Starting keto can be extremely daunting. My first go at keto was May of 2019, and even with the massive research I did before starting I still felt clueless when I started. It’s definitely one of those “learn as you go” things. But I still tried so hard to find a blog post or YouTube video or something with every keto hack I’d need- to no avail. It seemed that every bit of information was all kind of the same, told me all the basic keto foods to buy and how to track my macros and yada yada yada. It was all quite boring. And it still kind of is! There are very few people out there who have started to make keto “sexy” in a way, or at least more appealing. Because let’s be honest, what’s very appealing about a diet that cuts out the #1 lover of Americans- carbs?! At first, nothing. But if you’re like me and have had trouble losing weight for as long as you can remember, it definitely starts to get more appealing. But aside from the weight-loss, the idea of not being weighed down by food, not overeating, learning self-control with my eating habits and overall mending that unhealthy relationship with food, well that was definitely attractive for me. In a nutshell, I was on keto for a few months and lost some weight, went off the keto (to the extreme), gained some back, and went through that cycle a couple times. Last summer I lost 15 pounds and started to feel really good about myself. Somewhere along the way (thanks 2020?), I started telling myself it was okay to cheat a little here and a little there, have a glass or two of wine at night, and ultimately started another downward spiral with my weight-loss. I was complacent with where I was at in my health journey so I stayed at the same weight for months and months, cycling my keto diet a few times through. But I knew that wouldn’t last long, the complacency. This year has been all about growth for me, and my health journey is priority. As I began listening to more podcasts, reading more articles centered around health, and taking quizzes on my metabolic type (shout out to my fellow endomorphs!), I came to the realization that keto is where I’m at my healthiest.
So here I am, on keto again and mentally feeling better than ever. I feel like with all the wishy-washy-ness, my body needs to be reset and my metabolism needs to be repaired, and I need way more time than a few months to do so. I plan to sustain keto for as long as it takes to get to my healthiest weight. And even when I am no longer fully keto, I will still be healthy as I no longer have the desire to eat like garbage anymore. I feel the effects of trash eating like I never have before. My digestive system gets wrecked, I lack energy and drive, I’m all out of whack. Being on keto is the healthiest that I’ve ever felt, which is funny to me because so often it can become the “meat and cheese” diet which is so not healthy. I know that’s partially why I’ve “given it up” a couple times- I wasn’t doing it in the healthiest way. But I know better now. Even when I tried a more Whole Foods plant based diet, I didn’t feel as good as I do on keto. And I think it’s because I was eating a decent amount of carbs still. No matter how hard I tried to be mindful of my portion size and my macros I still gained weight quickly. I truly think everyone processes food differently, and according to many metabolism quizzes I’ve taken, I don’t process carbs like I should and I am more fat/protein efficient. Which makes sense why keto works so well for me! So here I am, just feeling so great to be buds with the keto diet again and excited to share my heaps of tips and tricks with you. I’m telling you, this info is GOLD if you are just starting out on keto. Or even if you’re not and you’re looking to change it up a bit. I wish I would’ve had this a while ago, would’ve saved me a lot of time and tears, ha!
I LOVE cooking, and I make sure to make a meal plan every week, usually on Sunday, so I can go into the week prepared and focused. This is absolutely necessary especially for keto. BUT... and a big but, one thing my family loves to do is eat out. Sometimes we just like to order takeout and watch a movie. Sometimes unexpected things come up and the dinner plans for the night get pushed back and we have to pick something up last minute. Sometimes we just want to go out and be served. Sometimes my kids and I are so busy during the day that I can’t make it home for leftovers or my planned lunch, and swinging through JJs or Subway is easiest. Whatever the reason, it happens. At least once a week. So I’ve pretty much become a pro on eating out while on the keto diet... and not being bitter about it! For reals. There was a time when we’d order food and I’d begrudgingly order something keto-friendly and glare at my husband enjoying his greasy burger and fries dipped into ranch with so much disdain, thinking “I wish I could enjoy food like that and not have to worry about it...” haha! It’s crazy to think I ever got past that stage, but I truly began to fall in love with eating this way and it didn’t take long. It became part of me. And once you find something that makes you feel good, it’s hard to give that up. Even for some instant gratification in the form of soft, golden French fries. So NOW, instead of being bitter, I’m excited because I truly enjoy my keto takeout meals. They’re a total treat for me. And I want to share them with you! I hope that you, too, can find the joy in eating keto.
(Anyone else annoyed with the amount of times I’ve said the word “keto” so far in this post?!)
Takeout - Keto Style
Subway salad. This is going to sound real crazy, but here goes... I get a salad with chicken, bacon (heated up), salami and pepperoni, sliced pepper Jack cheese, sliced cheddar cheese (if they don’t have cheddar I get American), lettuce and spinach, onions, green peppers, pickles, banana peppers, EXTRA jalepenos, pepper, oil & vinegar, and on the side I get either ranch or mayo, whichever I’m feeling, and I drizzle it either on every few bites or over the whole thing. It’s the Franken-salad and it’s amazeballs.
2. The underrated Jimmy John’s unwich. My favorite is the Italian Night Club with roast beef instead of ham, no tomatoes, no oregano (kinda feel like they always forget this part though), and EXTRA hot peppers. Optional: a pickle on the side. Not optional: kickin’ ranch drizzled over every bite. Fun fact: I worked at Jimmy John’s as a teenager and I still don’t know how to unwrap an unwich.
3. Qdoba burrito bowl - if you’re lucky enough to have Chipotle or Moe’a (no offense Qdoba, kinda) you can order the same thing. I like to get steak, fajita peppers (sometimes), Pico de Gallo, habanero sauce, hot sauce, cheese, sour cream, lettuce and jalepenos. And here’s one of my favorite hacks, order queso and guacamole on the side to dip Quest’s Chile Lime chips in (more about those later). Best hack ever! Oh, don’t forget to put some queso and guac in your bowl too. Duh.
4. This is pretty specific to Williston, and is hands down one of the only things I will miss as far as restaurants go... Williston Brewing Co’ Buffalo chicken salad with grilled chicken is currently my favorite salad ever. It has buffalo chicken, red onion, cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese, lettuce, blue cheese crumbles, and jalapeño ranch dressing. I like to get the blue cheese crumbles on the side because they are way too overpowering. Instead I’ll sprinkle just a tiny bit every now and then for a little kick. But OMG this salad will become your best friend. I’m legit going to miss it when I leave! If you have a good restaurant in your area that serves salads, don’t be afraid to try some out. Just make sure if there is chicken that it’s grilled, and there aren’t any hidden carbs in the dressing or ingredients. It doesn’t take much to ask the server what’s in the dressing, or to simply google the carb count in each ingredient listed under the salad. It’s good to branch out. And here’s a tip: if you go out with friends and you’re kind of over boring salads, order a chicken salad with Buffalo sauce on the side so you can turn it into a Buffalo chicken salad. And if there’s a spicy ranch option get that. You can even add things to your salad that don’t normally come on it, like avocado or bacon or jalepenos. Get creative!
5. Your favorite authentic Mexican restaurant: order three ground beef tacos with lettuce, pico de Gallo, cheese and cilantro. Green sauce, sour cream and guacamole on the side. Take everything out of the tacos and put in Mission Carb Balance tortilla like a burrito- or if you have a different keto tortilla or want to make some, that works too. Or order extra lettuce and eat as a salad. YUM.
6. Ordering takeout for the fam, or going out to dinner? Your fave restaurant burger can still be enjoyed like an actual burger on a Sola hamburger bun. It is literally 6 net carbs per bun. How amazing is that?! Do it up with your favorite burger (just no ketchup or barbecue as those have lots of sugar) and slap it on your bun. Pair it with a yummy side salad with ranch, and/or some buttered veggies. I just did this tonight and it was so delicious and satiating!
7. PIZZA. When your family wants pizza, and they will, order their favorite one and then pop YOUR favorite Quest pizza in the oven. This is nice for me because my husband loves Papa John’s thin crust and I low key hate it, so I don’t even feel tempted to steal a couple bites. I would rather have my Quest supreme pizza because it is, in fact, BOMB. I actually crave it over regular pizza most of the time. Oh, and it’s only 6 net carbs for HALF of the pizza. Yeah. It’s crazy. Don’t forget to sprinkle red pepper flakes on top and dip it in some ranch!
Grocery Shopping - Keto Style
1. SOLA. Best keto bread & buns! And they’re about to release bagels too! They’re sold in stores as well so you might find some locally, but you can order online. They require a minimum of two of each category; for example if you want a loaf of bread you have to order two, but you can do different flavors, and if you want a bag of buns you have to order two, but you can do one hamburger and one hot dog. I’m fine with this because I go through them so fast, and they stay fresh in the freezer! Oh, they also have granola which is a nice little treat when you’re craving cereal. The chocolate one with some almond milk is SO GOOD, as well as the other flavors!
2. QUEST. Best keto pizza! And chips! I love using the chili lime ones to dip in guacamole, queso, salsa, etc 😋 the other chip flavors are good for pairing with a sandwich or if you need something crunchy. I’ve also been known o dip them in Top the Tater or French Onion dip ;) Order online in bulk, but Walmart carries the pizza, chips and pretty much everything else! And OH MY GOSH, I just discovered their chocolate peanut butter cups… they literally taste JUST like Reese’s but are only 1 neg carb for TWO cups! It’s insanely delicious!
3. REAL GOOD FOODS. Everything from pizza to waffles to breakfast sandwiches to entrees to ice cream to stuffed chicken... They have tons of goodies. Also sold in stores so keep your eye out, Walmart definitely has them and so do some grocery stores, or you can order online.
4. HAPPI FOODI. By far my FAVE frozen keto meals! The Southwestern Style Chicken bowl is AMAZING. Everything else I’ve tried is really good too. Not everything they have is keto but it usually has the net carbs on the front if it is. I’m very picky with frozen foods and these are great quality without that yucky watery taste. So awesome that Walmart carries them! Online ordering is available as well.
5. GREAT LOW CARB CO. BEST keto pasta! And bagels! They have all kinds of things, like keto brownie mix, baking mix, slider rolls, cookies, so much stuff. I’ve only tried the pasta and bagels but I can’t wait to try some more. You can order on their website or Amazon!
6. REBEL. I scream, you scream, we all scream for the best freakin’ ice cream around! This isn’t just the best keto ice cream, it’s literally the best ice cream period. At least in my opinion. The butter pecan is TO DIE FOR, which is funny because I’ve never been much of an outside the box ice cream flavor person. But I’m telling you, you will fall in love with this brand. It’s so smooth and rich, but at the same time extremely light and guilt-free. The chocolate is also really good, as is the coconut almond. Did I mention that an entire pint is like 4 net carbs?! Yeah, you’re welcome. I’ve found Rebel ice cream at the grocery stores around town, but you can order online as well. I also just found out they have ice cream sandwiches too which is pretty insane.
7. MISSION. Who knew that amongst that huge section of carb-filled tortillas in the grocery store lies a LOW CARB version?! That’s right. The ever popular tortilla brand Mission sells a low carb tortilla, and they are only 4 net carbs each. These are a staple in my fridge. I LOVE to make breakfast wraps, they are so delicious and filling and versatile. My favorite is scrambled eggs with shredded cheese mixed in, either bacon or turkey sausage patties, pepper jack cheese (melted), ranch and Green Egg’s habanero hot sauce. SO YUM. Another favorite is scrambled eggs, avocado, fresh cilantro, and green habanero sauce. The options are endless! You can also use them for quesadillas, or burritos/tacos, lunch wraps, and so much more. They’re a must for sure.
8. OTHER. Breakfast, lunch and snacking don’t have to be boring. These are some of my other favorite items to keep stocked:
-good deli meat - beef pastrami, genoa salami, and sun dried tomato turkey are my favorites
-prosciutto (my new obsession) - it’s usually in the deli section but already packaged up in slices
-sliced provolone for lunch meat roll-ups
-cheese wraps for sandwich roll-ups
-Jimmy Dean Delights Egg’Wiches
-pickles, jalepenos, mayo, mustard, hot sauce
-keto-friendly veggies like asparagus, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, celery, zucchini, spinach, etc
-tomatoes, onions, fresh cilantro, minced garlic
9. ESSENTIALS. As you search for recipes and scour pinterest, you will come to find that these items below are very common ingredients used in keto recipes.
-shredded mozzarella and cheddar for ALL the things (in addition to the obvious, also used for many different keto doughs, chaffles, pizza, etc)
-almond flour (used for so many things, like keto mug bread, keto brownies and other sweet treats, keto sausage balls, keto bread and pizza dough, keto bagels, and much more)
-swerve, which is erythritol, a keto sweetener
-turkey sausage patties
-heavy cream (for coffee and lots of recipes)
-cream cheese (for keto bagels/toast, and also for many different recipes)
-preferred meat of any kind really
Hopefully this list is helpful for you in getting started, re-started, or as a nice addition to your already keto lifestyle. I have so much fun on this diet and I think my cooking really comes alive when I make keto recipes. As I mentioned before, making a meal plan for the week is essential, so if I could give you one piece of advice it would be to do just that. The BEST way is honestly to hop on pinterest. Start searching “keto recipes” and see what sticks out to you, save pins to a special keto board and go from there. You’ll start thinking of foods you like or are craving, put a search in with “keto” in front and you will be surprised to find that MOST carb-filled meals can be recreated into a delicious low-carb version. This is usually how I make my meal plans. If I don’t have any ideas for what I want to make, I’ll start searching until I see recipes that catch my eye. And if I am craving something, I’ll search for a keto version. In the notes section of my phone I’ll write down every recipe name that I want to make that week, and once I have enough listed I will go through and arrange them in order of the days that week. If I know one day will be a late or busy day, I do a crockpot meal or something super simple to whip up. Be realistic with your plan so you’re more likely to stick with it. And, as I mentioned above, sometimes things come up and dinner plans get interrupted- but that’s okay because you have the endless keto takeout options I listed for you 😉
If you want to follow a well established keto pinterest board, feel free to hop on over to mine. I swear it’s like the golden ticket of keto boards, ha. You wouldn’t believe how many things you can find on there! I just made these keto brownies the other night that were TO DIE FOR. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I could do that. So… you’re welcome.
As always, thank you for reading and hanging out! I would love to hear from you. Have you tried any of these keto takeout hacks? What’s your favorite? Do you have one you love that’s not on the list? Leave a comment below!