By Al Mohamed
Before we get started, I should preface this post with a bit of a disclaimer: much to the dismay of my parents, I’m not an actual doctor nor do I play one on TV. Please consult a physician before embarking on any major lifestyle changes which alter your diet or activity levels.
When I first sat down to write this article I planned to explain how I got to the point of needing to lose at least 60 pounds, why my methods are working for me, and to share a recipe or two. I ended up with two pages of fluff and realized that my writing became a lot like my eating over the last four years of living in Chicago: highly excessive.
In the four years I’ve been living the ManBQue lifestyle of Meat, Beer, and Rock and Roll my blood pressure spiraled out of control (Sam Kiniston would be worried about it) and my diabetes became less important to me than gorging on our city’s amazing food and relaxing in the resulting comatose states. There’s one particular style of “dieting” that has always worked for me and has been sustainable, to an extent, and that is a ketogenic-style of diet. It may not work for everyone, as evidenced by my girlfriend’s disdain for our equal efforts and my much more apparent results. Bearing that in mind, I want to emphasize to everyone reading this that it is not for everyone and your mileage may vary.
Years back, I remember when the Atkins Diet was all the rage. I got on the bandwagon and lost a ton of weight, but I quickly regained it all. It turns out there was a whole system you were supposed to follow and it was more complex than just eating bacon-wrapped cheese for two months. Imagine my shock when in the third month, I gained back all the weight I lost because I just really needed to eat an entire loaf of French bread.
Atkins is a kind of ketogenic diet which, in theory, shifts your body over from utilizing the incoming carbohydrates and sugars for energy to instead mobilizing the stores of energy you already have in your body (your second, or in my case third through fifth, chins) known as fat. There’s probably a million different blogs about how to do it, what the best way is, comparisons of the different “diets”, recipes and meal plans, and where to score sticks to pee on that will tell you that your body is pissing out proteins indicating that the switch has occurred.
I’ve decided that I’m over “diets” and just need to quit being such an asshole to my body. I decided not to subscribe to any specific diet plan and, instead, just stick to the principles that worked for me in the past:
• Use more calories than I take in
• Without taking in so few that my body thinks I need to store food because of starvation
• Eat more vegetables and fiber
• Reduce my carbohydrate intake to a level which causes ketosis
I’ve found that making hard and fast rules (which most diets are) are a sure-fire path to failure for a tubby rebel like me. Using my past experiences with ketogenic diets and research in to nutrition and health, I’ve made some changes in my diet that are working, creating a lifestyle that is affordable to maintain, and don’t involve me drinking kale shakes instead of eating actual food. At last count, I started this change two months ago at 325 pounds and I’m currently hovering just over 304, so a solid 20 pound weight loss is in the books. I’ll check in next month with some more information, results, and another recipe to try out with your own dietary experiments.
This month, we’ll look at a summer staple: the burger. Now that the summer is upon us, time will tell if I continue with my current method of burger delivery which is with a fork, knife, and fantasies of pretzel buns. A typical pretzel bun is going to clock in around 35-45 grams of carbs and I’ve been trying to keep it around, if not under, 30 grams per day. Needless to say, I’d be blowing the budget on this one, so I look to the universal problem solver that is bacon.
I give you the Bacon Waffle. This magnificent bastard is simple: three strips of bacon cut in half yielding six pieces of porky goodness to weave into a base for your burger. Don’t let the photo fool you, they will never crisp in one piece on the grill. I’ve tried to do this on the rack shown, in a foil pan, on a flat piece of foil, nothing works. It just falls apart, the bacon curls, and you never get the crispiness and adhesion that’s needed to get a solid square of piggy crunch.
You may have noticed that in the above photographed attempt at bacon waffles, the bacon is conveniently dripping on a foil tray of white onions. This, my friends, is the greatest smell your deck/patio/yard will be encompassed with all summer. While I did say that trying to crisp the bacon waffles in one piece on the grill was less than successful, I did find out how amazing the combination of white onions and bacon grease are.
I am not claiming in any way that this burger is healthy and that you can substitute bacon waffles for bread and expect to lose weight. What I am claiming is that this will add enough texture and flavor to the average burger patty that you won’t mind eating it with a fork and knife.
Bacon Waffle Burger with Grilled Onions and Fried Egg
Here, we have the finished product served with a side of baked zucchini “fries.” The zucchini has been topped with garlic and parmesan cheese and still made me want actual fries. Regardless, by the end of it, I was too full to think about any other food. You might be noticing that in this photo, the burger is served on what appears to be a bun. You’d be correct because this particular burger was prepared for a guest and everyone knows that the most annoying thing you can do when changing your diet is inflicting it on people who, unlike you, don’t break a sweat tying their shoes. Serve this up alone or with any other light side that will provide relief from the richness that is this burger.
3 strips bacon, halved
1 prepared burger patty
1 white onion, sliced thin
Freshly cracked black pepper
1. Weave the half bacon strips into waffles on a foil lined baking sheet with a large enough lip to contain drippings
a. Lay down three strips vertically and tightly together
b. Fold up the bottom third of the center strip
c. Lay a fourth strip horizontally across the bottom
d. Fold the center strip back down and the top two thirds of the outer strips down over the bottom horizontal strip
e. Lay another horizontal strip over the single vertical center strip, trying to stay asclose to the bottom-most horizontal strip
f. Fold the outer vertical strips back up and over the newly laid center horizontal strip
g. Fold back the top third of the center vertical strip and lay the final horizontal strip
h. Make sure the strips are all evenly spaced and woven as tightly as possible
2. Place in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the waffles every five minutes after the first ten minutes to ensure even frying
3. Remove from oven and transfer waffles to paper towel lined drying apparatus (wire rack, plate, etc.)
4. Slice white onion into 3/4” rings
5. Transfer bacon grease from baking sheet to frying pan (or foil pan if using a grill) over medium heat.
6. Add sliced white onion to pan and season with salt and pepper
7. Toss occasionally for 15-20 minutes, allowing edges to char
8. Once onions are tender and beginning to brown, remove from pan and top with bacon waffles. This will bring some moisture and heat back to the waffles.
9. In the remaining bacon grease in the pan, fry an egg to your liking
10. Assemble burger with bacon waffle base, top with fried egg and grilled onions