crispy baked chicken wings

 

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Tis the season for gatherings and festive celebrations!  The holiday season is upon us and now that it’s nearing Christmas, I’m really starting to feel the spirit.  One of my favourite things to do this time of year is get together with loved ones around the dining table and share in some meals together.  There are some traditions that my family upholds (like our annual spicy seafood and beef hot pot, which is always a must), but I also like to change things up once in a while and bring a new dish to the table.

With our recent diet overhaul and lifestyle change, this got me thinking about how to approach social gatherings this year.  Mark and I are the only low-carbers in our immediate family and friends circle, so it can get difficult to get together with people when there’s food involved.  However, it is not impossible.  In fact, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to meet our needs while also ensuring that we don’t become a burden on others.  After all, this is our lifestyle choice and we have accepted the challenges that come with it.

We’re also of the mind that indulgence is not always about the volume of food consumed, but rather the quality and the atmosphere in which you enjoy said food.  When I think back to previous years, I had a habit of stuffing myself to the brim (you know the feeling… unbutton the pants, stake claim to a comfy spot on the couch and stay there for the rest of the night).  The food was great, sure, but it was spending time with the people I cared about that mattered the most.  This year we’re opting for the “mindfully indulge” mentally, with the focus on building new memories with loved ones and truly enjoying our time together.

Holiday potlucks are a pretty popular type of gathering and I was thinking of what I would take as a dish that would be both crowd-pleasing and low-carb friendly.  I was also trying to think of something that would be relatively healthy and not overly indulgent (there’s plenty of that anyway during the holidays in general).  Chicken wings don’t seem to fit the bill initially, but when they’re seasoned with a nice herb blend and baked in the oven until crispy, they’ll do the trick.

Everybody loves chicken wings, right?  They’re fun, versatile, and a staple at many social gatherings (think Wing Wednesdays).  These babies don’t need a deep fryer to come out just as delicious (if not more, in my opinion) as the bars and restaurants do them.  Besides, I’m afraid of deep frying in general (my delicate skin!), so the oven is one of my favourite cooking appliances.  Give these wings a try and then head on over to ALOHA’s magazine page for some more healthy recipe inspiration for your holiday parties!

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These wings are just simply seasoned with sea salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.  Any spice blend will work on these though, but I’ve been really loving Italian seasoning lately.  I buy my chicken from the local organic/health food store and they come in packs of a dozen, already prepared.  I’ve been consciously choosing organic, free range meats as much as possible, but it’s entirely a personal choice.  I make a couple dozen at a time – I find that this is the optimal amount to cook in the oven together, so that the wings aren’t crowded on the baking sheets and I can rotate the baking sheets halfway through the cooking time.  I’m also a fan of lining the sheets with foil before lining with parchment.  Clean-up is a breeze afterwards; I often don’t even have to wash the sheets afterwards, which is great because doing the dishes is not my forte.

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No need for a deep fryer to get these crispy.  All they need is some time in the oven.  They’re perfectly seasoned, crisp, and juicy, and work well as an appetizer or as a full meal (we often eat a couple dozen for dinner because they’re easy and delicious).

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings

  • 2 dozen chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp course sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425F and place the racks on the top and bottom third of the oven.  Prepare two large rimmed baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Place the seasoning, garlic powder, pepper, and salt in a small bowl.  Mix well.

Divide wings between prepared baking sheets and spread out in a single layer.  Sprinkle a generous amount of the prepared seasoning on both sides of the wings.  Bake the wings for 20 minutes; flip the wings and rotate the baking sheets.  Bake for another 15 minutes until crisp and golden.  Serve immediately.

bolero

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My mom celebrated her birthday last month and as an extra special treat, we took her for dinner to my favourite meatfest palace, Bolero, a Brazilian steakhouse that is every meat lover’s dream.  I fondly remember the first time I ate at Bolero a number of years ago for a friend’s birthday and the resulting meat sweats from consuming copious amounts of various cuts of beef and chicken.  It was so worth it, but sadly I hadn’t found a reason to go back until I was brainstorming where we could have dinner that was both a new experience for my parents and easy to adapt for our low-carb lifestyle.  I mean, how can you go wrong at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse?  It’s a low-carber’s dream!

Bolero is located off Macleod Trail, just past Chinook Centre.  It’s awkward to get into the parking lot traveling southbound on Macleod (we did a “probable” illegal U-turn at the closest intersection), so going northbound is the easiest.  Even though our reservation was early (5:45pm), the parking lot was already packed and it took us a few minutes to find a spot.  Bolero also shares a space with Open Sesame, Tango Bistro, and Smuggler’s Inn, so that might explain the lack of parking spots.

For an early dining hour, the place was already bustling with diners.  The place has kind of a rustic cabin feel to it with its large fireplace near the middle of the dining area.  It’s also got a large bar that reminds me of old school classy hotel bars.  We were seated in a comfortable and roomy booth near the back, a perfect spot for enjoying a quiet dinner.

There’s three dining options for dinner – the “full rodizio”, which is the full-meal deal that includes unlimited access to their fresco bar (with various hot dishes, salads, and sides), the “teaser platter” which includes the fresco bar and a platter of meats of your choice, or just the fresco bar without the meats (on a side note, who picks this last option at a Brazilian steakhouse?).  We opted for the full rodizio, naturally, since this was a special occasion and all.

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Our friendly server came by, brought us drinks, and gave us some quick instructions on how the evening would work.  Each table gets their own “cue” to signal to the gauchos green for YES PLEASE BRING ALL THE MEATS, yellow for WE NEED A MEAT BREAK, and red for PLEASE STAHP I GOTS THE MEAT SWEATS.  When that cue is on green, those gauchos come in fast and furious.  A few times during our meal, we had to turn it yellow because we couldn’t keep up with all the meats that were being brought to us.

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They also brought us complimentary gluten-free Brazilian-style cheese bread, along with a couple of sauces (chimichurri and roasted red pepper) to enjoy with our meal.  We naturally skipped the cheese bread, but my parents indulged.  My mom remarked that they must be made with rice flour because of the texture (similar to Korean rice cakes).

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We started at the fresco bar, which had a few really great low-carb options.  I went with some beef stew, fish, chopped egg, and veggies.  The danger of having that fresco bar is filling the stomach with too much additional food besides the meat.  I only made one trip to the fresco bar to keep my stomach free for the meats.

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Here’s a little sample of what we were offered.  Pictured are the Linguica (a sausage made with smoked paprika), which was beautifully smoky and spicy, with a wonderful tender texture, and a Chicken Leg seasoned with cajun spices, which was actually a chicken wing (flavour was great though).

The other meats we tried were the Picanha (classic Brazilian cut of top sirloin with sea salt), Fraldinha (traditional Brazilian cut of bottom sirloin with garlic and parmesan), Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon (need I say more?), plain Filet Mignon, Bacon Wrapped Chicken (HECK YES), Parmesan Crusted Pork Loin (with garlic and parmesan cheese), Baby Back Ribs (glazed with house made BBQ sauce – only for the parents since we are avoiding sugar), Chicken Legs (mislabeled, since they were chicken drumsticks but it’s all good), and Habanero Pork Loin.  My favourites were the meats wrapped in bacon, because you can’t go wrong there, the sausage, and the Habanero pork loin.  I found some of the beef tough and chewy, but that might’ve been due to the cut.  Otherwise, the beef was all done to a perfect medium-ish temperature.  My parents had a few slices of their famous Caramelized Pineapple (cinnamon and brown sugar), which really is one of the highlights of having a meal at Bolero but sadly we don’t eat fruits anymore.  We just admired from afar.  Damn did it ever look and smell delightful, though.

It’s not a proper buffet until your stomach wants to explode, and that’s exactly how we all felt by the end of the meal.  It’s a little bit pricey per person ($42.50), but I think for the variety of food and all the different types of meat they have to offer, it’s a great treat once in a while.  We had great service throughout the night and overall it was an enjoyable experience.  We ended up only staying for about an hour, which was a pretty short stay on average (typical seatings are for 2-hours).

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Afterwards, we headed over to our place and presented this gorgeous cake by Yann Haute Patisserie, their Fraisier/Tutti Frutti (Pain de gene, vanilla mousseline & fresh seasonal fruits), for my parents to enjoy, while Mark and I had a piece each of low-carb pumpkin cake leftover from Thanksgiving.  My mom thoroughly enjoyed this cake – she said it was light, moist and not to sweet, just the way she likes it.  I think she also had it for breakfast the next day (that’s the mark of an excellent cake).

Bolero
6920 MacLeod Trail SE
Calgary, AB T2H0L3
Phone: (403) 259-3119
http://www.bolerocalgary.ca/

Bolero Fire Grill on Urbanspoon

Yann Haute Patisserie
329 23 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2S0J3
Phone: (403) 244-8091
http://www.yannboutique.com/

Yann Haute Patisserie on Urbanspoon

mercato

Back in mid-August, I met up with two of my best girl friends for a catch-up meal at Italian eatery Mercato.  This was actually my first restaurant meal since starting low-carb, so I was equal parts anxious and excited.  Anxious, because eating out presents many challenges as a low-carber, but excited because I enjoy hanging out with my friends so food often becomes a secondary thing when the evening is really about getting together, sharing laughs, stories, and making new memories.

Mercato is located in the hip Mission district, its corner location prominent and hard to miss.  I’ve passed by Mercato numerous times; I often drive past it on my way home from the market.  The place is always packed with groups of people enjoying themselves so there had to be something good going on in there, right?  My friend Kris gushes about this place (I trust her opinion on Italian eateries because she is, in fact, Italian), which is why we chose to have our dinner there.  What I didn’t know until I walked in is that they also have a market attached to the restaurant, so not only can you enjoy a meal, but you can do your shopping there as well.

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We were seated near the window where we had a nice view of the dining room.  The interior is dark, but warm; only a few tables were occupied, but it was still lively and vibrant.  There’s ample seating at the bar and also around the open concept kitchen, where you can interact directly with the chefs.  Their concept is family-style – all the dishes are meant to be shared instead of ordering individual entrees.

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To start, we were given complimentary bread and olives.  Not gonna lie, that bread looked mighty delicious.  Just look at its pillowy softness!  I was still craving carbs – especially breads and pastries – at that stage, so it was difficult not to give in.  Kris actually noticed me staring longingly at the bread and had a good laugh at my expense.  I guess that’s what I get for staring at bread like a crazy woman.  My willpower was at full strength that evening, so I let my friends enjoy the bread and I tried not to stare too much at it.  #lowcarbproblems

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For sides, we chose two vegetable dishes – the Fagiolini (baby green beans with shallots, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and toasted pinoli), which Kris had raved about, and the Asparagi (grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto di Parma with lemon and olio).  The green beans were indeed some of the best I’ve ever had.  They were so fresh and still crisp, with a lovely caramelized onion flavour.  The toasted pine nuts were a nice texture and flavour contrast to the beans as well.  The asparagus was also quite delicious because anything wrapped in salty cured pork is a winner.  They were perfect with a squirt of lemon to cut through the richness and saltiness of the prosciutto.

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For our mains, we shared the Bistecca (Fiorentina style bone-in rib steak with rucola, lemon and olive oil) and the Pesce di Spada (grilled swordfish with a zucchini, wild arugula fregola and caperberry insalata).  That steak was something special.  It was cooked to the perfect temperature, it was tender, juicy, and full of meaty goodness.  The lemon and course sea salt were the perfect accompaniment to the fatty, rich beef.  I thought the swordfish was a bit plain, but cooked well.  Overall, this giant board is a low-carber’s dream.

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First low-carb restaurant meal success!

The portions are quite generous so we had a decent amount of leftovers to take home with us (mine didn’t last long as Mark promptly devoured the contents of my takeaway box).  We were actually having so much fun that we didn’t notice that a couple of hours had passed until we were politely informed that the next party had arrived for their reservation at our table.  We’re the types to linger and continue chatting long after the food has been eaten and we didn’t realize that we were limited to a 2-hour seating.  Ah well, it was no problem for us.  We hopped over to the coffee shop across the street to continue on with our evening.

I was pleasantly surprised by my first experience at Mercato.  The prices are skewed to the higher end, but they make up for it with quality food and generous portions.  We had great service throughout the evening.  It wasn’t too difficult to find dishes that I was able to eat and my friends were so good about my new lifestyle that they stuck with things that I could have, even though I insisted that they get whatever they wanted (my friends are awesome).  I love the family-style concept, the liveliness of the place as it gets filled with diners, and a nice selection of low-carb friendly dishes.  I will definitely return to Mercato again, because where else can I get a giant steak served on a giant cutting board?

Mercato
2224 4 St SW
Calgary, AB T2S1W9
Phone: (403) 263-5535
http://www.mercatogourmet.com/

Mercato on Urbanspoon

charcut fall 2014 revisit

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I’ve written about Charcut here and here, so this place really doesn’t need an introduction.  This is one of our go-to restaurants for a special occasion meal, although we hadn’t visited for at least a good year and a half (hard to believe it’s already been that long).  Although we’re not much for official celebrations, we like to acknowledge both of our anniversaries – our wedding anniversary, and our “the day Cindy manned up and told Mark she likes him” anniversary, which is now going on 7 years strong.  We headed to Charcut to celebrate the latter this past weekend.

Charcut hasn’t changed since we’d been there last.  It’s still busy and vibrant; the place was packed to near capacity at our 6:30pm seating.  Menus and waters were provided, and we settled in see what new offerings they had that evening.

The challenge with eating out, of course, is selecting a dish that fits into our new lifestyle.  At a charcuterie this isn’t really difficult, and we’re not shy about asking questions if we’re not sure about certain menu items.  It comes with the territory.

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To start, Mark ordered for himself Oysters with Lemon and Tomato Mignonette.  It’s handy that they allow you to order oysters individually, so you’re not stuck having to order a set amount.  This worked out well for Mark, since I refuse to go near oysters after I heard them being described as swallowing salty, oceany snot (great way to convince someone to try a new food, right?).  I have texture issues and sea snot is not on my list of things I can tolerate.  These oysters were from New Brunswick and Mark was more than happy to carry on by himself, and it’s pretty difficult to mess up oysters.

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For his main, Mark chose the Prime Rib with Rosemary Jus.  This is ordered by the ounce and Mark opted for just a 5 oz. serving.  It came with a whole head of roasted garlic on a bed of arugula, creamy horseradish sauce, and a small pot of rosemary jus, which Mark liked so much, he just drank it straight from the vessel.  The prime rib was done perfectly; it was moist, tender, and seasoned well.  I think Mark underestimated the portion size and wished he had ordered a couple more ounces.

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As for me, I went for the fish of the day, a pan-fried New Zealand Red Snapper.  We rarely have fish at home, so this sounded like a good option to me.  If you’re wondering what that creamy mass underneath the fish is… well.. it’s polenta.  I had asked the server what the fish came with, as the menu didn’t specify anything other than lemon and fine herbs.  She said it came with broccolini, so I wrongly assumed that it just came with that as the side.  WRONG.  This was not the server’s fault since she wasn’t entirely wrong, but it was a tad misleading.  It didn’t bother me too much so I delicately lifted my fish off the polenta and pushed it all onto one side of the dish.  I’m pretty certain I ingested miniscule amounts of polenta, but no harm no foul.  Mark was concerned that I would still be hungry, but the portion of fish was generous and with the couple of large stalks of broccolini, I was perfectly satisfied.  The fish itself was pan-fried really well – it was flaky, moist, and seasoned with just the right amount of salt.  A squirt of lemon is all it needed.

I have obviously been out of the restaurant game for too long, so I forgot to take a picture of the side we ordered, Duck Fat Fried Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Chili.  So, this might be my new favourite vegetable side dish, ever.  It didn’t look like much when it was set down in front of us, but one bite is all it took to get us.  I might have to buy a deep fryer JUST to recreate these Brussels sprouts at home.  They were crispy, earthy, a little bit sweet, and tangy from the lemon.  So simple, yet so tasty.  For all you Brussels sprouts haters, you cannot hate on anything that is fried in duck fat.  Really.

To end our meal, we each got an Americano and naturally skipped dessert (we had berries with whipped cream at home instead).  We used to be the type that would eat until we were stuffed beyond capacity, but nowadays we’re able to eat until we’re satisfied and that’s more than enough for us.  It feels good to enjoy a meal and not feel like passing out into a food coma afterwards or have to unbutton my pants from the stomach expansion.

Charcut will continue to remain as one of our favourite go-to restaurants.  Their menu remains simple yet contemporary, and it’s easy to adapt to our new lifestyle.  Our next big occasion is my birthday in January, so perhaps we will find ourselves there once again.

CHARCUT Roast House
100, 899 Centre St SW
Calgary, AB
Phone: (403) 984-2180
http://www.charcut.com

CHARCUT Roast House on Urbanspoon

repairing my relationship with food: healing through a low-carb lifestyle

I have a confession to make and it’s going to be weird coming from someone who blogs about food.

I took a break in August because I was working on my disordered relationship with food. I could no longer keep up this persona of the wannabe foodie because it was becoming dangerous to my health, both mentally and physically. The process has been gradual and it all started with a simple lifestyle change, one that ultimately became the catalyst for the journey of healing that has made me much happier and healthier.

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Where I Come From

To better understand how I got to this point, I want to share a little bit about my childhood and my struggles with body image and weight.

I was a chubby kid growing up. I loved food; I was happiest when I was well fed. According to my parents, as long as my belly was full and I got a lot of sleep, I was a happy kid. I took after my paternal grandmother, who always had a love for sweets and rice cakes.

Obviously that love for sweets and rice cakes gave me a rotund figure. I’m genetically pre-disposed to gaining weight easily. That’s just the way it is (thanks, genetics). So to cope with my insecurities and the usual teenage drama growing up, I developed anorexia when I was 16 and lost 45 pounds in three months, plummeting to 100lbs. On a 5’5” frame, that’s a BMI of 16.6 (a BMI of <18.5 is considered underweight).

I eventually developed bulimia as well because I learned that I could actually eat food and then purge it out. Thus began my cycle of bingeing and purging, followed by periods of starvation. I did eventually recover through seeing a therapist, but a part of that disordered eating self still lingered inside of me. I was convinced that I would never be rid of it, that it would always be part of my identity. It would rear its ugly head during the times my weight would fluctuate; I would hear that voice in my head, “what is wrong with you? You need to starve yourself.” And so I would, and it always worked. That’s probably why I kept listening.

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Regressing to Old Habits

After successfully losing weight with a traditional calorie-restricted diet and the P90X program, Mark and I started gradually gaining it back over the past couple of years. It started innocently enough – old foods being re-introduced, going out to eat more frequently, cooking and baking more indulgent foods at home, treating myself to “forbidden” goodies more often.

I can see it now, but back then I was clearly in denial. I had started listening to that voice inside my head again, telling me I needed to be punished. I was so used to hiding my disordered eating habits that it was fairly easy to disguise it from Mark. I would skip meals frequently, sometimes only eating one small meal a day, using the excuse that I simply wasn’t hungry or didn’t feel like eating. The times when Mark traveled a lot for work were easier for me to get away with it, and I started to relish that feeling of complete emptiness inside of my stomach.

All the while, I kept up the appearance of a food-loving blogger, happily going out to eat at new restaurants and indulging in my favourite treats. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a sense of guilt attached to these activities. It was like having a dual personality – the food blogger that was always on the hunt for new material, and the teenage anorexic who hated the feeling of that food being digested in her body.

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Obsession with the Foodie Identity

At the same time I was dealing with the weight and eating issues, I was holding onto an identity that wasn’t in my best interests. What started as a fun hobby quickly turned into an obsession to fulfill a certain idealized persona that I had in my own head. I hate to admit it, but this wannabe foodie really did want to be a foodie, one of those really fun and social foodies that is out in the community at restaurant openings, tweeting about the latest trends and being invited to all the cool media events. I wanted to be that foodie so badly. I wanted to be popular, to be liked, to be noticed and re-tweeted. I wanted the attention and the bragging rights.

Even though we were trying to watch our finances, I’d find any opportunity to go out and try a new restaurant just so I could write about how cool I was that I made it to this new trendy place. It became a race to the finish line of this imaginary competition I had going on in my head, and if I can be completely honest for a moment here, at times it was no longer fun anymore and ridiculous how stressed out I became about it.

I obsessed over other people’s food photography and felt like I was missing out if I didn’t go out RIGHT THIS SECOND and get my hands on whatever they were eating. Vacation planning became an all-out bonanza of restaurant research and every activity had to be planned around where I wanted to eat. Food trumped all. If it didn’t fit the food schedule, it didn’t make it on our list of must-do’s, and I had complex matrices on the go to juggle all the pieces to make my food desires work.

What the hell was going on? All the while, I was convinced that everything I was doing was because I truly enjoyed it – which is partly true – but it was mostly driven by this crazy obsession to become someone that I’m not meant to be. I’m not meant to be a foodie; I’m the pickiest eater out there and I hate social gatherings, so why the hell was I expecting to become this popular foodie that is supposed to be the toast of the town?

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The Tipping Point

It wasn’t my gradual weight gain, the foodie obsession, or the disordered eating that finally led to making a change. It was actually Mark’s own personal weight battle. When I see a loved one down in the dumps, my first instinct is to comfort. Like me, Mark has also struggled with his weight since childhood and our recent weight gain was happening in parallel. One particular night before bed, he was especially frustrated with his weight gain, and it sucked seeing him like that.

It wasn’t until a few days later when I was absentmindedly browsing the internet that I came across a website run by a Swedish doctor called The Diet Doctor. Seems a bit hokey, right? I didn’t know what to make of it until I started reading about the Low-Carb, High-Fat (LCHF) diet, otherwise known as the ketosis diet.

It opened my eyes to a whole new lifestyle that at first didn’t make any sense. What do you mean “high-fat”? It seemed counterintuitive to me, but the more I read about the diet, the more intrigued I became, to the point that I spent the rest of the day researching into the diet and reading everything I could get my hands on.

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The Ultimate Break-Up

It’s hard to believe that a carbaholic like me would even consider a diet that is low in carbs and cuts out most of my favourite foods, but I was willing to give it a try. This brings me back to that night before bed when Mark’s frustration about his weight gain was at its peak – I was mostly willing to give this a try because of him. We do lifestyle changes together (that’s just the way we roll), so it had to be both of us taking the plunge.

I told him all about the research and information I’d found on the diet. He was definitely skeptical, but he was on board. So we set a start date of July 14 and I continued on my research quest; I simply couldn’t get enough information because it was so fascinating to me.

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The Aftermath

Twelve weeks later, we’re still going strong. It certainly took some getting used to, but now we’re in the rhythm of things, as if we’ve been eating this way for longer than 12 weeks.

I’m not gonna lie, the first few weeks were rough. At first, it was the withdrawal symptoms from not eating carbs – brain fog, headaches, a general feeling of crap – similar to what I experienced when I quit smoking cold turkey a few years ago. It only lasted about a week, thankfully, but I still had the problem of carb cravings to get over.

I can justify anything to myself. Really, even if the logic doesn’t make sense when I pass it through a logic meter, I still manage to convince myself with the dumbest excuses. Things like, if no one sees you eat it, then it doesn’t count. I didn’t want to fall into that habit again, so I made myself a deal that I would do this with absolutely no cheats – no justification for any carb creep, no matter what. I would make a conscious choice to stick to the lifestyle without any deviations.

I had a lot of bread dreams (“carbmares”) and a lot of days were filled with thoughts of doughnuts and cupcakes. My workplace is notorious for having goodies around all the time, so that meant platters of cookies, pastries, and cupcakes quite often lingering in the kitchen. I would stare longingly at these treats, imagining what they would taste like. It was tough, you guys. But I held strong.

By about week 6, those cravings started to decrease. I thought less and less about carbs and focused more on the things that I could eat. It’s amazing what a shift in perspective can do. The carbmares became less frequent and I no longer stared at plates of cookies like a maniac.

As for the weight loss?  Well, the weight loss isn’t truly the point of this post, but I must say that losing weight has been the most effortless this time around.  On LCHF, I get to eat a host of nutrient-dense foods that keep me full.  I only experience true hunger maybe every two days, whereas on other diets I would be constantly hungry (which then led to obsessive thoughts about food 24/7).  Today I’m sitting comfortably at 132lbs, the lowest weight I have been since my early 20’s.  My previous attempts at weight loss, I would always plateau at 134-135lbs, so this progress feels amazing.

I came for the weight loss, but stayed for every other amazing health benefit that makes this the most sustainable long-term lifestyle choice for me. Benefits like:

  • Significant decrease in IBS symptoms such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea
  • Constant and steady energy throughout the day – no more energy rollercoasters
  • Clearer skin – less acne breakouts and my keratosis pilaris is clearing up
  • Increased mental clarity and ability to focus and concentrate
  • Nails are strong – no longer have any ridges or pitting
  • Hair is growing incredibly fast

Not to mention being able to work through my issues with food, which is the biggest benefit of all.  I truly believe that this way of eating is what’s helping me to repair the damage I’ve done to my health through all those years of disordered eating and negative thoughts about my body.

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A Healthier Outlook

I care more about what I put into my body. We eat primarily locally-farmed, organic (if possible) foods, ranging from vegetables to meats to dairy products. We focus on whole, natural foods, with the only processed/bottled products being sugar-free ketchup and hot sauce. We stay away from artificial sweeteners and diet-friendly substitutes because the taste of sweetness is a slippery slope that keeps the cravings for sweets alive on our palates, which is a recipe for disaster.

I’m constantly looking for new LCHF-friendly meals to make and living this way has made me a much better cook. I’ve been able to adapt things like meatloaf, lasagna, and pizza to suit our new lifestyle.   I look for new ways to incorporate vegetables to change things up for our taste buds. These days, I find great satisfaction having a big pot of chicken broth cooking on the stove, permeating the air with a comforting aroma.

Our grocery bill has gone up, but I can’t put a price on the quality of life we have now. We pretty much buy the same foods on rotation every week, visiting our favourite food stands at the farmers market and the butcher for the best cuts of meat. We no longer eat out at restaurants, so we save a ton of money by eating at home.

I don’t see food as a vice anymore. I don’t get obsessed about it nor do I use it to deal with my emotional issues. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving food, but for me, loving food came at a dangerous price to my health to the point that it became an abusive relationship. I still have a love for food, but it comes from a completely different place. I’m free to enjoy it not only as fuel to keep my body running at its most optimum, but an incredibly tasty and satisfying fuel that constantly challenges my creativity and cooking skills.

Additionally, I no longer have a desire to become the foodie I described above. I’m content in who I am and what I’m bringing to the world through what I share. And I feel that, finally, after 15 years when it first started, I’m finally rid of those disordered eating patterns that made their residence in the deepest corners of my being. I don’t listen to that voice anymore and the longer I went without giving into its calls, the quieter that voice became, until I have nothing but peace and quiet inside my head.

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Resources

One of the most powerful phrases I’ve heard about eating is “don’t put a label on your diet”. It’s too restrictive, which leads to frustration and feelings of deprivation. Instead, I encourage others to do what works best for them, so long as they’re within the general guidelines. We are all different, with different needs and different biological make-ups, so it doesn’t make sense that we take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to food. It’s all about finding your own “sweet spot” and doing what’s best for you.

I’m no expert in LCHF.  I just have an unquenchable thirst for learning as much about it as I can and imparting this knowledge to those who are interested.  To that end, below is a list of excellent resources on the LCHF diet, ones that not only helped me at the beginning of this journey but ones that I continue to go back to time and time again.  I recognize that a lot of people won’t understand why I made this choice because of the deeply entrenched belief that carbohydrates are essential and fat is bad, but I encourage those who are curious to seek out your own truths. There’s a host of information out there that proves just how powerful a few key people truly were in shaping the way millions of people are currently eating, and not for the better. Always question what doesn’t seem right and never stop learning.  We are the ones in charge of our health and we all have a choice.  Be empowered to choose the best path for you, whatever that may be.

Websites:

Books:

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What the Future Holds

Even with these changes, I’m not ready to throw in the towel on this blog. I want to share what I’ve learned in the last 12 weeks and the recipes I have developed to support this new lifestyle.  Restaurant posts will be few and far between, but I still go out occasionally to enjoy a meal and have no issues adhering to my lifestyle while doing so.  It’s all about preparation and having some fun with it.

I look back on how far this blog has come and I’m truly proud of myself.  My old posts will serve as happy memories that I will cherish and look back on with nothing but joy.  You know what, I really did eat a lot of fabulous food in my time and I don’t regret any of it.  Going through what I did has finally brought me to a better place; without that journey, I would not be the person I am today.  With all new challenges and difficulties, we become stronger, better, and wiser.  Without change, we become stagnant, and that to me is a worse path than having to face the demons that have haunted me for so long.

My hope is that whoever reads this is inspired to learn more about LCHF, but if you’re not into it, that’s okay too.  I’m not here to change the world; I’m just here doing what I can, through one healthy choice at a time.