Two years of keto

The 26th of March 2018 marked two years of keto and the two best years of my life. It hasn't all been sunshine and bacon, this wasn't an easy journey. But it was definitely the best decision I ever made. I'm not a magical willpower unicorn, it was a decision that I had to (and still have to) make each morning, each time I went out, each time someone offered me sugary goodness. You do stop thinking about it as "a diet" and it just becomes how you live/eat. People become more accepting, for the most part, and while it is still inconvenient at social gatherings, it just becomes a habit. The last two years have taught me so much about myself, my body, my life and what I want. 

I have successfully lost 32kgs and I have been maintaining that loss for the last 6 months. Have a look here if you are interested in trying keto. 

Low Carb Banana Bread

Banana bread is one of those things that I wasn't sure I would ever have again. I was never much of a fruit eater before keto, but I LOVED banana bread. Waide's been introducing more fruit into his diet and since we had bananas in the house, I decided to try make some. I wasn't expecting much but this was one of the best "first try" recipes that I've ever done. I love keto baking!

Ginger & Lime Jello Cheesecake

I've been playing with the combination of jello (jelly for those of us speaking english on the bottom half of the planet) and cream cheese quite a lot lately, it makes a really spectacular fridge cheesecake. The best part of this is, it is so versatile: you can use any flavour combinations you want, you can leave out the base, you can combine it with plain jello - creating a layered cheesecake effect in a glass. There are so many ways to use this basic recipe.

I'm a big fan of ginger and lime, as if you guys haven't noticed, but I've also done a chocolate orange version of this cake with a few easy tweaks. Strawberry and chocolate, pineapple cheesecake with orange jello, raspberry and cherry cheesecake, blackcurrant and chocolate with whipped cream, are just some examples of where you can take this.

The calories in this are a little heavy because of the combination of cream cheese and heavy cream, if you want to lower them - leave out the heavy cream.  The bulk of the carbs in this recipe are in the chocolate base, so if you are looking for a lower carb sweet treat - simply leave out the base.

Let's talk about new years resolutions and micro-goals

We all compare ourselves to others. You've done it, I've done it. It's messed up but society continues to encourage us to do it. Weirdly enough, that isn't my issue. I compare myself to what I believe I should be. I compare myself to "idealised future me", which is an impossible comparison. I will never win. Because I could always be better. I could always be more successful, less distracted, more productive, thinner, learn to dress better, be more adult, be a better wife, be a better friend, do more (ugh, or any) charity work... You get the idea. I set these massive goals for myself that I am set up to fail at. I've said this before; my brain is awful, and that bitch hates me.

I achieved about half of my 2017 goals. I started a food blog, I hit 30kg lost, I went on a road trip with Waide, I networked more, I worked on my art. I did not however have my own exhibition (what was I thinking), lose another 15kg in 2017 (unrealistic much??), "grow my business" (my life took a bit of a detour this year), get a new business website (seriously, money. Hah), or even read the Sherlock Holmes books. In fact, of all of these, I am most embarrassed by the book thing. I am a fast reader. In 2016 I read 47 books. This year, 5, and 3 of those were rereads. My first thoughts "oh god I have failed", my second thoughts "what the hell psycho, who cares if you didn't read much this year... There's no afterlife syllabus that I have to complete. This isn't some kind of cosmic homework".

So my goal for 2018 is one thing: give myself a break. Instead of new years resolutions I am going to set micro-goals. Tiny, inconsequential, achievable goals. "start painting in the mornings", "go get my art turned into prints", "blog some more", "leave the house during the week". Things I can control. Things that don't loom over me like a 15kg (extra) goal I was never going to achieve. 2017 kicked my butt, in a big way. So I've realised something: I have to be kinder and nicer and more compassionate to myself because I can't count on 2018 to "be my year" because it really hasn't been working out that way so far. If you only do one thing next year, be nicer to yourself.

Rosemary's Rhubarb Pie

Lets preface this with: I don't usually tell my life story before recipes, I don't believe you guys want to hear about why I decided to make this specific meal for whoever I made it for and how they all went nuts about it and why it's connected to my childhood in some way. You're here for the food. That's okay, so am I.

That being said, this recipe holds a very special significance for me. My grandmother taught me a lot about baking and cooking. She was one awesome lady. Everyone loved her, you couldn't help it. She would invite you for lunch, teach you how to do something creative, feed you a roast of some kind and then give you a slice of pie. Her pies were famous. If you had the chance to have a mulberry or rhubarb pie at Aunty Rose's house; you did not turn that down. Those things were amazing. When I started keto I had to reconcile that there were a few things in my life that I would never eat again. My grandmother's pies, fruit mince pies and Christmas pudding. I was okay with all of this. I focused on what I could eat: cheese. My mother is a little more stubborn than I am. She decided that there was no way she was going to let this go. 

A few months ago she asked me for help coming up with a pie crust recipe. So we looked at Rosie's original recipe and figured out how to convert the carbs to well, not carbs. We had to try it a few times but when we finally got it to work... I almost couldn't believe this thing was real. We had made a pie crust that rivalled the real thing.

I know that sounds almost too good to be true but this crust browns nicely, it's flakey, it keeps its shape, the coconut flavour isn't strong at all and the best part: you can use it in savoury pies as well (with a bit of adjustment). My next mission - using it to make mince pies!

Keto over the festive season?

At this time of year you hear a lot of "oh, I'm just going to cheat on Thanksgiving, Christmas, <holiday of your choice>." Which unfortunately is usually followed by a few months of slippery slopes and then trying to get back on track. The first year that I did keto I actually catered my annual Christmas party for my friends and no one noticed/cared that there were no carbs in the food. I got a few comments about how much they missed my roast potatoes (I am really good at making those) but unfortunately there's no way to keto that. I made a bacon wrapped roast turkey complete with stuffing. We also had various salads, roast veggies, a few other meat dishes and a pumpkin pie for dessert. It was an amazing dinner. Calorie counting went out the window, but over holidays and birthdays I usually practice a "calories arent real" mentality.

This blog post is a collection of my own holiday themed recipes as well as some of my favourites from other food bloggers. I hope it helps and that everyone has a wonderful festive season.

Ginger Pork Meatballs

I'm a bit obsessed with pork at the moment, cooking it at every opportunity. Pork belly, pork dumplings, pork chops and tonight I made pork meatballs. They were incredible. I served them on a bed of fried cabbage and boiled green beans with melted butter.

Meal ideas:

  • Fried cabbage and meatballs
  • Meatball casserole with sour cream, broccoli and grated cheese
  • Meatballs and roast veg
  • Zughetti and meatballs with a tomato based sauce
  • Cauliflower egg fried rice and pork meatballs
  • Meatballs and sauerkraut

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

The holidays are traditionally a difficult time to stay on any diet. Last year I was a bit concerned about being able to do keto over christmas because of all the carbs and desserts and traditional holidays foods I would be missing out on. But I am keto for life, so the only real solution is to make my own new traditions. Pumpkin pie is an amazing traditional dessert that is so easy to "keto".

This pie was the by-product of me trying to recreate old favourites in a low carb way. It's more of a cheesecake but the flavours go together brilliantly, and all my non-keto family absolutely loved it. It freezes well and my parents were eating this for weeks after the holidays.

The fresh pumpkin I buy is 4.7g NET carbs per 100g, so the macros I have for this are based on that. I would highly recommend you work out your own because I've seen a lot of variation in the listed carbs in pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spice

If you are in the US, you are probably about to see this stuff EVERYWHERE and in everything. I have never had a pumpkin spice latte and I'm pretty sure I've never even had a real pumpkin pie. It's not a "thing" here. I was super intrigued by the concept of pumpkin spice and did some research into what went into it. I love spice. LOVE LOVE. I enjoy learning how to use spice in new ways, creating my own, bringing out the best flavours in foods. So, of course, I made my own pumpkin spice. It's actually quite easy.

Keto Pizza Bowl

I love pizza. Always have, probably always will. When I found out there was such a thing as keto pizza, I was the happiest diabetic ever. Skillet pizza, fathead pizza, cauliflower pizza, chicken crust pizza, meatza, so many variations. However, they all involve quite a lot of prep time. I wanted something that killed the craving and didn't take 3 hours of "is the dough supposed to look like this??"

Pizza bowls are easy to do, this took me 20 minutes to put together. If you prep it the night before it would make an epic lunch at work - all you need is a microwave. Whatever your pizza preference is, if you like anchovies on your pizza, asparagus, artichokes, spinach, avocado, bacon... it all works.

Suggestions for toppings:

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Chicken
  • Bacon
  • Salami
  • Ham
  • Biltong
  • Blue cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Chorizo
  • Onions
  • Bell peppers
  • Ground beef/lamb/pork
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Chilli
  • Rocket/Arugula
  • Grilled eggplant