The Meal to End All Meals — Keto Gnocchi

The last 24 hours have been full of discussions about the ketogenic diet. I became interested in this way of eating when two things happened – I got divorced and gained about 30 pounds living as a single mother, eating scraps of macaroni and cheese from my kids’ plates and I battled shingles encephalitis and ended up with post-herpetic neuralgia in my face. Some days it felt like I was being branded with a hot poker along my left trigeminal dermatome.

A friend of ours is a big proponent of the ketogenic and we decided to give it a try in January.  I have had so much success, I am basically an evangelist. I lost 27 of the pounds I had gained and my neuralgia became manageable. I was generally able to stop the gabapentin I was taking for pain control. There is now a strong correlation between the times I have needed it since starting a ketogenic diet (keto) and the times I have eaten too many carbohydrates. As secondary effects, I don’t feel hungry during the day, feel extremely stable in my blood sugar, and have started doing more intermittent fasting. This is a great way of life for me.

I hear a lot of misconceptions about this diet. People who say they can’t do it because they can’t eat “no carbs” or can’t not have beer. I eat plenty of carbs (20-50g/day) and I drink beer. The amount of carbs and beer I consume is largely driven by how active I am, but I don’t feel deprived. The other thing I hear is people who have a hard time because they lust for their favorite food. I’m learning that, at least for me, there are certain components of my favorite foods that I love that will largely satisfy me. The texture of something or the spices. That’s what I long for. So, I have worked to try to recreate those experiences for myself and I end up largely satisfied.

Take gnocchi, for example. The things that are awesome about gnocchi are the lightness and chewiness. I have been looking for a gnocchi recipe that would deliver those components, sans the carbs. I found one that really delivered here.  The author states that the recipe is 4g of carbs per cup, but I would have died if I had eaten a cup.


The basic recipe is one package of shredded, low moisture mozzarella and three egg yolks. You put the mozzarella in a bowl and microwave for a minute until it begins to melt, and then slowly incorporate the egg yolks. The original poster is right that it takes some work, but it can be done with a kitchen spoon. Just requires patience until the egg yolks are fully worked into the cheese. Instead of garlic powder I added a small amount of salt and some onion flakes, but the next step is where seriously I deviated from the recipe.
I fouIMG_2904.JPGnd the dough very sticky to work with and, even after I greased my hands, it was still very sticky. I found some coconut flour in my pantry and sprinkled some over the dough in the bowl. That made it super easy to play with. I took it out in sections and rolled it into snakes. I then cut the snakes into pieces with scissors and shaped them into gnocchi shapes.  The white speckles in the pictures are bits of coconut flour. They didn’t give the gnocchi any coconut flavor. They just made the dough easy to handle.

I boiled some water and dropped them in, one at a time. I was shocked at how puffy they became.  Each piece nearly doubled in size and they seemed as though they would stick together in a gummy mess (photos here on teh Twitterz). I drained them and then quickly divided them on to some parchment. As they drained, they became nicely discrete gnocchi, committed to holding their structural integrity.

I did not sautee them in oil or butter, per the recipe. Instead, I made a quick sauce of 3 tablespoons of butter, a pound of langostino tails, five sliced cherry peppers from a jar, 3/4 of a bag of baby spinach, and a splash of cream and half tablespoon or cornstarch. After everything cooked down, I added the gnocchi and topped with parmigiana reggiano . Total, my entire meall came in at about 6g of carbohydrates and we ate it with a lovely salad and delicious pinot.IMG_2906

The keto gnocchi were amazing. Now, if you’re expecting them to taste exactly like potato gnocchi, you’ll be disappointed, but they have a delicious flavor in their own right and meet the requirements for gnocchi attributes – they are light and have a nice chew. They were also an awesome addition to the langostino sauce.

I think people fail or shy away from this way of eating because they are trying to maintain the ability to have food taste exactly as they expect it will taste. Instead, I have really enjoyed experiencing my favorite parts of food in a new context. We have played with spices and vegetables that we might never have eaten before. All in the name of #ketolife.



Reflections on The Four People That Help You Succeed

I had a meeting with a leadership coach I’ve been working with at my place of business this afternoon.  I’ve been really trying to build my own non-scientific, professional skills this year and in between meetings I was processing data and listening to some podcasts. One of the bits I listened to was from Chris Hogan. He usually speaks about retirement, but I think he really shines when he offers insights into leadership. The bit that caught my ear was him talking about the four people you need in your life in order to succeed.

Chris said that the four people everyone needs in their lives are the mentor, the coach, the cheerleader, and the friend. The mentor is the person living the life or career that you want. This person can give you personal-level insights, help you identify the tools you need to succeed, and support you with networking, etc. They are the person that that you want to emulate in order to reach your goals. The coach is the person who can help you learn the tools that you need to succeed. Maybe you need to become a better public speaker and you identify someone (even outside of your field) that is an awesome public speaker. They transfer skill-based wisdom. The cheerleader is your supporter and advocate, even when you’re down,  and the friend is the person that is your confidante.


Before this leadership meeting, I had taken a DISC assessment to determine my leadership style. The leadership coach asked me how I was going to use my results to be a better leader. I immediately thought of these four people and how I have frequently told people that they need a team of mentors. But, maybe it’s more than that. They don’t need a team of mentors – they need coaches, mentors, cheerleaders and friends. And they need to identify those people in order to be successful.

Maybe the best thing that we can do is to help the people that we lead learn to find those people.



Riding with the Brakes On…


When we went on RAGBRAI, I fully intended to update the blog daily.  I was also taking tons of pictures for all the social mediaz, but on Day 2, we lost our cell service. Spotty coverage coupled with the throngs of humanity overwhelming the towers meant that it was nearly impossible to even send a text message. Not only did I not update the blog, but I also didn’t get to talk to the I-tots, Little I and TD.  That was hard. But, the kids are home and I still have 5 days of bike riding excitement to share, smattered in the next few posts.***

Days 1-3 were pretty cool. On Day 2 we added the optional Karras Loop to our route in order to make our ride more than a century (100 miles).  It was hard and finishing it made me emotional, but I’m grateful we took on the challenge. On Day 3, I was pretty sore from hauling in order to complete the previous day’s loop in a reasonable amount of time, and it was very windy, but we still finished at a decent pace and with energy to spare.

Then, on Day 4 I felt like my legs were just out of power. It was hardtricepser to turn the pedals and I had to lower my gear. It also stormed. On Day 5 we rode with friends, including a friend who rides a heavy hybrid bike like I do. I felt like I was working really hard to keep up with everyone.  Day 6 started to get hilly and I felt like I struggled to turn my pedals on the hills, even in a low gear. Day 7 was exceptionally hilly and hard and, while I finished each day, I took note that I seemed to be working so much harder than everyone around me. The breaks between the rides were hilarious and the food was awesome, but the rides became more challenging each day. Others passed me, easily having conversations, but I felt like I was putting all of my focus on moving forward.

I told Strange that I felt like I was working so much harder and going so much slower, and thought maybe it was because my bike was so much heavier than the road bikes others were riding. He remarked that my bike was “crappy” and when I got indignant, he said that my rear wheel wobbles. When we go home, he turned my rear wheel and the brakes rubbed the wheel with every turn. I probably felt like I was working so much harder because I was working so much harder. It’s totally possible that I rode Days 4-7 with my brakes partially engaged.

I grew up in the suburbs of East Los Angeles, in the Inland Empire and there was not a lot of fitness bike riding in the ole “IE.” Many of the bikes looked more like this…

lowrider bike

And a lot less like this:

tour de france

I tooled around on a banana-seated beauty as a kid, but I only learned to ride a bike for sport a few years ago. I’m not bad, and I’ve now accumulated much of the requisite gear to look like the folks that I ride with, but the mechanics and culture still feel very foreign to me.  I try hard to fit,  but I still learn so much every time I ride with someone else. As each day passed and the rides got harder, I figured that it must be because I’m a novice, or because I wasn’t as strong as the other riders. It never occurred to me that there might be something wrong with my bike that was slowing me down.

I had a great time on the ride and the real highlight was meeting fellow Iowans as we rode across the state. People were so welcoming, opening their homes to us, and always made us feel like they were happy that 10,000+ people were descending on their town. I had so much fun talking to people and learning about the different towns. But, I am still kicking myself for not having more confidence in my own abilities and not realizing that the issue wasn’t my fitness, but the situation around me (aka, my back wheel).

***I’m not going to say that this post is a metaphor, but maybe it’s a metaphor. Maybe about feminism or diversity or something? Maybe that’s too deep for a Tuesday morning.