Saturday, September 24, 2016

What's Sparkling in YOUR Water?

Water. It's the one thing that my Keto diet recommends that I was having trouble with. (Well, that and giving up my Almond Joy creamer!). Don't get me wrong, I am drinking more water than I used to, but unless I get the kind I like, it's a challenge. If you're having the same problem, take a look at some tips I've had suggested to me:
  • Adding lemon (or lime) juice to the H2O. Lemon is supposed to be good for the body anyway so, adding some to the water makes me feel like I'm doing doubly good.
  • Getting the water as cold as possible works for some folks. I'll explain to you about my temp preference in a moment.
  • Drinking the water at room temperature works better for some people.
  • Drinking through a straw. I've heard some of my friends say that they can do triple the amount of daily water just by using a straw. It's something to do with getting more per gulp.
  • Adding low-cal or no-cal "water enhancers". I went through a kick of bingeing on the Target and Walmart brands of those tiny squeeze bottles of flavorings. Watermelon-Strawberry was my first and favorite. I got burned out though and only use them every now again. The best thing about them (or at least this is true for the Market Pantry brand) is that they don't have any of that icky aftertaste of no-cal stuff. Oh, and they are no-carb** also. Score!
  • Training your taste buds to like water. That might mean cutting back in the juices and other sugary sippings.
  • Choosing bubbly water. And that's what I really want to talk about.
There are all kinds of fizzy waters. Fizzy, bubbly, sparkling - whatever you want to call them. I generally shop Walmart, Target, Costco and Sam's for the bulk of my groceries. The common bubbly waters I see are Perrier (so chi-chi!), Pellegrino, La Croix, and this newer one (to me anyway) called Voss. Oh, and don't forget the club sodas and seltzers. 

Just a quick note about the differences between the seltzers and clubs and mineral waters. It seems to have to do with what gives the drink its bubbles or fizziness. Clubs and seltzers get the carbonation from carbon dioxide. Mineral waters are bubbly from naturally occurring carbonation.

For me, the winner is....
Just looking at the pic makes me crave!

Now, you wouldn't think that there'd be enough difference to influence preferences. Wrong! I, for one, am extremely picky about my bubbly water. I am just so-so about Perrier, but I looooove San Pellegrino water. Not the flavored kinds (too many carbs and there's something about the taste), but the plain old mineral water. I am seriously addicted to the stuff and have been for years. Thank God I have a Costco membership. I can get a 12 pack of the 25.3oz glass (love the glass, by the way) bottles for just about $20. The case wouldn't last more than a couple of weeks if I had a bigger budget, but I manage to make the purchase last most of the month.

The reason I prefer Pellegrino does not come down to just taste. Pelligrino has n advantage over some other "bubblies" such as, say, Perrier. Here's what another blogger notes:
Perrier is, in fact, certified by the French government as a natural mineral water, which means that it has a stable composition of ‘healthy properties’.  San Pellegrino, however, not only contains minerals, but can actually claim to have some naturally occurring bubbles (although they are indeed enhanced substantially by the addition of carbon dioxide).
Since I learn a lot of information about my keto diet from people with more actual experience, I was pleased when I saw what I found on Bulletproof regarding sulfates in San Pellegrino.

I wanted to do a comparison of nutrition labels. Naturally, I went straight to the sources - the sites of San Pell and Perrier. I can tell you another thing I prefer: the less annoying and easier loading site of San Pell. (Did you notice I'm on familiar terms with "San Pell"? Hahaha) Neither site makes it easy to find nuts and bolts info - such as detailed nutrition labels. Mostly, they are all fancied up, showing off how elegant their products are. The freaking websites have more sparkle than the waters!

Let me stop and shout out a message to these brands:
Not everyone drinking your water does so as a class statement. Some of us are just "regular" folk (aka: not rich, famous, jet-setting, or trying to impress anyone else). We like your water and would like it even if it didn't 'pair well' with certain foods. So please get over yourselves. Maybe you could make separate websites for us 'common' folk. 
Okay, rant over.

I was able to find labels on Wikipedia, so here is a side-by-side:


My beloved San Pell has more magnesium, sodium, calcium, and lots more sulfates . And... hold up the horse-drawn carriage! San Pell has lithium???? Hot dang. No wonder my nerves are a bit more b.s.-proof after a couple bottles of the sparkly! (By the way, like many people, I kept mixing up sulfates and sulfites.)

I have no idea what "strontium" is so let me go look that one up. Apparently, like anything, this supplement has benefits and cautions listed, so do your homework. What I found most interesting is the possible use of strontium to treat osteoporosis. Hmm.

Taste is my primary reason for preferring San Pellegrino. Perrier tastes like it's trying too hard. I get a slight Alka Seltzer-y taste from it. I like putting a bottle of San Pell in the freezer to get super chilly, then I use one of my metal straws to sip it up. Love it. With Perrier (which I have several 16.9oz bottles of thanks to a friend who picked them up for me when she saw a sale), I have to add a little bit of lemon or (and my docs might freak) a few grains of salt. Someone suggested that I add a couple teaspoons of apple or orange juice but... I'm a keto chick now.

I haven't tried many other waters, but I hear people talking all the time about the different brands. There are so many. I have tried La Croix and it's not bad - although a little more seltzer-y than I like. It's what I get on sale when I can't afford San Pell. Schwepps is not bad in a pinch.

If you want more info about the different brands and varieties of waters, check the site 10 Best Water. That's the name. Seriously. Or try BevNet (for info on all things beverage). I'd love to find out about some more affordable waters. I will budget for my San Pell, but I'm going to start looking for coupons!

The main thing that I've learned over the past few years is how important it is to get enough water. Since I've been doing keto, I've cut my beverages down to water and coffee (minus the sugary creamers). I do feel better and I know that between the water and the fats that I'm getting more of has done incredible things for my hair and skin. My hair is growing (and getting thickness back) and the eczema on my feet is almost gone. Even my perfumes smell better and last longer. I think that has to do with the fats I'm eating so much of!

So, drink your water. Find one that you like and read the label, then research the label. And chug, chug, chug! If you notice, the first thing most weight loss programs suggest is to drink lots of water. Not just because it's filling but also because it just so good for you. So, drink up!

Peace
--Free



** Some very strict keto folk will argue that the substitute sweeteners in the no-cal water enhancers are a no-no. I'm middle of the road on the subject. I no longer go overboard with them like I used to, but they are really nice for certain occasions. Beats drinking a soda when you are out somewhere having a meal.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

**ALERT** Keto Summit 2016 (Hurry!)

You've heard me raving about the keto diet. It's low carb/high fat eating to lose weight. If you want to learn more about it, go over and sign up for the Keto Summit. 

You can sign up for free but if you want extra access features, there are paid options. I'm doing the freebie! Here is the link to sign up for a ticket to be sent to your email:



The 2016 summit runs from September 25 - October 5th and it's an online event. I see that folks can sign up as affiliates so you might want to check that out.



Carrie knows best!:

In case you are wondering, I am not getting paid or compensated for this shout out. I just want to share the word about the keto diet. I'm happy with the way I am not eating. I am losing the weight slower than some people but I don't care. The way I am now eating is so satisfying (and cheap), filling (and cheap), and easy to live by (and cheap) that I can't even think of it as being on a diet.


Ya, what he said!:


Some people I know have been asking about how to get started on this keto regimen.  I'm still learning the basics myself. I just know that I feel better and look better since I've started lowering the carbs and adding healthy fats to my nutrition. So this summit might be the best way to start accumulating information. Also, I will be adding links to more information in upcoming posts.

Someone in a Facebook group told me about the summit and I was glad. I'd never heard of such a thing before. For a diet? Wow. Okay. So I am just was curious as anyone else about the event. I will recap afterwards, depending on how things go.

Peace
--Free

**REVIEW** Skoother Skin Smoother

First off, let me say that the name is silly. I lost the box for mine and needed to find an image to use for this post. I Googled foot "Smoother" and "Soother" to no avail. Finally, I found a photo on Amazon only by looking up general foot care items. Brands need to be original, I get it, but stop with the cuteness when naming stuff!

Rant over.

This is what I'm talking about:


It's the Skoother Skin Smoother. (Okay, the name is sort of cool, I guess.)

I have to say that I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond for about $6. I can't remember what the original price was, but mine was marked down because the packaging was torn and beat up. The item itself was not used so I was happy to get the bargain.

This is a really nice treatment for the foot, but I still struggle to understand who would use it on any other part of their body. The best thing about this is the mesh filing diskette. It's sort of like PedEgg with more precision.

There are two different mesh screens: one for rougher skin (think calluses), and one with a finer meshing which is supposed to be for more delicate skin. I'll say this one more time, I don't know who would use even the fine mesh on their "delicate" skin. The mesh is finer, but it's still a metal mesh file. Hear me? Metal. Mesh.



Skoother Skin Smoother As Seen on TV Pedicure Rasp Foot File Callus with Micro Abrasion Silicon Screen
The file came with one mesh screen installed  (mine was with the rougher pad), a second callus screen and a screen for more delicate skin. I'm going to smirk every time I talk about that one...

PROs:

  • This does work really, really well. I used the heavier mesh for my calluses. The finer mesh screen is perfect for my heels and the more delicate areas - of my FEET.
  • The filing is very gentle (but make sure you don't over-use without pausing to check your progress) and took very little elbow grease to use. LOL
  • I didn't end up with a lot of skin ash flying all over the place. That was a problem I had with the PedEgg and other "regular" foot files. It's really gross even if you do the filing over a dirty towel.
  • I like the shape. It's ergonomic and even someone with less hand strength could use the appliance.
CONs:
  • You do need to clean the screens after almost every use. That's partly because they work so well as removing your dry dead skin! 
  • Removing the screen for cleaning is fairly easy, but you have to watch your fingers. I wish there was a cover for the screen when not in use. 
  • The holding area (a small depression under the mesh) could be a bit deeper. Depending on how bad your feet are, you need to empty the Skoother often. Like I said, it's not hard to remove the screen for cleaning and dumping out the holder, but it's not a joy either.
  • Back to a cover for when not in use, I'd like or something to store the gadget and the extra screens. I just kept the plastic shell of the packaging but that takes up a lot of space.
Those are pretty minor Cons though. The Pros definitely make up for any minor inconvenience. 

You've all heard plenty about my dry a** feet! I've used just about every kind of foot file known to Walmart. This is definitely the best in the category of small, affordable and easily available.


I neglected to take Before photos of my feet for this post. Actually, my feet are looking pretty good ever since I started using a special cream from my dermatologist (eczema issues). This foot smoother is great for my heels and the calluses I get on the outer part of my foot. 


Finally, I have to reiterate this: I don't think it would be a good idea to use anything this abrasive on anything other than the feet. That's just my opinion of course, but there you go.

Peace
--Free


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

**REVIEW** Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

I've been tough on a lot of hair products in the past. Miss Jessie's and Shea Moisture are two of the brands that have disappointed me more than once. Both brands are very expensive for the average working class consumer so I think they should be held to a high standard. I've only found one Miss Jessie's product that I would rate as so-so (which is better than my usual Thumbs Down). Recently, I came across a Shea Moisture product that I actually like quite a lot.




That's the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie from the Shea Moisture label. It self-touts that it will moisturize and "curl define" thick, curly hair. I know I should be thrilled about all the things the product claims to be free of:

  • Sulfates
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Mineral Oil
  • Animal testing
Oh - and it's also color safe and carries the Allure seal. I should care about all that and I do, kind of. What I care most about though is whether or not the stuff works. That's the bottom line for me. After all, a lot of products make the same above claims, but if they don't work, none of it does me a bit of good.

So. Does this "smoothie" define curls and moisturize the hair? I have to admit that it did both for me. Also, the price works. I think I paid around $8 for the 6oz jar at Sally Beauty Supply. That's probably the cheapest Shea Moisture product I've ever seen.

Here are the other Pros:
  • The cream smells amazing. I'm not sure that I smell much of the coconut fragrance and I'm not sure I recall what hibiscus smells like, but the cream smells very fresh and slightly floral. It's not a heavy scent, but it's nice.
  • It doesn't take a lot of the product to moisturize my hair even after washing and drying (when it's at its driest), and it really does add definition to the curl pattern.
  • The cream also provides a bit of "stretch". This is important right after I have washed and dried my hair because that's when I get a lot of shrinkage.
  • I love that the cream is not "heavy" or oily.I can touch my hair without worrying about transferring residue to anything else I touch.
  • The moisturizing and defining effects generally last a few days. There's no need for me to twist or coil my hair to get the definition I like. I can literally do the sleep-and-go thing for up to three to three and a half days before I need to remoisturize.
I think my favorite thing is that, because of the lasting effects, I can get so much use out of this one jar. I'm glad for the affordable price and think it would still be a good bargain if I had to pay a couple more dollars.

Now is when I will go ahead and admit that I am pretty hooked on this stuff. It's all I've been using since I got this jar. 

I think I mentioned recently that, since I've changed my eating habits to keto, I've seen an improvement in the health and growth of my hair. Usually, when I get hair growth, I have problems keeping it styled well. My curl pattern gets crazy with any changes in length. This curl smoothie has been wonderful. I love being able to finger style my hair - instead of having to twist or coil it every few days. And the moisture! It's so nice to get some curl without the crunch!

(The photo is one I took for another post, but you get the idea.)

This one product has made me want to take a look at some other SheaMoisture items. Not the hair stuff because I think the smoothie is all I need for my hair. What I'm talking about is the line of makeup by SheaMoisture. I'd heard about them before but, because I was on an anti-SM groove, I refused to even think about trying something else from them. Now, maybe-maybe. If I do try the makeup, you'll hear all about it!

Peace
--Free 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

**RECIPE** Lemon Cream Cheese Fat Bombs

I made some of these the other night from a couple of recipes that I modified so I can tell you that they taste wonderful. I had to modify the recipe because one of the recipes I saw sounded complicated (mentioning to heat, simmer, etc....) and the other didn't have lemon juice (which is something I wanted).

The reason I wanted these fat bombs instead of the chocolate ones I did before is because I'd heard that you could flavor cream cheese fat bombs to taste like little bites of cheesecake (and even red velvet cupcakes). Yum.

OK, here's a pic of one I dug out of the tin with a fork...

... I mean, since I'm sitting here stuffing my face with one!

It's important to really, really like whatever fat bombs you are going to eat if you have trouble (like I do) with getting enough calories and fat. Like I've mentioned before, there are days when I just really am not hungry at all.(NOTE: To get around 120 grams of fat with these bombs, I need to eat about 17 of them, That's going to add up to about 1080 calories and 17 carbs. Both within my daily range. Great for if I'm in one of those no-meal moods. Not something for every day, of course, but it's a get-by for every now and then.)


This is what I eventually came up with, using what I had on hand. I can just about promise that you cannot screw these up. I didn't! Just taste-test your batter before freezing the bombs. That way, you can add more lemon or cream cheese, or whatever.

Lemon Cream Cheese Fat Bombs

Blend all the following:
  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened enough for your blender)
  • 2.5 oz unsalted butter (softened) 
  • 1.5 Tbs coconut oil
  • 3 Tbl lemon juice (room temp)
  • 1 Tbl Swerve sweetener (or your preferred sweetener to taste)
  • about a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract (I didn't measure!)
Prep/Freeze:

Lightly grease a sheet of tin foil with a little bit of oil or butter & place the foil on a cookie sheet (or something that will fit in your freezer later.)

(recipe nutrition info is for 24 servings)

Once the mixture is completely smooth, drop balls of mixture onto the foil and put into the freezer for at least 20 minutes. When the balls are fully firm (frozen), you can store them in a plastic baggie in the freezer.

Nutrition Info per serving (24 servings):
  • Calories = 63
  • Carbs =1gram
  • Fat = 7grams
  • Protein = 1gram
  • Fiber = 0
  • Sugar = 0

By the way, I used MyFitnessPal to calculate these numbers.

I was going to show you a photo but my first batch was done in un-oiled metal muffin tins. Rookie mistake. The drops stuck so badly that I have just been digging them out and eating them one by one. The only reason I screwed this up is because my chocolate fat bombs were fine in the metal tins. The cream cheese in this recipe threw me off!

Here are photos of the second batch (done right):



Now, what I did was to spoon these onto the foil, let them freeze, then I spooned a bit more on top of the frozen pieces and put them back in the freezer. That gave them an interesting, UFO-ey kind of shape!

How do mine taste? So freaking good that I think I should feel guilty every time I eat one. With my first batch, there was the very slightest aftertaste coming from the Swerve. For the second batch, I cut back to about a half tablespoon of the sweetener. Much better.

In hindsight, if I were to tweak this recipe any kind of way, it would be to add a touch more lemon and maybe some lime juice. The sour citrus was such a good tangy addition to the flavors.

Finally, a light warning: If you intend using these to occasionally meet your calories, make sure to watch any other food you eat that day. 1080 calories is under my 1600 daily calorie limit, but I can kill a lot of calories with my buttered and creamed coffee... Just watch yourself, is all I'm saying. These things are addictively yummy.

Peace
--Free

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ketogenics. It's a Balancing Act

Trying not to be this person

So, it's Day Whatever-I've-Stopped-Counting of my commitment to a keto lifestyle. I've lost and gained and lost. Good news is that I've lost more than I've gained. Also, someone pointed out that the bathroom scale is not a friend.

To look at what I have learned and am appreciating about this eating regimen (I love that word), I have to admit that I am more pleased than I expected to be. For one thing, whether or not I lose weight as fast as I want, I am still doing my body (and health) a lot of good.

Pros:

  • I don't feel as tired as I did when I was eating so many starches and processed foods.
  • My hair loves the keto diet. I think because I'm getting so many good oils in my diet, my hair is staying healthier and more hydrated - even on the days when I don't get enough water.
  • My blood pressure is down.
  • I am losing inches faster than I am losing weight. (I really do need to come back and do an update on my measurements, now that I am thinking about it.)
  • I'm saving money on groceries. Lots and lots of money.
  • I'm losing my taste for sugar/sweets. (More on this in a moment.)
  • I'm breaking the connection with "bored eating".
Cons:
  • It's tough finding the right combination of macronutrients for my personal needs and goals.
  • I'm having to get used to grocery shopping in a new way. There's a lot of time spent reading and comparing labels for everything I buy to eat. This goes even for the things that keto allows.
  • No one else in my family practices the keto lifestyle. That makes it tough to store and prepare food because of sharing storage space (for foods) and finding time in the kitchen.
  • I'm experiencing a sharp decrease in appetite and sometimes have to make myself eat.
  • The first couple of weeks was tough because I was quite physically exhausted and felt sluggish.
The positives are definitely stronger than the negatives. All the Cons are things that I can work around or count on improving as time goes by.

You notice that I mentioned I am losing my taste and cravings for sugars and sweets. Do you remember how when I started low-carb eating I spent so much time crying about my Almond Joy coffee creamer? Well,  I broke down yesterday and picked up a bottle. My intention was to just have some as an every-now-and-then treat. 

Guess what? The first time I treated myself, I used the usual amount (about four tablespoons, which is a lot I know) and... Ugh! Too, too, too sweet. I had to dump some of the sweetened coffee and add some fresh black brew. Still, the taste wasn't the same. I almost couldn't bear the smell of it eiher.

What this tells me is that it's true that every change takes time. It's been not quite three weeks of limiting and then cutting out the flavored creamer. In the meantime, I've been using heaving cream, butter and, in rare instances, a little bit of sugar substitute. I must have gotten used to that because it now is preferable to coffee with flavored creamer. Instead of the Almond Joy, I think I will try "treating" myself by adding a little bit of brown sugar in with the cream and butter.

When I tell you that my hair loves keto, I'm serious. I'm going to find a photo from at least a month ago to compare with one I'm going to take today just for this post:

August 15th 2016
September 15th 2016




















By the way, I am using the timestamps form my camera. Just lucky that I found the "Before" photo that was from this date last month. I literally paused in the typing of this post to go and take a bathroom mirror shot for you! (My face has slimmed down quite a bit, but I covered it up because I'm not doing makeup-free photos today. LOL)

When I say that keto is a balancing act, I'm talking about getting the ratios of protein/fat/carbs regulated. Not only is this tricky (because it varies from person to person), but it's also ever-changing.



One of my Instagram buddies was doing keto long before I started (and that's one reason I started following him on Instagram) and he is always tweaking his ratios. Everybody I know of (all only online for now) doing keto mentions hitting plateaus, intermittent fasting, egg fasting, and fat fasting. That's because the way the diet works (basically burning body fat for energy rather than storing it) depends on your energy output and calorie input. I guess this is true for any kind of eating plan, but because keto is based on burning fat, the balancing act is trickier. (I hope that all made some kind of sense!)

I've gone through stages of getting too much protein and not enough fat. That's why I had my first stall in weight loss. Now that I am getting more fat in my diet, I need to concentrate on calories. I need to make sure I am getting enough. This is tough because, like I mentioned a moment ago, I have a decrease in appetite.

This is the way my usual day goes with food:

Breakfast - coffee with heavy cream, butter & maybe some coconut oil. No food. I am not a morning eater.

Lunch - if I eat anything, it's usually a brat that I slice longways down the center so I can fill it with about a tablespoon of cream cheese. (Lunch is easy for me to skip because I am usually writing or running errands. I'll make do by warming up my morning coffee.)

Dinner - An Atkins frozen entree. IF I EAT A MEAL. Lately, I've been snacking instead. I like to eat baby dill pickles and green olives with a bit of cheddar cheese, or a handful of raw almonds and about eight or nine mini-pepperoni slices.

My biggest water intake is from the Pellegrino mineral water. Love that stuff and, thanks to Costco, I can get a case of the 25.3oz bottle for around $20.

Sometime this week, I am going to make some cream cheese/cacao powder fat bombs. I will add some coconut oil, Kerrygold butter, and some sugar substitute. I can snack on those when I just don't want to eat.

I'm glad that the seasons are changing because I can use the winter "down time" to lose more weight. God willing that we are all still here, next summer... my skinny jeans will be in full effect.

Peace
--Free

P.S.:

I know that I have been skimping on product reviews. Sorry, but I will try to get back to them soon. My Amazon Prime is up for renewal in October and I honestly can't say yet if I plan to re-up. The shipping and other restrictions on Alaska customers is just annoying. Even though businesses usually give me codes for free products, if I don't renew Prime, I will be doing fewer reviews since I won't have the free shipping. Prime shipping has gotten so slow and unreliable that, for the annual fee, it's just a bust.

P.S. to the P.S.:

I made the lemon and cream cheese fat bombs. OMG, SOOOO good. One problem: I didn't add enough coconut oil and they stuck to the pan. I think they were supposed to be done on the cookie sheet and not in muffin tins...

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ah, Sugar, Sugar. (Substitutes)

Slow but steady, right? I'm down 9.5lbs ** after about a month and a half of adjusting my low-carb regimen. That;s great, but I'm impatient. I want to lose more and faster. Recently, I chatted with someone on another social network and he reminded me to up my fats, lower the carbs, and adjust the proteins. I know that he is right because I've been reading other info and trying to head in that direction.

Getting more fat into my diet isn't too hard because I am in love with the new butter I've been using in my coffee. It's from KerryGold brand and it's from grass-fed cows. (And, yes, I remember being a little side-eye-ish about this a minute ago!) I still need to get more fat into my diet, but I'm working on it.

Losing some of the protein isn't a hardship, at least, not mentally. My problem is I haven't been diligent about thinking out my meal plans. Grabbing some bacon, pork, or beef is so easy when you haven't thought about side dishes and all that.

The hardest thing is ditching more carbs. Giving up pasta, bread, crackers, chips, and cookies bothers me not one bit. Those were never my weakness. It's my coffee creamer that I'm mourning. Every kind of creamer I like (and there are only a few) are loaded with carbs - especially because I drink more than a tablespoon per cup. A tablespoon's worth of creamer might as well be no creamer at all. It's like all foreplay and no sex. It's like only getting to watch someone make a cake and not getting even a taste. It's like when you dream you grabbed a handful of money only to wake up clutching empty air. It's- Never mind. I think you get what I mean.

Anyway, I've been trying to jazz up my coffee with lots of cream and different extracts. Vanilla is a favorite. Also, since I never did like table sugar in my coffee but still want something to sweeten it, I've been trying various sweetening substitutes.

Let's take a look at the different ones and why I do or don't like them or can't use them:

Brown Sugar
Love brown sugar in my coffee and, if I just have to ditch more carbs, I will start back using a bit of brown sugar mixed with whole heavy cream as a backup. (By the way, this explains the differences in light/golden and dark brown sugars.) Here are two different brand nutrition labels:

This one is the Bakers & Chefs Light Brown Sugar label. Note the 4 carbs per teaspoon. Teaspoon, ~sigh~














This one is the C&H brand of golden brown sugar. Same carb count. Same sad face for me.



Honey
Y'all know I love my honey, but it's not a great coffee sweetener. At any rate, I've been abstaining until I can get into good keto, but I am never giving up my honey full-time. I still use it on my mouth when I feel a cold sore itch trying to start (and I haven't restocked my Abreva since I started using honey instead). Just in case someone wants to use honey in their coffee (and definitely in tea), I'm including it here. There are too many types of honey to show labels for, so I'm going to show a common raw brand that I love.



By the way, those carbs? Those massive, massive carbs? That's typical for honey. Trust me, I try not to even lick my lips when I dab on some for a honey scrub or to treat a cold sore.

Blackstrap Molasses
First: ick. When I first started using 'strap to treat my low energy, the one way I couldn't stand it was in my coffee. The taste is too much. Like with honey, I am temporarily abstaining but when I do take 'strap, I put it in vanilla soy milk. As you can see, it's high carb but that's for a tablespoon, not teaspoon. Still, in coffee, ick.



Splenda
I have never, ever liked Splenda. Ever. My sister and most of my friends choose this for an artificial sweetener. I just can't handle the after-taste. Also, I hate the powder that puffs up when you open a packet. Just. Gross.



The other thing that bothers me is when I check the ingredients label, I see what someone just warned me about today. What's listed is Dextrose, Maltodextrin, and Sucralose.

I've heard that these can be just as bad as regular sugar if you're really, really watching carb intake. Also, dextrose = saccharine which reminds me of that nasty liquid stuff my mother used way back in the 70's. Ick. Maltodextrin is glycemically high (and I just made that word up, btw). Sucralose seems to be what gives Splenda it's "flavor", so ick.

Okay, so now that I have grumped and griped about those choices, let me share some other substitutes I've tried recently.

Truvia
I won't go into it much because I talked it to death in this post. I will say that I am learning a little more about sugar alcohols and all that.

As you can see it is not carb-free, just low-carb. Pay attention to that one ingredient of 3 grams in the photo on the left. Now notice the ingredients listed in the photo on the right? Hold on to that for a minute.


Erythritol...
We'll get to that in a moment



Just Like Sugar
I already talked about this in a post here. I like the taste (or lack of aftertaste), but I have to use too much to get any flavor. The stuff is too pricey to use so heavily. Also - and this is bigger for me - I am having trouble deciphering the carb counts.

Wha-?
Is it NO carbs or is it 4 carbs???

Another thing is that that there are nutrition label differences between the "tabletop" and jar versions. I submitted the questions about this to Amazon community and, usually, the Seller will chime in with an answer. Not so in this case.

Swerve
Now this is a sugar substitute I can get down with. There are 2 ingredients listed on the package.



Of course, I'd like this one the most. Look at the carb count...



Another thing I'm wondering about: what exactly are those "natural flavors"?

The best thing about Swerve is that, like Just Like Sugar, it really tastes a lot like table sugar right out of the bag. I did the finger-dip test to figure that out. There's none of the metallic 'twang' that is common with a lot of substitute sweeteners. But, then again, those carbs. If I want to enjoy my coffee, I have to choose between a teaspoon of this or a tablespoon of Almond Joy creamer. (I never use sweetener when I use the creamer anyway because it's sweet enough.) I have to say that I do like using this if I'm just adding butter and heavy cream to my coffee. Next time I make fat bombs, I'm going to try this on a few of them.

Erythritol
I mentioned that we'd talk about one of the ingredients in Truvia. Well, let's talk about this erythritol that is also found in Swerve. (I've heard that substitutes are often combined because doing so enhances their individual sweetness.)

The big positive of this one is that it seems so much sweeter than the other 'fakes'. The negative is that it does have a sort of back taste that sticks to my throat, but only if I use too much. Basically, this one is great if you are careful about measurements. I think it will be the best one to cook or bake with.

Once again, though, check that carb count...


 One last thing: according to the info panel on the back, Erythritol is "derived from non-GMO corn". I need to get my facts on this but, for some reason, I thought "corn" products were not great.

If you want more information about sweeteners, make sure you check out the Sugar and Sweetener Guide. I bookmarked the site so that I can go over and do some reading. Everything sugar is covered - even the history of sugar - and there are links to even more information.

For now, I have to tell you that I am alternating between the substitute sugars. It depends on what day it is. Also, I have been treating myself occasionally by using sweetened condensed milk in my coffee. This is a nice cheat as long as I make a teeny-tiny cup of coffee and add some heavy cream to break up the acidity of the brew. The label on sweetened condensed milk?

So, there you go. I hope this little rundown on the different sugars is helpful

Peace
--Free

P.S.:
** Today, it's official: I'm down 10 pounds!

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Atkins 1st Day


The Money, Money, Money

I survived my first day on Atkins. That doesn't sound like a big deal since I've been trying to go low-carb for a month already. That was a big success at the start then - BOOM - I gained back every pound I'd lost.

Apparently, the thing with carb control is that there are so many hidden ones in so many foods. There are even carbs in spices. Spices, people! Now, what is the first thing anyone does to their food when they change up their eating habits? For me it is to play with spices. I always think that I can make the food (that I'm not used to eating) look and taste more enticing.

Another thing that put me over on carbs was just my stubborness. I refused to completely give up all my sugar. And I was hanging on to my beloved Almond Joy coffee creamer like it was a golden ticket to the Wonka Factory. (RIP Mr. Wilder.) I kept thinking that I could forgo a couple of carbs here and there in my food so that I could use the ones in my creamer. The problem with that is, I am a glutton. If I like something, I will like it to death.

The third problem with me and low carb is that I just don't have the room to cook like I want. Plus, cooking for a special diet requires at least a little bit of pre-planning. I don't have that luxury. I cook when I can get in the kitchen and stretch my culinary wings.

Another problem (and this is one that a lot of folks might relate to) is that anytime you change eating habits, there is the expense of getting your pantry together.

When I looked at my budget, my time, kitchen availabity and, most of all, my personality, I decided that it would be easier to purchase frozen meals. Here's how that breaks down budgetwise:

  • Here in the Anchorage Walmart stores, Atkins frozen meals are $4.28 each. (Nice that they are all the same price. Yay!)
  • The diet is based on 3 meals & 2 snacks per day. I decided to start with 2 of the frozen meals (lunch and dinner) per day and shop for them once a week.
  • 14 meals = $59.92 and for 4 weeks this month that will total $239.68
  • I covered my breakfasts by buying bacon and eggs at Costco (and that should last me for at least 3 weeks if DJ doesn't eat all the bacon! LOL). I got 5 dozen eggs for under $7 and 4 lbs of bacon for under $13. I won't even worry about the $3 I spent on a bag of baby spinach. (I already have 2 bottles of unopened Bolthouse dressing from last month's shopping trip.)
  • My main food then is going to end up costing me around $260-270/month. Even at the high end, that means I'm paying around $8-9 per meal. 
That sounds pricey for someone on a budget so tight it squeals "Mercy!" but in reality, I'm probably saving money. For one thing, other than incidentals (butter and cheese and olives or something snack-like), I'm able to plan my grocery bill almost to the penny. When I shop willy-nilly for food, I know that I was spending about $40 more. That's because I was over shopping. I'd buy meat if I saw it on sale, figuring I could freeze it. I wasn't meal-planning so I'd end up having to run back to the store for odds and ends. 

Trust me, it's hurting my wallet to stick to these meals. It was hurting my wallet to buy groceries in the first place. The thing is, I've looked at the Pros and they are making this worth it.
  • I have about 80% of my food taken care of. No muss, fuss or trying to make up my mind what to eat.
  • No more weighing and measuring foods and then worrying that my weighing and meausuring if off somehow. (That's where some of those extra carbs and calories crept in on me!)
  • I don't binge because the meals are actually filling. My portion control is taken care of and that gives me something to stick to, even if I wanted to go back for "seconds".
  • It's nice to only have to deal with fixing breakfast and snacks. 
  • My health is going to be better as I start losing this weight. If I had been doing the frozen meals the whole past 4 weeks, I'd already be well on my way with this weight loss.
  • This plan forces (or teaches) discipline. My discipline with food needed some changes.
  • Even if I can only afford to do this for 4 weeks (which is what I'm shooting for to get my weight loss started in a big way), I will at least change my shopping and eating habits in general.
I'm looking at this as an investment in my health and well-being.

The Measurements

Now, here's where I go straight naked.

A big part of starting Atkins (at least according to the book I have checked out from the library) is to do an honest "Before" assessment. Here's mine:

Weight = 200.4
Measurements... ~sigh~ (I'm really putting myself out there by revealing these!)
  • Chest 37 1/4
  • Bust 43 1/4
  • Hips 46 7/8
  • Waist 431/2
  • Thighs 27
~sigh~
My next weight and measurement check-in is same time next week, same bat channel...

The Food

The Atkins (and most low-carb diets) suggests 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. The past four weeks doing low-carb I was doing probably 1 big meal and several small snack type meals. And I drank gallons of coffee.

Here is that big Plus to doing the frozen meals. There is no excuse not to eat enough. I think part of my problem before was that I wasn't eating as much as I needed to. Low-carb food (because of the proteins) is very filling. Not eating enough will slam the door on weight loss though.

I am enjoying having lots of choices for complete meals when I go check the freezer. And I don't even have to do much cooking. Yay!

Like I told you, I picked up 14 frozen meals this first shopping trip. Here's my review of what I ate today and how I rated each item on a 5-star scale.

Breakast - I skipped this because I had to go to the store and shop for the food. (I got DJ fries from McD's and I swear I actually drooled at one point...)

LunchAtkins Sesame Chicken Stir Fry I give this 5 of 5 stars and have put it on my list to buy again.


This tasted great and had lots of intense flavor. The meat was not "mealy" like that in a lot of frozen meals.

Morning Snack - Coffee with SlimFast Vanilla Cream shake as the "creamer". I give this 3.5 of 5 stars. It will do for now, but I am not thrilled to death. After the delicious lunch I had, I was sated and not craving anything but the coffee. I would have gone back to my ex-husband for a day just to get a cup of coffee with my beloved Almond Joy creamer...

~ I love you ~

This is the SlimFast Vanilla Cream shake I used for my creamer. I heard it suggested somewhere to use an Atkins shake, but I couldn't find a vanilla one at Walmart today. I will check on that tomorrow at another store.




I also added about a quarter teaspoon of this:

 Just Like Sugar I give a 4.5 of 5 stars because it is probably the best sugar substitute I've ever tried. There really is no aftertaste. That's the Pro. The Con is that the stuff costs as much as powdered gold! I was stunned when  I saw the $9.49 price tag for a jar labelled as just under 6 ounces. Also, the product had settled down at least an inch from the top. I got it at the local health food store and even asked if I'd be able to get a refund if the stuff sucked. LOL! Can't blame a gal for trying. Thank goodness the taste is waaaay better than stevia and Truvia. I'll give this product 4.5 out of 5 because, well, no aftertaste. The one thing that might put some people off is that the powder takes a while to dissolve in cold beverages. I am guessing that it dissolved faster in my coffee, but I couldn't really tell. In a glass of cold water (sparkling mineral water at that), it kind of floated around for a while. I forgot to check and see when it finally dissolved.


Let me get a better photo of the ingredients:



SLIMFAST SHAKE - 3.5 of 5 stars. I don't like vanilla drinks anyway and this one doesn't change my mind. I would not buy this to drink on its own, but it worked really well as a substitute creamer. If I can't find the Atkins shake again next time, I will get more of this - but only for my coffee and the low carb count.



Dinner -  Atkins Stone Fired 3 Meat Pizza I give this 3 of 5 starts because it was just okay. It might have tasted (and cooked better) had I used the oven instead of the microwave. The instructions were to cook for 2 min 30 sec. The pizza burned on one edge. That worked out because I cut it off and tossed it, which means I only ate 2/3 of the meal. That saved carbs since I was in danger of going over by 1.

The pizza smelled really good - kind of grilled and smokey - and the taste was not bad but, for the amount of carbs, I'd rather have what I had for lunch. I'm not putting this on next week's grocery list. I might get this again at a much later date and I will cook it in the oven for sure!



Messed up and already have gone 1 carb over because I chose pizza for dinner after having a carb heavy meal at lunch. I solved this by not eating the small part of the pizza that burned. Our microwave is apparently too powerful for leaving this one in for 2 minutes 30 seconds. Now I know. So, I think I salvaged my 1 carb by not finishing the pizza. Hope so.

Evening Snack - 1 can of tuna in water with 1 boiled egg and 2 Tbls whole mayo. 5 of 5 stars because it's a quick and easy snack that gives me some of the fat I need. Plus it just tastes good (even without onions mixed in or crackers to spread it on).



What I Learned & Moving Onward

I learned that I need to look at carbs even in the Atkins frozen meals. For one thing, I want to leave myself some carb room for snacks. For another thing, I need to leave room for my fats. Some of the stuff I like that has my fats also has carbs. I had to forgo the Johnsonville Brat that I had left over from a previous shopping trip. That's why I had the tuna.

Using the Atkins and MyFitness Pal apps before meals will be useful. If I had done that, I wouldn't have had the pizza disaster. For today's (the clock just ticked over past midnight) meals, I am going to plug everything in just to test carbs and fats, before I actually make my final choices.

Living without my Almond Joy creamer is going to drive me mad. I think I better pick up some more heavy cream (carb-free, don'tcha know) and use it with this Just Like Sugar and some of the caramel coffee syrup I have somewhere. That crap is sugar-free but with my luck it'll have some freaking carbs somewhere...

Basically I learned that I am going to be able to do this. My biggest concern is not my willpower or determination. My budget is freaking me out a little bit. I'd like to get some breakfast meals, but I will have to play with Excel and my numbers some more before I decide.

I'm pleased with and proud of myself. I know that I can do this and I know that it's going to make a big difference with my health and self-esteem. Someone told me that losing weight (especially after carrying so many extra pounds for these last five or so years) is going to age my face. Excuse my language but "Thanks, bit**h." Maybe my face will age but I'd rather live longer and healthier with an "aged" face than to make a young and nice-looking corpse.

Resources if You Want 'Em

Thanks to all the people on the internet who put up such good resources. I've been lucky to find lots of them.
  • Atkins.com (make sure to send for the free starter kit they offer. I'm still waiting for mine, but will do a review when it gets here.)
  • MyFitness Pal is great for tracking progress and meals, I've noticed that the site doesn't pay much attention to "net" carbs the way the Atkins site does. so some foods track differently.
  • I actually am embarrased to admit that I had to look up the proper way to take my body measurements.
  • If I was embarrassed about the measurements, I was mortified to have to look up using a ruler for precision. #dontjudgeme (Somehow after I got sick, I lost grasp on many simple concepts that I learned and used all my life!)
  • This is a printable low-carb grocery list from Low Carbe Diem.
  • For those without a food scale, this is a serving sizes guide.
  • Thrifty NW Mom made me love her for the downloadable Costco Item/Price list she put out. Prices might be outdated/regionally different but this list is still very, very useful. I used it when putting together a shopping list.
Here are some visuals aids:
Source

Source
Last, but favorite, a nice woman from my Instagram friends has put up a Facebook group that I joined & am loving. Sorry fellas, it's for us gals only. It's Keto for Badass Babes. Do check it out, ladies! And guys, the reason for the "No Boys" rule is only so we women can feel open and comfortable in our Keto journey. If one of you men starts a group, let me know so that I can give you a shout out here.

Good luck all, and
Peace
--Free

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Colin Kaepernick, Color, and Other Distractions

Warning: Near the end of this post, things get "religious". You can skip that if you want, but I hope you don't. 
Some time ago, I was involved in a heated Facebook discussion. Tell you the truth, I can't even remember what the subject was. Race or sex or one of the other divisive issues that are trending recently.

There's a lot of heat and temper happening on every social media platform. Trump vs Clinton; black lives, white lives, all lives; straights vs gays; one religion or another; pro-choice, pro-life... On and on and on it goes. People are fussing and fretting and un-friending.

You know what the central theme in all of this is? Divisiveness.

What we all should be discussing is the one thing most of us are not discussing which is, who benefits from all this fussing?

My opinion? Whoever controls mainstream media, is happy to see that we are behaving like lemmings and following the latest "hot topic". Because, as long as we are snapping at each other over race and politics and sex, we aren't watching anything else going on around us.

Here are some things that I think we should be paying attention to (or wondering about):

The technology and inner workings of the game also remain mysterious even to experts like Frank Lantz, the director of the New York University Game Center and one of the leading academics in the field. (my emphasis) [Source]

  • Why no one I personally know seems to even know about CERN and it's LHC when even Stephen Hawking is said to be not generally pleased with it all. There's lots of information online about the LHC (but not on most Facebook timelines, hah!) and some of biased. Some is put out there by nervous, so-called 'conspiracy theorists' or 'nutcases', some is reported news about the project, and some of put out there by those who pooh-pooh the former. I just keep my eyes open, Trash-talk me if you want, but the CERN logo does creep the Christian in me out:


Image result for cern logo
          Not to mention that odd "dance opera"


SYMMETRY - CERN dance-opera film (official trailer) from TRUTH.IO on Vimeo.
       

          (By the way, some more mainstream sources have reported on concerns about the LHC)

News is news is news is news, I get that. Negative stuff happens that needs to be reported on. I get that. What I don't get is why there seem to be cycles of reporting that will focus so heavily on one negative or divisive issue until citizens are ready to attack each other. Think about stuff that dominated the news for a period of time, then dropped off the radar: Teacher-student sex, global warming; animal abuse; mothers killing their babies; parents leaving their kids in hot cars; celebrity sex tapes/photos, meltdowns, breakdowns, overall bad public behavior; Ebola; bullying and suicide because of bullying; workplace harassment; etcetera. Recently, we've had the zika virus and police-on-black crime. The last few days, all I've been hearing about is Chris Brown and the beauty queens - and that's just from opening my news app, not from reading People or US.

I have a big bone to pick with people that can't shut off their phones long enough to have a conversation with another person in their orbit. Some years back, my sister and I would shake our heads at two of our then tween-aged nieces because of their phone obsession. They could be sitting in the backseat of a small car together and you wouldn't hear a peep out of them because they texted everything. And it wasn't just a case of "the 'rents" being present; they just were hooked. These days, I see the same obsession among grown people. I think that some of them would need alcohol or a prescription to go four hours without a phone in their hands.

So, while we are busy posting photos and memes and jokes and useless crap - that means ZERO to our daily lives and actual relationships - other people (smart? devious? conniving?) are running the world. They are running the world and running us.

Here's my solution: how about the next time you get ticked off about something someone posted on a divisive issue, you change the subject to something we haven't talked to death?

People, people, my people -all my people - take your eyes off your phone, shut off your televisions, pause the gossip and smack talk for a minute and start your brains back up. 


Peace
--Free


P.S.:

I believe that some words have been changed in the KJV Bible. I have read my Bible cover to cover twice in my lifetime and I'm still unfamiliar with a lot of passages. I admit that my memory probably has failed me on some of the so-called Mandela Effected words. However, there are some things that I do not remember reading in my KJV (the one that I read cover to cover). Here are some of the ones that I will be asking others about:

  1. I want to say (and did previously say) that I NEVER heard the phrase "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb: {Isaiah 11:6} or "the wolf and the lamb shall feed together" {Isaiah 65:25}, but my memory might be faulty on those. I do agree with others that it seems I only heard "lion" - not the wolf. Also, someone mentioned that it's common to hear of "lion and lamb" ministries and not anything to do with wolves. This is one that I really want to say that I know has changed, but I can't do so with a 100% certainty.
  2. Luke 17:31 (I know that I know that I know I never saw the word "stuff" when I read this.)
  3. Mark 13:10 (my Bible always read "preached" not "published")
  4. Luke 19:23 is another I want to say I am sure of but I cannot. This is where "To the exchangers" now reads "into the bank"
  5. I'll just sit this one right here and let you know that I do believe I would have remembered reading this in 2Kings 18:27:
But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? (my emphasis)
Because of who I am and how I think, I'm pretty sure I would have noticed that one.

There are 2 reasons that I believe changes could have been made and both come from Scripture. The first is Revelation 22:19
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
The other is Matthew 5:18 (think about meaning, not just the reading).

And since the Matthew 5:18 reference might make someone smirk (after all, the ME is about changing the Scripture, right?), I go on to Deuteronomy 11:18 and Proverbs 6:21 telling us to have God's Word written "on our hearts". Could it be we were told this because one day someone would try changing the words written on paper in our published Bibles?

Finally, I know that a lot of people will laugh and say that, boy some of those nutty Christians are at it with their conspiracy theories again. I don't mind getting laughed at for that because there always has been a conspiracy going on. From the minute Satan tempted Adam and Eve out of the garden, he's been trying to tempt all the rest of us out of reach of Heaven.

Do I think that man is able to change what has been printed in people's Bibles for all these years? No. Here is what I do think:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:12)
See, I can go back to the Word of God for the answers I need, even when I don't get the answers I want. That's why my hope will always be in Him. The words printed on the paper in the book that is my Bible can change. The word of God that is written on my heart won't. I don't need to memorize every single Scripture because I have believed for a long time in the one that's most important to me:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God.
Notice it doesn't say "whosoever is perfect" or (fill in the blank - sinless, or straight, or white, or rich, or pretty, or thin, or smart, etc.) whatever else.

Peace
--Free

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