The Dog Days of Disaster

 

This is a special little request from Maggie over at The Zombies Ate my Brains

Hot dogs.

In the US – the hot dog can be just about anything.  Technically, it’s a thin cylinder of ground meat – usually a blend of a couple different proteins –  various flavorants and binders, heated until cooked through, then slapped on a thicker tube of sliced, baked bread product before being garnished with the consumer’s choice from a cornucopia of sauces, veggies and seasonings.

historyofchicagodogWe have the world-famous Chicago-style Red-Hots… This is an all beef dog, white-bread bun with poppy-seeds baked into the top, garnished with sweet pickle relish, onions, mustard, tomato, a dill pickle spear, sport peppers and just a shot of celery salt.

They take their dogs seriously in the windy city…

 

We also have your ‘Gourmet-blend’ dogs –  which are ‘flavored with a bounty of the freshest herbs and spices,’ have a ‘special coarse-grind blend of the finest cuts of beef and pork,’ and come in an all-natural casing… served hot and steamy on a 7 grain ‘artisan’ bun, lovingly topped with a generous portion of garlic-and-Parmesan aioli.

 

l278978301In the tiny town of Waterloo, WI – they have a festival around dogs called Weiner & Kraut days.  Every man, woman and child within a 5 county radius descend on this small town for an entire weekend to devour all the hot dogs they can eat, with as much sourkraut, mustard and onions as can be (un)reasonably crammed atop the bun.

They use the collected gastro-emissions to power the town all winter long.

 

We have your standard, mass-produced industrial sausages – sold with catchy jingles, cartoon-dogs dancing the night away, and, if you’re lucky, you might just get a Weenie-whistle from the spokes-Weenie-wagon as it passes through your home town.

But only if you can sing the jingle…

Hell, we Wisconsinites even tied the hot dog to our Baseball team.  At any Brewer’s game throughout the season, the half-time show includes the Klement’s Sausage Races.

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Look at them Weenies RUN!

Everywhere, throughout the States, you can find this ubiquitous processed meat-product.  They’re in convenience stores on the special roller-grills.  They’re in concession stands in parks, stadiums, fairgrounds, and all your better tourist traps.  Hell, in the bigger cities, there are even these little carts that some guy pushes around on the street – dogs on the go, for those on the go…anytime…anyplace!

And…of course – every day the temperature reaches above 50 degrees in this state – you can bet your last dollar that some fella has fired up the grill in the backyard to flame-roast these special little tube steaks in an attempt to blot out the memory of winter.

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I prefer my hot dogs coarse grind, natural casing, slightly spicy, with a good, grainy mustard and plenty of raw onions.  Occasionally, I’ll go for either chili or sourkraut – but I gotta be in juuuuuuuuuuust the right mood.

the Wasband, on the other hand, worships ketchup.  In his mind, that shit goes on everything.  Dogs?  Ketchup.  Enough to float the Titanic.  Steak?  Ketchup.  Enough to kill the taste.  Fish?  Ketchup.  Enough to make the breading soggy.  He likes his ketchup with a sprinkling of french fries, and adds the vile stuff to chili.  He’s the only person I’ve ever seen take one of the little ketchup packets given out by any take-out restaurant, tear the foil, and suck the package dry.

Ewwwww!

I personally disliked ketchup before I went keto.  Now…you might as well just sit with the sugar bowl and spoon the crystallized stuff directly into your mouth while sucking on a tomato.

It’s.  That.  Sweet.

But to the Wazband – ketchup is not a condiment.  It’s a vegetable…and one that needs to be consumed in mass quantities at every meal.

On one of our day vacations, we went to one of the summer water-park tourist traps in the area.   We spent the day frolicking in the huge pool of antiseptically-clean water, appropriately themed  with fiberglass statues and carefully selected plants interspersed through and around the concrete walkways with an estimated 209,000 other people who had the same idea.

For me…this was the perfect opportunity to work on my sunburn.  Nothing turns my pale skin the color of a freshly boiled lobster faster than spending time in the center of a gigantic, sunlight-reflecting pool of water.

For the record, I have two skin tones…red and white.  There are no shades of brown in between.

We splashed in the shallows, rode innertubes in the wave pool, and stood in line for the water slides, the toilets, the single patch of shade hidden in the middle of this concrete jungle.

When tummies started growling, we ducked out of the water to stand in line for one of the multitude of vendor stands surrounding the park.

Their specialty was ‘The Best Damn Hot Dogs in the Dells…’

By this point, I swear my skin was audibly sizzling…and a table opened up IN THE SHADE.  I rattled off a very simple order to the Wazband, and ran to claim the table before I burst into active flame.

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He brought to the table our Cokes, two orders of fries, and a plate full of ketchup.  He swore to me there ware actual hot dogs, in buns, under the red goop.

I bit my tongue.

Counted to 10.

Bit my tongue again.

Selected an even higher number.

Chomped on that sucker a third time….just in case.

And asked – deadpan:  ‘Why is there an ocean of ketchup on my hot dog?’

 

He hadn’t considered, even though we’d been a couple for at least a decade at this point, that I despise ketchup.  He’d dressed the dogs to his preference without any thought.

I ate a lot of fries that afternoon.  He ate the hot dogs.  There was no saving them from the red menace.

NEVER leave a man alone with your hot dog.  They can’t be trusted.

And I still have tooth-marks on my tongue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feed me, Seymour!

Been a while since I put in a Keto update…

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I had a rocky 3 month anniversary on Keto.

I couldn’t get full.

No matter what I ate, an hour later I was starving.  The two block walk to get to my car was once again making me out of breath.  My knee was grumbling over the stairs again.  I could feel a tightness around the shoulders & chest, and I couldn’t think my way out of a paper bag with the end cut open.  It was like going through keto-flu all over again, where my body was demanding glucose and throwing a hissy fit when denied.

Imagine the frustration – an entire week, yelling at my digestive system, demanding to know WHATINHELL you want???  It was almost frustrating enough to order a large, hand-tossed, extra cheese, double EVERYTHING pizza and eat the entire thing on the spot.

Don’t worry – I behaved.  I drank chicken bouillon like water, ate a lot of cheese, and attempted to mollify the demands of my gut with bacon, sausage & nuts.

I think I finally figured out WHY my body went crazy on the 3 month mark.

Protein.

I had been averaging around half of my macro’s recommended 100 grams of protein a day.  Yes, I had been warned.  The dire prognostication of ‘OMG, you’re going to lose MUSCLE!’ is quite common on a lot of the Keto sites, and a lot of the threads I’ve seen on reddit fairly scream “Go eat a gahd-damn steak, ferkristssake!”

But, up until this point, I felt great on keto, so I figured the doom & gloomers were just blowing fear out their rear.

Guess I still gotta learn some things the hard way.  I now know what happens when your body starts to cannibalize proteins from within…

The breakthrough finally came Friday.  After 5 days of intense hunger-pangs, I bowed to the inevitable, and picked up some Quest Vanilla Milkshake protein powder.  Now, when I ran to the store after work, I was almost desperate enough to grab any old tub of powder, but I still reviewed nutrition information, and the Quest stuff seemed to be the best.  23 grams of protein per serving, 2 net carb, not a shit-ton of dietary fiber (which sometimes give me those ‘never trust a fart’ moments with the Quest bars), and a mix of whey protein (fast acting) and casein protein (slow-to-digest).

I’m finally back to my ‘I really don’t have much of an appetite,’ happy-on-keto self, and slowly working through the last echoes of protein-deprivation.  The knee has ceased threatening to go on strike, at least…

And it’s pretty damn tasty mixed like this:

 

Iced Quest Coffee

3/4 scoop Quest Vanilla Milkshake (about 1.5 T)

2.5 T Heavy Cream

Cold Coffee

Pour heavy cream in the bottom of a standard drinking glass (around 20 ounce).  Pour quest powder on top of cream, fill the glass with cold coffee, leaving room for ice.

Drop a wire wisk into the glass, and spin between your palms while simultaneously raising and lowering the wisk until everything is well mixed.  Add your ice, and caffeinate yourself into wakefullness.

 

I might just try blending it into full frothiness next…stay tuned!

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Pyramid Scheme

In 2005, the USDA issued an updated food pyramid, and created an entire website of clicky-links to peruse in 2011.

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Someone even put the two charts side by side for comparison.

First, the new food pyramid recommended exercise, where the old one only suggested what you put in your mouth.  Yes, that’s a distinct improvement on overall population health, as there’s more to being a healthy human being than what you shovel in.

Second, the new guide gives recommended amounts, whereas the old food pyramid only listed ‘servings,’ leaving the consumer free to wallow aimlessly through the confusing fine print, tastefully photographed ‘serving suggestion’ graphics, and slick advertising offered by various manufacturers to figure out what an actual ‘serving’ was.

Third, they gave some additional information on what to eat within each category (half of grains should be whole grains, sub-categories of vegetables, limit deep-fried products, etc…), where this was also lacking in the original.

Soooo…baby step improvements…

But for the actual ‘meat & taters’ of the content?  Not only am I deeply concerned, but more than a bit frustrated with what the USDA is STILL telling Americans they aught to eat.

this would be the beginning of a mild rant, fair warning…

Take a closer look…

Grains:  The recommended daily allowance is 6 oz, with half of that in whole grains.  If you dig further, choosemyplate.gov offers further advice:

In general, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal can be considered as 1 ounce-equivalent from the Grains Group.

So – 3 oz of whole grains could be 1 cup cooked cereal (think oatmeal) and 1/2 cup cooked rice.  The other three ounces could be 1 cup ready to eat cereal (think cocoa puffs) and 1 cup cooked pasta.

3.5 cups of grains a day – the largest single portion of your intake out of the different food groups.

ALL.  Carbs.

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Milk:  This weighs in with the 2nd largest portion of your daily consumption with 3 cups.  They further clarify:

Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, are not.

You wanna know what’s left when you remove the fat content from dairy products?  Milk sugars, calcium, and a bit of protein.  In other words – carbzilla disguised as a glass of fancy words.

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Vegetables:  The recommendation is 2.5 daily cups, with the stipulation being to ‘eat a wide variety of different veggies.’  If you dig further into choosemyplate.gov, you’ll see they’ve broken down the veggies into sub-groups:  Dark Green, Red & Orange, Beans & Peas, Starchy, and Other.

They spread veggies out further, with suggested weekly intakes within each sub-category…so you get that ‘wide variety’ throughout your week, and additional breakdowns according to age and sex.

The basic ‘ranking’ of veg, from most to least:

Starchy   /    Red & Orange   /   Other  /    Dark Green   /   Bean & Pea

 

 

Starchy is the highest amount throughout your eating week.  “Eat more starch!” says the USDA.  As in potatoes.  As in corn.  As in shelled green peas.

As in pure carbs.

Their second category – reds & oranges, contains things like carrots & pumpkin and tomatoes.  While these do have some redeeming value – the red & orange list is still, for me, mostly avoided, as these are still sweeter vegetables and can easily turn into carb-bombs.

 

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Fruits:  There should be 2 cups of fruit matter on your various plates or in glasses throughout the day.

In general, 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the Fruit Group.

Say it with me, folks…fruits=sweet=sugar=carbohydrate.

See a pattern here?

So far – there are 11 cups of various foodstuffs on your plate – with, if I’d hazard a guess, a 95% carbohydrate load.  The bits of insoluble fiber, protein & trace elements making up the other 5% has been tossed in there to convince you the USDA actually knows what it’s recommending.

The last two groups, proteins & fats, are laughable in their recommendations.  The two groups total get a recommended allowance of roughly 3/4 cup a day…served with a sermon of how horrible fats are for your body, how they ‘hide’ within other foodstuffs, and how you should seek out and account for these sneaky substances before adding any pure fats to your daily intake.

Think about that – protein (ie:  what ALL muscle material is made of), limited to 5.5 oz per day (and that meat better be lean, son!) & run screaming from any pure fats.

Still wonder why Americans are getting fatter & sicker???

In short, IF intake recommendations have changed at all from the ones I was force-fed as a child, it’s a turn for the worse.  Of the three micronutrient categories,  fats are bad – severely limit them.  Proteins are only slightly less bad – so limit them, too.  Most of your daily intake then has to come from the only remaining category:  carbs.

Coming soon – the new USDA Nutritional Guideline Soundbyte:  

“When in doubt, sweet & starchy eat out.”

What Keto does is take that food pyramid, and turn it upside down.  If the USDA says it’s bad, don’t eat it, Keto says chow down, son!  If the USDA recommends you pile that stuff on your plate, Keto suggests you toss it in the bin and EAT BACON.

Being a person who’s subliminally bucked the system for most of my adult life, is it any wonder Keto makes a twisted kind of sense to me?

 

 

But here comes the weird part:

That ‘recommended by the USDA,’ carb-heavy, ‘master plan?’  It will work – if you’re EXTREMELY active.  I’ve done it.  You’ve done it.  EVERYONE has, at one point in their life or another, eaten their way straight up the pyramid without deviation, and has been active enough to offset the load of starches in their diet.

The last time I lost a significant amount of weight, I was eating mostly raw foods & breads (read, veggies & starches), managed to maintain a strong Pepsi addiction, and even allowed myself time to socialize at the local bar. (burgers & booze & fries…oh, Myyyyy!)  When you live alone without any romantic interests, in a tiny studio apartment that’s easy to keep clean, the gym is an acceptable substitute to having the walls close in around you.  I spent 4-5 hours a week swimming laps in the pool when wasn’t out exploring my town on foot.

If you’re going to eat the Standard American Diet (S.A.D. yea, I know…a perfect summation!) – you HAVE to keep your body in a near-constant state of movement to prevent ballooning into size 24 pants.  While this is perfect for those who have an active job (construction, assembly, service, landscaping, etc…), are socially isolated, or into body-sculpting…this is NOT representative of the majority of citizens living in the States who are either too busy, too tired, or too jaded to keep their asses moving.

As people age, they tend to move out of extremely physical jobs and into more sedentary ones.  Over time, people generate a wide circle of friends with backyard BBQ’s, built in kegs & really comfy lounge chairs.  They go tailgating with ‘naughty’ cuts of meat, liquid bread (aka:  beer) and crunchy starchy things.  They pour gallons of pure sugar water (aka:  soda) into their over-carbohydrated digestive systems while sitting in front of the computer at work, and spend thousands of recreational dollars in S.A.D. eating establishments, sandwich shops, and sun bathing on pristine beaches.

Most people don’t consider the local gym a second home or have an after-work schedule that prevents the activity needed to support the recommended carb-heavy diet.

Think housework.  Think kids.  Think quality time with a significant other, an artistic endeavor, or the boob tube and Facebook if you’re missing the disposable income necessary to indulge in recreation.

When real life gets in the way – our dietary guidelines turn from helpful to hell-full.

WHY????

I want to know why there is only ONE recommended guideline, and everything else is considered fringe, fad, freaky, or just f*ckin’ WRONG.

Why does the USDA insist that the same diet which works for a 20-something who likes to participate in extreme sports will work for the 40-something housewife with 3 kids who spends 6 hours a day in her mini-van shuttling those kids around to their various academic and sporting activities?

And I really want to know WHY society has been programmed to demean that housewife for having a butt the size of Tex-ass?

Well, she’s just lazy and doesn’t deserve buttcheeks you can crack walnuts between…

 

What happened to body sciences in this country, and where is the quality information this kind of research was developed to distribute?

I suspect its buried in a mountain somewhere – replaced with a useless, flashy graphic and fat-shaming programming.

Finally, I want to know why I’m getting cynical in my old age???

food-pyramid

 

Oui, mes oignons sont le français

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Why, yes…my onions HAVE been French-ified.  Thank you for noticing!

Anyone else love French Onion Soup?  Thick beef stock, freshened with Thyme & Basil, crammed full of caramelized onions, topped with crusty bread & melty cheese?

Oh…yum.

Sadly, French Onion soup isn’t exactly keto-friendly.  First – onions.  They may be a low glycemic index food, but the sheer volume of onions in a good French Onion soup is going to pack onto any daily carb count.

Second – caramelizing those onions.  There are different schools-of-thought on caramelized onions.  Some diabetics will experience a blood-sugar spike (thus needing more insulin) when consuming prepared onions, far more of a spike than when eating them raw, so their (diabetics and the nutritionists who advise them) thought is, caramelizing onions concentrates the sugar in the vegetable, recommend DO NOT CONSUME.

The other camp disagrees – using logic:  You can’t make more sugar (and therefore, more carbs) than the raw vegetable already has by cooking it.  They believe that caramelizing the onions has more to do with portion control than sugar concentration.  A cup of raw onions is a lot less vegetable matter than a cup onions that have spent the better part of an hour having their fibers broken down and a portion of their water content removed with the application of heat and friction.

Me?  I’m in the portion control camp.  It’s easy to overeat the caramelized carby goodness that is onions in their fully broken-down state.

And, let’s face it – French Onion soup is ALL about overeating decadence…

Third – the type of onion.  For a good French Onion soup – all the recipes suggest using sweeter onions such Walla Wallas, Mahis, Sweet Spanish, Yellows and Vidalias. Not only are these bred to be huge, they’re modified to be less astringent, milder, and sweeter than their more natural counterparts, such as greens, whites, and shallots.  Of course, when you take away some of the sulfurous compounds and force the bulb to create more sugar, you increase the carbs right along with it.

What is it with us humans???  Take a perfectly good plant and muck about with the genetics to favor sweetness.  No wonder we’re addicted to sugars.

Fourth – a thick slab of crusty bread topping the individual serving.  Bread?  ‘Nuff said.

What brought on this daydreaming of French Onion souper-stardom?  An overabundance of onions picked up at the local farmer’s market this weekend.

I can’t resist good deals on locally-grown produce!

I had to do something  –  it would be a sin to bring all these beautiful white orbs into the house and let them rot… So I broke down about half of them, and set to cooking.

I feel the need to apologize to my neighbors – the early stage of caramelizing onions never stays in a single apartment!

Pot o soup

 

Once nicely bronzed, the onions were paired with a good beef stock, thyme, basil, and a generous shot of pepper.

 

Letting the heat do its thing, turning this pot of stuff into a dinner of legend, I searched for something keto-friendly to top the soup with – bready, but not carby.

 

I found:   these.

I gotta thank Sugar Free Mom for sharing her wonderful recipe for low-carb English Muffins.  You struck gold (nut butter) with this one!

I did make a tiny alteration – I switched out the almond milk for half water, and half heavy cream.  I simply couldn’t justify buying an entire container of almond milk in what could very well have turned out to be a catastrophe.

My earlier experiment with mug cakes left me cautious, OK???

 

I needn’t have worried – these were perfect for the soup.  They had a distinctive baked-good texture to them, not so much nook & cranny-y like wheat-based English muffins, but denser, like a good cake – and (vitally!) missing the grainy bits that come from ground flax or hemp protein powders.

Once slathered with butter and toasted under the broiler, they didn’t disintegrate when floated on top of the hot broth, held up under the weight of the good provolone cheese I topped the crock with, and even retained their weight and texture after the broiling was completed.

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Unlike some wheat-based products I could mention…

Dinner.  Was.  GOOD.

I even had leftover bread to pair with bacon & eggs in the morning!

Brekky

 

 

 

 

I only hope the bacon forgives me for upstaging it’s glorious salty goodness for the bread…

Questing for the Holy Grail

A Chalice forground Moon behind copy

Keto, like everything else in life,  is all about balance.  You consume the three major contributors to nutrition in a pre-determined and monitored ratio.  This is called (in the keto world) your macros.

My macro numbers (as calculated by this handy-dandy Keto calculator) came out to

120 gram fats,    100 grams protein,    25 grams carbohydrate        per day.

My first concern was, quite naturally, howinhell am I going to eat THAT much fat in a day when I’ve been 1) trained since the 70’s to eat less of it – and 2) trained to swallow any fat that does manage to sneak in my diet with a large side-order of guilt?

Lemme explain…

The food industry has sold this guilt-trip with utter abandon, making everything leaner and drier and stuffed full of inexpensive (read:  more profit!) fillers and carb-heavy sweeteners to make up for the lack of flavor that happens when you strip out all of the fat.

The fitness industry follows hot on Food’s heels with a maniacal grin –  advising millions of people to eat more fruit stuffs & products containing whole grains (and dontchaknow – we have just the thing!) while trotting out their patented, revolutionary, extremely expensive lines of hand-crafted (by blind Tibetan Nuns!) smoothies, cans of sludge, exotic waters, and tubs of strange-smelling white powder…most of them packed with, yup, you guessed it, easy-to-digest simple sugars with names 20 letters long and profit margins 20 digits long.

American Nutrition Recommendations (produced by the US Department of Agriculture) continue to recommend heavy grain/fruit/veggie/LOW-FAT dairy intake patterns (about 80% of your total daily consumption) with 15% lean (again, LOW-FAT) protein, and extremely low (5%) solid or liquid fat intake.

These recommendations allow our Public Health Advisory Boards to moan about how Americans are getting fatter & fatter & sicker & angrier…thus paving the way for the Health Industry to sell us more pills & procedures & therapies (greatly enhancing THEIR balance sheets) while lobbing the ball back to Fitness (who sell more gym memberships, workout apparel, and self-torture DVD’s) who deftly deflect it to Food (who sell more low-fat, high-carb, nowhere-near-natural frankenfoodstuffs) where the defense is “We’re just following the set nutritional guidelines.”  Lather, rinse, and repeat ad nauseaum.

What – you think any of these groups care about YOUR health???

Our ‘body’ industries love fat – it’s the big, scary devil on your plate they’ve used to terrify more money out of the average American Consumer than any other scapegoat ever conceived.

And we all swallowed it – hook, line & sinker.

Turns out, fat wasn’t that big a problem once I got off the “fat…makes you fat” guilt-rollercoaster, and found acceptable methods of incorporating more of it into my diet…sautéing my evening veggies in a generous dose of real butter – good egg salads with real mayo – heavy cream instead of milk – full-fat cheeses & the world of fat bombs.

Carbs, oddly enough, were also not that big a problem, once I cut out all the uber-processed junk masquerading as food & got over my body’s attempts to blackmail me with cravings.  I can now grab a single kernel of popcorn out of the SQO’s movie theatre bag, and be happy with the little bit of salty, carb-y crunch.  Or get a single lick of frozen custard from Kopp’s – letting D enjoy the rest of his cone.

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Kopp’s, incidentally, makes Milwaukee’s BESTEST frozen custard, and the SQO & I have a long history with them 😀

Protein, oddly enough, is where I hit my snag.  Not that I can’t cut out enough protein to get down to my macros, but because I can’t consume enough protein to get UP to that target number.

I’ve always found it simple to cut protein out of my daily diet – I’ve been fully veggie (not vegan, as I’ve always allowed myself eggs & cheese) a couple of times in my adult life – with timeframes in years each.  It’s like a switch turns on in my brain that suddenly says:  ‘animal protein bad…do not eat…’ and the appetite naturally switches gears.

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I usually end my veggie stints being seduced by cheeseburgers…

When I do eat meats – I’ve always chosen lower-fat, drier, and/or highly processed products…partly because of the childhood conditioning in the above rant, but more so, if it resembles an actual animal carcass, that little switch turns on in my brain again (animal protein BAD!).  For me, bones & skin have no business being on a dinner plate, and visible fat is only barely tolerated.

Don’t invite me over for BBQ ribs…

Soooo, given the perplexity of my taste buds –  white meat only on chicken & turkey; either lean cuts of (or ground) beef & pork; industrial sausage-products & lunch meats; and the lamb-cicle meat cones for Greek gyros are acceptable protein options.  That’s it. All others – exotic meats like duck, goose, venison, bison, bear, rabbit, etc?  Too weird.  Too greasy.  Too wet.  Too gamey.

And don’t get me started on seafood.  There are exactly 2 different water-based proteins I will eat if forced to – shrimp (if it’s de-tailed, breaded, deep fried, and served with enough cocktail sauce to kill the taste) and cod (again, breaded, deep fried, and served with enough lemon juice to kill the taste).

Finally – all meat products have to be COOKED.  None of this rare to medium-well done nonsense for me.  My meats have to be dry, chewy, and tough as old shoe leather.

Sushi is NEVER an option…

I yell at the TV when I watch cooking shows…

I’m as picky as a 3 year old when it comes to meats…the only exception I can find to my personal rules for eating animal proteins is bacon…visible fat is OK on bacon as long as its crisp.

soft bacon is … slimy…

So what’s a girl like me to do for good protein sources, easily found and within my narrow protein parameters?

Questing for the Holy Grail in 3..2…1…

I tried a hemp-based protein powder and got weirded out with the grainy texture.

Other protein powders?  Too.  Freaking.  Expensive.

Nutmeats and nut-butters are good (Macadamia and Almond are especial keto-world favorites) – but add to overall carbs.  Nut butters are also, with the exception of peanut butter with lots of added sugar, grainy.

Weirded out, take II.

Eggs?  Absolutely.  One of the best (and cheapest) protein sources out there.  But, one can only eat so many eggs before getting sick of them, no matter how you prepare them.  And eggs, I think, have a high-insulin spike included with them – they leave me hungry unless paired with lots of fat (like in egg salad).

Beef jerky/sticks.  Slim Jim’s have a permanent place in both my purse & my ’emergency’ rations (if I’m out & hungry – I’ll grab a stick from the checkout line) to quell hunger pangs until I can get back to my kitchen, but also contribute to carbs.  Plus – like the eggs, one can only eat so many highly processed meat & spice sticks before no longer wanting to ‘snap into ’em!’

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,,,

,,,

Enter:  The Quest Bar.

,,,

Now, Quest Nutrition bars have a huge fanboi base on the ‘net  –  I’ve read a lot of gushing reviews on them – with people swearing up & down that Quest Bars quell their hunger, replace multiple meals, and cure everything from toe fungus to an exploded brain stem.

I tend to take all rabid fanboi cheerleading with a bunch of grains of salt…

jdzitequilla

and a lime…

and a shot of Tequila…

I’ve also read a lot of grumbling about Quest Bars.  That the ingredients got changed, they look like taffy, hard to choke down, threw out an entire CASE of the things, and they gave someone the clap.

Ditto on the bitch-fest.

One Tequila… two tequila… three tequila….

FLOOR.

cat-passed-out-in-food

 

Soooo – discounting both the rave and rage ends of the review spectrum (and my resulting tequila hangover) – I took a read of the label and the macros in the bars.

The first thing I noticed in these bars is the HUGE amount of insoluble fiber, with most topping 12 grams.  Insoluble fiber doesn’t impact your carb macros, because your body can’t digest the stuff.  It just passes it on through.

Don’t make me say WHERE…

The second thing I noticed is the whopping 20 grams of protein from whey isolates.  Now – from everything I’ve read, whey protein isolates are a mixed bag.  It’s a by-product of cheese making – so obviously it has dairy roots and is heavily processed.   Whey isolates also (from what I’ve read) cause an insulin spike – so those who are insulin-resistant or full-blown diabetic may want to avoid them.

The heavy processing and dairy roots don’t faze me in the least, but the insulin spike does give me pause, as I have Geriatric Diabetes in my family lines.  So, with a tentative toe in the water, my personal ‘master plan’ on consuming these will have to be at the end of a regular meal, where insulin has already been put into play, and has plenty of fat to process as well as protein.

Third – they limit (or eliminate) the amount of sugar by adding in Erythiol (a sugar alcohol which also…passes through…) and Stevia to make them a bit sweet.  Both these artificial sweeteners I’ve tried before with no uncomfortable issues.

They sounded like a reasonable but cautiously-workable product that may fit into my Keto diet.  They had the potential to be the Holy Grail of my Protein quest…

quest bar copy

I found some Quest bars at Woodman’s, and picked up a couple of different flavors.  At over two bucks a bar, they will NOT be the Holy Grail.  Sadly, these will end up being confined to an occasional expensive treat…

But price isn’t everything – how’s it taste???

Chocolate Brownie was the first toe dipped into the Quest-water.  Removing the product from its packaging was a bit trickier than I thought it would be – the bar is a long-ish strip of taffy-like, slightly sticky, dark brown glop…more like partially dehydrated brownie batter than an actual cake-like brownie.  Not a surprise, however, because the ‘doom & gloom’ reviews pretty accurately spelled out the look and feel of the product.

It smelled pretty damn good…and the chocolate flavor really came through… so score one for the fanboi seating!  The texture wasn’t too off-putting, and it didn’t stick to my teeth.  In fact, the texture was kinda fun to play with in my mouth with minimal actual chewing absolutely necessary.  By the end of the bar, I was getting the ‘full tank’ feeling in my stomach that says ‘that’s enough…you’re satisfied.’

The second one I tried was the Cinnamon bun.  The consistency, texture and mouth-feel of the bar was the same as the chocolate brownie. There were also little bits of almonds mixed in with the paste.  This one is, by far, my favorite of the bunch, with cinnamon, sweet, and yeast-bread notes.

Next, I tried the strawberry cheesecake.  Yuck.  The missed the flavor on this one – it was waaaaay to chemically.

Finally, I went to the one everyone on the web seems to be gushing over – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  Sorry fellas – but I don’t agree with the masses on this one.  It is also too chemically for my taste buds.

I have yet to try the vanilla nut or the chocolate mint bars, but they’re next on my list…

Now for the important part.

 

All that insoluble fiber has to work its way through the GI tract, down the intestines & bowel, finally ending its journey in the colon.  Because there’s such a large amount of this fiber stuffed into a small serving size – I wouldn’t recommend more than 1 bar every few days – that’s a lot of bulk to process, and my digestive system was rather noisy in its processing.

At least I didn’t have a ‘never trust a fart’ moment…

So – Quest bars have their goods and their bads…which is pretty common for consumables in today’s world.  I’ll probably continue with the occasional bar, either as an emergency foodstuff I can keep in my purse, or a dessert-type bar when I’m craving something sweet.  The cinnamon bun in particular…

 

The search for the holy grail of protein will continue…

quest-for-the-holy-grail-quest-for-the-holy-grail-demotivational-poster-1257638815

 

 

Adventures in Geometry

I consider geometry the unholy spawn of some sadistic individual’s desire to force an horrific mating of math and art.

Why else would the number of the Devil from the Christian bible be 666?

I remember Geometry class in high school.  Back then, it was required in Sophomore year – everyone took it.  Not everyone enjoyed it.  Not everyone survived it, and not everyone passed the class.  (OLD school – you actually had to demonstrate understanding of a subject to receive a passing grade…).  All the different formula and equations were required memorization – you learned the formula, plugged in the numbers, and let the final result tell you this 3×3 box has 9 cubic feet of air trapped inside it.  The shapes were raped (boxes and triangles and circles), the line drawings abused (angles, parallels, curves).  Everyone was forced away from viewing pleasing visuals, and into considering their base numerical equivalents.

Even at this adolescent and prone-to-fanciful-thinking age, I could see that Geometry was the antithesis of great art, and I fought this tooth & nail.

hqdefaultGeometry demanded equal columns of numbers marching in lockstep without deviation – I wanted to put a pyramid on top of a box, add some cubes, balls and curved brick walkways to create a visually-pleasing home in the woods.   I didn’t CARE that my home had 1357.27685 cubic feet of air trapped inside, with additional insulating air of 339.3192125 cubic feet trapped under the roof, and a capacity to lose 33.78% of the warmth generated in the field stone fireplace through the insanely large windows – IT looked like a inviting and secluded cabin where I could get some SERIOUS artwork done.

Apple Pi

Finally, I’ll never forgive them for forever ruining Pie by dropping the ‘E’ and giving me, not only an endless chain of numbers to really mess with my mind, but another goofy line drawing.

Mmmmm – pie… 

Although I did enjoy the single day our educator stepped away from the rote formula-learning, and gave us a math/word game.  Given each letter in the English alphabet a consecutive number (a=1, b=2 and so on up to z=26) – what’s the highest number you can make from a 5 letter English word?   (Fuzzy, for the record, was our best at a value of 104)

I DO understand Geometry has a place in this world (after all, my cabin in the woods would need to be built using geometric formula if I wanted it to stand) – but I’d prefer to move in after the paint has dried on the walls and the plumbing is working.

Now here’s the weird part.  I do pretty good with simple mathematics, and actually enjoy the lockstep logicality in finance. (I work in accounting, after all…)  I especially enjoy finding and backtracking errors that Corporate AR puts into the books, and request they fix them with a long adding machine tape of evidence to back up my claims.

Floating Fucks

Just another day on the job

Because I’m good at these simple monetary maths, I traditionally earn more than I spend in a month – although my recent purchases of jump rings & jewelry displays made this month a bit more spend-y than save-y.

But geometry?  Nope – nope – nope.  Not going there…not even as a tourist.

Now, the SQO will tell me that I’m good at higher, more complex maths.  He’ll mention some of my drawings (bring on infinite perspective!) my origami, glass-etching, and chainmaille.  The way I automatically frame photographs into the rule of thirds, and all the computer work I’ve done in Photoshop creating abstract arts.

 

He is right, in that all these artistic creations have a healthy dose of complex mathematics behind them.  I don’t see the numbers, though, and I have no interest in calculating them out.  I just see the forms and feel the perfection in the patterns.

 

 

This weekend, I finished a chainmaille project I’ve been hungering to complete for a long time.  I made a ball.

on desk

12 completely identical sides, each side sharing it’s mirrored construction with another side.  12 pentagrams of 5 sides each curled around into a mathematically-correct ball.

I knew going into this one that it wouldn’t be a quicky project – I didn’t realize that it would take an estimated 6 hours, repeated slips of the pliers resulting in skinned knuckles, poked legs, a near-blister on my ring finger and near-miss to my cheek.  I didn’t realize it would take building and tearing out a portion of it over and over and over again until I got it right.  I didn’t realize it would eat up most of my stock of stainless steel 6.9 AR rings (I’m estimating around 400 rings).

I didn’t realize how FUN it was to put this thing together.  The real question is:  do I want to keep this Geometrical Construction on my desk as a tribute to higher maths, or do I want to sell it on Etsy?

 

first third

This is 4 ‘faces’ into the project

 

 

Maths feature in Keto, too.  I decided to give Keto an honest shot once I had a spreadsheet constructed (what did I do before Excel???) to track exactly what I was putting in my mouth in terms of fat, carbs, and proteins.  Started keeping track of what the nutritional content was for my brand of bacon, butter, beef and veggies.  Added additional tabs for the recipes I’ve tried, and a 3rd tab for those recipes deemed ‘a catastrophic failure.’  All my eating, broken down into lockstep columns of marching numbers.

My Geometry teacher would be so proud!

I also started actually reading those nutritional guidelines listed on the backs or sides of some of my favorite snack foods.  That was an experience in pure horror, I’m telling you.  My favorite cheese chips have 19 grams of ultra-processed carbohydrates in just 18 crackers.

As if I could stop at 18 chips?  I used to eat these by the bowlful, if not straight outta the box!

Being low-carb, although it presents some interesting challenges, and was a right royal pain the ass to get used to, is totally worth it in how my body now feels.

This week- I whipped up a chicken-cabbage salad to take to work.  Here’s how I made it.

Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad
The Stuff
1 small head green cabbage
6 TBS extra virgin olive oil
5 TBS rice vinegar
1.5 TBS Soy Sauce
1 TBS ground ginger
t tsp Cinnamon
2 medium clove garlic, pressed
4 oz cooked chicken breast, finely chopped
The Execution
Chop cabbage into long strips, removing the core.  Place in a large bowl with the
chopped chicken.
Add oil, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, cinnamon and garlic in a deep bowl or
2 cup Pyrex measuring cup.  Whisk extremely well until all ingredients are
incorporated and the oil no longer separates from the rest of he wet ingredients.
Pour dressing over salad, toss to coat.

Flower Power

I may have mentioned my recent obsession with little jump rings…

RT Flower

I’ve discovered orbitals.  For those of you who don’t know anything about chainmaille patterns, an orbital is when you have two (or more) rings in connection with each other, with a third (or more) ring circling that connection point.

orbital

,,,

,,,

,,,

Like this ——->

Within my exploring on the WWW – I found a YouTuber who put out a video showing how to make a flower pendant with orbitals.  The result … is PRETTY.  She calls it the ‘Reverse Tao’ flower, and the tutorial is one of my new favorites – simple, with the focus on the hands and the rings and how to combine them.  No extra flashy graphics in the front, no long-winded intro speech before you get to the meat of the tutorial, no loud hip-hop or pop or rock music.  Just the build.

I like a tutorial that simply gets down to business without all this nonsense of ‘gettin’ down B4 Bizniz’.

I did have to do some tweaking to this pattern.  The ring size as listed in the tutorial created a form that was rather too loose for my liking, so I scaled the AR down to a tighter 6.9, and I added some additional rings to really firm things up.

I like my chainmaille things tight 😀  and I’ll be listing a few of these lovelies on my Etsy shop this weekend.

I’ve found yet another pattern which uses my favorite ring size.  I use these particular rings for

The Centipede Necklaces

20160507_105734

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my whirly pendants

A Whirly

the turbine pendants

model close in

and they make a great, quickie bail.

So I finally bit the bullet and ordered a huge amount of them in a variety of metals – I even found them in Niobium, which equals bright, shiny colors.

Colors – squeeeeeeeeeee!

I got some serious maile-ing to do over the next few weeks, because I have my first ever show coming up.  Now, granted, this show is at a vape store grand opening, so I don’t exactly ‘fit in’ with what the rest of the vendors will be offering – but I’ll happily take the exposure.

 

In the keto world, I’ve been exploring cheesecake.  My mousse fluff mimics the filling in a cream puff, but I’ve never been really interested in the cream puff shell – so my explorations went to the next cool and creamy dessert-type thing that came to mind.   And – again thanking the technology that allows people all across the planet to share out interesting ideas – Keto cheesecakes are EVERYWHERE on the web.

I tried a simple recipe for cheesecake fluff first, which brought some sour cream to the party for the tang in real cheesecake – but was left unimpressed.  Not only did the sour cream add the WAY wrong tang, the mixture didn’t blend quite fully, leaving me with little nodules of cream cheese which felt really strange when eating the thing.

Cheesecake should be full-on creamy, rich, and sweet, with just a hint of tang as it spreads across your tongue.  Cheesecake should NOT be LUMPY.

Only the crust is allowed to have a lumptastic texture.

So I’ll be trying some different recipes – and already have them flagged.

Keto Cheesecake Tarts from KetoKrate Blog

recipeimage

Blueberry Cheesecake squares from DitchTheCarbs

rsz_keto_blueberry_cheesecake_squares_tall

No bake Lemon Cheesecake also from DitchTheCarbs

rsz_1lemon_cheesecake

Now I just gotta find the TIME to play in the kitchen 😀