Instant Pot Hearty Beef and Tomato and Mushroom and Radish Soup

Hey Peeps. Last time I posted I was deep into ketosis. I screwed that up but I’m back at it with a new plan with some big changes. Not ready to get into all that yet, but I *did* slap together a decent recipe I’d like to add to my collection.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Lbs. stew meat
  • 4 – 14.5 oz. cans Hunt’s Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 16 oz. dry weight canned mushrooms – pieces and stems
  • 3 bunches of red radishes
  • 1 teaspoon of ‘Better than Bouillon’ beef flavored
  • 6 shakes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6 shakes of salt
  • A glug or two of olive oil

This took maybe 10 minutes to prep. Open cans, open meat packages, drain mushrooms, chop radishes from their stems – a lot of work. I tossed all of this into my Instant Pot, added the salt, Lea & Perrins, the bouillon paste then put the top on the pot, made sure the little lever was set to pressurize, then pressed the ‘meat/stew’ button on the pot and walked away. Didn’t bother to vent when it beeped it was done – just let it depressurize naturally.

An hour later I was left with a ‘hearty soup’ as the kid characterized it. I thought it tasted pretty good. Then came the kid test. She added some additional spices to it though I didn’t feel the need, and had it with some crusty toasted bread with butter on it. Said she enjoyed it, mentioned how tender the meat was, and went back for more, then used the bread to mop up the final bit of soup.

The only thing I would change is next time I’d add another 1.5 Lb. package of stew meat.

Fun fact: did you know that red radishes turn white in the pressure cooker? I didn’t. Told the kid they were potatoes as she might have put her nose up to radishes.

Trader Joe’s Hearts of Palm Pasta is the low carb noodle I thought could never be

When I do the mental math that goes into my food choices, a number of variables are analyzed:

Keto-friendly – I am not so strict as I only go for 1 gram carb or less per serving foods. I’ll live a little and have found that eating things with way more carbs can keep me in ketosis while stuff with fewer carbs can knock me out. Red wine, for example, is keto-friendly for me. It screws with weight loss but doesn’t knock me out of ketosis.

Cost – Pretty important these days. I’ll probably die poor but then again there’s real benefit in dying before the money runs out. I don’t require much in the way of ‘things’. I’ve dined in Paris and had gourmet meals in the Caribbean, but I can still appreciate a good bologna sandwich on white bread. This makes me a pretty cheap date. I DO still live bathed in the echoes of my parent’s stories of growing up in the Depression and I tend to be choosy about where I spend my money.

But then I remember ‘don’t postpone joy’ and ‘the richest man in the graveyard’. These opposing ideas battle one another and sometimes it’s no contest and other times there is a grudging cold war that lingers everytime I buy some stuff.

Flavor – I rank this third because – as I said – I like bologna sandwiches on white bread. Perhaps you could say I have an ‘eclectic palate’ – or that I lack discrimination or have the palate of a dog. Mentioning I like bologna sandwiches made a friend of mine the same age as me go: ‘ewwwwww’. Another aspect of this is I am accepting of ‘variations in flavor/texture profile’ that throw other folk. Some people operate in a world where food has a name, a flavor/texture profile, and a look that must remain consistent or they will avoid that food. Me? Not so much.

The ILF (Inherent Laziness Factor) – How much time, effort, and cognitive burden must be put into prepping this? This is a scale of 1 through 10 with the highest number being better. Recipes that contain the line ‘…in a separate bowl…’ are a 5 or less just for that. A great recipe to me leaves little or nothing to wash. The phrase ‘…in one pot/pan…’ can be high as an 8.5 but no higher because it involves actual cooking.

A 10 would be ‘eating the food nearest to me’ which right now is Trader Joe’s Macadamia Nuts which would actually be less than a 10 because I have to find and open a new bag.

I made a chili early in the week, ordered all the ingredients online, browned the beef in the pot that I threw all my ingredients in, even using the chili mix instead of the spices we have, and let simmer for an hour. It was an 8.5 because there WAS a pot to clean, and a few cans to be opened and disposed of.

You might be wondering why you just read all that (and if you got this far, me, too) but it is my subconscious (up until now) scoring system for low carb food substitutions.

So let’s analyze the IHF of the Trader Joe’s Hearts of Palm Pasta (Linguine-shaped).

My heart be still…

The stuff is shelf-stable, next to the regular pastas in the store, and is essentially already cooked pasta that doesn’t need to be washed nor drained. It doesn’t clump or stick. The biggest hassle might be finding a knife to open the bag and maybe untangling a portion with a fork.

Compare this to the shiritaki noodles that come floating in water and need to be washed – only to provide a paltry amount of slightly slimy and chewy noodles. I’ve had access to them but they need to be refrigerated and, really, they weren’t worth the hassle.

Then there’s zoodles – zucchini sliced into a noodly shape with various gadgets – all of which work poorly and can even draw blood. I have used the ‘Sweeny Todd’ of the kitchen – a mandoline – an insidious kitchen tool designed from the get-go to ensure all motions with the gadget include you moving your fingers toward the sharpened blades.

With a combo of bloody experience, even if you navigate the device without blood-letting you are left with a some extra bits that tempt you to risk blood by pushing them through the gadget, and a pile of noodle-shaped zucks that you can’t use just quite yet. To use them to their best effect you want to pat them dry on some clean dishtowels and let them dry out for an afternoon. Then, you can create some tasty dishes with the stuff.

For this Hearts of Palm ‘pasta’ I cut the bag open and microwaved for 2 minutes, then dressed the top with pasta sauce, olive oil, and butter, then gave it another 2-minute or so go-round in the nuke.

Mixed afterward and covered liberally in the grated cheese in a can, I had a pasta dinner in 5 minutes – faster than if I made actual pasta. This stuff rates the rarest of the rare ILF of 10. Now Chef Boyardee canned ravioli also rates a 10 but it’s not low carb.

But the ILF is not the only thing that matters or I’d be eating the canned ravioli. Is it keto-friendly?

It sure is. The entire 9 oz. package has only 8g net carbs for goodness’ sake! It’s also filling in that I was ready to eat the entire 9oz. but only ate half last night. I think other than coffee, cream, and wine, it was the only caloric intake for the day as I’ve drifted into a one or two meal a day routine. Again – not paying too much attention to what I eat as long as it’s keto in my book – and measuring ketones and blood glucose today show blood glucose at about 106 and ketones at 1.0 – which is better than a number of days I’ve had prior.

The cost is pricy for pasta – $4 per 9oz. – but it’s not ‘pasta’, first of all, and it’s not meant to be an everyday meal. So is it worth $4? I guess this is where the flavor of it comes in.

And for flavor, it does pretty good. It is not the perfect pasta replacement but it’s damn near the closest I’ve come across. It has an almost al dente texture to it, and with pasta sauce and the other stuff you top pasta with, it is close enough.

Oh – and it’s supposedly healthy for you. Vegan, gluten-free, high-fiber. It’s even harvested in such a way that the plant that provides the noodles somehow survives the extraction, I guess like maple trees and their syrup, bees and their honey, and fruit trees. Note that I do not include ‘healthy’ in my ranking system because I find it so tiresome. Someone, somewhere, will turn up an obscure fact that a molecule found in Hearts of Palm can do something to something that can cause some people to have some reaction some time over some number of years.

Ugh! Get over it. We’re all gonna die. Life is full of bad decisions and we’ll gleefully make them willingly and unwillingly. Have some pasta and relax.

Since I don’t have a plan I’ll ask you

So I’m about 3 weeks into ketosis and at one point had probably lost about 15 lbs. from my worst to where I’m close to 10 lbs now. I lost the weight not really paying attention to what I ate, except that it came from a long list of what can be considered ‘low carb’. This can be an Atkins shake, some sliced salami, hot dogs with cheese, beef chili, and bologna.

A vegetable or two did creep in. A kid’s party resulted in 2 side salads that I ate the other day but it was just to prevent food waste mostly. Nothing really carby on these two – mostly iceberg lettuce. I haven’t really left the low carb ranch at all.

But here I am at day 21 or something like that and I have a decision to make. But I’m NOT on day 21 of anything! If you’ve read some of my recent previous posts, I didn’t intend to start a keto diet – it just sort of happened.

Since I don’t want to ask this question of myself, dear reader, I ask you: I have come to a fork in the road.

Do I keep using the keto blood tests instead of the scale as my guide? Do I let my ketones guide me – scale be damned – or do I expend the effort to ‘dial in my macros’ – and start to follow my eating so that every gram of carbs is tracked and their origin is also tracked so that I can define my low carb food triggers and accelerate weight loss? Do I monitor it it so that I determine that carbs from bologna are worse than those from olives? Or vice versa for me?

Or do I just tell myself: ‘meh – you can’t fake ketosis – if you’re in it and you’re not stressed out, don’t worry about weight. It might take 5 years – you don’t care. It isn’t the scale you’re bound to – it’s the ketones.

And even if you never lose the weight, it’s OK. It’s all about the ketones.

Which one?

Somethin’s happenin’ here

Here’s where I’m at. Since I last wrote I got COVID-19, and I got Paxlovid.

And I’m still in ketosis.

And my weight went from like 308 or 309 to about 293. Now I don’t know how long I’ve been on a diet – heck – like I said, it’s not as if I started a diet but rather fell into a diet. I could probably dig up the exact numbers but the thought bores me.

I’m also not really tracking what I eat. Mostly meat and cheese. Some veggies and sausages, burgers and cheese, some eggs, an Atkins shake here and there, and of course coffee and cream. There’s also been some wine – not too much as the Paxlovid can hammer on the liver and I would like to keep it running for at another decade at least.

As to the rest of my life I haven’t changed routines much – more that my routines have changed in the way I respond to them. As I mentioned, I was a doom-scroller, going from link to link, watching the end of the World unfold in 20 different ways at the same time in between Ads for shoes and odd industrial equipment that the ad-bots think I might purchase for some reason (no thank you, I do not need a manometer).

But I am numb to it. I read the news. I understand it. But it doesn’t touch me anymore. I have some intense pressure in work, but there I am also calm. Or numb. Despite some catcalls from the crowd at the moment, I’m performing. I’m present (at least now that I am over the worst of the COVID that is), I have to make things happen, I have to have ideas, and have the passion to convey them to others, but it’s almost as if I am doing it by remote control.

Going back to the food, while I have been surrounded by things I can’t eat, there’s not much of an impact on my psyche. I was eating a lot of takeout and I just…stopped. I’ve even gotten the kid takeout and it really didn’t register.

This all feels, well, unusual. This total noncommittment – a lack of investment in things I felt invested in just recently – makes me wonder: is this the beginning of Mild Cognitive Decline? The first steps on the slippery slope to vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s? Am I beginning ‘the long goodbye’?

Then I think to myself: gee, this seems a deep look at the notion that one might be losing one’s mind – losing one’s grasp on what a diet is supposed to be, what is going on in the world, and in my job, and in the rest of my life – is this the type of thinking that comes along with a cognitive decline? Do people in decline have such thoughts?

Or could this be some transition I am going through where I shed some of my Ego and ease into my 60s leaving behind some of the earnestness – or something else I can’t put my finger on – and just stop fighting some things? Like the diet. Like turning 60 soon. Like the world going to Hell.

Being in Ketosis for a few weeks isn’t it – I’ve found it can lead to personality change before – certainly a calmness from stable blood sugar at least – but I felt this way prior to starting the diet.

Might, despite my overthinking, it be the beginning of somthing as simple as spending a lifetime overthinking only to actually finish?

As simple as the answer to the old joke: why did the chicken cross the road? Or is even that not really as simple as it appears?

Gluttony – a scene from the movie ‘The Loved One’

I am supposed to be working but I woke up with a head cold and brain fog (COVID home test read negative) so I have been wasting my time just surfing the web – but focusing on diets / low carb / being fat = anything but the news. I have gone on a ‘news diet’ before and while I might be uninformed, it does wonders for my mental health.

So I’m surfing around and I came across one of the most bizzare scenes from a bizzare movie from 1965 called ‘The Loved One’. It was marketed as ‘The motion picture with something to offend everyone’. There is no nudity or swearing, but this absurdist satire about the funeral industry with an all-star cast for the 1960s is certainly offensive in so many ways – this is only 3 minutes from a full-length movie – the entire movie has scenes equally…well, whatever you want to label this.

If art is supposed to elicit a response that lasts beyond your initial exposure to it, this is art. It is also disturbing in a way I cannot describe. It’s not ‘ha-ha funny’ – satire isn’t like that. I think of satire as being cut with a blade so sharp you don’t feel the cut and only notice it when you see blood.

With THAT intro I will not be offended if you quit reading here. I’ll bet most of you have never heard of this movie. And you might not want to watch the link that follows.

What this particular scence is doing on this blog is portraying ‘gluttony’. We the fat know that many of us are still fat despite portion control and exercise – but this clip is what many thin folks think of when see how much we weigh.

How to Make Sure You Fail On Your Diet (repost)

I’m doing something I never really did before: reading my own posts to see if they have any value to me now. It’s a great substitute for reading the news – that’s for sure.

I came across this snarky number from 2014 and though it dovetails nicely with my post on how I might fail this time around. Some good pointers on ensuring failure.

So how am I going to fail on my diet THIS time?

I didn’t wake up one day, jump out of bed, and exclaim to the heavens: ‘Today is the first day of my new diet!’ As I mentioned, there was no committment, No burst of excitement of a fresh start. I can’t even telly you what day I started. I just started weaning myself off of carbs gradually and over the past cuple of days I’ve had ketone measurements of 2.2 – which is pretty high – and blood glucose as low as 92 – which is amazingly low for me.

The scale is NOT keeping in sync with the dramatic numbers above. I am hovering at 300lbs. and no dramatic moves.

But because I didn’t start a diet as much as fall into one, and I don’t have any clearly defined goals, in a weird way I have insulated myself from failure. No goal means I can’t really fail on my diet – at least the weight loss aspect of it.

I feel better eating like this. The first month of ketosis can be a bit rocky and make you feel weird but carbs – the carbs I love – make me feel sick afterward.

So maybe my fate is to remain 300lbs. Maybe I eat keto to feel better. Maybe I eat keto to eat less in general and eat less crap at all. Maybe weight loss shouldn’t be the goal as much as health. Maybe one day the scale will start to be kind to me but blood glucose levels of 92 are also a good thing for a guy that with an entire family of diabetics. Neither parents nor siblings were spared. And the onset was in their 40s and 50s – and I am in my 60th year.

Maybe I take in too much arachidonic acid for Dave Brown’s taste, but despite this, my appetite lessens, cravings morph into something less severe and do not consume my time with food fantasies. My lovely daughter, God bless her, had me get pizza for her from the best pizza place in town and then waxed poetic abut how great their eggplant pizza is, maiking ‘nom-nom’ sounds as she ate. It only registered mildly.

We are not a house that normally stocks candy but a bag of different candies appeared out of nowhere and sits by the microwave where I heat up my coffee. It, too, doesn’t register too high in terms of desire or cravings.

I seemed a bit more hungry today and I had some steak, a lot of steak, actually, but I didn’t measure. Afterwards an Atkin’s shake. I’m hungry now but I’m thinking tomatoes on cheese rather than the leftover pizza.

So how am I going to fail this time? This is not negative thinking: this is engineering. When you build something, a good portion of the thought put into the design has to take in what the failure points might be and design out these failure points.

I am a ‘fan’ (if you can call it that) of failure analysis. How things break is fascinating to me. There’s a Reddit sub called r/catastrophicfailure where other failure geeks post pics and videos and some pretty smart people post there – though there is also a lot of stupid posts as well as some of the content is quite grim and disturbing so I don’t recommend it for kids or sensitive folks.

A lot of the questions are around failure points. Going back to my diet, why have I failed in the past? I think stress would weaken resolve, a lack of losing weight would make me double-down on counting and measuring what I ate (which I hate) and the cognitive burden would weaken resolve, and social events and the leftover goodies found at work nearly every day would also weaken resolve.

But if I am doing the diet because I feel better and didn’t start is as much as fall into it, and I work remote so no suprise goodies appear, will I fail for different reasons? Will I fail because I’m not being honest with myself and I really AM on a diet to lose weight and don’t know it yet? Am I doing it because the world is so out of control that this ritual makes me feel I am in control of something? Or is this just something to do out of boredom – a novelty from being bored and feeling slightly better than I did for 9 months?

I’m stumped at the moment. Any futurists out there want to predict where I’ll be a month from now?

Hi Folks – how’s it goin’?

As nobody visits anymore (fine by me) this will probably be seen by the few souls that subscribed some time long ago due to a momentary lapse of reason. Now here I am again, polluting your inbox. Sorry.

So how’s the pandemic/collapse of society treating you? Me – I can summarize: in spring of 2020 I went to the office for a meeting as the news of COVID began to build and one person at the meeting said: ‘This shit is getting real!’ He was right. 2020 was a shitshow, and so was 2021. 2022 is shaping up to make the previous 2 years look like the good old days. I didn’t catch COVID until late summer 2021. I was vaxxed and despite being fat and hypertensive, the symptoms were relatively mild. Low fever that came and went, fatigue, and my lungs hurt. I didn’t think COVID – I lived as a shut-in, worked from home, was lucky enough to afford having groceries delivered, and only ventured out to the local Trader Joe’s for a targeted visit with my mask on that lasted less then 10 minutes.

I did have a doc appointment and thought it rude to appear there without getting tested though I fully expected a negative. The test came back positive.

Went to the doc, explained the situation, and he recommended I see some specialists.

I pictured a series of appointments with various medical professionals stroking their Van Dyke beards going ‘hmmmmm…’ at my results – and recommending another friend/doctor for me to see.

Well after a month I had body aches, muscle aches, fatigue, and breathlessness – way more breathlessness than I had before COVID.

So I self-diagnosed I had ‘Long-COVID’, made a decision that doctors had no idea what to do about it – and did nothing.

So I worked and ate and slept. In my free time, I did a lot of doom-scrolling – which did wonders for my mental health.

And I ate whatever I liked.

Lots of takeout. Pizza was my favorite, then subs from Jersey Mike’s, then McDonalds. Last resort was Wendy’s as it was close and had a drive-thru so it was the least effort. I do not know how Wendy’s can claim to be better food than McDonald’s though – I think it sucks in comparison.

With this routine I packed on enough weight that my scale rated for 300lbs. would flash ‘WTF’ or something like that to tell me I was too fat for it so I didn’t have any feedback mechanism.

I had long ago ditched keto and occasionally checked my blood glucose, which oddly enough, was elevated but for the most part not bad. 120s – 140s – low, given my description of eating habits.

For more than 6 solid months a shower was an ordeal where I had to rest afterward before getting dressed. Going down stairs to get coffee and then coming up again would leave me winded for a few minutes.

I had no energy to cook, to clean, to do laundry. I did the bare minimum necessary for survival and an income.

But sometime in May I began to feel a little better. I didn’t need to take a nap for lunch anymore. I didn’t seem to need to spend 14 hours a day sleeping. Showers began to feel less or an ordeal again.

And things that I didn’t concern myself with began to bother me. Like not having a scale.

So with no plan other than to buy a scale I bought a scale. It was a no name brand, extra wide for fat folks, could handle hefties upt to 500lbs. and had big freakin’ glowing numbers.

That was good enough for me. I ordered for $40 and it was delivered May 24th.

The first time I weighed myself I was pleasantly suprised. I had thought given my eating habits I would be WAY above 300 but it said I was 309. 309 still sucks terribly but not as terribly as I imagined.

That was it: now I knew what I weighed. Time for bed.

I had been in a habit of weighing myself daily in my previous life and started that up. Still no plan to DO anything, but I weighed. I hovered around this number.

I started to notice however that I was paying more attention to what I was eating. The feedback alone made me more conscious of what I was eating and what I ate gradually lessened in quantity of junk as well as overall quantity. Still had pasta. Still had wine, but I skipped the 2 Big Macs – the second for only $1 more – which is a deal you do not pass up lightly. I bought a small fries instead of a large fries.

Then I found myself – a lover of bread in all its forms – putting in an order for delivery that had no bread. I still bought bologna – a comfort food I have lived on during the Pandemic – but I also bought the supposedly healthier chicken breast.

I soon found myself falling back into a keto diet. I suppose I am hard-wired after nearly 20 years of low carbing it to return to this way of eating.

I didn’t want to count shit and I didn’t have a plan – I just sorta avoided the stuff I knew to avoid and ate what I knew was ok. I suppose it looks like a kind of ‘dirty keto’ as there’s burgers and sausages and MiO and liquid Splenda and Atkins shakes. Not exactly ‘health food’.

I also maybe eat once or twice a day, thoough I still have my coffee with cream. I’ve even occasionally taken my supplement stack – which I had stopped

It might sound awful to you but I feel better. I love carbs but they make me feel sick – especially breads and pizza. If there is a Heaven their must be pizza and not that crap sold at the chains, but pizza made by real Italians that know how the fuck to make a good pie.

I’,m in ketosis now and have been for maybe a week. Again, I am tracking but not obsessing. I have keto sticks for blood testing (KetoMojo) that I thought I’d never use again – I’ve started and I’ve hit 1.8 mmol/ml. I’ve also hit the 300.0 mark on my no-name scale today – and I’ve recorded blood glucose measurements in the 90s.

My ‘diet’ is still an uneasured melange of chaos that circles keto – and maybe that’s were I should keep it for now. I’m not overthinking it. There is no ‘plan’. I’m avoiding bread, pasta, pizza, and other takeout. As the keto kicks in quick for me as I think my body is so conditioned to it that it just does it easier than most folk, the appetite is kinda dead and I might go a whole day without eating – only to grab something before going to bed after some wine.

Remember that I am a ‘stunt dieter’ – I don’t recommend you follow my advice on ANYTHING – except maybe one lesson learned here.

If you are having issues getting into the groove of a diet try weighing yourself every day. A LOT of people frown on this – I find it – perhaps even subconscoously – motivating.

At least it seems so now. How long all this lasts God only knows. I didn’t really intend to start a diet – it just sorta happened. I’m somehow detached from it all. I almost feel that what happens next isn’t up to me.

Weird, eh?

Father’s Day 2021

Just a quick update for Father’s day. The scale told me was down 6 lbs. in 3 days. My ketone meter says my ketones were up to 1.8 mmol/L – which is def in ketosis. My blood glucose was 98 in the afternoon. My older daughter, out of college and in her first real job, bought me a pair of Airpods Pro wireless earbuds and cooked me an Italian Chili Father’s Day meal. All of this made for a nice day.

As to what I ate: I had coffee and cream, of course, then mid afternoon I had some leftover stir fry without the rice. I gorged on a lot of celery spotted with beef as well as ground pork and Winter Melon. I did not count nor attempt to weigh – which admittedly caused me some anxiety.

Father’s Day dinner was a bowl of the aforementioned Italian Chili, accompanied with grated cheese and Ricotta cheese. It was mostly ground beef with an onion, garlic, mushrooms, frozen red peppers, olive slices, and some Rao’s Pasta Sauce. I not only enjoyded it, but my entire family did as well. They ate it with bread, which I skipped.

I had taken a nap in the afternoon as the first wave of ketone effects leave you tired physically but more mentally alert. I woke and despite my better judgement had a half cup of coffee. While I enjoyed it, it kept me awake well past 1am. Before finally conking out, I had a hankering for some bologna and cheese so had maybe 3 or 4 slices of bologna on a slice of cheese as my well-past-bedtime snack.