As I’ve said here before, I was a reluctant cook in the kitchen. Growing up, it just wasn’t my thing. However, when I became a mama, slowly there emerged a definite interest in preparing wholesome, delicious meals for my family. And just as I was getting used to a weekly rhythm that involved making my own bread and Friday night homemade pizza nights…life threw us a curve ball that forced me into a whole new relationship with my kitchen. When my daughter was two years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Suddenly, our favourite comfort foods became problematic as they spiked her blood sugars. High blood sugars required more insulin, which often resulted in plummeting lows. My poor girl was on an hourly roller coaster ride that made life for her, and all of us, tumultuous and miserable.
Fast forward to two years ago, and we are doing ever so much better following a low carb lifestyle that allows for steadier blood sugars for all of us. And you know? We don’t crave the sugar we are missing. We have found excellent recipes that are filling and satisfying and tasty…mostly from my friend, Carolyn Ketchum’s website All Day I Dream About Food, and from pinterest boards (see TypeOneGrit on pinterest). While many think giving up sugar in all forms (yes, that means no honey or maple syrup) and giving up rice, pasta, and potatoes means we are desperately boring and hungry all the time, we have learned to eat lots of protein and lots of high (good) fat foods. Our sugar substitute is stevia and erythritol (naturally occurring fermented sweetener) and generally it works quite well…though, I admit that some recipes just plain old taste too metallic for me and my kids. I collect the good recipes and make notes on what works…and throw out those recipes that leave a copper penny flavour in the mouth.
Because we don’t buy anything processed, I make everything from scratch, including bread, crackers, treats, granolas, cereals, pasta (egg noodles or zoodles from zucchinis). It is a tremendous amount of work, but so worth it when we see better blood sugars in my (too) sweet daughter. This past week, I made some old favourites and tried some new things…
Almond Joy Brownies from Carolyn Ketchum’s website, All Day I Dream About Food, here. A decadent treat for the kids with a rich brownie base and a coconut filling, topped with a chocolate glaze. So so yummy. I cut them up smaller than this as they are so rich, put them in the freezer and pull them out when needed.
Raspberry Kefir is so delicious. I have played around with water kefir recipes and made a yummy cream soda before (think vanilla flavouring!), but this fresh raspberry is so good when we are craving good garden food. I am still uncertain how the kefir affects Sunshine’s blood sugars, but I have read that the longer you ferment the kefir, the less carbs it contains. I am only letting her have a little here and there so I can figure that out.
Backyard Greens are my own recipe that I have been making for years. It is simply all the good greens from around our homestead, including nettles and dandelion leaves, as well as extra chard, spinach, kale and beet leaves from the garden. I dry them thoroughly, grind them up, and sprinkle them in everything from soups to chilis to lasagnas. We are coming to the end of last year’s batch, but I think we’ll pull through. If I run short, I can always buy some in bulk from our health food store in town.
Deviled Eggs are a staple in our house as they have no carbs at all. My husband is known for his amazing deviled eggs that have been a bit of a staple at potlucks for us, just so we know there is finger food for our kids to eat. One thing I notice is that Josh minces everything really small when he makes them, and this is his basic ingredient list : onions, pickled garlic, pickles, dried basil, mustard ,salt, and mayo.
Okay, okay….this isn’t food but it is in my kitchen. I made some sleeves for our cast iron pans this week as my kids are really getting into cooking and find the pans heat up so hot on our wood-fired cookstove. I dug up some old wool sweaters and within ten minutes had several sleeves for smaller hands to grab. The thing about wool is that you don’t need to serge the edges, just a simple running stitch up the side and they are good to go.
Rendered Lard is another staple in our pantry. We raise a good number of pigs in the warmer months and all that lard goes to good use when we saute just about anything. I have heard tell it is fabulous in pastry but we don’t eat wheat so I haven’t tried that. In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon advocates for lard over oils as there is 0% trans-fatty acids in good old fashioned lard. Yesterday, I made this batch and it will last us for almost 3 months, I reckon. Normally, I make it in the slow cooker on the counter but for some reason it was so smelly yesterday that I put it out on the porch in the slow cooker. Sometimes that happens when you heat it up too quickly. However, I checked it after it was solidified, and the intense smell has mellowed tremendously to a typical lard smell. One bit of advice for anyone rendering lard, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to keep it extra white.
Raspberry Energy Bombs are little bite sized treats we keep in the freezer. They are essentially coconut oil and coconut butter and raspberries (with a little stevia) and provide a dose of good, healthy fat before any form of exercise. So, if we go for a walk or play soccer or hike, an energy bomb helps keep the fuel tank topped up. A low carb diet relies on high protein and high (good) fat for energy rather than high carbs for energy. Also, when the kids are hungry, these energy bombs work to satiate the appetite for a good while. This particular recipe is a variation of the blackberry fat bombs from here.
And finally, fresh flowers adorn our dinner table once again! While Sunshine and I did indeed purchase the purple Cineraria as we were desperate for colour, the pussywillows were found on our walk to the river. Despite the heaps of snow, that are finally beginning to recede (!), there are still pussywillows to be found!