Cinnamon Coconut Greek Frozen Yogurt

Cinnamon Coconut Frozen Greek Yogurt. See the flecks of cinnamon? Mmmm.

I was the one who had a hankering for ice cream this afternoon. I came across a recipe for cardamom ice cream recently that I wanted to try, but didn’t have enough milk and heavy cream to make a batch for the non-keto family, and I have not had good luck with adapting ice cream recipes for Nora.

Good thing that we keep heavy cream and plain Greek yogurt in the house at all times! I went looking online for a cinnamon Greek Yogurt recipe that would fit the bill. Found a sugar-free one on Epicurious for Frozen Coconut Yogurt with Cinnamon.

Scapings from the side of the ice cream machine, as the keto frozen yogurt freezes solid to the sides after just a few minutes. I reincorporated this back into the rest of the ice cream and finished freeing it in the freezer, stirring occasionally.

I find that title misleading because it is not made out of coconut yogurt, it’s made with Greek yogurt and coconut milk. Sorry dairy-free friends. I adapted the recipe for Nora (below), and I adapted it for the rest of us by using sugar instead of stevia. As I mentioned in the keto ice cream post, sugar is the magic ingredient in ice cream that stops it from freezing solid. The original recipe instructs you to put the mixture in an ice cream machine, but as you will see from Nora’s recipe that probably will not work perfectly, although Nora’s had the added freezing problem of including cream. From now on, I will put Nora’s ice cream mixtures in the freezer and stir occasionally instead of using the ice cream machine. Givin’ up ice cream machine the dream.

Nutrition information for 50 g of Cinnamon Coconut Frozen Yogurt. Analysis from

Cinnamon Coconut Greek Frozen Yogurt
113 g Greek Gods Traditional Plain Greek Yogurt
60 g Organic Valley Heavy Cream
8 g Thai Kitchen Organic Premium Coconut Milk
0.5 to 1 g ground cinnamon
2 g coconut or vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients well. Add a no-carb sweetener of your choice. Freeze in a small bowl in the freezer, stirring occasionally to scape down sides and create proper texture. Serve when frozen!

3.58:1 ratio

This is real-time blogging; we are about go outside and eat our ice cream! I know it’s good because I sampled the spatulas.

Garden tomato salad

The one cherry tomato plant dominates the garden space behind stern fairy Nora.

Our little garden has been bursting with cherry tomatoes. I often just assume that some sweet fruits will be off limits for Nora. The funny thing about the diet is that almost nothing is actually off limits, but some things would have to be served in such small quantities that it would not be worth the effort or the carbs. I thought that cherry tomatoes would be one of those things, but I decided to test out a little tomato salad and found that it is an easy 4:1 ratio!

Nora had this salad 2 nights in a row. Once with her baked eggs recipe, which we had not made in some time, and another time with hot dog. I’m reminded that when feeding little kids, they often reject “new” foods the first time. She did not like her salad the first night except for picking out the olives (but managed to finish it off with parental spoon feeding), but did enjoy it the next night. Anders and I also enjoyed this salad with our meals for the last few nights.

Nutrition facts for Tomato Feta Salad. Nutrition analysis by

Tomato-Feta Salad
20 g cherry tomatoes
10 g kalamata olives, chopped
3 g  Valbreso feta cheese
5 g olive oil

Quarter the cherry tomatoes and chop the kalamatas (we use Peloponnese whole pitta kalamatas because they have the best nutritional profile of those on our store shelves). Add the feta and olive oil and mix well. I added a few threads of fresh basil. You could also add or substitute some cucumber in the recipe, which has a great nutritional profile for the diet.

Remember to scrape out the oil that pools in the bottom. When mixed with some of the fresh tomato juice and feta bits, it’s a nice treat at the end of the meal (I drank up mine happily!)

This recipe also has 0.17 g fiber, so the net effective carbs are 1.03 g.

Also a quick update: Things are going well. Nora is still going strong. She finished 2 weeks of swimming lessons and wants more! Next week she will be going back to a gymnastics class at the Little Gym and continuing with swimming. We’ve arranged for a private lesson so that she is always right with the teacher, and it also suits Nora’s personality to have the full attention of an adult.

I’ve been working on recipes involving zucchini: as noodles and as a pizza crust base. Nora has not been thrilled with all of the experimental dishes, but I’m continuing to remind myself that kids need to try things several times before accepting a new dish. After another go at it, I will post some recipes. If anyone in the Corvallis area is inundated with zucchini, you may leave them on my front step. My zucchini plant got powdery mildew and is not producing well so far this year, and it just feels wrong to buy them. In the Midwest, finding another huge zucchini orphan on your doorstep in August was not always a gift. My upbringing still leads me to enjoy rhubarb and zucchini, but to regard them as so abundant that a person should never have to pay cash for them. They are gifts from nature, neighbors, and sometimes left on your doorstep in the dead of night when your neighbors have had enough of nature’s gifts.

Going to Chicago

I took the plunge and registered for the Charlie Foundation symposium in Chicago, Sept. 19-22. And booked the airline tickets, and made the hotel reservations. Seems to be well attended, because they are starting to fill up their third hotel! I will attend the scientific/healthcare portion of the symposium on Thursday and Friday, along with Family Day on Saturday. Hope to see some of you there!

It was a hard decision. I wanted to go to learn about the cutting-edge research on the biological basis for the diet and the best ways to deal with side effects, among other important issues. It will also be a good time to connect with other families and share our story. But it means time away from our family. Ted will have things under expert control at home, but it will also be hard to be far away for several days. It’s also expensive! But if Nora is going to be on the diet for approximately 2 years (fingers crossed), and we are 8 months into the diet, then this is my best chance to learn and apply the latest information to her treatment.

For information on the symposium: Charlie Foundation Third International Symposium Dietary Therapy for Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders

Keto-Perfect Cheesecake

Happy Birthday Papa Ted!

We celebrated Ted’s birthday last weekend. Luckily, his favorite dessert is keto-compatible–cheesecake! I am not a seasoned cheesecake baker, so I found a recipe for a self-described “perfect” cheesecake at Simply Recipes: recipes/perfect_cheesecake/

In addition to the promise of a perfect cheesecake for Ted, the ingredient list lent itself to a simple keto-version. I just scaled everything down proportionately for a 4-inch springform pan (from Michael’s), made a simple macadamia nut crust, and substituted some of Nora’s saccharine-sweetened Cytra-K for a touch of sweetness. I also omitted the sour cream topping and used plain berries. The recipe for the cheesecake alone is 4.2:1, so add berries to adjust the ratio down to your requirements. Nora gets 13 g of strawberries per 1/4 of the cheesecake to make it 3.5:1.

One full recipe of Keto-Perfect Cheesecake. Analysis by

Keto-Perfect Cheesecake

20 g ground macadamia nuts
10 g melted butter
100 grams Primrose cream cheese
1 g pure vanilla extract
22 g egg
20 g Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream
20 g Straus Sour Cream

Wrap the springform pan in one continuous sheet of foil to keep it water tight for baking (see link to original recipe above for detailed instructions). Mix together the ground macadamia nuts and melted butter and press into bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350º or until slightly browned.

With a hand mixer, cream together the remaining ingredients with any desired no-carb sweetener until very smooth, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl to evenly incorporate all ingredients. Turn oven down to 300º and boil a pot of water. Pour cake batter into springform pan on top of the crust and smooth the top. Place in a larger roasting pan in the oven, and fill the larger pan around the cheesecake with about 1 inch of the boiling water. This is why you protect the pan with the foil, so that the water doesn’t get into the cheesecake pan and ruin the crust. Bake for about 1 hour, or until firm. Turn oven off and open the door so that the cheesecake can cool gently, about 1 hour.

Nora's Keto-Perfect Cheesecake.Place cheesecake in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 2 hours. Carefully run a dull knife around the edge of the cake to loosen from the sides of the pan. Release the springform pan to serve the cake. I placed a few slices of strawberry and a raspberry to decorate the cake, just remember to factor those into your calculations. Cut the strawberry length-wise to get heart shaped pieces. Awwww. I pre-weighed each piece so that they were all 3 g of berry. I don’t trust my memory these days.

Nora ate 1/4 of the cake for a serving, with 3 g of strawberry on each 1/4. I included the nutritional information for the whole recipe above. As always, re-calculate with the exact ingredients that you use.

I made both Nora’s cheesecake and Ted’s cheesecake at the same time, side by side in the oven. That saved a lot of time. I also fully appreciated the contents of a perfect traditional cheesecake, knowing that Nora’s and Ted’s were proportionately identical, except that Ted’s included a lot more carbs. That said, it was delicious and perfect, as advertised.

Nora’s cake batter did not have the same consistency as the original. Nora’s batter was less runny, but only lacked the sugar. There is some food science going on there that I have not researched. Going into the pan and during baking, Nora’s was also thicker. I had a tiny taste from the knife and it was good, but a thicker consistency than Ted’s traditional cake. Even so, I have not heard a single complaint from Nora. She has 1/4 left awaiting her in the fridge. It’s a great keto snack!



We want to make a quick clarification.  The Charlie Foundation has developed an online meal calculator tool called the “KetoCalculator.”  Because of our unusual induction into the diet, we started using our own personally developed Google Docs spreadsheet for calculating Nora’s meals instead of the KetoCalculator.  However, we just happened to have named our own spreadsheet “KetoCalculator.”  So anywhere in the blog we talk about using our KetoCalculator, that refers to our own tool, not the The Charlie Foundation’s tool.  We have renamed our spreadsheet “KetoSheet” to avoid any future confusion.


Things are going well.  Nora is developing well and having good days.  I haven’t posted an update on the data recently.  Check out the plot.  Nora has been free of myoclonics for over 5 months (!), and free of tonic-clonics for almost 4 months.  It’s been over 3 months since we first started her Depakote reduction, and about a month now since it was completely eliminated.

(Note: after the end of April we no longer took daily records of the diet ratio.  It is currently nominally 3.5.)

Nora has now gone one month free of both myoclonics and tonic-clonics with the ketogenic diet as the only anti-epileptic therapy.

Epilepsy is tough.  I certainly wouldn’t want to say one type of childhood illness is more difficult than another.  There are all sorts of nasty things out there, and anytime a child is suffering, or their future well-being is in question, it’s distressing to a parent.  But some of the nastier epilepsies really are especially brutal.  They are relentless monsters: twisting and tormenting your child right in front of you, and striking without any warning, without any reason.  When Nora was having more and more myoclonic seizures and I was genuinely worried that she might have a progressive degenerative condition, I really felt as if there was a monster in the house.  I had a palpable sense that she was under attack, and it tore me apart that I could not defend her.  My mind would dream and create scenarios in which I could fight a wild animal to save her, something tangible that I could pitch my rage and fear and sadness against, something I could fight with tooth and nail and every breath I had if necessary so that she could be safe.

In those dark days, when I was sick with worry about what was ahead for her, about what her days would be like in 6 months, in a year, I would have given almost anything, anything, to know this day was in the future: a day when Nora was seizure free, drug free, and being a completely normal kid.

I still worry about Nora, of course.  I think I always will.  I’ll always be a little nervous that seizures will come back either tomorrow or 10 years from now.  But we all live with uncertainty.  I try not to think about the future, because it hasn’t happened yet.  All we have is the present.  As I write this, Nora’s big brother is reading to her, and they are fine.

In parallel with my anxiety for Nora is a deep sadness for other families that are struggling.  For any youtube video about epilepsy or the ketogenic diet, there will be related videos in the sidebar about the journeys of kids with difficult epilepsies.  I can’t help but watch these.  I don’t know why I can’t help myself, and the result is always the same: a crushing sense of loss and sympathy for these families.  The brutality that bad epilepsies can bring down on someone’s beautiful infant, toddler, or child is difficult to fathom.  If you can keep from sobbing when watching a parent’s memorial video for their child with Batten Disease, you are more steel-hearted than I.

The intense emotional experience of having a child with uncontrolled seizures has provided me with a connection to others dealing with the same thing.  My chest hurts when I read their stories of relentless seizures and cognitive regression, and I feel relief for them if their story has a happy ending.  We know exactly how a family feels when seizures come on unabated, and how desperately and madly we search for a reason and a treatment or anything, anything to make it stop, to save our kids.

I wish Keppra and Depakote had worked for Nora.  I wish she had been one of the 70% of kids for whom seizures are well controlled with medication.  And really, without a control group or the ability to run a parallel experiment, it is impossible to say what benefit she really got from them.  We think she failed those drugs, and we suspect Keppra aggravated her seizures, but who knows?  Maybe she’d be even worse off if she had not had those therapies.  The point is, we certainly did not turn to the ketogenic diet out of some sort of anti-pharmaceutical or “natural” mindset.  We turned to the diet because first-line drugs had failed to completely control her seizures, and the ketogenic diet has a good track record with refractory (drug-resistant) epilepsies, and myoclonic epilepsies.  We turned to the diet because we felt it was the next best option for Nora.

The ketogenic diet has an interesting history.  It was actually one of the first consistently successful therapies for epilepsy, developed almost one hundred years ago.  The inspiration for the diet was the observation that epileptics that were starving or fasting tended to have less seizures.  This inspired a doctor to create a diet that forced the body into a starvation (i.e., fat-burning) metabolism indefinitely; this state of metabolism is called “ketosis.”  However, by the middle of the century the diet fell out of favor as the drugs got better, as it was much easier to take pills than follow the unforgiving precision and restrictions of the diet day after day.  The diet fell into disuse, and the few in the medical community that where still aware of it discounted it as obsolete and too difficult.

In the early 90s, the movie producer Jim Abrahams (Airplane, The Naked Gun, Hot Shots) had an infant son named Charlie that developed a particularly nasty epilepsy. They struggled with many different drug therapies without good results and the prospects for Charlie looked grim.  Then Jim came across a textbook that described the ketogenic diet and the Abrahams family was able to convince his son’s medical team to try the diet through the Johns Hopkins hospital.  Charlie had almost instant seizure control.  And after many years on the diet (and some bumps in the road) he is now a seizure free adult. Stories like Charlie’s, and many others who have used the ketogenic diet successfully, give us hope for Nora’s future. Looking at the plot above and counting Nora’s seizure-free days, we can turn from fear to hope.

The Abrahams family established (and continue to support) The Charlie Foundation.  The Charlie Foundation endeavors to promote the ketogenic diet amongst the medical community so that doctors are aware of it as a tool alongside the standard drug treatments.  Certainly everyone on the ketogenic diet today owes something to The Charlie Foundation for making the diet visible and accepted again.  They have a yearly symposium as well.

Exactly how the diet controls seizures is not known.  There are conjectures that ketones may be inhibitory for neural activity, or that fat stabilizes and protects neurons, amongst other ideas.  Perhaps soon the mechanisms of the diet can be discovered, and this will allow refinements to its administration, or the development of new drugs that can bestow the benefits of the diet without the side effects.

We want to recognize and thank the Charlie Foundation for providing tools and information for the care takers and doctors of epileptic kids, and for providing this symposium where professionals and parents can discuss the technical and practical facets of the diet and its administration.  (We’d also like to recognize The Charlie Foundation’s sibling site Matthews Friends.)

Nora may have more bumps ahead.  Even kids that are considered smash successes on the diet sometimes have bouts of seizure relapses.  I hope that doesn’t happen, but I must accept that it might.  And if it does, we will keep going.  What can we do, but go on?  But it is great comfort to know the diet has bought her this crucial time, that it will probably continue to work for her and benefit her and brighten her future, just has it has worked for many other kids and adults.

Tips and Tricks: Saving money!

One of my first images of the ketogenic diet is the picture used in the NYT magazine article, Epilepsy’s Big Fat Miracle:

Stephen Lewis for The New York Times; Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil

That made my stomach turn a little bit. Now that Nora has been on the diet for 8 months, we know it’s not quite like that. We eat bacon about once a month. Nora gets about 4 slices total over a few days when I make up a package. She eats WAY more butter than this, but less cream nowadays. And WAY more macadamia nuts. And avocados aren’t in the picture! So I’ll update the picture with one of my own, from last night’s stock-up grocery shopping trip:

Feeding a kid on the ketogenic diet is not cheap, particularly if you are looking for high-quality fats. Pictured are some of the big-ticket items that I picked up for Nora last night. Some will last for several months, like the coconut oil. I’m not sure if this 5-pound bag of macadamia nuts will last us the month, but it will come close.

Now the saving money part: On the second Tuesday of every month, our local natural foods co-op, First Alternative, has Owner Appreciation Sale Day. Member-owners get 10% off their entire purchase! Even better, member-owners can order a case of any product for a 10% discount. Pick it up on owner sale day, and you get the additional 10% sale day discount off the discounted case price. Genius. They don’t hide this possibility, but I’m not sure that many people know about it. Your local co-op or grocery store might offer similar discounts on case orders; it’s common at all of the co-ops I’ve shopped. And it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I’ve mentioned before that I bought English Double Devonshire Cream in a case of 12. At $8.89 per jar, that’s some savings. Now that we are using less Double Devonshire Cream (Nora no longer eats “Norgurt” every day now that she is off Depokote sprinkles), I just buy a few at a time on owner sale day to last the month. It’s my mayo substitute (we hate mayo). I have been ordering a case of Primrose cream cheese, which comes in a 3-lb brick and costs $12.87, so we save $1.29 on the case discount and another $1.16 on owner sale day, for a $2.45 savings.

But that is small potatoes. We have dramatically increased our use of other high-priced items in recent months. Coconut oil and macadamia nuts are now staples, and we go through them like crazy. A 12-16 oz jar of coconut oil will cost between $8 and $12. This month I ordered a 7.5 pound jar of coconut oil, pictured above. It will keep indefinitely, so I will refill our smaller jar for daily use. The original price for the whole jar is $65.18, or $8.69 per pound. The case discount subtracts $6.51, then the sale day discount takes off another $5.37, for a total savings of $11.88. Now we’re talking savings.

We’ve also been going through macadamia nuts like crazy. After grinding them into butter, they are the main ingredient of many of Nora’s baked goods. Ted went to the store and bought some from bulk one day, which sell for $18-20 per pound, depending on the store. When the cashier weighed them, they came to over $40. She suggested that he could put some back (some friends will remember that Ted came home with a $40 bag of arborio rice the size of his head one day, so he’s got a reputation for “bulk” buying). But in the case of the macadamia nuts, we needed them all and he declined the opportunity to put some of them back.

The 5-pound bag of macadamia nuts pictured is a case, ringing in at $89.45, which is $17.89 per pound. The case discount is $8.94, then the sale day discount takes off another $7.55. That’s a $16.49 savings! Now I can justifying buying a nice bottle of wine for after the kids are in bed.

A few other things above that I did not buy in a case, but add up to significant savings with 10% off on owner sale day:

  • 2 bottles Double Devon Cream: $17.78; $1.78 savings
  • 2 Rotolini, reg, $8.89, on sale for $7.39 before discount; $5.48 total savings
  • Greek Gods Traditional Plain Yogurt: $2.99; $0.30 savings
  • Almond Oil (trying for the first time): $10.99; $1.10 savings
  • Small bottle Carlson Fish Oil: $22.69; $2.27 savings
  • Avocados: on sale 2 for $3; $0.30 savings
  • Organic Valley Heavy Cream: $3.79; $0.38 savings

Adding up everything I bought yesterday for the whole family, I saved $34.08 on the owner sale day discount and a total of $21.05 on the case discounts. $55.13 total savings, not including sale prices on some of our regular products. That helps the food budget a whole lot.


And now, the dentist

Nora is no stranger to medical check-ups and procedures. In the times she has visited the dentist (the first time for chipped teeth at the age of 2), she is a cheerful breath of frilly fresh air in the office. She is fascinated by the tools and procedures. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Her yearly check-up 2 weeks ago was no exception to her happy visits, but came with bad news: cavities. 4 cavities.

How, you may ask, does a child who eats no refined sugar and consumes 10 g of carbs per day, with only part of that in the form of natural sugars, get cavities? I am still asking myself that question, but the only answer seems to be genetics. My genetics. Ted has crooked teeth of steel. I have straight teeth of marshmallow. I always have cavities and always feel guilty, like I somehow should be able to prevent this, but even with my best efforts they still show up. When your kid has cavities, the guilt is magnified. What kind of parent has a 4 year old with cavities? Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO brush her teeth daily. Will they call child protection?  Although they do not say or suggest such things, I can’t help but feel at fault.

Now that Nora has cavities while consuming no sugar, I will forever attribute our cavities to genetics. The dentist conceded as much last time I was under the drill. Anders as escaped so far, he must have Ted’s iron teeth and they seem to be straight. Poor Nora will probably get the worst of our genetics, cavities and braces. Sorry, kiddo.

Nora was a peach at her checkup when they found the cavities, so they scheduled her for a cleaning and fluoride last week to get her used to working in her mouth. She was a super-star for the cleaning too. No problems at all. Before the cleaning, the dental office showed me the packages for the polish and fluoride varnish at my request. One had xylitol and another had sucralose. To be safe, Nora’s dietician recommended that we decrease her carbs by 3 g on the day of the cleaning to account for the tiny bit of carbs (or blood sugar effects) in those non-sugar sweeteners. Everything went smoothly and Nora stayed in ketosis. We were relieved.

The dentist recommended that we wait until January to fill her cavities because they were so small. That way she could have one more cleaning to get comfortable. But after her first great experience, I moved up the appointment to today. She was positive about the dentist, so I decided to just get it done this summer when we are less stressed by work and school.

With such small kids, the dentist prescribes an oral sedative that contains sorbitol (a sugar alcohol). Again, Nora’s dietician recommended decreasing her carbs by 3 g today to account for the carb-like affects of the sugar alcohol. This was a little more stressful because Nora was not allowed to eat for 3 hours before the appointment. She went into the office on an empty stomach, drank the sedative, then it was over an hour until we were home and could give her some fat to balance her ratio. She was also starving, on top of being miserable from the fillings. I made her 2 T of heavy cream mixed into a bit of vanilla tea as soon as I could and she sucked it down through a straw (spilling some from her numb lip). She also ate up 50 g of avocado and kept asking for more food. When I did a keto reading in the evening, she was still at a solid 160+; strong ketosis. Hopefully we averted any possible loss of ketosis, but we should know by morning.

After taking the sedative, it was like Nora was drunk. She couldn’t walk straight but demanded to be put down. When she got into the chair and chatted with the hygienist, she started listing her friends, “Sabina, Dalya but she moved away to a town for away and I can’t see her anymore, Connie, I play with her toys, and Kevin, he lives with Connie, and Ingrid, she has 2 beds and a big sister, and Cora and Mike…” She went from being kind of a belligerent drunk to a sentimental happy drunk to an angry drunk by the end of the appointment.

And I don’t blame her much for that. The dentist went as quickly as he could, but it’s still a long time for a little person to sit in the chair with her mouth held open. They gave her novocaine and nitrous oxide as well, so she had the “monkey nose” on her face the whole time. By the end she definitely felt something as he was working, but he was so close to being done that he finished with the filling and didn’t give her more novocaine. I know how she feels. It was agony to watch her have to endure it. I held her hand at the end and picked her up as soon as I could, but she was an unhappy camper. I’ve seen this kid through some torturous procedures for a little person, and I’m ready to be done with it. She’s ready to be done with it.

When he started with the fillings, he called me closer and said that there were 2 more tiny cavities starting in 2 other molars. She ended up with 6 fillings today, rather than coming back and do the next 2 more in 6 months or 1 year. These are baby molars, so she will lose them. I hate to be pessimistic, but that’s only an opportunity for more cavities. Now that we know this about Nora, I’m all about as much prevention as possible. Regular fluoride varnish, sealants, whatever it takes. I’m on prescription super-fluoride toothpaste myself now. Time will tell if any of it will make a difference. Maybe by the time Nora has kids, they can opt for bionic teeth from the get-go or do gene therapy to ensure iron teeth. I’d give that to my kids if I could.


Ricotta Tart

I bought whole-milk fresh ricotta cheese on a whim because I had seen it used in low-carb and ketogenic diet recipes, but didn’t have a particular plan for it. With busy summer days it sat in the fridge, unopened, until finally I decided it was now or never. I knew Nora would eat just a small amount of ricotta at a time in a recipe, so I went looking for a way that all of us could enjoy it.

Raspberry-Pancetta Ricotta Tart

I found another great recipe from David Lebovitz: Herbed Ricotta Tart. Fabulous recipe for half of the ricotta. The adults at the table were satisfied, to say the least.

For Nora, I modified the ricotta mixture in his recipe just a bit by using all heavy cream instead of the whole milk, omitted the crust, and added some other fillings to make it Nora-friendly. Here we have Raspberry-Pancetta Ricotta Tart. The basic tart filling can be supplemented with whatever your kid will enjoy! The ratio is 2.12:1 and ~150 calories, so there is room to supplement a meal with Flacker and butter or other fat to reach the appropriate meal ratio.

Nutrition information for 1 serving of Raspberry-Pancetta Ricotta Tart. Analysis from

Raspberry-Pancetta Ricotta Tart

50 g egg (1 large)
240 g (1 cup) Organic Valley Heavy Cream
213 g Galbani Ricotta Fresca
60 g pancetta
30 g raspberries

Combine the egg, cream and ricotta. Measure 50 g into a tart dish, or other small baking dish. Drop in pieces of raspberry. Break up the pancetta into smaller bits and drop into mixture. You want them near the top so they get a little crisp in the oven.

Bake at 400º F for 10-15 minutes, until the top is brown. It will be bubbly, so give it a few minutes to cool and solidify before serving.

You can also subtract 0.19 g of fiber for net carb calculations (is dropped from label when it gets that small).

1 recipe makes 10 servings. 10 servings is a lot, but the filling keeps in the refrigerator for about 1 week. The rest of the family can also enjoy this recipe–I did–twice!

As always, re-calcualte the recipe for yourself if you are using different brands. It’s one thing that I find very time consuming and frustrating about the diet–looking for or manually entering the nutrition information into the recipe analyzer tool that I use. But it’s absolutely necessary. These recipes and nutritional information are intended only as a guide.

One berry, two berry

Pick me a blueberry…
Under the bridge and over the dam
Looking for berries, berries for jam!
~Bruce Degen, Jamberry (1983)

Oregon’s Willamette Valley bursts with wonderful things to eat all summer long. We are so fortunate to live here. Every year, the kids and I go off on U-pick adventure, mostly for blueberries. We freeze them by the gallon for winter oatmeal toppings, muffins and pancakes. But I mostly make jam, normally at least 5 dozen 8-oz and 12-oz jars. We always have the makings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, although our consumption fell off greatly in the last year between Nora’s diet and Anders’ newfound love for hot lunch. This year we had around 2 dozen jars left by summertime, so I only made about 15 fresh jars of blueberry jam last week.

August 6, 2010. This is what a jam-making day looked like 2 years ago, pre-keto.

I feel like there is a homesteading pioneer woman (or a squirrel) inside of me, urging me to put aside enough food for winter. My family might not make it through the cool rainy days here in Oregon without my homemade jam to provide us with vitamin C and lift our spirits. It would have felt wrong to not make jam this year, so I took Anders out picking with friends for a day to gather all of the blueberries, and a few blackberries, to make our jam. Nora stayed home that day because surrounding her with blueberry bushes and not allowing her to eat them would be cruel and I did not want to closely supervise her (although she is amazing about not eating things). Anders is a super-picker and between the two of us, we can get enough blueberries for several batches of jam in a few hours of picking.

Nora stirring the berries for her jam.

Nora has been enjoying the fresh and frozen berries with meals (4 or 5 at a sitting), but I wanted I could make her some jam too. I always use a low-methyoxyl citrus pectin (brand name Pomona’s Universal Pectin, but I buy it in bulk at our co-op). It is sugar-free, preservative-free and uses calcium as the bonding agent, so recipes do NOT require sugar to gel (unlike typical pectin products). Instead of sugar, you add a bit of calcium citrate to the recipe (comes in the box or also available in bulk). Seemed like I should be able to make Nora some sugar-free jam, but I hit a roadblock. I couldn’t find any definitive nutrition information on the pectin. I saw references to it as a form of soluble fiber, but without specific numbers I did not feel comfortable factoring it into a recipe.

I went for the other jam option that I’ve heard about but never tried: gelatin-based freezer jam. It’s keto-genius! Berries are already low-carb when eaten alone, but for gelatin jam you add in a substantial amount of water and gelatin is all protein. No added carbs, and the carbs in the berries get diluted in a larger volume of food. The final product has fewer carbs-per-weight that the berries themselves, with all of the flavor and satisfaction of eating jam just like everyone else. Win-win-win!

And another big win–it’s easy and can be made in batches that store for a long time in the freezer. The only caveat is that once opened, you have to keep it refrigerated and use it fairly quickly (I would guess 1-2 weeks) because it does not have sugar to act as a preservative. Divide it into small containers–I used 8 oz jars. This goes for all low- or no-sugar jams like my usual homemade versions, so we are accustomed to using our small jars quickly. And your keto kid will like it so much, it won’t hang around long.

Nutrition information for 1 full batch (524 g) of mixed berry gelatin jam. Divide all amounts by 524 to get the per-gram breakdown and see blog post for calculations. Nutrition information from

Mixed Berry Gelatin Jam

70 g Blueberries
70 g Strawberries
70 g Raspberries
70 g Blackberries
1 envelope Knox Unflavored Gelatine
1 cup cold water

In a large saucepan, crush berries. They will break down more as you increase the temperature. Add water and gelatin, mixing well. You can add any no-carb sweetener to taste.

Over medium heat, slowing increasing temperature, bring mixture to boiling while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes.

Finished jar, after an overnight in the fridge.

Pour into jars, allow to cool and then cover. If you leave it out at room temperature it will take a long time to gel, so don’t be discouraged if it’s very liquid for some time. Put in the refrigerator overnight and it will be the right consistency in the morning.

Can be stored in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, or frozen.  It is not shelf-stable unless you process in a hot water bath (which I normally do for pectin jam), so keep this in the freezer for long-term storage. I would suggest stirring before using a new jar, as the fibrous skins and bits fall to the bottom.

Perfect jam consistency!

Per gram nutritional breakdown:
Total carbs: 0.058 g
Fiber:  0.021 g
Net carbs: 0.036 g
Protein: 0.02 g
Fat:  0.002 g

Per 10 gram serving:
Total carbs: 0.58 g
Fiber: 0.021 g
Net carbs: 0.37 g
Protein: 0.2 g
Fat: 0.02 g



Just compare that to berries alone: Raspberries are great at 0.056 net carbs per gram, and the jam beats them by 0.02 g net carbs. Blueberries have the most carbs, at 0.12 g net carbs per gram of blueberries, four times more carbs than the jam. I know, seems like small gains here, but cutting a bit more carbs means a bit more yummy food to eat. The ease and convenience of having the jam in the freezer or fridge meets all of my criteria for top Nora foods.

Now, to make a truly keto food: mixed berry cream cheese. I overshot the ratio here at 4.25:1, so it can be put atop a lower-ratio baked good and balance out for a perfect ratio treat. You could decrease the ratio by adding more jam or omitting the coconut oil. I’m always trying to sneak in coconut oil because Nora gets 15 g spread out throughout the day and I get tired of mixing it into other things at mealtime. This will be a regular breakfast food, containing 1 gram of coconut oil per 10 g serving.

Nutrition facts for 1 batch of mixed berry cream cheese. See blog post for per serving break down. Nutrition facts from

Mixed Berry Cream Cheese

140 g Primrose cream cheese (adjust your nutrition facts for the brand that you use)
20 g coconut oil
50 g Mixed berry jam (above)

Mix with a hand mixer and serve!

Note that I also show the nutrition label for 1 full batch here so that you can see the fiber content. I calculate the per-gram and per-serving values with net carbs, but if I break it down into smaller servings in the recipe analyzer that I use, the fiber line gets dropped because it is so small.


Mixed berry cream cheese

Per gram nutrition information:
Total carbs:  0.025 g
Fiber:  0.005 g
Net carbs: 0.02 g
Protein:  0.052 g
Fat:  0.31 g

Per 10 g serving:
Total carbs: 0.25 g
Fiber: 0.05 g
Net carbs: 0.2 g
Protein: 0.52 g
Fat: 3.1 g


Good stuff. I love batch cooking. Nora loves jam and cream cheese.

As I have said before, efficiency is life. But that isn’t really the most important part of this food story. The most important part was finely expressed by Voltaire: “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”

And talk about the necessity of eating. Food is good medicine, quite literally for our keto-kids.