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?

 

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.

 

Keto pizza and grocery shopping

Today to kickstart my diet I went grocery shopping. Usually I get too caught up in planning the perfect grocery list that maximizes the number of dishes with the same ingredients. This time I kept things simple. I basically picked three meals that I wanted to eat and bought ingredients to prepare those things. Ha! That’s probably what normal people do lol.

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Over the next few days I plan on making Keto pizza, and cauliflower nachos! The other was my go to meal of rotisserie chicken and fresh mozzarella. I would have also picked up some jalapeno stuffed olives to go along with those but the deli was out :(. In addition while at the grocery store I realized that I have all of the ingredients to make tacos with lettuce shells except for the lettuce itself so I added that to the cart. Boom! Four meals with almost zero effort.

When I got home I decided to just eat some of the chicken dipped in olive oil. Since chicken is so lean and I’ve had some trouble getting fat in the past I’ve looked up some tips on how to add fat. It was okay. I think that I would do it again as it kind of reminds me of dipping bread into olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but it wasn’t fantastic. I wasn’t blown away. In fact, I had some of the fresh mozzarella dipped in the olive oil and that was way better. I may try adding butter to my chicken next time and saving to olive oil for my cheese.

For dinner I made an easy keto pizza using a low carb tortilla. I actually made a gif to show you guys. Would have been way too many boring pictures to put in a row.

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Once introduced to the concept I didn’t really need instructions to make this one. I basically heated up the tortilla on the stovetop then added all the fixings. Then I put it under the broiler to melt the cheese. In retrospect I probably could have left it a little longer to get the cheese and pepperoni more crispy, but I was worried about burning dinner.

This was surprisingly filling. eating one was enough for me, but you could easily pair this with a nice salad or some keto friendly hot wings.