Sunday, April 16, 2017

Paleo chicken croquettes with Fruitchup paleo ketchup

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Paleo chicken croquettes with Fruitchup paleo ketchup

What do you do with leftover roast chicken or rotisserie chicken? I'll often turn it into chicken salad, but yesterday I wanted something different...and I was really in the mood for something I could dip into Fruitchup, the brand-new paleo ketchup I launched this week.

So I put my leftover cooked chicken into the food processor with an egg, some onion and a little mayonnaise, rolled little logs of the mixture in coconut flour, and fried them in avocado oil, for some absolutely perfect paleo chicken croquettes. They were great warm, excellent at room temperature, and delicious cold in the morning. And they were PERFECT with the Fruitchup, a bold ketchup that's sweetened with fruit (raisins and dates) instead of sugar or corn syrup.

I realize it's ironic that after three-plus years running a company called Not Ketchup, I am now making...ketchup. But my new Fruitchup has a lot in common with my Not Ketchup sauces. They're all paleo, Whole30, low-carb, vegan, gluten free, and diabetic-friendly. And they're all made without any added sugar, sweetened only with real fruit.

There's enough sugar in the world. We could all stand to eat less of it. Fruitchup has zero added sugar, zero corn syrup, and about half the sugar per serving of regular ketchup. It's not sugar-free, because fruit has natural sugar, of course. But it's way better for you than the regular red stuff, which is mostly corn syrup and white sugar.

Check out my new Fruitchup paleo ketchup on my website, or buy Fruitchup on Amazon. And make these paleo chicken croquettes - they are fantabulous (as my late father would have said).

Paleo Chicken Croquettes

30 minutes | Makes about 12 2-inch croquettes


  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pickles, capers, or sauerkraut (trust me on this)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • Oil, for frying
  • Fruitchup paleo ketchup, for serving


  • Place the chicken, egg, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and pickles (or whatever you're using) into a food processor. Process until relatively smooth. If the mixture seems too loose to form into small logs, refrigerate for 30 minutes to let it firm up.
  • Put the coconut flour in a shallow bowl. Roll small logs or patties of the chicken mixture with your hands, then coat them in the coconut flour. You should end up with about a dozen 2-inch logs.
  • Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the croquettes until golden brown on both sides. Drain briefly on a plate lined with paper towel.
  • Serve immediately with Fruitchup paleo ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

I cut out sugar and carbs to treat my type 2 diabetes, and here's what happened

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(Are you trying to cut down on sugar too? You might like this free ebook I put together with some of the sugar-busting tricks I've collected - click here to get it.)

In August 2015, more than a year and a half ago, I got the doctor's call I'd been dreading: diabetes.

After an hour of full-on weeping and feeling sorry for myself, I dried my tears and decided to do something about it.

Luckily, one of the first videos I found was the one above from Dr. Sarah Hallberg, an M.D. who runs a diabetes clinic in the Midwest. Her argument is amazingly sensible:

To lower your blood sugar, stop eating the foods that raise your blood sugar the most (carbohydrates) and add more of the foods that don't raise your blood sugar at all (fats). 

So that's what I did. That very day, I decided to say goodbye to sugar and carbohydrates, including grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, and most fruits. I started eating a low carb high fat (LCHF) diet. I eat protein, fat, and non-starchy vegetables. And that's just about it. (Click here for more details on what I eat.)

Here's what happened when I cut out sugar and carbs - the good and the bad. Brutal honesty ahead.

With my older son Emery on an early morning hike

The good things are very, very good.

Elevator door selfie
  • My blood sugar went down and has stayed down. Within three months it was normal. Now, after more than 18 months of eating this way, it's lower than it's been since I was in my 20s.
  • I lost weight - more than 40 pounds - although that was not my goal. Not having diabetes was my goal.
  • I no longer have to take medications for diabetes and acid reflux, and I was able to reduce other meds as well.
  • I have much more energy, and it's steady throughout the day. I don't get the after-lunch nap craving anymore.
  • I sleep better.
  • My breath is better.
  • I have had to replace my entire wardrobe, including my underwear, because it got too big. Twice.
  • I am rarely hungry and it doesn't take a lot to fill me up.
  • My feet don't hurt anymore.
  • My digestion is much more regular. I know a lot of people get constipated on a low carb high fat diet, but I have not had that problem.
  • My dentist and dental hygienist tell me that my teeth and gums are much healthier than they were a few years ago. Fewer cavities, less plaque, less gum recession.
  • I feel good about my body. Some things are still annoying (triple chin that will probably never go away, relatively big belly, stretch marks, thin hair) but they bother me much less. When I look in the mirror, my first thought is "I look healthy."
  • I rarely crave sugar or carbs. When I tell you that the white-flour foods used to make up 90 percent of my diet, I am not exaggerating. I never imagined that I would not only be able to live without them, but would not mind living without them. Truly, I do not mind.
  • I feel proud that I've taken control of my health. This spills over into other areas, too. I'm proud of myself in general.
  • Overall, I'm in a much better mood.

The bad things have required some adjustment but aren't too bad.

There's a lot of meat in my life these days
  • Our family meals have become somewhat repetitive. Protein, vegetable, salad. Protein, vegetable, salad. Feeding people is one of my favorite things in life (that's why I started Not Ketchup, my condiment business - feeding people on a large scale!), so serving boring family meals makes me cringe. My husband and kids haven't complained much, but I fear they're just being polite.
  • I have missed out on social opportunities with my family. We used to spend a lot of our family time on food-centered outings, exploring the various ethnic cuisines of Los Angeles. My husband and sons still go from time to time. I choose not to participate in most of those now, not because I'm afraid I'll be tempted, but because they just don't interest me as much.
  • I am less motivated to blog about food. I've been writing In Erika's Kitchen since 2008 and have gotten great pleasure over the years in creating recipes and photographing delicious food. But because food is no longer as big a part of my life, I'm not as interested in writing about it. This makes me sad. 
  • My skin looks worse (to me). After years of being heavier, the skin on my face and certain parts of my body is looser now that I've lost weight. Although I am not into the idea of plastic surgery for myself, I see why it appeals to some people.
  • It is actually harder now for me to buy clothes, not easier. When I was bigger, plus sizes fit fairly reliably. Now I am oddly shaped, still carrying more weight in my middle than in other places. Things that fit me in the middle are way too big on top and in the seat and legs. Only certain styles flatter my body. Alterations are expensive.
  • I'm irritated with myself that it took me so long to make these positive changes. I try to focus forward - glad I finally saw the light! - but in dark moments I think about all the years when I could have been feeding my body differently and thus perhaps avoided some of the damage I'm now trying to undo.
  • I am no longer an easy dinner guest. Or house guest. Or travel companion. 
  • My eyesight has gotten worse. Of course, I'm 50, so that was bound to happen at some point. Might be coincidence.
  • Our food bills have gone up. Without cheap fillers like rice, beans, and bread, our family meals are more expensive. On the other hand, my health costs, both present and future, have gone down, so I try not to worry too much about this.
  • I eat more meat than I'd prefer. In a perfect world I probably wouldn't be vegetarian, but I always enjoyed non-meat proteins like beans. Now they raise my blood sugar too much. I try to work in more fish, but it's not my favorite. 
  • "On the go" food is more challenging. I can't assume I can pick up a snack wherever I am. I have to bring my own. I keep emergency low carb protein bars in my purse and car.
  • I've gotten a little preachy, especially with my kids, about what I believe to be the dangers of excess sugar and carbohydrate intake. I don't want to be the Food Police, but given their genetics (sorry, guys) I feel compelled to try to influence their eating habits. 
Overall, of course, I'm glad I made the lifestyle changes I did. Because good health > diabetes. Period.

Have you ever tried giving up or cutting back on sugar and carbs? What changes did you notice? I'd love to hear about your journey.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Food as medicine: The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver

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Food as medicine: That's what my life has been about for the past year and a half, since my diabetes diagnosis. Changing the way I eat has helped me kick diabetes to the curb and start my second half-century in the best health of my adult life. Food, indeed, has been my medicine.

When I heard about Stephanie Weaver's new book The Migraine Relief Plan, I was excited to read it. Because migraines have been part of my life for nearly three decades.

I started getting migraines after I finished college, when I was living in New York City and working in magazine publishing. I'm not talking about little, annoying headaches. I'm talking about crippling, blinding pain that came on suddenly and lasted for hours, sometimes days. The headaches were always in the same place, above my right eye, near my hairline. Pounding. Pulsing. I had several migraines a week for years.

I was young and otherwise healthy, so I pushed through them. Biofeedback therapy helped; I practiced guided relaxation and learned how to raise the temperature of my fingertips five degrees in five minutes using just my brain. (That was pretty cool and, as a side benefit, helped a lot during labor and childbirth.) I experimented with folk remedies and over-the-counter painkillers and finally came up with a method that worked for me, involving ibuprofen, caffeine (which I don't normally have at all), and strategically placed ice packs. Eventually, because of age, hormonal changes, and who knows what else, the headaches came more rarely. Now I get a few a year, if that.

But I suffered for years. And other than avoiding red wine, which I didn't drink much anyway and didn't seem to trigger my headaches, no one ever suggested to me that I might be able to control or lessen the frequency of my migraines by changing what I ate.

Creamy Not-ella Carob Butter from The Migraine Relief Plan

I am truly sorry that Stephanie had to suffer with her migraines as much as she did (her full story is at the beginning of the book). But I'm grateful for the result, and I think other migraine sufferers will be as well. The Migraine Relief Plan offers a sensible eight-week transition plan to help migraine sufferers ease into a diet that is sugar-free, gluten-free and low in sodium. As it happens, I've already made most of these changes myself to tackle my diabetes. They may sound drastic, but when your health is at stake, it's worth it.

And even with these restrictions, it's possible to eat delicious food every single day. The book includes more than 75 recipes that look delicious and follow the guidelines above to help migraine sufferers avoid attacks. In addition to being a certified health and wellness coach, Stephanie is a food blogger and professional recipe developer (that's how we met). I can't wait to try Stephanie's Creamy Not-ella Carob Butter, Seedy Carrot Crackers, Firehouse Turkey Chili, Maple Sesame Glazed Chicken, Peachy Pulled Pork, and Pear Upside-Down Cake.

If you're plagued with migraines, I am so sorry. But there's hope. I strongly suggest taking a look at The Migraine Relief Plan to see if Stephanie's dietary and lifestyle suggestions can help you.

BONUS: Stephanie is hosting a pre-order giveaway if you order The Migraine Relief Plan by February 13, 2017. Click here to enter the giveaway.

*Recipe photography copyright 2016 by Laura Bashar

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents if you click them and buy Stephanie's book. We both thank you in advance.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Conquering diabetes: A gift to my family

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These three men: That's why I need to deal with my diabetes

Someone asked me recently why I have been so motivated to get my diabetes under control when so many people fail to take it seriously.

See the three guys in the photo above? They are the reason.

And it's not some kind of fluffy "I need to be here for my family." I mean, YES, of course I want to continue to live, and I want to live a healthy life, and I want to see my grandchildren someday and all that.

But there's a much more concrete reason I need to take responsibility for my health, keep my blood sugar under control and try to avoid the long-term damage diabetes can cause in my body.

I do not want to be a burden on my family.

No one does. No one wants their spouse or children to have to take care of them.

And sometimes it happens, and we get sick, and it's beyond our control. If we're lucky it doesn't happen until we're very old and we've lived a long, meaningful life.

But diabetes, if uncontrolled, can quickly lead to all kinds of awful and debilitating problems. Heart disease. Kidney disease. Infections that require toes to be amputated. Blindness.

And diabetes is something I can control, at least for now.

So if I choose not to control it...

...if I ignore it, eat candy (and other stuff), fail to exercise, and let my blood sugar run wild...

...isn't that me telling my husband and kids that I don't care about them?

Isn't that me putting a pretty big burden on them that I can choose to avoid?

Taking control of my health is my responsibility as a parent and a wife.

Celebrating our 20th anniversary

Over the past few months I watched one of my friends take care of her husband. Complications of his diabetes led to kidney disease, heart problems, and I think a stroke. He died recently.

I was and am extremely sad for my friend and her kids. Their loss is huge.

But watching the toll it took on my friend - who went from working mother and wife to working mother and wife and full-time caregiver in an instant, who saw her entire life turned upside-down - made me even more determined that I was not going to do that to my husband.

When I get on the elliptical every morning, I'm doing it for me. But I'm also doing it for Michael. If I keep my diabetes under control, maybe he'll never have to spend his afternoons driving me to dialysis.

When I avoid sugar, bread and pasta, I'm doing it for my kids. If I keep my blood sugar under control, maybe they'll never have to push me around in a wheelchair because I had to have my toes amputated.

To be clear, I know that some health problems are beyond all control. If I were to get cancer or some other serious, unavoidable illness (God forbid), I know my family would take care of me.

But diabetes is not beyond my control. There are things I can do, and am doing, to keep it at bay.

It's the least I can do for my family.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bacon cheddar cookies (low carb, gluten free)

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What kind of cookies do you make for people who don't eat sugar, prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners, follow a low carb diet, and generally aren't too fond of dessert? (Like, um, ME.)

I make Bacon Cheddar Cookies. Or "cookies," if you prefer. They're bite-sized, crumbly, full of umami, and completely addictive. With only five ingredients, these little nuggets are the perfect cookie-like treat for those who prefer savory to sweet.

Serve these Bacon Cheddar Cookies with a glass of wine, champagne or Prosecco. You can use fancy cheese (my favorites are made by Cabot and Kerrygold) or buy pre-shredded cheddar cheese at the grocery store. Either way, these Bacon Cheddar Cookies will be a huge hit.

Note: For the cookies in the photos above, I used pre-shredded mild cheddar cheese, and the anti-caking agent in the pre-shredded cheese keeps the cookies from spreading. If you use a higher fat cheese that you shred yourself, your cookies will spread more and get brown, crisp and crumbly around the edges. Don't worry: They will still be delicious, even if they don't hold together quite as well.

Bacon Cheddar Cookies

Makes about 36 2-inch cookies


  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups almond flour (fine is better than coarse)
  • 6 pieces bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line three sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Blend on medium speed until everything is blended well and a stiff dough forms, about 1 minute. (If you prefer to mix by hand or with a hand-held mixer, that's fine; just make sure you mix it aggressively enough to get a cohesive dough.)
  3. Using a generous teaspoon of dough for each cookie, roll the dough into small balls. Place the balls on the prepared sheet pans, pressing them down slightly.
  4. Bake the cookies about 15 minutes, until the edges are starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet or on a rack.

Gluten free | Diabetic friendly | Low carb | Grain free | Sugar free