Ted here. This post is about the very simplest keto meals. Especially from the perspective of the secondary cook.
Christy is a food wizard. She gets food. She can create new things from basic components. She can produce batches of treats for Nora that we can use over the week. That is not an area of significant competence for me, but I can certainly make simple keto meals for Nora. So what do we do when energy and time are low, more complex treats are not available, and Nora needs to eat? Here is our most basic template for an easy lunch (or dinner).
Start with a base of avocado. Avocados are stellar. They are at about a 3.5:1 ratio on their own, plus they are fibrous. They can be simply diced, or spread as butter. We’ll generally start with 20 to 30 grams of avocado for a meal. Macadamia nuts (see more on them below) can also serve the role of a meal base. Both avocados and macadamia nuts work well to start the meal calculation because they are both high ratio, and give you a solid start on all four of the major constraints: carbs, protein, fat, and fiber.
The major sweet parts of the lunch come from apple, red pepper, carrots or berries (e.g., blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries). Peppers and raspberries get priority because of their high fiber and low carb content (relatively). Apples, blueberries, strawberries, and carrots pack much more of a carb punch, so those are added if the other major constraints are met and there is still a bit of carb to give. Generally there will be 5 to 30 grams of total fruit, depending on the mix.
Cheddar cheese is the primary protein base. Nora likes it, it is easy to cut and weigh, and it has a good amount of fat too. It is versatile too in that it can be served sliced, cubed, shredded, melted, or melted and reformed. Something like 10 grams to 20 grams is typical. Sliced turkey and ham are also popular. Ham is nice because it has some fat. Sometimes we’ll put cream cheese and butter on the sliced meat and roll it up to get more fat in there.
Cream is our primary fat, either mixed with water and a few drops of vanilla flavoring to make “milk,” or steamed in our espresso machine with a pinch of cocoa powder. The amount of cream will be between 10 and 40 grams, depending on what else is in the meal. We’ll might also look for opportunities to put butter on or in things. The other two big fat delivery mechanisms are macadamia nuts and kalamata olives. Those are especially nice if I want to avoid liquids (i.e., cream) in the meal, for example, with a packed lunch. Macadamia nuts do have some carbs, so it will use up some of that allotment, but their high fat and high fiber content provide a significant tradeoff for that. Kalamata olives are one of very few foods that have both fat and carbs, but no protein, so they make a natural keto complement to meat and cheddar. However, they have no fiber.
The fourth constraint. Generally I check for fiber when I am satisfied with the amount of carbs and the ratio of the meal. If the fiber content is too low — we shoot for about 11 grams of fiber for Nora over the day — then I’ll circle back and see if I can trade something out for more raspberries, macadamia nuts, or Flackers. Flaxmeal is another option, and can be mixed in with any butter in the meal.
Lastly, we’ll check to see if there is a reasonable variety of textures and tastes. Meaning, is there something creamy and something crunchy? Is there something sweet and something salty?
A typical, very simple lunch:
8 g apple
15 g avocado
15 g cheddar cheese
8 g Flacker with 8 g butter
15 g macadamia nuts
13 g cream with water and vanilla flavoring to make “milk”
2.5 g carbs
6.9 g protein
33.1 g fat
4.4 g fiber
At the bare minimum, if I have avocado, cheddar cheese, raspberries, and cream, I can cobble together the most basic tasty meal that satisfies all the constraints. Add some sliced meat, other berries, apples, peppers, carrots, cream cheese, macadamia nuts, kalamata olives, and Flackers, and we can switch things up enough to keep the simple meals interesting from day to day.
Thank you so much Ted for this wonderful post. It is very clear and logical. Great help to us. Thank you. We started Keto last November. My 9yo son struggles terribly with his meals. Our Keto team refuses to give parents Keto Calculator access. We are limited to a few choices and get meals down is almost impossible lately. I understand your family did most of the calculation on your own. Would you please share some details? Thank you.
I’m not sure why you wouldn’t have access to some sort of meal calculator. You should talk with your medical team about it.
It is true that we use our own self-developed calculator, but that is after we demonstrated it to our doctor and dietician and assured them that we were doing it correctly. So I would not say we are doing it on our own; we just do our accounting differently than using the Keto Calculator. We think the Keto Calculator is a wonderful tool.
I strongly discourage you from trying to administer the diet on your own. It is very easy to make mistakes, and those mistakes could result in seizures due to loss of ketosis, or you could go too heavy into ketosis and cause severe health problems there too.
Talk with your team. There must be a way for you to have access to a means to calculate your own meals. In the meantime, hang in there. It will get better.
I agree with Ted. It is my understanding that normally families get trained in how to use the ketocalculator so that you can use it on your own at home. You might do some “approved” meals by your dietician, but if you demonstrate that you know how to use it then you should get access. We have access to it to check our calculations when needed.
One thing you could do is to contact the Charlie Foundation. They run the ketocalculator and I’m sure they have protocols for how to train parents to use it, because I know other parents do have access. If it is a matter of your child eating properly and getting meals that he likes, I think that parents are in the best position to know that. Parents are also the best advocates. Don’t be afraid to push to help your child.
Here’s a link to their “contact” page: http://www.charliefoundation.org/contact
I’m epileptic and on epilim twice a day. I’ve gained a lot of weight since taking the pill and can’t seem to control it. I also have ulcer for a long time now and can’t even have dairy products. So getting the right diet is difficult for me. Please help
I’m sorry that you are struggling, epilepsy is so difficult in the first place, and the side effects of medication can be just has difficult to manage. I am afraid that we can’t provide any specific advice to help you. We are just parents who are following doctor’s orders to help our daughter, although we work with a range of foods that we can choose from. I suggest that you talk to your doctor and ask to talk to a dietician also. Some adults also have success managing their epilepsy with a Modified Atkins Diet, and it can have the side benefit of controlling weight. Of course, you are welcome to use recipes from our blog if the Modified Atkins Diet is right for you. You can often substitute soy or nut milks for dairy milk, and coconut oil for butter.
Best to you,