KetoLife: Bone Broth & Sprout Soup – Smoothie in a Vita-Mix

For some years now I’ve been making bone broth, and saving bones for the purpose when I don’t buy soup bones from the store (Jack’s Market in Menominee, MI.) But I often forget to drink my daily cup of broth.

I’ve also been going nuts for using my Vita-Mix lately (an old model Maxi-4000 Commercial) and have been getting good results, and am also obsessive about doing my sprouting.

So I’ve combined some obsessions to come up with my bone broth & sprout hot soup or smoothie, which I’ve had for breakfast and hope to have again tomorrow. Combining two superfoods into one hot drink is a good habit, and giving me a chance to play with my Vita-Mix adds to the appeal.

BEAN BROTH & SPROUT SOUP – SMOOTHIE (VITA-MIX)

2 cups home-made bone broth, any type

1 cup sprouts

Put the broth and sprouts into your Vita-Mix and blend for about 1 minute. Makes 2 servings. Will foam up some from the Vita-Mix. Pour out the amount currently wanted into a saucepan and heat on stove. Heat gently— it doesn’t need a hard boil, just enough heat to get it to hot-soup temperature. The enzymes in the sprouts will be killed off with too much heat.

Store any leftover servings in a canning jar in the refrigerator.

Sprouts used were salad sprouts— alfalfa, onion, radish & broccoli blend. Legume sprouts such as bean or lentil sprouts may also be used. Lentil sprouts from grocery stores sprout very well so this is a cheap source of home sprouts.

Variations: sea salt, herbs and spices, and other health-improving substances (chia seed, any low-carb ‘superfood’ in small quantities) may be added as well. Good fats (butter, coconut oil, MCT oil, avocado oil, bacon fat) may also be added— one to two tablespoons.

The Vita-Mix pulverizes the sprouts so you don’t even see that there WERE any sprouts in the mix. Common blenders might have trouble with this chore. I don’t know about other kitchen appliances— Vita-Mix is what I have and what I used.

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

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 INSTRUCTIONS:

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.

DAYS TILL HARVEST:

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.

SPROUTING BOOKS

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?

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.

KetoLife: The Joy of Cod Liver Oil

Taking dietary supplements has been a part of the low-carb/keto lifestyle since Atkins’ book in 1972. The idea was that this diet is not perfectly ‘balanced’ in a government-recommended way, and so we had to take supplements as ‘insurance,’ in case we were missing out on any stray vitamins we would have got by continuing with the traditional grain-and-fruit based daily carb binges.

One of the few things that my very conventional ‘health care provider’ (physician assistant) has ever told me was an order to add fish oil capsules to my diet. (She is also OK with my continuing low-carb since she sees it helps with my weight and my diabetes.) I worry, though, since I mostly take the cheap fish-oil capsules I can get at the local dollar store.

I also consume canned tuna (in olive oil, when I can get it) and canned red salmon. But in Dana Carpender’s Fat Fast Cookbook there was an article by Jimmy Moore listing some recommended foods, and one of them was Carlson’s lemon-flavored liquid cod liver oil. I ordered some from Amazon and started to take a dose every day. I finished one bottle already and bought a second, larger bottle.

The cod-liver-oil is perfectly fine to take right off the spoon. The lemon flavor kills any scary or fishy bad taste. The lemon taste isn’t overwhelming, either. Just a trace taste to kill the fear of taking actual cod liver oil off a spoon.

I think this CLO addition to my diet is probably far better than the nasty cheap fish oil capsules from the dollar store, which may be rancid or have other problems I don’t know about. They say that omega-3 fats are very important for heart health. This is my source, since I can’t get fresh salmon on a daily basis or at all and don’t know if I’d even like it. (I do like smoked salmon, however. When I can get to a store that carries it, and can afford it.)

Now, I am not a person who routinely consumes odd or scary ‘health foods.’ I carb-binged on ordinary processed food for most of my life, and still do so once in a while. If I can manage my daily dose of CLO, you can do it too!

As for my other supplements— I have a daily vitamin-mineral pill, low cost from the dollar store, a probiotic, and have recently upgraded the garlic oil capsule I used to get to a better grade of garlic pill from Amazon, since I have high blood pressure in spite of being low-carb. Since I am not a medical or nutritional professional, I’m hopeful you can get better recommendations than I can give from a source near you— maybe even a seemingly anti-low-carb ‘health-care-provider’ you have been assigned to. I mean, I got a good recommendation for fish oil capsules from my ‘health-care-provider’ who is certainly not a low-carb expert.

KetoLife: With Keto, Thou Shalt Cook

It’s maybe sad, but it’s true— if you go keto/low-carb, you have got to know how to cook. At least, you need to know some simple basic low-carb recipes and cooking skills.

Sometimes YouTube can help with this— there are a number of different videos showing how to make ‘Diet Revolution Rolls,’ a kind of bread-substitute made from separated eggs which is a recipe in the original Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution book (1972). I learned that I had to beat the egg whites longer than I had been doing. From a non-video online source, I also learned what a good idea it is to bake such rolls in a muffin top pan or Yorkshire pudding pan. (I currently have 6 such pans of different types.)

But it’s also a good idea to have a supply of good low-carb recipe books. I have all the Atkins books and cookbooks, most of the Dana Carpender cookbooks, and a couple books with recipes by Maria Emmerich (both from books co-written with Jimmy Moore.) I like to look through my many recipe books and find ones to try, even though I’m not normally a girl that’s big on cooking or trying recipes. I do like to eat, though.

Here is a big secret about cooking for those non-cooks out there: when you find a recipe you like, as you make it multiple times it gets simpler to do. My mom used to make a great (but high-carb, alas) tuna casserole. She got so good at making it she could throw it together about as easily as she could put a frozen dinner in the oven. So, here are some recipes that I have tried that might be worth doing again.

CREAMY SCRAMBLED EGGS

Recipe Book: 200 Low-Carb High-Fat Recipes, Dana Carpender, (2015.)

Dana is kind of famous for giving explicit directions for how to make omelets in every cookbook of hers. I’ve done them, but this is simpler and better, at least when I do it. After trying it the way Dana says to do it, I’ve also tried mixing the cream into the eggs directly when I prepare the eggs, Either way works, and the eggs are delicious. Of course, I’m lucky enough to get eggs that come from my own laying flock, but store-bought eggs also work well when the hens are being unproductive.

GEORGE HOLLENBECK’S HAMBURGER STROGANOFF

Recipe Book: 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, Dana Carpender, (2004.)

I was looking for some recipes that I could make and freeze, so I’d have some low-carb meals I could just heat up in the oven. This is one recipe I tried. It’s quite good. I would suggest ignoring the instruction to use ‘lean’ ground beef— it’s an old cook book, relatively speaking. The recipe suggests serving it over ‘spaghetti squash’ which kind of adds to the carb count. I serve mine over heated frozen veggies, usually green beans. I thaw the frozen stroganoff overnight and heat it in a mini loaf pan in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. I heat the frozen veggies for about 15 minutes in a disposable mini pie pan which I get from Amazon. For serving I pour the stroganoff on top of the veggies. I found that dividing the stroganoff into 6 servings was not enough for me. The second time I made it I divided into 4 servings, which is more satisfying. I might also add a small can of mushrooms to the next batch.

HAMBURGER CURRY

Recipe Book: 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, Dana Carpender, (2004.)

This recipe calls for making cauli-rice to serve it over, but I omitted that step and just serve it over whatever veggies I have. It’s very good and a nice change of pace. The recipe calls for 16 ounces (two small cans) of tomato sauce. Be sure and read your sauce labels in the store— some have sugar added and some don’t. We want the kind without added sugar. Since the tomato sauce adds carbs, you might try cutting the amount in half and see if that agrees better with you. I’ve also considered making it with one can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes & green chilies (10 ounces) just to see how that would turn out.

I froze the individual servings in 1 pint, wide-mouth Ball canning jars. I take out a jar the evening before I plan to eat it, and stow it in the fridge. I heat it in the mini loaf pan in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes, and heat the veggies as mentioned in the recipe above. I haven’t done it with cauli-rice yet, but do have some frozen that I could take out of the freezer next time I heat some curry.

More Recipe Notes to Come:

I see this blog post is getting a bit long, so I will write about some other recipes I’ve tried recently with special notes for freezing and re-heating, including Salisbury Steak and Asian Meatballs. I hope that this post will inspire some other ketonians to get in the kitchen and start cooking! (Order the cookbooks from Amazon— Since the recipes do not belong to me I’m not going to steal them for this blog.)

Have you had any success stories in learning keto cooking skills? What helped you?

 

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KetoLife: The Learning Curve

In The Complete Guide to Fasting, Dr. Jason Fung tells how he got started using fasting for his diabetic patients. He had been trying to get them to adopt a low-carbohydrate diet. He gave them information about it, and then had the patients keep food diaries. And found that many of his patients had no clue. They proudly announced they had given up bread— and their food diaries showed that they were eating crackers, pasta, or even pita bread in its place. It was easier to tell some patients to eat nothing at all!

The biggest lesson that we need to learn when we are starting keto/low-carb is that it is different than low-calorie/low-fat dieting, and that the rules are different. We don’t count calories, we count carb grams. We don’t embrace hunger, we take it as a sign to eat something (on our allowed-foods list.) We don’t shun fats as long as they are natural, more-healthy kinds of fats— our bodies actually need fats, and they keep us from being hungry and get us into ketosis (which is where we want to be.)

One of the major rules we have to learn is how to avoid carbs. We need to know what foods have carbs in them, and that all carbs count. We can’t eat the carbs in bananas just because bananas are fruit. The carbs in a slice of whole wheat bread count just as much as the carbs in white bread. Carbs are carbs!

In the early learning phases, we need to learn lists of what foods have carbs in them and are to be avoided. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes (french fries) and sweet potatoes are as forbidden as bread and oatmeal. Even non-starchy vegetables, since they have carbs in them, need to be limited to the allowed quantity. Some low-calorie diets allow you as much lettuce as you can stuff down. We can’t do that— even small quantities of carbs add up when you take the ‘free-food’ approach to things like lettuce.

Dr. Atkins recommended that if you can’t get into ketosis in the Atkins Induction phase, you cut back on your allowed vegetable salad— having one a day instead of two. Some people these days try the ‘carnivore diet’ to get into ketosis— after all, our Paleolithic ancestors probably ate meat alone during the winter seasons, or when the kinds of vegetable food they ate were not currently in season. They couldn’t go to the supermarket and get apples and salad greens year round!

This is why it is so important to measure your state of ketosis. Those urine test strips Atkins recommended are better than nothing, but the best approach is to test your blood for ketones. It’s a similar procedure to testing your blood sugar, but you need the right kind of meter and test strips. Since the test strips are $1 each, I can’t afford that system myself (I’m on SSI disability) but I have a Ketonix breath ketone analyzer which I use daily.

You may have read (on ‘keto’ diet food packaging) that you are supposed to count the ‘net carbs’ or even ‘sugar carbs.’ That is not currently recommended. I’d suggest keeping your eye on the total carbs of a food item. The important thing is what carbs are measured by your body. A high-fiber keto tortilla may not be something you want to eat too regularly if it sends you out of ketosis.