of the recipe, served as a main dish, is just 5.5 g carbs.  Two tablespoons of the dipping sauce add just about 3 grams of net carbs to the meal, but are well worth it. 

Serve with stir-fried green beans for a delicious, well-rounded meal. 

Coconut Shrimp (Serves 2 for dinner, or 4 for appetizers)

  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tsp grated lime peel
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound (15) raw jumbo shrimp, shells removed
  • Olive oil, for frying
  1. Mix almond flour, coconut, lime peel, salt and pepper together and set aside.
  2. Toss shrimp in beaten eggs to coat.
  3. Dredge shrimp, one at a time, in the coconut mixture.
  4. Add enough oil to the skillet to coat the bottom of the skillet, about 1/8 up the side, and heat on medium high (feel free to add a couple tablespoons of coconut oil if you have any).
  5. Fry the shrimp in the oil for 2 minutes per side, then let drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve shrimp with dipping sauce for a delicious appetizer, or even as a main dish.

Dipping Sauce
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes (optional – adjust to suit your tastes)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ cup sugar free orange marmalade 
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  1. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Add next four ingredients to hot oil and sauté until softened.
  3. Add marmalade, water and soy sauce to the pan, and stir to combine. 
  4. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute. 
  5. Serve sauce with coconut shrimp, and enjoy.


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