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.

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PF Chang’s Menu Sorted by Net Carb Count for May 2018

Let’s be honest – you don’t go to PF Chang’s for their low carb items – you go there because there’s a friend having an event you can’t miss, or some other social necessity. It’s nobody’s fault except yours that you are on some weird diet where you count ‘net carbs’ – whatever that is. Your goal is to go and participate in as normal a fashion as possible while maintaining your diet.

Below is the current PF Chang menu from their website as of May 2018. They have almost 180 different items you can order – and they really go overboard in giving you all the detail on every menu item – check out the page yourself and be prepared for the wall of noise as they overshare information on every item.

I like PF Chang’s – and I like that they provide so much info – but here’s the situation: I’m on a low carb diet and I have to meet a friend there tonight! What do I pick?

No fear. Let’s keep this simple to avoid panic attacks – OK?

Go past the kid’s sides and you’ll see the  Wok’d Spinach with Garlic, the Egg Drop Soup Cup, and the Baby Buddha’s Feast Steamed from the kid’s menu. Smile sweetly and tell the server you’re a kid at heart. You can do this.

If you can handle a few more carbs there are more options that aren’t bad a little further down.

As has been the same for a dozen years, I do not recommend scrolling all the way down to the bottom where ‘The Great Wall of Chocolate’ resides at 245 grams of net carbs. That’s more than 12 DAYS of carbs for those of us going for 20 grams or less. I’ve had it – and it’s great – but I wasn’t on a low carb diet at the time.

Category Menu Item Net Carbs (g)
SALADS addon – Salmon* 0
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Broccoli 0
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Snap Peas 1
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Carrots 2
SALADS addon – Shrimp 4
SALADS addon – Chicken 4
MARKET SIDES Wok’d Spinach with Garlic 6
SOUPS Egg Drop Soup Cup 6
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Egg Drop Soup Cup 6
KIDS SIDES Kids Fruit Cup 6
GLUTEN-FREE SOUP GF Egg Drop Soup cup 6
GLUTEN-FREE MARKET SIDES GF Wok’d Spinach with Garlic 6
KIDS MENU Baby Buddha’s Feast Steamed 7
KIDS MENU GF Steamed Baby Buddha’s Feast 7
SOUPS Hot & Sour Soup Cup 9
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Hot & Sour Soup Cup 9
STREET FARE Edamame 13
SOUPS Wonton Soup Cup 13
SALADS Asian Caesar Salad 17
MARKET SIDES Wok-Charred Brussels Sprouts 17
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Shrimp with Lobster Sauce 17
GLUTEN-FREE SEAFOOD ENTRÉES GF Shrimp with Lobster Sauce 17
KIDS MENU Baby Buddha’s Feast Stir Fried 18
KIDS DRINKS Kids Milk 2% 18
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Pan Fried (4) 20
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Steamed (4) 20
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 22
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Buddha’s Feast Steamed 23
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Vegetable Spring Roll 23
STREET FARE Shishito Peppers** 24
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Pan Fried (4) 24
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Steamed (4) 24
MARKET SIDES Sichuan Style Asparagus 24
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Singapore Black Pepper Chicken 24
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Shishito Steak** 24
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS House-Made Egg Roll – Pork 24
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS House-Made Egg Roll – Chicken 24
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Singapore Black Pepper Chicken 24
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Pepper Steak 25
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Kung Pao Shrimp 25
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Oolong Chilean Sea Bass* 25
KIDS DESSERTS Kids Vanilla Ice Cream 25
DESSERTS Good Fortune Cheesecake – Mini Dessert 26
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (2) 27
DESSERTS Miso Butterscotch Pudding – Mini Dessert 27
MARKET SIDES Sauce Trio 28
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Miso Glazed Salmon* 28
MARKET SIDES Chili Garlic Green Beans 29
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Pan Fried (6) 30
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Steamed (6) 30
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Mandarin Crunch Side Salad 30
KIDS DRINKS Kids Strawberry Lemonade 30
DESSERTS Triple Chocolate Happiness – Mini Dessert 30
KIDS DRINKS Kids Lemonade 31
STREET FARE Dynamite Shrimp 32
KIDS DESSERTS Kids Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream 32
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Salt & Pepper Prawns 33
DIM SUM Vegetable Spring Rolls (2) 34
KIDS MENU Kids Sweet & Sour Chicken 34
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 34
GLUTEN-FREE BEEF ENTRÉES GF Mongolian Beef 34
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 35
DESSERTS Strawberry & Coconut Cream Cake – Mini Dessert 35
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Beef with Broccoli 36
GLUTEN-FREE BEEF ENTRÉES GF Beef with Broccoli 36
MARKET SIDES Brown Rice – individual serving 37
DIM SUM Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (4) 38
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Mongolian Beef 38
KIDS DRINKS Kids Orange Juice 38
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumplings Pan Fried (6) 39
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Steamed (6) 39
SUSHI Lobster Avocado Roll* 39
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Kung Pao Chicken 39
KIDS MENU Kids Honey Chicken 39
STREET FARE Northern Style Spare Ribs 40
GLUTEN-FREE STREET FARE GF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps 40
SUSHI Spicy Tuna Roll* 41
SOUPS Egg Drop Soup Bowl 41
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Beef with Broccoli 41
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Ma Po Tofu 41
KIDS DRINKS Kids Apple Juice 41
GLUTEN-FREE SOUP GF Egg Drop Soup bowl 41
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Buddha’s Feast Stir-Fried 44
STREET FARE Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps 46
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Chicken(2) 48
SUSHI California Roll* 48
MARKET SIDES White Rice – individual serving 48
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Stir-Fried Eggplant 48
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Pork (2) 50
SOUPS Wonton Soup Bowl 50
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Beef A La Sichuan 50
DIM SUM Mongolian Potstickers** 52
SUSHI Ahi Poke Bowl* 52
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Surf & Turf* 53
SUSHI Kung Pao Dragon Roll* 55
STREET FARE Tempura Calamari & Vegetables 56
KIDS MENU Kids Chicken Lo Mein 56
DESSERTS Chocolate Dome 56
GLUTEN-FREE DESSERTS GF Chocolate Dome 56
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Walnut Shrimp with Melon 57
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Orange Peel Shrimp 57
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Pork 58
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Shrimp 58
STREET FARE Cauliflower Tempura 59
STREET FARE Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps 60
SOUPS Hot & Sour Soup Bowl 60
STREET FARE Crispy Green Beans 61
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry 61
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Chicken 62
SALADS Mandarin Crunch Salad 63
DIM SUM Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (6) 65
SUSHI Shrimp Tempura Roll* 65
DIM SUM Vegetable Spring Rolls (4) 66
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Wok-Fired Filet Mignon* 66
STREET FARE Changs BBQ Spare Ribs 67
SOUPS Chang’s Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup 69
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Sesame Chicken 70
DESSERTS Banana Spring Rolls Small 70
KIDS MENU Kids Chicken Fried Rice 73
KIDS MENU GF Kids Chicken Fried Rice 73
STREET FARE Eggplant Katsu** 74
MARKET SIDES Fried Rice (Side) 74
GLUTEN-FREE MARKET SIDES GF Fried Rice 75
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Chang’s Spicy Chicken 76
DESSERTS New York-Style Cheesecake 76
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken 76
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Orange Peel Chicken 77
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Crispy Honey Shrimp 78
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Chicken(4) 83
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Sweet & Sour Chicken 83
DESSERTS Vietnamese Chocolate Lava Cake 83
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Chiang Mai Noodle Bowl 85
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Pork (4) 86
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Crispy Honey Chicken 86
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Mongolian Beef Bowl 87
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Korean Fried Chicken** 89
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Mongolian Beef Bowl 92
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Tempura Bowl 94
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Korean Bibimbap with Steak 99
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Tokyo Udon Noodle Bowl with Steak 100
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Korean Bibimbap with Chicken 101
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Chang’s Lobster & Shrimp Rice* 102
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Tokyo Udon Noodle Bowl with Chicken 103
MARKET SIDES Long Life Noodles (Side) 110
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Beef 120
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Chicken 122
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Shrimp 122
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Vegetables 124
NOODLES & RICE Long Life Noodles & Prawns 124
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Combo 125
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Chang’s Spicy Chicken Bowl 125
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken Bowl 125
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Pork 126
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Chang’s Honey Chicken Bowl 134
DESSERTS Banana Spring Rolls 147
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Beef 150
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Beef 151
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Shrimp 152
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Chicken 153
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Shrimp 153
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Chicken 153
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice Combo 154
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Vegetables 154
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice Combo 155
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Pork 156
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Vegetables 156
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Pork 157
SALADS Vietnamese Noodle Salad 160
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Combo 169
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Chicken 169
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Shrimp 169
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Combo 174
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Chicken 174
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Shrimp 174
NOODLES & RICE Hokkien Street Noodles 219
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Hokkien Street Noodles 219
DESSERTS The Great Wall of Chocolate 245

 

Keto Dining at McDonald’s

Is it right to call the consumption of food at McDonald’s ‘dining’? Is it right to even MENTION the ‘M-Word’ in case some of you are triggered? Might this post be seen as encouraging eating there?

The answers are: no, yes, maybe – but not intentionally.

Let’s face it: if you are traveling, or for some other reason are unable to get your hands on some real food, and your only option is a local McDonald’s – because, let’s face it, there always *is* a local McDonald’s – then knowing there are keto options might just save your bacon (get it?).

Remember though hacking McDonald’s will be hard because the staff – God bless their souls – are not usually accustomed to truly oddball orders. Yes – it is oddball, and yes – you are an oddball for being on a keto diet. Get over it.

So at this point you might be asking yourself: ‘well, how am I supposed to know what to order?’.

Glad you asked.

McDonald’s – in their quest to market ‘America’s Favorite Crap Food(R)’ to everyone regardless of their preferences, has put together a nifty nutrition information gizmo on their website.

You can check it out here: https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/about-our-food/nutrition-calculator.html.

So for instance, let’s take the Big Mac. 540 calories, 28 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein. 46 grams of carbs?!? Ugh. No way.

However, using the tool to remove the 3 buns that make up a Big Mac and it’s an entirely different meal: 330 calories, 25 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 18 grams of protein.

That can work. Now the problem is: how do they serve this? with a little thinking, they could place the cheese between the patties, but structurally, it might just fall apart. Best to ask for the ingredients in a salad bowl and ask for utensils.

For the Sausage McMuffin with Cheese – my fave – the numbers are even better when you skip the muffin. 340 calories, 29 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and 16 grams of protein. If you can get them to put the cheese between the egg and the sausage patty, you can probably eat it out of the wrapper without too much fuss.

The Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles® also fare well without the bun. 180 calories, 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of protein. This might be another one to eat in a bowl, however.

If you want to avoid the complication of asking for modifications – and I understand that patiently explaining to the counter staff that to properly assemby your Egg McMuffin without the muffin you want your slice of cheese *between* the egg and the sausage, then put on the wrapper while people are behind you impatiently watch this scene unfold, the Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad does not seem all that bad. 320 calories, 19 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, and 42 grams of protein. A bit high on the protein and also on the carbs, but some of us could manage it.

Oddly enough, the chicken and salads seem more of a problem than the burgers. Just too much protein from the chicken.

Again, I’m not saying you should be eating this stuff as part of a diet to promote overall health, but if you’re stuck in a food desert and McDonald’s is the only choice, it is not impossible to maintain your keto diet without starving to death.

I’m not even going to venture into the drinks. I am of the belief that it’s a toss-up as to whether you’ll actually get diet soda when you order one or if they’ll mix it up with the sugared variety. Black coffee with a little half-and-half or a bottle of water is all I’d be comfortable with – but play around with the nutrition gizmo and maybe you’ll find a hidden gem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: A Jawbone fitness tracker for a dirt-cheap price UPDATE

UPDATE 05/27/18: While my tracker still works at tracking steps, it now tells me that it ‘Can’t connect to the network.’ I think that’s because they liquidated the company last week and they pulled the plug on the server and the Jawbone.com site has apparently been taken down. The app is still in the IOS App Store (who knows for how long), but I’m not sure that you would be able to set up a new device – so I *DON’T* recommend buying it anymore. The device is useless without the app, so I’d say the party’s over…

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 7.16.14 AM

Years ago I had what I think was the original FitBit. I tracked your steps, told the time, and claimed it could track how many stairs you climbed. It also needed to be changed frequently and was a pain in the ass to sync to the app. It cost $99.

Then it got lost.

The FitBit One was the replacement. It was slicker in design – but I could never get the damn thing to work reliably. It cost $99.

In total, that was $200 I would never see again.

Fast forward to April, 2018. I wanted a cheap clip-on fitness tracker to just count steps. Instead, everything is now on a wrist band – which I didn’t want as I hate wearing anything on my wrists and can’t even wear a watch – and tells the time, tracks heartbeats, tracks sleep, etc.

I didn’t want all that – I just wanted to track steps, but I couldn’t find anything that simple. There also seemed to be only 2 options: buy a well-known brand for $100 and up, or buy a no-name brand with crappy reviews. Clip-ons were almost impossible to find.

I did a lot of looking and, almost hiding on Amazon was this Jawbone clip-on tracker ranging in price from about $9.00 to $15.00, depending on how ugly a color you are willing to tolerate.

I got one. I have been very impressed.

It has a battery that they say does not need replacing for 6 months – so no hassle charging it all the time. It syncs with the iPhone app pretty flawlessly. It has a whole bunch of features I don’t use – like sleep tracking – that don’t get in the way if you don’t want to use them, though if I do choose to use them someday they seem well-designed.

I believe these are discontinued models. While I think it’s a great design, it probably just couldn’t be found among all the other models – or maybe clips are so like 10 minutes ago.

My primary worry is that the device will outlast that app. If it is really a discontinued model, will they keep the app updated? Balance that question with: is it worth the risk at $9 bucks?

You make that decision for yourself.

Please note: I bought and paid for this thing myself. Nobody asked me to write this. I don’t get any money for this. Buy it – don’t buy it – no skin off my nose.

Here’s a link: http://a.co/inCFnhw

 

 

 

Seasons52 Restaurant Review

We decided to go to a new restaurant, Seasons52. It’s a new concept to me: a place where the menu proudly states that no entrée is more than 475 calories. There are no ‘endless bread sticks’ or huge portions dripping in butter. The portions are small compared to most chain restaurants, the food carefully prepared to bring out the natural flavors, and the ingredients seem high quality. It is minimalist, portion-controlled, and a much healthier choice than the majority of the restaurants in the area.

Maybe that’s why it was a 2-hour wait to get a table. The place was packed. While the ‘value proposition’ of the place goes against the grain of competing restaurants offering huge portions, perhaps there’s a niche for a place that serves artfully prepared but unpretentious food in adequate portions. It’s an European sensibility applied to food that I would call ‘American’.

The menu makes little attempt to define their food as derived from any ethnic cuisine. Some restaurants have entrees that seem as if they are representing the United Nations, with Italian entries next to Asian entrees next to Mexican entrees – all bearing little resemblance to the authentic cuisines they steal from. At Seasons52, the food is uniquely theirs. I give them credit: it’s a bold move to become the anti-Cheesecake Factory – and I’m sure that – with one not far down the road – many people – having tried this place, never come back because for the same price you get way more food at The Cheesecake Factory.

But for people who don’t need to equate the quality of the dining experience with the volume of food nor the number of ingredients, Seasons52 might be worth a try.

The first thing you notice is that there is no free bread at the table. Instead, they sell different varieties of flatbreads as appetizers, baked with a selection of toppings. We ordered a lobster and mozzarella flatbread and a long, thin bread, topped with not only lobster and mozzarella, but basil and diced peppers and squirted with a bit of lemon arrived on a long, flat board designed just for this dish. The long rectangle was cut into 8 triangular pieces and we each got two. They were delicious, with none of the flavors overpowering the others.

When we were done we wanted more – but isn’t that the long-forgotten point of an appetizer? Americans have become accustomed to going to a restaurant, filling up on bread, sharing a big appetizer, then forcing down what many times ends up being a mediocre entree.

The entrees were consistent in philosophy and execution as the appetizer. We each had ordered different ones: I had a cut of roast salmon on a cedar plank with a creamy mustard sauce and the root vegetables potatoes and carrots – not a lot in terms of portion-size, but all the ingredients clearly were high quality and did not need to be tarted up with sauces and unnecessary spices. I very much enjoyed my salmon dish and was satisfied without being stuffed.

My wife had the carmelized scallops which came on a bed of roasted crushed potatoes with some small amount of vegetable mixed in. I had a bite of the scallop and they did a wonderful job of adding just the right touch of sweetness without overpowering the taste or ruining the texture of the scallop – a delicate balancing act done successfully.

My older daughter had a pork chop with some sweet potato mash. Again the same sensibility. I did not try this, but both my daughter and wife remarked how tender and flavorful the meat was.

My youngest daughter had the pasta. Again – the same sensibility. Instead of piling on the cheap pasta and throwing shrimp in top then drowning it in sauce, the pasta complemented the shrimp in roughly equal proportions, with fresh spinach added and a light sauce that didn’t steal from any cuisine but came straight from the restaurant’s own esthetic.

My older daughter, who is long and lean as well as a lacrosse player, can tuck away quite a volume of food, yet at the end of the meal announced she was stuffed. I imagined that very few ‘doggie bags’ were carried out of this place. To me, a ‘more-is-better’ type of person (the reason I’m fat), they executed the ‘less-is-more’ approach to food flawlessly.

But we weren’t done yet.

Their execution of the ‘dessert menu’ is again sensible – and shrewd.

We were stuffed – remember? They do not ask you if you want to see a dessert menu – instead they bring over a tray of desserts – each in a small glass – dessert flights as they are called. Each is a tiny taste of decadence that won’t make anyone feel guilty about having dessert. The shrewd part is that: the dessert is *there*. They bring it to you without you asking for it, entice you with the actual dessert and not a picture, and if you want one they take it off the tray and give it to you. Immediate gratification after putting the damn thing right under your nose.

Our reservation was after 9pm it was late by then and the kids were fading fast, but were roused by the dessert. While I skipped it, the three of them took one. I had a taste of two of them. Again, well done, with flavors that complemented rather than competed. My wife got one with a tiny squeeze tube of amaretto so you could apply just a few drops to heighten the experience.

Seasons52 is food crafted with the precision of a Mars mission. It is novel approach for an American chain restaurant. When ‘healthy’ food is served at restaurants it usually flops – or is done as a sneaky psychological ruse. In fact, many chains put healthy items on the menu knowing full well that it lures customers in – who then order the high-calorie decadent stuff next to it. Others put faux healthy items on their menu – usually salads – then pack so many calories into the thing that your perceived sense of restraint was instead a sneaky con job by the restaurant.

Here the food is honest, minimalist, and fulfilling. It’s a fine dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere with beautiful woodwork throughout the space – yet it avoids pretension. As I stated before, this is the anti-Cheesecake Factory down to the decor – The Cheesecake Factory having the most overwrought, overstated, and garish decor and architecture that screams everything but good taste.

Seasons52 only has about 42 locations so far in the US, but if you have the opportunity to try it out – and don’t feel like you are somehow being cheated by not getting ‘endless breadsticks’ or huge portions, it’s worth a try.

Cancer, Warburg, Seyfried, and EXTREME Low Carb Diets

I’ve made mention of a peculiar use for low carb diets other than for weight loss. You might have heard that low carb is successfully used in children for epilepsy (check out The Charlie Foundation for more info on that), but you might not have known that nascent research is being done independently and somewhat outside the normal protocols to determine if a very – and I mean VERY – low carb diet *might* work as a treatment for cancer.

Now let’s stop here for an important warning: if you have cancer, this most likely *isn’t* something for you. First off, for many cancers, traditional treatments do, in fact, work if treated early. It also isn’t a treatment that you can try on your own along with a standard course of treatment. Many of them are incompatible with a low carb diet. It also has only been tested in mouse models – and for only certain types of cancers. You’d need professional guidance if you wanted to see if this was right for you.

There’s also this: the theory as to why it might work contradicts decades of research.

Hear a quacking sound? Cancer has been called the ‘Emperor of all maladies‘ and had attracted charlatans willing to turn a profit on other people’s tragedy, peddling false hope and leaving their families penniless. This one is somewhat different, however, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but first you must meet Otto Warburg, but to meet Mr. Warburg we need to go back 90 years and also revisit out high school biology class for a little refresher. I promise I won’t get too ‘sciencey’ and I apologize beforehand to those readers who know this stuff way better than I ever will. Forgive me my simplistic explanations – but please call me out if I state something patently incorrect. I don’t want to misinform.

Most of the cells that make up this container we call you and I contain mitochondria. There’s a hundred fascinating things about these parts of the cell – you can only get them from your mother, for instance, and they have their very own DNA that is completely different from yours – but lets focus on the what they do for you. Mitochondria are considered the ‘powerplants’ of your cells and create the energy the cell needs to survive. They do a bunch of other things, but one of the important parts for our discussion is the energy production.

Otto Warburg was a researcher who, in 1924, noticed that the mitochondria in cancer cells didn’t properly respire – as in ‘breathe’. Yes – cells breathe, which is why *we* breathe – to get the oxygen the cells need to properly respire.

But cancer cells didn’t respire properly – instead, it appeared that they took a different approach that only allowed them to feed only on glucose.

Now, just because a cancer cell’s eating habits are different doesn’t quite explain why they’re cancer cells (at least that I know), but it does point out a cancer cell’s Achille’s heel: they’re sugar addicts.

As sometimes happens in science, some guys in lab coats scratched their beards, mumbled something about this being ‘interesting’ – and then it was mostly forgotten except perhaps as trivia while science marched forward with cancer treatments using surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Cancer treatments did get better, but now we’ve reached a point where new treatments might only add months to a patient’s life.

Then along comes Thomas Seyfried who writes a textbook named Cancer as a Metabolic Disease which challenges many of the standard notions about the treatment of cancer and recommends an extremely low carb diet instead of chemo – and gets himself into a mess of trouble – at least from a career standpoint.

Dr. Seyfried is a legitimate researcher who comes out with a book that overturns 50 years of thinking on cancer. This is going to attract two things: crackpots and the label of ‘quack’ from his peers.

I simply do not have the skill-set to judge his work as I am not an oncologist, but he had laid out a legitimate attempt to create a new way of thinking about and treating cancer and no one can deny that a low carb diet might be a heckuva lot better treatment for cancer – if it works – than chemo and radiation. Simply put: normal brain cells can live on ketones – cancer cells can’t, so a super-duper low carb ketogenic diet starves the cancer cells while normal cells survive.

Here’s Thomas Seyfried discussing his theory. Pretty sciency, though it allows you to gauge the man:

He doesn’t come off as a quack – more frustrated than anything.

His last answer in the Q&A is his most damning: if the standard of care raises blood glucose, then it leads to the ‘demise of the patient’.

“Oh.” Says the oncology community. “We’ve been doing this all wrong for 50 years? My bad – let’s fix that right away.”

You can see how his theory is a ‘turd in a punchbowl’ for anyone in the medical community invested in the current standard of care.

Here’s an example from one of his naysayers. It’s a well-reasoned criticism and well worth slogging through to help to begin to understand the point of view of the medical community.

How *I* got exposed to this was because a friend’s relative was diagnosed with a glioblastoma – a type of brain cancer that is pretty much a death sentence. I was reminded of the article I had read about a woman who was treating her brain tumor with a ketogenic diet and was even keeping a blog about it. I provided the link and my friend and their family, after a lot of research, decided on a doctor-supervised ketogenic diet.

It’s too soon to tell at this point if this was the right approach, but given what I’ve read about glioblastomas, there’s not much to lose.

Doing my own research I came across a website that offered a complete diet book for cancer patients trying a ketogenic diet, bought a copy and read it from cover to cover.

book-cover-med

I’ve read plenty of other books on ketogenic diets, but this one comes not from the weight loss community but out of the childhood epilepsy community where the stakes are higher. We’re not talking about fitting in that cute little dress but preventing debilitating seizures in small children – or not dying from cancer.

This is the most extreme low carb diet I’ve ever seen – because most diets try to make it comfortable for the patient. While this book bends over backwards to do the same, its primary goal is to manage a threatening disease.

I thought it would be interesting to try this approach – what the heck – and did it for a few weeks over the summer.

Even though I am an old hand at ketosis, this was hard. I felt like passing out one hot summer day walking a nearby downtown, which I summed up to dehydration: you don’t store *any* water weight on this diet so it probably made dehydration a huge possibility. I felt much better after a bottle of water and a salad.

I didn’t keep up with it but I consider the book an excellent reference for anyone interested in what an ‘extreme’ low carb diet looks like. I have to admit that my own diet is in tatters as I write this but if/when I get up the gumption to start again I am going to use this book as a guide – perhaps not going as ‘full-on’ as a cancer patient might, but rather as a target I can afford to miss, given that even coming near to this protocol will still be a very adequate ketogenic diet.