A Complete Guide to Keto Substitutions with New Zealand’s leading online provider of low carb and keto friendly products, Lowcarb Online.

When going shopping for those great new recipes you recently discovered, you’ll often run into some issues if you’re trying to make them keto-friendly, and the recipes are usually full of carbs. Sometimes the ingredients might be okay, but they would be way too expensive, either for being out of season or simply too exotic. Perhaps you even dislike some of the ingredients, and wish there was something else instead… Well there can be! We know low-carb lifestyle depends on replacements, and sometimes, it’s just nice to have some variety, so take a look at this Complete Guide to Keto Substitutions from Zealand’s newest provider of low carb and keto friendly products, Lowcarb Online Limited.

Here are some tips for easier keto substitution

When you are substituting a product, you should keep an eye out for its type, texture & macronutrient content, as picking something completely different will change not just the taste, but also the nutritional value of the meal. Of course, always stick with low-carb options, as ketogenic diet requires a low amount of carbs per day to be successful. If a low-carb substitution is not available, consider the value of that product for the dish, and perhaps you could ditch it completely, especially if you don’t really like it. This is most commonly applied to spices, sauces and herbs.

Finally, look up the cooking times of your substitute ingredients. These products will often have completely different requirements than the originals, whether that means shorter or longer time on the stove, or simply a different handling. This is especially relevant when you switch different cuts of meat around or opt for a substitute vegetable.

Keto-Friendly Vegetables: The more, the better

Vegetables are very important for every diet that aims to improve your health, and the same is true for the keto diet. They contain essential micronutrients and dietary fiber, that is beneficial for your general health as well as for the progress of your keto diet. Even though vegetables do contain some carbs, you can fill up. This is especially true for green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, that contains only 1.4 gr of carbs per every 100g. If you do not like spinach or leafy vegetables overall, don’t worry, as you can switch out almost every vegetable for another. Mainly above ground grown green veg.

Best side substitutes for a low-carb plan

Vegetables are great as a side dish, and you can substitute them, so just use your favorite or whatever you currently have in your fridge, and enjoy a healthy meal. Take a look at some of our ideas for vegetable replacements, with net carbs per 100gr in brackets:

Cauliflower [3g] is pretty popular within the keto community, but make sure you cook it longer than your other vegetables. It can be easily substituted by broccoli [4.4 g] or Brussel sprouts [5.2 g], which, in turn can be replaced by cabbage [3.5 g] in some dishes, such as a stir fry. For spinach [1.4 g] dishes, use baby beet greens [0 g] or Chinese water spinach [1 g], while you should mix some arugula [2 g] or lettuce [1 g] to replace spinach in your salads.

If you don’t like mushrooms [3.5 g] in your dishes, you can replace these fungi with zucchini [2.1 g] or eggplants [3 g], and this trio actually easily replaces each of their representatives, with an addition of zucchini being substituted for summer squash [2.3 g] or broccoli as well. If you don’t like any kind of lettuce, drop some watercress [4.9 g], arugula or baby spinach in instead. Bell peppers [2.9 – 3.9 – 5.1 g] can be replaced by other peppers such as green or Poblano peppers, but if the sweet taste is what you’re looking for, then go for some onion but be careful with the amount, as onions are pretty high in carbs.

Keep an eye on your digestion during fat-adaptation

It’s important to mention that some people can have issues with different vegetables if they aren’t used to them; for example, if you come from a high-carb lifestyle, you might have difficulties digesting certain vegetables, such as night shades (tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants) and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, arugula). If you notice digestive issues, replace these vegetables with some of similar texture and flavor for a few weeks and check if the situation has improved.

Don’t forget your protein: Best Meat for Keto

While on keto, you can pick your protein between all types and cuts of meat. It’s only important that you know what you’re eating and to be mindful of the cooking processes for all the different meat. It is good to eat your protein and essential fat together, but if you prefer lean meat, like pork chops and cutlets, you can still make up for the needed fat with a side or a sauce. Some of the meats are interchangeable; for example, you can swap chicken and turkey cuts, and even replace a cut with another, keeping in mind that poultry breast takes less time to cook and is also much more lean compared to the legs. The same rule applies to pork, but don’t try to grill the fatty parts such as ribs or shoulders. They require more time to cook!

Pick the meat freely, but pay attention to the cut

If you prefer tender meat, such as chicken breast, beef fillet or pork tenderloin, you should opt for grilling, as this enhances their flavor. Pork shoulder and turkey legs are much better off being simmered or oven baked, in order to maximize their flavor and make them safe for consumption. Use a meat thermometer to help you insure that each cut is cooked properly, but even if you don’t have one, a visual assessment is usually enough. Some meat types are cooked up to your preference. Beef steak is the best example, as it can be cooked rare, medium-rare or well done. Other beef cuts can be grilled to enhance their flavors, in case of thin, tender cuts, or simmered overnight in case of tougher cuts. Beef can also be macro-substituted with lamb or veal, for those who enjoy their flavors.

Not a meat lover? Fatty fish are your best friend

Fatty fish are best friends of every keto vegetarian, and those who simply don’t enjoy meat. You can substitute all fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, trout or herring are all perfect for keto. Tuna can also be used, but as it’s a leaner type of fish, you should consider adding some butter or high quality oil when cooking with it, in order to prevent it from getting dry. Stay away from squid and shrimp if you can, as their carb value is higher than those of other seafood products.

Choose your deli meat carefully

Keto isn’t keen on processed food, and the same goes for deli meat. You should consume deli meat carefully and always go for the cold cuts without any dextrose (a type of sugar) and without carbs overall. Always check the labels! Nitrites and nitrates that they contain are also harmful, but if you only eat luncheon meats sometimes, it shouldn’t be an issue. Only opt for deli meats in case you’re in a hurry or preparing a special keto-friendly recipe that requires it, like keto pizza. In general, all deli meat is interchangeable, you can always go for a chicken breast instead of ham, or choose salami instead of pepperoni.

Dairy Products

Many recipes contain one or more types of cheese. It’s great to have variety, but sometimes you don’t have a certain cheese at home, or you just don’t enjoy the specific flavor. In those cases, as well as for the sake of your keto diet, you can substitute cheese by following a simple rule: choose similar types. For example, change hard cheese for another hard cheese. Ricotta [3 g], an acquired taste, can be easily replaced by cream cheese [2.66 g] that everyone is familiar with, and instead of cheddar [1.3 g] that isn’t available worldwide, you can use gouda [2.2 g] or another hard cheese. Use mozzarella [3.1 g] and burrata [2.3 g] together, and replace parmesan [4.1 g] with another hard cheese such as pecorino [3.63 g] or grana padano [0 g].

Yogurt & Cream may be the best dairy products yet!

Although yogurt is a little high in carbs [4.7 g], it is essential because of its probiotic features. You should always choose the unsweetened, plain yogurts, containing probiotic cultures. Greek yogurt works great as a replacement for the regular one; it will just be a bit thicker and creamier. When talking about cream, most of them are keto-friendly. Heavy cream [3.7 g] and half-and-half [4.3 g] are interchangeable and the most popular, for keto coffee and many recipes. In most dishes where crème fraiche [1.8 g] is required, you could use sour cream [2.9 g] instead.

It’s time to fry healthy: Cooking fats & oils

Most keto-friendly oils and fats are interchangeable. For frying, opt out those with a low smoking point, such as olive oil and butter, and when deep frying or baking, go for refined coconut, ghee or avocado oil instead. Be careful when choosing lard (pig fat) as it can influence the flavor of your dish. All of the popular keto oils contain 0 carbs. Here are some more of them, and remember, they’re all generally interchangeable: fish oil, MCT oil, walnut oil, grass-fed butter…

Don’t miss out on your favorite seeds, just substitute them

Seeds are great for keto, as long as they are properly measured. Sunflower seeds [11 g] are one of the best to replace pumpkin seeds [36 g] in salads, because they are much lower in carbs than their pumpkin counterparts. Flaxseeds can be ground into flaxseed meals, which are used to substitute wheat flour. It can be found in most health stores, and it can also work as a thickener, just like other low-carb flours. Chia seeds can be used in many keto-friendly treats, and sesame seed oil is very healthy and beneficial for your keto diet.

Nuts are a staple for Keto…

Low-carb and high-fat nuts sound like a keto-eater’s dream, and they are, but once again, only if properly measured, because a couple of handfuls of nuts can take you out of ketosis. Always opt for raw nuts, not the baked or salted ones, and stick to ones that are indeed low-carb, as not all of them are. Nuts containing the most fat are Brazil and Macadamia nuts, so if you’ve been on keto for some time and you don’t want to eat too much dietary fat, you can replace them with other nuts. Some popular examples of keto-friendly nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, and a few peanuts. Peanuts are a special kind; they are actually not nuts but legumes. However, they are still low enough in carbs if you keep it to a minimum.

They are all interchangeable, but they can taste pretty different, so keep that in mind. About 5-10 gr of nuts will be enough to add flavor to all your salads.

And so are the nut flours!

One of the most common “complaints” about keto happen to be ones regarding flours. Wheat flour and most other grains such as buckwheat, rye and barley, are not recommended because of their high carb value. One of the best alternatives for your baked treats such as cakes and desserts on keto are nut flours. It is recommended that you find a professional recipe for each nut-flour-based treat, as their preparation differs depending on the flour. Most common nut flour, almond flour, is high in calories but very low in carbs, with only 11g per 100g of flour. You can buy it at a health store or grind almonds yourself using a blender. Coconut flour is also commonly used, mixed with more liquid to achieve consistency, but less flour at the same time. Therefore, its high carb count shouldn’t put you off this great substitute.

No fruits on Keto? Perhaps a few could be sneaked in…

Keto generally doesn’t allow fruit; it contains fructose which is, basically, sugar. However, some berries such as raspberries and strawberries contain a lower amount of carbs, so they can be used for keto treats and smoothies, or eaten raw in small amounts. Lemon and coconut are also keto-friendly, while you should stay away from pineapple, cherries and apples if you’re trying to lose weight and stay in ketosis.

Dips & sauces? Yes, but make them yourself

Many recipes ask for a small amount of spices or garnish, that you can freely leave out in case you prefer it that way. However, when it comes to dips and sauces, it’s a bit more difficult as they are an essential part of the recipe. Don’t go for store-bought sauces; most of the time they will be full of sugar and carbs, with an exception of Dijon mustard. You can make almost all sauces and dips yourself, at home, and make sure that they are good for your keto diet. A keto-favorite dip is the guacamole dip, which contains perfect ingredients for keto: avocados, tomatoes, garlic and lime juice. Make it at home and serve as a dip or a side dish.

You don’t have to miss out on your favorite dip

Yes, you can make mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup at home! For mayo, use the classic recipe but replace the low quality sunflower oil with another from our oils list, and enjoy your homemade healthy mayonnaise [1 g]. If you can find sugar-free ketchup [6 g], then you can grab that one from the store, but in case you can’t, just don’t forget to skip sugar when making it. When searching for mustard [8 g], avoid those based on honey. Make your own sugar-free tomato sauce and mix with your zucchini pasta or serve as a dip.

Dress your keto salad like a keto pro

Some of the popular salad dressings within the keto community are the yogurt-based dressings, with an addition of dill, olive oil, garlic and vinegar. Yogurt or heavy cream can also be used as a base for sauces. If you don’t like dairy products, then go for olive oil, which is perfect for keto salads as it contains 0 carbs, together with many types of vinegar that also contain no carbs. Small amounts of wasabi [20 g] can also be used if you like the taste of the oriental, or just add mustard or herbs to enhance the flavors of this mixture, and dress your salad like a keto pro!

Low-Carb lifestyle teaches you that there’s always a replacement

All food is unique but also similar; there is always a substitute with its own distinctive taste that you will grow to love. Low-carb lifestyle, other than improving your health, gives you a chance to enhance your culinary abilities and surprise everyone around you with your creative cooking ideas. At lowcarbonline.co.nz, we believe that a healthy lifestyle can also taste good with just a bit of effort. We hope you enjoyed our guide and you’re now ready to experiment with new keto-friendly substitutions!

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