When I tell people I’m on the ketogenic diet, the first thing they say is usually: “I don’t think I could give up bread.” Some say pasta or potatoes or rice or ice cream, but bread is by far the number one answer.
But when I tell them I don’t really miss bread all that much anymore, the next objection is: “Isn’t it hard to eat like that day to day, week to week?”
My answer: a firm “no.”
And that’s the truth–if you’re willing to think outside the box, there are any number of food combinations that are high in fat and protein without those pesky carbs.
Here’s a list of simple snacks and meals that are a big part of my keto lifestyle:
#1: Celery and almond butter
As basic as it gets, no meat or dairy, plus packs a powerful punch of potent vitamins and minerals.
Celery is anti-inflammatory, contains vitamin C, beta carotene, flavonoids, and 12 other antioxidants, supports digestion, and is a rich source of minerals.
Combine that with almond butter–loaded with vitamin E, those same wonderful flavonoids, and shown to decrease cholesterol and the risk for heart disease–and you have a super healthy, delicious snack.
I also like to add a little salt to the almond butter for two reasons:
- People on keto need more salt, since ketosis consumes a lot of sodium. But mostly because:
- It makes the flavors pop!
I should add that if you’re not a fan of almond butter, any other nut butter can work, such as peanut or cashew butter.
The great thing too is that this snack requires basically zero prep time. To be honest, I just buy celery and almond butter at the store on my way to work, throw them in the fridge, and then when I need a snack I break off a stalk, wash it, spoon on some almond butter, and voila!
#2: Meat and lettuce roll-ups
This a fantastic little combo a friend suggested that is often the main part of my lunch.
Again, super simple: buy some sliced lunch meet at the deli, a box of lettuce (I’ll swap between spinach, arugula, and mixed greens), and then all you need is some sort of binder to add some fat and deliciousness–I’ll usually combine mayo and mustard, but you can really go crazy here with any of your favorite non-sugary condiments: sriracha, horseradish, relish, etc.
Of course you don’t have to stop there. Cheese, avocado, pickles, other veggies–basically anything you like that doesn’t have carbs can be a part of the mix.
Assembly is easy: lay a few slices of meat down flat on a plate, spread the binder/fat, then throw some lettuce and whatever else you want inside, roll it up, and eat!
#3: Lettuce tacos
One way to scratch that itch we have for tacos (because who doesn’t love tacos) is to eat something that feels similar. This is where lettuce tacos are fantastic.
Lettuce tacos are as basic as it comes–if you’re truly going for that taco experience, use ground beef (or whatever protein you prefer) cooked with onions and taco seasoning, and throw on cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, jalapeños, etc. The only difference is that we’re using lettuce to contain it all instead of taco shells. For tacos I prefer green or red lettuce (you can also use iceberg but it doesn’t have as much nutritional value as the other two).
Not in the mood for tacos? Not a problem, because this meal works with almost any fat/protein and flavor combination.
For example, I used to love tuna sandwiches; now when I want tuna, I mix it up just like I would for a sandwich, but use lettuce instead of bread as the delivery device. Just like the roll ups, you can throw whatever condiments, cheeses, or other veggies inside to increase the complexity and deliciousness.
Other options to throw in the tacos: pulled pork, lamb curry, or sliced sausage.
#4: Keto sandwich
Missing that sandwich you use to have at lunch? No worries: replace the bread with lettuce–I find romaine lettuce to be the best for this as it’s stiff enough to support a lot of ingredients.
As for the construction, just do what you’ve been doing your whole life: make a sandwich. Spread some mayo (or whatever sort of spread you like) and mustard on the lettuce, then pile on the meat and whatever veggies you like. I’ll usually do turkey, bacon, avocado, tomato (yes it has carbs, but not enough to matter), and pepper jack or cheddar cheese.
Warning: the wetter the sandwich, the more of a mess. I recommend eating these with a paper towel or napkin handy.
#5: Bell pepper scoops/bowls
Fact: bell peppers have six grams of carbs, four of which are sugar. But they also have two grams of fiber, which means the average person would have to eat more than ten to go above their net carbs for the day.
In other words, one or two is fine.
The idea here is essentially the same as lettuce tacos–throw whatever sort of protein/fat you want in here and then chow down. I’ll often do tuna with cheese and/or avocado. Deli meat, ground beef or turkey, chicken salad, chopped meat of any kind, or, if you want to take it back to square one, any sort of nut butter is a delicious addition as well, especially when paired with some salty cheddar–I know it sounds weird, but don’t knock it til you try it!
For more ideas on making keto easy, check out my post on five keto hacks. If you’ve got other simple keto snacks or meals you use, please leave them in the comments!