You’ve probably heard of the ketogenic (keto) diet by now, but what is it? In a nutshell, it’s a high fat, low carb diet where you are kicking your body into a state of ketosis where it burns ketone bodies derived from fat for energy instead of glucose derived from carbs. Once in a state of ketosis, burning fat and weight loss may be easier. The diet consists of consuming about 65-75% of your calories from good fat, 20-30% protein, and about 5% from low-starch carbs.

With the specifics out of the way, the keto diet is a good opportunity to clean up the way you eat. While the idea of eating bacon and cream all day might be alluring to you this holiday season, keep in mind that eating processed and refined foods will work against you. Here are some good rules of thumb: 

Try to stay plant based. Nuts and seeds should be your new best friends. Coconut and avocado oils are high in the right kind of fats and don’t pose the same threats as do meats with saturated fats. The saturated fat in coconut, for example, comes sans the highly inflammatory arachidonic acid found in meat Cutting the arachidonic acid from your diet allows your internal pH to stay balanced, thus incurring less risk of disease caused by inflammation. A word to the wise: use caution consuming oils like coconut oil at first, you may find yourself running to the bathroom if you consume too much in one sitting.

Quality is key. with animal products. Buy organic, free-range, pasture-raised, wild-caught, and sustainable as much as you can when it comes to animal products. Discount grocery store butter is not the same as Organic grass-fed cultured butter. Meat raised in factory farms and fed GMO grains are not the same as pasture raised organic.

Consider joining in a share with a cow, pig or poultry with other families. You get more for your money and peace of mind knowing where your meat came from.
Many farm CSA’s also offer fresh dairy and eggs. You get fresh products and support local farms.
Just remember, you do not have to eat animal products all of the time on this diet. Coconut, avocado, tree nuts and seeds can go a long way.

Buy organic produce. Non-organic produce is like a sponge for pesticides and herbicides, they are fat-soluble and store in your organs and tissues (fat cells included). Do a little research on what most of the common pesticides are meant to do to insects, then imagine trace amounts of them accumulating in your body over a lifetime. It’s a little scary, albeit we are not trying to incite fear, just an awareness of the potential health hazards.

Avoid refined products. Deli meats, charcuterie and low-quality dairy often have added preservatives and nitrates. Refined foods cause inflammation and you start working against yourself if you’re trying to create an environment for weight-loss and healing.

Watch the fake sugars. It can be very hard to wean yourself off of sugar. Luckily there are great keto dessert recipes, just be cautious you don’t go overboard. Try to stick to natural sugar alternatives like stevia and monk fruit. Erythritol-based sweeteners taste the best, but are internally acidic and can actually cause diarrhea for those who are sensitive to sugar alcohols. If you can, avoid artificial sugar substitutes like aspartame, saccharin and the like.

Keep your electrolytes in check to avoid the flu. Many people fear the keto flu, which is generally caused by a drop in sodium. Make sure you get a mineral balanced salt like Celtic sea salt or Himalayan in your food daily and take good electrolytes while you are transitioning to ketosis. Good salt helps your thyroid and it’s important to keep it in check for proper hormone production.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Nut Mix

Raw nuts are the most nutrient dense, but roasting them adds an intensely good flavor. We suggest buying raw and roasting them yourself to get the best of both worlds, because often nuts that come roasted have been cooked too much and are too high in refined salt.

2 cups assorted raw nuts (we love pecans, macadamia, walnuts, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ vanilla bean seeds

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients and toss well until the spices and oil are evenly distributed.

Spread the nut mix evenly on a baking sheet and roast about 5-10 minutes until you achieve a toasted nut brown. Allow the nuts to cool slightly and serve!

Ricotta and Winter Herb Endive Leaves

Endives and other greens in the chicory family like radicchio are great vehicles for this. You can also use plain old lettuce or cabbage leaves if you can’t find endive.

6-8 large heads of endive (any color)
1 ½ cups fresh organic whole milk ricotta
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 teaspoon winter savory, minced (you can use thyme if you can’t find savory)
¼ teaspoon rosemary, minced
¼ teaspoon sage, minced
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt
High quality olive oil to garnish

Chop the woody ends off of the endive and separate off as many nice full leaves as you can. Wash the leaves well and set aside to dry.

In a bowl add the ricotta, garlic, shallot, herbs and lemon zest and mix well. Adjust the seasoning to taste with fresh pepper and sea salt. Arrange nicely on a platter and chill for at least 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with a light drizzle of high quality olive oil.

Green Bean, Shaved Fennel and Kale Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette and Pickled Shallots

Filling up on good fiber and low starch carbs like greens is a good idea so you don’t over-eat the things you shouldn’t. This is a great salad and the fennel will even help your digestion.

For the base-
2 cups green beans, cleaned, ends chopped and sliced about 2”
1 cup fennel, core removed and shaved thin on a mandolin
1 cup kale, stems removed and sliced thin

For the vinaigrette-
¼ cup hazelnuts
1 teaspoon grainy organic mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
¼ cup high quality oil of choice

For the pickled shallots-
½ cup shallots, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorn
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sea salt

High quality Parmigiano Reggiano or similar cheese to garnish

Get a medium pot of water boiling on high heat. Once boiling, add in a tablespoon of sea salt then the green beans. Cook the green beans until they are just al dente (about 3-4 minutes), strain and set aside to cool.

Lightly chop the hazelnuts and toast in a pan on medium heat (about 1 minute). Be sure to move the nuts around so they do not burn. Set the nuts aside to cool.

In a bowl, mix together the mustard, garlic, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and chives with a whisk. Slowly whisk in the oil to emulsify the dressing. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Add in the toasted hazelnuts you toasted earlier and mix into the vinaigrette, set aside.

In a pot on medium heat, add in all of the pickling ingredients except the shallots, bring to a simmer. Once the mix is simmering, add in the shallots and cook only 4-5 minutes (you do not want the shallots to over-cook). Remove the shallots and discard the pickling liquid or save and re-use for another pickle.

In a serving bowl, toss together the shaved fennel, finely chopped kale and green beans. Drizzle the hazelnut dressing onto the greens and toss well. Sprinkle the pickled shallots evenly over the salad and garnish with a fresh shaving of Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve right away.

Nutty Butternut, Mushroom, Chestnut and Sage Stuffing

Butternut squash is a little higher on the sugary/starchy carb side, but hey, it’s the holidays. It serves however as a much better keto vehicle than bread of course. Getting some caramelization on the squash is key, it brings out the natural sugars and a great depth of flavor.

¼ cup cooking oil of choice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white onion, small diced
¼ cup carrots, small diced
¼ cup celery, small diced
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon sage, chopped
½ cup toasted and chopped nuts of choice (walnuts or almonds work great here)
3 cups butternut squash, peeled, cored and large diced
1 cup crimini mushrooms, de-stemmed and quartered
1 cup white mushrooms, de-stemmed and quartered
1 cup seasonal mushrooms, chopped (we love chanterelle for this one)
1 cup cooked, peeled and chopped chestnuts
1 cup organic stock of choice
¼ cup butter
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

In a large pot on medium high heat, add in the olive oil and garlic and sweat until just translucent. Add in the onion, carrot, celery and fresh herbs and stir until they start to soften (about 5 minutes). Add in the nuts, diced butternut and mushrooms and season liberally with salt and pepper. Once salt is introduced, the mushrooms will start losing their water and sweat out into the pot.

Continue to stir and allow the squash and mushrooms to get some good brown color and caramelization from the heat. Once the moisture in the pan starts to burn off, add a few tablespoons of the stock to deglaze any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. If the squash is still not fork tender, you can add more of the stock and cook longer.

Add in the chestnuts and season again with sea salt and fresh pepper to taste. Stir and add in the butter. Remove from the heat and fold the butter in until it’s evenly melted. You can add this stuffing to the inside of the turkey if you like, but we like putting it in a baking dish to serve with the rest of dinner.

TIP- You can make this ahead and reheat in the oven at 350 covered in foil.

Brussels Chips with Toasted Pine Nuts and Lemon Aioli

2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup avocado or olive oil
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 cups Brussels sprouts leaves (remove ends, cut in half and separate out leaves)
3 cups fat/oil of choice for frying
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a food processor, add in the egg yolks, lemon, paprika and garlic and pulse several times until well, combined. Add a few drops of the avocado oil and pulse again. Turn the processor on and slowly drizzle in the oil to emulsify the aioli. It should be the consistency of a smoother mayo. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper and set aside.

In a frying pan on medium heat, add in the frying oil and bring up to 350-375 degrees. Test the oil by adding in a leaf, it should sizzle and fry up. If it sinks and doesn’t start frying, your oil is too cool.

Line a baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towels and set next to your pan you are going to use to fry the leaves in.

In about 4 batches, carefully sprinkle the leaves into the hot oil and fry. Using a slotted spoon, gently push the leaves around to ensure they evenly cook. Once crispy (about 2 minutes) remove leaves from oil, drain off excess oil over the pan with the slotted spoon and transfer to baking dish lined with paper towels. Repeat until you have fried all of the leaves. Lightly season the leaves with sea salt to taste while on the paper towels.

Add the aioli to the bottom of a nice serving platter and evenly sprinkle the fried Brussels leaves over it. Garnish with the pine nuts and serve while hot!

Tart Cranberry and Blood Orange Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups blood orange juice (you can sub regular oranges if you can’t find blood orange)
1 cup Swerve crystals
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt

In a pot on medium-high heat, add in all of the ingredients and stir until it comes to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low for 10-15 minutes or until the cranberries really break down and soften.

Remove the lid and stir. Continue cooking on low heat until most of the moisture dissolves and the mix thickens (about another 10 minutes), but use your judgement if it needs to be thicker, then cook longer. Transfer to a jar and cool. Set aside for serving with the turkey later.

Perfectly Herb Roasted Free-Range Organic Turkey

1 whole organic free-range turkey, cavity cleaned and patted dry (½-¾ lb per person is my general rule)
1 cup clean animal fat of choice (bacon fat, duck, goose, lard)
¼ cup garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped + 4-6 whole sprigs
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped + 4-6 whole sprigs
2 blood oranges, cut into ⅙’s

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together the fat, garlic, and chopped herbs evenly. You are going to “lard” your turkey with it, so you will be stuffing just underneath the skin with generous amounts of the fat mix. Start by adding about a tablespoon in your hand and find a place where you can get your hand under the skin, working to separate the skin from the tissue. Focus on leaving the most fat on the breasts and work your way around the whole bird until all of your fat mix is used up.

Liberally season the top and bottom of the turkey with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting rack breast side down (just at first!). If you are not stuffing the turkey with the Nutty Butternut Mushroom, Chestnut and Sage Stuffing, then stuff with the remaining herb sprigs and orange slices into the cavity. If not, then sprinkle the herbs and orange around the base of the roasting pan.

The general rule is cook 20 minutes per lb of turkey. Cook the turkey breast side down for one hour, reduce the heat to 350 and then flip so it is breast side up. You can baste your turkey with the juices as you go along. If it starts looking very brown and it still has quite a bit of cook time left, add a piece of tin foil over the top. The internal temp of the breast should be 165 and the thigh (put the thermometer in at the deepest part) about 175. Allow your turkey to rest covered in foil at least 10-15 minutes before carving.

Set the roasting pan with natural juices aside for gravy.

Turkey Jus Gravy

Because starches like flour or even gluten-free and paleo options aren’t really great for the keto diet, you can think of this gravy more like an emulsion. You will be using the fat, to emulsify back into the pan juices.

2 cups turkey pan juices (you can use turkey broth here, but it’s just not the same!)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cognac
2 bay leaves
1 cup turkey roasting pan fat

Through a fine strainer, strain the turkey juices and fat from the roasting pan and set aside 2 minutes. Allow the fat to separate up to the top.  Skim off the fat and set aside.

In a medium pot on high heat, add the cognac. Allow it to burn off ¾’s of its original volume and add the turkey juices, stir.  Add in the bay leaves and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool slightly, remove the bay leaves.

In a food processor, add in the egg yolk and a few drops of the turkey fat and pulse. Add in the pan juice mix and pulse 30 seconds. VERY slowly drizzle in the fat to emulsify it into the juices. This should take a few minutes and the stream of the fat pouring in should be very thin. The final consistency should be like a gravy, just imagine if it’s something you’d like to top your dinner with.  Adjust the seasoning as needed with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and serve while hot.

TIP- Because this is an emulsification, do not store it in a very hot oven to keep it warm because it will “break” where the fat separates from the liquid.

Pumpkin Spice Mousse with Fresh Whipped Cream

1 can organic pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pinch sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon clove
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 pack organic gelatin
2 cups swerve sweetener or sugar substitute of choice
2 cups heavy cream

In a pot on medium heat, add the pumpkin, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, swerve/sweetener and ½ cup of the heavy cream and mix well with a whisk.

Sprinkle in the gelatin and mix until gelatin is dissolved. Transfer into a bowl and put it in the freezer to cool rapidly while you make the whipped cream.

In a bowl or standing mixer, whip the remaining 1 ½ cups heavy cream to a stiff peak.

When the pumpkin mix is room temp, fold in the whipped cream with a spatula in ⅓’s taking care to not knock down the whip on the cream. When the pumpkin mix and cream are evenly incorporated, add it evenly into serving cups or ramekins on a tray. Place in the fridge at least 30 minutes to set.

You can garnish with cinnamon sticks, a sprinkle of fresh cinnamon or fresh whipped cream for looks.

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