Red velvet waffles do not taste so different from plain waffles, other than what I think of when I bite into one. That image, of red velvet cake, paired with the flavor and texture of a waffle, remain one of the loud remembrances of the carb-loving section of my brain that harkens back to a time and place where I could eat with seeming abandon any carb any time the farthest distance from impunity.
For the Fourth of July, I visited some friends who charcoal grill all the meats, and this time was no exception. There is something better to the flavor of meats cooked this way, perhaps in the essence of its smoke, or at least in that its preparation by other people. I brought the watermelon, and with the leftover mustard from my burger combined with the melon it wasn’t too bad, but I’ll probably only sop fruit in condiments when there’s something left in the corner of my mouth to mop them up with.
Over the past few months or so, I haven’t been feeling as hungry as I usually do. This may not be due to the long-term health goals I have set, but rather simple things. At my new job I work 7am-3pm now, which means I no longer have time to prepare a large breakfast on a leisurely weekday morning. Over the summer, the warm weather transforms my cravings from meals like cheese eggs and bacon to something that will keep me cool, such as watermelon, cold cereal, and seltzer on ice. Aside from those tangible things, the psychology of goals has taught me it is important to maintain a vision of what the outcome looks like, and how putting words to it in a sort of Socratic method, where asking why gets me closer to the center of something new that I haven’t quite found the words for yet.
The digging down deeper when answering the question why do you want to run a 5K is a process where you uncover layers until you come upon a reply that fills you with passion and purpose and makes the you feel complete. This may not necessarily be similar to getting an answer right on a quiz, but perhaps the buy-in you express is a result of the meaning you assign to those goals. Yes it’s heavy, and it feels a bit like hypnotizing chickens, but I’m able to enjoy these exercises because I’ve been bored with the way I’ve been doing things for so long. I feel ready for new things.
There’s this article in eatthinkwellness.com that talks about how to rewire your brain. It’s something I keep returning to as it has a bunch of helpful tips for improvement, one of which is where you’re a steward of your motivation and it is your job to vet your belief systems in order to get things done.
Determine which beliefs support action and intent
To create strong neural connections, you need to believe in something enough to want to act. If you have a goal for your life, a visual representation is not always necessary, but believing in it is. These thoughts and beliefs must be strengthened to help you achieve your intention (eatthinkwellness.com, 2021).
A recently interesting idea is your belief in a positive outcome is what determines the results. If you believe it will be effective, then it will work. This reminds me of a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal titled How to make stress your friend. It outlines a study that measured people’s individual beliefs in whether stress was good or bad against death records, and found that people who believed that stress was good for them actually kept them alive, and people who believed stress was bad for them died at a much higher rate.
Faith is strange and making things your friend means you see or know the benefit of something despite its perceived overwhelming negative effects, like meeting new people or public speaking or the snow. Sure in New England it’s kind of a given to think this way. I know that I’ll be miserable shoveling the white stuff off my car and driveway after the first storm, though my body will love the workout it gives me. Or using up fuel for a wonderful day of snow shoeing and staving off seasonal affective disorder. There are benefits to mother nature’s beasts, and parlaying something you might hate in exchange for some personal gain is how to master making events like blizzards your benefactor.
Here is what I ate the past few days:
2 poached eggs, steamed spinach w 1 clove garlic, avocado oil, white onion, and grape tomatoes, 1 slice rye toast w 3 pats butter
iceberg lettuce, black beans, white onion, shredded cheddar
popcorn w olive oil and Swerve, 5 macadamia nuts, 5 pecans
tomato soup, popcorn w olive oil and Swerve
2 poached eggs, sautéed Brussels sprouts w white onion, garlic, and avocado oil, coffee w heavy cream and Swerve
Brussels sprouts w melted cheese
popcorn w olive oil and Swerve
keto mini chocolate brownie muffin w whipped cream
2 poached eggs, 1/2 cup steamed spinach w white onion, garlic, and grape tomatoes, rye toast w peanut butter, coffee w heavy cream and Swerve
salad w grilled chicken, slice of brie cooked w toasted pastry, purple grapes, bubbly ginger peach
garden salad w ranch, three fried chicken wings w ranch
2 poached eggs, 1/2 cup steamed spinach, green onions, onions, garlic
cheeseburger w half bun, Italian sausage on bun w peppers and onions, asparagus, tomato, and mozzarella
chocolate peanut butter cake
3 scrambled eggs, 1/2 pancake, 1 slice bacon, 2 cups coffee w creamer and Splenda
1/2 cup rocky road ice cream w peanut butter sauce
asparagus, tomato, and mozzarella salad, broccoli slaw, popcorn w olive oil and Swerve
2 poached eggs, steamed broccoli w grated parmesan
1/4 cup chili w white onion and 1 cup steamed broccoli
Kind Energy peanut butter bar
medium Vermonster sub from D’Angelo without bacon, with homemade ginger rosemary pickles
For the Fourth of July, I made a chocolate peanut butter layer cake. I used the sheet cake instructions from this recipe and the peanut butter frosting instructions from this recipe because it called for the single stick of butter, and I didn’t have the two sticks that the other frosting needed.
Modifications: In addition to the sheet cake, I whisked a large box of sugar free chocolate pudding with 2 cups heavy cream, let it set for 5 minutes, and spread it between each layer of cake. What made this cake successful was the brewed coffee it called for, which keeps it moist. It’s surprisingly not super sweet and the frosting has some saltiness to it as I used salted peanut butter. This has more of an adult cake flavor to it, and its richness is due to the heavy cream used in the pudding.
For the cake:
- 1 ½ cups (285g) Swerve sugar
- ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (118 ml) light sour cream
- 2 cups (280g) keto whole wheat flour
- ½ cup (55 g) cocoa powder
- 2 ½ teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
- 1 ¼ cup (355 ml) brewed coffee
FOR THE CAKE:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. Prepare your bake even stripes if desired.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Alternate addning half the dry ingredients followed by half of the coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
- Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. Rotate your pans in the oven halfway through baking.
- Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Peanut Butter Buttercream
- 1/2 cup powdered erythritol
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1-2 tbsp heavy cream, as needed
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt (if your peanut butter is unsalted)
For the Frosting
- Beat the butter, powdered sweetener, peanut butter, cream, vanilla, and salt together in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Adjust the consistency with more heavy cream if needed.
I baked these chocolate brownies last night in mini muffin tins. What I learned: you can over stir them, which means they stiffen up. I’m still not sure if these are not sweet enough for my liking, but they taste delectable with whipped cream.
Ingredient substitutions: I switched out two ingredients in the original recipe. They use almond flour instead of whole wheat keto flour and monk fruit sweetener instead of Swerve, which is a type of erythrotol sweetener. I prefer keto flour as its consistency is closer to that of traditional whole wheat flour and less crumbly. Swerve is just what I had around the house.
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- ¾ cup Swerve white granular
- ½ cup cocoa powder unsweetened
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup wheat keto flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, stir together butter, sweetener, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir in flour until just combined; do not overmix.
- Using a mini muffin pan, pour the brownie mixture. Then place it in the oven on the center rack.
- Bake for 14 to 18 minutes, depending on how you prefer the texture and doneness of your brownies. Use the toothpick test to determine doneness and adjust the baking time accordingly. Stick a toothpick in the center of the brownie and if it is covered in wet better when removed, bake longer. For fudge-like brownies, the toothpick will have crumbs attached once removed. For cake-like brownies, the toothpick will be completely clean once removed.
Food is life, the rest is just details. This and other 90’s related bygones are what have made my life complete lately. If there were a few highlights I had to select from this week’s menu, I’d say the hot dog supper and poached eggs w salmon breakfast were tops. The little things that pad the food are what make it such a treat.
Initially, I was not sure what led me to a hot dog dinner at the ice cream stand on Thursday, but as I made my choice I recalled a recent article chronicling Martha Stewart’s favorite hot dogs: she uses dill pickle with Dijon mustard and bacon or sauerkraut to add a punch of flavor. What I could recall from Yahoo news led me to a Google search that got me to her website, and the recipes listed here seem to ramp up the exotic condiments and add ins to a deceptively simple pork product.
Saturday morning I was hungry and wondering what to eat. The poached eggs and smoked salmon alone would have been great, and I decided to add seasoning. Pizza Hut sells these little crushed red pepper flake shakers, and I had some Taco Bell hot sauce laying around, so I added those to it and seemed to taste the extra thing in there that was maybe just an essence of the old times. I don’t eat actual Pizza Hut pizza anymore, but rather order the gluten free pizza by Udi’s that they offer. It captures the experience of pizza without the carbs.
I think just passing through or being there makes for a great experience, and you don’t have to eat the food to enjoy the feeling you get when you link it back to those times. When standing in line at the ice cream place, I wanted an extra thick chocolate frappe, though ultimately it was something I decided against because I knew how filling it would be. Being around other people who were enjoying ice cream cones was enough for me to feel like enjoying the experience vicariously through others was enough, and I didn’t have to spend calories on it myself. There was a baby who was running around in a diaper barefoot and I said to the mother, “Oh to be footloose and fancy free, and not a care in the world that you’re barefoot. Good for you, baby!”
When you’re waiting in line you’re thinking about what you’re supposed to do when you’re waiting in line, what you’ve done countless times before, thinking about an upcoming meal, anticipating those first few bites, and enjoying the act of eating with those you’re with. This process is somewhat foreign to me right now, and so I notice in slow motion how conditioned we are to do what we are used to doing, or do what we miss so much. But knowing we can choose differently is empowering, and knowing that these times are not like the olden times is refreshing.
I’m not sure how many locations had it, but my family used to eat at the Taco Bell across from the mall. They had touch screen computers that you could order and pay at, and for a limited time they served cheese fries. This was back thirty years ago, and at the time the self service ordering and the fries seemed to be unusual but familiar to me, as I think of it now.
Here is what I ate the past few days:
Tuesday 11:30am mozzarella sticks w marinara
5:00pm cheeseburger sub w lettuce and hots, cubed watermelon
6:15am open faced sausage, egg, and cheese w cheddar on tomato basil bread
10:00am 1 slice tomato basil bread w peanut butter
1:00pm mozzarella sticks w marinara
5:00pm steak tip garden salad w ranch, watermelon
Thursday 7:00am open faced sausage, egg, cheese on croissant
11:00am 1/2 croissant w peanut butter
7:00pm hot dog w nacho cheese, bacon, and onion with bun, diet Pepsi
Friday 6:00am smoked salmon, toast w butter
9:30am popcorn made w olive oil, swerve, and salt, cheese, bacon
11:00am popcorn made w olive oil, pistachios, pecans
5:00pm fried rice w dumplings, cheese, and ranch
Saturday 8:00am two poached eggs, smoked salmon, toast w butter, coffee w heavy cream and Swerve
1:00pm salad w peppers, onion, mushrooms, cucumbers, spinach, Thousand island dressing, hummus, apples, 1 pork rib, zoodles
8:30pm salmon w salad, ranch, asparagus salad w mozzarella, lemon, garlic, basil, and tomato, Dr. Pepper zero
Sunday 9:30am 1 fried egg, 1 slice bacon, 1/4 glazed donut w Fruity Pebbles topping, coffee w heavy cream and Swerve
1:30pm salad w ranch, asparagus salad w mozzarella and tomato, 1/4 salmon, Dr. Pepper zero
7:00pm chili w onion, cheese, sour cream, 1/2 low carb tortilla, 1 scoop peanut butter Oreo ice cream w peanut butter sauce
This past week I had to change my eating habits due to a broken tooth. Although I was enjoying popcorn Monday and Tuesday, by Thursday, I was eating soup. Here is what I ate the past week:
Monday: 6:00am 3 scrambled eggs w cheddar
10:00am kettle popcorn w olive oil, swerve, and salt, 2 string cheese
1:30pm salmon, keto mashed cauliflower w butter and cajun seasoning, asparagus, mozzarella, and tomato salad
Tuesday 6:00am 3 scrambled eggs w cheddar
10:00am kettle popcorn w olive oil, swerve, and salt, diet Dr. pepper
1:00pm grilled chicken, potato salad, broccoli salad, keto mashed cauliflower
Wednesday 6:00am 3 scrambled eggs w cheddar
10:00am grilled chicken, potato salad, broccoli salad
1:00pm 10:00am kettle popcorn w olive oil, swerve, and salt, diet Dr. pepper
Thursday 6:00am 3 scrambled eggs w cheddar
10:00am grilled chicken w broccoli salad
2:00pm tomato soup
Friday 6:00am 2 scrambled eggs w cheddar
12:00pm tomato soup
6:00pm gluten free pepperoni pizza, mozzarella sticks w marinara
Saturday 10:00am egg, sausage, and cheddar on rye bread
2:00pm mozzarella sticks w marinara, gluten free pepperoni pizza, brownie
7:00pm fried rice w veggies and seafood, chicken and beef on a stick, watermelon slices
Today is a get together at my dad’s house for an early Father’s Day, as he’ll be out of town next weekend. My dad’s text went like this: we’ll be making chicken and real potato salad, to which I replied: sounds good! I’m keto so will be bringing asparagus salad and keto potato salad. Here is the recipe: https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/279561/cauliflower-potato-salad/
Here is how I made it:
1 head cauliflower chopped into florets
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
sprinkle ground black pepper
Coat chopped cauliflower w olive oil and cook 450 degrees F 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.
After cooled put cauliflower in a large bowl. Add scallions, mayo, mustard, and pepper. Stir well.
Cover and refrigerate for one day before serving.
*Lessons learned: do not overcook the cauliflower. When it’s overcooked, the texture does not mimic a potato, but rather is softer and does not keep well as leftovers. I let the cauliflower cool in the oven which burned the edges and my sister asked me if there was meat in it as a result of the discoloration.
Here is what I ate the past few days:
9:30am 3 scrambled eggs w grated cheddar, 2 mugs coffee w heavy cream and Swerve
2:00pm salad w bleu cheese dressing, low carb tortillas w cheese Rotel dip, asparagus, filet mignon
3:00pm keto cold cereal
8:00am 3 scrambled eggs w grated cheddar, 2 mugs coffee w heavy cream and Swerve
12:30pm salad w ranch dressing, asparagus, filet mignon, Rotel dip
3:30pm homemade caramel popcorn, 2 string cheese
6:30pm chocolate chip keto cookies
8:00am 3 scrambled eggs w grated cheddar, 2 mugs coffee w heavy cream and Swerve
12:30pm salad w ranch dressing, keto cereal w unsweetened almond milk
4:00pm kettle corn made w olive oil and swerve, keto chocolate chip cookies