October 26, 2016

Not So ... Fast ... (Part 2)

In part 1 of this rant, I got a little hot-headed about having to explain to people who should not be fasting that fasting is not appropriate for everyone. In this follow-up and continuation, I’d like to say a couple more things because these ideas have been nagging at the back of my mind, and they won’t go away unless I get them out. I don’t think anyone will learn anything from this one, and that’s okay. I rarely use my blog as a plain ol’ brain dump with no educational tidbits whatsoever, but I suppose I’m entitled to that once in a while.

Before I start, let’s clarify something:  if you feel good doing what you’re doing with regard to diet, exercise, fasting, and sleep, then keep doing it. But if you don’t feel good, there might be reasons why you don’t feel good. And my intention in writing about some of them (aside from letting off steam, because this is all starting to really get to me) is to bring attention to the mere possibility—just the chance—that any of this might make sense. Please know that this is wildly speculative. I’m thinking out loud. That’s all. My blog isn’t a doctoral thesis I’m required to stand up and defend against a panel of experts geared up to prove me wrong. It’s just my thoughts and opinions, which, as always, you are welcome to read and ponder, or completely ignore. You can even disagree with me; I ask only that you do so in a civilized, polite way to facilitate discourse like the intelligent adults we are. :-)

October 18, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) -- Meat, Veg, Bake, Done!

Welcome back to class!

Last time, we covered a ridiculously easy way to make delicious low carb meals using ground meat, vegetables, and just one pan. I’ve got something similar for you today, except instead of the stovetop, this strategy calls for the oven:

Olive oil.
Salt & pepper.

Cooking literally does not get simpler or easier than this. This is truly for the people out there who claim they “don’t know what to cook.” After today, you no longer have that excuse.

September 28, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) -- Herbs & Spices (And Ground Meat "With Stuff")

Class is back in session!

In the previous post, we explored three things that professional chefs use prodigiously, but which are woefully underutilized in the home kitchen: salt, heat, and acid. I alluded to a fourth thing, but said we would explore it in a separate post. Well, this is that post. In case you missed the previous posts, we’ve covered why I’m writing this series, how to stock your freezer, fridge, and pantry with low carb staples to make cooking a breeze, and tips for using some of those staples for cooking in advance or in bulk. Like I covered in the intro post, my goal is to show newbies out there (and old hands who need a reminder) just how easy it is to stay on a low carb plan. No detailed meal plans needed, and no shopping lists that rival blueprints for the International Space Station. When you keep certain items on hand, and you know what to do with them, you don’t need to plan what you’re having for lunch three weeks from now.

Today’s lesson: herbs & spices -- and a tasty one-pan meal that couldn't be easier.

September 14, 2016

Not So ... Fast ... (A Rant)

Hammers are great. Except for when you need a wrench.

Wrenches are great. Except for when you need a drill.

Drills are great. Except for when you need a crowbar.

Different job, different tool.
Different need, different tool.

With me so far?

With this in mind:

Fasting is great. Except when it’s not.

I think you’ll find I’m one of the more open-minded people in the low-carb/keto community. (I don’t know if this is good, bad, or meaningless. Maybe I should align myself with one camp and subscribe to that dogma and only that dogma. Then again, there’s enough of that out there already, right? And when Robb Wolf starts talking about eating lentils [as he did on this podcast], and Chris Kresser points out some of the potential dangers of going overboard with vitamin D supplementation, I guess I’m in good company if I’m able [and willing!] to see and respect the nuance some of this stuff requires.) I firmly believe in certain basic principles of nutrition that are forged in unalterable aspects of human physiology and biochemistry, but beyond that, if someone tells me they feel better eating a little bit of rice and potatoes now and then, and that they don’t feel so great loading up a cup of coffee with 4+ tablespoons of butter and coconut oil, who am I to insist they’re lying? Who am I to insist they force themselves to do something they insist makes them feel terrible? (Except bacon. If you’re not eating bacon, you are doing it wrong. [No, just kidding. Shout-out to anyone reading my blog who keeps kosher or observes the laws of halāl!])

So in my non-dogmatic perspective, what’s the deal with fasting?

September 6, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) -- Pro Tips for Home Cooks

Class is back in session!

The theme of this series is: if you have time to wait for fried chicken, pizza, or Chinese food to be delivered, then you have time to whip up a completely yummy low-carb, Paleo, or ketogenic meal. In earlier posts, we covered how to stock your freezer, fridge, and pantry to make meal prep a cinch, and tips for cooking in bulk and in advance. That’s sort of “prepping the battlefield,” as they said when I was in the military. Setting the stage, if you will. Now, it’s time to start talking about how to take these ingredients and starting points and turn them into meals.   

Professional chefs will tell you their “secrets” aren’t really secrets at all. They’re actually basic, fundamental things that the pros simply employ differently in the kitchen than home cooks do. Sure, maybe they went to culinary school, did a few years staging under more established chefs, and know way more than you or I do about creating culinary magic, but that doesn’t mean we simpletons can’t hold our own and serve ourselves and our families delicious low carb food. We’re not out to win Chopped All-Stars, after all, just to put some edible food on the table, right? If you want to impress people, then quit reading my blog and go read this one instead, for Paleo. (Or this one, for low carb.) (Or this one, for keto.)

For the rest of us, who just want to make easy and convenient low carb meals, here goes.

August 16, 2016

Back to Basics (a.k.a. Things I Didn't Learn in Nutrition School)

Hey all!

Didja catch the news story not long ago about the kid who subsisted solely on graham crackers and chocolate milk, and whose doctors ran a kazillion expensive and fancy-schmancy tests only to finally, finally figure out this poor little guy had scurvy? SCURVY, for crissake. In the United States of America, circa 2016. This didn’t happen on some British Royal Navy ship 200 years ago, where all the sailors started having bleeding gums and a ship’s doctor realized lemon and lime juice seemed to put a quick & easy end to that. It happened here. Now. (All I know is, as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, the second I saw “bleeding gums” in the headline, I said to myself, “scurvy.” I read the whole article only to confirm what I already knew.) I can only imagine if this boy’s diet was so absolutely devoid of vitamin C to the point that he landed in the hospital with freaking scurvy, that there are probably several other essential nutrients he’s deficient in. I would love to write a scathing post about child nutrition someday, but that will have to wait. (Plus, since I don’t actually have any children, I sort of figure I’d be attacked like crazy for daring to even suggest that I have thoughts on the matter, so I’ll hold off for now. [But really, what does that even matter, anyway? What makes someone an “expert?” There are lots of male OB/GYNs. They don’t even have vaginas! But I digress…])

Since we’re on the topic of the most basic, obvious, fundamental aspects of nutrition, let’s talk about something I am an expert on: ME!

Funny story:

I am a proud carrier of O-negative blood, which makes me a “universal donor.” This means that anyone with any other blood type can receive my blood and be good to go. (Unfortunately, the reverse is not true: O-negatives can receive only O- blood. Heaven forbid I were in some sort of accident and needed blood, stat, if I got any kind of A, B, or AB blood, I would quickly face some seriously fatal juju. As an O-, my blood is in serious demand in blood banks, hospitals, and vampire drive-thrus. (Also, mosquitos. Those things love me. My blood must taste something FREAKING DELICIOUS to them, because if I’m outside for more than four seconds without being covered in a protective coating of industrial-strength DEET, I will receive no less than 8 to 10 mosquito bites. But I digress. Again.)

My point: I am a regular blood donor at the American Red Cross. As someone who is not routinely engaged in heroic acts nor generally doing anything positive whatsoever for mankind (unless ranting on my blog counts), donating blood is probably the single most important and satisfying thing I do. (Plus, as they say, “The life you save could be your own.”)

SO: I went to donate a blood several weeks ago and I got rejected because my hemoglobin was too low. (Not hemoglobin A1c, just regular hemoglobin.) This was the second time this has happened this year, and probably the third or fourth time overall. According to the Mayo Clinic, the “normal” range for hemoglobin in adult women is 12.0 to 15.5 g/dL. In order to be eligible to donate blood, the American Red Cross requires that you be at or above 12.5 g/dL. During this attempt to donate, the first reading was 12.0. They ran it a second time, taking the blood from a different finger, because, well, the human body is just funny like that sometimes. The second reading was even lower: 11.5.




Low hemoglobin?

Um, it’s not like I’m a vegan or anything. I eat plenty of red meat. I don’t eat a ton of it, but I certainly don’t avoid it. So I was pretty stunned when I left the office with all my blood still inside me, and without my free cookies and juice. (KIDDING, of course. I usually just take water and then leave. No need to load up on liquid glucose when you’re pretty well fat-adapted. [See here.]) As far as I knew, I had no signs or symptoms of low hemoglobin, but considering it had happened a few times before, something had to be up, and I wanted to know what that something was.