Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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How the heck is this allowed?

I am used to buying milk and cream that is, well, milk and cream.  Since I switched to LCHP/HF I only use whipping cream.  In Alberta the cream just contained “cream” and was either 33 or 35% milk fat.

When I arrived in Ontario I started having stomach issues.  It didn’t occur to me that it was the CREAM causing them.

I stopped eating pre-shredded/grated cheese because cellulose was added to it as anti-clumping agent. I don’t digest cellulose very well – humans aren’t meant to eat wood.

So imagine my surprize when I read the label on the whipping cream my sister had bought…

The packaging says “real whipping cream 35% m.f.” – so wouldn’t you assume this would simply be, oh say… CREAM??

Whipping Cream

And… the ingredients:
Cream, milk skim milk powder, carrageenan, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, polysorbate 80, sodium citrate.

WTF Neilson???  And it isn’t just this brand!  We started reading labels on all the milk and cream and pretty much EVERY retail brand contains some of these additives.  Some even have added dextrose!

I should have twigged when the cream had an expiry date that was two months off, but I really didn’t read it.

I found the closest grocery store carries a brand of organic cream which doesn’t have the additives but it is $7 a pint and doesn’t taste like the cream I am used to.  So I did a bit of research and found out that a specialized organic dairy supplies a health food store locally – so I checked in with them.  They get a delivery every two weeks and you need to pre-order, so I set-up a standing order.  Same price as the other, but it comes in a glass bottle (flashback to my childhood!) and is very thick (almost lumpy!) and tastes divine.

I could never figure out why the LCHF/Keto sites were always specifying “organic cream” when cream was cream.  Guess I now know why.

I’ve started carrying my reading glasses to shop now!  Have to read ALL the labels, all the time.  Even pork rinds for crying out loud!!  Sheesh.

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Dough Balls – sounds unappetizing, but they aren’t too bad

It has been a bit since I posted a recipe. But I thought I would try making some “dough balls”… I wasn’t too sure about it though.

I’ve seen a few recipes popping up and the last one looked decent. But I didn’t have the specific ingredients, and decided that I would alter the whole process.

So… while they are “doughy” when fresh out of the oven, they are tasty dipped in melted butter. Once they are completely cool they are more bread-like in consistency.

As I hate using just part of something in a recipe I used probably more cheese in this than necessary, but it still worked out.

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Cheesy Dough Balls

Pre-heat oven to 350F, and line a pan with parchment paper.

Ingredients:

One 340 gram (or thereabouts) package of Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup of butter

2 eggs

2 tbsp each of fresh herbs of your choice – I used chives and thyme. Add as many as you like. These hold up to strong flavours.

3/4 cup of coconut flour

2 tbsp psyllium husk powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Measure out the dry ingredients into a small bowl and combine.
  2. Chop or shred the mozzarella into a microwave safe bowl and put in the microwave on high for 30 seconds or so. Take out and stir. Keep nuking it in 30 second bursts until it is completely melted.
  3. Add the butter and herbs to the cheese and mix in as best you can. You might need to nuke for another burst.
  4. Add the eggs and work in until reasonably mixed in.
  5. Add all the dry ingredients and stir to combine as much as possible, then you need to start working it with your hands. Knead it as you have to work the dry into the cheese mixture really well. It will form a fairly even dough. This may take several minutes of kneading.
  6. Pinch off the dough and roll into ping-pong ball sized balls. Line up on the parchment close together in a rectangle.
  7. Bake at 350F for approximately 20 minutes – they should be browning on top.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

I dipped them in melted butter to eat while warm. I then brushed melted butter over the remaining balls.

These are definitely better the second day!  The flavourings take over the coconut flour taste which make them much more tasty.

I think the next time I do this I will amp up the flavourings – more herbs, maybe pepper or other spicier things, maybe onions or green chillies. And maybe reduce the mozzarella bit and add in a strong cheese.

Also, it might work to wrap the dough around something – like a piece of cheese or meat, or an olive… would make a nice appetizer or snack.

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LCHF Naan-Style Flatbread

When I switched to eating LCHF I struggled a bit with carbs as I missed them.  I experimented with recipes for “substitute” items made with nut and/or coconut flour but was supremely disappointed with the results.

However, time, as they say, heals all “wounds.” After 19 months of no carbs I have now discovered that my toleration level of these replacement items has improved drastically. Sure the textures are sometimes not quite right, but I haven’t had the real thing for long enough that my taste buds are accepting them. And mentally, I have adapted too – I’m not expecting an identical replacement item.

I’ve also learned what I need to do to recipes to make them suit my tastes and expectations. There is a definite learning curve to baking with nut, coconut and seed flours but once you’ve tried a few different recipes and processes you get the hang of it.

And one very important thing – keep your nuts, flours, seeds, etc. in the fridge! I went to use my psyllium husk powder to discover it was going rancid! The mason jars I keep them in work great in the fridge or the freezer.

I saw a recipe for LCHF Flatbread – the photos looked good (but we all know those can be staged!)  As I am home today (had eye injections, again, this morning) and it is hotter than heck outside (so not mowing or gardening!) I decided to give it a shot.

I messed around with the ingredients and have to say that I am pretty impressed with how it worked out.  Coconut flour isn’t my favourite as I find the flavour too strong, but in this recipe it works.

LCHF Naan-Style Flatbread

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour

2 Tbsp Psyllium Husk Powder

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

Optional: Garlic powder, herbs, other flavours to suit you preference (in this batch I added a couple of shakes of garlic powder.)

1/3 Cup melted butter

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Cup BOILING water

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Directions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix until it starts sticking together – it should be starting to clump up at the very least or resemble nut butter texture at the most (I would add a bit more olive oil if it isn’t starting to bind up.)
  3. Had HALF (1/2 Cup) of the of the boiling water and mix until it forms a ball of dough. It will seem to be a good dough at this point and you may wonder if you need the rest of the water BUT YOU DO!  Remember, coconut flour is so freaking absorbent that it will end up too dry if you don’t!
  4. Add the rest of the BOILING water and mix, again, until a dough ball forms.  Work it a bit (you can use your hands if you want, but it isn’t necessary) to a smooth consistency.
  5. Divide into four portions – I just cut the ball in quarters with a knife.
  6. The dough is not sticky and you could just shape it with your hands, or you can roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper – which is what I did as I wanted them fairly thin.
  7. Dry fry in a large non-stick frying pan over med-high heat.  When placing in the pan, do it carefully so you don’t get creases or tears – the dough does hold together but using both hands and laying it down from the centre keeps it flat!
  8.  The top will start to look dry and that is the time to flip it over.  It takes around 2-3 minutes each.

I ate one warm with butter and it was really very good!  (It was my first one… which was crumpled up as I didn’t put it in the pan carefully enough.) The other three I will eat over the next day or so – I am looking forward to a wrap, and maybe a hot dip, or curry!

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The texture is spot on, the bread tears like a “normal” Naan-type flatbread, it holds spreads and dips well too.  The olive oil and the bit of garlic powder counter-acted the coconut flour flavour enough for me to not notice it.


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Easy Ice Cream, literally – it is frozen cream

I really have missed ice cream.  But last week saw a recipe for Mason Jar Ice Cream so I tried it… O.M.G.  (Here is that recipe… Low Carb Chocolate Mason Jar Ice Cream)

I changed things a tad (of course) and used a quart jar instead of a pint, but I found the jar to be annoying to eat out of.

I substituted dissolved saccharine tablets for the sweetener called for.  This was the first time I used artificial sweetener in anything – I don’t get an aftertaste with saccharine, so decided to try.  I used too much so scaled it back a lot when I did this second version.

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I decided to make a bigger batch and use a hand mixer, and to freeze in a container that was convenient to scoop out of!  I also changed the proportions of ingredients a bit to suit me.

So this is the way I made it today…

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LCHF Chocolate Ice Cream

Put your bowl and the beaters in the freezer while you assemble your ingredients – you’ll get quicker results when you start beating!

You’ll need a lidded container of at least one quart capacity to freeze this in.

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp of SIFTED unsweetened cocoa (I will be increasing this for future batches to probably 1/3 to 1/2 a cup – I like rich dark chocolate.  But this batch was made with 3 tbsp.)

5 saccharine tablets completely dissolved in less than 1/2 tsp of BOILING water

2 cups of whipping cream (33% or higher m.f.)

Add all the ingredients to the cold bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer (or use a stand mixer.) Start low as the cocoa powder will want to fly around, once mixed in put on high and beat until it has doubled in volume and is stiff.  Add any extras at this time and mix just enough to blend through.

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OPTIONS:  finely chopped 85% cocoa dark chocolate, toasted nuts, unsweetened peanut butter (drop into the cream in tiny bits), etc.  You could also skip the chocolate and use other flavour extracts or, if you aren’t worried about sugar content, you could add fruits.

Using a rubber spatula transfer to your quart container and smooth out the top, put on the lid and freeze for at least three hours.

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You could also put into a popsicle mold to make fudgesicles!  That’s my next batch.

I’m not sure how long this keeps in the freezer… I haven’t let it stay in there long enough to figure out.

I don’t have an ice cream scoop so dug it out with a teaspoon and made a bit of a mess! Could have waited for it soften a bit… but, well…  I had it with one of my Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes that I made on Saturday.

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YUM!

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Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes! Oh yes I did!

It has been a while since I posted a recipe.  I do have a couple to share but will start with the cupcakes I made today!

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As always… a recipe caught my eye, but I changed it a lot.  Added, removed, increased, etc. until it bears no resemblance to the original version.

The recipe that I saw was for a cake with walnuts… I hate walnuts.  Also, didn’t want a cake, cupcakes keep and store easier in the freezer.  I also don’t use powdered sugar substitutes.

Up until last week I wasn’t using ANY sugar substitutes at all, but I discovered that saccharine is available in the pill form here.  My granny used to use it and as kids we would try it… never had an aftertaste for me.  So… I bought a bottle of Hermesetas tablets.  The only thing I’ve used it in so far has been ice cream I made last week (I will post about that later!) and this recipe.

I just dissolve a few tablets in about 1/8 tsp of boiling water and add to the recipe for a touch of sweetness. Each pill is equal to a teaspoon of sugar.  I am not adding the amount called for in the recipes as I don’t need it to be really sweet, but felt the ice cream could use a some, and then this recipe was an experiment to see if it would work.  It did.

So here is the recipe I came up with today for Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes.

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Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes – LCHF, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

Makes 6 large cupcakes (or one 8″ cake if you prefer.)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cream cheese

1/4 cup coconut oil

3 eggs

4 saccharine tablets dissolved in 1/8 tsp of boiling water (you can substitute whatever sweetener you want and increase to make this more of a regular sweetness level.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup almond flour

1 tbsp coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup cream

1/4 cup of chopped pecans (or any kind of nut you like) – completely optional BTW.

Topping: Lindt 85% Cocoa Chocolate bar – 6 pieces.

Instructions:

  1. Line a muffin tin with paper liners (or grease an 8″ cake pan in your preferred manner.)
  2. Measure all the dry ingredients together and stir, except for the nuts.
  3. Cream the coconut oil (I did not melt it first) and the cream cheese with an electric mixer, add the eggs one at a time, add the vanilla, and dissolved saccharine, and continue mixing on high.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and the cream about a third at a time, alternating between additions.  If the batter is too thick add a little more cream.  It should be thick but pourable like regular cake batter.
  5. Add the nuts and mix until combined.
  6. Divided batter between the six cupcake liners.
  7. Bake at 350F on the centre rack for 20-25 minutes.  They are done when a toothpick comes out clean. Ovens vary so it might take a few minutes more or less.
  8. Take them out of the oven and immediately place a piece of the Lindt chocolate on top of each cupcake, when it has melted spread it around.
  9. Let cool completely.

I like to freeze them once cool and eat them frozen!

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I am very pleased with how these turned out!  Ate one and the rest are in the freezer. Tomorrow I am making more ice cream and intend to have cake and ice cream!  Who said you have to give up treats when you are a diabetic who follows LCHF/HP??? Not this girl!

 

 


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My Moroccan Adventure: The Overall Review, Part 2

If you have followed my blog or read back, you know I eat Low Carb High Fat to control my Type 2 Diabetes.  So I was spending a lot of time thinking about how I was going to manage eating on this tour.  I love North African and Middle Eastern food so I was planning to at least taste everything, regardless, and just monitor and adjust my medication accordingly.

I was really looking forward to tasting REAL Moroccan food, in Morocco.

Well…

I lost 10 pounds on this tour.  I am seriously considering putting out a diet plan based on it – “The Olive, Cheese and Powdered Egg” diet.

I was so disappointed.

I have a few theories:

  1. Everywhere we ate was cooking bland for the tourists who they think can’t handle spice/flavour
  2. My taste buds are ageing faster than I thought and I need MORE spice
  3. My expectations were too high and it is that bland

But… many of my travel companions also expressed the same disappointment in the food and flavours we were getting.  We all were expecting it to be spicier.

We had to ask for salt and pepper everywhere.  They did not put it on the tables.  And everything NEEDED salt, lots of salt.  I found that a little strange.

Two of the special dinners were in themed Moroccan restaurants and were promoted as “authentic” meals.  They were enjoyable evenings, but the food wasn’t what I was expecting.

Fes Signaure evening

At both of these dinners they started with what our guide called a “cook’s salad” which at one consisted of nine small bowls of different things – olives, pickles, dips of different types, cucumber pieces, etc. that you would eat with the local bread that was on the table. The other restaurant served a similar course but on a huge platter with a slightly different selection of items.  I ate what I could from those selections – mainly olives.

Marrakesh dinner (2)

The main course at both was a Tangine.  I was expecting so much more flavour.   I picked out the meat and olives to try when I could. The meat (I only tried chicken and lamb due to my beef allergy) tended to be tough. The flavours weren’t awful, but there was so little of them.

If you aren’t aware, a tangine is a ceramic cooking dish – a flat dish with a cone-shaped top as seen in the photo below – the dishes prepared in it are called the same.

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I loved the olives – which was a very good thing as I pretty much ate them at every meal.

The meal in the Marrakech optional night out was more extensive and also served a couscous dish as the third course which was fairly decent according to the others.

The dessert that night was enjoyed by my table companions – a huge flaky pastry with icing.  In Fes dessert was fresh fruit.

Marrakesh dinner (3)

The hotel breakfast buffets blend together as they essentially were all the same.  There were a couple of variations though.

They all had machines that produced coffee… espresso, a double espresso, a cafe au lait, and cafe american.  You had to get your own.  And if you asked for cream they gave you hot milk.  Apparently there is NO cream in Morocco – I asked everywhere.  None.  I even asked our guide if he could find me some decaf coffee and cream – nope.  I wonder what they do with the cream they produce?  I should research that.

Now, that isn’t to say that the cafe au lait wasn’t good – it was!  I had many of them.  But I really wanted cream!

Breakfast was the meal I considered my most important – it was included each day of the tour so I knew I could eat well to carry me through the day in case I wasn’t able to partake of other offerings.  Due to the selections offered – which were many, no issue at all with the amount of selection offered to everyone  – I was stuck with sliced cheeses (all very bland), assorted olives (served at every meal in Morocco) and eggs.  And a couple of times sliced cucumbers or stewed peppers, and sometimes a plain yoghurt.

Now, those eggs.  That was … interesting.  The one hotel only served them hard-boiled in the shell, hot; the others had scrambled powdered eggs – you can tell because of the texture and the fact that the curds and liquid have separated (shudder); and thankfully three of the hotels had omelette stations where they made omelettes to order out of real eggs and you could ask for them fried too if you wanted.

One hotel served pork. I was very surprised as it is a Muslim country. But they had shaved parma ham on the salad table at dinner and pork sausages and bacon at breakfast.  I did not partake of the bacon – it appeared to have been boiled.

Most of the meats were tough at the hotel meals – mostly chicken and lamb in tangines.  I may also have tried goat but I don’t know for sure.  The dinner buffets were awkward for me as they had a lot of beef (I’m allergic) and there were a lot of sauces that I had to avoid due to potential inclusion of beef stock, etc.  And the mixed salads usually were combinations of fruit and vegetables and I don’t eat fruit, and the dressings were unknown ingredients.

One hotel had fresh calamari and roast lamb at the dinner buffet – I had both.  The calamari was lovely.

The dessert selections were epic – I could only watch as others enjoyed those. Pastries, cakes, fruit, etc.

Our guide was very conscientious about making sure there were options for me.  At the lunches where we stopped while on the road, he would have the restaurants make me a small tangine of vegetables and chicken kababs if the main course was beef.  There was always so much more than I could manage.

We were served mint tea several times – it varied from okay to very nice.

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The best was the tea made from scratch for us by the Imam’s wife when we visited them.

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A group of us had lunch at poolside on our own at the hotel in Marrakech, we all had the Caesar Salad which was excellent.  It was nothing like what we call a Caesar Salad here in North America though.  It was butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan, fresh anchovies and a very subtle and light dressing that did not coat everything.

The best meal I had in Morocco?  On our free evening in Marrakech my seatmate and I went out and found a Lebanese restaurant – it was fantastic, well seasoned and super good!  The hummus was to die for!  Restaurant Mandaloun was the name of it.

Best meal of the trip?  Holiday Inn Express – Schiphol, on my way home I had an overnight stay in Amsterdam.  Yes, Holiday Inn Express serves dinner – who knew?  I got there after 7 p.m. and there were only two other people in the dining room (aka “great room”).  They had a limited menu written on a table top blackboard.  There was a Dorado (aka Mahi-Mahi) fillet – so I went with that and asked for all vegetables, no starch.  The chef delivered the plate to the table himself – he had grilled up a whole bunch of different fresh vegetables for me.  OMG – the fish was crispy grilled on both sides and well-seasoned, the vegetables were perfect and there was also a small bowl of house made spicy pickles.  And I didn’t have to ask for salt!  I was very happy and told the chef it was the best meal of my trip.

I’ve got one more post after this, just to wrap up the overall review and my trip home!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Getting Organized for a LCHF Lifestyle – Part 5, So Far, So Good

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 tell you how I got my kitchen, and myself, organized to fit my new LCHF lifestyle.

Part 5 – So Far, So Good

So, these five posts cover my transition to a LCHF lifestyle.  Initially there was a noticeable cost due to the purge and restocking, but that has all leveled off now.  I usually shop once every week to ten days and it is mostly for fresh items – cream, eggs and vegetables.  I don’t eat a lot of frozen vegetables, just as there is so much choice of fresh.  If I didn’t have the fresh options I would use frozen.

Once I got all the food out of the house that I wasn’t able to eat it has been very easy to manage.  If it is here, it is safe to eat and I don’t have to second guess what I am doing.

There are a couple things I didn’t need to buy – like the spiralizer.  That is one of those gadgets that sounds like an interesting idea but in reality it is a pain to use and clean.  So I took it to Goodwill recently – don’t need it taking up space.

It is still a work in progress and always will be I imagine.  Trying new things, experimenting to see what my system can handle without causing a blood sugar spike, and the inevitable disasters.

The switch to Low Carbohydrate High Fat lifestyle 15 months ago has made a massive improvement to my health and life.  My diabetes is controlled – my last A1C was 5.2 and my fasting numbers are now in the 4-5 range daily.  I’ve lost 70 lbs since switching to LCHF (and in total 200 lbs since 2000!)  I’m now at what is considered a healthy weight.  I go to the gym three times a week and things don’t hurt anymore!

BW before after

While I found it relatively easy to cut out sugar, the carbs took a bit of time to give up on.  I wouldn’t say I craved them but I missed them.  Still do, particularly when I smell fresh bread baking or they bring in warm donuts at work!  But I have not the least desire to go off the the rails and “cheat” as I have had such excellent results and have my diabetes under control.  Living without major health problems is much more important than eating a donut.

I do need to mention that my version of LCHF is not textbook: I categorically refuse to even consider “bulletproof coffee” – the thought of it makes me gag; I am not on the coconut oil bandwagon – if a recipe calls for coconut oil I use butter (I have tried coconut oil but only once so far); I don’t track or count carbs as I don’t particularly care – I only buy foods that are low in carbs so why bother; I don’t load on more fat on top of fats which some plans say to do – like adding pan drippings on top of salads, or using butter to cook in and THEN drizzling olive oil on top of something that already contains fat.  I do eat more fat than I used to and add more to things, using high fat options like whipping cream in my coffee, I leave the fat on meats, even adding fat to leaner meats.  But I am not going to eat fat straight up or add it to my coffee other than in the form of whipping cream!

My way is working for me so I’ll stick to it.

My other posts about food

Go to Part 1 of this series