Why Keto For The Holidays?

Gathering. Community. Something we all need more of around the holiday. What’s better than sitting around a dinner table with family and friends, consuming satisfying, delicious foods, the air filled with storytelling and laughter? Gathering together is intuitive to us all, breaking bread with loved ones is a time to restore thanks and love in our hearts.  

It’s been said that the average American consumes up to 4,500 calories during most “traditional” holiday meals, the most popular one is Thanksgiving. Most count their calories or strictly watch their diet for the weeks prior to the holiday followed by a “hall pass”, gorging themselves on high calorie, high carbohydrate comfort foods. If you are like most, the days to follow this gluttony are full of naps, belly aches, heartburn, bloating, and the dreaded flatulence. For the sake of your health and the nasal passages of others around you, fill this holiday season with recipes that will taste amazing and not cause your body to pack on the pounds.  When we avoid overindulgence of inflammatory foods but rather feed ourselves healthy fats, we improve our digestion and keep burning fat. Thats right……you can actually lose weight and feel fantastic during the holidays!!!  

The Facts

The ketogenic diet is fastly gaining recognition for its healing properties to the body by utilizing both stored and dietary fat for energy, its therapeutic effect dating back to Ancient Greece. Ketosis is a naturally occurring process known to many, in which the body, in an effort to help us survive during famish is able to break down fats in the liver to be utilized as energy.  Ideally, the keto diet will allow your body to go into ketosis, a metabolic state where ketones (fats) are burned for energy instead of carbohydrates/sugar. This fat burning state is a much more effective use of energy production in the body, giving you longer lasting fuel, more energy, and increasing satiety. Ultimately when we change our consumption of our “macronutrients”  to the right ratio of high fat, low carbohydrate and a healthy serving of protein, we enhance the body to enter ketosis. When we burn ketones for energy we are able to change the way our body is functioning, adapting, and healing.

Burning ketones for energy host many health benefits not limited to:

  • Weight loss
  • Clearing of skin issues
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Normalizing blood sugar levels
  • Decreasing cholesterol
  • Boosting brain/mental performance
  • Enhancing physical performance
  • Decreasing incidence of chronic disease
  • Improving joint/musculoskeletal pain

Click here to learn more about why we love the ketogenic diet.

The Good Stuff

Since we now know that the ketogenic diet doesn’t have to be boring and bland, let’s look at a few delicious recipes that everyone would be thankful to have grace their tables this holiday season.  

APPETIZERS

KETO SAUSAGE BALLS

  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 TBSP butter (or coconut oil)
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add all ingredients into large bowl and mix well.  Using a cookie scoop and hands roll sausage mixture into approx 20 sausage balls. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 16-20 min.  

CRISPY PARMESAN TOMATO CHIPS

  • 6 cups thinly sliced beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP grated parmesan

Gently drizzle and toss the sliced tomatoes in avocado oil to coat slices.  Place slices without overlapping onto dehydrator shelves or baking pan.  (if using an oven preheat to 200 degrees). In a small bowl whisk together remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle mixture over each slice.  Depending on how thick the slices are, dehydrating could take 12-24 hours.  If baking, check every 30 min until edges show some charring, could take 4-5 hours. Use to dip into a delicious keto friendly BLT or savory dip.

PISTACHIO-CRUSTED SUN DRIED TOMATO GOAT CHEESE BALLS

 

  • 1- 4 oz package of sun dried tomato goat cheese
  • ½ cup de-shelled pistachios
  • Salt to taste

Cut goat cheese into 7 slices and form into balls.  Lightly crush pistachios using a mortar and pestle (don’t over grind them).  Add the salt to the pistachio mix to taste.  Roll the goat cheese balls into mixture to cover.  Once covered, roll one more time in leftover pistachio dust.

SOUP

KETO LOBSTER BISQUE

  • 24 oz lobster chunks
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 quart seafood broth
  • 1 TBSP avocado oil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • Parsley
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Chop your garlic, onion, celery and carrots very fine.  Don’t worry too much about the size, in the end they will be blended. Cook onion in avocado oil in a soup pot, then add garlic and cook until pan starts looking a little blackened and crusty on the bottom.  Deglaze the bottom of the pan with the white wine then add the celery and carrots.  Pour in your broth and tomato paste, stir to incorporate.  Add spices and let simmer for one hour.  Once the soup has cooked and spices have let out their flavors, remove and discard bay leaves. Add cream and allow to come to a simmer again.  You may want to add a little arrowroot/water mixture to thicken broth.  Blend soup BEFORE adding lobster by pouring soup into large blender or using an immersion hand held blender.  Blend until creamy.  If lobster is uncooked, cut into chunks and saute in butter in a pan.  If frozen, still saute it in butter 🙂  Pour your bisque in a bowl and add lobster chunks.  You may dress up your bowl with a little lemon juice, green onion, chives or parsley.  

MAIN COURSE

BACON COVERED HERB TURKEY

  • Turkey- fresh if possible
  • 1 ½ pounds bacon
  • ½ pound butter
  • Fresh herbs: sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, marjoram, rosemary
  • Roasting vegetables: carrots, celery, onions

In a food processor blend ½ pound butter and ½ pound raw bacon and generous handfuls fresh herbs. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.

When ready to prepare your turkey, bring the bacon and butter to room temperature.  Take turkey out of packaging and rinse.  Using your hands, separate and lift the skin by the cavity and slide your hands under the skin.  Keep going until it’s opened up to the neck and legs.  Take fists full of the butter and rub in under the skin and over the flesh leaving approx ¼ butter mixture for the top (making sure to cover the entire bird).  Pat down the skin to make an even layer between skin and bird.  

Next, make the lattice work of bacon.  Lay one strip crosswise over breast, then one lengthwise.  Keep going, folding up the strips already placed to fit the new ones under.  The bacon will shrink while cooking so place them as close together as possible.  You will not want to cover the legs in bacon.

Cover the bottom of a deep roasting pan with several layers of foil then root vegetables, keeping the cut large.  Tuck fresh sage leaves and other herbs around the bird.  Roast the turkey at 450 degrees for 30 minutes then turn down to 375 degrees for the remainder of the cooking.  You want the internal temp to be 165 degrees (you can remove when temp at 155, cover pan with foil, let rest until temp reaches 165 degrees).  Generally speaking, allow 15 minutes per pound of turkey.  

ROASTED CHICKEN WITH SQUASH PASTA

  • 1 crack of black pepper
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TBSP  + 1 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 4 small chicken breasts

Place halved spaghetti squash face down in a glass casserole dish in 1-2 inches water covered with foil. Bake at 375 degrees until the center of squash is soft (approx 45 min).  Once spaghetti squash is done, scoop out the squash noodles with a metal spoon, noodles should come out easy.  Put aside.  Prepare chicken by pounding to tenderize until about 1 inch thick.  Season your chicken by adding 2 TBSP of cajun seasoning and coat.  In a pan over medium, heat some avocado oil.  Add the chicken, turn after 5-10 minutes.  Meanwhile heat up butter, one tsp seasoning, cream, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, and garlic salt in a separate medium-sized pan.  When it starts to boil, add the squash and simmer over medium low to reduce.  The sauce should reduce half over for 20 min as your chicken cooks.  Make sure that the sauce does not reduce too much as you want some liquid remaining  Cut chicken diagonally when done.  Remove the noodles from heat, arrange on a plate and add chicken on top.  

SIDES

KETO CAULIFLOWER CASSEROLE

  • 2 lbs raw cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and lower stalks
  • 4 oz chopped white onion
  • 1-2 TBSP butter
  • 2 oz chicken bone broth
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded colby jack or cheddar cheese

Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, including the core.  Heat a large pan of lightly salted water to boil.  Add cauliflower and cook over medium heat until tender.  Use a colander to drain the cauliflower once done, and set aside.  Using a large skillet, melt the butter and saute the onions until soft.  Add all of the cauliflower and use a spatula to break them into smaller pieces while mixing them with the onions.  Further reduce the heat to a medium low and add the chicken broth and heavy cream while stirring.  Add cream cheese and stir until the cheese melts.  Add a little of the chicken broth to mixture if it is too thick.  Lastly, add the shredded cheese and stir until it melts and a creamy sauce is created.  Place in a baking dish and cook at 325 degrees for 15-20 min.

BACON BRUSSEL SPROUTS GRATIN

  • 1 ½ lb brussel sprouts
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 sprig Rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ fontina cheese
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 TBSP  butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss brussel sprouts in butter and season with salt and pepper.  Place them in a large baking dish and roast for 15-20 min or until semi softened.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg, heavy cream, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper flakes then stir in cheese.  Remove brussel sprouts from oven and add ¾ bacon to the baking dish.  Pour cheese mixture over the top and stir everything together, top with remaining bacon.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees, return baking dish to oven and bake for 20-25 min or until cheese and bubbly.  Remove and let cool for 5 min.  

KETO FATHEAD ROLLS

  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅓ cup almond flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a small glass bowl, add cream cheese and mozzarella.  Microwave until melted, checking and stirring frequently.  You can also melt mixture in a saucepan on the stove top.  In a separate bowl, whisk egg until beaten.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Work mozzarella mixture into dough, which will be sticky.  Stir in cheddar cheese.  Spoon dough onto plastic wrap. You can dust the top with almond flour. Fold the plastic wrap over the dough and work into a ball.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 min.  Cut dough ball into 4 sections, rolling each into a ball.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden and set up.  

** I used these as “buns” cutting them in half after baking and cool. They were perfect!  You can use these rolls and buns the next day for a leftover filled sandwich!

DESSERT

RED VELVET TRUFFLES

  • ½ cup coconut butter
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup powdered swerve
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (can use cherry or raspberry as well as long as sugar free)
  • 2 TBSP beetroot powder
  • Pinch salt
  • Few drops liquid stevia to taste
  • 1 TBSP macadamia oil

Coating:

  • 6 oz cacao butter
  • 1 cup coconut milk powder
  • ⅓ cup powdered swerve
  • 2 tsp sugar free vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Few drops liquid stevia to taste

Melt the coconut butter and coconut oil in a double boiler or heat proof bowl placed over 1 cup water in a small saucepan.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Stir in the coconut flour, swerve, vanilla or other extract, beetroot powder, and salt.  If you want them sweeter add stevia to taste.  Refrigerate the mixture for about 30 minutes, or until firm enough to form truffles.  To shape truffles, dip a spoon or melon baller in warm water and scoop out 10 balls of the chilled mixture.  Lightly coat your hands in a small amount of macadamia oil.  Roll the truffles between your palms for form spheres about twice the size of standard truffles.  Place them on parchment paper and freeze for 30 minutes.

To make the coating:

Melt the cacao butter in double boiler, or small sauce pan.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Add the coconut mik powder, swerve, vanilla and salt.  Add stevia to taste.  Pour mixture into a food processor and pulse for 30 to 60 seconds, or until smooth.  You can make this ahead of time and when ready to use for truffles, rewarm and melt using a double boiler or heat proof bowl over 1 cup water in small saucepan.  Once melted, remove from heat and cool.  The chocolate should not be hot when used for coating.  

Gently pierce each from truffle with a toothpick or fork.  One at a time, hold each truffle over melted chocolate and spoon over to completely coat.  Place coated truffles on a parchment-lined tray and drizzle any remaining coating over them.  Refrigerate the coated truffles for at least 15 minutes to harden. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 3 months.

PUMPKIN SNICKERDOODLE TRUFFLE

  • ½ cup coconut butter
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1 tsp sugar-free vanilla extract
  • 2 TBSP powdered swerve
  • 2 heaping TBSP coconut flour
  • Pink salt
  • Few drops liquid stevia to taste
  • 1 TBSP macadamia oil

For coating:

  • 2 TBSP powdered swerve
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

To make truffles:

Melt the coconut butter and coconut oil in a double boiler. Remove from heat and set aside.  Stir in the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice mix, vanilla, swerve, coconut flour, and salt, until combined well.  If you want a sweeter taste, add the stevia. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until firm enough to form truffles.  To shape truffles, dip a spoon or melon baller in warm water and scoop out 10 balls of the chilled mixture.  Lightly coat your hands in a small amount of macadamia oil.  Roll the truffles between your palms for form spheres about twice the size of standard truffles. Coat the truffles immediately after shaping.

To make the coating:

In a bowl, mix together the swerve and cinnamon.  Roll the truffles in the cinnamon mixture.  Refrigerate the coated truffles for at least 15 minutes to harden.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

PUMPKIN PIE ICE BOMBS

  • 1 cup full fat mascarpone cheese or creamed coconut milk
  • ¼ cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2 TBSP powdered swerve
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
  • Few drops of stevia to taste

If using creamed coconut milk, you will need to separate the solidified coconut milk from the liquid by putting a can in the refrigerator overnight.  Without shaking the can the next day, open the can and spoon out the solidified coconut milk, discarding the liquid.  One 14 oz can will yield about 7 oz of creamed coconut milk.  In a food processor, combine the mascarpone or creamed coconut milk, pumpkin puree, swerve, and pumpkin pie spice mix.  Pulse until smooth and creamy.  If your want a sweeter taste, add the stevia and pulse again.  Spoon about 2 TBSP of the mixture into each of 10 small silicone molds or candy molds, or mold into a round ball shape. Freeze for about 2 hours or until set.  Keep frozen for up to 3 months.

There is nothing more that I love than to take a traditional holiday meal and turn it keto friendly….what’s even better is when I do it and keep it to myself to see who notices.  Not only do most not notice, but they comment on how good the loaded mashed potatoes are……wait what THEY ARE CAULIFLOWER!?!  

So this holiday season, save those mid afternoon naps, sugar crashes, or mood swings  and give yourself the gift of health and endless energy! Keto on my friends……..

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