For the last couple of years you may have noticed that our meal plans have been healthier. Lots of veggies, lighter on the carbs (most of the time) and much leaner cuts meats. Years ago, when money was tight we ate a lot of pasta and beans and rice as fillers, with cheaper cuts of meat. But as out health became more of a focus (especially once I had gall stones!) we started to focus more on healthier foods, and cooking from scratch with simple whole ingredients. Very recently we under went yet another shift in our eating: my husband went keto!
Have you heard about this diet? I was honestly a little skeptical since it seemed like the latest trend diet. My husband is extremely smart, and researches everything, so I never should have doubted him, but going from a light and lean menu to a full fat dairy and fattier meats meal plan, seemed backwards. For him, it’s not backwards (every body is different and you should always consult your doctor before making a drastic change to ensure you have no underlying health issues!), he was already really eating low carb, but light on fat. Making this switch for him will transition his body from burning carbs to burning fat. He isn’t just doing this for weight loss, more like weight management since he works outs and run and has been maintaining his weight more or less for a couple of years now. It’s also for energy and mood improvements. Apparently your moods level off and so does your energy because you aren’t crashing from all the carbs, and you need less caffeine. A way to break that 3pm crash? This might just be it!
So what does this mean for our family? Most of the day, it doesn’t impact us at all! But, since I’m the one that cooks dinner most nights, this was going to require me to make some changes to my dinners. Full fat dairy products instead of trying to make the light version of an alfredo sauce. Buying things like avocado mayo because even the full fat mayos aren’t made with keto friendly oils (it’s not just about full fat, it’s about healthy fats, high in omega 3 and low in omega 6). Less ground turkey, which is dark meat so it’s ok for keto, but ground beef is better, which is fine, because that’s cheaper! And occasionally buying the fancy grass-fed beef items at the fancy grocery store or butcher. Oh, and our house smells like bacon every day, because sugar-free bacon, eggs and spinach is his go to breakfast now.
I thought I would share some of the adaptations we have done this week, so you can see it’s easy to adjust family meals for one particular persons restrictions.
Tacos – Anyone on a low carb diet can enjoy tacos. Easily turn the meat and all the topping into a salad or use large piece of lettuce as the taco “shell”. Full fat sour scream topped my husbands taco salad, and I made fresh guacamole that we all enjoyed. I also usually add corn to the meat while its cooking, because the kids like it, so I just cooked this in its own pot instead. This was a great meal for the entire family, and was very easy to adapt for my husband.
Pasta – Pasta is an easy way to customize for different people depending on their likes or dietary needs. Do you have a favourite sauce? We love a really garlicy alfredo sauce or my famous spaghetti sauce. I love a good pea protein pasta if we aren’t adding meat, otherwise whole wheat is our go to. And you can serve the sauce over spiralized zucchini noodles for a carb free version. Change up the meat or the veggies in the sauce, and it becomes a completely different dish!
Casseroles – Any casserole can be adapted to any diet plan. Add more meat and veggies and skip the pasta or rice all together (which is what I did the other night with a beef and broccoli dish) to make it keto friendly. I didn’t think my kids would eat a casserole type meal without a carb in it, so I made a boxed pasta as a side for them, and it was a total hit with everyone! and of course, don’t forget to sprinkle the entire casserole with cheese, since full fat cheese is perfect for keto followers.
Meat & Veg – Keep it super simple with just meat and lots of veggies! Grill them up, bake them on a sheet pan, or toss them in a wok for a quick stir fry. Every dinner doesn’t have to be super fancy with a million ingredients, and I find these are the ones my kids eat the most of. And again, if someone in your family needs a carb (because hello they are delicious and me and the kids aren’t giving them up!) cook up some rice or pasta as a side dish. We did chicken legs (bbq sauce on ours, Franks hot sauce on the keto ones) baked in the oven and served with green beans, and I put a plate of carrot sticks and cucumber slices out on the table if anyone wanted those too. And I don’t think anyone missed the carbs in that one. And we enjoyed salmon and asparagus another night! Chicken thighs, steaks, different kinds of omega 3 rich fish, changing the protein and the veggies changes the meal completely, and makes it super simple to menu plan and to cook each night.
My husband has also tried to make this easy on me saying that if I do make a carb as a side, he just wont eat it, but that we didn’t have to go without, which is pretty great of him. I can still make potatoes (which the kids love in any form!), he will just double up on the other veggies.
My point is, that so many times “diets” or “lifestyle changes” fail because only one person in the house is doing it, and it can be hard on everyone. But it’s totally possible to work around restrictions, and keep everyone happy! You don’t need to search out a million keto meal ideas and make it complicated and difficult on yourself. Try altering your family favs first, it really can be done! As we get deeper into this keto thing, I’ll be sure to share more meal ideas so you can see how we have adapted as a family.
**Also, keep in mind that I only talked briefly about the basics of keto so you understood the changes and why we were doing them, but there is more to it, so if you consider this lifestyle, please research it carefully, if its not done properly it can be hard on your body and will not result in weight loss. It’s about changing your metabolism, and counting macros based on your specific body, and everyone has different results and different reactions. I am no expert nor a doctor.