LOCKDOWNS

Let’s start with this amazing poem called Desiderata which means “things needed or wanted”.

DESIDERATA

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

— Max Ehrmann, 1927

Lockdowns are hard. Some will claim that if you’re determined enough and motivated enough you’ll achieve everything you want. I think this can be incredibly inspiring for some but I don’t think this is helpful for everyone.

One of the phrases that can get bandied about is “we really are very lucky, it could be so much worse”. This may be technically true, but feelings are not a competition. It’s important to not discard how bad things may feel in our current life. Just because we may be lucky doesn’t mean things can’t be difficult.

Identifying what we’re grateful for is great tool (gratitude journals are incredibly popular right now) as it can help balance out some depressive feelings. Regardless of guilt about feeling bad when you have all these positives, remember our feelings are valid no matter what anyone else is going through.

Being kind to ourselves and others is always important but especially so when things are extra tough.

This can be particularly difficult for some people, so something that you can try is to think about what you would say to a friend when they are struggling. You will find that you are usually a lot more supportive of others. Try and work at supporting yourself more; celebrate the wins no matter how big or small and do not compare to others. Your wins might look like going for a walk around the block, not having dessert, doing 25 burpees or even getting dressed. It’s not about being the best at everything all the time, it’s about trying to be better than yesterday.

Please remember, taking care of ourselves isn’t selfish and asking for help isn’t weak. Hang in there, let’s keep looking forward an taking things one day at a time.

TO SNACK OR NOT TO SNACK

So, snacking. Some people say they don’t feel the need to snack when on keto because the fat fills them up. Others (like us at Keto-Bites) still enjoy snacks.

Sometimes you might not be super hungry and it can be a good idea to just have a drink of water, sometimes you might actually be hungry because your meals didn’t have enough fat and sometimes you might just feel like a snack. No judgement here, however it is easy to overdo them and it is important to choose the right type of snack.

If you’re a beginner, this is just a few ideas to get you thinking and if you’re not, it can still be helpful to get reminders about things you may have forgotten about.

First up:

Keto -Bites cookies (of course!)
They are single serve, are more than 50% fat which does help fill you up, less than 1gm net carb per pack and the ingredients list is short and clean. They are also mini so that you still get that “snacking feeling” – who doesn’t love eating 10 mini cookies instead of 1 big one?

Nuts
Nuts are great but not all nuts are created equally and there are limits to how much you should eat (as per most foods). Our favourites are: Pecans (think caramalised as an idea!), Brazil nuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts and Macadamias. You can also use these to make nut butters (think Choc Hazelnut for example!).

Cheese
Most cheeses are less than 1gm net carb per 25g serve so great to grab a cheese stick, a couple of slices or cubes or a smear – think cream cheese on cucumber.

Fat Bombs
These are small single serve homemade items that are a bit like an equivalent to keto bliss balls. Mainly sweet, some ideas are cookie dough, cheesecake, fudge… There are so many options, all you have to do is google keto fat bombs and you’re set.

Eggs
Boiled eggs are a great option to have at the ready in the fridge or it is actually surprisingly quick to boil or scramble them when you need.

Meats – salami, jerky, pork crackle, ham
Not everyone is keen on processed meats so salami and kabana may not be your thing but there are lots of clean
pork crackle and jerky options and if it suits you, a slice of leg ham with a slice of cheese can be a great choice.

Fruits and Veg
You probably know that while fruit and vegetables are generally considered healthy, on keto we have to be aware of not just traditional versions of healthy and of serving size. Green capscicum, cucumber, little tomatoes are great quick veggie snacks. Fruit wise – I’d stick to berries: blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are the best but again, don’t eat the whole punnet.

Drinks
This is another quick and easy option, you can make a protein shake with water or almond/coconut milk, or you could make a coffee (add syrup and ice to make it a fancy iced coffee if you want) and you can add a dash of mct oil for an extra boost.

Bars
There are lots of pre-made bar options on the market, but make sure you check the nutritional panel and ingredient list (i.e. stay away from maltitol). You can also make your own, as always there are a number of make at home options.

Keto Candies – gummies, marshmallows
We love having these in the fridge ready to just pop in your mouth for a no carb fix. Plus the marshmallows have all the benefits of gelatine as well so they’re actually good for you! 😉 You can check out our Instagram for some recipes. We generally make these as there are so few options on the market without maltitol (a no-no for us) but as keto becomes more popular, more and more products are appearing. Yay! 😊

Remember these are just a few ideas to get you going, the internet is a world of information but make sure to use that information wisely – check out my earlier entry about nutritional panels; I’ve been told it’s been a game changer for some.

Happy Snacking!

ARE ALL KETO FRIENDLY PRODUCTS FRIENDLY?

The “keto lifestyle” is becoming more and more popular which means many companies are trying to jump on the band wagon and take advantage of this by labelling their products “keto friendly” when they aren’t really keto friendly at all.

Currently there aren’t any specific laws around labelling foods “keto friendly” which basically means anyone can put it on their products. So while I always say “labels are our friends”, you need to make sure you’re looking at, and understanding, the details: the ingredients and the nutritional panel.

You probably already know which ingredients to stay away from – mainly grains (including oats and quinoa!) and sugar,(including coconut sugar, rice malt syrup etc) are the key culprits. Do some googling for more details.

Generally most people following keto suggest avoiding maltitol (a sweetener used in many sugar free and low carb products) because it can affect blood sugars which can affect ketosis (and it is considered unhealthy by many), however it doesn’t impact everyone. So apart from that, ingredients are pretty straight forward depending of course on what style keto you are doing (ie paleo keto, dirty keto, vegan etc). but the nutritional panel however can be very problematic.

Some people count total carbs and some people count net carbs (total carbs – dietary fibre – sugar alcohols).

It is important to be aware that the nutritional panel can vary from country to country. I think one of the most common issues is Australian versus US labels. The Australian “carbohydrate” line is already “net carbs”, meaning the dietary fibre has already been removed (even though you sometimes see the dietary fibre on a separate line). On US labels the carbohydrate line represents “total carbs” so if you are counting net carbs, you need to take the dietary fibre and any sugar alcohols off this total.

When following keto most people need to stay between 20 and 30gm of net carbs a day to stay in deep ketosis so keep in mind that so-called “keto friendly” snack that has 8gm net carbs may not be a great choice.

When it comes to “keto friendly” products, make sure you look closely to tell whether they are actually your friend after all.

New Year, New Goals

At the beginning of a new year, many people like to make new year’s resolutions or set goals etc (don’t worry if you haven’t, it doesn’t mean you’ll have a terrible year). These, more often than not, include health goals.

It can seems like everyone’s talking about going keto, doing keto, eating keto, following the keto lifestyle, eating a ketogenic diet, getting back on the keto train….. and you’re thinking about trying this keto thing for yourself or giving it another go if you’ve already tried it.

Is it just eggs and bacon and oil or butter in your coffee?

Well it sort of can be but there are actually loads of variations of the ketogenic diet and soooo may opinions about what a ketogenic diet actually looks like. You just have to google keto to see that – standard keto, cyclical keto, vegan keto, dirty keto, paleo keto etc. I’ll let you head down that rabbit hole yourself.

So, I suggest first up think about why you want to try it.

Do you want:

  • To lose weight?
  • Gain better athletic endurance?
  • Lose your afternoon slump?
  • Improve your mental clarity?
  • Manage your diabetes or epilepsy?

Research suggests you can achieve all of this on the keto diet, but it can be helpful to tailor your keto searches around the topics that apply to you to make sure you get information that fits with your goals. You can see from an earlier post why I choose keto.

When embarking on something like trying keto it can a bit of trial and error and it is different for everyone. There is no magic switch you can just turn on.

Sorry. ☹

And of course, a quick disclaimer – when drastically changing your diet, it is always a good idea to seek medical advice. I am in no way a medical expert.

Basic Science

The basic idea of the ketogenic diet is that you eat very small amounts of carbohydrates, medium amounts of protein and get most of your daily kilojoules from fat, the standard aim for a strict ketogenic diet is usually a 5% carbs, 10% protein, 85-90% fat ratio averaging out to around 20g or less net carbs a day. A number of people follow a looser style of keto maintaining less than 50g carbs a day and then it can evolve into “low/lower carb” diets.

Carbs are the body’s preferred source of energy because they’re the easiest to convert but when we stop providing the body with carbs (i.e. eating them), ketones are produced by the liver from fat, and that is when you get into ketosis.

When you’re in ketosis, fat is used as fuel for the brain and body. Scientifically this is when your body is at its most efficient and is the whole point of the ketogenic diet. It varies dramatically from person to person in terms of how easy it is to get into ketosis and to stay in ketosis so please, as with any other goals or resolutions you make, don’t compare to others, it should be about your journey and about what you want to achieve.

Here are a couple of websites with lots of information about the science for those who want it but also about how to get started and a lot of recipe ideas.

www.ruled.me/start-here

www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto

www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101#takeaway

There are many, many reasons to try out the keto way of life so if you’re not already living it, or you want to get back on the wagon, why not give it a go right now – there’s no time like the present.

Fried Chicken!

Remember a while ago I wrote about fried chicken and buttered beans being one of my favourite breakfasts? Well I had it for dinner last night and thought I should share my tips and tricks…

The two most important things:

  • The coating
  • The frying

The Coating
There are two elements to the coating – the base and the seasoning.

The Base
There are lots of options for the base; crushed pork rinds, almond flour, coconut flour, psyllium husk, flaxmeal and probably others. The one I love best is lupin flour.

Lupin flour is relatively new, it was added to the list of allergens in just 2018, it is a type of legume and related to peanuts, so if you have a nut allergy, best to steer clear, sorry. Lupin flour is lower carb than almond meal and a different texture so it sticks to the chicken (or pork, or eggplant fries, or cauliflower, or…..) really well.

The Seasoning
This is a pretty personal one but I think an absolute must is salt and pepper. Thereafter, whatever floats your boat. As well as the initial salt and pepper, I like to add garlic salt, white pepper, mixed herbs, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. I mix these together and then stir them into the lupin flour.

Some people like to try and cheat their way through the coating piece and put the coating into a bag with the egg or cream coated meat and shake. I strongly advise against this because I have never been able to get it to work. I work my way through the step by step, it is totally worth it.
1) pour beaten egg or cream onto a plate
2) pour seasoned coating onto a second plate
3) dunk the meat or veges into cream or beaten egg
4) press each piece it into the seasoning then gently turn it over and press the other side into the seasoning
5) gently lift the item onto another plate ready for frying
6) repeat how ever many times needed

 

The Frying
The second critical part in creating the most awesome fried chicken, pork, eggplant, cauliflower etc.
The oil. Nothing special, I just used olive oil. I have been known to use Rice Bran Oil but apparently it really isn’t good for you.
Now to shallow fry or deep fry? (I know some use an air fryer but I don’t have one).

I believe deep frying makes a big difference. With the meat or vegetable floating in the bubbling oil, it doesn’t touch the bottom which means the coating stays on a lot better and when you’re making fried chicken, it’s all about the coating.

So, not only is deep frying my preferred option, it is also super important to not overload the pan, you want to make sure the oil temperature stays super hot, it should be bubbling at all times to ensure maximum crispiness. Due to the temperature it is ok to cook your stuff in batches if you don’t have a big enough pan. In fact, for most people I recommend cooking it in batches.

OK then. I think I’ve covered it all. If you want really crispy delicious fried chicken, you can’t skimp on the effort, but it is seriously worth it. Look at the picture.

Give it a go, you won’t regret it. Let me know if I missed anything out or I wasn’t clear on anything and post a comment on how it went.

Pancakes or Crepes? Part 2

So we know that in different parts of the world and to different people, the word “pancakes” means different things.

In my previous post, I talked about crepes, this one is about pancakes.

To me, pancakes mean sweet, thick and fluffy. There are lots of recipes out there, along with some great packet mixes but for me, the packet mixes can get a little high in carbs.

Also as with the crepes, my pancake recipe isn’t the easiest to make and does take a little time (it’s not a quick whip up a batch style) but I think they’re worth it and they reheat really well so you can do a big batch and then have them at the ready! As a bonus these are nut free as they use oat fibre.

The recipe I’m using at the moment is from the hungry elephant

https://www.thehungryelephant.ca

It uses oat fibre which can be a little tricky to get hold of – it is NOT oat flour or oat bran. You can get it at www.lowcarbemporium.com.au or iherb.com

Ingredients
1/3 cup (40g) oat fibre
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 tbsp whey isolate (optional)
1 tbsp sugar substitute
4 tbsp heavy cream (or half’n’half / single cream)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup (65g) greek yogurt*

* I switch out the greek yogurt for sour cream (even lower carbs) and I don’t use the optional whey isolate. I also add a little extra sweetener (remember that evil sweet tooth I’ve talked about).

Instructions
Beat the eggs and sour cream together – this takes a bit of work as full fat sour cream is quite solid. Once they’re well combined and smooth add the rest of the ingredients and mix. The mixture is very thick.

You can grease egg rings to ensure perfectly round pancakes or if you’re not fussed, you can simply blob the mixture in.

Heat a non stick pan on very low heat then drop a heaped tablespoon of mixture into the pan and spread around just a little leaving it to be maybe 1cm thick. I usually do three at a time. Cover the pan and cook until it starts to puff up a bit for approximately 2.5 – 3.5 minutes. Flip and cover again for another 2-3 minutes before removing from the pan.

I like to set a timer because I am easily distracted.

The whole batch using the greek yoghurt is 5.5 net carbs (so even less with sour cream), it is suggested that the batch makes around 5 pancakes but I usually get a couple more out of it. If you want really pretty, exactly round pancakes you can use a greased egg ring to help the shape.

They are super high in fibre so they keep you full for longer and help with…you know that problem that some people on the keto diet experience.

I smother mine in butter and sugar free maple syrup or caramel sauce and pecans or homemade “nutella” (check out the picture). Soooo good. I think they feel like McDonalds “hot cakes” or the Pancake Parlour pancakes. The picture shows less than 1/3 of the mix, so you do the math. All that yumminess for barely any carbs!

So, are you team thick or thin? I prefer the thick, the husband prefers the thin. Whichever one you choose, enjoy!

PANCAKES OR CREPES?

In different parts of the world and to different people, the word “pancakes” means different things.

To me, pancakes mean sweet, thick and fluffy and crepes (French word) were super thin, so thin they’re rollable and can be savoury or sweet.

Remember that sweet tooth I mentioned a couple of posts ago? Well, surprise, surprise I prefer sweet pancakes and sweet crepes.
Next post I’ll talk about “pancakes”, this one is about “crepes”.
For crepes, I use the standard cream cheese keto pancake recipe. There are a few floating around and I think they are all basically the same but I use this version. The cooking of them is a little tricky but I think the simplicity of the ingredients and method make up for it. And of course the end result!

Keto Cream Cheese Crepes (the thin ones)
2 eggs
60 gm (2oz) cream cheese (remember check your labels people!)
2 tsp granulated erythritol
½ tsp cinnamon
Blend it all together until super well combined, then let it sit for a couple of minutes so the bubbles subside.
Pour ¼ of the mix into a buttered med hot pan, let it sit for 2 minutes, then VERY carefully turn it over for around another minute. Repeat three times to use up the remaining of the mixture.

Then comes the fun bit, what to have with it. I’m pretty carb conscious so I like to keep it basically carb free so I melt some (read lots of) butter, stir in some sweetener and cinnamon and drizzle, well, pour it over each pancake before stacking the next one, ending up with a pile of deliciousness. If I’m feeling extra fancy, I’ll add a scoop of icecream. I know some people like using sugar free syrups or whipped cream and berries. Basically whatever you like that fits with your macros.

And if you lean towards the savoury side, leave out the sweetener and the cinnamon from the mix and use the pancakes like wraps or pour an alfredo or carbonara type sauce over them.

Are you team thick or team thin?

BREAKFAST FOR DINNER?

Yes please.

Forget about old definitions of meals. We think with keto, anything goes. As long as the macros are good. Particularly with the onset of intermittent fasting and omad (one meal a day), patterns of eating often change quite a lot.

Typical breakfast foods like omelettes, pancakes, bacon and eggs,“chaffles” (keto waffles) can all work really well as meals for any time of day. Just as stir fries, taco bowls and the like can work for breakfast. If you feel like it. Not everyone is up for a curry at 7am.

Omelettes are one of my fave dinners and one of my favourite breakfasts is leftover fried chicken with buttered greens. See what I mean? Not your traditional starter of sugar filled cereal or carb heavy pasta at the end of the day.

Current omelette mix of choice:

butter
cream
spring onions (shallots)
3 eggs
baby spinach
tomatoes
cheese (lots of it!)
garlic salt
black pepper

I don’t always quite manage to flip them so sometimes they end up more of a scrambled omelette (scramlette) but still absolutely delicious.

Let me know what you favourite breakfast or dinner is.

WHY DO I CHOOSE KETO?

So, it seems people want to know why I choose keto.

Essentially it’s all about health.

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my first child which led me to change my diet (temporarily) and we committed to doing no added sugar for our child (and subsequent two children). However as a confessed carbaholic and sugar addict, I of course reverted to my own bad habits.

Then, 7 years ago with three children under school age, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. It was a huge shock to everyone and has taken a fair bit of adjustment – mainly me not being able to drive (your licence gets suspended until seizures are under control).

Over the last number of years I have tried many, many different types of medications and alternative therapies. Some sort of worked for a while, some gave me horrible side effects – eg losing my vision, extreme nausea – and some didn’t work at all.

I have now found a cocktail of different drugs that have pretty much, but not quite stopped my seizures. However, basically my epilepsy is diagnosed as “medication resistant” so I still experience “pre-seizures” or auras which can lead me to lose sight temporarily, progress to a partial seizure or lead to a full blown seizure.
After having another full blown seizure (in the middle of Target), I decided to do some further research on less common treatments. This led me to what’s called the “ketogenic diet” or “keto”.

Years and years ago, the ketogenic diet was used to treat children with epilepsy with quite a bit of success. However with improvements in the effectiveness of medications and the difficulties in sustaining the ketogenic diet, it was no longer really discussed as a possible treatment for epilepsy.

My husband was already following keto and I decided I had nothing to lose (except bread, pasta, rice, potatoes etc) and everything to gain (my driver’s licence, no more seizures…).

So, here I am following the less than 20gm net carb a day ketogenic lifestyle, loving it and I have my licence back!

As a confessed carb addict, particularly sweet carbs (think cookies, brownies, cakes), this diet has been a serious adjustment, as they say a true lifestyle change.

I needed (wanted) to find alternatives for products like the ones I loved. There are some products available to buy out there but not a lot of “true” good low carb options. For example one brownie that has 8g carbs is not really great for someone who is only allowed 20g a day.

Thus, the creation of KETO-BITES! Finally we can all have awesomely delicious, real keto snacks.

Happy Snacking!

WHO LOVES DESSERT?

ME!
Some people believe following the keto lifestyle should result in losing your taste for sweet things. Some people do lose their sweet tooth and some don’t. And some, to be honest, just don’t want to. 😉

You can definitely still enjoy sweet things when you’re eating keto but you just have to make sure you make good choices.

Generally, as usual with keto food, you need to be super careful about buying processed keto food. Unfortunately there are products out there that claim to be keto-friendly but you might find yourself eating a ”keto” brownie that has 4gm net carbs. That can be up to a fifth or your daily carb allowance!

Making your own is always a good option and there are heaps of keto friendly recipes out there. Keep in mind some are “friendlier” than others and make sure you take your own macros into account.

For when you don’t want to bake, or don’t have ingredients, or you’re too tired and can’t be bothered, or don’t want to wait our KETO-BITES mini cookies have less than 1gm net carbs per bag and are a great quick sweet fix.
There are also loads of ways you can use them as a base and turn them into a more decadent creation. Combine with keto staples like whipped cream, cheesecake, chocolate mousse, icecream….
Dip! Sandwich! Crumble! Crush!

Image is of a cookies and cream cheesecake – a basic vanilla cheesecake with KETO-BITE mini dark chocolate cookies crumbled throughout the mix and then topped with more of the crushed mini dark chocolate cookies. Delicious!