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.


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