Hi everyone! I’m back! I took a week off from posting due to a heavy work schedule, being out of town last weekend, and oh heck, let’s blame it on the time change. I’m back to sharing Keto deliciousness.
It’s been mostly cold this week in S.C. – where did Spring go? I decided today to make myself a hearty cold-weather dish – meatloaf. But no breadcrumbs, thank you very much. When I turned to keto options, my first thought was my favorite Suzanne Ryan cookbook and guide, Simply Keto. But alas, no recipe for meatloaf. (It’s probably in her second book which I don’t have yet.) So off to a web search, and I found a recipe with Easy in the title – just my speed. Here’s the complete recipe for Easy Keto Meatloaf on KetoConnect.com.
It earns the 4 1/2 stars
This article isn’t just the recipe – it’s also a good guide to all the replacements you can use for breadcrumbs. This recipe uses chicharrones, which is a fancy way of saying pork rinds. They’re carb-free and surprisingly delicious. The recipe itself – yum. I just had it for lunch and I have to say, it earns the 4 1/2 star rating on the website. I’d give it five.
What do you do when your willpower flags and fails? Do you get right back on the Keto way of eating, or do you wallow for a bit, then gradually make you way back to it? Me: I’ve done a little bit of wallowing over the past three days. Day 1, I had a small slip. Day 2, I said to heck with it at lunch and had a roll. Then snacks off the snack table at work. Then I threw Keto out entirely and chowed down on bread, bread and more bread at dinner, waking up the next day feeling awful. Day 3 – yesterday: I got it together and once again got back on my program.
Dust yourself off, forward ho!
That was a much quicker recovery than I’ve ever experienced before! In all my years of trying new diets, staying on diets, falling off diets, and getting back on diets – I’ve NEVER been able to get right back on my program the day after a big slip. What is helping me is realizing how much I like this way of eating. Plus, ketogenic eating, when done right, does suppress your appetite. All that fat satiates you!
In recovering this time, I decided to do something positive and scour the Web for inspiration. I chuckled at these memes, which I’m sharing below. The first is a good reminder from Mechelle Sellers:
To stay as keto-friendly as possible, I’ve put away my beautiful KitchenAid Artisan Stand mixer in Empire Red away for the time being. It no longer lives on the countertop, encouraging me to create cakes or just mix up a batch of biscuits. I’m focusing on meats, chicken, fish, green veggies and healthy fats during this season of Keto focus. The wonderful creations from my kitchen using that mixer are giving way to ever-more elaborate omelets. I’ve started playing with herbs to flavor my food as well. And the steaks – oh, the steaks. There will be an entirely different post for that.
All images by Dall-E
Dedicated Keto bakers have engineered some Keto-recipes for making Keto-friendly biscuits, bread, and cakes. I might just have to try this recipe using almond flour and cheese to make a Southern biscuit. But I’m afraid if I start making all these delicious-looking goodies, I’ll done two things:
Blow my budget on almond flour, and
Blow my daily caloric allowance on bread, instead of veggies and healthy meats.
Letting others do the baking
In the meantime, today is my mother’s birthday, and I’ve decided to surprise her with a cake from one of my favorite bakeries in town: Kudzu Bakery. Their cakes are beautiful and not too sweet. They did a wonderful job on my dad’s birthday carrot cake in January. Her chocolate mousse cake will make a lovely dessert for after the birthday supper. Happy Birthday, Mom!
In the past few weeks I was overwhelmed with responsibilities both at work and at home. Besides that, I was getting ready for two trips on two consecutive weekends. I didn’t leave myself time at all to carefully plan my meals and cook them. That manifested in my plea to readers a few days ago for quick and easy meals.
In the last two days, I’ve started reading the book I bought at All Good Books, our new bookstore in town (only 4 miles from me.) “We Are What We Eat” by Alice Waters, owner and chef at the famed Chez Panisse, is subtitled “A Slow Food Manifesto.” I’m only halfway through the book and I’m already inspired. Waters makes you want to slow down, to break the cycle of our fast food mentality and culture, and draw pleasure from the craft of making our daily sustenance.
The Fast Food Culture
Waters devotes the first half of the book to outlining seven terrible aspects of fast food. By that, she doesn’t mean just our reliance on chain restaurants offering burgers and tacos, but any way of providing food that is mass produced, in factory or industrial settings, with herbicides and pesticides. Fast food is its own culture, and like any culture, it has certain values. After reading this first half of the book, I can sense she thinks of them almost as seven deadly sins to healthy eating: Convenience, uniformity, availability, trust in advertising, cheapness, “more is better” and speed.
Convenience – ever since the first Swanson frozen TV dinner was introduced in the 50s, every food manufacturer has been selling us convenience. And convenience does have a place: Waters released this book in 2021, during the 2nd wave of the COVID pandemic, and people were relying on all sorts of conveniences: UberEATS in particular. But the uniformity of mass-produced food has led us all to be suspicious of the local, the new, the unfamiliar. And availability: today, we think all foods should be on hand everywhere, at all times! Seasonality is a foreign concept. Our way of cooking in America has relied on a trust in advertising, that we accept that these factory-produced foods are actually good, and the producers have our best interests at heart. Hah! Cheapness and “more is better” – can there be any values that typify the biggie size fast-food meal?
All of these resonate, but the last spoke to me in particular. Why are we trying to save so much time by not cooking? By not shopping for our own food? I’ve learned over the past few months, as I’ve prepared Keto meals, that cooking can be a relaxing time. By spending time in the kitchen, I’m not spending time on my phone, doom-scrolling as I wait for the Uber EATS delivery person. I can control what I eat and how I cook it. I’m learning to be more creative in preparing my meals. None of this, rightly approached, is a burden. Instead, it is a return to “slow living” after the hectic pace of my day. I’m so looking forward to finishing this book; to finding out how Waters describes the international slow food movement and read of her discoveries in being part of it.
Lately my work schedule has been so vigorous that I’ve come home exhausted from the office. On work-from-home days I’ve trudged wearily down the hall to the kitchen at dinnertime. Tonight was a good example; fortunately, I had leftover burger patties with cheese melted on top. But sometimes, you’re just too tired to cook. I’ve done deviled eggs to death; I’ve snacked on hunks of cheddar cheese, and when I’m tired, I don’t even have it in me to pull together a salad.
Readers: What do you suggest?
What are your quick Keto go-to’s on those days when you’re too tired to cook? How do you keep from scarfing down potato chips or anything else full of carbs? I’m at the point where I’m starting to think skipping dinner is good – and I’m sure that will just cause me to overdo at the next meal. Please let me know your suggestions for very quick keto-friendly dinners in the comments.
I’m delighted to announce, that one week after my weekend of carbohydrate-busting dining in Charleston, S.C., I weighed and found I’d lost all the carb weight I’d picked up on that trip – plus a pound more! One solid week of focused attention on my carb intake, and it happened. The ketogenic way of eating made it easier than I thought – all the fat content of my meals kept me reasonably full. I’d lying though, if I said wasn’t hungry sometimes. I’m still not used to eating only a salad and grilled chicken for lunch, especially when you’ve spent years snarfing up fast food and bready sandwiches.
But I did get back on track. To celebrate, tonight I made a burger with a fried egg on top.
I dined on a pared-down version of this burger: I forgot to buy avocado, skipped the onion, and I rushed the last bit and flipped my perfect sunny-side-up egg into an over-easy mess. Patience is hard to come by when you’re hungry!
Keto living means upping your fat intake – and that’s easy to do when you love cheese as much as I do. (One of my friends is giving up cheese for Lent – he’s made of stronger stuff than I am.) I’m eating slices of cheese by themselves, when I’m not grating or shredding cheese into every dish I can. What’s an omelet without cheese?
To make my dishes sing, I’ve been looking for the right tools. That old-fashioned box grater I was gifted from my mother still works beautifully, but it is a pain to clean. After a little looking around on Ebay I found the answer: a Holland cheese slicer, with painted scene on the handle. Both functional and stylish. In the words of William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” It doesn’t so much slice the cheese as grates it in thin strips.
And then there’s the ultimate shredding tool: the Microplane grater. Could I have shredded Parmesan before I got this? Yes, but it was large strips, not the fine shreds I wanted. And zest – forget it. My grocery story zester smushed every peel I tried to zest. If you want quality, yes, you will have to pay for it. But this tool has paid for itself. I love finely shredded Parmesan over salads, soups, and in so many dishes. The Microplane makes it happen.
For the second weekend in a row, I fell out of ketosis. This time, I was done in by the homemade tortilla chips – not just any restaurant tortilla chips, but chips at what my friend swears is the best Tex-Mex this side of New Mexico.
We had traveled to Charlotte for a shopping trip. After a latish start, we got there about 11:30 – time for an early lunch. My friend had been telling me about this wonderful Mexican chain in Orlando (of all places) that she swore had the closest thing to Tex-Mex that she’d found on the East Coast, ever since she left Albuquerque. I said, look it up, see if there’s one in Charlotte. And yes, there is a Chuy’s in Charlotte.
A Tex-Mex take on the 21 Club
We drove to the one Charlotte location on the south side of the city. The place had a kitschy vibe with the Chihuahua bar decorated with pictures of Chihuahua dogs, the checkerboard floors, and colorful furnishing. The ceilings drew inspiration from New York’s fabled 21 Club. Instead of toys hanging down, the ceiling of the room where we dined was decorated with shiny hubcaps of all shapes and sizes. There was some serious money in rims above our heads.
For about two minutes I thought hard about staying on my Keto program. I could order a taco salad and eat around the shell. I could order fajitas and skip the tortillas. But then they brought out those homemade tortilla chips with salsa and creamy jalapeno dip. The lightly fried, non-greasy chips crumbled in the mouth, melting as fast as my resistance to the carbs. My friend couldn’t stop exclaiming over the food. She eagerly ordered the Hatch Chili salsa to go with her lunch. My tastes run more to my WASP background. I gotta be me: I’m more at home with bland, creamy comfort food, not hot & spicy. I chose from the mild side of the menu. The enchiladas with tomatillo salsa were perfect. I did try to restrain myself: I didn’t eat most of the tortillas wrapping the chicken inside. And I left most of the rice and beans (something I’ve never done before in a Mexican restaurant.) Not because they weren’t delicious; I was reining myself in. And because I was stuffed full of chips.