Category Archives: Healthy Life

Finding Your Carb Threshold

Often, when I talk to people about a low carb lifestyle, I mention that I have a very low carb threshold.

Most folks don’t understand what I mean when I say it. The simplest way to explain is that the number of net carbs (carbohydrates minus fiber and any sugar alcohols) is 23. When you are dieting on Atkins, your target for the initial phase is 20 net carbs. After that, you can begin adding a few carbs a week until you hit your threshold. While some people who have efficient fat burners (metabolism) can eat 30, 40, or more net carbs, I quickly learned that I can’t exceed 23 before I gain weight.

Your next question might be, “how do I find out what my threshold is?” This is explained in the Atkins diet, and if you follow the process, you will learn two things. First, you will determine what your threshold is. Second, you will begin to learn which foods your body does not utilize well.

You may think that all calories are the same, no matter what the source. One friend who believes weight loss is all about the calories attempted to argue it with me saying that it the only the amount of calories count. But from my experience, I can say that some foods provide better fuel for your particular body than others. While calories aren’t irrelevant, I can say that if I eat 900 calories a day, I will lose weight and I will be hungry all the time. With a low carb diet, I can eat way more calories, always find a low carb snack, and still lose weight. The key to it is eating what your body uses for energy.

When you begin the steps to learn what foods you can eat without gaining weight, you also find out how many net carbs you can eat. It is a trial and error process.

First, if you’ve been on the induction phase of Atkins, your food choices have been limited to ones that are primarily low carb vegetables, fat, meat, and white cheese. The second phase adds in the next food groups and vegetables with a slightly higher carb count. The recommended way to do it is to add them one food at a time and weigh the next day to see if there is an increase in your weight. Sometimes, a weight fluctuation is normal. However, you can continue to eat that same food a few times throughout the week. If you haven’t gained any weight at the weekly weigh-in, then the food is probably not a problem. If you’ve lost, it isn’t affecting your weight loss. If you’ve gained, then it is probable that your body isn’t using the item well. Take it back out of your diet and try another.

You repeat this process with all the foods you add to your choices, keeping the ones that have no effect on your weight loss and bypassing the ones that either stall it or add to your weight. Once you establish this, then you begin to add more net carbs to the amount you eat daily.

As I said, at the beginning you have 20 net carbs. So add 5 net carbs to your total and track your weight with the added carbs. If you stall or gain, then drop back a carb for a few days and weigh again. If you are stable at the added carb number for a couple of weeks, then you have reached your threshold. This would be the number of carbs you can eat each day to maintain your weight. To begin losing weight again, you need to go below the threshold number.

So, for me, finding the threshold weight came within the first week of adding carbs. With only an additional 3 net carbs added to the initial 20, I still pretty much maintain that same eating plan as I initially used. For many people, the net carbs are more plentiful. More activity and exercise might increase your threshold number allowing you more choices and larger portions in your food intake.

This is probably the most significant thing I learned with this pass on the Atkins diet plan. These two steps gave me the key to controlling my weight – not that I always follow it, but it is what I constantly target for my guidelines. I know that if I eat over 23 net carbs, then I will gain weight. I know if I eat less than 23 net carbs, I will lose weight. I also know that if I have gained more than 10 pounds, I will probably have to cut back to the phase one food choices to effectively get my body back to the weight loss mode again.

Overall, the low carb eating plan is not difficult to follow, but it is challenging. If you stay at home and prepare all your food, there are many options to remain low carb and still enjoy a variety of food. The difficulties come with dining out, going to parties, and grabbing quick food on the run. If it were easy to do this, none of us would regain any weight we lost, but it is not that simple. Unless you make the food knowing everything that goes into it or you order food that doesn’t have sauces or additional carbohydrates added, then you aren’t in control of what you eat when you’re out.

I love food, so I have been working to adapt my favorites to a low carb option. That’s why I have created my blog and my cookbooks. My recipes are almost all under 10 net carbs per serving, and most are less than that. I have been up to 330 pounds, and I don’t ever want to go back to that weight again. I won’t pretend that it’s easy to keep on track. It takes work, planning, and commitment. But it’s also not the most difficult thing either.

So if you want to be successful in your weight loss efforts and at maintaining your weight, learn your net carb threshold and be aware of how many carbs you are eating at each meal. It will be worth it.

Cookbook Update and a Quick Recipe

August has been a busy month with lots going on in my life, but I did get the new cookbook out and I just released, a few days ago, the compilation e-book with all three of the LC15 cookbooks in one edition. I had planned to sell it for a little less than it actually ended up at $1.99, which is 1/3 off the price of buying the three books. Amazon sets a minimum price based on the data size and the photos increased the size. I compressed it as much as I could.  The 3-in-one is only available at Amazon right now, but I will be getting it uploaded to other formats soon.

I am also working on a print release of the 3-in-one book that should be ready to release in about two weeks. It will include all the recipes in all three books plus a few extra notes. I’ll announce when it is released.

The Magic Muffins books is available at all these links:/
Book Launch page: 
Kindle USA: 
Amazon UK: 
Amazon Germany:
iBooks: 
Scribd:
Kobo: 
NOOK: 
Playster: 
24 Symbols: 

Mashed Cauliflower Pancakes

To end August,  here’s a quick recipe.   If you like potato pancakes, you might love this dish. You can start with leftover mashed cauliflower or use a frozen mashed cauliflower. Be sure you cook and cool the frozen cauliflower. The rest is easy to put together and pan fry.

1-1/2 cups leftover Mashed Cauliflower
1/4 cup Low Carb Flour
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Salt, if you wish more
1 Egg
1/4 cup finely shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 tablespoon Minced Onions (optional)

If the cauliflower isn’t thick like normal mashed potatoes, drain the excess water by putting in a paper-towel-lined colander and press with the back of a wooden spoon. You want them as dry as possible.

In a bowl, combined the ingredients and mix well.

Put enough oil in a small skillet to bring to about 1/4 inch and heat until about 350 degrees (F.) Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the oil and spread into about a 1/4 inch thick pancake with a wooden spoon or spatula. Repeat if there is room for more patties. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain. Serve hot. Makes 6 pancakes.

Nutrition Information per pancake with onions:
Calories: 80 Fat: 5.4 g Net Carbs: 3.3 g Protein: 4.1 g

Nutrition Information per pancake without onions:
Calories: 78.7 Fat: 5.4 g Net Carbs: 3.0 g Protein: 4.1 g

You can add in bacon bits if you like. Or add in 1/2 cup cooked shredded cabbage for an Irish touch.

Tip: If you don’t want the fats in the oil, you can also put these on a baking sheet, spread into circles and bake in a 365 degree oven until they are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Extras heat up easily in the microwave or you can put them in a skillet with a little butter for a couple of minutes on each side. Put two together and make a sandwich with ham, turkey, chicken or beef and mayonnaise, more cheese, and other add-ins of your choice.

Super low carb mock tortillas

Sausage and egg tacos made with low carb mock tortillas.

As I was considering alternatives for corn tortillas, I ran across a few options on low carb and paleo websites with various variations, from a mix of almond flour and cornmeal, which are still too high in carbs, to cauliflower tortillas. Cauliflower is amazing and I’ve used it to make pizza crust, but I can’t really advocate for it as a tortilla.

Then last week I was finishing up my two week induction period on phase 1 of Atkins where you should be avoiding anything with grains. But flax meal is permitted and I got to thinking that flax has a texture similar to ground corn so it could substitute for the masa. I made waffles with flax meal and they have good flavor that isn’t exactly like corn, but still a taste in the same ballpark. I decided to try making a thin pancake batter like a crepe and cooking in the skillet. The result was a thin cake that is similar to a tortilla and can be used for tacos or enchiladas or wrapping meat, eggs, or even vegetables in. They can be frozen, with a sheet of wax paper between each layer to prevent sticking, and heated on a griddle or skillet or microwaved. They do NOT fry well. In some ways these also resemble the flat Indian bread paratha.

These tortilla substitutes are flavorful, super low carb’d, and easy to make. If you have a problem with flax meal, then don’t try them. Golden flax meal tastes better and looks prettier, than the regular flax meal. This recipe works for the Induction phase of Atkins and for any other level.

Mock Tortillas

These are a cross between tortillas and crepes. They use egg to hold the flax meal together. Make them very thin. You can roll a scrambled egg with bacon or sausage and cheese inside these or fold them over like tacos. They can be reheated in the oven or on top of a griddle like a tortilla.

2 tablespoons Golden Flax Meal
1 tablespoon Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Egg
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 tablespoon Oil
1/2 tablespoon Water

Mix ingredients in a bowl until they are well blended. Batter should be thin. If not, add enough water to get it thin and easily spreadable. Heat a large skillet over high heat and spray with cooking spray or lightly oil using a paper towel. Reduce the heat to medium high.

Pour 1/2 of the mixture in the center of the skillet and use a rubber spatula to spread it into a 5 to 6″ circle. It should be very thin. Put a lid over it and cook for about 2 minutes. Check to see if the center is set up. If so, then use a pancake spatula to flip the cake to the other side and cook about 2 minutes on that side.

The resulting bread should be lightly browned and firm.

Makes 2 tortillas.

Nutrition Information per crepe:
Calories: 97.3 Fat: 7.7 g Net Carbs: 0.4 g Protein: 5.7 g

Tip: To make a batch of four, double the ingredients except the egg. One egg is enough for a double batch. Add a little more water to get the thin batter.

Induction Eating Plan Day 14

Last day of the 2 week induction period.  To be honest, when you’ve been on the low carb eating plan for a long period and you drop back to induction, your body goes into fat-burning mode or ketosis quicker than when you first started. So I have been with it for probably a week already. But for a beginning dieter, stick to the plan for the best results.

I went back to this level because I wanted a jump start to get my body back into the lower carb mode as I’ve slipped in extra carbs over the past year. I know I have a very low metabolism and my maximum carbs to maintain my weight loss is 23 net carbs a day, which is barely above the amount for induction. So, if I indulge and eat even 25 net carbs, then I will put on the weight unless I immediately drop back to about 22 carbs. It’s a balancing act. I really wish I had about 40 net carbs a day to use. So, for the most part, even when eating out, I need to stay as close to my maximum as possible, and it can be done. It just takes will power.

But sometimes, there are some foods that tempt you to go over. Don’t deny yourself the occasional treat, but don’t make a habit of it either. The low carb lifestyle is sustainable so long as you work at it and stay aware of what you’re eating. Remember, it’s easier to say no potatoes or bread when you order than to try to resist them once they’re on your plate. It’s easier to order an Italian dish with no pasta than to get one with it and try to avoid eating it. If you know you can’t do it, then try to choose a different restaurant. If all else fails, most restaurants have salads and many are willing to make adjustments to the side dishes or what goes into the meal. Ask.

Here’s the menu for Day 14.

Food NC
Breakfast Steak & eggs 0.4
Veggie hash browns 4.8
Coffee 1.5
Snack Pork rinds 1
Dinner Roasted Salmon with soy & bok choy 3.8
1/2 cup GG cauli-rice medley 1.5
 Celebrate chocolate bar 3
 Total Net Carbs 16

 

Breakfast was a bit of a celebration with steak and eggs, a good filling option that is always a favorite. But if you’re like me and want your over easy or slightly runny egg with hash browns, you need another option to replace the potatoes. These veggie hash browns are just the ticket and I think they’re more flavorful than potato ones. Maybe that’s the lack of potato talking…

Veggie Hash Browns

1 medium turnip, shredded
1/2 cup Daikon Radish, shredded
1/2 cup Cabbage, shredded
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
Dash Black pepper
1/3 cup Zucchini, shredded (optional)
1 Green Onion, chopped (optional)
1/4 Sweet Pepper, chopped (optional)

In a microwave-safe bowl, mix the vegetables together, cover with plastic wrap or a microwave cover and cook for 1 minute on high.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and heat until it is hot. Sprinkle seasoned salt and pepper on the vegetables and mix in. Add to the hot skillet and lower the heat to medium high. Stir around and form into a big patty about 1/2 inch thick with the spatula. Let cook for about 8 minutes until the bottom is browned. Use the spatula to turn the patty over. It will probably break, but try to keep it together as much as you can. Cook the reverse side for another 8 minutes.

Remove to a plate to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.

Makes two to three servings depending on how many vegetables you add in. I made the base version without any of the optional add-ins, which is best on induction.

Nutrition Information for the base version per serving (based on 2 servings):
Calories: 39.4 Fat: 1.6 g Net Carbs: 4.0 g Protein: 1.0 g

Nutrition Information for the loaded version per serving (based on 3 servings):
Calories: 43.5 Fat: 1.6 g Net Carbs: 4.5 g Protein: 1.1 g

Since I had this hefty, for me, breakfast about mid-morning, I wasn’t too hungry for lunch, so I settled on one serving of pork rinds. I like a brand called Chef Piggy Tails that has seasoned rinds that you puff up fresh in the microwave. Delicious.

For dinner, I made a recipe that started out to follow one of Atkins recipes, but I lacked a couple of ingredients, so came up with a variation that tastes pretty doggone good.

Roasted Salmon with Bok Choy

2 Chinese Cabbages (bok choy), chopped
1/2 tablespoon Butter
12 oz boneless Salmon
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Salsa
2 tablespoon Sour Cream
4 leaves Baby Spinach

Preheat oven to 475°F.

In a shallow bowl or pan that will fit the fish, add the olive oil and soy sauce and stir together. Put fish in and turn it over so the skin side is up. Let marinade while you chop the bok choy.

Add butter and olive oil to an oven-safe skillet, such as a cast iron or copper clad one. Don’t have a skillet like that? Use a rimmed baking sheet. Put in hot oven for about 3 minutes until the butter melts.

Season fish with salt and pepper and any other seasoning you would like. My salmon already had a spice rub on it. When the butter is melted, place the fish flesh side down and it will sizzle. Bake 5 minutes, then turn it over to put the skin side down and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and use a fork to lift the skin away from the flesh, then tent with foil to keep warm.

Prepare the topping puree while the fish is cooking. Put salsa, sour cream, and spinach leaves in a small blender and process for about 30 seconds. The leaves won’t break up completely, but it will distribute into the sauce.

Add chopped bok choy to skillet or pan. Stir to coat the pan juices, then place in the oven for 1 minute.

Put one half of the greens on each plate and top 1/2 of the salmon. Spoon a tablespoon of the sauce over each piece of fish.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 395 Fat: 20.9 g Net Carbs: 3.8 g Protein: 46.6 g

I served this a 1/2 cup serving of Green Giant Vegetable Medleys, Cauliflower Mix. This is riced cauliflower with peas, carrots, and onions that is prepared without sauce. Add a little butter and seasoning for more flavor. Delicious. My only complaint with this is that the bag says that a serving is 1 cup and there are four servings in the bag, but really there are only two servings unless you serve 1/2 cup.

I capped the day off with my celebration sweet dessert of a Russell Stover’s Sugar Free Chewy Granola Chocolate Bar. Amazing for only 3 net carbs!

This concludes my two week induction recipe extravaganza. But going forward, I plan to include at least one Phase 1 recipe on my blog each month.

Let me know if you’ve enjoyed this or if you have questions. Or if there is a recipe that you’d like to see adjusted to low carb, let me know and I’ll see if I can do it. Thanks for following along.

Induction Eating Plan Day 13

Almost to the end of this crazy plan to record the two week induction menus and recipes. The plan is going great and I think I am losing weight. I haven’t weighed but my pants are fitting looser and I am feeling pretty good. So without further comment, let’s get to the menu plan for Day 13.

Food NC
breakfast Bacon Omelet with zucchini 2.9
3 Mini donuts 4.5
Tea 0
Lunch Sausage Chicken Pizza 2.9
snack 5 slices salami 1
Baby Bell cheese 0
dinner chicken cauli-mac 7.5
18.8

 

Breakfast is a yummy egg omelet. I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t like eggs because they are a mainstay on a low carb diet. Luckily, there are many ways to prepare them. You can make an endless variety of omelets. This one is very good and easy to make.

Bacon Omelet with Zucchini

2 large Eggs
1 slice thick cut Bacon
1 Green Onion, chopped
1/4 cup of Zucchini, chopped
1/3 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tablespoon Butter

Cook the bacon either in a pan or by my preferred method which is on a paper towel on a bacon pan in the microwave. Get the bacon crisp but not overdone. Let it cool, then break it into pieces.

In a small bowl, break the two eggs and beat them with a teaspoon of water until they are mixed well.

In an omelet pan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the onion and zucchini to cook for two or three minutes until they are just softened. Remove from the skillet. Add the eggs and stir them around the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula, then let them set. As they cook around the edges, lift the edge up so that more of the liquid can run under the omelet to cook. Repeat this several time so it builds the omelet in layers. When the middle is almost done, spread the bacon and vegetables down the middle then add the cheese, reserving a little for the top. Fold the omelet over the filling, sprinkle the reserved cheese on top, then cover with a lid for about one minute to melt the cheese.

Serve. Makes one serving.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 366.6 Fat: 28.9g Net Carbs: 2.9 g Protein: 23.3 g

Next up, I had a late morning snack of three mini-donuts. I got one of those mini-donut makers and just had to try it out. While I can’t say for certain that this is on induction, I can say the ingredients are low carb. Atkins doesn’t endorse specific brands and CarbQuick falls into an actual flour substitute item, so it might be pushing it to eat this on induction. But after you’re past the two weeks, feel free to try them.

Pumpkin Mini-Donuts

Based on and adapted from Baby Cakes mini doughnut recipe by me.

2 tablespoons Butter
1 tablespoon Splenda Brown Sugar Blend or other brown sugar substitute
1/4 cup Sugar Substitute (Erythiol or other sugar alcohol)
1 tablespoon Sugar-free Maple Syrup
1 Egg, large
1/2 cup Pumpkin puree
3/4 cup CarbQuick
1/4 cup Protein Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie spice
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Plug in the mini donut maker and let it warm while you mix. If you’re using a mini-donut pan, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F.)

In a medium bowl, beat butter, brown sugar sub, and sugar substitute together. Beat in egg, pumpkin, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice. Hand beat or use a mixer to get it smooth. In another bowl, mix the flour, protein powder, baking powder, and baking soda together. Stir into the butter and egg mixture and blend well.

Use about 1 tablespoon per donut well and drop the dough into the well. Bake about 3 minutes until the steam no longer is visible from the donut maker. Use a toothpick to check; if the toothpick comes out clean, the donut is done. Lift the doughnut with a toothpick and slide onto the handle of a wooden spoon or dowel for transport to a wire rack.

Place donuts on the rack to cool and make the next batch. When cool, dip in the Maple Glaze icing.

Maple Glaze

1/2 cup Powdered sugar substitute (like Swerve)
1/2 tablespoon Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tablespoon Sugar-free Maple Syrup

To make Icing:
Put powdered sugar in a small bowl, add sugar-free maple syrup, and cream. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix well. If it is too thick, add a little more water until it is the consistency of a thick syrup. Dip the cooled donuts into the glaze, then put them back on the rack to dry.

Makes 24 donuts.

Nutrition information per donut:
Calories: 38.7 Fat: 2.5 g Net Carbs: 1.5 g Protein: 2.5 g

Then we come to dinner and the highlight of the day. I love macaroni and cheese, but it is difficult to find a low carb macaroni and certainly not one that will work on induction. This recipe uses cauliflower as a stand in for the macaroni. It works and it’s delicious unless you hate cauliflower. Give it a try for a great one dish meal.

Chicken, Cauli-mac and Cheese

1 clove Garlic, minced
12 oz Cauliflower
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
1 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 cup Classic Cheddar Jack Cheese
1/8 tsp Original Pepper Sauce
1/4 cup Sweet Peppers, chopped

12 oz raw Chicken Breast
2 Scallions
1 slice bacon, crumbled
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 375º F.  Spray a 1 quart baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a shallow pan, precook the chicken breast for about 40 minutes until it is done and any juices from them run clear. Let cool, then slice into bite-sized pieces. Cook the bacon until it is crispy, let cool, then break into pieces.

Bring a large sauce pot with 4 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Add to the boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes then drain in a colander. Spread on paper towels to dry. Alternately, you can place the cauliflower in a microwavable bowl and cook for three minutes until the cauliflower is crisp tender. Then pour off an water from the pot and spread the cauliflower on paper towels. You want it as dry as possible.

Put a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat and pour in the whipping cream.When the cream is almost to a boil, add the cream cheese and powdered mustard and whisk it into the cream until smooth. Add half of the shredded Cheddar cheese, garlic, half of the salt and pepper, and the Tabasco sauce. Whisk for about two minutes until he cheese melts and is blended.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cauliflower. Then stir in the chicken, bacon pieces, and vegetables. Pour into the baking dish and top with the remaining cheddar cheese.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and bubbly.

Makes 2 servings

Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories; 564.4 Fat: 36.1g Net Carbs: 7.5g Protein: 50.2g

One more day to go. See you with another recipe then.