Why the keto diet makes me angry

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shaka3So this is quite a change from the decadent cupcakes I posted about last month. For various reasons (vacation snaps were a non-zero factor) I finally got serious about getting in shape. This past month has been very successful for me in terms of both diet and beginning a strength training program.

I have to say that the keto diet has worked really well for me. After the initial period of adjustment (the “carb flu” – wherein your body tries to convince you it will die if it doesn’t have some simple carbs now) it has generally been easy to stick to. Carbs under a net 20 grams is really the big number to track, although I do keep a vague idea of what my calorie intake is. But there’s no hunger, no mood swings, and no energy slumps. Woohoo!

So why does the keto diet make me angry?

to serve man

Guys, the cookbooks for keto dieting are . . . awful. Just awful.

Now, I have no problems with food bloggers writing cookbooks. I have no problem with people who’s primary interest is nutrition writing cookbooks. But holy hell, some of this is baaaaaad. Like, I don’t think you should be writing a cookbook if you’re surprised that getting a bit of egg yolk in the egg whites renders it impossible to whip them into a foam.

Or there was this gem of instruction from a different cookbook: “beat the egg whites until stiff. When you think they are stiff whip them a few minutes longer.” Except that “stiff” means something specific in culinary terms. Whipping the egg whites past that point they get grainy. So actually knowing something about cooking (what stiff whipped egg whites look like) will actually hurt you if you follow the recipe!

And my favorite was the one that spent the entire introduction talking about the need to get back to “real food” and “whole food”. The thing they kept emphasizing was that we shouldn’t eat anything that our great-grandmas would not have recognized as food. Then when you got to the recipes they started calling for things like MCT oil, stevia glycerate, whey protein isolate, and alcohol sugar (erithytol).

As my sister pointed out though, my bourbon-drinking great-grandma totally would have totally been down with alcohol sugar. And being one of the first Jack LaLanne fans I can absolutely see her opting for protein shakes. She used to tense her abs up and be like “hit me in the stomach” – she had abs of titanium.

That being said, I did find a few good recipes (the one that hit the craving spot for pasta was totally worth the purchase price). However there’s a big flaw in these cookbooks that led to an epiphany I had that I would like to share.

The big flaw is that these cookbooks all try to imitate the modern American diet. So you’ve got weird substitute foods like lasagna made with sliced turkey instead of noodles, egg-white based breads, and meatzza (pizza made with ground beef as the base). You’ve also got the Ron Swanson-ish “haha, let’s revel in all the previously unhealthy foods” ridiculousness that lead to creations like “fat bombs” and buttered bacon.

So here’s the epiphany: Guys, I went and got my antique copy of Joy of Cooking, the one my great-grandma might have used. I found a recipe for Steak au Poivre. I made an actual dish that was totally keto without needing weird ingredients, creating a sub-par substitute, or something ridiculous like bacon quesadillas. Something my great-grandmother might have made.

Later I broke open Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Therein I found a recipe for a super-flavorful leafy salad with mint and topped with steak and a Thai-inspired dressing.

As it turns out, it’s totally easy to cook keto-friendly foods that aren’t weird conglomerations of fat and pork. (Not that there is anything wrong with fat and pork). Nor does it have to be a sad substitute of “normal” food.

So I’m going to start sharing some of the keto-friendly recipes that I like that don’t offend my culinary sensibilities. Don’t want a keto meal? That’s fine, just serve it with some garlic bread or over rice. Coming soon: Steak au Poivre as seen in the potato-quality featured photo.

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