Two and a half years ago, my husband and I started piecing together that our then 8-year old son reacted negatively to gluten. After weighing the options of having him run through a slew of non-exact testing or eliminate gluten from his diet, we decided on the latter.
For over two years, my oldest was on a gluten-free diet. At the start of this year, my husband and I decided that it was time for our son to go through testing for Celiac’s Disease. Next year, he’ll start middle school, and he’s now old enough to understand the purpose of the tests. In the fall, we started taking a monthly drive to see a pediatric gastroenterologist whose practice is about two hours away. Due to the progression of the tests, and, finally his endoscopy, we made the trip three times this month alone! It’s been a lot to say the least.
Well, long story short little did we know that all this investigating for our son would lead to my husband’s gluten issues surfacing. My husband has had to eliminate gluten from his diet too, because it looks like he probably has Celiac’s Disease.
Well, this wife’s heart aches, because he takes such good care of himself. He watches what he eats, he works out, and he even takes supplements. It was a total shock to find out that he could be sick too. Armed with this newfound knowledge, he didn’t waste any time “going” gluten free. As I mentioned before, our home has been predominately gluten free for over two years now, so making the switch was as easy as deciding to do it.
However, the timing couldn’t be worse, as he found out this information two weeks before his birthday. This man, who takes uber care of himself only eats cake once a year–on his birthday, of course. This wouldn’t be such a hard adjustment, if he would eat normal cake, but no, he loves carrot cake.
All of my baker friends out there know that this is a particularly challenging cake to replicate, since there are so many elements that build its flavor.
Honestly, I felt defeated before I even got started, because I was sure this was going to end badly (as so many of my first time GF recipes do). I took a look at my go-to recipe for Carrot Cake from the 2004 Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl. Could I just substitute Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour in place of the recipes flour? I took a couple of days to ponder this, because honestly: I HATE WASTING FOOD and MONEY. When I fail at a recipe, I really beat myself up. (My chickens are usually happy, but, quite honestly, I’d rather the humans in the house enjoy the treats over them.)
As I thought about the recipe, I wondered what could go wrong with the cake if I just substituted the flour. As my GF Tribe knows, it could be too grainy, it could fall apart, it could taste kind weird, and the list goes on… With carrot cake, there are so many flavors to pull from, that I wasn’t too concerned about the cake tasting blah. I was concerned that it would be dry and grainy though. Recently, I have figured out how to make moist cupcakes that are impossible to keep in my house, because they get devoured so quickly. The trick is super simple… I use a banana and cut down on the other sugar in the recipe. So far, no one has noticed the banana. They are too busy inhaling the goodies. So, I figured it was worth a shot in this recipe too. I also used another moistening trick that my father-in-law figured out by accident, use sesame oil. Now, because of the depth of the flavor and the price, I only use a fraction of this oil and supplement with vegetable oil (from Wegmans) to make up the difference.
Well, I took a chance on these substitutions and something amazing happened! I was able to convert my traditional carrot cake recipe, with a few modifications, to this new Ultimate Gluten Free version. 😊😍😊😍 I’m tooting my horn here, friends, it tastes amazing!
Last week we had a dinner party for my husband, and everyone loved the cake, even the non-gluten freers wanted seconds. My heart is full that I was able to replicate one of my hubby’s favorites and still give him a ton of birthday love. #glutenfree#gffamily#gfrecipes 🎂💕🎂
So, here’s what I did. Please remember to check all of your labels to ensure the ingredients are gluten free. Most of these items are naturally gluten free, but it is worth a double check . If you are cooking this for someone who has Celiac Disease, they might need you to use separate cookware, utensils, and prep areas to ensure that there is no cross contamination. Good luck and please let me know in the comments below how it turns out for you.
Ultimate Gluten Free Carrot Cake
Moist and delicious cake choke full of extras makes this gluten free treat a stand out among others. With cream cheese frosting and pecan crumbles, this cake is a must try.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Put a rack in the center of the oven. Grease and flour two 9-inch pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together to make sure everything is incorporated. Set aside.
On low level, using a stand mixer or hand mixer cream together the ripe banana (yes, use a brown one) and the sugar until it is a smooth, gooey liquid.
Keeping the mixer level on low, add the eggs, sesame oil, vegetable oil, vanilla, carrots, pecans, coconut, and pineapple and mix well.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while the mixer continues to mix. Push down the sides as the batter creeps up the edges to make sure all of the ingredients are mixed together.
Take the bowl containing the batter off of the mixer and fold it a few times. Then divide the batter evenly and pour it into the 9-inch pans.
Bake on the center rack for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pans. Run a knife around the edge of the pans and invert on a wire rack to cool completely.
Frosting and Finishing the Cake:
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer set on medium-high, beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until it’s a fluffy consistency similar to whipped cream.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar.
Place cake layer bottom-side up on the cake plate. Spread some frosting on top of this layer. Make sure to cover the whole layer. Then place the remaining layer right-side up on top and spread the rest of the frosting all over the cake.
Taking small handfuls of the pecans set aside for frosting, press them into the frosting around the sides of the cake.
NOTE on Pan Greasing: I use shortening, complete cover the pan with it using a paper towel and then sprinkle Bob’s GF 1-to-1 to flour in the pan. Once I make sure that the pan is completely covered in flour I discard the excess in my sink. This step make it easier for the cake to pop out of the pan when it has cooled.)NOTE on Creaming Bananas and Sugar: I usually run the mixer while I sift the dry ingredients. You can’t over mix it at this point.NOTE on Adding Confectioner’s Sugar to Frosting: Make sure to add the Confectioner’s sugar to the mixture slowly. Otherwise, your kitchen will look like a sugar bomb was set off in it! 🙂NOTE on Prepping Ahead: This cake keeps well on the counter and fridge, if covered, so feel free to make it a day or so ahead of your event.
The Swedish Man That He Is!
Since I met him many years ago, my husband has been a glögg fanatic! Each year when the weather starts to chill, we start the Glögg-making process. As a man of Swedish decent, this warm winter beverage has been a staple in his holiday life. While I’m not a sweet alcohol person OR a warm drink person, I have been known to drink a small glass of this stuff each year. Good for him, because he LOVES it and so do his family and friends.
This is the recipe that he has used, since I met him. In his words…
Pour all 1.5 liters of Port wine and Merlot into a large saucepan. Add all the spices to a strainer or colander, cover and insert into the saucepan containing the Port Wine/Merlot mixture (make sure to break open cardamom pods before adding). Turn heat to medium or medium-low to get a nice slow simmer going.
Pour 2 cups of sugar in a medium sauce pan and cover with half the bottle of brandy. Turn on to medium to medium-high heat. Bring to light boil, then turn down to simmer. Stir occasionally. Once all the sugar is dissolved, let simmer for about 10 minutes to caramelize.
After the Brandy has had time to caramelize, add to the simmering Port Wine/Merlot/spice mixture. This will add flavor and sweetness to the mixture. At this point, also add the remaining bottled Brandy to the mixture. Allow the Brandy/Port Wine/Merlot/spice mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes.
After the 30 minute simmering, add Vodka to preferred taste. I generally add half the bottle of Vodka, then let everything simmer for another 30 minutes. After the 30 final minutes of simmering, I add the remaining Vodka, stir it up, and bottle immediately.
Don’t forget to warm it up to serve it. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
You can strain it if you’d like, because there will be some spices that settle at the bottom of each bottle. I’ve never strained my batches and have always left the spices, as I have found them to be minimal.
This whole process usually makes about 3 liters total (maybe a little more). I’ve always just reused the 1.5 liter bottle of Port Wine and the 750 ml bottles of Brandy and Vodka to store. If I hand any out, I transfer to 250-500 ml mason jars.
Its always best to keep the bottles refrigerated so it stays fresh, and, when serving, heat to hot coffee type levels.
So, you’re researching the KETO diet, and you should be! In a previous post, I revealed all of my over 40 symptoms and how I combated them. From weight gain to moodiness and everything in between, I was sure that my life as a happy-go-lucky girl was over and, now, it was time for me to become a crabby old women. I was literally heartbroken every time I stood on a scale; I had turned into an oompha loompa. As explained in that post, I was able to halt the weight gain and feel better emotionally with many supplements, but I was never able to lose any real weight. That was until I found the KETO diet.
Since January 1, 2018, I have lost 16 pounds, countless inches, and a ton of old clothes that don’t fit me anymore. Good riddance! (Why do we say, “I lost weight,” anyway? It implies that I want it back. Nope, I don’t!) Ladies, let me be clear here, I lost a ton of freakin’ weight! There are few feelings that are better than fitting into an old pair of jeans that you’ve “grown” out of.
I have to admit the KETO diet is great for me. However, this diet is not for everyone…
A Couple of Words of Warning
First and foremost, I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I am a regular mom, in her 40s, who has tried tons of different diets, supplements, and exercise regimes. These tips come from my experience. They may not be an indicator of what your experience will be, because everyone is different. Please contact your physician for questions about whether or not this diet will work for you. Second, the KETO diet is not for everyone. This diet takes a commitment, and it takes time. Also, your body will undergo a substantial change in the way it metabolizes food.
(Your body will go from being a carb burner to a fat burner.) You can read more about that transition here. That takes several days, and you will feel sick during that time. During your research, you will see this explained as the KETO flu. It is real and it sucks, so if you choose to do this diet be ready for it.
With all of that said, yes, I would recommend the KETO diet! If you have tried other diets and are willing to work for it, this diet may be the answer you’ve been trying to find.
Tip #1 – KETO is a Diet not a Lifestyle
It’s true; you will be able to find some people who say that KETO is a lifestyle and not just a diet, but I vehemently disagree with them. I look at the KETO diet as a tool to get you to your ideal weight. After you’ve attained your ideal weight, I believe it is a good idea to resume a “normal” healthy lifestyle. As I mentioned before, the KETO diet is complex, and it takes a lot of planning. For an overview of the diet, I found this book extremely helpful.
This book, “The Everything Guide to the Ketogenic Diet,” will give you an idea of how the diet works. (My referral link => https://amzn.to/2JQZtMS). Be warned, while I do enjoy the recipes in this text, there are no nutritional counts in it. With that said, I liked the way the book was written and found it easy to follow.
Truth be told, I get most of my recipes on Pinterest. Also, after awhile I’ve just learned what ingredients I can have and I eat those. I am a mom and I work. Seriously, I’m just kinda busy, so I don’t spend a ton of time reinventing the wheel and trying to make awesome recipes. People have caught me eating plain cream cheese at times. If I’m in a rush, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Tip #2 – KETO is an Emotional Diet, especially if You Are Not Doing It Right
Also, from my perspective, KETO is an emotional diet. There are ups, and there are downs. Perhaps, this diet won’t affect you emotionally at all. (I hope that is the case!)
However, for me, I have found myself getting obscenely upset, like teenager upset, while on this diet. I’ve noticed these emotional outbursts with my friends on KETO as well. I’ve found easy-going friends who look as if Satan himself had possessed them, and happy-go-lucky friends crying it out during public events. (((LOL! Don’t get me wrong here, mamma, we all deserve a good fight AND a good cry, but these were not the “normal” actions of my friends.)))
When I’ve been able to remain completely carb free, and stay in ketosis, I’ve found that the emotional outbursts are fewer than if I pop out of ketosis and try to jump back into it. Just be ready for it, and know that you are NOT going nuts if it happens to you. It might just be the diet, or you might need a snack! Keep KETO snacks handy. Seriously, buy them before you get started, because it is REALLY difficult to find KETO snacks on the go! My go to are Sogo Snacks; they have a no sugar variety pack. (My referral link => https://amzn.to/2KfJbgi). The original flavor is my favorite and they are relatively “clean” when it comes to snacks.
(If YOU have a go-to snack, please let us all know about it in the comments below.)
Again, I’m not a doctor, nor am I a scientist, so I can’t give you the science behind these wicked emotional outbursts, but it probably has to do with fundamentally changing the way your body burns fat. However, with the weight that I’ve lost, I’ve found the outbursts to be worth it.
Tip #3 – Make Sure You Are in Ketosis Regularly
So, I’ve found a couple of ways that I can avoid emotional outbursts. First, make sure you EAT (this diet, as opposed to others I’ve tried in the past) is NOT about starving yourself. DO NOT LET yourself go hungry. Second, make sure that you are, in fact, in ketosis and do it regularly. Every single person, who I have met on this diet has been surprised by the amount of sugar he or she encounters on a daily basis. Sugar is in so many items that are often discounted by the public as non caloric, sugar free items. To combat this, check every label of every item you eat and test often to make sure you are actually in ketosis.
Have you heard of KETO strips yet? Well, these babies are what I live by. I check my urine several times a day to make sure that I stay in ketosis. (If I fall out of ketosis, I stop burning fat. If I stop burning fat, I stop losing weight. So, it’s to my advantage to know that I’m still in ketosis.) Testing is very easy to do. You just take a strip out of the package and hold it in your urine stream for a moment (enough time to get it wet). Then you wait for the time indicated on the testing package. (Most tests will give you a reading in a few seconds.) Then you compare your strip to the color chart on the testing package. As a general rule, you’re working toward a deep pink to maroon color.
I use the Nurse Hatty strips. (My referral link => https://amzn.to/2MRv5DT). BTW Nurse Hatty also has other (female-friendly) products that might interest you.
Tip #4 – Be Careful with Sugar & Sugar Substitutes
So, once you know that you are in ketosis, obviously, you now know that you need to stay away from sugar. For my KETO diet, I live by the rule to stay under 20 grams of carbs a day. That really isn’t that many carbs. (There are plenty of people out there that measure their “metrics,” because the amount of tolerable carbs, protein, and fat are different for everyone. Twenty is my number, and it’s what I live by; however, it might not be your number. How do you find out what your “metrics” are? This FREE Macro calculator is awesome! ~ Give it a try, and it will let you know how many calories, fats, carbs, and proteins you should consume every day.
So, I know that you know that sugar can really screw up your system and your KETO diet, but did you know that you need to avoid sugar substitutes too? Here’s a comprehensive blog post from the Keto Diet App that explains everything about all of the natural and artificial sugar substitutes that you may come across during your KETO diet. Personally, I prefer natural sugar alternatives like Erythritol and Stevia. I have low blood-sugar issues, and these seem to keep me “on the level.” With that said, there are artificial sugar substitutes out there that make me dizzy when I consume them, so I just stay away from those completely!
Tip #5 – Be VERY Careful with Alcohol
In addition to knowing what sugar and sugar substitutes you should and should not have, be careful with alcohol! I can’t stress this point enough. When you are in ketosis, your body, specifically, your kidneys and liver are working on overdrive to help you burn that fat. Adding alcohol to the mix, not only stops your ketosis (remember, no ketosis, no weight loss), but it also puts a heck of a strain on your body. I’m not a huge drinker, but I do occasionally like to have a beer or a cocktail during social gatherings. I’ve found that my body can reasonably take ONE drink. (When I say beer or cocktail, I mean a Corona Premium (Low Carb beer) or a vodka and water with a slice of lime. Any “normal” beers or drinks are out of the question for me, because one drink will wipe away all of the carbs I have to use in a day.) I also make sure to drink a full glass of water, after I have my drink. Otherwise, I’m in for a nasty headache. (Does anyone out there have any other “drinking” tips? I’d love to hear them!)
In terms of having a drink (or two, if your body can handle it) make sure not to ruin your diet by then succumbing to the “munchies.” I’ll tell you right now, that spread the host has laid out for the guests to enjoy is FULL of CARBS! Do yourself a favor and go somewhere that the food is not stationed. 🙂
I also tend to bring some sparkling water with me, so it “feels” like I am still partying with my friends, but in actuality I’ve stopped drinking.
Tip #6 – You Might Become Irregular, at Least I Did!
Aside from NOT being the life of the party, you might find, as I did that you become irregular. Or maybe not… Honestly, I can’t speak for your experience, but I became irregular on the KETO diet.
For some, this is not a big deal. However, for me, it was quite jarring. It was so upsetting, because I am regular and have been since having my first kiddo. I don’t remember being a day off of my cycle for any month, aside for my pregnancies. When in March, I missed a day, then a week, then two, I started to worry that I might be pregnant. Nope, I just missed a month of my period! Ahh! I was really torn up about it and thought I might be forcing my body into menopause. LOL! No such luck. My period came back the next month and has again been as regular again. Hopefully, you don’t experience this side effect!
Tip #7 – Use Exogenous Ketones, If You Need To
Aside from concerns about irregularity, you might be concerned about getting into and staying in ketosis. That’s where exogenous ketones come into play.
What the heck are exogenous ketones you ask?
Well, thank you modern science, because these bad boys might just save the day for you here and there. When you are trying to train your body to switch from metabolizing sugar to metabolizing fat, it will take some time. This supplement will help you to stay at optimal levels of ketone production. (((You can also use this, if you cheat during a meal. While I wouldn’t recommend cheating a lot, you may find it necessary at some point. If this is the case, make sure to have some ketones available to you.))) You can also take these daily to ensure that you remain steadily in ketosis.
(Here’s my referral link => https://amzn.to/2JSiCOA) If you search “Exogenous Ketones” on Amazon, you will note that there are hundreds of options on there, but not all are created equal. This is my favorite of the products I’ve tried. The company, Kegenix, also has a host of other KETO products into which you may want to look as you get comfortable with the diet. (For instance, at some point, you may need a meal replacement supplement, and this chocolate one is delicious!)
Tip #8 – Plan to do KETO for a Set Amount of Time
When you’re in ketosis, even with the help of exogenous ketones, the weight loss begins! It’s amazing! It’s great! There’s nothing quite like having your friends tell you how great you look! Then they start asking you questions…
Once I started to lose weight friends starting contacting me and asking me about the KETO diet. For most, the idea of leaving sugar behind seemed so daunting. (I started the KETO diet in January, just as everyone I knew was having a huge sugar crash from the holidays.) Then folks started planning for vacations, like cruises and all inclusive resorts. How could you ever enjoy something like a cruise without being able to eat and drink to your heart’s content? Since I don’t travel much and was more concerned with my health than how great I looked, January was the perfect time to start some new habits.
However, constantly doing KETO and not being able to let loose, skip a workout, or have one and a half beers, eventually becomes daunting. So, do yourself a favor and go KETO for a certain amount of time and then take a break.
At the six month mark, (((right now))), I decided to take a break. It’s been a great choice for me.
I’m not back to my previous eating ways (I still don’t eat bread, chips, etc.), I’ve just allowed my body to fall out of ketosis and rest for a bit. In another week, I’m going back on KETO for three months and then will continue with a three months on, 1 month off schedule.) ~ I feel good, but not as great as I did when I was perpetually in ketosis. While in ketosis, I have so much energy; I never need a nap, I can accomplish more, and I generally feel fitter!
Tip #9 – Plan Your Meals – Fast Food is NOT an Option on KETO
There’s no doubt that it feels great to be in a fat burning mode! If you’re in ketosis, plan to stay in it as much as possible. Planning your meals is essential to KETO success. If I go out with friends, I eat before I go. I’d rather eat than starve, feel crappy and tell someone off (inadvertently, of course! LOL! – see Tip #2 for context). Fast food restaurants just don’t offer options for the KETO diet, even most of the salads are full of extra carbs and junk your body doesn’t need. If I really need something to eat, and I didn’t pack a Sogo Snack, I’ll stop at a grocery store and buy some hard-boiled eggs and a cheese stick. However, this can get pricey fast (especially when you buy individually packaged items), so I try to pre-plan my meals and take my food with me for the day.
(BTW I eat a lot of eggs; it’s a great thing that I have chickens, because I’m not sure what I would do without 2-dozen eggs in my fridge at all time!)
Tip #10 – There are Happy Side Effects
It’s true there is a ton of stuff that you need to be aware of when you do the KETO diet, but there are some really fun things that happen too.
Now, these are MY happy side effects, but the more I read, the more people I find who have had similar outcomes. I hope you experience some of these happy side effects too!
First, I have less pain. Before I started the KETO diet, I felt like I was 80! Every morning that I woke up, I would limp down the hallway, until I stretched enough to go about my day. From what I understand, this might have to do with the inflammation in my body going down. (I’ll take it!) I feel great when I wake up, I feel rested and pain free. 🙂 It’s been great.
Second, and you’re NOT going to believe this one: I think I have fewer wrinkles! This might be my mind playing tricks on my, but I look at myself and I truly believe I look younger. You know, that youthful glow of pregnancy? I’ve noticed it in my face. Again, I might be imagining it, but let me live out this fantasy OK?!? 🙂
Third, not only do I think I look younger, for the first year ever since moving to Western New York, my hands didn’t get dry or cracked during the harsh winter months. I, literally, cannot believe this one! When I first noticed it, I started looking around to make sure it wasn’t something everyone was experiencing. Nope! Just me! I didn’t have to use an ounce of moisturizer this winter. YAY!
Could I have had a fat deficiency (is this a thing?) all these years? (Again, this isn’t scientific, just me pondering something…) Before the KETO diet, fat was the last thing I would ever put in my body. Now, on a high-fat diet, I no longer need moisturizer! I have to attribute that happy side effect to the KETO diet!
Fourth, in addition to my youthful, glowing skin, I fit into smaller sizes. Do you know how wonderful it feels for your clothes to fall off of you after years of them being too tight? I hope you do, and if you don’t yet, I hope you find out, because it is the best feeling imaginable! How superficial of me to say this, but, honestly, it feels great to be comfortable in my own skin, especially when that skin looks the way I want it to!
Fifth, and finally, if you feel like you look great, you start to act like you look great. That’s my final Happy Side Effect of the KETO diet. My self confidence has improved tenfold, since I started this diet back in January. I may not be at my “target” weight quite yet, but I finally feel like something is working for me.
As I’m sure many of you know, it’s terribly self defeating when you try to watch what you eat, and you workout, but you don’t lose any weight. Or worse yet, you gain weight! Ever since having children, my body has changed. It hasn’t been as easy for me to get back into shape as it used to be pre-kids. The KETO diet has changed that for me, and I feel fantastic! I hope you experience the same thing!
That’s it for my 10 Must-Know KETO Tips for Women in Their 40s! I hope you found them useful.
What do you hope your HAPPY SIDE EFFECTS will be? Let us know in the comments below!
Happy KETO-ing, my friends, I can’t wait to hear how you do!