Many ask: “Why are you following a ketogenic diet?” or “What is a ketogenic diet?”…I’ve certainly tried almost all diets over the last 30 years, and have struggled a fair bit…How is this different? Why is it working? Why is it more than a fad for me?
Some History: I started seeing a new doctor last fall, with the same litany of old complaints of weight, aches and pains. This time though, my bloodwork showed that I was inching ever so closely towards diabetes. Both Doctors at this practice follow this diet, and one of them has been on it for 15 years, and has reversed his own type 2 diabetes. This was enough for me to trust them, heed their suggestion and give it a try.
Results: Within six months I have lost 27 pounds, more than 10% of my overall weight. It is slow and consistent. My fasting glucose has gone down significantly and my A1C and triglyceride numbers have improved. I’m thrilled that it is working and re-routing me to a much better, healthier place.
The Diet: A ketogenic diet is low carb, moderate protein and high fat. Your body converts to burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, and you remain in a state of nutritional ketosis. I won’t get into the details, there is tons of stuff you can read and research online. Low-carb means 20-30 grams per day. That’s the equivalent of one sugary drink, or one granola bar…but it also is the equivalent of at least five servings of vegetables. So I eat lots of veggies (but not the starchy, high glycemic ones), a fair bit of protein from all kinds of meat, fish, poultry, plus eggs and cheese, and then use additional fats in cooking and salad dressings.
5 Reasons why it works for me….
- I can eat out, anywhere: really…. you can always find something on the menu, just eliminate the starch. Meat, fish, chicken, lots of veggies and salads plus dressings/sauces…
- I don’t count or measure: yes, my weight loss is slower because I don’t count or restrict calories (by doing so you could hasten the weight loss), but I can LIVE like this. And I get to enjoy lots of food without calculating, portioning. I’m trying to craft a way of life, long term.
- The foods I eat are so satisfying: because they are high in fat, they are very satiating, and I’m never hungry. So then I eat less!
- It’s taking me away from the brink of diabetes: I’ve tried to lose weight to look better, and to just be “healthy” in general, and I found this hard to stick to…. but this time it’s critical I conquer my pre-diabetes. I just. won’t. cheat. It’s too important to me; and now that I’m making significant progress, I’m even more determined to keep it up!
- I’m eating lots of things I love, and losing weight: This particular diet has so many things I love (cheese, chicken wings, butter, meat, for example) AND the scale keeps going down. What’s not to like! And bacon. Did I mention bacon?
But I’m not here to tell you about the diet, I’m here to talk about creativity. How do you tweak dishes you like so you can eat them on your keto diet? There are a few kinds of sweeteners that are zero-carbs and I’ve been experimenting with them. There are lots of flavored stevia options that fill part of the void.
Sometimes ya just need a little dessert….
Here’s how I changed a regular cheesecake (similar to the typical recipe on the Philly cream cheese box) to one that I can enjoy on my keto diet:
Keto Chocolate Cheesecake
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup flax meal (ground flaxseed)
1/4 c coconut oil (melted)
Mix together, pat firmly into 9” spring form pan, and chill till firm
(it will get firm while you make the filling)
In the food processor:
3 blocks of cream cheese (250g/8 0z each) (softened, or room temperature)
3/4 cup erythritol (zero-carb granulated sweetener)*
1/2 tsp liquid stevia
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Mix the cream cheese, eggs and erythritol till blended in a food processor or beat in a large mixing bowl
Melt 4 oz. of unsweetened chocolate and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, cool slightly. Set aside one half of this and add the other half to the food processor once other ingredients are mixed smoothly, pouring in to the food processor while mixing, in a small stream.
Pour filling into chilled pan with crust. Drizzle remaining chocolate mixture on top, and draw a knife through it a bit to swirl & incorporate into batter. Make a pattern!
(Raspberry (or other berry) variation: Skip the chocolate and make a coulis or concentrated fruit sauce, with no carb sweetener…(approx. ½ cup) and swirl/drizzle on top, draw through batter to incorporate but maintain a pattern…)
*If keto isn’t required, just substitute 3/4 cup of regular white sugar for the erythritol and stevia. I order my erythritol from Well.ca, it is hard to find in my local health food/organic stores….
Bake in pre-heated oven, middle rack, at 325 degrees F, for one hour, or until almost set in the middle (can still wiggle a little…) then leave in the oven, with the oven off, and the door cracked open only slightly, for another hour. Once cool, chill well in the fridge.
(this is the hard part….waiting….)
Here’s a raspberry swirl version, in progress….
Other creative variations: you can usually add a few tablespoons of a liquid flavoring, or ½ to one cup of solids without affecting too much….
Peanutty: add ½ cup peanut butter to the filling, while still mixing in the food processor, then top with chopped salted/roasted peanuts when cooled, before serving. Peanut and chocolate nice together too!
Lemon: grate the rind of two lemons and mix into filling with 2 T of fresh squeezed lemon juice in the food processor
Coconut: add a teaspoon of coconut flavoring to the batter while mixing, and top the finished cheesecake with a thin layer of “icing” from the solid part of a can of coconut milk and then sprinkle toasted coconut on top
Espresso: dissolve 2T of instant coffee in 2T hot water, and add to the batter just before the end of the mixing phase. Dust with more instant coffee powder and/or cacao nibs when cool, prior to serving.
The possibilities are endless. What flavor floats your boat?