For a while, I’ve been hearing about this keto diet (short for ketogenic diet). It is supposed to be very healthy by making your own body utilize fat instead of accumulating it. I have to say I thought it was rather controversial to suggest that you eat “fat” in order to burn fat.
After some careful consideration and reading, I began to understand the principle of the ketogenic diet. I am a strong believer that sugar is the “bad guy” in the contemporary fight against obesity and modern diseases, such as diabetes. By reducing the amount of processed sugars (carbohydrates present in packed = processed foods such as breads, pasta and sugary drinks, for instance), you can drastically eliminate a lot of the ingredients that contribute to fat accumulating in your body.
On a Keto diet, your body burns fats instead of carbs.
How does the Keto diet seem to work?
When we ingest carbohydrates, our bodies produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is the simplest form of sugar that the body can use to produce the energy it requires to function. Insulin is produced to help the body break down that glucose to turn it into energy.
Basically, our bodies work as anything in nature would: by the Principle of the Least Effort. If we have a carbohydrate-rich diet, the body will store those extra carbs and fats in several parts of the body. The most dangerous is when the storage is in the arteries and in the liver. The accumulation of fat in the arteries can lead to heart diseases and, eventually, heart attack. When in the liver, it can cause several serious diseases, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Therefore, if we reduce the amount of carbohydrate-rich food we consume and, as proposed by the keto diet, ingest more “good fats”, then our bodies will go into ketosis and start burning the accumulated fat.
Ketosis is nothing to be afraid of! It’s a natural process that takes place in our bodies when carbohydrate intake is somehow reduced. The body, through ketones, automatically starts consuming the fat, that had been stored in the liver, for energy.
That is what the Keto Diet proposes.
However, it’s not any kind of fat! You must consume good or healthy fats = monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are found in coconut oil, avocado, nuts etc. For a list some great sources of healthy fats click here. And avoid processed food at all cost!
But there was one problem for me: Keto diet involves a lot of meat and dairy. And lists grains as one of the things we must avoid.
So, how was I going to follow this diet when I don’t eat meat nor dairy? Grains are also huge in vegan and vegetarian diets since they are one of our top sources of protein. I couldn’t stop or avoid eating grains, right?
I contacted a nutritionist and also did some online research, and it turns out that keto diet can also go vegan. Instead of consuming loads of meat as the normal keto diet suggests, vegetarians can use a lot of dairy and goat cheese. Vegans, on the other hand, can eat grains as they please, but should also try to obtain protein from green vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Anyway, enough chit-chat and let’s move on to the recipe!
My first attempt at cooking a Vegan Keto dish: Stuffed Red Peppers (or Capsicums).
First, cut the capsicums in half.
Remove the seeds but keep the stem.
Place the capsicum halves on a baking tray with some olive oil. Bake the capsicums for 15 to 20 minutes at 200°C.
While the capsicums are baking, you may prepare the filling:
- 1/2 onion
- 100 g of mushrooms
- 2 medium-size tomatoes
- 5 garlic cloves
- fresh parsley
Chop everything very finely.
In a cooking pot, melt some coconut oil and fry the onions (at medium to low heat). When the onions turn nearly transparent, put the tomatoes and add salt and black pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of vegan and gluten-free mushroom stock, and one pinch of Cayenne pepper.
Let the ingredients simmer and then add the mushrooms, the garlic and parsley. Add about 50 ml of water then cover the pot to cook the ingredients for 5 minutes at medium to low heat.
** You can add TVP at this stage.
Once the capsicums are baked, remove them from the oven and fill each one with the mushroom+tomato mix.
As a final touch…
You can also put some homemade vegan cheese:
- 1/2 cup of (melted) coconut oil
- 1 cup of almond flour
- 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until they become a paste.
Spread the vegan cheese mix on the stuffed capsicums then grill them for 5 to 8 minutes or until the vegan cheese looks grilled as in the picture.