Tag Archives: keto diet

Sarah Britton’s Keto Salt and Pepper Tahini Cookies = Our New Favourite Treat

In the new Food Network Canada Facebook series The Substitute Baker, celebrated Toronto-born holistic nutritionist Sarah Britton shows us just how easy it can be to adapt your favourite recipes to suit any occasion or special dietary needs.


This time around, she’s elevated the humble cookie and transformed it into a salty and sweet keto-friendly treat that you’ll want to make on repeat.

Related: Homemade Bread Recipes You’ll Want to Make Again and Again

Salt and Pepper Tahini Cookies

Homemade Tahini Ingredients: 
Makes about 2 cups (500ml)

4 cups / 300g un-hulled (brown/variegated) sesame seeds
½ tsp. fine salt
½ cup cold-pressed sesame oil (olive oil works too)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread sesame seeds out on two rimmed baking sheets and place in the oven to toast for 15-20, stirring a couple times during cooking to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and let cool.

2. Place sesame seeds in a food processor and blend on high until smooth, adding the oil as needed. Add salt and blend.

3. Store tahini in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Related: 20 Comforting Baking Projects That Deserve a Pat on the Back

Cookie Ingredients:

2 cups / 220g almond flour
½ tsp. flaky sea salt, plus more for garnish
1 ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup / 175ml tahini
½ cup / 125ml yacon syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup / 50g chopped dark chocolate
2 Tbsp. crushed cacao nibs, plus 2 Tbsp. to garnish

Related: 10 Surprising Foods That Boost the Immune System

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 170°C. Lightly grease, or line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, black pepper and salt. Set aside.

3. In a small saucepan whisk tahini, yacon syrup, and vanilla together over low heat until runny. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to combine. The dough will be thick and you may need to use your hands to finish mixing. When the dough has cooled, fold in chopped chocolate and cacao nibs.

4. Roll about a tablespoon and a half worth of the dough in the palm of your hands, into a ball. Flatten slightly, then place on the prepared tray, sprinkle with a few more cacao nibs and a pinch of flaky salt. Lightly press the toppings into the dough.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

6. Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to a week.

For more baking inspiration, Sarah Britton’s Bold and Beautiful Raspberry Cashew Cheezecake is an instant dessert classic, or learn how to make her easy Gluten-Free Everything Bagel Loaf.

Watch The Substitute Baker Wednesdays at 4ep on the Food Network Canada Facebook page.

I Went Keto for 3 Months and Got Gout. Here’s What I Wish I’d Known

My friend walks into a bar – glowing, leaner and the happiest I’ve ever seen her in our 12 year friendship. “Keto,” she says, anticipating the ‘What are you doing?’ question, “I basically eat a lot of Caesar salad – I’ve lost 25 pounds.”

We’re in our thirties, and every year it feels like there’s another ring around the trunk. While I’ve picked up rec sports like ball hockey and practice yoga semi-regularly, I’ve never been on a diet and haven’t put any actual effort into slimming down. My friend, Janna, and I have always had similar palates: we love bread, pasta, sandwiches, sauce, potatoes and most comfort foods on the regular. “You should do it,” she said, “You can eat so many things — I feel amazing.”

Why I went keto

As an intersectional-feminist who promotes body positivity, I hate how this story starts. It was one long look into my bathroom mirror after a shower when I cried — unhappy with the aged, unfamiliar woman staring back at me. I decided, at that exact moment, that I was going to try keto, as Janna had done.

So, I started the following Monday. I took the weekend to consult with Dr. Google so I could hunt and gather at the grocery store for my new and very first diet.

The ketogenic diet is attractive to people like me (read: who have the palate of a 13-year-old boy in the 90’s with a love for beige food and grease) because you never have to go hungry or calorie count, and you’re allowed to eat bacon, burgers, butter and other foods typically considered unhealthy. It’s a high fat, moderate protein, zero-sugar, low-carb diet. I don’t even like baked goods or sweets.

But I do like bagels, dumplings, corn and other carbs you’re not allowed on keto. Starchy carbs were off the table — so were fruits (including the melon family, mangoes, pineapple, apples etc.) and even a variety of vegetables had to be limited.

Related: From keto to whole30 to vegan. What is the best healthy diet? 

What a typical day of eating looked like for me

Like Janna, I ended up eating a lot of Caesar salad with chicken on the regular. Breakfast was all about bacon, eggs (cooked in butter), spinach and avocado. On offer at lunch was usually more leafy greens, roast chicken (sometimes hot, other times cold), cheese and nuts. For snacks, I ate more nuts, more cheese, and sometimes I’d even eat raw spinach out of the bin and call them “keto chips”. Blackberries were a green-lit treat, and very dark chocolate is also OK in moderation. I learned to like cream, and sometimes butter, in my keto coffee.

I also learned to drink so much water, and I peed on a keto strip every morning to make sure I was still in a state of ketosis. Being in the state of dietary ketosis is key to the weight loss benefits of the diet — it means your body is no longer fueled by carbs and is instead running on stored fat (hence the high fat part), producing ketones, so your brain still gets the energy it needs. To enter ketosis, I had to deprive my body of carbs (keeping the serving under 20g per day). The process took about three to five days, which is when I got what’s dubbed the keto flu and lost seven pounds by day six.

Some challenges I faced while on keto

I made the mistake of going on a road trip to Michigan within my first weeks of keto. Translation: burgers with lettuce, meat sticks, cheese and nuts were pretty much all I consumed that weekend. My mother commented on my appearance: “It’s working. I can see it in your face.” I was thinning out.

Related: How to develop healthy eating habits that actually last.

They say you stop craving carbs — that never actually happened for me. I didn’t need them, but if I saw my co-worker eating pizza, I knew I’d rather be sinking my teeth into a slice than stabbing at a bowl of cold, raw vegetables.

Keto became a way of life. At post ball hockey drinks, I’d have water and eat a burger in a lettuce bun with celery (no illegal carrots because of the sugar). But I knew this couldn’t go on forever. While editing a story on celebrity diets, I discovered the 80/20 diet and decided to try carb cycling.

Related: What is the flexitarian diet, and why are people doing it?

What I wish I knew when I got gout

Carb cycling and keto may increase the risk of gout. I wish I’d talked to an actual expert and registered nutritionist before I’d participated in a fad diet to explore the potential risks for myself. For this article, I talked to Julie Mancuso, the weight-loss expert and owner of JM Nutrition.

My friends are doing it, my coworkers are doing it — it works great for them, so it’ll work great for me, is something Mancuso hears all the time from first-time dieters. “Even though we have the same composition, we all have a different makeup, and your friend may not have any pre-dispositions to health issues,” she explains.

It turns out gout runs in my family. I was the first female to get it in my known bloodline — a glass ceiling I really didn’t need to break. But after attempting (and failing) carb cycling, drinking wine and building up too much uric acid, I found myself hopping on one foot with the rich man’s disease. I gave myself gout. It was already in my genes and it was triggered by my diet.

“With keto, you actually get most of the calorie consumption from fat,” says Mancuso. “If someone is predisposed to gallstones and you’re eating an abundance of fat — and [the] body can’t keep up with that — that will cause a problem.” Another thing to note is that spinach is very high in oxalate, the number one cause of kidney stones. So, at least I didn’t get gallstones or kidney stones, right?

Related: A nutritionist reveals 10 best natural foods for glowing skin.

How I would do keto differently

The next time I submit to my insecurities and decide to attempt a drastic diet change, I will consult with a nutritionist or dietitian to help me better my relationship with food.

According to Mancuso, there are many healthy and sustainable changes people can make to their diet that will help with weight-loss — people don’t need to jump into keto. But many lean towards diets like keto, including Atkins, Paleo and South Beach, because the results are typically fast, and starting something so strict and seemingly effective can be motivating.

“Our culture is like that — when we want something, we want it now,” says Mancuso, who often works with clients and encourages them to start slowly with new diets. She likes to take the time to assess and provide people with a better understanding with how diets and weight-loss actually work.

“What I don’t like about keto is that it’s very restrictive,” explains Mancuso. “The biggest problem is that people have trouble sustaining this diet… what diet restricts broccoli?”

Related: Nutritionist reveals 10 secrets to keeping energy levels up all day long.

What people should keep in mind if going keto

“Keto works for weight-loss” says Mancuso. “What I like is that it steers people away from eating carbs and sugar.”

She would recommend nutritionally balanced keto — which, according to the weight-loss expert, is moderate protein and plenty of vegetables. If the aim is weight-loss, the sugar has to go, and the carbs have to be cut down. As it turns out, there really aren’t any shortcuts or hacks for leading a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

Feature image courtesy of Getty Images. 

The Best Keto Protein Bar Recipe That Totally Beats Store-Bought

Loaded with peanuts, peanut butter, eggs and butter, this decadent tasting keto protein bar is truly superior to anything you’ll find in a package. The base takes cues from a peanut butter cookie, baked until firm and chilled, then topped with a peanut caramel. Dark chocolate and more peanuts top things off before being frozen until set – but you can enjoy them room temperature if you’re on the go. Satisfy your sweet tooth and fill up on protein and fat with these rich treats!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Caramel Keto Protein Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake and Cook Time: 40 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours (including chill time)
Makes: 15 to 20 bars

Ingredients:

Peanut Butter Cookie Base
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup natural peanut butter
⅔ cup granulated keto sugar (allulose or xylitol)
2 large eggs
½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
¼ cup coconut flour
¾ tsp salt

Peanut Caramel
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup granulated keto sweetener (allulose or xylitol)
½ cup heavy whipping cream (35%)
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
⅓ cup roasted unsalted peanuts

Chocolate Peanut Topping
1 cup chopped dark chocolate (99% for lowest sugar content, if possible), melted
⅓ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
Salt, to taste  

Directions:

Peanut Butter Cookie Base
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal.
2. In a large bowl, mix to combine butter with peanut butter. Mix in sugar and eggs, one at a time and beat until smooth. Mix in peanuts, coconut flour and salt until combined and then evenly spread into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 25 minutes, until dry to the touch on top and set around the edges. Cool to room temperature, then freeze for 1 hour or refrigerate for 3 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the caramel.

Peanut Caramel
1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat and continue to cook until browned, about 5 minutes (this adds additional flavour and colour). Whisk in the sweetener, cream, molasses and salt. Without stirring, cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened.
2. Remove from heat and stir in peanuts and vanilla. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Both the cookie base and caramel need to be chilled and/or kept at room temperature, otherwise the caramel will soak too far into the cookie base.
3. Once the caramel has cooled to room temperature, remove the chilled peanut butter cookie base from the freezer or refrigerator. Spread peanut caramel evenly over peanut butter cookie base and freeze for 1 hour, until caramel is firm.

Chocolate Peanut Topping and Serving
1. Slice chilled cookie base into thirds and from there, slice each third into whichever size you prefer to make about 15 to 20 bars.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the bars evenly. Drizzle with melted chocolate before it sets, then top with peanuts and salt to taste.
3. Freeze until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes, and enjoy. Store leftover bars airtight in the freezer for up to 2 months or refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Don’t let your cooking streak stop there! We’ve compiled 14 tasty keto-friendly snack recipes, along with the easiest keto dinners to make this week. Heading out for dinner instead? Don’t sweat it. Here’s what to order at a restaurant if you’re on the keto diet.

The Keto Kung Pao Chicken Recipe That is Better Than Takeout

Whether you’re a keto follower or not, this weeknight chicken dish will satisfy protein lovers and healthy veggie seekers alike. At first glance, the ingredient list may seem daunting, but you’re really just re-using the same pantry staples with a few extra options. Better than takeout, you won’t need to invest in a wok, we’ve made this delicious meal in a large cast-iron pan, and no one was the wiser.

30-Minute Keto Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes (this includes marinating. While the chicken is marinating, prep the vegetables and sauce).
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
450g boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil, divided
4-6 dried red chilies
4 green onions, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 red finger chili (optional)
1 bunch asparagus, cut in large pieces
1 sweet bell pepper, halved, cored and cut into cubes
4 tsp each minced garlic and ginger
2 mini cucumber, cut in small cubes
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts or cashews
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Sauce:
3 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 Tbsp each soy sauce and white vinegar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Asian chili-garlic sauce (optional)

Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine chicken, 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp rice wine and 2 tsp cornstarch; stir to combine. Let stand to marinate 15 minutes.

2. In large cast-iron pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add dried chilies, green onions and finger chili (if using) and cook, stirring until green onions are slightly charred, about 1 minute. Transfer to a baking sheet or large plate.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp of remaining oil in the pan. Add asparagus and bell pepper and cook, stirring until slightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Transfer to baking sheet. Add remaining 11/2 tsp oil to pan; working in 2 batches, stir-fry chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per batch, repeating with remaining oil.

5. Sauce: In small bowl, stir together water, rice wine, soy sauce and cornstarch until smooth. Return the chicken, vegetables and chilies to the pan. Sprinkle with salt; stir in the sauce and cook until liquid is bubbling and thickened, 30-45 seconds. Stir in cucumbers, peanuts and chili-garlic sauce (if using); sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Tip: For evenly browned chicken, avoid crowding in the pan, and don’t stir immediately. Check one piece before turning the remaining with a spatula.

Looking for more healthy recipe inspo? We’ve rounded up 20 Easy Keto Dinners to Make This Week, plus 15 Recipes Packed with Healthy Fats to Keep You Full

These Chocolate Avocado Keto Cookies Are Healthy Enough for Breakfast 

A decadent, delicious breakfast cookie is the ultimate grab-and-go morning meal. But these are far from normal cookies. These keto-powered baked goods only have 3.2 net grams of carbs, along with a super, secret ingredient: avocado. The ketogenic diet is all about eating tons of fat, and these cookies really deliver, helping to fuel you with good, clean fats. Eating lots of healthy fat, especially in the morning, regulates blood sugar, keeps insulin levels low and promotes fat burning and loss. So, basically you’re eating a nutritious cookie that helps you lose weight – can you think of anything better?!

Chocolate Avocado Keto Breakfast Cookies

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 cookies

Ingredients:
2 small ripe avocados
2 large eggs
½ cup almond flour
⅓ cup raw cacao
⅓ cup erythritol or monk fruit sweetener
½ tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp sea salt
¼ cup cacao nibs or stevia sweetened chocolate chips
2 Tbsp shredded coconut, to use as garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Peel the avocado, place it in the bowl and mash it until smooth.
3. Add in the almond flour, raw cacao, sweetener, baking soda and sea salt and combine all ingredients. Whisk in the eggs.
4. Fold in the cacao nibs. Don’t be alarmed if the batter does not resemble traditional cookie dough, it will be fudgier.

5. Scoop about 1 ½ Tbsp of batter onto the baking sheet to make one cookie and lightly flatten with your hand or a spoon. Leave quite a bit of space between the cookies, since they spread.
6. Top with shredded coconut to garnish.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes and allow to cool for a few minutes before digging in.

For more healthy low-carb recipes to keep on hand, check out these 20 Easy Keto Dinners to Make Right Now and 14 Keto-Friendly Snacks That Are Super Simple to Make.

What Exactly Are Macros and How Do You Count Them?

You may be seeing the term macros more often these days thanks to the increased popularity of the keto diet and the general public’s heightened attention to the benefits of eating healthfully. The term is short for macronutrients, which includes the three most important nutrients required for the proper functioning of every body part and our overall well-being. Macros encompass carbohydrates, fats and protein, each bringing with them their own unique benefit for the body. At a basic level, carbohydrates give energy, fats provide satiation and proteins repair and build muscle – but the benefits don’t stop there.


Get the recipe for this Mexican Quinoa Bowl, which features a healthy balance of carbs, fat and protein. 

The following breakdown of macros is general, and varies from person to person. Every body is unique, with recommended intakes fluctuating based on age, activity level, weight, height and health status. Check with your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist if this is something you’re excited to know more about.

The Macros Basics

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are where our bodies can most easily turn to for energy. They’re especially important for brain functioning, as the brain gobbles up a huge percentage of the carbs we eat. Complex carbohydrates are preferable most of the time, but simple carbs can be beneficial to boost blood sugar levels quickly after a workout.

Fats

Fat not only adds flavour to food and keeps you full, but this macro is also incredibly important to one’s whole health. Fats nourish the brain and organs, help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, E and D), contribute to proper hormone function, lubricate joints, keep skin soft and hair healthy, lubricate the eyes, regulate the mood and so much more. Suffice to say that fats are not to be skipped (unless you have an underlying health problem), and a well-rounded diet includes a balance of good-quality fat sources such as grass-fed butter, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, eggs (with the yolk), fatty fish and avocado.


Get the recipe for Soba Noodles with Garlic Shrimp and Miso Dressing

Proteins

When you add protein to a meal, be that from eggs, steak, chicken breast, tofu or beans, you’ll likely notice that you feel satisfied and remain full for longer. Proteins are building blocks of muscle, enzymes, hormones, cartilage, bones, skin, hair, nails and blood. Neurotransmitters in the brain are built from protein (amino acids), which basically ensure that the different body parts can “talk” to each other. A complete protein contains all essential amino acids, which is found in animal protein sources. However, if you follow a plant-based diet, combining two different foods can replicate a complete protein. For example, pairing brown rice with black beans, or seeds with legumes, creates a complete protein full of all essential amino acids.

Why Focus On Macros?

Looking to our unique activity levels, age and lifestyle, it may be beneficial to pay closer attention to the macros you’re eating. For instance, if you workout often, in general, you’ll need more carbohydrates for energy than someone who lives a very sedentary lifestyle.

Those who are following a ketogenic diet believe that fat is the best fuel for weight loss purposes, as it takes more work to turn fat into energy than carbs. If you’re following a keto diet, you should be doing so under medical supervision.


Get the recipe for Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Why Count Macros?

Calorie counting is hard to stick to, and doesn’t put any focus on the nutrition found within the food. Counting macros, however, takes a more holistic look at all of the good-for-you nutrients you’re consuming. Most of it is common sense: look at a plate (or bowl) of food, and then see if it’s a healthy balance of carbs, fat, and protein. An example of this could be a large green salad with roasted sweet potato tossed in an olive oil-based dressing and paired with chicken, or the salmon tacos with avocado pictured below.


Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Roasted Salmon Tacos 

If you’re looking to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, increase your energy levels or up your game at the gym, counting macros may help you along.

The Percentage of Macros You Need

These percentages of macros needed is dependent on a range of factors, so choose both what feels right and is recommended by your medical professional. The numbers are what you’re aiming for in your whole day, so plan meals accordingly:

Macros for General Health 

  • 45-65% carbs
  • 20-35% fat
  • 10-35% protein

Macros for Weight Loss

  • 30% carbs
  • 25% fat
  • 45% protein

Macros for Strength

  • 50% carbs
  • 20% fat
  • 30% protein

Macros for Endurance

  • 45-50% carbs
  • 20-30% fat
  • 15-20% protein

Macros for the Keto Diet (under medical supervision)

  • 6% carbs
  • 73% fat
  • 21% protein

How to Count Macros Successfully

If counting or tracking your macros is something you want to try, you have to know your weight (tied directly to body mass index) and activity level, as your carb, fat and protein intake requirements are entwined to these two pieces of information. Here’s a Macro Calculator that does the math for you, leaving you to just cook, eat and start tracking.

For overall well-being, counting macros or not, focus on whole, real, unprocessed foods made from scratch when possible, 80% of the time and keep those extras to 20% of the time. It can be as easy as that.