Sunday, January 14, 2018

Keto Slow Cooker & One-Pot Meals

Keto Slow Cooker & One-Pot Meals is the newest cookbook from author and keto-lifestyle advocate Martina Slajerova, published by Quarto - Fair Winds Press and available 21st November 2017.

The book is very well illustrated with most pages having full color photographs which support and fill out the text. The content is presented in plain and understandable language blessedly free from mumbo-jumbo. It includes a good layman accessible introduction, explaining the biological basis and uses of a ketogenic diet, the history of the diet and what to expect from a lifestyle change which includes replacing some (or most) dietary carbohydrates with fats as a source of energy.

After the introductory content is a basic chapter including slow cooking theory and how-tos along with how to choose proteins and fats and which to choose for optimal results, spices and how to flavor foods.  This chapter is full of useful information for anyone, even people who aren't particularly interested in following a low carb diet.  There are complete recipes for homemade spice mixes (the ranch one is -fantastic- and is my new go-to make ahead ranch seasoning), homemade curry paste (tikka masala, rogan josh, and korma), mayonnaise and even a short introduction to macrobiotic fermented vegetable based things like sauerkraut and kimchi.  The first chapter along with the slow cooking info and how-to's encompass roughly 14% of the total page content.

The next chapters are full of recipes which are good-tasting and made from easily sourced ingredients.  There are chapters for making homemade basics, soups, one pot meals, stews roasts & casseroles, and desserts.  I really liked that many of the recipes come with built-in alternatives which make it very easy to switch things up and add even more variation to menu planning without a lot of extra effort.

Despite being insulin resistant myself (borderline type II diabetes), I've resisted trying out a low carb diet mostly because I'm crazy for carbs.  I love potatoes rice and bread like nobody's business.  I couldn't imagine I would care for any sort of low/no carb version of those three staples.  However, I always try out several recipes for any cookbook I'm reviewing, and I thought I'd give the bread and potato alternatives a test drive. 

We tried the lemon & herb cauli-rice (p.51) which wound up fluffy and flavorful but I wouldn't say it would honestly substitute for rice in any normal situation.  Most people wouldn't take a bite and think they were eating rice.  It was tasty however and certainly could make a nice vegetable side dish.

Bread was my second 'acid test'.  We tried the sourdough keto-buns (p. 52).  My 'complaint' with keto diets previously is that the bread is unsatisfying to me.  That is not the case with these rolls.  They were crusty and flavorful and satisfied my bread craving.  Delicious.  Some of the ingredients were a little hard to source (psyllium husk powder for example; had to go to the international health food co-op in town to find it, but they also had ALL the ingredients mentioned in the recipe, so it was one-stop-shopping anyhow).

The third recipe we tried was creamy "potato" soup (p. 63).  I'm all over rich potato and bacon soup.  It's my number one comfort food, so this was a real taste test, definitely a high bar for me.  This soup substitutes rutabaga for starchy potatoes and is a vegetarian version without any meat in it, otherwise it's a traditional root vegetable type hearty soup.  I enjoyed the actual soup.  It's hearty and filling.  It's not potato soup and it doesn't taste like potato soup (or at least it didn't fulfill the 'potato soup' criteria up in my head and in my tastebuds).

Final thoughts?  These recipes really are delicious and made from (fairly) easily sourced ingredients.  They -are- keto friendly and I would feel fine serving them to non-keto guests.  There's a lot to love here.  Many of the recipes (maybe even a majority(?)) are vegetarian/vegan friendly or adaptable. Many of them come with author recommended alternatives to make several different styles and presentations by shifting a few ingredients.  All the recipes have nutritional information included in a sidebar.  The information for each recipe is printed like the quote below, in a very accessible no-nonsense and understandable format:

Total carbs: 11.3 g / Fiber: 3.4 g / Net carbs: 7.9 g / Protein: 2.3 g / Fat: 9.6 g / Energy: 135 kcal. Macronutrient ratio: Calories from carbs (25%), protein (7%), fat (68%)
I would recommend this cookbook for anyone who is curious about the benefits of a ketogenic diet and wonders if it's easily incorporated or 'do-able' for normal folks. The included recipes are tasty and convenient and made from healthy ingredients which don't rely on highly pre-processed and refined ingredients or mixes.

Available in paperback and ebook versions, 208 pages

Four stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

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