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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Things I Had To Give Up..And How I Learned To Live Without Them/Part 1

Low Carb Soy Mocha

So, this is an update of an original post. A post that I've elected to include with the update, even though it no longer applies to my life. I think it's important to show that learning something new can lead to making big changes in your lifestyle and that the beliefs that we hold dear can be challenged at any time. When faced with that challenge, we have a choice; we can avoid the issue (but not the consequences that come with not changing) or we can take it to heart and make whatever adjustments we can. It's hard to give up the things we love, the things we count on everyday to make life more pleasurable. Sometimes there are decent substitutions, but if there aren't, then we have to learn to live without. Improving your health usually requires making sacrifices, but the benefit of making those sacrifices means feeling better. I think it's a fair trade. It's up to you to decide how far you're willing to go and how long it takes you to get there.

The most recent thing I've chosen to give up is soy. I've been gluten free for three weeks and in that relatively short period of time, I've noticed significant changes in my appetite (lower) and energy levels (higher). As far as the bathroom scale is concerned, my six month rut of losing and gaining the same ten pounds is over:  I've gone from 185 to 172 LBs.  I don't miss the low carb tortillas and pita bread that used to be a regular part of my diet, I don't crave more calories than my body needs and I just plain feel better. It even seems to have reduced the symptoms of acid reflux. So, it worked and it wasn't that difficult. But soy is a different story.

In my last post, I talked about my reasons for soy elimination. What I didn't talk about was the void I have yet to fill - my "daily decaf soy mocha" void. It's like having to give up my daily over-priced coffee  habit all over again except, this time, I don't have a satisfactory substitution.  It turns out that almond milk does not behave like soy milk when added to espresso  - it doesn't taste very good and it lacks the creamy consistency. I also used unsweetened soy milk in decaf  chai (I usually have two cups a day) and although  I can easily substitute heavy cream in this case, without losing the desired flavor,  giving up the soy milk in my coffee and tea means I lose a total of 6 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein per day.

So, my current, mid-morning coffee break consists of what I call a "faux mocha":

1/4 C decaf espresso
1/4 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 T heavy cream

I use Pacific Organic Almond Milk.

It has 98 cal, 2.5 net carbs, 8.75 g fat, .5 g fiber and 1.25 g protein.

 It's OK, but it's just not as satisfying.  I miss my soy mocha and I have no idea if eliminating soy from my diet will be as rewarding an experience as eliminating gluten. I'm guessing it won't be and I'm feeling cranky as a result. There's an old saying: "Nothing tastes as good as being thin."
. I've always hated this old saw and not only because it exemplifies an attitude about austerity that I find ridiculous. It may be easy for some people to find comfort and pleasure from abstaining, but I think most people like to eat. Food is more than a nutritional requirement - it's a way to experience the world through our taste buds, which can be as pleasurable as we are able and willing to make it.

I don't expect evryone to give up soy, meat or gluten or anything else, for that matter. I don't expect anyone to agree with my beliefs -these are merely the choices I have made in an attempt to feel better. But I hope that you will be open-minded and willing to make changes - it certainly makes living without the things we love and have come to rely upon a much easier proposition.


I think the toughest addiction I ever had to give up was Caffeine Free Diet Coke. I hate to think about what years of drinking what is essentially a neurotoxin, did to my nervous system. I know I'm not the only one out there. But before I tackled that one, I first had to give up one of my favorite addictions: designer coffee. I'm not part of what I like to call "The Starbuck's Phenomenon;" it's not because I'm an aging hipster wannabe. I just associate Starbucks with corporation, which automatically sends me warning signals. I haven't read anything truly terrible about Starbucks and I know that they are ranked pretty high in terms of green business practices. But I happen to live near an real live coffee house, Cafe Trieste, which is just blocks away from my apartment. It's much better than any chain coffe place and that's where I used to get my Soy Mochas (and their excellent chocolate croissants, which I also had to give up). I had already given up caffeine  when I was first diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and it wasn't that hard. I tend to be anxious and I have epic insomnia, so caffeine is really not my friend.

I had to figure out the low carb homemade version. Fortunately, I grew up in Miami, with a heavy Latino population and I learned the ins and outs of espresso making. Never mind the fancy machines; I know they look cool, but they are a pain in the ass to clean. It's also much easier to make the stove top version.

That's a three serving pot. You can also get them in one and six servings. The three serving pot makes about 1/2 cup of espresso and I use a 1/4 cup to make my mocha.  It's simple - the whole thing unscrews into three pieces, the top, the bottom and the filter. Fill the bottom with water until it's just below the indicated point. Put in the filter and fill with coffee grounds (don't pack it) and screw on the top and boil over a medium high heat. You do need to keep an eye on it, because it can start to burn very quickly (usually when deeply involved with some other meaningless task). Also double check to make sure it's filled with water - the rubber washer will melt and burn and it's added drama you don't need.

In case you didn't already know, what makes it espresso is how it's made and not the type of coffee that's used. So you can use any naturally decaffeinated  coffee - just make sure it's ground finely enough for espresso.

Low Carb Soy Mocha


1/4 C freshly brewed decaf espresso
1 C unsweetened vanilla soy milk
1/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
natural sweetener, to taste


*Pour hot coffee into a mug, add the cocoa powder and stir until well blended. Pour in soy milk and microwave on high for approximately 45 seconds. Add sweetener and sprinkle with ground cinnamon, if desired.

Has 103 calories, 1.5 net carbs, 4.9 g fat, 4 g fiber and 9 g protein.

And there's your happy ending.  You can make it a double and still have only 3 net carbs. You can put it in one of those adorable ceramic/porcelain, eco-friendly re-useable cups fashioned to look like cardboard coffee to-go cups with plastic tops. It's cheaper, you won't be tempted to buy a muffin or a scone and you won't have to stand on line for coffee, ever again.
Easy virtue - there's nothing like it.

Just for fun, go to the Starbucks website and check out:

You can look up your favorite Starbucks beverage and get the skinny on it's nutritional information. My favorite, the 8 oz Soy Mocha has 130 cal, 22 net carbs, 3 g fat, <1 g fiber and 4 g protein.