Day 16 – Peanut butter beauties!

After a 4-hour commute (normally 2 hours) on Tuesday, I VERY nearly reached for the wine…. But a jar of peanut butter (metaphorically) got in the way – phew! Peanut butter is surprisingly low in carbs, but is kinda high in calories – peanuts aren’t exactly low fat! The ‘butter’ part of its name is actually a little misleading, as it’s dairy free: Ingredients from Tesco’s Wholenut Peanut Butter – Peanut (91%),Vegetable Oil ,Peanut Oil (4%) ,Sea Salt.

Peanut butter cookies were totally on my radar after that commute (and a pretty good replacement for wine as it happens!). I merged a couple of different recipes and came up with a winner:

120g peanut butter

1 egg

50g almond flour

30g vegetable spread

6 tbsp of stevia

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

Mix all the ingredients and shape into 8 smallish balls – place onto greaseproof paper and flatten with a fork (aiming for ½ inch thickness). Bake at 175° C for 10 – 12 minutes. BAM!

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Day 14 – Meat or veg?

One third of the way through (and probably the longest I’ve ever gone without alcohol since my 18th birthday!) and I’m feeling pretty good – no blood sugar swinging and surprisingly cravings-free! This coming from a self-professed lover of all things pudding! (sweet over savoury every time!)

I thought I might encounter some energy problems with exercise, since most of the exercise I do is cardio-intensive and typically 1 – 2 hour in duration, but so far so good. I admit I’ve changed my pre-netball match nutrition strategy a little (I used to eat properly afterwards as I find that the stop-start, sprint, jump, dodge aspects of netball throw my stomach about too much to eat anything more substantial than a banana beforehand), as there’s nothing worse than that hit-the-wall feeling. Last night’s dinner was actually inspired by two of my fellow netballers – one who lent me an alkaline-diet recipe book after finding out my lent endeavours, and one who told me her pre-match nutrition strategy was to eat half her dinner before the match and half after (I didn’t get to the second half, but was delighted with with the first half offered!)

First up was spicy bean, quinoa and veggie burgers. I actually made a batch of these on the weekend and suck them in the freezer for when I can’t be bothered to cook.

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1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, washed

50g Quinoa

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp Mexican/Cajun/Fajita seasoning

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chilli powder

Add chilli to taste;)

  1. Fry veggies and garlic in a pan (medium heat) with a splash of olive oil until soft (12-15 minutes).
  2. Boil quinoa in a separate pan using a 1:2 ratio with water until all water has been absorbed.
  3. In a bowl, mash kidney beans with a potato masher – the idea is not to have a smooth kidney paste, but more of a semi-mashed consistency, where some of the beans still have a bit of structure.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa, fried veggies, and spices to the bean mash and combine. Form into 5-6 little balls and flatten into patties on an almond-floured surface (the mix is quite sticky!)
  5. I cooked mine in a pan to crisp them up a bit before putting them in the freezer, but they could have been eaten then and there…

As for the accompaniment, I partnered my bean burger with half an oven-baked aubergine slathered in pesto and topped with feta cheese. 20 mins in the oven drizzled in olive oil, not difficult even for kitchenaphobes!

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You know what? It made for a mighty meaty veggie dish! Oh, and we won the match;)

Day 12 – Eggs, eggs and eggs…

I’ve come to realised that – without things like yeast to make things rise, and syrup to bind things together – eggs have been a pretty major player in the Lyme diet to date. Yesterday, without realising, i ate 5 eggs! Ok, maybe a 3-egg omlette for lunch raised those stats a little (!), but it’s a damn good job we own these beauties!

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I have tried to steer a little more clear of eggs today, although i was so impressed with the one-minute flax muffin from yesterday, i made it for breakfast again this morning, just in a more bread slice-shaped dish so it would fit nicely in the toaster! Total egg consumption today = 1.

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Instead i’ve gone from summer (warm bacon, chorizo and mange tout on a bed of spinach, avocado and goats cheese salad)…

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…to winter (slow-cooked beef, red lentil and veg stew) with today’s lunch and dinner (i’m now convinced anything slow-cooked looks like baby food…). I’ve definitely covered the 5-a-day with these two!

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Day 11 – Time to talk bread.

It’s about time i documented my bread failures, so anyone tempted to try a recipe or two doesn’t make the same errors i did. I should point out now that i had a pretty big win this morning – Loaf 3 for those interested…

Loaf 1: Coconut bread

There are an armful of recipes for bread made with coconut flour out there, and what hit me first is the amount of eggs used in them! I’ve since found out that pretty much all the recipes involving coconut flour use a ridiculous amount of eggs because the coconut flour is a) very absorptive, and b) can produce dense/dry goods. When i mean a silly number of eggs, i mean half a dozen eggs for every 100-120 grams coconut four – talk about a protein rich combination! For more tips and facts on coconut flour, i found this website useful:

http://nourishedkitchen.com/baking-with-coconut-flour/

The recipe i went for in the end was from the following website, but being a bit wary, halved all the ingredients for a smaller loaf, skipped the honey and used the ghee option as a substitute butter…

http://www.mariarickerthong.com/coconut-flour-bread/

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Looks pretty good huh?! Shame it tasted disgusting and VERY oily (in my opinion!) – one bite and it got put straight in the bin… onto the next one:s

Loaf 2: Zero-carb flax bread.

Zero-carb?! That’s right! Let me expalin…

What i didn’t know before embarking on this Lyme diet adventure (adventure is DEFINITELY the right word here!!) is that fibre is technically a carbohydrate. What i did know is that fibre cannot be digested by the body, so comes out ‘the other end’ unchanged. What this means is that the amount of carbohydrate in a food that can be attributed to fibre can essentially be taken away from the total carbohydrate content. Think nutritional info on food packaging – this is for 100 g of strong white bread flour:

Protein                  12.1 g

Carbohydrate        68.6 g

Fat                          1.4 g

Fibre                       3.1 g

We take the total carb content of 68.6 g, minus the fibre content of 3.1 g, which gives us a net carb content of 63.3 g. Easy! It just so happens that because of the ingredients of this next bread, it has equal carb and fibre gram-age, giving a net 0 g in carbohydrates. The bread recipe can be found here:

http://www.blogilates.com/recipe-index/no-carb-bread

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A little on the dumpy side, but i was excited nonetheless! It tasted soooo damn eggy that the smell actually put me off, was no better when i tried to toast it either – one slice and it got put straight in the bin… onto the next one:s

Loaf 3: One minute muffin.

There’s that common saying ‘3rd time lucky’. In this case, it was true… i found this recipe quite by accident and was intrigued – 50 g flax meal, 1 egg, 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp baking powder (salt, stevia, cinnamon etc to taste…) – combine in a coffee mug and zap for 1 minute (on high) in the microwave:

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ImageNow this one toasted really well! I see this as easily being savory or sweet depending on your mood – you could add some chopped nuts, coconut flakes, seeds or stevia and dried apricots (which i’ve just discovered despite being fruit, has a surprising low GI of around 31). I had it as a breakfast muffin this morning (savory with olive oil spread), but reckon it would make a good replacement for sandwiches in the lunchbox!

Day 9 – A slow process…

My mum bought me a slow cooker for christmas a few years ago, and hand on heart, i’ve used it twice! Partly because of leaving the house at silly-o-clock for the last 5 or 6 years and simply not being organised enough to prepare everything the night before, and partly for fear of whatever i put in coming out as the type of stew i hated as a child. Truth be told, it’s really not a bad bit of kit – who doesn’t love super tender meat?! The last time i used it was in an effort to meet a New Year’s resolution of being more experimental with my cooking, and tried out a hungarian beef goulash recipe i found on the internet. Luckily i had the nouse to write the recipe down, as i’m not sure of it’s origins anymore… plus it’s pretty good!

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I realise the picture probably doesn’t do it justice, but this really is goulash and not just brown mush! Also, Paulina told me previously that she’s not allowed paprika, but i’m not sure why, and google wont help – so i’ve ignored that fact for this recipe, but would appreciate the answer if known by anyone!

Hungarian Beef Goulash

400g Stewing beef

1 large onion

4 large mushrooms

1/4 aubergine

1/2 bell pepper

1 garlic glove

75 ml tomato puree

125 ml water

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Dice the veggies, bung everything in the slow cooker on low, leave for 8 – 10 hours. Enjoy with brown rice or quinoa.

Day 8 – Diet-savers!

I came across two of the easiest and potentially diet-saving recipes in the history of Lymes disease yesterday! I was so excited! Even better… they both worked!

I’ve mentioned using flaxseed meal before (day 4 – unsuccessful fajitas!) and just wanted to explain a bit more about what it is. Flaxseeds and linseeds (maybe you’ve heard of linseed oil?) are the same thing – no idea why they have two names, but there you go. They are super-full of omega 3 (essential fatty acids that are thought to have a number of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation) and apparently are the substance that gives fish its ‘fishy’ smell! Funnily enough this flaxseed cracker recipe I tried had received comments on the recipe’s website that they tasted of fish, or that the kitchen smelt of fish whilst the crackers were in the oven! Good job I don’t mind fish (actually, I love fish!) because sure enough, the waft of fish came drifting around the house yesterday after about 20 minutes in the oven! It actually reminded me of painting with oil paints during art at school and college, and now I’ve read that linseed oil is used in them too! How very versatile!

Anyways – literately two ingredients in this cracker recipe – 100g flaxseed meal and 125 ml water (add salt, black pepper and/or herbs to season). Mix together and there you have it! I spread the mix on some greaseproof paper (a couple of mm thick) scored the mix so that the crackers would be easier to separate once cooked, sprinkles some sesame seeds on the top and popped into the over at 200° celsius (400° fahrenheit) for 20 minutes, then turned the oven down to 100° celsius (200° fahrenheit) for another 40 minutes. I’m pretty excited about having these for lunch today topped with goats cheese and spinach! Just look at these little beauts!!

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Next up, dinner. I love a good pizza and owning a bread machine and a couple of pizza stones, we make some pretty awesome pizzas with bread flour. I challenged myself to make a bread-flour free pizza worthy of a pizza fiend and I I’m happy to report that I think I managed it!! Three ingredients in this one (steady on!) – 100g almond flour, 1 egg (beaten) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil (pinch of salt to season).  Combine to make a fairly solid, but workable mix , and roll out to desired thickness (I made one medium-sized pizza with this quantity of ingredients) between two sheets of greaseproof paper (the dough is super-sticky, so this is a must!). Remove one sheet of the greaseproof paper and place the pizza (paper side down) on a pizza stone that has been heated in the oven to ~200° celsius – if you haven’t got one, I reckon a baking tray would suffice). Load up with Lyme-busting goodies, pop back in the oven for ~8-10 mins and you are on your way! Superb!

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Day 6 – Maybe a little dairy… and fruit…

Having finished my stash of muesli, I was wracking my brain for another breakfast option – one that could be used of a workday morning (i.e. no real prep, no cooking, can be made in advance) – as most of the cereals I’d usually eat I’m now having to avoid! Now, I realise that I’d said in my prelude that dairy was out, but the one thing that can be had is natural yogurt because of its high probiotic content. So I started there! I also said fruit was out (because of the fructose content), but avocado is fine (and not exactly sweet!), and the occasional apple too I think because of their relatively low glycaemic index (somewhere about 35-40 – anything under 55 is considered a low GI food) and high fibre content. I topped the fruit with a hefty dollop of the yogurt and a tablespoon of cinnamon-toasted sunflower seeds…

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A little trickier was trying to get my other half to start getting something on for dinner tonight whilst I was still on the arduous commute… I think he is a little scared that I am going to subject him to the same low carb diet! We agreed on pasta for him, buckwheat for me, but the same chicken/chorizo/veg/pesto  extras!! Easy peasy – and man, do I love chorizo:D

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Day 5 – Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’)

ImageI can honestly say i’d never heard of – let alone eaten – this little delight before today! I can’t help but view it as bit of a superfood – low carb, gluten-free, high protein and fibre, source of calcium, magnesium and iron. WOW. It’s a bit like cous cous because of the diddy little grains, but dare i say it, a bit more flavour? Cooked just the same as i’d do rice (1 part quinoa to 2 parts water – boiled with a lid on until all the water has been absorbed), i then mixed in some chilli, ginger, garlic and spring onion that i stir fried for a few minutes in a separate pan. Top with a lovely piece of salmon, and Bob’s your uncle:) What doesn’t go with chilli, ginger, garlic and spring onion??!!

Next up – pudding! A few days ago i was attempting some ‘sweeter’ recipes and thought i’d give a good ol’ chocolate muffin recipe a go. There are no shortage of recipes for these – even Lyme diet-friendly ones! In the end, i settled for the following…

http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com/2008/08/midnight-cravings-fudgy-coconut-flour.html

…and substituted semi-sweet choc chips for 85% cocoa dark choc (chopped up) and agave syrup for stevia… although i turned out that maybe i didn’t put quite enough stevia in:s (6 heaped tablespoons). Having not really baked with the stuff before, i did a little reading on the ‘net regarding how to use it as a substitute, and that’s what i calculated! If i got that right, i guess some brands of stevia are different?! Tip for anyone wanting to use this recipe with stevia – do yourself a little taste test first! Otherwise, wonderfully light and moist (i added a few chopped almonds as well for texture variety).

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Day 4 – A mixed bag.

Last night we decided to have fajitas – i thought it would be a good opportunity to try a tortilla/wrap recipe to see how i’d fair. It’s the 1st kind of bread-like recipe i’ve tried, thanks to Aldi! I couldn’t face paying £6 odd for milled flaxseed in Holland & Barratt, but lo and behold Aldi had the some for less than £2! Good ol’ Aldi:) Good job too because i had not one, but two fails last night.

The first recipe i tried because the picture looked good… but unfortunately tasted like omlette:/ Not that i don’t like omlette, but not as an accompaniment to mexican food!

http://pamelagoesprimal.com/post/4731798842/flaxseed-wraps

I also hate wasting food, so kept the remaining mix and made little, thick, savoury pancakes and bacon for breakfast this morning – that part was a bit of a win:)

The second recipe i tried was from:

http://www.healingcuisinebyelise.com/2010/10/questions-answered-grain-free-almond.html

After the previous attempt, i decided to make enough for approx. 2 big-ish wraps (1/3 of the quantities stated). As you’ll see from the picture below, the 1st one turned out ok, the second one fell apart completely. And even though they tasted nice, once cooled a bit, they were reminiscent of a frisbee! I managed to eat 3/4 of one before i gave up…

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Today, i’ve felt like my blood sugar has been low – a little jittery and weak – i guess that’s part and parcel of weaning (or possible going cold turkey!) off the carbs…:/ Not that baking something sweet (but low carb) was going to fix that, but it gave me a pretty good excuse to try a cookie recipe!

I adapted a chocolate chip cookie recipe i found on following website (the pictures may have made me drool a little…)

http://minimalistbaker.com/almond-meal-cookies-with-chocolate-chips-and-coconut/

I picked up coconut flour and almond flour from my local Indian grocery store (MUCH better value than buying from a health food shop!), used 85% cocoa dark chocolate for the chips and substituted the sugar for stevia. Result? BEST. RECIPE. YET. Winner!!! These WILL be made again!

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