Creating ketogenic and low carb recipes can be a tricky undertaking, especially if you’re very new to this way of eating. When I started eating high fat/low carb three years ago, there weren’t many resources out there that helped a lot. There were ketogenic recipes from the epilepsy world and I also found good German books but the problem was that at the time I had a very hard time digesting dairy. Because I’ve always liked experimenting and hardly ever follow a recipe without making major adjustments, it was only natural for me to start creating my own keto recipes.
And when I started sharing them with clients, I got such great feedback that one thing led to another: I started posting them online, then realized that what cancer patients REALLY need are meal plans and I published my first eBook with a 2-week meal plan in January 2014.
What I also noticed is that at the beginning, most people are looking for recipes that “mimic” meals and comfort foods they’re familiar with, like for instance spaghetti, pizza, crackers, quiches, chocolate puddings and- of course- bread! Once they get the hang of this and have made the transition to a ketogenic diet, they’re usually ready to become a bit more experimental with recipes and new foods.
Now, my meal plans include both popular “ketofied” recipes and also simple ones that incorporate foods that most people aren’t so used to: organ meats like liver, kidney or heart, seaweed, nut and seed flours, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables or kefir, to name just a few. These are foods that are very nutrient-dense, have amazing health benefits and are all suitable on a ketogenic diet.
What if you have a favourite recipe but you can’t cook it any more because it’s not keto-friendly? This is what I do to “ketofy” a recipe:
- First, I run it through my nutrient database (I’m using Nutritics.com but there are other, free ones like myfitnesspal.com, www.fatsecret.co.uk or others) and check how far off the recipe is in terms of macros (way too many carbs usually, often also too high in protein and fat needs to increase!)
- Then, I substitute obvious high carb ingredients with low carb, for example:
- Rice with cauliflower rice
- Spaghetti with spiralised courgettes
- Pizza base with nut/flax base or courgette/aubergine base
- Grain-based flours with coconut, nut or seed flours
- Breadcrumbs with pork rind or sometimes also nutritional yeast flakes
- Potatoes with turnips, parsnips or celeriac
- Wheat crackers with kale or courgette crackers (I’ve developed recipes for those)
- Corn starch with xantham gum
- Sugar in treats with stevia or erythritol
- What I also do is adjust the protein source because it’s quite often too high in regular, non-keto recipes. I replace part of the protein with a fat source like avocado or also some more oils and butter.
- A lot of the time, I also substitute the unhealthy vegetable oils (sunflower, grapeseed, cottonseed, soy and others) and margarines with better choices like coconut, avocado or olive oil.
- Once I’ve made all the necessary adjustments, I’m happy with the chosen ingredients and have added some more spices/herbs, I check the macros and, if necessary, fine tune even more.
- After this, I head to the kitchen and cook. I take notes of absolutely everything and sometimes make changes as I go along based on looks, texture and smells.
- When the meal is cooked, I have a first taste. Sometimes, it ends straight in the cats’ bowls (or, in very bad cases, in the bin but this rarely happens as I hate wasting food) or I try and save the food by adding some other ingredients. Once I’m happy with the result, I use guinea pigs- usually family and friends- to give me feedback.
- About 40% of the time I hit the spot and the recipe turns out really nice. But quite often I need to make a few tweaks, re-calculate the recipe and then cook it again. Just recently I developed a chocolate cake recipe for the new book and it took me 5 attempts to get it right! I ended up adding some brandy because there was always something missing etvoilà, itturned out deliciously moist!
That’s how I develop my recipes- you see, there’s quite a lot of effort behind each single recipe and I never post or publish anything that I haven’t tried myself and I’m happy with. Do you develop your own recipes, too, or do you usually just follow the ones you find in books or online?