Pancakes: made ketogenic-friendly

Do you need a pancake recipe that’s ketogenic-friendly? Lazy weekend mornings call for a bigger breakfast. And breakfast-for-dinner is a common thing at our house. Plus Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday) is coming up. Whatever your need for pancakes I’ve got you covered with this gluten-free recipe.

This particular recipe uses a mixture of almond flour and coconut flour. Unlike some keto pancakes there’s no cream cheese or anything to make these too rich. Nor do these taste too eggy.

It comes together and cook like regular pancakes. I will caution they can be more delicate (less sturdy) than ones made with white wheat flour. But they have always turned out well for me as long as I’m careful when flipping them in the pan. I also use a seasoned cast iron skillet or other non-stick pan which helps.

Essentially you just mix the ingredients together and fry them up like regular pancakes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond flour

2 Tbs coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 TBS sweetener (I used Truvia)

1/4 cup milk (of choice)

3 eggs

You can also add a dash of cinnamon or vanilla to the batter, or add berries, dark chocolate, shredded coconut, or nuts.

This recipe makes about 10 pancakes. That will change depending on how big you make them. I find smaller ones turn out better for this recipe.

Im usually frying pancakes while cooking other food and fending off hungry kids. So, unfortunately, my pancakes usually don’t end up looking uniform or pretty. But I assure you they taste good.

Top these with butter, a keto-friendly jam or syrup, blueberries, or a fried runny egg.

Banana bread: Does it keto?

This banana bread went fast in our house this past weekend. Bananas are sweet and have up to 25g of carbs per medium/average banana. So they’re not on most keto-ers’ grocery shopping lists. If I had one whole banana that would be almost my entire daily carb allotment if following a stricter keto regime. Bananas are still a favorite for my kids though so we have them in the house often. And we happened to have three turning brown, being neglected on our counter. That used to be my cue to whip up some banana bread or muffins but I haven’t made banana bread in a long time – probably as long as I’ve been ‘keto’ which is fourteen months.

I got to thinking…can I make a low carb banana bread? I searched the internet and found a few ‘keto’ banana bread recipes. There were different versions so I wasn’t seeing anything consistent to give me confidence this would work. And I also didn’t want to go shopping first so I had to work with the ingredients I had on hand. I landed on this one from Keto Size Me and decided to try it out. I saw the recipe didn’t contain any sweetener or sugar which appealed to me. Now, I’m not against sweetener though I know from reading comment sections on other sites that many out there promote zero-sweetener or artificial ingredients. I am picky about the type I use and take note which kinds are in pre-packaged products, and where they are in the ingredient list (ie. how much in in there). And I don’t think I’ve baked anything sweet in the past year or so without sweetener. But that’s where the bananas come in.

I read some of the comments on that recipe’s post and saw people who thought bananas are a no-no while keto, and some were disappointed in the higher amount of carbs in this recipe. While bananas and other higher-sugar fruit are often out of the picture while eating keto you can incorporate them depending on the situation. For example, once slice of this bread will not equal an entire banana’s worth of carbs. I think it’s a great recipe (though I altered it slightly – see below) and it turned out wonderfully for me. Best of all, my kids loved it and I felt good they weren’t getting traditional, sugar-filled banana bread which can have up to 50g of carbs and hardly any fibre per slice due to pure sugar and wheat flour.

Is this ‘keto’? I say yes because lots of non-traditional ‘keto’ foods can fit into a ketogenic lifestyle as long as they fit within your macros. The sugar is more than I’d like but still fantastically low compared to most other breads or desserts.

This recipe calls for 3 bananas and I found it made 10 good-size slices. I’ll post my nutrition findings with the ingredients/brands I used calculated from SparkPeople here:

That’s a nice amount of fat per slice (19g), just over 5g sugar, 8g protein, and about
10g net carbs (total carbs minus fiber). These findings will differ depending on
types/brands of ingredients and the bananas themselves.

I consider this a huge ‘win’ for a banana bread recipe make-over to make it healthier.  

Ingredients:
3 bananas (medium, mushed/mashed)
3 eggs (large, slightly beaten)
1/4 cup olive oil (I actually used coconut oil which was melted – this was my only edit)

And this recipe is so easy! Mix wet ingredients together (incl. liquefied oil and mushed banana), add the dry ingredients, and combine. Pour into a loaf pan and bake 50-60mins on 350F. I used a silicone loaf pan which worked really well.

Sliced like a dream.
It was soooo good still warm with a bit of butter dabbed on top.

Product review: FlatOut flatbread

This pizza is on a “crust” made out of a pre-packaged flatbread. I didn’t want to put together any fat head dough. After a long work week I just didn’t want more work and really craved pizza!

I added some tomato paste, Italian meats, green olives, and cheese.

This is the base. FlatOut protein up carb down flatbread. The one I found was salt and pepper flavored but honestly I couldn’t taste much seasoning. It crisped up nicely and held the toppings.

Each whole flatbread contains just 1g sugar, and 9-10 net carbs (depending if you count sugar alcohols). Now, the sugar alcohol in the ingredient list is maltitol which many consider a no-no. Personally I haven’t experienced trouble with it in small quantities. In this product it’s about half-way down the ingredient list.

So it’s a personal choice but I like these flatbreads or wraps for their conscience and ease-of-use. There is also s decent amount of iron in these. Good for when you want a quick wrap, quesadilla, or pizza like I did tonight.

Weight update

It’s rewarding to check in and acknowledge accomplishments. Losing weight has been a great side affect of getting healthier by following a ketogenic lifestyle. I’ve been living this way for just over a year. And I’ve lost 40lbs.

But my insecurities and deep-rooted body issues often prevent me from seeing this as a ‘win’. I think, others have lost more in a shorter period of time. Or, I’m stalled so maybe this is where I’ll stay. My lifestyle is not about the weight but that is a huge part of our identities, isn’t it? Being overweight shaped my reality for as long as I can remember. And now I’m technically not overweight anymore. I had to buy new clothes. I got rid of all my underwear for new ones. Heck, I even had to get new glasses because my regular ones were falling off my face. I’ve not just lost weight; my body shape changed and is changing. In my head on most days though I’m still overweight.

Then this happened: my 4yo daughter jokingly stepped on my scale and asked what’s her number. Now I’m careful about scale talk, weight watching, or body comments around my kids. I know the seeds of unhealthy eating and self-imagine are often planted early. My daughter was Ted to know though and she has no concept of those numbers yet.

I looked down and said 42. She is 42lbs. I can barely lift her up for hugs anymore. She’s growing like a weed! Then it hit me…she weighs approximately as much as the amount of weight I lost. I was carrying around that weight. The equivalent to a four year old kid.

I think of that moment when I’m not feeling confident or am discouraged. I know keto has many other benefits but the weight loss is a big one. And I need to recognize that and celebrate it.

Keto diet different ways

Not all keto is created equally though every approach shares a common goal: to promote ketosis. There are a few different ways one can “do keto” or live a ketogenic lifestyle. Some people keep steady to just one type consistently. And some individuals move around to follow two or more of these lifestyles form time to time.

The main types of keto are:

The standard ketogenic diet
This is the most common, classic ketogetic diet and what you should start with if a beginner. The basic recipe for a keto is your daily diet is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. With this diet, carbs are limited to 20-30 net grams per day.

Targeted ketogenic diet
This type is similar in form to the standard ketogenic diet but involves targeting your carbohydrate consumption in timing with workouts. Some do fasted workouts prior to any carbohydrate consumption. Others time carb eating right before exercise. This type is best for those who are ‘fat-adapted’ or been following a standard keto diet for some time. That way the body is already used to using fat for fuel and can run on ketones.

High protein ketogenic diet
This type of diet increases protein consumption from the standard ketogenic diet ratios. That looks like your daily calories coming from 65% fat, 30% protein, 5% carbs. Typically, those who engage in higher protein diets are doing so to build muscle mass.

Cyclical ketogenic diet
Or keto cycling. This type means cycling in and out of ketosis with some days being lower carb, and other days involving ‘carb-ups’ or higher carb allowances. Most who practice cyclical keto on purpose plan a schedule such as five days keto and two days of higher carb intake. Many (myself included) follow a cyclical ketogenic diet without such purpose because staying strict keto can be difficult unless you plan and measure constantly. Personally, I know I come in and out of ketosis a few times a week but don’t ‘binge’ on high carb foods. So my cycling is more dipping below the standard ketogenic diet ratios every now and then. If I go too far outside the standard ratios, and over-indulge in carbs, I experience inflammation (usually skin, but sometimes in my joints) so try to be as on-the-ball as I can, But the cyclical approach does allow more flexibility and it’s good for those of us (ahm, like me) who deal with disordered eating so can get carried away with measuring, guilt, etc.

Lazy keto
This type of keto follows the standard ketogenic diet but individuals don’t count ratios or amounts that much. Instead, the approach is more about focusing on high-fat, low carb foods in general. Additionally, ‘lazy keto’ or ‘dirty keto‘ can refer to those who eat out a lot and don’t make homemade or fresh foods priorities. It is possible to remain ‘keto’ and eat fast food every day! It is healthy? No, but you can technically remain in ketosis depending on your choices from that drive-thru menu!

Different approaches
Each type of ketogenic lifestyle can be approached in different ways. There’s If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) which means you can eat whatever as long as sticking with your fat, protein, and carb (ie. macro nutrient) goals/ratios. This is definitely a more relaxed approach but can run you into trouble with nutrient deficiencies. There’s the Purist approach which is more methodical and involves staying away from keto ‘junk foods’ in pursuit of whole, nutritious foods. This way can get complicated and pricey. There is also Protein-Sparing which isn’t recommended for many (or for long). It involves keeping your ratios for protein and carbs steady but dropping your fat amount drastically. This can help you break out of a weight-loss stall but can cause your body to burn muscle for fuel instead of fat.

You can also add intermittent fasting to any of these for more variety and added benefits. IF is where you eat only during a specific period of time, your ‘eating window’. The other time you’re not eating or fasting. Most fast overnight while sleeping and into the morning. A typical IF plan is 16hrs fasting and an 8hr eating window. That can look like fasting before bed, starting 8pm and not eating again until lunchtime, say noon or 1pm.

Does all this sound interesting (it does to me!) or too complicated? If the latter, don’t fret because living a ketogenic lifestyle can be approached simply and maintained easily. Unless you want to, just stick to the basics of the standard ketogenic ratios. Once fat-adapted or burning fat for fuel then you can explore different options to meet your needs or goals. Or just keep on keto-ing on!

The toughest time

TW; This post focuses on mental illness. It is personal but I’ve wanted to write it forever.

My brain makes me feel sad, apathetic, and numb when there is no external cause for those feelings. Then, at other times, I’m jubilant and racing with energy. Often been called moody and those difficult-to-control moods negatively affect my life.

It’s something I can’t quite explain though I’ve tried many times. I’ve tried to explain the way my brain works to myself, to friends and family, to doctors, to counselors, and it feels like I’ve never been able to get it right. The closest I’ve come to explaining myself is when I say I have depression and anxiety. But even then I’m not sure that captures it. My symptoms don’t present as typical depression symptoms like crying or feeling worthless. I’ve been tested for mood disorders but came up clean. Maybe cyclothymic disorder or maybe I’m just melodramatic and whiney (at least that’s what the unwanted negative voice in my head sometimes says).

So far I haven’t taken this laying down even though I’ve had plenty of days when I don’t want to get out of bed. This sickness is something that’s part of me and I try to deal with it head on. And I’m learning to have more patience wit myself and others.

The message to reach out for help has come across loud and clear. End the stigma and everyone has mental health, and all that. But there hasn’t been much education or discussion about what the receivers or listeners can do to help. I’ve reached out countless times only to be told everyone has ups and downs, that lots are fighting battles behind closed doors, it’s normal to feel anxious, etc. Conflicting messages around mental health are confusing at the best of times. When I’m in a dark place they’re too much to handle. All I can think is if everyone feels like I do then the world is seriously screwed up. We shouldn’t be indignant or competitive. Shouldn’t we be searching for answers to why we’re all fighting with our own minds?

There are theories about modern society and stress affecting mental health. There’s also a growing concern that sugar negatively impacts our brains. I believe that!

My reality is that I look like a ‘normal’ well-functioning adult. I have a full-time office job, I’m a mother and a partner, I have interests, and I feel OK half the time. But the rest of the time knocks me down and leaves me feeling helpless and weak. My mind relapses to unwanted negativity and feeling inadequate. I grab supports like my CBT training, family, movement, and slowly try to haul myself out of the hole. Even when I’m feeling good, I know there’s a part of me that’s uneasy with expectation that I’ll trip or fall down again. It truly feels like I’m taking one step forward and two back with everything.

It’s a recognition that that there are a million ideas running around my head but I feel paralyzed to act on them. Or I’m discouraged by the false starts and lack of confidence. I swing from wanting to take over the world to hardly having the confidence to function. I have missed opportunities because my brain tells me I’m not good enough. I’ve not applied for jobs (even ones I’ve been sought out for), cancelled interviews, and given up on endless good ideas. My depression and anxiety rob me of confidence and energy, and trying to help myself with all sorts of interventions is so tiring. My mental health is my main hobby.

This is a post about how a difficult time in your life can be called the toughest time – not because of how hard it is but because of how tough you are. Or how tough you have to be. This may seem idealist or trite but I’m going to put it out there anyway because I think it’s true: we are all more capable and have more endurance than we think. Find the strength to change the narrative in your head and spin your situation into a positive light. It’s easier said than done but so worth it. And each time your flip your perspective is practice for the next time. So each time gets a tiny bit easier, faster, you retain that muscle memory, and that’s how habits are formed.

It all starts with recognition of a negative thought process or bad feeling. Identifying it is the key to turning it around. I have found mindfulness meditation and CBT beneficial but, like most good things, they took time to develop and grow to something intuitive and useful for me. I’m still learning and adjusting.

Following a ketogenic lifestyle has also helped tremendously. There are clear links between keto, fasting, and improved cognitive function. I also struggle with disordered eating so keto has been a powerful tool to help with that, too.

After the struggle and work, it’s far too easy for me to get complacent when things are okay, or give up when they’re bad. Rerouting thought pathways can work wonders but it’s a constant battle. I know when I let my guard down during a good streak, or find myself suffering in a dark time, I need to put in the work. You too may need to work harder or differently to not fall into that hole, or to pull yourself out. It’s in the dark times that I need to stay the course with my ketogenic lifestyle, self care, and health practices. When it feels easy to give up is exactly when I (and you) need to keep going.

If you’re struggling, I encourage you to check out a group that’s helped me: Sick Not Weak or find your own support to get through the toughest times.