my KETO journey – chicken bundles

Are we weary yet of chicken breast fried, baked, braised, roasted, fricasseed or chicken legs and thighs coated with crushed pork rinds and baked?  Are ya?  This keto challenge can be daunting when meal planning is on the agenda.  Can’t have this, no, can’t eat that, whatever happened to the nice side dish of brown rice or pasta?  Hmmm, out of necessity, new recipes are born.

I have always loved porcupines.  That was my grandmother’s name for cabbage bundles she created with ground beef and rice or ground pork and rice.  Of course by the time she added the onion, herbs and spices and then simmered those bundles in a zesty tomato sauce, all hands were on the dinner table waiting impatiently for her bowls of porcupines.  Served with a slice of homemade bread – Lord, it don’t get any better than that.

Ground chicken!  Yep, that’s right.  Grandma’s recipe can be just as delicious with ground chicken, a meat about half the price of ground beef.  With the keto plan we are no longer limited to lean breast meat.  No, just go ahead and enjoy the fat-enhanced flavor of dark chicken meat.  Of course, organic is a nice choice, but, we can’t always choose the organics which usually cost twice as much.

HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb ground chicken preferably dark meat and breast meat
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can finely diced tomatoes
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped including leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 large outer cabbage leaves (for 2 servings)
  • 3-4 tbs butter (yes, I said tablespoons – butter is now our friend)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 12 toothpicks
  • salt and pepper to taste

If you have fresh herbs, that’s wonderful.  Just remember to adjust your amounts.

DIRECTIONS
  1. Start with the cabbage by carefully removing intact 4 of the outer leaves
  2. Place them in a steamer basket and steam until barely tender.  You want the leaves to be pliable but not mushy.
  3. In a bowl mix the chicken, onions, garlic, carrot, celery, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Place the butter to melt in a medium sized saucepot.
  5. Take each cabbage leaf, spoon 1/4 of the meat mixture onto the leaf and wrap into square bundles with the denser rib section as the last overlap.  Insert 3 toothpicks into each bundle.
  6. The butter, having melted over a medium high heat, is now ready to saute the bundles about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the bundles to a plate and add the tomatoes, the basil and oregano to the saucepot allowing the mixture to come to a boil.
  8. Return the chicken bundles, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook 30 to 45 minutes, basting a few times with the tomato sauce.

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my KETO journey – let’s eat

I AM NOT A DOCTOR NOR A NUTRITIONIST.  WHAT I AM SHARING ON THIS POST IS SIMPLY MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

breakfast

Less than 6 months ago when someone mentioned the word breakfast, I usually ran out the house – I HATED BREAKFAST.  Those endless bowls of oatmeal, the dry toast, eggs (only 4 per week allowed) missing the delicious yolks, and a cardboard-like substitute for real bacon.  YUK, call me back into the house when dinner is ready.

As many of you have done, I trusted the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), AMA (American Medical Association), and AHA (American Heart Association) to provide guidelines for a healthy path to good nutrition.  We suffered through those soy products pretending to be real meat, the array of sugar-free cookies, and the cups of decaf, decaf and more decaf coffee.  Lastly, to add insult to injury, we endured the fat-free dairy products.  Have you ever tasted anything as tasteless as skim milk on a bowl of bran flakes or fat-free cottage cheese with a dash of cinnamon?

Like the wise men of old used to say, “the proof is in the pudding.”  My pudding wasn’t anything like the homemade tapioca or chocolate pudding which Grandma made years ago using real food.  Enter the miracle of KETO.  Yes, after 60 years of suffering, the American dieter now has scientific, nutritional, and medical research to support a return to the real foods of yesteryear.

It’s more than a diet, it’s a new lifestyle.  I now fast about 18 hours between supper at 6:00 PM and the first meal of the next day around noon time.  I no longer have cravings just an hour after supper leading me to forage the refrigerator and cupboards in search of something that will satisfy – usually candy and chips.  I eat when I am hungry during the afternoon hours and don’t eat if I am not hungry.  The biggest challenge was to eliminate sugar and grains entirely.  No compromising!

I’d be a fool to give up KETO.  I have another 15 pounds to lose (already lost 22 pounds), I am no longer pre-diabetic, energy levels are up and recent blood work was outstanding.  Skin tone and insomnia have improved as well as attitude.

Okay, let’s talk about my standard fast-breaking 1st meal of the day.

  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 3 whole eggs, free range when I can afford them
  • 2 cups of fresh, chopped kale
  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  •  chopped fresh tomato or sweet pepper
  • a handful of berries, blueberries are affordable this time of year
  • a cup of bullet proof coffee with a tsp of butter rather than cream

Heating my favorite 8″ cast iron skillet on the stove, I cut the bacon strips in half and fry until crispy.  Plate the bacon, then add to the bacon grease the garlic, onion, broccoli, and pepper and kale.  Cook that for about 5 minutes stirring once or twice.  Make a nest in the kale and slip the eggs into the nest.  Cover with a lid, cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the eggs are set.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Eat hearty, it’s a man sized meal guaranteed to keep the hunger at bay all day.

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my KETO journey – tada!

I AM NOT A DOCTOR NOR A NUTRITIONIST.  WHAT I AM SHARING ON THIS POST IS SIMPLY MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

Am I thrilled?  Pretty dang close.  My scale this morning told me I now weigh in at 180 pounds.  ONE-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY pounds – 81.6 kilograms.  I began my renewed effort to lose weight about 4 months ago when my doctor called me borderline obese at 202 pounds.  My BMI calculation was more blunt.  That 28.2 calculation told me I was over the line meaning I had joined millions of other American men who sported a spare tire.  My ultimate goal is to weigh in within six months at 165-170 pounds.  That would put me at a BMI of roughly 24.

But even more significant is the lifestyle I have discovered through keto-genics.  I initially became interested because of my arthritis pain and the conviction that diet plus lifestyle change could address this pain without the use of pharmaceuticals.  This continues to be the reason for my adherence to keto, but the other benefits are amazing.  I am no longer pre-diabetic, I no longer struggle with food addictions, my general health has vastly improved, my emotional health is stabilizing…..AND, did I mention I lost 22 pounds of fat? 😁

Here is one of Dr. Berry’s videos addressing diet and arthritis pain.

my KETO journey – the beginning

I AM NOT A DOCTOR NOR A NUTRITIONIST.  WHAT I AM SHARING ON THIS POST IS SIMPLY MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

Yes, it has been several months since last posting on this site.  Transitional doesn’t adequately define this time period.  Perhaps transcending, revealing, inspiring would be better descriptions.

In 2003 I experienced a ‘cardiac event’ which resulted in angioplasty and a stent put in place.  I truly regret allowing that to happen.  Since then, a succession of doctors has insisted on a statin regimen and an approved ‘heart healthy’ diet consisting of volumes of whole grains, fruits & vegetables, reduced proteins, and virtually no natural fats.  Encouraged were refined seed oil fats along with polyunsaturated fats.  The BAD BOYS became butter, whole dairy, and any saturated fats.  Also on the bad boy list was refined sugar (yeah, honey, and supposedly ‘natural’ sugars were fine).  The goal was to improve my lipid profile by reducing total cholesterol to less than 200 and also lowering my LDL and triglycerides while raising my HDL.  I was repeatedly warned that a heart attack or stroke would be my demise if I did not obey doctors’ orders.  The statins did work, but not without side effects.  I exercised to the point of exhaustion, I starved myself of the whole foods on which this farm boy was raised, and instead substituted the AMA, FDA approved heart-healthy nonsensical way of eating.  I also tried to lose the belly fat.  Finally I realized, “Hey, I feel like crap and I will not spend the last years of my life living this way.”

Enter keto-genic.  I watched a few YouTube videos by Dr. Ken Berry, read books by Dr. James Dinicolantonio and Dr. Joseph Mercola and I was off and running pursuing an alternative (but familiar from meals on the farm) dietary plan and lifestyle.  That happened on June 23, 2019.  The results have been nothing short of amazing.

Most difficult to transition were the sugary snacks and night-time, TV viewing, refrigerator foraging.  But as I followed my new lifestyle as closely as I could, the cravings did indeed disappear as the doctors said, and I left the dinner table satiated.  No longer a continually hungry man in search of a sugar fix, I was able to implement a 16-18 hour fast between supper and breakfast and I was completely satisfied with 2 meals a day incorporating the foods recommended by the doctors.  It was immensely more successful than the other diets I had tried – BLOOD TYPE, ATKINS, ZONE – and it was not a scenario of nail-biting, daunting deprivation.

I was advised that the initial weight loss would be about 8-10 pounds of water weight.  I assume that to be true.  And that was accomplished on a renewed effort with the ZONE diet prior to keto.  However, since beginning keto, I have lost an additional 12 pounds of belly fat and I feel great.

Two weeks ago I reviewed with my Medicare doctor the latest lab results.  He stormed into the treatment room and informed me that he was increasing my statin dosage to lower my LDL and total cholesterol and warned that if I did not comply I would probably die of a stroke or heart attack.  Truly, as predicted by the keto advocates, my total cholesterol and LDL had increased albeit not significantly.  After I allowed the doctor’s rant, I pointed out to him that my HDL had risen by 20%, my triglycerides had decreased by 40%, my glucose had dropped from 109 to 81, and I had dropped about 20 pounds of weight since the last visit.  After years of being termed pre-diabetic fighting off the doctors who wanted me on Metformin, I was no longer pre-diabetic.  He was momentarily speechless and we then began a meaningful dialog about my health care.

Assuming responsibility for my own health is not easy.  Rebuking doctors who are following 50 years of prescribed ‘heart-healthy’ diets is not easy.  But the proof is in the pudding.  After 50 years of listening to what the food and pharmaceutical industries are pumping into the heads of medical practitioners, Western culture is now in the midst of epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and numerous other conditions manifested by the unhealthy foods which we are encouraged to eat.

Not surprisingly, the food industries which promote packaged pseudo-foods loaded with sugar and non-food ingredients, the pharmaceutical industry which realizes billions of dollars in profits through sales of statins and Metformin, and the medical profession which caves to pressure from the insurance and drug companies have made preventive health care a jungle for those of us who refuse to accept the status quo.

Today, I feel healthier than ever and I feel liberated.  Now, excuse me while I go to prepare my fast-breaking meal of bacon, eggs, kale, broccoli and blueberries.

BON APPETIT

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GABBY COOKS – chicken & corn soup

I’m sure I could spend the rest of my life eating Grandma’s chicken and corn soup and be a completely satisfied man.  She always used dark meat chicken for more flavor, but it is equally delicious using chicken breast.  This main course soup is a budget stretcher which complements any shopping list.  Add some chopped escarole and you’ve created a health dynamo.  If escarole is not available at your grocery, curly endive, a cousin of escarole, will work just as well.

Escarole has no fat.  One and one-half cups of chopped escarole has only 15 calories, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrates.  It adds 5.2% to 8% of your recommended daily consumption of fiber which is a critical component of bowel health decreasing risk of constipation, diarrhea and diverticulitis.  We all know that adequate fiber will satisfy hunger with fewer calories, but to avoid bloating and gas work up slowly to an amount of 25 to 38 grams daily.

But wait, there’s more.  This one serving of 1 1/2 cups of escarole supplies 30% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 4% of your DRV of iron and calcium.  A shortage of iron may cause you to feel tired, dizzy and headachy.  We all know the importance of calcium, don’t we?  Yeah, strong teeth and bones.  healthfully.com

here are the ingredients
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 chicken legs and thighs or 2 breasts ( or a combination of dark and white meat, it’s up to you whether to use the skin in cooking, I believe it adds additional flavor, but also calories and fat)
  • about 4 cups chopped escarole (Grandma never used greens other than fresh parsley and it was just as delicious)
  • 3 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cob or 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3 hard boiled eggs sliced
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
directions
  1. heat the olive oil in a stew pot or Dutch oven
  2. add the onions and garlic
  3. cook until translucent being careful not to scorch the garlic
  4. remove from the pot and reserve for later
  5. add the chicken legs, thighs, breast
  6. saute in the oil until lightly golden
  7. add enough broth to cover the chicken pieces and bring to boil
  8. immediately reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover the pot
  9. cook on low heat about 30-45 minutes adding more broth if needed
  10. remove chicken from pot, set in bowl to cool
  11. add the greens, herbs, corn, and rest of the broth
  12. bring to a boil
  13. reduce heat to simmer and cover the pot
  14. cook about 15 minutes
  15. while that is cooking, skin and debone the chicken pieces
  16. tear meat into bite-sized pieces
  17. add the chicken and reserved onions and garlic to the soup
  18. add more broth or hot water if necessary to keep it soup
  19. season with salt and pepper
  20. ladle into bowls and top with the sliced hard-boiled eggs

GABBY COOKS – fresh beets

A dear friend of mine is an exercise freak.  When she’s not cooking a scrumptious omelet or mixing a Greek salad, she is jogging or working out at the gym.  I asked her, ” Why the strenuous activity and attention to a healthy diet?”

“When I die,” she responded, “I am being cremated.  I don’t want to be a grease fire.”

Okay, okay, you’ve heard it before.  I just couldn’t let that little snippet pass without sharing it with you guys.  But, it is a great bit of advice to heed.  Obesity is becoming a leading health concern in the United States.

I’ve been enjoying fresh red beets ever since my boyhood days on the farm.  The sweetness surpasses anything that comes in a can with a beet label.  When I bought a few at the market today, my friend said he loved beets but did not know how to cook them.  I’m sure most of you know what to do with beets, but for the few who don’t, this post is for you.

The beetroot is the taproot of the beet plant known in North America as the table beet, garden beet, red beet, or golden beet.  It is a cultivated variety of Beta vulgaris.  They are a powerhouse of beneficial nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, K, and the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, B6, B12, pantothenic acid and folate.  They are also high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.  Additionally, beets contain important phytonutrients and dietary fiber.

Beets are not recognized as a super food as much as kale or blueberries, but these roots can hold their ground against the best of super foods.  Check the link

your wellness guide

for all the great health benefits available.  And if you are not yet convinced, BEETS ARE CONSIDERED AN APHRODISIAC.  Yeah, I can see those busy little fingers tapping on the keyboard now.  The high content of boron boosts sex hormone production and the nitrates increase blood flow to the organs.  Guys, y’all know what that means.  Hey, I’m just passing along information available on the great link I provided above.

There is a simple method to cooking those great roots.  I learned it from my grandma who pulled bushels of red beets from the garden and canned them.

ingredients

red beets

directions
  • If you are lucky enough to buy beets with the tops, cut the tops off about 1 ” above the root.  DO NOT CUT INTO THE ROOT.  The tops are delicious cooked or in salad.
  • Scrub, scrub, scrub the roots
  • Place in a pot large enough to cover them with cold water
  • Cook for about an hour.  It depends on the size of the beet
  • Refrain from piercing the roots until you think they have cooked long enough
  • Pierce one beet for tenderness
  • Remove from the heat and run cold water over them
  • When cool enough to handle slip the skins off.  You will be amazed how easy they skin
  • The top and the root ends will have a coarse texture.  Slice them off

Now you have fresh, cooked beets ready to prepare according to your favorite recipe.  Honestly, I keep a bowl full in the refrigerator and eat them like snack candy.  They are that sweet.

GABBY COOKS – porcupines & mushroom sauce

There are no quills in this dish about which to be concerned.  It’s just simple, down-home cooking that combines pork, rice, and mushrooms in a one pot, stove top meal.  For many years pork was the bad boy in the health-conscious diet.  Those ribs, chops, sausages, and bacon were attributed with ailments from cardio-vascular disease to bad skin.  Baby, times have changed.

We don’t eat pork 5 nights a week nor do we have BLTs  at every lunch.  But, in moderation, chops, ribs, cutlets, sausages are a wonderful alternative to beef and chicken.  Remember – pork is the other white meat.

Here are some pork facts:

  • pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus)
  • it is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide
  • pig husbandry dates back to 5000 B.C.
  • pork is the most popular meat in Eastern and Southeastern Asia
  • Asia cuisines prize it for its fat content and texture
  • it is forbidden by Jewish, Muslim, and Rastafarian dietary law for religious reasons

A three and one-half ounce serving of lean pork contains the following nutritional value:

  • 13.92 grams fat
  • 27.32 grams protein
  • 36% DV of Vitamin B-6
  • 29% DV of Vitamin B-12
  • 35% DV phosphorous
  • 25% DV zinc

Add this meat to the wholesome goodness of mushrooms and rice – voila – heaven in a Dutch cooker.

here are the ingredients

 

 

  1. 1 cup cooked white rice
  2. 1 LB ground pork
  3. 2 cloves chopped garlic
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 tsp dried basil or 1 TBS chopped fresh basil
  6. 1 tsp dried parsley or 1 TBS chopped fresh parsley
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
  9. 1 cup chicken broth
  10. 2 TBS flour
  11. 2 TBS butter
  12. 2 TBS oil, olive or canola

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook the rice according to directions
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the pork, garlic, herbs, salt & pepper, egg and mix well
  3. Reserve a small portion of the herbs to add to the mushroom sauce
  4. Add the cooked rice which has cooled and mix well
  5. Shape in balls just like meatballs, place on plate and chill for an hour
  6. After an hour’s chill, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid
  7. Brown the porcupines in the oil
  8. Remove them from the pot
  9. Add the butter to the pot and another TBS oil
  10. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat evenly with melted butter and oil
  11. After about 3 minutes sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms
  12. Cook the flour to a light brown, don’t burn it, stirring as it cooks
  13. Add the chicken broth and stir to mix with the mushrooms
  14. Stir constantly until the broth thickens into a creamy sauce
  15. Add the reserved pinch of basil and parsley
  16. Return the porcupines, cover and simmer about 1/2 hour

This dish is complete in itself, but sometimes I like to serve it in a bowl over hot noodles.