Brain Butter (Low Carb | High Fat |Gluten Free )

Keto vs. Epilepsy vs. Life Update

It’s been a LONG LONG time since I’ve posted. Mainly because there’s been so much going on, and not much at the same time, such is the life of an epileptic! For the average Joe a small task doesn’t take alot of effort, but for an epileptic, doing normal things is exhausting. You brain literally feels like butter much of the time.

As I’m working on a number of small projects part-time, instead of focusing on one stable full-time job now, it can get stressful and mentally draining even though physically right now I’m only really in London as opposed to hopping between two continents as I was doing before.

Still, it’s a battle trying to merely get started, complete tasks, and stay functional.  I find I often spend as much (if not twice as much) time recovering (catching up on sleep, Netflix and chill, yoga and meditation, me time!) as I do just getting on with things and trying to lead a “normal life”.

However, these last few months I’ve had moments of gratitude repeatedly for my parents (without whom I wouldn’t be seizure free), my partner (who saved my life and for giving me space, time and love in his own way), my sister and her family (for just being around and especially for allowing me to vent, cry, be a cow), and for a handful of friends I know I can count on.

Amongst them, one recently came to London all the way from Mumbai last month, and she opened my eyes to a whole new world of Nichiren Buddhism I hadn’t explored. I’m thankful for the quality time we got to spend together and the exciting project we’ve dreamed up! I love that you and I recognise that we are “Dysfunctionally Functional” and accept it.

It was also my niece’s first birthday and my sister and her fambam came to visit for four days.

So here is my confession – last month – OCTOBER 2017, I SLIPPED UP BIGTIME on a few occasions:

  •  Whilst my friend was around there was one night where she had a dessert with flambéed alcohol on it, I took one bite and pretty much got drunk (who gets high on flambéed apple crumble?) We also went to Ping Pong (Chinese Dim Sum) two nights in a row. And I had dessert!!!
  • Whilst my sister was down as well I went to the pub with my her and my BIL and had a chip from her plate with my steak, ate some rice and Paratha with my curry, I also had cake, panna cottage and ‘payesh’ (rice pudding) on my niece’s birthday.

SO SUE ME, I decided to live a little for a few days 😂! No regrets. And it will happen again I’m sure.  I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

Here’s the upside though:

  • Whenever I do slip up, it reminds me that I just can’t stand sugar and carbs, it’s not for me. I can literally feel the sugar slap my brain around. It satisfies me temporarily for a few spoonfuls but in the back of my  mind I think “hmmmm how can I ketofy this at home 😂!” What I really enjoyed though was just being around my family and friends.
  • Unlike previous times during the summer for instance when I had a bad carb-up, practically went into a “food coma”, and also seemed to struggle getting back into the Keto way of eating, every single time I re-started keto after relapsing, THIS time I pretty much bounced straight back into ketosis after a few days, no major struggle or keto flu (although I did battle the real flu twice during this period). I didn’t fast intentionally although it may have happened that I unintentionally Intermittent Fasted a number of days sporadically.

Brain Butter?

Anyway enough of my rambling, as November is the month for #EpilepsyAwareness here is a lovely nut butter recipe especially for my fellow #brainwarriors on Keto – #BrainButter!

The reason it’s called Brain Butter is because it’s made from Walnuts, Pecans, and Fats (olive oil, ghee, coconut oil) which are good for the brain. I used all three, but feel free to use just one or two.

When I was making it I didn’t realise how symbolic it really was. 💜

Walnuts and pecans look like the brain. It’s poetic almost, the whole process of making a nut butter is almost like what it is to be an epileptic – you’re ok one minute and the next your brain feels all mushy and you’ve lost control like liquid nutbutter. BUT homemade BrainButter is of course healing with so many nourishing and restorative properties.

In addition to the countless  health benefits of walnuts, they’re also supposed to have numerous properties which make them good for the brain and there are studies that show they have anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects (albeit on rats).

This recipe also has cinnamon which is supposed to be good for the neurological system including memory – us epileptics suffer greatly on that front!

Other reasons why I LOVE this Brain Butter: 

  • Probably because of the high fat content in walnuts and pecans, it comes together ALOT quicker than almond butter and peanut butter. I think it took me less than 10 minutes to blend a batch of butter. So for tired epileptics, maximum fat for less effort, I think it’s a go-to nut butter!
  • 1 Tablespoon of this would  give you a significant amount (0.9g) of your heart healthy Omega 3’s.

Brain Butter Recipe!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (approx. 100g) pecans
  • 1 cup (approx. 80g) walnuts
  • 2-3 Tbsp Fat of choice (I used 1 Tbsp Olive Oil / 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil /1 Tbsp Ghee)
  • 1-2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp Himalayan Salt

Note: The ghee makes it smell/taste like burnt caramel a little bit, I would only suggest using homemade ghee otherwise use one / a combination of the other two oils, as store-bought ghee might be overpowering.

METHOD

1. Toast your pecans and walnuts in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes to release the oils.

2. Set aside to cool slightly, allow the nuts to come down to room temperature before putting them in the food processor.

3. Place your nuts in a food processor and blend until you get a grainy consistency.

 

4. Then gradually add your oils in turn every 1-2 minutes. Keep the the processor churning, but check periodically, stir (and push down the sides and scrape the bottom of the processor) and of course taste as you go along if you must and adjust 😊!

 

5. This is what the finished Brain Butter should look like !

 

MACROS per serving

This recipe creates approximately 10 Tablespoons of Brain Butter.

1 serving = 1 Tbsp

  • 157.4 kcal
  • 2.1g protein
  • 1.1g net carbs
  • 16.4g fat

Update: How do you eat it?

Like any other nut butter!

  • By the spoonful 🙂
  • On your (ahem low carb / keto) bread / toast / bagel / waffle / bun  / pancake / donut / world!
  • On top of a keto granola.
  • In your smoothie.

 

 

 

 

Keto Mini Cinnamon Rolls & Chocolate Rolls (Gluten Free|Low Carb)

Keto & Epilepsy Update

I’ve been struggling to get my fats in again and I know my weight has changed since I started this way of eating, and I feel like I need to adjust my macros. But I’m not quite sure.

However I FINALLY GOT AN APPOINTMENT WITH A DIETITIAN ON THE NHS! Although the appointment is all the way in December, I’m over the moon and couldn’t be more excited because I thought it was never going to happen. I don’t think there are that many “ketogenic diet for adults with epilepsy” specialists around.

Anyway it has been over nine months since I found out about the the diet, and around six months of being on it. I can now say the following:

POSITIVES:

  • My seizures have reduced in severity. Since going keto I did have one grandmal however that was a day after changing my dose which was kind of expected.
  • Creative outlet: I enjoy cooking and experimenting with keto recipes, especially making more ‘mainstream’ food out of low-carb ingredients.
  • Be prepared: It’s hard out there and MOST foods have sugar and/or additives. So planning is crucial!
  • Learning: The Keto WOE isn’t the same for everyone. My dad is doing it for weightloss and his heart but he also doesn’t really care (yet) about inflammatory additives. Whereas I’m doing it for epilepsy and eczema and so additives are important to me.

NEGATIVES:

Please note that both of the negatives mentioned below are also side effects of Zonisamide (Zonegran), the anti-epileptic medication that I’m on. 

  • Weight loss. Chubby 16 year-old me on Epilim would have loved to be able to lose the weight so quickly, but 32 year-old me isn’t quite so sure about the drastic weight loss.
  • Fluctuating energy levels. There are moments where I have sufficient energy and moments where I’m exhausted. I can’t drink caffeine so rely on MCT oil for quick bursts of energy.

FatHead Pastry: The Keto Holy Grail!

My foodprep this Sunday was mini Keto pastries made with a slightly sweetened fathead pastry.

I made bitesized Mini Cinnamon Rolls (0.9g carbs) and Chocolate Rolls / Chocolate Danish Pastries (1.5g carbs) today!

KetoPastry-001

Whoever came up with the idea of the genius fathead dough. I. LOVE. YOU!!! Next time I visit my sister in Paris, I’m taking along a batch of these babies so I’m not tempted (again!)

Ingredients

FatHead Pastry:

  • 200g (1.5 cups) shredded mozzarella
  • 80g (0.75 cup) almond flour
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp Natvia
Cinnamon Filling:
  • 2 tbsp Natvia (or other low-carb sweetener of choice)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Hot water
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 2 drops liquid stevia
  • Vanilla

Chocolate Filling:

  • Cocoa or Cacao powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Sugar-free maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • Hot water

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • Dark Chocolate (I used 2 squares of Lindt 85% Chocolate)

Method

Fathead Pastry

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 Celsius/360 Fahrenheit.
  2. Measure out mozzarella and cream cheese, and melt in a non-stick pot over a low flame or in a microwave. It will take approximately 1.5 minutes. NOTE: Stir the mixture half way through!
  3. Crack and stir in the egg into the mixture well.
  4. Then measure and add the almond flour, baking powder, and sweetener of choice, and mix well into a smooth doughball.
  5. Divide the dough into two batches / balls.

Cinnamon Rolls

ketopastry-min

  1. Place one batch / ball on a parchment paper and place another parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out until it’s as thin as you can get it (but still workable) into a large rectangle.
  2. Prepare the Cinnamon Filling: boiled water, sweetener and cinnamon.
  3. Brush the Cinnamon Filling along the entire flat top of the pastry.
  4. Roll the pastry into a log along the length.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into rolls (approximately 10-12 rolls).
  6. Place on a non-stick dish and bake at 180C for 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes).
  7. While the rolls are baking, mix the frosting: cream cheese, yogurt and sweetener,
  8. Once the rolls have baked, drizzle or spread over your WARM CINNAMON ROLLS AND EAT!!!

Chocolate Rolls / Chocolate Danish

ketopastry6-min

  1. Place the second batch / ball on a parchment paper and place another parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out until it’s as thin as you can get it (but still workable) into a large rectangle.
  2. Prepare the Chocolate Fillling: Boiled water, Cacao Powder, Cinnamon (optional), Sugar-Free Maple Syrup or other sweetener of choice.
  3. Pour the chocolate filling on top of the pastry and spread over evenly. NOTE: Don’t go too close to the edges.
  4. Roll the pastry into a log along the length.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut the pasty into rolls, or slightly longer pastries.
  6. Place on a non-stick dish and bake at 180C for 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes).
  7. Whilst the Chocolate Pastries are baking, melt your required amount of Dark Chocolate to drizzle on top!
  8. Once the pastries have baked, drizzle or spread over your WARM CHOCOLATE PASTRIES AND EAT!!!

ketopastry9-min

Let’s just say I think I’ll his my fat macros today :-)! These are BY FAR MY FAVOURITE FAT BOMBS!

Macros

Mini Cinnamon Roll:

  • 70 Kcal
  • 3.5g Protein
  • 1.9g Carbs
  • 1g Fiber
  • 0.9g Net Carbs
  • 5.8g Fat
  • Calcium: 84.4 mg

Mini Chocolate Roll:

  • 75.7 Kcal
  • 3.7g Protein
  • 2.4g Carbs
  • 0.9g Fiber
  • 1.5g Net Carbs
  • 6.1g Fat
  • Calcium: 77.9 mg

Death by Keto Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free|Low Carb)

I had a very shit end to last week. Anti-epileptic medication changes led to a seizure on Sunday. Epileptics know how the story goes, and now I’m just just waiting for my body (or brain) to adapt to the changes. (I might do a separate post on that later.)

Anyway, I fasted that day out of sheer exhaustion and because the medicine (Zonegran) causes me to lose my appetite. However, after a few days of resting up, I finally got my ass into gear again.

As a result I needed some major comfort food that was Keto friendly. THIS my friends is how I made damn sure that the rest of the week stayed AMAZING!

KETO CHOCOLATE CAKE!!! With EXTRA chocolate!

I’ve made a few keto chocolate cakes in the past, but I think this one hits the spot. Especially if you’ve been keto for a while and your sweet tooth isn’t what it used to be.

This is the most indulgent, because I’ve used almost twice the amount of dark chocolate of other similar recipes. Initially I set out to make a “flourless” cake, but I decided to add almond flour in the end, so although it isn’t exactly flourless. It’s still very much gluten-free.

Now, before I get the Keto police on me for this post – yes IF you eat the whole cake you’ll probably be thrown out of ketosis. BUT if you use good quality DARK chocolate (Over 75%), then a slice a day won’t hurt if you’re fat adapted and watching your macros.

And dark chocolate is high in potassium, something that a lot of us on this lifestyle struggle with! So why not treat yourself once in a while!

ketochoccake13_500

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature*
  • 300g dark chocolate (75% and above. I used 3x100g bars of 90% Lindt Dark Chocolate for convenience but recommend 100% cocoa to reduce sugar and carbs.)
  • 5 medium eggs (or 4 large): yolks separated from whites
  • 1/3 cup almond flour (or other flour of choice OR cocoa)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Sweetener: 3 tablespoons of a powdered sweetener of choice (I used Natvia which is a blend of Erythritol and Stevia)
  • Optional: 2-3 drops of Liquid sweetener for additional sweetness if required
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar-free vanilla extract or essence
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon coffee

    NOTES:
    *Apologies my weighing scale wasn’t behaving so I will update butter measurements in grams the next time I make this!

Method

  • Pre-heat & prep:
    – Pre-heat your oven to 175C and prepare your cake tin of choice (grease and sprinkle some cocoa powder, or line the tin with a grease-proof baking sheet. I used a round 9 inch tin).
    – Measure out 300g of DARK chocolate**
    ketochoccake_480 (2)
    – Measure out 10 tablespoons of butter
    ketochoccake_480 (1)
    – Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites into two bowls, ensuring the whites are in a large clean cold bowl for whipping.
    ketochoccake_480 (6)
  • Melt the chocolate & Butter until silky smooth:

    – Option 1: Double Boil the chopped up chocolate and butter on the stove. (Here’s a how-to melt chocolate using a double boiler).
    – Option 2: Melt the chopped up chocolate and butter in 30 second bursts in the microwave. Stirring the mixture in between until the chocolate has completely melted.
    Useful Tip: Make sure your utensils are completely dry when melting chocolate to prevent the chocolate from seizing up.
  • Beat the egg whites:
    ketochoccake_480 (7)

    In a cold clean bowl, beat the separated egg whites on a medium speed until they start to get foamy, then add the cream of tartar and increase the speed until they start to form stiff peaks.
  • Add sweetener:
    Add your sweetener of choice to taste and keep beating the egg whites until the stiff peaks are able to stand by themselves. They shouldn’t move even if the bowl is turned upside down.
  • Add egg yolks, 1/3 cup almond flour, vanilla essence and salt to chocolate:


    Once the chocolate has cooled down, whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate along with the salt. Mix in the almond flour (or other flour or additional cocoa well).
    Optional: Add 1/2 tsp espresso powder into the mixture.

  • Fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate:
    ketochoccake_480 (11)
    – Whisk 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
    – Carefully fold the remaining 3/4 whipped egg whites into the chocolate with a spatula.
    Useful Tip: A silicone spatula is easiest for folding egg whites.
  • Taste and add more sweetener if required:
    I added additional stevia drops into mine.
  • Bake:

    ketochoccake_480 (12)
    Keto Chocolate Cake batter pre-baking

    Pour the batter into your prepared cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. It will only rise very slightly, and might form a thin crust.

  • EAT!
    ketochoccake_480 (14)

    This cake is great warm or cold but I it gets quite hard once it has been in the fridge. Personally, my favourite way to eat it is a slice straight out of the oven, or after ten seconds in the microwave with some berries and cream. 

Macros

(Based on Lindt 90% Dark Chocolate)

1 cake = 12 servings

1 serving:

  • Energy 280.3 kcal
  • Protein: 5.5g
  • Net Carbs: 6.3g**
  • Fat: 26.8g

**If you would like to reduce the carb count even further, you could:

  1. Reduce the amount of chocolate used to 200g, but I wouldn’t go lower than that as it would seriously compromise the chocolateyness and it taste too ‘eggy’.
  2. Use a chocolate with a lower carb count e.g. 100% cocoa (I recommend Montezuma’s Black 100% Cocoa which I used for these chocolate covered nuts),  and increasing the amount of sweetener used.

 

Low-carb Chocolate Covered Nuts

There are a few things that I find very frustrating on the keto lifestyle with epilepsy at present. These are namely:

  • Brain fog.
  • Tiredness and lethargy.
    (Note: for people who don’t have epilepsy reading this, this probably won’t affect you apart from the initial induction / ‘Keto flu’ period. For those of us with epilepsy, this is why it might be prolonged.).
  • Watching people eat bread, chips and desserts when I’m out!

But then again there are many things that I’m loving about the experience so far. A few of these are:

  • Discovering new things about my body every day.
  • A pretty impressive digestive system – the fibre in the keto diet must be working its magic! It only lets me down when I eat too much lactose.
  • Reading and learning about a whole new world of diet and nutrition.
  • Discovering new foods, recipes and getting creative in the kitchen.
  • The knowledge that I’m feeding my body nutritious food.
  • Building willpower and the comfort of knowing that I’m capable of creating delicious keto alternatives to bread, chips and desserts (this knowledge keeps me going when I’m out watching others eat carb-loaded foods! I have the good stuff waiting for me back at home in my kitchen).

So you see, there’s a lot to love about lifestyle, and the pros outweigh the costs!

Natures Fat Bombs – Nuts!

Nuts are my snacking staple. They’re high in fiber and numerous micro-nutrients, and there’s so much you can do with them. They’re great as an on-to-go snack, in desserts, and really are natures fat bombs.

Because I find it really hard to hit my fat macros, I find that some nuts in particular are ideal to munch on, namely Pecans and Brazil Nuts. But days when I feel like I’ve had too many calories as well, my go-tos tends to be almonds, pistachios, peanuts or hazelnuts.

Below is some useful nutrition information for various nuts:

NutNutrition

The only thing that tops nuts on my snack list is CHOCOLATE! And boy am I glad that Dark Chocolate is legit on the keto diet!

The benefits of dark chocolate and its miraculous properties deserves a whole post to itself so I’ll save that for another day, BUT the reason I’m writing this is because this post is all about chocolate covered nuts – my ultimate keto comfort snack.

My new chocolate discovery – Montezuma’s !!!

As I was working in a coffee shop the other day, I got peckish and unfortunately this popular coffee shop chain largely still does carb-loaded goods. Even the salads in this cafe were “pasta salads”. So I ventured to the supermarket to stock up on sneaky snacks to sustain me whilst I worked.

I was very excited to find this, hidden away in the chocolate aisle:

IMG_40992

And I was even more thrilled to discover the nutritional values.

Wait for it…

IMG_40973.jpg

The nutrition label says that 100g (i.e. the WHOLE BAR) has just 8g of carbs, and 17g of Fibre.

Now on Keto as we’re calculating net carbs (Carbs minus fibre), does this mean this bar of chocolate is actually negligible in terms of net carbs (-9)? Drop me an e-mail with your thoughts on this because I could be wrong, but until I have more clarity – I’M INDULGING!

As can be expected with 100% cocoa dark chocolate – it’s bitter AF. So much so, they’ve put a warning on the back of the package which has almost become a tagline for the brand – “For that dramatic cocoa hit. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!” This is great I think, because a little goes a long way when you’re looking for your cocoa high!

Which brings me to my next point – it’s not cheap. I got this bar for £2.50. However on Amazon you could buy in bulk and save some that way. And I look at it as an investment for all the keto chocolate goodies I could make.

On top of that, you are paying for a top-quality British product. I cannot describe in words how smooth the texture of the chocolate is. It really is incredible and something one needs to touch and taste for oneself.

Low Carb Chocolate Covered Nuts

VeryDarkChocNuts (1)
Natures Fat Bombs (Almonds and Pecans!!!) covered in Montezuma Dark Chocolate. P.S. Thank you mum for holding the nuts!

So I wanted to make my chocolate investment last for a while (and there’s no way I could eat a block of 100% dark chocolate so I would have to sweeten it up Keto style.)

Hence here is a very sweet and simple recipe for chocolate covered nuts! These are great on their own, or as a crunchy topping on something else.

Note: ANY Dark Chocolate will do, just make sure it’s at least 85% dark chocolate so as not to throw you out of ketosis.

Ingredients

13 servings (1 serving = 5 nuts)

You will need:

  • Nuts (I used 25 pecans and 40 almonds for this recipe, and the macros reflect the same).
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt
  • 25g Dark Chocolate
  • 2-3 drops Vanilla Stevia

Method:

  • Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds (or until melted).
  • Stir in Vanilla Stevia and adjust sweetness to taste.
  • Add nuts and salt to the mixture and stir well ensuring all the nuts are covered with the chocolate.
  • Place some parchment paper on a plate, and place the chocolate covered nuts on the parchment paper.
  • Place the plate in the fridge to cool and allow time for the chocolate to re-harden around the nuts.
  • Once the chocolate has hardened, remove from the parchment, and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

NOTE: To boost the “Fatbomb” quotient per serving, you could add a tablespoon of MCT Oil to the chocolate mixture.

Macros:

One serving of 5 nuts (pecans & almonds):

  • Energy: 84.7 kcal
  • Protein: 1.8 g
  • Net Carbs: 0.3 g
  • Fat: 8 g