Diets, Intermittent Fasting, Ketogenic

Keto Level-Up: Intermittent Fasting

Another big keto buzzword (buzzphrase?) is intermittent fasting. This is where you fast for a certain number of hours in a day. Everyone already does a small fast when you eat dinner at 7pm and do not eat again until breakfast at 6am, so that would be an 11 hour intermittent fast. Many keto experts recommend intermittent fasting as a good way to heal certain underlying conditions and it seems to be a good tool for those who have plateaued. The very, very, very basic premise is no food coming in forces the body to use ketones (which it will get from body fat) and insulin spikes are reduced. Plus, the intermittent part does not give the body time to go into the dreaded starvation-mode that tanks metabolism.

I have been attracted to the idea of intermittent fasting for years. I am in education, so I get about 6 weeks off in the summer. I noticed that on weekends that I was busy or in the summer (especially while traveling), that I would forget to eat until 2pm or so.* I did not gain weight at those times like the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” crowd claimed I would.

*Unless I was bored or overly stressed because I am an emotional eater.

My conundrum came when I was working. How do I do an intermittent fast or even just eat when my body tells me I am hungry when I am at work? Here’s the thing: you all remember being mad at the unfairness of not being able to snack during class or asking permission when you needed to go to the bathroom. Guess what. It is just as frustrating for the teachers. Sure, I can probably get away with having a beverage when kids cannot, but food? No way. Heck, I cannot even ask to the bathroom when I need to. I have to wait for a passing period bell to give me permission. I wanted to try a 16 hour intermittent fast, but I was not sure how to pull it off with my job. I could not wait to eat breakfast at 10 am at my desk and I have developed a close relationship with my BPC.

Finally, after four months I found my solution: Ample K shakes. For the record, I am not being compensated in any way for this review, (but I am willing to be… ;))

I had heard about Ample K on a few podcasts and then the freaky “it just showed up on Facebook” thing occurred, too. One podcast, I had tried some real duds based on their recommendation, so I look at them as ones who will shill anything… but the discount codes can come in handy, so their recommendation did not send me running to order. Then, I heard it recommended on a much more selective podcast, so I decided to give it a shot.

 

Thank goodness for those discount codes, because this is not a cheap product. I am hoping it will catch on enough that they can mass produce it and the prices can drop or maybe they will make a tub so you measure it out instead of bottling each serving in its own bottle.

I tried with tempered hopes, but I really liked it! It is a powder in a bottle that you add water or a nut milk to, shake, and drink. I drink it with Unsweetened Vanilla Macadamia Milk. I swear it tastes like cake batter, which satisfies my sweet tooth without sending me down a spiral of craving real cake.  Perfect! You can even add cold brew or instant crystals to make it a coffee drink. I have never seen a hot version recommended. My guess is one of the benefits of Ample K is its probiotics and many probiotics cannot handle heat or maybe the plastic bottle it comes in is the problem. I have not seen an explanation, so I am merely speculating.  I did try it with water a week in and it was fine, but my palette’s tolerance for this version has been ruined since I started out with the good stuff.

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So now I had a satisfying beverage that could be coffee-fied as needed. For the last two weeks during workdays I have been skipping breakfast and my BPC and waiting until around 10am to have a shake. Then I eat lunch, have my BPC right when I get home,  and eat dinner before 6pm to create a 16 hour intermittent fast. The early dinner does not bother me. I have always been on the Senior Citizen Early Birds Special schedule for dinner, plus snacking is one fo the few bad food habits I never developed. I may need to consider switching to decaf for the later BPC, but I have always had trouble sleeping so I cannot say for sure caffeine is my current problem.

The verdict: hopeful.

I have been losing and gaining the same three pounds all year, but I have gone down five pounds so far in two weeks with none of the regular upswings.

Sorry I cannot tell you it has been the miracle cure and I dropped 20 pounds the first week (I hate those stories,) but the scale is finally going down consistently and I was confronted twice with the scenario that I normally “cheat” and I was fine.

It feels like I have turned a major corner.

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Recipes

Keto “Brown Sugar” Bacon-Wrapped Sausage Appetizers

Probably just about all of us have a pre-keto go-to dish we like to make for carry-ins (aka pitch-ins, potlucks, etc..)  My go-to was an appetizer that involved wrapping Lil’ Smokies in half a slice of bacon, then covering them all in brown sugar, baking, and moving them to a crockpot to keep them warm. They were perfect because they work well for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. They were easy and a surefire crowd-pleaser.   Obviously, this was not going to work in the keto WOE.  Luckily, this was one of the easier recipes to keto-ize!

I have a large extended family and I often take this to breakfasts serving a 30+ person choir and symphony. So the following recipe is for a large group. However, leftovers reheat well and can be used to make a yummy omelet the next morning.

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What I love about this recipe is that it is crazy simple. You will need breakfast sausage links in about 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces, bacon, a brown sugar substitute (I use Sukrin Gold, so I know this brand works and it is 1:1 so I did not have to adjust my old recipe), and toothpicks.

Probably the hardest part of this recipe is finding keto-friendly breakfast sausage in the store. Honestly, since I am on a budget and this often is a large amount of food for a large amount of non-keto people, I often have to go with “close enough.” Sugar is involved in the curing process, so it will be nearly impossible to find sausage without it, but a little cane sugar is better than high fructose corn syrup. So that is what I aim for. If you look at the carbs in the finished product, you will find most of the sugar goes away in the curing process. If following a budget is not a big concern or you are cooking for a smaller group, then find a local source of meat. They will be less likely to go the chemical route in their curing process (i.e. dextrose, corn syrup, etc.)

This recipe is one of the few times I prefer packaged bacon over butcher counter bacon.XWOoAszNQw6CD7Ps17o3yA For one, budget again, but more importantly the packaged bacon is sliced thinner than most butcher counters make theirs.  This thinner slice is just easier to wrap around the sausage.  I use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon in half. Once I have my bacon and sausage, then I grab some toothpicks and set-up my assembly line.

Before you start wrapping, you will need a metal shallow baking pan. The bacon and sausages will release liquid. The rest is super simple. Just wrap a h4vJbBvB1SqmUknPD8zyjTQalf-slice of bacon around a sausage and secure it with a toothpick. Put the sausage in the pan. I usually do open side up, so it can really let the melting “brown sugar” seep in. This is one of those things that just sounds like it makes a difference, but I have not done taste tests or double blind studies to determine if it makes any difference. I do arrange them in an orderly fashion so that they cook evenly and I can get all the baking done in one go. Less time and fewer dishes to clean are always a good thing.

Once all of your sausages are wrapped, then generously sprinkle the “brown sugar” over the top of all the sausages.  Once that is done, they are ready to pop in the oven.  Bonus: your house will smell amazing!

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Once they are done, I throw them in a crockpot or Instant Pot. Pour the liquid in the baking dish over the sausages in the pot. These are great for making ahead and then warming back up when they are ready to be served. I have had good luck with doing the Steam option on the Instant Pot for about 5-7 minutes and then setting it to Slow Cooker once they are heated up. Sometimes, especially if I am making these for a breakfast or brunch event, then I will put in a maple syrup substitute to give it more of a “breakfast” taste before I start reheating them.

The final step is enjoy this divine treat and all the compliments you will get!

Recipe: Keto “Brown Sugar” Bacon-Wrapped Sausage Appetizers

Ingredients:

  • 3 packages of smoked, uncured bacon
  • 2 packages of little smoked sausages or 2 packages of breakfast sausage links cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup brown sugar substitute (if your brand of choice is a 1:1 ratio with brown sugar)
  • toothpicks
  • Optional: 1/2 cup maple syrup substitute

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the bacon slices in half. Wrap each  sausage piece with the bacon and secure it with a toothpick. As you wrap the sausages, arrange them neatly in a metal shallow baking pan. Once all the sausages are wrapped, cover all with a generous sprinkling of the brown sugar substitute.

Bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a crockpot or Instant Pot. Pour the liquid released during the baking process into the pot. This allows for ease in making ahead and reheating.

Optional: add the maple syrup substitute and toss before reheating.