Try. Fail. Try again. Fail Better.

It feels terribly appropriate that I tried to search this quote to give credit to the creator only to be unable to find this exact quote. The only quote I could find was a very similar one by Samuel Beckett but not this particular quote. It tickles the back of my mind as something from a movie. I can just picture some wise male mentor character saying this in a deep gravelly voice that inspires the hero or heroine to go forward and succeed. Hmm… maybe I should search again… As amusing as my quote sourcing abilities are, that’s not what this post is about.

Do you ever get it in your head that you really, really want something? Ever want to do something nice for your spouse/partner? Well, I was in exactly that mood yesterday and neither venture ended in success. On the upside, I learned a thing or two about a thing or two. And I managed to make a stellar riff on shepherds pie… so success! But what were the failures? It all started with a cheesecake.

It’s been almost two weeks of doing keto and I am proud to say we are going strong. But cravings have a way of sneaking in when you least expect them. And there I was, sitting on the sofa registering for health insurance when what should pop into my brain like some culinary epiphany? Cheesecake.

Now I’ve never made cheesecake. I tried once a few weeks ago and it turned to custard with berry sauce over it. And in that case my failure was delicious. I didn’t get any pictures of that gooey disaster but believe you-me, it didn’t last long despite being cemented to the bottom of my pyrex cake pan. What do they call those? A beautiful disaster? Well, I’m gonna call it a delicious disaster.

So armed with the knowledge I’d gotten in that failure, I did a quick recipe search for keto cheesecake. Success! An easy to follow recipe! Huzzah! Okay, let’s look at this.

Filling:
24oz cream cheese
1 1/2 C sweetener
3 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

That’s the filling. That’s it. How could I possibly mess that up? All the recipe said was to whisk together until smooth. So that’s what I did.

Crust:
1 1/2 C almond flour
1 tbsp flax
3 tbsp sweetener
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter

That’s not too complicated either. The recipe said to mix together thoroughly then press into the bottom of a greased spring form pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees before adding filling and baking for an additional 50 minutes.

So, let me say that none of this was an outright failure. It just wasn’t cheesecake like I know it. I wanted dense, sweet, cheesy goodness. What I got was a fluffy, custard-y sweet that vaguely resembles cheesecake. It tasted good. It just wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for so it was a bit of a let down. Manny said it was delicious. We both agreed though, calling it cheesecake is a bit of a stretch.

So that’s the basics. But since when have I ever done anything basic? Nah. Plain cheesecake, or even plain not-quite-cheesecake just ain’t it. So before I popped that sucker in the oven I added a couple handfuls of pecans and some Lilly’s chocolate chips. But that’s not enough! I wanted turtle cheesecake! But how to make keto caramel? Well, I’d figure that out while it baked… in the oven it went.

On to the caramel! Pinterest informed me that this was the absolute best keto caramel recipe out there… so down the bunny hole.

Keto Caramel
1 C allulose
1 1/4 C heavy cream
1/2 C butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

The recipe said to combine ingredients in a high walled pot, stir to combine, and then let simmer for roughly 15 minutes. When caramelized the recipe said you could thicken using gelatin but I didn’t have the kind they said to use and they were very adamant that only that particular gelatin would work so I decided to slip a little xanthum gum in to thicken and lady’s and gents, that was my first mistake.

Did you know xanthum gum is very touchy? So after I had mixed my caramel into a gelatinous mass of gak-like grossness I did a little research. I had treated the xanthum gum just like I would corn starch or flour to create a roux. But oh no, let me tell you that was a mistake. Turns out xanthum gum has roughly 6x the thickening power of corn starch or flour. So I thought I was adding a little thickener when in fact I was creating a snot-like caramel flavored goo you wouldn’t let your child play with much less eat. Ugh.

I guess that’s where the title comes in. Try, fail. Try again, fail better. I haven’t tried to recreate the caramel yet but I will. Manny loves caramel so I will definitely be perfecting that recipe. I think if used sparingly xanthum gum could definitely work to thicken a caramel sauce, and next time I’ll be armed with all the knowledge of this attempt’s failure.

I did manage to eek out enough to stretch over my not-really-cheesecake. It sure was pretty even if it didn’t taste the way it was supposed to. And for that matter, it was delicious too, just not what I had expected. Thank goodness dinner was a roaring success otherwise I would have felt very dejected by yesterday’s failures. I think yesterday I just wanted normalcy and I wasn’t quite ready to accept “normal” keto foods as the new normal yet. So I browned hamburger and whipped some cauliflower and added all the cheese and spices and herbs and put it together to bake. The end result was a delicious dinner of keto shepherd’s pie that racked in at about 5g carbs per serving. It was everything we needed.

So yesterday was an adventure. I normally do a lot of baking and cooking on my days off but I think today I’m just gonna take it easy. Dinner tonight is gonna be a stir fry of chicken and cabbage with a spicy peanut lime cilantro sauce. And desert? Well, even custard-cheesecake is better than no cheesecake.

Work tomorrow will be a breeze. We’re going to enjoy the left over shepherd’s pie for dinner after but to get me through I have perfect keto’s instant french vanilla coffee, their cinnamon roll bars, and their hazelnut chocolate nut spread. Keto made easy! And the items were completely free thanks to the thank an essential employee give away Perfect Keto did to show appreciation for essential workers during the covid-19 pandemic. Thank you Perfect Keto!

Leave me a comment with your best (or worst) cooking fail! As always, take care and God Bless!

So it begins…

Holy toledo! What a week! There is so much to share so I’m just gonna jump right in and get on with it! The week was jam-packed with activities! There was a small Mother’s Day get together, we moved more of my belongings from storage into mine and Manny’s apartment, Manny and I started Keto, and I hurt my foot.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? On Sunday we had my parents and my brother’s family over for Mother’s Day, my sister and her family couldn’t make it. We had an amazing day celebrating my mom and sister-in-law. Manny and I live in an old school building that’s been converted over into apartments and my dad, who hadn’t seen our apartment before, was enamored with the chalkboards. Between him and my nieces we have quite a few new works of art to enjoy. Eventually we’ll erase them so more can be made but we’re going to enjoy them for a while first. The girls also ran around exploring the place and waging nerf-war on anyone who didn’t scold them for shooting them.

For dinner we made stir fry to order. We had cabbage, onion, mushrooms, baby corn, water chestnuts, broccoli, carrots, rice, rice noodles, tempeh, pork, and beef for everyone to choose from. Manny and I had fun flexing in the kitchen. We had a little bit of the “dance” going on as we worked around each other, both of us rocking a pan on the stove to cook up everyone’s orders. My got to try tempeh for the first time and she loved it. Pretty sure we’ll have to have another get-together soon and make a tempeh centric dish just for her.

Before dinner my family all pitched in to help move a bunch of my belongings which had been in storage at my sister’s house over to Manny’s and My apartment which was a huge help. Unfortunately I still have a ton of stuff there but it put a good dent in it and that helps more than I can say. Plus, we were able to get my table and chairs so now our place feels a lot more homey. I think the day was a raging success if I do say so myself.

On Monday Manny and I started keto and so far, it too has been a raging success. We weighed in on Saturday, which we’ll do every Saturday. Then on Sunday we had the family over but on Monday we got down to business. One very expensive shopping trip later, we’re stocked and ready to go! Together Manny and I went through the cupboards removing anything we won’t eat, rearranging, and restocking with the keto-friendly supplies we stocked up on. We both are starting to experience a little bit of keto-flu but we are so motivated that even unpleasant initial side effects won’t put us off.

I don’t actually know my weight or Manny’s. Because I’ve struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food and body image in the past we are opting to have Manny be the keeper of the measurements. Each week after we weigh in he’ll tell me the percentage of my body weight that I’ve lost which will give me encouragement to keep going when I can’t see or feel the progress but won’t be triggering for potentially unhealthy behaviors on my part. We also measured ourselves around the neck, arm, chest, waist, hips, and thigh because we want as many ways to measure success as possible. And last but not least we took some “before” pictures. And of course, since we have huge chalkboards, we plan to have a little fun with it.

We’ve been tag-teaming dinners a lot. Tuesday when we both went back to work I put a pork roast in the crock pot before we left the house. I added chili, cayenne, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. By the time we got home we had a delicious bbq to chomp. And then Manny took the lead frying up a mixture of cabbage and kale with more of the same spices, a little bacon, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. It was an absolutely scrumptious meal! And we sat for probably an hour after we were done eating, planning our meals for the rest of the week. Tonight’s menu is a sort of stir-fry kimchi beef creation.

And as if I needed more motivation, I hurt my foot yesterday at work. I have had plantar fasciitis in my left foot for a long time and as I’ve gained weight in the last year it has gotten really bad, especially after I went back to work at the nursing home where I’m up on my feet for my whole shift running to take care of my residents. Last night I was rushing to take care of one particularly feisty resident who is fond of taking off his shoes and going for jogs in the hallway. I was trying to make sure he wouldn’t fall because in this particular instance he had kicked off his tennies and created an obstacle course of pillows in his doorway and the hallway and then was proceeding to do an odd kick-hop through the whole thing. Talk about a heart attack for me! So rush rush rush I go and pop! I felt something pop in the arch of my foot. The pain of it nearly knocked me over but I managed to keep upright, help my resident pick up, and put shoes on. I also managed the rest of my shift which I’m not entirely sure was the smartest thing to do. A little investigation with Dr. Google and the best I can figure I probably tore my plantar facia a little bit. But I can’t go to the doctor because my insurance through work doesn’t kick in for another couple weeks. So back to Dr. Google it is. Best care? Rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Well cool, I can do all of that. And the best way to prevent moving forward? Loose weight, wear supportive shoes, and reasonably stretch the tendon… Well, it won’t happen overnight but I’m working on all of those.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this novel of a post I thank you. Leave a comment if the desire should strike you. I hope you are well and as always, take care and God bless!

A day of self-care

Today is my self-appointed self-care day.

It feels so silly to feel so run down but as my wise husband reminded me this morning, world events can really take it out of you. We are lucky enough to have been able to work through the covid-19 pandemic. We both work at a nursing home so we have a good amount of job security. But going to work with the ever changing CDC and MDHS recommendations can make it stressful. The admin at our job likes to implement new changes on Fridays at 2 pm… my guess is so they don’t have to actually deal with it until Monday… but what do I know. We’ll see what new ppe or procedure they’ll put in place tomorrow when we go to work.

All things considered though Manny and I are quite blessed. That said, we’re not impervious to stress. Manny usually deals with his by powering down his brain for a little bit and gaming or if it’s bad enough he talks it through with me. I’m a little different. I can talk it through til I’m blue in the face… and sometimes I feel like that’s exactly what I do but stress seems to have a very physical toll on me. I get so very tired and achy. Cliche as this sounds, the best self-care for me is a bath and a nap. So, even though I got perfectly adequate sleep last night, I’m still tired so I’m going to take a nap. When I wake up I’ll take a bath and work out some of the kinks in my muscles.

With states beginning to loosen up regulations the world seems to be preparing to go back to some semblance of normal and yet so much feels completely changed. Between all the PPE we wear at work and the need to wear masks in public, the world feels like a very changed place even though the changes have been fairly small. I’m not sure I can take much more inflammatory news media on top of all the changes at work. All the stress gets carried squarely in my back and neck. The end result has been headaches, lack of sleep, extra soreness from tense muscles. There have been some practical things we could do to help all of this. Badly in need of one, we bought a new bed that sleeps like a dream. We also ordered new shoes for at work. A good foundation helps with all the rest. And of course, we’re gearing up to start keto this next week.

This has been our last week of eating the standard american diet, starting Monday we go keto. Sunday night we’re going to go to our local 24 hr grocery and stock up on what we need. We like to shop in the middle of the night as there are considerably less people out and about and we’re up that late anyway so why not! I’ve been working on our shopping list. It’ll be a pricey trip but in the end I think feeling good in our bodies will be worth it.

I know there wasn’t a ton of new stuff in this one and I went completely without any hints or tips today but I hope this post was enjoyable to read and finds you all well. Feel free to drop a comment with anything you’d like to see in the future. Much love and as always take care and God bless!

Starting Fresh

Yesterday’s post was something of a bonus given that we had made such a big decision for our life. So bonus, you get two posts this week! Yesterday I went through our cupboards and pulled out all things high in carbs. There’s one box set aside with things I know my sister and her kids can use but then there are two partially full boxes full of other foods. One box holds unopened items that we can give away or donate. The other has items that are already open, we’ll eat what we can in the next week and then we’ll offer to our friends. Whatever they don’t want we’ll toss.

The benefit of keto is that we’ve both done it before. We know how we feel when doing it. For me, I know that the first month is pretty brutal. Keto flu is no joke. The headache I’m about to receive is almost enough to make me reconsider, but in the end it will be worth it to be healthier.

We’ve been trying for nearly the entire year that we’ve been together to eat healthier. Smaller portions, healthier choices while still honoring the need for foods that although maybe not healthy are very satisfying like chocolate or potato chips. There’s something to be said for satisfying that need to enjoy salty and sweet. And I know what you’re thinking; doesn’t keto rob us of that? Well, yes and no. There’s no cheating on keto. If you cheat it can take weeks to get back on track and put your body back in ketosis which is the state it needs to be in to burn fat instead of sugar. Once committed, you’d better be committed else-wise you’re wasting a lot of time and energy. When I did keto before I found I did not crave foods the same way I do when I’m eating sugar. I have found that I enjoy the foods I do eat so much more than when I’m eating whatever I want. Suddenly cheese crisps are the saltiest most delicious crunchy snack on earth! And keto sweets are like an oasis in the dessert!

I must admit I’m really looking forward to doing this. A year ago now I was at the lowest weight I had been in my adult life. I felt good and energetic and young. Now I feel every single one of my 31 years. My body is stiff and sore and worn out. I can’t wait to reclaim that energy! And as an added bonus, I can’t wait to feel pretty in my skin again. I know that weight loss is not the magical formula to being happy, but from experience, the way I feel when I am a little bit thinner is very helpful to making me a happier person. It’s the healthy side-effects. Neither one of us is shooting for skinny. Manny jokingly said the other day that between the two of us we’d like to lose a high school girl. Meaning, I would like to lose about 50-80 lbs total, and Manny would like to lose between 70-80. Add that up and you have the weight of an average high school girl. Crazy to think that.

As I was cleaning out the kitchen yesterday I picked up a ten-pound sack of flour and held it in my hands. How much better will I feel when that amount is off my body? It’ll be fun to see how each 10lbs makes a difference.

Tonight’s dinner is a simple nearly- no- cook meal. Manny was craving a wedge salad so we got salad fixings. I personally think there is nothing worse on this earth than iceberg lettuce so I’ll be having a cabbage and greens salad. I know, it sounds weird but it’s got a magnificent crunch. I’d love to say we’re being healthy but between blue cheese dressing, craisins, and some bacon I’m going to crisp up it will be far from healthy. It will however be super yummy.

What’s your favorite salad topping? Let us know in the comments and as always take care and God bless!

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

So Manny and I like food. A lot. I should think that is pretty obvious from all the blog posts about different foods and such. We enjoy cooking and planning meals as well as eating. And I would first like to take a moment to say THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. The trouble comes in that we aren’t so great at moderation.

Truth be told moderation is a little bit of a trigger word for me. I have struggled off and on with an eating disorder since I was fifteen, in and out of treatments and therapy since i was twenty-one. Ever so many well intentioned people have told me to just eat in moderation and all my food related problems will go away. There’s more wrong with that statement that I have time to unpack today but for now we’ll just say this, eating in moderation is simple. It isn’t easy. And never have I ever actually been able to make it work in a healthy way that doesn’t cater to my disordered thoughts.

I recently hurt my back. I slept funny and then went to work and now I’m hobbling around because my back hurts so bad and I don’t have insurance because I’m still on probation at work so I get to just try to help it myself and can’t find a chiropractor to help. Manny and I had a thought yesterday though as we were coming home from our shifts and I was feeling particularly miserable, both from pain and from needing to take the next shift off in order to rest and not further hurt myself. Our realization was simple, excess weight has a heavy toll than just being heavy. Would my back still be sore if I were a bit lighter? We both struggle with sore feet; him with tendinitis in his heel and me with plantar fasciitis; would we still struggle with these pains if we weren’t putting so much strain on our feet? We aren’t getting younger. We want to be healthy to enjoy our lives and to be able to have nice long lives with one another.

So today I went through the kitchen. We have both done and had success with Keto in the past. I understand this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it has worked for us, we understand it, and have had success with it so we are going to use keto to jump start ourselves into weight loss. We aren’t putting a time limit on this, for us we are making the change for the foreseeable future. This is a lifestyle change we are making in order to be healthy. As such this blog will reflect that. I’m sorry if this means our recipes won’t jive for you anymore.

Moving way slower than I would like because of my sore back I went through the kitchen. There are three boxes on the counter now full of carb-heavy foods that we’re going to give away. We agreed that since we are feeling motivated we need to just jump in and get going, that there is no time like the present. So here we go. This is the next journey for us. We hope to see you for more recipes and posts in the future. As always, take care and God bless.