Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stuffed Bell Peppers (Low Carb)

The basic ingredients.
About a year ago when I was re-dedicating myself to the low-carb lifestyle, I stumbled upon a multitude of recipes for stuffed bell peppers.  The recipes seemed easy enough, which as a working mom is super important to me, and none of the ingredients were exotic, another plus.  I found them great for lunches as they were easy to reheat.  Also, I played around with what I stuffed them with.  Sometimes I used cream cheese and mayo.  Other times I used cream cheese and sour cream.  I'd switch up the crumbled bacon with pepperoni if I didn't have any on hand.  Point is, once you start making these you can switch up the ingredients as much as you want and really make them your own to fit your taste.

Ingredients

  • 8 Ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese 
  • 2 Tablespoons of full fat mayonnaise
  • 2 Green (or really, any color) bell pepper
  • 2 slices of bacon, turkey or pig, your choice
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder (optional)
  • Any additional low carb toppings that you would like!




Directions

The finished product!  Yum. 

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Soften the cream cheese and then mix it with the Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder.
  • Slice open and clean out the peppers of all seeds.  
  • Spoon in the mixture into the open-faced peppers and add any additional toppings you might want.
  • Place the peppers onto a greased cookie sheet and put into pre-heated oven for at least 25 minutes.  I like mine a little crispier so if you do too you might want to put them in for longer.  
  • Let them cool down for a bit before enjoying.
  • These re-heat wonderfully for lunch the next day.  


Monday, February 22, 2016

Low Carb, Gluten Free Pancakes!

Photo courtesy of "I Breathe I'm Hungry"
Yes!  You can have your pancakes and eat them too when you are low carb and gluten free.
I discovered this pancake recipe when I did an egg fast to clean out my liver and jump start ketosis about 6 weeks ago.  You can find the instructions for the egg fast HERE. For the record I plan on doing it again after my birthday (February 25) so I can get back into ketosis and, well, clean house from all the birthday and holiday treats this month.

The recipe for those yummy low carb pancakes are below.

Low Carb, Gluten Free Pancakes

Ingredients






2 oz. cream cheese (full fat, please!)
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Directions

Mix all of the above ingredients in a blender for at least 30 seconds.  Let the mixture settle for 2 minutes.  Coat a small frying pan in butter and pour in about 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time.  I have noticed that on medium low heat this does take awhile to cook, but you'll want to watch it so it doesn't burn.  The thicker the pancake the longer it takes to cook.  Once the pancake has firmed up it is usually safe enough to flip and cook the other side.
By my calculations you should get 2 pancakes out of this mixture.  If you want more just increase the eggs and cream cheese, but keep a 1:1 ratio in mind meaning for each egg you add in an equal amount of cream cheese.  




Sunday, February 21, 2016

Half Marathon Training Week 3 Recap!

Week 3 has come and gone and I happily stuck with the plan even though I had to make some modifications.

Day 1 - Monday

Today I had to complete Circuit Run 2 and Super Short Strength Circuit 2.  If you remember from Week 1, I surprised myself by LOVING the circuit run.  It broke up the monotony of a regular run.  For this circuit run I had to warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace.  Then stop and do one exercise for 1 minute before jumping back on the treadmill for 5 minutes.  I had to repeat this pattern until all 4 exercises were done.  Those exercises were:  Push-ups, walking lunges, jump rope and plank.  It was a great workout and I got 2 miles in.


Day 2 - Tuesday


The plan called for an EASY 6 mile run, but I didn't sleep well the night before so there was no way I was getting up early to get it in.  I decided to swap it out with Wednesday's Rest plus SSSC 2 instead.  
6 miles at 4 am?  No problem.

Day 3- Wednesday


Since I swapped days, today was the day that I had to plan on that EASY 6 mile run.  Since when did 6 miles become easy?  So, like any crazy person I set my alarm for 4 am and actually GOT UP!  What is even crazier is I got it done and still got to work on time.  I kept my pace between a 10-11mm.  I had to stop often to do quite a bit of stretching of my calves, arms and lower back and it actually wasn't until mile 4 or so that I started to feel like I was in the groove.

Day 4 - Thursday


Sigh, I wasn't looking forward to today's schedule of hill repeats mostly because it is too dark for me to run before or after work and my husband told me to NEVER EVER use the incline on my ancient treadmill.  Today I needed to improvise.  After warming up for 10 minutes on the treadmill, I worked in my hill repeats by climbing the stairs in my home for 15 minutes.  Talk about boring.  But I had to get it done and I really need work on maintaining my pace on hills.  Never was I so glad to hear an alarm go off before!  After my 15 minutes of stairs, I headed back downstairs to the treadmill to cool down for 10 minutes.

Day 5 - Friday

Yay for cross-training day!  Since it had been awhile I decided to do a morning yoga video for my cross-training.  If you haven't checked out Yoga with Adrienne on Youtube you really should.  They are really well made videos with lots of different levels.  I was so happy to only have to set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier today to get up and get it done (Yay for 5:15 instead of 4am).  The stretch felt good and I set my intention for the day to stay away from veggie chips and sticks since I don't need the extra carbs, but I've been addicted lately to them both.

I also had to do SSSC 2 again which I fit in later in the day.  I was so happy to enjoy a glass of wine (or 2) after work.

Day 6 - Saturday 

Hello, long run day!  8 miles you say?  Sounds good although 7 was my longest and now I had to push it 1 mile longer.  I took this outside in the beautiful 50 degree, sunny New Hampshire weather.  I way overdressed:  Fleece running tights, long sleeved shirt with fleece jacket and a fleece headband.  The "what to wear" guide for running in the temperature it was even suggested mittens!  No way.  I ended up going home after mile 1.5 to ditch the fleece jacket and headband.  I almost went home later on to change into a short-sleeved shirt, but I toughed it out.  At mile 4 I stopped for water at home and at mile 6 I ate raisins so I slowed down considerably.

8 miles, done and done.
Overall, I'm happy with my pace and the fact that I was able to do it.  I kept my pace consistent and I figure I'll be running my half marathon at an 11mm although I'd like a 10 mm pace.  My calves were tight and it took until the end for them to really feel good.

I did come home to ice my ankles because I felt some tendinitis coming on.  My knees hurt pretty bad too and I don't know if it was runner's knee or my arthritis flaring up.

How thankful am I though that next Saturday's long run is "only" 7 miles?

And yes, I did maintain my pace up a bunch of hills on the neighborhood course I created for myself so all those stairs earlier in the week worked out great for me.  



Monday, February 15, 2016

A List of Zero Carb Foods to Help Get You Into Ketosis

If you are just starting out on your low carb journey, there are many resources on the internet to help you get started.

When I first got started many years ago I printed out a handy list of foods that were allowed in the first step of any low carb diet- this step helps you get into and remain in ketosis (burning fat instead of sugar).

While the list below isn't the same, I find it to be very comparable to the one I had and a quick check of the website it is linked to, StartLowCarb, is very helpful too.

The only modification I would make on this list is to stay away from margarine, it is man-made and not nearly as good for you as butter.  As for alcohol, I would limit it to 2 drinks per day if you are trying to lose weight.

Yes, butter is good for you.  Just because a food is high in dietary cholesterol does not mean that it is going to raise your cholesterol.




Bulletproof Tea (or Coffee) and Why I Love It!

I decided to try bulletproof tea (coffee hurts my stomach) about 5 weeks ago when I did an egg fast diet for a week.  It was a suggestion as part of the diet and I wanted to do everything it entailed to experience its full effect.  I was a skeptic about bulletproof anything for a long time, but after my first sip I was a believer.

Some of the benefits of bulletproof tea/coffee:
  • It keeps you fuller longer.  
  • It allows you to feel full, yet remain in a fasted state for a longer amount of time.  It doesn't affect your fasting metabolism.  This is especially important if you practice intermittent fasting.
Some of the benefits of drinking green tea:
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Increases blood flow
  • Prevents high blood pressure
  • Prevents congestive heart failure 
  • Blocks the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer's.  


My bulletproof green tea recipe:


Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of steeped green tea (I honestly use a generic brand)
  • 1 tablespoon of grass-fed butter (I use Finlandia), softened 
  • 1 tablespoon or more of coconut oil (I prefer this over MCT oil)
  • Few sprinkles of Pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of Stevia

Directions

Simply mix all of the above ingredients in the blender for at least 30 seconds and then serve hot in your favorite mug.  

Feel free to adjust the above ingredients based on taste.  I find I don't have time to measure everything out in the morning so I just eyeball it and I've learned how to adjust it based on my personal preference.  

The reason I prefer coconut oil over MCT oil is simply because I believe the coconut oil makes this drink nice and frothy.  I find the MCT oil just lets the butter fall to the bottom like a glob and then you miss out on all the fat content of the butter (remember fat is good for you).





Sunday, February 14, 2016

Half Marathon Training Week 2 Recap

Week 2 of my half marathon training through Another Mother Runner is DONE!  I enjoyed the activities this week, especially the "fun" exercise with my daughter on Monday.  She must have really enjoyed it too because she can't stop talking about dancing with mommy while daddy took pictures of us.  I'm so happy that I am role modeling to her how to be healthy.

New England got clobbered with snow so unfortunately there was no "runching"(running on lunch break) this week.

Monday - Day 1

Today's assignment was to complete a "fun" workout and Super Short Strength Circuit (SSSC)1 (we have 4 different sets of these).  Since it still gets dark too early to go outside and do anything, I opted for putting on some dance music and "dancing" with my daughter which was really just us jumping, twirling and running in a circle.  I got a good exercise in but more importantly she LOVED it.  

The SSSC consisted of 1 minute of each of the following 4 exercises:  Push-ups, squats, leg lifts and spiderman wall climbs.  These exercises are so easy you can really do them anywhere which is nice.  One minute might not sound like a lot, but its long enough.  Trust me.



Tuesday - Day 2

I needed 5 easy miles today.  I got in 4.  I really should have woken up early to get it done before work, but I was exhausted from not sleeping well on Sunday night still and if I don't sleep well, then I don't run well.  Tuesday was also the First in the Nation Primary Voting here in New Hampshire so I waited in line in my car after work for 25 minutes just to park to vote so I lost some time there.  By the time, Scarlett and I got home after voting and got our chores done I was lucky I got in 4 easy miles at all.  


Wednesday - Day 3

The plan called for cross-training or rest plus the SSSC 1.  I opted for rest and completing the SSSC1 on a break at work.

Thursday - Day 4

Here we go.  Here is where I learned from my planning mistakes earlier in the week.  I set my alarm for 4:30am and dutifully got up to get 4 easy miles in BEFORE work.  I'm proud that I did it, but I was exhausted by the time I got out of work 12 hours later at 4:30 pm.  

Friday - Day 5

3 easy miles or cross-training plus the SSSC1.  I decided ahead of time that I was going to do yoga for some cross-training since I haven't been able to fit in a session in awhile.  Originally, I wanted to get up early to do it while everyone slept, but again I didn't sleep well so I needed to get some more rest.  It was a busy, long day at work and Scarlett had a short play date after school here but I did manage to fit in about 25 minutes of yoga plus the SSSC1.  I felt so good after the yoga!  My legs, especially my feet were really fatigued so they were crying out for a good stretch.  My long run was planned for the next day, Saturday, so I couldn't risk them being tired or in pain.

Saturday - Day 6


Our long runs are always planned for the weekend, thankfully, otherwise I wouldn't know how to fit them in.  7 miles was scheduled for today, which if completed, would be my longest run ever.  I decided to get up at 6:30 am to get 4 miles in on the treadmill before I had to shower, get dressed, get my daughter up and dressed and out the door by 8:45 am for her 2 dance classes.  I'm happy to report that I successfully did all of this!
Now, you might be wondering, why only 4 miles?  Don't you need 7?  

Well, I decided around 2 weeks ago to register for the Fat Tuesday 5k through Millennium Running simply because they rescheduled it from Tuesday, February 9 at 7pm to Saturday, February 13 at 1pm.  The change was due to Manchester, NH city officials urging the race to be rescheduled due to it being on the same night as the First in the Nation Primary.  I didn't want to do the race on the first date because it was going to be after work and I didn't want to deal with traffic or choose between running and voting.  Voting is more important in my book.

Not only was I going to run 7 miles for the first time, but this was going to be the first time I ever put in 4 miles BEFORE running a race!  I really didn't know what to expect.

The best part?  The temperatures were going to be downright dangerously frigid and there was a possibility of an inch of snow!  Why did I register for this again?  Oh yeah, I'm a little crazy AND there was a blingy medal to get.

Thankfully, someone in my Mom's Run This Town running group posted what to wear in such frigid conditions because I would have been waaaaay underdressed.  Instead, I was toasty warm with my wool socks, 2 pairs of pants, 2 long sleeve shirts with a fleece on top, a gaiter, a hat and 2 hoods plus wool mittens and Vaseline on my face.  WOW.  Just wow.

The race started off great.  My legs felt good and I fought my way past some slower moving people.  Mile 1 was a bitch as always and the wipping wind didn't help.  Mile 2 ended up being my slowest mile because of a hill.  I powered my now lead-filled legs up and around it.  I ended up zoning out after that and luckily looked down at my Garmin to see that I was crawling along at a 13:45 mm pace!  Considering my first mile was done in 9:41 this was so slow for me.  After that I snapped out of it and powered down the hill and onto the final mile.  I stayed pretty steady in my final mile and actually managed to zoom UP the final hill before the finish line. I powered past quite a few people that I had been chasing.
I always give myself a cheer for making it to the finish line.

I didn't PR, in fact I was 19 seconds off from my 5k PR time, but I'm not upset.  I put in 4 miles before the race and ran 7 miles for the first time in a day.  Plus it was just downright COLD.  What I am going to take away from this race is that once I crest the top of a hill I just need to get moving again.  Now more lollygagging at the top! Thats where I lost a good 40 seconds at least.

Sunday is a well earned rest day and then it is on to week 3!  

Total Miles this week:  15



Sunday, February 7, 2016

Non-Scale Victory - I'm Back in My Pre-Pregnancy Pants!

Yesterday, I decided to do something I haven't tried doing in about 2 months.  I decided to see if my size 6 pants would fit again.  Now these were the smallest size pants I've ever worn as an adult and they were the last size I fit into prior to getting pregnant with my daughter 4 years ago.

At that time I had lost roughly 30 pounds following The Metabolism Miracle which is a low carb, high fat diet.  Obviously, when I got pregnant I could no longer be on such a restrictive diet any more and I had to add back in the carbs.  I also gained 80 pounds in the process!

Flash ahead to 4 years later and after following a low carb, high fat, gluten free diet while practicing intermittent fasting and running several miles a week (I logged in 18 miles this week) and I am back in my size 6 pants.

I won't lie.  It wasn't easy.  I didn't take any pills, shakes or wrap myself up in plastic wrap, but I did it.  I'm glad I did because I'm worth it.  We're all worth it.  We just have to believe it and do something about it.

As always, I'm happy to answer any questions.  I want to help.  I'm not here to sell you a product.  I want to share the wealth of information I've learned from all of the mistakes I've made over the years.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Low Carb, High Fat ,Gluten Free Super Bowl Party Recipes!

Are you ready for some football?


Let's talk about FOOD!

What will I be making this year?

For last year's Big Game I made Bacon Cheeseburger Crock Pot Dip.  It was so yummy!  I liked it so much that I'm making it again this year.  I'll be sure to serve it with certified gluten free tortilla chips (not low carb).  You could always make your own chips from cheese.  Chips from cheese?  YES!  They are so easy to make and so good.  My 3 year old loves them too.


I'll also be making Smoked Sausage Cheddar Beer Soup.  I typically use O-Mission beer when I go for a gluten free one.  This is another family favorite and so easy to make since you throw it in the crockpot.

I won't be making these this year, but these Parmesan Tater Tots with Chipotle Dipping Sauce are also really tasty although they do require a little bit more work to make.

I'd love to hear what other low-carb recipes you might be making for the Super Bowl this year!

Low Carb Baked Cheese Crackers


Today I am going to share with you how to make crackers from cheese.  
Yes, cheese.

It is really simple and if you are new to being low-carb you will be so happy you learned to make these especially when you are craving a snack.

All you need are several slices of deli cheese like Swiss, cheddar or pepper jack.  I usually buy a cheap party tray of cheese and use those.  The trick is to get hard cheese.  American cheese will likely just burn.  No, it will burn.  Trust me on that one.

Now get your parchment paper (NOT WAX PAPER) and cookie sheet out and set your oven temp to 400 degrees F.    Spread your cheese out on the parchment paper leaving about an inch between each one.  Then toss it in the oven for 10 minutes, allow to cool and voila!  You have homemade cheese crackers!  

You can also add a little Mexican flair to these by sprinkling them with cumin powder or adding in jalapeƱo peppers before you bake them.  Yum.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Low Carb, High Fat and Nut Free Swedish Meatballs!

Tonight I am making these Swedish Meatballs from The Ketogenic Cookbook.  I can't wait to try them out!  I'll be serving them over zoodles (zucchini noodles).

Looks like meatloaf but tastes like Swedish meatballs!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds grass fed beef
  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup beef bone broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl combine,  ground beef, ground pork,  egg, tomato sauce (check the carb count),  minced yellow onion,  coconut aminos,  dry mustard,  garlic minced, of fine sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and liquid smoke (not sure what this is and I haven't found it in the local grocery store yet).  Mix until well combined.
  3. Shape into 1.5 inch meatballs and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake the meatballs for 45-60 minutes, until cooked through and browned.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce:  Place butter in a saucepan and heat until the butter sizzles and brown flecks appear, stirring constantly to keep the butter from burning.  Reduce the heat to low.  Stir in  cream cheese,  beef bone broth,  Parmesan cheese and ground nutmeg.  Simmer for at least 15 minutes.  The flavors open up if you simmer longer.
  5. When the meatballs are done, remove them from the oven, place them on a serving tray, and serve with the sauce.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Let the Half Marathon Training Begin!

 I START HALF MARATHON TRAINING THIS MONTH! 

This means that now my family time will be even more limited although I did use some of my Fantasy Football winnings to purchase a training plan from Another Mother Runner which will help me stay on track but allow for some downtime too, if you count being a wife and mommy as "downtime".  If you haven't heard of them, you should really check them out.  They understand the challenges of being an athlete and a mother.  I recently ordered their book Tales from Another Mother Runner:  Triumphs, Trials, Tips and Tricks from the Road.  I can't wait to delve into it!

Week 1, Day 1

Monday, February 1 was Week 1 Day 1.  My first run was a circuit run which means I did a 5-10 minute warm-up, then alternated performing 4 different moves for at least a minute before jumping back on the treadmill for 5 minutes in between each one.  The moves were squats, planks, arm circles (forwards and backwards) and push ups.  I didn't think I would like this kind of run but I really did and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Week 1, Day 2

For day 2 I had to put in 4-5 easy miles.  I decided to run on my lunch break rather than wake up at 4:30am when my alarm went off.  I'm so glad I did!  It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day out!  If you look at my splits you can see that I have no idea how to pace myself. Granted, it didn't help that I was dodging beer bottles, sticks, ice, patches of snow, puddles and just random pieces of garbage floating around Manchester, but still I think those times are horrible even for me.

Day 3, today, was a rest day except for performing a Super Short Strength Training Circuit.   The circuit consisted of performing each of 4 moves for 1 minute.  The moves were:  Push ups, leg lifts, spider man walks and of course, squats!

Tomorrow I need to run some intervals so I'll be "runching" (running lunch) it again!

For the record I am running the Gate City Half Marathon in Nashua, NH on Sunday, May 15! 

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Low Carb, High Fat, Gluten Free Dinner Menu

Happy February!

Smoked Sausage Cheddar Beer Soup .
February is a very special, very busy and very expensive month for us.  Both the Mister and I have our birthdays, there is Valentine's Day and my brother and mother-in-law have birthdays as well.  And there is the Super Bowl too which we actually get to relax and watch this year since our beloved Patriots won't be in it.  Crazy.

February also brings with it a new dinner menu.  During the last week of the month prior I sit down with my pen, paper and log into Pinterest to start planning out the next month's menu.

I started menu planning a year ago and it really has been a game changer for me.  I don't grocery shop nearly as much because I have everything I need to make dinner already.  We also don't eat out as much because frankly, if I can make it at home why would I pay someone 3 times as much to eat it at their restaurant?  Menu planning has definitely made me picky about eating out.

Now, I don't cook every night and most of our lunches tend to be leftovers from the night before.  The reason I don't cook every night is because I get such little time to spend with my family that I really can't bear to stand at the stove for an hour, hour and a half every night.  Plus, I start Half Marathon training this month!

February Dinner Menu

Super Bowl/Husband's Birthday Meal  


Cuban Pot Roast from I Breathe I'm Hungry.

Rest of the Month

The Ketogenic Cookbook Recipes

The Following recipes can be found in the book The Ketogenic Cookbook.  

  • Zucchini Tot Hot Dish
  • Swedish Meatballs
  • Easy Mortadella Ravioli
  • Kielbasa and Braised Cabbage
  • Herb and Ricotta Rotolo 
  • Asian Lettuce Wraps 
I'd love to hear about which recipes you've tried and which ones were hits or misses!

Until next time!

Sabrina