Monday, February 17, 2020

Recipe: Low-carb Flourless Chocolate Cake

u/Kubla_Khan on Reddit asked for recommendations for low-carb cake recipes, so I thought I'd share a flourless chocolate cake I made for my birthday last year. I wasn't blogging then, so I don't have any pictures available.

I adapted this from a recipe in The Best of America's Test Kitchen (don't remember which year), with the following modifications
  • Replaced bittersweet chocolate with 100% dark chocolate
  • Replaced sugar with erythritol
  • Added glucomannan
If I were to make this again, I'd probably replace half to all of the erythritol with allulose.

Hope you enjoy it!

- QD




Low-carb Flourless Chocolate Cake

Author:
prep time: 25 Mcook time: 80 Mtotal time: 105 M

ingredients:

Cake
  • 340 g 100% cocoa chocolate, broken into 1" pieces
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 6 large eggs
  • 200 g erythritol (could substitute allulose)
  • 118 g water
  • 3/8 tsp. glucomannan
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Whipped Cream
  • 118 g heavy cream, cold
  • 2 tsp. erythritol
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

instructions:

How to cook Low-carb Flourless Chocolate Cake

Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 275 °F and spray 9" springform pan with oil of choice.
  2. Combine chocolate and butter in a bowl. Melt in a microwave at 50% power, stirring occasionally, ~4 min. Let cool for 5 min.
  3. Whisk together eggs, erythritol, water, glucomannan, vanilla, and espresso powder. Whisk in in chocolate mixture until smooth and slightly thickened. Filter through fine-mesh strainer into pan, then gently tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles.
  4. Let cake mixture sit for 10 min. to let air bubbles rise to the top. Pop bubbles with a fork, then bake for 45-50 min., until edges are set and center jiggles slightly when shaken.
  5. Let cool for 5 min., then run a paring knife around the sides of the pan. Let cool on a wire rack until barely warm, ~30 min., then cover, poke holes in top, and refrigerate for at least 6 h.
  6. Remove sides of pan and use an offset spatula to separate cake from bottom tray. Let stand at room temperature for 30 min., then serve with whipped cream.
Whipped Cream
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a stand mixer on medium low for 1 min, then high until stiff peaks form, 1-3 min.
Calculated per cookie for a 16 cookie batch (1" cookie scoop)
Created using The Recipes Generator

Sunday, February 16, 2020

It Might be Real! Initial Analysis of Hot Shower Effect on Blood Glucose (N=8 Community Self-Experiment)

Also posted to Reddit in r/diabetes and r/QuantifiedSelf. Check those out if you want to see/participate in the discussion.

A couple weeks ago, u/NeutyBooty posted on how hot showers caused their blood glucose to rise. Lot's of commenters confirmed the general observation, but for some it appeared to be a CGM artifact, for some it matched their finger-stick meter, and others they see a BG drop.
To figure out what's really going on, we decided to do a communal self-experiment. Over the past two weeks, 8 Redditor with diabetes have been measuring their blood glucose before and after showering. So far, we have 22 measurements, so I thought it would be useful to post an initial exploratory analysis of the data to see if the wider community had an insights or suggestions.
In the comments, please chime in with any thoughts, additional analyses, or questions. If there's any graph, calculation, etc. you'd like to see, let me know and I'll add it. We also need more experimenters, so if your interested, let me know.

Highlights:
  • Initial indications are that we are seeing a real and consistent increase in BG from hot showers, not a sensor artifact.
  • So far, we are not seeing a clear person-to-person variation in the effect (more data needed).
  • There's some very tentative but interesting trends in the data:
    • The effect is stronger with lower initial BG
    • The effect varies with time of day (could easily be a confounding variable here)
In order to get a clear answer on person-to-person variation and to better pull out any correlations, we need more data, especially repeat data from more people. If you're interested in joining the experiment, let me know.

DETAILS:
Method: Protocol here. All data was converted into consistent units and put into an excel spreadsheet. From the raw data, I calculated change in BG from start of shower, as well as the largest relative change, and the time until largest relative change (see spreadsheet for calculation details). Visualization was done using Tableau.
Data: here
Analysis:
First, let's look at the big question: are we seeing an effect? For this question, I plotted largest observed change over the 1 hour monitoring period for each shower as measured by both BGM and CGM.
Post image
Max ΔBGM & ΔCGM for each shower, colored by experimenter.
Looking at the graphs you can see the following:
  • We are seeing a measurable rise in blood sugar from a hot shower.
  • The effect is approximately the same size when measured by BGM vs. CGM, suggesting it's not a sensor artifact
    • BIG CAVEAT: We don't have much data from people with both BGM and CGM, and the majority of data is coming from two experimenters, so this conclusion is very tentative.
  • We're not (yet) seeing a clear person-to-person variation. For both BGM and CGM, with the exception of 1 outlier in each case, there's a pretty consistent increase in BG after a shower.
Interestingly, while we consistently see an increase in BG after showering, the timing of that increase is much more variable. If instead of looking at Max ΔBG over the monitoring period, you look at ΔBG 15 minutes after the shower, you get:

Post image
ΔBGM & ΔCGM@15 min. for each shower, colored by experimenter.
While we still see the effect, it's a a lot more variable, especially in the BGM measurements.
Next, even though there's not enough data for solid conclusions, I thought it'd be interesting to see if there was any interesting patterns/correlations in the data. I looked at:
  • ΔCGM@15 min. vs. ΔBGM@15 min. - only three data points, so can't really say anything
  • Max ΔCGM vs. Max ΔBGM - two data points, can't say anything
  • Max ΔBGM vs. hour of the day - no trend across the whole data set, but within Experimenter H's, there's an indication of a greater rise later in the day (R2 = 0.40, p = 0.08)
  • Max ΔCGM vs. hour of the day - no clear trend across the whole data set, nor within experimenters
  • Max ΔBGM vs. starting BGM - no trend across the whole data set, but within Experimenter H's data, there's an indication of a strong negative correlation (R2 = 0.57, p = 0.03).
  • Max ΔCGM vs. starting CGM - no clear trend across the whole data set, nor within experimenters.
Post image
Max ΔBGM vs. hour of the day, colored by experimenter. Data from Experimenter H highlighted, showing a clearing increasing trend (R2 = 0.4, p = 0.08)

Post image
Max ΔBGM vs. initial BGM, colored by experimenter. Data from Experimenter H highlighted, showing a clearing decreasing trend (R2 = 0.57, p = 0.03)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Recipe Development: Low-Carb Adaptation of Nestle Toll House Cookies (UPDATED)



Note: This is an updated version of my previous post on this recipe. Since my first attempts, I've tried out 10 new batches, with big improvements in taste and texture. I also worked out a low-calorie version with shredded coconut instead of chocolate.

I've been trying to work out a low-carb chocolate chip-cookie dough ice cream to go along with my other ice cream recipes, but I haven't liked any of the low-carb cookie dough recipes I've found on-line. All of them either didn't really taste like a traditional chocolate chip cookie dough or were too soft even when frozen.

Since the oat-fiber muffins turned out so good, I decided to see if I could use an oat-fiber/whey protein base to make a cookie dough. The results turned out surprisingly good for a first attempt. Still needs some work, but I thought I'd share now to get some advice before I keep developing.


INITIAL ADAPTATION As a starting point, I based my recipe on the classic Nestle Toll House cookie, with the following modifications:
  • Flour →  80g oat-fiber + 44g whey protein + 16g gluten (same ratio as my oat-fiber muffins)
  • White sugar → allulose (1:1 by weight)
  • Brown sugar → allulose (1:1 by weight) + molasses (10% of sugar by weight, adapted from here)
  • Chocolate chips  1 cup shredded coconut (I didn't have any sugar-free chocolate chips, wouldn't have done this otherwise.
  • Added 50% more egg to get to the right dough consistency.
  • Added a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to the top of the cookie before baking.

This was a pretty good start:
  • Good:
    • They tasted very similar to chocolate chip cookie dough (minus the chocolate) 
    • They froze to a good texture.
    • While not as good as chocolate chips, the shredded coconut gave a nice flavor and texture to the dough.
  • Con:
    • When baked, the cookies puffed up and had more of a bread/muffin texture than a cookie texture.
    • The amount of coconut was more than I'd like.
First attempt at oat-fiber cookies. Taste was good, but they puffed up and had more of a bread than cookie texture.

To fix the texture problem, I made the following changes:
  • Removed gluten (it prevented the muffins from deflating, so removing it should reducing "puffing")
  • Went from 2 eggs to 1 egg + 1 yolk (less egg white should give a less stable structure)
  • Halved the amount of coconut.

This was a big improvement. The taste of the dough stayed the same, but the cookies spread and gave a texture very similar to a chewy chocolate chip cookie. 

Second attempt, with gluten and half of egg white removed. Taste, texture, and appearance of a chewy chocolate chip cookie (without the chocolate for now).

This will work great for cookie dough ice cream. For cookies, though, I prefer a crisper cookie. Based on recommendations for regular chocolate chip cookies, there's a few options on how to do this:
  • Reduce the molasses content (would help the carbs count, but probably make it taste worse. Could try substituting some "brown sugar" erythritol instead?)
  • Lower the temperature to let the cookies spread more before setting
  • Reduce the amount of egg white (hard to do as I'm already at 1 egg, but I could add yolks and whites separately).
At this point, I posted the recipe to r/ketorecipes on Reddit and got additional suggestion to try a blend of erythritol and allulose (erythritol for crispier texture, but keep some allulose to mitigate "cooling effect").


ROUND 1: OPTIMIZING TEXTURE
Based on the ideas above, I tried the following experiments:

  • All: I bought some Montezuma 100% cocoa chocolate from Trader Joe's (surprisingly not bitter!) and used that in all recipes. I really l like the taste and texture it adds, particularly the contrast with the sweet taste of the cookie.
  • Reduced baking temperature and increased time (375 °F/11 min., 350 °F/13 min., 325 °F/15 min., 325 °F/16 min.)
    • Taste: no change
    • Texture: no significant change, maybe slightly less chewy...
    • Spread: no change
    • Conclusion: Original time/temp (375 °F/11 min.) is best
  • Went from 1 egg + 1 yolk to 2 yolk, plus added 10 g almond milk (needed to get dough to correct consistency)
    • Taste: creamier, less drying
    • Texture: slightly crispier
    • Spread: Much more spread during baking, similar to a regular cookie
    • Conclusion: Definite improvement in taste and I prefer the more spread out/thinner shape
  • Replace 50% of allulose with erythritol
    • Taste: no change (no perceptible cooling effect)
    • Texture: much crispier
    • Spread: no change
    • Conclusion: Much closer to my preferred texture


This was a big improvement in just a few tries and pretty close to what I wanted. I had originally planned to try out a bunch more variations (flour:fat & flour:protein ratio, amount of molasses, type of protein, etc.), but these were so good I decided to just combine the improvements and see if that did the trick.

Replaced whole egg with egg yolk and added almond milk. Improved taste and spread like a regular cookie. Still too chewy, thought.  

Replaced half of allulose with erythritol. Crispier on the outside, but still chewy in the middle.

ROUND 2: COMBINING CHANGES & LOW-CALORIE VERSION
Based on the success of round 1 I made a batch combining all the improvements together. I also made a couple batches using yogurt and shredded coconut in place of the butter and chocolate to reduce calories.

  • 2 egg yolk + 30 g almond milk + 50% erythritol
    • Taste: Fantastic, really tastes like a Nestle's toll house cookie.
    • Texture: crispy on the edges, soft/chewy on the inside. I'd prefer a little crispier, but this is great.
    • Spread: Just like a regular chocolate chip cookie
    • Conclusion: Got the combined improvements from Round 1. While it could always improve, this was almost exactly what I was looking for.
  • Replace butter with yogurt & chocolate with shredded coconut. Removed almond milk (dough was already too "wet" before adding)
    • Calories: Drops from 106 to 36 calories/cookie
    • Taste: Not as good as the butter/chocolate version, but pretty good. Much "lighter".
    • Texture: Way too "bready." Must be an effect of the yogurt. 
    • Spread: Much less
    • Conclusion: Ok for a first try, but the "bready" texture is a real problem. Will try less yogurt.
  • Same as above except half as much yogurt + 10g almond milk
    • Calories: Drops from 106 to 36 calories/cookie
    • Taste: Same. Not as good as the butter/chocolate version, but pretty good. Much "lighter".
    • Texture: Back to normal. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside.
    • Spread: Still didn't spread as much as the butter/chocolate cookie, but not a big deal.
    • Conclusion: This was great. I prefer the taste of the chocolate/butter based cookie, but I can eat a lot more of these. Will definitely make again.
All improvements combined (no egg whites, 50% erythritol, added almond milk). Taste, texture, and spread exactly how I want!
Cross-section so you can see the crispier outside and chewy center.
Goes great with almond milk!

Low-calorie version with yogurt instead of butter and shredded coconut instead of chocolate. Almost as good and 1/3rd the calories.

My original plan was to do a whole bunch more batches with different substitutions and varying ratios, but I'm really happy with how these turned out. I might come back to this recipe in the future if I want to really dial it in or get a different effect, but for now I think I'll leave it as is and start working on something else.


Hope you enjoy it,

- QD

Low-carb Version of Nestle Toll House Cookies

Author:
prep time: 10 Mcook time: 11 Mtotal time: 21 M
A low-carb adaptation of Nestle Toll House Cookies

ingredients:

  • 80g oat fiber
  • 44g whey protein isolate
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 75g allulose
  • 75g erythritol
  • 7.5g molasses
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 30 g unsweetened almond milk
  • 100 g chocolate, chopped (I like Montezuma brand with almond & sea salt)

instructions:

How to cook Low-carb Version of Nestle Toll House Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  2. Whisk together oat fiber, whey protein, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Cream butter, allulose, erythritol,  molasses, and vanilla with a stand or electric mixer.
  4. Beat in egg yolk and almond milk, then slowly beat in oat fiber mixture, then fold in chopped chocolate.
  5. Transfer to a lined baking sheet (I use a 1" cookie scoop) and bake for 11 min.
  6. Let cool on a wire rack, then serve.

NOTES:

Cookie dough can be frozen and stored for at least 1 month before baking. Unlike regular cookie recipes, this does not benefit from letting the dough rest in the refrigerator before baking (spreads less and doesn't taste quite as good). If you don't want to bake immediately, put the dough in the freezer.
Calories
106
Fat (grams)
9.8
Carbs (grams)
6.8
Fiber (grams)
5.8
Net carbs
0.9
Protein (grams)
3.5
Calculated per cookie for a 16 cookie batch (1" cookie scoop)
Created using The Recipes Generator

Low-carb, Low-calorie Coconut Cookie

Yield: 16
Author:
A low-carb, low-calorie adaptation of Nestle Toll House Cookies

ingredients:

  • 80g oat fiber
  • 44g whey protein isolate
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 55 g yogurt
  • 75g allulose
  • 75g erythritol
  • 7.5g molasses
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 10 g unsweetened almond milk
  • 40 g shredded coconut

instructions:

How to cook Low-carb, Low-calorie Coconut Cookie

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  2. Whisk together oat fiber, whey protein, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Cream yogurt, allulose, erythritol, molasses, and vanilla with a stand or electric mixer.
  4. Beat in egg yolk and almond milk, then slowly beat in oat fiber mixture and shredded coconut.
  5. Transfer to a lined baking sheet (I use a 1" cookie scoop) and bake for 11 min.
  6. Let cool on a wire rack, then serve.

NOTES:

Cookie dough can be frozen and stored for at least 1 month before baking. Unlike regular cookie recipes, this does not benefit from letting the dough rest in the refrigerator before baking (spreads less and doesn't taste quite as good). If you don't want to bake immediately, put the dough in the freezer.
Calories
36.3
Fat (grams)
2.2
Carbs (grams)
5.9
Fiber (grams)
5.3
Net carbs
0.7
Protein (grams)
3.2
Calculated per cookie for a 16 cookie batch (1" cookie scoop)
Created using The Recipes Generator

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Recipe: Keto Burmese Tea Leaf Salad


All my recipes so far have been desserts or snacks, so I thought I'd share my favorite dinner recipe, Burmese Tea Leaf salad. It's got a fantastic umami flavor from the tea leaves, fish sauce, and nuts, with a great combination of crunchy textures from the nuts, lettuce, and garlic.

I adapted this recipe from Burma Superstar, a great Burmese restaurant where I live. I've always loved their Tea Leaf salad, but it has dried lentils and tomatoes, which makes too high in carbs for anything other than a once-in-a-while cheat meal. 

The restaurant has a cookbook with the recipe, but when I tried to reproduce it, it didn't taste nearly as good as what I get at the restaurant. Fortunately, I discovered that when you order the salad to go, the put the ingredients separately in a box for you to mix together yourself. I got a box and weighed out the individual ingredients.

From their, over several tries, I made the following modifications: 

  • Removed the tomatoes and lentils to reduce carbs.
  • Increased the amount of nuts from 100 to 130 g to increase calories.
  • Changed the nut mix to ones I like better (I actually vary this based on my mood)
  • Replaced the sliced jalapeño with red pepper flakes for convenience.
  • Replaced garlic chips with fried minced garlic to reduce cost.
  • Use pre-seasoned fermented tea leaves for convenience.
  • Added flaky sea salt as a garnish to give an additional crunchy texture.

This recipe is extremely customizable. You can modify the seasonings or nut mix to whatever you like. I use whatever nuts I'm in the mood for and often swap out the red pepper and fish sauce for other spices. You can also tune the calories up or down by using more or less nuts.

A note on macros: A lot of tea leaf containers claim very high carb content (e.g. 16g per tbsp.). From testing my blood sugar, this is not correct. I only need an extra 0.5u of insulin when I eat this compared with my normal dinner (300g meat, 150g low-carb vegetable), which suggests the net carbs from the 85g of tea leaves can't be more than ~5 g). 

Hope you enjoy it!

- QD



Keto Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

Yield: 1
Author:
prep time: 5 Mcook time: total time: 5 M
A low-carb Burmese Tea Leaf Salad, adapted from the Burma Superstar recipe.

ingredients:

Nut Mix (traditional)
  • 100g peanuts, roasted & salted
  • 100g sunflower seeds, roasted & salted
  • 100g sesame seeds, , roasted & salted
  • 100g pumkin seeds, , roasted & salted
  • 40g fried garlic
Nut Mix (my favorite variation)
  • 200g mixed sprouted seeds (from Costco)
  • 100g macadamia nuts, chopped (from Costco)
  • 100g peanuts, roasted & salted
  • 40g fried garlic
Salad
  • 130g nut mix
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 100g hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped thin
  • 85g fermented tea leaves (I use a brand from my local supermarket, but you can also get this off Amazon)
  • 1/4 tsp. shrimp powder 
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • flaky sea salt to taste

instructions:

How to cook Keto Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

  1. Mix together nuts and garlic. This can be done in a large batch and stored for use for multiple salads or other dishes.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for salt in  a medium bowl and let sit for 5-10 min.
  3. Add salt right and serve (if you add salt too early, it will dissolve and you won't get the crunchy texture).
Macros are heavily dependent on the type of nuts and tea leaves you use.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Experiment #4 - Tracking blood sugar during a 24 hour fast

Figure 1. Measured blood glucose concentration vs. time. Reference bands and lines show my personal target range and high/low thresholds.

Table 1. Summary statistics of blood glucose concentration during the fast.

I tried again this week to measure the effect of different food ingredients on my blood sugar. I started with plain glucose, but quickly ran into a problem. The first two times I ate 3g of glucose, which normally would raise my blood sugar ~15 mg/dL, my blood sugar actually dropped. I did these experiments at 2pm, 8.5 h after eat breakfast, so I shouldn't have had any effects from either the food or medication.

Based on these results, I'm not going to be able to get clean measurements of the effect of food unless I better understand my baseline blood glucose, so I decided to monitor my blood sugar during a day of fasting.

As with my two-day tracking experiment a couple weeks ago, this was quite informative. Here's a most important things I learned, my new questions, and ideas for next experiments:

Key Learnings (full data and summary statistics in Figure 1 and Table 1):
  • Checking blood sugar during a fast is a useful control experiment and helps determine if the phenomena I'm observing are due to specific interventions vs. natural or time of day-based variation.
  • Even with my morning insulin, I'm seeing an ~10 mg/dL increase that persists for ~5 h. I should try increasing the dose by ~0.25u.
  • There's a measurable drop in my BG when I'm driving to/from work. I saw this in 3/4 of the drives during my previous glucose tracking experiment, but I didn't pick up on it because my commutes occur right before mealtimes. Need to investigate further to see if this is real & consistent.
  • I saw an ~15 mg/dL drop starting at 1p that persisted until 5:30p. 
    • This is the time period when I was trying to do the food effect tests and may be why I was seeing the weird drop in BG. 
    • This occurred 9 hours after my last dose of insulin (0.5u each of Novolog and Tresiba), so must be the result of something my body is doing. Is this drop from fasting (e.g. running out of glycogen) or something that occurs normally?
    • My BG stabilized at 65-75 mg/dL, which indicates that that range is something that can occur naturally and not due to medication. Given this, should I correct lows in this range or let them be? 
    • I always get tired around 2-3p, lasting until about 5-6p. I've always chalked this up to the end of the work day and then getting re-energized by dinner/being home, but maybe there's more going on. Need to test interventions to eliminate this afternoon fatigue. 

Questions:
  • How consistent are the effects I observed? Which are due to fasting vs. effects that occur during a normal day?
  • Is the driving effect real? If so, are there ways to mitigate it? Even if it's only a short-term effect, it could be causing fatigue or other reduced mental capacity while driving.
  • How can I mitigate the 10 mg/dL increase in the morning?
  • Is the afternoon drop connected with feeling tired and less mentally capable? If so, how can I mitigate the effect?

Next Experiments:
I'm always interested in ideas for new experiments, so please leave a comment if there's something you'd like me to try.
  • Repeat this fasting experiment a couple more times to see if the observations are reproducible.
    • Also try fasting for shorter durations (single meals) to check if effects are from the duration of the fast vs. ones that would occur normally. 
  • Measure fatigue and/or mental acuity see how it correlates with time of day and BG.
  • Test an increase in morning insulin to reduce the effect of the dawn phenomenon.

Now for the details:

Purpose
To better understand trends in my blood glucose over the course of a day fasting and determine if there are trends or events that I should investigate further.


Design/Methods
General. Blood glucose was measured approximately every 15 min. using a FreeStyle Freedom Lite glucose meter and FreeStyle lancets & test strips. No special precautions were taken to clean the lancing site before measurement. To take a sample, the lancing devices was used to pierce the skin at an ~45 deg. angle from the finger. Blood was then squeezed out by running the thumb and pointer finger of the opposite hand from the first knuckle to the lancing site of the finger. Blood was then wicked into a test strip that had been inserted into the meter and the glucose reading was recorded.

For medication, I took my normal morning and evening medication, but did not dose for meals.

Data
data


Results & Discussion
See key learnings & questions above.

Conclusion & Next Experiments
See summary above.


- QD