Re-Purposing Recipes

“I have so much energy, I could lift a butter truck!”

~Nora, on why she doesn’t need to eat breakfast.

We’ve been sticking mostly with the tried-and-true recipes lately, but wanted to share some innovations, some of which are Nora’s imaginative re-purposing of recipes.

Snickerdoodle Cereal

The snickerdoodle recipe was a hit, but I made a few big batches and Nora started to get bored with them. One day she was eating snickerdoodles as part of a bigger snack that also included steamed cream, so she dipped her cookies in her “milk.” Eventually, she ended up crumbling a lot of the cookie into the cream and needed a spoon–cereal was born!

It was a happy discovery because we were almost out of the pumpkin cheesecake bars that Nora had been happily eating for breakfast for many weeks. With the snickerdoodle cereal and milk, I could put off more baking for another week.

Because the snickerdoodles are already 3.5:1, adding cream meant that we had to add more carbs or protein to make a 3.5:1 breakfast. Enter another Nora favorite: blueberries! One breakfast consists of 3 snickerdoodles, 5 g (1 tsp) heavy cream mixed with a few tablespoons of water to make “milk,” and 4.5 g blueberries (around 4 very small).


As crazy as it sounds, I had a hard time consistently making mac-and-cheese that was the right consistency. But finally, I have mastered it! Nora ate her mac-and-cheese several days per week in the last few weeks because she kept demanding it, and it’s a quick and easy meal when there is a package of Miracle Noodles in the fridge.

I came across Miracle Noodles somewhere near the beginning of starting the ketogenic diet, but they weren’t a big hit right away. They are quite chewy, a little tough for little teeth to easily bite through. I’ve learned that I need to cut them with a kitchen scissors as I weigh them or after they are in the bowl so that they are in smaller bits. They are made of a Japanese root vegetable that is pretty much all fiber (the Ketocalculator has the values per gram, only 0.0028 g carbs per gram noodles). Because they are basically nothing but fiber for the purposes of calculating a meal, it’s great to be able to serve red pepper, avocado, flacker and other nice healthy things on the side.

To make mac-and-cheese, take 12 g to 15 g of shredded cheddar and put it in a small bowl with 1 T to 2 T (15-30 g) of cream and microwave for 30 seconds, then stir until smooth. I’ve got ranges here because the exact amounts don’t matter too much for the outcome, but sometimes I add more or less when I’m balancing a meal for Nora. If she needs more fat with her meal, she gets 2 T of cream in her mac-and-cheese. If she needs more protein, then more cheddar.

Weigh and cut 20 g to 25 g of Miracle Noodles, the vermicelli variety, into a separate small bowl and microwave for 10 seconds, just to warm up. Dump into hot cheese sauce and stir well. Cool and serve.

Anders is thrilled with this development because he has been eating more mac-and-cheese too. He has been put in charge of making it for himself, because he also eats the entire box by himself.

Bacon Pancakes! Making Bacon Pancakes!

This was inspired by a favorite cartoon, Adventure Time! Nora’s bacon is going on to her Keto-Krepes. Except that while I was cooking it, she actually decided that she wanted her bacon in a “pile” instead of in her pancake. So there you have it.

The rest of us had some bacon pancakes. And some piles of bacon. The best of all worlds.

They were totally math, asymptotically to the max! 


I hate to build this up too much, but these might be the best keto-recipe yet! Nora agrees, but she is also very persuadable. They taste great, look fun, and are easy to make–an all-round great addition to our keto-friendly line-up.

I’m trying recipes out of The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace. My sister, Jen, sent it to us after she got a review copy for her nutrition education work, Nutrition in Action (you can find the book for a great price from the Nutrition in Action website! Linked above). Free cookbooks are a nice perk of her work and I’m thrilled that I get the benefits too! In exchange, I try out the book and give her a review. This is the first of a few recipes that I will post.

When I opened the cookbook for the first time I knew it would be a great resource because the recipes are nut-meal based. That is the key to uniting low-carb and gluten-free cooking. It sure helps that the cookbook is also sugar-free! The main recipe modification required for keto-cooking is using heavy cream instead of milk. I also tend to omit the sugar substitutes for Nora, or use some of her saccharine Cytra-K for a little sweetness. I’ve made just a few of the recipes so far, and they have been a hit! I’ve made Nora-versions of some recipes and a few some for myself, like the biscotti recipe. For myself, I sub in reduced levels of real sugar. I have more recipes to post in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

It also helps to have my new stand mixer. I burned out my hand mixer on one of the bread recipes in this book, paving the way for Ted and the kids to give me the stand mixer for my birthday. The instructions for most of the recipes in this cookbook allow for hand mixing, but with big sticky dough it’s wonderful to have the right tool for the job. Some of the recipes require an electric mixer to adequately aerate the dough to make a soft and airy loaf of bread or cake. I was a little surprised about how excited I was to use it. It makes keto-cooking much easier and more enjoyable.

On to the pretzels! This recipe does not call for milk or sweetener, so I did not have to make any of those substitutions. The authors discussed their attempt to make these as much like traditional “Philly” soft pretezels as possible, which required an odd ingredient: “butter sprinkles.” I was skeptical. I found them in the grocery store one day, and they do not qualify as “real food” in my opinion. They had some carbs, and I wasn’t sure that I was willing to include them in this recipe. Didn’t people make real soft pretzels before “butter sprinkles” existed? I’m not going to take the time to do the research to answer that question, but I did have to decide how to work around them in this recipe. I’m glad that I made great pretzels with my “butter sprinkles” substitute ingredient: real butter. Imagine that.

And for another bit of reality, it’s also impossible to replicate the texture of real soft pretzels without gluten. As with all gluten-free baking, you have to accept a new but good texture and taste as a substitute for the gluten version. The cookbook authors came up with a very good texture and taste here with some clever ingredients. These are soft but not crumbly, but also not chewy like traditional soft pretzels. One key ingredient in many of these recipes is xanthan gum, which is a soluble fiber. Does not add to the net carbs (yippee!) but it does improve the texture. If anyone wants to experiment with these recipes, I have about 1 pint of xanthan gum from the Bob’s Red Mill package, but I’m using about 1/2 tsp at a time. I’m happy to share.

The pretzels taste pleasantly of sunflower seeds, even though that is not the main ingredient. The yeast is added purely for the flavor–it is not the leavening agent with these ingredients. It adds a bit of carbs, but is worth it for that satisfying slightly-yeasty taste. And oh, they are pretty! Note that the plate in the picture is just a little saucer, so it makes just a little pretzel (see picture of Nora with pretzel above for scale). I made them 1/2 of the size called for in the recipe as an appropriate portion for Nora (see below). I actually cut the whole recipe in half, then made 12 pretzels out of it as in the original recipe, so ended up with 1/2 sized pretzels.

I served a pretzel with cheese dipping sauce, made of 12 g of cheddar cheese and 15 g (1 T) heavy cream. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds and you have cheese sauce. The pretzel itself is 1.57:1 ratio; with the cheese sauce it is only about 2.5:1, so more fat is needed on the side to get up to Nora’s 3.5:1 ratio requirement. However, it was no problem to get there when included with everything else in her lunch.

Nutrition information for 1 plain Keto-Pretzel. Nutritional analysis by

110 g Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal
25 g sunflower seeds, finely ground
25 g sesame seeds, finely ground
4 g baking powder
0.5 g Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum
1.5 g salt
16 g Strauss European-style butter, frozen
50 g egg
4 g active dry yeast
15 g warm water

Egg Wash
12 g egg
0.5 g baking soda
8 g water

Salt to taste, or see other topping options below.

Preheat oven to 350° for soft pretzel or 375° for a crispier topping.

Measure the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds then grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder until fine like flour. Combine with almond meal, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Cut the frozen butter into tiny pieces that are still whole. Combine well with the dry ingredients; try to keep the butter bits solid but well distributed throughout.

Put the weighed egg in your stand mixer bowl or another large separate bowl and whisk. In another small bowl, measure the warm water and dissolve the yeast into the water. You don’t have to wait for it to bubble up because it is not the main leavening agent. Add the yeast mixture in with the egg and combine well.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir by hand until well combined or mix on low to medium speed for less than 1 minute. Scape down the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly. The dough will be thick but sticky.

Lightly oil a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet. You can also lightly oil a small bowl to measure portions of dough. I found that once I started working with the dough, it wasn’t too sticky.

Weigh 20 grams of the dough and roll into a ball, making 12 balls. Technically, you should have 20.9 g of dough each if you weighed everything correctly, but I’ve found that I lose just a bit of dough in the mixing process and it’s safer to shoot a little low when I measure out portions so that I don’t end up with a much-too-small ball at the end. This way, the actual food will also have slightly fewer carbs than you plan for, putting you on the conservative side of measurement error.

Roll each 20 g ball of dough into a rope about 10-12 inches long on your oiled baking sheet. I found that the dough was fairly easy to work with. If it breaks a bit, just mush it back together. Then form the pretzel shape out of each rope as shown. Place them on the baking sheet. They don’t have to be spaced too far apart because they won’t spread much.

Whisk up the egg wash. The cookbook authors suggest adding baking soda to get the traditional alkaline taste of lye. I adjusted the recipe to make just enough egg wash for the whole batch. If you distribute it approximately equally, the nutrition information is accurate and you should have no egg wash left over. Again, you will lose a bit of egg wash to your pastry brush and pan but that will only make your nutritional estimate appropriately conservative.

Sprinkle with course salt if you have it. I just used sea salt because it was all I had and my kids love salty foods. You could also add other toppings, including them in your calculations, such a sesame seeds, poppy seeds, herbs, etc. I added 1 g of grated parmesan to several of the pretzels, as you see in the picture. I will add that into Nora’s meal calculation when I serve it. You could add cheddar or any other topping you can imagine!

Bake for 6 minutes, then turn the pan and bake for another 6 minutes or until the pretzels are evenly browned. Remove from oven and transfer immediately to a wire rack to cool. They are excellent served warm!

I’m going to explore modifying the recipe again to include some of the brown rice protein powder that I have in my pantry. These would be a nice vehicle for including a little extra protein, and with the cheese sauce could be the only protein Nora needs in a meal.

These could also be the basis for a sweet-and-salty treat. The buttercream recipe posted on the Charlie Foundation site is excellent. When I made it for the keto-gingerbread house; I flavored it with a ginger-spice tea that was delicious. Topping these with buttercream icing would easily pop it up to a 3.5:1 or 4:1 snack close to 150 calories (that’s off the top of my head, but very doable). The top of my head was wrong! The buttercream recipe is 4:1 at best (I got mine up to 5 to 1) so you need over 20 g of frosting per pretzel (which are around 20 g themselves), which is just plain ridiculous. A better bet would be the caramel sauce or decorating icing from, which are methods of serving pure fat. I’ve been putting 8 g of the buttercream frosting on pretzels for a big snack for Nora, along with 1.5 T of cream in tea to get 3.5:1. She loves them so much she demands another immediately, although I have to deny that request. She did have another with her dinner last night though!

As I’ve said before, it’s a great time to be a keto-kid.


US Measurements for our gluten-free friends. I will give you the full recipe here, not the half-recipe that I used above (so if you try to compare this with the grams above, this will be double):

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup sunflower seed flour (grind then measure)
1/2 cup sesame seeds flour (grind then measure)
2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, very cold and chopped into tiny pieces
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2.25 tsp (1 package) instant or active dry yeast
2 Tbsp warm water

Egg wash
1/2 egg (or less, you will have leftovers)
1/2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp baking soda (optional)

Other toppings: course salt, sesame seeds, cheeses, etc.

Makes 8-12 large soft pretzels, or 24 small Nora-sized pretzels : )

Follow directions above.


Chicken ala Bacon

It appears that we still have some work to do civilizing the boy child. At least he picked up the fork.

We have a new way of measuring the deliciousness of food in our house. It’s called the POB scale: Plate of Bacon. The deliciousness of a Plate of Bacon sets the benchmark at 10/10, and all food can be expressed as a number out of 10 that compares to a perfect plate of bacon. The scale was derived the night that I made this recipe, which got a 9.5/10 on the POB scale from Anders. Hence, I have named it Chicken ala Bacon, and it includes the world’s best version of bacon, pancetta. I made it last night to rave reviews so I did a quick encore tonight to make sure it was a winner. Also eaten with gusto tonight. Hurrah!

It looks pretty fancy, but it’s not so complicated. The best part is that it can be assembled in a baking pan and put in the oven to cook. No intermediate cooking steps. And it works for everyone in the family. The recipe itself is not high ratio (slightly less than 1:1) but it is very low-carb, so it can be worked into a ketogenic diet meal with added fat on the side.

1 serving Chicken ala Bacon, cut in half and pancetta removed on left half so you can see the flax and parmesan “breading.” Served with avocado and kalamata olives. Cream and fish oil also included in the meal not shown.

The recipe below is formulated for Nora, who gets a smaller portion of protein at each meal than a bigger kid or adult. Scale it up for bigger people. Anders had a portion on top of noodles for dinner tonight, with a little extra parmesan on the noodles. You can see that I made 6 portions here, but I don’t really expect Nora to eat this 6 days in a row so I gave Anders a portion too. It was just easier to make them all the same instead of keeping track of the Nora-weighed ones. In addition, I made a non-weighed pan of the recipe in a big batch using the same ingredients. The rest of us will have leftovers this week too!

The pancetta is optional; the recipe works wonderfully without it. I had to omit it from Nora’s portion on the first night I served it because it put her over her protein needs for the day. If you leave off the pancetta, the top of the chicken cooks up nicely in the oven kind of like oven-fried chicken, with just the flax and parmesan on top. However, I would estimate that without the pancetta the POB rating drops to about 8. Tradeoffs can be difficult. 

1 serving of Chicken ala Bacon. Nutritional analysis by

Chicken ala Bacon
30 g Chicken thigh, raw and boneless
20 g zucchini, raw, cut into thin medallions
2 g Bel Gioioso Parmesan
2 g Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxmeal
5 g olive oil (estimated)
5.5 g Applegate Farms Pancetta (~1 slice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat the baking pan with a thin layer of oil.

Cut the zucchini into thin medallions and measure 20 g per serving. Make a small mound of zucchini in the pan; if you are making more than 1 serving you can make several separate small mounds in your pan to accomodate each serving.

Front row: Zucchini slices with flax and parmesan.
Middle row: Chicken on top
Back row, left: Flax and parmesan on top of chicken
Back row, right: Topped with a slice of pancetta

For each serving, measure 1 g flaxmeal and 1 g parmesan, then sprinkle it over the zucchini slices with a sprinkle of salt. Next, lay the chicken on top. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with another 1 g of flaxmeal and 1 g of parmesan. Finally, top with a slice of pancetta. You can see each step in the photo, eventually making 6 servings in this pan.

Cook for about 20 minutes. The pancetta will be crispy when done and everything will be cooked through.

Transfer to serving plate and let cool. Scrape up some of the oil to be served with the meal and drizzle it over the chicken. It is difficult to make sure that the correct amount of oil makes it on to the plate, so if you need more precision you should cook this whole meal in separate ramekins or other small ovenproof dishes so that you know all of the oil is incorporated into the meal.

I am storing the individual servings in the refrigerator for easy meals this week. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute.


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Chez Nora

We enjoyed a great Christmas-New Year vacation at home with lots of keto-goodies and many tried-and-true recipes. Nora is still doing great, seizure-free, and growing up before our eyes. I’ve been intending to write this post for the past month and finally have a moment to get to it.

It is probably natural that a child who’s diet requires so much specialized cooking will take an interest in cooking. Especially an independent 4 year old like Nora. Last quarter, I spent at least 1 day per week home with Nora, when I did a lot of cooking for her. In early December Nora took up the creative task of cooking also.

Recipe 1: Chez Nora Olive Pie

One day Nora came out of the kitchen holding a jar of jam, proclaiming that she was ready to bake a pie. I had to talk her out of the jam, but told her that we could make another kind of pie that would work with her diet. Next, she brought out a jar of kalamata olives and lemon juice. Hmmm, we could work with that.

It took some time and negotiation to convince Nora that she needed my technical expertise to make anything that would be edible and fit into her diet. I suggested that she could make something like a quiche, an egg and olive pie. She agreed that would be good, and suggested it would be good with chicken in it too. Then she decided to add some fish oil to the recipe so that she didn’t have to drink it separately that night. I could go with that too.

I let Nora weigh everything on the scale and do the mixing. I told her when she had weighed enough of an ingredient so that she would like the final result. She mostly went along with my suggestions and I recorded the weight of everything that she included in her recipe.

After we weighed everything and assembled her olive pie, she made one for Papa and one for Anders for dinner too. I let Nora weigh and mix theirs but didn’t require precision. I also let her omit the fish oil from their portions. Unfortunately, egg dishes are not on my special diet (my stomach can’t tolerate much egg.) She could relate to that explanation. I had an alternative meal that evening.

Although Anders was skeptical at first, everyone was very pleased with their olive pie! Nora was especially proud to present it to Ted and Anders. It was adorable. She made me hide them for as long as possible until Ted was at the table to receive his meal. He was very gracious and complementary, much to Nora’s delight.

Chez Nora Olive Pie. Nutritional information from

Chez Nora Olive Pie
2 g Fish Oil
8 g Kalamata Olives, chopped
6 g Napoleon Chopped Green Olives
12 g egg
0.5 g lemon juice
3.5 g Heavy Whipping Cream
10 g chicken thigh, chopped

Measure egg and cream into a small ramekin and whisk well. Fold in remaining ingredients and mix. Bake at 325 for 10-15 minutes or until set. Cool and enjoy.

Recipe 2: Blueberry Monster Mash

One Saturday morning, Nora and I were home together and I was making up a batch of Macadamia Monster Mash. Nora likes to run the food processor when we make recipes like this one. She was inspired to make another recipe with the ingredients that we had on hand and another one of her favorite foods: blueberries.

Again, I tried to guide her on amounts as she measured the ingredients on the gram scale. I would say, “that’s enough!” then record the weight on the scale. Thankfully, she wanted to include coconut oil in this recipe, which worked great!

Blueberry Monster Mash
50 g blueberries
100 g macadamia nuts
10 g coconut oil
0.5 g salt
1/2 T lemon juice
1/2 T water

Measure and process in food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

Nora likes to call this “ice cream” and has offered to share it with friends. Of course, it’s not ice cream by most kids’ standards, but it’s pretty yummy anyway.