A First Attempt at Baking Low-Carb "Bread"


Since summer is approaching, I've been experimenting with a low-carb, ketogenic diet for cutting fat. I'm not sticking to any strict program, just trying to keep my carbohydrates at a minimum while maximizing protein intake.

Keto 101


Now, I'm not here to sell anyone on ketogenic diets or that ketosis is a healthy state to be in. I'll leave the research to the reader. However, here are some articles I found useful regarding the benefits of a ketogenic diet:


I love bread. It's versatile, tasty, and a great source of energy!

However, for someone trying to keep a ketogenic diet, store-bought bread isn't recommended. It's extremely high in carbohydrates, which is one of the main purposes of bread, but should be avoided.

So, what's a bread-lover to do? Is it possible to make decent-tasting, low-carb bread?

Maybe. Here's my crack at it:

Low-Carb "Bread" Recipe


Ingredients

  • 2 ½ Cups Almond Flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Sugar
  • Coconut Oil for Greasing

Step 0: Preheat the oven to 300° F (150° C)



Step 1: Mix all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.



Coconut sugar!


Step 2: Whip up the eggs in a separate bowl.



Step 3: Add whipped eggs into dry ingredients and mix with spatula.



Step 4: Grease up any baking pan with coconut oil.



Step 5: Add batter into greased baking pan as evenly as possible (mine is not very even).



Step 6: Set an oven rack to the lowest point and place baking pan on it.



Step 7: Let it bake for roughly 40 minutes.



Occasionally stick a knife into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean, it's done!



Conclusion


It's not the most amazing low-carb bread, but it gets the job done. Texture-wise, it's a little dense compared to normal bread. Taste-wise, it's very nutty due to the almond flour.


Nutrition Facts

Total Servings: 8
Amount per Serving (1/8 Slice):
  • Calories: 217
  • Fat: 18g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 8g

Any recommendations on making low-carb bread? Let me know in the comments!

Product Review: Timex Expedition Scout Chronograph


In 2014, I bought one of my first watches: the Timex Weekender. At the time, I wanted a minimal-looking watch without spending too much money. Along with a pair of NATO bands, I've been able to wear my Weekender nearly every day since I bought it. It looks great paired with just about any outfit and is sturdy enough to wear on a daily basis.

This past month, my wife offered to buy me a new watch for my 31st birthday! It was the perfect opportunity to replace my old Weekender with something new.

A wristwatch is often be described as an extension of the person who wears it. Everything from the look, feel, and function of a watch reflects the personality of its owner. I wanted mine to display and enhance my love for traveling and exploring the outdoors.

Would I be able to find a watch with the versatile style of the Weekender, but offer more utility while out in the field?


The Timex Expedition Scout Chronograph


Eventually, I picked up the Timex Expedition Scout Chronograph. It offered everything I was looking for: a nice balance between simplicity and utility.



Case Dimensions (mm)12 x 42 x 20
Case MaterialBrass
Case ColorMatte Silver-Tone
Weight2.56 oz
Band Width20 mm
Dial Window MaterialMineral Crystal Glass
Dial MarkingsArabic (Partial)
Dial ColorNatural Beige
MovementAnalog Quartz
Water Resistant100 meters
ComplicationsDate Window, Chronograph



Pros





Versatile, classic look.

This watch is a pleasure to look at! The off-white background and bold font provide just enough contrast to read the time without too much eye-strain. The thick, matte casing gives the watch a rugged feel, but doesn't look overly "outdoorsy". It's tame enough to wear to the office, but ready to hit the trail once the workday is over.



Functional chronograph offers added utility and visual interest.

A chronograph is essentially a standard watch with an analog timer built right in. It's a stopwatch sitting on your wrist! The Expedition has three sub-dials to track minutes, seconds, and 1/20 of a second for up to 30 minutes. Although some find the face of a chronograph a bit cluttered, I think it adds some visual interest to the face.


Date window adds a subtle, but useful convenience.

Ever find yourself signing a form or making an appointment, only to realize you don't know what the date is? It's an extremely subtle detail, but the ability to quickly glance at your wrist and get the date can be really convenient!



Ticking is almost completely silent.

Now, this really depends on how sensitive your ears are. However, the internal ticking of Expedition is barely audible, even in a quite room. It's a really nice change compared to the loud drumming coming from the Weekender.







Cons




A bit on the bulkier side.

At 12 mm in height, the Expedition is quite a bit thicker than the Weekender (9 mm). With the larger surface area of the case and chronograph buttons along its edges, the watch definitely feels a lot bigger on my wrist. It isn't exactly a Casio G-Shock, but it'll take some getting used to.



Crown can be a bit stubborn when switching between the positions.

When I first went to set the time and date, I found it a bit hard to pull the crown into the proper position. I didn't want to yank too hard, as I've heard the crowns on Timex watches aren't exactly the most securely fastened. With a little care, I managed to get everything set, but I did feel a bit nervous each time I had to make an adjustment.





Final Thoughts


I'm not a watch aficionado by any means, but I really think the Timex Expedition Scout Chronograph is a very good watch for the money. It's got a smart, casual look, versatile enough for just about any wardrobe. It also feels quite rugged, which is nice for the occasional adventurer.



Additional Photos




Any specific questions? Comments? Corrections? Let me know in the comments!

Backpacks and Train Tracks: Our Month in Europe



From the end of April to the end of May of 2016, my wife and I spent four weeks backpacking around Europe. We visited thirteen different cities across the UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The Destinations


I snapped some photos and wrote down some of my thoughts throughout our entire trip. We spent an average of two or three days per destination, which was just about the bare minimum time it takes to really experience any destination. Nonetheless, it was an adventure of a lifetime!


Along with photos and notes, each individual post includes links to any lodging, restaurants, or leisurely activities we had the pleasure of experiencing.

Frequently Asked Questions


I've received some frequently asked questions about our trip, so I've decided to share them here. I'll try to keep this updated as much as possible as they keep coming in.

What was your favorite city and why?

So, if we are going to define "city" as a vast urban area, then Florence wins. The architecture was beautiful, the people were youthful and energetic, and its history as the hub of the Italian Renaissance made it particularly interesting. Also, my favorite meal of the entire trip was in Florence: Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, or Florentine steak!

However, if I had to pick my favorite destination during our trip, I'd have to say Cinque Terre. It was the only place on our itinerary that I considered one of my "bucket list" visits. I've seen some really beautiful places in my life, but there are few I can recall being as gorgeous as the scenery surrounding Cinque Terre.

How much money did you budget for each day?

Unlike the typical Euro-trip, usually done by college students or fresh graduates, we were fortunate enough to have an average budget of $180 USD a day, not including intra-city transportation and lodging costs.

Did you book your train tickets in advance or at each city?

For all of our intra-city transportation, we booked through Rail Europe. Rather than book our tickets prior to arriving in Europe, we decided to book as we went. It's definitely not the most cost-effective approach, but it gave us the flexibility to change our plans on the fly.

For example, the original plan was to fly from Milan to Prague. However, we realized how much time and energy it would take to go all the way to Prague from Milan, then back to Amsterdam from Prague. All things considered, we decided to cut Prague out and add Lauterbrunnen, Lucerne, and Frankfurt. No knock on Prague (as I've never visited), but I'm very glad we were able to visit Switzerland and Germany instead!

Another example, we were supposed to spend more time in Venice than we actually did. However, we decided to change our plans to include Florence. If we had stuck to our original plan, I could have missed out on my favorite city on our trip!

Did you book your lodging in advance?

Similar to my answer above, we chose to be flexible here. We only booked our lodging (and train tickets) two cities in advanced. For example, we booked our bed and breakfast in Cinque Terre while we were in Marseille. On average, this meant booking our lodging 4-5 days in advanced.

Again, since we aren't college students, we were fortunate enough to book lodging in bed and breakfasts or 3-star hotels. Not the most cost-effective, but it led to a really comfortable experience. We did all our booking through Expedia and Air BnB.

What did you pack?

I wrote an article prior to our trip about my packing list for four weeks in Europe.

How many days did you spend in each city?

We spent either two or three nights in each destination depending on how much we wanted to see. Two nights in one city gave us at least one full day to explore, while three nights allowed us two full days.

Nights in each destination:
  • London: 3
  • Paris: 3
  • Marseille: 2
  • Nice: 2
  • Cinque Terre: 3
  • Rome: 3
  • Florence: 2
  • Venice: 2
  • Milan: 3
  • Lauterbrunnen: 2
  • Lucerne: 1
  • Frankfurt am Main: 2
  • Amsterdam: 2

I felt quite comfortable with the amount of time we spent in Marseille, Nice, Venice, Milan, and Frankfurt. However, I'd really like to return to London, Paris, Cinque Terre, and Florence to spend more time!

Pack Up and Go!


For anyone contemplating a backpacking trip to Europe, I highly recommend it. It's relatively easy to get around, it isn't as much of a culture shock (for Americans), and theres a bit of something for everyone in terms of sight and scenery.

If you have any questions about any of the cities we visited, or about the trip in general, please feel free to leave a comment!

Amsterdam: The Vice of the Netherlands



Let's be honest, when one thinks of Amsterdam, two things come to mind: prostitutes and weed. It's a party destination, mostly for out-of-towners looking for a place to get drunk, stoned, and wander De Wallen with their friends, not actually intending to purchase any "services". In terms of being overrun by tourists, Amsterdam is comparable to Venice.

However, taking time to wander the medieval streets around the Oude Kerk or riding a boat through the canals in Jordaan, one can see just how beautiful and unique Amsterdam actually is. The old buildings throughout the city seem to lean over the sidewalks down below. They come in different shapes and sizes, all crammed right up against each other. Narrow streets, bike lanes, and bridges connect a series of islands that make up the entire town. It's a tight squeeze, but they've somehow made it work for almost eight centuries.

As the final stop on our European journey, Amsterdam was quite the sendoff. Yes, we drank lots of beer. Yes, we peeked at scantily-clad women. And yes, we spent time in a "coffeeshop". It was quite the experience, and a not-so-gentle reminder that we were ready to go home.

Warning: Some of these photos might be NSFW, especially the ones taken in the Red Light Secrets Museum.


Day One



We purchased our train tickets from Frankfurt to Amsterdam via Rail Europe. When we went to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof for our departure, we had some trouble printing them out. Rather than fumble around and miss our train, we hopped on our assigned seats and took off.

The agent on the train told us that we had to present a ticket or we'd be forced to pay for another. This was no cheap ride, so we were a little bit distressed, trying hard to explain our printing issue from before. He was patient with us and told us to jump off the train in Cologne, a stop on our route, to print out our tickets.

When we arrived in Cologne, we had a total of five minutes to jump off the train, run to the kiosk, and figure out how to print. As soon as the train stopped, I rushed out, shouldering through groups of tourists, and hastily printed our tickets! The agent let out a cheer of excitement with us as he scanned the tickets. We relaxed the rest of the way to Amsterdam!





We arrived at Amsterdam Centraal in the middle of a Friday, one of the busiest days for the city. It was quite crowded, but we managed to find our way out and over to the tram station just across the street.






We took the tram to the stop closest to our hotel in Rembrandt Square. As soon as we got off the tram, we were surrounded by bars, coffeeshops, and nightclubs. Our hotel for the weekend was a place named Hampshire Hotel. It was very sleek and modern. For the price, location, and amenities, I highly recommend this hotel!








After settling in and unpacking, we ventured out into the streets. Our plan was to head to the western part of town for dinner, while exploring and wandering along the way.






Amsterdam is a tight squeeze! The buildings are very narrow and cramped.





Tulips are very popular here! In fact, in January, Amsterdam has a National Tulip Day!




The buildings are crammed one after another. Despite the cramped look, the city is very beautiful!







Along the way, we stopped at a bar in one of the alleys by our restaurant. I asked the waiter his recommendation for a good, local beer. He looked at me funny and said, "Heineken, of course!" I totally forgot Heineken is brewed in Amsterdam!





After our drinks, we made our way to the restaurant!





Our dinner reservations were at a small, traditional Dutch restaurant named Haesje Claes Restaurant. It was extremely busy and the staff was very lively!






We started our dinner with buttered bread and another beer from the Netherlands named Texels.





Our appetizer was salad with croquettes, a very nice way to start our dinner. The salad was very refreshing.




And for the main courses: lamb shank and a meat sampler, each served on top of stamppot, a traditional Dutch potato dish.






After dinner, we made our way down to the infamous De Wallen, or Red Light District. I didn't take any photos here because I've heard the bouncers are notorious for tossing cameras into the canals. Either way, I didn't want to be "that guy" taking photos of prostitutes...





We stopped and took a quick tour at Red Light Secrets: The Museum of Prostitution. It provided a little bit of a backstory to the neighborhood and the history of prostitution as a profession. It's not exactly the Rijksmuseum, but it was still informative and fun.









Visitors could sit and see what it was like to be a prostitute looking out into the street.




The "guest rooms" were a little bit creepy.





Some guest rooms were fancier than others.





And some were... extreme.






When we walked out of the museum, we saw just how crowded the entire neighborhood was! It reminded me of New York City during Christmas, with crowds of tourists shuffling along the narrow sidewalks, shoulder-to-shoulder.





After escaping the crowds, we took a quick subway ride back to our hotel. We weren't tired quite yet, so we sat outside and had beer at a bar named Three Sisters Pub. It was fun sitting and people-watching, seeing other drunk tourists stumbling out on the streets.







We hopped across the street to another, less crowded, bar named The Old Bell. The bartender recommended a local beer from a craft brewery named Brouwerij 't IJ. More on the brewery later!





I ordered an IPA and it was very good! Nice and hoppy, just like an IPA should be.





Drunk, and in the mood for fast food, we made our way around the corner to a snack bar named Emmanuel Snackbar. They specialize in frites, especially large cones of frites topped with creamy mayonnaise.





It was every bit as disgustingly delicious as you could imagine!




Day Two


On our second day, the hangover from the night before wasn't too bad, but we were noticeably sluggish. We grabbed a couple of coffees at a shop right next to our hotel named Coffee Company.





It felt like an American coffee shop, with people working or studying at the tables.





We hopped on a tram back towards Amsterdam Centraal, the launching point for our small-boat canal cruise!




We bought our tickets from the visitor center close to the station. The cruise was run by City Sightseeing Amsterdam.





As we rode through the canals, the captain of the boat played an English tour-guide recording on the speaker system. It was an impersonal tour, but it was cool seeing and hearing about the different landmarks along the way.







We got some good views of Munttoren and De Sluyswacht. The Munttoren was once the house of the country's treasury during French occupation in the 15th century.




De Sluyswacht was the former house of the lock-keeper of this particular part of the canal. Both buildings were very well-preserved.






It's so amazing to see just how dense the housing units are in this city!






There were several bridges we cruised under. Each with a unique history.




This is the iconic Magere Brug, or "Skinny Bridge." It appeared in the 1971 James Bond thriller Diamonds are Forever!






Some canals were very narrow, but the captain was really good at maneuvering through them!







Cruising through the canals on a boat was a great way to see the city!

Since we skipped breakfast, we were very hungry after the boat tour. The original plan was to find pancakes, but it just didn't seem like it'd be enough. Instead, we decided to eat at a small joint named Burger Bar.





It was very reminiscent of Little Big Burger in Portland, Oregon. Each burger is made-to-order, with various options of meat, bread, and toppings.





When we finally got our burgers, I was astounded at just how big these burgers were!





We were full, but we were still craving something sweet after our burgers. So, we stopped at a pastry shop named Cakes and Bakes. We shared a butter and sugar waffle as we walked back to our hotel.






To our surprise, there was a little art sale going on in Rembrandt Square. We walked through to look at various displays of local artwork.





Due to our food coma, we hung out in the hotel room for a bit before heading back out.

After we a quick rest, we made our way back out into the city. By this time, there was a little bit of a drizzle.




We hopped on the tram over to the neighborhood of Jordaan. It's a former working-class neighborhood in the western part of town. Now, it it's quite unaffordable. Some of the most expensive homes in the city are in Jordaan.





It's a quaint and quiet neighborhood. Small shops and restaurants line the red-brick roads. It's very beautiful!





While wandering around, we walked into a small gift shop named Unicorn Boutique. The shop owner was very friendly and outgoing. He told us stories about how much Amsterdam has changed over the years and how long his family has owned the boutique.






Eventually, he helped my wife pick out a wallet to take home as a souvenir!




We continued exploring the neighborhood, occasionally seeking shelter under cover because of the rain.





Beer in the middle of the day? Why not?! Seems to be a common pattern on our European adventure. We stopped in for more local Heineken at a small bar named Cafe Wester. They played a pleasant selection of R&B music as we enjoyed our drinks.








The rain started to come down a little harder as we continued to walk around. We ducked into a another neighborhood coffee shop named Cafe de Barones. The decor was very nice, the Jimi Hendrix portrait made us feel right at home!







After leaving Jordaan, we stopped by the Royal Palace. We didn't get to go inside, but we admired is grandeur from the outside. Just across from the palace is the National Monument, a tall pillar commemorating the lives lost during Dutch resistance to Nazi occupation.






Continuing north, we found ourselves exploring more of the Red Light District. Yes, even in the day, there are prostitutes working the windows.





Though it was closed, we found this Hangover Information Center quite interesting!




We also happened to walk through Trompettersteeg, the narrowest street in Amsterdam!




We continued to wander over towards the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam. It's been standing tall since 1306 and is right in the middle of the Red Light District. It's a bit strange to find a church completely surrounded by windows of prostitutes.






Since we had a bit of free time and no real schedule, we hopped on the tram towards the eastern part of the city. It was a bit of a trek, but we were in no hurry. Our destination: Brouwerij 't IJ, a local craft brewery built next to an old windmill.





It was definitely a "hip" establishment, with many young people sampling the different beers they had to offer. Brewery tours were done for the day, but we were able to try out some of the local-only offerings.





Once we were finished with our beer, we took the tram back to our hotel and took a short nap before heading back out. By then, it was dinner time. We made reservations at a place named Indrapura, an Indonesian restaurant close to our hotel.

However, before having dinner, we stopped at Coffeeshop Smokey. It was a very chill cafe, very dark with neon lights decorating the inside.





We hung out a bit before heading out to make our dinner reservations next door. It was very relaxing.




Indonesian food is actually quite popular in Amsterdam. Indrapura serves up some of the best traditional dishes in the city.  We sat up on the second floor, overlooking the rest of the restaurant below. 





On the first floor of the restaurant, a pianist played classic popular hits from the 70s and 80s. He had some of the guests singing right along with him!




I don't remember what this appetizer was called, but it was very good!




While in Amsterdam, we decided to order the ever popular rijsttafel. It is a Dutch-Indonesian dish that translates to "rice table." It's basically a mini-buffet of several different side-dishes served with rice. It was a very fun meal to share and enjoy!






While it looked intimidating, it was actually a decent amount of food. Not too much, and definitely not too little!




For dessert, we stopped at a late-night pastry shop named Suffren. We were after yet another popular food item from the Netherlands named stroopwafel. It's basically two thin waffles held together by a layer of syrup in the middle.







The thing was huge and extremely sweet! Sharing a giant stroopwafel was the perfect way to end our last night in Amsterdam!




Ending the Party


By the end of our visit in Amsterdam, we knew we were ready to go home. The crowds, the booze, the weed, and the naked ladies were a strange and exciting way to end our European adventure. It truly signaled the end of a long, exhausting journey.

However, if we ever want to party it up in Europe, we know at least one destination we could visit. Maybe we'll meet again, Amsterdam!