Odds, Ends, and Giving Thanks

Just a quick update with a few keto notes that have been on my mind. Nora is 19 months + 2 days seizure free, getting over a nasty cold/flu and looking forward to Thanksgiving break from school.

Still no Cytra-K and Nora’s keto clinic appointment for last Friday had to be rescheduled because her doctor had a family emergency. We wish him the best and are looking forward to getting a new appointment.

Thanks to Ted’s creative parenting and Nora’s 5-year-old maturity, taking baking soda as a Cytra-K substitute is going smoothly. Ted mixes up 1 tsp of baking soda in about 1/2 cup of water. We give her up to an ounce with every meal and snack. On school days she has one at breakfast, then one with afternoon snack, dinner and anything left at bedtime. No more pukies for awhile, so it must be doing the trick and spreading it out over the day seems to help ease any tummy upset.

To convince her to take it, Ted played Mojo Jojo for several days, telling her that if she takes her baking soda she will have super powers like the PowerPuff Girls to defeat him, but if she doesn’t take it then he can take over the world (he was very convincing!) She gulped it down and attacked!

This morning as we were trying to get to school on time, she said “but I haven’t taken my baking soda yet!” and sipped it down all by herself. Although it will never be a yummy treat, it’s also not torture anymore. What a relief.

I also wanted to share some keto updates and success from other families. I cry when I read their history and their bumps in the road because I know what it is like, but I’m also so hopeful and proud to see them overcome. Good attitudes and stories are contagious. Even though I may never meet most of these families in person, I hope they know that we are out here pulling for them, and I know that they (and our readers) are pulling for us too. We are always stronger together.

  • One of the first keto families that we connected with online is nearly weaned off the diet, after 5 long years of struggling with Doose syndrome and fighting for seizure control. I don’t have a blog post with the news, but I’m so thankful to keep up with Fawn on Facebook to get the news as it happens. Jade is out of ketosis! We are celebrating with you!
  • Amazing KetoCook mom Dawn posted an update at long last. I had the honor of meeting Dawn at the Charlie Foundation conference over a year ago. She has done so much for keto parents everywhere, but her most important accomplishment is seeing beautiful Charlotte through Dravet syndrome every day and continuing to do everything possible to head off a seizure. We have learned so much from you and we are cheering you on always. Your family is an ongoing inspiration.
  • And ketokid Autumn from Fort Wayne is in the news for 18 months of seizure freedom!

We have the deepest gratitude for the support we have received from everyone in our lives, near and far. Here’s to a restful and filling Thanksgiving holiday with our closest ones happy and healthy.

No Cytra-K?!?

Last week was time to order another box of Cytra-K (for background, see The Blood Acid Chronicles). But the manufacturer is out! Our pharmacy called all 14 other pharmacies in town, and there was none to be found.

The back-up plan is to give Nora 1/2 tsp of baking soda twice per day. But Nora absolutely hates it. We dissolve it in a little bit of water, but we have to fight to get her to take it. Ted has discovered that Arm & Hammer tastes better than the kind sold in bulk at our co-op, but it is little comfort to Nora.

I put a tiny bit in her hot chocolate without telling her to see if she could taste it. It’s like the princess and the pea.

Nora’s doctor has a fax on his desk that he will find first-thing Monday morning asking for a substitute. Any suggestions for other substitutes for preventing blood acidosis?


Buttered up

Word on the keto-street is that Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream is the only brand that consistently has no carbs. Their process is good enough to take only the fat and leave all of the lactose behind. And it’s organic–even better.

But we have a problem. We’ve notice that the Organic Valley cream we get from our local co-op is often very clumpy, while the Organic Valley cream that we get from another grocery store is consistently smoother.

So what’s going on in that clumpy container? In “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,” Harold McGee says it simply: “you agitate a container of cream until the fat globules are damaged and their fat leaks out and comes together into masses large enough to gather.” I suspect that the creamery trucks need better shocks to avoid all of that agitation.


The clumps that we find are baby butter. We try to stir them back into the cream, but we are really just breaking them up for a more even distribution. When we heat cream with clumps, they turn into yellow pools of butter. When Ted found a very clumpy carton this weekend, his idea was to put it in the microwave to heat, then it would re-distribute itself better. After heating and stirring, he put it in the fridge. When it came out of the fridge, there was a butter disk on top! (It was half-eaten by the time I took a picture. No, I didn’t eat it.)

Now, that’s cool, right? But we have a problem. We just extracted fat from the cream. We could do a rigorous weighing and calculation to determine how much fat was removed from the container to calculate and use the “thin” cream for Nora. But instead we bought a new carton and I will drink the thin cream in my coffee this week. Everybody wins.

Lesson: Buy smooth cream if possible. If your cream is clumpy, don’t heat it. Redistribute the clumps as well as you can for reliable fat measurement.

Bringing keto to kindergarten, part 2

Me: “Mmmm, Nora. These pumpkin bars are so good. You are the luckiest keto-kid on the block.”
Nora: “No, I’m the only keto-kid on the block.”

And that pretty much sums up the social issue with starting school. Nora has been so amazingly compliant about her diet that the last 20 months has been relatively easy emotionally. Also, she has been home with her beloved Laura while I’m at work, socializing mostly with other families that we know and who know Nora. And if someone offers her food, our assertive little Nora clearly states: “no thanks, I can’t, I’m on the ketogenic diet for epilepsy.” I have heard it with my own ears. But I was also there to step in if Nora did not assert herself. When she is at school, she is on her own.

Starting kindergarten means that everything is new. All new people and kids who eat together 3 times per day. Nora is in school from 8:15 to 2:40, where they eat breakfast, snack and lunch together. Of course, Nora’s teacher and school staff are informed about her diet (I will address that in part 3), so it is not up to a 5 year old to explain it to the adults.

But she is her own advocate with her peers and she is well aware that she is the only keto-kid on the block. Other kids have other food issues to navigate, such as nut, dairy and gluten allergies. Plenty of other kids bring their own lunches and a few opt-out of breakfast. But after just the first day she was aware that *everyone* was drinking milk with their breakfasts and lunches and she wanted milk too.

IMG_4103I was trying to avoid liquids in her school meals, which are only asking to be spilled. But when she really wanted to have “milk,” I felt like it was more important to honor her wishes than avoid the risk of spilling. We’ve been giving her “keto milk” made with cream (an amount needed to achieve the ratio in the meal), diluted with water and with a drop of vanilla or other flavoring (she also likes banana). Our standard packing method is an 8-oz mason jar, the kind you use for canning jam. This summer I punched a hole in the top of a lid to fit in a straw. To make it spill-proof in a lunch bag, you just add a second solid lid under the screw cap, then to serve remove the second lid and insert a straw.

The straw is great for avoiding big spills while drinking, but I think that the changing of the lids is a bit much for a 5 year old who has 25 minutes to eat while surrounded by other kids. After the first day of school I tested her on unscrewing the lid to drink directly from the jar like a cup, which worked fine for the few days that we tried it.

IMG_2273I also started searching for small travel-and-kid-friendly cups that we could send to school. We came up with these reCAP mason jar lids and have used them successfully for the last week. They are plastic and have a rubber gasket to create a good seal. Nora can pop open the pouring lid herself. I am still nervous that the pour top will not stay closed in a lunchbox, but so far, so good. I check and double check it before I send her off.

I also brought in 6 of her Mexican Chocolate Protein Cupcakes with frosting and put them in the school freezer, so that she has a snack on hand if the class has a special treat. The question will be whether everyone remembers that she has a treat in the freezer. But if I tell Nora about it, she will be sure to inform everyone. Next I have to figure out how I will be informed that she had the extra snack at school. I suspect that I will hear it from Nora first, and they are at-ratio so if I don’t hear about it the ratio is fine, she just gets lots of extra calories that day.

She has been to school for 8 days now, and every day she comes back with empty food containers and no stories of spilling. It all seems to be working so far from her end. I feel pretty confident that Nora will tell me her wishes so that her lunches are appealing and easy to eat with her class, because the top priority is to keep her happy and independently choosing to stay on the diet.

The only mishap so far was one day when the whole class did not get morning snack because their schedule was rushed. When I picked her up the teacher reported that she had an emotional day, then when we got home I discovered that she had not touched her morning snack. She was adamant that no one ate snack, so the next day I told her teacher that if they don’t eat snack she needs to get that food at lunch time. Her calories are apportioned over the day, and missing some will make a girl cranky. It’s in everyone’s best interest to feed Nora.

Bringing keto to kindergarten, part 1

Nora started school this week! Our school district does a “gentle start” for kindergarten. We met with her teacher for a half-hour last week, when we got to talk to her directly about the diet and Nora’s needs. Then Nora went on Monday for a full day with half of the kids in her class. Today she is there for the first full day with the whole class and it’s the regular schedule from here on out.


We are happy that Nora is in a school for full-day kindergarten, which goes from 8:15 to 2:40. The kids eat 3 times in that span–breakfast, snack and lunch. Three times the meal packing every day. But we are so excited that it is a Spanish-immersion school, where she will be learning exclusively in Spanish every-other day or every-other week (depending on how the teacher decides it works best for this group). She is in a classroom with one bilingual teacher rather than switching teachers weekly. Nora loves language and has been trying to speak Spanish for a few years, with a convincing accent. I can now leave it to the teacher to give her real vocabulary.

Because there is so much involved with sending Nora to school and the story will be unfolding for the rest of the week and next, I am going to write several blog posts about different aspects of bringing keto to kindergarten.

For now, the only sure thing is our parental perspective. Every parent feels anxiety and excitement at sending their child off on the first day of school. My feelings tend to run toward pride and joy that they are growing up and entering their own worlds. Nora makes that feeling easy because she is eager to join in, with only a trace of shyness or anxiety at the new situation. I don’t have to leave her crying; she leads me right to her classroom and gets herself settled in. I feel fortunate for that.

But she has lived a sheltered keto-life. She was enrolled in preschool when her epilepsy was at its worst in 2011. We took her out of school and hired a nanny, our beloved Laura, to care for her at home when I was at work. Laura has been with her ever since. She has had a dedicated adult with her to open containers and scrape out dishes for all of this time. Now taking her to school means that she doesn’t have that kind of one-on-one supervision, which raises anxiety about whether she will eat all of her meals as prepared for her, while resisting any temptation to share food from other kids.

We are also retelling Nora’s story over and over again–to the school nurse, to the teacher, to other parents that we are meeting or don’t know well. I brought in the newspaper article about her 1-year seizure free anniversary because it’s an easy to read explanation and lends it legitimacy. And every time I say that she is doing so great now, we are feeling confident that she will continue to stay seizure free, I want to knock on wood or throw salt over my shoulder. Those feelings of anxiety are lessening as time goes on, but they are still there. Bringing her Diastat prescription to the office just in case she has a prolonged seizure is a prudent and necessary step, but brings up frightful images of seizures at school that I don’t want to see in my mind. For all of the hope of the last 20 months, there is still the fear of a relapse. Somehow we have to continue to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, which is front and center during this transition.

To cope with that anxiety, I have looked for strategies to make her meals as simple as possible and ease any social issues that she will feel. Even though the adults are supposed to watch out for her (more on that in another post), I would rather avoid the risks by making everything as independent for her as possible. Then she can also avoid a little of the stigma that may come from being “different” (more on that later too). Other kids will bring their own lunches too, so if Nora can sit down, open her own meal and eat it all herself, all the better.

IMG_4096I baked a lot over the last weekend to store up some easy high-ratio finger foods rather than relying on liquids like cream or oil to achieve her 3.5:1 ratio. We are trying not to include too many foods that require eating with a spoon so that there is not much left behind in the dishes. We are also trying to avoid anything that can spill easily, which would most likely be cream and critical to keeping her ratio where it should be (more on that later too).

All of this comes at a time of transition for everyone on our family. Anders is also back at school. Both kids are playing soccer this season, Ted and I both work at OSU and are preparing to teach again this fall. I was off all summer, so I was preparing Nora’s meals as we ate rather than preparing and packing the night before in a lunchbox. New routines means that everyone is a little off-kilter as we get busier, and everything is a little more rushed and a little more difficult.

Did you ever have one of THOSE keto-baking nights? I had one last night. Sometimes it is harder than usual. I was trying to make Nora’s pumpkin bars (which, if I have not raved about them yet, are at http://ketocook.com/2012/10/03/pumpkin-cheesecake-bars/). They have been a staple in the breakfast rotation for the last year and are so good. I always start measuring with eggs because I try to hit some multiple of the recipe based on getting the eggs to come out even. I hate storing and wasting eggs.

By my version of the recipe (altered a bit to get 3.5:1 for Nora), I cracked 3 eggs and came out pretty even at making 18 bars. That was a fairly reasonable number; next I went to the computer to calculate how much of the rest of the ingredients to add. Then I went to add the macadamia nuts. I keep some ground in the fridge for easy cooking, but of course I was almost out. Got out the food processor to grind more. Done with that. Measured a few more things…now my small jar of coconut oil was almost empty. Got out the 5-gallon jar to refill the small one. Always a messy job. Poured a glass of wine (I already did the math, so it was good timing). Finished measuring everything out and put it in the mixer. Went to help Nora out of the tub…came back 10 minutes later with the mixer still on–excellent, the bars will be well mixed. Measured them into individual silicone baking cups, so many that I had to bake them in shifts…then there is clean up. But for a night of baking, we have plenty of breakfasts ready to serve. Beats the morning rush.

Today and tonight we were strategizing about lunch packing, getting ready for tomorrow. It must be fall, for the evenings in front of the gram scale are here.


Feeding our kids, ourselves

One of the most common questions that we hear from people who learn about Nora’s diet, or who have known that we have been doing this for 20 months, is this: Do you eat like Nora too? How has your diet changed?

Simple beautiful keto meal. In the cup is a little poached egg (one of the first from our own chickens!) swimming in heavy cream. Nora also had fish oil and her cytra jello on the side.

Simple beautiful keto meal. In the cup is a little poached egg (one of the first from our own chickens!) swimming in heavy cream. Nora also had fish oil and her cytra jello on the side.

This simple answer is this: Yes, we eat like Nora because we eat the same foods. Cheese, avocado, nuts, red pepper, berries, meats, eggs, cream, butter. But we don’t measure our food or eat in the same proportions as Nora does. We can have a fresh and simple family meal from mostly the same foods, but Nora has less fruit and a side of heavy cream. I’ve included several keto meals from this summer that were so pretty I took a picture.

I’ve noticed that as we have been so intensely focused on feeding Nora for her health, we have migrated to healthier eating patterns ourselves. Most people recoil at the fat-laden ketogenic diet and have an automatic association that fat is unhealthy. But there is more to the ketogenic diet than adding fat, and fat is not inherently unhealthy. It is an essential macronutrient that we all need. Our bodies’ interaction with food is much more complicated than fat = bad or carbs = bad…or any other such simplistic notion.

Lovely keto meal at the coast: 1/2 hard boiled egg (white only), baby shrimp in the egg, cucumber, pepper, kalamata olives and bleu cheese dip (recipe to follow).

Lovely keto meal at the coast: 1/2 hard boiled egg (white only), baby shrimp in the egg, cucumber, pepper, kalamata olives and bleu cheese dip (recipe to follow).

I was deeply impressed by the latest pamphlet released by the Charlie Foundation called “Does what I eat affect my epilepsy?” about how diet affects epilepsy even for people not on the ketogenic diet. I was struck by their simple 2-step prescription:

1. Eliminate simple sugars
2. Eat a natural, whole foods diet

These two simple rules are good for every body, not just for controlling seizures. This is what the ketogenic diet has shown us, almost by trial and error. It is impossible to eat simple sugars on the diet. There aren’t enough carbs to give. And that’s been one major shift in our diet too. We rarely eat sweets or sweet drinks. I rarely eat bread anymore.

But it’s not about deprivation. It’s about shifting to step 2, natural whole foods. Now we eat a ton of fruit. It’s a good thing that Anders was already our little fruit bat, with a personal record of eating 7 apples in a day! He loves sweets, but does not expect them daily. A special dessert will be cobbler made with berries, no added sugar, and an oatmal-flax-butter topping with a touch of brown sugar. Of course, Nora has her own separate serving to her specs.

Improvised zucchini torta. I had the same meal! Pan-fried zucchini, cut up leftover pork chop, cheddar, avocado, red pepper, iced tea and cream.

Improvised zucchini torta. I had the same meal! Pan-fried zucchini, cut up leftover pork chop, cheddar, avocado, red pepper, iced tea and cream.

When I started learning the carb content of various foods and giving Nora the best bang for her 10 to 11 carbs per day, I focused on how to load her up on berries and red peppers rather than wasting carbs on empty foods. Sure, she gets 3 or 4 grams of 85% dark chocolate in several of her snack recipes, but I consider those carbs well-spent on pure pleasure, not an empty food. This is not a deprivation diet. And squares of that chocolate bar are my go-to snack when I want something sweet. One or two squares is enough when it is high-quality. For me it’s not about no carb or low carb, but lower carb.

Now get ready, here comes the self-help-infomercial part. I have been reluctant to write this because I don’t want to sound all “rah rah! here’s the secret! you can too!” But it’s the truth, so here it is: In these last 20 months, I have lost 15+ pounds, and so has Ted. We never had a weight loss goal, but found it as a surprising natural consequence of shifting our diets subtly toward Nora’s. We exercise the same, eat the same number of calories (we aren’t counting, but don’t feel hungry), we just eat slightly differently. I put heavy cream in my coffee in the morning because it’s available, and I finally stopped putting in a teaspoon of sugar. It’s been a slow change all around. And I think that’s partially why people ask. They notice that we have slimmed down, we have energy, we feel young and healthy, my last lab work is great despite a family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Now that I’ve transitioned to eating this way, I notice the difference when I stray. If I’m at a party and I have a piece of cake, I feel cruddy for several hours. I had a donut at the farmers’ market one day and just wanted to sleep all afternoon. Beer makes me feel bloated and crappy, so I’m sticking to wine and cocktails (that’s right). It takes time to put together those associations and you can only really feel them once you have been away from simple sugars for awhile.

I have to consciously remind myself that I will feel like crap if I eat some cake and it’s not worth it. If Nora is with me it is easy to say “no” to sweets for myself because it is not fair to eat them in front of her and I want to be a good model for her. If she is not with me, it is much harder and I’m learning to just take a few bites or make another choice. But Nora doesn’t get “just a bite.” She has been and must continue to be the strong one. I am teaching her, and she is teaching me.

I met many amazing parents when I was at the Charlie Foundation conference a year ago. We were all wading through the same problems of managing our child’s epilepsy using diet, which is wonderful because it works but introduces so many social and behavioral issues as well. And it is so much daily work for the parents. While at the conference I heard tired parents talking about how they make a meal for their kid, then eat a bowl of cereal or a TV dinner to feed themselves. That made me so sad. They were sad for themselves; they felt deprived.

Parents, it is just as important to feed yourselves healthfully as it is for your kids. You can persevere through this if you keep yourself healthy and strong, and good food is as important to your health as your child’s. Even your kid on the ketogenic diet. And even if your kid is not on the ketogenic diet. Parenting is hard work. You are equally important. When you weigh out a meal, you can make yourself a plate of the same foods, just hold the heavy cream and give yourself an extra serving of veggies and a few crackers or a tortilla. You deserve it. No one should be deprived of good food, least of all such dedicated parents. And it’s really as easy as those 2 simple steps. Start slow but be consistent. Most of all, be kind to yourself.

Don’t call me cupcake…

and don’t feed me cupcakes…unless they are keto-cupcakes! Just to make the point, Nora is holding one of her 4:1 cupcakes in the photo!

We ordered these great keto t-shirts through http://www.ketogoods.com/SHOP.html. Proceeds from each order go to The John M. Freeman Pediatric Epilepsy Center at John Hopkins Hospital to support research and efforts for the ketogenic diet.

They came with 5 stickers with the same message: “Please don’t call me cupcake and DO NOT feed me cupcakes. I’m on a special diet for epilepsy.” The stickers will be great to put on Nora’s lunch boxes, just as an extra reminder to everyone.

Nora got another purple shirt (more her size) that says “Hey, I’m on a magic diet for epilepsy so please do NOT feed me.” I like that one, but Nora preferred the cupcake one, of course.

My t-shirt says: “Someone I love is on the ketogenic diet for epilepsy.” Because it’s true.


Sushi Celebration

We so rarely go out to eat at a restaurant with Nora. We have probably been out with her about 10 times since she has been on the diet, and I can only think of 2 occasions when she ate some of the food at the restaurant–only when we have been at the coast eating seafood. Usually we pack her food and bring it into a friendly place. Last night Nora started asking to eat at a restaurant out of the blue, and as it was the last day of winter quarter and spring break is here, we decided to go out for a sushi celebration and honor her request.

Going out for sushi feels pretty safe because the food is minimally prepared. Both of our kids love salmon sashimi and edamame is awesome for Nora. Have I mentioned that before? Edamame is awesome! I forgot about it for a long time until I found some in the freezer earlier this week. Here’s the nutrition snapshot of 30 grams of Cascadian Farm shelled edamame. It’s not high ratio but it’s low carb, and you don’t find even that much fat in most veggies. This is fairly representative of the nutrition information from other brands and generic versions that I can find listed online.

Edamame in the shell is also awesome because it keeps Nora busy and happy.  Last night she got 30 g of edamame, pretty much all of her dinnertime carbs. We calculated her portions before leaving home then brought along the gram scale to measure it out. To serve it, I estimate the number of beans she can eat in 30 g then count out the beans in the shells.

After the edamame is ready, I pop some beans out of the pods and add them to the scale until I get up to 5 g (it’s usually 6 to 7 beans, depending on the size). To serve 30 g, I need 6 times that number of beans. Then I count out the beans in the shells for her. Last night she got 40 beans, so at 2 or 3 beans per pod she ended up with about 15 pods. Doing it that way is an estimation, but it averages out the variability in the bean size by weighing a sub-sample of the beans in the serving. Nora loves popping them out of the shell and it keeps her busy at the restaurant or kitchen table.

For the rest of her meal, she got about 1 slice of salmon sashimi (25 g). We brought some flacker (6 g) with butter (7 g) and some “hot chocolate” (steamed cream and cocoa powder) to round out the fat in her meal. Everyone was happy. Anders loves sashimi too. We got 1 order of sashimi to split between the kids because Nora gets only 1 slice. We could have weighed more for her and compensated with more fat when we got home, but she was feeling “fat and satisfied.” Anders ate the rest of that order of sashimi, the miso soup, some edamame, and most of another order of sashimi because he was still hungry. He’s not a cheap date!

Then we went home and finished off our Japanese-themed evening by watching Ponyo together. A fun and easy night was had by all and Nora was happy to go to a restaurant. She loved the room with the traditional short tables. She kept exclaiming that the room was so small. She felt like a giant! And the waiter was super tall and skinny because he had to crouch down to serve us! It’s always fun to see the world anew through a child’s eyes.

Food scientist Nora

We were out of baked goods for Nora, which naturally leads to a cooking Saturday. And naturally, it leads to Nora in the kitchen with me. She’s a creative cook!

I like to let her experiment, so our usual procedure involves Nora looking in the fridge and picking out some ingredients. Then I apply my food knowledge to help her combine them to create something edible. While I was on the phone and barely supervising, she took out sticks of string cheese and sprinkled liberally with cocoa powder. Hmmm, interesting start.

We learned from G’ma Margie that string cheese is good when microwaved until gooey and taffy-like, so that’s what we did with her string cheese and cocoa to get Choco-Cheese. Microwave then mix! Nora ate hers up. Mine was…ok. I’m not sure that Nora will ever request it again, but it was a safe and fun experiment! We weighed hers out at 14 g of string cheese and 1/2 g of cocoa powder, which I built into a morning snack for her.

Our next experiment built off of the first recipe that Nora concocted, Blueberry Monster Mash. Today we made Choco-Strawberry Monster Mash. I’m tempted to call it Frankenberry, but that name has too much baggage! It’s simple and Nora loves to run the food processor. She enjoyed some with lunch and extra strawberries.

Choco-Strawberry Monster Mash
(Makes 10 servings at 18.9 g each)

60 g strawberries
100 g macadamia nuts
10 g coconut oil
1 g salt
15 g water
3 g Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder

Process all in a food processor until smooth and enjoy! Remember, if you use a different brand of cocoa powder, you must update your nutrition facts. As always, this is an approximation for your reference based on the ingredients and brands listed.

Monster mash has been a very nice addition to Nora’s line-up. We don’t have it made up all of the time, so it’s kind of a treat. She also likes to eat whole macadamia nuts, which she calls “crunchy munchies” and are a staple of the keto diet at a 5.4:1 ratio. Getting some extra coconut oil in here and adding some other sweetness with the berries packs in a lot of flavor and goodness, and still makes a 4.7:1 ratio that helps to round out a meal.

Our last experiment was in the breakfast realm. Nora gets tired of her same breakfasts, but it’s hard to have several things on hand. It’s also hard to let her choose in the morning because on work/school days we build her meals the night before from breakfast through afternoon snack and don’t have the time to change it up in the morning.

Today she decided that she wanted to go back to gingerbread for breakfast, but I’m giving it a new life as cereal, ala my Re-Purposing Recipes post. I decided to go for a cereal again because she was watching Anders eat Chex recently and said, “I can’t wait until I can eat that when I’m done with my diet.” She’s amazingly mature about it, but it also breaks our hearts a little bit. Giving her keto cereal is the least that we can do.

You could use Dawn’s original gingerbread recipe from ketocook.com. I realized that I did not post my adaptation here yet, so here it is, in cereal form.

Gingerbread Cereal
(Makes 2.4 servings of cereal at 28 g each)

15g european-style butter, room temperature
20 g Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut meal
5g Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal
5g Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour
20g egg, raw & mixed well
1g cinnamon
0.2g ground cloves
0.3g ground ginger
0.5g pure vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients well in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until smooth and well incorporated. Place dough in a ball in parchment paper and flatten, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300. Divide dough into 28g portions (it doesn’t come out even. I made one odd-sized cookie and calculated it into Nora’s snack today, or use it as a taste tester for the rest of the family). Space the dough balls 0n a silicone mat and cover with parchment paper, then roll quite thin with a rolling pin. Because you want to get it thin, I find it easier to roll it right on the cooking surface to avoid losing it in the transfer. You see here that I made a double batch, so I had 4 servings. No, they are not a uniform size or shape, but they are a uniform weight!

After they are rolled out, push the edges up to avoid a thin crumbly edge. Then use a knife to press down into the dough to score them into pieces–squares, rectangle, triangles, trapezoids  whatever has straight lines! Don’t drag the knife through or you will lose a lot of dough. My serrated-edged bread knife worked well.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until very dry and crisp. When they have cooled, it is very easy to snap them into squares. They were surprisingly sturdy little things! Now we have 4 servings of cereal. The nutrition information above puts them at 1.34 net carbs (precisely, from my spreadsheet) and 2.8:1 ratio. I will add 8 g of Organic Valley heavy cream thinned with water to make “milk” to serve a 3.5:1 breakfast of 156 calories. Serving this with 13 g of heavy cream will get you to a 4:1 ratio and 174 calories.

The longer we go on with the diet, the more I come to believe that it’s all about keeping Nora happy. When she starts complaining in the least, it’s time to get creative again.


Re-Purposing Recipes

“I have so much energy, I could lift a butter truck!”

~Nora, on why she doesn’t need to eat breakfast.

We’ve been sticking mostly with the tried-and-true recipes lately, but wanted to share some innovations, some of which are Nora’s imaginative re-purposing of recipes.

Snickerdoodle Cereal

The snickerdoodle recipe was a hit, but I made a few big batches and Nora started to get bored with them. One day she was eating snickerdoodles as part of a bigger snack that also included steamed cream, so she dipped her cookies in her “milk.” Eventually, she ended up crumbling a lot of the cookie into the cream and needed a spoon–cereal was born!

It was a happy discovery because we were almost out of the pumpkin cheesecake bars that Nora had been happily eating for breakfast for many weeks. With the snickerdoodle cereal and milk, I could put off more baking for another week.

Because the snickerdoodles are already 3.5:1, adding cream meant that we had to add more carbs or protein to make a 3.5:1 breakfast. Enter another Nora favorite: blueberries! One breakfast consists of 3 snickerdoodles, 5 g (1 tsp) heavy cream mixed with a few tablespoons of water to make “milk,” and 4.5 g blueberries (around 4 very small).


As crazy as it sounds, I had a hard time consistently making mac-and-cheese that was the right consistency. But finally, I have mastered it! Nora ate her mac-and-cheese several days per week in the last few weeks because she kept demanding it, and it’s a quick and easy meal when there is a package of Miracle Noodles in the fridge.

I came across Miracle Noodles somewhere near the beginning of starting the ketogenic diet, but they weren’t a big hit right away. They are quite chewy, a little tough for little teeth to easily bite through. I’ve learned that I need to cut them with a kitchen scissors as I weigh them or after they are in the bowl so that they are in smaller bits. They are made of a Japanese root vegetable that is pretty much all fiber (the Ketocalculator has the values per gram, only 0.0028 g carbs per gram noodles). Because they are basically nothing but fiber for the purposes of calculating a meal, it’s great to be able to serve red pepper, avocado, flacker and other nice healthy things on the side.

To make mac-and-cheese, take 12 g to 15 g of shredded cheddar and put it in a small bowl with 1 T to 2 T (15-30 g) of cream and microwave for 30 seconds, then stir until smooth. I’ve got ranges here because the exact amounts don’t matter too much for the outcome, but sometimes I add more or less when I’m balancing a meal for Nora. If she needs more fat with her meal, she gets 2 T of cream in her mac-and-cheese. If she needs more protein, then more cheddar.

Weigh and cut 20 g to 25 g of Miracle Noodles, the vermicelli variety, into a separate small bowl and microwave for 10 seconds, just to warm up. Dump into hot cheese sauce and stir well. Cool and serve.

Anders is thrilled with this development because he has been eating more mac-and-cheese too. He has been put in charge of making it for himself, because he also eats the entire box by himself.

Bacon Pancakes! Making Bacon Pancakes!

This was inspired by a favorite cartoon, Adventure Time! Nora’s bacon is going on to her Keto-Krepes. Except that while I was cooking it, she actually decided that she wanted her bacon in a “pile” instead of in her pancake. So there you have it.

The rest of us had some bacon pancakes. And some piles of bacon. The best of all worlds.

They were totally math, asymptotically to the max!