Carbs & The Ketogenic Diet
The truth about carbs, is that everybody LOVES to eat them. They taste good, they make you feel full, and there are so many different carbohydrate sources to choose from. However, the fullness fades off and you’re left feeling groggy and sluggish. The reason why, is that carbs are basically giant, complex sugars. Once they begin to break down, the sugar is used for short-term energy, leaving you hungry and without any energy to get you through the day. So, the obvious answer is to just STOP eating carbs, and eat more nutrient-rich proteins & fat, right!? It may be easier said than done, especially for those of you who are new to the Keto diet. Carbs are found EVERYWHERE. It’s hard to find generic recipes that are keto-friendly, solely due to the carb content. I’m here to help you out, and offer up some awesome Keto-friendly carb substitutes!
I love pasta. Italian food is widely based around different pastas, making it hard for the keto dieters to experience Italian flavors day to day. However, foods such as Zucchini and Spaghetti Squash can allow a keto-positive trip to Italy in your kitchen. By using long, thin strips of zucchini, you can layer it together with fresh sauce, cheese, and meat for a carb-free lasagna!
As another alternative, you can shred spaghetti squash or use a spiralizer on the zucchini to create yummy mock “noodles”. The noodle method also works great for stir-fry, or noodle soup as well! If you do choose to go keto with your “carbs”, also keep in mind that these veggies do contain LOW amounts of net carbs which does not affect ketosis. They are full of fibers that can’t be digested by the human body, but those sneaky carbs that are able to be digested are what we call net carbs. It’s important to monitor your overall net carbohydrate intake, so keep in mind that there still are minuscule amounts of carbs in most vegetables!
Keto-friendly dinner sides
Often times, at a restaurant or dinner party, you may receive rice or potatoes as a side to your main course. Beware, as these are both very carb-loaded! However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy the flavors of rice or potatoes. Cauliflower is a wonderful vegetable in substituting for its sugary cousin vegetables. Boil then mash the cauliflower for faux-mashed potatoes! Add some butter and green onion, and it’s almost hard to tell the difference. As far as rice goes, you can flake the cauliflower and create little “rice” bits, which you can continue to season and serve to your liking! Who ever said keto had to be boring? I challenge you to host a Keto-friendly dinner, and see how many guests are able to tell the difference in their carb-free meal!
Pizza is one of my favorite foods. I eat pizza at least once, sometimes twice every week. However, without carbs, that can be a challenge to maintain my weekly quota. I’ve found two awesome ways to prepare pizza “crust” sans the evil carbohydrates. My personal favorite, is to bring back the zucchini! I cut the zucchini into little discs, and bake them until they’re soft. Next, I add sauce, cheese, and pepperonis on top! I continue to bake it until the cheese is nice and melted. I love these, because they’re like keto “bagel bites”! Perfect for snacking, or eating dinner while watching a movie. Another crust alternative is to use cauliflower again. By mashing the cauliflower, and laying it out as a disc, then baking it until it is firm, you have a faux pizza crust! The pizza possibilities are endless, thanks to vegetables!
Tons of snack foods are carb based. Chips, crackers, pretzels, and cookies are all culprits. However, snacking on “crackers” just became easier! By making a “cracker” solely out of baked cheese, you can top the snacks with pepperoni, jalapeno, dips, or whatever floats your boat! These are perfect to store in a little baggie to take with you to work or school, and munch on later if you feel the need. If cheese chips aren’t your thing, you can toss spinach or kale with EVOO and salt, then bake them until they’re nice and crispy, and you have yummy veggie chips that will satisfy your salty craving!
Carbs may seem like an impossible barrier to overcome, but with careful thought and an open mind, there are TONS of substitutions out there for starchy foods! Not to mention, you feel fuller longer, and you get tons more nutrients and antioxidants to boost your immune system, and destroy those free-radicals that are damaging your cells! With some thought and consideration, the keto-diet is completely doable and tasty for anyone willing to try!