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It’s been two weeks of no carbs. What an interesting ride. I am not going to lie, there are a lot of foods I do miss. First of all, bee r–Liquid bread as I have heard it called, and the second tacos! My first craving, popcorn. At the mall with my son and he wanted some of that gourmet popcorn stuff. Damn it smelled so good. I didn’t have any though.
I made hamburgers for the family. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the hamburger patty, cheese, etc. I missed that burger setting inside a soft bun with mayonnaise, etc. nom. I am still good though, I am not close to giving this up.
So what is it that I am not giving up on? It’s a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children (1). Do I have epilepsy, no, but this is a life choice that I am making to be healthier and hopefully be able to maintain my weight better. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates (glucose). The body does this naturally by a process known as ketosis.
Ketosis is a state where the body gets it energy from ketones instead of glucose. Ketones are created from fats and glucose is provided by sugars and carbohydrates. There is a lot of information about a ketogenic diet, my main source is the keto sub reddit. I highly recommend you start with the FAQ.
So why did I chose this? There were two main reasons. The first is that I know someone who has been following the diet for six months and has done quite well on it. Not only has there been weight loss, but a great up-tick in available energy. The second is that my doctor had instructed me to cut out all bakery goods. I had slight high cholesterol and blood pressure and he mentioned that glucose created by the breads, etc. can increase cholesterol in the body. This information and all that I have read about a low carb, high fat diet prove to me that this is worth doing. Plus, since I am not a sweets person, eating meat, leafy vegetables, and fats are all the things I really enjoy eating. This is what has made this new way of eating so easy for me.
So, how are the results, well, flat. Though this is somewhat expected, especially since I lost a weekend on two weeks into this. It was a company outing and there was much whiskey involved. 🙂
Over the first week I lost 8 pounds (I suspect water weight) and a noticeable slimming in my face. I have stayed pretty stable at this weight the rest of the time. Even after that weekend, I returned to that weight the next day.
I started this with the thought of how I felt in one month. If things are going well I will continue, if not I will reanalyze things.
How have these last few weeks gone? Besides being a bit tired (which is more that a lack of sleep than anything else) this Keto Flu everyone talks about has not bothered me. I get the occasional headache, but that is about it. Perhaps my reading and keeping electrolytes up is keeping it away. Of course I am also worried I am doing it all wrong and not achieving Ketosis at all! Since Keto flies in the face of what doctors have told us to do since the 60’s there is always the worry, if you do this wrong you will mess yourself up. The science doesn’t lie, I will be fine.
There is noting special about this recipe, I am only recording it because it turned out awesome. It stared with a ham shank bone left over from a ham dinner the family ate. It was a Cook’s spiral cut ham, hickory smoked and not glazed. I used whole cloves when warming the ham; I love cloves in ham, the wife does not, what does she know about flavor? Can’t believe we were fighting over such a thing. She didn’t even eat any left-over sandwiches. Anyway, I only mention the cloves because I strongly feel they add another layer of goodness to this soup.
I kept the bone and part of the ham which was not sliced by Cook’s machines. I put it in a plastic bag right away after carving up the shank to ensure I had it for the soup. There was a good chunk of meat and skin, oh the flavor that brings.
On soup making day I gathered the following fresh materials:
1 Lbs split peas
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 cups of chicken stock (Used Swanson in a box)
4 cups of cold tap water
1 can Swanson vegetable broth (almost 2 cups)
2 tsp dry Thyme
2 tsp cumin
3 dry bay leaves (Loral leaves)
1 large white (baking potato)
2 red potatoes
fresh ground pepper
In a 8 quart stock pot I began by melting the two table spoons of butter. Once melted I threw in the onions, carrots and celery. I topped them with a heavy pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. I turned down the heat to medium low, as I am just sweating the vegetables, I don’t want them to brown.
While the vegetables were doing their thing, I minced up the garlic, turned back and stirred the vegetables, and continued to mince the garlic. Nothing like multitasking. Once the vegetables started to soften and the onions were more translucent I through in the garlic and stirred it in. I let that cook for a minute or so.
The pound of split peas need to be inspected for rocks and other debris (what a strange word spelling). Once clear of crap, rinse well using a strainer.
The vegetables are looking good, so I throw in the peas and stir them in. I remove the big chunk of ham off of the bone (the part which wasn’t sliced by Cook’s). There is still ham on the bone, which is right next to the bone. This meat will appear stringier. Leave this ham on, it needs to cook in the soup. Place the bone in the pot.
I poor the four cups of chicken broth in along with the four cups of cold tap water. The bone is still sticking out of the broth a bit, so I throw in a can of vegetable broth. That looks better. A little stir and everything is covered up.
Time for spices. Damn, only pieces of bay leaf left. I find six of the larger pieces (so they are easier to pick out later) and throw them in. I am assuming it’s about three whole leafs. Thyme, need some thyme, where the heck is it. Can’t remember when I cooked something with Thyme. Oh there it is, way back in the cupboard (another strange spelling for a word). Hmmm, this stuff looks a little old. I dump about two teaspoons in my palm and rub my hands together hoping I can get a little something out of this old stuff. The smell is stronger, I think that will work. Hey look, cumin, I like cumin, lets dump some in. I dump about one-half table spoon of cumin in the pot.
Ah, now that looks like some good soup. I turn up the heat and stir it a bit more. Time to get this sucker up to a boil. Once boiling, I stir again, turn the heat all the way down and put on the cover.
The soup needs to simmer like this for one hour. There really isn’t a reason to sir it, though it can’t hurt to do it two or three time during the hour.
The hour is up, so I pull the bone out and remove all the meat from it I can. I don’t too crazy, as I have a good chuck of meat that I saved earlier. Once de-meated, I throw the bone back in, just in case there is any flavor it may have left to give up for us.
I cut up the meat I removed from the bone and then grab, the still cold, meat that was kept earlier (the part not cut by Cook’s spiraling equipment). I cut this meat up into cubes, about three-eights in size. I remove some of the larger chunks of fat, but keep some. I also keep the skin on many of the pieces. All good flavor.
Once the meat is cut-up, I peal and cut the potatoes into one-half inch pieces. I just throw all thi sin the same bowl waiting to go into the pot.
It’s been about a half hour since I took the meat off the bone. I go fishing for it again and remove any soup stuff which may be sticking to it. The bone goes in the trash and all the cut up meat and potatoes goes into the pot. While stirring this in the soup seemed to have cooked down a lot. So I throw in another two cups of water. After doing that, one probably would have been enough, but too late now. Still looks great, nonetheless.
I turn up the heat to get the soup back up to a boil. There are a lot of heavy items in the soup now, all of the cooked peas and those potatoes. If I am not careful, I could easily burn this stuff sitting on the bottom. So it is a good idea to keep an eye on things and sir that stuff up off the bottom every once in a while. Once the soup is getting back to a boil (just a few bubbles, I see the stuff moving) I turn the flame back down to low and stir that stuff up off the bottom. I cover up the pot and let the potatoes cook and the ham get hot.
After about another half hour, it was done. I took the cover off, gave it a good stir and let it sit for a while. That soup looked tired from all that cooking.
twenty minutes later I poured a bowl, fell in love and decided to write it all down. Boy I hope I can do this again as well.
Disclaimer: If you follow these measurements like the gospel your soup will probably suck. There is as much gut-feeling as there are measurements into making a good soup. Don’t keep doctoring it, and just let it do it’s thing.
By the way, I got the recipe idea for this soup from four other recipes. I just took the pieces I wanted and used them. Soup rules are so simple 🙂