Keto Chocolate Pudding with Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are odd little seeds that pack a wallop of soluble fiber and minerals (check out the RDA info below). The soluble fiber, when exposed to liquids, turns into a jelly-like substance that has impressive thickening ability. Additionally, this soluble fiber is great for stabilizing blood sugar. Many even report lower blood sugar numbers for the whole next day after they consume a tablespoon of chia seeds. Most of the carbs in chia seeds are fiber, which makes them a fun little ingredient to play with in keto and low carb recipes.

While this recipe is quite tasty, I recommend avoiding dessert recipes during your first month or more on keto. Initially, I find it easiest to reduce cravings by avoiding dessert type foods all together. After you have been on keto and your cravings seem mostly a thing of the past, then I would recommend trying a recipe like this, occasionally. If you experience increased cravings in the days following this recipe, I recommend going back to no desserts for a while longer.

Keto Chocolate Chia Pudding
Keto Chocolate Chia Pudding with Whipped Cream

Ingredients

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup Swerve, confectioners style

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 tablespoons chia seeds

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the almond milk, cocoa powder, Swerve, and sea salt into a blender and blend on high until smooth.
  2. Pour pudding into storage bowl with a lid. Stir in chia seeds. Wait 10 minutes and stir again. (This helps distribute the chia seeds evenly, so that they don’t clump at the bottom.)
  3. Cover and refrigerate pudding overnight.
  4. Stir pudding well and divide among 4 serving dishes. In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream on high with an electric blender until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Top pudding with whipped cream.

Yield: 4 – 1 cup servings

Nutrition info: 180 calories, 8.7 g carbs, 5.7 g fiber, (3 g net carbs), 16 g fat, 4 g protein

RDA info: vitamin A 14%, vitamin D 15%, vitamin E 12%, vitamin K 90%, calcium 31%, copper 16%, iron 14%, magnesium 19%, manganese 24%, zinc 11%

Keto Chicken Heart and Mushroom Stroganoff

Oh EM gee, this is delicious! If you’ve never had chicken hearts, they taste similar to dark meat chicken, just a tad firmer. Like all organ meats, chicken hearts are rich in bioavailable nutrients, especially minerals (take a look at the RDA info below). If you are anemic, or low on energy, you probably need more organ meats. Since they are firm, they lend themselves well to slow cooking. This stroganoff is rich and earthy, with tons of mushrooms. The spices used give it a lot of pep-per! It turned out a little runnier than I would have liked, so I may be tweaking this recipe in the future. The flavors were so delicious, however, I really didn’t care about the consistency! I hope you enjoy this, too.

Chicken Hearts and Mushroom Stroganoff
Chicken Hearts and Mushroom Stroganoff

Ingredients

1 pound mushrooms, rinsed and halved
1 pound chicken hearts, cut into quarters
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 -4 cloves)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 ounces of cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

Place mushrooms, chicken hearts, and onions in the crock of your slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth, garlic, mustard, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Stir until smooth and then pour over the ingredients already in the slow cooker. Stir. Top with cooker lid and cook on high for 2 – 3 hours or low for 4 – 6 hours, or until the chicken hearts are cooked through.

Place the cream cheese into blender. Strain out 1 cup of liquid from the slow cooker. With the blender on low, slowly add the liquid to the blender until smooth and creamy. Pour cream cheese liquid back into slow cooker and stir to combine. Ladel into bowls and sprinkle chopped parsley on top for garnish.

Serving suggestions: serve over Miracle Noodles, or cauliflower rice.

Yield: 5 servings

Nutrition info: 325 calories, 8 g carbs, 1.7 g fiber, 19 g fat, 30 g protein

RDA info: B12 112%, Riboflavin 62%, Niacin 31%, B5 41%, B6 22%, folate 25%, vitamin A 16%, vitamin C 22%, vitamin K 65%, copper 40%, iron 50%, manganese 19%, phosphorus 32%, potassium 16%, selenium 25%, zinc 50%

Keto Gives Me Freedom from the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

Today was quite a stressful day. My car’s radiator blew up on Thursday, so I was without a car. Additionally, my sink was clogged and water was leaking everywhere, so I was unable to use my kitchen to prepare food. This morning as I was waiting for the maintenance crew to come unclog my drain, enjoying my morning coffee with fresh made whipped cream, I was planning meals to cook this afternoon. I realized that I was short a few ingredients to make Teriyaki Chicken Hearts as planned, so I decided to borrow my son’s car to run to the store quickly before breakfast. While I was out, I took a short detour to find some new workout pants, since my old ones are too big, plus they have a huge hole in the butt. Shortly thereafter, my son called to say he needed to buy some new shoes for work today. Since he wears a size 14, which is very hard to find in most stores, this was going to be an adventure. I hurried home only to find that the power was out from the huge windstorm hitting our area. Since I definitely couldn’t cook now, and the maintenance crew and plumber couldn’t even unclog my drain (needed power to run the plumbing tools), I decided to ride along with him for the afternoon. Without ever making breakfast.

Once we gave up on finding my son any shoes today, it was about 2:30 pm and time for us to hit the gym before he had to shower and go to work. Neither of us had eaten yet today. We were both hungry, but decided to keep going and eat after the gym.

One of the things I love about my ketogenic diet is that I am no longer dependent on food to maintain my blood glucose levels. Before keto, I would need to eat every 3-4 hours, and if it had been too long between meals, I would start to get irritable, fatigued, shaky, forgetful, brain fogginess, stressed out, and hungry. Some people call this “hangry” (hungry + angry). When my blood sugar started to dip, food and eating were all that was on my mind. I couldn’t do anything else until I got something to eat. If I was away from the house, or had errands to do, I would often grab fast food or something (anything!) from the grocery store, and almost always my food choices were high carb. In that state of energy depletion, my body knew that carbs would be the fastest way to maintain my blood glucose and my energy. In that state, I had little willpower to make healthier choices because physiology always wins out over willpower. After eating that high carb meal in the past, my blood glucose would spike up, causing a huge release of insulin, which in turn would cause my blood glucose to drop back down in a matter of hours. This cycle of highs and lows would repeat throughout the day. When I teach nutrition classes, I refer to this as “the blood sugar roller coaster”.

The blood sugar roller coaster is not a fun ride.
The blood sugar roller coaster is not a fun ride.

But after keto, I am no longer stuck on the blood sugar roller coaster. My body is running primarily on ketone bodies, which are made from fat. (And the tiny bit of glucose my body needs is easily made by my body, too.) Since there is a steady supply of fat IN my body, enough to last for months, I’m no longer dependent on food to maintain my energy and stamina.

Today I was able to survive (thrive, really) on only coffee and cream (and my own body fat) from the time I woke up at 8 am, until about 5 pm. I was clear-headed, had plenty of energy, was easy-going, agreeable, and hungry. Yes, I was hungry going that long without food, but I wasn’t powerless over this hunger. I had an option to eat if I wanted to. I was not in a physiological state of overdrive, seeking a high volume of any carb-laden food I could get my hands on. I had choices. I could have stopped at multiple fast food places or grocery stores along the way. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to wait until I got home later to make a meal that would truly nourish me AND taste delicious. And a meal that would keep me off the blood sugar roller coaster. I was using my physiology now to give me willpower, instead of trying to use willpower to overcome my physiology.

I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of freedom keto brings to my life.

Here is the salad meal I finally made when I got home (and my power was back on and my sink was unclogged). A giant Pepperoni Pizza Salad with Tomato Basil Dressing. It might have been the most delicious salad I’ve ever eaten.

Giant Pepperoni Pizza Salad with 4 tablespoons of dressing. 982 calories, 4 g carbs, 36 g protein, 92 g fat.
Giant Pepperoni Pizza Salad with 35 g Romaine, 86 g pepperoni, 56 g cheddar, 1 olive, and 4 tablespoons of dressing. 982 calories, 4 g carbs, 36 g protein, 92 g fat.

Creamy Seafood Bisque

I came across this decadent creamy soup recipe in one of the keto support groups I’m in. Member Stacey Dresser posted this recipe, sharing how when she made it in the past (prior to keto), she felt very guilty eating it. Now she gets to thoroughly enjoy a formerly forbidden food, as this is now her “diet” food. Love it!

Stacey says, “I live in The Woodlands, TX. I am in interior design. I also have a small boutique that specializes in women and children (it is not open right now as we moved not too long ago). I was hardcore Paleo for about 5 years. However the last 3 years I have been Paleo that leans more towards Keto. I was also thinking it would be great with real bacon bits on the top.” Great suggestion, Stacey!

Scallops are a delicious treat from the sea. They are a good source of Vitamin B12, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Protein, Phosphorus and Selenium.
Scallops are a delicious treat from the sea. They are a good source of Vitamin B12, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Protein, Phosphorus and Selenium.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of olive oil (or avocado oil)

1 small onion, diced

1 pound of unsalted butter, preferably Kerrygold brand (4 sticks)

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 cups of heavy cream

1/2 cup seafood stock

8 ounces small scallops

8 ounces uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Directions

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then onions and saute, stirring occasionally until they are translucent. Add the butter, bay leaves, paprika, cream and seafood stock. Stir. Turn it to low, cover and let it simmer for 30 minutes. (Note: do not let it boil! This will cause the soup to “break”, making it separate and become lumpy.) Add the seafood and let it simmer for another 10- 20 minutes, or until the seafood is cooked through. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Cooks notes: If you prefer your scallops seared, you can sear them and then add them. You can make this with any combination of seafood you like: crab, shrimp, cod, salmon, clams, etc. The nutrition info is calculated based on the recipe as written.

Yield: 8 servings, about 1 cup each

Nutrition info: 658 calories, 4.25 g carbs, 0.25 g fiber, 66 g fat, 14 g protein

RDA info: vitamin B12 21%, vitamin A 46%, vitamin D 10%, vitamin K 12%, calcium 7%, selenium 30%

Pepperoni Pizza Salad with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

The weather has still been warm here in the Pacific Northwest and I’ve been on a salad kick for taking to lunch to work, since there are limitless keto-friendly combinations and it’s super fast to put together. I simple take the dressing in a separate container and the salad sits happy in my lunch bag until I’m ready to eat it. This salad combo came about after I stocked up on keto foods the other day at my local restaurant supply store. I bought a giant bag of pepperoni slices, which make a great keto snack on their own, but it started me thinking about other uses for them. I only had cheddar on hand, but mozzarella would be more appropriate for a pizza themed salad. I also had a small jar of black olives on hand, but of course you could customize this salad with your own favorite pizza toppings – bell peppers, cooked mushrooms, sausage, etc. The Tomato Basil Vinaigrette dressing is the real kicker that tastes like pizza sauce.  And if you look at the nutrition info below, this might be the most nutritious pizza you’ve ever eaten.

Pepperoni Pizza Salad
Pepperoni Pizza Salad

Ingredients

1 large head romaine
6 ounces/112 grams mozzarella cheese
6 ounces/112 grams pepperoni slices
6 tablespoons/96 grams sliced black olives
3/4 cup Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition info: 425 calories, 6.5 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 38 g fat, 15.5 g protein
RDA: 14% B1, 19% B12, 15% B2, 37% folate, 190% vitamin A, 16% vitamin E, 162% vitamin K, 27% calcium, 13% iron, 12% potassium, 22% selenium, 13% zinc.

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

This recipe came about when I was trying to create the perfect salad dressing to go on top of a Pepperoni Pizza Salad. This turned out delicious. It would also be great on a caprese salad, or a marinade for grilled veggies.

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Ingredients

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup basil leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon Swerve (erythritol)
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)

Directions

In a food processor, add 1/2 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sea salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, basil leaves, tomato paste, Swerve, and chili flakes. Pulse until pureed. Turn the processor on low and slowly add the remainder of the oil.

The flavor improves the longer it sits.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups, 12 servings at 2 tablespoons each serving

Nutrition info per serving: 166 calories, 1 g carb, 18 g fat, 0.3 g protein

Grandma Leanne’s Keto Cheesecake

My mother, Leanne, is the cheesecake maker in our family. Nearly every year for my son’s birthday, she makes him a cheesecake. He has never really liked cake, and really loves cheesecake, so this has always been a much anticipated annual tradition for him. Since he has joined me in the keto lifestyle, this year for his birthday I wanted to see if I could challenge Grandma Leanne to make a keto-friendly version of her cheesecake.

While Grandma has made many cheesecakes, she had never made one that was sugar free and keto-friendly. I figured that by simply replacing the graham cracker crust and sweeteners in the recipe, it could easily be adapted to fit the keto lifetyle. To help her out, I ordered almond meal and Swerve from Amazon and had it shipped right to her house.

And she did! It was delicious and even all the non-keto birthday attendees enjoyed it. We ate it plain, however it would also be delicious with a raspberry coulis, salted caramel, or dark chocolate sauce.

Almond meal and Swerve
Almond meal and Swerve
Filling ready to go in the oven
Filling ready to go in the oven
Cheesecake devoured
Cheesecake devoured
Single Slice of Cheesecake
Single Slice of Cheesecake

Crust

1 3/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup Swerve, Confectioners Style

1/3 cup butter, melted

Filling

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup Swerve, Confectioners Style

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix almond meal and Swerve together and add butter. Stir to combine well. Press into bottom and sides of spring form pan.

Beat softened cream cheese until fluffy; add Swerve and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add sour cream. Blend until smooth. Pour into pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour. Turn off oven leaving door slightly ajar for one hour. Chill.

Yield: 10 servings

Nutrition info*: 264 calories, 5.4 g carbs, 2.1 g fiber, 25 g fat, 7 g protein

 

*For this recipe, I have omited the Swerve from the nutrition info because it is not digested by the body, does not cause an increase in insulin, nor an increase in blood glucose. It contributes no calories, carbs, fats, or protein. Due to labeling laws in the US, it is counted as carbs on labels, however it does not digest like carbs.