Here’s a quick, simple keto recipe involving ground beef and jalapeños. Yes, those jalapeños are making another appearance because I still have about a half gallon left from the gargantuan bottle I got at Costco.
Anyway, I’ve discovered the heat and vinegar infusion from the jalapeños gives the ground beef a really good flavor. So here goes one of the easiest recipes ever.
Ingredients for keto beef jalapeño skillet
1 lb ground beef ½ onion, chopped ½ cup nacho sliced jalapeños (remove seeds) 1 tsp salt ½ tsp garlic powder 8 oz grated cheddar cheese Sour cream for garnish (optional)
In a medium skillet, brown the onion and jalapeños in oil or bacon fat. Chop the jalapeños up as they are cooking (or before if you prefer).
Add the ground beef and season with salt and garlic powder.
Stir all the ingredients together and cook until the hamburger is done.
Spread the cheese on top.
Put the skillet in the oven and bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Dinner is ready! Add sour cream if desired.
This makes four servings for me and is a good recipe for meal prep or freezing for later.
I love keto jalapeño poppers but they’re kind of a pain to make. And I love chicken but sometimes it gets a little boring. So I decided to put the two together in a casserole using shortcuts that eliminate the hassle.
All the ingredients combine together beautifully and yet the individual flavors don’t get lost. You can still taste the jalapeños, the cheese, the bacon and the chicken. And it’s so rich and filling, a modest serving will keep you satisfied for hours.
Shopping for ingredients
I decided the biggest shortcut would be to use a rotisserie chicken so off to Costco I went. (Leftover turkey would also work well in this recipe.)
After picking up the chicken, I went over to the produce section for the jalapeños. How can this be—no jalapeños! Rather than go to another store, I decided to get the next best thing which was the biggest jar of sliced jalapeños I’ve ever seen. This turned out to be shortcut #2.
I almost succumbed to shortcut #3 by buying a bag of crumbled bacon at Costco, but I decided to cook my own.
Chicken jalapeño popper casserole recipe
18 oz cooked chicken, cubed 12 oz bacon, cooked and chopped 6 large jalapeños, roasted and chopped, or 1 cup sauteed nacho sliced jalapeños, chopped (Save a few jalapeño rings for the topping) 1 cup grated cheddar cheese + extra for topping 8 oz cream cheese, softened ½ cup sour cream ½ cup chicken stock or water 2 tsp chili powder 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp paprika Salt and pepper to taste
8×8 inch baking dish, greased Combine ingredients as follows and bake at 375 degrees 30 to 40 minutes Serves 6
Assembling the casserole
If using fresh jalapeños, cut in half, remove seeds, add a little oil. Roast on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.
If using jarred jalapeños, rinse and dry them, then saute in butter until soft. Save a few rings for the topping and chop up the rest.
In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream and spices.
Then stir in the cheese.
Mix in the chicken broth or water to thin it out a little.
Mixture should be quite loose.
Add cubed chicken, chopped bacon (reserving some for topping) and all the chopped jalapeños.
Pour mixture into greased baking dish and top with a little extra cheese.
Sprinkle on reserved jalapeño slices and reserved bacon.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly.
Faster than you can say “DiGiorno” you can make yourself a low carb pizza. Okay not that fast, but faster than you can heat up the oven for that frozen pizza. My skillet pizza only takes ten minutes from start to finish. That means I can satisfy my pizza craving any time I want. And because it’s low carb and high protein, it fits into my keto diet.
This pizza uses a low carb tortilla for the crust which is only 6 net carbs. I like using Mission Carb Balance low carb tortillas.
The next most carby ingredient is the sauce.
Sometimes I make my own from tomato paste which is really low carb. But most of the time I use the lowest carb sauce I can find (that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg). Surprisingly, Great Value marinara sauce has 6 net carbs per ½ cup serving. I only use 2T for the pizza so that comes in at 1.5 net carbs.
The next macro I like to focus on is protein. Altogether with the toppings I’ve chosen, this pizza has around 30 grams of protein, the minimum for muscle protein synthesis. You can read more about that here.
What you need to make low carb skillet pizza
10 inch skillet with lid 1 pat of butter 2T marinara sauce 1 oz grated mozzarella 1 oz grated cheddar ½ oz grated asiago 16 slices of pepperoni (1 serving of Great Value pepperoni) Olives (optional)
Watch my video to see how I make low carb skillet pizza
How to make a keto skillet pizza in 10 minutes
Heat up the skillet over medium heat.
Add the butter and put the tortilla on top.
Spread the sauce over the tortilla.
Cover with all the cheese.
Top with pepperoni and olives.
Cover the skillet and turn the heat down to low.
Set the timer for 8 minutes.
And presto! Your crispy thin crust pizza is ready to eat!
I hope that got your attention! Yes, I believe eating a little of my homemade sauerkraut every day helps keep my tummy flat. I will explain why and show you how I make my own sauerkraut.
Food fermentation has a long history
Humans have been fermenting food since an estimated 10,000 BC. The reasons for this were to preserve food and enhance the nutritional benefits.
Just about every culture has traditionally used fermented foods in their diet, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, natto, cod liver oil, high meat and, of course, sauerkraut.
Americans do not typically eat fermented food. In fact, most of us tend to treat our stomach like a garbage can and just eat anything without regard to the effect it will have on our bodies.
I want to have a long and healthy life (and fit into my size 4 jeans) so I decided to make fermented food part of my diet. And of that list, sauerkraut appeals to me the most.
The nutritional benefits of sauerkraut
Something magical happens when you mix cabbage, salt and water together in an anaerobic environment. It produces lovely probiotics, enzymes and vitamin K2, to name a few. All these things are good for gut health and your overall health because if your digestion is messed up, you won’t be healthy.
When your digestion works properly, you won’t have gas, bloating, heartburn, etc.
And you get all this good stuff for just pennies a day compared to buying nutritional supplements.
Making sauerkraut vs buying it
You don’t have to make your own sauerkraut but you’ll save a lot of money doing it and you can customize it to your taste.
If you’d rather buy sauerkraut, make sure to get it from the refrigerated section. Any sauerkraut that is shelf stable has been pasteurized which kills all the probiotics.
I could make vats of sauerkraut for what one jar from the store would cost. And here’s how I make it.
How to make sauerkraut
You will need a 64 oz mason jar with optional plastic lid, glass weights* (optional but highly recommended), large knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl, water, sea salt and cabbage (slightly over 4 lb).
*You need some kind of weight, not necessarily these, but these are perfect!
This basic recipe makes about a half gallon of sauerkraut.
Cut cabbage into thin strips. Save one leaf (cut into a circle) to fit inside the jar as floater control.
Discard the core.
Put cabbage into mixing bowl with about 1T of salt. Knead and massage cabbage with your hands for a total of 10 minutes.
After five minutes you can add extra spices or veggie slices if desired.
Transfer cabbage into mason jar and use your fist to press out all the air. Pour in the liquid from the cabbage.
Add the floater control circle and put at least one glass weight on top. You may need to add extra brine to completely cover the cabbage and weight.
The recipe for brine is 1T sea salt to 4 cups of water (I use filtered water). Save extra brine in the refrigerator.
Leave 1 to 1½ inches of space from the top of the jar. The liquid is going to rise during fermentation.
Lay the lid on top but don’t screw it on. This is just to keep bugs out.
Put the mason jar on a plate. Cover the jar with a clean cloth and set aside out of direct sunlight for 7 to 14 days. (Longer in cooler temperatures.)
Check sauerkraut every day to make sure there’s still enough liquid. Sometimes after the liquid rises it will begin to evaporate and you need to add more brine.
When the sauerkraut is ready, remove the glass weight and cabbage circle. Now you can screw on the lid and place the jar in the refrigerator. This will keep up to a year.
Watch my video on how to make sauerkraut
So there you have it! I eat about ¼ cup each day. Being a low carb food, it fits well into my keto diet.
I hope you’ll enjoy your sauerkraut and good tummy health!
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Not only did I lose a bit more weight, I learned some important keto diet tweaks that I’m revealing in this article. You will also see before and after photos from the first and second year. And I am posting pics of a full day of keto eating.
Keto weight loss results
Okay I’m going to start with the good stuff because most people are looking to lose weight.
In May of 2017 I started IF without dieting and lost no weight. In June of 2017 I started the keto diet (with IF) and that’s when things began to happen.
My starting weight was 150 and by June of 2018 it was 130. (I’m 5′4½᳓.) So I lost 20 lbs in one year.
I went from a size 12 to a size 6.
During the second year I was mostly in maintenance but then decided to lose a few more pounds. So I lost five more pounds and went from a size 6 to a size 4!
I’m happy with these results and I’ve gone back to maintenance.
Electrolytes are important
Sodium, potassium and magnesium are even more important on a keto diet because they are easily flushed out of our bodies.
I had been getting muscle spasms in my toes/foot once in a while at night. Eventually I realized it was only happening after dancing on Saturday night. I tend not to drink very much water when I’m out and after several hours of dancing I became dehydrated. And that caused me to lose more electrolytes which then caused the spasms.
So I got this electrolyte supplement that I only take Saturday night before I go to bed. Problem solved! I haven’t had any more spasms since then.
And I got some NoSalt as a potassium supplement. I use it along with sea salt when salting my food. (I get enough magnesium from vitamins.)
I also learned that the keto flu I experienced when I started keto could have been eliminated by having more sodium. Now if I start to feel a bit sluggish I reach for the salt shaker and consume about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Other people make something called solé water with pink himalayan salt, but I’d rather just put the salt in my mouth.
Experimenting with keto macros
The difference between keto and a low carb diet is the amount of carbs you can eat. To be keto, carbs are limited to 20 grams a day. Then you can play with your protein and fat macros to achieve the results you want.
Much of the time my carbs are around 10 grams per day.
Keto is touted as a high fat diet. But you don’t need to consume excessive amounts of fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Fat is a limit not a goal. It’s more important to get the protein in first and top it off with fat. You should have at least 50 grams of fat if you’re losing weight and more if you’re trying to maintain.
During my second year of keto I ate fewer and fewer vegetables, and sometimes none at all. The reason for this is I had noticed some “adverse effects” from certain vegetables. However, I do try to eat a small amount of homemade sauerkraut for the probiotic benefits.
I also tried upping my fat intake, sometimes as much as 84 percent. And I have to say I felt really good with that much fat.
But was I getting enough protein?
Protein, the underrated macro
I practice lazy keto which means I don’t track my macros every day. Once in a while I do it just to see where I’m at. (However, I do always keep a mental note of how many carbs I eat.)
Because of the IF, I was only eating two meals a day. I felt really satisfied but didn’t think the 50 grams of protein per day, suggested by conventional wisdom and online macro calculators, was enough. Almost everybody says not to worry about it but I still did.
I didn’t want to look like so many older people I’ve seen with droopy, flaccid skin that hangs off of their bones. Every time I see that I think to myself, that person isn’t getting enough protein.
After a lot of digging I found this amazing YouTube channel, Keto Chaos, who’s done extensive research and explains the protein situation very well.
And I learned a new word: sarcopenia, the loss of muscle tissue in older adults. Aha! That explains the flaccid skin!
The secret to getting enough protein
Basically, the older we get, the harder it is for our bodies to utilize protein. That means we need to eat more of it.
But there’s a trick to it. You have to eat 30 grams at a time for protein synthesis to occur. And it takes three to four hours to complete the process before eating again.
There is some debate as to whether eating more than 30 grams in one sitting will do you any good.
I’ve been experimenting with three 30 gram protein meals a day during my eight hour eating window.
It was hard going from 50 to 90 grams. To make it a little easier, one of my meals often consists of whey protein. It’s pretty tasty in my iced coffee.
I’m working my way up to consuming more protein. I think 100 to 120 grams would be preferable.
To make things easier, I got this sleek little food scale to measure my protein.
What I eat in a day
Here are some pics of one full day of keto meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Keto cheat days
As I did in year one, I have one cheat day a week. I feel like it makes the diet more sustainable and has given me metabolic flexibility. That means my body can run on glucose that day and the next day it switches back to burning ketones.
I know this because of how I feel the next day. Some people feel crappy but I usually feel normal, like I can delay my eating if I want to.
Will I stay on keto?
This way of eating has been so effective and almost effortless for maintaining my weight so I intend to keep going.
I also intend to keep experimenting with macros and cycling between keto and low carb. Limiting carbs will always be necessary for me.