Kara's Keto Plates

Fatty Food Blogging

Category: Lunch

Italian Meatballs

As part of her means to ensure that her children would be able to cook for themselves, my mother had a grand idea to make each of us prepare a dinner one night a week. Every week, without fail, I made meatballs. A pound of ground beef, an egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning – then into the oven they went while I boiled pasta and made a spaghetti sauce out of canned tomato sauce and tomato paste, onion and garlic powder and dried herbs. Sometimes I even made garlic bread to go on the side (along with salad). It was easily my favorite meal and I really liked being able to control the seasoning because I had a texture thing against onions that was *finally* trained out of me by Michael after a couple years of marriage (ie, he sat me down at the dinner table and watched me eat an entire plate of what amounted to curried onions with chickpeas. At the time, I nearly cried).

In any case, meatballs were my favorite dinner and turned a chore (cooking for a large and picky family) into something I could enjoy. Luckily,  they are simple to make low carb friendly.

Italian Seasoned Meatballs

Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef, thawed
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/3 cup Almond Flour
2 cloves Garlic, minced (or about 1 Tablespoon)
1 1/2 tablespoons dried Parsley
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
Dash Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper, as desired

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop up your garlic and set it aside. I mixed my dry ingredients (Parmesan, almond flour, and dried herbs and spices minus salt and pepper) in a separate bowl – but this is not necessary. Place the ground beef into a large bowl, breaking it up with your fingers as you do so. Add salt (I sprinkled maybe 1/4 teaspoon) and pepper (about 4 twists of my grinder), the egg and the chopped garlic, mix these until they are loosely incorporated. Do not be the person that mixes these ingredients with a spoon – get in that bowl with your hands, they’re the best tool for the job. Sprinkle the dry ingredients evenly over the top of the beef and then mix again until everything is incorporated – you don’t want any dry deposits or wet spots and the beef should begin to hold it’s shape.

Once you’re at that point, it’s time to roll! Make sure you have a cookie sheet – either grease it plenty or use parchment paper. I used parchment and the meatballs didn’t stick at all. The meatballs should be about an inch big – forming them is super easy. Just roll the beef mixture between the palms of your hand. That should make a nice, even ball shape. Throw the ball on the cookie sheet, make sure there’s a bit of room between each (they won’t expand, but you need the space in order to heat them evenly on all sides). Once you’ve rolled up all the meatballs, place the cookie sheet in the oven. It should take about 20 minutes to cook through, I flipped my meatballs midway through the cooking time  – partially to make sure they weren’t sticking and partially to brown the other side.

This recipe makes what I consider to be four generous servings. You can serve the meatballs with a low carb marinara sauce or do what I did: make a pot of Italian Wedding soup.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 298 kcal
Fat: 17.8 g
Saturated Fat: 6.5 g
Total Carbohydrate: 3 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 30.5 g

Baked Cod with Parmesan

I wanted a simple meal to make for lunch today since Michael was home. We voted, and then I came home and made the following recipe, which I served with an enormous Caesar salad since we have so much fresh romaine on hand.

Cod is not the fattiest fish, so in order to keep our macros looking good for the day, I added a bunch of fat in the form of delicious butter. We tend to use grass-fed dairy whenever possible (better fat profile, more Omega-3s) but that is not necessary by any means.

Baked Cod with Parmesan

Baked Cod with Parmesan

Ingredients:
2 Cod Filets, 6 ounces each, thawed
2 tablespoons Butter, melted
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons Almond Flour
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
Crushed Red Pepper, as desired
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the Parmesan, Almond Flour and thyme together in a bowl and set aside. Prepare a baking dish by spraying it with oil and then set the thawed fish filets in the baking dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the filet. Thinly slice a clove of garlic and then place the sliced garlic on both filets. Melt the butter (I just use the microwave at 50% heat).  Pour (or if you have a pastry brush, you can use that) half the butter on top of the fish filets. Sprinkle the tops of each filet with the dry mixture and crushed red pepper, if you want (I did want). Pour or spoon the remaining butter on top of the dry topping on each filet and then place the baking pan in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the cod is done. Cod is tricky for me and I have a tendency to overcook it, but I think I got it perfect this time, it flaked away without being rubbery.

Nutritional Information per Serving (this makes two servings):
Calories: 405 kcal
Fat: 21 g
Saturated Fat: 10.7 g
Total Carbohydrate: 2.7 g
Fiber: 0.8 g
Protein: 49.2 g

Baked Zucchini Rounds

I came across many similar recipes and they had the audacity to call these things “chips.” They are not chips, at least, not unless you bread and pan fry them. They’re really not all that crispy although slice your zucchini thin enough and they get kind of crispy-dehydrated. So, while I liked this recipe, if you’re some kind of Queen who hates mushy zucchini – this is not the one for you.

I seasoned this dish in a way that reminds me of my mother’s white pizza: Parmesan, salt, pepper,  garlic powder and onion powder, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. It definitely hit the right notes.

Baked Zucchini

Baked Zucchini Rounds

Ingredients:
2 medium Zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds (about two cups of rounds)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon or garlic and onion powder
1/4 teaspoon each of oregano and  crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Oil to spray your cookie sheet (we have coconut oil Pam)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all the seasonings together with the Parmesan cheese. Cover a cookie sheet in foil and then spray with oil. Lay Zucchini slices in one layer. Top each slice with a bit of the Parmesan and seasoning mixture. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the Parmesan starts to brown on top of the zucchini. Best eaten fresh from the oven.  This made two very big servings for Michael and me.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 76 kcal
Fat: 3.5 g
Saturated Fat: 1.9 g
Carbohydrate: 6.5 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugar: 4.5 g
Protein: 6.2 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.

Make Friends with Salad

Salad with Tofurky

Contrary to all the learning I received from Homer Simpson as a child on the floor in front of the television – you *can* make friends with salad. Or, you *should* make friends with salad. Salad loves you. On Keto, I eat a salad every single day. Why so much salad?

Salad is insanely easy to prepare. I usually have lunch after working out and cleaning or doing some other physically straining thing. The last thing I want to do is spend more than ten minutes preparing a lunch.
It is simple to add both protein and fat to salad: boiled eggs, leftover meat from dinner, slices of cheese or fatty lunch meat, tins of oily fish, olives,  roasted seeds or nuts and then you get to the dressing.

I usually base my salads off romaine lettuce – not only is romaine delightfully crunchy, but it has a pretty high quantity of Vitamin A – a vitamin it can be hard to get on low-carb diets if you don’t eat leafy greens (since carrots and sweet potatoes have way too many carbohydrates).  So what do I add to salad?

Salad with Eggs

To add Fat:
– Dressing, full-fat of course
– Cheese – grated, crumbled, sliced
– Pepperoni or Bacon
– Olives
– Sliced Avocado or Guacamole
– Roasted nuts or seeds (pumpkin seeds are a favorite of mine)

To add Protein:
– Hard Boiled Egg
– Canned Tuna or Salmon (or mackerel or whatever fatty fish you desire)
– Tofurkey Italian Sausage (Vegan. High in fat and protein, and 4 net carbs)
– Ground Beef (flavored with taco seasoning is awesome, I try to find the fattier ground beef)
– Leftover proteins from meals: rotisserie chicken; baked fish; shredded pork, etc

To add just because:
– A few grape tomatoes
– Sliced bell peppers
– Broccoli florets
– Sliced Purple Cabbage
– Pickles
– Salsa

I like to make my own dressing for salads because it’s easy and kicks up the flavor and freshness factors. For a creamy base, I use the following:

Kara’s Creamy Dressing Base:

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream

Mix together and thin with water to desired consistency.  Seasoning can be as simple or as complicated as desired. For coleslaw, I’ve added vinegar, celery seeds, onion and garlic powder, dry mustard and a drop of liquid splenda (equivalent to 2 tsp sweetener). You could add blue cheese crumbles and chopped fresh herbs for a nice chopped salad.

Colorful Salad

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