Recipe: 5-Minute Pork Belly with Egg

While I am still trying to navigate what my new approach to low carb will look like (see previous post), my diet still centers around the notion of very high fat and few carbs as possible. This recipe fits the bill in spades.

Trader Joe’s, the eccentric grocery chain in the US, sells pre-cooked pork belly. It’s slow-cooked before packaging which makes preparing it quick and convenient. I warmed it up earlier in the week for the family but there were other things at the meal and it went mostly uneaten, so now I had a half-pound of pork belly to use up.

This morning I was hungry so I whipped up the following:

  • 2 ounces cooked pork belly, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 4 shots Tabasco sauce

Prep was simple: as the pork belly is so fatty there is no need for butter or other oils. Placed in a hot frying pan, the belly releases enough oil to cook the egg. After throwing the egg in, I scrambled them together. Total time cooking was less than 5 minutes and the time from coming up with the thought to sitting down to eat was less than 10 minutes.

(I still have to clean up, but I don’t want to think about that right now.)

The verdict? This was WAY better than I imagined. I thought I was going to get an OK meal and use up some leftovers before they went bad; instead, I got this really tasty dish that I really enjoyed – enough so that I took the time to add it as a recipe to my Lose It! diet web app and post it here.

I also have some nutrition information, if you track that sort of stuff:

Calories: 367
Fat: 35 grams (87% of calories)
Carbs: 0 grams (0% of calories, of course)
Protein: 11 grams (13% of calories)

It was so good that after eating I wanted to make another serving, but I restrained myself for that 15-minute window we supposedly have for satiety signals to reach the brain and by then I felt full enough that I didn’t need a second helping.

This is a perfect meal for people trying to get into induction or ketosis or whatever you like to call it, and at 87% of the calories coming from fat, a great meal if you are attempting a ‘fat fast’.

Advertisements

The April Fool Day 8: 225.0

The April Fool Day 8: 225.0

Down almost 5 pounds from one day of restraint. Blood glucose 101 without medication (I always forget that pill). Black coffee in the AM, though I had some Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee instead of my organic stuff and my stomach rebelled. I used to live on the stuff and now I can only handle the organic stuff? I’m such a wuss nowadays.

I had to eat to deal with the stomach-ache so had the usual Fage Yogurt and EZ-Sweetz, then the last of the burgers I cooked over the weekend with American cheese and LC ketchup. Felt better after that.

The rest of the day was NOT one of restraint – but it WAS low carb. Circumstances led me to eat almost a bag of pork rinds during the car ride home, as well as some of the cheese I had bought to work. As my wife had an evening meeting at work, I took the kids to that American institution found in abundance in the area surrounding New York City: a Greek Diner. They are typically run by Greek emigrants and their extended families and while each is independent, the families are tight and know each other. There’s a good example not far from my home and the kids love it. It is a quintessential American regional thing. The food is not Greek but rather a large variety of fare for all tastes, though you can find Mousaka – which is a casserole that kind of reminds me of lasagna, but with eggplant, potatoes and sometimes nutmeg. The exact recipe varies greatly depending on the cook, so it always a treat to try the different variations. I always think that the owners enjoy serving it because it’s a personal dish – one reflective of their culture – though I think my mousaka-sampling days are over. Like I said: while it’s a ‘Greek Diner’, unlike other ethnicities, they don’t serve a lot of food from their culture: they cater to their clientage and the menu is more typical American.

We all ordered breakfasts. The kids got pancakes and omelettes. I got eggs over easy with sausage and bacon. It always comes with ‘home fries’ – potatoes sliced thin and lightly fried – and toast. I gave these to the kids and just ate the eggs, bacon and sausage.

The portions are large and although the kids were hungry, they both ate themselves into a food coma, almost falling asleep, far from done. I was pretty much in the same situation. We wrapped up the extras and brought the rest home. The kids were soon asleep as so was Dad. I had tried reading but soon nodded off.

I had drunk a lot of coffee and water and had eaten a lot – but it was all high-fat, little carbs. Unlike the other day where I ate a lot, I slept like a baby WITHOUT waking up choking from my own gastric juices.

It was a clear personal demonstration that it wasn’t the quantity that caused the GERD – it was the food.

Perhaps I need to embrace the thinking that rather than low carb being a choice, it has become a non-negotiable aspect of my life – like the glasses I now need to be able to read. While it would be nice to eat whatever I want, if that’s not possible, low carb is a damn fine consolation prize. The food might be restricted and leave out a lot of goodies, but what you can have can be thought of as supremely decadent – at least by the likes of two generations of fat-phobic Americans.

Day 5: Saturday, April 5, 2014 – 224.5

It was only while cleaning up the kitchen that I realized my fall from low carb grace was worse than I recalled in yesterday’s post. I had hit the baked ziti hard – and some brioche also disappeared down my gullet.

Perhaps I’m doomed to remain this weight. Perhaps I am a victim of ‘False Hope Syndrome’:

People appear to behave paradoxically, by persisting in repeated self-change attempts despite previous failures. It is argued, though, that self-change attempts provide some initial rewards even when unsuccessful. Feelings of control and optimism often accompany the early stages of self-modification efforts. In addition, unrealistic expectations concerning the ease, speed, likely degree of change, and presumed benefits of changing may overwhelm the knowledge of one’s prior failures. It is thus important to learn to distinguish between potentially feasible and impossible self-change goals in order to avoid overconfidence and false hopes leading to eventual failure and distress.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11466595)

I don’t seem to get all that distressed over my failures, however. Is this a positive thing or a negative thing though? Am I I determined or just a fool? Is the success I’ve had in the past unattainable now? Do I simply lack the cohones I once had too pull it off again? Have I retired from the kind of effort needed to take off 40 pounds and am just too stupid to know it? Should I call it quits on a 10-year low carb run and find a new diet? Or maybe just walk away from the gaming table with my winnings: down 35 pounds for a decade is still an achievement. Buy new clothes that fit at this size, shut down this blog and maybe start a new one about Fasciest Homeowner’s associations? Mine just sent me 30 pages of regulations on how often I should mow my lawn, how often I should water it, as well as the maximum lawn height: 4.5 inches. The document gently warned: ‘inspections will be made.’

If somebody comes to my house with a ruler to measure the height of my lawn I am going to spray them with a hose.

I decided to say to hell with the diet for the day. I had a Panera souffle with some eggs and toast early afternoon after cleaning the kitchen. Herein lies a big problem with saying to Hell with the diet – even if I don’t lose weight: I feel the difference. Afterward I was real tired and ended up taking a nap.

I woke late afternoon and the wife wanted to go to The Bonefish Grill (she had a coupon). I had never been there, but decided I would order whatever I felt like. We had a great appetizer of shrimp and scallops in a gooey cheese sauce with flatbread, then they brought a nice loaf of hot bread with pesto sauces to the table – then a second because the table devoured it. My main course was a seafood-stuffed tiliapa with au gratin potatoes which was washed down with 2 martinis until I switched to water. My younger daughter had fallen asleep before her main course came – a tempura fish and chips and I must say the few bites stolen of this stuff proved this to be a very good take on the classic dish.

Full to bursting from the meal we all went home and went straight to sleep, though I was thirsty and had no less than 2 big tumblers of almond milk and another glass of water.

I paid for my wanton transgression with indigestion that woke me a couple of times. The fire could only be put out by a few Tums each time.

I can’t eat like most normal people – nor can I seem to stick to my diet. Checkmate.

Day 4: Friday, April 4, 2014 – 223.0 – The Flub

Day 4: Friday, April 4, 2014 – 223.0

Things were going well. Cheese, a burger, low carb ketchup, a Fage yogurt. All to plan.

And then they weren’t.

As a two-income household, teo long commutes, two kids, no maids nor nannies, having th breathing room for a sit-down meal is an infrequent occurrence. As both kids were asleep, tired from the day’s activities, that meant my wife and I could dine alone – an even more unusual occurrence.

She wanted me to open a bottle of wine for her. She’s a light drinker. I thought the rareness of the occasion might allow me to bend my rule and have a glass of wine with her.

Bad move.

The meal itself was fine: some hot Italian sausage stir-fried with broccoli rabe along with a small lobster tail that was on sale. She had a side of Quinoa with corn – I steered clear of it.

It was all very nice. Due to homework issues I pulled the plug on the TV and the house was quiet. We drank our wine and ate our meals and talked and I was quite satisfied.

Relaxed.

She didn’t finish her glass so I finished it for her as she went up to bed, leaving me alone in the kitchen.

Relaxed after a long week, defenses down and putting away the remaining food began the fall from low carb grace. A few dumplings from the other day were had, and then some of the Quinoa – that being followed up by not one but two ice cream sandwiches.

Wilson – what I had named the bunny-shaped sugar cookie that haunted my bedstand – got it next. Only his head remained, his countenance one of blank complacency – much like a real rabbit.

He was gone – and so was my low carb streak.

As cheats go it wasn’t a big one. It should slow things down – certainly – but it’s not the end of the world.

Let’s see if I can keep this an isolated incident.

The April Fool Day 3: Thursday, April 3, 2014 – 221.4

Day 3: Wednesday, April 3, 2014 – 221.4

Down 4 pounds ever since I started. 36.4 lbs. away from my ‘ideal’ weight. This would me a BMI of 26.5, which is technically ‘overweight’ but I think below that I’d look gaunt.

Seems a far way away…sigh.

No matter. I’ve been here before. I just keep repeating to myself: ‘patience is a virtue’.

After my pure fat & caffeine breakfast, I ate mid afternoon. Two baby cucumber about 4 inches long wrapped in cheese – that’s a first for me and it wasn’t half bad – I’ll have to remember that trick.

I got a link today – how much coffee would it take to kill you? (http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/06/how-much-caffeine-would-it-take-to-kill-you/)

given my tolerance for the noble bean, I’m (probably) OK.

There’s also this tidbit:

Numerous studies have shown that moderate caffeine intake can protect you against neurodegenerative diseases. 3-5 cups per day at midlife will reduce your risk of dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s later in life. The mediating factor is thought to be the effects caffeine has on the A1 adenosine receptor site.


(Please note: the studies I agree with are always sound science. The one I don’t agree with were done by shoddy researchers.)

Before leaving work there was a Fage yogurt with EZ-Sweetz.

Home proved to be somewhat tough to navigate. First, my own plans were thrown off because my wife asked me to take the kids to class. When I got home to take them, there was leftover baked ziti that my wife had brought in. I was already going to be late for the class and had to leave without grabbing a bite to eat.

And class is next to a grocery store. So here I am, walking the aisles of a grocery store, hungry, with baked ziti at home – and my wife calls and asks me to pick up some dumplings at the very awesome Shanghainese restaurant that’s close by.

I had plenty of things to eat at home – but no plans, nothing unfrozen to cook – and the earliest I would be home would be 8:30pm.

I bought 2 pounds of ground beef and as the family dug in to the ziti and dumplings, I took the package of meat, placed it on tinfoil on the convection oven tray and with a piece of Saran wrap covering it, mashed it down into a very flat meatloaf of sorts. Then using a plastic knife, I slicked it up into 6 pieces. I put it into the convection oven with a little steak sauce and salt on top and waited 20 minutes. W

When ‘ding’ it was done, I had 3 of the burgers wrapped in cheese with the low carb ketchup – I could have lived with two, really.

I also had 2 very large glasses of the almond milk, as well as the Lindt 85% dark chocolate.

I had to put away the ziti and the extra dumplings. I resisted the temptation to have ‘just one bite’ – Hell – this is day 3! I can do better than that.

The sugar cookie was still on my nightstand from the night before.

I read with my sugar cookie until I nodded off.

 

The April Fool Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 223.4

Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 223.4

Small 2 lb. drop. Given I felt I ate a lot the night before I was slightly surprised.

38.5 pound to go to reach my September 1 goal of 185.

The morning was my typical coffee and cream as well as coconut oil and cream a bit later.

My first meal of the day (aside from caffeine and pure fat) was some of the lovely Applegate American cheese and a mini brie. I also ate fruit – an avocado.

I’m feeling that ‘weird’ feeling that means the onset of ketosis. It shouldn’t be hard – I haven’t been exactly binging on carbs for a good part of the previous month. My carb intake might have been higher than I’d have liked bit it was probably less than half of the average person’s already.

As is usual during the ketosis conversion, my head is clear and I feel OK – just weird.

If I was in ketosis, though, it was only light ketosis. Not what I expected.

I finished up that tiny bit of chicken / bacon / sour cream combo from the night before, then made a tuna salad with scallions. I put in what amounted to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise but it seemed a bit dry, so I tried adding a bit of sour cream – my thinking here is the sour cream is a better choice than another 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise – and perhaps it will add the creaminess without eliminating the flavor notes of the mayonnaise. I also added about 4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce.

It came out good. I’ve come to find that Worcestershire sauce works well for more than a steak.

I ate this on pork rinds and left it unfinished – again, trying to get into the habit of not eating to the container. I washed this down with the ‘comfort food’ flavor of almond milk sweetened with EZ-Sweetz.

I went to bed early as the wife was studying there and my younger daughter was doing her homework in bed with her. My wife was watching some concert on Youtube – I don’t share the same musical tastes as my wife usually. As of late I’ve been listening to Caravan Palace (I love the cartoon on this one):

She was watching Chris Botti with the Boston Pops. I usually tune out whatever she’s listening to, but this particular concert was unique: a symphony orchestra backing up a jazz ensemble, with appearnaces by Yoyo Mah, Sting, Steven Tyler, and John Mayer, among others. That’s not your usual lineup. The music was eclectic and unexpected – and the musicians truly looked like they were enjoying themselves.

I had no idea who Chris Botti was before this – I want to check him out further after seeing the concert.

I’m reading Do you Believe in Magic? (http://amzn.com/0062222961) which details nicely my concerns with supplements and how we have come to a place where entirely unregulated pills can make whatever wild claims they want and get away with it. As with most things I read in this area, the book is not without its own biases, but the information is interesting.

For example:

On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn’t . Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer. “It’s been a tough week for vitamins,” said Carrie Gann of ABC News.

These findings weren’t new . Seven previous studies had already shown that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease and shortened lives. Still, in 2012, more than half of all Americans took some form of vitamin supplements.

Offit M.D., Paul A. (2013-06-18). Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Kindle Locations 613-616). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I have a funny feeling that some of you are feeling a distancing from me as I quote the above. Most people love their vitamins and herbal supplements.

My choice in music might also distance you. When I add details like this that don’t jibe with your preferences it prevents you from projecting things onto me that, since I typically leave them out, you can be free to assume.

“Let’s see – this guy listens to Chris Botti and Caravan Palace – and he thinks supplements are dangerous – I’m outta here!”

Oh well – unlike most bloggers, I’m not trying to get the most hits – this is an experiment in authenticity in a world of posers and I want to see where that takes me.

The concert completed with the book as I stopped to watch some amazing performances.

In bed, reading and watching the concert, I finished off the evening with a few squares of the Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate and a Fage Yogurt with EZ-Sweetz. I was up a bit later than usual reading after the concert was over, then quickly fell asleep.

Another giant rabbit-shaped sugar cookie appeared on my bed stand – my younger daughter snacking on it as she did her homework between Mom and Dad. I almost reach for it a number of times when going for my iPhone.

Sugar cookies are following me.

The April Fool: Day 1

Day 1: Tuesday, March 1, 2014 – 225.4

On day one of my ‘real’ diet I had my usual breakfast of coffee and cream – that’s not changing anytime soon. I did read an article that said that drinking dairy with coffee and tea blocks the absorption of antioxidants, but I don’t care. I take nutritional supplements only on occasion. While I was once quite a believer in supplementation, I’ve come to think of it as modern snake oil. Besides, there have also been studies that have shown antioxidants in our diets either have no effect on our health or even a negative effect on our health. Here’s just one example.

Since there’s an almost endless supply of studies from both sides of this, we can debate this endlessly if we like – but I’d rather stay out of the fray, skip the supplements except for a multivitamin every few days, and take the approach that a diet of high quality unprocessed foods, with even only a moderate amount of variety, is probably adequate. The body manufactures its own antioxidants – and it is also believed that oxidation is used by the body to fight infections as well as cancer, so perhaps I’ll not concern myself with an obscure body process we are yet to fully understand, skip the pills, and get on with my life.

There’s also the ‘Magic Amulet Effect‘: if I eat supplements they will magically protect me from my diet of Twinkies washed down with beer.

Like I said: I used to be a big believer in them. Searching this blog might still turn up the massive list of potions I used to take.

Now it’s a multivitamin every few days at most. It’s a personal choice, based on drawing my own conclusions.

Feel free to agree or disagree if you like: I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything.

Anyway, when I got to work I grabbed a sheet of copy paper and did the origami to make my little 8 page book. (There’s instructions here on how to fold it.)

I’ve found there’s an art to this: too many things and it becomes overwhelming and I don’t look at it. I also find that writing things in a particular style helps. Next, the act of writing seems to make it more powerful than typing it. Lastly, each book is designed to last for a week and then put into a pile. I have hundreds of these going back years and they act as a diary of where my head was at in any particular week.

It’s cheap and easy and less ephemeral than an electronic task list where tasks disappear when done. I have tried every app there is – a piece of folded paper and a pen has given me the best results so I’m doing it again.

I start the book by putting the span of time it cover on the front: 4/1 – 4/7/2014.

On the first inside page I list my goals – big goals. Not unachievable goals – realistic ones. I try not to write negative goals – ‘I won’t do X’ – negative goal are harder to wrap your head around than positive ones. As much as possible I try to quantify them with numbers and dates.

Here’s some of what I came up with:

  • I am 185 pounds by September 1, 2014

  • I eat mostly unprocessed foods

  • I swim twice a week

  • I eat until almost full. If there’s leftovers I store for later or toss

  • I only drink martinis – and only outside the house

  • I avoid nightshade vegetables

  • I cook more

Now I’ve broken my own rules here on some of them – how do you quantify ‘mostly’ or ‘more’?

That’s the beauty of this system: next week I will write my goals down again – without referencing these goals. Every week you rewrite them – and each week you restate and refine your goals based upon your experience the previous week. It’s a great way to internalize and constantly tweak and perfect your goals. The ones that are wrong for you can disappear or change – the ones that are right for you get more focused.

During the week I attempt to reread what I wrote. As I also keep mundane things in the book (‘fertilize lawn’) I have to reference it just to run my life – but my goals are alway in the front.

Considering it costs a sheet of copy paper and a little ink each week and take up as much space and a few folded dollar bills, I recommend you experiment with it – you might be surprised where it takes you.

One other note should you try this: don’t write anything down that could be potentially embarrassing should it get lost. I don’t write my name in it or put other information that would identify me. I also don’t write things like: ‘buy cream for rash on ass’ just in case it is found and associated with me. I follow the rule: don’t write anything down you wouldn’t be willing to stand up in court and defend.

My entire eating at work consisted of two hard-boiled eggs with ketchup. I’m glad nobody saw me. I kinda like hard-boiled eggs with ketchup, but I need to be cognizant of not eating it again for a while. I’ve paid lip-service to variety and taken the easy way out and went along with a natural tendency to enjoy the same thing over and over, but perhaps I’ve taken it a bit too far and a focus on variety might be one of the tricks I haven’t really explored yet.

At home there were more eggs but I didn’t go there. Instead, I found leftover chicken legs. I cut the meat off, crumpled in some leftover bacon and nuked for a minute and a half. Then I ate with sour cream – and did not finish the bowl even though only a tiny bit was left. It went in the fridge and I finished up with two baby cucumbers with a little salt.

A little later I had a Fage yogurt with a little vanilla and sweetener, then munched on some dark chocolate and a bit later after that, munched on some pork rinds.

So on day one I succeeded in three of the goals on my hit list: variety, veggies, and not eating to the container. I might have eaten a bit much but to expect to be firing on all cylinders the first day out is perhaps unrealistic for me.

After getting into my bed, I noticed that my younger daughter had left a large rabbit-shaped sugar cookie on my nightstand. It’s as if I live my life in a novel at times. Of course the character on the low carb diet finds a rabbit-shaped sugar cookie on his nightstand after starting his diet – it’s a symbol that temptation follows the character throughout the narrative – he can’t escape it.

Except this isn’t a novel.