Slow Carb Foodie in 2012

Happy New Year SlowCarb-ers!  I hope you everyone had a happy and healthy holiday season.  I accomplished “happy” but “healthy” was not so successful.  I spent the week in Queensland, Australia camping with friends at the Woodford Folk Festival, one of Australia’s most popular music festivals (don’t be too jealous all of you in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s summer here!)

I had a great time enjoying the sunshine, great music and comedy acts, but after day one, I sort of gave up my healthy eating (and drinking!)  I gained 4 lbs in a week, which isn’t all that bad considering when I was doing the Slow Carb cheat days, I would occasionally gain  4lbs in a day.

At the end of it all, I felt like crap.

I was bloated, lethargic and may have given myself acid reflux for the first time in my life.  Yuck!

I’d say it was a bummer, but it was actually a nice reminder of why I invest so much time and energy cooking and eating healthily most of time – not just to look better but to feel better.

So, I’m starting the new year off a bit different.  Last year, I began the year following Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet, made popular in the best-selling “The 4-Hour Body” and over the year my eating gradually evolved to be a bit Paleo as I discovered I felt a lot better and was able to break through what seemed like an impossible weight-loss plateau by eliminating legumes altogether.

Over the course of the year, I lost 17lbs.  (my initial goal was 20lbs).  Over the holidays, I gained about 7 lbs, which brought my net weight loss to 10lbs for the year.  This was all related to diet as I wasn’t engaging in any exercise and had a fairly sedentary “desk”lifestyle.

I initially felt a lot better as I implemented the diet, but toward the end of the year I stopped losing weight despite the fact that I was following the plan that had previously worked for me, and I started feeling a bit sluggish.

I decided that 2012 is going to be the year that I get healthy.

Here are some of the health goals I’ve set for myself:

-Goal Weight 125 lbs

-Start doing yoga and do it AT LEAST 1x per week

-Resume kettlebell swings AT LEAST 2x per week

-Resume running AT LEAST 2x per week

-More green veggies – transition diet to at least 50% veggies each day

-More raw foods and salads

I’ve decided to tackle food goals first and then the exercise goals, rather than trying to make a lot of changes all at once.   In order to kick off the year with LOTS of veggies and raw food, I’ll be following Kimberly Snyder’s “Beauty Detox Solution”.  I’ll share more about that later – but in sum it’s 80% plant based diet, mostly raw.  It’s supposed to work like a natural detox  for people who have eaten a lot of acidic foods (meat , alcohol, grain, dairy are all acidic, by the way!)  After my week of partying, this feels like a nice change, and I hope to see some good results.

The author doesn’t require you to become vegetarian but suggests it or at least cutting down on meat and only pairing it with certain foods that aid and won’t hinder in the digestion of meat.   I’ve decided to jump in wholeheartedly going 100% vegetarian.

I think my body may very well go into shock!  I am a bit of a protein addict.  I’d even estimate 50%+ of my diet previously came from meat and eggs, so this is a pretty radical  leap for me.

In preparation, I  decided to re-read “The Meatless Machine I: Reasons to Try a Plant-Based Diet for Two Weeks” chapter in 4HB (pg 520 in the appendix if you’re interested) on being vegetarian.

Something I didn’t pick up on (or probably intentionally chose to ignore) during my first read of this was the following recommendation from Tim:

“I suggest a two-week PPBD (primarily plant-based diet) test after 3-4 months on the Slow-Carb Diet.  No matter where you end up afterward, the awareness will lead to better decisions that benefit appearance, performance, and the planet as a whole.”

OK – so if it’s good enough for Tim, then it’s good enough for me.

I plan to follow this through January and then return to Slow Carb-ing per usual.  In the aftermath, I’ll share some of my experiences.  In the meantime, you can still expect recipe updates along with a few other new features from the SlowCarbFoodie.com.  I’ll be announcing everything on the 15th of January along with a free ebook entitiled “10 Slow Carb Shortcuts Even Tim Ferris Doesn’t Know About (Yet)” I’m releasing with fellow 4 Hour Blogger Jason from FindingMyFitness.com.

Stay tuned for the new updates, and if you haven’t already, sign up for the newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out on the ebook.

I hope everyone’s new year is off to a good start!

The Slow Carb Foodie Featured in Tim Ferris’ new Slow-Carb Diet TM Cookbook – Volume Two

Slow Carb Diet Recipes

I’m excited to announce that one of my original recipes has been included in Tim Ferris’ new Slow-Carb Diet TM Cookbook – Volume Two.

If you’re interested in buying a copy of the book, a fairly exhaustive collection of Slow Carb recipes, 100% of the proceeds are being donated directly to QuestBridge, which helps put the smartest, low-income students in the US into the best colleges.

In Tim’s own words, “It’s a highly leveraged program, and some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley are advisors. $25,000 covers the cost of financial aid applications for 2,000 low-income high school students!”

Very cool.

Tim is only making the hardback available for 72 hours, ending Tuesday, March 22, at 6pm PST so you don’t have long to get your hands on one.

A Handful of Slow Carb Lentil Recipe Variations

While Spiced Bacon Lentils are still my favorite Slow Carb legumes, I’m still experimenting with other ways of cooking lentils because, well, variety is spice of life, right?  Sorry – that was bad, I know.

Here’s the basic w way I go about preparing lentils.  The recipe is fairly lose because I usually cook using whatever I have on hand.

Basic Lentil Recipe (using canned lentils – follow directions here to cook dried lentils)

  • 1 Tbs ghee or macadamia nut oil
  • 1 medium- large onion, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cans of lentils, drained
  • 1 cup of water or stock

Directions

  1. Heat ghee or oil in a medium sized pan.  Add onions and sauté until translucent. 5-10 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat a bit.  Add garlic.  Sauté 1 more minute until fragrant.
  3. Add spices –  see below for ideas
  4. Add lentils
  5. Add water or stock.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has evaporated or thickened.

Spice Variations (make and blends you use are pure spices, no fillers!)

Southwestern Lentils – add 1 Tbs of Fajita or Taco seasoning + ½ can diced tomatoes.  Serve with avocado or guacamole.

Curry  Lentils –  add 1 Tbs of Curry Powder .  Optional add ins:  bay leaf, chickpeas.

Southeast Asian Lentils – add 1.5 teaspoons Garam Masala.

Middle Eastern Lentils – add 1 Tbs Penzey’s Turkish Seasoning. Optional add ins– diced tomatoes, finely diced sautéed zucchini or eggplant .

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Week 3 Progress and Update: Cheat Weekend for my 30th birthday

I’m utterly stuffed and exhausted.   I’ve just returned from a fantastic weekend out of town.  As it was my 30th birthday, and I was whisked a way for a weekend of food, wine and SKYDIVING, I decided to take 2 days off instead of the one day and will get back on track tomorrow.

Stay tuned for several new recipes I’ve tried out + my weight loss updates and a few tweaks I have planned for the diet this week.

Slow Carb Beef and Lentil Soup

Slow Carb Soup Recipe

Yesterday I found myself with a lot of beef that needed to be cooked ASAP and wanted to make some sort of “one pot” meal that works for the Slow Carb diet.  This recipe, from Giada De Laurentiis and the Food Network, covered all the bases.

I hesitated to post this recipe because it’s not my normal style of food, and I actually didn’t love it (despite hundreds of 5 Star reviews on the Food Network and a few friend telling me it was tasty), but I think it would appeal to a lot of people and so it’ll be included.  This is a heavy, hearty, stick to your ribs kind of stew, perfect for a cold winter night.

Below is the original recipe.  I’d recommend doubling the spices and adding a bay leaf and some extra garlic.  Because the veggies included aren’t very nutritionally dense, I would also advise adding spinach.

To save time you can use canned lentils or cook the lentils in a separate pot while you are cooking the meat.

Slow Carb Soup Recipe
Slow Carb Beef and Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 6 (14-ounce) cans beef broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups (about 11 ounces) lentils, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Directions

1. Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Add half of the beef and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef.

2. Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, rosemary, and oregano to the pot. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.

3. Return the beef and any accumulated juices from the bowl to the pot. Add the broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the meat is just tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

4. Add the lentils. Cover and continue simmering until the lentils are tender, about 60 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.


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Slow Carb Salmon with Garlic and Turmeric

Slow Carb Salmon Recipe

I grew up in a very meat-eating family where beef, lamb and chicken almost always took center stage.   This trend followed me into adult life, mostly because I had no idea how to cook fish.

I’ve been trying to incorporate a bit more fish into my diet for awhile now, but my default tends to be sushi, more specifically raw salmon.  In my opinion, really good salmon is a bit wasted when you cook it.

Sushi-grade salmon (and even regular salmon) is quite pricey in Australia so now I’m making more of an effort to learn to cook salmon well and make it interesting.

This is a recipe I found in my favorite book of curries.  I made it with the sauce, but for a REALLY simple meal (or if you are avoiding coconut milk), it doesn’t need the sauce.  Warning, it’s a bit intense, so if you prefer things milder, I’d cut the amount of garlic in half.

I serve this dish with yellow daal and sautéed spinach.  Leftovers make a great lunch for the next day.

Serves  4.

Slow Carb Salmon Recipe
Salmon, Spinach and Daal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless salmon fillet
  • 1 T macadamia nut oil

Optional Ingredients (if you decide to make it more of a curry)

  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Mix the salt, turmeric and garlic together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the top of salmon fillets and gently press it into the salmon so it coats it. Cover the fish,  and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to sink in.
  2. In a large skillet, add the oil and heat to a medium temperature.  Once sufficiently warm, add the salmon with the spice covered-side down.   Sear the salmon for about 2 minutes until it gets a nice crust.  Turn the salmon over and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. If you’re making the sauce, you’ll want to mix the coconut milk, pepper (and additional cayenne pepper, if you like things hot) while you are searing the fish.  Stir, and pour over the fish once you’ve seared the other side of the salmon.  Using a spatula, gently lift the fish so that some of the sauce gets under it and releases some of the browned bits of garlic and spices.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low.  Cover the skillet and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Fish is ready when it’s barely starting to flake.
  5. If the sauce isn’t think enough for your liking, remove the fish so you don’t overcook it, and then turn up the heat to medium and allow to simmer until it reduces more.

Note:   If you’re planning on serving the salmon without the sauce, once you’ve turned the salmon, cook for another 5 minutes until the fish is barely starting to flake.

Slow Carb Steak Marinade

When it comes to steak, I could eat filet mignon with nothing but salt and pepper cooked medium rare every single day and be a happy lady.  But, it’s summer in Australia and that means it’s BBQ season.  Here ‘s a simple marinade you can make with items you likely have sitting in your pantry right now.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 3 teaspoons wheat-free tamari
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ t oregano
  • 1lb cut of lean steak (I prefer flank steak or skirt steak for this recipe)

Directions

  1. In a shallow dish, combine the wine, tamari, a pinch of fresh ground pepper and oregano.
  2. Add the steak and coat both sides with marinade.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.
  4. When you’re ready to cook, remove the steak and discard extra marinade.
  5. Cook on the grill to medium rare.  Slice thinly across the grain and serve.

Note:  This steak can also be done indoors using the broiler.  Coat a broiler rack pan with olive oil cooking spray and cook about 4-6 minutes per side (depending on how well done you like your steak.)  4 minutes is normally medium rare.

Week 2 Progress and Update

No, this is not me…. yet.  I wish.  A little aspirational image to keep motivated for now as the pounds and inches slowly come off.

Cheat Day Update

I had my second “official” cheat day yesterday.  I say second, not third because I’m not counting my first week on the diet due to a major slip-up I didn’t realize I was making.

As with the week before, I didn’t have much of an appetite or cravings for any of the foods I’d briefly thought about missing during the week.   My cheats were pretty minor, and I felt a bit sick after eating the gyro and pasta.  After weighing in this morning, I’d gained 1lb.

Here’s what I ate:

  • Breakfast:   2 eggs over easy + some homemade hashbrowns with onion and garlic.
  • After breakfast:  1/3 a bar of Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate.
  • Lunch: small bowl of easy mac, 3 Thin Mint style cookies.
  • Dinners:  I ate ¾ of a gyro.  I was too full to finish the whole thing.
  • Post Dinner: I ate about 1 cup cooked pasta with a little butter on it – didn’t really want it, but felt like I should eat pasta.

It all sounds a bit pathetic for a cheat day.  I spent most of the day running around and doing errands so didn’t even think about food most of the day.  Next week, I think I’ll make more of a concerted effort.   On the bright side, I didn’t gain much weight, on the negative, I think I probably consumed fewer calories than I would on a normal day so I’m a bit concerned I’m not achieving the calorie spike needed.

General Progress Update

I’m now two weeks into the Slow Carb Diet with not much success.   I’m thinking most of this has little to do with the diet and more to do with my circumstances the past 2 weeks.

This was a bit of a crazy time for me.  I’d just returned from 3 weeks vacation and hadn’t settled into any sort of routine when this week hit me with job interviews, houseguests and entertaining for my boyfriend’s birthday all at once.

I don’t believe in making excuses because “stuff” will always come up (that’s life, right?), but I want to mention these things in the context of why I don’t think I’m seeing the huge results that some others are seeing, and also why I’m still happy and committed to the diet.

Also to note: I am a female who doesn’t have a tremendous amount of weight to lose.  I’d say 10lbs to looking fit and healthy.  20 lbs would be very lean and fit.  I’m assuming the weight just comes off a bit slower at this point.  I’ve been doing some version of Low/Slow carbs for awhile now (before starting the blog), and think I’ve already shed my “easy” weight (the huge lbs everyone seems to lose in the beginning.) 

Circumstances that may have impacted my results:

  • The past 14 days were the days leading up to and during my period.
  • I ate out a few times for birthdays and other occasions.  While I stuck to the diet, there may have been unknowns in the food.
  • I don’t think I’ve been getting enough protein within 30 minutes of rising.  I know on some days I definitely did not.
  • I may not be drinking enough water.  I don’t tend to measure my water intake as I’ve been in the habit of drinking water (and not much else other than alcohol on special occasions) for years so didn’t consider this might be something I’d need to monitor.

What I’m going to change this week:

  • Optimize my morning routine:  Scale, water, food – all within 30 minutes.
  • Count my protein.  I realized a few days ago that one of my regular lunches Broccoli + Can of tuna and olive oil only has about 18g of protein.  Sometimes I’d eat this with lentils, sometimes not.  Now, I’m realizing it may not have been enough protein for me.
  • Track timing of meals.  Much of my meal timing has revolved around work and other people.  I don’t think I was too far off, but I’m going to actually track this week just to make note of patterns.

I have one other thought that I may need to start “front loading” my legumes early in the day and not eating them in my last meal.  I’m going to wait another week to test this and see how I do just being a bit more fanatical about the details.

Homestyle Slow Carb Lentils

Slow Carb Lentil Recipe

This is a simple lentil recipe I came up with to utilize the leftover carrots, celery and onions I have from making veggie stock, chicken stock or roast chicken.  I call these “homestyle lentils” because they have a savory, wholesome roast chicken flavor.

Feel free to experiment with different quantities and seasonings.  I don’t normally measure, just throw in whatever leftovers I have laying around.  I’ve included approximations to get you started.

You can use canned or fresh dried prepared in this way.  If you use dried lentils, about 1 cup dried will do.  Just cook them before beginning the recipe as it assumes you are using cooked lentils.

Slow Carb Lentil Recipe
Slow Carb Homestyle Lentils

Ingredients

  • Lentils  4 cups cooked
  • Leftover roast veggies 1-2 cups
  • 2 cups broth or stock
  • 1-2 Cloves of garlic (if there’s none in your roast veggies)
  • 1 Tbs Macadamia nut oil
  • 1 Tbs dried Italian herbs (I prefer Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)
  • 1 t sea salt or veggie salt

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a medium sized pot.  Add garlic if desired.  Once it becomes golden, add veggies and stir over medium heat until warm.
  2. Add spices.
  3. Add lentils.
  4. Add broth or stock and heat until pot reaches a slow boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Carb Friendly Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling

One of the main challenges with a Slow or Low Carb diet is having the right food prepared and handy,especially if you work in an office with not too many diet-friendly options for take away nearby.  For that reason, I’m always on the lookout for meals that “pack well” for lunches.

I discovered this recipe a few years ago when doing the South Beach Diet.  I normally modify all my recipes just a bit, but this recipe posted at Kalyn’s Kitchen who first adapted from California Sol Food is pretty darn good as is.   I highly recommend Kalyn’s website for Slow or Low Carb ideas.  I’ve cooked quite a few of her dishes, and they’ve always been killer.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like strong flavors and a lot of garlic so all I really do differently is up the garlic and/or shallot factor.  I like things spicy so sometimes I’ll add some extra chilli sauce or sambal.  Sometimes I’ll add extra peanuts for more crunch as well.  And, of course, I use macadamia nut oil instead of other oils.  This recipe works well if you want to portion out a few servings for lunches.

Note:   this recipe also works with ground chicken or pork so just use whatever you have on hand.

Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe adapted from  Kalyn’s Kitchen who first adapted from California Sol Food.

Ingredients

1 Tbs macadamia nut oil (or slightly more, depending on the pan you have)

3 T minced red onion or shallots

2 T minced garlic

2 T grated ginger root

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey

4 Tbs wheat-freeTamari

1 Tbs Chile Garlic Sauce (or slightly more if you like spicy foods)

1 tsp. fish sauce

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (about 1/2 large bunch)

1/3 cup chopped peanuts

1 large head or 2 small heads Boston Lettuce or butter lettuce (or iceberg lettuce in a pinch.  I’ve even used cabbage which has a nice crunch)

Directions

  1. Chop onion and set aside. Peel ginger root, then grate with the large side of a cheese grater, and chop garlic if using fresh garlic. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add onion and saute about 2 minutes, then add garlic and ginger root and saute about one minute more.
  2. Add ground turkey to frying pan (with a bit more oil if needed) and break apart and spread out with turner, then add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and fish sauce. Cook until the turkey is brown and crumbling apart, and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  3. While turkey cooks, wash and chop fresh cilantro to make 1 cup. Remove the core end from lettuce, separate leaves, and wash in salad spinner and spin dry (or wash under running water and dry with paper towels.) Chop peanuts and put in small bowl to serve at the table.
  4. When turkey is done, add chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more. Serve filling and lettuce leaves in separate bowls, with chopped peanuts in another small bowl.
  5. If I’m planning on using this for work lunches, I’ll just mix all the little bowls together and portion out into lunch containers.