Everyone wants to know about Keto! So here it is! I have been on Keto for about six weeks now. I got on Keto to support my husband, Steve, who was doing it to drop some pounds after having back surgery and not being able to work out. He was kind of feeling bad and wanted to keep his weight in check. When Steve played football, he was 320 pounds and when he retired five years ago he dropped about 40 pounds. But just like anything, you find yourself getting comfortable and Steve is such a driven person that he didn't want to see pounds creeping up.
When he figured out that he wanted to start the Keto diet, I didn’t want to have to cook two separate meals for us, so I joined him! I feel like it is much easier when you have a partner in crime and we are very supportive of each other, plus what girl doesn't want to lose five pounds? I was hesitant at first because of the levels of fat we were going to be eating. I mean fats... like cheese, sour cream, butter and red meat, just felt crazy when I thought about all of the diets I had tried before. All of those things were highly avoided in the past. But they are now huge portions of what we are eating!
Steve is a big researcher, so he got right into all of the books and said let's do it! After one trip to the grocery store when we finished compiling a list from the Simply Keto cookbook, we were ready to go.
FIRST SIGNS OF SUCCESS
The first change I noticed was mental clarity. Almost within four days of being in a fog, it was lifted from my mind and I was blown away. It was so noticable and crazy to think that for so long I was living in some sort of carbohydrate cloud.
I noticed shedding a few pounds within the first week which was amazing because I have always been about 140 to 145 pounds and never less than that. I hadn't been 139 since college, so you can imagine how seeing the scale move a little bit which was great! Usually, when men and women try diets together, the scale moves for the men before it does for the women, but this time I was dropping weight before Steve was. I was extremely encouraged by that.
Another incredible thing is that the food is fantastic. Every single recipe we have tried has been delicious. The meals are so filling compared to any diet we had tried before. I honestly wouldn't even call Keto a diet, it is more of a lifestyle. Steve and I both do not miss any of the bread, pasta or rice we have cut out. If I do miss one thing, it is that I am a huge cereal eater, and a bowl of cereal at night would be one thing I do wish I could have. I don’t crave it though, must just be a habit. Once you get the sugar and carbohydrates out of your system, your body switches over into ketosis and you start to burn fat instead. It is an amazing thing that happens to your body when it starts running on fat and burning on the fat reserves in your body. I have been seeing such a difference in the areas that I used to have to work so hard on to get off. I just can’t get over the change I’ve seen in my body over the last six weeks.
Some people reach out to me saying, ‘Well I got the book, now what?’ Looking into it and really doing your own research is exactly what I had to do. Seeing the science behind why it works is so important and Suzanne Ryan does a great job in her book, Simply Keto, giving a full month meal plan. She set it up in a way that you can use the previous nights dinner leftovers as an addition to your lunch the next day. It is so easy, super convenient and not as time consuming as meal prep or things that normally come along with other diets. My kids are also just loving the food. My son is a bit of a picky eater, but some of the meals, such as the Chicken Cordon Bleu, are his favorite and my daughter loves the Broccoli + Chicken Alfredo. Of course everyone loves the fat bombs, so I always tripple the recipe when I make them!
I like to snack on hard boiled eggs, pickles, nuts, Epic pork rinds and cheese. Macadamia nuts will become your best friend! Also, you'll want to buy everything with full fat. I know, it sounds crazy and everyone usually reaches for the low fat, but that is actually filled with a ton of sugar to replace the fat. It feels wrong at first, but it actually does work.
I am not a doctor, just so we are all on the same page. Some people have asked me about how the diet will affect cholesterol or blood pressure. Steve has hereditary high blood pressure and cholesterol issues, but he had his levels done, and his blood pressure has never been this low. He is doing great and his levels are doing great. Since I have been on Keto, my energy is higher, my skin hasn’t been affected, and I just feel good.
I had taken dairy out of my diet about ten years ago and any time I reintroduce dairy, it just tears my stomach up. I was very hesitant to start eating dairy again, but crazy enough, I added dairy back and quite a lot of it and I have been fine.
Steve has lost 27 pounds and weighs 262 now. He hasn’t seen that number since high school! I now weigh 133 and I have always been 140 in the past! It didn't matter how much green juice I drank or how many half marathons I ran, the scale wouldn’t move, so I am shocked and completely thrilled!
I feel like I’m getting to the point where I am really thinning out and I might start adding back some healthy carbohydrates such as brown rice occasionally or a sandwich once a week to maintain where I am. Keto is the lifestyle for us. Steve and I are both so happy with the results and I really think it is something that anyone could do long term. I will be sure to keep everyone updated as this Keto journey continues, so stay tuned!
Here are some of my favorite Keto recipes from Suzanne Ryan's cookbook Simply Keto. Give these meals a try and if you love, then I highly encourage you to buy the book if interested in starting Keto.
CAPICOLA EGG CUPS
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES • COOK TIME: 14 MINUTES YIELD: 6 EGG CUPS (2 PER SERVING)
- 6 slices capicola (regular or spicy)
- 3⁄4 cup shredded cheddar cheese or other cheese of choice (optional)
- 6 large eggs Salt and pepper
- Thinly sliced fresh basil, for garnish (optional)
Notes: You can use prepackaged or deli capicola, or substitute other meats, like ham or bacon. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for meal prep. Store the egg cups in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray 6 wells of a standard-size muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place a slice of capicola in each of the 6 greased wells, forming a bowl shape. If using cheese, sprinkle 2 tablespoons into each of the cups formed by the capicola.
- Crack an egg into each cup and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the egg whites are set. Serve hot, garnished with basil, if desired. per serving, with cheese:
CALORIES: 260 | FAT: 19.6 g | PROTEIN: 23 g | TOTAL CARBS: 1.6 g | NET CARBS: 1.6 g
BACON RANCH CHICKEN SALAD
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES • COOK TIME: 10 MINUTES • YIELD: 3 SERVINGS
- 5 slices bacon
- 1 1⁄2 cups cubed cooked chicken (about 12 ounces; see notes)
- 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons ranch dressing
- 1⁄2 stalk celery, chopped (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- 6 butter lettuce leaves, for serving
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Notes: You can use precooked rotisserie chicken. If you prefer, you can spoon this chicken salad into avocado halves instead of lettuce leaves.
- In a skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon until crispy. Set aside on a paper towel–lined plate to cool.
- Place the cooked chicken in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, ranch dressing, and celery, if using.
- Chop the bacon and add to the chicken mixture. Fold all the ingredients with a spoon until the chicken is evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the chicken salad evenly among the lettuce leaves. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
CALORIES: 397 | FAT: 35.3 g | PROTEIN: 18 g | TOTAL CARBS: 1.3 g | NET CARBS: 1 g
CHICKEN CORDON BLEU
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES • COOK TIME: 40 MINUTES • YIELD: 6 SERVINGS
- 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)
- 6 slices Swiss cheese 6 slices ham
- 1⁄4 cup (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
- 1 ounce plain pork rinds (6 to 8 large pork rinds)
- 2⁄3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- • Toothpicks
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a medium-sized baking dish with parchment paper.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Place on a cutting board and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Use a kitchen mallet to pound the chicken to a thickness of 1⁄2 inch.
- Top each chicken breast with one slice each of Swiss cheese and ham. Roll each breast so that the cheese and ham are locked inside the chicken. Secure with a toothpick to prevent the chicken from unrolling.
- Make the breading: In a zip-top plastic bag, combine the pork rinds, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Crush and shake until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer the “breading” to a bowl and set aside.
- Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted.
- Dip the chicken rolls, one at a time, into the butter and coat evenly. Place the butter-coated chicken rolls in the breading bowl and coat evenly. Place the breaded chicken rolls in the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
- Place the chicken on a plate and spoon the drippings from the baking dish over the top before serving.
- Garnish with parsley, if desired.
CALORIES: 373 | FAT: 22.8 g | PROTEIN: 39 g | TOTAL CARBS: 2.3 g | NET CARBS: 2.3 g
kitchen towel | dish
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES • COOK TIME: 5 MINUTES • YIELD: 4 SERVINGS
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 9 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Salt and pepper
- In a large pot over medium heat, combine the butter and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the spinach and cream cheese and use a spatula to combine.
- Stir in the Parmesan cheese and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute to reduce a bit.
- Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
CALORIES: 172 | FAT: 14 g | PROTEIN: 7 g | TOTAL CARBS: 4 g | NET CARBS: 2.5 g
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BITES
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES, PLUS 40 MINUTES TO CHILL • COOK TIME: 1 MINUTE YIELD: 10 BITES
(2 PER SERVING)
- 1⁄4 cup natural peanut butter (no sugar added; only peanuts and salt)
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons Swerve confectioners’-style sweetener
- 2 tablespoons blanched almond flour
- 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄4 cup stevia-sweetened Lily’s Baking Chocolate Chips
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons MCT oil
- Line a plate or small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter, sweetener, almond flour and vanilla until smooth.
- Form the peanut butter mixture into 10 small balls and place them on the parchment-lined plate. Place the plate in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, place the chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until fully melted, about 45 seconds.
- Add the MCT oil to the melted chocolate and mix well.
- Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer. Dip the balls one at a time into the melted chocolate. Use a spoon to gently roll the balls in the chocolate until they’re fully covered. Place the chocolate-coated balls on the parchment paper–lined plate.
- Place the chocolate-coated balls in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chocolate is solid. Store extras in a zip-top plastic bag in the freezer for up to 6 months.
CALORIES: 122 | FAT: 10.8 g | PROTEIN: 4.2 g | TOTAL CARBS: 7 g | NET CARBS: 2.6 g