Week 8 – Sun 23rd November

Well, I’m eight weeks in now. Just to remind you all, I started the ketogenic diet at 15 stone, 10 pounds. My goal is 12 and a half stone, by mid-March 2015. This means a target weight-loss of 2lb per week.

Week Eight’s target-weight therefore? 14 stone, 8 pounds. Waistline measurement only once a month, so not this week.

If you ever have the bright idea to start a blog and publish your weight to the world; there’s no being precious about the results. Whether the outcome is good or bad, I’m committed to recording my progress as honestly as I can. Although I must admit, this isn’t easy.

I’m beginning to accept that this may take a lot longer than I’d first thought. My initial estimation of timescales was based on how easily weight fell off in my twenties. Things seem to be slowing down a lot now…

As long as the trend is downwards, I don’t mind how long it takes. I’ll get there in the end! And so, I step nervously onto the scales…

14 stone, 11 pounds. Thank goodness. The upward trend has stopped! A 1lb weight-loss from the week before is a definite sign that the plan is working; albeit slowly! I’m behind target by 3lb, but that really doesn’t bother me. I’m losing weight and that’s the main thing. I’m now 13 pounds lighter than I was eight weeks ago, so that’s definitely worth celebrating.

As I said last week; the great thing is that the regime is still incredibly easy to follow. I can honestly say this is no way feels like a diet! Could I restrict my food intake a little more and cut out puddings to speed things up? Yes, I’m sure I could. But I’m keen that this doesn’t become one of those exercises in punishment that standard diets have always been.

The plan is to eat liberally from the ketogenic ‘food pool’ and not worry about portion-size or cutting things out. This is certainly what I’m doing, and I’m still losing weight.

Portion-size is certainly not a problem. The fat-intake of LCHF means that you feel full and have no desire to pick. This is a huge difference to every diet I’ve ever done – always before I was feeling the need to reach for food every ten minutes. That is no longer the case and I could happily miss a meal without noticing. The volume of food I’m eating has radically reduced, and with it, a pleasing ‘stomach-shrinkage’, which means that the bulge sticks out less (I love that!). It must also mean that my blood-sugars are completely stable and under control.

All is good therefore. Several people have told me over the last few days “my, you’ve lost a lot of weight!” This is naturally music to the dieter’s ears and more than makes up for any concerns as to progress or the fickle nature of the scales. Speed is therefore of no consequence. It took me quite some time to get this fat; it will take an equal length of time to lose it again!

Food is still a joy, and I’m in no way tiring of the perceived ‘restrictions’. In actual fact, it’s quite the opposite! Sugary cakes and sweets suddenly look completely unnatural and the site of them really puts me off. They’re now the last thing I want to eat, which I find really positive.

And physically? Any changes to how I’m feeling?

No, still feeling in great shape! Any side-effects of the ‘big switch to ketosis’ are long gone. If you asked me to go back to my precious way of eating, the answer would be a definite NO!

Am I missing anything at all? In all honesty, the only thing is beer. Country pubs at the week-end look so appealing, but I know I’d be annoyed with myself for cheating. I’m off to Germany on holiday to visit the Christmas Markets in a few weeks, so I may indulge myself then, but certainly not at present!

Please do ‘look in’ on me next week to see if I make further progress towards my targets. I find it really positive to have people read this – the support is a massive encouragement!

Thanks again for reading, and have a great week,

Adam.

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The Low Carb Christmas – Traditional Christmas Dinner with All the Trimmings! Roasted poussin, celeriac, ‘pigs in blankets’, stuffing & gravy. A festive masterpiece!

Christmas Dinner

Few things can be more splendid than the sight of the festive table, groaning with a traditional Christmas dinner and all its trimmings. Whilst the classic roast turkey is a firm favourite, Christmas day itself is always a frantically busy time. Relatives are visited, friends drop by and there’s generally a thousand and one things to do around the house. This makes the four-hour roasting-time of a whole turkey more than a little problematic and stressful!

To combat this, a wonderful alternative is roasted poussin. Not only does this offer sublime results in a fraction of the time; there’s also a feeling of utter decadence when guests are presented with a whole Christmas bird all of their very own! There’s something innately cheering about a festive platter stacked to the gunnels with individually roasted fowl. It’s a sight that’s as mouth-watering as it is delicious.

When you cook this, you’ll find it hard to believe that this dish is low carb. It’s every bit as hearty and satisfying as its starch-laden counterpart, but offers none of the bloat, soaring blood sugars or feeling of being as stuffed as the very bird itself! Unlike traditional Christmas dinners of old, you may even find yourself ready and raring to tackle a low carb pudding or two (watch this space). As such, this delicious variant is absolutely perfect for diabetics, those on a ketogenic diet and paleo fans alike. It’s also gluten free, so those with an intolerance to wheat can enjoy this as much as the rest of us.

Beyond mere nutrition however, this dish is everything a Christmas Dinner ought to be! Nothing is missed out or compromised; it’s wholly true to the classic. This will come as a relief, as working out what to cook at Christmas can be hard on a low-carb diet. This solves all the problems in one fell swoop!

Start with the Stuffing. Finely chop an onion, one courgette, and a handful of sage. Add these to a large mixing bowl then stir in 2 handfuls of roughly diced mushrooms, the same volume of bite-size chunks of sausage-meat (or sliced sausage) and circa 400g of ground almonds. If you fancy it, you can add the grated zest of half an orange and a small pinch of nutmeg. These lend the dish a festive freshness and give the whole kitchen that delicious Christmassy aroma as they cook. Season the mix really well and stir in some dried sage in addition to fresh. Beat three eggs and mix these in, so that you have a texture which clumps and sticks together with a pleasing denseness.

Butter a baking-dish, then spread your mixture to minimum one centimetre in depth. Generously spot the top with knobs of salted butter, then bake for 1 hour, until brown and crunchy on top, and wonderfully aromatic!

Next, move on to your celeriac. Peel ‘the big ugly’ and dice into 1.5 inch chunks. Bring to the boil in a pan of water, then strain, and tip into a roasting-pan. On the hob (or in the microwave) heat goose fat until good and hot. You’ll know when it’s done if a droplet of water ‘spacks’ when added. There’s no obligation to use goose-fat; sunflower oil will do as an alternative, but nothing quite rivals the rich taste, or provides an equal degree of richness. Ladle your fat over the celeriac, then sprinkle on a liberal pinch of seas-salt. I like to follow this with a good grind of black pepper and a light dusting of dried herbs. Into the oven they go for an hour until crisp and brown.

Roughly quarter two large onions and arrange these in the bottom of a second roasting-dish. Place your pousssin breast side down atop the onion and liberally season the skin. Why upside down? The fat will soak into the breast and mean that the meat is succulent and tender. Sprinkle with dried sage, then into the oven it goes alongside the celeriac. After half an hour (or once the underside has browned), turn the birds the right way over and season the breast-skin. A few more dried herbs will give the top a fine speckle add to the aroma. Place the dish back into the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes, to brown on top.

Once golden, remove the poussin from the oven and pour the meat-juices into a separate saucepan. Cover the birds with a thick coating of tin-foil to allow the meat to rest.

Just before you turn the poultry, prepare your ‘pigs in blankets’. You have a choice here. You can use chipolatas, sausage-meat balls or cut the sausage-meat into rondelles. I chose the latter for speed and convenience. Wrap the sausage-meat in smoked streaky-bacon then season. Place these onto a baking-sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes until brown and succulent.

Meanwhile, make your gravy. Place the saucepan with your meat juices onto the hob, then add a tiny splash of vermouth, white-wine or sherry. Top up with an inch of hot water, crumble in a chicken stock-cube, then simmer for ten minutes on a low heat. Just prior to service, swirl a good glug of double-cream into the pan and taste to adjust the seasoning.

Finally cook your vegetables. Here I chose baby leeks, sprouting broccoli, mange-tout and baby-corn. Surprisingly enough, young corn-cobs are reasonably low carb. As they get older, they gain in sugar and starch, so mature corn-on-the-cob is best avoided. Steam these in a shallow pan of water, ensuring that the water goes no higher than ‘waist-height’ on the vegetables. Once tender but still retaining their bite; strain and place back into the pan with the lid on to keep them hot. A knob of butter can also be added for richness, but that’s entirely up to you!

All should now be in readiness. Transfer your rested meat onto a warmed serving-platter then pile your roasted celeriac to one side. You can keep the stuffing in its own dish, or spoon around the poussin if you prefer. Place the sausage-meat ‘pigs in blankets’ around the dish, then tumble on your vegetables. Finally ladle a little gravy all around, retaining the rest in a warmed sauce-boat to serve at table.

Your Christmas feast is ready! Carry the serving-platter to your hungry diners and let everyone dig in. They certainly won’t be disappointed!

Be sure to keep reading for more festive dishes over the coming weeks! Check out The Low Carb Christmas for details.

Enjoy the festive season and thank you for reading.

Bon ap!

Adam.

The Low Carb Christmas – Beautiful Low Carbohydrate Recipes to Celebrate the Festive Season!

hall

Heap on more wood! the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem’d the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:

Christmas is truly a time of unrivalled joy. As the days count down, the home is slowly transformed into a place of magic and wonder. Once familiar rooms suddenly spring to life, as garlands of bright green holly & ivy are brought in to ‘deck the halls’ with festive cheer. The delicate glass-baubles, hung so lovingly on the Christmas Tree; softly reflect the glow of a roaring fire and the light of a myriad dancing candle-flames.

As presents are wrapped and cards written; the kitchen too makes ready, and sings its own unique carol of joy. Pan lids clatter and best china is scrubbed; a busy hubub of merriment against a backdrop of fragrant spices & delicious roasting meats. For it is in the kitchen that magic occurs. The well-stocked larder seems boundless in its plenty, and mealtimes, so often rushed; become a ritual symbol of merriment and togetherness.

I absolutely love Christmas. It’s without doubt my favourite time of year. To honour this, I’ve devoted December’s recipes to a selection of festive dishes which will proudly grace the Christmas table. There’s a whole host of delicious low-carb food which is there to be enjoyed. And I hope you’ll enjoy it with me!

For the next couple of weeks, Country Walks in Ketosis offers The Low Carb Christmas. Starting first of all with a delicious take on the classic Christmas dinner.

I hope your run-up to Christmas is a happy one.

Thank you for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

xmas