Sweet & Sour

Sweet & Sour

Yellow Ontario Plums

Have you ever eaten greengages? They’re a green plum that I remember from the other side of the pond. They’re smaller than the typical plum. With a sourness to them that has my mouth watering just thinking about them. And that reminds of a rhubarb tart. Oh boy, is that the most delicious tart of all or what! Picking wild sloes from between the thorny branches on the way to school … the shredded arms were worth the sensation of extreme mouth-puckering that came along with stuffing a fistful of these little sour bombs in your face.

If all that has you cringing, you might be North American!

Fortunately, I developed my taste for sour foods on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s not that we don’t have sour foods here, we just don’t seem to like them very much. The reason a tart is called a tart is … well … because it’s tart! Here we call them “pies” to avoid any sense of confusion! It’s difficult to find a rhubarb tart round my way. The much sweeter strawberry rhubarb pie is far more common. Or we could, more accurately, call it the Sugar-Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. Most of my Canadian friends would run screaming from the rhubarb tarts my mother used to make. But I loved them.

Most folk here don’t know what a “cooking apple” is. The famed Bramley cooking apple from the British Isles is secretly spoken about, amongst groups of expats hiding in the corners of dark & dingy pubs, in Canada. Here, we think the Granny Smith is a sour apple! LOL

We do like to sweeten things up in North America. I don’t think I’d ever had a sweet pickle before coming over. In Europe, they were as rare as real rhubarb tarts are here. Quebec, thanks to the French influence, offered both. For better or worse, modern food science & marketing techniques are used globally now. You can find ultra-sweet, sugar-laden products everywhere. The sour stuff doesn’t seem to have taken off in quite the same way. And that’s a pity.

If you’re not already a fan of sour, you should start working on it. It is an acquired taste & you’ll only acquire it with practice. Without ever going on a diet, you can improve your chances of not having to by making choices that don’t include oodles of sugar. While having a palate for sour doesn’t mean you won’t like sweet, at least you’ll have some other options. Unfortunately, developing a sweet tooth is not nearly so difficult!

The yellow fruits that appeared on our counter last night weren’t, as I’d hoped, ripe greengages. They were Ontario plums. They were a little tart but they didn’t deliver that “duck’s arse on a cold lake” kind of pucker that I was hoping for. But they were certainly better for me than the other choices I might have made after dinner. Though I probably shouldn’t have had a dozen of them, should I!

The displacement theory of dieting shouldn’t be ignored. Replacing a sweet processed dessert with a whole food is probably always a good move. Unfortunately, it’s probably not enough. The good news is that we can train ourselves off sugar too. It may take a a week or two of enduring our morning java without sugar before we get around to deciding we like it.

While we’re still complaining about the summer heat … try an iced coffee without the sugar syrup for a while & see how it goes.

The Last Word on Potatoes

The Last Word on Potatoes

Red Wine

It’s probably not the last word on potatoes. After all, we still have to address the health benefits of French fries! I’ll use the name of the day to more easily explain the sequence of what happened. On Wednesday evening, I carried on exploring the effects of potatoes on my blood sugar. This time, I managed to avoid my sugar-laden dessert. I knew that wasn’t going to be easy so I decided to have two full-sized spud dinners to combat the urge. We’re not talking seconds here, we’re talking two full dinner-sized portions. The first was leftovers from Tuesday, the potato & Brussels sprouts combo. The second was again made from boiled & cooled potatoes, pan fried in olive oil. Then drizzled with more olive oil because they just don’t bring any fat to the party. I added the usual chopped onion, herbs & seasonings. This one also got a shot of store-bought Jalapeño-Lime Aioli. Which I probably shouldn’t have done, but it’s just so good! And I also melted three slices of Jarlsberg cheese into each serving. While potatoes have some protein, the cheese adds more of that, along with some excellent texture & flavour. I was probably a little below my protein requirement on both days but not enough that I worried about it. And it’s only for a couple of days.

From Tuesday’s eating, it took ’til early afternoon Wednesday to get back down to 5.6 mmol/l (101 mg/dl). Remember that I had that sweet dessert on the Tuesday though. The numbers aren’t really all that bad but I’m used to being lower, and faster getting there, on low carb days. Was that difference in glucose decay caused by the sugar in the dessert? Or the fact that I had been low carb for the week prior & my body needed to readjust to handling the carb load again? Am I over producing insulin in reaction to that? And is that insulin just helping transport it out of my blood & into muscle for use? Or is it driving all the excess to my belly for storage as fat!

I don’t know. None of the readings were serious enough that I’m worried so I’ll just ignore it for now. Just before dinner on Wednesday, I was back in my happy zone, at 5.1 mmol/l (92 mg/dl). Pretty much immediately after the hour long feast, it hit 7.1 mmol/l (128 mg/dl). One hour later it was 7.2 (130 mg/dl) & it was back down to 6.3 mmol/l (113 mg/dl) at the two hour mark. By the three hour mark, it was down to 5.8 mmol/l (104 mg/dl). On Wednesday, with the potato binge only & no dessert, the glucose decay was much better, & faster. From a blood glucose perspective, I’m okay including the occasional potato binge.

From a weight loss perspective, the story doesn’t necessarily end there. Potatoes may trigger a greater insulin response than the blood glucose number would suggest. So does that mean that I’m getting fatter while I overindulge on them?

Not according to the scale on Thursday morning. Phew!

Think I’ll have to check the impact of wine & beer with that little glucose meter too! 🙂

Potatoes & Blood Glucose

Potatoes & Blood Glucose


Earth’s Other Gold!

I just knew I shouldn’t have written about potatoes yesterday! Maybe it was in my head to do this already, but writing about it made it a certainty. I had spuds for dinner yesterday. Lots of them!

When trying to lose weight, one of the first categories of foods that fat people tend to drop is all the white stuff. Sugar, flour, rice & potatoes. While I’ve done that, & I’m sure I’ll do it again, it may not be necessary to do it all the time. Though not diabetic, I have one of those little glucose test meters. Every now & again, I’ll pull it out to test how my body is reacting to whatever my latest dietary penchant is. Usually, I’m doing it to prove I can safely eat more of something that I think I ought not to be eating. And spuds are one thing that I want to repeatedly prove that I can eat more of!

Most of the week, my glucose levels were between 5.1 & 5.5 mmol/l (92 & 99 mg/dl), even after meals. When I’m monitoring like this, my fingers look like pin cushions so I measured immediately after eating, one & two hours after eating, etc. That was still my range. Pretty good, eh! Yesterday, however, I boiled & cooled a huge pot of potatoes. I stuck them in the fridge to cool, in order to convert some of the starch to resistant starch (more on this another day). Then I pan-fried them, in the leftover grease from frying bacon (pasture raised this time), with an onion. Finally, I added a large pot of boiled Brussels sprouts to the pan. Along with all the herbs & seasonings. I ate dinner from the “bucket” that was the focus of my post from a few days back. I was stuffed. And I mean really stuffed. So what happened to my blood sugar level?

After eating, it was 7.2 (130 ml/dl) mmol/l. A little over three hours later it was 6.8 (122 ml/dl) mmol/l & this morning, it was 6.1 mmol/l (110 mg/dl). Those aren’t really awful, & they’re a little slow to come down for sure. Still, I prefer to be in the five point something range most of the time. I was, however, running low carb prior to this so maybe my body needs to get used to controlling carbs again? Hey, I like that concept … I’m going to feast on potatoes for the next couple of days to see if the glucose control improves! Whoohoo!

Oops! I forgot to mention something. I ate a large, oil & vinegar drenched, feta & tomato salad before the bucket of spuds. And someone might have left a bit of steak on their plate that I just had to have a taste of. In my defense, it was a grass-fed steak! And … about an hour after dinner … I had a big bowl of that raisin, nut & chocolate mix. With these really sweet, dried fig, mango & coconut balls. All covered in cream. I wonder if that did anything to the blood sugar! 🙂

I was also supposed to be on a one meal day fast, with dinner being the one meal. I guess it turned into three meals at dinner time. Is that okay, d’ya think!?!

Down 9.2 lbs.

More Spuds Please!

More Spuds Please!


Rabbit looks happy on a Plant-based Diet!

I’ve been doing this for years, no … decades, but the more I delve into the world of diet & weight loss, the more I think I’m just following Alice into some surreal place of delusion & horror. Pick any dietary regimen you like, say the ketogenic diets for our purposes here, and then do an internet search for something like the “benefits of keto diet”. That brings up about 6.9 million hits. Looking for the “dangers of keto diet” only brings back 353 thousand, or about 5% of the first lookup’s total. Now try something that most would think contrary to keto: search for the “benefits of plant based diet”. That kicks back 15.6 million results. Doing the opposite: “dangers of plant based diet” yields a list of 784 thousand items. Again about 5% against. I know, I know, I could have used an alternative word to “danger” but the point is that there is huge support for just about any semi-reasonable dietary philosophy out there. And a very similar push-back ratio to both, quiet different, programs.

Just for fun: “plant based vs keto diet” provided 3.5 million results, with most on the first couple of pages favouring the plant based diet.

Let try one more. A couple of searches on the benefits of fasting vs the dangers of fasting produced 463 million on the positive side, with 1.7 million on the danger side. Only 0.4% were negative.

Now this is awfully loose data so we can’t call it science, but it does suggest some questions …

  • Why is fasting, with that massive 463 million hits, that much more interesting to people?
  • And perhaps most importantly, is fasting better than the other diets because of that high interest AND that low negative response rate?

Now I’m not making my dietary decisions on these seagull-in-the-sky views of unexplored data but I think it’s tough to argue that there isn’t just a little lack of clarity out there. There’s a lot. Though regardless of the program, there seems to be a lot of optimism among supporters that it’s the right one. Could there be more than one right one?

Despite the enjoyment I get from reading about nutrition, diet & weight loss, sometimes, I think I’d rather just be thin & get on with my life! I have this horrible, teeth-grinding suspicion that the words of my grandmother will ring true one day & that I’ll then be preaching that old parable … everything in moderation! Though likely with one significant difference … the foods in my fridge & cupboards are not the same as were in hers back then.

And now I’m wondering why plant-based positives had almost two & a half times the number of keto!!! Oh Boy, here we go again! 🙂

Can You Out-feast a Fast?

Can You Out-feast a Fast?Dessert

You can! Or at least I can. And especially if I make poor food choices on an all-you-can-eat day, following a fasting day. But, of course, this is not the goal. If you’re mixing intermittent fasting with, say, a low carb diet that is working for you, then you should probably try to stick reasonably close to that low carb regimen when you decide to “fill ‘er up” on a feast day. You’ll eat a whole lot more but the menu should still, generally, adhere to the regimen that is working for you.

The beauty of fasting is that it can be very forgiving but don’t expect a minute by minute response on the scale. A big rib steak is going to sit in the tummy a little longer than a big bowl of salad. Both mind and body will look forward to a feast day. And you know you’ll just have to have dessert as part of it. Here’s a dessert I like to use on such a day. I know I should probably be heading off to the forest to pick wild nuts. And hacking down cacao pods to make my own chocolate. But I don’t! I buy a bag of Prana’s Kilimanjaro deluxe chocolate mix instead. Even the single raspberry came from a bag of frozen fruits. But I did pick the two mint leaves from my own garden. That’s counts for something, right!?! 🙂

The white stuff is 35% whipping cream, by the way. The other point of note is that my dessert is in a ramekin. Which I have to admit is a total con. I usually have my dessert in a large bowl or container! I should have gone with the bigger serving yesterday too because the smell of fresh baking brownies got to me later in the day. I stuck one of those bad boys in the bottom of a tall mug & covered it with frozen raspberries. Then I filled it to the brim with whipping cream. I really should listen to my own advice sometimes. Much though I enjoy it when I don’t.

Ah well, I wanted to try losing weight more slowly this time anyway! LOL

What on earth am I LOLing about, that’s just nuts. Or nuts & chocolate! LOL again!