Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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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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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 marscarpone 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 marscarpone 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 & Marscarpone Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup Almond Butter

1/3 cup Marscarpone Cheese

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

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% Cocoa Chocolate Chips (or higher if you find them) (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the Almond Butter, Marscarpone Cheese, Coconut Oil and blend them together till they are smooth.
  3. Then add the Whipping Cream, Eggs and Vanilla and mix well with an electric hand mixer.
  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 mix, increasing to the highest speed on the mixer for a minute or so – 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 teaspoon of coconut flour, shake the flour around to coat the pan and then knock the excess out.
  8. Scoop the batter into the pan and spread out evenly.
  9. Put on the centre rack of the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the centre, if it comes out clean it is done.
  10. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.

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!


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Aw Nuts!

Sometimes I just want a bowl of cereal…

But as I no longer eat grain of any description that means Vanilla Almond Crunch or Mini-Wheats are out of the question.

I saw some recipes for homemade grain free “granola” but there were a lot of ingredients I wasn’t going to bother with like coconut, hemp and chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, etc.

I have nothing against coconut – I am just not on the coconut oil bandwagon.

And I wasn’t going to process it in a food processor either.

But in reading the various recipes I decided I would invent my own mix.  I have to say it is bloody fantastic!  Crunchy, nutty, satisfying and with cream you really think you are eating a bowl of “cereal.”

When my sister was here looking after me after my surgery she ate a bowl of it everyday and asked for the recipe.

The amounts are approximate, basically adjust to suit your tastes – use your favourite nuts and seeds, increase/decrease the spices, use other spices, etc.  If I buy the nuts in bags, I just toss in the whole bag.

This makes quite a big batch of 4 cups and keeps in the cupboard in a sealed container.

Cinnamon Ginger Nut “Cereal”

Preheat oven to 350F.

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

2 tsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

  1. Put all the nuts in a mixing bowl.
  2. Melt the butter and add to the nuts, stirring very well to coat all the nuts.
  3. Add the vanilla to the nuts and stir well, making sure that the nuts are all evenly coated.
  4. Add the cinnamon and ginger and stir really well, making sure that everything looks evenly distributed.
  5. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and dump the nut mixture onto it. Spread out evenly on the sheet – ideally the nuts should be in a single layer with gaps.
  6. Bake at 350F for 5 minutes – then check and stir the nuts.  Return to oven as necessary to have the nuts starting to turn golden brown – you can really start to smell them toasting at this point.  Keep a close eye on them as it is a very fine line between well toasted and burnt!  It will depend on your oven how long it will take to get them where you want them.  Taste one to check!
  7. Once the nuts are as toasted as you prefer, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.
  8. Once the nuts are cool, place in an airtight container to store.
  9. Eat as is, or add cream or milk of your preference.

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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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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!

 


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LCHF My Way

When my doctor told me I was diabetic just three days before Christmas 2015 he reviewed my test results with me, then gave me prescriptions for the required equipment for blood monitoring and for Metformin (at the lowest dose – starting on half of that to make sure I didn’t react to it.)  Other than that, I was left to figure the rest out myself.

I already knew carbohydrates were my nemesis. I had been informed I was pre-diabetic back in 2002 and at that time had gone to “diabetes school” at the hospital and routinely tested my blood sugar for a month.  That showed that carbs were not my friends.  I went for regular blood work (every four months) for a number of years and was always in range so I stopped going for the tests.

In hindsight, that wasn’t my best idea.  If I had continued with the tests I could probably have stopped the progression to full-blown Type 2 diabetes, the diabetic retinopathy and the other issues.  But… it is what it is.

So I started my prescription and pricking my finger half a dozen times a day while researching diets and meal planning.  I have to say there are a lot of really bad diet plans being touted as “diabetic”… and by the diabetic organizations which shocked me.  Even with my limited knowledge I KNEW I could NOT eat carbs at every meal and every snack and still manage to lower my blood sugar.

In doing my research online I skimmed over different diets like Paleo and Ketogenic.  The no carb aspect made a lot of sense to me, but there were aspects of both I wasn’t interested in.

Right away I cut sugar completely out of my diet.  It wasn’t difficult for me.  While I liked sweets I never craved them.  I preferred savory treats most of the time – like potato chips! I didn’t use sweeteners in my coffee or tea, didn’t add sugar to anything, etc. so it wasn’t really something that caused me any problem.  And I haven’t been tempted at all.

And sugar includes pretty much all fruit as well for me.  The only things I seem to be able to manage are Mott’s Unsweetened Apple Sauce – it is the only brand that doesn’t cause a spike in my blood sugar (I think it is the type of apple they use) and a tablespoon of mashed strawberries mixed into plain full fat yoghurt that I make frozen yoghurt pops with.  I tried other fruit and I can’t manage it.  I do miss watermelon, I admit.

And I can eat one square of a Lindt 85% Cocoa Chocolate Bar without any effect on my blood sugar – that is my occasional treat.

I also do not use sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners.  A lot of things are actually quite sweet once your taste buds adapt – like milk and cream and cream cheese!

For the first couple of weeks I TRIED to keep carbs in my diet to a certain extent – a piece of whole wheat toast with my egg for breakfast, Wasa bread with cream cheese for lunch, six potato chips with dip… Unfortunately they all caused significant spikes in my blood sugar.

To me, increasing the medication was NOT an option.  My goal is to get off of medication, not increase it.  So, as I did not want to go blind or worse, with regret I cut out all the carbs.

I went through the house, removing all the food that I could no longer eat.  I gave it all away – pasta, popcorn, chips, crackers, canned soups, canned beans, flour, rice, tortillas, noodles, bread, buns, frozen peas/corn, potatoes, carrots, frozen fries, frozen dinners, breaded chicken/fish, sauces, juices, candy – there was a LOT of stuff.

I did try to use brown rice flour, amaranth flour, rye flour in place of white flour – but nope, still caused my blood sugar to spike.  I tried to make “low” carb versions of oatmeal cookies with no sugar – they were really excellent (recipe is shared on the blog here) but two cookies caused a 6 point spike!

I spent a fortune buying coconut flour, almond flour, etc. to make carb-less “substitutes.” What a waste of money and time! Practically all of the recipes in no way resembled what they claimed to be.  One was sort of okay, but barely.

It only took me about a month and a half to give up on carbs and the so-called replacements for them.  I just accepted that those things are no longer part of my life, and moved on.

I read about the LCHF – low carb, high fat – diet, or rather, lifestyle.  That made a lot of sense to me.  I was already pretty much eating according to that description by then.  I don’t follow it exactly, but it is the closest to how I am eating.

My intake of vegetables increased substantially, and with every meal. But no potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, parsnips, beets, yams, etc.  I eat very little tomato – it is a fruit and therefore high in sugar. Celery and cucumbers became my best friends.

I kept all the dairy – full fat as always: butter, cheese of all types, yoghurt, sour cream, 18% m.f. coffee cream.  But never pre-grated cheeses due to the cellulose that is added to it – I can’t digest it.

Protein with every meal and as snacks – pork (ham, bacon, roast, sausages, chops, ribs, etc.), lamb, chicken, turkey, eggs (lots of eggs), bison, cured meat like turkey pepperoni and European wieners, fish, etc.  I can’t eat beef due to an allergy.

And after over eight months of eating this way it is completely normal for me.  I have no interest in eating carbs or “cheating” in any way at all.  I’ve even made cookies and things for other people without the slightest interest in licking my fingers.

That’s not to say I don’t miss potatoes, I do. But I’d rather be healthy.

I like to try out interesting food combinations and spices. I make my own spice blends. I eat a lot of frittatas and omelettes with various ingredients, I coat pork chops and chicken with seasoned ground almonds, I make lots of stir-fries.  I cook with butter, olive oil, and peanut oil.  And I don’t miss the carbs that would usually accompany things anymore.

I get inspired by recipes I see and experiment. You can take the carbs out of recipes and make them anyway – like, no breadcrumbs in meatloaf, or no flour or cornstarch as thickeners in sauces.  Some work well, others need adjusting.  That’s why I call it experimenting.

My next experiment is a low carb, no tomato, vegetable lasagna this weekend – stay tuned for a post if it turns out!

For snacks I eat things like nuts, hard-boiled eggs, baked parmesan chips, celery with unsweetened peanut butter or cream cheese, seaweed, cheese, veggies with dips like tzatziki or guacamole and turkey pepperoni.

What I’ve discovered is that I am not hungry anymore.  I don’t need a snack during the day, and lately I don’t have anything after dinner most nights either.  This apparently is because my blood sugars aren’t spiking and plummeting due to eating carbs and sugar any longer, based on what I’ve been reading.

It is all interesting and quite amazing how this is changing my life.  My blood sugar is in range all the time – I am still on Metformin but hope to get off it (I see my doctor in October for my next check-up.)  And since December I’ve lost 57 pounds.  My goal was not to lose weight, although it was a desired result given my situation, but it is a side-effect of the low carb, high fat way of eating.

I’ve also been going to Curves since January which increased my activity level and am feeling a lot healthier and have a lot more stamina.  I recently started adding the treadmill to my workouts and each day cover a longer distance.  I’ve no plans to pump iron or run races, but would love to tighten up the sagging butt!  The loose skin from such a big drop in weight at my age is quite… um, let’s just say I will never wear shorts or sleeveless tops in public – not that I ever have, but, you know…

This is me in 2002 vs 2016 – over 100 lbs difference.

2002 vs 2016