Can we generate lots of ketones on a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet? Easily! What about on a vegan diet? Even yes, albeit with a lot less variety of options. Below are some of my favourite high-fat non-starchy vegetables yums. Cheese is most helpful, but nut butters, avocados and coconut products also help to fatten up veggies for the non-dairy inclined. I lived for many years as a vegetarian and some years as a vegan, and unlike most of the paleo writers I read, I don't look at those times as my bad old past mistake. On the contrary, it taught me a lot about how to cook great vegetable dishes, sprout grains and pulses so they digest more like vegetables, eat seaweeds, and discover other weird and wonderful culinary delights (like natto miso and kuckicha tea). The big mistake I made was eating so many untreated grains for years and eating too much starch so that I could never break my sugar addiction. I really like to be able to help all kinds of people make the best food choices for how they want to be eating. I learnt a lot about optimal nutrition in vegan and vegetarian modalities, so I do hope such readers will not be turned off my blog by the ethical animal consumption pages.
Turkish Zucchini Fritters (Mücver)
There are many versions around of this classic Turkish fritter. In the photo above I have a version that does not contain cheese, but is served with salad leaves and organic bacon. Lacto-vegetarians may instead wish to add a little crumbled fetta cheese to the fritter as per the Turkish custom. Sometimes I just like to steer away from dairy for a few days. But if I need the protein oomph then I pair them with bacon. It is a fantastic combo. But the fritters are also delicious on their own or served with a yogurt/cucumber dip.
The zucchini (1 large) is grated with a cheese grater and simmered at low heat in butter with a little turmeric and black pepper. It will cook very quickly. For the batter I use a few tablespoons of sourdough sprouted flour leaven. If you are not a sourdoughing kind of person, then any kind of sprouted flour here would be great too. To this I add 4 eggs, the cooked grated zucchini, and several handfuls of fresh chopped dill, plus several of chopped parsley or whatever other fresh herb is in my fridge (mint and coriander work too).
I make these quite small, pikelet sized, since gluten free, they have little stretch and are easier to keep whole on a smaller scale. I cooked them butter at low heat until they are brown and crispy around the edges.
Melanzane al forno - Cheesy Italian Baked Eggplant
This Italian method of baking eggplants is one of those recipes that one can just not imagine....its deliciousness is an emergent property.
I ate it at a Venetian restaurant in London and was completely blown away by it. When I got home, I tried to find recipes and stumbled across this lady's fabulous site. I love anyone who loves the art of food with so much grace. Once I had made this a few times, I had to laugh at her comment that she doesn't know why she doesn't cook it more often herself....er, I think I know why: It is a bit of a pain in the proverbial...but really really worth it.
Among other things, my version has been de-glutenised, as are all my recipes. Dusting the eggplants with flour is, in my view, entirely unnecessary. Without this, they still congeal into a remarkable 'bake' that imitates the pleasures one is accustomed to assuming only lasagne can provide.
You will need:
2-3 large eggplants
1 tin of organic roma tomatoes (peeled or unpeeled, whole or chopped, doesn't really matter)
4-5 cloves of garlic
a few handfuls of fresh chopped basil leaves
a few handfuls of fresh chopped flat-leaf parseley
250g of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, grated
300g of Mozarella, aged Cheddar or Gouda cheese (I have tried all of them and they are all as delicious as one another). This too will be grated.
salt for salting the eggplants
olive oil for frying the eggplant and greasing the dish
The eggplants must first be sliced, salted and left to sit for about 1 hour in a bowl with a plate and heavy object on them. These extracts some of the fluid and presses it out. I then wipe off all the salt and squeeze them a bit more with my hands. They are now ready to be fried.
While the eggplants are salting, the tomato sauce can be made. I empty the tin of whole tomatoes into a pot and crush them crudely with my hands (this is fun), but if you buy then already chopped that is just fine. I add some pepper but no salt because the eggplants will carry some into the dish from their salting. I leave this to simmer away on low heat with the lid on for about 15 minutes. Once it is nice and saucy looking, I turn off the heat and I through in the crushed garlic and the chopped basil and parsley, stir, then put the lid back on and leave it to macerate for another 10 minutes.
I heat a generous amount of olive in a pan and put the eggplant slices in, single layer so that they are not entirely immerse but certainly have oil bubbling around their sides. I keep the heat quite low and just wait patiently until they start to brown a little and firm up, then flip them over and let them cook a few minutes on the other side. Once all the eggplant slices have been fried, your cheeses have been grated and your tomato sauce is done, you are ready to assemble the bake.
Grease a large casserole dish with olive oil. Layer 1 = eggplants; Layer 2 = Mozzarella; Layer 3 = tomato sauce; Layer 4 = Parmesan. Repeat in that sequence until the ingredients are used up. I find this makes 3 layers in my big terracotta casserole dish. I keep a larger amount of parmesan for the final layer since this is the one that creates the top surface of the dish.
It goes in a hot oven for about 15-20 minutes, and is done when you can see it bubbling and the parmesan is melted and slightly browned on top. I like to leave it to sit for another 20 minutes before serving, just to ensure the flavours are all blended through and the cheese is a little less runny.
This is in fact even yummier reheated the next day.
Serve with a fresh leaves type of salad or with a steamed green vegetable drizzled in olive oil. It is also just lovely as a mini-meal on its own, just handful size scoop of it like I enjoyed in the butter dish above.
Fatty Pesto Mushrooms that Taste like Gnocchi!
I have always enjoyed a plate full of button mushrooms cooked in copious butter with cracked pepper. But I recently made a lovely pesto on a day when I had mushrooms to play with, and thought I would risk smearing them in it even though I would have been happy just with them plain buttery usual version. Sometimes we have to let go of habits to discover new wonders...
So, the pesto is this (I just kept fiddling the amounts until I got the flavour I wanted, so I have no idea of the quantities):
- Activated walnuts
- Organic parmeggiana cheese
- fresh organic basil leaves
- fresh organic parsley leaves
- copious fruity organic first cold pressed olive oil (it must be really high quality)
- copious crushed organic garlic
- a generous sprinkle of turmeric
- a pinch of salt
- a generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper
I threw it all in a blender and let it mash up with pulses rather than the steady whizz. That way I could keep and eye on it so that it was still a tiny bit chunky. This stuff has kept in my fridge for nearly 2 weeks now and still tastes as amazing as ever. It is sensational smeared on just about any vegetable.
So the mushrooms (about 300g) were sautéed on medium heat in about 4 tablespoons of cultured pastured unsalted butter with lots of fresh cracked pepper - NO SALT. A lot of people make that mistake. You don't want your mushies spitting out all their liquid. I tend not to stir them much, that way they get a tiny bit brown on one side, then I turn them over one by one and by the time I am done doing that, they are all done. I can tell because they start to squeak when I move them, due to the liquid evaporating on the heat. I get them out of the pan immediately to stop any further fluid seeping. In a fresh bowl I stir 2 tablespoons of the pesto through them, and them cover the bowl and let it sit for a few minutes.
The result completely stunned both my partner and me when we ate them the first time. It really seems like you are eating gnocchi or some other cuddly little pasta. It has been a real revelation to me realising how many of the starch sensations I always longed for are actually completely replicable with vegetables. The world of sugar hath no further claim on me! I am finally free.
The Green Kefir Smoothie
A favourite way to rehydrate of a morning, grab a mass of phytochemical freshness and vitamin A, and nice fatty protein boost: The Green Kefir Smoothie.
Kefir can be made using cow milk, goat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water, and probably a bunch of other things I haven't even tried yet. My favourites are raw dairy and coconut water. Don't worry about the sugars in these - that's the beauty of kefir - these clumpy little colonies of wild yeasts and probiotic bacteria gobble up all the sweet stuff and leave you with a nice sour, slightly fizzy liquid that is exactly the kind of seriously festy yum that makes for sensational gut health.
To a cup of this, add into the blender:
- 2 cucumbers (which are mostly water)
- a handful of activated walnuts
- a few sprigs of fresh mint of any kind
- a few tablespoons of MCT oil or coconut oil
-3 or 4 leaves of kale or Tuscan cabbage (the latter, apparently is lower in oxalates)
- a cup of freshly brewed, cooled sencha green tea
It tends to taste even better after a day in the fridge, and will keep for several days.
If you want more protein, an egg does not go astray in it. But the taste stays fresher without egg.
Broccolini with Garlic and Goat Cheese
I melted 3 tablespoons of butter in a casserole dish in the oven, just until it had made a puddle, then added the steamed veggies, cracked a lot black pepper into it, a sprinkle of turmeric, and 4 cloves of garlic smashed on the chopping board 15 minutes ago, and mixed it all through. I do this to maximise the allicin (anti-carcinogenic molecule) content which, being a defence chemical produced by the garlic plant, actually increases up to 400 times following assault on the bulbs :) (See Jo Robinson, Eating on the Wild Side, 2013, p.51).
I cut the goat cheese into chunks and laid it on top, return the dish to the oven for another minute or so, and garnish it with freshly ripped-up parsley.
Even if you know already that you like fatty garlicky food, I just don't know that you can actually imagine how delicious this is. There is some funky magical fusion at work in the synergy of the butter, garlic and goat cheese. I have never relished my veggies like I do on this diet!
Brussel Sprouts and Bacon Rösti
(Bacon optional - it is also great just with the cheese)
This rösti uses brussel sprouts, which I steamed lightly first, about 250g. I cut the fat off the bacon (also about 250g pack), melted the fat in a cast-iron pan, then cooked the bacon meat in the fat at low temperature so it just made a tiny sizzle-sizzle sound. I tipped the brussel sprouts and the bacon with fat into a casserole dish, added a sprinkle of turmeric, a sprinkle of cinnamon, lots of cracked black pepper, and a large quantity of pre-crushed garlic. I then scatted about 200g of organic gouda cheese over it all and put in all under a high grill for a minute or too.
I have often been suspicious of emotional eating, partly because of my own history with sugar addition, and also because of the interesting work I have seen on food reward brain circuitry, which biochemist Stephan Guyenet talks about here. But I find that lipid-rich nutritive-dense vegetable meals give me such a deep sense of contentment, that I wonder if all forms of emotional reward in food are really the same....This article has an interesting evolutionary perspective on the question drawn from physical anthropological scholarship.
This sort of food stuff is profoundly rewarding, and yet not addictive. Its as if as soon as I started to eat it, I knew that the story would have a happy ending. And as soon as I had taken the last mouthful, all thoughts of food were put to sleep and had happy dreams in place far, far away.
I worked the calories out and it really surprised me. It seemed like a very rich and caloric meal both to me and to my partner and totally satisfied us for the rest of the night. But I worked out that we both only ate about 500 kcal. Weird and fabulous.
Buttery Broccolini with Nut Butter
If, like me, you have eaten broccoli most of your life because you thought that you should rather than because you really wanted to, this dish is a revelation. It employs the technique of "lipid layering" that I have become so enamoured with. The principle is simple: I smother things in several different kinds of lipids, producing an emergent property in which the fattylicious effect of the final result is greater than the sum of its parts....
In this recipe, I very gently sautee some chopped organic broccolini in grass-fed butter or coconut oil with cracked pepper and pinch of salt. In the final minute of cooking, I add a copious amount of pre-crushed garlic to it and then spoon a copious amount of nut butter over it (the Ceres roasted almond butter listed on my Favourite Fatty Products page is my preference for this, but I recently tried it with and organic brazil nut butter and that was also delicious). I put a lid on it and let it sit for 5 minutes to let the favours mix and the nut butter melt a little.
Kale with Bacon and Sour Cream
Most people who eat bacon tend to just fry it in a pan and eat it plainly with eggs. Sure, that is yummy, but to me it is bit of waste of the possibilities that bacon provides to make me eat vegetables that would otherwise be less appetising in these sorts of quantities. It makes everything taste amazing. So try it out with any vegetable. Go on, I dare you!
This is one of my favourite ways to eat it. I cut of the bacon fat and melt in on low heat in a cast iron pan, then simmer the cut-up bacon meat in it on low heat with lots of turmeric, some bay leaves and a little black pepper. When it looks cooked, I stir in a cup of thick organic sour cream and wait for it to bubble, then I stir in a few handfuls of curly kale and a few cloves of garlic and cover the pan and turn it off, leaving it to sit for a few minutes. This gets the garlic flavour all through the fat, and allows the kale to cook just enough to destabilise some of the oxalates in it. I stir a little dulce seaweed in to balance the goitrogens in the kale. It is a powerful superfood vegetable, but must also be treated with respect.
This meal is very quick and profoundly satisfying. There are a lot of calories here (typically close to 1000 per person) if you use the kind of cream I am suggesting. So if it seems like you are not hungry for a long time afterwards, go with that.