Let’s face it…whenever we hear the words keto diet, we think of restricting foods that taste delicious and/or limiting portions. Even though monitoring your caloric intake and increasing your physical activity level may be needed to shed a few pounds, there’s no need for you to compromise enjoying those comfort foods that we all know and love! Today, I’m going to share my top, Registered Dietitian approved, keto friendly tips & comfort food ideas to help you stay on track with your health goals! But before we get into that, let me provide you with a little background info about the keto diet.
What is the keto diet?
I wrote an article a few months ago, explaining everything you needed to know about the keto diet so I’ll just highlight a few of those key points! The keto diet is a diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. This causes the body to break down fat into molecules called ketones. Ketones circulate in the blood and become the main source of energy for many cells in the body. The initial purpose for the ketogenic diet was used to treat some types of epilepsy, but has been used since the 1970s to treat obesity. Very low-carb keto diets became very popular in the 1990s and the popularity continues to grow. The typical keto diet recommends a daily carbohydrate intakeof 20g-30g. The number of carbohydrates consumed daily will depend on a variety of factors, such as insulin tolerance, physical activity level, and body composition.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about a few ways to enjoy those yummy comfort foods while on the keto diet or living a ketogenic lifestyle:
- Use non-starchy vegetable to replace foods that are high in carbs.
If you are a fan of mashed potatoes, French fries, and pasta, there is still a way to enjoy a delicious version of these foods, but in a keto-friendly way! Instead of mashed potatoes, you can use mashed cauliflower. It’s very easy to make. Once the cauliflower is cooked, simply add to a food processor until creamy, and add salt and a few seasonings.
If you are a fan of comforting pasta dishes, such as spaghetti or lasagna, you can easily replace all or some of the pasta for zucchini, spaghetti squash, or shirataki noodles.
- When craving something sweet, choose dark chocolate and cocoa.
Most people think that sweet treats cannot be a part of a keto diet, but that is not true. Besides being rich in antioxidants, one ounce (28 grams) of unsweetened chocolate (100% cocoa) has 3 grams of net carbs. The same amount of 70–85% dark chocolate contains up to 10 grams of net carbs. It's important to choose dark chocolate that contains a minimum of 70% cocoa solids, preferably more.
- When dining out, choose naturally carb-free drinks.
Of course, water is naturally carb-free and an ideal beverage choice, but there are times that we want a little flavor to accompany our meals. In the South, sweet tea is the beverage of choice. It’s served at every restaurant and provides a comforting taste, but most people think that they have to drink unsweetened tea while on a keto diet. Thanks to brands such as Southern Breeze Sweet tea, you can enjoy a refreshing glass of ice-cold sweet tea without any of the calories! It’s made with black tea leaves and a zero-calorie sweetener already added in the tea bag!
Here are a few of my favorite keto-friendly comfort recipes that are under 10g of carbs per serving:
- Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Bell Peppers- These Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Bell Peppers are the PERFECT alternative to the infamous sandwich! This recipe gives you all of those awesome Philly Cheese Steak flavors, but with half the calories and fat!
- Creamy One-Pot Garlicky Salmon & Asparagus- This Creamy One-Pot Garlicky Salmon & Asparagus is definitely the best salmon recipe that you will ever taste! It’s low-carb and low in fat and cholesterol!
- Veggie Stuffed Egg White Omelet- If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and healthy breakfast option then you’ve GOT to try this Veggie Stuffed Egg White Omelet! Not only is it delicious, but it’s packed with a great source of protein to get you through the day!
- Cajun Herb Egg Salad- This Cajun Herb Egg Salad can be served with toast, crackers, or my favorite low-carb way…with lettuce wraps! I love serving it in giant leaves of romaine because it adds a nice refreshing crunch, looks beautiful, and cuts down on the calorie and carb content.
- Easy 30 Minute Kale & Sausage Stir Fry- Is anyone else a fan of quick and easy recipes?? This Easy 30 Minute Kale and Sausage Stir Fry is so flavorful, delicious AND it only takes 30 minutes to prepare!
- Grilled Mediterranean Bruschetta Salmon- If you’re looking for a new, favorite salmon recipe, then you must try this Grilled Mediterranean Bruschetta Salmon! The incredible flavor components will definitely surprise your taste buds!
- Ranch Garlic Parmesan Sautéed Mushrooms- Need a quick, delicious side dish for dinner?? I’ve got you covered! These flavorful Ranch Garlic Parmesan Sautéed Mushrooms take less than 10 minutes to prepare and only 5g of carbs per serving!
Healthy Recipes & A Touch of DIY Flair. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.beautifuleatsandthings.com/
Medical information and health advice you can trust. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/
PaoliII A. Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe? Intl J Environ Res Pub Health. 2014;11(2):2092-2107.
Andrea Mathis, MA, RDN, LD is an Alabama-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of the healthy food blog, Beautiful Eats & Things. After completing her graduate studies at the University of Alabama, Andrea worked in several different healthcare settings including clinical, public health, and long-term care. Andrea believes in achieving optimal health by incorporating healthier eating habits into your lifestyle and making healthy eating fun! When she’s not running after her two toddlers, she’s going on exciting foodie adventures with her husband!