So you are thinking about trying a Low Carb or Ketogenic diet platform to improve your health? Good for you! If you stick with it, you won’t be sorry, but to be successful it’s helpful to have a pantry stocked with the right ingredients, and know what to do with them.
A Ketogenic or Low Carb Diet is a low, low carb, moderate protein, and high in healthy fats nutrition plan. The goal is to guide your body into burning fat for fuel instead of being a sugar burner. Fat is a cleaner burning fuel, causing less oxidation, and is therefore healthier for your body. Fat is the ingredient most needed and loved by your brain, nerves, and the membrane wall of every single cell in your body… the many trillions of them! And, fats are satiating, which means they will keep you feeling full long after a meal of traditional carbs would have left you feeling hungry and moody.
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To truly do this right, you need to use healthy fats:
Coconut Oil~ Coconut oil is full of medium chain fatty acids, the same as God put in human breast milk. If it’s good for our babies, it has to be good for us!! Unrefined coconut oil is the best thing to buy, but according to Bruce Fife, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle, even refined coconut oil is better than using most of the other oils on grocer shelves. Refining the oil removes the “coconut-ty” smell and flavor, and can leave some chemical residue behind. If you are near a Costco, they sell both types of coconut oil at a competitive price. If you have an allergy or intolerance to coconuts, I recommend you look into the benefits of cooking with Palm Oil.
Olive Oil~ Once touted as the oil for everything, reserve olive oil for cold application. This oil is vulnerable to hot temperatures and will go rancid when cooked, making it not so healthy for you. Instead, use it for salad dressings.
Avocado Oil~ Avocado oil is great in cold recipes, but unlike most other oils has a much higher smoke point and will stay stable at higher temperatures. One study showed that the lipids (fats) extracted from avocados might prove photo-protective against harmful effects of radiation, such as sun damage, inflammation, and even skin cancer, if ingested before exposure. I buy my avocado oil at Costco.
Coconut Milk~ The canned, full of fat kind, and also the unsweetened carton in the dairy department are both items I use.
Dairy~ You will find a LOT of low carb and ketogenic recipes from food bloggers all over that use dairy. Cheese, whipping cream, more cheese… so if you don’t have any digestive issues or intolerance, get ready for some dairy. Grass fed and organic is best as this is the only kind that will be guaranteed free of damaging hormones and heavy omega 6’s that can be present in “normal” dairy from livestock that is fed a heavy soy and grain diet that has probably been heavily sprayed with glyphosates. I only use dairy sparingly. I can eat it, no problem, but if I’m aiming to lose weight… well, I lose the dairy. And if I want optimal liver function, I lose the dairy. We’re all different, and if you are hoping to lose weight and aren’t seeing results, this is a good thing to cut out and see.
And what about Fiber? A challenge that many people face when they go low carb is constipation. Not good! And not necessary. So make sure to stock the following…
Nuts~ They are full of healthy fats, and fiber too. The trick is to not eat too many. Even though we want to eat more fat, it is easy to go over our fat allowance with nuts, and too much of anything is a bad thing. Stock your pantry with walnuts and almonds and maybe pistachios, but plan, and measure. Want a different kind of nut? Look up the carbs, fat and fiber. You want to count net carbs. This means look at the total carbs and deduct the total fiber to get your net carb count per serving. And then do the math. Will this nut fit well into your target carb and fat count?
Nuts are much healthier if they are soaked and then dehydrated. They also taste better, in my opinion, and are easier on the digestion. To learn how, you can read this excellent article over at Gnowgflins.
Almond Flour~ This is used a lot in low carb receipes. I get mine at Costco. It is also available at Sams Club, on Amazon, and many other places.
Ground Psyllium Husks~ This can be used in bready recipes that are filling, provide fiber, and satisfying those cravings that are inevitable when you first pull grains and sugars from your diet. In addition, if you find yourself experiencing some constipation, you can mix a tsp. or two with water and drink it to help bulk up your stools. I buy this psyllium from Viva Naturals on Amazon and will be making recipe recommendations off of my experience with it.
Chia seeds~ You may like them, and if you’re a woman, soak them, use them for fiber, for a binder, etc… not recommended for men’s prostrate health. 😦
Coconut flour~ Yep, coconut is still good for you, and the flour is a good source of fiber as well as great for bready recipes. The best value I have found for our neck of the woods is also on Amazon, from Anthony’s. Check out the jokes on the bag… 🙂
Unsweetened, shredded coconut~ You may like this in a breakfast porridge, or many people just spoon some into a bowl with some coconut oil, stevia drops, and cocoa for a sweet fix. Anthony’s Brand is often the best value.
Fruits and Vegetables~ Well, vegetables anyway. This is where you will get most of your carbohydrates. Avocados and tomatoes are actually fruits, and I use them, but they won’t satisfy your sweet tooth. Carrots are starchy, so use them sparingly if at all, and potatoes are out–too many starchy carbs. Go for asparagus, spinach and kale (unless you have a history or kidney stones), zucchinis, lettuce (not ice berg), peppers, other cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. You may find some veggies I’m not used to using. I love onions, but they are a little high on the carb count so I use them sparingly and use leeks instead. You may occasionally splurge on a few pieces of Granny Smith apple, a strawberry, or blueberries… that is up to you. You can use the cronometer.com calculator to help you decide.
Protein~ Yes, you need moderate protein, so besides the nuts you want to have eggs and meats on hand. Just keep in mind, “moderate” may be less than you think…
Protein Powder~ This may be used in cakes and other baked goods to add a pleasant texture. I currently use this brand of unflavored, organic whey protein powder. If I want vanilla or chocolate, I add those ingredients separately and keep my cost down.
Sweeteners~ Yes! I did say sweet. Lots of the sweet ketogenic recipes you find use the “tols”, sugar alcohols, like erythritol or xylitol. They are not sugar or alcohol, and typically don’t affect blood sugar, don’t cause cavities, etc… They are not completely absorbed by your body and so pass on out, unused. Xylitol can sometimes cause a bit of elevation in blood sugars in some individuals, so monitor if you use it. Most people notice no affect in blood sugars when using erythritol, and because it is fermented, it is less likely to cause digestive upset. Both sweeteners should be used in moderation. If you try them, make sure they are not combined with other low-calorie or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, neotame, saccharin, or crystalline fructose. Swerve is a well known brand of erythritol and is recommended by many food bloggers. Personally, I bake for a family of 10, so I find it more cost effective to grind this brand into confectioners erythritol, and I put a little of the Sweet Leaf Stevia Extract in it to make it more comparable to sugar. I also appreciate the fact that it is not made from corn.
Stevia~ I use stevia in many forms. It is a natural food derivative, many times sweeter than sugar, and a little goes a long way. I can be combined with other sweeteners. And it does the body good, the whole leaf stevia being found to lower blood sugar levels and kill bacteria (even the lyme disease bacteria, better than antibiotics).
What kind of stevia?
I use the Sweet Leaf Stevia drops in vanilla a lot in my tea or other quick treats. The drops come in unflavored, vanilla, English toffee, berry, lemon, hazelnut and more. It is available through Amazon Prime for considerably less than I can fine through my local health food market.
I also use the Sweet Leaf powdered stevia, and you only need a pinch for most recipes, so it lasts a loooong time.
A lot of foodies use Stevia Glycerite in their recipes. It is an easy and convenient way to add a little extra sweet to nearly perfect recipes. We use it to sweeten our whipping cream while it’s in the mixer.
Do you miss brown sugar? Sukrin Gold has several low-carb options to add in that flavor you enjoy.
The other good sweetener recommended for the Ketogenic diet is Lo Han Fruit (also called monk fruit) extract. Recently featured on draxe.com for being a recommended ketogenic sweetener, along with stevia, it is many times sweeter than sugar and has many health benefits. Watch out when you buy, as it is often combined with other unhealthy artificial sweeteners, so read labels. I buy mine from Swansonvitamins.com, combined with inulin (a sweet fiber and prebiotic that feeds good bacteria that nourish the gut). I use this in recipes I will share.
Real Salt~ Not table salt. Use RealSalt brand, unbleached sea salt, or himalayan salt that is whole and rich in minerals. Remember that they will not be enriched with iodide, so include other naturally rich iodine foods such as kelp or wakame flakes. It can be sprinkled over meat, vegetable and salad dishes.
Supplement Smart. Take a good multi-vitamin. If you aren’t getting enough iron or amino acids, look into taking dessicated beef liver. Need more C? Rose hips are a wonderfully bio-available and inexpensive source. Have magnesium on hand… if a change in diet brings on constipation, the magnesium will become your best friend. I recommend Plexus Biocleanse or Magnesium Calm. Do probiotics.
I try to update this page fairly regularly. 🙂 I hope this is helpful. God bless.