Why You Shouldn’t Fear Fasting


‘Instead of using medicine, better fast today.’

– Plutarch

I love food, and I love eating. I am a food professional, and cooking earned me a living. Well brought up, I never turned down the offer of food. Loving a challenge, I never surrendered when faced with a prodigious plate. I never refused chocolates, pastries, and other sweet treats when they tempted in a cafe or supermarket. Over time, I grew large, and then I became diabetic. The shock of the latter still resonates in my life, though I have reversed the disease. I did it with the advice of Dr. Jason Fung. If you are in a similar situation, I suggest two of his books, The Diabetes Code and The Guide to Fasting. Thanks in large part to him, I am thin again, and my blood glucose is healthy. 

There were two parts to Dr. Fung’s advice. The first was to stop putting sugar in my body, which meant a low carb diet, for starches convert to sugar. That meant bidding farewell to a very long list that included cakes, cookies, candy, pizza, potatoes, corn, rice, pasta, sugar, wheat, honey, and most fruit. The second part was to get the sugar out of my body, and that required fasting. Although the idea of giving up many of my favourite foods depressed me, it was the second part that worried me. I had never fasted, and the thought of doing without food, the love of my life (don’t tell my wife), scared me silly. Fasting seemed alien and impossible. Could I do it? 


Books at Trinity Library

Even a cursory study shows fasting is an ancient practice, and it is a part of most religions. If it were harmful, surely we would have heard by now.


I am writing these words on Friday. This particular Friday is the Friday before Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is the day of atonement, the holiest day of the year for the Jewish faith. Observant Jews spend the day fasting and in prayer, repenting and atoning, and their 24 hour fast, from sundown to sundown, is strict – no food or water. As a child growing up in New York, my fasting friends amazed me with their fortitude. Half Irish/half German people like myself had no such fasting tradition, and we weren’t able for it, or so I thought.

In Hebrew, Friday is יוׄם שִׁשִּׁי which means ‘the sixth day,’ or the last day before the Sabbath. The English word ‘Friday’ comes from ‘Frigga’ or ‘Freya’ – the Germanic/Norse goddess of married love. Christians traditionally fasted on Friday, a practice still observed by some (my wife’s devout mother fasted from Thursday evening to Saturday morning each week – a 36 hour fast). Fasting on Friday is also half-remembered by other Christians who eat only fish.

King Henry VIII, known for his appetites and his girth, brought in the Reformation so he could divorce. A secondary benefit for the king was the ability to eat anything (and as much as he wanted) on Fridays, for Martin Luther wasn’t keen on fasting:

‘…with this fasting we serve the pope and the papists— and the fishermen.’

Martin Luther, Candlemas Sermon on Luke 2:33-40

An Irish (and German) Tradition

Here in Ireland, ‘Friday’ is ‘Dé hAoine,’ pronounced ‘day heena.’ Growing up in New York, I didn’t know that ‘Dé hAoine’ means ‘the fast.’ That’s not all. ‘Dé Céadaoin’ (Wednesday) means ‘the day of the first fast’ and ‘Déardaoin’ (Thursday) means ‘the day between the fasts.’ As far as I know, Ireland has the only days of the week that reference fasting. So much for Irish people having no fasting tradition. I find the two days of fasting per week interesting, especially now that Dr. Michael Mosely’s 5:2 diet has become popular.

Ancient Irish Scales
Ancient Irish Scales

Germans were more severe – they had a tradition of fasting for 40 days before Christmas that eventually shrank and became Advent. ‘Martinstag’ or ‘St. Martin’s Day,’ in honour of St. Martin of Tours, preceded the Christmas fast. The saint was a Roman soldier who cut his cloak to share with a beggar in a snowstorm. He may have also liked goose, for Germans stuffed themselves with that fowl before the privations began. In case you are wondering, the fast at Christmas was in addition to the 40 days fasting during Lent. So much for the German people having no fasting tradition!  


Wisdom in a Widely Practiced Tradition

Across the world, fasting is more usual than unusual. Observant Coptic Christians fast for 200 days of the year. Muslims fast during Ramadan for daylight hours, and fasting is one of the five pillars of the faith. Buddhist monks abstain from food before daybreak and after lunch, which makes them an early adopter of intermittent fasting. Hinduism has regular fasting periods for various festivals and lunar phases.

I found fasting difficult to start and eased into it, simply not eating between supper and a late breakfast. Knowing that more than a billion Muslims can manage Ramadan, that Jews get through Yom Kippur each year, that some Christians still fast for up to 200 days of the year, and that Buddhists manage intermittent fasting just fine made my little struggles seem insignificant. I was also well aware that most of the struggle was mental. After I managed a fourteen hour fast, a fourteen hour fast soon didn’t seem so difficult. The same was true when I stretched it to sixteen.

Eventually, emboldened, I fasted for a full day (supper to supper the next day). 24 hours is a magic number, for it takes 24 hours for insulin to drain completely from the body, and insulin is the hormone responsible for fat. With insulin low, the body can use the sugar stored in the cells, and it starts burning fat. Sure enough, my excess weight melted away, and my next blood test confirmed my diabetes was in full remission.

Since I started fasting, I feel more clear headed, and I sleep better. I have saved quite a bit of time and money from all the meals I didn’t eat. My cravings no longer dictate my behaviour. In fact, it’s a relief to feel that now I can choose when to eat and when to skip a meal or two. It’s liberating. Best of all, fasting has reawakened my senses. Smells are more powerful, and food tastes so much better that sometimes I stop and marvel. As a foodie, I’ll say ‘Amen’ to that.


Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.”

― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Disclaimers: 1. I am a patient, not a doctor or medical professional, and I do not write medical advice. 2. Anyone with health issues, and all those on medication, should consult their doctors before embarking on a fasting regime. 3. Eating disorders are serious illnesses that require medical supervision, and I didn’t write this for those suffering the same. 4. Many people are going hungry around the world, especially at the moment, and there is nothing acceptable societally about involuntary fasting. I’m writing about voluntary fasting. 


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A Secret OF My Low Carb Diet Success

When I was young, my parents worked in the health food industry, and they often brought me along on business trips. Bored senseless, I’d pretend to be an anthropologist and make mental notes of people we met. Among them was a gaunt, mournful-looking species who subsisted, I was told, on a diet of brown rice. They were common enough for regular scientific observation. Their languid movements fascinated me as did their extreme self-deprivation.

It seemed incomprehensible that someone would give up everything that tasted good and, to a child’s mind, live a life bereft of happiness. How little I knew! 


Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise that I went the other way when I grew up and embraced sugar and culinary decadence. As a food professional, I created costly ice creams for work and ate in some of the world’s best restaurants. I considered myself a lucky gourmand. Tokyo? Check. Paris? Check. San Sebastian? Delhi? LA? Piedmont? Charleston? Copenhagen? Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Mmmm. 

Michelin Star Dessert

Over time, the weight piled on, but if my paunch betrayed excess consumption, what harm? Did my expanding waist and extra chin not proclaim my culinary zeal? Then my doctor diagnosed me with Type II Diabetes. For the first time, I felt fat. I felt ashamed. I felt scared, for Type II diabetes is a frightful disease. My health professionals weren’t shy about describing the unpleasant complications and grim, inevitable outcomes.

Hope and Research

Instead of giving up, I applied the same sense of curiosity and adventure to my illness that I previously used discovering ingredients and unearthing restaurants. Almost immediately, I determined that the outcomes aren’t inevitable. 50% of people with Type II diabetes can achieve remission if they cut carbohydrates and quickly lose weight. That gave me hope. 

I read the excellent Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung and work by Dr David Unwin, Dr Malcolm Kendrick, and Tom Jelinek, PhD. I learned three methods seem to work best for losing weight quickly.

They are:
  1. A low carbohydrate diet
  2. A severely restricted-calorie diet
  3.  Intermittent fasting

I decided to combine low carb and fasting. The fat melted away. In just three months, I lost 21kg and brought my blood sugar into the normal range. 

In many ways, that was the easy part. When the stakes are high enough, anyone can change their behaviour for a while. I must sustain the behaviour into the long term or risk the diabetes returning. In doing so, I don’t want to become a gaunt and mournful creature, for if I did, I would give up. For my happiness, I need to keep my love of food alive. I need to enjoy eating it. How? By celebrating food and seeking out luxury.

Spoiling yourself is key to success. Joy and gratitude will keep you healthy in a way that deprivation never can.

When I changed my diet, I naturally missed the ice cream, pastries, pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread, so I concentrated on the foods I could eat. I planned and cooked delicious meals that satisfied not only my hunger but my soul. I continued to eat out (occasionally and carefully). To reward myself for staying thin, I spend the money I save by fasting on culinary luxuries. Fillet steak? Lobster? Of course. It’s hard to feel sorry for myself when eating lobster. Instead, I feel like a lucky gourmand. 


Six Luxury Foods That Help Keep the Joy Alive

These work for me. Your luxuries might look different. For all I know, brown rice gives you spiritual bliss, and that’s fine of course if you’re not trying to cut carbs. In any case, pamper yourself to whatever degree you can afford.

1. Butter

Butter might seem a simple thing to list as a luxury, but luxuries don’t have to be expensive. Butter makes almost everything taste better and more gourmet. For example, lobster without butter is good, but lobster with butter is fantastic. The same is true with many dishes. Green beans are fine. Green beans drenched in butter, with crunchy, sliced almonds toasted with butter, are exquisite.

Butter has played a part in most of my favourite foods — croissants, mashed potatoes, cookies, cake, and toast with melted butter. Sometimes I wonder whether those foods were just an excuse to eat butter, and I can still do just that. When I mash cauliflower with enough butter and cream, I (almost) don’t miss the potatoes. It’s like losing the wrapping paper but keeping the gift.

Some things I do with butter:

  • Add to coffee.
  • Add to sauces or use instead of sauce.
  • Top toasted nuts, especially pecans.
  • Spread on low carb psyllium bread
  • Make garlic butter.

2. Caviar

Next time a friend mentions the deprivations of a low carb diet, serve them caviar. They will quickly change the conversation. Roe (fish eggs) are among the most expensive foods globally, and roe of the sturgeon — caviar — are the most costly of all. Do not purchase illegal wild or poached caviar for obvious reasons. Luckily the endangered fish are now farmed and no longer killed to extract the roe.

Low carb ways to serve caviar:

  1. On a spoon.
  2. Spread on fresh, crunchy cucumbers.
  3. On homemade cheese crackers.
  4. Spooned on eggs.
  5. As caviar butter (gently blend caviar and butter).

3. Chocolate 

As an unrepentant chocoholic, chocolate is the treat I’d hate most to lose, and guess what? I haven’t. This ambrosia of the Mayans tantalises and satisfies in a way few other foods do. If you weren’t a chocolate snob before, it is time to become one. Milk chocolate is full of sugar, so gravitate toward the dark varieties (85% or higher) to keep the carbs down. Low in carbs and high in fat, a small amount of chocolate goes a long way.

Other varieties of chocolate: Cocoa nibs are worth seeking out; they add a nice crunch. Pure cocoa gives tremendous flavour to cream or puddings and in small amounts adds few carbs (make sure you’re not buying cocoa with sugar added). Cocoa butter is a luxurious fat, a guilt-free way of adding chocolate flavour, and by adding vanilla, you can make sugar-free white chocolate.

Some things I do with chocolate:

  • Savour it dark and sparingly (3gm).
  • Add 25g pure, organic cocoa butter to a cup of coffee. Blend.
  • Whip with cream and top with cocoa nibs (above).
  • Make delicious, satisfying mole sauce — no sweeteners, of course.
  • Shave over a handful of raspberries and whipped cream.

4. Cream 

Could anything be more luxurious? The word ‘cream’ signifies the best or something special — la crème de la crème, the cream of the crop, the cat that got the cream. Give me decadent Irish cream, and I’m like that cat. In Irish, ‘cream’ is ‘uachtar,’ and our president is ‘Uachtarán.’ I imagine the president has an abundance of luscious, thick Irish cream in the presidential fridge.

I do too — cream makes up for many foods I’ve put aside. Forget what you’ve heard about it being unhealthy — it has half the sugar of milk. Look for the highest fat content you can find — half and half means it has more sugar. Buy cream often, and rummage around the back of the shop fridge to make sure it’s the freshest. Use it liberally and enjoy every minute. Cream satisfies in a way that few foods do.

Pannacotta with raspberries

Some things I do with cream:

  • Add to coffee.
  • Make pannacotta.
  • Make chia pudding.
  • Improve consistency of omelettes.
  • Add to soups and chowders.

5. Lobster 

We all have our weak moments. We have times when we feel our path is too hard. Before I started a low carb diet, I’d reach for a candy bar or something else sweet at delicate moments. Now, when I feel a wobble approach, when I feel overwhelmed or just a bit down, I know it’s time to pamper myself. Since I live by the sea and lobster is abundant here, it is a luxury that isn’t out of reach if I cook it myself.

Because we vacationed in New England when I was a child, lobster is a nostalgic dish for me. It transports me back to sea breezes, sunburns, plastic bibs, and unpretentious lobster shacks with wooden picnic tables. In other words, it feeds my soul. Of course, like any treat, it is best not to overdo lobster. In Irish, there is a saying, ‘An rud is annamh is iontach’ — ‘What is seldom is wonderful.’ Keep it special.

Top 5 low carb lobster dishes:

  1. Steamed lobster with butter.
  2. Lobster salad.
  3. Grilled lobster.
  4. Lobster bisque.
  5. Lobster Newberg.

6. Truffles 

George Sand called truffles ‘the fairy apple,’ and Alexandre Dumas called them ‘the holy of holies for the gourmet.’ They grow wild in forests in Piedmont, Tuscany, Marche, and in the Périgord region of France. Specialist truffle hunters use dogs or pigs to find them. The Italians prefer the former, for dogs are less likely to swallow the precious find.

Truffles come in principle colours — white and black, and there are two seasons for each — summer truffles and winter truffles. Both reach peak flavour late in the season when they have matured. White truffles have a notoriously short shelf life — they must be consumed within a few days of harvesting. Black truffles last a bit longer. Although white truffles are perhaps most famous paired with tajarin pasta, they are also sliced and served on eggs and carpaccio of beef.

While I have cooked with truffles, I haven’t done so with great success. This is one ingredient I leave to the professionals and enjoy out of the house.

White truffles in Alba

103 LOW CARB FOODS, NUMBER 6 – Truffles

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can on luxury foods.

Truffles – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #6


George Sand called truffles ‘the fairy apple,’ and Alexandre Dumas called them ‘the holy of holies for the gourmet.’ They need a specific soil to grow, rich soil found in forests in Piedmont, Tuscany, Marche, and in the Périgord region of France. Truffles usually grow under an oak, linden, or hazel tree, and they have a symbiotic relationship with them. Known as ‘tartufo’ in Italian, they grow underground, sniffed out by the sensitive noses of dogs or pigs. The Italians prefer the former, for dogs are less likely to swallow the precious find.

Truffles come in principle colours – white and black, and there are two seasons for each – summer truffles and winter truffles. Both reach peak flavour late in the season when they have matured. White truffles have a notoriously short shelf life – they must be consumed within a few days of harvesting. Black truffles last a bit longer. Because of this, white truffles carry a higher premium in terms of price.

If you locate them in a shop or on a restaurant menu, they will be a luxury, but they are delicious, low carb, and full of nutrition. I was lucky enough to spend time in and around Alba, Italy in truffle season. There, I enjoyed a variety of dishes with their famous white truffles. Although white truffles are perhaps most famous paired with tajarin pasta, they are also sliced and served on eggs and carpaccio of beef. I enjoyed it most on the eggs – I found the combined flavours irresistible.


A few notes:
  1. White truffles have a strong aroma but subtle flavour, so they don’t take kindly to cooking. In Italy, they are usually washed and sliced raw as a topping or garnish.
  2. Black truffles, on the other hand, can take a bit of cooking and infuse dishes with flavour. You might be able to find a good quality black truffle oil that will enliven a variety of meals, but beware – many truffle oils include artificial flavours and should be avoided.
  3. While I have cooked with truffles, I haven’t done so with great success. This is one ingredient I will leave to the professionals and enjoy out of the house.

The weather is getting cooler, and I love Italy in Autumn. I’ll sit here at my dest, far away in Ireland, and dream of restaurants around Alba, thin slices of truffles falling gently on my plate.


Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


103 LOW CARB FOODS, NUMBER 5 – Lobster

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can on luxury foods.

Lobster – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #5


We all have our weak moments. We have times when we feel our path is too hard. Before I started a low carb diet, I’d reach for a candy bar or something else sweet at delicate moments. Now, when I feel a wobble approach, when I feel overwhelmed or just a bit down, I know it’s time to pamper myself. Since I live by the sea and lobster is abundant here, it is a luxury that isn’t out of reach if I cook it myself. It’s expensive, but then I’m doing intermittent fasting, and I have missed many meals and saved lots of money doing so. Because we vacationed in New England when I was a child, lobster is a nostalgic dish for me. It transports me back to sea breezes, sunburns, plastic bibs, and unpretentious lobster shacks with wooden picnic tables. In other words, it feeds my soul. Of course, like any special treat, it is best not to overdo lobster. In Irish, there is a saying, ‘An rud is annamh is iontach’ – ‘What is seldom is wonderful.’ It’s best to keep it special. 


Top 5 low carb lobster dishes:

  1. Steamed lobster with butter 
  2. Grilled lobster
  3. Lobster salad 
  4. Lobster bisque
  5. Lobster Newberg

Lobster and ethics

There are many people, including my wife and daughter, who don’t like killing animals, especially in the house. I understand that. I was a vegetarian for more than 20 years and may become one again. However, I eat meat now, and I feel that being overly squeamish about killing a lobster is disingenuous since creatures die to make my meat eating possible, and the only difference is that the death of a lobster happens in my kitchen. I would hesitate if the lobster was shipped to me live or held for long periods in a tank, but here the food chain is short. I can look out my window at fishing boats. When the moment comes, I don’t enjoy the process of dispatching a lobster, but it makes me more mindful and makes me appreciate the sacrifice it takes to keep me fed. If you find killing a lobster difficult, then find a friend or loved one who will do the deed for a share of the feast or else order one at a restaurant. 

How to kill a lobster humanely
  1. Put the lobster into the freezer for 20-30 minutes. This will shut down its metabolism.
  2. Plunge the point of a sharp knife into the cross below its eyes, then cut down to separate the head.   

This video, from Bon Appétit might be helpful (go to ca. 1 minute in).


My favourite way to enjoy a lobster

I steam it in a big pot with two inches of water for 12-15 minutes, depending on the size. If I have seaweed to add to the water, even better. When I dip the juicy mouthfuls into hot butter, all feels right with the world.


Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


103 LOW CARB FOODS, NUMBER 4 – Cream

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can on luxury foods.

Cream – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #4


Could anything be more luxurious? The word ‘cream’ signifies the best or something special – la crème de la crème, the cream of the crop, the cat that got the cream. Give me decadent Irish cream, and I’m like that cat. In Irish, ‘cream’ is ‘uachtar,’ and our president is ‘Uachtarán.’ I imagine the president has an abundance of luscious, thick Irish cream in the presidential fridge. 

I do too – cream makes up for many foods I’ve put aside. Forget what you’ve heard about it being unhealthy – it has half the sugar of milk. Look for the highest fat content you can find – half and half means it has more sugar. Buy cream often, and rummage around the back of the shop fridge to make sure it’s the freshest. Use it liberally and enjoy every minute. Cream satisfies in a way that few foods do.


Some things I do with cream: 

  1. Add to coffee
  2. Whip and eat with berries
  3. Make pannacotta (see recipe)
  4. Whip with pure cocoa
  5. Make chia pudding
  6. Add to omelette
  7. Cream of mushroom to top chicken, fish, meat or to serve on its own
  8. Add to soups and chowders. 
  9. Cream of spinach
  10. Make butter

Tip: How to whip cream to make it truly delicious: 1. Buy the most local, freshest, and full fat cream you can find. 2. For the best consistency, whip it on medium speed – fast speeds aerate too much. 3. Stop mixing when soft peaks form. If you over whip, it will taste buttery.

Note: Using a stick blender with a single whisk attachment is my favourite method for silky cream. Use the narrowest jug you have that fits the whisk.


Pannacotta means ‘cooked cream’ in Italian, and it’s a dessert from the Piedmont. I love this dessert, and it doesn’t miss the sugar. I use vegetarian gelatine (from carrageenan) It’s naturally salty, which amplifies the flavour of the cream. You might have to play with the quantity, depending on the brand.    

Panna cotta Recipe

Ingredients: 227 ml (1 cup) full fat cream. 1/4 teaspoon vegetarian gelatine. Vanilla to taste.  

Method: Heat the cream and gelatine, stirring just until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Take off the heat. Pour into moulds or ramekins. Refrigerate until set. Gently transfer onto a plate and serve with berries, with a squeeze of lemon, or on its own. 

Variations: 1. Add pure cocoa to taste. 2. Cook with a crushed cardamom pod. Strain after cooking. 3. Add cinnamon. 4. Add a shot or two of espresso. 5. Add marsala wine. 6. Add Scotch whiskey. 


Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


103 Low Carb Foods, Number 3 – Chocolate

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can on luxury foods.

Chocolate – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #3


As a unrepentant chocoholic, chocolate is the treat I’d hate most to lose, and guess what? I haven’t. This mystery of the Mayans, the ambrosia of the Aztecs, tantalises and satisfies in a way few other foods do. Its melting point is the same as body temperature, which is perhaps why it is so beguiling in the mouth. If you weren’t a chocolate snob before, it is time to become one, for milk chocolate is full of sugar, and you’d do well to gravitate toward the dark varieties to keep the carbs down. Dark chocolate is low in carbs and high in fat, and a small amount goes a long way.

Choose a square or two of 85% or higher chocolate and pour all your mindfulness into the experience. Cocoa nibs are worth seeking out; they add a nice crunch. Pure cocoa gives tremendous flavour to cream or puddings and in small amounts adds few carbs (make sure you’re not buying cocoa with sugar added). Cocoa butter is a luxurious fat, a guilt-free way of adding chocolate flavour, and by adding vanilla you can make sugar-free white chocolate.  

Valrhona Abinao Chocolate

My favourite brand of eating chocolate is Valrhona – I took a chocolate course in their factory in France and have never forgotten it. Their Abinao is surprisingly fruity for such high cocoa content. It’s so satisfying that I have no trouble eating it in moderation. Their cocoa is also worth the money if you can find it. Artisan chocolate makers will welcome the support you can give them, so seek out any in your area. Since chocolate is a case where quality is more important than quantity, why not set yourself a goal to find your favourite chocolate in the world? I could think of many worse ways to spend time.

Some things I do with chocolate: 

  1. Savour every instant of it.
  2. Eat it dark and sparingly (3gm). 
  3. Add 25g pure, organic cocoa butter to a cup of coffee. Blend.
  4. Grind cocoa nibs with chia.
  5. Add shavings to fresh mint chia.
  6. Make delicious, satisfying mole sauce – no sweeteners, of course. 
  7. Eat a bit with a small handful of raspberries and whipped cream.

Recipe: Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients: 100 ml full fat cream. 30gm 90% chocolate. 15gm butter. 15gm cocoa butter.  

Method: Melt the chocolate, butter, and cocoa butter together. I use a dry coffee mug in a bowl of hot water. Heat the cream just to a simmer. Add to the chocolate in small parts, stirring until it is smooth and glossy. Pour into little glasses. Cool. 

Variations: 1. Add pure vanilla to taste. 2. Add cinnamon. 3. Add a splash of whiskey. 4. Top with cream. 5. Decorate with cocoa nibs or berries.


Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


103 Low Carb Foods, Number 2 – Caviar

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can on luxury foods.

Caviar – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #2


If you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages. — Arsene Wenger

Next time a friend mentions how abstemious you must be to live on a low carb diet, whip out a jar of caviar. Roe (fish eggs) are among the most expensive foods in the world, and roe of the sturgeon — caviar — are the most costly of all. Russian caviar is considered the best. Other countries, including China, Iran, and the US, produce caviar. It’s important to note that most sturgeon are endangered or critically endangered in the wild, so do not buy wild caviar or caviar that has been poached. Luckily the fish are now farmed and no longer killed to extract the roe.

Caviar is salted, which improves the flavour and helps with preservation — the more salt, the better the preservation but worse the taste. It is perishable and must be refrigerated when opened and consumed quickly. Since caviar is a treat, buy the best you can afford, although other varieties of roe can be quite tasty. These include roe of salmon, trout, and the bright orange lobster roe usually discarded (I love to fry them briefly in butter, which gives them a pleasing crunch).

Seven low carb ways to serve caviar:

  1. On a spoon
  2. On fresh, crunchy cucumbers
  3. On homemade cheese crackers
  4. With sour cream or crème fraiche
  5. On eggs
  6. As caviar butter (gently blend caviar and butter)
  7. As caviar butter sauce. Look it up. It’s a thing

Caviar varieties and terms

  • American Osetra — the white sturgeon. Illegal if poached.
  • Beluga — the beluga sturgeon. It’s considered the highest grade. Do not buy illegal wild varieties. It is farmed, and wild populations are starting to recover.
  • Hackleback — the shovelnose sturgeon in the US.
  • Mallosol — means little salt, so it’s more perishable and considered the best.
  • Ossetra — the ossetra sturgeon is near extinction in the wild. It is second only to the beluga in price.
  • Paddlefish — cousin to the sturgeon. Common in the US.
  • Payusnaya — pressed. It’s caviar that’s not intact as eggs. OK for recipes.
  • Sevruga — also known as the ‘starry sturgeon.’ It’s critically endangered in the wild.
  • Sterlet — Once considered the finest. Now virtually extinct.
  • Vegan — Yes — it is possible to find caviar made from kelp.

Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


Thanks to Robert Anasch for making the photo available freely on Unsplash.

103 Delicious Low Carb Foods, Number 1 – Butter

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can.

A. Luxury Foods

1. Butter

Butter might seem a simple thing to list as a luxury, but it makes almost everything taste better and more luxurious. For example, lobster without butter is good, but lobster with butter is fantastic. The same is true with many foods. Green beans are fine. Green beans drenched in butter, with crunchy, sliced almonds toasted with butter, are exquisite. If you can find real Irish butter, then it will be even more amazing (in my biased opinion).

Before I started a low carb diet, butter played a part in most of my favourite foods — croissants, mashed potatoes, cookies, cake, toast with melted butter and so forth. Sometimes I wonder whether those foods were just an excuse to eat butter, and I can still do just that. When I mash cauliflower with enough butter (and cream), I don’t miss the potatoes too much. It’s like losing the wrapping paper but keeping the present. 


Some things I do with butter: 

  1. Add to coffee
  2. Cook vegetables
  3. Cook fish
  4. Add to sauces
  5. Make ghee – clarified butter
  6. Add to toasted nuts, especially pecans
  7. Spread on low carb psyllium bread
  8. Make garlic butter
  9. Make herb butter
  10. Whip it (see below)

Fat is fabulous

Fat is one of the micronutrients that keep us alive. Without fat, we would not survive. Fat has been unfairly demonised, although it is coming back into fashion now that there is more understanding of the role of sugar in obesity. Fat helps us feel full when we aren’t stuffing ourselves with carbohydrates, and it makes food more luxurious. In case you are worried about your heart, the often-repeated warning that it’s unhealthy doesn’t seem to have any validity. Butter does not make you gain weight, and it does not clog your arteries. So dump the margarine and add butter for more enjoyment in life. 

I definitely suggest making butter yourself. It’s a simple process, and not strenuous if you have an electric mixer. I never tire of witnessing the miraculous transformation of cream into golden goodness. Old, soured cream (as long as it’s not mouldy) can be repurposed as butter – in fact, it will taste better. I like to whip the butter, since whipped butter is not usual here in Ireland. I grew up with it in New York, and I miss it. One of the benefits is that it is a joy to spread, even when cold.

Recipe: Homemade whipped butter

1. Beat full fat (35+%) whipping cream.

2. After it is whipped, it will then begin to clump and turn yellowish.

3. Periodically scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure every bit’s included.

4. When the liquid separates, beware of splashes. Stop the mixer and discard the liquid.

5. Rinse the butter with cold water, then mix to push any fluid out. Discard the liquid. Repeat until the water stays clear.

6. Add salt if you prefer it (2% is usual in Ireland).

7. Whip the butter on high speed until airy and light in colour. 


From ‘Churning Day,’ by Seamus Heaney

…Their short stroke quickened, suddenly
a yellow curd was weighting the churned up white,
heavy and rich, coagulated sunlight
that they fished, dripping, in a wide tin strainer,
heaped up like gilded gravel in the bowl…


Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


Poem: Goodbye, Honey

A foodie’s poetic lament upon the breakup with carbohydrates for health reasons

~

Goodbye, Honey

by kfionnm

Goodbye, honey, love of mine.
More mysterious than wine. 
Sweet as sin, sticky fingers. 
Even gone, your taste lingers.

Bread, my comfort – glum farewell. 
I get lost inside the smell 
Of your baking – instant lust.
Oh to bite warm crunchy crust.

Wholewheat loaf or French baguette,
Sourdough is better yet.
Warm and fresh or next day’s toast
Magic. Bread, I’ll miss you most.

Ice cream – it seems so unfair.
You and I – a perfect pair –
Spoon in hand, smiling, dreamy
In the mouth, melting, creamy. 

Topped with golden caramel, 
Fragrant fudge’s chocolate smell,
Tart sorbet and crackly cone,
All gone. I feel so alone. 

Sugar: sorry. Can’t be friends.
Pack up, leave, no loose ends.
We have loved in varied ways – 
Best of all – the dessert daze. 

Crème Brûlée and chocolate mousse,
Marmalade, jam, apple juice, 
Porridge bubbling on the heat, 
Corn flakes, muesli dropped – too sweet.

Millet, semolina, rye,
Barley in my soup – goodbye.
Ciao, dear pasta. Rice: so long.
How can good food be so wrong? 

Sad to jilt the curvy spud.
Mashed, you make my heart go thud
Like the first time I was kissed. 
Baked, boiled, fried. You’ll all be missed. 

Couscous and I once were close.
Beans and tacos: adios.
Goodbye, naan and breaded fish,
Pizza, no!!! My favourite dish.

Ramen, udon, any noodle,
Spätzli with an Apfel Strüdel,
Maki sushi, Chinese dumpling,
Hard to stop my legs from crumpling. 

Crepes and croissant, charlotte, choux,
Mille fuille, macarons: adieu. 
Chocolate truffle, cake, and tart
All ensnared me. Broke my heart. 

Cookies, brownies, candy, pies –
Something deep inside me dies
When I know that we are through. 
Sorry, all. It’s me, not you. 

Still I dream of dark honey,
Warmed on toast, turning runny,
Taste that made the world divine.
Goodbye, honey, love of mine.