A Ketogenic Christmas Dinner

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(Picture Courtesy of ABC News)

Christmas’ growing up were always exciting. We never went over-board with sweets, desserts and chocolate, but we did have a few treats which my sister and I loved.  More often than not my mum would make some delicious baked goods which surpassed anything that could be bought.  She always made her famous Christmas cake much to the delight of my sister.  Not being a fan of fruitcake or marzipan myself, I would devour an iced sponge cake or madeira that she had made particularly with me, and my grandad who loved them both, in mind.

The main meal was also a grand affair.  We would each get to choose a vegetable we wanted aside from the roasted parsnips and potatoes which were a staple.  The meat tended to be chicken or turkey with the assumption that we would be eating turkey sandwiches for weeks on end. (This in itself to us as kids was pretty legendary – coleslaw and turkey were the ultimate sandwiches for me).  And then there was always the gravy to finish it off making our plates complete.

For pudding/dessert it would typically something along the lines of homemade apple crumble or pie with cream. (Apples are my fave, give me an apple dessert and I’m sold).  I always got lovingly teased that I liked the boring food; anything appley or plain sponge cake and I was in my element.  I have always loved my vegetables and I really like my food simple.

It was Christmas just gone when I recounted these memories and realized it was going to be very unique.  I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas dinner and making changes to my food routine is treading on dangerous ground!  Being low carb and ketogenic was going to be a challenge in order to create a scrumptious meal that lived up to those of my childhood.

I rummaged through my recipe books looking for new possibilities.  I eventually turned to the internet deciding that this method of research would be more fruitful.  Bingo!

Parsnips and potatoes went out the window because of their high carb, starch and sugar content.  I knew my hubby was making his infamous ham which was perfect; I decided to create three dishes, these were:

  • Balsamic- Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  • Creamed Spinach
  • Cauliflower Cheese

I was anticipating disappointment as I thought it wasn’t going to be the same, but it was a huge success.  My Christmas dinner was divine and our friends brought a green bean casserole which I dissected the beans from.

The only concern about these dishes for those keto babies out there is the amount of dairy you consume.  The lactose breaks down into sugars which can be troublesome so you must be mindful of checking the back of the carton to see what the ratio of sugar to fat and carbohydrate is.  My milk of choice is Organic Valley Whole Non-Homogenized.

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Having studied all the milks in many stores, I decided this one was best for quality and nutrients.  It is just necessary to be wary of the quantity you use.  Also, I opt for non-homogenized.

The number of milk options out there can be overwhelming. Pretty much all have been pasteurized and homogenized but the difference between them is that homogenized milk has gone through two processes instead of one.  Pasteurization sees the milk heated to approx. 161 °F for a very short period of time in order to kill bacteria.  Homogenization is when cream or fat that remains on the surface of milk is broken down through significant heating.  It is forced through tiny holes so the fat molecules remain within the milk rather than on the surface.

Having gone off on a bit of a milk tangent, I prefaced my future recipes with this example because I believe it’s important to know what I’m buying, where it’s come from and how it’s made, as much as possible.

The quality of food makes a difference for one’s well-being.  Has it had chemical sprays?  Vegetables and fruit exposed to these sprays have a far higher content of toxins.  Veggies grown in the ground absorb more pesticides and even if washed, remain on the outside skin.  All of this can have an impact on ill health including seizure activity.

I personally choose organic, here in the US they have a greater leniency in food standards than Canada and Europe, so I feel it’s even more important for my family.

Next week I’ll be posting my listed Christmas recipes, so tune in and join me on my keto journey!

Happy cooking!

To discover more on the milk process, organics and the environment Organic Valley dairy is coming from, go to: https://www.organicvalley.coop/

 

 

 

 

Quote of the Day

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Things aren’t always as they seem.  Please don’t feel sorry for me and please don’t pity me because of my condition and what it brings. My life is hard at times, yes, and I struggle, but my life is rich, it’s full of achievements, I am loved unconditionally and love deeply.  I have the strongest safety net of all to catch me when I fall.  I feel contentment, peace and relish the challenges I am given, I am proud of who I am and who I have become.  This is largely thanks to the lessons my epilepsy and seizures have taught me. I have been guided in a direction that I may not have walked had it not been for them.

Be proud not ashamed.

If we can allow ourselves to feel this way, others will realize epilepsy is nothing to be afraid of nor will they treat us differently because of it.

Nightmare on Vashon Island

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I step outside my front door with my bag slung across my body and I turn around to slide the key in the lock.  It’s an automatic routine.  The air is cold, I can feel the contrast of the warmth inside my coat with the chilled wind against my cheek.  I swing round to face the two sets of three steps that lead down to the front gate.  It’s much colder than expected as I notice the steps lined with ice.  I gingerly place my foot on the first step, sure to hold onto the hand rail to give me more stability but it’s just not enough.  My feet fly from under me and my body violently jerks me awake and I sit bolt upright.  I am sweaty and filled with fear; my heart is beating fast and I have no idea where I am.   I look around in the dark desperate for my brain to work and recall the memory of where I was when I fell asleep but it’s not working with me, it’s working against me.

It’s not my home, it’s not my own bed, there’s a huge black blob above me which feels somewhat familiar but I can’t think why.  I look beside me and my husband isn’t there, awash with another wave of panic, I don’t know why he isn’t there, he makes me feel safe and at least if I don’t remember he will provide security as I recognize him.  As long as I’m with him, I’m okay.  But I’m not, I’m alone, terrified and I can’t remember anything.  Finally, it comes to me, I’m away for a weekend with two girlfriends staying in a cottage on Vashon Island.

In reality, the above took place between five to ten seconds, it felt like at least thirty minutes and it’s the third one I have experienced out of four nights.

Seizure or hypnagogic jerk?  On occasions, I’m already sleeping and it’s a jolt in the middle of the night and others, it’s as I glide off the precipice to sleep.

I’m not sure if they’re just nightmares but the fear associated with them, not being able to remember immediately where I am and a mild headaches which have been occurring on and off more often indicates the all too familiar symptoms.

I haven’t felt that fear of going to sleep for years.   I was frightened to settle down because it was a reality check.  That reality check has a meaning that took me back to my childhood; sleeping with the lights on; listening to music as I fell asleep; visualization, all aids used in an attempt to distract my mind from the fear of the land of nod and what it would bring.  Hopefully, that is the seizure over and I am done for the night, allowing me to sleep in peace.

These seizures were happening prior to finding my current epileptologist.  The Onfi became the drug of choice to prevent them.  Everything has been fairly good but the last couple of weeks have seen the odd sleep interruption, but since my therapy session on Tuesday at 1:40pm, my absences have been coming in droves every day along with the three out of four day nightmares.

It’s always the same.  It’s either tripping, slipping or falling.  The dream dictionary has a very fascinating definition…

So, with a telephone appointment with my doctor on Friday, if there is no positive change I can predict an Onfi increase.  It was the dosage that previously had me falling asleep during conversations, napping every day for a couple of hours and generally turning me into a bit of a zombie.

Do I want to take it?  No.  Am I stubborn?  Yes.  Is there a compromise? Yes, there is. Let’s just hope it’s that the seizures let up…

Quote of the Day

02-lena-dunham-w245-h368Love her or hate her, Lena Dunham is a passionate advocate for political issues, women’s rights, the LGBT community and has made a significant impression on society as a whole.

I admire her gumption, and boy does she have plenty of it, for opening up about taboo subject matter, her non conformist attitude to her shape (both relieving and refreshing), the people who show such hatred towards her and her daily struggles such as OCD and food.

It is a blessing to hear from someone who shouts from the rooftops about these issues and who doesn’t outwardly care what other people think of her.  She makes herself accessible to be understood and is relatable to both young and old.

I received her book as a Christmas gift and am a few pages away from finishing.  As I was on the bus this morning, I read a quote which stood out and is so applicable to my attitude towards dealing with seizures and epilepsy. Synchronicity is a strong belief for me and reading or seeing things which support that I’m on the right path breeds gratitude. This is particularly helpful at the moment as my seizures are just relentless and exhausting, I find it of great comfort.

“The most terrifying aspect of human health is our refusal to take steps to help ourselves and the fact we are so often responsible for our own demise through lack of positive action.”

Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham

The Unexpected Story of the Daisy Duke’s – Part II

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Part I of this post ended with my joyous eating epiphany.

Finally, with the impetus to change, I got home with a new sense of determination.  It was a feeling I’d been longing for but just couldn’t find within myself.

In my excitement, I began to think about the new things I could eat and drink: cheese, whole milk, cream (although in specific amounts and healthy fats) and butter.  With a food plan, predominantly high in protein and fat, it meant I would have to significantly increase my vegetable intake in order to supplement the fiber I wasn’t receiving from legumes and other high carb veggies.

There are many versions of high fat, high protein, low carb diets.  In fact, I don’t like the word diet, it has negative connotations for me.  It possesses an indication that there is something wrong with someone who needs to ‘diet’. There is so much negative media stereotyping how men and women ‘should’ look.  The word ‘diet’ reflects and endorses that if you’re not naturally skinny then you have some physical defect.  WRONG!  I believe that however you choose to eat is a lifestyle.  Everyone’s body and the way it functions is unique.  Whether you’re following a vegetarian, vegan, ketogenic, blood type, Atkins or paleo way of eating, you’ll find what works best for you.

My experience with the ketogenic diet in regards to my epilepsy was unfortunately not a success.  I adhered strictly to the plan, measuring my food and eating no more than 15mg (upped to 25mg) of carbohydrate per day.

It materialized that the small amount of carbohydrate I was consuming didn’t work well for me and my digestive system.  I needed more carbs/fiber but that would have compromised the intended purpose.  However, that being said it did wonders for many other aspects of my health.  I became aware of issues I didn’t know I had because they disappeared.  My skin was like porcelain, I had no dandruff, I had bags more energy, no gas, the rings round my eyes improved as did my body odor and I lost weight.  My herbalist at the time who was overseeing the process, had informed me that this way of eating removes excess body fat and you return to your natural weight.

Weight gain regarding food combining begins with carbohydrate, dairy and sugar.  Sugar in its own right is documented as a poison as well as being highly addictive.   http://www.rodalewellness.com/health/sugar-toxic and http://www.sugarscience.org/the-toxic-truth/#.WJE6uxsrLb0

Add to the pot carbohydrates and dairy and you have an unhealthy combination.  The body naturally burns carbohydrates first and fat afterwards.  If you’re not exercising enough and/or eating in excess and your body is unable to burn both, the fat is simply stored.

Back to the present.  With the information and experience from last time, I knew I would need to get my carbohydrate intake just right.  I couldn’t overeat or it would clash with the fat level, so I found my carbs in healthy fats such as milk and yoghurt.

I started the food change last November.  What was astounding to me after three days of eliminating sugar and carbohydrate was I felt like all my joints had been oiled.  I could move so easily!  Previously, I had particularly noticed lethargy when running up the stairs.  Now I could practically sprint without being out of breath.  I finally felt healthy.

Over the coming weeks, I saw the changes.  Weight slowly evaporating, my food cravings and constant hunger disappeared and that ‘full’ feeling vanished.

I did find that I needed to tweak a few bits as time went by and I needed to make my meals more exciting.  So, on that note, being well and truly into the New Year, my new addition to this blog will be sharing recipes which are low carb/ketogenic and absolutely delicious!  Tried and tested, I will be documenting successful ingredients that are suitable to use as keto substitutes, the mistakes (!) I’ve made during the recipes and general alternative options.

So, if you’re low carb, sticking to the ketogenic diet, have a nut allergy or just want a change from the norm, watch this space for delicious and inspiring treats, snacks and easy meals!

 

 

#Tackleepilepsy – Day 7

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Day 7 and our final day of the week long photo campaign supporting Coach Jerry Kill advocating raising awareness for epilepsy.

If you haven’t done so already it’s not too late to get that picture posted. To get more details on the Coach Kill campaign and to find out what to do, click on the link below.

http://www.epilepsy.com/article/2017/1/tackleepilepsy-coach-jerry-kill

Thank you to everyone who provided pictures for this week and thanks to those who took part in sharing posts, taking pictures and posting them on social media.  We have made a difference!