Karen Sorenson Keeps it Low Carb, One Day at a Time

As a low carb mom, there has been one blog that’s been an inspiration to me for over a year now.  Living Low Carb…One Day At A Time is a blog written by Karen Sorenson. She shares the most delicious and drool-worthy recipes, and occasionally talks about events and giveaways that would be of interest to other low carbers.

About Me Picture

What you might not know about Karen, though, is that she began this lifestyle and her blog in order to stay on track and maintain weight loss.  She had been experiencing some health problems and was determined to make a change for the better!

Low Carb Inspiration

I love that she gives her readers the confidence to stick to their convictions in what they eat, while inspiring us with beautiful, practical meal and dessert ideas.  It is a labor of love and much appreciated within the low carb community.

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Since she seems to be eating in a way that is very similar to how my family eats, I just had to reach out to her!  I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen, and couldn’t wait to share her answers with you.

What advice do you have for a mom on the go?

While I’m not a mom myself, yet, I am always on the go. My biggest advice would be to plan ahead. I know that is easier said than done, but I save so much time by prepping and making meals ahead of time.

Every weekend I make my breakfasts and lunches for the week so all I have to do is portion everything out the night before and throw it in my lunch bag. I take my breakfast and lunch with me to work every day so I usually make breakfast skillets with meat and veggies for breakfast and for lunches I usually add some protein to a slow cooker and roast some veggies on Sunday and I can eat off of it all week for lunch.

Both of those options have a lot of variety and I’m able to change the protein and veggies I’m using every week. Also, if I get bored with the same thing everyday then I make small adjustments like turning it into a salad, adding some broth for a soup, etc.

What are some good low carb choices while out and about?

Some good low carb choices when you are on the go are smoothies, almonds (what portion size), canned wild salmon, canned wild tuna, cumbers, celery, almond butter, avocados, coconut chips, and homemade nut/seed bars, just to name a few. These are the things I use all the time for snacks and meals on the go.

How do you get your family on-board with the low carb lifestyle?

The easiest thing to do to get a picky family on board is to slowly make changes. For example, start switching to a potato substitute by using 75% potatoes and 25% cauliflower. Over time slowly start reducing the percentage of potatoes until you are using all cauliflower. By this time, your family will be used to it and it won’t be such a shock.

Also, in the beginning it may be easier to get your family on board by making substitutes for your favorite high carb items. If your family loves pasta, make zucchini noodles and try replacing some of the pasta with zucchini until eventually it is all zucchini.

At my house we went cold turkey into low carb, but I like to experiment and try new things. Not everything you try will be a success,but you will learn what works for your family. Remember this is a journey, going cold turkey doesn’t work for everyone, so take it one day at a time and each day strive to do better than the last.

How do you respond to people that try and get you off track?

You are always going to have people around you that try to tempt you into going off track. I always think about why I made changes to my diet in the first place and all of the weight I have lost. I don’t ever want to go back to where I was so it’s important to me.

You have to be strong and be able to tell people why this “one slice of cake” will derail your progress and your health goals. I try not to put myself in situations where I don’t have food that I know I can eat. I always bring food with me to parties and events so I don’t get tempted to reach for something I shouldn’t eat. The mindset of “just one slice of cake isn’t going to kill me” usually ends up derailing your progress and you end up right back where you started.

On the other hand, don’t beat yourself up if you get off track. Strive to do better the next day and not let the carbs control you.

Thank you so much for allowing me to pick your brain, Karen!  Congratulations on your weight loss through a healthy, low carb way of life.

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Karen Makes It Easy to Live Low Carb

To find out more about Karen, and to see her delicious recipes, visit Living Low Carb…One Day At A Time.  While you’re there, you may want to check out one of her favorite recipes, low carb Moose Tracks Ice Cream.

What is your favorite recipe of Karen’s?

4 Tasty Low Carb Picnic Lunch Ideas

With the warm weather upon us, it’s time for enjoying family get togethers and picnics outdoors.  It doesn’t have to be difficult to stay low carb, even when you don’t have access to a kitchen.  Here are 4 low carb lunch ideas that you can carry along with you in a cooler to enjoy on the go.

Picnic

Salads

Salads are an incredibly versatile food and can be made to suit anyone’s tastes!  They are so easy to make up and store in a lidded container.  Just remember to keep your dressing in a separate container so your lettuce doesn’t wilt.

Be sure to carefully consider the carb content of each add-on when you’re building your salad so you can stay on track with your goals.  Don’t forget to pack a fork!

Ideas for topping greens to make tasty salads include:

  • slivered almonds
  • chopped hard boiled eggs
  • chopped lunch meat
  • avocado pieces
  • shredded cheese
  • sliced steak
  • toasted pecans
  • olives
  • bell peppers
  • bacon
  • cucumbers
  • grilled chicken

Wraps

Whether you make your wrap with a low carb tortilla or a huge leaf of lettuce, wraps are a fun and portable lunch.  There are so many ways to wrap your meal.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • low carb tortilla spread with no sugar added nut butter and jelly
  • large leaf lettuce stuffed with grilled chicken, shredded cheddar, ranch dressing, and spinach
  • low carb tortilla rolled up with taco meat, pepperjack cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and salsa
  • large leaf lettuce filled with tuna or chicken salad

Deviled Eggs

What is a gathering without a huge batch of deviled eggs?  The good news is that they make a tasty entree item that’s easy to take along on the go.

Thinking about mixing it up and creating a new variety?  Choose one or more of these to change your regular recipe and really spice things up:

  • capers
  • hot sauce
  • finely chopped ham
  • chives
  • dijon mustard
  • shredded cheese
  • crumbled bacon pieces
  • green chilies
  • avocado
  • crab
  • wasabi
  • curry

Sandwiches

Sandwiches are sometimes seen as a rare treat in the low carb world, because bread can have such a high carb count.  There are many alternatives to help you cut the carbs, such as using portobello mushrooms or lettuce instead of bread.  You could even serve it open face on a single slice of bread or on a low carb flatbread.  Still, there are many great pre-made low carb breads, mixes, and recipes out there so that you can partake in a more traditional sandwich.

Sandwiches are a picnic staple, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring!

Here are a few yummy options:

  • turkey, avocado, spinach, and red onion with a dash of salt and pepper
  • shredded beef with onion and sliced cheddar
  • BLT
  • meatloaf and cheese
  • salami, pepperoni, provolone, onion, and a little oregano
  • ham, gouda, dijon mustard, and pickles

Picnics are a great way to connect with friends and family.  Eating on the go can be both easy and satisfying.  Be sure to stock your cooler with some of these low carb entrees, paired with some fresh cut veggies.

What is your favorite picnic food?

Watch A Buff Dude Make Chicken & Salsa

I don’t know about you, but the dude in my life doesn’t really hang out much in the kitchen except to eat!  Looking through low carb recipes on Youtube, I found this one featuring a Buff Dude making a really low carb meal in the slow cooker. As I watched I realized this is one of my favorite meals to make for my family!  Pair it with low carb tortillas, use it for a kicked up chicken salad, or eat it with rice.  Enjoy the video!

5 Delicious Low Carb Breakfast Ideas You Will Love

Breakfast can be a tricky meal for a low carb lifestyle.  It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, eating the same couple of things over and over.  If you would love some creative and fresh ideas for breakfast, today is your lucky day.  These 5 recipes will make your taste buds sing and inspire you to stick to low carb for life.  They’re also all family friendly and easy to prepare.

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Broccoli and Cheese Mini Egg Omelets

The first food I think of when eating low carb is an egg.  These broccoli and cheese mini egg omelets transform this ordinary ingredient and takes it to a whole new level!  I made it in a brownie pan instead of the traditional muffin tin, but either will work.  A serving is 2 of these, and each serving has only 2.5 net carbs.

Spicy Sausage Breakfast Taquitos

Another delicious recipe that uses eggs is Peace, Love, and Low Carb’s spicy sausage breakfast taquitos, which make use of low carb tortillas.  Each serving is just under 10 carbs, and you get 2 of them!  They are huge, so you will feel full and satisfied.  These would also freeze well for a quick breakfast you could pop in the microwave for 1-2 minutes to heat and eat.

Strawberry Crunch Smoothie

Speaking of quick, what is faster and easier than a smoothie?  This low carb strawberry crunch smoothie is packed with nutrition and will take just a minute to prepare.  Each smoothie has a mere 8 carbs.   The addition of the chia seeds makes it so filling, too!

Cream Cheese Pancakes

Cream cheese pancakes are a light, low carb take on the family classic.  They are so fluffy and 4 pancakes have just 2.5 net carbs.  This leaves you with a little wiggle room for toppings, such as berries or sugar free syrup.  My favorite part about this recipe is its simplicity and short ingredient list.

Chocolate Iced Coconut Donuts

Finally, I want to show you these chocolate iced coconut donuts.  Yes, you heard me right.  Low carb donuts!  Imagine warm cake donuts, iced with luscious chocolate and optionally sprinkled with shredded coconut.  Each donut has 6 carbs.  Can you believe that?  I can, and it is exciting to think about being able to eat donuts again.  

Everyone knows that eating breakfast is an important part of a healthy diet.  Low carb breakfasts do not have to be monotonous.  Whether you have 1 minute or all morning to prepare breakfast, these 5 recipes keep the first meal of the day exciting while keeping you on track for the day.

Is there another low carb breakfast that you would add to this list?

Easy Low Carb Snack Ideas To Overcome Temptations

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Three dangerous temptations threaten to derail all of your low carb efforts:

  • Your Kids
  • A Busy Lifestyle
  • Late Night Cravings

Prepare yourself for these very real threats, and you’ll be able to stick to the plan.  Here are some great snack ideas that everyone in the house can stick to.

Everything listed below is less than 5 net carbs per serving!

Fun Kid Friendly Snacks

Have you ever been tempted to stray from healthy eating by the snacks your kids eat?  Living a low carb lifestyle is difficult unless the whole family is on board.  First thing’s first: we have to get the kids eating healthy, too!  There are many snack options that they will eagerly eat and are fine for you to eat as well.

  • Pickle Wraps: Wrap a dill pickle spear with a slice of your favorite lunch meat.
  • Stuffed Celery: Fill the ribs of celery with peanut butter, almond butter, or cream cheese.
  • Cottage Cheese: Half a cup of this classic is great on its own, but can also be delicious with a few small berries thrown in.
  • Chicken Wings: Bake wings plain and then toss with butter and your favorite hot sauce.
  • Sugar Free Popsicle or Fudgsicle
  • Sugar Snap Peas: A small handful of these fun snacks are delicious and high in Vitamin C.

Snacks on the Go

Today’s busy lifestyle keeps most of us distracted and engaged, so when it’s time to eat, we need to eat now.  So many snacks are simple to take along with you to have ready for those, “Uh oh, I’m starving!” moments.

  • Hard boiled Egg
  • Almonds Dusted with Cinnamon
  • Trail Mix: Make your own with almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Beef or Turkey Jerky
  • Cheese Squares with Pepperoni Slices
  • Pork Rinds

Late Night Munchies

Is late night your weakness?  The house gets still and quiet, you get a chance to put your feet up and relax a little bit after dinner, and you suddenly feel like eating something decadent to reward yourself for all of your hard work during the day.  Low carb doesn’t have to mean “diet food” or a grumbling tummy at night.  Treat yourself to one of these goodies to really hit the spot in the evening.

  • Lettuce Roll Ups: My favorite is to take a large leaf of Romaine lettuce and stick a slice or two of lunch meat, some cheese, and salsa or a tiny bit of guacamole, roll, and enjoy!
  • Sugar Free Jello with Cool Whip Free
  • Sliced Peppers, Cucumbers, and Broccoli with Ranch Dressing
  • A Small Low Carb/Sugar-Free Chocolate Bar

The Family That Snacks Together, Sticks Together

Snacking always makes the family feel like they’re getting a special treat between or after meals.  Make sure that the choices that you make for your family’s snacks fit in with the low carb lifestyle, whether it’s for the kids, on the go, or late at night.

What is your family’s favorite low carb snack to share?

3 Yummy Low Carb Chocolate Recipes Even Your Family Will Enjoy

Going low carb does not have to mean giving up on delicious chocolate goodies.  I have compiled my top 3 yummy low carb chocolate recipes to share with you.  These will hit the spot when you are craving chocolate without adding a lot of unnecessary carbs and sugars to your diet.  Remember to enjoy these goodies in moderation!

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Cocoa Crunch Mix

Makes 40 snack-sized servings with just  3.4 net carbs per serving.  Inspired by Danielle at DK Gets Fit.

Ingredients

  •  1 Cup Seeds (Sunflower or Pumpkin – or a mix of both)
  • 2 Cups Chopped, Sliced, or Slivered Nuts (Almonds are my favorite, but any nut or mix of several will work)
  • 1 Cup Almond Meal (or Almond Flour)
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Coconut (Bits, Chips, or Shredded)
  • 1/2 Cup Melted Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Honey
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. In one bowl, mix dry ingredients, and in a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients until the wet ingredients are fully incorporated in the mix.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Use a spatula to move the mixture around to help prevent burning.
  5. Bake an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from oven and allow it to cool completely before breaking it apart into small pieces and storing in an airtight container.

Chocolate Almond Low Carb Shake (or popsicles)

The entire shake has only 5.3 net carbs.  This treat is a variation of a smoothie from Primal Toad.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/4 cup ice
  • 1 Scoop Stevia or 4 Drops Liquid Stevia (Plain or the Chocolate flavor rocks!)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened Almond Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Avocado (Trust me on this!  It makes the shake SO creamy.)

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients together and drink!   This is also delicious as a popsicle.  Just pour into molds, freeze until hard, and enjoy.

Double Chocolate Cookies

This made about 20 small cookies for me, with only 3.2 net carbs each.  Developed using the Chewy Chocolate Cookies recipe from Wellness Mama.

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About 15 minutes after I made these for my family, only 3 cookies remained to photograph!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Almond Butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2-3 Eggs (depending on their size)
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Flour
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 – 1/4 Cup High Quality Chocolate Chips or Chunks (I prefer 62% Cocoa or above as it contains less sugar)
  • A Few Drops of Liquid Stevia (optional, to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ALL ingredients together in a medium sized bowl using either a mixer or a spoon.
  3. Shape dough into small cookies and place them on a cookie sheet.  Note that these cookies will not spread or rise, so shape them and flatten before baking.
  4. Bake for 9-14 minutes.  These will get drier once you take them out and as they cool, so do not overbake them!
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before moving them.

Living a low carb lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite treats, like chocolate.  Whether you want something crunchy, creamy, or chewy, I’ve got you covered.  Give them a whirl and tell me what you think!

Low Carb Chai Latte Made Easy

I nearly forgot to take a picture of my yummy Chai Latte tonight… I’m afraid it was nearly finished by the time I remembered.

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Don’t be looking for a recipe on this one.  I discovered this at the store just today:

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Of course I’ve had the almond milk before, it was the Sugar Free Chai Tea Latte that I’d never heard of.

Here’s a close up of the label:

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I’ve mixed a 1/2 cup serving of the Chai Latte  with a 1/2 of the almond milk and heated it up in the microwave. It would be just as good over ice I think.

My sweet cup of tea is just 1.5 carbs.

I checked and sure enough, you can find this brand on Amazon:  Sugar Free Oregon Chai

Low Carb Fast Food: Wendy’s Chicken BLT Cobb Salad

I’ve been eating ‘super clean’ for awhile now and one of the things I love is that I can actually drive through a fast food restaurant and pick up a fresh, delicious salad anytime I want.

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This Wendy’s Chicken BLT Cobb salad is my favorite fast food salad – they definitely beat the McDonald’s salads for consistency of quality.  At McD’s I get an ‘on the edge’ of not being fresh salad one in three visits.  (They prep the salads ahead of time.)  At Wendy’s they make it right wen you order it – I’ve seen them do it over and over.  I’ve had six salads in the last eight days and haven’t ran into any wilted lettuce.

This is not a sponsored post – though I know I sound like a commercial here ;)

The whole salad with the Avocado Ranch dressing packets is 8 net carbs. 

In this pic you see I’ve got an extra little ranch cup – and that adds a couple carbs to my total.  It’s not that the salad needs more dressing, but I’m not a chicken breast lover (would rather enjoy dark meat) and sometimes I like to dip the chicken into ranch separately, then dig into the salad on it’s own.

Counting Steps with FitBit

fitbitI’ve just ordered myself a Fitbit!  I’ve wanted one for awhile now and the time has come.

This is the version I ordered, it cost less than $60: Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker

Do you use a Fitbit or similar gadget to monitor your physical activity?

I plan to compete with friends on the number of steps I take each day in an effort to step it up!

A Look Back At A Mostly Low Carb Year

It was February when my pal Lynn inspired me to give Low Carb a try.  I weighed in at 315 on February 16th and four months later I was down to 278.

My thyroid bounced around quite a bit during that period of time, I’m sure I would have lost even more if I hadn’t ended up going hypo for a while.

Between early July and early August, I went off the rails and on August 8th I got back to Low Carb weighing 293.  I had mixed levels of commitment and not so great results until October when we embarked on our 90 Day Low Carb Challenge.  I went into the challenge weighing 295.

With the highest hopes and most sincere commitment, I set a goal of losing 35 pounds before the end of the challenge.

I didn’t know then that I’d be going through a thyroid ablation on November 1st.  I did really well up to then, losing down to 280, then down to 274.

Then the scale stopped cooperating.  I’ve been bouncing up and down around the same five pounds ever since.

I tackled the problem by going back to induction, very carefully counting every carb, getting lots of water every day and making the gym a priority.  In two weeks time I lost a pound and gained a couple.

Yes, this is more than a little frustrating.

If I only focus on the scale, I’m going to be in big trouble.  It’s disheartening to see gains when you’ve been playing by all the rules. It would be easy to throw in the towel and say ‘This isn’t working!’.

But is it? 

Keeping in mind my thyroid is in the throes of death and my metabolism is certainly suffering – the scale can’t be given the power to decide what is or isn’t working.

My body feels fantastic.  My endurance and strength is returning back to normal since the ablation.  I have wonderful energy levels and the brain fog of being hyperthyroid has drifted away, leaving me clear headed and more productive than ever.

Instead of looking at this past six week’s lack of progress, I am going to look back over the year and celebrate that even with the recent gains I have lost 38 pounds!

So it’s going to be tough for awhile, but I can hack it!

I’m not thrilled that I have to eat at induction levels consistently – I much preferred my menu when I could enjoy 30-35 net carbs a day.  But rather than stew in my sadness, I’m choosing to focus on the delicious foods that fit quite nicely in an induction menu.  I love eggs, beef, chicken and salads!

I don’t know how soon we’ll get my thyroid levels sorted out with replacement hormones and while I hope it will be soon, I have to keep my eyes on the big picture.

When the scales are stuck, we tend to imagine that they’ll be stuck forever.  Of course they won’t be – even with a stubborn metabolism, eating clean will eventually win the day.  That’s the truth I’ll hold onto.

Have you ever faced a tough metabolism issue?  What did you do to get through it?

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