If you're wondering why we aim to eat lower carb (not NO carb), there's entirely too much to share in this post, so the short of it is that my husband is a Type 1 diabetic and eating this way is a lot better/easier to manage his blood sugars and keep them in range... not in range "for a diabetic" but in range as in what a normal, non-diabetic person's blood sugars should be. He is also very active. We both eat this way much of the time, but I took full advantage of the recent holiday weeks and I'm ready to feel myself again and shed the stubborn body fat I've been holding onto. Note: we don't own a scale & I don't weigh myself 'cause I don't care about a number - but how I *feel* in my skin and the energy I have when eating right & exercising is everything. So as much as I'm doing this for him, I'm doing it moreso for me so this blog post is kind of like my own journal and meal planning guide.
While the current hype around keto has been great to see, there is a lot of misinformation out there as well, so I've linked a few trusted sources below.
Sources affiliated linked for your convenience. See my full disclosure here.
I've purchased my share of cookbooks and hands down, these are some of my favorites. They are incredible - no deprivation and only natural sugar free sweeteners are used when called for. And if you happen to have and love your Instant Pot, this author recently came out with a Keto Instant Pot cookbook!
Some other health & wellness experts or recipe websites:
All Day I Dream About Food
WEEK 1: AMERICAN
-Philly Cheesesteak Skillet
-Chicken Tenders with Roasted Broccoli
-Chicken Wings with Celery & Easy Homemade Ranch
-Bunless Burger with Veggie Kebabs
-Pork Chops & Mashed Fauxtatoes
This one pan meal is a favorite of mine, it costs under $20 to make and takes under 20 minutes to prepare. If your kids don't eat mushrooms or peppers, simply omit. And if you're Paleo, omit provolone cheese.
- Approx 1/2 - 1 lb. Top Round Roast Beef Deli Slices. I prefer Boar's Head (no gluten, artificial flavors, colors, fillers, etc.) and I cut into strips.
- 1-2 Green Bell Peppers, seeded & cut into thin slices or bite-size pieces
- Portobello/Baby Bella Mushroom slices
- Approx 1/4-1/2 lb. Thinly Sliced Provolone Cheese Deli Slices
- Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder (or minced fresh garlic), Dried Onion Flakes (I don't measure, just a few dashes of each to taste).
- 1 Tbsp Avocado Oil for cooking
- Add oil to a saute pan on medium/high heat.
- Add in peppers and saute until softened (5 minutes or so).
- Add in your mushroom slices, roast beef & seasonings (S&P, Garlic).
- Cook until everything is thoroughly warm and softened. I like my veggies a little crunchy, but if you're like my husband and like them soft, add a splash of chicken stock and cover until cooked through. Turn off heat.
- Top with provolone slices & cover to melt then serve.
Of all the ways I've tried to "bread" chicken tenders/nuggets (pork rinds, parmesan cheese, almond flour) this method is the clear winner. The 100% pure unflavored whey protein powder gives the outside that crisp factor.
- Approx 3/4 cup unflavored whey protein powder. I'm obsessed with this Hoosier Farms brand that I purchase on Amazon, however Jay Robb and Cabot make some great ones.
- Approx 1/3 cup Powdered Parmesan Cheese
- Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder (a few dashes of each)
- 1-2 Eggs
- Chicken breast cut into tenders or nugget size pieces (You can also used ground chicken meat to mimic a much healthier version of McNuggets - see this recipe from Primitive Palate)
- 1 Bag of Broccoli Florets
- Avocado Oil
- S&P, Garlic Powder, Seasonings of choice for Broccoli
- Add all the dry ingredients: protein powder, parmesan cheese, seasonings, into a shallow bowl
- Add 1-2 Eggs into a separate bowl and mix well
- Prep the broccoli while you cook chicken. Add florets onto a baking pan, drizzle with avocado oil and seasons with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Put into a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
- Add avocado oil to your saute pan over medium high heat until it's about 1/2" thick in depth - just enough oil to fry one side of the tender at a time. To make sure oil is ready for frying, add a drop of water to the pan... if it does nothing, it's too cold, but if it sizzles, it's ready.
- Take each nugget/tender and dip into the egg mixture, then into the dry mixture - coating well - and into the saute pan. Cook each side for a few minutes until golden brown and flip to brown other side. Make sure chicken is cooked thoroughly and no pink remains inside & drain on paper towel.
Take a break. Pick up something ready made from your local grocer while staying on plan. These baked wings are a go-to when I'm in a crunch.
- Publix Deli Baked* Wings
- Celery Stalks
- 1 Tbsp of Dry Ranch Mix
- 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
- It's mid-week so I'm taking a break from cooking, but the good news is there are usually some ready made options at your local grocery store. I go to Publix & get 20 wings for around $11. We used to get the non-breaded hot & spicy wings (they weren't that spicy to us), but we learned that they fry them in corn and cottonseed oil with a bunch of preservatives and anti-foaming agents so we switched to the baked flavored wings from the hot counter. You can't just grab and go so you will need to wait for someone behind the counter. They usually have 3 different flavors so just ask for what you want. If you don't have a Publix and your store doesn't have wings, they'll most likely have a rotisserie chicken you can pick up!
- For the ranch dressing to accompany the celery, mix 1/2 cup of Sour Cream with 1 Tbsp of Dry Ranch Mix. And for salads, if you like that watery restaurant ranch, thin with a little water and mix well before serving.
Another super easy weeknight dinner. The vegetable kebab skewers come already packaged at my local Publix & Wal-Mart, look for them in the produce section.
- Approx 1-1/2 lbs. grass fed ground beef.
- S&P, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder or Seasonings of choice
- Avocado Oil for roasting veggies.
- Pre-packaged veggie kebabs, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, etc. (I get mine in the produce section of my local grocery)
- Lettuce to wrap your burger in place of a bun.
- Your choice of desired burger condiments and toppings
- In a large bowl, mix ground beef and your choice of seasonings. I do a few dashes of S&P and Montreal Steak Seasoning as a go-to. With clean hands, form into burger patties.
- Drizzle avocado oil over kebabs and place on a broiler pan or baking tray. I like to broil mine on low or you can bake at around 400-425 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- In a saute pan over medium high heat (best if you have a grill pan to drain excess fat, but I don't have one), add your burgers to the pan and cook on each side until no longer pink inside, approximately 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness and size of your burger.
If you haven't tried mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes, you'll be shocked to learn that they can be just as good as potatoes. I didn't believe it until I made it myself, but cauliflower is one staple in a low-carb kitchen & is super versatile
- Number of Pork Chops per person
- Olive Oil
- Soy Sauce
- Bag of Riced Cauliflower (Frozen or Fresh in Produce Section)
- 2-4 Tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream
- Dash of Chicken Stock, as needed
- Bacon Bits
- Cheddar Cheese
- Sour Cream
- S&P, Garlic, Seasonings
- Marinate Pork Chops in a bag with a little bit of olive oil, GF soy sauce, dried garlic powder & some pepper (I don't add salt 'cause the soy sauce is salty enough) for about 10 minutes or so - the longer the better, but in a pinch it'll do. Cook the pork chops in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until no longer pink inside.
- Meanwhile cook the cauliflower according to the package instructions. If I use the raw cauli rice from the produce section, I make sure to steam well and squeeze all of the excess water out afterward. There are so many frozen cauliflower sides in the freezer section these days, just made sure they don't add a ton of starchy crap.
- The trick to the getting creamy mashed fauxtatoes is to use an immersion or regular blender. Add in your steamed cauliflower, a few tablespoons of heavy whipping cream (enough to get the mixture moving, but you don't want soup - although it tastes delicious, too). Add in your salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Load your cauliflower up with chives, shredded cheddar, bacon bits, sour cream, etc. and you'll be pleasantly surprised!
WEEK 2: MEXICAN
Believe it or not, I'm going to use deli turkey slices as the tortillas here! Although I love a good tortilla, the gluten & grain free kind I like (Siete Brand) aren't at a store near me and since we're going for easy, I don't want to make my own from scratch. This deli meat holds up pretty well, adds some extra protein and zero carbs!
- Approx 1/2 - 1 lb. of Boar's Head Turkey Deli Slices.
- 1 lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
- 1 small can of red enchilada sauce (usually in the ethnic food section)
- 1/2 cup of shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 1/2 pack of Taco seasoning blend
- 1 jar of your favorite Salsa
- Sour cream, if desired.
- You have 2 options to cook the chicken breast. And if you're pressed for time, just pick up a rotisserie chicken! But if you buy the boneless, skinless bread to cook, it doesn't have much fat on it so don't boil it or it'll turn to rubber and if you choose to bake it, make sure you cover it to keep as much of the juices in. I recommend adding a jar of salsa & 1/2 packed of taco seasoning to a shallow dish with the chicken & cover with foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until chicken is fully cooked. OR if you can, throw the chicken and salsa in a crock point and low for 8 hours or high for 2-3 hours. Using two forks, shred your chicken - it should fall apart pretty easily.
- Lay out a turkey deli slice, spoon in your cooked chicken mixture & roll up into an enchilada/burrito shape. Place inside of a shallow baking dish (you can just rinse out the one you cooked your chicken in). Repeat this step with all of the rolled up & stuffed slices.
- Pour the enchilada sauce all over the turkey enchiladas and sprinkle with Mexican cheese.
- Since everything is already cooked through, you just want to melt the cheese and harden the turkey slices some so put it back in the 350 oven for about 10 minutes or so, but don't overcook or else it'll dry out. Use a spatula to serve.
Delicious and easy, deconstructed fajitas are similar to the Philly Cheesesteak Skillet, but I use real steak instead and add in a few different bell peppers and onions.
- 1 bag of John Soules Fajita steak, no artificial ingredients (I said this was easy!)
- 1 bag of mixed fajita veggies or buy and chop your own. Mine has red, green & yellow bell pepper and onions.
- Mexican seasoning
- Avocado Oil for cooking
- Add a drizzle of avocado oil to pan over medium high heat, add your veggie mix and cook. I like my veggies a bit al dente and blistered, my husband likes his super soft and what I would call mushy, haha, so I just take mine out and set aside while I cook the rest.
- Since the fajita steak is already cooked, I just add it into the pan until it's thoroughly warmed
- Sprinkle on a little seasoning of your choice, stir & serve.
This one's a crockpot dinner so you will need to plan ahead of time, but this one is so tasty and ridiculously easy.
- 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 2 - 32. ounce boxes of chicken broth
- 1 small can of green chiles
- 1/2 cup of green enchilada sauce
- 1 lime
- A few dashes of salt, to taste (at the end) or sriracha for the adults.
- Throw everything into a crock pot and walk away. About 2-4 hours on high (depends on if your chicken was fresh or frozen) and 4-6 hours on low - the goal is cook the chicken until it easily shreds with two forks.
- Once the chicken is cooked, simply shred the chicken while in the crock pot or take it out to shred and dump back in. Also now is the time to taste to see how much salt it needs, if any, which also depends on the type of broth you use. I don't suggest tasting when raw chicken is involved, because you know, salmonella.
- Serve in bowls, top with a squeeze of fresh lime and a bit of shredded cheese, if desired. Mmm...
I mean there's not much of a recipe here, but the tortillas I used Siete brand almond flour tortillas, they are easy to find at any natural food store.
- Boneless skinless chicken breast of a rotisserie chicken from the store.
- Shredded Cheese of Choice
- Siete brand almond flour tortillas
- Salsa, if desired.
- Spinach leaves
- Ranch dressing
- Cook the chicken however you'd like, you can bake it in the oven, put it in the crockpot with a jar of salsa, etc. Or, just pick up a rotisserie chicken and start to shred it.
- In a saute pan on medium-high heat, place one tortilla in the pan and layer the chicken on 1/2 of the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese on top of the chicken and fold the remaining tortilla on top of itself (making a half circle). Let it get all warm and toasty for about 3-5 minutes and then flip and toast the other side. Use a pizza cutter to divide into 3 sections and serve with a side salad - we love a simple spinach, cucumber and ranch in this house.
Almost everything about a taco is keto EXCEPT the shell. Using the cheese as the shell allows you to load up on all other kind of toppings.
- 1 lb. grass fed ground beef (Aldi & Wal-mart have best pricing)
- 1 packet of Taco seasoning
- Shredded cheddar or mexican cheese
- Various Taco Toppings: Pico de gallo, black olives, shredded lettuce, guacamole, cilantro, sour cream, etc.
- Brown the ground beef and follow the taco seasoning packet directions.
- To make the shells, cover a baking pan with either parchment paper or a sil-mat (I swear by my sil-mat because it makes everything a breeze to remove)
- Take a handful, approx. 1/4 cup, of cheese and form a circular shape on the parchment/sil-mat. Pat it down flat.
- Bake the cheese in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes or so, watching closely, just until the cheese is melted and the edges start to brown.
- Carefully remove the cheese with a spatula and drape each cheese shell over a utensil to form the classic taco shape. Repeat as necessary. Some cheeses are crispier than others, some cheese provides more of a burrito type chew. You have a window of time to work with the cheese to form it into a taco shell shape before it hardens.
- Fill your cheese shell with meat and your toppings of choice. This one is a family favorite. If you're paleo, omit the cheese and look into cassava flour. It's higher carb so it's not keto friendly, but it makes one of the best tortilla replacements I've ever had. Our girls love them.
WEEK 3: ASIAN
Egg rolls typically have a blend of cabbage, other crisp vegetables and some sort of pork, but I've replaced pork with grass fed ground beef although ground pork would be good, too. Coleslaw mixes usually have green & red cabbage and carrots. This is also affectionately known in low-carb circles as "crack slaw" 'cause it's that good.
- 1 lb. grass fed ground beef
- 1 bag of coleslaw mix (any kind will work, but the tri-color blend makes for a prettier dish)
- Soy sauce, gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos - whatever you prefer.
- 1-2 minced garlic gloves or 1 tsp of garlic powder
- Dash of fish sauce, sesame oil and/or sriracha
- 1 egg, optional
- Brown your ground beef in a saute pan over medium/high heat until it starts to brown (if you don't use grass fed ground beef or lean ground beef, you may want to drain some of the excess fat - a little bit is necessary for the sauce, but too much will give a gross mouth-feel.)
- Add in your coleslaw mix, your soy sauce version, garlic and other sauces/seasonings and cook for another 5-7 minutes until everything is wilted.
- OPTIONAL: Now that everything is done, you can make an opening or a well in the middle of your pan and crack and egg in the center. Let it cook and then you can scramble it into the rest of the mixture. Top with sesame seeds or green onions for a pretty garnish or just devour it as is!
KETO PHO WITH GINGER SALAD
Basically the only thing you need to swap is the rice noodles for some shirataki noodles - these are usually found in the produce section, often near the tofu. While I don't prefer these noodles in Italian dishes, I think they pair really well with Asian dishes.Grocery List:
- 1 bag of Shirataki Noodles, aka Miracle Noodles
- 1/2 - 1 lb or quality deli roas beef, sliced thin
- 1 - 2 boxes of beef broth or 1 box chicken & 1 box beef broth
- 1-2 minced garlic gloves or 1 tsp of garlic powder
- Quality salt (Redmonds is my go-to)
- Sliced thin jalapenos
- Lime wedges
- Fresh bean sprouts
- Store bought ginger dressing (the real stuff is usually in the refrigerated dressing section)
- Iceberg lettuce
BEEF & BROCCOLI STIR FRY
- Bring broth to a low boil in a large saucepan (not a saute pan).
- Add in garlic, salt & soy sauce.
- For the noodles, you'll want to rinse and drain properly. Konjac noodles usually come in a bag of a water solution and need to be rinsed to get rid of their "aroma". I put mine in a colander and rinse under hot water for a few minutes then squeeze all of the water out with paper towels. If you were to make a hot noodle dish NOT in broth, you would then saute just the noodles on their own and put aside. They are already cooked, no need to do anything other than drain and rinse and merry other flavors (since they themselves are rather flavorless).
- Top off however you'd like. For the girls, they just had the beef and noodles, but I love adding all the spice ingredients to my pho. With the broth piping hot, it will cook the very thin pieces of roast beef.
- The side salad is similar to what you'd get at a Japanese hibachi restaurant. I just buy the store made ginger dressing even though I hate soybean oil, maybe one day I'll make my own.
- Salad is just iceberg lettuce, tomato & cucumber.
Probably the easiest dinner to make on this whole list and still SO good.Grocery List:
- 1 package of Hormel's slow simmered beef roast or beef tips (not the Italian style). There are a few ingredients in it that I don't love, but overall we like and there are no preservatives.
- 1 bag of broccoli florets
- Splash of chicken broth, if needed
- Sesame seeds to garnish, optional
EGG FRIED RICE
- In a large saute pan, add the packaged beef with all of its juice and broccoli florets. Heat over medium high heat, stirring often to make sure it doesn't burn. Once the broccoli starts to cook some (turns a bright green), add a splash of chicken broth and cover loosely with a lid. This will steam cook the broccoli.
- That is it. The beef roast or tips already have seasonings in it so I don't find myself adding anything extra. Garnish with sesame seeds if you want.
This is great as a side or add in a protein to make it a complete dish.Grocery List:
- 1 bag of cauliflower fried rice mix (usually in produce section and comes with cauliflower, other veggies and a sauce mix but you'll toss it) or 1 bag of riced cauliflower and a frozen bag of peas and carrots
- 1-2 eggs
- Soy sauce, fish sauce and/or rice vinegar
- Sesame seeds to garnish, optional
- 1-2 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh minced garlic or garlic powder
- The key to turning cauliflower into rice is uniformed pieces and not using the frozen/thawed kind. You really need fresh cauliflower to saute and get the right bite otherwise it's just soggy and that's no bueno for rice.
- In a large saute pan or wok over medium high heat, add avocado oil & your riced cauliflower mix or cauli and vegetables, saute until semi tender then make a well in the middle and crack open an egg or two to cook in the middle of the pan. Once the eggs have cooked, scramble and mix with the riced cauli mixture, add in a few splashes of soy sauce, fish sauce and a dash of rice vinegar. Cook through and serve.
CHICKEN SATAY PEANUT BOWL
This is SO delicious and there's no point in me writing up the recipe because I make something similar to what Gnom Gnom makes so check out the recipe here!
WEEK 4: ITALIAN
- 2-3 Zucchinis
- 1 Jar of quality marinara sauce, check the labels as most have added sugar. I like Rao's Homemade or Mezzetti
- 1 bag of all natural, gluten-free meatballs
- Parmesan Cheese
- Spiralize your zucchini into noodles and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, add your meatballs and jar of sauce and cover - put on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stiring occasionally.
- Add zucchini noodles to the pot and toss through until warmed, but don't cook for too long or they'll get soggy and mushy.
- Serve in a bowl and top with parmesan cheese