The last 24 hours have been full of discussions about the ketogenic diet. I became interested in this way of eating when two things happened – I got divorced and gained about 30 pounds living as a single mother, eating scraps of macaroni and cheese from my kids’ plates and I battled shingles encephalitis and ended up with post-herpetic neuralgia in my face. Some days it felt like I was being branded with a hot poker along my left trigeminal dermatome.
A friend of ours is a big proponent of the ketogenic and we decided to give it a try in January. I have had so much success, I am basically an evangelist. I lost 27 of the pounds I had gained and my neuralgia became manageable. I was generally able to stop the gabapentin I was taking for pain control. There is now a strong correlation between the times I have needed it since starting a ketogenic diet (keto) and the times I have eaten too many carbohydrates. As secondary effects, I don’t feel hungry during the day, feel extremely stable in my blood sugar, and have started doing more intermittent fasting. This is a great way of life for me.
I hear a lot of misconceptions about this diet. People who say they can’t do it because they can’t eat “no carbs” or can’t not have beer. I eat plenty of carbs (20-50g/day) and I drink beer. The amount of carbs and beer I consume is largely driven by how active I am, but I don’t feel deprived. The other thing I hear is people who have a hard time because they lust for their favorite food. I’m learning that, at least for me, there are certain components of my favorite foods that I love that will largely satisfy me. The texture of something or the spices. That’s what I long for. So, I have worked to try to recreate those experiences for myself and I end up largely satisfied.
Take gnocchi, for example. The things that are awesome about gnocchi are the lightness and chewiness. I have been looking for a gnocchi recipe that would deliver those components, sans the carbs. I found one that really delivered here. The author states that the recipe is 4g of carbs per cup, but I would have died if I had eaten a cup.
The basic recipe is one package of shredded, low moisture mozzarella and three egg yolks. You put the mozzarella in a bowl and microwave for a minute until it begins to melt, and then slowly incorporate the egg yolks. The original poster is right that it takes some work, but it can be done with a kitchen spoon. Just requires patience until the egg yolks are fully worked into the cheese. Instead of garlic powder I added a small amount of salt and some onion flakes, but the next step is where seriously I deviated from the recipe.
I found the dough very sticky to work with and, even after I greased my hands, it was still very sticky. I found some coconut flour in my pantry and sprinkled some over the dough in the bowl. That made it super easy to play with. I took it out in sections and rolled it into snakes. I then cut the snakes into pieces with scissors and shaped them into gnocchi shapes. The white speckles in the pictures are bits of coconut flour. They didn’t give the gnocchi any coconut flavor. They just made the dough easy to handle.
I boiled some water and dropped them in, one at a time. I was shocked at how puffy they became. Each piece nearly doubled in size and they seemed as though they would stick together in a gummy mess (photos here on teh Twitterz). I drained them and then quickly divided them on to some parchment. As they drained, they became nicely discrete gnocchi, committed to holding their structural integrity.
I did not sautee them in oil or butter, per the recipe. Instead, I made a quick sauce of 3 tablespoons of butter, a pound of langostino tails, five sliced cherry peppers from a jar, 3/4 of a bag of baby spinach, and a splash of cream and half tablespoon or cornstarch. After everything cooked down, I added the gnocchi and topped with parmigiana reggiano . Total, my entire meall came in at about 6g of carbohydrates and we ate it with a lovely salad and delicious pinot.
The keto gnocchi were amazing. Now, if you’re expecting them to taste exactly like potato gnocchi, you’ll be disappointed, but they have a delicious flavor in their own right and meet the requirements for gnocchi attributes – they are light and have a nice chew. They were also an awesome addition to the langostino sauce.
I think people fail or shy away from this way of eating because they are trying to maintain the ability to have food taste exactly as they expect it will taste. Instead, I have really enjoyed experiencing my favorite parts of food in a new context. We have played with spices and vegetables that we might never have eaten before. All in the name of #ketolife.