Skim any list of foods to “eat/don’t eat” on keto and you’ll quickly glean that corn, rice, wheat, oats and other glutenous grains are off limits. These are common ingredients behind popular baked goods. Sweet and savory crackers, breads, bagels, muffins, and certainly cakes and cookies have a high carb count that is not allowed for ketosis.
Is Ketogenic Baking Even Possible?
Skip the rice, skip the pasta, even the bread… but pass on chocolate brownies and chocolate chip cookies? That was a lot harder for me to think about as a newly sugar-weaned keto enthusiast. Now after many years of successful, long-term keto dieting I have more experience under my belt. I have listened to countless hours of Tristan coaching clients and actively participate in our Keto & Carnivore Collective. I have written over one hundred blog posts and authored two ketogenic cookbooks. Guess what, I still eat carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies.
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Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
- fat loss
- mental clariety
- increased energy
- improved mitrochondrial function
- enhanced memory and cognitive function
- stabilized blood sugar
- reduced inflammation
- and so much more!
These reasons kept me on track during the times I felt lured away by momentary mouth pleasure of some off plan food. I promise you, once you’ve gone through the cycle of “I’ll just have one bite…” enough times and really get to feel what that food does to your body, there comes a point when you finally know it just isn’t worth it.
A well-formulated ketogenic diet helped me kick cravings and minimize emotional eating, among other things. Learning how to make low-carb versions of previously off-limit, potentially trigger foods helped me re-calibrate my relation to food and continue to heal unhealthy emotional connections to sugar. Finding a balance and knowing how to appropriately use baked goods within the context of a well-formulated ketogenic diet is liberating and can help many people find sustained, long-term results.
A ketogenic diet is not restrictive.
No one should ever feel deprived on a keto diet or that they are somehow missing out on a pleasurable experience because they can’t eat Crispy Cream in the break room.
Make your own delicious sugar-free ketogenic baked goods.
What’s your favorite? Pancakes on Saturday morning with the family? Chocolate cake or better yet – Macadamia Nut Coffee Cake? Maybe you’re a bread eater and like to make French toast, grilled cheese and tuna melt sandwiches for your family.
With a few specific adjustments you can replace all your favorite baked items with low-carb versions that are even better than the originals. This post will cover the basic ingredient list for ketogenic breads, cakes, cookies etc but the scope of ketogenic baking is really too big to be comprehensively discussed in a single blog post. For complete details, specific techniques and recipe inspiration I can refer you to my second book, The Ultimate Guide to Low-Carb Baking.
There is so much that can be done with the correct ingredients! Ketogenic baking does not need to be a mystified art, in fact, it’s never been easier! With the proper list of ingredients, it is possible to make healthy, nutrient dense sweet and savory baked goods in your very own kitchen.
Pantry Ingredients for Ketogenic Baking
Nut and Seed Flours
We exclusively use grain-free, gluten-free flour alternatives. Almond flour and coconut flour are the most commonly used flours in ketogenic baking, they serve as the base for many recipes. Seed flours may also be used. However, they are not always widely available for purchase, in this case it is best to grind your own flour in a high speed blender. Simply add the nuts or seeds of choice and blend on high until a fine powder, or flour, is achieved.
Chia and flax are also useful in ketogenic baking because they serve well to bind the ingredients together. Once soaked, chia and flax seed retain a lot of water and become quite gelatinous. This property can replace the need for gluten (think of the “glue” that holds the recipe together) in certain recipes.
Almond Flour – Almond flour is made from blanched almonds that are then dried and ground into flour. Removing the skins creates a fine, higher quality flour that is better for baking. This is different from almond meal which can be made at home easily. The meal is ground almonds, skin and all. Almond meal has a coarse texture and can be added to smoothies and used in pie or bar crusts. Leaving the skin on can provide additional nutrients but also affects the texture, making it thicker, less flaky, and more dense.
Coconut Flour – Coconut flour comes from the coconut meat after it has been dried and finely ground. It is a much more dense flour than almond or other nut flours. Coconut flour absorbs liquid well so it is important to have enough eggs or add extra liquid to a recipe in proportion to the amount of coconut flour. Generally recipes use significantly less coconut flour than they would use wheat flour. To make a substitution, use 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut flour for every 1 cup grain based flour.
You might also like: Coconut Flour Pancakes
Seed Flours – Both sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds are used in our cookbook, The Ultimate Guide To Low-Carb Baking. Sunflower seeds may also be used. All seeds make very nice crusts for pies and bars. I like soaking and germinating large seeds first before grinding into flour. Complete details about the reasons I choose to soak and sprout nuts and seeds as well as directions on how to do it are thoroughly outlined within both of my cookbooks.
Chia Seeds – Either the whole chia seed or a ground chia meal may be used in ketogenic baking. Purchase ground chia from a local health food store or quickly grind some in a high-speed blender prior to making the recipe.
Flax Seeds – Similar to chia seed, whole flax seed or ground meal can be used in ketogenic baking. Flax meal is also available for purchase in local health food stores or easily ground in a high-speed blender just prior to making the recipe.
You might also like: Micronutrient Rich Flax Crackers
Oils and Fats
A well formulated ketogenic diet is comprised of a variety of healthy fat sources. In our video, Fat Sources We Use on a Ketogenic Diet and How We Use Them, clearly illustrates the diversity and variety of fat sources available.
For ketogenic baking needs, coconut oil and butter are my two preferred fat sources. The Ultimate Guide to Low-Carb Baking includes an All-Purpose Keto Bun recipe that is centered on grass-fed beef tallow. It was fun to branch out and experiment with lesser known fats but in general, due to availability, taste, and texture, most recipes will call for coconut oil or butter. They can be used interchangeably. Easily adapt any recipe to be dairy-free by using coconut oil in place of butter. Ghee may also be substituted in any recipe that calls for coconut oil or butter.
Use the following saturated fats (those that are solid at room temperature) for cooking and high heat uses. Save cold-pressed and monounsaturated fats (those that are liquid at room temperature) for drizzling on top of your final dish. Macadamia nut oil, hemp seed oil, and olive oil are all examples of oils that are ideally used to garnish a meal rather than cook in.
Coconut Oil – Top quality oil is labeled organic, cold pressed, virgin or extra-virgin. Coconut oil is a must have for ketogenic baking. It is one of our staple oils used for chocolate making, cooking, and personal skin care. Coconut oil is such a multipurpose oil, purchasing in bulk is highly recommended, especially for families!
You might also like: Low-Carb Nutrient Dense Mint Chocolate Bar
Butter – Baking with butter infuses the recipe with a delicious, creamy flavor that is unique and only serves to enhance the overall result. Savory baked goods are best with butter, while cakes and sweet bars can be made well with coconut oil. Spread a pat of grass-fed butter on top of a muffin fresh from the oven and enjoy the luscious quality of you food!
Ghee – Ghee is clarified butter made by simmering butter over low heat until the milk solids and water are removed. This is a viable option for individuals with dairy sensitivities and are looking for an alternative to butter.
Can you sweeten foods without sugar? YES!
In The Ketogenic Edge Cookbook’s dessert section, we dive into the nitty gritty of ketogenic sweets and break down all the ways to enhance nutrient dense, healthy desserts to bring out the natural sweetness of certain foods. Using add-ins like seasonal berries, vanilla powder, pinches of salt, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or star anise blend into a recipe to make it appeal to the sweet taste buds.
For ketogenic baking, Lakanto and stevia leaf are our preferred sweeteners which can easily be added to cakes, brownies, cookies, pancakes, and more. They are both sourced from whole foods and undergo minimal processing.
Lakanto – Lakanto is a zero calorie, zero glycemic, all natural sweetener made from the combination of monk fruit extract and non-GMO Erythritol. The sweet taste is derived from natural mogrosides Lakanto is ketogenic, low-carb and safe for diabetics. Children sensitive to sugar can also benefit from this product since it will not cause the famed “sugar rush” and impending crash. Research shows that monk fruit extract does not elevate blood sugar or insulin, making it a perfect sweetener for blood sugar and weight management.
Begin by using in equal proportions to white sugar. After being on a low-carb diet for an extended period of time, taste buds do change. Do not be surprised if you find yourself craving salty, fatty foods when you once craved sweets. In this case, a bit of sweetness may be all you need and only half or a quarter of the total amount of sugar called for needs to be replaced with Lakanto.
Stevia Leaf – Purchase a liquid stevia extract or learn how to make a homemade stevia extract to sweeten foods. Stevia is a bushy herb that can easily grow in many different climates, consider growing your own bush from seed or buying a small plant from the nursery.
You might also like: Tutorial for DIY Stevia Extract
Love Keto Baking?
It’s really that simple! Keto flours, healthy fats, and natural sugar alternatives. Grab some eggs, baking soda, vanilla extract and add in cacao powder from us if you like to infuse your recipe with amazing chocolatey goodness! We’ve worked hard to connect with one of the TOP cacao producers of Ecuador. It’s such a pleasure to bring award winning cacao to our audience. You should definitely check out the chocolate bars (new in the shop!) they are a great ketogenic, sugar free food!
It’s easy once you learn what ingredients to use and know how to adapt your techniques to low-carb recipes. Use my low-carb baking guide to prepare for the holidays, appease cookie cravings with healthy, ketogenic recipes, and serve oven-fresh baked goods the whole family can enjoy.