Traditional English Faggots. But Now Low Carb!

faggots

Nothing evokes more nostalgic memories of childhood than a good faggot. The nation’s firm favourite will always be the unbeatable “Mr Brain’s” [pictured below]; but alas they’re a little carb-heavy for us keto-fans; so I’ve done a paleo-friendly version which was an unmitigated success on every level!

mr brains

Traditionally, faggots are made predominantly with pork. But I split these 50/50 pork and beef mince, to add succulence and richness. Where breadcrumbs and rusk normally form the binding; ground almonds, flaxseed and coconut-flour do the job every bit as well; making these sufficiently low in carbohydrate for diabetics, paleo-followers and those on a ketogenic plan.

Some people can be a little be wary of things like liver. Feel free to leave it out; but it really adds to the richness and depth of flavour. So up to you; but I firmly recommend it!

Into a large mixing bowl, add 500g of pork mince and 500g of beef mince. This quantity will make enough for 4 people, so halve the mixture if you’re feeding fewer than that. Pour in one cup of ground almonds, 2/3 of a cup of millet/flaxseed, then half a cup of coconut flour. In a food-processor, pulse a large onion, and add to the bowl; then two pork-livers until you get a semi-smooth liquid, which would happily pride the set of a Nightmare on Elmstreet [I’m showing my age here]. With a spatula, ease this into the mix; then sprinkle in a tablespoon of dried sage, another of dried oregano, than a generous grind of salt and pepper. Now beat one large egg, and add to the rest.

To form the meatballs, I tend to don a pair of disposable kitchen-gloves. If you’re feeling sustainable however, or quite simply have a thing for squishy meat-mixtures between your fingers; then go au naturel! Mix the ingredient thoroughly, until well combined; then shape into roughly the size of a hockey ball [think halfway between a tennis-ball and a croquet-ball], placing onto a large plate as you go.

In a solid sauté pan, heat a glug of sunflower or rapeseed oil [something with a high burning point, so your kitchen doesn’t fill with smoke], then add the faggots to the pan a couple at a time, sealing each one on a minimum of 2 to 3 sides. The whole thing doesn’t have to be browned, but they need to maintain their shape; hence the minimum. Once cooked, transfer the meatballs to a large deep-sided baking-tray; then into the oven they go for half an hour to 40 minutes, whilst you get on with the sauce.

In the same pan that you sautéed the faggots, lightly cook a large sliced onion and a red pepper or two. You can add any vegetables you like, such as mushrooms; I tend to use what I have knocking around or needs using up. Then crush in 3 cloves of garlic and deglaze the pan with a generous glug of red wine.

Crumble in a couple of beef stock-cubes, followed by two cans of chopped tinned tomatoes. Round off the taste with seasoning and a teaspoon each of the same herbs as above. Simmer for half an hour until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Once the sauce is ready, take the faggots out of the oven, and spoon over the sauce, topping each one nicely. Then grate a good whack of cheese, and sprinkle atop the lot, with flagrant disregard for traditional [miserable] low-fat dieters. Back into the oven they go for 20 minutes, until the cheese is unctuously melting and just starting to turn golden brown.

Serve the faggots and sauce with the vegetable of your choice. Celeriac mash would go down a treat; but we opted for simple buttered peas. You can’t beat a classic!

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

Week 4 – Sun 26th October

Well, I’m four 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 Four’s target weight therefore? 15 stone, 2 pounds.

It’s also a nerve-racking day, because it’s the first of my monthly waistline-measurements. When I started the diet, my waist-circumference was 45 inches. Above 40 inches and you enter the danger-zone for developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. My partner is already type 1 diabetic; so if I developed type 2 through poor lifestyle choices, then that would verge on the ridiculous!

I step onto the scales…

15 stone, 1 pound. Ahead of target and a 3lb reduction from last week! I’m now 9 pounds lighter than I was four weeks ago. I’ve crossed the half-a-stone barrier, which is brilliant; and I’m rapidly approaching the ’15’ milestone, which feels really positive.

I’ll be so pleased once I make it back into the ’14 stone’ territory. I’d been so shocked when I stepped on the scales some 6 weeks ago. In my mind, I’d maybe put on a couple of pounds; I’d thought I was ’14 stone something‘…; but to then discover I was 15 stone 10 was horrific! It had crept up so gradually, that I’d never really noticed it.

I’m a little nervous of the tape-measure. Scales are fairly ‘plain speaking’ when it comes to weight. Yes, you can shimmy around on tiptoes or balance on one leg to try and get ‘a more favourable reading’, but ultimately you know you’re just cheating yourself. The tape-measure is a little harder. Have I measured at exactly the same point as last time…? Is it completely level…? Am I breathing in too much, or am I pushing my stomach out artificially to go for ‘worst case scenario’…? In short, the tape-measure feels a little bit like an audition!

With trepidation, I stand in front of the mirror and ask myself all the above questions, to try and come up with a realistic answer. 44 inches definite! I’ve lost one inch from the circumference of my waistline, which is brilliant! Just four more to go before I’m out of the danger zone.

As I said last week; there’s a stage of weight-loss when you start to feel a bit slimmer. I’m definitely there now. Because I love cooking, I spend a lot of time in an apron. Four weeks ago, this tied under the stomach, which looked and felt dreadful. Now, it’s back to tying around me! The trousers are starting to follow suit, but I’ve never particularly been a fan of ‘armpit-huggers’, so these tend to sit more around the hips than the stomach.

And physically? How am I feeling aside from the weight?

Pretty brilliant actually. The headaches have completely gone and energy-levels are incomparable to what they were before I started this. I feel active and want to be moving around outside a lot more (whereas previously the sofa and a book were the main draw!). Mood is so much better and grumpiness nearly gone. As before, the fact this is working is definitely boosting my optimism!

I’m still thirsty a lot of the time. I haven’t yet discovered whether this has to do with ‘losing weight as the fat cells deplete’; or whether it’s a side-effect of the ketosis itself. Body-temp feels normal, but as I haven’t been tracking this, I have no point of comparison!

The one thing I’m slightly paranoid about is acetone on the breath – a side-effect of ketosis. I’m sure this hasn’t been a problem (certainly no-one has said anything), but I hate the fact they might! To counter this I’ve been sucking sugar-free mints. I’ve always been a peppermint-tea drinker throughout the day, so this also helps combat my paranoia. I’m hoping that, as ketogenic-adaptation kicks in (more on that in another post); this side-effect and others will disappear completely. Only time will tell on this one!

All in all, it’s been a really good week. Motivation is very high; and I really feel that I can 100% achieve my goals if I stay focussed. Still missing trips to the pub, but as these were part of the problem, it serves me right!

With a bit of luck, I’ll dip down below 15 stone by next week. That only requires one & a bit additional pounds from here, so if I stay in ketosis, this should be do-able.

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

Thanks for reading, and have a great week,

Adam.

Bats in the Belfry – a Plague of Pipistrelles…

guestwick church

Part of my journey to explore all that a ketogenic-diet has to offer, is a journey of another kind… a journey on foot. Come hell or high weather, I’ve committed to a daily dawn-walk.

This is just over a mile in length and aims to put a little more movement back into what was becoming an increasingly sedentary life.

Looking out over the fields each morning, I see four churches in the distance. The first and second have already been explored in this blog. Now it’s time to meet the third, complete with its inhabitants…

The above depicts a beautiful, rambling old medieval church, typical of so many you see in this area and the wider English countryside. The pace of life doesn’t touch this place. It’s timeless in every way. But as the evening-time dusk descends, an entirely different picture begins to emerge…

From out the tower begins to leech a dark stain, which fills the sky like smog. Not smoke, but a vast army of bats emerging to feed after their long day’s cloistration.

The sky becomes electric with the sound of sonic chatter, just too high to be audible; but still causing resonance within the ear. They dive, swoop and bomb through the sky, swerving their way round invisible barriers & descending on prey too small for the eye to make out in the half-light. It’s a strange, majestic dance, to which none but they know the steps.

The interior of the church bears constant testimony to their presence. The pews and altar are all covered in a thick white plastic, to shield against the corrosive nature of their droppings! A smell of musk is almost overpowering and the stone floor is grainy underfoot.

The bats can’t be removed as they’re a protected species. So man and winged-mammal must share this space which our neglect allowed to fall vacant.

They’re certainly making better use of it than we are. One hour-long service a month is all we can muster. And when the last few elderly inhabitants of the village pass on, I suspect even that will stop!

I say ‘leave them to it’. Something’s got to use the place.

An englishman’s home is his castle; an english-bat’s base is its belfry! And all things considered; they couldn’t have picked a finer one!

Thanks for reading,

Adam.

One man’s struggle for survival in… “The Quest for Breakfast!” Coming soon to a blog near you…

Sometimes the morning walks serve a greater purpose than just exercise & thought-time alone… Sometimes, they’re a mission & a fight for sheer survival…!

All that stands between breakfast and our hungry man-in-wellies, is a treacherous & death-defying landscape of unknown perils…

To reach the eggs, which lie in a box at a distant farm over the fields…

Will he make it through the savage and terrifying jungle….????

path

Will the bridge of doom prove his undoing …?

bridge

Will ‘the plank’ herald his demise, sending him to a cold & watery grave…?

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Or does a more gruesome, foul and tortuous fate await him in the jaws of THE HUNGRY, RAVENING MONSTER!!??

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Dare he hope win his one true prize??? That elusive and highly coveted ‘dozen of breakfast eggs’?????

breakfast

Yes he did dare. They cost him one pound sixty pence and were very nice thank you.

With script-writing skills like this, it’s amazing I haven’t been snapped up by a film-studio years ago….! The invitation must have got lost in the post!

Thanks for reading,

Adam.

Giving Up Smoking with ‘The Ketogenic Diet’…

Please don’t think for one minute that I’m claiming a ketogenic diet can help you give up smoking… I’m not!

What am I saying then?

Much like the extra weight; I’ve struggled with cigarettes my whole adult life. I’ve given them up a few times (once for over two years!); then for whatever reason I’d start again.

Every attempt to give up would result in my MASSIVELY piling on the pounds. This would depress me and I’d start smoking again.

I‘d almost begun to view cigarettes as a weight-management tool!

I was often quoted as saying:

“It’s easier to manage my weight when I smoke. I’d rather be a slim smoker than a fat non-smoker!”

Where does the ketogenic diet enter this equation? Simply that for the first time in my life, I’ve stopped smoking & it has had NO IMPACT ON MY WEIGHT!

I haven’t had a cigarette for 2 months now. Because there are no hunger pangs with LCHF, I haven’t been reaching for snacks, eating sweets, chocolate; or any of the other ‘comforts’ which creep in when you give up.

So no; the ketogenic diet does not help you give up smoking. But it’s really helped me control the other nasties that go with quitting cigarettes. Increased appetite, constant snacking, weight-gain… No issue.

People have said to me “What, you’ve given up smoking AND you’re on a diet?? No chance!”

The ketogenic diet has removed the additional barriers I used to face when attempting to quit. For me, this diet has made it a lot easier!

That must be a positive!

Please don’t think this blog is turning into a ‘self-help’ page; it’s not! All I’m trying to do is cover the full scope of life-changes this diet encompasses. For me, giving up smoking has been a big thing. Anything that can make that process easier is a big win!

Thanks for reading,

Adam.