As part of my latest Health Coaching training through Dr. Eric Berg, I wanted to share a report back about 5 days on a ketogenic diet. Whether your'e just starting out and experimenting with cutting out processed foods, or are already are familiar with how foods convert to sugar (and to fat) in your body and eat closer to Paleo than not, I hope this post helps!
What is Keto? It's essentially a way of eating designed to regulate insulin and burn fat with primary fuel being non-starchy vegetables, protein, nuts and seeds, with grains, sugar, dairy, fruit and anything processed off limits. Sound simple? There's good reason this diet is so popular right now - it makes scientific and nutritional sense. Experts from Robb Wolf to Mark Sisson have led the movement around Paleo and now are offering ketogenic master classes and ongoing training, offering health-minded folks the chance to fine tune what works best for their bodies. Robb's overview here is a wonderful overview of the differences between Paleo and Keto, if you're looking for more information.
When it comes to food and nutrition, what works for one person will not work for someone else. And sometimes even day to day and meal to meal the same is true. Day to day, I personally eat relatively slow-carb, meaning I weave in brown rice, sweet potatoes, starchy vegetables, and even the occasional rice cake. I eat this way most of the time and it works well for me to eat 5-6 small meals a day. Yet some mornings, I can't stand eggs and on others, they sound like just the thing. With that all said, the keto way of eating recommends fewer meals (every time you eat, you spike insulin, which causes fat storage) and intermittent fasting. In addition to helping regulate blood sugar, fasting has some incredible benefits and is even touted by some physicians for reduced cancer risk among other wide ranging health benefits.
For my 5 day re-set, I combined lean proteins with organic vegetables from our garden, free range eggs from our chickens and nuts and seeds. I will say, it was not an easy leap to go all in, and I found myself wanting to rotate in slow carbs for energy, particularly on days when I did HIIT workouts at the gym. I also gave up wine for a few days and felt like I had sugar cravings which is unusual for me. And on about the 3rd day, I introduced a half a banana before a bike ride and a fruit smoothie one evening. While these moments could have made me feel 'bad', like I cheated, I also believe your body tells you what you need and it's a good idea to listen.
So, back to the idea that there's not a one size fits all approach, I've saved a few of my go-to recipes here. Some were keto in the strictest sense of the word; others were slightly modified. While they're not going to always impress on the food styling front, they were simple to prep, make and really nutritionally dense.
I highly recommend trying this way of eating as an experiment to see how you feel. Then rotate in some slow carbs the next meal and see how that feels - and so on. You don't have to go all in all at once, and I actually don't recommend it unless you can take a week off, without any social or work obligations. Personally, I felt grumpier than usual, but that might just be me!
Chicken & Broccoli
with cashew cream
4oz grilled chicken (warmed up)
Cashew cream sauce:
For the Cashew Sauce: 👇🏻😋
1 ½ cups cashews
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large garlic clove
water as needed
2 teaspoons sea salt
....and Tri Tip!
Get this yummy, simple recipe here! https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/57899/grilled-garlic-artichokes
You can also make a delicious dairy-free aoli with Vegenase instead of Mayo. Add diced garlic, salt and lemon zest - experimenting with what works best for you.
I paired this with Tri Tip from Trader Joes, grilled to medium perfection!
...with ground turkey and kale
It took some convincing to try the zoodle craze. Zucchini and squash in general is probably the only vegetable I really don't like. Must be the watery, bland quality. Anyways, getting an OXO spiralizer changed my opinion of these veggies. It takes about 30 seconds to create these! Toss with a splash of olive oil and diced garlic for about a minute max - they should still be a bit crunchy - and you're in business. Then choose a protein to layer on top. I chose ground turkey for mine, plus some steamed kale, which I accomplished by tossing it over the turkey when it was almost done, with a lid on top. Boom. Saved a pan. Easy, simple, delicious.
To-Go Salad with Chicken
...for busy days
Toss grilled chicken (prepped the night before) with fresh mixed greens, avocado, and other low-carb veggies of your choice. Add olive oil and Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. I mix mine with the "Simply Organic" brand Italian dressing (which also makes a rockin marinade as well, by the way). Put it in a to-go container and you're on your way to a healthy lunch the next day.
Breakfast Tofu Scramble
with fresh asparagus, tumeric and sun-dried tomatoes
This is one of my favorite all-time recipes from Kris Carr's cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen. I love her and her mission to help inspire healthy eating as a lifestyle and for all the folks either allergic to eggs or just want a good swap, this is awesome.
Turmeric gives this scramble a yellow egglike color, but more importantly contains cancer-fighting and immune-boosting properties. Feel free to swap out the suggested veggies with anything you have handy. I love broccoli, onion, and avocado in this dish.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced white onion
½ bunch of asparagus, tips only, cut 2 inches in length
21 ounces extra-firm tofu
(1½ blocks), crumbled
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, diced (or dried and softened in water)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
Pinch of sea salt
½ tablespoon turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup coarsely chopped basil
1. Add oil to hot sauté pan. Add onion and reduce heat to medium.
Sauté until onion is translucent and golden.
2. Add asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and crumbled tofu, and
cook on high heat for 3 minutes.
3. Add nutritional yeast, tamari, sea salt, turmeric, and black pepper. Continue to cook on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Right before serving, add the handful of chopped fresh basil.
Tip: How to Press Tofu
For a firmer texture and maximum flavor, press tofu before using it (even extra-firm tofu can be pressed). Place the tofu in a colander or strainer with a small plate on top. Put a weight such as a large can or pitcher of water on the plate. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes to drain the excess water from the tofu. Once the tofu is pressed, decreasing its water content, it will act like a sponge, allowing more flavors from sauces, marinades, herbs, and spices to be absorbed.