First off ... BOOM!
DJFoodie.com got a facelift! If you haven't seen it, yet ... go check it out. I'm VERY proud of it. YAY!!
I had been daydreaming about my website for years. I was always writing long passages in my mind, creating menus, envisioning recipe systems, etc. Dreaming and constructing a fictitious website was fun and kept my mind busy, but ... ultimately led nowhere.
In about February of 2012, I started to take photos of the foods I was cooking. That was potentially the official "start" of it all, but ... then I found myself doing little more than getting photos of the food, with ... the rest of the time talking tall tales and dreaming big dreams, but ... still going nowhere.
It got to a point, where it was time to walk the walk. Talking the talk was starting to look ... empty. I needed to start. I knew it, friends knew it, family knew it. It was known.
I started to search for a domain name (website address) that was short and memorable. I had a long list of fun ones that I liked, but none I loved. Most people that know me from my past kept insisting I go with DJFoodie.com. It was available, and I have some history with the name. Ultimately, this is a website about a low carb lifestyle and recipes, with "me" taking a secondary or tertiary role. I didn't like the name, but did agree it has meaning for me and was the easiest to remember. Purchase. Boom.
Then, I built the first design. It was atrocious! It was black and orange and round with thick black lines and round swoops that seemed to take up too much space, etc. I loathed it, but ... it was a start! It was real. You could click around it. That horribly ugly start was enough. The site was born.
I then spent time learning something called XML and XSLT. It's a techie way of saying I learned how to build a website that could hold and display recipes in relatively easy ways, once I wrote the code. Whew, what a pickle! In the end, it was the right way to go, but ... it wasn't easy!
About this time, I did a facelift to the old look we've all grown to know. It was ok. I liked it. It was simple and kind of boxy, but it did the job. It was WORLDs ahead of the Halloween looking design, but I always knew that it was also just a placeholder. It was all part of the "getting started" plan. Getting on track and staying on track. Being ok with "less than perfect", because ... I'm rolling. I'm on the path. I'm doing it! And ... I'm doing it a little better ... every day!
I don't want to take all the credit for this design. On this one, I had help. I'm not a graphic designer, by any stretch of the imagination. I can Photoshop silly little things, layer text on photos, etc. but I don't have a background in design. I knew I would need help to get it to a level that satisfied me. Enter my good friend Horacio! Horacio is a fantastic graphic designer, who shirked the daily grind to manage a farmer's market and grow sprouts with his wife. I managed to get him to pull his old design skills out of his basement and ... the two of us whipped up this design. I love it. Thanks, Horacio!
It's not done, though. Much like most things ... it's a work in progress. It's "maintaining", right now (or is it stalling? I'm not sure ...). Next, I plan to really work on navigation. The tone and style is set, but ... I want to make things obvious and easy to find. I need to add search. I need to make it look less overwhelming, etc.
I'll get there. I'm sure. Whaddya all think? You like it? I love it! YAY!!
I'm back in the kitchen and am cooking again. Ahhhhh ... it feels so good! After not being able to really get into a kitchen and make a mess for 2 months, it was really starting to cause me grief!
These coming attractions (recipes still in development) were cooked over the weekend, and are part of an upcoming "Low Carb Christmas Party" theme. These are ... hot off the press! I believe I'll have the recipes for all of these ... next week!
Hot and Spicy Macadamias!
Shrimp Salad on Endive Spears with a Tarragon and Celery Leaf Salad
Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella
BBQ'd Cranberry Turkey Meatballs (I have two little cousins that live in town, and they convinced me that mustaches are all the rage, right now. I saw these little mustache toothpicks and ... had to have 'em!)
Back to the Story ...
I had originally planned to continue my "Nutrition Facts" label reading series with this post, but ... I was asked an interesting question by a friend, and it got me to thinking. I'm going to explore his question, instead.
My buddy (Ricky Roo) is another graphic designer. He's world class. If Coca-Cola invented some new taste sensation and needed help identifying the look and feel ... the branding ... Ricky Roo could save their day. He's spectacularly creative and inventive. He's pretty good, too!
In any event, when I asked him about my site, he said it was kind of overwhelming, without any clear focus. He asked me, "Why would someone want to use your website?"
"When they come to your site, there's something like a blog going on over there (he points to the left), and ... these are a wall of muddled recipes (he points to the right), but ... what's your focus? Why are people here? Why should they care?"
I agreed with him. It's just a big wall of recipes, with no immediate organizational structure and no big reason to stay. It's not clear, at a glance, what the point is. This has caused me to do a bit of soul searching, this past week. Why should people stay? What should I be presenting on the home page, so people know what they're in for? Hmmmm ...
I'm not a big personalized horn tooter.
I generally think I write well, cook well and that my recipes are delicious, but I'd never shout that from a mountain top. I also think that there are thousands of other similar websites, each being just slightly different from one other, but all with great food and inspiration. The only clear difference being ... me. My voice. My tone. My topics. My stories. My approach. "I" am the unique draw. It isn't easy to clarify, at a glance, why the "me" you see is more compelling, better, more delicious, lower carb, etc. than ... the next blog, right up the search results! It's frankly not even my style to try and present myself as the best, or the end-all-be-all of all things low carb. I think each of us has something interesting to share. My only hope is that when you look for low carb recipes, that I'm on your list!
In knowing that ... I started to circle around an idea that I thought might catch and hold people's attention long enough to stick around and read a bit more, without it going against my style or personality.
The "Other" Benefits of Weight Loss!
My new mission is to create a clear and concise sentence, filled with enticing buzzwords, that will ride the top of my home page. It will clearly state all the unexpected benefits that I have personally gained from weight loss, and hopefully point out that ... if you change your ways and adopt a sugar free, lower carb, healthier lifestyle, that you'll also experience these or similarly fantastic benefits.
(I'm still crafting this magical sentence, but ... there's an overly long and wordy version of it on my Facebook page ... to be swapped out, soon)
Here's what I mean ...
It should be obvious to anyone that losing weight just makes sense. The obvious benefit is ... weight loss will improve health. You'll also just ... look better. It'd be ridiculous to omit the obvious vanity that goes along with weight loss. However, weight loss, especially BIG weight loss ... has a zillion other advantages that had never ever crossed my mind. Silly things even, but ... the sum total of them all is a complete and total change of my walk through life.
Here's a goofy one. I'm smaller now. While, that may sound silly to point out, there's something odd about having dimensions that have changed that dramatically. It's one thing to lose weight, but ... it's quite another to actually be a smaller person. For one, I'm less formidable. I'm a less intimidating presence, simply because there is less of me! I never considered myself as being intimidating, but ... now that I've lost a lot of weight, people have told me that my previous size intimidated them. I didn't love hearing that. Being smaller also means ... I don't have to tug on the seatbelt and push and push to lock it into place, in my car. My circumference is much less, so I have less distance to travel, when I tie my shoes (something I'd almost completely given up on. I relied on slip ons, or sandals). Short of that weird spot in the center of my back, there are no more "hard to reach places". When walking through a hallway, I need less space to pass people. I needed to get links removed from the band in my watch! It's impossible to explain what losing almost half of my mass feels like. Flying coach is no longer a massive source of anxiety for me. Being that much smaller is a strange sensation, but ... it's also ... great!
I read all the time about sabotage. I lurk in various diet forums, and post from time to time, but ... I'm always reading to try and stay abreast of whatever people are thinking and feeling ... today. It seems that a common trend is sabotage; people close to you that almost seem to WANT you to stay ... heavy. Be it due to jealousy, competition, fear of change, etc. there are definitely those that are out there to ... get you. I think I'm extremely fortunate, in that ... that hasn't happened to me. I've been 100% unanimously supported by all friends and family. It's occasionally a challenge when we all go out to eat, but ... it's never seen as unfavorable. It's just a bit of a pickle that we all suck up. In any event, it's my belief that while there are those that want to see you fail, for whatever reason, there are many MANY more than want to see you succeed.
Then, there is the old ... human nature. Here lies a mysterious and universal sabotage ... survival of the fittest.
It has been my experience, that ... there are more opportunities for thin people. This means more romantic options. Attraction clearly improves, but ... the way people treat you in line at the grocery store changes. I am respected, rather than shunned. I feel more likely to be hired. I have more job opportunities. My social life has really bloomed and I feel much more welcome in places where I was always uncomfortable, before. Theoretically, I'm the same DJ ... right?
This ... however ... has a weird rub. Is it them ... or is it me? Are they shallow, or was I putting something out there that made me less hirable? Less likeable? Less desirable?
I used to have a catering company, down in Mexico. As a promotional vehicle, I would set up a kitchen at the local farmer's market and make breakfast and lunch for people. I did ok. The food was delicious and it was fun to do, but ... the business eventually failed (due to lack of tourism ... mostly ... I think ... I want to believe ...). * Ahem * ... after I lost the weight, some close friends said that there was a general vibe of negativity emanating from my booth that was ... just less than pleasant. Apparently, I always looked angry. Large. Unapproachable. I looked sweaty. Disheveled. Really, I just looked like a big, unhappy mess. Apparently, some avoided my booth, simply because of the way I presented myself. I lost business because of this! At the time ... I really had no idea! However ... how do you tell someone this? "Dude, you need to lose 150 lbs. and quit it with the sweat stains." That's just not something that can be said to a person. So, I languished and ... lost business, very probably reinforcing and increasing my distancing frustration.
It just blows my mind to think that ... had I been healthy, happy and thin, that ... I may still be in Mexico, with a thriving catering company! Weight loss is SOOOO much more than just health and vanity. I can't even begin to express all the benefits ( ... but I'll try ... it's a blog ... it's my job).
Relationships feel stronger and more real. I'm much happier and much more approachable. I'm more likely to approach others! I smile, now! I have more opportunities. I can go spelunking in narrow caves and ... I WANT TO! My desire to "do stuff" has gone off the charts! I like to say that ... I'm growing younger by the day!
I'll delve deeper into this topic in time. I really like the topic. It's rich with little moments ... little surprises, where just being healthy made all the difference.
I am curious ... what are yours? If you've lost weight, what were some of the unexpected benefits? What do you hope to achieve with your weight loss? What are your goals, and why? Email me ... I'd really like to know!
Share the LCve.
I'm thinking about starting a regular section in my posts called "Share the LCve". I do think there are some amazing recipes, story tellers, nutritionists and sources of inspiration that are worth sharing and can help expand and/or complement my own ideas. Each week, I think I want to focus on something that someone else has done.
For my first, I really want to throw out a mention of Ed Davenport and his blog over at GettingFit4Life.com. He's gone from 560 lbs. to near 225 lbs. That's over 300 lbs. of weight loss! This dude is my new hero. Check him out!
(It should be said that Ed's site says not to reproduce his stuff, but ... right next to that message are a variety of share buttons. I'm not trying to pass this off as my own work, so ... hopefully Ed would approve. If not, I'll happily remove this! Just trying to Share the LCve!)
Ed's story is a full blown tearjerker. He's recently gone through cosmetic surgery to get upwards of 20 lbs. of extra "loose skin" removed from his body. He's gone into detail with that whole ordeal, including very raw and revealing images and video. It takes an INCREDIBLY brave individual to put oneself out there, like that. I'm facing something similar. So, reading through his site and seeing the photos is beyond inspirational. Check it out!
This week's recipes
This week, I've got 2 sweet and icy berry flavored delights! I've got a blueberry protein shake ... great for lunch! I've also got a stellar Blackberry-Basil Sorbet. That's an explosion of flavor! There are also 2 side dishes, one of which is currently running amuck around Facebook; a delicious and cheesy Cauliflower "au Gratin". Also a stuffed tomato! There are also some wonderful little mini-quiches and ... finally ... LASAGNA! Check them all out.
Low Carb isn't so bad, now ... is it?! Look at all the great food we get to eat!
Ok, this is another long one. I need to edit myself more.
... blah blah blah ...
ALL NEW Weekly Recipes!
||Zucchini and Spinach Stuffed Tomato
I like to stuff things. I like to wrap things in bacon, and I like to stuff things. It's fun ... and usually pretty tasty, too!
Stuffed tomatoes are excellent. I usually refer to them as "Lil' Love Grenades", but ... I'm strange like that. These are stuffed with zucchini, spinach, breadcrumbs, bacon and parmesan cheese, ...
||Rosemary Scented Ham and Cheddar Mini-Quiches
I used to have a catering company in Mexico. One of the most popular breakfast items was my mini-quiches. They were flakey, butter little egg pies, but ... in the best possible way. When I lost "pie dough" from my life, I quickly started to look for a solution. As per usual, I turned to Kevinpa, who always had a tasty solution. He has several pie crusts, but none really stacked up to the flavor I was looking for.
||Blueberry-Vanilla-Yogurt Protein Shake
Protein shakes often feel like "Dessert ... for Lunch!" to me. Or ... for Breakfast, but ... I digress.
I love these things. Almost too much, frankly! These really hit the spot, but I confess to feeling like they cause me cravings. I'm not sure why, and I tend to blame the yogurt, but ...
||Bacon-Sage Cauliflower "au Gratin"
This is comfort food, in the best possible way. I'm never fully quite sure what makes a particular dish "comfortable", but ... I feel confident in the stance that this particular dish exudes it.
It's actually really quite simple. It's partially cooked cauliflower (boiled in salted water), then tossed with a cheese sauce, bacon and fresh sage. It's then placed into a baking vessel, where it's topped with almond meal and ... more cheese!
I make a lot of ice cream. I generally make it about twice a week and have covered hundreds of different flavors. However, it doesn't just stop with ice "cream", per se. There are other similar concoctions that are just as delicious. There are granitas, sorbets, sherberts, frozen custards, popcicles, frozen yogurts, etc.
||My Mom's Red Lasagna
This is a pretty straight up, straightforward, no frills Lasagna. It's like how my Mom used to make (except with Bella Vita Pasta Sauce, instead of Ragu). That's not to say it isn't awesome, 'cause it is! People love my lasagna! It's simple and relatable, without being boring. Put simply, it's ... yum!
Yep, bread is a thing in low carb. Sometimes it's made with flax. Sometimes it's made with things like carbquik or carbalose. It's also often made with almonds or coconut. There are also many types made with sprouted grains. There's also a wide variety of definitions for "low carb", as well as all sorts of alternate views on healthy ways of eating.