Kara's Keto Plates

Fatty Food Blogging

Category: Junk Food

German Chocolate Icing

For my birthday, I decided to do the brownie cupcakes I did for Michael’s birthday but to make my own German chocolate icing. German Chocolate Cake (not actually German) includes an icing that is essentially a caramel with coconut and pecans mixed in. It is a glorious icing, but the traditional recipe definitely smacks of the era it came from: the caramel is made using a can of sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and butt loads of sugar (most recipes even called for the use of sweetened shredded coconut). It’s straight from the unapologetic, over the top 50’s: can’t you just picture the ashtrays, bomb shelters and rocks glasses?

I decided to keto-ize the icing, which consisted of me mostly shaking my head at the other low carb and paleo versions I could find. To wit: caramel flavor is not browned butter, it’s browned sugar.  So, what do you do when you can’t use sugar (and sugar substitutes won’t brown)? You find the one ingredient which best approximates the richest, most delicious brown sugar flavor. That ingredient is… molasses. I’m an unapologetic molasses fiend, I used to drink molasses + apple cider vinegar + hot water every morning when I was vegan. I used it as a nutritional supplement but the fact is that I just really like molasses. It tastes good. It has a beautiful color. It’s packed with minerals and vitamins. The best part? You don’t have to add much molasses to get a nice, rich caramel flavor. You can add enough that it hardly adds many additional carbs per serving, but it will add flavor and color.

German Chocolate Icing

German Chocolate Icing

1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Erythritol
1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Blackstrap Molasses
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Liquid Splenda or Stevia, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Arrowroot Powder
1 cup Pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup shredded, unsweetened Coconut

Place the butter, erythritol, cream and molasses in a saucepan over medium heat . Stir as the butter melts, until all the ingredients are mixed together. Add the vanilla extract, salt and liquid splenda or stevia to taste. Keep in mind that the caramel will need to be super sweet (since the coconut and pecans we’re adding will not be sweetened). Bring the mixture to a boil, adding the arrowroot powder as the mixture comes to a boil, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Keep stirring the mixture as it cools – it should thicken a bit but still be liquid (the sauce will come off a spoon in a thick ribbon). Add the pecans and coconut, stir to coat all the pecans and coconut and then top your cake/cupcake/brownies. I actually cored each cupcake (maybe halfway down) and filled the core of each cupcake with the icing, and then topped with additional icing. I set the cupcakes in the fridge to cool and then added some liquid ganache on top (and garnished with a pecan half). The ganache was very simple: 1.75 ounces of chocolate and 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream melted together, sweetened with liquid splenda to taste and then stirred in an ice bath to cool. Once the ganache was sufficiently cooled, I spooned a bit (maybe a teaspoon) on top of each cupcake. You can keep the cupcakes in the fridge for probably 3-4 days, but they are nicer to eat when they are a little warmer, so set them out at room temperature for maybe 30 minutes or so before serving. The icing makes 12 servings.

Nutritional Information (per serving, icing only):
Total Calories: 112 kcal
Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Total Carbohydrate: 3 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Protein: 1 g

Net Carbohydrate: 1.5 g

German Chocolate Cupcake

Gin and Blackberry Lime Rickey

Drinking on keto is… a different experience. For starters, your alcohol tolerance goes out the window. So, you get drunk a lot faster, it’s more difficult to maintain that ideal pleasant buzz but lack of crappy alcohol effects while you’re drinking, and I find that if I drink more than two standard drinks in a night, I’ll experience a mild hang-over the next day (headache, mild nausea, you know the score). A lot of people choose not to drink on keto – your liver will preferentially process the alcohol and so the fat-burning processes go on hold while you’re drinking (which could, theoretically, slow your weight loss). That being said, a nice dry red wine is a great way to get anti-oxidants in a diet where you have to limit the fruit you eat. And when a nice drink is what you can have instead of an ice cream cone, I’d argue it’s a worthwhile diversion.

All that being said, you have to be careful with what you choose to drink because carbs hide everywhere. Dry red or white wines are generally okay – but semi-sweet, off-dry, or dessert wines are off the menu (and don’t even think about a Moscato). In terms of liquor – I’ve avoided almost every flavored anything because they tend to be sweetened. A known exception: Absolut states that they do not sweeten any of their flavored vodkas (and their Black Currant vodka is pretty darn nice). But flavored liquors like Kahlua, Grand Marnier and my personal favorite, St-Germain are heavily sweetened – it’s advisable to avoid them entirely. In terms of beer, you’re also pretty screwed. Plenty of light beers aren’t terrible – I used to drink a lot of Bud Light Platinum because it was 6 g net carbs a bottle and had pretty high alcohol content for a light beer.  But when what you want is a real damn beer, you won’t be able to find a low carb equivalent (I miss you, Sixth Glass, more than words can say). We’ve also been able to find a couple very dry ciders with no sweetener at our local liquor store – but those tend to be imported (American style cider is almost always seriously back-sweetened – and unfortunately, most companies don’t provide nutrition labels so you won’t know). I’m a pretty boring lady, so most nights I tend to drink either Gin, Vodka or dry Wine, with the occasional whiskey or Scotch making an appearance. Gin is really my favorite of all the liquors, possibly for romantic reasons: Michael brought gin, tonic and bitters down to my dorm room to mix me drinks when we were first dating.

This recipe comes in here, with gin and romance. I wanted a pretty, healthy drink for Valentine’s Day weekend to surprise Michael. I really love Gin Rickeys: they’re nothing more than gin, lime juice and club soda. But they are fantastic drinks: simple, refreshing, bright with citrus and juniper. This is a bit more complicated than a rickey (and sweeter) but a nice change of pace and a great way to get some extra vitamins in your day.

Gin and Blackberry rickey

Gin and Blackberry Lime Rickey

1 pint blackberries
2 – 3 tablespoons Lime Juice (or juice from 2 limes)
Liquid Splenda, to taste (we used equivalent of about 2 cups sugar)
Club Soda (1-2 liters)
Gin (as desired)

In a small saucepan on medium heat, place your blackberries, the lime juice and liquid splenda. If you juice limes yourself, I’d also include a small quantity of zest to the syrup to really up the lime flavor – maybe a teaspoon of zest or so. You’re making a syrup here, essentially, so we heavily sweetened the mixture (maybe 25 drops of liquid splenda – the equivalent of about 2 cups of sugar). While the blackberries are over the heat – start mashing them. You want to really mash them good, so you end up with a nice, dark syrup and a bunch of blackberry seeds. When the berries seem good and smashed up (there shouldn’t be much flesh still around the seeds), you’ll need to strain the syrup. We set a strainer over a small measuring cup – make sure to mash the mixture in the strainer to get as much of the liquid out as possible. We got about 1/3 cup of syrup total. We added a little more than half of the syrup to a liter of club soda, but you could keep the syrup and soda separate and just mix in the glass. Then, add a shot of gin to your glass, add the club soda and syrup mixture (maybe 1 tablespoon of syrup per drink) to fill, garnish with lime wedges and ice, if desired. I would say we got 4-6 drinks out of the syrup. You can also just dilute the syrup with club soda and add a bit more lime juice for something more like a blackberry limeade (which I also did, and it was nice).

Basically, the only nutrition here is from the lime juice and the blackberries: for the entire recipe, the blackberries add 4 net grams of carbohydrate (1 g per serving) and two limes juiced adds 7 g net carbohydrate (about 1.5g per serving) for a total of about 11 g net carbohydrate for the entire recipe (so about 2 – 2.5 g per serving).

Soupy Twist!

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups

In the US, we celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday. I had planned to make “twice baked” cauliflower and these individual pumpkin cheesecakes for dessert. Michael decided to try his hand at low-carb crab cakes, which I served with slices of vine ripened tomato.

But the cheesecakes were really what I wanted. Let’s face it: I love dessert, I love baking and I have done very little of it on low-carb (my desserts tend to be things like homemade splenda-sweetened whipped cream with sugar-free jell-o or some fresh berries). This recipe turned out well – but definitely needs the time in the fridge. I made these on Wednesday and they were much better chilled overnight or at least for a few hours.

I actually made my own pumpkin puree – it was pretty easy. I took a pie pumpkin, cut it in half and took out the seeds and the sticky membrane around the seeds, oiled the pumpkins (you could just spray them) and set them on a cookie sheet and then into a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for forty minutes (or until the skin is deeper in tone and wrinkled). Took them out, let them cool, peeled the skin off and then chopped the pumpkin into smaller chunks (an inch or two big) then just took my immersion blender to them. You could easily use a food processor or a blender, but I love my immersion blender for these tasks (it is much easier to clean). I didn’t season this pumpkin puree because I wanted to be able to use it for savory or sweet dishes. One pie pumpkin provided a little more than two cups of puree. Making your own puree is a completely unnecessary step – the canned pumpkin (not the canned pumpkin pie filling) will work perfectly.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups

Individual Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups


For the Crust
1/4 cup Almond Meal/ Flour
2 tablespoons Butter, Melted
1 teaspoon Powdered Erythritol
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

For the Filling
8 oz Cream Cheese (1 package), Softened
1/3 cup Powdered Erythritol
1/4 teaspoon Molasses (if desired)
1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 large Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each ground Allspice; Ginger and Nutmeg
Additional sweetener (equivalent to 1-2 tablespoons sugar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Get out a cupcake/muffin pan and put liners in six of the cavities. If you don’t have liners (like I didn’t) you could cut rounds of parchment paper and grease the cavities in the muffin pan (this is messy and liners are so much easier… and prettier). Mix together the ingredients for the crust and then pat the crust into the liners of each of the six cavities you’re using.

Move onto the filling – I started by putting the 1/3 cup Erythritol in a small bowl and mixing the 1/4 teaspoon of Molasses into that. Why molasses? To give it a richer, more brown sugar-y feel. Also, I am stupidly in love with molasses. If you don’t want to add the molasses, no big deal. Mix the cream cheese with the erythritol, pumpkin, egg, vanilla and spices. At this point I tasted my filling and decided it could use some additional sweetness, so I added some liquid splenda – the equivalent of probably 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Once the mixture is smooth, fill each of the liners to the top of your pan and then place it in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Once they’re done, I let mine rest for about an hour or so and then moved them to the fridge to cool. Cooling overnight is preferred, and man are they good with the morning cup of coffee. This recipe made six servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 210 kcal
Fat: 19 g
Saturated Fat: 11 g
Total Carbohydrate: 3.5 g
Fiber: .5 g
Protein: 4.9 g

Net Carbohydrate: 3 g

Rich, Creamery Hot Cocoa

It is a blustery 14 degrees Fahrenheit tonight, and we got our first snow of the season this weekend (still about two inches on my lawn, but the pavement is all clear). Long story short, it is hot cocoa weather. Additional bonus: I found grass fed heavy cream at Whole Foods last weekend, but they only had a huge container of it (Kalona SuperNatural brand). I bought the huge container and I have not regretted it – it is the tastiest, thickest cream I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. Just knowing I have that cream brightens up my morning coffee routine in ways I cannot adequately explain. But I have to use up like 2 cups of heavy cream before it goes bad. Enter hot cocoa.

Low carb hot cocoa is supremely easy to do, provided you have heavy cream and the calories to spare (as it is not low in calories). Why use heavy cream and water in lieu of milk? Because milk is FULL of sugar (lactose), which means it is full of carbohydrates. For the sweetener, I used a combination of powdered erythritol and liquid splenda because I really like those two sweeteners combined. You can use whatever sweetener you would like, but be mindful that powdered Splenda (the kind in packets or used for baking) is thickened with starch (which adds carbohydrate).

Hot Cocoa

Hot Cocoa

2/3 cup Heavy Cream
2/3 cup Water
3 – 4 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
2 tablespoons Erythritol
Equivalent of 1-2 tablespoons of Sugar. I used EZ-Sweetz liquid splenda.
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 pinch salt

Add cream, water, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to a sauce pan over low or medium-low heat. Watch your pan carefully – do not let the cream boil. Once the cream is heated, add the cocoa powder and erythritol – whisk to combine. Once the mixture is smooth, add the splenda, to taste. I used liquid splenda where 1 drop is equivalent to 2 teaspoons of sugar. I added 3 drops (equivalent to two tablespoons of sugar) and I thought the cocoa was plenty sweet.

You could easily add cinnamon or nutmeg to your hot cocoa for some nice spiciness. I’m thinking mint extract instead of vanilla (or, in addition to?) might also be nice (hit my favorite Starbucks holiday drink – peppermint hot chocolate). Or you could add a few tablespoons of the hot cocoa to your morning coffee for a nice chocolate creamer. As it is, I think this recipe makes a generous two servings.

Nutrition Information (for one serving):
Calories: 298 kcal
Fat: 30.5 g
Saturated Fat: 18.4 g
Total Carbohydrate: 7 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 5 g


Rich Creamery Butter

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

My younger sister came for a visit this weekend. She was traveling for her job and happened to be in close proximity with enough of a break to allow a visit. She is also a foodie (her job and her passion) and so, of course, we cooked. I decided now would be a good time to try a new recipe, and sis was more than happy to take it on while I did my same old roasted fajita vegetables. We made a boatload of food, all of it fatty and delicious.

I’m from Maryland, therefore my personal religious belief is that Old Bay seasoning is suitable (nay, preferred) for pretty much everything. That being said, it may not be available to you, locally. In that case, feel free to add seasoning of your choosing to the cheese mixture.

Jalapeno Poppers

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapenos – two per each person you’re feeding. I used six.
1/2 cup Cream Cheese, softened.
1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Old Bay, to taste
Chives, to taste
Bacon slices, cut in half. One full strip for each Jalapeno.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prep your jalapenos – slice in half and remove ribs/seeds. Mix the cream cheese with the seasonings and then add in the cheddar cheese. Stuff each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture, and wrap each half with half a slice of bacon. Since we didn’t have toothpicks, Sis wrapped the bacon such that the seam was on the bottom of the pepper. The bacon we used was thick-cut and not par-baked at all, but the bacon and the peppers had cooked through in about twenty minutes.

To cook the jalapenos, I recommend prepping a sheet pan as follows: cover with foil and set a rack on top of the sheet pan (I used a rack I have for cooling baked goods – hasn’t had much use lately). Place the jalapenos on top of the rack. This allows the bacon to cook more evenly on the peppers.

I recommend two peppers per each person eating, but I should say that I am the ONLY one of us who ate four pepper halves. This is likely because we also had the following on hand for dinner (as you can see in the picture): roasted fajita vegetables (mushrooms; zucchini and yellow squash; bell peppers), ground beef (seasoned with cumin, cayenne, chipotle, onion and garlic powder), low carb tortillas and all the toppings: avocado; salsa; sour cream and cheddar cheese. Point is, if you’re making this as an appetizer or one side to a dinner, one pepper (two halves) per person is probably sufficient.

Nutritional Information (per each half):
Calories: 80 kcal
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 3.7 g
Total Carbohydrate: 1 g
Fiber: < 1 g
Protein: 3.6 g

Snacking and Hickory Nuts

Before I started on a keto diet, I tended not to snack between meals. The reasoning behind that logic? I was pretty much always hungry and snacking inevitably led to me eating more calories than I otherwise would have when I was trying to run as large a deficit as possible in order to lose weight (calories in vs calories out, right?). Breakfast was coffee with smoked kippers or oatmeal with unsweetened almond milk; lunch was an enormous salad with Tofurky sausage or leftovers from the night before; dinner was most often a vegetarian soup with beans or baked fish accompanied with dark leafy greens plus a serving of basmati rice or roasted potatoes.  The only snacks I allowed myself were one serving of fresh fruit (think plums or nectarines or berries — none of the extra sweet fruit like bananas or grapes or apples) or roasted pumpkin seeds. It was, I think (and my physician agreed), a well-constructed, varied and healthy diet but I was frequently hungry and despite counting calories, limiting refined grains and sugars and engaging in daily physical activity – I was losing no weight.

On keto – I don’t worry about snacking. I don’t worry because although I log everything I eat, I’ve found that I just *don’t* eat more than I need to. I have no problem eating at or below my calorie goal so long as I remain mindful about carbohydrate counts. Some days, I’ll just eat snacks instead of eating a full-fledged lunch.

So what kind of snacks do I eat?

snack plate

Raw red bell pepper; green olives stuffed with lemon peel; dry salami from Volpi (a local company) and Kerrygold Dubliner cheese (think Cheddar crossed with Parmesan – sharp and crumbly and nutty).  The great thing about this snack plate besides the fact that everything tasted awesome? Relatively low protein, high in fat and high in sodium. I find that getting that extra punch of sodium mid-day is so important to keeping the “blahs” at bay. Red bell peppers may also be my single favorite vegetable snack and completely worth the 3-4 grams net carbohydrate in half a pepper: full of vitamins A & C with an extra kick of potassium (again, getting those electrolytes in is so important).

But one of my favorite fatty snacks? Nuts. I eat an ounce of nuts most days: raw pecans or walnuts; roasted macadamia nuts or pistachios. And this weekend, a special package arrived for Michael from Illinois which contained… Hickory Nuts.

Hickory Nuts

Hickory nuts come from the Shag Bark Hickory tree, which is native to the Eastern US and into Canada. By and large, they’re not sold commercially because the tree output varies so much from year to year and the shells are very hard which makes the nuts difficult to process. They taste amazing though – like a pecan but with more of the tannins I associate with walnuts. I quite liked them raw but Michael roasted some this afternoon and they are *really* good. Pecans and walnuts have always been tied for first place in my heart,  but Hickory nuts are the new champion.

The next order of nut business: get my hands on some native pecans, which are supposed to be oilier and taste… wilder.

It Tolls for Thee

I’m more than a little bit of a fan of Taco Bell. No shilling here – I just really like Taco Bell. It grew out of being able to eat vegetarian and vegan there: on the go and for cheap. You can’t beat being able to get a pile of beans and cheese in a cup. I was there when my local franchise premiered the Doritos Locos Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch tacos; when they started serving quesadilla wrapped burritos; and when they started serving breakfast.

The winner at Taco Bell breakfast, as far as Michael and I were concerned, was the AM Crunch Wrap: a tortilla filled with hash browns, scrambled eggs, cheese, meat of your choosing and a tasty, spicy little sauce, folded over and pressed in a pan. It is a tasty, portable breakfast item. And I loved it.

So Michael made us some. Minus the hash browns, of course. And using a low carb tortilla (La Tortilla Factory’s low carb 6-inch tortilla: 3 grams net carbs per tortilla) and his own homemade replica sauce.  Otherwise, its easy enough to scramble eggs, add a full-fat cheese (we use Kraft’s 4 cheese Mexican blend) and the meat you have on hand (we pre-cooked sausage patties). To assemble, layer the sausage with the eggs and top with plenty of cheese (the cheese will help seal the wrap) then drizzle some of the sauce.  Be careful to keep your ingredients centered in the tortilla because next you’ll want to fold the tortilla – basically, you’ll make six folds, folding over the edges of the tortilla towards the center. If they don’t completely overlap the center, that’s okay: that’s why there should be plenty of cheese on top to form a secondary skin. Place the tortilla fold side down on a hot pan (medium-high) which has been sprayed with oil. Let the tortilla sit for a while on this side (I think we usually let it sit for five minutes or so) – before you flip the tortilla – the cheese and tortilla should be browned. Then you just brown the other side (another couple minutes) and make sure the contents are cooked through.

crunch wrap

Michael’s Imitation Quesadilla / CrunchWrap Sauce

1 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Water
2 tablespoons Lime Juice
1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Pepper Powder
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Lite Salt
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/8 teaspoon Cumin
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
Sweetener Equivalent of 4 teaspoons Sugar (ie. 2 packets Splenda; 2 drops of EZ-Sweetz)

Thin mayonnaise with lime juice and water. Add remaining ingredients and mix.

Crunch Wrap Bite

This makes fantastic keto junkfood – hits the Taco Bell spot while also providing a lot of fat. Michael’s sauce is also really nice: I put it in on my salads, too.

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