Tuesday, March 26, 2013

the great low-carb experiment

are you on reddit? it's the "front page of the internet" and my husband is on it a lot. i mean, A LOT. they have threads on every topic under the sun. it's like the beyond of bed, bath & beyond.

well, phil kept talking about keto. he read the threads and kept saying "i want to try keto." it's an extremely low-carb diet where you train your body to use fat for energy, rather than carbs. it is common in the body building world (oh, you know, totally us) and also used to treat epilepsy. i had seen several reviews of the "wheat belly diet" book and decided to read it. i LOVE diet books. i don't usually follow them, but i started reading them in early high school (dr. weil). i love the idea of detox and cleansing, too, so i agreed to try the wheat-free, sugar-free thing and see how i felt. i had done the clean cleanse a couple of years ago and felt great, but it was hard to maintain alone. if phil is doing it, i can certainly succeed! i had one last hurrah: maple fest : ) i ate maple until i was sick, but it was so worth it!

so three weeks ago we took the plunge. this is not a cheap endeavor. i did some menu planning (i follow several natural food blogs and supplemented with pinterest, reddit and low carb friends) and made a B-I-G whole foods run. many of the foods are no different than what we typically eat: lots of green veggies, cheeses, grass-fed beef, chicken, milk from grass-fed cows (dairy and meat from the milk delivery). however, i bake. we eat pasta a fair amount. one of our sides at dinner typically includes potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, beans, or rice in some form. i had to find stevia, coconut oil, almond flour, garbanzo bean (gram) flour, unsweetened cocoa... expensive staples to re-stock a keto-friendly kitchen. i'm trying not to go too crazy, but it is fun to experiment. i do love wandering the grocery store. and ordering off amazon : )

the first week, i stuck to safer recipes. salads for lunch (with leftover meat from the night before on top) or a chipotle burrito bowl/salad if i went out. for dinner, i made a lot of hashes. that's where i basically cut up lots of veggies and a meat (say, spicy sausage, kale, onions, squash, garlic) and brown them all in a big skillet. then i put a poached egg on top. we also ate lettuce-wrapped burgers at five guys. one night, i made pecan-crusted chicken with kale and mashed cauliflower. not a huge fan of the cauliflower.

by day five, i felt horrible. i was really weak and couldn't keep down food. i assume it was the change in diet, but i had also gone to a work event the night before and had wine without a real dinner (very few low-carb options). i broke down and had a slice of toast and orange juice. but i went back to my low-carb diet the next meal. i also learned that i need to eat meals and try to get to my calorie goal every day. i'm struggling with not being hungry (never thought i'd say that!).
the next week, phil felt bad. he felt sluggy and tired. and he had a stuffy nose (this one actually hasn't really gone away). but we got a little more adventurous with our meals. i learned how to make chickpea flour batter and used it to make wraps, tortillas, and flatbreads. very good! we upped our fat intake and started feeling much better. we have switched to whole milk and eat lots of avocados. i also eat olives and phil eats nuts.

i was able to make turkey, avocado and bacon wraps for lunch with this great recipe. a single serving wrap is 2 tablespoons flour to 2 tablespoons water and i don't use nutritional yeast, because i don't ever have it. i made a couple extra wraps and they kept pretty well for lunch the next day. not as good as hot off the skillet, but totally passable. especially with some mashed avocado : )

we tried a taco night with ground beef (which became taco salad the next day). same chickpea flour batter, poured thin to make tortillas.

lazy night was a flaxseed meal foccacia eggs benedict. the flatbread holds together well and even goes in the toaster! i topped a couple of slices with bacon, a poached egg and a sprinkle of cheese. then a quick salad on the side: spinach, red onion and clementine slices. yes, i know that fruit is not low-carb. but i LOVE it. and a tiny clementine isn't that bad : )

and we even had pizza! phil found this great recipe and i topped it with a tiny bit of tomato sauce (look out for added sugar), fresh mozzarella, parmesan, salami, prosciutto, lots of spinach, and basil. it does not taste like pizza, but it's good.

will we stick with it? maybe a bit longer. the greatest thing is that it has re-set my palette. i don't crave m&m's and coke in the afternoon now. fruit is sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. but i think my body functions best with a few more carbs. i'll try to stay with complex carbs and not slip back into bad habits. i did feel amazing on my last run - super light on my feet. we'll see...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


where have i been??

testing. did i mention i'm going through the examination process? becoming an architect is hard. i've completed my apprenticeship hours, but i have to take seven exams covering different topics. i passed the first three. then failed the next two. failing is hard. i'm so down about it. especially because they are more closely related to what i actually do at my job every day. i passed two of the hardest exams (structural systems and building systems - mechanical, electrical, plumbing engineering) after lots of studying. the other pass was about site planning and design. so, basically, i should be an engineer. my two fails are schematic design and construction documents and services. the hard part is that i failed the drawing portion. ummm, what? i draw for a living. good news is that i passed my sixth exam. i'll take one more next month in a couple of weeks... and then i'll start the re-tests. i can't wait to finish and be a registered architect!

planning. phil and i are going to peru in april! it's been on phil's list for a really long time to go to machu picchu. so we're going! planning is taking a lot of time. we're researching a TON. but i cannot wait. it looks so gorgeous. and exciting. we're not hiking the inca trail, which was my original plan. i have a bit of a fear of heights. the trails are steep. S-T-E-E-P. they are slick stone steps. without railings. yeah, that's not happening. so we are doing a guided tour of the ruins. and then lima, cusco, and the sacred valley. can't wait to share what happens : )

dieting. we decided to try a low-carbohydrate diet to help jump-start some weight loss. so far, so good! it's tough - my favorite food is bread and phil LOVES pizza. but we were beginning to rely on fast food and processed junk in our business. the best part so far is the resetting of our palettes - i don't crave coke and m&m's in the afternoon now : ) i'll definitely be posting on some of our experiences. i'm experimenting with chickpea flour (current favorite thing!) and other low-carb recipes.

traveling. i have been lucky enough to take a couple of trips with my girlfriends in the past month...

first, i spent a long weekend with three sweet girls (jennabeth, alycyn, and beth) in palm springs. it was AMAZING! the warm weather. the sun. the giggles. the swimming pool. the wine. the food. the friendship. we had a blast just goofing off around town and being the youngest people in every room : )

then, i went on the annual maple fest pilgrimage with my book club. this was my third time and we were lucky enough to stay at a gorgeous estate near staunton, virginia. we wake up early to eat pancakes and maple syrup in highland county, then go wine tasting around the area. it is so peaceful and beautiful in that area - you can see the mountains from almost everywhere. there were 12 of us and beth's sweet parents came over and made breakfast sunday morning! i overdosed on maple (followed by a little too much wine), so i didn't partake in the wine tasting on the way back to washington, dc. it's one of my favorite weekends every year.

things i'm most looking forward to this spring: going to west texas for to see my nephew!!! and peru (duh!)

Friday, March 1, 2013

pasta experiment two

the other night, i got the pasta out again... i had never made any for phil, and i knew he would love it. i decided to make a carbonara pasta. i had some bacon and veggies, and like i said, i just go with what's in the fridge : )

i made the same pasta dough but experimented with substituting a little whole wheat flour. i then put it through the press. i rolled it through the different settings, ending with a 5 or 6. it was as thin as i felt comfortable. as i rolled each piece, i folded it to prepare for cutting - dust with LOTS of flour. so sticky!

i cut the folded pasta dough into strips. not really sure what "shape" this is - fettucine or tagliatelle? eh. oh well. while i was cutting the dough strips, i browned some bacon i had cut into bits.

i also roasted some tomatoes. did you know i prefer just about everything roasted? broccoli, potatoes, chicken, squash, peaches... seriously. mmmm. so when i have veggies on their way out (like the cherry tomatoes i had that started out SERIOUSLY out of season), i douse them in olive oil and spices and roast at 425 or 450. for tomatoes, i use salt, pepper, oregano (dried), rosemary (either), and basil (fresh). anyway, that's another thing i wanted to use in the pasta. and when i roast tomatoes, i make extra. they're wonderful in salads, egg dishes, etc. 

i also had some swiss chard. i love swiss chard. actually, i like all greens. i tend to buy random bunches at the grocery store - it's something i usually have in the fridge. i do love them roasted (helloooo, kale chips), but for this dish i threw it in with the bacon as it was about done. just to wilt it. and turn a gorgeous deep green! i pulled out the roasted tomatoes, turned off the heat on the bacon and chard, and threw the pasta into boiling, salted water. fresh pasta cooks VERY quickly. i tossed the pasta into the skillet with the bacon and chard. added the tomatoes and a bit of pasta water, along with olive oil. i tossed it all with my tongs and then topped it with parmesan, of course. about an hour, start to finish. the pasta pressing took longer than expected. 

super yummy!! the wheat made the pasta a little gummy after the first dinner. because you know i ate it for a couple of lunches : ) but i added some water when i reheated it in the microwave and it helped.

full disclosure: i left a tupperware in the fridge for about two weeks (oops!). the pasta turned a WEIRD brown color. not cool. right down the disposal with that! so, fresh pasta that has been cooked needs to be eaten within a week. preferably sooner. also, i should learn to not keep leftovers until they make me gag.