Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, the joy of home ownership and the occasional rant!

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My Christmas Present Arrived!

I ordered myself a new up-cycled sweater coat from Bramble Hollow Fiber Arts.  I ordered a custom made one from Angela last year, but since then I’ve lost 70 pounds so I sold that one to a friend who loves it and wears it daily!

My new coat was already made – not a custom order.  I loved it and the measurements of it were right!

It arrived on the weekend and I’ve been wearing this week.  We are in a deep freeze here and I have worn it in a -32C windchill and it is pretty warm.  I wouldn’t stay out for an hour in it, but it works for walking from the car to the office or store!

The bodice and hood edge is made out of an amazing embroidered sweater – just gorgeous. The two pockets are like having a Tardis strapped to you – I keep putting stuff in them but they never fill up!

I am being stopped constantly by people asking if I made it or who made it.  One cashier commented “Pink must be your favourite colour.”  Actually it is green, but I like pink.

I found lots of coordinating items at Giant Tiger (a Canadian discount department store) – earmuffs, turtlenecks, mittens, etc.  Which was surprising as I hadn’t seen these colours around for quite a few years.  But hey, great timing!

Photos by my friend Maj at MAJ Photography.

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Healthy. I’m getting there!

Today I was recognized at my Curves club as having won the Healthy category of the Curves Strong Women Challenge  at our local level!

I chose to enter the Healthy category (description below) – the other two were Inspiration and Transformation.

Healthy Curves Strong Women of the Year – A Curves member who, during the period 01/01/2015-11/11/16 has overcome a health ailment(s) and has maintained healthy living with Curves Complete and/or regular exercise at Curves*. Members must have 10 consecutive weeks of 3 workouts per week.** Curves may require proof of pre-existing medical conditions and current health in order to validate the entry. A full body before picture must be submitted, along with an after picture taken by a coach in a designated area of the Curves club.

My entry  now moves on to the national level where there are three more rounds of judging with the grand prize winners being announced at the end of the month.

http://strongwomen.curves.com/

I am pretty happy and pleased with myself.

I’ve lost 70 lbs since last Christmas (by switching to LCHF,) I have my blood sugar at normal (non-diabetic) levels consistently, my blood pressure is perfect (120/80), my eye treatments are working and one eye is “fixed” and I’m hoping the other will be after the next treatment, the gall bladder is gone and I’m feeling great.

Here I am (on the right) this afternoon when the winners were announced, with my Curves coach Debbie.

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It’s just cauliflower!

This is a rant.

But let me start off by stating that I like cauliflower.  It is a great vegetable.  But no matter what you do to cauliflower… it tastes like CAULIFLOWER!

Now… to the rant.

I am so completely done with the spin that’s put on Low Carb recipes where cauliflower has been used instead of a multitude of other ingredients.  You don’t need to hide the cauliflower – be proud to use it.  Make it the star!

Here are some examples of what annoys me:

  • Potato Salad.  Really? If there are no potatoes in the salad calling it a potato salad is WRONG!  If you used cauliflower, then, by definition is is a CAULIFLOWER SALAD.
  • Mashed Potatoes.  See above.  If you pureed cauliflower, it is pureed cauliflower no matter what else you add to it.
  • Mac & Cheese.  If there is no “mac” it isn’t Mac & Cheese, it is cauliflower with cheese.
  • Chili Cheese Fries.  When “fries” are generally made with potatoes this is misleading – using cauliflower stems instead is misleading.  Interesting, but misleading.
  • Bread Sticks.  Um, no.  Just no.  Cauliflower mixed with eggs and cheese and baked is NOT BREAD!  It is tasty cauliflower with cheese that you can dip in sauce.
  • Cauliflower Rice.  It is not rice!  In this context “riced” would be a verb and the cauliflower could have been processed in a ricer, but you would then called it Riced Cauliflower.  And using a vegetable as rice makes no sense and frankly, cauliflower it too strong to play nice with most dishes I would prefer rice with (if I could eat rice.)
  • Cauliflower Couscous. NO.  Couscous is pasta.  Cauliflower can’t be pasta (in a low carb recipe.)
  • Hashbrowns.  See previous references to potatoes above.
  • BBQ or Buffalo Wings.  No actual wings.  Therefore, NOT wings.  Cauliflower is not developing the ability to fly. (Um, unless Monsanto is up to something new?)

I just get annoyed with all of it.  Cauliflower tastes good, but it is a strong flavour and I have never had a dish where I wasn’t able to identify it as an ingredient.  And recipes that tell people “and you can’t even tell” lie.

 

 


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TMI – you’ve been warned

Appears my gallbladder removal surgery was a resounding success.  I stopped taking painkillers less than 48 hours after, have no issues or pain.  I get to go back to work next week (but not allowed to lift anything over 15 lbs until mid-December.)

But, as noted in the pre-surgery information, there is the issue of “loose stools.” Friends who’ve had their gallbladders removed also told me it took months to a year for things to normalise again.  The information I was given said “up to six months.”

I wasn’t thinking about it too much as I’ve had gut issues most of my life so how bad could it be.  Ha.

It took three days post-surgery  for the full effects of this to become fully apparent.  Holy crap (pun intended.)

I’ve cut back on fatty foods and portion sizes, hoping things will slow down a bit, as it seems that everything that goes in comes out within a couple hours.

It is a small price to pay for being pain free.  Just hope it will pass quickly.

Here’s a pretty picture of some poppies.

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It’s gone!

I am a very happy person!

Gallbladder was removed on Wednesday morning and within 48-hours I didn’t need painkillers at all!

I woke up in recovery around 10:30 a.m. and was completely alert, sat up and pushed away the covers to check that it was laparoscopic surgery as there was a risk of having to be cut open.  It was!  I was so happy.  The nurse, however, was not – “Lay back down, you shouldn’t be moving!”

I could feel the difference – no more pain!  Although part of that might have been the anaesthetic still working.

I was taken back to my room where my sister was waiting, and they kept me there for about two hours, then released me.  We were home by 1:30 p.m.

There was no pain from the “stabs,” which is what they call the holes, and they only had tape over them. And I seem to have had an easy time regarding the “trapped gas” – some mild shoulder pains yesterday and burping that is uncomfortable, which has eased of now.

As of this morning I am not taking painkillers at all.  Not even Tylenol.

Yesterday my sister drove me around to do errands and I had no problems walking around the stores, etc.  If I pressed on an incision it was a bit tender, but not horrible.

My sister has taken excellent care of me and she leaves tomorrow to go home to Toronto. And I am under strict instructions to take it easy and not to lift anything heavier than a plate or a pillow.

I can’t go back to work until the doctor clears me to, and I won’t know that until next week sometime.  The tape on the holes is supposed to fall off on its own and I am not supposed to lift anything for about the same amount of time.

It is so nice to not be in constant pain.

 

 

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The new me, to-date

Had my monthly weigh and measure at the gym on Friday.  And we took some “after” photos… well, it isn’t after really, as I am still doing everything I have been so let’s call them “progress” photos!

This shows me in 2002 around the time I was told I was pre-diabetic – I had already lost a bit of weight at the time of the time of the photo; middle was in October 2005 and my weight was documented at 274.6 lbs; and third is Friday at 173 lbs.

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We figure I probably maxed out around 375 when I was at my largest… but no weight records exist… but compare the above to this photo taken in 2000, shortly after I arrived in Grande Prairie:

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That means I’ve managed to lose about 200 lbs. since moving up here almost 17 years ago.

Initially it was just a change in lifestyle – no more lattes or second breakfasts on the way to work, packing a lunch as going out to buy it wasn’t convenient, jobs with some physical activity involved.  Then, a more conscious effort to control my health by cutting out excess sugar, etc. The loss of the first 100 was not a specific diet, just a collection of changes that resulted in the loss over a period of about five years.

Over the next ten years my weight would fluctuate depending on my activity level, which was directly tied to the jobs I had.  Working graveyard shift on my feet netted a drop of about 30 lbs over a couple of months.  Working in retail also caused weight loss and better fitness levels.

Stress would change my eating habits too, causing weight changes.  After Neil died I dropped some, and both times mom was in the hospital I lost quite a bit.

Then since December 2015 when I completely changed my way of eating to Low Carb High Fat to control my diabetes I have lost another 62 lbs. (so far!)

The weight loss has slowed considerably now, which is what I was expecting to happen. I’m now only dropping a couple of pounds a month, rather than the 10 I was losing to start with.  With the slower drop I am noticing that some of the loose skin is tightening up a bit and my muscle mass is increasing with going to the gym regularly.

In my photo from Friday I am wearing my size 12 yoga pants and a medium top!  That’s pretty exciting for me.  I get teased at the gym as I tend to wear oversized (XL men’s sweat pants and 3XL t-shirts!) to workout in, but I have them so I am wearing them until they are ready for the garbage or won’t stay up!  I only wear the skinny clothes for measuring days and photo ops!

My regular wardrobe is all new – all old items have been donated, recycled or thrown out. I still need to get a new heavy winter coat for -40C.  What I have now are not rated for that, but I wanted to wait until I needed it to make sure I got a nice fitting one. I used to always wear men’s winter gear – this year I am getting women’s!

 

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Low Carb Almond Flour Baking Powder Biscuits

I have mentioned, often, how disappointing low carb recipes for “bread” have been.  I gave up trying for the most part.  But I saw some recipes for baking powder biscuits that might be okay… and I still miss baked goods.

I had the ingredients so… what the heck.  Worse case I would have crumbs to use with other stuff to make a crust for a pizza (like I did with my crumbled waffles!)

I scoped out a bunch of different recipes… some had stuff in them I don’t use or want to use, others added sweeteners.  A lot used butter and seasonings to brush on top after they were baked which I didn’t think was needed.  Lots included cheese and garlic to replicate biscuits from a restaurant chain.

I just wanted plain old baking powder biscuits. I used to just whip them up in the old days – no recipe needed.  But for this first attempt I looked at several of the ones I found and took what I wanted out of them and left out the rest.  I adjusted the measurements a bit too (I see no point in leaving 1/4 tablespoon of left over something!)

As I had sour cream in the fridge I used that.  Some recipes I looked at used cream cheese instead.

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Low Carb Almond Flour Baking Powder Biscuits

Preheat oven to 400F.

1 3/4 cups of almond flour (flour, not ground almonds)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (heaping) of baking powder (I use Magic Brand)

4 tablespoons of melted butter

2 large eggs, beaten

1/3 cup (heaping, not level) of sour cream

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl – mix them well, the almond flour can be clumpy.
  2. In another dish beat the eggs and add the sour cream and melted butter.
  3. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended.
  4. Using two spoons, shape batter into loose “balls” and drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet. The batter is very light and once you drop onto the pan it is difficult to shape it. They will spread a bit so leave a fair amount of space.
  5. Place baking sheet on the centre rack for 10-15 minutes.  Start checking at 10 minutes as ovens vary!  I like mine fairly browned so left them in for a longer time.

This recipe actually made ten decent sized biscuits. (I ate two before I took the photo – wasn’t sure if it was a photo worthy recipe!)

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The came out pretty flat but OMG!!  They ARE baking powder biscuits!  Taste like them, act like them. I am so happy!  I didn’t bother slicing them open to eat, just slathered butter on top of the hot from the oven ones I ate.

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They fit in the toaster perfectly and were great over the next four days!  Just put the toaster at the lowest setting – it is nut flour so it burns fast!

I ate them plain with butter; with an over-easy egg; with scrambled eggs and cheese; and with ham and mustard!  They held up great for a sandwich – didn’t crumble.

I am making a couple batches to freeze.  As they toast up so well that will be great to grab for a quick meal or snack!

I’m also going to try to make a larger “crust” out of this recipe to use for a pizza crust or maybe a pot pie topper?  Oh the possibilities!  I though about dumplings but don’t think it will stand up to the liquids.  I’ll post about what works out!