Keto Chocolate Mug Cake

A little back story on this, I have a friend that has recently converted to a keto diet. She actually decided to do at after a presentation they had at her work that went into a lot of new findings about the health benefits of it. How cool is that?

Now she is someone that I think used to snack more and used to make homemade treats. Maybe my view is a little skewed but during our game nights she would always bring homemade cupcakes or buy us cookies to snack on. Last time I saw her I mentioned that I’d bought some sunflower seed flour and that we should make something with it. She said she was down and would be happy to have something sweet, even if it was bad!

I have been trying and my first attempt certainly was bad. Think chunks of egg white in the middle of an already eggy brownie. No thanks. Being allergic to nuts also made it a bit more difficult. The sunflower seed flour was really too coarse to use, but I have been having some success with coconut flour. It is a very different sort of flour however, and requires a lot of tweaking.

My goal was to make a delicious brownie but I seem to have stumbled on a how to make a good chocolate mug cake. I’ve always been more of a brownie person but this really is a great chocolate cake recipe, when I was eating it I was amazed at the texture. It is so much like the real thing! You seriously have to try this.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Melted Butter

2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 Tbsp Swerve Sweetener

1 Tbsp Coconut Flour

1/8 Tsp Baking Soda

1/4 Tsp Sugar Free Vanilla Extract

3-4 Drops Stevia Sweetener

1 Egg

Instructions

  1. To make things easier I start by cutting a Tbsp of butter and melting it in my mug. This makes clean up a little easier. Usually the butter has little marks on the side of the package showing how much a Tbsp is. Otherwise you can just melt it and measure some out. It usually takes 20-30 seconds on high. Try to stop right after it melts, you don’t want it to be so hot it cooks the egg when it’s added!
  2. Add all of the other ingredients and stir well. Be sure to scrape the sides and the bottom corners as these places are the most likely to not get incorporated.
  3. Microwave on high for 70 seconds. You may need to add or subtract 15 seconds depending on your microwave.

ALL DONE! Enjoy your delicious chocolate cake with some whipped cream or try making some keto friendly frosting!

Getting over my misconceptions about Keto

I am very near perfecting my cauliflower rice recipe and there are many cute bento boxes on the horizon for this blog. For your amusement:

How about another one?

Pretty cute huh? I will be going into how I make the various components and how well these work out for me. Aka, am I hungry afterward? Did it stand up until lunch time? Etc. I’ve never made bentos before so this is a new experience for me. I am really looking forward to it!

Working on these bentos made me think about why it took me so long to try the ketogenic diet and why I started this blog.

To be honest I’ve always been kind of girly. I like cute things. And keto/low-carb did not fit my image at all. Body builders? Cavemen? No way. For the longest time I thought that eating a low fat carbohydrate rich diet would help me look more like I wanted to look. I internalized a lot of the “common knowledge” of nutrition and tried to make it part of my personality. I didn’t just stop eating fat, I told myself that I didn’t like it. Of course in time I became a huge fat-phobe and a vegetarian. It was not only a diet but an image that I was maintaining. It took me a long time to transition away from that.

Kind of silly in retrospect but my idea of myself as this fat hating vegetarian was actually a huge barrier to being comfortable on a low carb meat and fat heavy diet. Didn’t liking fat make me a glutton? Wouldn’t I just get fatter since fat has so many more calories than carbs or proteins? Wouldn’t I just break out with massive acne and have disgustingly oily skin?

Of course after eating this way I realize none of my fears were actually true. Eating fat is very satiating and I no longer eat as much food as I used to. I stop eating because I am no longer hungry and dieting is not a test of my willpower anymore. Weight loss is a lot more complicated than the calories in vs. calories out argument so I’ve actually been losing weight easily for the first time in my life. Last but not least my pores are shrinking and my skin is actually a lot clearer these days!

Mentally, I don’t feel anymore manly on this diet. In fact the opposite might be true since I think that my hormones are a lot more regulated these days. While that’s more anecdotal I do feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. Slowly I’ve come to realize this idea that eating meat and fat is something inherently manly is simply not true.

I wish I could go back in time and tell myself about eating this way. Of course that isn’t possible, but I can reach out to other people that might feel the same way that I once did. That’s part of why I started this blog. To try to find like minded people and make Keto something more appealing for me.

Thanks for reading and I hope that I will be successful finding a cuter version of keto! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Do you have any mental hangups that are holding you back from starting a ketogenic diet? What are they and where do they come from?

Cauliflower Rice Experiments, part 2

I have been experimenting in the kitchen and have finally gotten a chance to try out some variations on the cauliflower rice recipe. I don’t have it perfected yet but I’m much happier with the results this time. One big change I made was to measure everything out so I can replicate the results better.

This time I made rice on the stovetop, in the microwave, and in the oven.

The stovetop rice was actually my favorite last time but it browned a lot and was the least sushi looking rice. I suppose it’s just me trying to recreate the sushi look as much as possible, but why not? I wanted to prevent browning so this time I used a nonstick pan and kept it at medium low the entire time I cooked it.

Recipe:
1.5 Cups cauliflower rice, with moisture squeezed out with paper towels
1 Teaspoon lite-salt
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 Teaspoon cream cheese

Directions
I heated the pan on medium low and added 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. When a piece of cauliflower dropped into the pan sizzled I added the remaining cauliflower rice. I would stir it occasionally but for the most part left it alone.

I actually didn’t get a super accurate time on this one. I was supposed to reset my timer every five minutes but forgot after pulling my oven batch out. I know that it was at least 15 minutes and probably between 15-20 min.

This one came out the most rice looking. It did not have browned spots at all. Texture wise it was on the drier side, but still had a lot of that vegetable crunch. I think with some tweaking I could make this approximate the drier long grain rices like basmati or jasmine. The amount of cream cheese was by far the best. Had almost no discernible cream cheese flavor and still stuck together really well.

Next the microwave rice.

Recipe:
1.5 Cups cauliflower rice, with moisture squeezed out with paper towels
½ Teaspoon lite-salt
1 Tablespoon cream cheese

Directions
I did not use any coconut oil unlike the other recipes. I microwaved it on high for five minutes then stirred in the cream cheese. By far the easiest method.

Again the microwave rice was my least favorite. It actually came out kind of weird in that it looked like it was shrunken in volume compared to my other rices. I think maybe 5 minutes was way too long to cook it?

It was slightly browned and had an almost cracked appearance when I took it out. I should have tasted it then but I wanted to add the cream cheese while it was still warm. It was way too much cream cheese and totally overpowered the cauliflower rice. This batch was messed up and I’ll have to do it again to figure out the flavor and texture.

I think I will try this again, but cook it less and only add a teaspoon of cream cheese.

Last but not least I made a batch in the oven. This time I tried to use a deeper baking dish rather than laying it all out on a cookie sheet in order to avoid the little burnt pieces I got last time.

Recipe:
1.5 Cups cauliflower rice, with moisture squeezed out with paper towels
1 Tbsp Coconut oil, added melted
Sprinkle (1/4th teaspoon?) lite-salt
½ Tablespoon cream cheese

I set the oven for 475 degrees and put my baking dish on the center rack. After ten minutes I took out the dish and used a fork to mix it up.

It was a toss up whether this one had the best flavor or the stovetop. The oven rice was a little softer and did not have any of that vegetable crunch. It also had a good amount of moisture that it was almost spot on to the moistness of a short grain rice. Not much cauliflower flavor. Amount of cream cheese was good, I did not taste it much and it stuck together well. I still felt like I could use less of it.

In conclusion, once again the microwave was my least favorite method but it was a toss up between the stove top and the oven. I think that I will try to develop them in different directions. Maybe the stove top will be my go to for dishes that traditionally go with longer grain drier and less sticky rice. The oven might be better for short grain, stickier rice dishes.

 

Techniques for keeping keto fun and tasty!

Boredom. I think that’s probably the number one reason I haven’t been successful with keto in the past. I wish I was someone that could be satisfied with the same meal prep for a week but I just need more variety than that! So I don’t fall off the wagon I’ve spent the past few days trying to brainstorm different ways to keep my interest piqued. Here are some of the things that I’ve come up with.

 

Number one, keep changing your toppings. This is something that I’ve been using a lot for the past two weeks and I think it helped me with all the bunless burgers that I’ve had. This week I’ve had a burger with a fried egg on top, a burger with grilled onions, with pickles, etc. Because I was on an heirloom tomato kick I had a lot of those and I actually found myself looking forward to lunch most of the time! Sometimes it’s just one change that makes all the difference.

One thing that I haven’t tried yet is different meats. Maybe some bison, or lamb would be a good change.

Funny story, but there’s a place called Monsoon Burger and I for sure thought it would have exotic burgers. Like maybe a curry flavored burger? Anyway, when I saw the menu it looked like any other burger joint.

It did give me the idea to try to create a curry burger. Like what does that mean? Does it just have curry on it? In the meat? Curried vegetables instead of lettuce? I’m not sure, but I am inspired!

Number two, use more spices! This is similar to using more toppings, but really can change the flavor of what you’re eating. I think a lot of us that are just learning to cook don’t want to spend a bunch of money on spices. Most grocery stores have an ethnic section and you can usually find inexpensive spices in bags in that isle.

This is a cauliflower nachos recipe that I tried out the other day and the spices are really what made this tasty! In the future I think that I will try to focus on making dishes that are a little more complicated than the simple but bland ones I’ve tried in the past.

Next I’m planning to learn how to make more sauces. Between that and the spices I think that I will add a lot of flavor back into my diet.

Number three, invite your friends over and have a keto friendly party! Now there is some bread in the corner and some cherries for the carb eaters but the rest of these things are part of a keto diet. You could have a cheese and meats party, a taco salad bar or a bbq with lots of meat. There are plenty of ways to incorporate your new diet and still be social.

Doing things with your friends instead of excluding yourself is important. If you start acting like a hermit you’re going to miss socializing and that may be the downfall of all your good work. That said I think a lot of people end up cheating in these situations and I do have some suggestions for getting started.

In the beginning it will probably be easier to host. It’s more work but you will have more control of what’s available. A taco station with a couple of bowls and extra lettuce means that you can make something keto very easily without standing out or explaining your diet every five minutes.

When going over to a friends house try to make something that’s a main dish and bring a lot of it. That way you’ll have something tasty to eat even if everything else is made up of carbs or covered in sugar. If it’s more of a get together I bring a snack like pork rinds. They go in a bowl next to the chips and no one is any the wiser.

If I’m going to a friend’s house I just let them know I’m on a diet and ask what they’re planning. I can bring my own food or if it’s something like a burger I can ask for a plate and fork to eat it instead of a bun. I think a lot of the time I’m just afraid to ask but I’ve yet to have a bad response. Remember they’re you’re friends and more often than not they’re happy to help you reach your goals!

Last but not least, do you have a nonketo significant other? That doesn’t mean you can’t cook together anymore.  You can make the same main dish but have different sides. Here I made some cauliflower rice while my boyfriend made the rice that came with our BlueApron meal. Often times I’ll add a little butter to my veggies while he heats up some bread for himself.

I find that if I’m just eating by myself it’s not worth the same amount of effort that cooking for two is. When we’re working together I definitely put more effort in and make much better food.

How about you? What techniques do you have for keeping your keto diet fun and interesting?

 

Cauliflower rice experiment part one

So as I’ve been mentioning I want to do some experiments with making sushi rice. I have already made two batches, one in the microwave and one on the stovetop. The stovetop method had a subtle nutty flavor, while the microwave just screamed cauliflower. I’m not sure if that’s because I forgot to drain the water from that batch or just the difference in the cooking method.

Today I decided to make two batches, one in the oven and one on the stovetop. I think a dry heat is best for flavor.

Here I am starting to grate the florets and squeeze out the excess moisture. Once I find the best method I’ll go over this in more detail, but basically to start off any cauliflower rice recipe you chop or rip the cauliflower into florets and grate the tops with a cheese grater. It is a bit crumbly and messy but I do think that this gives a great rice like texture. I used one medium sized cauliflower which gives about four portions of rice.

Here I am with batch number 1, the frying pan experiment. I added one tablespoon of coconut oil to the fan and started to stir fry it over medium high heat. Very quickly I realized that the cauliflower was quickly browning and turned down the heat.

Batch number two, the oven edition. For this I started by adding one tablespoon of coconut oil to the rice. In order to get it to coat I put it in the microwave for thirty seconds in order to melt.

Next I tried to put this in an even layer on a baking sheet and set this in the oven at 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Results:

The stovetop once again had a good flavor with a subtle nuttiness. I think that next time for aesthetic purposes I would try using a nonstick pan and very low heat. I might be able to achieve similar flavor while maintaining a more rice like color.

As is I think that this rice would be great for brown rice or something like a jambalaya. It is also a fairly quick method.

I think that I left this one in the oven too long as there were quite a few pieces that simply turned to charcoal. The flavor was similar to the stovetop method but without the hint of nuttiness. It also took a lot longer than the stovetop method.

Other than mounding better and not cooking as long I’m not sure what I could do to prevent the little burnt pieces. Perhaps a casserole dish instead of a pan?

In conclusion I liked the stovetop method a lot better than the oven. Now that I’ve gotten started I think that I will continue doing these experiments to achieve the best results. Next time I am planning to make a stovetop batch in a nonstick pan at a much lower heat. I will also revisit making it in the microwave.

In addition to making the rice I’m also experimenting with additions. The cauliflower rice I’ve made so far is light, fluffy, and doesn’t stick together particularly well. I’ve read about adding some cream cheese in order to make it a little stickier. Here are some of my results.

Because I lost some of the oven cauliflower to burning it wasn’t quite the right amounts of cauliflower to get a good ratio. From left to right I added more and more cream cheese.

By far the best batch was the one with the least overall amount of cream cheese. It added a little bit of sourness but was not overwhelming in richness. The rice clumped well enough but was not particularly sticky.

As more and more cream cheese was added the flavor and richness became overpowering and the bite of my last sample was like eating a block of cream cheese with mix ins. Not very good.

I will have to revisit this in my next post, with more precise measurements. Until next time!

 

Deep fried salmon with salad

Yum. Funny enough, in my low fat days I would never have even dreamed of owning much less using a deep fat fryer! Keto really has opened up so many culinary possibilities for me. It’s almost like a reverse diet lol.

Tonight for dinner I decided to make some deep friend Salmon, keto style.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen recipes for breading chicken with that powdery parmesan, and I’ve also seen ones that use crushed up pork rinds. The answer was obviously to combine both methods and see what happened!

Deep fried breaded Salmon, keto style
Ingredients
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1.5 cups crushed pork rinds
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup powdered parmesan cheese, plus extra

Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 2 people

Directions

Start by turning on your deep fat fryer. I have a small FryDaddy that basically is either on or off. If you have a programmable machine follow your manufacturers instructions for frying fish.

Take your pork rinds and crush them in a bag until you have approximately one cup. There will be some pieces that will not crush, just take those out. Alternatively you can put these into a food processor until they reach a fine consistency.

Sprinkle parmesan cheese unto a plate. Sprinkle the crushed pork rinds unto another plate. You’ll need a lot more than this, I way underestimated the amounts when I took this picture. You can use the same plate but it will be a little messy. I suggest using paper plates at this stage if you want to cut down on clean up time.

Crack open your egg and beat well.

Now cut each salmon fillet into 4 equally proportioned pieces. Coat with egg, then dip in egg, and finish by dredging in the crushed pork rinds.

When your fryer is ready put 2-3 pieces in at a time, depending on the size of your fryer. Make sure not to crowd the pieces. Cook for 5 minutes or according to your manufacturer’s instructions.

When finished put on a wire rack to drain and cool off for 2-3 minutes.

That’s it! You could serve these with a quick salad or some steamed vegetables.

I honestly was not sure what to expect with this one. Would the taste of the breading be overpowering? Would it stick to the Salmon?

These were delicious! Way better than I expected. Although I think next time I would cut back the cooking time by maybe 30 seconds. I think they could have been a little juicier on the inside.

They did not taste overwhelmingly like cheese or pork rinds. They simply like an especially tasty breading. I’ve heard before that pork rinds are very much like panko bread crumbs and I think that’s true.

The parmesan cheese and pork rinds did not stick as well to the salmon as say flour and panko bread crumbs, but they did an acceptable job. I think I may have had some issues simply because I did not use enough cheese or pork rinds to begin with. I wasn’t sure about the amounts and ended up needing more than I thought. The recipe above is a bit of a guess but when I next get the chance I’m going to update this recipe with the correct amounts. Make sure that you have spare cheese and pork rinds for now.

I hope that you enjoyed this update! I will be back with more.

 

Guacamole Recipe

Today I made some homemade guacamole, and it was divine! The recipe I found online was not quite to my taste so I decided to make some changes to it. Less onion, more jalapeño and cilantro, hold the cayenne pepper. It worked out really well so I think that I will share it with you.

Recipe
Ingredients
  • 3 Avocados
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and minced
  • 2-4 tablespoons cilantro chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ripe heirloom tomato (save until serving)

Time: 15-20 minutes

Serving Size: 4-5 people

Net carbs: 3-4 carbs per serving

Directions

Slice the avocados in half and remove the seed. Use a spoon to scoop out the pulp and place into a bowl. Start smashing the avocado with a fork, but leave some chunkiness.

Cut a lime in half and use a fork to juice. Be careful of seeds!

Add the salt, ground cumin, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic, then stir together.

When ready to serve, dice some tomato and add to the guacamole. I like 1 part tomato to 4 parts guacamole, but adjust to your taste. Make sure that you keep your tomato outside of the fridge for the best flavor.

To store use some plastic wrap and try to press all of the air out of the guacamole. Air will oxidize the avocado and turn your guacamole brown. Here’s what’s left of ours:

As you can see this was a huge hit and we already ate half of it! I used some cheese chips that I made in the microwave while my boyfriend (the carb lover) used regular tortilla chips. You could also bake a low carb tortilla into some crispy chips, or even used pork rinds.

Today I also bought a big head of cauliflower that I am planning to use for my rice experiments. I’ve already made another batch of cauliflower and let me tell you that the cooking method makes a huge difference.

The first batch of cauliflower rice I grated it, squeezed as much water as I could out of it, then I cooked it with some butter in my cast iron skillet for quite a while. The cauliflower turned out with a sort of nutty, mild flavor with a fluffy texture that I thought would work well for something like brown rice.

The next time I made it I grated it then put it straight in the microwave. Mostly because I forgot to squeeze the water out of it. After cooking for 2 min I took it out and attempted to use a paper towel to remove some liquid but it was so hot I nearly burned myself. This method yielded a very strong cauliflower flavor that I did not like as much. It was also much wetter. I’m not sure if that was because I forgot to squeeze it or just because of the method. I also did not cook it as long and the water did not have time to evaporate.

From these case studies I’ve decided that dry heat is probably what I want. I plan to make at least two batches, one in the oven and one on the stove top. I’m then going to add some rice wine vinegar and swerve, and varying amounts of cream cheese. The cream cheese is to approximate the stickiness that you find in sushi rice. I hope that I will find a nice bento rice substitute that I can use to make my lunches in the future.

 

I’m thinking about designing a series of super simple meal plans

Okay, so this week I made about three hamburger patties, and a little less than a pound of taco meat. I then picked up lettuce, some fixings and basically had lunch and dinner for the next four days. I actually haven’t had all that many pictures to share as I’ve honestly been eating a lot of the same thing.

I am a little sick of tacos, not burgers for whatever reason, but it was super simple and I think that it’s helped me to stay true to my diet this week. I did go out a few times but I ate at home a lot more than usual, and a lot less fast food!

All of the meal plans that I’ve seen for keto have all these weird ingredients, weird dishes, or you have to cook using pretty advanced techniques. This in contrast is really easy and I think for people that aren’t that familiar with cooking this would be an awesome start.

I think I need to refine the amounts, and basically figure out how much to make for five days. I’m going to experiment a bit then try to come up with maybe a month’s worth of super simple meals that can be made in advance.

While this was kind of boring actually the funny thing is I’m on a kind of tomato kick and it made me really look forward to my burgers. I spent the money on a plump and beautiful looking heirloom tomato and it was so worth it. It lasted just about three days and was enough for my three burgers.

I guess that it goes to show that even a simple little thing like a topping you’re really into can make the same old stuff something to look forward to.

I’m fairly busy tomorrow but I think that I will have the time to do my rice experiments this weekend. Already I’ve played around a little bit and found out that the cooking method for your cauliflower rice has a HUGE impact on taste! Can not wait to try a bunch of different methods to find the one for me.

 

Starbucks Iced Latte with half and half

This week I decided to try my Starbucks Iced Latte with half and half instead of regular milk. While the barista taking my order did ask me to confirm, he made it without further comment. It really goes to show that they don’t care what you order and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to order something that’s a better fit for your tastes or diet.

The half and half latte was much better than the heavy whipped cream latte. I actually got used to the additional creaminess and was able to finish it this time! I did notice that without any additional sweetener it was a bit sour on its own. I haven’t had much luck with sugar free sweeteners in cold drinks in the past so I will continue ordering it plain.

In all, I still think that my whole milk is my favorite type of Starbucks Iced Latte. It’s much creamier than the 2% that’s used in the standard drinks, and doesn’t have to sourness in unsweetened cream.

Tacos for breakfast!

One of the wonderful things about cooking for yourself is that you decide what to eat and when to eat it. Now I’ve always disliked breakfast. Something about the ubiquitous combination of eggs and fried potatoes never did it for me.

It always seemed strange to me that there was this huge difference between breakfast and every other meal of the day. Why? Why is it wrong to eat a salad in the morning? Even in other countries there isn’t such a string distinction between meals at different times of day.

Today I decided to take a stand. I had some ground beef I really needed to use up so I made some hamburger patties and some browned beef with taco seasoning. This added a few carbs but since it was only one per serving I thought it was worth it.

I used lettuce instead of tortillas and made myself some TexMex style tacos. The romaine lettuce that I used naturally forms a bit of a shell and worked well to make some long skinny tacos. I eat dairy so I chose to include sour cream and cheese but if you’re not guacamole is a tasty substitute. I also had some salsa which I threw on top.

These were perfect. Filling, tasty, and I have plenty left over for the next few days.

Once again I just have to talk about how full and satisfied I feel on this diet. I’m eating a good portion naturally and stopping when I feel full. I’m really starting to think that this low fat craze has done so much harm both to me personally and everyone in the western world. I used to think that if I wasn’t dieting constantly I would have blown up to a gargantuan size but now I wonder if it would have been better  if I never dieted at all?

While I haven’t been weighing myself I have noticed some other good changes. I really should take the time to take some measurements but I can tell already that my stomach is getting flatter. I also have tons more energy and I have even been working much harder recently.

That was my morning! Right now I’m planning to do a sort of experiment with cauliflower rice, to see if I can get it to a good sushi rice sort of consistency and taste. I plan on making several batches and using different amounts of cream cheese in each. It also occurs to me that it might be fun to do a little write up on supplementing electrolytes.