2018, your year for keto?

Everybody sets new goals in January, and at the top of the list are the goals related to eating habits: kicking the sugar craving, beating the bloat, or simply supercharging their diet for overall wellbeing and hopefully loosing a couple holiday pounds. Proper care of my health and that of those in my household is my concern. Making menus or meal planning has helped me for many years in this area because I can clearly see what we’re eating and how often. I also enjoy taking a little time to read books and articles on natural living and nutrition in general.

Over a year ago, we all did a Whole30, and I enjoyed the foods tremendously. The learning experience alone was well worth it! I think we’re gearing up to doing another one soon. So stay tuned for updates on that. Lot’s of folks say that January diets are doomed to fail, but they don’t have to be. If it is something you enjoy and can find a good rhythm for in your daily living, than it can be very successful.

It can be hard to juice, do smoothies, or even enjoy salads when it is frosty outside and the car thermostat reads -4F on Nathan’s way to work. In Michigan, the cold and the gray is relentless, and right now we’re in the deepest, darkest part of winter. Since we need comfort and cheering up, warm, rich foods would bring not just sustenance but satisfaction. Hefty cheeses, thick soups and stews, and creamy, sweet winter squashes help our sun-deprived bodies to survive the dreary weeks of winter.

The ketogenic diet is basically a way of eating that shifts your body from burning sugar to fat for energy. It focuses on eating high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates which means lots of nutrient-dense whole foods, without anything processed. Contrary to what many people still believe, fats are not bad for you. This truth is as old as ancient civilizations. Something about adding more fats made us full and we stopped craving and thinking about the next meal all the time.

I count our ketogenic story a success because we continued for weeks long past our 3 week goal. We came to it with no intention to buy anything we didn’t already have or use on a regular basis – no buying special flours, supplements, or prepared specialty foods. We made sure to drink lots of hydrating liquids to make up for the lack of fresh fruits, and we cut out the snacking.

Here’s the do-not list:

– grains

– legumes/beans

– root vegetables

– fruits (except some berries)

– sugars/maple syrup/honey

You may read that the transition will be hard and might feel like the flu, but this was not our experience. We don’t eat a diet as high in grains or sugars as most western diets, which may be why it wasn’t a hard switchover for our bodies. There are many health advantages to eating a keto diet which you can read about here. The main benefits that we could feel on a daily basis were:

  1. A feeling of fullness

  2. Greatly reducing sugar cravings

  3. Eliminating carb dependency

  4. Weight loss

I think the way to sustainably follow the ketogenic diet is by keeping it simple. I didn’t spend time searching for new recipes, but instead we cooked the meals that we already love that are keto friendly or eliminated ingredients from family favorite meals. Remembering that fat is not the enemy will be key. We continued to shop on the same grocery budget and all the meals were kid-approved!

Meals we loved for breakfast:

  • crustless quiches (yummy twist is topping it with sour cream and salsa)

  • fried eggs or scrambled with cheese with bacon or sausage

  • eggs benedict with avocado slices underneath and you won’t miss the English muffin

  • shakshuka (huevos fritos con tomate- is what we called it growing up) This was our favorite breakfast! We switched mozzarella for the feta and it tasted so, so good. Sprinkled with parmesan is the best.

  • full fat plain yogurt with berries (a sprinkle of stevia) and nut butter (this made a great dessert too)

Favorite and easy lunches:

  • hamburgers without the bun

  • quality sugar-free hotdogs without the bun

  • sugar-free ham, salami, or prosciutto (jamon serrano) with a preferred cheese (I love Havarti)

  • tuna salad

  • chicken salad

  • egg salad

  • baked brie and fresh veggies

  • celery and nut butter

  • broccoli and cauliflower florets, cucumber slices with ranch

  • dinner left overs make the best lunch

Delicious dinners:

  • taco salad

  • chicken curry with cauliflower rice

  • meatballs with marinara (same as spaghetti and meatballs without the pasta)

  • hamburgers and roasted broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts

  • chicken alfredo

  • brats and sauerkraut

  • Italian sausages with pesto

  • beef stew

  • baked salmon and asparagus

  • keto pizza

  • lasagna (instead of noodles, we used deli ham slices- so good. Eggplant or zucchini slices would work great too).

Desserts we made:

  • berries with fresh whipped cream (with a little stevia)

  • keto chocolate cheesecake (used stevia equivalent and didn’t swirl- I know, so boring 🙂

  • keto pumpkin pie (used stevia equivalent and sometimes no crust)

  • keto custard pie (no crust, full fat milk and 2 teaspoons of stevia- add more if it doesn’t seem sweet enough before baking

I hope this gives you a little flavor for what keto is like and if it might be a good fit for your winter health goals. I’d love to hear your experience with keto and some of your favorite tips and recipes!

with love. Damaris