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My Why

My ‘Why’

Following the keto WOE, embracing non-toxic skincare, and switching to safer beauty options

Hi, Friends and Family! I have some exciting news to share… My passion for health is now turning into my very own small business!

This isn’t something I share often – I like to smile and push back those feelings of shame and embarrassment – but I have always had issues when it came to my weight and my skin. I can’t remember one time in my life when I was happy with either. I grew up with a parent who always told me I was overweight (like I wasn’t completely and utterly aware of that) and shamed me for wearing denim mini-skirts, the unofficial summertime uniform for a teenager in the early 2000s. As a teen, I had what I remember to be awful, painful acne – blackheads, white heads, huge cystic breakouts – and oh MAN did I pick at those suckers. I tried absolutely everything that I could think of as a way to solve this problem. I purchased OTC (over the counter) lotions, creams, masks, went to a dermatologist (more than one) and supplemented with prescriptions, shots, and added lots of makeup on top of everything. Not once did a dermatologist or a general doctor EVER ask me if I was drinking enough water, or ask me what foods I was eating. They just threw prescription after prescription at the problem and kept taking my co-pays for almost 10 years.

At a young age, while I was in middle school, I had eating disorders that I self-diagnosed after doing a school project on them. I would deprive myself of any food and liquid for days at a time and then finally binge on anything and everything I could get my hands on. Sunday was my binge day. To this day, I still struggle with binging.
After I had gotten down to about 110lbs, I gave myself permission to eat “normally.” That meant too much (for me). I never really had home-cooked meals in my house when growing up, so we ate a lot of processed and frozen stuff. No judgement from me here though – there are ways to eat healthy with mostly frozen and inexpensive foods, but that wasn’t what was happening. Lots of pizza Fridays, homemade French fries, cheesy broccoli and rice, frozen dinners and Hot Pockets with all the preservatives, pasta, breaded chicken, Chinese takeout, KFC…

Flash forward to 2017. I got engaged! I realized I would be in front of a camera and on display for everyone to see at my wedding, so I started trying to eat better and move my body more in an effort to lose weight, but I was still battling with binge eating. I lost maybe 2lbs in that month and a half before our engagement photo shoot. After we received our engagement photos back from our photographer, that was a huge wake up call. I cried, looking at myself in those photos. I felt ashamed and ugly. My mother-in-law wanted some photos to frame, and of the hundreds, if not thousands of options my photographer sent over, I only found six that I deemed to be good enough for other people’s eyes. I just kept thinking to myself, What happened to me? How did I get here?

Is it really that simple?

In all honestly, I found the keto WOE when I googled ‘how to lose weight quickly for my wedding.’ I thought – I’ll just give that a try. I dropped maybe 10lbs that first full week when I was 100% committed, and I felt amazing. Then I thought, why am I feeling so good compared to before? It wasn’t just about being 10lbs lighter. I looked at the foods I was now eating regularly: eggs, meat, veggies – I was eating CLEAN, WHOLE foods! My skin was clearing up, my body felt leaner (I actually ended up losing a total of about 55lbs by my wedding after following this way of eating for six months along with restricting calories by 25%), and I found that I was no longer as anxious or achy throughout the day. I learned first hand that what we put in our bodies really can have an impact on how we feel.

I’ve since learned that I have a serious sensitivity to gluten and dairy. I started paying more and more attention to the nutrition labels in the grocery store, and I learned which ingredients caused aches and pains and breakouts for me. Then, a few months into my keto journey, I came across a friend’s Instagram stories. She was also following a keto/carnivore way of eating and I had seen her talk a lot about the benefits to those ways of eating, but that day she was dropping all this knowledge about safer beauty and how damaging these unregulated ingredients in my everyday products can be – but also how much better things can get when you switch to safer alternatives. I thought, it’s so clear in these photos that changing how I eat can yield real, exciting results. What if I stepped it up a notch and changed my skincare and beauty routines, too. Then I thought of something really scary. What if I don’t? There began my frantic research journey.

Safer beauty

I had heard of a company once before – I heard that their products were cleaner and safer to use compared to what I had been picking up at convenience stores and pharmacies, especially for women who are pregnant and are breastfeeding. Then I had a thought – why are we using anything NOT safe to use while pregnant? Doesn’t that mean it’s not really ever safe to use? How is this being sold if it’s not really safe?!

I do want to be clear and transparent that this thinking and decision-making was not instantaneous on my part. I sat with the information for a while – longer than I wish I had. But that’s okay. We all work at our own pace, and I got there eventually!

I never thought to check ingredients in things other than food! I can’t be alone here, right? Soon after I learned about parabens and sulfates and all these carcinogens that were in products I use literally every day, I switched up my skincare regimen. I know they say everything will give you cancer – but really it’s specific ingredients, and if we know about them, why are these companies using them?

I started off small, with the help of my same friend mentioned earlier who works as an independent Beautycounter consultant. She presented me with so much information that is out there for anyone to read, that is, if you start doing some research. She listened to me and my needs, and she offered her suggestions based on my words. I took some of them, not all, and then went back to her for even more advice later on. She’s my mentor now, and thankfully she was very patient with me – apparently I’m not the only one who suffers from information overload.

Shortly after trying out my new skincare regimen that she endorsed, when I was confident that I wasn’t allergic or having any negative reactions, I switched over most of my makeup, too! I have an allergy to heavy metals (I can’t even wear gold anymore without getting a rash!) and I had no idea that my expensive makeup from Sephora contained them – that’s why I kept getting a rash on my eyes after applying my gorgeous new eye shadow pallet!

When I’m consistent with my skincare regimen and cut out the processed foods and dairy, I feel fantastic. I’ve been working on consistently cleaning up my diet inside and out, and I’m feeding my body and my skin with quality ingredients. My eyes are wide open now, and I want to be the healthiest I can be and feel the best I ever have. I sincerely do believe that using these safer products is a step towards my optimal health, just like following the keto way of eating (WOE) has been for me. I absolutely love the Beautycounter makeup – have you seen my eye shadow blending skills? – and I feel good both physically and mentally about using these products.

I could honestly go on and on – the fact that they’re SAFE to use, I love how they feel, the quality, the packaging, the fact that it’s a women-owned business that actually is fighting to make changes in the industry… I plan on using these products for the long haul – why not go one step farther? But I’m getting ahead of myself… read on!

What is Beautycounter exactly?

Beautycounter is a safer skincare and beauty company that formulates products for the entire family with two requirements: the products cannot contain harmful or potentially harmful ingredients (they have a “Never List” of over 1,500 toxic ingredients you won’t find in their products) and the products must perform like your old conventional favorites (think Sephora, MAC, Nordstrom).

I can personally attest to this – their makeup is on point! There’s something for everyone: skincare for anti-aging, acne and hydration, makeup (triple tested for heavy metals like lead and mercury) and even a full mens, kids and baby line!

That being said, I’ve officially signed on to be an independent Beautycounter consultant! I’ll get a discount on all of my own future purchases – I’ve recently even managed to switch my picky husband over to their mens line – plus, I really would like to supplement my income so that we can pay off our debt and save for our future! I also wholeheartedly admire the women behind this company and their mission, and believe me when I tell you that my entire skincare regimen and my makeup is ALL Beautycounter, and has been for a while.

Did you know:

“The U.S. has not passed a major federal law governing the cosmetics industry since 1938. (Ahem—that’s over 80 years.) The European Union has banned or restricted 1,400 INGREDIENTS from personal care products. The United States has banned or restricted only 30—and to us, that’s simply not good enough. Changing the beauty industry means more than simply making safer products.We are proud to be the leading company advocating for more health-protective legislation across North America.” – Beautycounter website

I’m not just doing this to sell things to you, my dear reader – I want to be a part of an organization that’s trying to change things for the better, ya hear? Read up on their advocacy via their website! And if you’re in the market for safer, truly lovely skincare and makeup products, please feel free to shop my personal website! I’m happy to chat with you before your purchase, walk you through the products, and talk about your needs – just let me know! I’m here to help, and you deserve to treat yourself and your body to safer ingredients.

NYC, you up?

I’m really fired up about this, and I hope you are, too! I need cheerleaders by my side as I begin this new venture, just like I needed your support when I started my weight loss journey. If you’re interested in learning more, or maybe have a friend who would be keen to learn, I have a bunch of products and would love to talk to you about them! If you’re in NYC, wouldn’t it be fun to get together to try them out!

Beautycounter has a sixty-day money back guarantee, no questions asked, if you want to try things that way (or aren’t close enough to drop by!). I’m also lucky enough to have access to the Beautycounter store on Prince Street since I live locally! I love it in there, so if you would like to meet up and admire all of the products, I’m absolutely in! If you do make it in there without me, feel free to let them know Brianna Ascher directed you there when you’re checking out 😉

Hold up.

I want to acknowledge that change is scary, even simply changing up our skincare routine – trust me, I know that this isn’t so simple for some people. I have suffered from skin, digestive, and mental/emotional issues my whole life. I tackled those health issues from multiple angles including drastically altering my diet and making it sustainable and ensuring that I was only using truly safe products on my skin. I’ve had missteps and I’ve taken some unfortunate detours a few times, but I wouldn’t come here and put this out into the universe if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in it. Also, it helps that the research you’ll probably start doing will back my claims up.

I’m not telling anyone what to do – I’m not going to tell you that keto or low carb eating is going to magically solve all your problems or even work for you. Personally, it helped a lot with some big issues that I was having. You can lose weight eating just about any which way, as long as you’re at a calorie deficit. I chose to continue with keto and low carb because I feel good when I eat that way. And for me, that’s enough to make it sustainable. I use Beautycounter products because they feel good to use, and I have some peace of mind knowing that their products don’t have all that garbage in it like the products I used to use. Man, I wish I had known to just look at the ingredients and do a Google search!

I’ve seen so many positive improvements in my health, including decreases in anxiety, improved digestion, and an a significant improvement with my cystic acne (it’s mostly just hormonal at this point, or diet related – I can’t quit you, cheese!). It’s absolutely incredible what taking everyday toxins out of your life, even little by little, can do for you in so many beneficial ways. I feel more confident in my skin, both metaphorically and literally. I want that for everyone – I want that for you!

All in all

Thank you for sticking around and reading my first post! Hopefully the first of many! I sincerely appreciate your time, and I hope that we can connect soon! Find me on Instagram: @igotideas!

Chocolate Spice Cake

To be absolutely honest, I never would have put this recipe together if it hadn’t been for a bake off I entered – I needed to come up with a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, nut free, keto and low carb friendly chocolate cake! Also, I couldn’t use any fruit.

Coconut and coconut flour were allowed, so my mind went in all sorts of directions. At first I thought of going all in with the coconut and doing some sort of chocolate coconut cake.

Then I did a u-turn and thought about throwing some zucchini in there to make a moist chocolate zucchini cake (but that meant going to the grocery store – NO THANK YOU).

I looked through my pantry and had a look at all of my spices and I thought, I do love spicy chocolate… Maybe I can make a cake along those lines… There are plenty of spice cake recipes out there, keto or otherwise, but I hadn’t heard of a chocolate spice cake before. So, I gave it a try! I know I have a winner when my non-keto husband says he likes something, and he really liked this!

I do want to note that I go heavy on the spices because I really wanted that flavor to pack a mean punch, and it does! It’s pretty essential to balance out the spice with some cooling elements. Because of the bake off rules, I topped with whipped coconut cream. Any of my dairy-eating peeps should feel free to top with sugar free whipped cream!

Another note about my experience with coconut flour is that it tends to make my cakes denser and a little on the dry side, which is why I added coconut oil and coconut milk to help balance that out, and I recommend topping with sugar free maple syrup to add some moisture back in. The maple flavor also compliments the spice incredibly well, and when you get a bite of that cake with some powdered erythritol, the syrup, and the whip… it’s phenomenal!

Alright, are you going to make this? Here’s what you need:

  • 8 x 8 baking dish
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk/Fork/Large spook for mixing (and/or a hand mixer, if available)
  • Parchment paper
  • An oven with convection baking mode

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated erythritol (or another keto-friendly sweetener/sugar alcohol)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk

Optional, for topping: Sugar free maple syrup, coconut whipped cream, powdered cinnamon, powdered erythritol

Estimated prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 32-40 minutes
Total time 50 minutes*
*allow additional time for cooling

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F on convection baking mode* and line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Combine coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, cocoa powder in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Mix in the eggs, granulated erythritol, vanilla extract, and the coconut oil and mix well with a whisk, a fork, or hand mixer until it forms a smooth batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the parchment paper-lined baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 32-40 minutes. Check your cake at the 32-minute mark with a dry toothpick – if the toothpick comes out clean and the cake seems fully cooked, remove from the oven and let cool completely. If the toothpick comes out wet with batter on it, put your cake back in the oven and check it every 4-6 minutes until it appears to be fully cooked.
  5. Remove the cake from the baking dish and let it cool until it comes to room temperature. Do not attempt to slice the cake until it’s cooled, otherwise it will end up being a crumble! I find it slices best when it’s cold, so feel free to store it in the fridge for an hour after it comes to room temperature.
  6. When your cake is ready for slicing, treat yourself to a generous piece and top with powdered erythritol, sugar-free maple syrup, whipped coconut cream, and more ground cinnamon. These toppings will balance the spiciness in the cake and create a party in your mouth! Enjoy!
    *Convection mode helps evenly distribute heat to ensure your cake has an even cook! Not required, but helpful.

Keto Eggplant Rollatini

Picture it: you’re home (social distancing), you’re sleepy, you’re hungry – mind hungry, not stomach hungry – you pick up your phone and start looking for food delivery options. Italian food sounds amazing right now, huh? Admit it. You want something comforting, something cheesy. Maybe something fried. But still “healthy,” perhaps featuring a vegetable. Eggplant – that’ll do the trick, right? But wait – maybe you can satisfy this craving without actually ordering… sure, you want to support your local businesses. That’s what you’ve been telling yourself every time you order food you didn’t need. But, what if you could recreate this dish at home, for less money, and less carbs

That’s how this recipe was born, my friends!

I was at the end of a long cycle of strict keto/low carb eating and “treat” meals that left me feeling anything but treated. I had used pork rinds to trick my tongue into thinking it was having “regular” fried or crispy foods before, and it usually does work! This time was no different, and this ended up being a real home run on my very first try!

I was actually stunned to discover that these look like truly normal fried eggplant strips – and they tasted like what I’ve ordered in Italian restaurants in the past, too! These are indeed a game changer. If you like fried eggplant, if you like marinara sauce, and if you like cheese – MAKE THIS.

I know, I know… you just want me to skip to the recipe, am I right?

No worries, bud. I got you. Please do check out these photos though so you can see what these babies should look like after the “breaded” eggplant is cooked and cooled (you need to do this before you can stuff them with the glorious cheese mixture and roll them up) and then topped with marinara and baked!

This recipe will require a little time – slicing eggplant, dipping in the egg wash, “breading,” and then cooking for at least 20 minutes and flipping half way through, and then letting them cool so you can assemble and bake for another 30 minutes. This will require some time and attention, but it’s so worth it!

Ingredients

  • 1 large Eggplant (or 2 medium), sliced length-wise (you want long slices so you can roll around the cheese mixture)
  • Rao’s Marinara, 1-2 jars (or any marinara/tomato sauce that you prefer)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8 cup of heavy whipping cream (HWC) or any other cream that you have like half & half or milk will be alright
  • 2-3 cups of Pork King Good pork rind crumbs (depending on how much “breading” you want/need)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping the dish
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Cookware: baking sheet, glass baking dish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Slice your eggplant length-wise, about 1/4 inch thick (I tried to eyeball it so mine may be a little thicker)
  3. Mix eggs and HWC in a wide bowl (the eggplant will be hard to get in a regular small bowl). In another wide bowl or on a plate, pour in the pork rind crumbs. You can start with a little at a time and add more as you work your way through the eggplant. Dip sliced eggplant into the egg wash and then in the pork rinds until fully coated on both sides, and set aside on a baking sheet as you go. The “breaded” eggplant should not overlap on the baking sheet. I did this in batches because I only have one baking sheet and the eggplant didn’t fit.
  4. Bake the “breaded” eggplant for 10-15 minutes, remove from the oven and flip the slices, return to the oven and bake for 10-15 additional minutes (10 if the slices are thinner, 15 if they’re thicker like mine were). When done, remove from the oven and let cool so that you can handle them without burning yourself – please be careful and do not handle the eggplant straight out of the oven! Use your best judgement here.
  5. While the “breaded” eggplant is cooking/cooling, mix the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and seasonings in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Pour marinara sauce into your baking dish to coat the bottom.
  6. When the cooked eggplant is cool enough to handle, take a generous spoonful of the cheese mixture and condense it in your hand to form a long ball and place at the base of the eggplant slice. Roll the eggplant slice around the cheese mixture and then place it in the dish seam side down (so it doesn’t unravel). Repeat with the rest of the eggplant and be mindful of the amount of cheese you use – aim to be uniform, and make sure you don’t run out of cheese before you’re out of eggplant!
  7. When your dish is full and you’re out of your ingredients, spoon additional marinara sauce over the tops and sprinkle with more shredded mozzarella. Place your baking dish in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for at least a few minutes before you try to remove anything – be careful when you do, as you don’t want the contents to spill out. These will be hot!
  8. Enjoy! Optional: Serve with fresh basil. Let me know what you think – this was my first attempt at this idea and, to me, it was a home run on the first try! I’m always happy to receive constructive feedback though, of course 🙂

French Onion Soup for the KETO Soul

Do you like sauteed onions? Do you like beef bone broth? Do you like French things? What about ooey gooey melted cheese? Well – look no further! I’m about to share a recipe with you that’s going to blow your mind!

As a kid we would occasionally go out for dinner and French onion soup was always an option that I would consider. I loved that crispy bread and melted cheese and the zing of that onion soup – it was always just a marvelous combination of flavors in my mouth. A few years back I had a few onions that I needed to use up and thought that I could easily make some French onion soup at home. I attempted it based on a variation of a recipe that sounded good on Pinterest and it was FINE. I didn’t try again. Until this week, years later, when I was faced with the same scenario – WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL THESE ONIONS?!

Immediately my mind went to French onion soup (FOS). I thought to myself that I could easily elevate that original recipe I used, but I’d have to leave out the crispy bread and cheese (the cheese never sits right without that bread to act as a raft in the broiler). As I worked on mise en place, I stopped and looked at the ingredients in my pantry. I literally said out loud, “YOU CAN MAKE SOME KETO BREAD FOR THIS!”

Yes, I committed to trying to make a low carb/keto version of FOS. What was the worst thing that could happen? It sucks and no one knows? Luckily this wasn’t the case – it was BOMB AF, FRIENDS. I MEAN, DO YOU SEE THIS?!

Before I share my recipe, please know that this is what I’ve created after multiple attempts and variations and it’s finally gotten to a point where I’m confident enough to share it with you. Not everyone will like it, I’m sure… but this recipe is very close to my heart, so if you do make it then I would love for you to tag me/let me know and I’m definitely open to constructive feedback!

Alight, without further ado, here is the recipe!

Ingredients for the SOUP (4 small servings or 2 LARGE servings):

  • 3 TBSP beef tallow (can sub with butter, but it’s not the same!)
  • 2 large onions (or 3 medium onions), roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 4 cups of beef bone broth (homemade preferred, but store bought is totally acceptable!)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 scoop (or 1-2 TBSP) unflavored beef gelatin powder
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Ingredients for the BREAD AND CHEESE TOPPINGS:

  • 1 cup of pork rind crumbs (you can make these at home with pork rinds, or I use Pork King Good original pork rind crumbs.
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBSP sour cream
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp Flavorgod Garlic Lovers seasoning (or plain garlic powder)
  • Muenster cheese for topping, sliced is preferred (can sub with mozzarella, but won’t be exactly the same!)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Melt beef tallow in large pot. Add the onions, cooking over LOW heat for at least 30 minutes, depending on how caramelized you like them. If you notice they’re getting too brown, add a few tablespoons of your beef broth to the pot.
  3. While the onions are cooking, mix all of the bread topping ingredients together in a bowl, LEAVING OUT the muenster cheese. Once thoroughly mixed, pour into a greased loaf pan and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, checking at the 15 minute mark. Remove and let cool before slicing into crouton-like cubes. Set aside.
  4. Once onions are cooked, add garlic, Worcestershire sauce, broth, vinegar, and beef gelatin powder (NOTE: the beef gelatin powder will clump if you don’t stir vigorously, so I suggest adding it to the cool broth and then adding that mixture to the soup, stirring constantly for the first few minutes).
  5. Add in salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for 5 minutes and then add in the xanthan gum and stir until blended. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
  6. Transfer the soup to oven-safe bowls (or one bowl if not sharing – make sure you save that leftover soup once it’s cooled down!) and top with the cubed pork rind bread and then add the slices of muenster cheese so the bread is covered.
  7. Place the bowls on a baking sheet (in case of dripping) and put in the oven on BROIL for 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling – don’t let it burn!
  8. Carefully remove from the oven and use an oven mitt to serve, as that bowl will be super duper hot. Let the soup cool down fora few minutes so you don’t burn your tongue – this is the perfect time to snap some photos! Lastly, ENJOY!

And there you have it! I promise this isn’t too complicated, and it’s PACKED full of that FOS goodness that will make your belly and your heart warm. Plus, there’s protein from the gelatin and the pork rind bread!

The nice thing about making a big pot of soup is that you can usually stretch the one batch out over multiple meals, depending on how much and how many you serve that first day. This is definitely great as a main dish OR a side – the choice is yours! Either way, it’s an inexpensive dish that’s still jam-packed with guiltless flavor.

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Tag me or send me a direct message on Instagram!

XOXOXO Brianna

I GOT SOME GOOD CHILI

Hi there, friends! Long time no post! A lot has happened over these last few months! I took a quick work trip up to Canada. The hubby and I got out of our lease early and found an apartment in a new city. We packed up and moved our one bedroom apartment all on our own (U-Haul and all) and we became pet parents to two adorable kittens within 48 hours (one is sleeping on my desk not six inches away as I type this!). We almost got into a legal battle with our old landlord but, luckily, things were resolved before it got that far. We’ve set up what will be our home for the next almost two years and I’ve seen absolutely NO mice or roaches thus far – I hope I didn’t just jinx it! I took a little time off of the keto WOE around the holidays (some regrets there, but that’s life) and now hubby are firmly back on the wagon together! Do you feel caught up yet? Yes? Great – let’s move on to why you’re here in the first place… THE CHILI!

When I make chili, I don’t usually just eat it plain in a bowl – I almost always end up doing something to elevate it like make it a soup or throw it on something else like hotdogs or burgers. I was having a busy work day at home and I needed to whip up something quick. I thought, should I make chili cheese dogs or add some broth and make a chili soup? Then I realized I could combine the two ideas, add some bomb toppings to load it up, and have a hearty, mouth-watteringly tasty new meal in under 10 minutes!

Keep in mind that the chili itself definitely takes more than 10 minutes! Once you put in that work and have a bowl of leftovers, reheating it is so easy!

Also, please note that this is a KETO/LOW CARB CHILI – that means that there are no beans! Madness? I don’t think so!

Ready to make all of this yourself? Here’s what you’ll need to do it:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1-2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1.5 cups Rao’s tomato sauce
  • 1-2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1-2 cups of bone broth (beef or chicken)
  • Leftover drippings from my Traditional Jewish Brisket (alternatively, 2T of Worcestershire sauce, half of a cup of beef broth, 2T butter)
  • 1T Chili powder
  • 1T Smoked paprika
  • 1T Cumin
  • 1T Dak’s Original Red seasoning
  • 1T Dak’s Butt Kickin’ Buffalo seasoning
  • 1tsp Redmond Real Salt (or more to taste)

Instructions:

  1. On med-high heat, brown the ground meat (all of mine is from ButcherBox) and onions in a large pot for 10-15 minutes until cooked throughout – drain the grease if you want to, but I leave it in for extra flavor. Mix well.
  2. Add in the chopped green bell pepper and tomato sauce and stir until combined and bubbling. Once bubbling, add in the broth and the brisket drippings (or the Worcestershire sauce, butter, and more bone broth).
  3. Once combined, add in the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, Dak’s Original Red, Dak’s Butt Kickin’ Buffalo, and salt. Taste once everything is combined. If it tastes to salty, add in broth or water until just right. If you want some more spice, add in a bit more seasoning.
  4. Serve hot. When storing leftovers, be sure to wait until the chili has cooled to room temperature before putting in the refrigerator!

In my opinion, chili is even better the day after making it! In addition to the chili cheese dog soup, I also made some straight up chili cheese dogs!

This would also work great over a burger, or scooped up with pork rinds. My favorite pork rinds are Pork King Good, if you’re looking for a good option!

Because there are no beans, this is very low carb and would be a great meal for the cold winter months. We honestly don’t miss the beans AT ALL! If you’re looking for discounts on the seasonings, the salt, or ButcherBox, please head over to the link in my Instagram bio!

Lastly, if you venture off and make this, please let me know and tag me on Instagram! I would love to hear what you think and see your recreations!

Cheeseburger Casserole

If you know me well, then you’d know that my favorite meal (most days) is a bunless burger! I don’t even miss the bun at all! I actually prefer a burger without the bun (less messy that way).

When National Cheeseburger Day rolled around on September 18th, I actually had no idea that it was even a thing. I discovered it the morning of, so I had to act fast in order to participate!

That same day I happened to receive a gift in the mail from Liviva Foods – they sent me a bunch of their “pasta” to try. I had already been really wanting to try their rice shaped shirataki with oat fiber… so, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone.

Ingredients:

  • 185g Liviva Foods rice shaped shirataki with oat fiber (1/2 of a package)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp no sugar added ketchup
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp minced onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened nut milk (or you could probably use regular dairy milk)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the ground beef in a pan on medium/high heat, do not season.
  2. While the ground beef is cooking, combine the ketchup, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, minced onions, and salt in a small bowl and mix until it forms a paste.
  3. Once the meat is cooked, you can drain the fat if you wish (I left it in to add more flavor). Add the nut milk, shirataki rice, and the paste to the pan with the meat and stir until combined. Let this simmer on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. The mixture should form a sauce at this point. Be sure not to over cook – lower the heat if it gets too thick, and add 1 tbsp of water if necessary.
  4. Turn off the heat and add 3/4 of the cheese, reserving 1/4 cup. Stir until mixed in.
  5. Transfer the meat-sauce mixture into a small baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese and place in the oven on broil (or as hot as your oven will go) for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  6. Once removed from the oven, top with your desired toppings. I chose no sugar added ketchup, mustard, finely chopped red onion, and pickles.
  7. Enjoy!

Macros?

You might be wondering about the macros on this, right? I didn’t measure the toppings, so here’s what I have for the actual casserole: 893 calories, 7g net carbs (14g total carbs), 63g fat, 61g protein.

I hope you have the opportunity to make this! The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, and if you don’t have the “rice” on hand you can definitely substitute it with riced cauliflower (or even whole florets), broccoli, or cabbage – it’s very versatile! You can also add in a cup of broth and make yourself a lovely cheeseburger soup.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the recipe, and of course let me know if you make it!

Egg Coffee

Yes, you read that right! I’ve been on an egg kick recently – scrambled eggs, over easy, egg salad, chaffles (look up the hashtag on Instagram if you don’t know what I’m talking about!). I’ve also recently started adding a whole egg to my homemade hot coffee every day! Sometimes twice a day! I’ve been adding in egg whites to blend with my nut milk for quite some time, but I have some friends who I’ve seen add the yolk and I thought – why not just give that a try?

Note: I am not a doctor and I’m not instructing YOU to add raw egg to anything. If it grosses you out, if you’re just not comfortable, if you hate eggs – that’s totally cool. You do you, boo. No worries – I was grossed out at first, too! However, I’m trying to be more open to new experiences these days, and one day I woke up just decided that it was finally the time to try it. After all, I could always dump it and make a fresh cup, right? Right.

You might be thinking to yourself, raw egg will give me Salmonella! Well, per my Google research, if raw eggs are contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella, you could get sick. … HOWEVER, coffee at hot enough temperatures can bring your egg up to a safe temperature. Of course it’s not foolproof and the safest way to try egg coffee is to buy pasteurized eggs, which I always do, because they have been heated to help destroy bacteria. To this day I have not gotten sick from this. That’s all I can promise though, of course! Do not, I repeat, DO NOT crack an egg into your take away coffee. That won’t be fun for anyone. Save the egg coffee for when you’re at home and have a blender/frother on hand.

What are the benefits? Again, I’m not a medical professional so I’ll explain it as I personally see it.

  1. It tastes delicious, especially blended with unsweetened nut milk and a splash of skinny syrup. I don’t actually taste egg at all!
  2. The egg makes your coffee so luxuriously creamy!
  3. You get a bit of protein and healthy fat!

I make it two different ways, depending on my mood. Would you like to see?

The first way I tried egg coffee (see above) was what felt most natural to me – I added the yolk (the yellow) to my hot coffee and blended with my hand frother. I took the white and added it to my nut milk and skinny syrup (that was in a different container) and frothed it separately. Then I poured the nut milk-egg white mixture over the hot blended coffee.

The second way (above) is much more decadent, in my opinion. I prepare my coffee and set it aside. Then, in my fancy frother, I add in the nut milk, skinny syrup, and a whole egg (yolk + white). Close it up and blend on cold. Once it’s blended for a while and it tells me it’s ready, I blend it on hot. The result? A warm liquid-y custard! Pour that right in your coffee – it should have a slight yellow tint to it. I’m in love.

If you’d like a little more step by step guidance, I have videos saved to my Instagram highlights!

All in all, I like how egg coffee tastes and it’s macro-friendly, so I’m going to keep enjoying it! It’s really that simple. Would you give this a try?

Carnivore Chicken Nuggets

Do you love chicken? How about chicken nuggets? Are you following the keto or low carb WOE and missing these crispy babies something fierce? Well, I might have a solution for you!

Go get yourself some ground chicken and whip up these bad boys today. Trust me, you’ll be really, really happy you did. Make a ton? Throw ’em in the freezer for a rainy day! Or a sunny day – ANY DAY! They taste legit and the texture is on point – and they’re still KETO!

These are super easy, and you can use this recipe to make chicken patties or chicken tenders! The shape is totally up to you, my friend. Just take some ground chicken and form in the shape that your heart desires – on this particular day, I chose traditional nuggets.

The best part by far is that these taste amazing – crunchy and tender all at the same time, and packed with flavor! An added bonus is that these are also zero carbs on their own! The only carbs from my meal come from the ketchup and honey mustard. A perfect meal for a zero carb challenge, or if you’re following a carnivore WOE.

The macros for my plate as it is were 741 calories, 86g protein, 32g fat, and 3g total/net carbs. This was my main meal of the day at the time, so it worked for me! Plus I had a whole batch leftover for the next day!


Here are the exact ingredients that I used:

  • 72g Pork King Good crumbs, original
  • 15g grated parmesan cheese
  • 7.8 oz ground chicken breast
  • 1 large egg mixed with S&P + Daks Spices original red to taste for egg wash
  • 20ml no sugar added ketchup
  • 50ml G Hughes sugar free honey mustard

Steps:

  • Preheat your air fryer or convection oven to 375°F
  • Prepare your egg wash
  • Form nuggets or patties or tenders with the ground chicken
  • One at a time: dip in an egg wash and then dip in a mixture of pork rind crumbs and finely grated parmesan cheese. Repeat this step twice for that extra crunch.
  • Cook those nuggets in the air fryer for 20 minutes, depending on the size (patties might take longer than nuggets), flipping half way through
  • Let cool, then dig in! I love dipping my nuggets in NSA (no sugar added) ketchup and sugar free honey mustard!

If you make these, please tag me on Instagram! I want to see your creations, and I want to hear what you think!

Taking the High Road: An Open Letter

I’ve gone back and forth for how to curate this post. Truly, know that the words you are reading have been thought over, struck out, rewritten, and reworded multiple times. I don’t know the “right way” to go about this, and I am by no means qualified professionally to guide you in any official capacity. That being said, bear with me?

Back in the day, as a teen, or even three years ago, I might have dealt with you differently. I would have tried to tell as many people as possible what you had done to me, confirmed I was the good guy, the blameless victim, built up an army, and fought back. However, after battling for so long, years even, you come to realize that there can be no winner through this plan. Only losers.

We’re all people, living our own full lives. You can never truly know what goes on in another persons head, or how their mind works. We experience our own highs and lows and these shape us. We learn from our mistakes, and from the mistakes of those around us (be it in person or from stories or even television). We watch people make choices that would be wrong for us, and maybe we think they’re even wrong for them, too. We think to ourselves, that’s a mistake. Or, I wouldn’t have done it that way. But do we get involved? From up close? From a safe distance? Do we tell them that? Do we insert ourselves in their life as a means to, what? Make things better for them? Make things worse, so that we can feel better about our own situations?

I’ve made mistakes before. I own those mistakes, because that girl didn’t know what I know. She will, but she didn’t know back then. I’ve learned to be kind to her, because (deep down) she wasn’t trying to be malicious and she can’t go back in time and change things. She was grasping at straws. Diverting attention away from her and shining a spotlight on someone else so that she could seek comfort in the darkness. With every comment that cut her down, she spat out two more so that she was still taller than you. That girl is me, but I suspect it’s you, too.

The difference? I can only speak to my own actions, my own feelings. I can only tell you what the younger me was thinking and feeling, her aims and goals. We don’t agree much these days, but that is to be expected with maturity. Her and I have different goals. They’re the same, but they have different definitions.

Happiness.

Happiness used to mean weighing a certain number on the scale, having lots of friends, clear skin, a good job title. These days, happiness means sleeping in and waking up next to a partner who appreciates and values me. Happiness to me means chatting with friends, both internet and IRL (in real life), and supportive family. Happiness to me is thinking back to fun times of travel, success, and laughter. I don’t know why you do what you do to me, over and over again, and I don’t need to. Honestly, I don’t care.

That’s not meant to sound aggressive, reader. That’s meant to soothe you. I don’t care about what you did back then, or really even what you’re doing now. It won’t ruin my day. I won’t let it. My army won’t let it. I don’t care about how you look or your education or your social standing or how many Instagram followers you have. It doesn’t matter to me – how you treat me and how you treat those around you is what matters. Ultimately, only you can make that change and choose to be better. I will not be waiting for you.

I’m focusing on my own happiness, and enjoying my time as best I can. It saddens me to think that you feel so hurt that you have to fight back in an empty ring, but I guess… do what you feel like you must do to survive your day. In the meantime, know that I’m OKAY. I have people in my life who will go to bat for me, who will defend me and build me back up. I still have people who will offer to fight for me.

I mentioned before that after battling with someone or something for so long, you come to realize that there can be no winner in the end. Only losers emerge, and there is no victor. And personally, I don’t want to damage my strong, beautiful, faithful army. I don’t want to waste their powers on the likes of someone hiding behind a phone or a keyboard, or behind their own sense of superiority.

I truly hope that you can find a sense of peace and ownership and confidence in your life. I wish only good things for you. I hope that one day you look back and forgive the girl you are now – forgive yourself for the hurtful intentions, forgive yourself for not minding your own business and inserting yourself into a situation that has nothing to do with you. I hope that one day you are able to teach your child to be better. I hope that we can be close one day. I hope to one day welcome you into my army.

In the meantime, I want to be absolutely clear. I remove myself when there is drama. I am not fighting back. I’m too busy living my life and enjoying the people who I chose to have in it. I am taking the high road. This post is an attempt to convey to you that I know what you’ve been doing, and I understand why. I also know that I don’t deserve it, and maybe deep down you know that, too.

To the rest of my readers, those simply along for the ride, how do you respond to those attempting to tear you down? What makes you smile? What are you thankful for today?

Keto on the go!

It’s no secret that I follow the keto / low carb WOE (way of eating). I also travel a lot for work and enjoy a date night out with the husband and dinner and drinks with friends. You might be thinking to yourself, wow, must be hard to keep that up while eating out! Well my dear reader, that’s where you’re mistaken!

My biggest, bestest tip: stick to a protein and a veggie and tell the staff that you’re gluten free. I aim to be gluten free always because of my allergy, but I’ve found that saying you’re gluten free enables staff to be more sensitive to your dietary restrictions. They’re typically quick to let you know about cross contamination (sometimes restaurants fry everything in the same oil) and if there’s flour in a sauce or coating.

Don’t be afraid

Never be afraid to ask for what you want, or what you need! I have no qualms telling staff that I have an allergy or a sensitivity to the ingredients that I want to avoid. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you ask for an alteration, or ask for them to leave something off the plate?

If the burger comes with fries and a bun, I ask them to leave off the bun and swap the fries for a side salad. Not once has this posed an issue – except when I was in the Edinburgh Airport and their Burger King could not comprehend what a bun-less burger was. True story! The manager had to come over and make the burger for me because they couldn’t figure out how to put it into their system. Then I took my burger and found a place to sit by my gate, opened it up, and there was no napkin or cutlery. I looked around – that gosh darn eco-friendly airport had NO napkins or plastic cutlery ANYWHERE!

What would you do in that situation? Can you guess what I did? That’s right – I used my built-in cutlery and ate that mother with my bare hands, grease and all, like a true American! (what?)

Anyway – back to my thoughts on eating out while living that low carb life. It’s really not scary! Ask restaurant staff to leave the no-no stuff off the plate, see if they’ll swap if you feel like you’ll want more food – if not, just don’t eat the foods you don’t want. Notice how I didn’t say don’t eat the foods you can’t have. Really, you can eat anything you want. No one’s going to tell you, you can’t have that, like a toddler. I’m not the keto police! There are no “keto” foods. There are keto friendly foods, sure. But a food is not “keto” or “not keto.” You’re an adult, I’m assuming. Make your own choices and own them.

For me, I know if I indulge in pasta or bread or sugar, there’s a serious risk of me having a bathroom emergency. And no, not talking about having to go touch up my makeup, if you catch my drift… I know if I stay on plan, I’ll leave feeling satisfied without any tummy troubles. That mindset helps me stay on track.

When I was in Oxford, I ordered hotel room service. I didn’t tell them on the phone, “I’m keto so I can have X, Y, and Z.” Ain’t no one got time for that. Instead I said to the staff, “I’ll have the lamb and vegetables and no potatoes, please.” Here’s what I got:

I didn’t eat it all either – I prioritized the meat and the veggies that I wanted to eat, and there were veggies left over! I did the same thing another night at that hotel – “steak and veggies please, no potatoes!” Bam:

There was one time when something kind of funny happened. I was out with coworkers at a pub in Oxford. We were getting dinner, and the menu was pretttttty carby. There were a couple of options that I thought I could easily keto-fy. I was going back and forth on a salad, a burger, and the pork steak and eggs. I settled on the pork and eggs and asked for a side of veggies instead of chips (french fries, or steak fries for my fellow Americans). The guy gave me a puzzled look at first, and asked if I wanted a salad or hot veggies. Hot, please! Then he asked if they could give me what was in season – I said sure, as long as it’s not potatoes.

Don’t get me wrong – I adore cooked cabbage with a little salt (it’s a great alternative to pasta if you saute it in some salted butter and top with tomato sauce and cheese). It just looked a bit funny on the plate, and my coworkers were a bit perplexed.

I broke those runny yolks and went to town – these days, I always prioritize the protein. After I ate that, I wasn’t even that hungry for the greens!

What about sushi?

This can be interesting – I’m a big fan of fish. First, it tastes divine and can be prepared so many different ways. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins like D and B2. It’s rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. It’s packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients that science has proven can lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. All in all, I love me some fish and I eat it whenever I can!

Ordering sushi can be interesting – it’s a known fact that rice has lots o’ carbs. You might think that sashimi is the way to go, and that’s correct! I love me some sashimi! But there are other options, as well!

One option is to simply ask for them to prepare the standard (simple) rolls without rice. In my personal experience, a kitchen will only refuse this if they don’t make the rolls fresh. Sometimes the more complicated, specialty rolls need the rice to hold everything together – so just be prepared for a possible ‘no.’ I frequently ask for them to leave off the rice when ordering in a restaurant and when ordering delivery. I clean up pretty well…

Another option is to ask for a Naruto (pronounced Nah-roo-toe) roll. This is a roll wrapped in cucumber! Not all places have this option on their menu, but it never hurts to ask! They might make it for you special. If anything, they’ll be impressed that you know your stuff. Here are some of the Naruto rolls I’ve enjoyed:

I’ve had these with salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and all three combined! They’re light and yummy, and an excellent alternative to regular rice rolls. See? Ordering food while following the low carb / keto WOE can be simple and easy!

But what about Italian food?

Yup – I hear that. Italian can be a challenge. It’s my ultimate comfort food, or at least it was! Homemade pasta is my weakness, along with pizza. What do I do when I end up in an Italian restaurant? You guessed it! Protein and veggies for the win! I tell them that I have a gluten allergy, and usually they say that they have a gluten-free pasta option. I tell them it’s never quite the same as the OG, so I’d rather avoid it. 99% of the time I’m sure you’ll find them willing to accommodate your requests as long as they aren’t too out there. If not, then think about it. Is it really so hard for a restaurant to leave a few ingredients off, and prepare you a veg on the side? If it is, it could be because they make their food in advance and it’s sitting out, or perhaps they’re reheating from frozen. In that case, I’m typically happy finding a new restaurant.

One suggestion I’ve heard of people doing but haven’t tried myself is asking for a restaurant to substitute pasta for broccoli or zucchini! Another excellent option, although I prefer to get in more protein so I’d naturally go for a larger dish.

Mexican food?

Again, just leave off the rice, beans, and tortillas! I personally love getting fajitas and then just eating the meat and peppers and onions and lots of shredded cheese on top. Also, gimme that sour cream!

There are so many options for low carb chips out there these days, you can bring your own with you and enjoy some guacamole, too! If you’re asked to explain why you want to leave off ingredients, just say you have a sensitive stomach, or you simply don’t like them. I always say that I have a sensitive stomach, but if they wouldn’t mind doubling up on the meat and/or onions and peppers then that would be appreciated. It’s always worked out for me! No need for them to give you food that you won’t eat and they’ll end up just throwing away. When you explain it that way, they’re usually happy to accommodate.

Your mission

I think you’re ready, friend! You’re prepared to order food and stay keto / low carb! I believe in you! Let me know how it goes, and of course if you have any questions. I’m happy to help – just ask.

Baked Pizza Eggs

Craving pizza, but avoiding those pesky carbs and all that gluten? Sure, you can make a fat head pizza dough and whip up some yummy low carb pizza… but in my experience, fat head dough contains a lot of calories. I know that for me personally, I can’t limit myself to only one slice – it’s so darn tasty! I end up eating so much in one sitting! I have another option that I like to do on a more frequent basis, and maybe you will, too…

Let me ask you a few questions. Got some eggs in your refrigerator? Access to an oven? A small oven-safe baking dish? Well – let’s try something different!

Baked pizza eggs can be whatever you want them to be! Do you like a white pizza? Grab some ricotta. In the mood for something a bit more traditional? Grab some red sauce and all of your favorite pizza toppings. Not a sauce fan at all? I give you permission to leave it out all together!

Personally, I’m a big fan of topping my pizza with extra cheese, crispy pepperoni, and juicy black olives (see picture on the left). It’s the same when I make these baked eggs.

I always be sure to broil my baked eggs for a few minutes after cooling and before removing them from the oven – this ensures a crispy, bubbly top! It can be quite a decadent dish, too – imagine all that melted butter mixing with the cheese and sauce and your seasonings – OK I NEED TO STOP BECAUSE I’M GETTING HUNGRY TYPING THIS ALL UP FOR YOU!

Alright, I’m sure at this point you’re like that’s all well and good, but can you give me the recipe already? Okay, okay – here it is! This is my usual recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2T butter (I prefer salted Kerrygold)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 25g shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 40g ricotta cheese
  • 15g finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 10g pepperoni
  • 20g black olives
  • Italian seasoning, to taste (I like Flavorgod or Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute)
  • Pink salt, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (325F if you like your yolks on the runny side)
  2. Cube 1-2T of butter and place at the bottom of your oven-safe baking dish. I make these eggs in a small baking dish because they’re usually just for me!
  3. Spoon sauce over the butter, then top with small scoops of ricotta cheese. Crack eggs on top, evenly dispersing them throughout the dish, and season eggs with salt.
  4. Evenly sprinkle mozzarella over the eggs, then follow up with the parmesan. Season with Italian seasoning of your choice.
  5. Add toppings – if you like your pepperoni/meat crispy, save those for the very top of your baking dish.
  6. Place your baking dish in the oven for 10-12 minutes and let your eggs cook. Cooking time will depend on how done you like your eggs to be, and how powerful your oven is. When the eggs look to be just about cooked, switch your oven to the broil setting and cook for an additional 4-7 minutes. Let that cheese and your toppings get all crispy and bubbly. Again, this time will vary depending on your personal preference, and your oven!

Here’s what the layers might look like:

Wasn’t that easy? Be sure to use oven mitts when removing your baked pizza eggs, and let the dish cool for a few minutes before digging in. You don’t want to burn your tongue!

This will give you ample opportunity to capture that delicious simmering buttery goodness in a boomerang on Instagram, or at the very least snap a few choice photos of your meal. I’d love to see your baked pizza eggs – please tag me.

Here’s what your baked pizza eggs might look like: