Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts

Nov 3, 2017

Saving Money While Eating Keto (or Whole Foods)

Saving Money while Eating Whole Foods
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Last December, when my doctor informed me I had type II diabetes and that if I didn't want to take insulin I needed to go on a keto diet, I was worried this new way of eating would blow our grocery budget sky high. Maybe you're trying to switch to a whole foods diet but are afraid it will cost a fortune. Or maybe you're still eating lots of processed, carb-laden food but need to trim your grocery costs. Whatever the case, the following tips will help keep your grocery budget under control, just as they have mine.

(An important point: Many people find their grocery budget goes down when they switch to a keto diet, even without implementing these money-saving tips. It helps that keto keeps you more full than the more popular high carb, low fat diet, but it also really depends upon how much processed food you're used to buying. Our budget remained about the same; previously we ate a lower carb whole foods diet.)


Courtesy of
Meat

* Keto is a moderate protein diet; it doesn't require huge amounts of meat. That should help your budget, right there!

* Learn which grocery stores in your area have a meat clearance section and what day of the week they mark down their meat. Plan to use that meat the same day, or freeze it for later use.

* Watch for meat sales, via newspaper inserts, store websites, or store loyalty programs. Plan your meals around these sale items.

* But cheaper cuts of meat, and learn to cook them so they taste great. Most cheaper cuts are either less tender (so you'll need to learn to cook them low and slow in a crock pot or Instant Pot).

* Considered canned meat. If you're not used to it, canned meat may seem weird or even yucky. But I assure you that minimally processed canned meat, like chicken breasts, salmon, and tuna, is healthy and delicious! Sometimes it's cheaper than fresh, too - especially if you buy it on sale.

* Prepare your own meat. For example, instead of buying chicken tenders, buy chicken breasts and cut them down to size yourself. Or buy a whole chicken and use the meat for several meals.

Produce
Courtesy of Jules

* Buy what's in season; it's almost always cheaper. For example, asparagus is least expensive in spring, when it's naturally abundant. (Not sure what's in season when? Check out the USDA's website.)

* Consider farmer's markets. Sometimes they are less expensive than grocery stores. (But not always!)

* Compare the cost of frozen vegetables with fresh vegetables. Often, frozen is less expensive, yet still quite nutritional.

* Grow as many of your own veggies as possible. Even having a few pots on your porch or balcony can save a lot of money, especially if you choose greens, which grow and grow and grow until killed by frost. (Some greens, like kale and collards will even stay alive in the snow.)

In General

* Shop around. Familiarize yourself with all the grocery stores in your area, so you know for sure which ones are least expensive for the foods you most purchase.
Courtesy of Clyde Robinson
* Keep a price book. Don't rely on your memory to know the best price for the foods you regularly purchase or you may end up buying something on sale without actually saving any money. Click here to learn how to make a simple price book.


* Avoid processed food, even if you think it's keto. This will save you a ton of money - and processed food is frankly never as healthy as whole food. The Internet has a wealth of made-from-scratch keto foods. (Check out my Pinterest boards, for a start.)

* Eat simple meals most days. Few ingredients usually means spending less money to make a meal. Focus on one meat and one veggie for most meals.

* Although organic produce and grassfed meat and dairy are ideal for any healthy diet, don't feel you must buy them in order to eat keto. Sure Kerrygold butter and grassfed steaks are awesome, but you can be very successful at keto while eating conventional meat, dairy, and produce.

* Consider buying in bulk. Find local farmers from whom you can buy half a cow or a pig. When you find a good deal at the grocery store, especially on a staple, buy a lot to save yourself money in the future. For fresh foods, freeze what you won't use right away.

* Meal plan. This will save your sanity, as well as your pocket book, and it doesn't have to be complicated. I usually just determine how many days I'm buying for (typically 14 or so - because the less often I'm at the grocery store, the less I'm likely to buy!), pick that many dinners, and choose basics for lunch and breakfast. Make sure you plan around what's on sale and in season.

* Meal prep. Some people find that if they have pre-made, homemade meals at home in the freezer or fridge, they are less likely to grab unhealthy food elsewhere. If grabbing food-to-go is a temptation to you, commit to spending a few hours every weekend to prep the week's meals.
Courtesy of

* Make your own spice blends. Spice mixes can not only have hidden, unhealthy ingredients (including MSG, soy, and flours), but they are more expensive than homemade mixes.

* Grate your own cheese. Do this first because pre-grated cheese has additives that are high in carbs. Do it second because it's almost always less expensive to do it yourself. Hate grating cheese? Buy a food processor! You can also save a lot of money by buying blocks of cheese on sale, grating it, and freezing it.

* Use leftovers. Either freeze them for a future meal or eat them the next day.

* Avoid eating out. Eating at restaurants or grabbing food on the go is expensive! Bring snacks and drinks with you, and eat out only as a special treat.

* Eat eggs. They are a cheap source of protein. (Even cheaper if you raise the hens yourself!)

* Eat enough fat. Natural fats are healthy and make you feel much more full. (Don't overdo it, though, or you may stall your weight loss or begin gaining weight.)

* Fast. Intermittent fasting has health benefits - and it saves your bank account some cash. Don't starve yourself, though. Just skip a meal; you'll probably find that easy to do after a couple of weeks of eating keto. (Diabetics should only fast if they are unmedicated and have their blood sugar under good control.)

* Avoid snacking. Not only do snacks burn your cash, but they slow weight loss, too. Eat enough at your regular meals that you feel comfortably full.

Courtesy of
* Avoid recipes that contain expensive ingredients. This may seem like a big duh, but a lot of low carb or keto recipes for sweets - something every newbie craves - are costly. Keto-friendly, natural sweeteners, for example, and alternative flours like almond and coconut, hike up your budget very quickly. Keep these treats occasional, and you'll save a ton of money while truly taming the sugar dragon.

* Start doing Swagbucks. This is a site that let's you earn points toward gift cards by doing Internet searches, surveys, and other things. Depending upon where you buy groceries, you can earn gift cards to your grocery store. I mostly shop at Walmart, and find I can easily get $25 - $50 off my monthly grocery bill by using Swagbucks

* Consider a Costco or Sam's Club membership - or find a friend who has a membership and go shopping with her! But be sure to compare their prices to those in your price book! Not everything at these stores is a good deal.


Aug 24, 2017

Myths about the Keto Diet

 This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

It's amazing how many people can stare at the positive effects of the whole-food ketogenic diet and still not open their minds to it. As many of you know, I began a keto lifestyle in December, on the recommendation of my doctor who'd just diagnosed me with type II diabetes. (Read about my journey and the incredible success I had in just three months right here.) Eight months later, I can say my health has become even better. My blood sugar is still normal; I've lost 42 lbs.; my cholesterol is normal; my blood pressure is normal; the hidradenitis supporativa I suffered from is almost entirely gone; the C-section pain I suffered from (eight years after my last C-section) is mostly gone; and I have more energy.

And yet...I keep bumping into people who tell me I'm on a dangerous, fad diet.

Is the Keto diet a fad?

Did you know that the ketogenic diet (though it was not called that at the time) was the first diet ever developed to truly combat diabetes? Yep, way back in the 1860s, Dr. William Banting popularized the idea that "starchy" foods made us fat. By the early 1900s, doctors realized that by cutting those same carbs from the diet, diabetics who otherwise were dying, could live for years. Take a peak at this old diabetic cookbook, and you'll see it's not much different from the keto recipes you see today.

In addition, many experts argue that the keto diet is the way most people used to eat. In The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, Doctors Jeff Volek and Stephen Finney explain how eating habits from thousands of years ago are largely misinterpreted by archeologists, primarily because looking at the remains of food waste "does not allow us to know which parts of the food were treasured, which discarded, and what parts were fed to dogs." Think about it: Meat has usually been abundant, whereas vegetables were seasonal, and fruit rarer still.

Coming closer to our time period in history, fruit was treated as a dessert, and meals consisted mostly of natural fats, meats, and vegetables. Many of our modern epidemic diseases (including heart disease and diabetes) were far more rare in those days.

A classic keto meal. Recipe here.
Is the Keto Diet Dangerous?

Interestingly, when people bring up how "dangerous" the ketogenic diet is, they tend to be vague. I'll ask, "How is this diet dangerous?" and typically they can't answer. Sometimes I meet a healthcare professional who touts this line, and the "dangerous" aspect of this lifestyle always boils down to two things:

1. They think keto is a high protein diet.
2. They confuse ketoacidosis with ketosis.

A high protein diet does, indeed, have the potential to cause kidney damage - that's the "dangerous" part people frequently mention. But keto is not a high protein diet. It's a moderate protein diet.

I'll also note that I'm in contact with people who've been eating keto for a decade or longer, and none of them have ever had kidney issues. In fact, they've never been so healthy in all their lives. So kidney damage due to eating too much protein is definitely not a concern with this lifestyle.

An awful lot of people who should know better (nurses, dieticians, etc.) also confuse ketoacidosis with ketosis. I've addressed this concern before, but let me just say briefly: Ketosis means your body is burning fat instead of carbohydrates. That's what you're after in a keto diet. It's called ketosis because the process puts ketone bodies (chemicals the body produces when breaking down fatty acids) into the blood stream. The amount of ketones in the blood stream is, however, very low.

Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a dangerous condition found almost exclusively in type I diabetics. It occurs when there are very high amounts of ketones in the blood stream, caused by a lack of insulin in the body. (Insulin metabolizes ketones.) This condition requires emergency treatment because it can seriously damage organs and cause death. Learn more about ketoacidosis here.

Another item that comes up is something that was featured on a recent blog post over at The Paleo Mom. I've previously recommended this blog to people, because it has great articles about the AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet, which is useful for people suffering from a variety of ailments. But I must say I was disappointed with this piece.
Low carb veggies are a major part of the keto diet. Recipe here.

The first red flag in the post is the assertion that keto is a "starvation diet." This tells me the author doesn't understand even the basics of keto. I assure you, no one ever starved on keto. No one need even feel hungry. Keto is a very filling diet, and if you're hungry, you eat. Period.

Perhaps the author is being unclear and saying keto starves the body of carbohydrates, which  (she fails to mention) are not a nutrient anyone requires.

Then the author goes on to list the serious reactions some people have had while on a keto diet...Every single one of them apply to every diet that's ever existed, including the high carb, low fat diet that's currently so popular.

The post also claims keto hasn't been well studied, except among epileptic children. This simply isn't the case. Perhaps the author's confusion is that she's not looking at the studies of LCHF diets (another name for keto, and stands for "low carb, high fat, moderate protein") - the real studies, that is. As Volek and Phinney point out, rarely do studies that claim to look at LCHF really do the job. Usually, they look at high protein diets, or diets filled with processed (not natural) fats, or diets that aren't truly low carb.

Another thing I sometimes hear is that keto is bad for your gut and colon because it doesn't include enough vegetables. Again this shows a lack of knowledge about the diet, because keto is a whole foods diet that encourages vegetable consumption at every meal. In fact, a lot of people who switch to keto end up eating more veggies than they did previously.

A few other concerns are sometimes mentioned, like "Your body needs carbs!", "Fruit is good for you!", and "Fat causes heart disease!" Each of these assertions is false; you can read what I've already written about them here.

I suffer a lot eating delicious, wholesome food like this chowder. (Not!)  Recipe here.
It's Not Maintainable

This is the most laughable argument against the keto diet, and the one that most reveals how our culture is addicted to carbs. In truth, thousands of people stick to a keto lifestyle without cheating...and do it for decades.

In fact, keto the easiest diet I've ever been on. Weight Watchers? Now there's a diet that's not maintainable. Even Atkins, which has some parallels with keto - is not maintainable for me and many others. But keto keeps me full and satisfied and the food is delicious. I have no desire to go back to the carb-laden diet the American diabetes Association and most medical professionals suggest.

My honest opinion? The standard American diet is what's not maintainable. At least, not if we want to be healthy.


To learn more about the specifics of the ketogenic diet, click here.



Jul 27, 2017

Sleep Deprivation is Not a Virtue

"It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep."


In 2009, when my youngest was a year old and I was still in a sleep-deprived daze, I blogged about the importance of sleep. Since that time, however, it seems more and more Christian books and blogs are turning sleep into the enemy. Don't give into "the flesh," many say. Instead, get up early and you'll be more holy, many imply. Only moms who rise before the rest of the household keep the house - and themselves - orderly. Somehow the idea of getting less sleep has been confused with being more godly.* Um...really?


While it's true the Bible speaks against laziness and sleeping late all the time, the idea that sleep deprivation is virtuous is not from the Bible - it's from the world. All around our nation, we see moms (and dads and children) who are sleep deprived. This has lead to a host of problems in the U.S., including obesity, depression, grumpiness, inability to respond well to life's difficulties, poor decision making, car crashes, and much more. This isn't a good way to care for the bodily temples God gave us. Even from a purely spiritual point of view, sleep deprivation has its consequences. When we haven't had enough rest, it's harder to behave in a loving, giving, Christ-like fashion. And getting even just an hour and a half less sleep each night reduces our alertness and ability to think clearly by 32%. How can we make right choices for the Lord when our thinking is so impaired? Even our joy can be sucked away when we're sleep deprived. This is not what God wants. Quite the opposite, in fact.

But, some moms say, how can I have time alone with the Lord if I don't rise early every morning? First, know this: The problem isn't necessarily rising early. The Proverbs 31 Woman gets "up while it is still dark," after all. The problem is rising early even though your body requires more sleep. The problem is making yourself sleep deprived because of the mistaken notion that doing so will make you more worthy. So if you can rise early, spend time with the Lord, and still get all the sleep you need, fantastic! But if rising early makes you feel dizzy, nauseated, wiped out, and/or impatient and grumpy, then you'll be a wiser woman if you sleep a little longer. There are lots of ways to spend time with the Lord, even when you're home with little children all day. (For a few ideas, go here; and think of Susanna Wesley - mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement - who, with 10 young children underfoot, maintained her prayer life by flipping her apron over her head to create a certain "calm" while she spoke with God.)

But, some moms say, how I can keep the house tidy, homeschool the kids, make myself look presentable, be active in the church, socialize with my friends, run the kids to their activities, do the shopping, have hobbies, and so on, if I don't get up early? There aren't enough hours in the day! You're right; there aren't enough hours to do all that. As Jesus told Martha, there are many good things to do, but a wise woman carefully chooses the most important activities.

We live in a society that worships busy-ness. Moms buzz around the house and to various activities, always busy, busy, busy. But this isn't the life the Bible recommends. Jesus, though he had an active ministry, found time to spend with his Father, to spend with his family and friends, and to rest.






Busy-ness has a way of putting a barrier between us and what's important. Moms (especially those with young children) have some tough choices to make. They can run around busily doing good things (perhaps fairly well, perhaps not), or they can focus on what's most important in their lives right now: God, husband, and children (in that order). It's no coincidence that in Titus Paul says, "...urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." (2: 4-5; emphasis mine)

Being a wife and mother is a full time job. And because of the society in which we live, it's easy for mothers to get distracted from this job. That distraction costs families a great deal. And it costs many moms sleep - one of the things they most require in order to fulfill their Godly purpose.

So while some moms may wear their sleep deprivation as a badge of honor - and some may even look down their noses at moms who don't rise before dawn - a wise woman smiles and knows that busy-ness and sleep deprivation aren't what makes a Proverbs 31 woman.

* This post assumes you are a reasonably mature person and aren't staying up all hours of the night working or playing. This post also assumes you don't have an infant in the house - because sleep deprivation is a natural part of caring for an infant; however, moms of babies should do everything possible to take naps. 

This post was originally published in 2012.


Jul 18, 2017

Catnip for Human Medicine

Catmint Herbal Medicine
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

My interest in medicinal herbs began when I was in my 20s. That was also when I had my first unfortunate incident with catnip (also called "catmint"). I'd bought a tiny nursery seedling, thinking it would be fun to grow catnip and give my cat a little now and then...but my cat ate the entire seedling before I ever got it planted...and then proceeded to suffer from hallucinations which lead to years of flashbacks. So let's just say I'm not a fan of giving catnip to cats. (It is, most vets will admit if you press them, rather like giving heroine to a human.)

So when we moved to our new homestead and I found a large patch of catnip, I was ready to pull it out. Yet with our homestead, came the previous owners' cat, Loki. He's a great little guy - a wonderful mouser, and sweet to boot. He's not young, however...and he's very fond of catnip. The family joke is that Loki is the old hippie on our homestead; in the summer, when the catnip is growing, we always know where to find him: laying in the middle of the catnip. All. Day. Long.

Despite some misgivings, I finally decided the cat was set in his ways, happy, showing no ill effects from the catnip (other than growing a little thin in the summer because he's too busy in the catnip to eat as usual), and I hated to upset his world. So the catnip remains, though I keep it under pretty tight control.

That decision made, I also came to the conclusion that I may as well use the catnip for the humans who live here, too. Because, yes! Catnip has a long tradition of medicinal use in humans.
Catnip blooms can be lovely and attract plenty of garden pollinators. (Courtesy of

Catnip as Human Medicine

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is part of the mint family (hence the other common name for the plant: catmint). In humans, the herb is a mild relaxant, mostly used as a soothing tea to de-stress and prepare for sleep. Catnip contains nepetalactone, which is known to repel mosquitoes better than DEET and may repel flies and cockroaches, too. Herbalists say catnip is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, antispasmodic, anti-fungal, and a bactericide. It's traditionally used for treating colic, nausea, digestive distress, fevers, arthritis, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, hemorrhoids, to put menstrual cramps at bay, as a treatment for minor cuts and abrasions, and to help relieve the symptoms of the cold or flu.

How to Grow and Harvest Catnip

Like many perennial herbs, catnip is incredibly easy to grow. In fact, usually the only problem with growing it is keeping it from spreading everywhere. Therefore, I suggest either growing catnip in a container, or keeping it in a small bed surrounded by concrete.

Catnip wants full sun, and I find it doesn't mind being a bit dry (though that's contrary to most growing guides I've read, which claim catnip needs evenly moist soil). Like all herbs, catnip loves a good trim, so don't be afraid to harvest it regularly. To harvest, simply snip off a stem, just above a double set of leaves.



Catnip is in the mint family. (Courtesy of

How to Preserve Catnip

There are some uses for fresh catnip leaves, but catnip is primarily used dried. Pick leaves off stems and place them on the trays of a dehydrator. Dry at 95 degrees F. until crisp. Alternatively, hang stems of catnip upside down in a dark location until the leaves are completely dry.

Place dry, cool leaves in an air tight container stored in a dark, cool location.

Using Catnip for Humans

Tea: This is the most common way to consume catnip and is perfect as a relaxer, sleep aid, digestive aid, menstrual cramp reducer, and headache reliever. Strong teas may also relieve anxiety attacks. Simply fill a tea ball with dried catnip leaves, crushing them as you go; place the ball in a cup, cover with boiling water, then cover the cup with a saucer. When the tea stops steaming, you may remove the saucer. (Herbalists say covering steeping tea helps retain the herbs' medicinal qualities.) For a stronger tea, use fresh, coarsely chopped leaves. It's fine to add honey or lemon juice to flavor the tea.

Poultice: When catnip is actively growing, crush fresh leaves and place directly onto minor cuts and abrasions to help prevent infection and promote healing. Fresh leaves may also be chewed to help relieve a toothache, and a simple poultice of crushed catnip leaves and warm water or oil may be applied to arthritic parts of the body.

For colic: Brew catnip tea and have the child consume it. Most children do not like the flavor of catnip, so adding sweetener helps. (Do not use honey as a sweetener for children under the age of 12 months.) You may also add the tea to a bottle of milk or formula or other drink - just 2 or 3 tablespoons will do the trick.
Catnip is also called catmint. (Courtesy of

Baths: Adding catnip to warm bath water may help relieve sore muscles, achey bodies with the flu, and relax the body and mind. If desired, place a handful of fresh or dried catnip in a square piece of cotton, pull up the corners, tie off, and hang the resulting bag so the warm water runs through it as you fill the tub. Alternatively, make a strong catnip tea and add it to the bath water.

WARNINGS: According to WebMD, catnip should not be taken regularly or excessively. Do not consume catnip if you are pregnant. If you are nursing, talk to your doctor before taking catnip. Those with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) should not consume catnip, nor should women who have excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). Catnip should not be used in conjunction with medications that slow down the central nervous system, like sedatives. Talk to you doctor if you take lithium and you want to consume catnip. As with any plant, allergic reactions are possible, if unusual.


Disclaimer 
I am not a doctor, nor should anything on this website (www.ProverbsThirtyOneWoman.blogspot.com) be considered medical advice. The FDA requires me to say that products mentioned, linked to, or displayed on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this web site is designed for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified medical advice or care. There are no assurances of the information being fit or suited to your medical needs, and to the maximum extent allow by law disclaim any and all warranties and liabilities related to your use of any of the information obtained from the website. Your use of this website does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. No information on this website should be considered complete, nor should it be used as a substitute for a visit to, consultation with, or the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider.  

* Title images courtesy of Megan Hansen and mwms1916.


Jun 19, 2017

Dealing with Ticks, Naturally

How to Naturally Deter Ticks
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Country living isn't new to me; I grew up in a rural area. But ticks? Yep, definitely a new-to-me experience. And this year, ticks are already much, much worse than they were last year - a trend throughout the nation, I read. And while the little buggers completely gross me out (just writing this post makes me feel like ticks are crawling all over me), I don't relish the thought of spraying my family with DEET day in and day out. So here are a few things that have helped us keep the ticks at bay naturally.

(Please bear in mind that I don't live in an area where Lyme disease is currently a factor. If I did, I might be more inclined to use DEET as the lesser of two evils.)

1. Yard Maintenance. Keeping the grass mowed goes a long way toward keeping ticks out of the yard. Yes, some ticks hang out on bushes and trees, but a many more seem to lurk in tall grass. Keeping that grass short obliterates a tick's favorite hang out. In addition, having gravel or bark borders surrounding common human hang outs (like the deck) may help keep ticks at bay.

2. Dress Right. When you're in tick-infested areas, wear boots with long pants, or tuck your pants into your socks. It may look dorky, but it keeps ticks from climbing up your legs. Long sleeves help, too.

3. Cloak Your Scent. Many types of ticks know what to jump on by that creature's smell, so anything you do to mask your smell will help deter ticks. We've been using tea tree oil - apparently successfully. (That is to say, we've never found a tick on us after applying it.) I just dab it onto our ankles (or the ankles of our boots), our wrists (at the pulse points, just like you'd do with perfume), and our necks. Since mosquitoes are also a problem for us, I also want to experiment with using Thieves' Vinegar. I've made a batch (you can read about that here), and it stinks a lot, but we haven't had a chance to use it yet.

4. Check Right Away. As soon as you're out of the tick-infested area, check for ticks. Remove all your clothes and check every nook and cranny. It's best to put those clothes directly into a sealed, plastic garbage bag, or directly into the washing machine (which should then be turned on), so any ticks on your clothes won't be loose in the house.

5. Remove Ticks CORRECTLY. If you find a tick, remove it carefully. So many of the tick-removing ticks neighbors and family told us about - or that we read about on the internet - are not recommended because they allow the tick a chance to regurgitate into your blood stream, increasing the likelihood it will pass on some disease to you. Methods to avoid include using a match or heat source, using manual rubbing, or using bag balm, petroleum jelly, or some other oil. The CDC recommends using tweezers, but I find this usually results in the tick's head being left behind - definitely not what we're after! Then I discovered the Tick Twister. When I first bought this device, I was highly skeptical. It seemed too simple and too much like tweezers. But trust me, this baby works! You just insert the tick between the tongs of the device, then turn, like a screw driver. Out comes the tick, head and all!

6. Dealing with the Dog. One area where we still struggle is with the dog, who is basically a 90 lb. tick magnets. Tea tree oil is toxic to dogs. (According to Pet MD, uou could could safely use .1% to 1% tea tree oil, but I doubt it would be strong enough to keep ticks at bay.) Our neighbors use garlic powder, sprinkled into their dog's food. When they told me this, I was surprised; I thought garlic was toxic to dogs. But further research online and in books indicates that it's a matter of proper dosage. The book All You Ever Wanted to Know About Herbs for Pets claims dogs can have 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder per pound of food, 3-4 times a week. (If your dog is anemic or has other health issues, talk to your vet before giving the dog garlic.) I plan to start feeding our dog this tiny amount of garlic powder to see if it really does keep ticks at bay.

How do you deal with ticks? Leave a comment and share your wisdom!



May 4, 2017

What Does Keto Living Look Like? With a Simple Keto Meal Plan

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

 Many people have written to me, asking questions about my keto (LCHF) diet! I'm so happy word is getting out about this healthy lifestyle (which is good for almost everyone, not just diabetics) and I'm happy to answer questions whenever possible. There are some questions that come up again and again, though, so I think it's best to answer them on the blog.

One series of questions was well asked by long time reader Staci, who actually attempted keto at one point. She wrote:
"I would be curious in hearing what a normal day looks like for you with food - breakfast, lunch, snacks, supper, even a treat. I'd like to see what you eat versus what the kids and husband eat - whether anything is different for them than you or how you incorporate other things for the family that you don't have yourself...
I did [keto] for a full week and a half before flopping...I really felt hungry a lot! I would find myself grabbing some pork rinds...and then just felt like I was still eating junky because of grabbing those.
Also, I felt like I was ALWAYS cooking!!! Sadly, it is faster to grab a package of convenience food than it is to whip up something and leave yourself with dishes to be dealt with afterward. I homeschool four kids, so time can feel tight.  It just seemed like I was adding more work load to my day."

Always Cooking? 

I hear this a lot from people who are attempting to convert to a keto diet - or a whole foods diet, for that matter. I do get it. Life is busy, especially when you're a mom. Cooking can seem like a burden. And then there's dishes to do afterward. Ugh. Here's how I handle it.

First and foremost, my mindset matters. Yes, it seems easier to grab processed food. But what is the real cost of that food? For me personally, the cost is raised blood sugar leading to a host of awful and deadly side effects. For you, it might be less energy (because one thing is certain: going keto will make you feel far more energetic!), poorer overall health, and training children to eat in a way that, if they wish to be healthy, will mean having to re-learn food as an adult. So I try to think of the wonderful health benefits of a home cooked meal, rather than thinking of cooking as a burden.

Second, I don't spend hours in the kitchen every day. Breakfast takes maybe 10 minutes to prepare for myself. On the weekends, I cook a larger, family breakfast and it can take 10 - 30 minutes. (There are ways to reduce that time; more on that later.) I rarely eat lunch, but when I do, I whip up something in less than 5 minutes. Dinner takes the longest, but I generally try to choose meals that take about 30 minutes or less to prepare. So in total, I'm cooking - at worst - an hour a day. I don't think that's bad at all!

Third, a little bit of planning can reduce cooking time a lot. For example, if you eat a lot of bacon, you know it can take some time to cook, no matter your favorite cooking method. So I know people who cook a week's worth of bacon on the weekend. They toss the cooked bacon in a Ziplock bag and bam! they've just shaved off a ton of weekday cooking time. I've never gotten around to doing this, but if I know I'll be having bacon later in the day, I do cook extra at breakfast time, so I don't have to cook it again later in the day.

Other ideas include making egg "muffins" and freezing them; cooking eggs in the microwave; boiling a bunch of eggs and keeping them in a bowl in the fridge (for breakfast or snacks or salads); freezing keto pancakes; making 90 second bread (you can toast it, if you like); keeping meat (canned, or leftovers from dinner, made in the Instant Pot or slow cooker during a spare moment) to pop into salads or "sandwiches"...As you get more familiar with keto cooking, you'll also see it's just as easy to make freezer meals, crock pot meals, and Instant Pot meals as it is with "regular" food.

Dishes!

No one wants this.

My least favorite part of cooking: doing dishes. But you know what? I've learned it really doesn't take long to get this chore done.

I empty the dishwasher (or have a kid do it) in the morning, and pop in the previous' nights dishes. (Yep, I leave dishes in the sink overnight! My hubby has a long commute, and I like to eat dinner with him. So by the time we eat, I'm way too tired to get the dishes done.) If the dishwasher isn't full, we keep adding dishes as we use them. (Usually my kids put their own dishes in the dishwasher, even though I often have to re-arrange them later.) I run the dishwasher when it's full, and then start all over again. 

If there are enough dishes in the sink at any given time, it still only takes about 10 minutes to empty the dishwasher and refill it. And I'm working on training my kids to do dishes, too.

But I'm Hungry!

No one on keto should ever go hungry. The key to feeling full is to get enough fat in your diet. It's not enough to simply cook your foods in butter. You should have a good portion of fat in every meal.

However, if you feel hungry between or after meals, eat something low- or no-carb with plenty of fat in it. A piece of cheese, a handful of walnuts, or some pork rinds should do the trick. The ever-popular keto "fat bombs" work, too. Just watch the carb intake and make sure you don't often eat sugar substitutes. (More on that in the "desserts" section.)

My Basic Meals

This is what works for me. If there are things here you hate to eat, don't feel obliged to eat them. Keto offers tons of food options, so there's no need to choke down food you hate (which is a sure fire way to tempt yourself to cheat).
Keto pancakes or crepes.

Breakfast: I usually eat eggs and bacon for breakfast. For me, it's filling enough I rarely need lunch, and I like that. I use backyard fresh eggs cooked runny and I dip the bacon in the runny yolks. Yum! Sometimes I'll cook scrambled eggs, or make an omelet, or so some other egg variation. I always cook the eggs either in bacon drippings or lots of butter, and I salt my eggs liberally (because your body requires more salt when eating keto).

When I want to mix things up a bit, I have keto crepes/pancakes, or I eat non-breakfast food for breakfast.

Admittedly, my children are not huge fans of eggs, so they often have something different. Currently, they tend to have a carb-laden food, like bagels with cream cheese - but I want to change their carb-loving ways, so we're working on this. Sometimes, I give them leftover dinner food. (Low carb pizza is their favorite breakfast!) Whatever the case, I keep their breakfast quick and easy to prepare. My husband grabs hard boiled eggs from the fridge on his way out the door each morning.

On weekends, we typically all eat the same breakfast foods. I do sometimes make toast or English muffins with homemade jam (or store bought peanut butter) for the kids.
Cherry tomatoes make carb counting easier.

Lunch: When I first started keto, I ate lunch every day. Usually I had no-bread BLTs: A piece of large leaf lettuce with mayo on it, two slices of bacon, and three cherry tomatoes, sliced in half. (I like cherry tomatoes because they are much easier to carb-count than large tomatoes.) I had two of these "sandwiches" at a time. Other times, I had chicken or tuna salad: meat, lettuce, maybe some hard boiled eggs chopped up, a little mayo, and sometimes up to 5 cherry tomatoes. 

Once I got into my keto groove, I found I wasn't often hungry at lunch - so I usually skip it! Because there are benefits to intermittent fasting. But please, if you're hungry, eat.

My children do eat lunch, but again, I keep it simple: Dinner leftovers, sandwiches, and meat roll ups (basically a sandwich using thin-sliced meat in place of bread) are common. 

My husband eats at work these days, so I prepare his lunch the night before. He always has some tinned fish (What can I say? He loves it!) and a salad. I try to vary his salad, but it's typical for it to have chopped hard boiled eggs or meat leftover from dinner, in order to get more protein in the meal.

Snacks: My husband has a long commute and doesn't get home until hours after the regular dinner hour, so I often snack in the afternoon. My most common snack is a handful of walnuts. Sometimes I also eat what I call "pleasure food:" 4 strawberries, raspberries, or cherry tomatoes (if I haven't had them already that day and won't be having them with dinner), or maybe up to 4 squares of Lilly's dark chocolate. Sometimes I also eat flavored pork rinds. (I'm working on ways to flavor my own so I can feel better about consuming them. Remember, thinking of pork rinds as junk food goes with your old ideas of healthy eating. Good, clean pork rinds are a great source of fat, and have zero carbs.) Other times, I might eat some salted hard boiled eggs or a small serving of fermented sauerkraut.

My kids mostly snack on nuts, fruit (home dehydrated and fresh), trail mix, and cheese. (Again, I'm working on trying to get them more low carb.)
Meatballs can be low carb! Photo courtesy of Mack Male

Dinner: Typically, we all eat the same dinner. I have a Pinterest board of keto recipes, as well as a Facebook group of shared keto recipes, that I draw inspiration from. Sometimes the meal is simple, like meat and one veggie. I up the fat content of the meal by making a sauce from heavy cream, or by adding cheese, or by adding tons of butter to my plate.

Desserts: I try to keep sweets to a minimum...for several reasons. First, our bodies sometimes get a spike in blood sugar after eating any type of sweet - even if it's Stevia or an artificial sweetener that's not supposed to spike blood sugar. This hasn't happened to me yet, but those who eat such sweeteners a lot are more apt to have it happen over time. Second, I think it's healthier to train ourselves away from sweets. Third, it's easy for the carbs to creep up accidentally when we eat sweets. That said, I do make my chocolate icy, and I do eat Lilly's dark chocolate bar squares. (Health food stores usually sell them cheaper than Amazon.) It's really all about chocolate for me, folks! I have also twice eaten some Stevia-sweetened cheesecake my mom-in-law made, and I plan on experimenting with some of the very low carb baked goods in the Cooking Keto with Kristie cookbook.

 
Chocolate icy dessert.

Simple Meal Plan

Monday: 
Breakfast - 2 slices bacon and 2 eggs cooked in bacon drippings.
Lunch - 2 breadless BLTs (Two slices bacon, three cherry tomatoes sliced in half, mayo, all on a large leaf lettuce)
Dinner - Pork chops with spicy green beans
Snack - Handful of walnuts

Tuesday:
Breakfast - Cream Cheese Pancakes with butter
Lunch - Tuna salad (Canned tuna, mayo, celery, hard boiled eggs, lettuce)
Dinner - Cauliflower Chowder
Snack - Chunk of cheddar cheese

Wednesday:
Breakfast - Omelette with cheese, mushrooms, olives, and spinach
Lunch - Bunless burger (wrap it in large leaf lettuce or eat with fork)
Dinner - Creamy Chicken Garlic
Snack - 5 strawberries with cream

Thursday:
Breakfast - Sauteed greens with 2 scrambled eggs and 2 slices bacon
Lunch - Chicken salad (canned or roasted chicken, mayo, lettuce, celery)
Dinner - Steak with pan fried eggplant
Snack - Jalapeno poppers

Friday:
Breakfast - 2 egg "muffins" (basically, scrambled eggs baked in muffin cups; add chopped green bell pepper, some chopped bacon, and some cheese.)
Lunch - Leftovers from dinner
Dinner - Nachos made with pork rinds instead of chips
Snack - 2 hardboiled eggs

Saturday:
Breakfast - 2 scrambled eggs, a slice of ham, and 90 second "bread," toasted with butter
Lunch - Turkey roll ups (thin sliced turkey with mayo or cream cheese, shredded cheese, sliced olives)
Dinner - Keto meatballs and roasted broccoli
Snack - Pepperoni slices microwaved until crisp

Sunday:
Breakfast - Bunless burger topped with an egg
Lunch - Chicken wings
Dinner - Country Vegetable Lasagna
Snack - Flavored pork rinds
Dessert - Chocolate Icy


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