Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bittersweet Chocolate Chips - Fooling Myself

So I did an analysis a bit back on chocolates, and found 70% cocoa a reasonable ketogenic ratio.  I found bittersweet chocolate chips at the warehouse club at a very reasonable price, and thought I'd found an inexpensive way to indulge in dark chocolate.

Here's the comparison:

ProductServingsFat grams per servingProtein grams per servingCarb grams per servingFiber grams per serving
Bitersweet Chocolate Chips1.04.5191
Total Calories77
% carb calories42%
% protien calories5%
% fat Calories53%
Ketogenic ratio50%

ProductServingsFat grams per servingProtein grams per servingCarb grams per servingFiber grams per serving
70% dark Chocolate1.0193173
Total Calories239
% carb calories23%
% protien calories5%
% fat Calories72%
Ketogenic ratio105%
Back to expensive chocolate for me...

As a wandering side note, this analysis of 70% dark Lindt bar differs from my previous one.  I've added some new fields to my calculator and wanted to include those, but it seems that the values have changed since my last analysis.  This change was favorable, but it is a lesson to be wary and keep checking labels even occasionally on familiar products.  I've definitely noticed this before when familiar products changed to more watery formulas, necessitating changing some old favorite recipes.  This watering down of some canned/frozen products is why I use dollars per calorie as a measure of value between similar products.  Water is really cheap per pound/volume, and the devaluation of the watered down brand is only reflected in the nutrition information panel.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blisters - The other gait instructor...

Twelve years ago I tripped over a shoe.  It hurt pretty badly, I called up my friends and told them the dinner planned that night would depend on a couple of them coming over to help me cook so I could get off my feet some.  I didn't have health insurance at the time, and the treatment for broken toes isn't much different from the treatment of sprained toes, so I just self-treated it, immobilizing it as much as I could and staying off of it.

It never healed quite right.  I've called it my weather toe, as it acts up when a storm is coming.  As I've gone more minimal that toe has not gained as much mobility as my other side and has not straightened as much.  It has bothered me less when the weather acts up, but even my more roomy moccasins sometimes are sometimes uncomfortable when the weather is changing.

On the same foot I had a thick callous on the pad below the fourth toe.  (Right where your weight would fall if trying to walk with the big toe elevated off the ground.)  As I went minimal, most of my callouses went away except this one, and one in the middle outside of the damaged big toe.  (Once again, if trying to elevate the big toe but failing, the pressure would land in this spot rather than in the center of the big toe.)  For a while I blamed a wart I eventually found under the callous, but that's been gone for months now and there's been no reduction in callous.

So yesterday I was fed up with the callous and pared it back a bit.  Today I took a half hour walk with co-workers.  Guess where I feel a friction hot spot?  The body is not stupid, it forms callus in response to friction to protect itself.  If I kept going like this I'd likely develop a blister.

The good side of blisters is that if you keep going at a slow pace, they are wonderful teachers.  They immediately tell you when you are repeating the bad behavior and to please stop it.  I was able to get considerable relief from my hot spot by consciously engaging that bad toe.  It's been 12 years, you've had plenty of time to heal toe, time for physical therapy for you!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Salmon with Pimentos and French Onion

ProductServingsFat grams per servingProtein grams per servingCarb grams per servingFiber grams per serving
Canned Pimentos1.
French Onion dip3.54.5120

Total Calories635
% fat Calories52%
Ketogenic ratio83%
Not quite 60% fat, but more protein than carb, in a good range for target calories, and it tastes real good.  Substitute sour cream and a little spice if you can't find a good French Onion dip.  I ended up compromising on the dip just because I wanted the smaller container.  (As it is I only used half.)  The salmon was an individual 4oz portion, which I microwaved for a couple minutes, topped the edges (that were turning done early) with the pimentos, then finished microwaving.  Canned salmon might be easier.  Sour cream, on top of that, and a spritz of salt.  Milk was served on the side, the liquid in the bowl is from the fish and pimentos.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

No wonder I'm hungry

I've not really been cooking a ton lately, so I've run out of leftovers dishes in the freezer.  For my work lunch the other day I grabbed a bit of meat and cheese and called it lunch.

I was curious how ketogenic Kielbasa is (some sausages have bread fillers) so I looked it up.

ProductServingsFat grams per servingProtein grams per servingCarb grams per serving
Polska Kielbasa1.81673
Colby Jack1.0961

Total Calories431
% fat Calories77%
Ketogenic ratio203%

It's so ingrained in us that high fat foods have lots of calories, it didn't occur to me to check that I had enough calories when packing my lunch.  431 is well under my target of 600.  Must resist rebalancing at the vending machine, where I'll only find corn chips and candy bars in the gluten free category.  (There are also corn-onion puffs, but they have sulfites in them, which I'm more allergic to than gluten.)  I'll be much better off waiting until supper and having something extra then.

Low Carb Grits

Yes.  That's what I said.  Low Carb Grits.

Today we've got quite a March blizzard going on.  I worked from home because I didn't want to drive home through 9-20" of snow.  Our house is 200 years old, and despite all the draft blocking we attempt, it's still rather chilly in spots when the wind blows, so I began to crave a big bowl of something warm, mushy, and cheesy.

Grits are on my short list of consumable grains.  Corn is gluten free for starters ("corn gluten" is a misnomer, only similar to wheat gluten in that it is a protein in a grain.)  Corn proteins are still potentially problematic, but then we bring in the process of nixtamalization.  Nixtamalization combines grain and an alkali solution to change the nature of the proteins.  The process reduces the toxins produced by mold in the grain, and increases the bioavailable niacin.  All cultures that rely on corn as a staple use this process.  You can find nixtamalizatized corn in your grocery store as grits, hominy, or tortilla mix.

Ok, that explains why I have some grain left in my cupboard, but how can it be low carb?

The thing about grits is not the grits themselves, but how they are prepared.  From wikipedia: "Grits are most typically served seasoned with generous amounts of butter. On occasion they are served with grated cheese, butter, sausage, bacon, or red-eye gravy; it is significant that corn products are typically not served sweet." What do you note about all those things grits are served with?  They are all very high in fat, balancing out the carbohydrate content of the grits themselves.  I already knew this, and began to have hope I wouldn't have to cheat on my diet when I saw that a serving of grits was only 140 calories.  Surely in a bowl full of 140 calories I can get in enough fat to make a low-carb meal?


  • 1/4 cup grits
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 ounces colby jack cheese
  • salt, paprika, and garlic flakes to taste
The numbers:

ProductServingsFat grams per servingProtein grams per servingCarb grams per servingFiber grams per serving

Total Calories705
% fat Calories61%
Ketogenic ratio85%

So not ketogenic, but it hits my personal diet target of 60% of calories from fat.

Enjoy your grits guilt free low carb dieters!  You're welcome.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Learned Helplessness

Now that I'm getting used to not being in pain all the time, I feel kind of like a wimp when I am in pain.  I overdo it, I hurt the next day, and I don't feel like braving it and carrying on like nothing is going on.

What I previously thought of as pain tolerance or grit may actually have been a form of learned helplessness.  Learned helplessness is often discussed in relationship to mental illness, but I think it also applies to physical illness, and our mental reaction to physical illness.

Constant pain causes the sufferer to expect pain in life, and turn to coping mechanisms to deal with pain rather than seek the source of each individual pain and try to resolve it.  One of my biggest issues when I had fibromyalgia was I generally didn't notice I was injured until I'd been injured several days and had aggravated the injury.  I've been mostly healthy the last two years, and I'm still struggling to connect the dots between cause and effect with regard to body pain.

My shoulder hurts today because I tore apart a round bale yesterday.  I used the billhook with my right arm, and I also pulled the wagon uphill with my right arm.  My right shoulder has a right to be sore, and if I continue this work tonight I should expect it to hurt more.  Learned helplessness says "pain is normal, go do what needs doing."  Normal rational thought says "the way I did that yesterday caused me pain, I should change the way I do that if I have to do it again."  (I do have to do it again tonight, we're expecting a snow storm, and the open bale is vulnerable to the weather.  But perhaps I can distribute the work more evenly across both shoulders tonight.)

Learned helplessness also says not to bother treating the sore shoulder.  No matter what you do it will still hurt, so why waste the energy and bring yourself down by dwelling on your pain?  Normal rational thought says that if I do my physical therapy I'll be in better shape tonight to tackle that bale again.

For a long time I lived in learned helplessness, and it took some big revelations and a long time talking with people that had overcome different issues to learn that I did have some control over my situation and could make progress out of the hole I was in.  The more progress I made the more effort I was willing to put into it, and a positive snowball got me out.

I don't think learned helplessness is a flaw in the human psyche.  What if your situation really is not controllable by you?  Should a person who is in constant pain devote all their energy to constantly finding a cure, or should they save some energy to actually have a life despite the pain?  If you sit on a tack you need to devote all your immediate energy to standing up, but if you had a wound in the same spot causing the same pain, you'd need to just cope while it healed.  I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, that we need to have enough hope to keep looking for answers, but allow our learned helplessness to help us tune out that drive to escape and have a life while we're looking for answers.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Felt boots, version 2, session 2

Having run out of liquid soap I had to make some soapy water the night before for the prefelt stage.  

Considering how sore I was after session 1 (recovered just fine by the next day, hooray for faster healing), this time I stopped immediately after inverting and removing the template.  The inside is not properly pre-felted yet.
You can see how much less shrinking the second boot has gotten so far.  You can also see that on the first boot I concentrated mostly on the foot and shortening the leg.  The leg width needs a lot of work still.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Loaded Acorn Squash

ProductServingsFat grams per servingProtein grams per servingCarb grams per serving
Acorn Squash2.90.141.1214.58
Total Calories1,123
% fat Calories65%
Ketogenic ratio108%

Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds, fill hollow with butter, chopped onion, and crumbled sausage, microwave until squash is soft (about 5 minutes).  Add cheese, microwave briefly to melt cheese.

The butter, sausage, and cheese provide more than enough calories without the vegetables, but the extra fat is needed to balance out all the carbs in the squash. (And it's just tasty.) The calorie count is a little lower if I subtract out the fiber from the carb component, but it is still a very large meal.  On the upside, all that fiber and fat is very filling, so I won't need to eat again soon after this.

Cheeseburger Cake

Hubby asked for a "Cheeseburger Cake" for his birthday.  I made 2 1.5 lb hamburgers baked in the oven in cake pans.  I layered up the cake with cheese and his favorite cheeseburger toppings.  Then I laid out a pinwheel of giant cheese slices and left it in a warm oven just long enough for the cheese to melt into a "frosting" like shape.  I think this would have been better done with a blowtorch (targeted and controlled heat.)

I used 3 lbs hamburg and 1.5 lbs of cheese, and generous quantities of relish, mustard, and ketchup.  We served lettuce and tomatoes on the side, but most guests ignored them.

Review: Not too hard to make, tasty, looks vaguely like cake, holds candles just fine.  Might look more cake like with a third layer.  Leftovers served well as quick meals, although the cheese melted all over the plate upon microwaving.

Felt Boots, Version 2, Session 1

I've started a new pair of boots!
My template (blue) is made from craft foam sheets.  Much more durable than cardboard!  I tore some wool felt in a pattern large enough to cover both sides of the template. (Mistake 1: seams come out better if you do this as two pieces.)
Wet down the wool with hot soapy water where the template will go.
Bend the seams over the template and wet down.
Now bring over the other half of the wool and wet it down.
Flip over and do the seams again as above.
Repeat entire process with a second layer of batting that has the fibers running the opposite direction.
Now it's time for serious felting!  Cover with bubble wrap.   Put a little soapy water on top of the bubble wrap and gently massage all over for 10 minutes.  Flip it over and massage again for 10 minutes.
You can see all the little soapy impressions of my bubble wrap.
Hopefully now you've got more of a fabric and less of a pile of fiber.  Pinch to test.

Second side...
I ran out of fragrence free shampoo and switchted to Kiss My Face olive oil soap.  It turned out to be much gentler on my skin, I think I'll stick with it.
This part is not as well done, you can see some loose fibers in the pinch.

Sorry, couldn't get pictures of cutting it open and flipping it inside out.  It was hard enough without juggling a camera!  Be careful not to stretch or tear the mouth of the boot or disturb the looser fiber inside while turning.  
After turning, repeat the 10 minutes per side of pre-felting as above.  After the inside passes pinch test, time to step up the aggressive outlet.  (Mistake #2, might be good to turn back right side out now, it was like velcro inside later.)  Lay bubble wrap above and below, and roll around a pool noodle.  Roll around for 10 minutes.
Fold it differently and Roll again
Getting much tighter...
Rolling yet another way...

Next come my 3-D shaping helpers.  The smaller tube is a bit larger than my foot, the larger tube is a bit larger than my calf.
You can see how much shrinking we have to do.
The felt is tight enough now that we don't need bubble wrap to protect the surface.  Rolling more with the forms inside.
The felt is very stiff now.
Starting to look like a boot!