Keto Cookies – Chocolate and Chilli

I love baking, and since I’ve been home from uni for summer, I’ve been experimenting with new recipes, instead of remaking the same Victoria sponge recipe over and over. Finding a ‘healthy’ sweet treat can be tricky. This can be made even trickier if you add carbs and sugar to the list of things you can’t bake with. This knocks out pretty much any type of flour, gluten, sugar (obviously!) etc. Unfortunately, for a diabetic, this is the reality, and although eating a cookie wouldn’t kill you on the spot, eating high levels of carbohydrates and sugar can be detrimental for your health in the long run.

There are several diets that focus on cutting carbohydrates, one of the most popular being the Keto Diet. As such, when I saw the magazine Keto Baking in the newsagent, I picked it up, hoping to find something I could bake for Ed that he could eat guilt-free. And sure enough, there was a huge selection of recipes for me to try out! From cakes, biscuits, breads and sweet bites, the magazine has given me a bunch of ideas for for experimenting with.

To start off, I tried making some cookies, as I haven’t made a batch of cookies in years and I have been baking quite a few cakes recently, so this sounded different and fun! Ed loves chocolate and he loves chilli even more, so I had no doubt he would like them! Here’s the recipe and how my Keto baking adventure went!

The Ingredients:

340g Unsweetened Chocolate/ Dark Chocolate of a high percentage

115g Unsalted Butter

4 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Extract/Paste

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Sea Salt

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

144g Almond Flour/Coconut Flour

400g Sweetener

A note about the ingredients:

I swapped a couple of my ingredients (listed next to originals) such as the almond flour, as when I was making these, I didn’t realise that almond flour is the same as ground almonds so I couldn’t find any. However, there is nothing wrong with using coconut flour, it will just taste slightly of coconut and it may have the slight ‘gritty’ bite to it that often comes with coconut flours or dessicated coconut.

Most recipes for Keto baking will be using a lot of eggs, and I mean a lot. But don’t worry, the finished product doesn’t taste ‘eggy’ and you can take special measures such as cooling it in the tin for about 10 minutes and then removing it- this helps with the possible ‘eggy’ flavour.

Be careful which sweeteners you use. For example, I use Xylitol or stevia. However, something like Truvia (a brand of stevia sweetener) claims that 1/3 tsp of Truvia = 1 tsp of sugar. Meaning, if you use 1 tsp of Truvia that’s the equivalent of 3 tsp of sugar! In Keto recipes, the amount of sweetener will often be quite high, because you require more sweetener than a normal amount of sugar because it isn’t as sweet. But, as I mentioned, some sweetness are sweeter than sugar, so you won’t need as much. If you’re not sure, just ask Google, but sweeteners like Xylitol are readily available at most major supermarkets.

The Method:

Firstly, preheat your oven to 180°C and line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment or reusable liners. Put the trays to the side until later.

Next, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl with the butter. You can either do this by heating it over water in a saucepan using a hob or in the microwave. I used the microwave and did 30 second intervals, keeping an eye on it once it begins to melt.

In large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and give them a quick mix so they are all incorporated together. Whilst doing this, let your chocolate cool slightly, no need to put it in the fridge, it just needs to be cool-‘ish’.

Once the chocolate is cooler, add one egg at a time, whisking them into the chocolate and butter mixture between each addition. Then add the sweetener and mix together into the chocolate. A word of warning- the mix is going to get noticeably thicker when you start adding the eggs, so just be prepared for a little arm workout!

Next, add the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl. Mix these together and scrape the bowl, making sure all the dry ingredients are mixed in thoroughly. You will be left with a thick cake-like batter, but it is so liquid that it won’t hold its shape.

Lay a large sheet of clingfilm over your kitchen worktop or table and place the batter in the middle. Wrap the batter up, I double wrapped mine to prevent leaking, and leave in the fridge for an hour to harden.

After an hour, remove your batter from the fridge and unwrap it. The mixture makes 12 cookies, but if you want to make them smaller or bigger, then that amount will change. For 12, section off the batter either using a spoon or just grabbing a handful of dough and mould/squash into a rough cookie shape with your hands. Repeat this for each cookie. This can be messy so I’d recommend taking off any jewellery!

Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes. I put mine in for 10 and they were still a tiny bit too soft when I put a skewer in, so I gave them another 3 minutes and they were perfect. Baking time will vary depending on oven strength etc. but they should be harder at the edges and still slightly soft and gooey on the inside.

Leave them on the baking trays for 15 minutes, then remove them and transfer them to a wire cooling rack. And you’re done!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and you give this recipe a go! I’m pleased to report they were a great success and Ed loved them! Finally a treat that we can both eat together! They’re not too spicy, but there is definitely a kick there, so you can try the recipe and then adjust as you like!

Thank you for reading and come back again for more Keto recipes soon!

Travelling with Diabetes

As some of you might know, my boyfriend was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes fairly recently, and whilst he has been getting used to it and learning, so have I. One of the most crucial things I have learned is the importance of being organised.

Needless to say, when you are travelling or going on holiday, planning is key. This is no different to travelling with diabetes. It is so important to be prepared for the worst (not that it’s guaranteed that it is guaranteed to happen!). But, you have to expect it to, incase it does. A couple of weeks ago, we went camping, and to prepare for that and our holiday to Devon, I had been doing some research and reading for people’s tips and tricks for travelling and being organised. Here are some of the important things that I have picked up on. This post is not sponsored, this is mine and Ed’s genuine opinions on what has been useful and products we have found handy in practise!

Supplies:

You need to have enough supplies for the amount of time you are away, and longer. This includes anything that you would use daily, and anything that could help if something goes wrong. For example, a list I made for Ed included:

Needles, insulin, test strips, lancets, spare CGM (Continuous glucose monitoring) sensors.

Other things I found useful to have are any things that you could need if something went wrong. So not only does this include extra supplies (we took double the expected amount) but also ‘non-every-day’ things, such as keytone test strips.

It may seem like overkill, but it is not fun getting to your holiday destination and realising you’ve left something behind – something that would make your holiday more comfortable. For example, Ed left his spare FreeStyle Libre sensor at home and for the weekend he had to step back in time to when he was diagnosed and get the ‘ol finger pricker out again. It wasn’t fun for anyone, least of all him. Planning for these things just makes it more comfortable more than anything.

Hypo supplies:

The dreaded hypoglycaemia. ‘Tis a bitch. Unfortunately, just like 98% of the other problems in day-to-day life, ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. The more you ignore the signs the worse it gets. We took way too much stuff incase of a hypo, especially considering we were only away one night, but I didn’t want to have a situation where a lack of sugar got out of hand. Here’s what was included in our emergency kit:

Glucose juices, glucose tablets and glucose gels. These are good as they are discrete amounts of sugar and can be used to know precisely how much sugar you might need to take and how much you are actually taking. Other things included; Percy Pigs sweets (incase Ed didn’t want glucose tablets, because they are gross and horrible and mean and rank and not enjoyable at all and… you get the picture), full sugar Lucozade (again, see my previous reasoning), Caprisuns and biscuits. The biscuits acted as carbs for when we were camping, as taking a whole loaf of bread with us seemed a bit too Parisian.

These little packets of biscuits are great because they are a controlled amount of carbs! Same with the juice and the tablets!

Hypo supplies are so important, especially if you are going somewhere such as a festival where there might be alcohol, which can have such an impact on your blood sugar levels, causing them to drop rapidly. The earlier you spot a hypo, the quicker you can get the sugar in and the better the outcome. If you didn’t have anything pleasant, for instance you only had a glucose gel, you really don’t want to get to stage of needing to use it. I don’t know first hand because I don’t have T1D but I’ve heard from others that Glucose gel is not pleasant, and to be honest, you don’t want to be in a situation where that is your only option. But if you were, you’d be fine and have to make do! As well as hypo supplies, low carb snacks are also a really good thing to stock up on and take because it can be hard to find something that you can eat without sugar or carbs! Especially if you’re camping or abroad! Ed’s favourites include beef jerky and apple chunks with peanut butter!

Other helpful bits and bobs:

Frio Cooler Pouch

The Frio comes in various sizes including individual wallets and space for 5 pens or 10 cartridges! They also come in funky colours and patterns for younger children (or more attention seeking adults)!

When we went camping it was very, very, very warm and insulin does not like heat. He likes it cold (Shoutout to my boy Will Byers) is true in the case of insulin and we took a Frio cooler, which I will link at the bottom for you. It is a pouch which contains tiny beads that react to water and don’t require refrigeration to keep things cold. This is perfect for something like camping, where you might not have access to a fridge!

Frio Sharps Bin Mini

Here is the mini sharps bin, which comes in either this colour or a bright yellow! You can buy them individually or in packs of three! So useful!

Another product from Frio, is their mini sharps bins. They are super handy for on the go needle disposal, and it they can be emptied into bigger sharps bins once you get home. Trust me, I don’t mind needles floating around in my handbag, until my hand comes out looking like a pin cushion when I go rummaging for god knows what. Still, all jokes aside, these are brilliant and very cheap, well worth investing in one for those moment when you don’t want to carry around a huge yellow bin all the time. When we take the car on holiday, or visit friends and family, we tend to take a normal 1L sharps bin – it’s easier than collecting all the needles up and taking them back loose in the suitcases!

MedAngel Temp. Sensor

Granted, my plastic bag skills need some improvement, and I mean need, but it keeps it dry and working!
Here’s a screenshot from the list of medicines it can work with. As you can see, it is designed for not only insulin, but Epipens and other medical items such as the FreeStyle Libre Sensors. It also has the lists separated by EU and US so you know where to look for your specific medication! You can monitor multiple medications on one sensor, so long as they are all stored together with the sensor!

A really useful product, especially for hot or extremely cold holidays, such as beaches or skiing, is the MedAngel temperature sensor. Ed was bought his as a gift and it has been really useful for the above reasons! This can slip into the Frio pouch, or next to your insulin wherever it is stored, and reads the surrounding temperature, giving you a rough idea of what temperature your insulin is at. It also recognises all the different insulin brands and types as well as knowing their safe ranges, notifying you if they are dangerously hot or cold. With an app available for IOS and Android, it’s a handy gadget to have if you need it. We take a spare battery for this, even though the battery lasts years – better to be safe than sorry. Also, as I discovered only today, it has a GPS tracker, so if you lose your insulin, you can see where it was last and track it down!

As you can see from my picture, we keep it in a makeshift protective plastic bag, so when the Frio is wet, it doesn’t get damaged. If you’re interested on how I’ve done this, just google heat shrinking plastic bag videos, like the ones for keeping carrot sticks in etc. See here! They did a better job than I did! Seriously.

HypoWallet

This comes under a term I like to call ‘Pseudo-hypo supplies’, but the Hypo Wallet is so useful for keeping the juice, tabs and gel all in one case whether you’re putting it in your bag, leaving it in the hotel room, etc., knowing it has everything ready. We keep one in the car, as well as one in my handbag so we always have something with us. The one linked from Amazon is slightly more expensive than what you can find elsewhere, but it gives you an idea of what it contains. We stock up each time we use one of the items in it so we know it is always full. We buy in bulk from Amazon, but there are other places such as online pharmacies that do the same stuff.

Finally, to keep everything together, I put supplies and bulky things in a Frio travel bag, and any food and hypo snacks in a mini cooler lunch bag. The linked Frio is a ready made travel kit, which we have bought before and the bag is really handy. The lunch bag pictured pictured is mine, and is rather girly. But hey, I’m they one carrying it!

https://www.beauandelliot.com/product/dove-lunch-tote/

Thank you for reading and if any of you are interested in these products and want to know more, let me know as I am considering doing a separate post for a couple of the things I listed today. I will be incorporating more posts into my blog about diabetes and how Ed and I are learning new things every day.

Stay posted for more updates and subscribe to get notifications when I post, as well as following my Instagram and Facebook! Thank you!

Also, massive shoutout to Ed who puts up with this everyday and I’m so proud of you!

Here are the linked products from today:

Frio Sharps Bin: https://friouk.com/product/mini-pocket-sharps-bin/

Frio Duo Wallet: https://friouk.com/product/frio-duo/

Hypo Wallet: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/shop/hypowallet

Frio Travel Essentials Kit: https://friouk.com/product/travel-essentials-pack/

MedAngel Sensor: https://shop.medangel.co

FreeStyle Libre: https://www.freestylelibre.co.uk/libre/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwyLDpBRCxARIsAEENsrJS_9dqVH1bNWh25rYrtmdwLe8cxE6QdqsMXu1Yzi4l2eoWqH6hiToaAgXtEALw_wcB

Eat your way to Mindfulness

I have been trying to spend a little less time on my phone recently and more time relaxing, away from the pressures of modern day social media platforms. I have been taking some time to myself, either reading, listening to a podcast or doing a lot of gardening with the good weather recently.

Caroline Foran, author of no.1 bestseller of Owning It: A Bullish*t Free Guide to Living with Anxiety, has begun a podcast this January: Owning It: The Anxiety Podcast. I have been listening to the odd episode here and there and from an episode in April they were discussing how important diet and healthy eating is for a healthy mind.

This I already somewhat knew, as I am very aware of the effect blood sugars have on your mood, due to my boyfriend having Type 1 Diabetes. In March 2019 I did a ‘Live Like a Diabetic’ for the month where Ed and I reduced to the minimum amount of carbohydrates and eliminated sugar from our diets. After only a month, I could feel the incredible impact that reducing artificial sugars and simple carbs (the bad ones!) has on your mood. You feel less groggy and tired – I found I was sleeping better and falling asleep faster.

Sugar in food either comes as ‘added sugar’ or ‘natural sugar’ and for a normal person’s healthy diet, there should be a balanced amount of natural sugars. Added sugars can be eaten but this should be as a treat or the odd occasion. Added sugars will have a larger effect on your blood sugar levels, and this can make you feel jittery and shaky which will contribute to feeling anxious.

That said, if you blood sugar levels are on the low side, then you might experience what is close to a ‘hypo’ (hypoglycaemia). This, again, feels very jittery and shaky, struggling to string a sentence together and feeling very dizzy and out of place. If you have ever had a panic attack, some of these feelings may sound familiar. As someone without diabetes, you are unable to experience a genuine hypo. If your blood sugars are low-ish then you may, however, begin to feel panicky and anxious. This can be controlled and negated by eating a healthy balanced diet.

So what should we be eating to balance our diets?

Fruit and Veggies:

The NHS and numerous health organisations recommend 5 portions of fruit and veg everyday. This could be all fruit, all veg, or a mixture, and the latter is probably the easier and better option. I know, however, that it isn’t easy and I can’t remember the last time I consumed 5 portions of these even once. That said, I do eat more vegetables and fruit than a lot of people my age, so as long as you are getting some form of fruit or veg at least once a day then that is a good start.

Carbohydrates:

These are often described as ‘starchy’ foods and should be about one third of your daily diet. These include things like potatoes, pasta, bread, rice, etc. These are all great sources of fibre, and when choosing, try to go for wholewheat or wholemeal alternatives, such as brown rice or wholemeal bread. These will be a big chunk of where your ‘all-day’ energy comes from. As someone with anxiety, you can often suffer with a feeling of low energy or tiredness, so eating a healthy source of carbohydrates could impact this brilliantly.

Dairy:

Dairy is something our generation probably doesn’t eat enough of, due to the ever increasing numbers of dairy allergies and intolerances. But, soya milk and other dairy alternatives do have the nutritional values that ordinary milk would contain, so don’t panic if you don’t drink dairy milk. Other good sources are yoghurt and cheese. Be careful not to go overboard with your dairy intake though, as it can be very high in fat! Moreover, excess amounts of dairy have been linked to heightened levels of adrenaline which may lead to a feeling of higher anxiety. So although dairy is important, we need a balance.

Protein:

A good source of protein can come from meat, fish, beans, pulses and eggs. I found when I cut down on carbohydrates, I replaced them with a lot of protein, as these give energy and are good at helping the body heal and repair itself. For this reason I eat protein before and after going to the gym or doing exercise, as not only does it give a slow release of energy throughout the exercise, but it helps my muscle repair after stretching them. Anxiety can be hugely helped by doing a small amount of exercise everyday. Just a walk down to the shops, or with a dog (if you have one!). Or, if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you could for for a run or go to the gym! It is recommended that everyone gets 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, so thats about 20 minutes everyday!

Fat:

Although you should try and stay away from saturated fats, like meats, dairy, butter, biscuits and cakes, as well as many others. These can be eaten (obviously!) but in small quantities and your sources of fat should come from unsaturated fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and healthier cooking oils. There are not too many papers linking anxiety to fatty foods, but it has been linked to heart conditions and poorer health as you get older.

Of course, there isn’t an out and out list of foods that can cure anxiety! But, I cannot stress enough that a balanced diet can help your mental health improve! Your brain and your body are linked and that means the more you take care of your body, the more it will take care of your brain!

This has been my first post for my new topic on my blog, and I hope that you have enjoyed reading and it may have given you some insight on your diet and how it might be affecting your mind and mood. I am not a healthcare professional, neither am I a dietician or a chartered psychologist (yet!) so my words are not coming from a scholarly background as such, but more experience, Caroline Foran’s book (The Confidence Kit: Your Bullsh*t Free Guide to Owning Your Fear), her podcast (which I would H I G H L Y recommend listening to, whether you have anxiety or not!) and just reading online!

Thank you again for reading, and I hope to be adding some more posts including some of my favourite recipes which I will be sharing!

Imogen ❤