Strawberry, Almond & Pecan Hearts – a deliciously simple low carb Valentine’s Day treat!

country walks in ketosis

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These delicate and delicious strawberry, almond and pecan cakes couldn’t be simpler to make – the perfect dish for Valentine’s Day or equally good at any time of year when you happen to feel like spoiling someone! The sweet perfumed scent of strawberries is complimented wonderfully by the dense, nutty crunch of pecans and soft cloud-like swirls of whipped cream. Quite simply heaven on a plate!

The classic adage goes ‘say it with flowers’. I certainly don’t disagree with that, but flowers and cake are infinitely preferable in my book; so pull out all the stops and show someone you love them with a little bit of good old fashioned baking!

They also say that ‘the way to another’s heart is through their stomach’; but so often with flour- and sugar-free cakes, the results can be a little disappointing. Not so with these however! The taste and texture of…

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Pot-Roasted Beef Brisket with Creamy Cumin Chou D’Alsace – a sumptuous low carb feast!

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There’s something infinitely wonderful about slow-cooked food at this time of year. Over the weekend, when time is precious; food you can simply leave in the oven all day is a true delight! When you return home, a richly delicious smell is ready to greet you at the door, and dinner is all but ready! What could be easier or more convenient than that?

Some cuts of meat are more suited to slow-cooking than others. Brisket is the perfect cut of beef for such a treatment. Rather interestingly, cows do not not have collar-bones. This means that their entire front-body weight (and they’re heavy!!!) is carried by their chest muscles. Brisket is one of these ‘pectorals’, and as a consequence, it’s entirely built for strength. The muscle contains a high proportion of collagen, making it incredibly tough if cooked quickly. The fibres need to slowly break down over a long…

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Top 10 Low-Carb Salads

country walks in ketosis

If you’re just starting a ketogenic- or low-carb diet for the New Year, food choices can sometimes seem a little daunting!

Never fear however; County Walks in Ketosis has a huge library of delicious LCHF recipes to help along the way.

Salads are great as a quick low-carb lunch, healthy starter or side-accompaniment to a main-course. They’re ready in minutes and are bright, colourful and fuss-free!

To provide a little inspiration, I’ve assembled my top 10 salad recipes from this blog. Simply click on the title/hyperlink below to take you straight to the relevant page.

All recipes can be browsed by picture on my pinterest page: country walks in ketosis pinterest.

Top 10 salads:

1. Paprika-Chicken, Bacon, Edam & French-Beans

2. Spinach, Asparagus & Goat’s Cheese

3. Emmental, Smoked Ham & Avocado

4. ‘Russian Millionaire’s’ Salad (you’ll quickly see what I mean)

5. Padron-Peppers with Parmesan & Salami

6. Greek…

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New Year’s Diet? Why not try the ketogenic plan? Lose weight & become a fitter, happier, healthier ‘you’!

Looking to lose a few pounds in the new year? Why not give the ketogenic diet a go…?

  • Delicious, satisfying food
  • No hunger pangs
  • Fast, sustainable weight loss
  • Great for diabetics
  • A diet you can physically ‘test’ to be sure it’s working (take the guesswork out of progress)
  • Increased energy levels
  • Stable blood-sugars – no more energy peaks and troughs!

Browse the following links to find out more:

What is the ketogenic diet?

How does it work?

What can I eat?

To give you a flavour of the mouth-watering food, take a look at my recipes & browse by picture on my pinterest page: country walks in ketosis pinterest.

Give it a go and feel for yourself the difference it can make!

Make 2015 a year of change!

Good luck and thanks for reading,

Adam.

The Low Carb Christmas – A Kitchen Carol

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The old radio in the corner is constantly on at Christmas – it’s my loyal companion as I stand, stir & chop; slowly pottering round the kitchen, preparing the dinner. One by one, the joyous chorus of carols builds to a crescendo, and I lift my voice in cheery accompaniment to familiar favourites, old and new.

Behind this seeming harmony; the wireless and I have a grudging respect for each-other. Whenever I get too close, it lets out a wild crackle of protest, which grumblingly fades away as I hastily withdraw back to the table. The radio-set is like a much loved, but cantankerous old relative. The casing is timeworn, and the aerial long gone (it was replaced years ago by a bent and wobbly old coathanger). Since then, the tuning has never really worked properly and only four stations play-out reliably.

Despite the old radio’s protests, I could never get rid of it. It’s worked too long & too hard to simply abandon it the moment a little TLC is required. It simply needs patience and understanding. And besides; the rich music it emits would never quite sound the same from anything else. We’re used to each-other now, the radio and I. It’s a relationship that works, albeit haltingly at times…

But as I chop, stir and pare, I’m aware of other sounds which surround me. From all around comes the bustling hubbub of cookery at work – a rich kitchen carol that’s as joyous and full as the ringing chords of the radio itself.

Hark the herald angels sing… The kettle pipes up and joins in the chorus. It too sings along with its bright cheery whistle. Its voice soars high in descant to tell me the water’s boiled for teapot and stockpot. As I gently lift it from the hob, its song slowly fades as the carol’s last chords reverberate round the kitchen, then echo & die away.

The holly bears a berry, as red as any blood… Bright red cranberries pop and fizz in their gleaming copper-pan, slowly simmering on the hob. I reach into the large wicker vegetable-basket which lives under the table. Dry, papery onion-skins rustle like leaves as I rummage around, searching for ginger, thyme and sage. As I shred and slice cabbage, it crunches like footprints in fresh, pure white snow. The leg of lamb roasting in the oven spits and splutters; mushrooms squeak in the pan and bacon sizzles as it fries in hot butter.

When the glass of red-wine hits the hot pan; a huge steamy sigh billows up to the heavens. We’re walking in the air…  Each ingredient has its own special song. They all converge in unison; a fine, diverse choir of mysterious voices, high and low.

But it’s not just the ingredients which sing along to the Christmas chorus. Other sounds in the background join & accompany my soft hum.  As iron hits hotplate, it creaks, gasps & groans; cold metal expanding with sharp instant heat.

The copper saucepans on the hob bubble and chatter excitedly; each one anxious to get their own voice heard above the crowd, like schoolboys. Their bright copper lids clatter in clouds of steam, and water hisses as it boils over onto the stovetop. From a distance, they seem to gossip, huddled together in a simmering gaggle of whispers and pranks.

As I peel, grate and dice, my knife hits the board in rhythmic time to the music. The nutcracker cracks to the Sleighride song’s whip; pestle and mortar grind and scrape like a sledge over ice. With each strike of my whisk, the copper bowl rings out like a chime. Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All The Way blares the radio… Rolling-pins rumble and wine-bottles crunch into crushed ice. In the bleak midwinter… carols the choir.

I close my eyes and listen to the sounds of this kitchen carol.  Its unique, discordant chorus is music to my ears.

In this beloved, warm & familiar place; I smile and am happy. For it is home.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the run-up to Christmas,

Adam.

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

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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.

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Timeless Asiatic Pheasants… A dish fit for a king!

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A number of readers have emailed me to ask about the pale blue-&-white china, pictured in so many of my recipes. Well, those questions couldn’t have been posed a more willing recipient! I’ve been collecting this pattern for years and truly treasure it; not just for its timeless elegance, but also on account of its historical & cultural importance.

The print is named Asiatic Pheasants and first went into production in Staffordshire circa 1834. To understand its significance, it’s important to learn a little bit about its predecessor; the Willow print.

Up until the mid-18th century, Chinese porcelain was unrivalled in its delicacy and quality. Due to importation-costs, this made the china prohibitively expensive; and it therefore remained the sole preserve of the rich and aristocracy.

Was local English pottery no good at the time? The problem was that it was all ‘reddish and earthen’ in colour, more like clay than china. Then in 1720, a Staffordshire potter by the name of John Astbury, made a ground-breaking discovery! He learnt that the application of ground flint powder to the clay transformed it, giving the ware a white or cream background onto which patterns could be applied. Hey presto, the English pottery-industry was born!

How does this apply to Willow, as mentioned above? If something is expensive and popular, what’s the first thing one does if given the opportunity? That’s right; copy it! Because blue Chinese-print imports were all the rage at that time; the English potters aimed to reproduce something that had an existing market and they could be sure would sell. This explains the blue colour and oriental patterning of the Willow plate, which retained its popularity until well into the 1850s.

The English potteries went from strength to strength, and suddenly everybody could afford what had previously been the sole domain of the elite. This led that elite to crave something different, and experimentation with new patterns ensued to achieve a ‘point of difference’ from the mass-market.

In addition to increasing demand for exclusivity, the English potters soon found their skill and quality were such that they no longer needed to rely on copies of Chinese designs; they were amply capable of coming up with their own!

Innovation is always reactive. Where previously all pottery had been dark in colour, people wanted something different; something lighter & fresh. Pale blue was the perfect shade, as it strongly referenced the hues which had preceded it, yet offered a cleaner, less cluttered look than the stately Willow. From there the Asiatic Pheasant print was born, soon to become the most popular pattern of the Victorian age.

The design has been in continual production since 1834. Much like the Victorians, our tastes today err towards the simple and ‘pared down’. The current trend in all restaurants and food-journals is for unpatterned white-china. This allows the food to take centre stage and not compete in visual terms with the receptacle that holds it.

Personally speaking however, I’m far too old-fashioned and outdated to cope with plain white.  Give me a bit of history any day! What’s so perfect about Asiatic Pheasants, is that the tones are light enough to not ‘fight the food’; yet delicate enough to convey that timeless sense of classic elegance which will never date.

I feel strongly that we must support our few surviving potteries. Such skill and tradition should not be allowed to die out. We must secure this art-form for future generations. I love the thought that my china might one day be in use on somebody else’s dining-table, another 180 years from now.

Let’s drink to that!

Thank you for reading,

Adam.

The ‘weighting game’. Putting off the diet we ALL KNOW we need…

If you’re overweight, I’m pretty certain this fact won’t have escaped your notice! So many of us lead our daily lives, aware that we’re carrying extra weight; but yet we do nothing about it.

If you’re anything like me, you hate the slow gain of the pounds, but seem powerless to fix it! The mirror becomes something to be ignored from the neck downwards and you start to only wear the bigger, shapeless clothes, which cocoon you, but end up making you look worse!

One thing I’m keen to understand in myself is why don’t we act? Why do we ignore it? What is it that makes us sit there, slowly allowing ourselves to get fatter? Whilst all the time we know it’s happening and yet we do nothing.

If you like your body-fat, then I can understand this reticence. Speaking personally though, I hate it!

For years, I’ve loathed Summer because shorts & t-shirts reveal what trousers & jackets do not. Other people are swimming & sunbathing; I’m sweating & mummified! In spite of this hatred; each Summer for the last five years has been the same.  Always just that little bit over-weight; just enough to make me feel miserable about it, but obviously not sufficient to prompt a permanent fix!

I’ve thought long and hard about this. Most things in life, if I don’t like them; I make a genuine effort to sort them out. With weight however, this has never been something I’ve managed to do. Does this mean that I haven’t really been that bothered about it; that I’ve simply been going through the motions to make others think that I’m “on it”…? No; I’ve hated it! Absolutely, totally & truly. So why no fix?

To answer this, I’ve thought back to each time that I’ve ‘been bothered’ enough to go on a diet. Did I start these in a half-hearted way? Was I just fooling myself & paying lip-service to losing weight…? No. Each time has been a full on ‘fridge-clearing, dawn-jogging, total commitment’ attempt!

In spite of this conviction, I’ve always made mediocre progress. After this, things just fizzle out when the results are sufficient to appease self-loathing & re-justify the things I’ve been denying myself! Each time, the diet has finished, but the stomach-fat has still been there; the bingo-wings have still hung stubborn & the chest has still sagged in a pitiful, vile & repugnant way.

Each time, such results have been so far from the ultimate solution I’d planned. But why? What was it that made things stall each time? Did something major happen to make my high hopes drain away…?

When I try to answer this, I can never identify a turning point, when the diet officially stopped and the bad habits returned. The ruin of good intentions has been a slow thing, day by day, week by week; and then I may as well not have bothered! I’m straight back to square one!

Was it that my resolve weakened? Did I cease wanting to be slim? No; each time, that desire has remained constant.

If I’m honest with myself, it’s simply that things have always just got too hard! The diet itself has always been my downfall. The endless restrictions, the hunger-pangs; that feeling of ‘not joining in’ when everyone else is eating & drinking. It just gets to the point where you strip all the fun out of life & simply can’t bear it any more. The need to live a normal life becomes stronger than the need to lose weight. And so you give in, and so does your aspiration!

So at the beginning of this post, when I state “so many of us lead our daily lives, aware that we’re carrying weight; but do nothing about it” – do I imply that we haven’t tried? No. That’s the last thing I mean. It’s worse that this – we’ve tried and we’ve failed! We’ve probably failed so many times that we can no longer bear it!

And so, with a sigh, we resign ourselves to our dumpy, fat, overweight bodies, and just accept them. The alternative remains a dream – it’ll never happen! Maybe in January I’ll try again. Maybe not. Who knows…

So; I still haven’t got there yet. Why I am writing this so soon into the ‘long diet journey’? What’s prompted this introspection? I don’t normally ask such questions of myself, why now…?

The reason I’m writing this, is that this time around things feel a little bit different! I’m not going to lie to you, every diet is difficult; but on the ketogenic-diet I haven’t experienced that apathy when the scales don’t say what I want to hear. I have keto-strips to give me a solid 100% sign that the diet’s working. The food itself in no way feels like diet food (take a look at the puddings section of this blog if you don’t believe me). Sure, there are things I must go without, but in their place there are other things I can have which don’t feel like deprivation! Above all; I’m not hungry all the time.

It’s the combination of all these things that gives me a sense of positivity this time around. People have said to me “I can’t believe you’re advertising your weight online”. Well, with the ketogenic-diet this doesn’t really worry me. The frustration of missed targets stays just that – frustration! It doesn’t turn to apathy!

The journey may be a long one. I expect it may be longer than I’d planned. But all in all, it’s not a hard one to make. This time I’m going to achieve that ultimate solution I so desire. Next summer is not going to be spent in a jacket & jeans. And that’s a promise.

I feel I should be writing this once it’s all over; once I’ve achieved my target-weight. But for some reason I’m keen to share it ahead of this, so that people get a ‘live’, fly-on-the-wall progress-report.

And besides; resolve is something that can start to waiver. I’ve just said above that past attempts have fizzled out despite my best intentions. Well if I that happens here, I want to know about it! I’m not going to play the weighting-game! If I track my positivity, I track when it starts to wane. And currently, it’s going strong!

My final thought is that positivity will always be infectious. If others are inspired to ditch the weighting-game, then I’ll be thrilled. For most things in life ‘try before you buy’ is not an option. Well for this, I hope to give you that opportunity. If it’s not for you, then at least you’ll have read the science, seen the results and lived through the practice! There’s no book to buy or motivational DVD. This blog simply gives you the whole picture – and I hope it helps.

So wish me luck. Two stone plus to go!

Thanks for reading,

Adam.

A good workman always thanks his tools…

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I have a lot of cooking equipment! Some are cherished heirloom pieces which only emerge on Christmas day; others are well tended workhorses which dutifully & faithfully serve, day in, day out.

There’s a third classification however: the champions of versatility!

I shall never regret the purchase of my trusty pizza-paddle. Not only does it render scooping deliciously crusty pizzas out of the aga an absolute breeze; it also takes centre stage as part of crack-squad trio.

Behold, mouse-catching kit extraordinaire!

Zadok (Keto-Kat) has a particularly irritating habit of bringing live mice into the house and depositing them directly at your feet, from where they immediately scamper off behind the furniture.

His sense of timing is uncanny! Just when your hands are covered in boot-polish, or when you’re carrying a load of clean washing upstairs, is when he chooses to make his gifts.

Then follows a frantic half-hour of hefting furniture, swearing and body-contortion, whilst the cat looks on with contented pride.

So pizza-paddle, food-cloche and mitt; we salute thee! Thou art true princes of utility! Long may ye reign!

Thanks for reading and have a good day.

Adam.

Country Walks in Ketosis – Now on Facebook!

Country Walks in Ketosis now has its very own facebook page…

facebook.com/countrywalksinketosis

I think this must mean that my computer skills are improving! I’m beginning to feel very modern…

If you’re enjoying any of what you’ve read, please ‘like’ the facebook page & spread the word.

Thanks for your support,

Adam.

Quick navigation tabs now added to effortlessly browse recipes and posts!

Recipes have now been categorised under starters, mains and puddings.

Nutrition, diet and diabetes info have been itemised under a separate tab for ease of reference – The Low Carb Library!

Amble through country-walks and lifestyle posts via quick, user-friendly drop-downs.

Thanks for reading and your ongoing support.

Adam.

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Halloween Special – From the low-carb cauldron! Musings on a witch’s waistline…

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    Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
    Fillet of a fenny snake,
    In the caldron boil and bake;
    Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
    Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
    Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
    For a charm of powerful trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Shakespeare’s famous witches scene from Macbeth reinforces what many of us have always known… Witches were very low-carb eaters…

Irrefutable evidence from a number of late-medieval manuscripts, corroborates what fictional sources such as Macbeth have always confirmed. Shakespeare actually lifted the above recipe straight from the period’s most popular ketogenic cookbook: ‘The Low-Carb Cauldron’.

Ingredients such as newts’ eyes and fenny snake were highly prized for their omega 3 and rich saturate density. Bat-wool provided an excellent source of non-soluble dietary-fibre, which slowed down digestion in the gut, thereby promoting feelings of satiety and quelling hunger-pangs.

In fact, depictions of the classic witch’s wand are actually a primitive form of keto-stick. Their frequent testing of urine-samples served only to heighten the existing suspicion and contempt, held against them by an increasingly obese society of glucose-intolerants.

In the end, it was that society’s jealousy over how witches stayed so ‘magically slim’ that led to their vilification and gave rise to the notorious witch-hunts which so plagued the middle-ages.

So ‘witch’ diet will you follow today…? My money’s on LCHF!

Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween!

Adam.

The Great Fat Meltdown! Weight, Targets & the Point of All This…

The Issue

My friends, family and colleagues are all very nice people. None of them would ever say I am fat; solid maybe, but not fat.

I am fortunate in being tall (6 foot 4). This means that the weight disperses itself quite cleverly and I can sort of ‘get away with it’. Getting away with it however is not something I can do on the bathroom-scales or with the tape-measure; they are unfortunately less forgiving than friends or family.

The Cause

A summer-time diet is always the worst for me. Yes, there is salad and lots of fresh fruit; lean grilled meats on the barbecue and a lot of long, rambling walks in the sun. But there are also other more tempting things; namely trips to the pub to drink pints of beer, eat cheese-burgers and then have more beer. Our local pub is a pretty sort of place, which adds to its allure:

heydon pub 3          heydon pub 5

heydon gate          heydon pub

And yes; many a country walk takes place to the pub. It is 2.5 miles away, so the perfect distance for a stroll through the woods and over the field. But anyway, I digress…

Throw summer garden-parties into the mix, with champagne and other sugary delights, and Adam gets fatter. At the end of this summer, I climbed on the bathroom scales and was the heaviest I have ever been! 15 stone, 10 lbs. Add to this, my waist measurement was 45 inches (above 40 inches and you carry a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes – my partner is already type 1 diabetic; if I developed type 2 through poor lifestyle choices then that would verge on the ridiculous!). In short, something had to be done!

The Background

I would say I have always had this problem. I was raised on a traditional British diet of stodge! Bread, potatoes, pastry, cake, sandwiches, sugary puddings (syrup sponge and custard kind of thing). My two brothers have the metabolism of an alley cat! They can deal with any junk food that you care to throw at them (and please don’t let me stop you). In spite of this, they still stay stick thin. My father was the same. Me on the other hand; I took after my mother’s side of the family, and my system just never coped with it. For all of my adult life, I have carried the scars of that diet. What do I mean by scars? I have always been that uncomfortable bit overweight… podgy… Never drastic, but enough to make me sufficiently self-conscious to not go swimming or feel confident in summer clothes (I much prefer the hide-alls of big winter coats and scarves).

The Decision

I had gone low-carb in the past; but this was more of a maintenance thing – a quick crash diet to shift a few pounds and then straight back on the stodge. One cannot continue life getting progressively heavier with each passing year – something had to change!!!

The Solution

Having had success in the past with the Atkins diet, I decided to go back to this. Then I did some further reading and found there was more to low-carb than meets the eye. Enter LCHF and the ketogenic diet. That reading progressed to the crossover with diabetes. That was it; the decision was made, I needed no further encouragement! Ketones were the way forward!

The Target

A couple of years ago, my healthcare professional informed me that my ideal weight was 12 1/2 stone. This has always seemed a little optimistic a target for a 6 foot 4 man in his mid thirties (especially considering I have not been that weight since I was 15); but I am prepared to give it a go! I like a challenge.

The Timescale

So, from 15 stone 10 lbs down 12 stone 6 lbs. I started this diet on Sunday 28th September 2014. Loosing 2lb per week, should mean that I reach my target by 8th March 2015 (a 24 week plan).

‘Weigh Day’ is a Sunday. I intend to record and report my weight every week, with a few comments along the way. Waist measurement is also an indicator, but this will only be done once a month. Posts will be labelled ‘week 1, week 2’ &tc.

Wish me luck!

Thank you for reading,

Adam.

If you’ve landed on this site thinking ketosis is a place, you’re wrong. It’s a state; and one that many of us would love to live in!

What on earth am I on about?

Picture a house of three: one type-1 diabetic, one carb-intolerant who needs to shift a couple of stone; and a spoilt Burmese cat. Our solution to two out of three is ketosis.

This blog charts the road to weight-loss and blood-sugar stability through our adoption of a ketogenic diet.

Why the country walks? A walk every morning is part of the weight-loss plan, plus it was on one of those walks that I decided to jot all this down in a blog. Add to this, where we live is particularly beautiful! A few nice pictures will help intersperse my ramblings on food, bathroom-scales and blood-glucose with something a little easier on the eye.

So in a nutshell, I’ll chart my weight to see if this works, and post some ketogenic recipes along the way (click here). We’ll share any diabetic learnings as we go, and maybe a year down the line we shall have learnt something.

Wish us luck!