Book Review: The Ketogenic Cookbook
Since going ketogenic, I’ve struggled with getting more healthy fat into my diet. Yes, I love butter. But I’d like to think I’m a little more creative in the kitchen than just adding a tablespoon of butter on top of my steak. That’s why The Ketogenic Cookbook is a godsend!
The recipes are high in fat, easily allowing me to hit my daily goal of consuming 75-80% of my calories in healthy fat. The recipes look amazingly delicious. And like my Julia Child’s cookbook, it inspires me to get into the kitchen and play with ingredients.
I’m working my way through the book, busily making lots of sauces and dressings in the book’s “Condiments, Dressings, Broth and Other Basics” section. The tomato sauce and yellow marinara sauce recipe were more than worth the price. This week I’m testing out the “compound butter” recipe using beef tallow and duck fat!
First up, it does a great job introducing the uninitiated to the ketogenic diet. Too often, dietary cookbooks tell you what to eat and promise tons of lost pounds, but don’t do a very good job explaining the “whys.” My guess is most people just want to know the bare-bones basics. For me, I was never successful with weight loss until I understood the “whys.” Understanding the basic science behind Why We Get Fat (yep, another plug for that awesome book) made it easy for me to transition to my low carb lifestyle.
The Ketogenic Cookbook is a great primer for those, like me, who’ve gone low carb and are trying to get into ketosis (fat-burning mode). It explains the details of the diet like what you can eat, what to avoid, its history, the science behind the diet, and the health benefits of ketosis. All without the reader getting bogged down.
Plus, the authors — low carb podcaster Jimmy Moore and nutritionist Maria Emmerich — do a nice write-up on how they discovered the ketogenic diet. From their stories, you know this isn’t a cookbook to capitalize off of a new fad. Their experiences eating this way is what made them true believers.
No Longer Dreading ‘Special Ingredients’
One of the things I hate about trying new recipes is buying one special ingredient that I’ll never use again. Ugh! My pantry is loaded with spices, seasonings, and oils that I don’t know what to do with. What a waste. Thankfully, the book’s Specialty Ingredients section does a nice job explaining these unique ingredients, the health benefits, why they are used, and how to find and use them.
Take, for example, coconut vinegar. I’ve seen it in the health food section of my grocery store, but didn’t know enough about it to give it a try. Plus, it is a bit costly. But with this cookbook, I’ve learned it’s much healthier than other vinegars, and doesn’t have that coconut flavor I expected. Now I alternate between coconut vinegar and my favorite apple cider vinegar when making dressings or marinades. No more one-time-use ingredients for me!
But How’s The Food?
So far, I’ve tried about 10 recipes, including the short ribs, mortadella ravioli (OMG!!!), Reubens, and chimichurri flank steak (big fat tasty WOW). All were easy to make, tasted great, and gave me great ideas to tinker with some of my own favorite recipes.
Many of the recipes in the “Condiments, Dressings, Broth and Other Basics” I plan to make on weekly basis, as the dressings and sauces serve as a nice foundation for the meals in this cookbook and for my own dishes.
The big bonus is that the foods not only taste great, but they are filling. I’m finding my meal size is shrinking naturally. Also, its much easier to do intermittent fasting using these recipes. I stay fuller longer.
For the last few weeks I’ve been on the road a lot, and this has made it difficult to stay in ketosis. The recipes in this book made me eager to get off the road and back into my own kitchen making real, healthy foods.
One Small Issue
If there is one criticism of the book, it’s the use of sweeteners. Yes, sweeteners are needed in some recipes. But I’ve found that the foods tasted better without any added sweeteners. The tomato sauce recipe is the best example of that.
The recipe called for an “optional” ¼ teaspoon of stevia glycerite. I decided to try it and found that the sweetness overwhelmed the sauce. Gone was that natural (real) taste of the tomatoes. The next time I made the recipe, I didn’t add the stevia, and it was perfect.
I’ve noticed other recipes call for added sweeteners. And though that makes me cringe a little, in truth it’s not really a fault of the book. Our society wants everything to be sweetened, and the authors responded to that demand. What they failed to see was the changing tastes of people well down the low carb path. When I went low carb, my sugar consumption dropped dramatically. As a result, I’ve noticed a big shift in my taste buds. I really have come to despise anything that tastes too sweet. I’ve always leaned towards salty flavors, but I used to love sweet desserts. Not anymore.
Maybe it’s the stevia. When I bake low carb pastries, I use Swerve instead and don’t have the overly sweet taste. Maybe I can do some experimenting. For now, though, I plan to keep sweeteners as “optional” as possible.
Despite my very small quibble over the sweeteners, The Ketogenic Cookbook is a fantastic addition to my growing low carb library, second only to Mastering The Art of French Cooking. It’s creative without breaking my grocery budget, and it gives me lots of ideas for reinventing my favorite dishes.