Saturday, May 2, 2015

Baaaack In the Saddle With BACON-Wrapped Chicken Legs

Hey all, I'm back. The past year has been stressful. We moved from Hawaii to Maryland (ya know, just 3000 miles... no biggie), bought a house, began renovating, and hubby started a year-long specialized training that has him working 15 hour days. I've had the tireds, the sads, and the brokes, no job to help with reno-costs, and lately no motivation for anything. Except to watch ALL the Netflix. And eat all the things. And my wardrobe hates me for it!

What to do?

Eat the feelings (because they're DELICIOUS) and watch more Netflix.

And glare at the scale when it tells you you've gained 10 pounds (12 pounds). LIES!! (Not lies. Sad-face. With extra chins.)

What to do? 

Whine. Then eat. Then wine. Then cry.


Because this isn't your first rodeo, and you know the only way to get results is to put in the work.

Personally, I've always had more luck with weight loss (esp as I get older) when I restrict my carbohydrate intake. But I've never stuck with a low carb diet, mostly because I love fruits and veggies, and I always felt like I was being deprived of them when I was low-carbing. I felt like the "right" way to low-carb was to brush my teeth with bacon, floss with cheese, and gargle with butter. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE all those foods, but not 24/7. I get that that's an exaggerated view of the lifestyle, but it's how I had come to associate the lifestyle, and it was putting me off. 

I wanted a lifestyle of limited carbs WITH the colorful, fresh produce I've come to love. Interwebs to the rescue! After browsing some recipes on Pinterest, I stumbled upon the ketogenic/keto-paleo lifestyle. It's basically a high fat, low carb, and moderate protein way of eating. 


"A ketogenic diet isn't something new that has been recently formulated; people have been on a ketogenic diet for virtually three million years in which our brains were nurtured and evolved. Now the human brain is not only shrinking, but brain atrophy is the norm as we age and get plagued with diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
People mistakenly think that they need to eat less and exercise more to create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. This is not how diet and exercise helps with weight loss. A well-formulated keto-adapted diet along with proper exercise builds muscle and muscle builds mitochondria. It is in the mitochondria where fat is oxidized so you can keep your cells and liver insulin sensitized. Weight loss and health is about healthy mitochondria and about controlling hormones and specifically insulin. 
This is not a diet, it is a lifestyle. By eating this way, you will begin to heal your cells and will keep evolving your body into the happy and healthy person you want to be."
From the book Keto-Adapted by Maria Emmerich

Basically (i.e. "I Cannot Brain Today" terms), when you limit your daily carbohydrate intake (I try to keep mine at or under 20 net carbs, but under 50 per day can work for some), your body stops using the sugar you eat as its main energy supply, and it begins breaking down fats (and stored body fat) to fuel its functions. 

For an expert explanation, read something like this.

I've been keto for just over 2 weeks now, and not only have I lost more than 6 pounds, but my skin is breakout-free and glowing (even during Shark Week), all my bloating/puffiness has disappeared, my moods have been awesome (I haven't gone She-Hulk on my kids all week!), I've felt super-focused, had tons of energy, and felt satiated all the time!

I've been cooking up a storm, and I can't wait to post some of the recipes for you! But one in particular just HAD to be shared. 

Guys. THIS. 

Bbq bacon-wrapped chicken legs with pimenta'-cheese cauliflower gratin and sweet & tangy coleslaw. Whaaaaaat???

Shut yo' face.

Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Chicken


(All my ingredients are Trader Joe's brand - use what you like)

12 chicken legs
6 slices bacon
12 toothpicks
2 tbs ketchup
2 tbs steak sauce
2 tbs apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper, foil, or a silpat.

Soak the toothpicks in a bowl of water, then prep the chicken while they soak. If desired, trim up the legs "lollipop" style, and remove the skin. I watched this video to learn the process, and it was quite helpful. Removing the skin is definitely easier if you trim the chicken as pictured. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, or with whatever seasonings you prefer. Cut the bacon slices in half (across the short side) so that you have 12 short, fat pieces. Wrap one slice around each drumstick, securing the bacon to the chicken where it overlaps onto itself (don't skewer yourself in the process).

Stand the drumsticks up on the sheet pan, leaving some space between each one so the heat can circulate around them. Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes, or until the bacon looks like good bacon do. 

While it bakes, whisk up the ketchup, steak sauce, and vinegar. I mixed them up in a small diameter bowl with taller sides (like a ramekin or a drinking glass - just has to be wider than the chicken leg) so that I could just dunk and swirl the chicken in the sauce without having to make more sauce than I needed for the recipe. Alternately, you could brush on the sauce. 

Remove the chicken from the oven, and raise the heat to 450. Coat the chicken in the sauce, then bake again for another 5 minutes or so, until your sexy little legs look glazed and schticky. Let cool about 5 minutes so you don't melt your face off. 

Serving size: 2 drumsticks
Approximate nutrition per serving ~ 315 calories, 20g fat, 34g protein, 0 net carbs

Pimenta' Cheese Cauliflower Gratin

It tastes like a loaded baked potato. Maybe better. #forreal 

And I think I've found a way around soggy cauliflower!


1 head cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into medium-sized pieces
3 paper towels (for extra fiber - JUST KIDDIN')
2 Tbs heavy cream
1 Tbs butter
5 oz smoked gouda cheese, shredded 
3 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 Tbs mayonnaise
6 queen green pimento stuffed olives, chopped or sliced
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper

In a large microwave-safe bowl with a lid, place two sheets of paper towel in the bottom (the excess will run up the sides and out of the bowl). Place the cauliflower on top, sprinkle with a big pinch of salt, cover the dish with another paper towel, and then top with the lid. Microwave for 10-15 minutes (depending on your microwave) until the florets fall apart easily when forked (tee-hee), but not to the point of mush. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (450 will work, too, if your oven is already there for the chicken).

Carefully remove the lid and top paper towel (no steam burns, please) and remove the cooked cauliflower to a plate (or other temporary holding area), taking care not to shred the wet paper towels on the bottom. Once the cauliflower is out, toss the paper towels and any liquid left in the bowl. Add the cauliflower back into the now empty bowl, and smash it lightly with a fork. I like mine on the chunky side (that's what she said).

To the smashed cauliflower, add the heavy cream, butter, half of each cheese, the mayo, half of the olives, and the spices. Mix well and taste for seasoning, adjusting as necessary. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish (8"x8"-ish) and then top with the rest of the cheese and olives. Bake until bubbly and browned to your liking.

Serves 4 (Big Ass Servings)
Approximate nutrition per serving ~ 306 calories, 25g fat, 15g protein, 4 net carbs

Tangy Coleslaw

If you're a fan of KFC's coleslaw, you're gonna like it! If you're not a fan of their coleslaw, we can't be friends. Ugh, okaaaaaaay. Maybe we can.


1 bag broccoli slaw (about 5 cups)
1 bag shredded cabbage (about 4 cups)
1 cup sauerkraut (preferably raw, but whatevs)
2 Tbs sour cream
2 Tbs Mayo
1 1/2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp celery salt
salt and pepper to taste
zero carb sweetener (your brand), to taste (about 2 teaspoons of sugar equivalent)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sour cream, mayo, vinegar, celery salt, and sweetener (if desired). Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Refrigerate until needed. 

Serves 6
Approximate nutrition per serving ~ 80 calories, 5g fat, 2g protein, 5 net carbs


  1. Great pictures. Tempting food. And boy to I relate to falling off the wagon for a year. I am struggling to hop back on. I know after two weeks I will be feeling great as well.

    1. Thank you! Life sure does get in the way sometimes, doesn't it? (Or at least makes it easier for us to get in our own way...) Just have to keep fighting for our spots on the wagon!