Series on Sauces: #1 Pesto

Are you having trouble getting enough fat in your diet? One of the most simplest and delicious way of upping your fat content is by using fatty sauces and dressings. And do you know what the best part is? There are so many different sauces to choose between that you will never get tiered of any of them and they are all LCHF.

You have the butter based sauces such as bearnaise and hollandaise. You have the yoghurt based sauces such as Tzatziki, there are mayonnaise based sauces such as aioli or caesar dressing, as well as oil based sauces such as pesto and chimichurri! You see – the list is endless!

By putting a dollop here and a dollop there – not only will your brighten up your plate, but you will naturally increase your fat content without giving it that much thought!

So I thought I would do a ‘Series on Sauces’. To help inspire both you and me on all the great options that are available at our fingertips in upping our daily fat content!

The first in my series is probably one of the most easiest – Pesto! This is such a great robust sauce, that it is delicious with everything, as it is so bright and vibrant.IMG_4861

Best of all it is so easy with a handful of ingredients which you basically pound together until you get the consistency that you like.

You can find the recipe at The Travelling Chopsticks by clicking here: Hey Presto: Pesto

Hope you enjoy the series 🙂

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Perfect Roast Chicken

For those of you who follow my instagram account probably realise by now – My hubby and I love roast chicken! We probably roast a chicken at least twice a month if not more! It is quick, it is versatile and it is delicious!

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As it is only two of us, we usually eat all the dark meat and skin in the first sitting (the skin is the best part and never warms up well later…so enjoy it while its crispy 🙂 We then save the breast meat for another meal, like a quick stir fry, chicken salad, caesar salad, what ever we fancy. Finally we make stock from the bones!

Roast chicken is so incredibly simple and easy! You can find my recipe for roast chicken over at The Travelling Chopsticks or just click this link:

Perfect Roast Chicken

Happy Eating 🙂

My LCHF Kitchen Hacks!

Changing your diet and ultimately your lifestyle is no easy task – especially when you are eating a low carb high fat diet. Not only are you swimming against the tide of conventional wisdom, but you are also battling against your self. In the beginning you have to re-educate yourself on what is good for you, but you also have to re-educate your body to stop craving all that rubbish that you have been eating your entire life time. This is tough!

We have all been there, and I am sure we have all developed our own strategies to help ourselves succeed, but I thought I would share with you some of my kitchen strategies that helped me stick to the LCHF diet and continue to do so two years later:

My LCHF Kitchen Hacks!

1. Meal Plans

Incredibly important in the beginning. In the first year of eating LCHF I planned weekly what I was going to eat for my main meals, and I also included what snacks I was going to eat. This not only ensured that I had all the appropriate food at home, but there was never the excuse ‘Oh, I don’t know what to make for dinner – I guess I will just make some pasta!’

Today I am not so strict about making a meal plan – I have a good idea of what we eat during the week, and going shopping now buying LCHF food is second nature.

2. Clean out your pantry and fridge.

Again, incredibly important in the beginning. Throw out EVERYTHING that is not part of the LCHF diet. You can have all the good intentions in the world, but if you know that you have a packet of chocolate covered hobnobs (my favourite UK biscuit) sitting in your pantry, that intention will crumble pretty quickly in the face of a sugar gremlin!

3.  Homemade Greek Yoghurt

We always have homemade Greek Yoghurt in our fridge. This not only is a delicious breakfast food, but it is so versatile, it can be used in so many different ways. It is also a great way of upping the fat content of your meal.

  • Dips: Great for dipping chopped up veggies in for a snack.
  • Sauces and dressings: Something like Tzatziki pairs really well with meat or grilled veggies.
  • Marinades: I make a lovely tandoori chicken which is yoghurt based (recipe coming soon)
  • Plain dollop of greek yoghurt on your plate! It goes exceptionally well with chili con carne, stews, soups as it brings a nice little kick to the meal (almost like a sour cream)

I say homemade because I have never been able to find a greek yoghurt here in Brazil which does not have sugar added to it. However if you can find a store bought greek yoghurt which you trust – make your life easier and go for it!

4. Garlic & Herb Butter

We buy a lot of butter in our household. What I usually do, is melt down one packet of butter, add crushed garlic, salt and whatever fresh herbs I have at hand, whip it all together and put it in a tupper.

I add this butter to everything throughout the week – this brings instant flavour to any meal, as well as up the fat content. Steamed/boiled veggies= dollop of garlic butter. Steak = dollop of garlic butter. Boiled Eggs = dollop of garlic butter. Snack = dollop of garlic butter.

My favourite flavours are:

  1. Garlic & Parsley
  2. Garlic & Rosemary
  3. Garlic & basil
  4. Just garlic 🙂

Having this ready made in your fridge is such a time saver!

5. Grated cheese

This is another way to save time and add great flavour and extra fat to your dishes. I tend to add grated parmesan or grana padano to dishes such as broccoli/cauliflower/kabocha mash, scrambled eggs or over salad. By grating the entire cheese and keeping it in a tupper in the fridge, it makes it so easy to throw it in to whatever you are cooking and preparing.

6. Plan for Left Overs!

I would say this is the MOST important ‘hack’ that keeps me on the LCHF diet. I always make enough so that I have leftovers in the fridge or freezer for another meal – or in my cases many meals! No matter how much you like cooking there are some days you neither have the will nor the time to prepare something from scratch, but having a good meal minutes away can be paramount to keeping on the straight and narrow!

7. LCHF friendly snacks

If you are eating enough fat in your meals the desire to snack should decrease, however we all love to snack every now and again, yet snacks can be the most difficult on LCHF. This is what I usually have at hand, when the tummy starts to rumble.

  • Handful of nuts – incredibly boring, but better than nothing!
  • Cubed cheese
  • Good quality cold cuts (ham, salami, pate)
  • Beef jerky – not always the best snack food, as it can be high in sugar – but look for a quality brand.
  • Pork rinds – incredibly satisfying especially due to its crunchiness, feels like crisps!
  • Beef/Chicken broth – I make my own stock and freeze it it ziploc sandwich bags.
  • Crunchy veggies, like cucumber

So there you have it – here are a few of my kitchen strategies that helps me on the LCHF diet! I hope that they may help you too! Do you have any other ‘LCHF hacks’ in the kitchen? If so I would love to hear about them in the comment section, hopefully we can inspire each other 🙂

Hypothyroidism and its Symptoms

I have been debating the past week if I should share this. I felt that it may be too personal and might not be relevant to a number of people, but the more I thought about it, the more I let this information sink in, the more right it seems to share it.

I have just been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

Any medical website can give you a far better understanding than I can of what hypothyroidism actually is (Mayoclinic.org has a very useful description), however basically it is an underactive thyroid. In other words, my thyroid gland is not producing enough important hormones.

In some sense this has been a relief – a bit of a shock, but a relief.  You see, the last year, unbeknownst to me I have been showing typical symptoms of hypothyroidism. I just thought (rather depressingly) it was my body getting older (I’m turning 33 this year). Typical hypothyroidism symptoms include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Headaches
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

I have highlighted the ones that I experienced, especially in the last six months.

All these symptoms have had a huge negative effect on me and my mental well being. I have been feeling so low and sluggish recently, with absolutely no energy to spare.  Have you noticed how both my blogs have been so quiet lately? But what was really upsetting me was my unexplained weight gain.

Here I am – a HUGE believer of LCHF and the benefits that this lifestyle has on your body, yet every time I stood on a scale, the numbers just kept on creeping up. I went from a solid 64kg in August to 68kg in October. You can bet that I not only started questioning the diet, but I started blaming and getting angry with myself. What was I doing wrong? Am I eating too much? Am I being too greedy (we all know I love my food!)  Maybe eating fat is not so good for me after all. Is LCHF really another fad diet? (I have to admit, that looking at all those “LCHF success stories” on the web and instagram did not help matters!)

However, every time I was close to throwing in the proverbial LCHF towel, something stopped me. Over the last two years I have read so much about LCHF, listened to so many talks and speeches on the topic that it all makes far too much sense just to give up and go back to how I ate before. So I just kind of  stuck with it and tried to come to grips with my ever increasing waistline.

Now I know – the weight gain, bad moods, headaches, feeling low and sluggish, my inability to concentrate had NOTHING to do with LCHF and EVERYTHING to do with a little gland in my throat!

So, yesterday I started to take my medication, a little pill that I will have to take every morning for the rest of my life. It sounds rather dramatic, but I am happy as I am looking forward to feeling like myself again. The doctor said it could take anything from 4 to 6 weeks before I start seeing changes – but that is fine. Now when I have no energy, or my clothes are sitting too tight, I know why and I am slightly more forgiving to myself. Why are we always our worst enemies?

I decided to share this information with you all, just in case there is someone out there like me, who has been working so hard to be healthy, changing their diet, exercising regularly but just not seeing results. However, more importantly, not feeling 100% . If you are experiencing any, or  a combination of these symptoms, go talk to your doctor and get a blood test done. I have subsequently found out that hypothyroidism is incredibly common, especially amongst women, and people go for years living with these symptoms and there is a relevantly easy fix.

But most importantly don’t give up on yourself!

Cacio e pepe – zucchini style!

Last year C and I went to Rome for a little holiday – and before you ask me, no…I did NOT manage to follow the LCHF lifestyle while I was in Italy – are you kidding me? The land of amazing pasta and pizza and you expect me to have discipline…..? However both C and I did try to modify our behaviour so we didn’t indulge too much.

Instead of ordering our own pasta dish – we always shared one, and then made sure our other order was a meat and vegetables of some kind. Needless to say we ate very well in Italy 🙂

One of the dishes we had been dying to try was Cacio e Pepe – a typical Roman pasta dish which basically consists of butter, cheese and pepper. So simple, so delicious, and we loved it. When we got back to Brazil, we (unfortunately) managed to make it ourselves quite successfully. Which is such a pity – as pasta does not fit in the LCHF diet in ANY form!

However, butter, cheese and pepper does…..!

So yesterday inspiration struck – why not make cacio e pepe using zucchini noodles? And although it is not quite the same as the pasta version (slightly more watery), it really was incredibly delicious as well as incredibly quick to make. We served it as a side for lovely pan fried pork chop and voila – dinner is served.

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Zucchini Cacio e Pepe – serves 2

  • 2 large zucchinis, noodled (see post on noodler here)
  • 3 tblsp butter, cubbed and divided
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padero or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 finely grated Pecorino

Melt 2tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook swirling pan until pepper is toasted (1-2 mins)

Add zucchini and remaining butter. Stir until butter is melted.

Once butter is melted reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano cheese, stirring and tossing with tongs until cheese has melted.

Remove from heat, add Pecorino cheese, stirring and tossing until it has melted and the cheesy sauce coats all the zucchini.

Serve immediately!

 

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Side note: The Grana Padano and the Pecorino cheese here are the star ingredients and is what makes this dish so delicious. I really encourage you to use both types of cheese if you attempt to make this. It will be worth it!

Cauliflower Pizza!

So I finally took the plunge! Last night I made a cauliflower pizza – and it was FANTASTIC! I have been living the LCHF lifestyle for over a year – and it has taken me so long to try to make this, because quite frankly, I thought it would be horrible.

But, as always my pre-conceived ideas were absolutely wrong! The cauliflower pizza turned out to be so good, that even my hubby (who is a pizza lover) was impressed with it!

In all honesty it is slightly fiddly to make – but it is not difficult! So if you have a little time on your hands and fancy having a pizza night, give this a go!

You can find the recipe as usual over at The Travelling Chopsticks!

Also what I love about this – is that this recipe can soo easily be vegetarian as well – it all depends on what toppings you want!

Enjoy and Happy Sunday 🙂

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New Rice Alternative

The other night I made a wonderful fish curry! It was delicious! Not only was it creamy, spicy and wonderfully LCHF, but it was incredibly easy to make! You can find the recipe over at The Travelling Chopsticks.

However, like many of us LCHFers, I too have certain food that I miss, especially in relation to other food. Rice being one of them. I love everything about rice. The look of it, the texture of it, the amazing way it works as a vehicle for wonderfully rich sauces.

Not eating rice along with my curry seems almost like sacrilege – ok, ok I am being overly dramatic, but you get the picture! I have mentioned previously cauliflower rice proved to be an adequate alternative, and I have recently discovered another alternative…..bean sprouts!

It’s small, it’s crunchy and not only does it give a great texture, but it too proves to be a great vehicle for all that lovely sauce. Now, I am going to be honest with you – it is NOT rice, it will NEVER be rice, but importantly for me I didn’t MISS the rice!

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According to Nutrition Data:

  • 100g bean sprouts = 6g of carbs
  • 100g of white cooked rice = 28g of carbs

If I am avoiding 22g of carbs in one serving – than that bean sprout ‘rice’ is suddenly looking even better 🙂

Preparing the bean sprouts is incredibly easy and quick. In some fat/oil (of your choosing) quickly fry the bean sprout. For me it was important that the bean sprouts were really just warmed through – I wanted to maintain the crunch and make sure they were not soggy. I added some salt and pressed garlic for a bit of extra flavour.