Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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I’m “normal” now. But don’t worry, I’m still me!

Got the results for my blood letting last week. I’ve been making the rounds of doctors, etc. in preparation for leaving the country – also, my benefit plan from school is good until the end of this month so am getting everything done that I can.

Doctor’s comment: “Everything is excellent!” The results in no way indicate that I was diagnosed with diabetes six years ago. He tested everything and every result was in the normal range!

Of note – my fasting sugars were 4.8 and my A1c was 5.4…. that is NON-DIABETIC.
– For Fasting 3.6 -6.0 is “Normal”
– For A1c under 6.0 is “Non-Diabetic”

I’ve had these numbers since 2016 after going Low Carb for only 4 months. And completely off medication since the beginning of 2019 (after having reduced the dose myself for a year before that) – with no change in my numbers at all. I stopped taking the Metformin without consulting anyone – I was monitoring myself, and the drugs made no difference whether I took them or not at that stage. I just told the doctor I’d stopped about a year after the fact.

So… cut out the sugar and the carbs and things will improve! Diabetes does not have to be progressively debilitating if you change your habits and take away the root cause of your body’s malfunctions which in my case was CARBS. I still wish I had known this information 10 or 20 years earlier as I could have stopped the damages, and lost the weight way earlier in my life, which would have also stopped the wear and tear damage to my joints and back (osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease.)

And the really great thing is that the damage from diabetes can actually heal/improve with time in many cases! My only remaining “issue” is my eyes – unfortunately the diabetic retinopathy was so advanced when it was caught (that was how/when I was diagnosed) it is taking a long time to try to control. But I still consider myself lucky that there are treatments for it – my uncle went blind at the age of 19 – he was a Type 1 diabetic in the late 1960s when there was no treatment.

I was diagnosed as Type 2; but Type 1 also have HUGE benefits with Low Carb – I highly recommend Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s book – Diabetes Solution – this is what I followed to fix myself and still strictly follow. Most of the information is available online so you don’t even have to buy the book!

At the time of my diagnosis, which was three days before Christmas in 2015, my doctor simply said, “You’re diabetic” handed me a prescription for Metformin and the equipment (which was covered by my insurance as long as it was prescribed – was an excellent plan!) And that was it. No advice or referrals, nothing.

So I had to do my own research, which… given the state of my eyes was rather urgent. I knew carbs were not “good” for my blood sugar control. Looking at the various diabetes associations’ guidelines and diet plans I was completely disgusted. Sugar, carbs, fruits, three meals and three snacks a day – ALL CONTAINING HIGH CARBS AND REFINED SUGAR. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew that made no sense.

At first I tried to find a “plan” that would work. But if I followed a so-called diabetic meal plan my blood sugar did NOT come down. So I started removing carbs and anything with sugar, completely. I tried to keep fruit – but one bite of banana would spike me 10 points. A small slice of apple about 6 points. I tried to keep some so-called “good carbs” like oatmeal and 100% rye bread – ah, nope! Those would spike me around 8-10 points. I was doing a lot of eat it, then test every 20 minutes for a few weeks. Was interesting to see how things work.

Then I came across Dr. Bernstein’s book online and it was an epiphany! I think I heard angels singing. He has all the pertinent chapters freely available online so I was able to download the information and follow it right away. I did a series of blogs about how I got myself organized back in 2017 – You can read them HERE – that links to the first of the five-part series of “Getting Organized for a LCHF Life Style” that I wrote. They are also listed on my Food Stuff page.

Long story short I now am what is considered “normal” for bloodwork and weight range. I am 200lbs lighter than I was at my heaviest. My knees don’t hurt, I can touch and SEE my toes, and I don’t have to ask for seat belt extensions on airplanes anymore.

1998 vs 2017

I do not miss sugar. I don’t use sweeteners. I can bake cookies, breads, cakes and other desserts without either carbs or sweeteners and they are delicious. There are a multitude of options for protein and vegetables out there for low carb. Cheese is WAY more versatile than you think! And you can make awesome gravy just adding heavy cream to your pan juices or to butter and seasonings and reducing it.

I don’t get hungry all the time or have cravings. As I’m not hungry I do Intermittent Fasting (referred to as IF) which just means I eat nothing for 16-18 hours at a time, any food consumed in only done in the other 6-8 hour window. Many times I only have one meal a day (often referred to as OMAD by some people.)

I read labels – which can be challenging with my eyes not being great. I don’t buy much processed food as it is very difficult to find any without added sugars or carb based fillers (like starches such as bread crumbs) and I don’t like additives either. My goal is to be as low carb as I can possibly be. There are a few brands of sausages and cured meats that only contain meat and spices, but you really have to hunt for them.

This is one of the times where being considered NORMAL is just what I wanted and is an excellent thing to be.


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Summer Squash & Bison Taco Soup

I had to turn the furnace on yesterday… in August!  Yikes.  Last year August got damp too.  And it has been raining quite a bit this year.  Definitely feels like Fall is here even though there is still a month of Summer left.

They are cute, but these pattypans aka sunburst squash are plentiful right now, and best to use them when still fresh!

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I had a package of ground bison thawing in the fridge so when I got home tonight I decided the two could go together to make a nice meal.  I hadn’t intended it to be soup to start with but part way through decided to add some homemade stock and other things.

I am allergic to beef so I use ground bison (which is extremely lean) or pork or lamb when I want ground meat.  I watch for the 50% off stickers at the store and grab the bison and lamb when it is marked down and freeze it.  It is pretty expensive otherwise.

I just grab things and toss them into the pot.  No measuring.  Aside from the squash – I had five of them – I had fresh onions, green onions, green pepper and in the freezer diced celery and homemade stock.  And a can of diced tomatoes from the pantry.  I also used my homemade taco seasoning mix.

Soup is a great way to use up vegetables that are left over or getting a little limp, or just stuff that you need to use before it is time to throw it out.  The green onions were pretty dead looking that I used.

The celery in the freezer was the diced scraps from cleaning stalks of celery – the leafy ends and centres that weren’t “stick” material for my munching.  I have bags of it in there!  I put it in soups, stews, casseroles, in the bottom of the roaster to set the meat on, etc.

I also freeze chicken carcasses and bones from roasts and steaks – I just keep adding to a large Ziploc freezer bag.  When I have a substantial amount I roast them until they are well-browned (much better flavour that way!) and make stock in my crock pot to freeze.

I used my dutch oven for this soup but you could do it in a crock pot if you wanted.  I browned the bison in some peanut oil, then added the chopped onions, green onions, green peppers and the frozen celery and let them sweat down a bit.  Then added the cubed squash.  Even though the squash were still fairly small I needed to remove the seeds before cutting them up.

I stirred it a few times and once the squash was starting cook I added about three to four tablespoons (well, I dumped about a third of what was left in the bottle in actually) of my taco seasoning mix.  Then I added a 12-ounce can of diced tomatoes and approximately two cups of stock (I’m guessing – it was a frozen container that could have been three cups.)

Once the pot was starting to boil, I put the lid on and put in the oven at 350F for about an hour and a half.

I find finishing soups in the oven works really well, and you don’t end up with a splattered stove top.

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It turned out great!  A bit spicier than I was expecting due the amount of the taco mix I’d added, but still excellent. I am developing a taste for spicier things lately.

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Eat it as is, or garnish with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc.  I added shredded cabbage to the bowl and put the soup on top!  It was very good that way.  I’m all about getting in as many vegetables as I can in a meal.

The rest will be frozen in serving sizes for quick meals.  I like having things ready to grab and heat once theatre season starts – which is in less than a month – as I don’t have much of a break between work and call times.

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I make my own spice mixes – that way I know I am only getting what I want in them.  Commercial taco seasoning mixes usually contain flour or cornflour and sugar in some form – so I don’t use them.

Shannon’s Taco Seasoning

I make big batches (this makes around 2 cups) and store in recycled spice jars – those industrial sized ones from Costco.  It keeps a very long time.

1/2 cup of chilli powder

1/3 cup of dried minced onion OR you can use 2 tablespoons of onion powder instead

2 tablespoons of garlic powder

2 tablespoons of salt (your choice – table salt, sea salt, etc.)

1.5 tablespoons of ground cumin

1.5 tablespoons of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons of ground coriander

Combine all of the ingredients either directly into your storage container, or in a bowl.  Shake or mix well.  Put in sealed container and store with your spices in a cool, dry, dark place.