KetoLife: Making Keto Smoothies in a Vita-Mix

With NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow, some of us Ketonians are looking for a way to simplify our eating life without going off the Keto reservation, to gain more writing time. Smoothies are one way, if they are ketogenic smoothies.

Some of us may have it in the back of our minds that drinking smoothies means drinking things full of fruits and dried fruits and honey or agave nectar sugars, and that if we tack the word ‘Keto’ in front of the word ‘smoothie’ the extra carbs will not count.

No, Keto smoothies have to follow the regular Keto rules. You won’t find any frozen bananas in OUR smoothies! Keto smoothies have low-carb vegetables in them, dairy products or substitute dairy such as nut milks, actual nuts, nutritional add-ins like cacao nibs or chia seeds or sprouts, natural and/or allowed flavorings and sweeteners (liquid stevia is recommended— 4-8 drops of SweetLeaf brand liquid stevia, any flavor, is a good place to start.)

There are two major schools of thought about smoothies: one group wants a smoothie that tastes JUST like a chocolate milkshake or other unhealthy non-food, and the other group wants a ‘green-drink’ type smoothie full of broccoli and kale and chia and flaxseed, even if it tastes awful.  I think the better approach is a bit between the extremes. No Keto smoothie will fully taste like a high-carb milkshake because, being low in carbs, it isn’t feeding the carb-monkey on our backs. But a horrible-tasting green drink daily may be a hard habit to continue, and we don’t really need to do it.

I make my smoothies in my Vita-Mix, mainly because that’s what I have. I got it before I discovered low-carb, and in the early days used it to make fruit drinks (’Total juice’) and to grind wheat into bread flour. It makes smoothies well, too. I like the fact that the Vita-Mix is easy-clean-up— you put a drop of dish detergent and some warm water in it and run the Vita-mix for a while. The blending container gets clean, with the dome top needs some washing in a dishpan. (Hint: get in a habit of cleaning your Vita-Mix and any smoothie related dirty dishes immediately after finishing your smoothie.)

To get started with smoothies you probably will want some recipes. Later you can adapt these recipes by adding things, exchanging things, or leaving things out.

Dana Carpender’s 300 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes has some smoothie recipes in Chapter 16. I’ve tried the Mexican Chocolate and the Super Strawberry recipes and liked them. Both call for 3/4 cup of cottage cheese, which I would cut back to 1/2 cup next time I make them, since the smoothies are VERY filling. I also omitted the sugar-free strawberry syrup in the strawberry smoothie, and it tasted just fine.

I ordered Dana Carpender’s earlier smoothie book, but it hasn’t arrived yet. Another smoothie book I ordered has arrived: Dr. Mark Hogan’s Healthy Keto Smoothies. The bad side of this book is that it is self-published and looks it. Dr. Hogan should have hired an editor to go over the book with him (or a better editor.) Also, I’m not sure I trust the nutritional information on the recipes, since one has a whole avocado but a carb content far lower than even a fraction of the avocado. But the good side of the book is that it has an early chapter with comprehensive lists of the different types of ingredients you can use in a Keto smoothie. The list is great for figuring out substitutions or creating your own smoothie recipes based on what you like and what you can get.

How do you figure out the carb count of  Keto smoothie? Pay close attention to the recipe’s number of servings— some recipes from my two Vita-Mix books (neither low-carb) seem like possibilities until you notice it makes 5 or more servings and you don’t have 5 Ketonians in your family. (My newest Vita-Mix book, the author says her father used to make up smoothies in advance and store the extra servings in the fridge, but I’m not sure I want to to that— I think many smoothies get worse over time and are best very fresh.) Make a list of the ingredients in the recipe, and look up the carb counts of each in a carb-count book. You may need a calculator to figure out the carb count of the amount of ingredient that’s in your recipe. Then, if the recipe is for more than one serving, divide by the number of servings to figure out the carb count of your serving.

How do you figure out how many grams of your carb allowance you can spend on smoothies? There are two methods. If you are a carb counter, you will know how many carb grams you are allowed in a day. Figure out how many you will need for your non-smoothie meals, and you will know how many you can spare for a smoothie or two.

The other approach is based on the Atkins approach, where the carbohydrates are counted for you. Set aside some of your allowed ingredients, such as part of your salad veg, your cream allowance, your daily half-avocado, for smoothie use. If you are not still on induction, you can dedicate the extra carb grams of your level for ingredients that are useful in smoothies.

NOTE: SMOOTHIES ARE NOT A SNACK. We think of a ’snack’ as something less healthy than our mealtime meals, even if that’s not true in our fast-food, processed-food world (but we’re not doing that any more, I hope.) In our Keto lifestyle, smoothies are a nutrition powerhouse. They may also use up the bulk of our daily carb allowance. Label them a meal— not even a ‘mini-meal’ or use them as part of a larger meal. They are not the same as a bag of Fritos! They are part of our overall better-health plan. Respect them accordingly!

Ketonians = Keto (low-carb) lifestyle followers

Vita-Mix = a blender with superpowers, much famed in the (non-Ketonian) health food movement

AspieLife: Special Interests and your Writing

One of the fun aspects of having Asperger Syndrome is having obsessive ‘Special Interests.’ These interests are often described as being ‘narrow’— which I suspect means ‘focussed’ and ‘specialized.’ Which is the way of the world. We don’t have PhD ‘generic’ scientists, we have nuclear physicists or geneticists.

What Special Interests really means is that we may be obsessed with ancient Roman history or Star Trek or The Walking Dead or collecting those glass insulators they used to have on power poles….

Herman Melville, an author who is suspected of having Asperger Syndrome (even though the diagnosis wasn’t invented during his lifetime), gives us more information on whaling and sailing ships in the novel Moby Dick than many readers even care for. We might guess that these topics were his obsessive ‘Special Interests.’ And I found the book interesting enough to read voluntarily as a teenager.

Modern Aspie writers have a problem, though. There is more competition for writers, and the modern reader expects us to get quickly to the ‘meat’ of a story. No ten paragraphs of Special Interest generated meandering.

Other people often find our Special Interests peculiar. They may regard us as boring people if we talk about them. Actually, I believe that the real reason we may be boring is not that we talk about our Special Interests, but that since we lack some social skills we may not catch the non-verbal clues that our listeners are bored with what we are saying. Or we may ignore those signs because WE were bored when it was their turn to talk and they talked about their hernia surgery and their diarrhea problem, and now it’s OUR turn. But this isn’t good. We don’t want to bore people when the consequences may be they just don’t want us around.

SOLUTION: The way to make other people think you are a brilliant conversationalist it to talk about those other people, their interests, their lives…. Showing interest is a sign that we care. Or wish we cared. Or something.

SECOND SOLUTION: Join a MeWe group (or Facebook) dedicated to your Special Interest topic, so you have an outlet to ‘talk’ about your Special Interest that isn’t boring other people, or adding boring amounts of Special Interest content to your novel.

Do we have to make all our writing Special Interest free? And just write in a bland, ordinary way to please other people? No, readers don’t like bland either. You want to include the things you are passionate about. You just don’t want to bog down the story with too much Special Interest content. Keep the story action coming. Breaks in which you insert Special Interest content should be few— and connected to the overall story, if possible. Think of them as dazzling little gems that spice up your story— but adding a hundred more such moments would not be dazzling but blinding and scary.

Having Asperger Syndrome and/or Special Interests doesn’t spell doom to a writer— Herman Melville did pretty well for himself after all— but we must be sure that WE are in charge of our stories, not our Special Interests. We want our writing to be interesting, brilliant and different in a cool way— and attractive to readers.

QUESTION: I wonder if it is possible for us to develop a Special Interest on purpose? I mean, if you had to take a class in college in order to graduate, could you make American history or mathematics or Spanish your new Special Interest? Because you have to take the course anyway and you might as well be interested in the subject, and having an obsessive interest in it might help you get better grades. What do you think?

Learning the Three-Act Story Structure

One problem some of us have during NaNoWriMo is difficulty pacing our stories. The beginning goes on for 40000 words, or we reach the final battle around word 10000. If our goal is a complete 50000 word novel, that doesn’t work. (We may be OK with writing 50000 words of a longer novel, or completing a short story, however.)

Knowing about the Three Act structure will help you pace your story. The first act is where you set-up your story. In the second act you develop it, and in the third you conclude it. If you skimp on any of the acts, your story will feel unbalanced and weird.

Plotters will deal with the structure in the outlining phase. Pantsers may be keeping it in mind as they write, or using the structure to sort out the mess of randomly written scenes they have produced. In either case, at some point you need to think about structure.


The first act is the first 12500 words of a 50000 word novel, or the first 1/4 of a longer novel. James Scott Bell, in his book Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing The Power of Story, gives us the following ‘signposts’ that should happen in the first act:

The Disturbance (to the Lead character’s ordinary world)

The Care Package (to show that the Lead cares about someone)

The Argument Against Transformation (Because your Lead is likely to resist the changes coming to his life.)

Trouble Brewing (Hint of the major story conflict to come)

Doorway of No Return #1 (Major change, Lead is now committed to the confrontation/conflict of Act 2)


The Lead is now committed to leaving his Ordinary World for the world of the story’s conflict/challenge. In a detective novel, this change may be in taking the case. In The Hunger Games, it’s when Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place as tribute. In Act Two, the Lead’s life has changed in a big way.

Act Two is longer than Act One— 25000 words in a 50000 word story. About 1/2 of the novel’s total acreage. Act Two can drag if you let it. Here are the signposts that James Scott Bell gives us for Act Two:

A Kick in the Shins (Lead must face an obstacle— trouble related to overall story)

The Mirror Moment (Midpoint— Lead is reflective, realizes he must change or die)

Pet the Dog (Lead character shows compassion to animal or human, in spite of danger)

Doorway of No Return #2 (Lead is now committed to Final Confrontation)


The Lead is now committed to the Final Confrontation that the story has been pointing to. No chance to back out. This final act is the climax of the story, the pay-off that the previous acts have been pointing to. This act is about 1/4 of the novel, or the last 12500 words of a 50000 word novel. The Final Battle should take care of the major conflict of the story, and other loose ends must be wrapped up as well, so the Reader feels the story is done. The signposts:

Mounting Forces (The Lead’s Opposition is closing in)

Lights Out (The darkest point: all seems lost, Lead can’t win)

The Q Factor (Lead receives what he needs to win: encouragement, a weapon, knowledge)

Final Battle (Climax of the story; this battle will solve the story problem, kill or defeat villain)

Transformation (After the battle, Lead has been changed— show this)

Plotters will use the Three Act structure and the signposts before the writing of the story begins. You can use them as the framework of your outline. And, as you write, you can revise elements of that outline to make it more reflective of what you have in fact actually written.

Pantsers aren’t going to work all these things out in advance. They MAY use the signposts and the Three-Act structure to help them set the pace, and to work out what they should write next. OR, they may ignore much of the structure until the second draft stage. Yes, pantsers sometimes outline AFTER they’ve written a first draft, as a way to organize a batch of randomly written scenes into parts of a structured novel.

NaNoWriMo Prep: Clearing the Decks

Preparing for NaNo, as far as the writing is concerned, is different due to your writing style. If you are a plotter, you may need to spend all of October outlining (even though officially you are only allowed one week.) If you are a pantser, you may do nothing, or perhaps just make lists of character names and place names so you have them when you need them.

But there is another, practical side to NaNo prep. You need to ‘clear the decks’ — make things in your life ready for your extra writing hours. What do you need to do to be ready?

You may need to beg off on some volunteering-type projects for the month of November. Let someone else teach that Sunday school class for the month, or run the neighborhood kids to the rec center. Perhaps you should have prepared further in advance by doing extra volunteer things in October to make up.

Writing needs a certain amount of writing hours. You may have to get up an hour or two earlier, If you are grouchy early in the morning, you may need to start the earlier wake-up before Nov. 1st. I use a ‘dawn simulator’ type of alarm clock, which wakes me with bright light, and, later, with nature sounds, because I jump out of my skin with a normal alarm clock. I’ve already set my alarm to an hour earlier, and I lived. I even got some blog posts written.

You might also need to give up some of your regular TV shows, or your regular internet surfing time. Or quit playing Candy Crush for the month.

Your writing area may need revamping. You may need to clean it up, make it more private or less so, or set up a new writing area altogether.

What about your personal responsibilities? If you do cooking for yourself or your family, you might need a plan to make things easier on yourself just for the month.DON’T plan on feeding yourself and possibly others by going on a month-long high-carb fast-food or processed food diet. Being exhausted, sick and unhealthy for a month will NOT help you get more writing done.

Some writers think they have to be fueled by high-carb snacks. This is not so. The way to prevent this is to keep plentiful supplies of low-carb and healthy food options in the house, especially things that are easy to fix. I got myself an ‘air fryer’ and plan to lay in some supplies of chicken wings or chicken thighs I can cook in it. I may also get some turnips to make low-carb ’french fries,’ if I can manage to get to the grocery that carries turnips, and if they have any.

Mommy writers who have to watch children during their some of their writing time have to get creative. I think very short writing sprints— 2 minutes or so— might be a way to get work done on your NaNo novel and give your kids attention in between time. I’ve read about a writer who did very short writing sprints while AT WORK and managed to get writing done and not get fired. (I don’t recommend ‘cheating’ on your employer like that. If you don’t work when your employer expects you to work, why will your employer be motivated to keep paying you? And there is the moral aspect as well.)

Do you usually write to music? That can act as a ‘sound wall’ that helps you ignore distracting noises. Buy yourself some new music to inspire you.

Finally, busy people are often the best people to get things done. Don’t worry if you have to be busy with things during NaNo. I’ve just started a new blog and will be writing posts for two blogs during NaNo month. That may actually inspire me to do more writing on the WIP, since I write both things on the same computer, in both case using Scrivener.

Questions: What preparations do you usually do before writing sessions? What would you do to prepare for a more intense writing experience like NaNo?

Christian Writers and Christian Ignorance

One of the challenges for Christian writers (Catholic, Evangelical, Lutheran, all kinds) is that today’s Christians can be very ignorant of their own faith. And they are not doing anything to change that.

My mom (born in 1927) went to an Evangelical and Reformed church in Brillion, Wisconsin. When she got to a certain age, she had to take a catechism class. They had to memorize the (Reformed/Calvinist) catechism in order to learn the basics of Christianity, before they were allowed to be confirmed and to join the church.

Other Christian children went to Catholic or Lutheran schools instead of the public schools, where they had religious instruction every single day.

Contrast that to today in which many people become Christians after watching an evangelist on television. They ask Jesus into their heart, but they don’t know what to do next. They may try going to a church, but if they haven’t been to a church before it may just seem too weird. Or they may pick a church based on the type of church music used, or prefer one where the sermons sound like they were taken from a New Age self-help book.

Christian writers, people like that are a part of your audience. And it’s your mission, whether you like it or not, whether you feel qualified or not, to plant ‘seeds’ of Christian knowledge in your readers. (It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to make those seeds grow.)

One seed you could plant is the idea that it’s the norm for a Christian to have a daily Bible reading time. At least, it’s the norm today. In the early Church, Christians got their ‘dose’ of Bible at the church service when Bible passages were read. That’s why even today we have the custom of having set Bible readings each Sunday (and at daily Mass for Catholics) and many churches have united in using the same Bible readings— so that my mother at a Presbyterian church and I at a Catholic church would hear the same Bible readings.

Of course, it’s easier to plant this particular seed if you write contemporary fiction. In fantasy, things are different. Imagine if C. S. Lewis had wanted to plant a seed about Bible reading in the Narnia books. In Narnia, Christianity is represented largely by the Person of Aslan, the Jesus-like Lion. There is no holy book or holy scroll mentioned in the story. I suppose Lewis could have mentioned his characters regularly talking to one another about their memories of encounters with Aslan. Well, we’re writers. I suppose we are creative enough to find ways to plant this seed in any type of fiction.

There are three major methods that people use for their daily Bible readings. One, popular among Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans, is to read the assigned daily Mass readings for the day every day. Since these readings are read in daily Mass all over the world, people who do this are a part of the biggest Bible reading group in the world.

Another way is to follow a Bible reading plan which helps you to read through the whole Bible in a year. This is popular with Protestants— I know I had a guide to doing this printed in the back of a Bible I used during my Presbyterian childhood. There is also a Catholic guide to reading the Bible and Catechism in a year, put out by The Coming Home Network International. This is also good for Protestants who want to read the Deuterocanonical books also. (Both the King James Version translators and Martin Luther translated these books. These ‘Apocryphal’ books were not removed from English Bibles until much later. German Protestant Bibles still have them, tucked away between the Testaments.)

The third way of managing daily Bible reading is just picking and choosing passages. Some Christians are led astray by this: they may read the same few books over and over because they are familiar, or they may get into obscure Bible passages which they misunderstand. (This problem is why I encourage folks to read Bible commentaries by qualified Bible scholars, and why we attend churches with trained pastors who can help us through the difficult bits.)

Writers who are Christians may write ‘Christian fiction’ or may write for the mainstream market. But in either case, when you get known as a Christian writer, people will look up to you as a Christian leader. So we need to do our own Bible reading so we can pass on what we’ve learned through our fiction— or at least not lead people astray. (I must now end this post since I haven’t done my daily Bible reading yet today. I’m doing Genesis and Psalms with a commentary, as well as reading the Catechism passages from the Coming Home Network guide. You don’t want to know how many years it’s taking me to ‘read the Bible and Catechism in a year!)

Why Your NaNoWriMo Idea Sucks

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an international event held in November, in which assorted people either try to write a 50000 word novel in a month, or try to kill themselves through excessive coffee consumption. Why they are not allowed to kill themselves with tea I’ll never know….

If you have the impulse to try NaNo this November, you probably have a bit of a writing idea floating around in your head. And most of those NaNo ideas in people’s heads are simply no good.

Why is that? NaNo is a very broad-based event. Some people who do it are actual writers or aspiring writers who have written before. Others are timid souls who have never dared think of themselves as writers before NaNo came along. Some, who probably sign up for NaNo due to peer pressure, aren’t even regular book readers. And NaNo actually encourages ‘youth writers’— that is, children.

Now, children, those new to writing, and non-reader participants may be very enthusiastic about NaNo, but they simply lack most of the knowledge they might need to make an attempted novel happen. Most writers and serious aspiring writers have read hundreds of novels and have absorbed the rules of novels. Without that knowledge, attempted novel writing may be a failing proposition.

Children are a special case. Some will grow up to be real writers. Some will even be brilliant. But they are not there yet, and if they are encouraged to self-published an unready NaNo work, that self-publication will be a drag on their future writing.

NaNo’s founder has a book out called ‘No Plot, No Problem.’ We might guess from that title that NaNo encourages us to be ‘pantsers’— people who write without an outline. The problem is, some people don’t write well that way. And others, who are natural ‘pantsers,’ have story ideas that require a lot of worldbuilding and preparation other than outlining that just don’t fit in to a one-month NaNo.

Not having an outline mostly works for people who have been compulsive readers and who have the rules for novels in their head. They know your Lead character has to have a goal, or something he wants. They know there has to be conflict, even in the gentlest of sweet romances. If your character is not working toward a goal or facing a challenge, nothing is happening in your story.

I remember reading a very bad novel once. It was a near-future story, and the ‘author’ spent the first few chapters explaining how the crisis in the story could possibly happen. When we finally did get characters introduced to us, it turns out they were survivalists who weren’t much challenged by the utter disaster in the story, because they had prepped. The crisis was happening to other people who weren’t central to the story except as corpses in the scenery.

Your Lead character needs to be in the center of the crisis, conflict, or disaster in your novel. If the real action is happening elsewhere with entirely different people, you need to make one of those people your Lead. Readers won’t identify with a character who isn’t challenged, doesn’t want anything, doesn’t do anything other than pick flowers and watch the butterflies fly past.

NaNoWriMo has one bad effect, and that is that it focusses on the word count. Yes, you need to put out a decent word count to finish the first draft of your novel. But if you write scene after rambling scene because you obeyed the NaNo rules and didn’t outline much in advance, and if you tell yourself that the rambling wordiness is OK because you are making your word count, you are setting yourself up for failure. Wordy fiction isn’t readable, and rambling around isn’t something that you can keep in the next draft.

If you have a NaNo idea that might suck, if you haven’t read enough novels, if you have never read a good how-to-write book, does that mean you shouldn’t do NaNo? Not at all! A writer learns by writing. If you finish NaNo with the required word count, but you have created a beast that cannot even be edited and rewritten into publishable shape, you have still written a lot of words. The next writing project you tackle will be better. And writing ideas can get better over time, as you work with them. Thing of some writing project you or someone else has finished. Imagine what the writer would have said to explain his writing idea when he first had it. Then imagine what he could have said about it after he finished the final draft. The idea grew and improved over time, most likely.

I’m doing NaNo myself this year. Since I’m experimenting with the Edit-As-You-Go writing method, I’m not sure it’s possible for me to ‘win’ NaNo by writing 50000 words of a completed (first draft of a) novel, but I think it’s worth doing.

My NaNo profile:

Questions: Do you have a NaNoWriMo idea? Would you give it up if someone criticized it, or would you bull ahead and do the best you could with it? Do you think doing NaNo this year is something worth doing, or a waste of your time?


Join one of my writers’ groups!

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers (Facebook):

Writers With Ambition (MeWe):

KetoLife: Growing Salad Sprouts for Keto

Winter is coming. And that’s not just because I’ve been reading the ‘Game of Thrones’ books. And winter up here in the U. P. (upper Michigan, USA) means snow on the ground and no fresh local vegetables. And our rural grocery stores aren’t that big on having a produce department. We can get lettuce and cabbage heads, celery and (almost expired) bagged salad, but there is not much for us Ketonians who will mostly be eating our canonical two salads per day.

For me, sprouts are the answer. Salad sprouts. Not the store-bought wilty alfalfa sprouts which Gary’s Market has recently begun carrying, but the home grown kind.

To sprout, you need a sprouter of some kind. Some people use bamboo baskets, some those mason jars with plastic screen lids. For salad sprouts, I prefer the Victorio sets of plastic sprouters. These have 4 sprouting trays, one base tray that does not drain (to catch the water) and a topper to keep the lower trays from drying out. The base and the topper are now in green, while the sprouting trays are semi-clear.

An older model of the Victorio set has a white base and no topper. I used an empty sprouting tray to sub for the topper that hadn’t been invented yet. Or else a tray whose sprouts were nearly ready, which do not dry out so easily.

What’s the nutritional information on salad sprouts? One cup of alfalfa sprouts have only trace carbs, fiber, and fat, and one gram of protein. 100 grams of alfalfa sprouts (a lot, four cups?) have 3.78 g carbs, 3.99 g protein, and 0.69 g fat, along with 1.64 g fiber. 100 grams of radish sprouts have 3.06 g carbs, 3.81 g protein, 2.53 g fat, along with .53 g fiber. My guess would be that most salad sprouts are comparable, so that any salad sprouts could be used as your daily salad veg. [Info from Dana Carpender’s New Carb & Calorie Counter 2010 and Steve Meyerowitz’s Sprouts: The Miracle Food 1997]

Sprouters sometimes use one kind of sprouting seed— like alfalfa or broccoli or red clover— and sometimes buy a mix designed for salad sprouting. My favorite kind is called ‘Broccoli and Friends’ and has broccoli, clover, red radish and alfalfa. My current supply of ‘Broccoli and Friends’ expired in 2018, but it’s still sprouting as of this morning. ‘Broccoli and Friends’ comes from Todd’s Seeds and I buy it on Amazon.

Common salad sprouts are alfalfa, radish, clover, cabbage, broccoli, garlic and onion. Other sprouts such as wheat or mung beans are not commonly used in salads. Also, Steve Meyerowitz (aka Sproutman) says that the big legume sprouts— beans, peas and lentils— should be lightly steamed before eating.

Alfalfa and clovers are also legume seeds, but they don’t need steaming. If you are Paleo and worry about legumes, know that alfalfa and clover sprouts are more like salad greens than like Bush’s (sugared) baked beans. Our paleolithic ancestors would not have turned up their noses at such fresh new tender sprouts.


SPROUTING LOCATION: salad sprouts need a light source, so don’t hide them away in a cupboard. I have a plastic shelving unit I keep in the kitchen, four shelves high. The top two shelves are my sprout garden. The third shelf seems to be where the mama cat wants to nurse her kittens, currently. (They are bigger kittens and can climb up.)

SOAKING: sprouting seed needs to soak for several hours or overnight before sprouting. When I have soaked mine for about 24 hours, it did not drown the seeds, so I tend to do long soaking since I do my main sprout-garden chores in the morning. I sometimes put a pinch of powdered kelp in the water to help stimulate growth.

DAILY WATERING: sprouts need to be kept moist! Dried out sprouts are not growing. I tend to water two to three times a day. If you have a water distiller or purifier, use water from that. You don’t want to use chlorinated/fluorided tap water for your sprouts! You can use a pinch of kelp in the water if you think your sprouts need the minerals.


alfalfa – 7

clover – 6

radish – 5

cabbage – 5

broccoli – 5

turnip – 5

kale – 6

onions and garlic – 14

mixtures – check for instructions that came with the seed, or use the time for a major component of the mixture. You don’t want the mix either under- or over- sprouted.

EATING: You can eat your salad sprouts as a salad— perhaps with a low-carb dressing (home-made) or sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt and or Spike or Mrs Dash. You can use them as only a part of a salad. Or you can eat your portions right out of the sprouting tray. You can also incorporate them into smoothies or green drinks, put them on your bunless burgers instead of lettuce, or sprinkle some sprouts on low-carb soups or stews.


Meyerowitz, Steve: Sprouts, the Miracle Food

Reynolds, Bruford Scott: How to Survive with Sprouting

Beerstecher, Jim: Sprouting, The Beginners Guide to Growing Sprouts! (Self-Published, too many exclamation points)

QUESTIONS: Have you ever eaten alfalfa sprouts or other salad sprouts? Have you ever tried home sprouting? What went well and what went wrong? Do you think sprouting is a good way for Ketonians to get good fresh salad greens?

Have You Tortured Your Characters Today?

If you haven’t yet done something cruel, vile and shocking to a fictional character, you haven’t been writing. That’s the fiction writer’s job— to torture characters.

Look at some examples— in the Game of Thrones books, one character loses his sword hand, another most of his nose, another several fingers and toes. Well, that’s a bloody violent series. What about children’s books? Harry Potter has his parents murdered because of an evil wizard who was really targeting Harry, and in the Hunger Games, Katniss, the breadwinner of her impoverished family, feels compelled to volunteer for a combat to the death in order to spare her younger sister from that fate.

Even in the mildest of Amish romances, the Lead character will suffer. Perhaps she’ll find her intended kissing another girl behind the barn— or perhaps he’s discussing complicated Bible passages with her. Maybe the Bible discussion would be worse. Or perhaps she’s suspected of stealing something or of doing something that could get her shunned. Even in a mild romance, life isn’t all roses.

The reason for that is that crisis helps us identify with the Lead character and his struggles. Maybe we don’t really care whether Jordun Bigmuscles ever finds that magic sword. But we’ll care when he’s tortured by a wizard— particularly if he gets tortured because he’s saving someone else from that fate. We care if his brother or his mother is killed by his particular enemy— and we perhaps identify with his attempts to get justice. And this identification with the character helps us identify with the rest of the Lead character’s quest.

Each genre and sub-genre has its own rules for what level of character-torture is permitted. In an Amish romance, Lead character Bethany’s enemy is more likely to steal her apple pie recipe than to lop off her arm with a sword. And Mommy and Daddy don’t get murdered in a baby’s picture book. In other genres like spy novels or epic fantasy, a lot of character-torture is permitted.

One caution before you go too far, though. Really extreme events— your Lead character getting his eyes gouged out and his limbs amputated— can take you to the point where the reader stops identifying with the character because it’s just too painful. I know a nurse who quit watching The Walking Dead the time that Bob was captured by some guys who cut off his leg and ate it. If you want a wide readership, you have to restrain your natural sadism a little.

What bad things are happening to the characters you are working with right now? Are you harming them enough? Remember, no one reads books where everyone is happy about everything right from the start. There’s nowhere to go from complete bliss.

AspieLife: ‘Clean Up That Mess!’ with priorities and Pomodoros

Aspies and people with ASDs have a tendency to be messy, to allow messes to accumulate, and to get overwhelmed by the project of cleaning up a mess.

For me it goes back to childhood. My room was always a mess. My loving parents waited until the mess got into the ‘disaster area’ category and then Mom went ballistic. “Clean up that mess!” she would order, and I was stuck with spending the next several hours on a project that was overwhelming me.

Now I am grown up and grown older, and though I’m a home owner now, that just means I have more messy rooms to take care of. But I am slowly learning how to get things taken care of on my own.

Aspies = people with Asperger’s Syndrome

ASD = Autism Spectrum Disorder

Pomodoro = a timed session of doing some task

My mother’s mistake was to give a general order: clean up that mess, or put things away. What things? Where should they go? What specific things were a part of the mess? And where should I begin? In childhood, I felt I just had to keep cleaning or trying to clean until the authority figure, Mom, was happy with me. And I knew that Mom would never be happy with me. I was not diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome until later in life, so I self-diagnosed as ‘naughty, disobedient and messy.’

To clean up my current messes, I need a plan. I need to make a very specific list of the things that are a problem. For my currently messy living room— the fan needs to be taken upstairs as it won’t be needed over winter. There are books and magazines in stacks that need to go on bookshelves, mostly upstairs. There are odds and ends on the floor that the kittens have been playing with: most must go in the garbage. Cat boxes need to be cleaned. Laundry hampers need to be moved to another room, but I need to clean a space for them in that room. My writing desk is full of papers that need to be filed. My desk calendar needs to be put in a place where the kittens won’t walk on it. Much.

With the list of specific clean-up problems, you can then make a priority list. If you have empty pizza boxes around, tossing them out is a priority, because they will attract mice. Putting the books on your bookshelf in a specific order is far lower down on the priority list, because if the books are on the shelf, the room will still look nice even if the books are not in the ‘right’ order.

Cleaning can seem like an endless task, and that is where doing Pomodoros can help. A Pomodoro is a timed session of doing a task. It is named after the Italian word for tomato, because some people use kitchen timers shaped like a tomato to time their task-working-time. Clean-up chores overwhelm us when they seem endless, so we may not tackle them at all. A Pomodoro sets a limited time on the chore. We know that after the twenty minutes, or ten minutes, or thirty minutes are up, we don’t have to continue the chore all day.

Pomodoros also help us stay on-task. When doing the childhood amorphous ‘clean-that-room’ task, I would end up deciding to clean up my bookshelf and before long I was sitting on the floor cross-legged and reading something. Doing a Pomodoro, especially one specific to a part of the bigger task at hand, keeps us making progress. We pick up trash off the floor until the Pomodoro is up, or until there is no more trash on the floor. Then we do a Pomodoro of putting dirty laundry in the hamper, or of taking stacks of books to the bookshelf, or of cleaning the cat box. After a few specific Pomodoros in the ‘clean-that-room’ category, we are free to tell ourselves we have done enough for the day and move on to something else, or even to relaxing and not doing tasks.

Parents of Aspie and ASD kids need to learn not to use broad orders like ‘clean that mess’ or ‘put everything away.’ Use specific, limited commands. Help the child make lists himself of the type of things he has to do to clean up a room or put things away, and help him learn how to figure out the priorities for himself. Praise the child for making an effort. You don’t need to always scold because of the things not yet done. And don’t use phrases with the words ‘always’ or ‘never’ with your child, as in ‘you never clean your room’ or ‘you always throw your dirty clothes on the floor.’ ‘Always’ and ‘never’ phrases are often not true, and even if true they tend to discourage a child and make him feel he is not able to change for the better.

And now, I need to stop writing about cleaning up, and actually start out by taking the fan upstairs and cleaning the cat boxes. Happy cleaning! Or, at least, less dreadful and burdensome cleaning.

KetoLife: Minding Your Ks and Cs to Track Your Progress

When you start doing the low-carb, Keto lifestyle, you need to keep track of your progress. The first time I did Atkins, I simply used the scale as my ‘judge.’ If I lost a pound, I was good. If I didn’t, I was bad.

Then I got older, and developed T2 diabetes, and my progress on Atkins/low-carb, as measured by the scale, slowed to a glacial pace. That’s what happens as your insulin resistance gets worse over time. I did start taking my blood sugars daily, and when I was doing my low-carb accurately, my blood sugar numbers went down. Even when I was on 2 different blood sugar medications, the low-carb diet lowered my sugars more reliably than the pills. When a doctor made me discontinue both meds, and threatened me with insulin shots, I got more strict with my low-carb and had just as good blood sugars as I had with both pills.

Some people keep food diaries, either on paper or using an app. If you count your carbs and your fat percentage and the like, this may discourage you from eating real food, since it doesn’t come in a box with nutrition facts written on the side. And real food— meat from the meat department or direct from a farmer, veggies from the produce department or the farmers’ market— is very helpful for us ‘ketonians.’

I could never keep a food diary— I’m too disorganized. But what I can do is mind my ‘Ks’ and my ‘Cs.’ I record them in the notebook where I record my blood sugars, blood pressures, ketosis readings (from my Ketonix breath ketone analyzer) and such.

A ‘K’ is a day in which, when evening comes around, I find that I have kept to my keto lifestyle very well. I don’t fuss about very minor potential transgressions, as when I put a bit of heavy whipping cream in my bulletproof cocoa/coffee without measuring it in a tablespoon so it might have been a bit more (or less) than I am allowed. Or eating an unmeasured serving of salad or cooked veggies which might have gone over slightly. (If I’m having a hard time staying in ketosis, I do measure everything.) I lose my ‘K’ for the day when I have really violated the ketogenic rules— like having a burger with a bun, a slice of toast or a serving of noodles— or a carb binge that includes a bag of chips and a couple of candy bars.

‘K’ days also get numbers— K1, K2, K3— depending on how many days in a row I have been doing keto correctly. It is a little ‘reward’ to see your K numbers go up, especially if you’ve been doing keto for two or three weeks without losing a pound or seeing an improved health marker. If you keep doing keto correctly, in time you will see those desired results. You just need to keep the faith and keep earning those daily ‘Ks.’

What about days when you don’t deserve a ‘K?’ Many of us have them. It may be that we gave in to pressure and drank a glass of milk or orange juice or ate a slice of home-made sugary cake. Or maybe we had an actual carb binge. I’ve been having trouble with that when I go to the grocery store. I buy a small bag of chips— and then another small bag of a different kind of chips— and then a candy bar. And of course I eat them all when I get home, which triggers my carb-appetite so I am tempted to do the same the next day…..

Those days are ‘C’ days, and, alas, they get their numbers, too. Having to write a ‘C1’ at the end of a day is bad, but having to write ‘C2, C3 and C4’ in the following days is even worse. ‘C’ days happen, but we should try to avoid them and certainly try to avoid having several in a row.

It helps to develop rules for yourself about carb excesses. I try never to eat carbs all day, but finish any carb food within one hour and keep the carb eating limited to that hour (as in the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet ‘Reward Meal.’) And I try to get back in the groove of eating low-carb meals and drinking bulletproof beverages right away.

Always remember, keto isn’t a temporary diet that you go off and then eat carbs. If you want the health benefits of keto, you have to make it into your lifestyle. Day after day, week after week. After the ups and downs of the initial Induction phase into keto, it gets easier, and as you find foods you like that you can have on keto, it becomes easier still. The results are improved health, less prescription meds with side effects and high prices, more energy, and a better life.

Disclaimer: this blog is not to be taken as medical advice and should not replace consultation with a knowledgeable doctor.