By this point you’ve probably been hearing that buzzword around your neighborhood, family, social media or workplace – “keto”. The word is simply short for the ketogenic diet, growing incredibly in the last few years for its powerful ability to help one increase their brain clarity, increase their energy and all the while, decrease their body fat (read more about it here). Many are drawn to its high-fat low-carb ways that allow bacon and eggs to be a part of their regular intake. However, that makes it a challenging diet to adhere to when you’re part of a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. Good news is, it’s a misconception that this is a meat-based diet. The keto diet, while focused on taking in a low amount of carbs and high amount of fats, it’s also dependent on a steady flow of good proteins, as well. Vegans have been thriving for decades with protein alternatives to meat, and fat alternatives to dairy, therefore, the keto diet is no exception. Regardless, many feel lost when trying to even wrap their heads around doing a vegan keto diet, so we are taking a look today at some key foods that are both vegan, and keto diet approved!
There’s no denying the popularity of the avocado. It’s mild texture and taste is often referred to as “nature’s butter”. Why’s that exactly? Well, it’s one of the best forms of a healthy fat, while also packing fiber and even a bit of protein in each serving.
Avocados can be the base of so many simple recipes from pasta sauces, guacamoles, salad dressing and even desserts. They’re incredibly filling as well, and are the perfect snack simply eaten with a spoon sprinkled with some salt & pepper. If you’re looking to be successful on the vegan ketogenic diet, make avocados your new BFF.
I’m not sure why this is, but when I first starting enjoying ground flax seed, I assumed it was high in carbs since it has such a similar texture to so many grain-filled flours I’d baked with in the past. Reading the label, it was quite the surprise to see that flax seed is not only very low in net carbs but also high in those healthy fats.
When using flax seed in your vegan diet, you can use them for anything from a breading on roasted vegetables, to making even a sweetened or savory porridge. It’s an incredible binding agent that is often used as a substitute in vegan baking for eggs, which makes it a prime candidate for everything from a low-carb pizza crust to some homemade crackers (maybe to enjoy with some avocado slices?). Try making our quick & easy Flax Seed Porridge with the recipe here.
When it comes to nuts, pecans may be your very best option (but one of many) while on a ketogenic diet. Good news is, pecans are vegan. Shocking, I know.
While pecans do have carbs in them, they have a lot of fiber too, making the “net carbs” (the kind you’re counting) very low. Pecans are naturally an amazing snack all on their own, but they are also a wonderful addition to some vegan keto friendly barks such as our Low-Carb Keto Dessert Bark.
The first time I tried these, I failed miserably at preparing them causing me to choke down my entire dinner, cursing the day I ever thought low-carb could include a spaghetti dinner. Common in Japanese culture, these konjac mushroom based noodles are rising in popularity for their near-zero calorie and carb counts.
But, with tips from the internet, I learned that these noodles are best prepared by draining, rinsing, and then sauteeing until much of the liquid is cooked away from these spaghetti-like noodles. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got yourself a really great base for a vegan keto dinner. Now, with spaghetti comes sauce, and sauces are often laden with carbs from all their hidden sugars. Try making a tomato based sauce from scratch, or opting for a bruschetta mixture instead.
Yes, full fat. Like mentioned before, the keto diet needs fat! 75% of your diet should be healthy fats, and coconut milk is a great way to get that.
Use as a base for a vegetable tofu curry, a creamy broccoli soup, or perhaps even some savory creamed spinach. Buy many cans of this, because once you start playing with it as a creamy base for your recipes, you’ll be hooked on using it every single day.
Shocked to see fruit on this list? Let me explain. While fruit is a typical no-no on a keto diet, there are a few minor exceptions. One of those is raspberries.
When enjoyed in smaller portions, there’s such a low amount of net carbs that it can be a safe way to satisfy your sweet tooth, without kicking yourself out of your body’s state of ketosis. Enjoying a few here and there throughout your day is not as harmful as one would lead you to believe. In fact, with the amazing antioxidants and nutritional benefits of raspberries, I’d encourage it!
This all comes down to brands and labels, so it’s time to pay attention to them! There are several vegan protein powders on the market, and many of them are completely ketogenic compliant.
While protein powders may lack in healthy fats, they are a good strong boost in protein for your sustainability throughout the day. Be careful what dairy-free milk you mix it with though, as many are full of carbs from the addition of sugars. Opt for a natural sugar-free milk such as almond milk for a low-carb option.
Once again, I encourage you to read those labels! The good news is though, that most hot sauces are carb-free! Popular selections such as buffalo sauce are great choices.
Hot sauces can be a great addition to your diet, whether you drizzle it onto avocados, mix it into your veggies for a powerful kick, or perhaps using it in soups and salads for an added element of flavor. However you go about it, enjoy the spice in your life with hot sauce!
Cauliflower has been a gosh darned hero in recent years as a key substitute for carb-laden foods such as potatoes. It’s mild taste & texture makes it a valuable addition to your vegan keto diet.
One of the most popular cauliflower methods of enjoying is cauliflower rice. Simply grate the cauliflower and steam or saute until fully cooked and use it as a substitute for rice in a variety of dishes, working especially well in Mexican and Indian dishes, where rice is often the main side dish. Whether you enjoy it raw, roasted, steamed or mashed, cauliflower is a fantastic low-carb ingredient that will likely be making your grocery list every single week. See more great cauliflower recipe ideas here.
Tofu has gotten a bad rap in past years, but as the rise in veganism continues, so does the ways we prepare and delight with tofu. It’s an incredibly easy ingredient to work with, as it mashes, scrambles, dices, fries, roasts, and sears just like it’s animal byproduct alternatives. All tofu is, simply, is soybean curd!
Tofu is a low-calorie meat-alternative protein source, that still packs some fats and is very low in carbs. Try it in your favorite full-fat coconut curries, roasted alongside some great low-carb vegetables, and marinaded and seared for a crispy addition to a salad.
Did you know that a serving of broccoli contains a comparable amount of protein to one serving of beef? Such a fun fact for those constantly seeking healthy protein sources within their vegan diet.
Broccoli, while a low-carb food is also low in fat, which on the ketogenic diet means that it’s a wonderful addition to your meal options, but make sure you’re enjoying it alongside some healthy fats such as coconut curries, or vegan stir-fries with lots of good coconut oils.
Another versatile vegetable, mushrooms take on their flavors they cook with since they are highly porous vegetables. Saute with olive oil and sea salt as a great side dish, or take a large portobello mushroom, drizzle with olive oil and some low-carb steak spice for a steak substitute that’s great for your diet.
Mushrooms are a mild flavor, that they’re often used in vegan recipes such as burgers. They can be roasted, stuffed, grilled or made into soups, very easily.
In vegan circles, the use of cashews is widely celebrated. Softened with hot water, and soaked before blending into a smooth mixture, cashews have the incredible ability to mimic the taste and consistency of soft cheeses and cheese sauces.
While cashews are lower on the list of “great” keto foods, they are still a high-fat nut that is usable in the vegan keto diet. Since cheese is a much-loved addition to the ketogenic diet in the classic sense, there’s no reason why those wanting to have the same indulgence on a plant-based diet can’t participate. By counting your carbs, this is a fine addition to the menu.
Okay, this is NOT to be confused with coconut oil. Coconut butter is the actual flesh of a coconut, pureed into a spread, much like peanuts are pureed into a butter. It’s often referred to and labeled as “coconut manna” so when you’re shopping, look for either title.
Coconut butter comes in a jar as a solid substance, but when melted slightly in the microwave and mixed together, it has a taste and texture reminiscent of a frosting. In a room temperature environment, it becomes solid once again. Whether you simply enjoy it off the spoon, or as the icing on a keto cookie, this is one food that is not to be missed out on.
The percentage is important here, because the higher you go, the lower the carbs and sugars. Sure, you’ll notice the difference if you’re used to a 75% dark chocolate or even a milk chocolate, but in time and once you’ve become accustomed to NOT having sweets, you’ll be delighted to be even having a nibble of chocolate.
Dark chocolate comes with a range of health benefits from lowing your blood pressure to antioxidant qualities to even having the capability to help with depression symptoms or improving your skin. Hey, any excuse to eat more chocolate.
These little seeds are “heart” of a hemp seed. They are very tiny, and nutty in taste and texture and easily added to meals with simple ideas ranging from sprinkling on top of a smoothie bowl, mixing into sauteed vegetables or even topping a fresh salad with them.
Hemp hearts are known for their high-fiber and high-fat qualities like most seeds are. Helping your body in many ways such as aiding in digestion, to helping with mental clarity. Whichever way you choose to use hemp hearts, they will be a wonderful addition to your ketogenic diet.
Traditionally you may know them as the “ch-ch-ch-chia” plants that made it look like hair growing from a terracotta head as a child. In your diet, chia seeds are used before they sprout, and they truly are an odd little seed. You’ll know that if you’ve ever had one stuck in your teeth, only to discover it’s turned into a gelatinous mass. You see, chia seeds have the ability to absorb liquid and multiply in size.
While many use it as an appetite suppressant, it can also be used to create a “pudding” or spread using a non-dairy milk such an almond milk so that when the chia seeds expand and take on the moisture of the almond milk, it creates a seedy pudding-like texture that’s easily customized with sweeteners and cinnamon or even a few raspberries on top.
Certainly a surprising addition to the list, and a reminder that not all carbs are made alike. While it’s squash relatives may be packing the carbs, spaghetti squash comes in quite low for a serving.
Spaghetti squash is a smart addition to your keto diet because it strings apart and mimics true spaghetti so easily. Sliced in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and drizzle a healthy oil onto its open-faced side. Sprinkle with seasonings of your choice, and place face-down into a roasting pan to roast until it’s soft when pricked, and pulls apart into spaghetti-like strings when a fork is taken to it.
Another vegetable that works like a rock star when cutting carbs. Using a spiralizer, zucchini works so well in its raw state to replace carb-laden kinds of pasta of your past.
When sliced thin, lightly oiled then seasoned and roasted, zucchini can be made into chips so that when those salty night time cravings hit, you can be prepared with a keto-friendly alternative. Spiraled and served chilled, they make an incredible base for a cold salad as well.
Big brands like Hellman’s came out swinging recently with a vegan mayonnaise that is surprisingly (arguably) undetectable from traditional mayonnaise, which is made with eggs.
Vegan mayonnaise while it doesn’t contain any protein, it’s high in fat and makes a perfect base for salad dressings and spreads. For dressings, simply mix with a vinegar of choice to thin it down, and season as you choose. For a spread, try mixing in some carb-free hot sauces. It works really well on a vegan lettuce wrapped burger!
This is a classic case of “read the labels” but you’d be surprised to notice that many vegan burgers and meat replacements are very low carb.
When enjoying them, try having them on a lettuce wrap, with some vegan mayo, hot sauce, avocado and a tomato slice, and even topped with some dill pickles. Burgers aren’t exactly something you’d expect to find on a keto-friendly food list, nor a vegan-friendly food list…but when there’s a will, there’s a way!