‘Cheese’ & Onion Bittergourd and Kale Crisps (Gluten-Free|Vegan|Low-Carb)

I love kale but bittergourd / bittermelon / bittersquash / Balsam-pear / Karela / Goya – call it what you will, my reaction to it would have been the same until very recently. EURGH!!! It’s just so erm, intensely bitter? HOW could anyone with normal tastebuds enjoy it?

This is a recipe to start initiating yourself into the world of bittergourd! It’s actually yummy and moreish.

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I don’t know how else to start this post but to say that until I started preparing bittergourd this way, it has been nearly (but not quite at) the top of my hate list of vegetables (or is it a fruit?) . Either way it’s something that until very recently my tastebuds detested.

Being Bengali this is shameful as it’s a staple vegetable in many dishes including my boyfriends beloved “Shukto” or Bengali style mixed vegetable. Bengali’s love exciting the tastebuds, and this mighty vegetable definitely does. I unfortunately cannot make a “Shukto” yet (but I shall soon!).

Amongst other nutritious elements, bittergourd is a high potassium vegetable, which is something that on the keto diet, I’ve been struggling with and have been searching for ways to incorporate it into my every day diet. If it wasn’t already obvious enough, I’m a bittergourd hater, but this simple recipe my friends, I simply cannot get enough of!

Although it’s commonly seen in Asian households, it’s highly underrated in the western world but it’s increasingly available in supermarkets (and readily available in the Asian / Indian markets). 

Bittergourd: Reasons why I can’t get enough of it now

  1. I’m older and wiser! I know that it’s good for me. Like kale, bittergourd is a nutritious powerhouse
  2. The green colour! And how it changes into a brighter green when you season raw bittergourd with salt. It’s magic :-).
  3. It looks weird and dangerous, like a massive green club.
  4. It can be delicious and moorish, when done right (like this recipe)!
  5. These crisps keep well for a few days in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

I’m not listing any quantities for the dressing below because I believe it’s entirely up to your tastebuds and personal preferences as to how flavoursome you’d like your crisps to be! Quantities for the vegetables are also up to you, the 1-2 cups are just a guideline.

  • 1-2 cups sliced bittergourd: Washed, dried and sliced thin.
  • 1-2 cups Kale: Washed, dried and torn into larger than bite-sized pieces (they will shrink when baked).
  • Olive oil (or any other oil of choice). I personally like to use a garlic olive oil.
  • Nutritional Yeast (This is where the ‘cheese-ey’ flavour comes from. There isn’t any actual cheese in this recipe.)
  • Onion Powder.
  • Himalayan Salt / Sea Salt.
  • Cayenne Pepper.
  • Turmeric: Optional

Method

Bittergourd chips:

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  1. Heat the oil in a suitable pan. You will you need enough oil to fry the bittergourd until they’re crispy.
  2. Slice the bittergourd into thin round slices and wash thoroughly.
  3. Sprinkle salt onto the bittergourd and  massage into it well. Leave for 10 minutes.
  4. Shallow fry the bittergourd in the oil until they’re darker and crispy but watch closely to make sure they don’t burn. The seeds should be crispy. (You could also try baking them, but we haven’t attempted this before).
  5. Once fried, dress the bittergourd with nutritional yeast, onion powder, himalayan salt and cayenne pepper according to your macros and taste.Tip: The bittergourd crisps keeps well in the fridge for a few days so you can make a large batch of this and snack on it (if it lasts)! It’s good cold, room temperature, or can be reheated in the oven or dry-toasted in a pan on the stove top.

Kale chips:

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  1. Wash and dry the kale well.
  2. Pre-heat an oven to 150-160C (it depends on your oven but I find that a lower temperature works better).
  3. Massage the kale with olive oil, nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt and cayenne pepper according to your macros and taste. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  4. Bake your kale chips in the oven for about 12-15 mins, and then give them a toss, then bake them again for another 10-12 mins (or until crispy but not burnt).

I don’t think kale crisps keep as well as bittergourd crisps, so eat the same day if possible.

Eat separately or mix BOTH the bittergourd and kale crisps up for the best of both worlds and enjoy getting your greens and nutrition in!

 

Tahini Buns (Gluten-Free|Vegan|Low-Carb)

This is a beautiful recipe for Gluten Free Vegan Keto Bagels by The Herbivore Post, adapted to make buns and with added spices.

I cannot tell you how amazing these little buns are! In fact, the day I tested them out, an aunt and uncle popped by unannounced, and they were astounded at the ingredients, and at how it smelled and looked like actual bread! They’re not Keto but they tried it and quite liked it as well – Score!

The original recipe for bagels can be found on The Herbivore Post website, however I tweaked it to make buns and added paprika, cayenne pepper and Himalayan salt to the mixture as well. And a few pumpkin and sunflower seeds on top.

This is going to become a staple I feel!

Ingredients

For the Tahini

  • 3/4-1 cup sesame seeds
  • Optional: 1-3 tbsp olive oil (or any neutral oil)

For the buns

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp flax meal 
  • 1/4 cup psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Spices to taste: I used Paprika and Cayenne Pepper (approximately 1tsp each)
  • Optional: Seeds e.g. pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia.

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Tahini
  • 1 cup water

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C (375F) and prepare a baking tray with greaseproof paper. I added some extra coconut butter to the paper.

2. Measure out 3/4-1 cup Sesame Seeds for your Tahini (ignore the measurement in the picture!!!). This will give you more than the required 1/2 cup of Tahini required for the recipe, and you can have some extra to create delicious keto salad dressings!

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3. Dry toast the sesame seeds in a pan to release the oils. Keep stirring as they burn easily, once they get a bit of colour and you get a toasty smell, take them off the heat and cool.

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4. Blend the cooled sesame seeds in a grinder or food processor. Once it gets towards the end, add the oil (1-3 tbsp) to get the smooth consistency if required.

5. Take 1/2 cup of the Tahini and add 1 cup of water: Mix well. (If there’s oil in Tahini it might separate and that’s fine).

6. Take a large bowl and add the dry ingredients: Flax, almond meal, psyllium husk powder, baking powder, and salt.

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7. Mix the wet ingredients (Tahini and water mixture) to the dry ingredients in step 6.

8. Add any spices if you like. As mentioned I added paprika and cayenne pepper. And mix well.

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9. The dough will quickly come together and you will get a dough ball that looks like this:

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10. Cut the dought into 4 pieces.

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11. Roll the dough between your hands into bun shaped balls and decorate the top if you like with seeds of choice. I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds. ketotahinibuns (15)

12.  Bake for 45 minutes at 190C (375F) and wash up while you wait! You will get these at the end!ketotahinibuns (16)

13. This is what the insides look like.

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14. And this is how I ate mine!!!

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Macros

(The macros I calculated per serving are slightly different to that in herbivorepost but they’re great)!

  • Energy: 254.7 kcal
  • Net Carbs: 3.2g
  • Fat: 23.7g
  • Protein: 5.4g
  • Magnesium: 96mg
  • Zinc: 2.1mg
  • Calcium: 123mg

Crumbly Coconut Granola (Low Carb | Keto | Gluten Free)

Mornings are not an epileptic’s friend!

It’s when many of us are vulnerable to seizures. Mine normally occur when I’m incredibly tired and sleepy, so first thing in the morning is primetime for the seizure gremlins to attack.

It’s therefore vital that my mornings are peaceful and stress-free. Most people don’t like being disturbed in the AM, but I should probably come with a DND warning sign before 8 am and a matcha latte.

I’ve really missed grabbing a quick cereal, yogurt and fruit-to-go

It does seem like Keto breakfasts are ‘mostly’ soft and/or warm and generally take a lot of time and effort to prepare. There seems to be a lot of ‘cooking’ involved to get those macros in. Precious time which most people don’t have.

This Low-Carb Crumbly Coconut Granola recipe came about on my quest for a cold, crunchy ‘Keto Cereal’! I just couldn’t deal with the cravings anymore, and there was nothing in the shops that catered to my needs.

Granola in the shops tend to have sugar or honey, or gluten. This is a homemade solution to my dilemma, bearing in mind that I also needed a high fat intake in addition to low-carb – hence the coconut oil.

Granted, it kind of looks like sand, but it TASTES like a Keto breakfast from heaven! Especially if you’ve been eating bacon and eggs everyday!

A great meal-prep recipe for the working week

It might take some time the first time round, but once you get the hang of making granola, and if you have the ingredients lying around, it shouldn’t take too long the next few times.

The best thing about making any type of granola is you could make a large batch and keep it in an air-tight container for a few weeks (if it lasts that long! I’d give it a few days).

Other benefits of this Granola

  • The texture of this granola also means that it’s great as a crumbly topping on other desserts (I had it on top of my panna cotta yesterday!).
  • An average portion (5 tbsp) has just 3.1g net carbs and 27.5g fat. 
  • An average serving also has 114.3 mg Magnesium and 299.7 mg Potassium  – two minerals that Keto-ers often find challenging incorporating into our lifestyle.

So without further ado, here we go:

Ingredients

Makes 45 tablespoons (average serving = 5 tablespoon)

You will need:

  • Flax Meal: 1 cup
  • Coconut Flour: 0.5 cup
  • Almond Flour: 0.5 cup
  • Coconut Oil: 0.5 cup
  • Vanilla stevia liquid: 3-5 drops (OR other sweetener of choice and vanilla essence or vanilla bean powder).
  • Pumpkin seeds: 0.25 cup
  • Sunflower seeds: 0.25 cup
  • Dried coconut flakes/chips: 0.25 cup
  • Walnuts: 8
  • Cinnamon powder: 0.5 tsp (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F) and prepare a baking tray by lining it with parchment paper for your granola.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flax meal, coconut flour and almond flour.

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3. Measure out 0.5 cup of Coconut oil.

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4. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave or over a low heat.

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5. Add the melted coconut oil into the flax-coconut-almond mixture.

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6. Add Vanilla stevia drops to taste (approximately 3-5 drops). Alternatively, add vanilla essence or powder and sweetener or choice.

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7. Stir the mixture well until it starts the come to together – it should start to look like slightly damp sand.

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8. Measure out nuts and seeds of choice. I used pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts and dried coconut.

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9 (optional). Add cinnamon.

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10. Mix the nuts, seeds and cinnamon into the granola mixture well.

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11. Grab the baking tray you prepared in the beginning. Add a tiny bit of coconut oil to it (you can never be too careful!) and pour the granola mixture onto the parchment paper, spreading it out and flattening it down.

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12. Bake in the oven at 160C (320F) for 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture has toasted and is golden-brown in colour. Take it out of the oven every 5-10 minutes to give it a good stir. (Note: You could increase the temperature up to 176C / 350F but keep a close eye on the granola mixture as it is finer than usual, so I like to keep the temperature lower and just increase it at the end for a final toast!).

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13. Remove from the oven, cool and store in an air-tight container!

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Granola. Yogurt. Berries – Enough said!

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Macros:

1 serving = 1 tablespoon

  • Energy: 61.03 kcal
  • Protein: 1.34 g
  • Total Carbs: 2.1g
  • Fiber: 1.48g
  • Net Carbs: 0.62 g
  • Fat: 5.5 g
  • Magnesium: 22.86mg
  • Potassium: 59.94mg
  • Selenium: 1.81ug
  • Zinc: 0.32mg

An average portion = 5 tablespoon

  • Energy: 305.15 kcal
  • Protein: 6.7g
  • Total Carbs: 10.5g
  • Fiber: 7.4g
  • Net Carbs: 3.1 g
  • Fat: 27.5 g
  • Magnesium: 114.3 mg
  • Potassium: 299.7mg
  • Selenium: 9.05ug

Zinc: 1.6mg

MatchaMonday – Keto Bullet Matcha Milk / Latte!

This recipe came about as I was looking for an alternative to the Bulletproof Coffee and my version of the Bulletproof Chai Latte. I’m sensitive to caffeine and should avoid (high doses of) it, but I needed something which had a bit more of a kick to start the day, without the jitteriness from coffee.

Tea, caffeine & epilepsy

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Before I start, note that caffeine and epilepsy aren’t exactly the best of friends, and all teas do contain some amount of caffeine so epileptics do need to drink it with caution.

However, tea is my weakness and I’m from a part of India where we love our tea but I try and limit myself to 1-2 cups a day.

Depending on the serving, a serving of Matcha contains approximately 35mg caffeine. This normally isn’t enough to make you feel “wired” like coffee does. Bearing in mind that an average cup of filter coffee has 145mg of caffeine, and a cup of instant coffee can have up to 170mg per cup.

The caffeine in Matcha is also absorbed differently due to ‘catechins’ which are antioxidants and known to have many beneficial health properties. Caffeine molecules in Matcha bind to catechins and are absorbed slowly over time. Whereas caffeine molecules in coffee go straight to the bloodstream leading to a high followed by a crash within a few hours. With Matcha however, the caffeine is absorbed over the course of up to six hours.

This is a literature review of the beneficial effects of green tea – many of which are related to catechins, particularly epigallocatechin-3-gallat content. Recently it has been suggested that Matcha has greater benefits than other green teas as indicated in this study. This is due to the concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) available from drinking matcha which is seen to be 137 times greater than the amount of EGCG available from China Green Tips green tea, and at least 3 times higher than the largest literature value for other green teas.

So overall, I think the nutritional health benefits are worth it! 

Keto Bullet Matcha Milk / Latte

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Apart from Matcha, the key ingredient in this brain boosting Matcha Milk is MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) Oil.

  • MCT’s are found in coconut oil, but also in palm oil and high fat products such as cheese and butter.
  • MCT’s are considered to be good fuel for the brain because they are smaller and easily metabolised.
  • MCT oil is a manmade supplement produced from coconut oil, palm oil or safflower oil.
  • This study highlights that MCTs offer neuro-protective benefits for a range of diseases including epilepsy as well as dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Ingredients

1 serving

You will need:

  • Matcha green tea powder: 1-2 tsp
  • Almond Milk: 1 cup
  • Vanilla Stevia drops: 1-2
  • MCT Oil: 1 tbsp
  • (Optional) Butter of choice: 1 tbsp
  • (Optional) For a bit of a twist, sometimes I like to add 1/2 a teaspoon of Cinnamon to my Matcha milk / latte.

Method:

  • In a bowl, whisk the matcha powder in some warm water.
  • (Warm the almond milk if you’d like a warm milk).
  • In a high-speed blender, add the almond milk, matcha, vanilla stevia and MCT Oil.
  • Blend for 30 seconds – 1 minute – A froth will have formed on top when you stop, and the matcha should be well combined.
  • Pour into your mug and serve hot or cold!

Macros:

1 serving (Excluding butter)

  • Energy: 161 kcal
  • Caffeine: 35-70mg
  • Protein: 1.9 g
  • Net Carbs: 1.69 g
  • Fat: 17.15 g
  • Vitamin A:938 IU
  • Vitamin D: 100 IU
  • Vitamin E: 10mg
  • Vitamin K: 58 ug
  • Calcium: 208mg