Kara's Keto Plates

Fatty Food Blogging

Author: kara (page 2 of 6)

Salmon with Olive Relish

It’s really winter. It’s grey and windy and just… ugh, boring. I’ve been dreaming about vegetable ragout and roasted peppers and zucchini and eggplant. And I’ve been eating nothing but frozen spinach and broccoli and fresh green salads because the peppers and zucchini and eggplant and tomatoes at the store look pitiful. I guess that’s to be expected, but it gets boring. Really boring.

Enter this olive relish, which I created using only what I had on hand to top some baked salmon. It was a nice change of pace and a reminder that one day winter will end. In the meantime, we can eat bright, cured vegetables.

Salmon with Olive Relish

Salmon with Olive Relish

2 Salmon Filets (about 6 ounces each), thawed
1 Tablespoon Butter (or margarine)
5 Green Olives with Pimento, chopped
3 small, cured Peppers, chopped (or 1 tablespoon Roasted Red Peppers or Sun-dried Tomatoes)
1 Tablespoon Capers
1 teaspoon Dried Minced Onion
1/2 teaspoon Basil (I used dried)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to bake the salmon. Prep your baking sheet with a spritz of oil or cover with parchment paper. Salt and Pepper the salmon and add a pat of butter or margarine – about a teaspoon or so – to the top of each filet before baking for 10-15 minutes.  Then get to your relish, you’ll notice that mine is quite chunky: I chopped (by hand) green olives with pimento, capers and these lovely cured peppers we got at World Market which are tiny and deep red (and add a bit of sweetness and a bit of heat). You could add a tablespoon of roasted red peppers to or Sun-dried tomatoes (use the kind preserved in oil) to similar effect. I probably added about a teaspoon or so of balsamic vinegar and maybe a bit more than a teaspoon of a good olive oil to the chopped vegetables and then added the dried minced onions, basil, salt and pepper. The relish could probably be infinitely improved by fresh onion and fresh basil, but I had to use what we had on hand. You can make the relish ahead of time and refrigerate for a few hours, just take it out to warm to room temperature about 20-30 minutes before the baked salmon will be done. This made two servings, and I served the salmon alongside a Caesar salad.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 350 kcal
Fat: 22 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Total Carbohydrate: 3.5 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 31 g

Net Carbohydrate: 3.5

Bacon, Mushroom and Spinach Egg Casserole

After the great success of the sausage and spinach egg casserole (which was well-liked by both of us, even though Michael doesn’t usually like eggs), I decided to try it again, with a few changes. I love this casserole because it’s portable, it can be frozen and thawed well, and reheating it is a snap. It makes for a really quick and filling breakfast (or post-workout meal). It’s been a great way to add additional vegetables to our days, as well.

Spinach Mushroom Bacon Egg Casserole

Bacon, Mushroom, Spinach and Egg Casserole

8 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and chopped
8 Eggs
2 cups frozen, chopped Spinach (heated and pressed of excess water)
2 cups sauteed Mushrooms
1 cup Cheese (I used a combination of Monterey Jack and Cheddar)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Chives
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg


To prep ingredients, I baked my bacon – you can find plenty of instructions online. While the bacon was cooking, I heated the frozen spinach in the microwave and also heated up the mushrooms (rather than cooking my own mushrooms, I used half a bag of frozen Mushroom Medley from Trader Joe’s). It would be easy enough to sauté the mushrooms in butter (or in bacon grease if you wait until your bacon is cooked). Once the bacon is cooked through, place it on a plate covered with papertowels to drain and chop the bacon once it has drained. Drain the spinach by pressing (either by hand or with a cheesecloth).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 pan. Mix eggs, spinach and mushrooms together. Season the egg mixture and then add the cheese and bacon to the egg mixture. Once everything is evenly combined, pour into the 8 x 8 pan and bake 35-45 minutes, rotating midway through. This recipe makes 8 servings.

I spaced on the fact that I have gruyere cheese in my fridge, which I think would have been a really nice cheese to use in this dish instead of the Monterey Jack. Maybe next time.

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 213 kcal
Fat: 15 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Total Carbohydrate: 3.5 g
Fiber: .5 g
Protein: 13 g

Net Carbohydrate: 3 g

Moving Again

I figured that I owed an update after my stall entry last week — I’ve started losing again. I’ve now hit the lowest weight I ever hit on Medi-Fast (which, coincidentally, was pretty much my weight upon exiting high school), so it’ll be a long slog (about 20 pounds or so) until I hit my next new low: the lowest weight I have known in my adult life. And after that, I have no idea. My ideal weight is about 60 pounds below that, my personal goal weight is somewhere in the middle but I have no idea what my life will look like or feel like at that point. It’s more than a little terrifying, to be blunt.

I moved off the stall by upping my calories to a 25% caloric deficit, as discussed in the previous progress entry. The good news is that since I have a lot more energy again, I’ve been cleaning and yoga-ing with new fervor. Michael and I also walked a couple miles outdoors last weekend, taking advantage of the unusually nice weather. The additional good news with the energy resurgence is once again having exercise as a tool to deal with the days I feel low, emotionally. Nothing works for malaise/depression/etc like a nice sweat.

So what have I been eating this week? The usual. Leftover egg casserole (which was amazing, froze very well and which I intend to make again and again). Creamed spinach. Baked salmon. Canned tuna. Caesar salad. Atkins shakes. Roast turkey. Steamed broccoli. Lots and lots of roast seaweed, still. My goal for the next week or so? Up the fatty fish to a couple more servings a week (likely by eating canned kippers) and to try to start incorporating tofu or TVP or tempeh in our lives, at least one meal a week. Tempeh is interesting because it’s higher protein than tofu, but I’ve only cooked with it once, to mixed success. And for some reason, it’s really difficult to find tempeh recipes which are also low carb. I’ll have to brainstorm.

I’m also in the midst of planning my gardening for this year. I have a pretty big raised bed and I’m looking at planting eggplant, zucchini, peppers (probably a few types) and plum tomatoes. I’m considering planting cool Fall produce: as well (ie: kale, broccoli) but I’ve never grown those things before. The herbs I’ll likely do in smaller containers: a couple types of basil, oregano and thyme at least. Maybe chives, cilantro, mint.  I haven’t gardened in years (since the first year Michael and I were married) and pretty much the only thing we grew successfully that year were cayenne peppers and basil (and a few Brandywine tomatoes).  But if it all works out, we’ll have plenty of tasty vegetables this Summer, hopefully limiting our grocery store needs.

Egg Casserole with Sausage and Spinach

I have been bad about using the fancy Italian sausage we have on hand in the freezer. Truthfully, I miss Italian sausage that is coated in tomato sauce and resting on a buttload of pasta. It reminds me of the time one of my aunts met me and my cousin (her daughter) at a park and ride and handed us a huge container of Italian Sausage and spaghetti with peppers and onions in a delightfully chunky spaghetti sauce. We went straight back to our dorm room, nuked that container and pigged out. As a kid, I had this thing against any meat in a skin (hot dogs, sausage links, etc) and refused to eat them on principle so I think that may have been my first time ever eating Italian sausage. It was glorious.

For this recipe, I took the sausage out of its casing and cooked it in a pan before hand, working it with a spatula to crumble it. I don’t know how easy it is to take sausage out of a synthetic casing, the sausage I use has natural casing which is pretty easy to handle raw. The sausage I use also has a lot of heat and garlic in it, so I didn’t add too much seasoning to the eggs.

Egg Casserole with Sausage and Spinach

Egg Casserole with Sausage and Spinach

12 Eggs
1 pound Italian Sausage
8 oz frozen chopped Spinach (a little more than half a brick)
1 cup Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Chives
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove your Italian Sausage from the casing and cook in a pan at medium heat until cooked through, chopping up the sausage links into crumbles as you cook. Drain the cooked sausage. While you’re tending to the sausage, place frozen spinach in a covered container and microwave per package instructions. Once the spinach is done, squeeze out the excess water. Break your eggs and whisk the eggs with the seasoning. Lastly, add the cheese to the egg mixture, stirring it in.

Lightly grease an 8 x 8 baking pan (coconut oil spray is awesome), Layer the cooked sausage and spinach in the pan, then pour the egg and cheese mixture on top. Cook for 35-45 minutes, the eggs will puff up and the edges will turn golden brown. I cut this into 16 squares (2 squares is a serving) and set half of the recipe aside to freeze for quick meals.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 350 kcal
Fat: 28 g
Saturated Fat: 11 g
Total Carbohydrate: 3 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 20 g

Net Carbohydrate: 2 g


I’ve been stalled out for about a month, now. No weight loss, no weight gain. Just sort of sitting at about 230 pounds. It’s a cruddy feeling, and you start picking everything apart. Should I cut calories? Should I work out more? Should I try intermittent fasting or a fat fast?

Truthfully, I believe I started my stall in December, when I said to myself that I wanted to meet a dumb goal by the end of the year. I wanted to weigh less than my lowest weight on Medi-Fast, my lowest weight since college. Essentially, I wanted to lose about three pounds in 10 days. So I cut my calories pretty significantly. And instead of losing weight, I just lost energy. It’s kind of a rookie mistake and I don’t think of myself as a rookie.

I’ve made a lot of changes over the month: I paid a lot more attention to my macros and brought my protein back up to where it should be (I was regularly getting 10-15 g less protein than I need to maintain my current lean mass). I upped my sodium intake since my blood pressure got too damn low (84/52) and I was experiencing pretty severe orthostatic-hypotension (almost passed out one afternoon upon getting up and going to the fridge for a pickle since I felt “low”). I hadn’t been eating as much fatty fish as when I started and got concerned that I might be deficient in iodine so I’ve added seaweed as a daily snack (and it has led to me feeling much more energetic). But none of those worked any magic on the scale.

So, I went over my food logs this weekend, thinking I was missing something huge. The only thing that had changed was that I had cut my calorie intake significantly (500-800 calories below an already generous 25% deficit). In December, when I cut the Atkins junk out, I never really replaced those calories with anything.

I’ve decided to stick to my 25% deficit (which means a generous 1600 calories daily) and hit the protein macro consistently and see what happens over the next month. My blood pressure is back to normal (100/70), my energy is coming back (likely a combination of the increased calories and the iodine) and my hope is that I will see some loss again, hopefully on par with how I was losing before.

That being said, I think it’s pretty normal to stall out every once in a while. I know the set-point theory is pretty much baseless, but I’ve been stuck at this weight before and then basically lost 15 pounds, all of a sudden, in one month. Having sorted out the blood pressure and energy issues, there’s absolutely nothing about this diet that feels unhealthy and it’s easy enough to maintain that even without seeing consistent loss, it doesn’t bother me to stick to it. But maybe that’s my perspective, too. I have absolutely seen this as a lifestyle change, not a quick-fix weight loss solution. And so, a stall is an engineering challenge, but not an invitation to quit and eat a dozen doughnuts.

Fried Tofu and Veg with Peanut Sauce

Every so often, the old vegan in me or Michael kicks us and says, hey, guys, what about me? It’s hard for me to help it: I am much more passionate about vegetables than I am about pretty much any meat (my exceptions: grass-fed steak; salmon; bacon). I understand vegetables. I know how to cook them and how to season them and most importantly, I know what I like about them. Meat is almost always a shot in the dark for me. I couldn’t fry a piece of chicken to save my life. But I can fry tofu.

Enter this meal. A brick of tofu, an assortment of vegetables, a peanut butter and coconut milk based sauce. It’s not the lowest carbohydrate meal or the highest protein meal but it is packed with vegetables and flavor and texture. It is also free of any animal products, which can be a welcome change of pace.

tofu and veg in peanut sauce

Pan-Fried Tofu and Vegetables with Peanut Sauce

Sauce Ingredients:
6 tablespoons Natural Peanut Butter, creamy
1/4 cup Coconut Milk, full fat
1/3 cup water to thin the sauce (you may need more)
Sweetener equivalent to 2-3 tablespoons Sugar. I used liquid splenda.
Juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste (or you could do two teaspoons each of minced garlic and grated ginger)
1/4 teaspoon of Sriracha (if you have it on hand)
Crushed Red Pepper, to taste

Meal Ingredients:
Brick extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
Vegetables of your choosing, at least 4 cups. We used 1 cup broccoli; 4 oz snow peas; 2 cups bok choy (it cooked down a LOT); 8 oz mushrooms and one green bell pepper. I did not use any onion to keep the carb count low.
Avocado, lime and cilantro for garnish.
Oil – we used canola and sesame oil to fry the tofu and cook the vegetables. Probably a tablespoon of canola and maybe 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and set aside. I like my sauce to be pretty sweet and spicy, since the vegetables won’t be seasoned. Drain the tofu – I also press mine. I happen to have a tofu press (which looks an awful lot like flower presses I used to use back in the day) but you can also wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel, place it between two plates and weigh the top plate with a can or something and let it be for at least half an hour. While you’re doing that you can prep your vegetables. I steamed my broccoli ahead of time, and also cleaned, trimmed and chopped the bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas and bell pepper. The white parts of the bok choy, the mushrooms and the pepper I set aside in one bowl and then the greens of the bok choy, the snow peas and the steamed and drained broccoli I put in another container.

Once the tofu has pressed for at least half an hour, chop it into 1/2 inch cubes. My cubes were bigger and harder to fry evenly. Set a pan on medium-high heat and add a tablespoon canola oil and maybe a teaspoon of sesame oil. Once the oil is heated, add your tofu. Stir it as you cook it to brown each side. The browned tofu will be crispy on the outside and creamy and almost airy on the inside (this is especially aided by the pressing beforehand). Once the tofu is done, take it out of the pan and set it aside. There should be some oil left in the pan – if not add some additional sesame oil and throw the tougher vegetables in: the whites of the bok choy, the pepper and the mushrooms. Keep stirring your vegetables for a few minutes then add the broccoli, snow peas and and the greens from the bok choy. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until the greens of the bok choy have wilted. Add the peanut sauce to the pan and continue stirring. Serve with lime slices, chopped cilantro and avocado as garnish.

This made four servings. I didn’t include garnishes in the nutrition information below, but we each ate half an avocado as garnish (a not insignificant quantity of tasty fat and fiber, but it also added 2 grams carbohydrate to our meal.)

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 392 kcal
Total Fat: 28 g
Saturated Fat: 5.5 g
Total Carbohydrate: 15.5 g
Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 19 g

Net Carbohydrate: 10.5 g

Solstice Cookies

It’s nearly the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Historic records are pretty spotty, but generally speaking, the Solstice would be treated as a feast day. In Germanic and Scandinavian traditional cultures, Jul would take place around the solstice as a feast day wherein animals were slaughtered and beer which had been started a month or so earlier (after the grain was harvested) would be drunk. It was, in short, a time to get drunk, stuff your face and give thanks to the gods with your family and neighbors.

I could talk a lot about how the mythology and symbols around the Solstice was taken up by conquering Christians as a means to assimilate the culture (ie, evergreens were brought inside to represent eternal life in a season of death; stars and suns were common decorative accents – an assurance that the sun would rise again). But instead, I’m going to post a cookie recipe.

I used a lot of different citrus fruits (Orange, Lime and Lemon) in this recipe because I had a lot of citrus on hand – ’tis the season. I like all the different flavors, but you could always use just lemon or just orange or just lime. I also freshly ground cardamom for this recipe (which entailed cracking open green cardamom pods to get to the seeds and then running those seeds through a burr grinder). If you use already ground cardamom, you may need to add more of it for flavor. I should also say, I bought some King Arthur almond flour because it was a finer ground than the Bob’s Red Mill brand I’d been using and it made a huge difference in the texture of these cookies. I chose not to ice these cookies because the cooling effect of the Erythritol in icing was unpleasant to both me and Michael – as such, I added some EZ-Sweetz liquid splenda to the dough for some extra sweetness.

Citrus Cardamom Cookies

Citrus Cardamom Cookies

1 1/2 cups Almond Flour
1/4 cup Coconut Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom, ground
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1/4 teaspoon Salt
6 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup Erythritol (I powdered mine for use in this recipe)
1 Egg
1 1/2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Orange Juice (juice from a quarter of a medium orange)
1 1/2 tablespoon citrus zest: I used lime and orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
A few drops of EZ-Sweetz (to taste – I probably added 1/4 teaspoon)
Optionally: sea salt for topping

Mix dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt) in a bowl and set aside. In a mixer, cream together butter and Erythritol (maybe a couple minutes of mixing). Add the egg, lemon and orange juice, vanilla extract, EZ-Sweetz and zest. Mix until incorporated, then gradually mix in the dry ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are mixed in, divide the dough in half.  Flatten each half and wrap in wax or parchment paper to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper. I rolled out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes, but the dough is a bit wet and sticky (you can tell, because I gave up and started cutting the dough with a boring old biscuit cutter).  If you don’t want to cut out shapes with cookie cutters, this dough would work great as a log that you cut – in which case, divide the dough in half, roll each half into an even log (maybe two inches in diameter) and set in the fridge for at least half an hour. Then just slice the log into 1/4 inch rounds and cook those. The cookies bake for about 10 minutes: as soon as they start to brown at the edges, they’re done.

Because I wasn’t icing the cookies, I topped a small number of cookies with a bit of fleur de sel on an impulse. Turns out, both Michael and I really liked those salt-topped cookies, so I totally recommend doing that. I’d say we got about 30 cookies out of this recipe.

Nutrition Facts (per cookie):
Calories: 57 kcal
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Total Carbohydrate: 2 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 2 g

Net Carbohydrate: 1 g

And happy solstice! I’ll be busting open a very, very dry hard cider tomorrow instead of a beer and we’ll be feasting on tofu, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

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