Instant Pot L. Reuteri Yogurt – The Exact Instructions

This is how thick the yogurt comes out

(Note: this post contains links to products I used. I DO NOT make any money off these links. Buy ’em – don’t buy ’em – I don’t care.)

UPDATED 08/13/19 with a few more tips.

The big first tip: It’s really easy to make once you get the hang of it! I make it sound awful but when you take the time to get it right the first time, it’s easy after that.

I have read Dr. William Davis’ Undoctored and decided to finally take the plunge and go the full monte. In a nutshell, he recommends a ketogenic-ish diet and specific supplementation so it’s not far from my usual attempt. It’s a ‘clean keto’ where grains are prohibited as well as artificial stuff. I think it is well thought out and I like how he presents it: as a cardiologist, he sticks to science and where he prescribes a certain course of action that might not be accepted science, he notes that his approach is experimental and as new information comes in he will refine his approach.

That’s the kind of scientific thinking I like to see. I don’t take is as he’s pushing snake oil as much as he’s saying: “Try this. It might work for you and it’s unlikely to harm you. Let me know your results and I’ll continue to refine my protocol.”

Alas, it is a fussy diet in that the doc states it must be followed in full to get the synergistic benefits – doing it only halfway gets you far less than half the benefits.

One of the trickier aspects – at least to me – is you have to make what I call his ‘magic yogurt’. Even Dr. Davis refers to this as ‘wacky’ in one of his videos. I’d even say it sounds ‘quacky’ given all the benefits he attributes to it (you can read them here). I have no idea if the stuff actually does anything or if Dr. Davis is full of shit, but I don’t think so – at least I believe *he* sincerely believes it helps – and I’m up for a new experiment.

This was the one part of the diet that I waited until now to try. I started the  diet 15 days ago and have been dialing in all the different parts. The yogurt is the last piece, I think.

To me, the instructions to make the stuff I found on the Internet were vague and a lot of people were spending a lot of time to fail at the attempt and throw out batch after batch. I did a lot of Google searches, came across recipes that didn’t provide me the details I wanted, and even did a chat with Instant Pot which yielded little help.

The problems with the instructions are that they try to cover too many different scenarios. I found it confusing (maybe I’m stupid).

This week I took the plunge and made the yogurt. I’m detailing here the EXACT steps I took for my own records and thought I’d share.

Continue reading “Instant Pot L. Reuteri Yogurt – The Exact Instructions”

I have a crush on the Cronometer food tracking app

While I hate tracking, I find it necessary as I fine-tune my routine and get to a place where it might not be necessary. I have tried a lot of nutrition calculators and most of them ranged from passible to useless. I spent a lot of time with LoseIt! but it was always a one-sided relationship where I had to accommodate the app instead of it accommodating me.

I deleted it.

MyFitnessPal. Apparently beloved by millions – but not by me. Deleted.

KetoDiet was another. Minimalistic. Simple – but perhap too simple. Also, their units were quirky and to put in some foods I had to do tortured math in my head to come up with equivalents – and relationships that require me to do math in my head are doomed to fail.

There were others. One-night-stands that got deleted within a day. Frankly, most diet apps that even take keto into account only seem to pay it lip service.

Net carbs, for example, can be a nightmare. Scans of the barcode can be so off as to be laughable – or most of the foods I eat aren’t on the list.

Then came along Cronometer.

We’re early on in or relationship, but adding food is easy with many options for measuring – one will typically work without pulling out a calculator. Recipes are a breeze to manage, and the scanning works well and seems pretty accurate so far.

The secret sauce – what make it stand out to me? It elegantly shows me my micronutrients. This quickly showed me I was deficient in calcium and magnesium – I would have never know in other apps – or maybe it was just hidden. This allowed me to alter my supplements to make sure I wasn’t deficient. You can also put in your own target ranges as opposed to the app calculating the macros for you.

Now with any relationship, there is always a downside. With Cronometer, it is ads. Not only banner ads, but full-screen overlays that prompt me to play a mini golf game while all I wanted to do was enter that I ate an avocado.

There’s also some features I don’t have but I don’t miss them because I don’t have them. Can’t miss what you never had.

While I might consider paying for the ad-free experience, I have not been crippled by the interruptions.

While tracking sucks, I find Cronometer sucks less than all the others I’ve used.

Give it a whirl and see what you think. A month from now I might write another post explaining why I hate it, but right now it’s my new BFF.

Spicy Italian Pork Sausage Keto Meatballs – Dairy-Free, Cheese-Free, Nut Flour-Free

I try to cook new things on the weekend to increase the variety. It’s gotta be pretty simple though because while I like to experiment, I don’t like it to take that long.

I’ve seen sausage balls – meatballs, essentially – but all of them had ingredients I didn’t want – so I invented my own:

In a mixing bowl, I added:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
14 oz. mild Italian pork sausage (Whole Foods 365 Brand) 900 60 6 78
2 jumbo eggs 180 14 2 16
1/2 cup coconut flour 240 8 12 8
3 tbsp nutritional yeast 60 0.5 2 8
2 tsp cayenne pepper 12 0 2 0
2 tsp baking powder 10 0 4.6
1/2 tsp salt 0 0 0 0
Total for the entire recipe 1402 82.5 28.6 110
Total Per serving (1/21) 67 4 1 5

I mixed all this together with a fork, then rolled them into cocktail-size meatballs, and put on a baking sheet into an oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

The Verdict: pretty damn good. It tasted like an Italian meatball. No one would know there’s coconut flour in it. It was maybe a tad spicy for some folks but I like spice. You might want to eliminate that if you’re not into too much spice.

This was my first time using nutritional yeast. I don’t know if it really added anything to the flavor but they do taste good – and nutritional yeast has a lot of, well, nutrition in it. If you don’t want to use that, it would probably taste OK, but I really don’t know.

As to the effort: not bad. One mixing bowl to wash. One piece of parchment paper to throw away. Rolling up the meatballs was probably the longest part but prep time total couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes.

Might be nice with a little low carb pasta sauce.

I asked my younger daughter to try one. she looked at them suspiciously: “What’s in them?”

“Pork sausage meat.” Is all I said.

She tried one. There was a pause and then: “Woah! that’s a good meatball.” Of course if I had told her they contained nutritional yeast and coconut flour she never would have tried them.

Sneaky.

After having a few more I noticed that some were a little salty in spots. Perhaps that’s a warning to mix better or cut back on the salt.

Beef and Bacon Keto Chili Recipe Version 2

I’ve been more strict in counting my carbs, and while the last Bacon & Beef Chili was great, there were carbs in some of the things I added and didn’t taste the difference.

Version 2 leaves out the unnecessary ingredients, really ups the bacon to the majority of two packages, and adds more flavor with an additional pepper and mushroom to add a nice texture.

So here’s the ingredients and the numbers:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
2 lbs. 80/20 ground beef 2272 179 0 152
5 Tbsp bacon fat 570 60 0 0
2 packages of bacon, precooked 840 42 0 56
1 can Trader Joes Chiles 40 0 8 0
1 14.5 oz can Trader Joes Fire roasted organic tomatoes with green chiles 87 0 14 4
1 large green bell pepper 48 0 8 2
1 large red bell pepper 48 0 8 2
2 tbsp chili powder 42 2 2 2
2 tsp ground cumin 16 1 2 1
Trader Joe’s – Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms – 10 oz Container 72 0 10 7
Salt 0 0 0 0
Pepper 14 0 1 1
Total for the entire pot 4049 284 53 227
Total Per Portion (1/12) 337 24 4 19

(The portions last time were a guesstimate. This time I put the chili in 1 cup covered glassware. While I already ate some, I think if were using one cup of the stuff, the number are pretty correct.)

The instructions are simple:

  1. Melt the bacon fat in the bottom of a pot
  2. Set the burner to high and add ground beef, black pepper, and some salt (add to taste later)
  3. Let it cook on high while you deal with cutting the vegetables and bacon, stirring occasionally
  4. Dice the bacon and toss in the pot
  5. Cut the peppers and toss in the and give it a stir
  6. Toss in the can of chilis and tomatoes
  7. Add the remaining spices. I tend to go heavy on the chili powder and grind the cumin in a mortar and pestle – what a great fragrance
  8. Add salt and pepper, but remember that there’s a lot of salt in the bacon so don’t overdo it.

Now set it to a low simmer and let cook for 2 hours to let the flavors meld.

The verdict: very enjoyable. As I am attempting to cut back on dairy I’ll skip the cheeses and sour cream – but you’re free to use it if you like.

Beef and Bacon Keto Chili Recipe

A quick update for the old gang: I’ve been away because, well, I had nothing to write about. On April 2nd, however, I went full-bore into a strict ketogenic diet. I’ve written a whole lot about that, but it’s not ready for publishing yet – but how about a recipe?

I’ve been deep into ketosis and have been very strict for the past 2 weeks. I use the weekends to cook and wanted to have a goto meal for the week so I thought: why not chili?

In the past I have not watched my carbs as closely as I am now, and it has paid off: a 10 lb. loss in 2 weeks, a 20-40 point drop in blood glucose levels, and ketones as measured by a blood testing meter averaging between 2-3 mmol/ml.

So unlike in the past where I might have gone apeshit with onions and other higher carb vegetables, this chili measures nutrients down to every damn spice.

So here’s the ingredients and the numbers:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
2 lbs. 80/20 ground beef 2272 179 0 152
5 Tbsp bacon fat 570 60 0 0
7 slices bacon 308 25 1 20
1 medium onion 46 0 3 1
1 can Trader Joes Chiles 40 0 8 0
1 14.5 oz can Trader Joes Fire roasted organic tomatoes with green chiles 87 0 14 4
1 large green bell pepper 48 0 8 2
2 tbsp chili powder 42 2 2 2
2 tsp ground cumin 16 1 2 1
2 tsp garlic powder 18 0 4 1
Salt 0 0 0 0
Pepper 14 0 1 1
Total for the entire pot 3461 267 43 184
Total Per Portion (1/10) 346 27 4 18

It was a pain in the ass to pull these numbers together – especially as different sources give different nutrient counts for the same thing, but I think this is about as accurate as I’m going to be able to get it.

The instructions are simple:

  1. Melt the bacon fat in the bottom of a pot
  2. Set the burner to high and add ground beef, black pepper, and some salt (add to taste later)
  3. Let it cook on high while you deal with cutting the vegetables and bacon, stirring occasionally
  4. Dice the bacon and toss in the pot
  5. Cut the onion and toss in the and give it a stir
  6. Do the same for the pepper
  7. Toss in the can of chilis and tomatoes
  8. Add the remaining spices

Now set it to a low simmer and let cook for 2 hours to let the flavors meld.

The verdict: pretty darn good. I’ll be eating this all week. I found it very flavorful by itself, but I’m sure with a little shredded cheese on the top – and maybe a dollop of sour cream – I’d be in some serious flavor territory.

Kielbasa and Zucchini Recipe

IMG_4890Forgive if you will the sloppy recipe amounts as you read below. This started as a way to dispose of mismatched items I found in the fridge by either rendering them inedible by cooking or by pure chance making something edible.

I think this came out so good that I must make this accident again.

While I am listing the ingredients I added, I see no reason why – with one exception – you can’t riff on this with whatever low carb veggies and sausage you find lying around.

I think the secret was the bacon fat. I have kept bacon fat for years but always ended up throwing it out. This was the first time I added it to a recipe – and Oh. Boy.

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium-sized zucchini, diced
  • 1 Polish Kielbasa, sliced
  • 2 andouille sausages, maybe each 6″ long, sliced
  • 1/2 cup bacon fat
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Few dashes of salt
  • dash of oregano

Cook all the ingredients in a pan as shown above covered on a high flame for a half-hour, stirring frequently until the liquids come out of the veggies and more liquid appears. This is not a bad thing – this liquid is awesome.

How awesome you say, my younger daughter, who has earned the nickname ‘carbs on carbs on carbs’ because of her eating habits gobbled up 3 servings of this stuff. Her only complaint? the andouille sausage – she preferred the kielbasa.

 

 

 

Chicken Broccolli Casserole with Cheese

I whipped this up last night with ingredients I found in the house.

  • 5-6 IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) chicken breasts
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 3 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In my convection oven, I cooked the chicken for about 20 minutes while defrosting the broccoli for about 8 minutes in the microwave. I then cut up the chicken with kitchen scissors, gave it a healthy coating of the seasoning mix. After a few minutes, in went the broccoli while I shredded the cheese with a cheese grater.

After mixing and cooking a few more minutes, the mixture went into the casserole dish and I then covered the entire top with a lot of cheese. When done I sprinkled the top with paprika more for color than anything and put it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

I had some for dinner – it was pretty good. The cheese was more hard than gooey, and maybe the cayenne pepper was a bit too much, but I ate it and enjoyed. Trader Joe’s @1 Salute seasoning is a handy blend of seasonings for those of us clueless at the sight of a spice rack.

What surprised me was the family also enjoyed it. “It’s actually pretty good.” was one comment – which shows both the typical expectations of my low carb cooking as well as the review of this particular dish in comparison.

I’d say it’s a keeper and I’ll be making it again.

Creamed Asparagus and Scallion Soup

UPDATE: I’ve been eating this the past couple of days and have a few tweaks to add

I love my immersion blender. 12 bucks or so at most large grocery stores, these things can take the place of a regular blender or food processor with minimal cleanup.

I was searching the Internet for something low carb I might be able to make with some ingredients I have lying about and came up with this idea based off another recipe I found.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of fresh asparagus
  • 10 scallions
  • 1 box (32 oz) chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/3 pint heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 20 turns of the pepper mill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Using a soup pot I melted the butter on high heat while washing and cleaning the asparagus and scallions. I chopped it in 1/4″ lengths. Thrown into the pot with the butter, I stirred on high flame intermittently for about 10 minutes while looking for the rest of the ingredients and the immersion blender.

Be careful with asparagus. While I cut off more than an inch of the bottom stems, it was still more fibrous than I would have liked and might be off-putting to some. My solution: cut the asparagus – especially at the stem end very, very closely together to be sure any fibers will be as short as possible. The immersion blender won’t fix this.

I do this with kale when I make kale soup and use the stems and it works splendidly.

After that, in went the chicken broth. I brought to a boil, then added the garlic and onion powder, turned down the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Once the simmering was done, I turned off the heat and blended until smooth. Then I slowly poured in the cream with the immersion blender on.

Now it was time for a taste – and I came up with a trick to have a good-sized taste with the extremely hot soup not burning my mouth.

We have some small metal ingredient cups about the size of the business end of a soup ladle. The keyword here is ‘metal’. Using a soup ladle I put a few tablespoons into the cup. It became almost too hot to touch – good. All that heat was being conducted out of the soup into the metal cup. To make something hot, you got to make something else cold. In less than 30 seconds I had a mouthful of the stuff at a temperature that would let me taste it.

It was very good – creamy and flavorful. I did think it needed a little salt and put in a teaspoon at that point and mixed it again with the immersion blender.

Oops – maybe just a teensy-weensy too much salt – the broth and butter brought their own salt and it was *almost* enough. My advice if you try this: be careful with the salt.

The final product was delicious. It’s a one-pot meal using only a few utensils and in a half-hour you have a great soup for a cold, possibly snowy day. It’s also suitable for vegetarians who use dairy – not usual for my recipes.

I did find after repeated lunches of the stuff that it was missing ‘something’. I added more salt and pepper at work and it was better, but it could have used some other ‘something’ – but what?

Any ideas out there?

Salmon with Green Beans And Avocado Sauce

My daughter is a natural, instinctive cook and she came up with this. She made potatoes with this, which I avoided, but the rest was an amazing melding of flavors and textures.

I have yet to make this myself, but I can categorically state that it will be a meal worth trying.

Salmon ingredients

  • 5 salmon fillets
  • champagne apple mustard
  • honey
  • salt
  • pepper

OK – I do not buy ‘Champagne Apple Mustard‘ nor can I see any use for such a thing given my use of mustard is exclusively for hot dogs and bologna sandwiches – and store-brand spicy brown mustard is all I need. A knuckle-dragging Cro-magnon like me would never see such a thing in the store – and if I did I would not exclaim: “This will make an excellent sauce for my baked salmon!” – but that’s because I’m a dope.

As for this being low carb – it’s OK – the honey is way worse, but you are still using a minimal amount – substitute if you like – I will probably try some substitute for the mustard and honey when I give it a try, but it will be a risk and might sacrifice some very fine – and expensive – salmon.

The salmon was placed on parchment into a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Green beans

  • 1 bag ‘nuke and eat’ green beans

Lazy – yes. Fast and effective? Yep. This was nuked while the salmon cooked with some salt, pepper, and drizzled with olive oil and the avocado sauce was prepared.

Avocado sauce

This pulls it all together. Again, I’m dealing with someone who channels some magical talent and like a medium possessed by a spirit is not exactly sure what happened while the possession was occurring. This is her best attempt at describing what was in this:

  • 1.5 perfectly ripe avocados*
  • 3 big tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • basil
  • lemon juice
  • paprika
  • chili flakes
  • salt
  • pepper

*I know – this almost never happens.

These ingredients were well-mixed with an immersion blender and was perfectly smooth.

When everything is done, plate the salmon and beans, then slather the avocado sauce on both. Don’t be shy – pile it on.

Everyone enjoyed this, and my daughter – who can conjure up a great meal so easily that she doesn’t bother to write down recipes – now has one documented.

 

 

 

 

Recipe – The Cream Spinach Fat Bomb

Quick and easy to make – and quite good.

I’d better be right about fat being harmless though or I might be in a body bag after this one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/2 box of cream cheese
  • parm cheese (the stuff in the cardboard can)

Directions

Thaw the spinach in the microwave for 10 minutes. It will leak so place the boxes on a plate to catch the leakage.

Once thawed, let stand for 15 minutes at least – it will be too hot to handle the next step.

Now that it’s cooled, use a strainer to squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible – but don’t kill yourself over this – good enough is good enough

In a microwave-safe bowl, toss in the spinach, along with a stick of butter and the cream cheese. After about 4 minutes the butter and cream cheese should easily mix into the spinach without fuss and to my surprise got absorbed into the spinach. There were no puddles of butter as I feared.

The taste was good but a little lacking. A healthy sprinkle of the canned parm cheese made it perfect.

It *looked* like ordinary creamed spinach – but we know better. This innocent-looking creamed spinach was a Cheesecake Factory-style Fat Bomb made to look ‘lite’ and ‘healthy’. It was one of those menu items where you’d go: “Oh – I don’t know *how* they can make creamed spinach so tasty!”

Just for the heck of it I ran the numbers for the whole thing in my LoseIt! iPhone App:

  • Calories: 1,408 (1,200 of these calories come from fat)
  • Fat: 135g (81%)
  • Carbs: 37g (10%)
  • Protein: 33g (9%)

I would say that realistically this serves 4 – which means I ate 4 servings in one sitting.

Me and my body need to have a little ‘sit down’ to talk about ‘portion control’ – ya think?

This would be a splendid recipe for a pot luck – and you can look ’em in the eye and say it’s ‘diet’ – though change the subject if they start asking questions about the recipe. Based on the crowd at the New Year’s party I went to, this would have been gone in a flash.

Need I say it? This is safe for a ketogenic diet. In fact, it is *so* safe you might want to dial it back a notch – though this is ideal for people doing a ‘fat fast’ (though you don’t eat as much as I did). It is also vegetarian as long as they are the type that do dairy – there’s so many variants it’s hard to keep track.