Update: I got tired of the No Low Carb Cereal situation I originally wrote this post about and created my own Low Carb, No Grains/Gluten, No-Added Sugar Breakfast Cereal (it’s 100% all-natural and is called Breakfast Bites)! It looks like breakfast cereal, tastes like breakfast cereal, but is Low Carb (3g net carbs per serving). You can get it at Louise’s Foods. So now I can’t complain about the lack of low carb cereal at breakfast anymore 🙂
Why can’t I eat a nice bowl of low carb cereal for breakfast instead of these eggs and bacon? I’m always in a rush in the mornings, so breakfast options are low. I’m not even a huge fan of corn flakes or anything, but after a while, some low carb cereal sounds delicious. Some crunchy flakes covered with fresh cold milk. Yum! So what options are there in terms of cereal? A quick internet search yields some disappointing and some interesting options.
First there’s Hi-Lo cereal. Although it’s marketed as a low carb cereal, it fails in many aspects to convince me that I should even give it a try! First, there’s the ingredient’s list – soy, wheat gluten, corn and rice flour – not a great combination when many low carb diets recommend no grains! Then there’s their net carb count – 7g per 1/2 cup serving, and I’m betting a 1/2 cup serving would not be sufficient for me to starve off the hunger until lunch. Having said all that, it is still lower than other cereals. For example, corn flakes (plain) contains approximately 12g of carbs per 1/2 cup, so it’s definitely an improvement. Some consumers on Amazon seem to really like their Maple Pecan flavor, although others seem to think it’s a bit “bland” and tastes like “cardboard.” Regardless, it’s not on my list!
Then there’s a variety of low carb hot cereals, mostly made from flax. Flax seeds are highly nutritious with lots of omega-3 fatty acids and a ton of fiber. If you grind up the flax seeds (in a coffee grinder or a blender with no water), then it forms a flour, which when mixed with water forms an oatmeal-like consistency. Here’s a simple recipe (from about.com) for a hot nutty oatmeal-like cereal that you can make at home.
I made the pictured bowl of low carb cereal by using coconut peanut butter, no cinnamon and 3 drops of liquid sucralose. It tasted ok, not completely like oatmeal though. I think the best description for the consistency is oatmeal with a tablespoon of oil coating it. It’s just a bit gluey!
And lastly (yes, I ran out of low carb cereal options very quickly), there’s a low carb hot pumpkin cereal(from about.com again) that I’m going to try soon. The ingredients sound a bit crazy (but the reviews seem to suggest this tastes really good!).
I’ll let you know when I make this!
Dehydrator?? I recently bought a dehydrator, which just dries out various foods like fruits, vegetables, and even meats (think beef jerky). It’s a simple device – it basically blows hot air at your foods until they become dry. It’s reasonably cheap for a food device -mine cost $60 on Amazon. I got the Nesco FD-75PR 700-Watt Food Dehydrator, which comes with 5 trays to place food on and has a variety of temperatures for drying different foods. See the pictures below.
How to Dehydrate Foods? It’s so easy to dehydrate foods. For the veggies, I like to slice them into thin slices (around 1 millimeter thick) so that it doesn’t take too long for them to dry. I also like to salt them, which makes them taste better and helps to dry them faster (you can also try adding spices to them) – so boil some water and add a bunch of salt and dump the sliced veggies into the water for 1 minute. Fish them out quickly before they get too soggy. Then place the slices on the dehydrator. I dehydrated the zucchini and eggplant slices for around 9 hours – it’s a bit of a trial and error game because it was difficult to get the slices the same thickness, and the drying time really depends on how thick the slices are. For pears and kiwis, I cut them into thin, 1-2 millimeter slices. They took a little longer to dehydrate though (probably because they were thicker and didn’t have any salt on them). I put them in for 11 hours, and they came out pretty crispy but still a tad chewy and leathery (so it’s not going to break at the touch).
Why dehydrate fruits and vegetables when they taste perfectly good fresh? There are a variety of reasons for this! First, it allows the foods to stay fresh for much longer, so you can buy of box of apples (which is often cheaper than buying them a few a time – think Costco!) and eat those apples several months later. Then, there’s the variety – the dried fruits and veggies are a great snack that you can take with you anywhere in a small ziploc bag. Also, dehydrated fruits and veggies are “not cooked” so they count as raw food if you’re on the raw food diet. It’s super healthy and tasty. I’ve noticed these kale chips in Wholefoods recently. They cost a fortune (they’re not trying to rip you off – it really just cost a lot to produce them!), but you can make your own by buying some kale, salting it, and dehydrating it!
I started making some dried watermelon slices…
The Atkins’ Induction diet ended two weeks ago, and since then I’ve been traveling and generally drinking and eating as if these would be my last meals ever! In hindsight, the Atkins’ diet wasn’t so horrific (although I’m sure that’s a result of my selective memory). There was nothing wrong with the diet – it was strict, but doable, and I definitely saw results within those two weeks (I lost 6 lbs and felt so much more awake during the day). The problem only came when I ended the diet.
There was the initial joyous anticipation, which started a few days before the diet was scheduled to end, and I didn’t stray from the diet during those few last days even though I had to fly to Atlanta (I dutifully packed some home-made jerky and Atkins’ mudslide bars for the flight and enjoyed a very large salad (see photo) at the airport before the flight). I know, pat pat on the shoulders! Then, there was the day itself – I wasn’t too bad initially (I had a sticky bun at a local brunch place in Woodstock, GA), but then it just fell apart over the following two weeks as more and more carb-full and sugar-packed delights came into my purview. I had everything from milkshakes (including a foie gras one that I did not enjoy) to burgers and doughnuts (the ones at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland were amazing!). Then I topped it all off with a brioche french toast brunch coupled with butter slathered on moist biscuits (the Southern kind) this morning at Craftbar. Sigh. I knew after the meal that something had to change. I was exhausted and ready to go to sleep at 2pm in the afternoon after having only gotten up two hours previously. This was not how I wanted to spend my previous weekend days.
So, a new challenge. No more eating out for a WHOLE MONTH! It’s going to recharge my energy, boost my health, and increase my bank balance! Friends, if you want to see me for dinner, bring your dinner and come over to eat 😀 I’ll even share some of my food with you! I’d like to say I can do this challenge for longer, but I already have a trip to Chicago planned in mid-October (traveling always seems to screw up my diet as Atlanta and Portland demonstrated!).
And to keep up with my experimentation of low carb diets, I am planning to start Mark Sisson’s Primal diet (a popular version of the Paleo “caveman” diet) next week.
I was lazy this past weekend and didn’t cook any food to eat for dinner during the week. Dinner has therefore been a nightmare to plan for. At 8pm, I sit and ponder through the short list of choices that I can order from while hunger pangs gnaw at my stomach lining. I skim through the seamlessweb list again hoping, even though I have given up hope, that there’ll be miracle restaurant that I’d missed on my previous 300 browses. Sigh. Nothing. That’s when I give up and order from one of my regular places. It’s not amazing, but it’s sustenance, and some of it is pretty decent! Here’s my top 5 restaurant choices for the Atkins induction diet:
Meat grilled on a stick. I like most grilled meats as long as it’s not too overcooked, but I do have a beef with the stingy amount of meat that a lot of restaurants serve while charging me $15! I got dinner from Dervish Restaurant (on 47th between 6th and 7th) and ordered my you-can’t-go-wrong chicken kebab (they called it brochette, which is just a fancy french word for kebab!). My heart sank as soon as I saw the dish. 5 pieces of chicken sat atop of bed of rice, and the container came with a brown bag of naan bread. They certainly gave me enough food – just not enough low carb food.
Healthy healthy sheep food. Chomp Chomp Chomp! There’s all sorts of salad options, and pretty much every restaurant has one that you can eat without the dressing. Even McDonalds has salads that you can eat (although you might have to pick out some of those oh-so-tasty carrot slices). When it comes to salad places, I like places where you create your own salad by physically grabbing the tongs and putting into your bowl how much you want as opposed to places where there’s a server who daintily scoops exactly 6 tiny pieces of chicken cubes into my salad.
I didn’t really eat steak growing up, and I definitely didn’t eat steak that had even a faint shade of pink in the middle! When I first came to America, I started eating steak well done, then after a few years, I moved down to medium well, and now I’m at medium. However, I’m still not a fan of the steak swimming in its own blood, so I doubt I’ll be ordering it rare anytime soon!
I love BBQ – the grilling and smoking just makes the meat so tender and flavorful. Of course, a lot of the time, that flavor is coming from the BBQ sauce and that’s when I sadly have to decline to eat the meat. Luckily, Hill Country’s BBQ doesn’t come already slathered in sauce and they deliver, so I can just gobble up their moist brisket for dinner most nights.
1. Rotisserie Chicken:
I would normally never dream of putting any kind of chicken number 1 in a food list – I just think there are way better meats than chicken. But, I have learnt that some rotisserie chicken, like the ones at Pio Pio, are just so tender and juicy, they taste good enough for a meal even without their green spicy sauce (commonly described in Yelp reviews as crack!).
I never use my oven enough when I’m cooking – I think it’s probably the Asian in me! My parents have a large kitchen with 3 ovens, and yet they never use any of them! I’m not even positive they know how to use the oven! The only time I remember using the oven before college was to dry a piece of plastic (which then melted of course, duh!) and making cheese on toast (a fav of mine from my childhood days!). Well, this diet is pushing me to discover new appliances! I discovered what the broiler button on my oven did a year ago (while trying to figure a way of cooking sausages more conveniently), and now I’m discovering just how good salmon can taste when baked in the oven. This is a simple and quick recipe from allrecipes.
Ingredients to make 2 fillets of salmon
It sounds like something from a Frankenstein movie outside – thunder and lightning and huge sheets of rain drumming against the window. But inside, I’m nice and dry and about to bake something delicious! Eggs are a staple ingredient of low carb life. It’s good as a snack, as a salad garnish, or as a meal. However, hard boiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets and egg salads are so commonplace that the thought of having to eat them again and again can create severe nausea and a pounding headache! So here is a new way to spice up your egg-eating life – the bacon egg bake. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com, and it works great! In essence it’s just a different way of dressing up the bacon and eggs that I eat for breakfast daily, but it does look a lot more appetizing – it almost looks like something you’d find at an upscale brunch place, especially if you place it on a bed of green leaves!
Ingredients to make 1 Bacon Egg Bake
It’s day 6, and I still haven’t caved in, although I hit a bit of a rocky patch on Tuesday and had to consume 3 Atkins bars in order to keep going! So what have I been eating? Well, it’s been a bit easier since starting back at work on Monday since my office has a cafeteria, although you can get what I’ve been eating for breakfast and lunch in most cities!
For breakfast, I devour 3 fried eggs with some bacon (I’m usually starving by the time I get to work). I’m rather bored by just eggs alone so the bacon helps to add some flavor to things. Omelets and scrambled eggs can make for a bit of a variation. Or if you’re super lazy, you can boil a dozen eggs in one go, peel them and store them in the fridge. Then have 2 or 3 each morning for breakfast. I quite like the taste of caesar salad dressing so you could cut up your eggs with a fork and mix it with some of that for a bit more flavor and less dryness. Also, some soy sauces (or liquid aminos) have 0 carbs (or very small amounts) and can add great flavor to eggs cooked any way! Soy sauce gets mixed responses from Atkins dieters because its ingredient list contains wheat, which is not allowed on the diet. As an alternative to soy sauce, you can try Liquid Aminos, which are made from soybeans and water. Bragg (one manufacturer of liquid aminos) claims that each 1/2 teaspoon contains 0.1g of carbs.
For lunch, I’ve gotten salads several times. I put in some boiled eggs (cut up), some tuna, some onions, and some spinach. I’ve also thrown some olives in a few times. I usually also get a fillet of salmon freshly grilled. I then shred the salmon meat and stick it into my salad. Then everything is tossed with 3 tablespoons of caesar dressing (I say “tossed” but really I just put everything into the box they supply in my cafeteria and shake vigorous!). Several other salad dressings are permitted on the Atkins induction diet including, blue cheese, italian, lemon juice, oil and vinegar, and ranch, although caesar contains by far the least amount of carbs per serving, which means more spare carbs to consume elsewhere during the day! Of course, you don’t have to do salads! I got a grilled hanger steak one day and had it with some veggies. Grilled fish is also good as long as there’s no sauce on it. I often also get some chicken broth to have as a soup – I just skim the liquid off the top of a chicken noodle soup.
So far, this gets me to around 2pm. I can make it most days to around 3pm or 4pm just on the above described breakfast and lunch. However, once that afternoon slump hits, it’s deathly! To get water from the pantry, I have to walk past the vending machine and these chocolate covered almond machines! I can usually make it past the vending machines without incident, but those almonds! They’re just sitting in this glass bowl, and my eyes just stray over to them as I turn the corner out of the pantry. Last time I went to get water, I nearly walked into the wall because my legs kept moving whereas my eyes remained fixed on that delicious sweet sensation! Sigh. That’s when I turn to the Atkins bars. Everyone (except perhaps Atkins) claims that you get the best results if you stay away from the bars. Some people on the diet are purists and want to stay away from anything that might be controversial, including diet sodas, soy sauce, and Atkins bars. I, however, cannot do it. In fact, I was so enamored with those bars that I bought a whole 12-pack of them from Amazon! I really like the Marshmallow Mudslide flavor although the Chocolate Chip Granola Barcomes a close second. There’s a Cookies N Creme bar that’s coming soon, and if I were planning to continue this diet for a while, then I would definitely be eagerly awaiting their release! Of course, there are other snacks, for example, cheese. I bought the Robusto aged gouda from Wholefoods and cut it up into 1 oz pieces (approximately 2 inches by 0.5 inches by 0.5 inches) and individually wrapped them. Then you can take a few pieces into work as a snack. (I had 2 of those pieces as an after dinner snack tonight.)
Dinner…this always perplexes me. I don’t really want to spend ages cooking when I get off work so I usually cobble together a smattering of different dishes that I’ve cooked during the weekend or on a less tiring night. The dishes include salmon salad, egg salad, tuna salad, slow cooker pork belly, slow cooker chicken, and whatever else I can think off that’ll keep in the fridge for a few days (there’s currently a nice slab of beef brisket cooking in my slower cooker). It’s quick, and it gives me some variation – at the very least, my plate looks very colorful!
What do I think so far of the diet? It’s painful! But, because I really don’t have hardly any sugar highs, I never really feel that awful crushing crash when you go off the sugar high. Then, of course there’s the issue of no alcohol. I’m 50/50 on this at the moment – I hate not being able to drink anything except water and soda water at a bar, but yet I’m grateful the next morning when I’m not waking up to a dry mouth and a pounding head! However, I feel that several “celebratory” drinks will be waiting at the end of the next 8 days…
It’s all very well saying here’s what you can eat and here’s what you can’t eat on this diet, but when it comes down to having to pick out food for eat meal, it’s a lot more problematic. Foods that you normally took for granted are suddenly on the forbidden list. Foods that you thought were low carb turn out to have way more sugar in them than allowed on the diet. Eating the same food day after day is also annoying. So, here is what I’m eating daily on this diet along with my total estimated calorie and carb intake.
Total Carb Count for Day 1: Calories = 1440 Carbs = 7.2g
Day 1 – Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with onions and a side of prosciutto. Calories = 400 Carbs = 4g
Day 1 – Lunch: Home-made grass-fed beef patty (lemon infused macademia oil, all-spice, salt). Calories = 380 Carbs = 0g
Day 1 – Afternoon Snack: Atkins Advantage Peanut Fudge Granola Bar. Calories = 210 Carbs = 2g
Day 1 – Dinner: Egg Salad. Calories = 300 Carbs = 1.2g
Day 1 – Midnight Snack (because I hate going to bed hungry!): Slow-cooker Chicken. Calories = 150 Carbs = 0
Day1 – Drinks: Decaf black tea with coconut milk, Iced Rishi Mint Rooibos tea, and of course lots and lots of water.
Today is day 1 of the 2 week challenges and the start of the Atkins induction diet. I did my research by reading the atkins’ diet website and Dr. Robert C. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution book. A large section of the book deals with the science behind the diet – from insulin to metabolic advantage. Then there’s a large chunk of the book that talks in detail about the diet and what you can and cannot eat. The induction diet is the first couple of weeks on the Atkins’ diet (the 1st of 4 phases of the diet). It is also the hardest part of the diet as it contains the most restrictions on what you can and cannot eat. They suggest that most people should go on the induction part of the diet for at least 14 days and that you can see results (I think they’re talking about weight loss here) within that period. Unfortunately, 14 days of this diet is going to be seriously challenging – I currently feel like all I can eat is eggs, steak, and celery!
What Can You Eat on the Atkins’ Induction Diet?
What Can You Drink?
Basically anything without caffeine or sugar. The list includes broth, club soda, heavy or light cream (2-3 tablespoons per day), decaf coffee or tea, diet sodas sweetened with sucralose (Splenda), flavored zero-carlorie seltzers, herbal tea, 2-3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice, and of course water.
What Can You NOT Eat?
Wow, this list is long! It’s basically anything with a lot of carbs in it! But, on the induction diet, you’re also not allowed nuts and fruits, which a lot of other low carb diets allow. The diet also tells you to stay away from certain artificial sweeteners due to harmful effects and recommends Splenda as the best one (max 3 packets a day due to the 1 gram of carbs it has per packet). However, if you’re using liquid sucralose, there should be no restriction as there is no sugar in it at all. Soft fresh cheeses are also not allowed along with other diary products such as milk (which has a fair amount of sugar) and yogurt.
Water and Vitamins
Dr. Atkins recommends drinking plenty of water on this diet (eight 8 oz glasses of water per day). He also believes that we are vitamin and mineral deficient and require some supplements. I recommend the Source Naturals Life Force Multiple as it contains a much better balance of nutrients than other brands.
I realized several weeks ago that my food habits were slipping and in danger of falling down completely into a giant tub of Breyer’s ice-cream! So I said to myself, I’ll just be bad for a few more days, and then I’ll start back on my locarbolicious diet afresh. Those few days dragged into 2 weeks! It’s just so hard to swim out of that gooey tub of ice-cream!
To celebrate my return to low carb, or rather “to punish myself for straying from the diet,” I’ve decided to embark on several 2 week diet challenges. I plan to try various low carb diets and examine their “effectiveness” and difficulty. First up will be the Atkins induction diet, and then there’ll be the paleo (caveman) diet, the South Beach Diet, and the raw food diet. There might be some other diets thrown into this experiment if I can deal with it. I have never been particularly good at keeping to diets, so this will be a serious test of my mental strength. Fingers crossed!