Welcome to the first edition of Shirtless Chef. I’m sure my story will be familiar to many of you. I struggled for years with losing weight and then gaining it back, always feeling exhausted and never having energy to work out, and periods of depression where overeating became a coping mechanism. Five years ago, that cycle had reached a breaking point for me. I was 43 years old, on the verge of going from just “carrying some extra pounds” to becoming medically obese, with high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, rapid heart rate, you know, all the fun stuff that makes you old before your time. After some life changing events and a serious wake up call, I decided it was time to get real with myself and stop the excuses.
Even when I had periods where I would exercise consistently, I never could drop weight. I would tell myself it was because I was over 40 and that’s just how things work. I was in denial about the sleeve of Pringles, Little Debbie brownie, and the diet Coke I would binge eat when I walked in the door from work, followed by big dinners full of processed ingredients and simple “bad” carbs, followed by more sugary desserts. So I educated myself on nutrition, threw out all the processed foods, and completely revamped my lifestyle.
Once I eliminated those foods, my work-outs suddenly became much easier and very effective, and within eight months, I had dropped 80 lbs of fat. As we all know, however, the real challenge in getting healthy isn’t losing the weight, it’s maintaining it. Thanks to learning to cook, all the foods I enjoy, with healthy techniques and natural ingredients, I have maintained that weight loss going on 5 years now, and it’s become just my normal way of life. It’s as natural to me now as my old, unhealthy lifestyle was in my previous life. You can see the difference here in this before/after pic:
Obviously, this isn’t for everyone. It’s hard work to make the transition from fast and easy prepared processed foods to all natural ingredients that have to be cooked from scratch. If you are aren’t open minded to trying new foods, or haven’t tried a food in years because you didn’t like it once as a kid, you probably wouldn’t even want to try these recipes. And that’s perfectly fine, to each his own, go in peace, and do what makes you happy. But if you really want to make a change and haven’t been successful, if you’ve spent hour after hour in a gym or on a treadmill, and the top button on your jeans is still just a couple of frayed threads away from shooting across the room and blowing up the big screen, the recipes, ingredients, and techniques I will be sharing here can be the difference that makes all that effort worthwhile.
One thing about my lifestyle and the foods I will be sharing is that it doesn’t fit into one “diet” category. So many lifestyle diet plans call for eliminating one particular type of food or macronutrient, but those plans are unrealistic and difficult to stick with over time. For instance, many low carb diets won’t allow a banana or an apple. Speaking from experience, when struggling with being overweight, eating a banana is not the source of your troubles. If I had to slap a label on what I do, it would be a “simple sugars carb and artificial ingredients elimination” lifestyle. All other macros are fair game, and that includes lean proteins, healthy fats, and yes – everyone take a breath and stay calm – complex carbs.
One thing it will not be is boring. This is not a plain baked chicken breast and some wilted spinach all day every day. There will be new twists on classic dinners and breakfast foods. I also have a sweet tooth, and I made sure I had plenty of desserts that are rich and chocolatey and did I mention chocolate?
The first recipe I’m sharing is cornbread. I used to make the cornbread recipe from Alton Brown of Good Eats fame, and for the high octane version, there’s none better. I must have tried ten different versions that failed miserably at even coming close before I found one on Ketoconnect.com that best replicated the real thing. It still needed some ingredient tweaking and the changes I have made here make it brought it up to my standards to where I no longer miss my old version at all. I hope you enjoy.
- 2 large mixing bowls
- 10 inch cast iron skillet
- Small saucepan
- Rubber spatula
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup grass fed butter, melted
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 25 drops Liquid Stevia
- 1 cup shredded grass fed cheddar cheese
- 2/3 can baby corn, roughly chopped
- 1 – 2 tbsp of diced jarred jalapenos
- Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside to cool.
- Add the two tbsp of avocado oil to the cast iron skillet and place in the oven, then set the oven to 400 degrees to preheat the pan.
- Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Whisk the 3 eggs in a separate bowl, then add the sour cream and Stevia, and whisk together.
- Slowly add the cooled butter to the egg mixture, whisking as you add.
- Pour the wet team into the dry team and mix well with a spatula until completely integrated.
- Then stir in the cheese, baby corn, and jalapenos.
- Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven, then use the spatula to transfer the mixture into the skillet.
- It will be thicker than normal cornbread mix, so use the spatula to press the mix into the pan evenly and level it off.
- Top the cornbread with more fresh cracked pepper to taste, then bake for 20 – 25 minutes, checking for browning at 20.
- Once top is brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, set on the stove top and let cool in the pan for 30 minutes before serving.