As you know, when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I worked hard to learn to cook foods to fit into the ketogenic diet. I have the hang of it now, and my son is doing great. We saw his endocrinologist last week and she was thrilled with his progress. His A1C is 6.5 and his sugars are totally flat, with none of the spikes or steep drops that cause organ damage. When he's at home he doesn't even need to use mealtime insulin! There are foods he still misses, so I'm always trying to re-create them. Tonight I made Keto Stuffed Shells, and it was a big hit. Everyone agreed I should post the recipe, so here it is!
Keto Stuffed Shells
24 Pre-Cut Provolone Cheese Slices, Non-Smoked
24 silicone muffin cups
1 large egg, beaten
2 TBSP cream sherry
1.5 cups ricotta cheese
1.5 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
2 drops Young Living Lemon Vitality Essential Oil
(purchase from the link on the Home page)
1 teaspoon Parsley
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces tomato paste
12 ounces water
1/4 cup marsala wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch dried stevia
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
Shredded Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Make the sauce so it can simmer as you make the shells. Heat the oil and saute the garlic cloves until fragrant. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, blend, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer, stirring occasionally.
To make the shells, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, fold the cheese slices into the silicone muffin cups as shown. They are easiest to work with if they aren't too cold, so you may want to leave them at room temperature for a while before you start. Place the cups on a pan and bake for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is just barely melted as shown below.
Let the cheese shells cool while you make the filling. Beat the egg and blend remaining filling ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat and stir, so that the egg is pasteurized but the filling is still thick and chunky, as shown.
Pull each shell away from the muffin cup and fold over to create a pocket.
Fill each shell with about 1 tablespoon of filling and fold the shell over it.
Tip each filled shell onto a serving platter or pan. Remove the marinara sauce from the heat and let it cool while you put the shells in the pan. You don't want the filled shells to get too hot as the cheese will melt again and the shells will fall apart!
To serve, plate the stuffed shells, top with the marinara sauce, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. The texture is really just about perfect, like al dente pasta! These don't reheat very well due to the cheese shells melting when you try to heat them up, so I recommend making just enough for one meal, unless you enjoy cold pasta!
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. It's been years since we had Stuffed Shells, and it was formerly a favorite of ours. It's economical, too. I can't afford meat all the time and if you've tried to feed a family the ketogenic diet all the time you know it can get pricey. There's no doubt, carbs are cheap fillers that help stretch out your food, but there's also no doubt they're nutritionally void. In fact, many doctors now consider them "anti-nutrients" that actually keep you from absorbing the good foods you do eat. This is an inexpensive meal I can feel good about feeding my family. I know some people can't handle dairy. It might take them out of ketosis or cause binges or GI problems. We don't have any of those problems, so we will put this into the regular rotation.
As promised in my last post, here is my weight loss tips post. To recap: I've been on a weight loss journey for the past two years. Well technically, I've been dieting since I was about 12, but this time I've found a program that actually works. I'm using Dr. Wade Baskin's plan. This is how Dr. Wade lost a significant amount of weight when he was in his late 40s and also got off his prescription medications. He now uses his method to help his patients and group members. You can find Dr. Wade on Instagram. You can certainly join his group and just follow his instructions, but if you're new to intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet I have some tips to help you get started. Just a warning, this is a long post!
The photos above are from February, 2019 on the left and today (6/4) on the right. It's almost physically painful for me to look at them and the worst part of it is I was actually 4-6 sizes larger at my heaviest than in the photo on the left. As you can see, I am finally starting to see the most important fat loss of all, the fat from my abdomen and neck, which is in dangerous proximity to my brain and vital organs.
I wasn't always fat. In fact, prior to my pregnancy with my oldest my measurements were 39-25-36. During my pregnancy I started to have symptoms of a mysterious illness. My husband was disabled in a near-fatal work accident when I was 3 months along, so I thought it was just stress, but after our son was born it got worse and worse. I went to doctor after doctor and suffered several misdiagnoses and "cures" along the way. One hormone I was given 16 years ago caused migraine headaches I still have today. I steadily gained weight along with developing bleeding acne, hair loss, joint pain, and other symptoms. Finally after TEN YEARS a nurse practitioner decided to run a full metabolic screening and discovered I had no measurable amount of Vitamin D in my bloodstream. Finally, it made sense that I had all the symptoms of a thyroid or hormonal disorder without anything showing up in tests; Vitamin D has a powerful effect on thyroid function and hormones. The diagnosis wasn't a cure, unfortunately. It took two years of taking prescription Vitamin D3 at enormous levels (50,000-100,000 IU per week) to get to the minimum recommended level. Around that time Norwegian researchers discovered many Scandinavians lack the gene to convert sunlight to Vitamin D. I haven't had genetic testing but since I'm around half Scandinavian, with the rest Northern European, it seems pretty clear I don't make Vitamin D well, if at all. My hormones were a mess as well, after years of so-called "healthy" diets and prescription medications that made everything worse. Basically, if you have seen an exercise or diet program on television or read about one on the Internet or in a magazine for the past 20 years, I have done it, and yet every year I was fatter than the year before.
I discovered the books Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat. Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig and was able to use their Health Recovery program to help resolve many of my symptoms as well as treat our daughter's extreme malnutrition after we adopted her. I just haven't been able to lose weight, though. I might lose 8 -15 pounds but soon the weight loss would stop and I would gain it back plus more. A piece was missing and I didn't know what it was.
Thankfully, researching diabetes after my son was diagnosed led me to Dr. Wade. He recommended Dr. Fung's books, The Diabetes Code, The Obesity Code, and The Complete Guide to Fasting. For the first time I discovered the link between insulin production and weight gain. You can eat low carb, but anything you eat will cause your pancreas to release insulin and it is insulin that causes weight gain. Therefore, it is eating FREQUENCY, more than any other factor, which has the greatest impact on your weight. This discovery was a revelation to me. I started fasting, but I still wasn't seeing the results I wanted until I discovered Dr. Wade's plan.
One purpose of your fat cells is to protect your body from harmful materials. If a toxin enters your body, it creates some fat cells and sticks the toxin inside a little bubble of fat, like an oyster making a pearl only not quite so pretty. This is one reason excess fat cells are so dangerous, especially when they surround your internal organs. They're full of poisons that can leak out. They create hormones that can drive your appetite for harmful foods. When you start fasting your fat cells begin to empty out and your body goes into a process called "autophagy", which means to eat itself. When fuel is restricted your body begins to get rid of any damaged or unnecessary cells in order to preserve the healthiest cells. If you've been eating the typical American processed food diet and exposing yourself to lots of pollution (say, getting your recommended steps in while walking along the road and breathing in exhaust fumes), your body will start pushing all that stuff out as fast as it can and it's not pretty. This is where Dr. Wade and I differ a bit on the best way to start fasting. He says go all out with the 48 and 72 hour fasts right from the start. I disagree.
Early in 2017, before our son's diagnosis, I tried to start Keto, Intermittent Fasting, and exercise with Internet advice. This was before I read Dr. Fung's books. I felt absolutely MISERABLE. I was constantly sick and had no energy and I lost no weight whatsoever. My sister lost lots of weight on Keto but I concluded it wasn't for me. I went on to try a Vegan plan that ended up with me at my highest weight ever and sick with IBS symptoms. I don't want you to go through that! Fasting can be uncomfortable but it doesn't have to be so bad you give up on it.
To begin, start a ketogenic or carnivore diet. There's lots of debate about both of these, but basically you want to limit your foods to meat and non-starchy vegetables. Some people include dairy and others don't. I personally have no problems with dairy, most likely due to my genetic background. Butterfat has been a main food source for my ancestors for generations. Carnivore is a controversial and supposedly new diet in which you eat just meat or only animal based foods. However, if you read Sally Fallon's books you will find Dr. Mary Enig had years of research showing plant foods are not necessary and can be harmful if not carefully prepared. Traditional societies did not eat plant foods without extensive preparation, usually involving fermentation, to render them harmless. Otherwise plants contain anti-nutrients that keep you from absorbing nourishment from your food. I personally believe the ability to tolerate plants varies due to genetics. I've noticed my Chinese children can eat far more fruit, for example, than I ever could. I recommend either the allergy treatment protocol in Dr. Atkins' Vitanutrient Solution book or his 1000 Calorie Fat Fast from his New Diet Revolution book to give you a good elimination diet to help you determine which and how many foods you can tolerate. You should also use ketogenic urine testing strips before and after meals to see which foods spike your insulin. You can find these in the diabetic section of drug stores. If your test strips are pink or purple before you eat but change to beige after you eat that means the food is causing your insulin level to spike. Avoid those foods! Try to keep your diet free of keto junk food, such as prepackaged shakes and cookies and things. You are trying to rid your body of chemicals so they won't be expelled in a painful manner when you start extended fasting.
As you begin your diet, start a light fasting schedule. While you're fasting make sure to read The Complete Guide to Fasting! Simply go for 12 hours without eating. So, if you eat supper at 7PM don't eat anything until breakfast at 7AM the next day. Over the course of a few weeks push your eating window longer and longer until you can comfortably eat only one meal a day. Most experts believe it is best to eat your one meal early in the day. You will see this referred to as OMAD (One Meal A Day), and it will come naturally as you adopt a ketogenic or carnivore diet because the extra fat and protein you eat will reduce hunger a great deal.
When you start fasting longer than about 12 hours you will almost certainly experience some discomfort from the toxins leaving your body. These may include nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, skin lesions or rashes, headaches, insomnia. and more. I've experienced all these at various times. If your symptoms are severe, just break your fast. Have a clean meal, and start again another day. It took me forever to get past 50 hours, and I had the craziest symptoms. The weirdest was when my stretch marks from my pregnancy 20 years ago broke open and began to bleed! If your symptoms aren't too severe, however, I have some products I recommend. I do sell these products, so I will make a small commission when you purchase, but I promise you I do use them and highly recommend them! For upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, etc: drink 2-3 drops of Digize oil in a GLASS (not plastic cup) of water and take two Essentialzymes capsules. You can also rub the Digize on your stomach if you don't like the flavor. You can substitute Fennel Vitality oil if you prefer; it tastes like licorice! For insomnia and constipation: take MegaCal as directed on the label. Add 2 cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath with Lavender, Dream Catcher, Peace and Calming, or Valerian oil and soak for at least 20 minutes. You can buy these Young Living products from here or the link on the Home page. I rarely need to use these products anymore, so just keep telling yourself it will get better as your body gets rid of all the junk it's been storing!
For general malaise, weakness, dizziness, or muscle cramps, drink unflavored electrolyte water. You can make your own from Dr. Wade's recipe: Mix 1 quart water, 1 teaspoon baking soda or sea salt (Dr. Wade prefers Redmond's Real Salt), and 1/2 teaspoon potassium chloride powder ("NoSalt" or NuSalt" the spice aisle). Do NOT increase the amount of potassium, but the salt or soda can be increased or decreased to suit you.
Once you've gotten used to OMAD you can start increasing your fasting time until you are going 48-72 hours. I use the Zero app to track my fasts. Dr. Wade doesn't like when people do really long fasts, like a week or more at a time, because he thinks that can lead to binge eating and a binge and purge disorder. He wants you to get to the point that you've rid yourself of all your addictions, including caffeine and food cravings, and can eat a small meat meal and go right back to fasting. He recommends you take no foods or liquids unless you absolutely need the electrolyte solution. At the very beginning you can use bone broth and coffee or tea with cream as Dr. Fung recommends but you want to wean yourself off these crutches. You should not be exercising while fasting. Save that for your eating days. When you do exercise you want to do so at such a low pace you could keep it up for hours. More strenuous exercise will cause your cortisol to spike and stop your weight loss.
Then when you reach your goal weight you can go back to OMAD and eating a more varied diet if you prefer. For me personally the ketogenic diet works best. Carnivore is higher protein and protein converts to sugar in the body, so it's not safe for my diabetic son to have too much. Also, with our children's medical bills I can't afford meat at every meal. I use lots of eggs, cream, and cheese as a meat substitute. You can look back over my posts on this page and my blog for tons of ketogenic recipes.
I've had great success with Dr. Wade's Facebook Group. Be aware if you join, he expects participation and will remove you if you don't post. He also will call you out if you're doing something he doesn't like. Please remember it's a support group, not forum to bully others. He knows what he's doing, however, and he's spent more time advising me than any doctor I've ever had, since he conducts a 1-hour live session every single week to answer questions and help us work through problems.
I have a long way to go, still. I want to lose at least 50 more pounds, but this is the best success I've had at weight loss since my twenties and I wanted to share it with everyone. It's so important to recognize much of the advice we are hearing pretty much everywhere is designed to help Big Food and Big Pharma make a profit, not support our health! I'm trying to get over my anger at the fact that my whole situation is a direct result of me following my doctors' advice over two decades. It ruined half my twenties to half my forties but I finally feel like now I know how to take my life back.
Here's a bonus oils recipe for you. We had an incredibly busy weekend, with our youngest son's final soccer playoffs game, so naturally he got stung by a bee at recess on Friday. The sting was on his calf. They washed and treated it at school and it looked fine, but after the game Saturday his whole lower leg was red and swollen and by Sunday morning it was turning purple. I recognized a possible infection starting so I used my oils. I mixed a little witch hazel with 4 drops each Sacred Frankincense, Lavender, Melrose, and Copaiba and applied it every few hours with a cotton ball. I added Peppermint to the mix when it began to itch. I also had him spend Sunday afternoon with his leg elevated and iced it. By Monday night the swelling was completely down and it no longer hurt or itched! It still looks bruised but that's just a remnant of the damage and it's improving quickly. This mixture is a great treatment for any skin issues that might itch or get infected.
As usual I'm playing catch-up with basically my whole life right now! We have had a lot going on, but some great things happened lately and I wanted to update you. First of all. please join me in celebrating my 100th blog post on this, my own website! Having my own website was a longtime goal of mine and I'm proud to have achieved it.
Next, our Saturdays have been taken over the past few months by soccer. This was our son's first year on a travel soccer team. They made the playoffs and they won, so they're the champions for the region! That was really exciting, but I'm glad it's over. The championships lasted a month past the usual end of the season, so soccer and swim team overlapped. All these games and practices take time and I've gotten basically nowhere with my planned re-merchandising of the shops. Still, I remind myself I chose this career specifically in order to have the opportunity to give my children these opportunities and it's working out well. I rarely miss these events in their lives and I'm available to ferry them around as needed.
If you've been following me for a while you know I've been on a weight loss and health recovery journey since 2017. In September of that year our son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and I decided to switch the whole family to the ketogenic diet. I lost some weight, around 15 pounds, right away but then my weight loss stalled and pounds began to creep back on. My body composition did change significantly. Part of this journey has been learning which foods I can and cannot tolerate. I found most fruits, vegetables, and grains cause me to blow up like a balloon and experience GI issues, so just cutting them down removed a lot of the bloat I experienced due to inflammation. Then at the end of March I found out Dr. Wade Baskin, who I've been following on Instagram for a while, has a Facebook group. I joined the group and since then I've lost over 30 pounds! I would still have to lose almost 100 pounds to get to my pre-kids weight, but I think at my age that would probably not be the best idea as far as wrinkles go. I can see I'm already getting a stringy-looking neck and before kids I hovered around the lowest BMI range for my height, sometimes dropping into the underweight category. I was also a lot weaker than I am now, with a terrible immune system, and didn't have the amount of stamina I now have, 20 years later, so I guess I was "skinny fat". My goal now is to preserve my muscle mass as I lose weight and continue to improve my health, especially my chronic allergies.
The photos above were taken in 2017 (left) and Saturday (right). I have a goal to lose another 20 pounds by the beginning of July and I actually feel confident about my ability to do it. Dr. Wade's plan is very simple: you alternate 72 and 48 hour fasts until you reach your goal weight. Dr. Wade prefers dry fasting, but if you need it he does allow electrolyte solution and coffee. His goal is to complete shorter extended fasts, so you don't inhale everything in sight when you eat, and to remove your addiction to food. He prefers red meat only when you do eat, one 500-800 calorie meat meal between fasts. So it's simple but not terribly easy. I will write a longer and more detailed post next for those of you who want more information.
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.