I will do a separate post on my process for cooking and eating, but it is basically summarized by doing meal prep/very easy meals all week, saving the time and energy for a more fun, interesting meal on the weekend. As far as health and nutrition, I am a big “balance” and “do what works for your body” person. I usually find my recipes online but recently bought Emily Stimpson Chapman’s e-cookbook, Around the Catholic Table, which is also a fundraiser for her and her husband to adopt their second baby! Beyond good, simple recipes she is a great writer and has a wonderful story about life not turning out quite how she thought it would. Another podcaster/food author I just found was Stacy Billis who co-hosts the Didn’t I Just Feed You? podcast and just came out with a new recipe book all about chicken (it is called Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner, how cute!). I am a big fan of recipes that are practical and easy because that is what I am cooking and eating 95% of the time!
It has definitely been challenging to meal plan during COVID-19. I keep buying way too much of one thing and then running out of another. For a while, there were shortages on meat and I kept getting substitutes that didn’t fit with the recipes I had planned. I have been acknowledging that this is frustrating while also being grateful that I have plenty of food in general. This time period really is about feeling all the feelings!
A few months ago, Matt decided to switch to a keto diet. This means eating very few (less than 40 or so) carbs each day. So far he loves it. He feels like he has more energy, better workouts, less sugar crashes, and can eat mostly as much as he wants while sticking to his target weight. He can explain it better than I can, but it has to do with his body switching from burning carbs to burning fats. I am still eating how I was before but for our special weekend meals I want to make something we can both eat.
I love a good cooking challenge, and it has been fun trying out different keto recipes. The best thing about a keto diet is that it involves lots of fats. Cheese, cream, and bacon are prevalent in all of the recipes! Below I will share the recipes I have made and how they turned out. Some were great successes, others I would not try again, and some might be good with some tweaks or practice on my part. Feel free to share some of your favorite recipes!
Bacon Jalapeno Poppers– OMG people, this is the best recipe! Matt even requested these for his birthday meal (in August). They are SO DELICIOUS. The cream cheese is sweet, the bacon is salty, the jalapenos are spicy, and together they are incredible. It took a bit of time to clean out the inside of the peppers and stuff them with cream cheese then wrap them with bacon, but then they just cook for 20 minutes and are done! These are perfect for a crowd pleasing appetizer but we also just ate a bunch of them and called it a meal. So good.
Instant Pot Tuscan Soup– This recipe was also such a winner. It is super easy, affordable, and delicious. I made one important change to the recipe which was using canned coconut milk rather than cream. So good! The sweet and fatty coconut, acidic tomatoes, and spicy Italian sausage all combined for a delicious flavor. There is kale in it for added nutrients and we sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top to serve.
Hawaiian Chicken Salad– This recipe was also so tasty and unique! It is chicken salad with mayonnaise and celery, but also coconut milk, nuts (I used walnuts), pineapple, and grapes. It also includes a whole tablespoon of curry powder and lime juice so it has a Polynesian taste!
Old-Fashioned Roast Beef– Okay this is not really a recipe but I have been trying to get better at cooking meat. I sometimes ignore directions in recipes because I hate having to do specific and overly complicated things, but I really can’t afford to do this while I am still getting better at cooking meat. I followed this post and actually got out the meat thermometer (we like it rare and I cooked it to an internal temperature of 125) and the roast turned out perfectly!
Avocado Eggs– Matt made these for brunch and they were so good! Simply stuff avocados with eggs, bacon, cheese, and top with sour cream. Simple and tasty!
Cream Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Chicken– This recipe is also delicious and super easy! You just stuff chicken breasts with cream cheese, chopped spinach, garlic, and Parmesan, and bake. Who could not love that?!
Smoked Salmon Sliders- So this is where I started getting experimental. I did not use a recipe but had some smoked salmon I wanted to use up I combined it with cream cheese, capers, and dill on slices of cucumber. I figured it would taste similar to bagel and lox but the problem was the cucumber was cold and slippery and didn’t keep the salmon on. They looked pretty but I wouldn’t make them again!
Keto Everything Bagels– I had high hopes for this recipe because Matt used to love bagels. It was easy enough, and just involves baking egg and cheese with everything seasoning on top. The thing was, that is exactly what it tasted like: baked egg and cheese. We did not think it tasted like bagels and I would much rather egg and cheese scrambled so it doesn’t dry out.
Keto Carrot Cake– This was my first attempt at Keto baking. I am not all that good at baking. It always feels like a lot of work and then when you finish you still have to come up with something to make for your actual meals! My cake came out lumpy because I didn’t realize you have to cut parchment paper to the shape of the pan first, whoops! The recipe used almond and coconut flour which was more dense than regular flour but tasted okay. However, it called for an artificial sweetener and I tried Stevia which we had on hand. However, I realized I don’t like the taste of Stevia and can definitely taste the difference from sugar. In the future I might try Swerve or Monk fruit as sweeteners to see if I like those better.