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Keto is the new cool, but few people know variations have been around for a long time. Low-carb diets benefit everyone from diabetics to epileptic children. And–they help you lose weight. I ate keto for well over a year to test it out for migraines. But, not only was I keto (meaning: below 20 grams of carb a day), I am a vegetarian, too.

Most people who go keto do it for either athletic or weight loss reasons. Medically, it’s a little different. For diabetics, for example, having too low a carb count can raise ketone levels and put them in a state of ketoacidosis–which is a dangerous state. Many epileptics following the ketogenic diet have medical supervision. I’m not a doctor–just someone trying a wellness experiment who didn’t want to break the bank doing so. And, I didn’t.

This post is by request–I’m starting to compile my low-carb hacks and tricks here. (I’ll break these out into separate posts later), but for now, scroll away and enjoy.

Low-Carb foods that won’t let you starve…

  • Yogurt: You can get some cultures and make yogurt. I give directions in this post–it’s nearly free and takes no more than a minute and a half of your time to make countertop yogurt. If you use heavy cream, it’s no-carb except what you use to flavor it.
  • Eggs: Eggs are a go-to low carb meal. I’ve collected a bunch of egg recipes in this post.
  • Frittata: This is a distant cousin of eggs. The bonus here is that you can make a million of these at once, slice them up into meal-sized pieces, and freeze them. Use cheese, mushrooms, zucchini, leftover veggies… anything low carb will keep the meal low carb. You can individualize them to the crowd.
  • Microwave English muffins: The Keto King saved me with this one. These are basic keto ingredients (almond flour and almond butter along with some things you already have.  This allowed me to feel that bread-full feeling when I started low-carb/keto. I made a no-sugar blueberry jam and put a tiny bit on the top. I also used this for grilled cheese.
  • Banting Bread: The Keto King struck gold with this one, too. I like the muffins better, but for this one you can make a whole loaf. This will mold quickly and you’re using a bit more custom ingredients, so I recommend slicing and freezing. Then, it is an affordable bread-feel. It reminds me more of a quick bread (texture of a zucchini or banana bread) than your regular loaf, but I made some fantastic grilled cheeses out of this, too.
  • Anything made out of zucchini:  Zucchini is the most versatile thing on the planet. Turn it into a noodle and you can make “spaghetti” dishes out of it. I prefer to let it be zucchini, though… stir fries, omelets, etc… are fantastic. I also enjoy sauteing it in butter and making an egg/garlic/zucchini scramble. Check out the zucchini post for recipes.
  • Avocados: People will tell you they’re fattening, but if you’re not eating the carbs, this is a non-issue. Enjoy the recipe ideas involving avocados.
  • Salads: If you use low-carb veggies, these are always good. I have a million salads in the free downloadable book “Quick & Delicious Lunches That Will Make You Smile.” Sign up for the newsletter then confirm subscription and the link to download will be on the “Success/Thank you” page.
  • Lettuce wraps: I am the biggest fan of these. They take the essence of the sandwich and strip away the carbs. Use the outer leaves of romaine then add your low-carb meats, cheeses, or spreads. (post coming soon!)
  • Baba ganoush: It’s an eggplant dip. I love this. Hummus has some carbs, but this doesn’t. If you have a smoker or cook your eggplant on the grill, bonus points for taste!!  Cut up some zucchini, cukes, cauliflower, or string beans and you’ll get a great snack.
  • Cheese tray: Since you’re getting rid of candy, you should really up your cheese game. Trader Joes has an affordable selection of outstanding cheeses if you haven’t tried that. The last time I was there, my Cheese Dude turned out to be a French man. “Can I help you?” he asked. “Yes, are you familiar with this type of cheese?” I replied. “Of course! I am FRENCH!” We talked about snooty cheese for forty-five minutes. Go–buy some good cheese!
  • Olives: Up your olive game, too. There are a world of olives waiting for you.
  • Queso: This is God’s gift to Superbowl food. But… you’ll need some veggie alternatives to the nachos. Yes, you can get used to cauliflower for this. That’ll be a bit challenging!

Meats

Get your meats on sale. In my region, we can get chicken for well under a dollar a pound, and nice lean stew beef for four or five bucks. Whatever your price-point is, get it then.

  • Chicken: Bake this with dry rubs. (Barbecue sauce, unless you make it yourself, has carbs). I will make a detailed post with homemade spice blends. We use Jerk blend (spicy Island blend), tandoori, curry, salt and pepper, or savory homemade barbecue.  Grill a bunch or roast a couple different flavors at 350 for about 40 minutes. Then, freeze in meal-sized servings to help you with meal prep.
  • Chicken salad: Shredded chicken, celery, onion, celery salt, mayo, and a bit of mustard. Mayo doesn’t freeze well, so if you’re meal prepping this, just shred a ton of chicken and freeze it in pound foodsaver bags. Then, when you thaw it, mix in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Meat chili. Here’s my veggie chili recipe. It’s healthy but the beans have some carbs in it, but meat chili does not. Just leave out the beans but I’ll post some more recipes.
  • Soups. As long as you don’t use carb-based stuff or flour for stew thickener, it’s low carb.

Condiments

Many condiments are low or no carb. This doesn’t mean they’re no-cal… so watch your dietary restrictions. Also, many pre-made foods have sugar in them. If you’re reading the label and find that to be a problem, reach out and I’ll create and post a recipe for you. My ranch dressing is extremely low to no-carb unless you put carbs in while I’m not looking!

  • mayo
  • mustard
  • oil and vinegar
  • cream or mayo-based salad dressings
  • horse radish
  • dill pickles
  • sauerkraut
  • salsa (low, not zero carb)
  • hot sauce
  • fish sauce

Drinks

  • Lots of water
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • coffee with heavy cream or black.
  • Tea with heavy cream or black
  • herbal tea
  • Diet soda (some argue this can affect blood sugar and insulin resistance since your body is tricked into feeling “sugar.” Do the research on this).

Desserts & Snacks

  • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are low carb)
  • artificial sweeteners (I don’t have recipes for these since I hate them… I can taste them a mile away).
  • Nuts (some are lower carb than others and all are higher fat. They also have protein, though).

A note on meal prep…

You can only succeed in the low-carb lifestyle if you meal prep. These days, keto and low-carb are cool, so think of your meal prep time as investing in your image. Roll your eyes at the workplace birthday cake and say, “No thanks, I’m low carb.” Whip an olive out of your pocket and talk about the artisan olive family who made it.

In all seriousness, meal prep will save you. I’ll post more on this, and make a helpful guide.

Instead of making one salad, prep and stack five. Make and freeze several frittatas. Cut a week’s worth of snacking veggies and dips–package them immediately. If you have a stack of square containers ready for you, you won’t forage for chocolate chip cookies and wonder why your blood sugar is off or your weight isn’t changing.  Many people feel this part’s very tough, but it’ll save you money and keep you eating healthy without thinking, and before long, it’ll be your pattern–you won’t even want the junk. You’ll be healthier all around and you’ll see how affordable a low-carb lifestyle can be.

Disclosure: I’m not a doctor. If you’re doing this for medical reasons, you may need to adjust carbs or cycle in and out of keto. Get the right people on your side for this. But, if it’s a recipe you want, feel free to reach out to me at dawn@broketeacher and I will adapt your favorites in to something that still tastes good–if it’s at all humanly possible. 

Photo credit:  Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash