4H Fun…With a Few Fresh Blueberries!
Excitotoxins…The Taste That Kills! Not Here.
Years ago, I read Russell Blaylock’s, “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.” You can watch a video here of Dr. Blaylock speaking on Excitotoxins, and a few brief articles on the subject: Review of Excitotoxins and “Excitotoxins and Degenerative Brain Disorders“
Basically Excitotoxins are food additives that kill your brain cells, and these additives are in MANY of the products we eat – especially those chips kids love to eat, all that diet soda everyone gulps down, Chinese food, mexican food (sorry to say, but Taco Bell products are loaded with the stuff 😦 ) and lots of salad dressings, soups and seasonings. Think MSG and Nutrasweet/aspartame.
“There are a growing number of clinicians and basic scientists who are convinced that a group of compounds called excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, learning disorders in children, AIDS dementia, episodic violence, lyme borreliosis, hepatic encephalopathy, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.(1)”
Food manufacturers know that consumers are aware of the main names of excitotoxins, chiefly MSG and Aspartame, so they have started ‘re-naming” them. Dr. Blaylock gives us a partial list of the most common names for disguised MSG. Remember also that the powerful excitotoxins, aspartate [in NutraSweet®] and L-cysteine, are frequently added to foods and according to FDA rules require no labeling at all.
Additives that always contain MSG:
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
- Hydrolyzed Protein
- Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
- Plant Protein Extract
- Sodium Caseinate
- Calcium Caseinate
- Yeast Extract
- Textured Protein
- Autolyzed Yeast
- Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
Additives that frequently contain MSG:
- Malt extract
- Malt Flavoring
- Bouillon Broth
- Stock Flavoring
- Natural Flavoring
- Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring
- Seasoning Spices
Additives that may contain MSG and/or other excitotoxins:
- Carrageeenan Enzymes (Protease enzymes from various sources can release excitotoxin amino acids from food proteins.)
- Soy Protein Concentrate
- Soy Protein Isolate Whey
So what are you to do when you want great taste, but you also want to keep your brain cells?
Although there is probably no way for the average person to avoid all forms of excitotoxins, it is still a good idea to be aware of their existence and try to find healthier choices.
First, check out the Resource Page which lists some helpful products – especially alternatives for Nutrasweet and Splenda.
Here are a few more suggestions:
First, when you are looking for something for your asian dishes, instead of soy sauce, or even Bragg’s liquid aminos (which some health advocates use as an alternative, but Blaylock would say is an excitotoxin) try:
Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Aminos.
I love the flavor of this stuff – and so does Autumn. We make a great asian salad that I am hoping to post soon and it is fabulous! Here is a picture of it:
The cheapest place I have found it is at Vitacost.
Here is a product description:
Secret Organic Raw Coconut Aminos Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce. When the coconut tree is tapped it produces a highly nutrient-rich “sap” that exudes from the coconut blossoms. This sap is raw, very low glycemic, an abundant source of 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH. A comparison between coconut tree sap and soy, shows that coconut sap contains 2-14 times the amino acid content of soy. Small batches ensure that our organic, low glycemic Coconut Aminos, made from this natural sap, is a raw enzymatically alive product aged and blended with sun dried, mineral-rich sea salt, hand gatheredfrom pristine waters near the southern islands of the Philippine coast. Features: Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce. 65% Less Sodium than Soy Sauce. High Source of Liquid Aminos. 100% Organic. Gluten-Free. Dairy-Free. GMO-Free. Coconut aminos
Most seasoning and salad dressing have some form of msg in them. Following are 3 do-it-yourself spice mixes that, yes they take a few minutes to prepare, but you can enjoy every bite knowing you are not killing anything!
Taco Seasoning Mix
I love the taste of this seasoning – more than any store bought one. I use it on anything “Mexican” – like taco salad – Yum!
(This recipes comes from Set for Life – a cookbook that I have had for many years – it is NOT a keto or low carb resource, but the mixes are good.)
1/3 cup dry minced onion
2 Teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons Chili poder
2 Tablespoon Paprika (I use about 1 ½ T.)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin (I use a bit less)
½ teaspoon oregano
2 Tablespoons Flour (I use almond flour)
A bit of sweetener if desired, ( I use a pinch of stevia, a little truvia, thm sweet blend or you could use sugar, if diet always)
Mix ingredients, I mix them in a blender, and place in a container and store in a cool dry place.
2-3 tablespoons equal 1 package seasoning mix.
Salad Dressing Mix
This past year, a friend of mine (Thanks, Susan!), gave me salad dressing mixes for my birthday and I have thoroughly enjoyed them.
Ranch Dressing Mix
5 Tablespoons dried minced onions
7 teaspoon parsley flakes
4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix together and store in an air tight container.
For Salad Dressing: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with:
1 cup mayonnaise and
1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.
For dip: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups sour cream or kreme fresh.
Mix up a few hours before serving, so the flavors all blend nicely.
I have used lowfat or regular fat yogurt to sub for some of the mayo and sour cream as well just experiment and come up with some thing that works for your diet needs.
Italian Dressing Mix
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons minced onion
2 teaspoon oregano
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried celery flakes (optional)
Shake ingredients together and store in a jar.
Her directions are to mix 2 Tablespoon of the spices with:
¼ vinegar – Red Wine or apple cider
½ cup oil – I use olive oil, but you could use coconut oil. Remember that if you use NON virgin coconut oil, you will not have the coconut taste.
2 teaspoons water.
I think 2 Tablespoons is a bit too much so I only use 1 – again, just experiment to see what you like!
As far as broth goes, nothing beats homemade bone broths and they are so amazingly good for your health! Bone broths are worthy of a post of their own, so hopefully I will get to that soon. The main point here that I would like to make is that almost all bouillon cubes and soup mixes have msg in them- it is just such a bummer! Here are a few broth powder recipes you can try:
(This Is from Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy)
1 Cup Nutritional Yeast*
3T. onion powder
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. salt 1 tsp. celery seed
2 T. Italian seasoning
2 T. dried parsely
1/ tsp pepper
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. tarragon
1 tsp. paprika
Place all ingredients in a blender, cover and blend for 3-4 seconds. Store in an airtight jar for up to 6 months (I put mine in the fridge for a longer shelf life.
To use; Add 1 Tablespoon to a cup of hot water for a cup of soup, or stock.
Conversion note: Two teaspoons of this recipe plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt is the equivalent to 1 bouillon cube.
*(Nutritonal yeast, also know as brewers yeast, is a nutritional product eaten for its high content of B vitamins, amino acids and protein. It is not to be confused or used in the same way as baking yeast)
Onion Soup Mix #1
(Again from Miserly Meals)
2 1/4 cups dried minced onion
1 Cup broth powder (See above recipe)
1/4 cup onion powder
3/4 tsp. celery seed
3/4 teaspoon sugar – sub out for stevia or sweetener of choice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and store- or put in a large mason jar and shake up.
To use this recipe where a 1.25 ounce envelope of purchased onion soup mix is required, use 1/3 up of this mix
Onion Soup Mix recipe #2
(This is from Heavenly homemakers.com)
I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I have a friend who recommended it and it is a bit quicker to throw it together:
2/3 cup dried, minced onion
3 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 -2 teaspoons turmeric( You may want to omit this as turmeric can be really strong in flavor – although it is great for reducing inflammation.)
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sucanat (or sugar if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Mix all ingredients in a jar, then give the jar a good shake. I’d recommend shaking the jar to mix the ingredients well before each use.
Use 2-4 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix. Store this in a dry, cool place.
One other product I would like to mention is Beanitos. When we were able to lower Autumn’s ratio, we could add a few of these chips in. (You would probably not be able to include these on a higher ratio) I have contacted the company personally and they have assured me they do not use any type of msg or yeast extract at all. These are a great replacement for Doritos!
With soda you have 2 choices – Regular soda, which is filled with sugar and we all know the problem with that. There is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States. A study done last year showed that even just one can of soda a day can increase your chance of type 2 diabetes by 22%. So what about diet soda? Well, most are sweetened with aspartame – which Dr. Mercola states is “the most dangerous substance added to foods today” – Yikes! There are so many studies on the side effects of aspartame – if you google it you will get millions of results. Over 30 years ago, when I was a youngster working at Pizza Hut, I worked with a guy whose dad was a brain surgeon and he said, “If people knew what that stuff did to the inside of their brains, they would never touch the stuff.”
Think of all the aspartame-laden products that are labeled “sugar-free” that moms are feeding their children…thinking they are helping them …so sad
If you have no weight or health issues, an occasional soda is probably not going to destroy your health (although I’d stay away from the diet soda!) …but there are a few healthier options available.
We don’t have soda often in our home – sometimes for birthdays. So when Autumn first started the diet and wanted to have something as well, we came up with a great beverage – bubbling club soda(carbonated water) and liquid stevia drops.
There are many different flavors you can choose from:
Just add a few drops to your soda. If you like it a bit sweeter, just add a small pinch of stevia or a bit of truvia or thm sweet blend.
There are also a few brands of stevia/erythritol sweetened sodas that have recently showed up on the grocery shelves at our Kroger. Autumn really likes the Honest Fizz. Although these are a bit on the expensive side, they are helpful to have on hand for a “special event” or for a special outing.
Zevia is another option as well:
Although, ice cold water is often the most refreshing!
So in all these foods….give your brain a break…and enjoy live brain cells!
31 Flavors of Yum!
…yummy amazing ice cream!
This is the one we made last night – Jamocha Almond Fudge:
There is a website called, “All day I dream about Food” and I must say, her pictures make me dream about making the food she posts!
Although it is not a ketogenic diet blog – it is low carb – and I thought it might be a good link to share to give some ideas for different flavors for ice cream. For higher ratios, just use more cream. I don’t use all the ingredients she lists, but it gives a good base for ideas. I personally do not like using “Swerve” for a sweetener because it leaves a “cooling effect” on the tongue, but others might like it. Click here and here to see previous ketoJoy yummifiable ice cream/shake posts.
Here are a few more pics from her blog:
Check them all out here.
I do use the Cuisinart ice cream maker. It works really well for making one batch at a time. It can make up to 2 quarts at a time) at a time. I have tried running batches back to back, but the second batch never really gets thick enough.
Autumn didn’t feel like waiting for the ice cream to harden for 2 hours….so she just jumped right in after swimming!
Keto Ice Cream Joy!
Oh My! Low Carb Strawberry Pie!
Yes it really tastes as good as it looks! And some of my kids think it tastes better than the traditional one filled with sugar!
As we have continued to wean further off the diet, there are two things I have not yet allowed in – grains with gluten and sugar. And neither one is needed to make this amazingly scrumptious pie! Thankfully, strawberries are one of the lowest carb fruits, and the majority of the pie is mostly made of fats, so it works well.
The crust it is made with almond flour (or ground almonds), or ground pecans, if you need a higher ratio.
Click here for the link to see how mini pie crusts are made.
If you would like to make a full size pie that the whole family can enjoy, use approximately:
1 1/2 cups almond flour or ground pecans, about 3 T. butter, no-sugar sweetener of choice(Truvia or stevia) and a pinch of vanilla. Mix ingredients and press in sprayed pie pan. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.
For the filling:
You will need about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of strawberries – depending on how many strawberries you like in your pie.
I probably used about 2 1/2 pounds. Take about 1 1/2 to 2 cups strawberries and place in a blender with sweetener of choice – it would be about 2 T. ground truvia or maybe 1/2 tsp of stevia – remember stevia exact is really powerful and if you use too much it will taste awful. Always start with just a little! Add a sprinkle of salt and mix in blender until it becomes a liquid juice. Check the sweetness of the mixture, add more if desired. Then add about 1/2 teaspooon of glucoamannon – this is a zero carb, no grain thickener. This is not typically found in stores. I order it through Amazon. It is not cheap but it will last for a long, long, time because you don’t use much at a time. For more information on the health benefits of glucomannon click here. You will want to sprinkle it in really slowly, almost like a salt shaker, so that it mixes well and does not get lumpy. Let the blender run for several minutes to allow mixture to thicken.
Pour mixture over strawberries, then pour coated strawberries into baked pie crust (Pictures shown here were for several mini pies). If your strawberries are large you can cut them up in smaller pieces before covering with glaze. Let chill for 2 hours.
If you are making just a mini pie, use as many strawberries as would be allowed on your ratio. Use a small amount of those berries to make “glaze.” Then add just a small amount of glucomannon as well.
When ready to serve, whip up however much whip cream you like, or need, depending on your ratio. You can really get lots of fat calories here in a yummy amount! Sweeten with your choice of stevia/truvia. And cover your pie with it!
Here is Autumn enjoying about 1/2 of a mini pie:
And…eh…hm…Autumn’s mom ate the rest!
And ready for the next one: 😉
First time in over 2 years…
Today, for the first time in over 2 years, Autumn ate and ENTIRE apple…
…which is a long way from where we started over 2 years ago…
…when she was allowed about 17 grams…with 17 grams of fat to go with it!
If you are just starting the diet, let me say, we were just as grateful for those 17 grams that STOPPED the seizures, as we are today!
(Cozette enjoyed it too!) 😉
Just a Great Weekend!
Pill Popping – No more a problem!
Just had to celebrate again today!
After over 2 years on the diet, today at “snack time,” when Autumn usually crushes up all her vitamins and mixes them in butter (see previous post here ), she just picked each one up…even the horse pill size ones.. and swallowed them….one by one!
This may not make the top-ten list of most exciting things to accomplish in life – but it was certainly worth high-fives all around!
Another Milestone – Chocolate Covered!
Although Autumn is still on the ketogenic diet, tonight (well actually, last night because I am writing this after midnight 😉 ) was the first meal in over 2 years that Autumn ate the same thing for dinner that we did – no weighing – no measuring.
I should have taken a picture before we ate – I thought for sure we would have leftovers, but it was too good for that.
Here is a picture from the recipe I used:
Shortly after we were done eating, I took her blood ketone level:
Down to 1.4…and so far, no seizures. See ketone post here.
Tonight, I purposely made a low carb dinner that I felt would be in her ratio range (with cream cheese, cheese, bacon, cauliflower and chicken!) because I really wanted to see if we could do it – without a seizure.
And, yes we could.
Wow, I still can’t get over how all this works. Will this really work…will it keep working?
Yes, to be honest, I am still nervously….optimistic.
Then for dessert, we turned a few of these…
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries!
They are so easy to make. Click here for the recipe for “Skinny Chocolate” – It is basically a 1:.5 ratio of coconut oil, to cocoa and ground “powdered” truvia. Remember that if you are looking for a higher fat ratio -use the Ghirardelli. We think it tastes better as well. I always mix in a little dark chocolate for a deeper flavor, but that is optional.
It only takes a couple of minutes to mix up the ingredients, and then dip in the strawberries. NOTE: The best way to dip – actually the only way to we dip – is to make sure the berries have been in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 an hour or so, so that they are COLD. When they are cold and you dip them, the chocolate hardens right away. It is best to use a smaller container so that it is very full of the chocolate when you dip. Also, stir your mixture in between dipping.
You can also add “toppings” if you would like such as shredded coconut or nuts. Just make sure you do it RIGHT after you dip in the chocolate so the toppings “stick” before the chocolate gets hard:
Even if you are on a higher ratio – just cut the strawberries up in smaller pieces and dip – one strawberry can yield lots of bites!
Although Autumn enjoyed her allotted amount…I must say it was pretty easy for her mom to eat about a 1/2 dozen… 😉
Strawberry Fields…(feels like)….forever!
If you don’t see many blog posts lately, it is because we’ve been a little bit busy with this….
We have about 20,000 plants in the ground and are continuing on….hopefully they will be producing ….forever!
So we will be able to offer people “Real Live Food, For Real Life Living!”
Forti Berry Acres
The Power of Food- Keto Joy!