Behind starburst eyes

He looked straight ahead…

Nearly 15 years ago I wrote about watching my (at the time only) boy walk away from me and towards the adventure of joining other kiddos at a new program at our local community centre. I stood and waited while he was going in incase he looked for the reassurance that I was still there…for the first time he didn’t look back.

He was confident and secure and beginning to spread his little wings. A woman looked at me and asked if he was my first. At the time I responded that he was my only one. She attempted to reassure me by telling me I’d be more “free and easy” once I had another. That I wouldn’t be standing there with my heart in my throat as he walked away when I had other wee ones as well.

He’s now 1 of 5 children that call me mum, and yet the tears still came as I watched him walk away today. I didn’t feel any different than I had 15 years ago; I was still holding my breathe and waiting to wave and smile encouragingly if he looked back…only he didn’t look back this time. He walked with confidence through security towards his solo flight across the country to visit his bestie on the east coast. I’m glad he didn’t look back, for his sake because I was crying and I knew his still gentle heart wouldn’t want to see my tears…for my sake because as hard as it is to watch him walk away I’m so filled with pride at the confidence that filled his stride as he headed towards a new adventure without me.

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Gratitude Journal

I’ve been journaling with my kids for a couple of years now. Every night they write out their answers to the same 4 questions (as do I) and I finally took the plunge and created a journal with those specific questions in it for others to use. It’s now available on Amazon! I’m ridiculously excited as each question was designed after years of research in both psychology (for the study of the individual) and anthropology (for the study of group dynamics).

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Research Proposal

I applied for multiple different Masters programs for this fall. I have one left to hear from, but the rest have said no so far. For one of the courses I have in my last term for my B.Sc.(Hons) I had to write a short synopsis of a research proposal. It was really hard to write because I was truthful and simply wrote what I’d hoped to study for my Masters in Psychology. I’m pasting the brief synopsis below, because after 4 years chasing a dream only to be rejected now, I don’t want to feel like my idea will never be seen or considered by anyone other than myself.

Research Synopsis:

With the rate of diagnosis on the rise for Autism, there are many who look for ways to help Autistic children diminish what are seen as non-normative behaviours and one of the most prevalent methods utilized in North America is applied behaviour analysis (Keenan et al., 2015). 

One of the key purposes of applied behaviour analysis (ABA) therapy is to help Autistic children regulate their emotions (Frolli et al., 2021). ABA is believed to help by looking at external factors and using positive reinforcements to obtain desired behaviours and negative punishment to extinguish undesired behaviours  (Sandoval-Norton & Shkedy, 2019). While on the outset the data from ABA often shows marked increases in various skills or abilities, it shows those behaviours or skills as prompt dependant (Sandoval-Norton & Shkedy, 2019). Prompt dependency would limit the development of intrinsic motivation which would limit their ability to meet the core psychological need of autonomy (Reeve, 2017). Additionally, according to Sandoval-Norton & Shkedy’s (2019) study, ABA is often very psychologically damaging. If something is producing harm as a by-product of producing the results that are desired, another method needs to be investigated to produce those same results without harm. However, in order to create a new method of therapy that is both effective and non-harming, one has to understand the true root of an issue. This is where this study comes in. 

Neurotypical people undergo significant neural pruning that is not seen in Autistic brains (Frith 2003; de Silva 2018). Neural pruning assists with the removal of synaptic pathways not used frequently or those not needed for optimum efficiency (Frith 2003). Those additional neural pathways may be providing additional information that is creating a greater threat response than is actually needed in the situation. 

Studies such as Avino et al., (2018), have shown that there is an increase in the degeneration of the amygdala in Autistic brains at higher levels than those who are not Autistic. This quantifiable component suggests to us that it is not an overall emotional regulation issue, but instead is specifically a continually heightened state of threat perception at work. 

I theorize that the lack of neural pruning seen in Autistic brains increases the amount of response generated in the amygdala which creates the emotional dysregulation seen. Therefore it is not in fact a dysregulation issue, it is actually an inaccurate threat response. By honing in on the specific methodology of the brain in producing the emotional dysregulation seen, harmful therapies such as ABA can be discontinued and a new therapy that focuses on teaching more accurate threat perception can begin.

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What’s Turkey Without Stuffing???

I love all the things about Yule, and Christmas. I love the lights, the trees, the songs, even the snow. But the thing I love the most is the feasting!

However, a big part of the fest for me is the stuffing. I make my grandfather’s recipe every year, but it’s filled with bread and potatoes so what’s a girl to do?

Re-vamp her grandfather’s recipe into a keto one of course! 😉 Below is exactly that:

Ingredients:

1 loaf of hearts of palm bread

2 heads of cauliflower

2 Tbsp of Poultry seasoning

1 whole garlic minced
1 cooked sausage of your choice

1/2 of an onion finely chopped

1 egg

1lb of bacon chopped

2 Tbsp of butter

2 Tbsp of heavy cream

1 Tsp of pepper

1 dash of salt

Instructions: 1) Roughly chop and then cook cauliflower in a pan on medium heat.
2) Remove from heat, add butter and cream and mash.
3) Dice onion, garlic, sausage and bacon and then add to the cauliflower mash.
4) Rip (or cut) up hearts of palm bread into small pieces and add to mash.
5) Add whisked egg and poultry seasoning.
6) Stuff Turkey and cook as usual.

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Toasting with Toasted Coconut

As of this week’s measurements, I’ve lost a total of 13.4lbs, 1.5in off each area: waist, hips, & thighs, and 3/4in off my upper arms 😁 So I’m going to toast my success with toasted coconut 😉 So I headed over to Twosleevers.com and found this lovely keto coconut macaroons recipe. Each macaroon has 2net carbs.

Ingredients

1/4 cup Almond Flour

2 cups Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 egg whites

1/4 cup Swerve

Instructions

Preheat an oven to 400F. Line a 9 x 13 cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together almond flour, coconut, coconut oil or butter, and vanilla extract and set aside.

Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat together the egg whites and Swerve until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the egg whites into the almond flour mixture.  

Spoon the mixture onto the cookie sheet to get 10-12 scoops.

Bake for 15-16 minutes until the coconut tops start to brown lightly.   

Remove from oven and let cool before removing from the cookie sheet.

A delicious keto friendly cookie 😋

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Hold On Just A Little Longer

Sometime when I wasn’t looking he became too big for bed time cuddles. I missed noticing the last time his older brother asked for bedtime cuddles, and I swore I wouldn’t miss it with him. Yet, life, my own inability to stay in the present made me forget to pay attention as carefully as I swore I would. I was always thinking of what needs to be done before I go to bed, tomorrow, next week, next month, next, next, next. Never focusing on the now, always on the next. So I missed noticing when the last time he asked for cuddles happened. He slipped out of that stage without a whisper, or a warning.

He still asks for his heart song…most nights. I’ve taken to holding his hand while I sing, a part of me can’t bear to let him go just yet, but I know I must, so I compromise by just holding his hand instead. Normally as soon as I’ve finished his heart song he lets go and repositions himself, his hand firmly tucked beneath his head. Only tonight, tonight he didn’t let go. It was such a small gesture, the gentle extra pressure he used to squeeze so delicately that if I’d not been focused on the present I wouldn’t have noticed…I would have missed his fingers stroking my hand, searching…reaching…connecting with me. So I stayed, my arm outstretched to his big boy loft bed, holding his hand for just a little bit longer. He held my hand tonight not just for his heart song, but until he fell asleep, and my heart overflowed with so much love for my sweet not so little boy. One day he’ll stop asking for his heart song…his brother has, and I’ll stop singing it…but for at least tonight I got to hold on just a little longer…

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If You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again!

For my weekly weigh in and measurements this week, I’d lost a total of 9.6lbs since I started 3 weeks ago, and 1.5inches off my waist!

Then I had a rough day, I’ve gone back to university, so I have papers due because it’s nearing the end of the term, I was struggling to write one of them. Add in being scared about going for a CT Scan for the lump on my sternum and I made the bad decision to eat my feelings.

For the last 2 days I have enhaled carb filled, processed crap. I’ve also gained back 2lb cause when I go overboard, I’m damn good at it! So, I’m back up 2lb but I say it was a bad choice not a terrible one because I’m learning. I’m learning how deeply I really connect food with comfort. I am reminded of how many times that special time with my mom who passed away almost 3 years ago included “special foods”. I’m learning how vital it is for me to have at least a couple of pre-made comfort style keto foods frozen for myself.

To that end, I’ve found a delicious keto friendly chicken pot pie recipe, that at 3g net carbs means I can have 2 servings if I feel the need to do so without sabatoging my hard work!

The delicious recipe below is the creation of Kasey Trenum who you can find cooking up all kinds of fantastic recipes on her blog: Kasey Trenum

Ingredients
For the Chicken Pot Pie Filling:
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup mixed veggies could also substitute green beans or broccoli
1/4 small onion diced
1/4 tsp pink salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves minced
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp rosemary
pinch thyme
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken diced
1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum
For the crust:
4 1/2 tablespoons of butter melted and cooled
1/3 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons full fat sour cream
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1 1/2 tsp parsley (to sprinkle on top)

Instructions

  • Cook 1 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken in the slow cooker for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Sautee onion, mixed veggies, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper in 2 tablespoons butter in an oven safe skillet for approx 5 min or until onions are translucent.
  • Add heavy whipping cream, chicken broth, poultry seasoning, thyme, and rosemary.
  • Sprinkle Xanthan Gum on top and simmer for 5 minutes so that the sauce thickens. Make sure to simmer covered as the liquid will evaporate otherwise. You need a lot of liquid for this recipe, otherwise, it will be dry.
  • Add diced chicken.
  • Make the breading by combining melted butter (I cool mine by popping the bowl in the fridge for 5 min), eggs, salt, and sour cream in a bowl then whisk together.
  • Add coconut flour and baking powder to the mixture and stir until combined.
  • Stir in cheese.
  • Drop batter by dollops on top of the chicken pot pie. Do not spread it out, as the coconut flour will absorb too much of the liquid.
  • Bake in a 400-degree oven for 15-20 min.
  • Set oven to broil and move chicken pot pie to top shelf. Broil for 1-2 minutes until bread topping is nicely browned. Sprinkle dried parsley on top.

Nutrition

For 1/8 of the pie: Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.3g | Protein: 11.6g | Fat: 17g | Fiber: 2g

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Second Week Down = Time For Ice Cream!

While my weight loss isn’t nearly as impressive this week (1.2lb) as it was last week (6.8lb) I’ve also lost a full inch off my hips and 1/4 inches off my arms, and that brings my grand total weight loss to 8lbs so I’m still very pleased!

Of course for this week’s celebration, I want a special treat lol. Only I don’t want a cake this time (I know strange for me!) Instead I want ice cream, or at least a frozen treat that reminds me of ice cream!

Hubby has been experimenting in the kitchen to make a frozen treat and so the recipe below is what he made, and is what we’ll be enjoying tonight after dinner. He said he was inspired by the drink “Flying Gorllias” that we had in Cuba on our honeymoon for this flavor combination. While it doesn’t have the “kick” of white rum, rum also doesn’t have carbs, therefore if one is so inclined, a shot of rum alongside it wouldn’t be amiss.

Picture of Chocolate Ice Cream in a glass bowl with a spoon behind it. Set on a table with a flower motif on it.
  • 3/4 can of Kosa Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of Monkfruit Sweetner
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar free peanut butter
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of Toasted Coconut Flakes.
  • Carefully scoop the thicker coconut milk (cream) into a bowl and discard the thinner more watery portion.
  • Add Cocoa powder, Monkfruit, salt and peanut butter to cream and stir until well mixed and fluffy with a hand mixer.
  • Freeze for an hour.
  • Sprinkle toasted coconut on top of each serving then enjoy!
  • Nutritional Information PER SERVING: (Makes 3 servings)
  • Net Carbs: 7g
  • Calories: 320
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Fat: 29g

I’ve listed the nutritional information for the entire batch below to make it easier to calculate if you decide to divide it into a different amount of servings.

  • Nutritional Information For ENTIRE BATCH:
  • Net Carbs: 21g
  • Calories: 961
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 11g
  • Fat: 87g

Notes: While 7g for net carbs IS higher than one of my mug cakes, so long as one is careful, OR divides it into smaller portions (when divided into 4 portions it’s only 5g of net carbs) it’s still a fun keto friendly treat. Kosa’s coconut milk is super thick and creamy for 3/4 of the can with only a small amount of thinner milk at the bottom, we used all of the thicker part and discarded the thinner milk by not mixing it together. While you can simply buy coconut cream, Kosa’s coconut milk was on sale for $1.08 per can at our local wholesale club so definitely cheaper for us to to make it this way.

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One week at a time

I am now on my 7th day of Keto! So far I’ve lost 6.8lbs, and 1/4inch off each measurement (waist, arms, legs, and hips). I know some is water weight bloat disappearing, and I’m fine with that 🙂 I’m super excited to see what I’m at next week for my measurements and weight!

To celebrate, I of course made another mug cake lol. This time I went for lemon flavored 😃 I couldn’t find any specific recipe I wanted so I altered one. As I’ve realized that the base of most of the keto mug cakes is the same for the almond flour, butter, coconut flour, baking powder, and sweetner. Below is my Lemon Mug Cake Recipe and Nutritional info for it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp sweetener (I used Monkfruit with erthyitol)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of grated lemon peel
  • 2 Tbsp of heavy cream (35%)

Recipe:

  • Melt the butter in the microwave
  • Add all wet ingredients to the melted butter
  • Mix all dry goods in a bowl together
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
  • Divide batter into 2 microwave safe mugs
  • Sprinkle a half a teaspoon of the lemon peel on the top of the batter
  • Bake each mug cake for 90 seconds in the microwave
  • Top with your favorite keto cream cheese icing, keto whipped cream or keto ice cream
  • Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest on top
  • Enjoy!

The nutritional information was calculated using the app CarbManager and does not include icing, whipped cream or ice cream and is per mug:

  • Calories: 280kals
  • Total Carbs: 18.7g
  • Sugar Alcohols: 12g
  • Net Carbs: 3.1g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Protein: 7.1g
  • Fat: 26g

A note about the carbs, while the original carbs appears high, and the net carbs does not appear to add up to the total carbs minus fibers, that is because of the sugar alcohols. Normally for keto you need to minus half the sugar alcohols plus the fiber from the total carbs for the net carbs. Only, because the only sugar alcohols in this recipe are from the erythritol they all can be subtracted as our bodies don’t tend to digest sugar alcohols from erthyitol. I got that information from:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/net-carbs#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4 and from: https://www.atkins.ca/how-it-works/library/articles/ask-the-nutritionist-the-scoop-on-sugar-alcohols

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My Secret Salvation

As I previously wrote, I’ve started being on a Keto meal plan again. I started full of desire and determination, and after what felt like months but really was only a couple of days I nearly caved.

I have a sweet tooth, and not just a little one, but like a full on I could eat cakes and donuts and pastries all day, everyday. Which clearly is not a thing I can do while also maintaining a Keto meal plan!

Chocolate Brownie Mug Cake topped with keto icing and low calorie caramel sauce: 380 calories and 4 net carbs for this delicious treat.

Enter the magical recipes of Melissa Sevigny! She’s the author of the fantastic blog I breathe I’m hungry (which I mentioned in the last post too lol) Her chocolate brownie mug cake recipe is DELICIOUS!!! Best part it’s also keto friendly 😀 and it totally kept me in ketosis while satisfying my intense need for baked goods!

My humble suggestion to anyone starting out with keto is to 1) check out her blog, and 2) buy yourself some almond flour, coconut flour, and monkfruit and dark chocolate (90%) and keep it in your cupboard for if you get hit with a late night craving like I did!

I admit I could have held out if I’d made my kiddos go low carb with me cause then there wouldn’t have been regular baking goods in my house anymore. But I didn’t make them do it, and for Mr.N with his limited diet due to sensory issues it would be cruel of me to force him to go hungry. So wheat pastas, breads, and mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets will still be staples in my house for him…

But so will almond flour, coconut flour, monkfruit sweetener, and dark chocolate 😉

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