Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

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Getting Organized for a LCHF Lifestyle – Part 4, Tips and Tricks

There was a lot to do and changes to make when I was switching over to a Low Carb High Fat way of life.  And it is a way of life, not a diet.

Aside from getting my blood sugar under control and the weight loss, my other issue of joint pain due to osteoarthritis has disappeared.  My knees used to give out on me every now and then, but no episodes since I cut out high carbohydrate food and sugar.  And my blood pressure is completely normal too.

In these five posts I will tell you how I got my kitchen, and myself, organized to fit my new LCHF lifestyle.

Part 4 – Tips and Tricks

These are some of the things I do – some are for convenience, others because it makes me feel good and others because I hate waste.

  1. Making my own Stock

I save all the bones and scraps from roasts, steaks, chickens, etc. and keep them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  When I have a couple of bags full I make stock out of them, and freeze it so I always have some on hand.  I combine the different bones so my stock is always “generic”, but I could put different types in different bags – I just don’t bother.

I throw the contents of the bags into a pan and roast at 400F until they are well browned, then put in my crock pot (covered with water of course) on high for most of the day or overnight.  I also add in the scraps of vegetables I have available – celery, onions, etc.

I’ll add water as the level drops down.  I’ve often left it for two days. Then I drain off the stock into storage containers or Ziploc bags and place in the fridge to cool and set (the stock actually sets up due to the gelatin in the bones), then put in the freezer.


  1. Vegetable Preparation

When I buy vegetables I deal with preparing some right away.   I rinse green onions and wrap the root end in a wet paper towel and place in a plastic bag.  I’ll do the same with fresh herbs and asparagus – stem ends wrapped in a wet paper towel.   They stay fresher much longer this way.

I wash celery and cut into pieces and store in a container. I save the hearts and leaves, chop them up and freeze in a Ziploc bags for soups, etc.  I peel cucumber, slice and store in a container in the fridge.

I like having things ready to eat.  Depending on what vegetables I’ve got I’ll rinse, clean and cut-up those as well – green peppers for example.

  1. Avocados

I buy avocados when they are as unripe as possible – very hard.  I leave them in a basket on the counter until they just start to give when held firmly, then I put them in the fridge until I want to eat them.  I find I lose less of them this way.

  1. Composting

All the unuseable vegetable scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds/used tea go out to the composter.  I take apart the coffee pods and tea bags to get it out – then dispose of what is left appropriately.  I also bring home coffee grounds and organic waste from work to add to my compost.  Used coffee grounds are a great much all by themselves and I use them on my flower beds.

  1. Bulk Shopping

I buy nuts, certain spices, and some baking ingredients like psyllium husk powder in bulk.  It works out cheaper and the bulk store has a wide selection of nuts (whole, blanched, roasted, salted, unsalted, sliced, slivered, chopped…)  They also have lots of imported items like coconut milk and cream, etc.

  1. Convenience items

I like convenience so I buy hard boiled eggs by the dozen at the grocery store.  I know a lot of people think that’s nuts, and yes, it is more expensive BUT, if I have to boil them myself I pay for water, electricity, and the time spent peeling them (and that doesn’t always work out.) So, I buy them, they are ready-to-eat and perfectly cooked. I use them for scotch eggs, egg salad, deviled eggs, as is for a snack, etc.

I buy feta cheese in the tubs that is already diced/cubed.  It is so much easier to use just the amount you want and the dice is even so you don’t have huge chunks and crumbs in your dish.  I watch for sales and buy a couple at a time.

I also buy guacamole.  I like avocados plain and add them to omelettes and salads, but the convenience of the ready to eat guacamole as a dip or garnish is great.

And, yes, I buy the pre-cooked bacon in the box.  I also buy locally produced bacon which is yummy, but when I just want bacon and I want it NOW, the stuff that takes 30-seconds in the microwave hits the spot.

  1. Grating Cheese

I like to think I make up for my egg extravagance by buying block cheese and grating it myself.  However, that is because I can’t digest cellulose which is added to all pre-grated cheese to prevent clumping (read the ingredient lists.)

I will grate the cheese that I typically want to use grated, all at once – I’ll grate a block of parmesan (usually while watching TV) and store in a container in the fridge.  It keeps almost forever.  Softer cheeses don’t have the storage power of the hard ones but they still will keep for several weeks once grated.  I don’t grate all the cheeses – generally the parmesan and mozzarella as that is how I use them.

  1. Recipes

I started to collect recipes off of the internet to try.  I would either write them down (excluding ingredients I wasn’t using) or print them off.  I’ve sorted them out in a binder by category – Breakfast, Vegetables, Breads, Mains, Snacks, Dips, etc.  I make notes on them when I try them – and alter instructions and ingredients as needed.  And I keep them in plastic page protectors to keep them clean – easy to wipe off splatters and sticky fingerprints.

I also make-up my own recipes – you can find the ones I’ve published here on my blog – this link  will take you to a list of my food posts.

  1. Eating Out

I don’t eat out much, but have managed a few times.  Pre-LCHF we spent over $3000 a year on eating out, coffees, etc.  Last year I spent $60.

As I don’t know the ingredients and have an allergy to beef, I am very picky about what I order.  I usually end up with sides – side of asparagus, side of sautéed mushrooms or appetizers like dry salt and pepper pork ribs or vegetables with dip and ask for a specific salad dressing as a substitute if the dip isn’t suitable.

You can always order salads with a protein, but I don’t want a salad when I eat out!  I can do that at home.

Chinese restaurants are easier as you can order stir-fried and steamed vegetables, crispy chicken and duck, BBQ pork, egg foo yung without sauce, etc.  They are usually very accommodating.

Buffets give you the ability to pick and choose, and when staying in hotels breakfast is usually pretty easy to manage.

You can always ask for specific things in a restaurant that aren’t on the menu but I just prefer not to – if there is nothing I can eat on a menu I just don’t go there.  As noted above, this has saved me a lot of money!

My other posts about food

Next: Part 5, So Far, So Good

Go to Part 1.


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Getting Organized for a LCHF Lifestyle – Part 3, Organizing

There was a lot to do and changes to make when I was switching over to a Low Carb High Fat way of life.  And it is a way of life, not a diet.

Aside from getting my blood sugar under control and the weight loss, my other issue of joint pain due to osteoarthritis has disappeared.  My knees used to give out on me every now and then, but no episodes since I cut out high carbohydrate food and sugar.  And my blood pressure is completely normal too.

In these five posts I will tell you how I got my kitchen, and myself, organized to fit my new LCHF lifestyle.

Part 3 – Organizing

After I cleared out all the high carb foods and sugar my cupboards were pretty empty.  I then culled excess cups, glassware, baking pans, storage containers, etc. that I would never use and took them to Goodwill.  Then I reorganized my small appliances and moved things around to be more efficient.  I sold some of the appliances I wasn’t expecting to use again which also freed up a lot of shelf space.

In the hall closet I have shelves and two of them are for the larger kitchen appliances – the crockpot, the convection oven, electric frying pan, and some of the lesser used baking pans.

The kitchen appliances that I have currently are: electric hand mixer, blender, food processor (it is very old and I only have the chopping blade but it works,) electric kettle, microwave, coffee maker, waffle iron, convection oven – electric portable, electric frying pan, crockpot, manual spiralizer, mandolin/slicer, and a kitchen scale.

I have a pantry shelf and large spice rack in the stairwell to my basement (which is beside the fridge) which is really convenient as if I take a step down I am eye level with all my spices!  I reorganized these, moving my spices from a kitchen cupboard to the spice rack (which used to hold soup and other canned items.)  It is much better than in the cupboard as I used to have to pull things out to search for what I wanted – now it is all in front of my face and I only need to touch the one that I need.  And the canned goods and unopened jars are on the pantry shelf.


I decided to use glass jars to store my dry goods as it is so easy to see what I have at a glance.  I use recycled jars, mason jars – any glass container with a proper sealing lid.  So I put all my nuts and seeds in jars, including my nut flours and nut “cereal mix” that I make.  I have tea bags in jars too.  I also recycle the jars spices come in and refill with my own mixes or bulk spices.


I have a freezer in my garage where I keep meat (I get my pork from a local producer so stock up in bulk) and frozen homemade stock.  I keep a fair amount of portion sized packages in the fridge freezer in the kitchen.

I keep things visible and organized so that I can see at a glance if I am running out of something.  With the space I’ve freed up by culling I now can put regularly used items (kitchen scale, mandolin, etc.) in the easily to reach kitchen cupboards.

I have baking sheets, muffin tins (regular and large), a mini loaf pan, a loaf pan, and the usual casserole dishes, roasting pans, wire cooling racks, colanders, a couple sets of measuring cups and spoons, etc.  Good knives, pizza cutter, tongs, etc. Pretty much what most people have in their kitchens.  I do have four different types of graters though – a box style, a flat one, one very fine one for hard cheese and the container with lid style from IKEA.

And lots of plastic storage containers for the leftovers – some are pretty old and I’ve been culling out cracked ones and the ones with no matching lids.

I moved things around in the cupboards to be more efficient – the coffee is above the coffee maker, the snacks are closest to the living room, generally put things where they would be used and easy to grab.

The whole project is a work in progress and I am still shifting things around, and continue to get rid of things I discover I am not using.

My other posts about food

Next: Part 4, Tips and Tricks

Go to Part 1

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Cake… Chocolate Cake… I’m in Heaven

I am sitting here trying NOT to have a third piece of my happy accident of a chocolate cake.

It actually started out as a recipe for Brownies – I saw a recipe for Almond Butter Brownies that was described as Paleo and I had the main ingredients so figured I’d throw it together as there was nothing really on television I was interested in.

Of course I left out the maple syrup that was in the original recipe (I don’t use any sweeteners) and then misread and used baking powder instead of baking soda, also added mascarpone cheese to add some level of sweetness.  I was also a bit short on the almond butter  so figured the cheese would compensate for that.

O.M.G.  I did not make brownies… I made a moist, tender, fluffy DELICIOUS chocolate cake!  When the toothpick came out clean I took it out – it had risen quite a bit more than I expected but I anticipated it would fall as it cooled.  It didn’t.

When I cut a piece to try, the texture was perfectly cake like, not brownie like at all. It was so good!  The mascarpone and the almond butter had a sweetness and the added 70% chocolate chips also added some.

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LCHF Gluten Free Almond Butter & Mascarpone Chocolate Cake (UNSWEETENED)


1 cup Almond Butter

1/3 cup Mascarpone Cheese or Cream Cheese

2 tbsp Coconut Oil or butter

1/2 cup Whipping Cream (33% fat)

3 eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/8 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Chopped Pecans or other nuts (optional)

1/2 cup 70-100% Cocoa Chocolate Chips or chopped up baking chocolate or Lindt bars etc. (optional)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the Almond Butter,  Cheese, Coconut Oil/butter and cream them together till they are smooth.
  3. Then add the Whipping Cream, Eggs and Vanilla and mix well with an electric hand mixer (if you don’t have one it can be done easily by hand too.)
  4. Sift the Cocoa Powder, Baking Powder and Salt together, then add a bit at a time to the wet ingredients mixing well before adding more.
  5. Continue to beat with the mixer for a minute, or whip with a hand whisk – ensure there are no lumps in the batter.
  6. Stir in the Pecans and Chocolate Chips by hand.
  7. Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with non-stick spray and dust with a little sifted cocoa powder, shake it around to coat the pan.
  8. Scoop the batter into the pan and spread out evenly.
  9. Put on the centre rack of the oven for approximately 15 minutes. I can usually tell it is done when the sides start to pull away from the pan, but check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the centre, if it comes out clean it is done (remember… if the toothpick hits a chocolate chip it will have melted chocolate on it – be careful not to over bake.)
  10. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

I didn’t top it with anything but I’m sure a drizzle of melted chocolate and/or whipped cream would be awesome.

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p.s. It is great for breakfast too!


Getting Organized for a LCHF Lifestyle – Part 2, Stocking Up

There was a lot to do and changes to make when I was switching over to a Low Carb High Fat way of life.  And it is a way of life, not a diet.

Aside from getting my blood sugar under control and the weight loss, my other issue of joint pain due to osteoarthritis has disappeared.  My knees used to give out on me every now and then, but no episodes since I cut out high carbohydrate food and sugar.  And my blood pressure is completely normal too.

In these five posts I will tell you how I got my kitchen, and myself, organized to fit my new LCHF lifestyle.

Part 2 – Stocking Up

Once I emptied my cupboards, shelves and canisters it was pretty slim pickings.  So off I went looking for new things to fill them up with and sorting out what was left.

Nuts.  I can eat nuts so I bought all sorts of nuts – almonds, peanuts, cashews, mixed nuts, macadamia, and pecans.  And seeds – sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds.  I decided I didn’t like pumpkin seeds that much though so gave them away.  I make my own nut cereal with cinnamon and ginger – recipe here.  I also have unsweetened peanut butter and almond butter.

I bought almond flour and coconut flour.  Then added hazelnut flour too.  And psyillium husk powder.  And ground golden flax. After a year of experimenting and trying out recipes I have a few that make decent biscuits, buns, muffins and a dense bread using these.

I use peanut oil, sesame oil and olive oil – I’m good with peanuts as they don’t cause me any problems with my blood sugar.

Pork rinds for a salty crunchy snack. Seaweed snacks – occasionally they make a nice change to wrap egg salad in etc.  And pork, bacon and chicken jerky!

Canned fish packed in oil.  Canned clams, shrimp, and crab.  I also buy fresh and frozen salmon, scallops and other fish, including smoked salmon.

Canned artichoke hearts, olives, sauerkraut, dill pickles, coconut milk, bamboo shoots.  And canned tomatoes which I only use occasionally (these are leftover from the purge – they are past their best before dates so I didn’t pass them along to anyone.)

Mayonnaise and blue cheese salad dressing. As the amount used at any one time isn’t a lot, the sugar content isn’t a problem with the salad dressing. Same with salsa – I buy a jar to use on Mexican dishes – just a tablespoon or so doesn’t cause a problem.

The freezer is stocked with locally raised pork – roasts, chops, steaks, ribs, ham, bacon, sausages.  I’ve got ground bison and lamb, turkey, chicken – whole, breasts, wings.  And wieners, cured meats, etc.  I occasionally buy pate too.  And Spam – yes, SPAM!  I love Spam.  I read the ingredient lists before buying processed meat and only get those that work for me.

Weekly I buy fresh food. 33% cream or higher.  Any kind of cheese that takes my fancy – full fat. I usually have at least nine types of cheese in the fridge!  Right now there is feta, cream cheese, aged cheddar (block), two kinds of mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese, gouda, parmesan, sliced cheddar, marble and Monterey jack.  Eggs – raw and I also buy hard-boiled for convenience.  Butter, plain yoghurt, sour cream

And vegetables, of course – my regulars are mushrooms, spinach, avocados, celery, cucumber, broccolini, cauliflower, green pepper, green onions, zucchini, green salad/lettuce.  And a few times a month, brussel sprouts, leeks, turnips, cabbage, bok choy, asparagus, red pepper and fresh herbs.

I stocked up on spices and started making my own mixes.  I like things a lot spicier than I used to so I’ve bought some I hadn’t used before.  This is a list of spices, mixes, seasonings and ingredients in my pantry at the moment:

Baking powder

Baking soda

Balsamic vinegar

Basil, dried

Bay leaves

Black pepper, ground

Black pepper, whole

Cajun mix

Cardamom, ground

Cayenne pepper

Celery seed

Chicken bouillon powder

Chili powder

Chilies, crushed

Cilantro, dried

Cinnamon sticks

Cinnamon, ground

Cloves, ground

Coriander seed

Cream of tartar

Cumin, ground

Curry powder

Dill, dried

Fennel seed

Fish sauce

Five spice powder

Garam masala

Garlic Blaster mix

Garlic powder

Garlic, diced in oil

Ginger, ground

Ginger, pureed

Greek seasoning

Green chilies, diced

Iodized table salt

Lemon juice

Lemon pepper

Lime juice

Mixed peppercorns, whole

Montreal steak spice

Moroccan spice mix

Mustard, Dijon

Mustard, dry yellow

Mustard, grainy

Mustard, prepared yellow

Nutmeg, ground

Onion flakes, dried

Onion powder

Oregano, dried


Pickled ginger

Pink Himalayan salt

Rice vinegar

Rosemary, dried

Sage, dried

Sea salt

Soy sauce

Spicy meat rub mix

Tabasco sauce

Taco spice mix

Thyme, dried

Thyme, ground

Turmeric, ground

White pepper, ground

Worcestershire sauce


I add more as I go or discover recipes that use something I don’t already have.  I’ve added mint to my shopping list for next time.

I’ve become hooked on tea and there are currently 15 different varieties in my cupboard – regular, decaf and herbal.

I was given a Nespresso machine as a Christmas present and am working my way through the starter pack of 16 different types of coffee – and making a list of the ones I prefer so I know what to re-order.

I have some Lindt 85% Cacao chocolate on hand for occasional treats – one square doesn’t cause me any issues so that makes me happy.

My other posts about food

Next: Part 3, Organizing

Go to Part 1


Getting Organized for a LCHF Lifestyle – Part 1, The Purge

There was a lot to do and changes to make when I was switching over to a Low Carb High Fat way of life.  And it is a way of life, not a diet.

Aside from getting my blood sugar under control and the weight loss, my other issue of joint pain due to osteoarthritis has disappeared.  My knees used to give out on me every now and then, but no episodes since I cut out high carbohydrate food and sugar.  And my blood pressure is completely normal too.

In these five posts I will tell you how I got my kitchen, and myself, organized to fit my new LCHF lifestyle.

Part 1 – The Purge

When I had to change my lifestyle in order to control my Type 2 Diabetes one of the first things I did was to cull my pantry.

The timing was bad as the week prior to my diagnosis I had done a huge Costco shop, as well as the pre-Christmas grocery store hit, so my cupboards, fridge and freezer were all stocked to the gunnels.

After I’d determined, by trial and blood meter readings that I wasn’t going to be able to eat high carb foods at all, it was time to remove them from the house.  If there is no bag of potato chips I’m not likely to think “just one won’t hurt” because, as we all know, you can’t each just one!

I was absolutely gobsmacked by the amount of food that was high carb and/or high sugar.  No wonder obesity and diabetes are such a problem!  I ate relatively healthy based on the norms that we have been conditioned to believe but, now I see that I was killing myself, literally.

It is amazing how much food we keep in our homes.  I was shocked how much there was as I packed up multiple boxes to give to friends (open and frozen things can’t go to the food bank unfortunately.)

First I culled the obvious things starting in one corner of the kitchen and working my way around the room and the pantry shelves.  Then did a second cull a week later of the less obvious things I’d missed the first time around.

Here’s a list of what I packed up:

Pastas – my lord there was a lot!  Manicotti, fusilli, fettucine, spaghettini, rotini, lasagne, linguini, alphabet noodles, ramen, rice/cellophane noodles, and elbow macaroni.

Cereals – Vanilla Almond Crunch, Mini-Wheats, Multigrain Cheerios, oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Red River Cereal.

Grains – White flour, whole wheat flour, bran, wheat germ, white rice, brown rice, black rice, corn meal, rice paper wrappers, wonton wrappers, pot barley, frozen pie shells, frozen puff pastry.  All bread and buns which included sourdough, focaccia, ciabatta, rye and pumpernickel, English muffins, hot dogs and hamburger buns, tortillas, taco shells.

Legumes – dried peas, red lentils, brown lentils, canned navy beans, canned kidney beans, canned black beans, canned refried beans, frozen peas, canned chick peas.

Sugars – White sugar, brown sugar, icing sugar, jams and jellies, honey, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, maple syrup, corn syrup, molasses, hardy candy, cake decorations, M&Ms plain and peanut, chocolate bars, Halls cough drops, NeoCitran (package is mostly sugar!)

Prepared & convenience foods – Canned chili with beans, hummus mix, falafel mix, cake mixes, dessert mixes, Jello, apple pie filling, pumpkin pie filling, sweetened condensed milk, icing, pudding mixes, canned stew, canned soups, Hamburger Helper, Kraft Dinner, Uncle Ben’s Bistro Express, BBQ sauces, taco seasoning mix, Shake N’Bake, pulled pork seasoning mix, plum sauce, sweet & sour sauce, teriyaki sauce, maraschino cherries, fruit based and sweet salad dressing, sweet pickle relish, sweet pickles, ketchup, and anything that had sugar in the top five ingredients.  Also, frozen microwave meals, breaded and battered frozen fish, frozen burgers (contained wheat and sugar!), some sausages (also contained wheat and sugar,) meat pies, frozen French fries, frozen pizzas, frozen hashbrowns, potstickers and dumplings.

Snack foods – Potato chips, Cheetos, rice cakes, popcorn, coated/seasoned nuts, crackers, pretzels, tortilla chips, corn chips, cookies, popsicles.

Vegetables – peas, carrots, corn and canned corn/creamed corn, parsnips, potatoes (all types,) yams, beets, winter squash, sweet onions, pickled beets.

Fruit – frozen berries, canned peaches/pears/fruit cocktail, bananas, raisins, craisins, dried apricots, prunes, canned tomatoes, all fruit and vegetable juices.

Dairy – 2% milk, sweetened and fruit yoghurt, ice cream, frozen yoghurt.

Miscellaneous – corn and vegetable oils.

And that’s just the stuff I got rid of!  It filled up five large boxes.

All of that was high carb and/or high sugar.  Pretty unbelievable.

Now I only have food in the house that I can eat without any issues.

My other posts about food

Next: Part 2, Stocking Up