Ketogenic cooking may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t mean you have to buy strange ingredients, spend a lot of money, or starve. There are tons of easy keto meals you can make with just a few ingredients. And the best part is they don’t take very much time or effort.
Why Eat Keto?
The ketogenic diet has a strange allure to it. Can eating high amounts of dietary fat really help you lose body fat?
Studies have shown that the keto diet is effective for short term weight loss. Today, researchers are studying the diet’s effects on everything from high blood pressure to diabetes.
The bottom line? People and professionals are using this lifestyle in order to help people live healthier and happier lives.
Planning Keto Meals
Know Your Macros
Macros are the key to the ketogenic diet. Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are the macronutrients that make up all of the food we eat. On the keto diet, these macros get split up into target percentages depending on how much you weigh, how old you are, and a few other key factors.
A keto calculator is a good tool that can help you figure out how many grams of each macro you should be eating per day. The basic principle is 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs, but it depends on your individual needs.
Understand the Signs of Ketosis
Think of ketosis as a compass to the ketogenic diet — if you know how to read the signs, you’ll have a much easier time reaching your end goal. Ketosis is the natural metabolic process defined by your body’s transition from using blood glucose as a source of energy to using stored fat instead.
The key signs that you’re in ketosis include elevated ketone levels in the blood and urine, sweet-smelling breath, decreased appetite, and weight loss.
Let’s face it — a big dietary change can lead to some unforeseen digestion issues like constipation and the keto flu. In order to make sure your body is functioning at its best, make sure you drink plenty of water to flush out your system. This will help with those hunger pangs that are common during the first week of the keto diet as well.
Making fat the priority in your diet can drastically reduce the portion size on your plate. This is because gram for gram, fat has double the calories of proteins and carbohydrates. For this reason, it may be instinctual to want to eat more than your body really needs.
Resist this urge by sticking to your macros and keeping tabs on the number of calories you consume each day. Even if you follow the keto rules to a T, you can still gain weight if you sabotage yourself with too many calories.
Don’t Let Carbs Sneak Up on You
Because of the fat-free diet trend of the 1970s and beyond, many “diet” foods are still formulated to replace fat with sugars and sugar substitutes. ‘
These days, carbs find their way into everything, even in places you don’t think to look. Be extra watchful around things like salad dressing, yogurt, peanut butter, cashews, and milk.
6 Easy Keto Recipes You’ll Love
What the ketogenic lifestyle lacks in freedom it makes up for with creativity. A simple google search yields thousands of delicious recipes for foods that have been reimagined with a ketogenic flare. Here are six prime examples of keto recipes that are easy to shop for, easy to prepare, and easy to love.
Keto Meatballs (inspired by Delish)
Serves: 4 Prep Time: 20 Cook Time: 50
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine the beef, garlic, cheeses, egg, parsley, plus the salt and pepper. Use your hands to form mixture into 16 meatballs, about 1 inch in size.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Gently place the meatballs in the pan and cook, turning to get an even brown color on all sides, about 10 minutes. Once all are cooked, drain on paper towels.
- In the same skillet, cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute, then add in the tomatoes and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the sauce is nice and hot, add meatballs back to the skillet, cover with a lid and cook at a simmer until sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Garnish with parmesan cheese.
String Bean Salad (from Skinny Taste)
Serves: 6 Prep Time: 20 Cook Time: 10
- 24 oz string beans
- 1 can sliced black olives, drained
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- fresh black pepper, to taste
- 5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
- Trim the ends of string beans and place in a large pot with about 6 cups of water. Bring it all to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook until tender, about 6 minutes.
- Drain string beans and rinse under cold water to prevent overcooking and set aside. Combine balsamic vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add in the string beans, green onion, and olives. Mix to combine
- Top with the sliced eggs and refrigerate until cooled.
Keto Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Bleu Cheese (from allrecipes)
Serves: 2 Prep Time: 15 Cook Time: 60
- 1 small spaghetti squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 slices bacon, cut into ½ in pieces
- 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat your oven to 400℉.
- Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Discard the seeds and stringy pulp. Brush the inside of the squash with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place squash face down on the pan and bake until soft, about 45 minutes.
- Take squash out of the oven and scrape the cooked flesh into a bowl, reserving the shell and returning it to the baking sheet.
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high until evenly browned, 5-6 minutes. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving bacon fat in the pan.
- Add garlic and mushrooms to the skillet and saute for 4 - 5 minutes. Return the bacon to the pan and add the spinach, stirring until the leaves are just wilted, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the mushroom mixture to the bowl of squash, and mix to combine. Stir in the sour cream, salt, and pepper.
- Using a large spoon or ladle, scoop the filling back into the shell of the squash, sprinkling each half with a tablespoon of blue cheese crumbles. Place in the oven and bake again until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
Serves: 18 Prep Time: 2 Cook Time: 3
- 1/2 cup coconut butter, melted
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 serving sweetener of choice
- 1 pinch sea salt (optional)
- Place 18 cupcake liners in a mini muffin tin and set aside for later.
- Melt the coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in the cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Add the sweetener of your choice and stir once more to distribute.
- Quickly coat the bottom and sides of the cupcake liners with the chocolate mixture, placing the tin in the freezer to harden once you are finished. Note: you will not use up all of the chocolate mixture.
- Once the chocolate mixture has firmed, distribute the coconut butter evenly amongst the cups and top with the rest of the chocolate mixture. Freeze until firm and top with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Jerk Shrimp and Cauliflower Rice Meal Prep (by Eat Yourself Skinny)
Serves: 4 Prep Time: 20 Cook Time: 30
- 10 oz. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Lime wedges, if desired
For the Jerk Marinade:
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp green onions, chopped
- 1 tbsp jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 tbsp brown sugar, packed
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. onion powder
- ¼ tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. Paprika
- ⅛ tsp. Allspice
- ⅛ tsp. Nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ⅛ tsp. sea salt
For the Cauliflower Rice:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
- 4 cups cauliflower rice
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ tsp. Pepper
- ⅛ tsp. Cinnamon
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 (15 oz) can no-salt-added red kidney beans
- 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
- Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add shrimp, cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Add shrimp to the bowl and allow them to marinate for about 30 minutes.
- Next, make the cauliflower rice by heating a large skillet on medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and sautee bell pepper, jalapeño and pineapple until cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the cauliflower rice and season with garlic powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and orange juice. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes then toss in the kidney beans and cook for two minutes more. Remove from heat, allow to cool and mix in chopped cilantro.
- Remove shrimp from the bowl, reserving leftover marinade. Sautee the shrimp in a medium pan over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Flip shrimp and cook for an additional two minutes, until opaque and browned.
- Bring the reserved marinade to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened.
- Spoon glaze over top of the shrimp and serve over cauliflower rice with lime wedges.
Tuna Pickle Boats (by Forkly)
Serves: 2-4 Prep Time: 5 Cook Time: 0
- 5-6 whole dill pickles
- 1 can light flaked tuna, drained
- 1/4 cup sugar-free mayo
- 1 tbsp fresh dill + more for garnish
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Cut each pickle in half lengthwise. Deseed each half, using a spoon to carve a small channel down the center of the pickle.
- Into a small bowl, add drained tuna, mayo, dill, salt, and pepper. Mix until uniform.
- Spoon the tuna mixture into the pickles, then garnish with dill.