Keto Basics: In My Kitchen

There are a lot of resources available for keto shopping lists and pantry staples. I will list some of them at the end of this post. This post is a list of what's in my kitchen, the food I buy, the appliances I couldn't live without, and my cooking staples.

This is a very long list, I have been collecting my staples for many years and not everything is used regularly. Because of this, I will use a key to indicate the food I use regularly. Remember, this is just the list of foods that works for me. I could probably trim this down a lot and still make nice keto food. If you are just starting your ketogenic journey, I would recommend doing an inventory of what you already have and if any of it is keto friendly. Next, decide which part of cooking is most important for you.  If it's being able to cook quickly and meal prep then maybe your staples are foods that keep well. You'll need good Tupperware that can be put in the freezer, and flavours you won't get bored of. If your priority is good value for less cost; minimise your spices to a few basics, figure out which cuts of meat are the best value for money, buy in bulk.I enjoy baking and using spices, so my priorities are making sure I always have these ingredients on hand, keeping my spice rack stocked, and having small dishes to freeze small batches of baked goods in. We also keep good cuts of meat in the freezer as well as easy to throw together lunch foods.

Pork Belly

Pork belly is one of my favourite cuts of meat. We eat this more often than steak. And if you watch Masterchef, you will probably have noticed that it's growing in popularity. We are fairly lucky in South Africa because pork belly is available easily and relatively cheaply. I usually buy 3kg (6.6 lb) cuts, so they take a while to cook and because they are so big, they are often weirdly shaped. Sometimes they have bone, sometimes cartilage. When I buy the fancy looking, nicely cut ones, they are usually around 800g (1.7 lb) and cook a lot faster.

Before I started keto I had never even heard of pork belly. It has slowly become a staple in our house because, if done right, it can be breakfast, lunch and dinner for a few days. It freezes really well and is super versatile.

There are thousands of ways to cook pork belly, this is simply the way I prefer. It's a very easy recipe but one of my most impressive meals. People keep thanking me for going out of my way to make such fancy food for them. Just be aware that pork belly is quite high in calories, 520 calories per 100g (0.2 lb).

Pork belly meal ideas:

  1. Sliced pork belly with steamed/roasted veg
  2. Pulled pork on pumpkin puree/cauliflower mash
  3. Pork belly and crackling served on sautéed spinach with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce
  4. Pork belly with asparagus and fried egg
  5. Pulled pork in a creamy alfredo-type sauce served with zucchini noodles
  6. Pulled pork served with melted cheese and olives/nuts/cucumber (snack type foods)
  7. Crispy fried pork belly strips in duck fat (I am dying to try this but I need a sharp knife first)
  8. Shredded pork belly with stir fried vegetables

How I started keto: not all vegetables are created equal

Keto is something that I believe you definitely need to put some research time into. Jumping in blindly can hurt you if you aren't careful. I don't mean to scare people away - but mixing high(er) fat with a still elevated carbohydrate intake is not a good idea. I wrote about how I started keto and what keto actually is, a few weeks ago. In this post I will address the issue of which vegetables are "keto friendly" as well as common misconceptions about keto food. 

When I started keto, I was not sure which foods were safe for me to eat. I started looking into the carb counts of foods, taught myself to read labels, googled ALL THE things and started to undertand the basics of lower carb nutrition. I stuck to more "whole foods" - basic keto foods like fatty proteins, non-starchy veggies and healthy fats like olive oil, butter, avocados, nuts and coconut oil. And of course, lots of eggs. I didn't start with intermittent fasting either, I ate three meals a day and for the first 2 - 3 weeks I did not count calories. I felt it was better to concentrate on getting used to keto food rather than calorie intake. Once I got over the cranky phase, I paid more attention to my macros. When you start doing keto it is very important that you familiarise yourself with the basic low carb foods - as this list will inform your eating choices from here on out. 

How I started keto: the beginning

I've been giving this post a lot of thought lately and honestly, I can't remember exactly how I stumbled on keto. I live in South Africa and banting is a big thing here and has been for a while. Banting is Tim Noakes' version of the Low Carb High Fat diet. So I wasn't totally unaware of this way of eating but I was very against it. I bought into the rhetoric that fat will kill you, carbs are fuel and complex carbohydrates are absolutely necessary for life to continue. Yup. Hook, line and sinker. At least until I started testing my blood sugar after eating "healthy foods".

I would also like to pause here to say, I am not a doctor or a dietician. This is not medical advice, and everyone responds differently to carbohydrates. So, if you feel strongly that people need complex carbs to be healthy… you should probably stop reading now.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my food blog! Things you will find here: many recipes, delicious food, weight loss stories, some bad language, a little bit of snark, and probably a lot of selfies. Things you won't find here: carbs.

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. None of the posts on this blog are meant to replace medical advice and you should consult your doctor before starting a diet or exercise program. I am simply sharing my own experiences on this blog.