2 years on: The good, The bad, The ugly about my keto for epilepsy journey so far

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My last post was in August 2018 and it is now April 2019. It’s been approximately two years since I switched to a ketogenic lifestyle to manage epilepsy.

I refer back to my last post on 3 top tips: surviving keto life as an adult with epilepsy  as I write this – all those tips remain very true to survival. The gap between my last post and this one has only gotten longer because the truth is, it has gotten harder in many ways, and easier in some .

The lifestyle is STILL a rollercoaster and I’m constantly adapting

I have not mastered the art of staying in ketosis like many claim and it doesn’t come easily to me, mainly because of social and environmental factors like coping with work stress and travel. I find it difficult to constantly stay ‘on the ball’ and prepared EVEN though I enjoy cooking and mealprepping, and the reality is that the ball falls on occasion. But that is life.

The good

I’m still seizure free, however not without auras. This was because I threw myself out of ketosis on a number of occasions (due to workload, stress, travel and/or celebrations). The reason this is still ‘good’ is because of the self-awareness each aura brings. I feel like each time I recognise it better, am able to get to a safe space quicker, and in the last year feel better able to manage them.

Reviewing my intention and to be kind to myself. When I first started the ketogenic lifestyle two years ago, my intention was to get off medication. Whilst this still might be possible in the long-term, for someone my age, unless I intend on making that my sole purpose in life, might not be achievable in the short-term.

I had a follow-up with my neurologist a few months ago, and what was clear was that if I was to be kinder to myself and live a decent quality of life – work, have a life etc. I would need to continue medications and the diet is adjunct therapy to better manage my triggers – make sure I’m ‘able’ to get a decent level of sleep, manage my stress, work and so on.

The bad

The HARDEST part for me is #FOMO . As someone in their early (nearly mid) 30’s I constantly question whether it’s worth it, life’s too short, and I guess the last eight months I’ve been testing my limits (A LOT).

I’ve put myself in situations which two+ years ago would have guaranteed a seizure. Late nights, caffeine fuelled stressful periods, eating junk etc etc. The outcomes have not always been great, and although I haven’t had a seizure this is due to my medications. Examples of instances when I slipped out of ketosis and the consequences:

In November 2018 I slipped out of ketosis heavily, it was a stressful month of cramming for an exam with late nights in the library. I ate ‘healthy’ but non-keto, drank coffee, didn’t get enough sleep etc. A long story short, I had a migraine that lasted days, including the day of my exam. I had nausea and vomiting that was uncontrollable and had to be given injections to stop it.

In January 2019 I was on holiday in India where even though I’d mealprepped breakfast and snacks, I’d also carried MCT oil and electrolytes and so on. I was inevitably going to have to eat out for meals. Needless to say there was one day where I could NOT resists street food in Kolkata (it was paapri chaat and phuchka), and that night I had a migraine, vomiting AND diarrhoea.

As recently as last week in the run up to Easter festivities where there was a lot of chocolate going around the office, when I drank caffeine, and stress levels were running high, I crashed at the end of the week with an aura and had to work from home.

Every single time I threw myself out of ketosis it was with good reason and I don’t regret it one bit. Life is too short and building on my last point in 3 top tips and #FOMO – it’s always a judgement call and my 4th top tip would be to listen to that “inner self” and do what feels right for you at that moment within reason.

The ugly

Living in a non-keto world isn’t easy. I guess the ‘ugly’ sin that I’ve been committing is eating bad fats. Work has been crazy and I’ve been resorting to burgers without the buns (even from McDonalds) in pangs of hunger. And in no lifestyle can this be right.

In summary

Unless you like eating in and meal-prepping, it’s not an easy, affordable, quick AND sociable lifestyle . For anyone that says it is (in London), I’d like to meet you please because I’m struggling two years in.

It IS however lifesaving and as mentioned above, although I haven’t had a seizure, whenever I’ve slipped out of ketosis, the repercussions of it were like little warning signs to STAY IN KETOSIS! For that reason, I’m still trying.

3 Top Tips: Surviving keto life as an adult with epilepsy

When I started this blog I thought I’d be able to update it regularly with posts about my ketogenic journey for epilepsy, recipes and resources. BOY WAS I WRONG!!! Blogging slipped down the priority list (but that’s ok because epilepsy management comes first).

This post is for adults with epilepsy embarking on the lifestyle with 3 top tips to bear in mind when embarking on this life changing journey & links to 3 recipes on my Instagram @riagoesketo @ananyariaroy.


The GOOD news is that the ketogenic lifestyle is still working for my overall wellbeing and still controlling my epilepsy – this month I’ll be one year seizure free!. It remains to be seen whether that’s the impact of the lifestyle or the medication.

The BAD news is that life has been a rollercoaster this last year and I’ve been terrible at blogging my ketogenic journey apart from microblogging on my Instagram accounts @riagoesketo (just keto for epilepsy posts) and @ananyariaroy (my personal account with a mix of posts including keto).

There honestly weren’t enough hours in a day to work (the load was the kind where you needed more than 24 hours in a day), eat, spend time with family, sleep, exercise, and I pretty much forgot about having much of a social life let along blogging.

My priority is staying seizure-free and keto is just one (major) part of a holistic lifestyle change. Stress and anxiety management is a constant battle and for me this last year post shoulder surgery along with numerous personal challenges on the relationship and work front has constantly pushed my stress limits – stress being my #1 trigger combined with #2 – lack of sleep. I’m pleased to report though that I’ve survived this last year unscathed although I’ve had a couple of auras and took my emergency pill on a few occasions. The lifestyle has taught me to be more aware of my body and I’m definitely more aware of my brain than EVER before! WIN!

So for those of you adults with epilepsy embarking on a new diet for your epilepsy, here are my 3 Top Tips:

  1. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process:It can be tempting to feel like you need to research and understand everything straight away, get your macros perfect right off the bat, and so on. But take your time to absorb and learn about the lifestyle in your own time (do your READING, don’t just rely on YouTube).

    It is unlikely you’ll learn everything about the lifestyle let alone test the impact of the lifestyle on YOUR body in a month – give yourself time to learn, play and adapt – enjoy the process.

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    Keto Lemon & Mint FroYo
  2. Listen to your body and the different types of dietary therapies used to treat epilepsy:Although I’ve been on the keto lifestyle for nearly 1.5 years, I have by no means been consistently in ketosis. I do have ‘cheat days’ but this doesn’t mean I load up on sugar, I still opt for the healthier low GI options during cheat days (which also tend to be during my period.)

    I’m a strong believer in sustainability and balance and ‘finding what works for you’ at the end of the day and found that for me it was a combination of mostly ketogenic combined with low GI on certain days seems to work.

    View the Epilepsy Foundation website for more on Dietary Therapies.

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    Keto Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie
  3. Don’t have #FOMO! It’s more than just what you put in your mouth 

    (I personally think the ketogenic lifestyle  works best in tandem with other lifestyle improvements. Factors that could improve outcomes might be e.g. sleep, time with family and friends, work-life-balance, exercise and so on.I strongly recommend taking the time out to assess your seizure triggers, find out what lifestyle factors could minimise them, review and prioritise what’s important, and if necessary, adapt your lifestyle as a whole.

    When prioritising it will probably mean something is sacrificed in the quest for better health, and for us millennials there is always a major #FOMO – but the end result will always be worth it – seizure freedom!

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    FAMILY TIME! Keto Shakshuka for Fathers Day Brunch 🙂

Bonus tip! (And one that I personally struggle with)

It goes without saying that you should be making dietary lifestyle changes for epilepsy under your neurologists supervision and ideally with a ketogenic dietitian, but the reality is that there are probably many who are doing it without either. (I personally had to wait 8 months for an appointment).

Although I am technically under a ketogenic dietitian, follow-up / communication has not been great – largely on my part as it is taxing and a lot of work to submit food diaries, monitor your blood, do routine blood/urine tests etc. A lot of the hard work falls on the patient which is paper based. For an epileptic that can add up to a lot of brainpower and physical energy in addition to daily life and I for one find it quite stressful and draining. Give me an app any day please. (Rant over!)

Nevertheless it IS an absolute necessity if your goal is to manage your epilepsy (or for any medical condition) – please do it under supervision of a health professional as there ARE side effects to the lifestyle.

P.S I write this blog a few days before a milestone “Holidate”! It’s the first holiday I’ve had in a LONG time and the first time in a long time that I’ve gone somewhere without family of some kind as well. I’m completely throwing myself out of my comfort zone. The last time I felt this out of my comfort zone was 9 years ago!  Getting my priorities straight and giving myself a break!

I hope to post more frequently and prioritise this blog every fortnight! GOALS!

 

 

Keto Protein Cloud Loaf

I love the cloud bread recipes floating around (excuse the pun), but I find them to be a bit frustrating and a bit hit-and-miss sometimes.

Also, my oven isn’t huge so making a few light pieces of cloud bread isn’t convenient or satisfying, and I can’t wait around to make them in batches as the whipped egg whites are too sensitive so they really need to go in the oven as soon as they’re prepared.

I personally find making a good old loaf of bread to be the simplest thing. This recipe was inspired by the cloud bread recipe and a chiffon cake recipe using whey protein.

I’ve replaced the cream cheese with Greek Yogurt (it’s cheaper and we buy it in bulk), and the texture works PERFECTLY as a bread (it works both savoury or sweet depending on your preference).

FAQ’s

Does the bread taste like cake?

I don’t think it’s cakey as it has no (nut) flour. It’s almost like a super light Keto version of a loaf of brioche.

It’s so good that in my books it beats almond bread, coconut bread, and flax bread. I’m a sucker for light and fluffy bread!

How do you eat it?

Like bread!

Slice, smother in butter/ghee/garlic olive oil, pan fry, (I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried toasting it because it’s quite light and I have a feeling it might get stuck in the toaster), use it in a sandwich, and so on.

(This morning I toasted a slice in ghee and made an open sandwich with creamy scrambled eggs – because I’m addicted to scrambled eggs at the moment – with a side of bacon and greens).

Keto Protein Loaf (6)

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 170g Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 50g Whey Protein Isolate (Unflavoured for savoury bread, *Vanilla flavoured for Sweet bread)
  • OPTION 1 Spicy Savoury Bread: Spices: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt of choice, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Dried Chilli Flakes (or other savoury spices of choice).
  • *OPTION 2 Sweet Bread: 2-3 tablespoons sweetener of choice if using unflavoured whey protein OR use a vanilla flavoured whey isolate protein powder.

METHOD

1. Preperation: Pre-heat the oven to 150C and grease a loaf tin.

2. Add the cream of tartar to the egg white and whisk until stiff peaks form.

3. To the egg yolks add the remaining ingredients (greek yogurt, whey protein, baking powder, salt and spices).

4. Mix the yolk mixture well.

5. Add the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture in parts:

  • Add 1/3 of the white and mix to loosen the batter.
  • Add 2/3 and FOLD very gently. You want it to be well combined but don’t want to lose any “fluffiness”.

6. Pour it into your greased loaf tin and bake at 150C for approximately 60minutes. (You may have to adjust the temperature and time depending on your oven.)

(NOTE: If you really want buns it might work but I haven’t tried!)

Macros

1 whole loaf (= approximately 10 servings):

  • Calories: 835.2 kcal
  • Protein: 85.6g
  • Net carbs: 17.6g
  • Fat: 45.6g

1 slice:

  • Calories: 83.5 kcal
  • Protein: 8.6g
  • Net carbs: 1.8g
  • Fat: 4.6g

 

 

Keto Mini Cinnamon Rolls & Chocolate Rolls (Gluten Free|Low Carb)

Keto & Epilepsy Update

I’ve been struggling to get my fats in again and I know my weight has changed since I started this way of eating, and I feel like I need to adjust my macros. But I’m not quite sure.

However I FINALLY GOT AN APPOINTMENT WITH A DIETITIAN ON THE NHS! Although the appointment is all the way in December, I’m over the moon and couldn’t be more excited because I thought it was never going to happen. I don’t think there are that many “ketogenic diet for adults with epilepsy” specialists around.

Anyway it has been over nine months since I found out about the the diet, and around six months of being on it. I can now say the following:

POSITIVES:

  • My seizures have reduced in severity. Since going keto I did have one grandmal however that was a day after changing my dose which was kind of expected.
  • Creative outlet: I enjoy cooking and experimenting with keto recipes, especially making more ‘mainstream’ food out of low-carb ingredients.
  • Be prepared: It’s hard out there and MOST foods have sugar and/or additives. So planning is crucial!
  • Learning: The Keto WOE isn’t the same for everyone. My dad is doing it for weightloss and his heart but he also doesn’t really care (yet) about inflammatory additives. Whereas I’m doing it for epilepsy and eczema and so additives are important to me.

NEGATIVES:

Please note that both of the negatives mentioned below are also side effects of Zonisamide (Zonegran), the anti-epileptic medication that I’m on. 

  • Weight loss. Chubby 16 year-old me on Epilim would have loved to be able to lose the weight so quickly, but 32 year-old me isn’t quite so sure about the drastic weight loss.
  • Fluctuating energy levels. There are moments where I have sufficient energy and moments where I’m exhausted. I can’t drink caffeine so rely on MCT oil for quick bursts of energy.

FatHead Pastry: The Keto Holy Grail!

My foodprep this Sunday was mini Keto pastries made with a slightly sweetened fathead pastry.

I made bitesized Mini Cinnamon Rolls (0.9g carbs) and Chocolate Rolls / Chocolate Danish Pastries (1.5g carbs) today!

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Whoever came up with the idea of the genius fathead dough. I. LOVE. YOU!!! Next time I visit my sister in Paris, I’m taking along a batch of these babies so I’m not tempted (again!)

Ingredients

FatHead Pastry:

  • 200g (1.5 cups) shredded mozzarella
  • 80g (0.75 cup) almond flour
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp Natvia
Cinnamon Filling:
  • 2 tbsp Natvia (or other low-carb sweetener of choice)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Hot water
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 2 drops liquid stevia
  • Vanilla

Chocolate Filling:

  • Cocoa or Cacao powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Sugar-free maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • Hot water

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • Dark Chocolate (I used 2 squares of Lindt 85% Chocolate)

Method

Fathead Pastry

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 Celsius/360 Fahrenheit.
  2. Measure out mozzarella and cream cheese, and melt in a non-stick pot over a low flame or in a microwave. It will take approximately 1.5 minutes. NOTE: Stir the mixture half way through!
  3. Crack and stir in the egg into the mixture well.
  4. Then measure and add the almond flour, baking powder, and sweetener of choice, and mix well into a smooth doughball.
  5. Divide the dough into two batches / balls.

Cinnamon Rolls

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  1. Place one batch / ball on a parchment paper and place another parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out until it’s as thin as you can get it (but still workable) into a large rectangle.
  2. Prepare the Cinnamon Filling: boiled water, sweetener and cinnamon.
  3. Brush the Cinnamon Filling along the entire flat top of the pastry.
  4. Roll the pastry into a log along the length.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into rolls (approximately 10-12 rolls).
  6. Place on a non-stick dish and bake at 180C for 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes).
  7. While the rolls are baking, mix the frosting: cream cheese, yogurt and sweetener,
  8. Once the rolls have baked, drizzle or spread over your WARM CINNAMON ROLLS AND EAT!!!

Chocolate Rolls / Chocolate Danish

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  1. Place the second batch / ball on a parchment paper and place another parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out until it’s as thin as you can get it (but still workable) into a large rectangle.
  2. Prepare the Chocolate Fillling: Boiled water, Cacao Powder, Cinnamon (optional), Sugar-Free Maple Syrup or other sweetener of choice.
  3. Pour the chocolate filling on top of the pastry and spread over evenly. NOTE: Don’t go too close to the edges.
  4. Roll the pastry into a log along the length.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut the pasty into rolls, or slightly longer pastries.
  6. Place on a non-stick dish and bake at 180C for 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes).
  7. Whilst the Chocolate Pastries are baking, melt your required amount of Dark Chocolate to drizzle on top!
  8. Once the pastries have baked, drizzle or spread over your WARM CHOCOLATE PASTRIES AND EAT!!!

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Let’s just say I think I’ll his my fat macros today :-)! These are BY FAR MY FAVOURITE FAT BOMBS!

Macros

Mini Cinnamon Roll:

  • 70 Kcal
  • 3.5g Protein
  • 1.9g Carbs
  • 1g Fiber
  • 0.9g Net Carbs
  • 5.8g Fat
  • Calcium: 84.4 mg

Mini Chocolate Roll:

  • 75.7 Kcal
  • 3.7g Protein
  • 2.4g Carbs
  • 0.9g Fiber
  • 1.5g Net Carbs
  • 6.1g Fat
  • Calcium: 77.9 mg

Keto Croutons (Gluten Free|Dairy Free|Low Carb)

This was one of those spur of the moment things that I’m so pleased with, it’s DEFINITELY going to become a permanent part of my staples in my Keto pantry.

The reason these babies came about was because I was craving a Caesar salad. But you can’t have a Caesar salad without croutons right!!!

As I learnt, Keto Croutons couldn’t be simpler to make. If making microwave Keto Flax Bread was the easiest recipe in the world, this is just one step up.

They take less than 10 minutes to prepare, are quite moreish (I finished 3 portions of the 4 I made in one day). It also makes for a satisfying Keto snack-on-the-run. I’ve actually been munching on them with cheese (like flax crackers I suppose). They’re THAT good and guilt-free, and SUPER CRUNCHY 🙂 !

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RECIPE

This recipe make approximately 4 servings.

Utensils & Ingredients

  • 1 Microwavable Dish (I used a glass dish that was approximately 5×5 inch)
  • Butter (or oil) to grease
  • 1 Medium Egg
  • 4 Tbsp Flax Meal (You could also probably make it from Almond Meal)
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt of choice
  • OPTIONAL Spices / Seasonings of choice: E.g. Pepper, Chilli, Garlic, Onion, Cayenne, Paprika, Turmeric etc.

Method

  • Grease your dish with the butter or oil.
  • Crack and beat the egg in the dish.
  • Add the flax, baking powder, salt, and optional spices and seasonings of choice.
  • Stir the mixture well until everything is well incorporated.
  • Microwave for 2 minutes.

(Click here for step-by-step images of how to make microwave keto bread)

  • Remove the bread from the microwave and slice it into two slices, then cut into crouton sized cubes.

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  • Place the bread cubes on a plate and microwave in 1 minute bursts until hard. (Mine took 2 minutes in total).
  • Cool, sprinkle on your salad, or eat as it is with a dip or cheese!

Macros

Per serving:

  • 47.2 Kcal
  • 2.9 Protein
  • 2.7g Carbs
  • 2g Fiber
  • 0.7g Net Carbs
  • 2.9g Fat

ketocroutons (8)_1200-min

‘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:

kaleandbittergourdfries (1)

  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:

kaleandbittergourdfries (2)

  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!

ketotahinibuns (1)

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.

ketotahinibunsdry (2)

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

High Potassium (>200mg), Low-Carb Foods

Since starting the Keto lifestyle, I’ve been monitoring my nutrition (or trying to anyway) and I’m very aware that I could be suffering from nutritional deficiencies especially given that my appetite has decreased significantly and as a result my food consumption has reduced.

I’ve been using an app called Cronometer (the free version might I add) to track what I eat and monitor what I need to against my macros, and it has come to my attention that (as I suspected), three things that I do struggle to meet each day are electrolytes – magnesium, potassium and sodium.

This is quite common in the keto and other low-carb diet and could explain my extreme low energy levels at present! Adding to that I’ve been under excessive stress due to a recent shoulder surgery and other personal issues.

So although an easy way to boost magnesium is through supplements (a 400mg pill is 100% of the RDA), and sodium can easily be added to your diet through salt-water / lemon-salt-water / bone broth etc, POTASSIUM is not so readily available in supplement form as too much of it can be toxic.

Prior to going keto this was not something that I’d thought about given that I was eatingt bananas and potatoes in abundance!

High Potassium (>200mg) & Low-Carb Food List

It’s safest therefore to make sure you’re getting enough potassium from food first as you won’t be able to get it from supplements. I therefore decided to compile a go-to list of high potassium keto-friendly  low-carb foods, i.e. foods with over 200mg potassium per reasonable portion. Click here for the Excel version of the list.

KetoPotassiumFoodsNutrition

Potassium Tactics

I also decided on a few ‘Potassium Tactics’ for myself based on a potassium range of 2000 – 4700 mg (the Estimated Daily Minimum – Adequate Intake).

Following these tactics, I should be able to achieve my target amount of potassium whilst keeping within my carb limits.

Potassium food tactics:

  • Eat 1 cup of Yogurt & Keto Coconut Granola every day = 380 & 300 mg respectively
  • Eat 6 Vegetables from the list inc. Avocado = 1920-3233 mg
  • Eat 2 proteins = 460-971gm
  • Smaller amounts from other foods (mainly vegetables, nuts, seeds and proteins) not listed.

Additional:

  • Supplement = 200-400mg
  • Eat a few squares of dark chocolate / Drink cacao milk = 100-240mg
  • Eat almond / peanut butter = 200mg
  • Optional: During carb-cycling days – Sweet potato= 224mg

Please do contact me if there’s anything you feel that needs to be added to the list, bearing in mind that it needs to contain over 200mg of Potassium in a reasonable portion. There are a lot of other high potassium foods e.g. with over 100mg potassium that aren’t listed, as that isn’t the purpose of this table.

I hope this helps some of you struggling with Potassium!

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