I grew up in (what I now realize was) a very interesting place. Very small town, close-knit (some would say clannish) families. Food influences from Chicago, midwest farm country, and eastern Kentucky. Food in the area was great! Good cooking was just normal and I’m always surprised to find people who don’t know how to cook anything unless it comes in a box with step-by-step instructions. My mom was a business owner (female business owner in the early 1970s!) who sometimes worked long hours, always worked Saturdays and tended to cook mainly for holidays; my dad worked a swing shift and drove 45 minutes one-way to his job in a steel mill. We ate out a lot on the weekends. One place my family went to very frequently when I was growing up was a place called Patterson’s where the Italian Beef sandwich was fantastic – that’s what I’ve been hungry for lately. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, a true Italian Beef sandwich is a marvel of flavor, juiciness, and engineering. It should be slow-cooked for hours and piled onto a roll that’s been soaked in the cooking juices and accompanied by a bowl of juice into which one dunks the sandwich between bites. So good. When I was a kid I ordered 1/2 of a beef with fries…gave my pepperoncini’s to my dad.
I occasionally become home-sick for the food back in my hometown, although the last time my husband and I went to visit (a trip which I refer to as our Midwestern Eating Tour) it was not nearly so good as I recall, but I did get a pretty good Italian Beef at a place in Chesterton where we ate with my brother-in-law and sister. I digress…
Today I’ve got a roast in the crock-pot (thanks to my daughter who picked it up at the store for me) and the whole house smells fantastic. Not Patterson’s fantastic, but pretty darn great. Of course these days, no bread for me. I plan to serve the meat and juices over some cauliflower rice and may even top the entire delicious mess with melted cheese. Not traditional, but definitely low carb. I hope I can slice it really, really thin.
I haven’t posted here in weeks because I needed a little time off. Things have been super-busy (in good ways) and I haven’t been thinking about “doing low carb” whatsoever. I’ve just been eating this way because it’s what I do – which is the point, really. I’ve been at this a long time and I can attest that eating real food that is low-carb is completely sustainable. Those folks who claim it is unsustainable are wrong. For me, when life is extra busy I may be eating lots of restaurant meals and such, but I can do it low-carb. Today I am blessed with a day off to create some real food that will sustain me for several days, and I’m thankful for that. But when time does not allow for that, there is always a bunless cheeseburger and side-salad with ranch dressing within shouting distance.
Looks a lot like what I grew up with
August 10, 2004 was the day I changed how I ate – and a day that set so many things in motion for me. I commemorate the date each year and spend a few moments thinking about where I might be now if not for the desperation that led me to major life change. This year I also made pie.
It may seem strange to people who have never had a weight problem, but changing what I ate really did change my life! I was physically and emotionally sick back then – obese with wacky cholesterol numbers, depressed, aches & pains pretty much everywhere. I didn’t sleep well. I had no energy to do things with my kids.
Getting healthy has meant everything to me. And I try to share that with people because I want them to know how good they could feel; I want them to know there is nothing exceptional about me and they can regain their own health by cutting the crap out of their diets.
I want to share with those who have diabetes and/or obesity that the first step to reclaiming their health is to stop following the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Diabetes Associations’ advice to consume a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.
LISTEN: If you’ve been following the “rules” and you are sick, obese, and/or diabetic YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BY DOING SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. What are you waiting for?
Think about the things you want to do that you cannot do in your current state of health.
- You want to keep up with your kids, grandkids, husband/wife?
- You want to go to school or move to another part of the country?
- You want to travel or do mission trips?
- You want to work more and makes lots of money?
- You want to retire in good health?
- You want to sleep well, spend less on prescription meds, and need your doctor/NP/PA less?
What are you waiting for?
Wouldn’t it be pleasant if we could take a day or two to slow down and spend some quality time in our kitchens, preparing delicious whole foods from scratch? Sure would. For many of us that is not an option.
Recently I spent some time with a lovely woman who is fixin (as we say in NC) to embark on a LCHF way of eating. She’s very well educated and clearly sees the benefits to health that result when the carbs and low-quality foods are cut from the diet. She’s well motivated to take care of herself. She has realistic expectations for weight loss. However, she is also crazy busy right now with educational and professional pursuits that take a great deal of time. Sometimes she is up all night long just to get done all the things on her list. These circumstances could apply to lots of us, so what to do?
First and foremost is to keep one’s sanity. Do not try to take on an entirely new way of cooking right now. Do not allow guilt to come in because you’re not spending hours every weekend preparing and packaging meals to sustain you for a week. Don’t cook at all if you don’t want to make time for it or if you don’t enjoy it. Be you, without the carbs.
Thus, tips on being nice to yourself while keeping carbs low:
- Two words: rotisserie chicken! Available at nearly every grocery in America, delicious, low-carb, versatile. Eat it as-is for a quick supper after work. Strip the meat off the bones and use for sandwiches, chicken salad, soup, omelets, etc.
- Buy some sliced deli meat and assemble as so: 1 slice of meat, lay a slice of cheese on top, roll it up tight like a cigar, dip in ranch dressing and call it a main dish or a snack
- Buy a bag of frozen veg to steam (broccoli, cauliflower, whatever) that does not have sauce. Microwave it the first night to steam, then keep it in the fridge for portions a few nights of the week.
- Make smart, low-carb drive-thru choices: Salad with grilled chicken, hold the croutons or candied nuts, ranch or bleu cheese dressing. Burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, mustard…no bun + side salad with ranch dressing. Hardee’s LC breakfast bowl (not always on the menu board so ask for it by name). Order two sausage/egg muffins and then toss the muffins and reassemble with egg, sausages, egg and eat like a sandwich. Grilled chicken sandwich with bacon and cheese, no bun + side salad with ranch. Water is available everywhere, as are coffee and unsweetened tea.
- Eat out in low-carb friendly restaurants: A steakhouse is your best option since you can get any salad (skip croutons) with cheese, tomato, onion, etc., along with a fat-based dressing. Order whatever steak/chicken/pork entree you want – no sauces. Skip the potato and ask for extra steamed or sauteed veg and request extra butter (real butter, not “butter oil”) on the side so you can drench your veg. Ask your server not to bring the basket of bread to the table. Water, coffee, tea, liquor (no sugary mixers or fruit juice).
- Snacks in your bag or desk: Jerky, pepperoni slices, nuts (beware the quantity since some of us have no self-control with nuts), Moon Cheese (find it on Amazon or Netrition.com), whatever fits your plan that helps you forget the vending machine exists.
- Depending on what carb level you are “allowing” yourself: LC tortilla or Flat-Out Wrap used to make quesadilla (really, this is more assembly than cooking) or sandwich wrap with those deli meats or rotisserie chicken you bought at the store.
- Staples for the fridge: LC/Low sugar ketchup, mayo, mustard, any pickle not made with sugar, salsa, heavy cream, water, cheese. And more cheese. And plenty of real butter. At my house we have an entire fridge drawer dedicated to cheese. And another to chocolate.
- No-fuss LC day might look like this:
- Coffee with cream at home/on the way to work or school
- Breakfast from the drive-thru: 2 sausage/egg muffins, ditch the muffins and eat the eggs/sausage sandwich style or with a fork/knife
- Snack you brought from home and tucked in work fridge: Cheese/pepperoni slices + pickle spear
- Lunch from sandwich shop: Salad greens, all the sandwich fixins you would usually order plopped on top of the salad, skip the bread, add fat-based dressing (ranch, bleu cheese, Caesar, Italian…)
- Supper of rotisserie chicken warmed up in the microwave along with some of veg you steamed out of the freezer case at the grocery
- Snack of pork rinds or SF Jello cup or sugar free dark chocolate
Do you. You don’t have to follow some recipe book or blog site. You don’t have to make all your food from scratch. Your meat does not have to be 100% grain fed and organic. Your eggs don’t have to be free-range. You don’t have to avoid every preservative and coloring in the world. Start where you are and get the carbs out. There will be time to get fancy later, if you want to. And if you never want to, that’s okay too.
Lack of hunger and the ability to do what I need to do without stopping to feed myself every few hours. It’s been a busy time at work (and outside of work) since I returned from the conference in Vegas. Nonstop, really.
Today was a bit brutal with a very heavy workload and my mom in surgery today at the hospital where I work. But I didn’t fall out (as we say in North Carolina) and still have energy to spare tonight. I had coffee with cream very early this morning, then breakfast/lunch around 2:30. Helping Mom get settled took the evening and I find myself at nearly 10:00 without hunger. No crashing.
Back in my high carb days, I was powerless about food and would have been whined that I was starving by 10:00 a.m. and no way I could have survived on one meal per day without even taking time to snack. Do I want to eat like this everyday? No. I like food and I enjoy eating…but with LCHF I am not bound to eating at times when it simply is not convenient. I can decide when and what – and that makes me feel pretty powerful. And on a day such as today, that is something to be thankful for.