Ginger Garlic Chinese Chicken

Bok Choy 5.7.13

Those of you who are with me on the low carb train know how difficult finding something acceptable to eat at Chinese restaurants. I’ve pretty much avoided going out for Chinese for the last year. There is usually some type of breading or coating on the proteins in the dishes and the sauces are full of sugars and/or corn starch. This was a difficult change for me…I loved spring rolls, crab rangoon, and the spicy/saucy goodness of most American Chinese foods!

So I got to work concocting a recipe that I could make in the comfort of my own kitchen. I came up with Ginger Garlic Chinese Chicken!!! It’s a nice blend of Asian spices and garlic-y goodness with a healthy portion of veggies.

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts
1-2 T coconut oil
1 head of bok choy chopped into uniform pieces
1 bunch of asparagus (approximately 1 lb.) chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
8 oz pre-sliced, pre-washed, ready to use white mushrooms
1/4 C soy sauce
2 t minced garlic
1 t Asian five spice seasoning
1 t ground ginger (I used the dried spice, but fresh is acceptable)
1/2 T dried basil
1 t red pepper flakes
artificial sweetener (this is subject to taste and I use liquid, which doesn’t add to the carb counts below)
xanthan gum (I used approximately 1 t…maybe 2)

Cut chicken into bite-size cubes. Sauté chicken in coconut oil until just cooked through. I added a splash of soy sauce and garlic during the cooking process. Remove from pan (either large cooking pot or wok). Add veggies, soy sauce, garlic, five spice seasoning, and ginger. When the vegetables are cooked through (with still some bite to them…we don’t want mushy veggies people!), finish the dish by adding the chicken back into the mix and add the basil, sweetener, and xanthan gum. You will find the sauce will thicken in about 2 minutes after adding the xanthan gum.

I get approximately 4-6 servings per batch.

Nutritional Information for entire entree:
calories: 1395      fat: 65 g     protein: 165 g     carbohydrates: 51 g     fiber: 21 g
net carbs: 30 g

The Dreaded Airplane

Airplane 4.13.13

I recently reserved my flight to go back home for a family reunion in July. I am absolutely ecstatic to spend some good, quality time with the fam…especially with the arrival of my newest nephew coming in June! However, I am having flashbacks to one of the last times I flew on an airplane.

It was such a horrible and embarrassing experience. As I sat in the terminal waiting to hear the announcement that it was time to board my flight, an airline employee tapped me on my shoulder and asked to see me at the counter. When I got to the desk, the woman informed me that I needed to buy a second ticket. Due to my size, I was being asked to purchase a second seat “…for the comfort and safety of yourself and other passengers.” I was assured that since the flight wasn’t full, I would be able to receive a full refund…if I filed the necessary paperwork.

Como say WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!?! I was too embarrassed to say anything than ok and handed the lady my credit card. I was given a second ticket that had “RESERVED” printed in big, bold, black letters. I was told to sit it on the seat next to me so no one would sit next to me.

When it came time to board, I was given “special boarding privileges” and was one of the first people to enter the cabin. I sat next to the window and placed my “RESERVED” ticket on the seat next to me. As the plane filled, more and more passengers who were traveling together looked to sit in my row, but quickly moved on when they saw my “special” ticket. I was so ashamed and set my gaze out the window. I avoided eye contact with passengers and crew.

When I got home and reflected on my experiences I became angry. I thought, “How dare they do that to me?!” Then I started say the most horrible things to myself…calling me names and telling myself really hurtful things. Even though this was such a traumatic experience, it still wasn’t enough to make me want to change. Instead, things got worse. It was like I wanted to “show” them…you think I’m too fat to fly??? Well, just wait! I’ll show you what fat really is!

No, I didn’t really say or think that explicitly, but I remember feeling that way. Needless to say, I have some reservations about flying this summer because I realized after getting my confirmation that this flight is with the same airline. Thankfully I’m quite a bit lighter than when this event happened, but it will definitely be a test!

I don’t want to give fear power over my choices anymore. I will continue to move forward.

What I “Get” To Eat

alexfoodpyramid

Most of the time, when someone goes on a “diet,” there is this self-sacrificing mentality. “I have to give up this and that and those!” Sure, I removed wheat, sugar, and some high starch vegetables from my diet, but the list of acceptable foods is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer than the list of no-no’s.

When many people change their food lifestyle, especially when they are “forced” to do so due to medical issues, the focus is placed on what they will be missing out on. Don’t get me wrong, I have thrown a few pity parties due to the choices I’ve made to remove certain foods from my diet, but then I remember all of the delicious foods I can still have. Nope, I can’t have popcorn anymore, which was one of my favorite snacks and has been the most difficult to find a replacement snack that is acceptable. And I really miss fruit…pineapple, apples, kiwi, peaches/nectarines, plums…the list can go on for quite a while. Popcorn and fruit…my only foods I truly miss. Although I can’t eat these right now, I can slowly add them back into my diet eventually.

So what do I do when I wish I could have popcorn??? Well, for a little while pork rinds drizzled with butter was my snack of choice. It worked for a while. I got the buttery crunch I was looking for, but it just wasn’t the same. Eventually I succumbed to the fact that there isn’t a substitute and instead stocked my cupboards with other options. I love almonds and can have these tasty treats in moderation. I love all of the fun flavors available now…cocoa roasted, wasabi soy, smoked, salt and vinegar…yum!

I guess the point of this post is to remind you and me to stay positive. Don’t focus on the “can’t haves.” Focus on the “can haves!” Life is way too short to get hung up on the short list of things I can’t have. Last week (March 6, 2013), I reached my one year anniversary of starting this journey. I would have never made it this far if I hated what I was eating! If I dreaded my food choices there would have been no way to stick with it for so long. I am living a life I can ENJOY and I don’t feel deprived!

So What the Heck Am I Doing?

steak1

I’ve had several people ask me what I’ve been doing as far as diet. I’m going to be clear that what I’m doing is NOT dieting. I have chosen a new way of life. I have a new way of eating (WOE). I truly believe these changes I have made will be for a lifetime.

I subscribe to the Atkins way of life. This is a low-carb/high fat diet (I’m using diet here to describe what my meals consist of…not a weight loss program). Currently I’m in Induction (Phase 1), which is pretty restrictive as far as acceptable foods. I have cut wheat and sugar completely out of my diet. I avoid high carb vegetables such as carrots, peas, potatoes, and corn. Right now, fruit is a no-no due to the sugar content, however I will be adding berries back to my acceptable foods in later phases.

Protein is my friend and I make sure that there is a solid source of protein included in all of my meals. Some of my favorite sources of protein are chicken breast, steak, bacon, and sausage. It is scientifically proven that protein keeps our appetites at bay for longer periods of time. Good fats also help with satiation. I get fats from butter (yes, butter is completely accepted and encouraged on the program!), mayonnaise, oils (coconut, extra virgin olive, etc.), and salad dressings.

Notice I stated this is a LOW-CARB, not a NO CARB diet. Currently I am allowed 20 Net Carbs each day. There is an equation to figure out Net Carbs, which is easy. Looking at the food nutrition labels, take the number listed for Carbohydrates and subtract the number listed for Fiber. This number is the Net Carbs for a food item. 12-15 of my Net Carbs come from vegetables from the Acceptable Foods list. A good portion of my meals include veggies…even breakfast! I will be adding other foods into my diet as I move to Phase 2. I’ve been toying with the idea of moving to the next phase, but right now I’m good with where I’m at in my journey. I know that in order for me to maintain this WOE for the rest of my life, I need to relearn how to include higher carb foods in my diet.

Low-carb “diets” get a bad reputation, but when people see my meals and how I eat, they comment on how healthy and colorful my plate is. If people learn how to eat low-carb the “right” way, there is nothing dangerous or unhealthy about the plan. I tried other diets, such as Weight Watchers. I was constantly hungry and I felt deprived. The worst part was that I worked my but off counting points and exercising and I hardly lost anything. I’m in no way saying that WW is a horrible diet, I’m just saying that it’s definitely not for me. I encourage people to do what works for them. For me, I prefer butter, bacon, and cheese! I love that I can have these rich foods and I don’t have to feel bad about any of it!