My last post covered my Keto Aid drink that helps me through extended fasts and Fat Fasts and Zero Carb Challenges. I completed four days of fat fasting and then we went to my parents' house to pick up our kids. My parents always have a ridiculous amount of junk food, almost none Keto, despite that one of our kids is diabetic and another allergic to wheat, and this time was no exception. My mother had my daughter bake a bunch of iced shortbread cookies and also had all kinds of pasta and chips and bread and juice and ice cream. I did okay the first night but the second night I ate a bunch of Cheez-It crackers and a cookie and drank way too much wine. I recovered my equilibrium once we got home the next day (the amount of junk food is one reason we rarely stay long at my parents' house) and did a week of all-day fasts with just one meal each day and some days a snack added. I found, however, my craving for Cheez-Its just wouldn't go away. Anyone who does low carb or Keto knows that once the carbs leave your body and you get fat-adapted (meaning your body and brain starts using your body fat for fuel rather than recently-consumed carbohydrates), you don't have many (if any) cravings, so this surprised me. Maybe Cheez-Its have some addicting ingredient or maybe it's just that they've always been my absolute favorite snack, but I just couldn't stop thinking about them all week.
I looked for Keto Cheez-It recipes online. I've made similar "cheese chips" and fried cheese in the past but none of them were exactly like Cheez-It. I only like Cheez-Its, too, not any of the store brand copies or Cheese Nips or any of those. I had to find a Keto recipe for classic Cheez-Its, and I'm happy to say, with the help of someone in my Keto Instagram feed, I've done it! It turns out re-creating the authentic Cheez-It flavor requires four things: the cheese must be aged, the cheese must be Gouda, paprika must be added to the seasoning, and the salt must be coarse salt. I have to admit, these are pretty much just as addictive as regular Cheez-Its, so you'll have to exert some will power to keep from snacking. Maybe just eat them as meals, the way I do!
Keto Cheez-It Crackers
12 slices Gouda pre-sliced cheese
Coarse Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt to taste
Paprika to Taste
First age the cheese. Place four slices of cheese on a paper towel (or you can use clean absorbent cloth towels) as shown, layer with another paper towel, and repeat until you've used all the cheese slices. Cover with a paper towel and leave at room temperature for three days. On the third or fourth day cut the cheese slices into quarters. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet so the pieces aren't touching each other. Sprinkle with coarse salt and paprika. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes until the cheese begins to brown. For maximum crunchiness, blot the crackers with a towel to remove any excess oil and store in a covered container at room temperature.
So in the past I've done the "chips" you make by baking shredded Parmesan cheese on parchment paper, and I've made the ones where you bake sliced cheddar or fry it in a pan, and those are good, but none had the Cheez-It flavor. I also tried to make cheese crackers by adapting the Fathead pizza crust dough. Those had great Cheez-It flavor but the texture was wrong. They were way too soft. I knew from reading the Cheez-It ingredients on the box they use paprika, which is the difference between them and other similar cheese crackers. Maybe I'm addicted to Paprika! Revelation came when someone in my Keto feed mentioned when they use aged Gouda cheese they get the real Cheez-It flavor. I tried aging the Gouda and the result was really good, but still not 100% Cheez-It. For that batch I used regular fine salt and they were just too salty.
For the next batch I tried the most popular recipe on Pinterest, which calls for cheddar and isn't aged, but I substituted Gouda. That batch wasn't salty enough and the texture was all wrong. When you don't age the cheese it has too much oil in it and the chips puff all up and end up chewy. You can see in the photo above the aged chip on the left and the larger, puffy, un-aged chip on the right. They taste like stale Cheez-Its! The reason you need to age the slices in a single layer on absorbent towels is they soak up the oil from the cheese, which allows the crackers to become as hard and crunchy as those baked with flour.
For my third batch I tried using coarse Himalayan salt on aged Gouda and it turned out perfectly! I don't think you can get closer to the real Cheez-It than this! Real Cheez-Its have those big pieces of salt on them, which I love, and the coarse salt adds that part of the Cheez-It experience.
After getting myself back on track I ended up losing almost another inch off my waist, so now I've lost nearly four inches off my waist in the last two weeks. I know I could do even better on another fat fast, but it's really hard to do with the kids home, so I've just been trying to fast for at least 18 hours a day. Maybe now that I have the Cheez-Its down I'll be more successful at fat fasting!
If you've been following my weight loss journey you know that after hitting a months-long plateau I decided to participate in the Operation No Scale Challenge from June 1st -July 1st. I'm supposed to be focusing on meeting my macros and how much better it makes me feel instead of just the number on the scale. The trouble is, I'm not feeling all that great! I've been having muscle aches and cramps and dizziness, especially when I stand up suddenly. Reading up on it, I found Keto, and any other diet that causes rapid weight loss or water loss, can deplete your electrolyte balance. Thankfully, this is a quick fix with some Keto-Ade. It's a terrific Keto aid, ha ha! Keto-Ade is easy to make and besides helping with muscle cramps it can ease other unpleasant side effects of Keto, Zero-Carb, and Intermittant Fasting, like constipation and insomnia. Here's the recipe:
6 cups water (I use distilled water)
1/2 tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt or Sea Salt
Juice of 1 lemon or 1 TBSP bottled lemon juice
2 tsp. Young Living MegaCal calcium and magnesium supplement
10 drops Young Living Lemon Essential Oil
1/4 cup Monkfruit Sweetener, Granulated, or to taste
Mix all ingredients in a glass or metal container (NEVER use plastic with citrus juice or essential oils as it etches the plastic and causes chemicals to leak into the water) until the salt, MegaCal, and sweetener are dissolved. Drink as needed throughout the day to replenish electrolytes. One cup has 2.5 calories and a trace amount of carbohydrates. Please note, magnesium has a laxative effect, so add this drink to your diet gradually to see how much you can tolerate.
This week since my kids are out of town I decided to try to do either an extended fast or a week of Zero Carb. Yesterday (Monday, Day 1) I tried the full fast, with just water and coffee with a splash of cream in the morning and afternoon, and Keto-Ade, but I was starving to the point I was having trouble concentrating by supper time, so I had four pieces of bacon and a few macadamia nuts. Basically, I'm doing a modified version of Dr. Atkins' "Fat Fast" with some actual fasting. His version was a 1000 calorie per day diet of as close to pure fat as possible, three meals a day, for one week.
My one little meal, with a few more cups of Keto-Ade before bed, was enough to fill me up and I was actually able to sleep last night. That's wonderful, because both fasting and zero-carb cause me to suffer from insomnia most of the time. So far today I've had only coffee and Keto-Ade but I'm getting really hungry so I will probably have a small zero-carb meal tonight. Yesterday I swam laps and walked and today I worked in the garden, so I may just be adding too much activity for a complete fast. I'm still barely in ketosis, which is quite disappointing. This could be due to my little Sunday night red wine and Halo Top fest before starting my fast or possibly the sugar alcohols in the monkfruit sweetener I used in my Keto-Ade are affecting me like carbs. If I'm not deeper in ketosis within the next 12 hours or so I will either remove or change the sweetener. Monkfruit usually isn't a problem for me so I'm thinking it was my indulgence the night before my fast.
If you wanted, you could remove the juice all together from the drink and substitute essential oil to taste and then you could change the flavor. Lime would probably be really good, or orange. Keep in mind, only Young Living developed Vitality essential oils especially for internal consumption and they are the only brand of oils I recommend. Most essential oils are NOT safe for ingestion. You can purchase the oils and MegaCal supplement from the Home page of this website. I hope you find this recipe as much of an aid to your Keto diet as I have!
For the first time ever we have no children at home for Father's Day this year. Our oldest is working and the younger two are visiting their grandparents. We aren't doing anything fun, either. A couple weeks ago our garden irrigation system suddenly lost pressure and stopped working and we've been trying to fix it ever since. I say "we" although all I do is turn the water on and off and hand things to my husband, so I'm not really all that involved. I did go to the store and buy the wrong part and then managed to lose the receipt, so I will be listing that on eBay soon! Our washing machine also died this week, so we had to order a new one. That caused such a big dent in the bank account we don't have any money to go out and do anything. Never fear, though, we did have a Father's Day special supper earlier in the week.
My parents stopped on their way home from Ohio to pick up our kids and visit so I made a big special dinner and we celebrated Mother's Day, Father's Day, and my parents' birthdays all at once. While shopping for the supper I saw a strawberry pie at the grocery. It was the kind of pie I used to buy every spring, with strawberries suspended in a kind of gel and a thick topping of especially light, fluffy stuff that tastes like whipped cream but holds its shape when piped like buttercream frosting. I wanted to buy that pie in the worst way! However, I've read enough books on nutrition to know the berries in the pie don't make up for the load of chemicals, artificial colors and flavors, and hydrogenated oils, and besides our diabetic son couldn't eat it. I decided to try to make a Keto version and I'm happy to say it turned out beautifully and really hit the spot! Here's the recipe:
Keto Strawberry Pie
Takes 3+ hours to prepare and chill.
Keto Pie Crust:
1/2 C Coconut Flour
1/2 C Almond Flour
1/3 C Unsalted Butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Granular Monkfruit Sweetener
5 Tbsp Ice Water
1 Pint Heavy Cream
10 Drops Vanilla Liquid Monkfruit Sweetener
1 Packet Unflavored Gelatin
1 Quart Strawberries, chopped
1 C Water
1-2 packets Unflavored Gelatin
1/2 C Granular Monkfruit Sweetener
1 tsp Vanilla
To make the pie crust:
Mix flours together thoroughly. Blend in salt and sweetener. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with ice water and mix in until the mixture forms a dough which can be shaped into a ball. Place the ball of dough in a greased pie pan and press out with your fingertips until the dough evenly covers the pan and the edge. Shape the edge with a fork or your fingers to make a decorative border. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit 10 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
To make the topping:
Whip cream with the sweetener until it forms stiff peaks. Sprinkle a little water over one packet of gelatin. Stir the gelatin with a fork until it dissolves. Fold the gelatin into the cream and gently blend until it is evenly distributed. Cover the cream and chill until ready to use.
To make the filling:
Combine the berries, water, granular monkfruit, and vanilla. Blend until the sweetener dissolves. Bring to a boil. Stir in 1-2 packets of gelatin until they dissolve (I used 2 packets but I think 1 would probably have been sufficient; use 2 if you want a very stiff filling to display cut pieces well). Allow to cool to lukewarm, but not until the mixture is stiffening. Pour the mixture into the baked pie crust. Chill 2-3 hours until set. Pipe the whipped cream in decorative swirls over the pie. You can serve immediately or make this ahead and chill until you're ready to serve. I used home grown berries, which are tiny enough to add to the filling whole, and have a much more intense flavor than store-bought berries. If you use store berries you will need to chop them into bite-sized pieces and you may need less sweetener.
I'm glad I got a chance to enjoy my pie, because while the kids are away I think I"m going to do a zero carb fast or a water fast; I haven't decided which yet. I used berries from our garden so I threw in a few ripe blueberries and it was delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
In retail news, I have all my men's fashions discounted in my Poshmark boutique for Father's Day. I hope you'll stop by and pick up a cool gift for Dad! A few days ago Etsy suddenly announced they are not only raising seller's fees but also taxing shipping, so I was forced to raise prices across the board in that shop. To ease the transition I have everything discounted through June 24th. If you've been wanting something from the Etsy shop please stop by before then to get the lower price. You can link to all my shops from the Home page.
I barely made it, but here it is, my World Doll Day post! Happy World Doll Day! Atelier Mandaline is celebrating all weekend long!
I spent the day driving around, taking my daughter to and from a party, cleaning the house in anticipation of guests arriving tomorrow, running to the hardware store for my husband... busy, busy, busy, but I DID find time to set up my Doll Day sales! Save 20% on all things doll in my eBay and Etsy shops through Monday, June 11th. I included action figures in the sale.
Speaking of action figures, I just listed a ton of retired Funko Pops on Amazon and eBay and have more on the way. These are already selling out fast, some going locally before I even got them listed online. Sadly, I made a dumb decision, choosing a Princess Diana in a black dress. Turns out, I should have gotten the red version. It sold out over the past few days and now it's selling on Amazon and eBay for $50! All the Pops I got are retired, though, so they should all appreciate once they've sold out in regular stores. And what an adorable investment! So much cuter than stocks and bonds! The ones shown below are a tiny fraction of my inventory. I hope you'll head to my shops from the Home page to celebrate World Doll Day with me.
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.