Low-Carb Pork Belly Satay Recipe

I put this together one night and it came out super tasty so I scribbled down the ingredients, slapped on a name and put together a recipe. The combination of frying and boiling pork belly has always been a favourite cooking method of mine because it comes out far more tender and quicker than baking or grilling. This works well as both a keto dish and a regular low carb meal as it has plenty of both fat and protein and very few carbs.

Pork Belly Satay

Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 2
Carbs: 11g/serving

  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Parsnip
  • 1 Handful of Horseradish
  • 4-6 Strips of Pork Belly, full fat
  • 1 splodge or 2 tbsp Blanched Peanut Paste or Peanut Butter
  • 1 splodge or 2 tbsp Walnut Paste
  • 235ml/1 cup near-boiling Stock- Veg or Chicken Stock pref
  • 1 dash Soy or Worcester sauce

Salt and then saute Pork Belly strips on a high heat in a high sided frying pan while dicing the veg.
Turn heat down to medium and add the veg to the pan, saute the meat & veg together for another 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock, add the nut butters and simmer for 25 minutes or until ready.
Plate and serve with a dash of Worcester or Soy Sauce to taste.

If you’re using a store-bought peanut butter try to get one without added salt. If making your own pastes buy blanched peanuts as it brings out the taste of the meat further. Simply food process them until they become nut butters.
The carrot and parnsip are the main sources of carbs but are fairly key to adding flavour. If substituting, use more vegetable stock.

Low-Carb Diet and Diabetes- Why I Decided To Start and Why Keto is a Pain in the Arse

The Ketogenic diet has an interesting history as a last measure treatment for out of control epilepsy in children where it was discovered to carry and fuel the brain with ketones rather than the now unavailable glucose, which results in a strong reduction in epileptic attacks. Over the years it’s been studied further and simultaneously been picked up and developed as a less strict mainstream diet for everything from weight-loss to athletic conditioning. Despite the prevalence of pseudoscience and marketing surrounding the keto diet, studies and tests have revealed many benefits (and a few cons too!) that struck me as particularly useful for diabetics, as well as much of the general population.

I’ve tried and failed to stay on a Keto diet a few times, always because of unpredicted hypos. Hypos, or low blood sugar, becomes less common the more controlled and dedicated you are to your numbers, and any low-carb diet will actually lessen the number of hypos you have because of the law of small numbers- the less corrections you need to make, the less likely you are to go either high or low. However, despite the vast improvements of the keto diet on my blood sugar control I, like any diabetic, still invariably run into unpredictable events and times when the body doesn’t react the way you’d expect. Since the only consistently reliable way to treat low blood sugar is with carbohydrates (yes, stimulants, intense exercise and other things can also raise blood sugar, but as a treatment for hypos these are dangerous and unpredictable solutions) and since any sharp increase in blood sugar tends to knock you out of ketosis, I haven’t yet been able to find a way to treat hypoglycemia without breaking ketosis.

With that said, it’s important to re-iterate that hypos are both less common and easier to treat (less carbs required to raise blood sugar than on a standard diet) while eating keto, and that if time is not an issue (you’re only slightly low and not feeling any symptoms, while also certain that you’re not going to go any lower, for example) I could often treat it with protein, coffee, or something else less likely to break ketosis, so for you truly dedicated and ultra-disciplined diabetics out there, it’s possible for longer periods of time.
It’s also worth noting that my symptoms of hypoglycemia are very different on low carb and keto diets. I suffer all the standard symptoms of anxiety, shaking and feeling light when low on a standard diet followed by sweating and confusion and lessened understanding when even lower. Conversely, when on keto or low carb I don’t get those symptoms or not nearly as prominently, nor do I notice any mental sluggishness or confusion, I simply treat it as normal and it’s pretty much completely insignificant other than a mild worry of being low. Whether having those warning signs earlier is a good or a bad thing is a matter of debate, but for me, so long as I can treat them in time I’d prefer to have them lower as to be more in line with a non diabetic.

Because of those reasons I’ve decided it makes more sense, at least for me, to focus on low carb rather than a strictly ketogenic diet. This still offers the blood sugar benefits and the reduced water weight, inflammation and other clinically studied findings of the keto diet yet it means I don’t have to stress out about eating a glucotab or two on those occasions when my blood sugars are plummeting for some completely unknown reason.

What’s it like Having Diabetes? Annoying.

Annoying. The best single descriptive word for diabetes is annoying. The scariness and uncertainty mostly fade away after a couple years, the potential health risks and a lot of the frustrations can be dealt with through learning and applying general rules and most of the fluctuations and dangers can be narrowed with diet and lifestyle, but ultimately the annoyance still remains. The extra hassle of having to worry about and calculate the carbs any time you eat, of injecting multiple times per day or changing infusion sets every few days, of pricking fingers everywhere you go or changing sensors and still bumping them on the door frame. The annoyance of waking up in the middle of the night with low blood sugar and spending an hour bringing it up, only to go too high and spend another hour bringing it back down. The pain in the arse of solving one problem only for another to rear its head and to get inexplicable and unexpected results despite rigid rule following are what makes diabetes mostly easy to deal with, but so very annoying.

Countries with Highest Levels of Diabetes and Some Wild Data Swings

The other night I got curious as to whether the numbers of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics around the world are correlated- that is, whether countries with higher rates of Type 1 diabetes also have higher rates of Type 2, and vice versa. I assumed there’d be a big overlap but maybe some small interesting outliers to look at. What I found was a more than a few interesting outliers, and some really wild data swings.

This fantastic map view at worldbank.org shows numbers from 2015 and right off the bat the four highest listings (Nauru, Mauritius, Marshall Islands & Palau) are all tiny Southern island countries, as are plenty more further down but still high in the list. But this shows us a weighted average for prevalence of both Type 1 and Type 2 and despite the interesting groupings of countries, doesn’t show us anything between the two types.

Next I looked at this 2011 diabetes.co.uk list of countries by prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in children (0-14 years old) and we immediately see some radical differences. Only 2 of the top 5 countries from the other map even appear in this list and here there’s a much stronger grouping towards western and northern Europe, though some of this could be because Europe tends to have better medical data sourcing than many other areas. Interestingly, Saudi Arabia is one of the countries highest and at a similar rate in both lists, likely due to a number of factors such as a high genetic susceptibility, a cultural diet rich in high-calorie & high-carb foods and increased obesity and poor diet. Headlines from this data have cited everything from fast food to cleanliness being part of the explanation but based on the fact that many of these are northern European countries where people spend a lot of time in doors I think a more interesting thing to look at or draw from this data is the effects of lowered Vitamin D in correlation to Type 1 diabetes since we’re very aware of the deficiency of Vitamin D in people both before and after Type 1 diagnoses not to mention the many conditions in large part correlating melanin, vitamin D and the effects of Type 1 diabetes and impaired immune system like Vitiligo and Acanthosis nigricans. The links between Vitamin D and diabetes are still not understood but the data and results commonly overlap and I find it interesting, if nothing else when looking at these data sets.

Since we know that both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes rates are on the rise world-wide, and that both (though less correlated in Type 1) are linked to obesity it’s understandable that rates in Europe are high but are increasing world wide. While this is purely a glance at the data and a very poor comparison of data sets, what isn’t clear is the visible difference in numbers of Type 1 and Type 2, especially considering an estimated 90% of diabetics are Type 2. It leaves me searching for more complete data and wondering how the two vary locally as well as globally.


This is a somewhat limited-appeal post as MyDiabetesMyWay is a service only available in Scotland, but I was unaware of it for years and found it so useful when I finally did hear about it that I feel I owe it to anyone who may it useful to show it off. It’s a website run and managed by the NHS in Scotland which offers the ability to view all of your historical medical records and data like hba1c’s, cholesterol and creatine levels, as well as your medications and more. It takes a few days to register because it ties together your health centre and NHS data but is absolutely worth the wait.

a1c Test Results HistoryIt’s pretty humanising and humbling being able to see your weight gain or accumulating health problems for the past 15 years, but it’s also extremely beneficial being able to track your results and I love that I can add and edit some of my information and results from home. They also offer summary screens and links to details and information for most of the lab result terms which can be useful if you’re trying to find out what something on your last clinical report means or how far out from the norm you might be. There’re some tacky promotional videos and some pretty generic information pages but otherwise it’s a genuinely useful resource and I’m happy to have access to it.

Daily Fresh Vanilla Almond Milk in 3 minutes

almond milkAfter making my own almond butter and peanut butter in the past almond milk became a staple part of my diet. It’s ridiculously filling for so few calories and probably tastier (at least in my opinion) compared to the store bought stuff, not to mention cheaper. Nut butters like peanut-butter are pretty bloody dense in calories and great for adding weight but conversely nut milks are very low in calories for volume, lower than even skimmed milk. To boot, they’re lactose-free, some (like Peanut and Almond milk) can be high in protein, and they taste great so they’re fantastic for cutting and at times I’ll just replace my breakfast and lunch with a litre of thick Almond milk and it keeps me going while avoiding hunger.

The only problem I had was the time it takes to turn Almonds into Almond Butter. It couldn’t be simpler (literally just blend almonds until it turns into almond-butter) but it takes close to 25 minutes with my ageing blender. So after discovering a place where nut butters are pretty much the same price as the nuts themselves at NaturalChoice.co.uk (I’m not affiliated with this company in any way, I receive no benefit from their sales but I highly recommend them for anyone in the UK) and ordering a ridiculous amount of nut butters I’ve gotten back to experimenting with recipes and flavour combinations like Walnut and Cashew milk and Blanched peanut and paprika satay, so stay posted for some of those. Here’s my take on fresh homemade Almond milk in 3 minutes.

Time: 3 minutes
Serves: 1 litre
Carbs: 6.6g/serving or less

  • 2 tbsp or approx 30g of almond butter
  • 4 drops vanilla essence or 1/3 of a vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum1
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 litre of water

1This is the secret ingredient for thickness- most store bought nut milks use this and it’s not bad for you (made from cabbage weirdly enough!) and cheap over at Amazon or your local supermarket, so give it a try. Alternatively you can use something like chia or flax seeds, which also thicken in liquid, to turn it into more of a pudding, but if you’re worried about keeping it low carb I recommend xanthan.

Blend everything on high for 1-2 minutes and pour into a 1 litre bottle to drink throughout morning/lunch or whenever you like. If you’re die-hard about the smoothness and left with a little almond meal, or your blender isn’t very powerful you may want to pass it through a sieve. Pour into a bottle when done.

Customisation and extras
Add Greek Yogurt or Protein Powder to help thicken it up even more with that dairy taste. Maybe other sweeteners (no carb options like Erythritol, Stevia or even a single spoonful of Xylitol if you’re doing low carb) or something like zero calorie MyProtein flavour drops (Toffee and Maple Syrup are particularly awesome) for a sweeter, flavoured taste.

The whole thing takes 2-3 minutes and if you hold onto a couple plastic 2 litre soda bottles you can make a months worth of low calorie delicious almond milk in one go, but take note not to add dairy products like protein powder if you’re making a large batch as they tend to go bad in less than a week once added to water. I like to warm it up on the hob for 2 minutes before serving, especially in the winter for a comfortable cup of warming vanilla & toffee almond milk.

Strength and Progress Report May 2017

Checking in with my strength- I think I’ll try to make this a regular thing where I can track and correlate my progress and I might be able to share hints and tips and things that I discover work for me while I increase my strength for anyone who might find it useful.

  • Overhead Press – 57.5kg x5
  • Benchpress – 105kg x5, 110kg x1
  • Squat – 170kg x3
  • Deadlift – 160kg x3

My Overhead press has actually went down over the past month from my 1x 60kg previous result as I’ve been focusing on Bench Press and since they both use front deltoids I’ve focused too heavily on Bench and basically stopped Overhead Pressing for 2 weeks. I think the key here is to do a lot more volume with OHP but with light weight moving forward to keep it steady while I get my Bench Press up to 120kg, then I can switch focus to OHP and put Bench on the back burner for a bit, and so on and so forth.

Here’s my Bench at the end of last month

Similarly the Squat and Deadlift use a lot of the same leg and lower back so they love to help each other but also hate meeting each other on the same day. BUT Deadlift should never reasonably be less than Squat if everything else is right, and mine is, almost purely because my grip is weak. My form is maybe a touch better on Squat than it is on Deadlift but grip is definitely the limiting factor as I can only manage a rep or two with double overhand grip, and up to 5 or 6 with mixed underhand grip. I’ve tried hook grip but failed so far as my little girly fingers and thumb don’t have much overlap around the bar but I think it’s mostly because I’m gripping too high in the hand and will try again next session. It’s also worth noting I tried a Hex-Bar for the first time the other week and instantly managed to pull another 10kg and could likely pull a little more. I also picked up some cheap chalk on Amazon and will give this a try and report progress. I’m thinking I’ll write a comparison of Grips, Chalk, Straps and Hex Bar for helping with Deadlift, and which I prefer and why, but that’s time and content for another post.

Here’s my Squat at the end of last month

I should say these are the first time I’ve recorded myself in the gym and though I was nervous and self-conscious I’m glad I did, it makes checking your form and getting feedback easy and shows off any mistakes you’re making. I still don’t like having an expensive DSLR right next to heavy weights and moving people and machinery, but that’s how it goes.

I’ve started the keto diet around the 1st of May too and I’m blown away by the change to my appetite. I instantly reduced the number of meals I was eating per day from 4 to 2, and both of those are within the same few hours in the evening. I remember being very sceptical of Keto because studies showed it had zero benefit over standard caloric deficit for weight loss- but I’ve come to realise that keto doesn’t directly make your body burn more fat, it simply makes you less hungry which indirectly makes it easier for you to burn more fat. Anyway, I’m down to 79.6kg this morning from 82.4kg last week, and that’s after my bajillion calorie pancake pig-out last night.