KETO AROUND THE HOLIDAYS
Laura Mouriño, N.D.
The holidays are upon us and that means it is time for joy, cheer, and FOOD! Yes, food is in abundant supply including those that can have quite an impact on your blood sugar. Yes, the pies, cookies, and desserts, but also many that are deceptive in their carbohydrate content such as gravy, mashed potatoes, casseroles rolls, rice and beans (for our latinx folks) and the most deceptive of all…alcohol and other holiday beverages. It may seem impossible to get through the holidays when you are on a seemingly restrictive diet like keto, but there are tons of ideas, recipes, and creativity that will help solve this problem and even convince non-keto folks to indulge in these treats!
A ketogenic diet, as reviewed extensively in our other posts, is one of the best methods of supporting a metabolically flexible state by reducing carbohydrate load and increasing healthy fat consumption. By attaining and maintaining metabolic flexibility, we support the body’s ability to efficiently utilize energy from fat, protein, and carbohydrates without the energy crash afterwards. Unfortunately, all of the holiday sweets and comfort foods from cookies to mashed potatoes to potato latkes do not help us stay in metabolic flexibility and end up tanking our energy to the point of needing to take a nap-or even worse: eating more carbs!
Thankfully, there are wonderful alternatives to help keep up the holiday spirit without the need to sacrifice any traditions or compromise our metabolism. Read on for a few keto alternatives and keto holiday recipes that incorporate them which keep the Options Naturopathic family filled with holiday cheer.
As always – stay healthy, safe, and keep up the keto this holiday season! Trust us, your bodies will be more thankful than ever!
- Monk Fruit Extract: Monk fruit sweetener is an alternative that does not spike insulin or blood sugar like cane sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Monk fruit sweetener comes from a small sub-tropical melon native to the remote mountains of Southern China. It is considered twenty times sweeter than most fruit juices without sugar. It is similar to stevia but alas, no aftertaste!. Monkfruit comes in a variety of forms including white and brown granulated, a maple-like syrup, and as a liquid sweetener. Purisure, a go-to at Options, is a concentrated monk fruit sweetener that typically requires less than ¼ of the amount of sugar in most recipes in order to achieve desired sweetness. This can be used as a sweetening substitute for any cookie, cake, sweetened beverage, and every “sugar” coating like on ham or casseroles throughout the holidays. We have some of our favorite recipes with monk fruit at the bottom of this post!
- Cacao Powder: Another pantry staple is pure cacao powder. Unlike its popular dessert counterpart, semisweet chocolate chips or cocoa/chocolate powder, cacao are the minimally processed beans that do not contain sweeteners but remain rich in flavor. Cacao powder can be substituted into any dish that calls for chocolate, including but not limited to: hot cocoa, mocha coffee, chocolate frosting, and yes even fudge!
- Cauliflower: A “not so naughty” savory alternative, cauliflower, is having a moment in the cooking world these last couple of years. Since it does not have any distinct flavor on its own, cauliflower is able to be implemented in so many different recipes like rice, mashed “potatoes”, and even stuffing. Cauliflower is low carb, high fiber, gluten-free. Although it’s not as nutrient dense compared to its broccoli cousin, it is a great alternative to potatoes, rice, and bread crumbs – all of which are high carb. Grains and starches have been shown to have high amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and toxic metal residues – regardless of being organic or otherwise. (For you Hashimoto’s patients, PLEASE don’t eat the stuffing & gravy made with wheat flour!). There are many grocery store chains that have prepared riced cauliflower dishes, or if feeling adventurous – get a head of cauliflower and pulse in a food processor! Doing so preserves whatever nutrition is present, and certainly tastes better… Try riced cauliflower cooked in grass fed butter, seasoned with sea salt and Italian herb seasoning for any holiday, as well as this grain-free keto stuffing recipe as a dinner side.
- Beverages: This is the sneakiest carb loader of them all, from soda pop to eggnog… hot cocoa to sugar-filled juices, to holiday cocktails and wine, these beverages are loaded with liquid carbohydrates that will wreak havoc on our metabolism for days and for some, weeks to come. Thankfully just like desserts, there are plenty of keto-friendly drink alternatives to be made with a few simple switches. Zevia soda pop is a great bubbly alternative made with Stevia instead of sugar that will keep both kids and adults satisfied. As mentioned previously, utilizing Purisure monk fruit sweetener is a wonderful low calorie, no sugar sweetener that can zest up any holiday beverage. Lastly, for the wine lovers out there – it would be wise to look into Dry Farm Wines for the best low sugar AND chemical/glyphosate-free wines on the market that won’t break the bank.
- The best for last… We’re talking about the turkey, ham, lechon (pork loin), lamb, or clean plant-based main dish! When cooking up the spotlight dish, it is best to cook in a high heat, stable cooking medium such as grass fed butter or ghee. Or, for a non-dairy option… use avocado oil rather than using nonstick spray oil, canola oil, margarine, or even olive oil… none of which are good to cook with or ingest! Cooking (and baking) in healthier mediums helps maintain high amounts of healthy omega-3 oils in both the meal and in the oil, as well as reduce advanced glycosylated end-products (AGEs), which are the charred bits that can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other metabolic diseases.
DR. LAURA'S FAVORITE KETO RECIPES
- 12 oz nut or seed butter
- ½ cup pure cacao powder
- ½ cup coconut oil, ghee, or butter
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp of coarse sea salt
- ⅛ cup or less of Purisure monk fruit
- Melt butter, ghee or coconut oil on defrost mode in the microwave or low setting on the stovetop.
- Mix all ingredients into melted oil.
- Line an 8x8 cake pan or 9x5 loaf pan with parchment or wax paper.
- Pour fudge mix spread evenly.
- Set in the refrigerator for 2 hours or until hard.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy.
- 2 medium heads of cauliflower (roughly 6 cups chopped)*
- 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 stalks of celery, sliced thinly
- 3 cups of mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
- 2 1/2 tsp dried sage
- 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until “rice” consistency is reached.
- Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add onions, garlic and celery and sauté for 5 mins
- Add mushrooms and continue cooking until they’ve begun to sweat (about another 5 mins)
- Add in cauliflower and cook for about 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.
- Top with pecans, spices and vinegar and cook for 1 min.
- Serve warm or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
*If purchasing pre-“riced” cauliflower it comes out to roughly 4 cups
NOTE: This is not to be stuffed inside a turkey. Cook only on the stove top and serve alongside turkey.
- 3 cups [7 dl] of organic whole milk, canned full-fat coconut milk, or other non-dairy milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup of granulated monk fruit or stevia
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup of hot freshly brewed strong regular, decaf coffee, cacao, or Dandiblend
- 2 tbsp raw cacao powder (optional)
- 1 stick of cinnamon and 5 cloves
- A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Optional: 1 tbsp MCT oil
- Heating milk: Heat milk, making sure it does not break the boil.
- Mixing eggs and milk: Mix eggs, sweetener, and salt. Whisk until it is thoroughly mixed. Add the milk, starting with small quantities and mixing thoroughly before adding more milk. Stir in coffee and cacao.
- Heating eggnog: Return the eggnog to the pot and heat over medium-low heat, add in cinnamon
- and cloves stirring until it starts to become foamy and a bit thicker approx. 5 mins.
- If desiring additional fat content whisk in MCT oil
- Cooling and serving: Remove the eggnog from the heat and whisk until it becomes a bit cooler (so it doesn’t form a crust).
- Sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve immediately.
*If desiring plain eggnog, skip the coffee and cacao powder.