Well here we are once again—saying goodbye to the old year and ushering in a new one, promising to never do “that” again and vowing to change all our evil ways overnight. Good luck.

Jane after adopting the ketogenic way of eatingOr better than luck, why not go with “healthy curiosity and personal-best strategies”? Make your new start into 2019 an exploration rather than an ultimatum. Start with a few small changes and keep building. I know, you are rolling your eyes and thinking: “There she goes again with her anti-New Year’s resolution stuff.” Well, ok, I hear ya. So I thought this year, I’d let someone else share her success and hopefully inspire you to find yours—meet my friend Jane, an accomplished educator, master baker, beautiful woman (inside and out) and recent convert to a Ketogenic way of life.

Jane and I met a couple of years ago, starting out as summer buddies at our local community pool. But the friendship has grown, as we realized many common interests such as healthy eating, a joy for cooking, a call to save the planet through our living example and a feeling of deep personal responsibility to fight for social justice globally by beginning close to home with how we live, what we buy and what we eat.

Jane is a teacher at Christ Light of the Nations Catholic School in Spanish Lake, Missouri.  She teaches seventh- and eighth-grade English, literature and history. She’s also continuing her doctoral studies at University of Missouri St. Louis—yeah, overachiever.  Her professional research involves growth mindset traits in educators and students, along with implementation of culturally diverse history curriculum in catholic schools. But when we get together, topics are more like solutions to plastic pollution, the best grade of flour for pie crusts and carpooling plans to the next protest march. And because Jane is pretty much an expert in the kitchen, she understands how food and health connect. Her journey during 2018 is nothing short of amazing and totally inspiring. So why don’t I just let her explain how wanting to turn around an irritating little weight gain led to a new way of life, where weight control was only the beginning of overall good health. Here is Jane’s story:

Background

I always struggled with up-and-down dieting.  I was never terribly overweight, but I felt tired, and I craved the wrong foods.  My existence consisted of feeling hungry, and eating was on my mind constantly.  The hunger I experienced from traditional dieting distracted me and made it difficult for me to concentrate on everyday tasks.  I struggled to stay consistent, taking it day by day, while telling myself eventually I would get used to the feeling of hunger or my weight loss would make the discomfort worth it.  Inevitably, I would give up and then I would go back to bad habits of eating foods that were highly processed, fatty, high in sugar, and full of carbohydrates.  (Toni here—this does sound familiar, yes? Did for me. But back to Jane.)

So She Did Her Research

But this past year, I did some research on the Ketogenic Diet, also known as the Keto Diet   At first the Ketogenic Diet sounded like a terrible way to live. I wondered how someone could survive on such a small amount of daily carbohydrates, which was less than 30 grams!

But after reading articles and watching a video by Dr. Berg, a Webinar on Healthy Ketosis & Intermittent Fasting, I became more curious. Another keto-blog I followed was Dr. Jason Fung, a Canadian nephrologist. He’s a world-leading expert on intermittent fasting and low carb eating, especially for treating people with type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, I watched a documentary entitled, The Magic Pill, which was actually not about a ‘pill’ at all.   It is a research-based film concerning the Aborigine population and focuses on causes of death. Researchers noticed that only in the last 50 years, did conditions such as diabetes and cancer become the biggest killer in the Aborigine population, along with complications as a result chronic depression such as substance abuse.  Researches discuss the USDA food pyramid explaining how and when it was formed. Coincidentally, it was developed about 50 years ago.  In the study, researchers actually ‘flipped’ the USDA food pyramid putting fats and proteins at the bottom and carbohydrates on the top.  They hypothesized that when fats and proteins are consumed in reasonable amounts, it is filling and satisfying.  As a result, it will curtail cravings of processed, sugary, and often unhealthy food choices.  The results of the study in The Magic Pill were astounding.  The Aborigine population found a decrease in instances of cancer and depression, and in some cases type 2 diabetes management was eliminated!  The other most important detail in the conclusion of the study was to eliminate processed foods, consuming natural ingredients and practicing portion control.  This is what the ketogenic diet is all about.  Results

Jane’s Transformation

The results of my weight loss were immediate; however, after the first 10-20 pounds, the weight loss slowed down but continued at a slow steady pace.  I realized after losing 20 pounds it was not a diet but a way of eating.  I noticed a lot less puffiness in my face, and I experienced more energy.  But the best benefit was that I no longer needed to use my daily inhaler for asthma.  It also became easier for me to overcome obstacles in my life without allowing them to consume my mind. I could think more clearly.

The most significant indicator that this way of eating worked for me was all in the numbers.  After being on the ketogenic way of eating for several months, it was time for yearly blood work.  One would believe fat consumption in a diet would elevate unhealthy cholesterol, but it was quite the contrary.

Jane’s Words of Advice

If you want to explore this sort of diet, let me offer some pointers. When people make this lifestyle change, it can be difficult for the first few weeks.  Most individuals have conditioned their body to digest processed foods and high amounts of sugar.  As a result, when those foods are taken away, people can actually go through a withdrawal called ‘Keto Flu’.  This is when it will be important for you to find support. I encourage you to reach out to social media sites and blogs that are encouraging people who have chosen to follow the ketogenic diet. Realizing you are not alone and that others were similarly challenged can sustain you as you go through a variety of less-than-desirable side-effects.  Once you become accustomed to the new way of eating, you will actually burn fat not carbohydrates, which is the true state of ketosis!

So, did Jane get your curiosity peaked? She did mine. And I’ll share some of my 2018 journey, along with this month’s picks from the New Hope Network Blogger Box—Jane’s favorites and mine—for a healthier 2019. But first, how about a gift from Jane? A gift—well, yeah! As I said, Jane is an amazing cook, and her culinary skills have helped her on her keto journey. She’s developed some amazing recipes and has shared one of her favorites with us.

Jane’s Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Yogurt Hollandaise Sauce

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 1 or more

Serving Size: one assemble dish

Jane’s Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Yogurt Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients

    For the Finished Dish
  • Cloud bread (recipe steps below)
  • Smoked salmon, about four ounces
  • Poached egg (per person)
  • Yogurt Hollandaise Sauce (recipe steps below)
  • Capers
  • Fresh Dill
  • Chives or sweet onion (optional)
  • For the Cloud Bread
  • Three egg yolks, four egg whites, room temperature
  • Three tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • One-quarter teaspoon cream of tartar
  • One-quarter teaspoon salt
  • For the Yogurt Hollandaise Sauce
  • One lemon, juice plus one teaspoon zest, separated
  • Four egg yolks
  • Two tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • One-half cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Ten dashes Tabasco hot sauce, or to taste
  • Three-quarters teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Pinch ground white pepper, or to taste

Instructions

    To Prepare the Cloud Bread
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Carefully separate egg whites from yolks. Place whites in one bowl and yolks in another. Save the remaining yolk in a covered dish in the frig. Use within a few days
  3. In the bowl of egg yolks, add cream cheese and mix together with an electric mixer until well-combined.
  4. In the bowl of egg whites, add cream of tartar and salt. Using the electric mixer (with clean beaters), beat at high speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. Pouring slowly, add the yolk mixture to the egg whites and carefully fold in until there are no white streaks.
  6. Spoon mixture onto prepared baking sheet about one-half to three-quarters inch tall and about five inches apart. You are looking for the size of round sandwich buns.
  7. Bake in oven on middle rack for 30 minutes, until tops are lightly golden.
  8. Allow to cool and set up for easily handling. Handling directly out of the oven may cause them to crumble.
  9. To Prepare the Yogurt Hollandaise Sauce
  10. Bring one inch of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler or saucepan for a Bain Marie.
  11. Whisk lemon juice and egg yolks in the top of the double boiler or Bain Marie bowl. Adjust heat under the double boiler so the water is at a gentle simmer. Set pan or bowl with the lemon juice and egg yolks over the simmering water in the double boiler and whisk. Lift the bowl occasionally to allow the trapped steam to escape so the bowl doesn’t get too hot. Cook, whisking constantly, until the egg mixture is steaming hot and thickened, but not curdling along the edge, about one to two minutes.
  12. Remove the egg mixture from the heat and whisk in melted butter. Whisk in yogurt, a little at a time until smooth. Whisk in Tabasco, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Keep warm until ready to serve. Do not keep warm for longer than four hours.
  13. To Assemble the Dish
  14. Place one piece of Cloud Bread on a dinner plate. Top with the smoked salmon and freshly poached egg. Drizzle with the Yogurt Hollandaise Sauce and sprinkle with capers and dill, as desired.

Notes

The number of servings can be as many as eight. Each serving should contain one piece of Cloud Bread, four ounces of smoked salmon, one poached egg topped with Hollandaise, capers and dill.

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Jane and I have had many conversations about her research, recipes and diet changes. I was fascinated, and I took a lot of notes and made quite a few eating revisions that have worked well for me over the past few months. In the end, however, I knew a totally keto diet would not work for me—the vegetarian. Other than eggs and some dairy, I rarely eat meat—usually it’s only tastings when I’m testing recipes. To keep my carbs at 30 a day and eliminate foods like apples and carrots really wasn’t feasible. But I didn’t throw that keto menu out with the dishwater—I remained flexible, eating more of the healthy fats than I had before and eliminating unhealthy carbs, like bread and chips, except on special occasion. I feel pretty good.

Intermittent Fasting

The other innovative eating strategy Jane and I both explored on our own and then discovered we were on the same path was intermittent fasting. And let me be clear: I’ve never been a fan of fasting. It has never worked for me and often made me feel ill. So why would this form of fasting work? The key is—you guessed it—flexibility! There are really only two rules I follow—I must stop eating at least three hours before bedtime and I must allow from 14 to 16 hours before my next meal. Since I am a classic “early to bed/early to rise” kind of person, my last meal ends at 4:55 p.m. or before, and I don’t eat my next one until at least 7:30 a.m. the next day. But if your schedule is not mine (And I realize most people’s schedule is not mine!), you just adjust your times. Ta da!

Still, when I first began, I had great doubts and some queasy moments. Since I work out in the early morning—somewhere between 6 and 7:30 a.m.–I wondered how I would make it through, especially if my dinner had been relatively low carb and my breakfast was not going to happen until around 9 a.m. But you know… it really wasn’t that hard, even at the beginning, and now it’s just habit. I’m never starving.

The benefits are great: I never worry about weight gain—it just doesn’t happen even if I eat late on a rare occasion, or I skip a couple workouts or eat something sinfully delicious; my hunger is healthy—everything tastes amazing and my ability be present and focused in my eating is finally achievable; and I feel light, energetic and much less stressed, with essentially no digestive problems. The old issues of feeling lightheaded and fatigued during fasting are virtually nonexistent. It’s worth a look, if you ask me.

The Blogger Box Favorites to Close 2018 with a Bang

Since Jane was willing to contribute her story to the blog, I asked if she would also try a couple of blogger box products that fit with her keto-eating lifestyle. And she agreed! Here are her favorites and why:

Bottle of Nutiva MCT Oil and packets of NuNaturals flavored sugar-free syrupsNutiva MCT Oil and NuNaturals Stevia Simple Syrup

Jane, like me, happens to be an earlier riser—it’s her quiet time as she prepares for her always-busy days. She starts each morning with two large cups of good coffee. Following her keto plan, she adds frothed heavy cream and a specially blended coconut oil called MCT, that is coconut oil concentrated with the medium-chain triglycerides, Capric acid and Caprylic acid. The oil and cream are part of her good fats and contribute little to her carb load for the day. Plus, it’s a real taste treat—especially frothed into a rich, foamy cap on her coffee. But not all MCT oils are orgainc or created equal; that’s why one of her blogger box picks is Nutiva’s MCT Oil. Here are some reasons why—Nutivia is: the only USDA certified organic MCT Oil that is non-GMO verified, has a light coconut flavor, contains 93 percent MCTs, is non-hydrogenated, has no fillers and is Paleo (and keto) friendly.

In essence, she can trust Nutiva. But when she needs a little bit of added fun and sweet taste, she adds a hint of NuNaturals Stevia Syrup. From basic vanilla and chocolate to more exotic flavors like ginger, NuNaturals allows Jane that tiny splurge, which isn’t really a splurge at all, except it “feels” like one. Those are her picks for recommended products that may help you discover the right, satisfying eating plan for you.

Bottle of Fire Cider with Honey and a cup of homemade bone brothShire City Herbals Fire Cider

Now back to me for a moment. Even though I’ve decided that total keto is totally not going to work for me, I did get inspired enough to start sleuthing out unnecessary sugars wherever I could find them. Sort a fun challenge, really. But I didn’t need to look too far to find a new variety of an old favorite—remember my winter affair last year with Shire City Herbals Fire Cider and how I loved the idea of this natural tonic based on the owner’s Grandma’s recipe? I began using it again this fall, but when the newest blogger box arrived, a honey-free version of Fire Cider was included. No sugar at all and less than one gram of carb. Now I will warn you: this Fire Cider takes some getting used to, but it’s just a tablespoon a day. If I can do it, I’m guessing you can do it, too. So easy, all natural and incredibly effective in helping to keep you well all winter. The honey-free version contains the same be-well ingredients as the original but without sugar. Something for everyone.

And what’s that next to the Fire Cider, all steamy in that mug? Homemade bone broth with beef bones from SS Backwards Longhorns Ranch. Yes, I have decided to add bone broth to my healthy winter eating plan—one week out of the month October through March–to supplement the daily two tablespoons of raw organic sauerkraut (remember that!) I ingest. To be honest, I’ve found the bone broth easier, but I still do both. I have decided that being a vegetarian is important to me for many reasons, but it doesn’t need to include hard and fast rules—especially when my source for the bones is local, environmentally responsible and humanly raised.

Bottle of Barlean's Extra Strength Ideal CBD Hemp OilBarlean’s Extra-Stength Ideal CBD Hemp Oil

The last item I’d like to introduce this month is one tested by my daughter’s boyfriend Buddy. You may recall that Buddy, like my daughter, is a landscaper and has a highly demanding physical job. As he has gotten older, he’s developed those aches and pains I’ve known about for quite some time. So I let him try Barlean’s Extra-Strength Ideal CBD Hemp Oil. My husband and I have taken Barlean’s Flax Oil capsules for years, and their organic flax oil has been part of my cooking for decades. It’s a company we love with simply superior products and practices. So when they introduced a CBD oil, I knew it would be worth a try. Buddy got relief and is a believer, too.

CBD oils are the up-and-coming stars for natural pain relief, something that should be welcome in the face of the opioid crisis. But as with MCT oils, not all are what they claim, even though they all seem to carry similar price tags, which can be quite steep. So you want the one you can trust, the one that has been tested and produced with integrity. You want Barlean’s. What worked for Buddy—and it did work—may not work for everyone. Time to do your research.

Also, while the production of hemp products, in particular CBD oil, has been surrounded by controversy because of its connection to marijuana and trace elements of THC, research has steadily evolved and the market is opening up. The New Hope Network just published a hemp update on their website. The website Hemp Supporter is also a good place to start your research, if this is a product you feel might benefit you.

So there we are—the final list of blogger box stars for 2018, presented to give you a good start to the new year by offering suggestions, providing ideas and supporting you in your personal journey to wellness. There is no one-size-fits all but there are many products and practices to choose from for a custom wellness fit.

From me and Jane, the best to you in 2019! Be well, be brave in the kitchen, and I’ll see you next year!

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