Keto Family

I posted awhile back about wanting to try the keto diet for the whole family.  20180524_181823894515596.jpg

Reasons being, I now technically have three special needs kids.  One with severe eczema/TSW, one with aspergers, and my youngest now with autism and/or ADHD.  All three struggle with anxiety to some extant.

One unexpected perk I experienced going keto was a drastic reduction in my own anxiety, along with an increase in mental clarity and focus.

They are all three very thin so this would technically be a therapeutic approach and I’d have to monitor their weight to make sure they weren’t dropping any.¬† It’d be wonderful if we were able to avoid perscription drugs for my youngest, and get my oldest¬†off¬†of his.¬† I really believe in the therapeutic value of ketones for brain health.¬†¬†keto for ADHD

Either way, it can’t hurt to cut out refined sugars and empty calories.

We’ve been slooowly easing in by having keto-style dinners.¬† Thankfully, my kids generally like veggies and meat.¬† I decided, for the sake of my sanity, to wait until school was out before going full-bore.

A high fat diet is great for¬†¬†developing brains.¬† Not to mention fresh veggies and good protein.¬† Admittedly, it’s probably going to be a tough transition so we’re just doing a trial period to see if the potential benefits are worth it.

There’s one week of school so I have time to start meal planning.¬† I’ll post as we go!

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Unlocking DNA

Who I am

For Christmas (after many obnoxiously heavy-handed hints), my husband got me a 23 and me genetic testing kit.  I was so super stoked about it.  Not only was I excited to learn about my ancestry, but also gain insight into my health and genetics.

I finally got my results back!!!

I was surprised to learn that I am 100% European.¬† We were told that our Maternal Grandfather was part Native American.¬† I have no idea where that belief originated because apparently it isn’t true.¬† #mindblown¬† I wasn’t shocked that a solid 50% of my DNA is from the British Isles.¬† My dad is 100% Irish American.¬† The other half was a mix of German, French, Scandinavian, general “Northwestern European” with less than 1% being from a distant Italian and Eastern European ancestor.¬† I was hoping for a little more diversity.¬† Though apparently I’m more Neanderthal than 76% of people.¬† Beat that, ya’ll.¬† I might just club you.

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All I need is a cave and a fire

The tests also rightly predicted that as a baby I was bald as a cue ball, my second toes are longer then my big toes, I have light hair, I’m a light sleeper, I have a high caffeine tolerance (hecks yeah!) I have a risk for celiacs disease (yep), and am lactose tolerant (bring on the cream and cheese!).¬† It was fun to pore over my results, until I discovered that I have both genetic variants they test for indicating a risk for developing macular degeneration with age.

This is scary because one of my biggest fears has always been losing my sight.

The great thing about getting this test done is that now I know.¬† Knowledge is power.¬† I’m going to research the heck out of this and do everything I can to prevent this condition.¬† And if it still happens, well, my husband promised he’ll take care of me.

People have always wondered about where they come from, how they fit into the fabric of human history.¬† There is something almost magical about finding out the secrets previously locked and hidden in your DNA; the things that make you who you are.¬† Now I know why I’m drawn to all things Celtic and feel an urge to draw on cave walls. ūüėČ

I really recommend getting the test.¬† If nothing else, it’s interesting.¬† I discovered a 2nd cousin who was adopted and looking for answers into her birth relatives.¬† You might discover valuable tools and insights into how to tailor your lifestyle.¬† Or, like me, be able to work to prevent a condition that may not manifest for another 30 years.

 

A Tale of Two Soups

Here in Minnesota winter is stretching on and on… this is my current view.¬†20180203_121256.jpg

Ice, flurries, and air temp of 12 degrees F.

One thing that I love to do on cold, crummy days is make a huge batch of homemade soup.¬† It’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’s a clever way to get vegetables into my little angels (cough*brats*cough)…

I usually stick with the local favorite, chicken & wild rice soup.¬† It’s so good there is absolutely no need to try anything else.¬† Plus my kids love it.¬† This stuff is manna from Heaven.¬† Seriously.

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Those little blacks things aren’t bugs, ya’ll.¬† That’s Minnesota Wild Rice!

Don’t drool, you’re embarrassing yourself.

Well, the soup, wonderful as it is, is NOT keto-friendly with the big golden hunks of potatoes, carrots and a flour roux.

So this morning I made soup for my hyperactive little darlings and a low carb soup for myself as well.¬† It’s Saturday so I can ignore my kids and putter around in the kitchen in peace for two hour stretches while my husband gets to deal with, er, enjoy quality time with them…

I split up the chicken stock I had made overnight into two pots.¬† It’s super easy to make stock.¬† You just cook a whole chicken, debone it, and cook the bones, giblets, and neck in your crockpot (covered with water) overnight on low.¬† It’s one economical way to wring every bit of flavor and nutrition out of a poor little chicken.¬† You can eat the chicken with a side for dinner one night, then turn the leftovers into soup the next!!¬† That’s a lot of meals out of one $5-7 dollar chicken.¬† Stock is also super easy to make, a delicious base for soup, and incredibly¬†healthy.

So getting back to my tale… in my smaller stock pot I tossed some broccoli florets and diced asparagus into my broth on medium heat.¬† In a separate sauce pan I melted 1/2 stick of butter along with a cup of heavy cream and the random leftover cheddar cheese I hunted down in my fridge (about 1 1/2 cups).¬† I brought it to almost boiling and whisked it into a delicious butterery, cheesey, low-carb “roux” for my soup.

I dumped it in to my stockpot along with some leftover chicken.¬† I added a good amount of salt, pepper and seasonings.¬† Sorry, people, I don’t really measure anything.¬† One of the great things about soup is that you can throw in just about anything and it comes out great!

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Seasonings that help the magic happen

I then let the flavors meld together for about 20 minutes while I made the¬†other¬†soup, the one with carbalicious veggies we won’t mention again… ūüėČ

Then voila! 20180203_121702.jpg

Hearty, rich warming soup that is both filling and delicious and gloriously low-carb!¬† You’ve got collagen from the stock, a bit of protein from that poor wrung-out chicken, fiber and nutrients from your veggies, and phyto-nutrients from the herbs.¬† One bowl will have about 475 calories, 40 grams fat, 21 grams protein and only 5.8 gram carbs.

Plus it warms the cockles and steels the soul against the long, dreary winter!

 

Fat of the Land

I’ve already addressed that you want to ignore the (big-agriculture funded) advice of the American Heart Association.¬† You want to avoid an oil that inexplicably comes from a grain or “vegetable”.¬† Corn, soy, canola, margarine….don’t even feed it to your dog.

So what oils are you supposed to eat?

About six years ago I was nursing my third baby.¬† I wasn’t producing enough milk and she was experiencing constipation.¬† Around that same time I was learning the truth about healthy and unhealthy fats.¬† I threw away our vegetable and canola oil, along with our “butter-esque” spread.¬† I replaced everything with virgin coconut oil and real butter.

I added tons of natural fats, especially coconut oil, to my diet.¬† My milk and my baby’s health improved dramatically.¬† My baby even took on a faint coconutty scent that others commented on.¬† She still loves coconut.

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My coconut baby!¬† She had such a glow ‚̧

The myth (still propagated to this day!) that saturated fats were unhealthy came from a study by Ancel Keys in the 1950’s.¬† He wanted to show that fat was the cause for all our health woes.¬† His results showed anything but, but he chose to cherry pick the data, dump what didn’t support his hypothesis, and presented his findings to the scientific community.¬† Here’s a funny, quick video that sums it up-¬†funny truth bomb video

We all switched to whole milk, organic when possible (we’re a family of five, six if you count the 90 lb. dog, on a single income!).¬† I cook with lots of butter.¬† We’ve consumed a lot of saturated fat for the past 6 years.

When I started a part time job last year people were shocked at my age.¬† They assumed I was a good 5-8 years younger than I am.¬† I’m 31.¬† I got asked where I go to school!¬† I assume this is because of the anti-aging properties of healthy saturated fat and avoiding the aging properties of vegetable oils.

It’s frustrating to me that people¬†still¬†think saturated fats are unhealthy.¬† What happened when everyone switched to skim milk, margarine, and 6-11 servings of grain a day?¬† Obesity, heart disease, diabetes…it all skyrocketed.¬† To make up for a lack of flavor food manufacturers added extra starch and sugar to low-fat products.¬† Snackwell cookie, anyone?

All of this was pushed on the public.¬† You’d only know the truth if you knew how to do your own research.¬† It makes my blood boil a bit.

The fact is, saturated fat is healthy.¬† It’s where the majority of our fat calories should be coming from.¬†¬†Saturated fat Vindicated¬† Saturated fat is going to be shelf-stable.¬† It doesn’t oxidize at the rate of fats from vegetable sources.¬† When you eat an oil that has been chemically squeezed from a grain it is going to cause a cascade of inflammation and oxidation in your body.¬† These oils aren’t shelf stable.¬† They degrade quickly.¬† Therefore they all undergo a process of hydrogenation to some extant.¬†¬†Vegetable Oils and Oxidation¬† Since oxidation is basically causing us all to age and eventually die, we all want to limit it as much as possible, capiche?¬†¬†420d9af0cc93caebd56b2f1bff54ca6cI implore you to do your own research.¬† Literally chuck your vegetable oils in the garbage.¬† Replace it with real butter (yum!), coconut oil (amazing for you!), olive oil, avocado oil, and natural animal fats.¬† Your food will taste better, you’ll feel better, I promise!

 

 

Being Insulin and Carb Smart

After going off sweeteners (except for a bit of stevia) I had a pretty rough couple days.¬† Then I woke up this morning feeling much better.¬† Feeling “keto-calm”- happy and positive.¬† I think the insulin spiking was too much for me, with the sugar alcohols.¬† I was turning into the wicked witch of the west.¬† I was craving carbs.¬† I was stressed out.¬† I felt awful.

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I’ll get you, my carb-ys!!

I’ve read that some people can tolerate different sweeteners.¬† Some people can’t.¬† You just really have to pay attention to how your body reacts.

Trust that your taste buds will adapt.¬† If you cut out the sweet, you’ll stop craving it.¬† Really!!¬† Yesterday I noticed the sweetness in a diced tomato like I never have before.

I’m keeping a bit of stevia in my diet to make life a bit easier.¬† I use vitamin water zero to mix my chlorella and probiotics (now that juice isn’t an option).¬† Plus it doubles as a sweet treat for me.¬† The taste isn’t amazing¬†but it’s good enough.¬†¬†Most keto experts agree that stevia is generally pretty harmless for most people.¬†¬†Benefits of Stevia

Another thing I’ve learned is the importance of timing your carb intake.¬† The best time to take in carbs is right after a workout.¬† It won’t spike your insulin, it won’t take you out of ketosis- because your body will use it to replenish your store of glycogen in your muscles.¬†¬†How to Carb Cheat

I had about 15 grams of carbs after a 45 minute workout in the form of a designer whey protein shake with fairlife filtered milk and a scoop of natural peanut butter.

You don’t want to go nuts, but if you are an active person you have more wiggle room in your carb intake while you stay in ketosis.

One big positive side effect that I’ve noticed is for my family.¬† My husband is making positive changes too.¬† He is a slim guy, he doesn’t need to lose weight but he is cutting back on carbs too.¬† He quit drinking soda, which is huge.¬† There are benefits to cutting back on carbs, even if you don’t go full keto.¬† Benefits of Cutting Back on Carbs¬† My kids are also eating less sugar cause I’m not eating sugar.

I don’t know about you but my kids want to eat¬†my¬†food.¬† If I’m eating snickers, they want it too.¬† Being wary of looking like a hypocritical meanie I shared my candy with them many times in the past.¬† Now when I make a salad I make a huge one because my 5 and 8 year old want to eat salad too!¬† Last night they all ate big helpings of asparagus with butter and parmesan along with their kid-friendly chicken nuggets.

When you make positive life changes it doesn’t just affect you!¬† It has a domino effect.¬† That in itself is reason enough to make changes.