Monday, February 1, 2016

Dear Me... a love letter to myself

So I haven't been to therapy in a few months for various reasons - but I have another appointment on 2/19. The last assignment that my therapist requested of me was to write a love letter to myself. Honestly - I thought the idea was ridiculous (and made me feel slightly uncomfortable). But, it's part of the process, right? I have to accept the process, I have to do the process - it's the only way to change the course I was on. So, with the help of other inspiring blogs about self image, self worth, and depression - I've written a letter that means something to me - and hopefully it is something that I can use as a tool later on in my journey.

I've talked about self talk in the past on my blog. That we all have these negative thoughts that filter through our brains every day - and we have to learn to change those negative thoughts to positive ones. This letter, I suppose, is no different. I was surprised at how HARD it was to write. While I've gotten (some what) better at positive self talk - I can not honestly say that I'm an expert at it.



Dear Tracy,

2016 is going to be your year. It's going to be the year that you strive to be happy, and enjoy life and everything it has to offer you. You have been fighting so hard, and for so long to experience happiness every day the last few years, but you don't find that finding happiness and joy in each day is the struggle that it used to be. Look at how far you've come: in just over 10 months you have fought your depression with everything you have, all whilst helping others with body image and depression problems with your blog on the internet. Just over 10 months ago you were in hospital and swore to yourself that you would never allow yourself to not walk again, and from there you have just gone from courage, to strength. It's not been easy, but I am so proud of you for getting to where you are now. We never even dared to dream half a year ago that we would feel this much better in such a short amount of time. There have been ups and downs, granted – not everything has been perfect, or the way we planned – but there has been more happiness with BJ, and there is more happiness with yourself.

You have learned to be almost grateful for what happened in 2015 and for your depression rearing its ugly head again, as it has taught you so many things. You have learned how to depend less on other people while still being able to open up about your mental health to the whole world; and you have learned a lot about yourself in the process. You are a strong woman that knows what she wants and what makes her happy, and you are less afraid to reach for everything you deserve this year. Your depression has taught you that it is okay to be completely yourself around people, and they can take you as you are, or leave it, because their opinion of you no longer matters to your self worth. You know what is important in life and are somewhat more open to change and new opportunities, including sitting down at the piano again, and taking up a new instrument: the violin.

Look at what you have planned for this year. You are hoping to do a 5k Color Me Rad Marathon in May, and you are working your body and stamina to make that a possibility. You have written your 2016 bucket list, consisting of driving to Philadelphia on a Sunday morning to photograph the architecture – and getting on a horse at the Waymart Happy Trails Stables. And you are determined to experience as much happiness as possible, surrounded by supportive people, and seeing new things.

When I look at our progress I think that you are amazingly strong, and brave. Your depression has allowed you to achieve so much more than you were willing to see in the beginning. Sometimes hitting rock bottom is the thing we need to gain perspective on what is important in our lives. Be proud of yourself for how committed and motivated you are, as it took a lot of strength to carry on when you were suffering so badly.

I want you to always remember that it is okay to be you.. You love photography, cooking delicious food, spending time with your cats and rabbit, and prefer a night in front of the TV over going out. That's you, and you should love that about yourself. Liking yourself hasn't always been easy, but I hope that when you read back through this letter in the future you will see how incredible you really are, and how much you have achieved. Take things slow, and don’t get discouraged in the process. Sometimes we will stumble, we’ll take steps back – but we have to remember to always get back up again – because where we were 10 months ago we were wishing and praying to be where we are now. And in 10 months from now – we’ll be in an even better place.

This year you need to do what you enjoy. Say 'yes' to opportunities that excite you, 'no' to those that don't, and keep dreaming about the end results that will come from living and leading a healthy life style. Even if this means making scary changes, regardless of consequences.

This year will be fantastic. You're too determined not to let it be. Keep smiling, keep laughing, and keep loving. And always remember to be a kid at heart and only let your life be ruled by you, and to surround yourself with people that make you happy and improve your life in some way.

Love, Me



This journey I'm on - it's not an easy one. I can't lie and say that the past several months have been perfect, because they have been far from it. We've been lazy and complacent. We've eaten foods we know are not good for us. We've made excuses to not get off the sofa. But I won't give back that weight I've lost. I won't not walk again. I won't allow myself to destroy the progress I've made.

Sometimes progress means constant battles. Battles with food. Battles with work. Battles with ourselves. Keep going. The harder it is, the more you know it's the right thing you're doing.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Faux noodles with Lasagna topping



Mmmmhmmmm.... yep. That's some good stuff right there. Who knew you could have "pasta" without eating pasta. On one of the Low Carb forums BJ and I are part of on Facebook there is something called an "Egg fast" where all you eat are eggs, cream cheese, cheese, and butter. There is a recipe to make "egg noodles" from eggs and cream cheese.

It's really easy to make, and it's versatile for so many different applications. You can make lasagna noodles, spaghetti noodles, you can use this base to make pizza crust, or even bread for sandwiches.

For the noodles:

4 eggs
2 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Blend the eggs, cream cheese, and seasoning in a magic bullet, ninja, or blender. Pour onto a parchment lined tall side cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 6-8 minutes or until just set. Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes. Lift the "pasta" off the cookie sheet by holding onto the parchment paper, and set on a flat surface. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.


For the dressing:

1/2 lb ground beef cooked with 1 TBSP butter.
1/2 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup low carb tomato sauce (use the lowest carb one you can find)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup shredded cheese and/or Parmesan cheese

Mix the meat with the Ricotta and tomato sauce. When getting ready to serve, laddle the meat sauce over your "pasta" noodles, and top with parsley and cheese.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fried Mashed Cauliflower Balls

There has been a video making it's rounds on facebook on how to make fried mashed potato balls. It looks delish. However, very carby. BJ and I decided to try to remake them using low carb ingredients: Mashed cauliflower, pork rings, eggs, and coconut oil.

The results were not bad at all!



The next time we make these, I want to add either cheese to the center, or maybe sausage. But, they are good just as is, with a little dipping sauce!

1/2 head of cauliflower chopped into small florets - stemmed
Put the steamed florets into a chopper (we use our ninja blender for this) and really give it a good blend until it begins looking like mashed potato.
Take 2 ounces of cheese, 1 Tbsp chive cream cheese, 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream - and whip again in the blender. Remove and put in a bowl. Fold in crumbled bacon bits, and chives. Mix in about 1/2 cup of crushed pork rinds to thicken the mashed cauliflower. You will need this to be a little stiff to form the mashed balls.

Once everything is mixed together, set in the fridge for about an hour to let it cool down and set up.

Meanwhile, beat two eggs with 2 Tbsp water in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup crushed pork rinds with 1 cup Parmesan cheese.

Take about 2 Tbsp of the cauliflower mash mixture, and form into a ball in your hands. Dredge first in the pork rind / Parmesan mixture, then dip in the egg, then back into the pork rinds. I prefer to double dredge my mashed cauliflower balls, as I find it has a better consistency when frying, they don't fall apart. So, dip back into the egg mixture, then back into the pork rind / Parmesan mixture.

We have one of those small fryers you can get for $20.00 at Biglots, and that does what we need just fine. Fill with coconut oil and allow it to come up to temperature. Only put 3-4 balls in the basket at a time - do not over crowd. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.

Let the Cauliflower balls drain on a paper towel. Repeat process with the balance of your mashed cauliflower and breading. Serve warm with your preferred dipping sauce.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Low carb Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Oh. My. God.



Can a person be in love with a biscuit? Because I think I am. If you've ever been to Red Lobster - then you know about their cheddar bay biscuits. Admit it - you go there for those damn biscuits, too. I dream about those biscuits. Lets face it, they are crack in bread form.

While scanning my many Low Carb groups on facebook, I began seeing posts from people experimenting with recipes to replicate those beloved biscuits. This is the version I came up with that suits me, and my never dying need for cheddar bay.



1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, softened


Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make sure to mix well so everything is completely incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix the softened butter, eggs, sour cream, heavy cream. Add the wet to the dry and mix slightly. Stop and add the shredded cheese. Continue mixing until everything is thoroughly combined.



I used a small ice cream scoop to measure how much batter. Or use approximately 3 tbspn worth of batter on a parchment lined cookie sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. The last two minutes of baking, baste with melted salted butter mixed with parsley.

This makes 20 biscuits, and has 2 carbs per biscuit. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The best EVER Low Carb muffin tops

YES! I have FINALLY perfected a muffin top recipe that DOESN'T taste like a gritty sponge!!!!



You have no idea how long it's been since I've had a muffin top. Other than over the top of my pants. I mean a real honest to goodness chewy, chocolaty, so true to texture muffin top.

The stores have been tormenting my husband and I. Everywhere we go, there are muffins. Everywhere. And it's hell, because I am trying REALLY REALLY HARD not to eat every f-ing muffin and cookie and cupcake I see. Because, damn it, I love them. So, BJ and I decided to put our skills to the test. Can we make a muffin top that doesn't look like freeze dried corn meal and doesn't taste like a chewy sponge?

BEHOLD! We have SUCCEEDED!



The trick to this recipe are the egg whites. You HAVE TO separate the egg whites and beat them into submission in order for this to work.



I add a bit of sweetener to the egg whites themselves because if you have any unincorporated egg whites in the batter, it will taste like nothing - so I add about 2 Tbsp of Truvia towards the end of the whipping process.



Separately, I mike the egg yolks with the balance of my ingredients and this creates the base of the muffin top.



Once I have the egg yolk base done, GENTLY fold the egg whites in 1/2 at a time. Do NOT over work the egg whites. It will deflate them, and it will turn into soup. You don't want that.



I fortunately have a muffin top pan that we make our Holy Grail buns in - so these work perfectly for the muffins.





Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are a nice golden brown. Annnndddddd... VOILA! Muffin tops.



Clearly, these will not last long in my house....




RECIPE!

2 eggs - separated
2 Tbspn truvia plus 2 tbspn separate for the egg whites (or your preferred sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup coconut milk (I used the Taste of Thai unsweetened coconut milk in a can)
3 heaping TBSP Almond Flour
1 true TBSP Coconut flour
1/4 cup sugar free chocolate chips or chopped up SF Chocolate bar

Separate egg whites into their own bowl, and beat with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Toward the end of the whipping process, slowly add 2 Tbsp truvia or preferred sweetener. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, remaining 2 Tbsp truvia, vanilla, salt, and coconut milk.

Sift together almond flour, coconut flour, and baking powder, and put 1 TBSP of this mixture at a time in the egg yolk mixture. Once all dry is incorporated, add the SF Chocolate chips.

Gently fold half of the egg whites into the egg yolk batter. Do not over work, it will deflate the egg whites. Then add the second half of egg whites, and fold just until incorporated. It's ok if there are some unmixed egg whites - it just adds more fluff.

I baked mine in a muffin top pan - You get 4-5 muffin tops with this batter. Bake 350 for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Allow to cool in pan before trying to remove.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Keto pancakes - Low Carb & Sugar Free!




So, we're back at it after being in a food coma for the past month and a half. What is it about the holidays that makes you lose every shred of decency when it comes to food? COOKIES? Why yes, I'll have 20 of those. Brownies? I'll take the pan, thanks. HOME MADE BREAD???? Shove the whole loaf in my mouth!

But, alas, doing so is just undoing all the hard work and progress of the prior months.

So, here we are - back on track and eating far healthier things. Tonight I prepared Keto pancakes for the next few days. I love Keto pancakes because they are quick, easy, and have absolutely no wheat or sugar in them.

10 ounces cream cheese - softened in microwave
2 large eggs
1 Tbspn swerve or turvia sweetener
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Scoop vanilla protein powder
2 Tbspn coconut flour
1 Tsp baking powder

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs - beat again until smooth. Add sugar substitute and vanilla protein powder. Beat until smooth. Add baking powder and 1 Tbspn of the coconut flour. Allow to sit for a minute to thicken. If still too loose, add the second Tbspn of coconut flour and mix until everything is completely combined and smooth. Griddle as you would normal pancakes. I find using coconut oil is the best option for the griddle. DELISH! I got 8 really nice size pancakes from this batter.

The key to going low carb is experimenting. I love pancakes - but I don't love the carbs, or how wheat and sugar turn my digestion into stomach warfare. These Keto pancakes are the perfect alternative, and taste great. Top with a drizzle of sugar free maple syrup - and you'll think you're having a nice big stack from iHop!

Enjoy!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Broken, we lie

Broken, we lay
Limbs curled, twisting
Deep into the earth.

Frozen,
In one moment of grief,
Suffocating our lungs
With rust.

Ivy crawls
Over our sun bleached Bones.
Our scars, our sins
Bared naked, and beautiful.

We are real,
In this moment.
Bodies dissolving down
To compost.

Twist towards the sky,
Burrow deep into the soil.
We stretch and reach to
Heaven and Hell.

Oh, how beautiful
We are as broken
Beings.