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Keto-licious Recipe Hacks: Recommendations from a Dietitian

By Molly Devine, RD, LDN

Anyone who is just starting to fall in love (or is already in a committed relationship) with the ketogenic lifestyle is likely fascinated by the science of the human body. How cool is it that we can manipulate our metabolic pathways to work for us, improve energy, and optimize performance, all by choosing the right type of fuel for our machine?

Guess what? Cooking is all about science, too! Whether you are new to cooking or a seasoned pro, figuring out how to adapt favorite recipes to fit your new lifestyle may feel like you are entering uncharted territory. We understand. Here’s a quick guide to keto-fy just about anything; except maybe a tasty craft beer (sorry, I’m pretty disappointed, too!).

Before we go there, let’s first talk about sugar and sugar substitutes. As a Registered Dietitian who specializes in weight management and integrative nutrition, I will be the first to tell you to get rid of all natural and added sugars in your diet. It’s toxic, causes systemic inflammation, and is very, very addictive. Whenever I recommend eliminating sugar, I am usually immediately asked about sugar substitutes. Sure, they are a better alternative to the hard stuff because they won’t cause blood sugar or insulin spikes, but they are like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Here’s why: Non-nutritive sweeteners (Splenda, Truvia, Equal, etc.) are 200-700 times sweeter than their “natural” counterpart (1,3). When we replace natural sugars (table sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, and the like) with these substitutes, we don’t train our taste buds to adapt to a less-sweet product. Instead, we cause our taste buds to crave even sweeter foods, making our sugar addiction even harder to break. While we may be decreasing the physiological addiction to the sweet substance (sucrose which breaks down to glucose), we aren’t addressing the psychological component of the sweet craving.

What about sugar alcohols? These guys aren’t as super-sweet as non-nutritive sweeteners, but they do still produce a small effect on blood sugar levels and insulin response (2,3), which we want to avoid on a ketogenic diet. Another downside to sugar alcohols is that they can cause bloating and diarrhea when consumed in excess (3), especially in individuals predisposed to food sensitivities and gut imbalance.

Bottom line: sugar substitutes are ok to use in dessert recipes when you have a hankering for something sweet, but these foods should still be thought of as “treats” and not staples in your day-to-day diet. Moderation is the name of the game! Try experimenting (food science!) by reducing quantities and adding in spices such as ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of a sugar-free sweetener, try halving it or replacing it with a spice or two. As you become fully keto-adapted, your body naturally reduces cravings for carbohydrates and sugars, so help your taste buds adapt with the rest of the new you.

Now onto my tips and tricks for “keto-fying” your favorite dishes. These are my best and favorite keto recipe hacks!

Gluten Free?

Instead of panko or breadcrumbs as breading on fish or meat, TRY:

Instead of all-purpose flour in gravies and sauces, TRY:

Instead of soy sauce, TRY:

Dairy Free?

Instead of cheese, TRY:

Instead of sour cream, TRY:

Instead of Butter, TRY:

Instead of mayonnaise, TRY:

Instead of heavy cream, TRY:

Instead of whey protein powder, TRY:

Craving a favorite carb-heavy dish?

Instead of pizza, TRY:

Instead of mashed potatoes, TRY:

Instead of fried rice, TRY:

Instead of pasta, TRY:

Instead of avocado toast, TRY:

Instead of pancakes, TRY:

Molly is a registered dietitian, personal chef, former collegiate athlete, and busy mom of three. She believes that nutrition is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and integral to both disease prevention and intervention. Her areas of experience include integrative and functional medicine nutrition therapy, adult weight management, sports nutrition, diabetes management, dietary modification for food allergies and sensitivities, and wellness education.

References

1. https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm397725.htm
2. https://www.ynhh.org/services/nutrition/sugar-alcohol.aspx
3. https://www.andeal.org/vault/2440/web/JADA_NNS.pdf

 

*The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these articles and blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of KetoLogic. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and are not liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. KetoLogic reserves the right to delete, edit, or alter in any manner we see fit content entries that we, in our sole discretion, deem to be obscene, offensive, defamatory, threatening, in violation of trademark, copyright, or other laws, of an express commercial nature, or otherwise unacceptable.

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