I’ve had quite a few readers share their interest in going low-carb, but they’re not sure if they can go cold-turkey and give up baked goods, breaded foods, and, of course, my breakfast weaknesses: pancakes and waffles. While my first few weeks of low-carbing consisted of a lot of meat, meat, and more meat, I quickly started exploring Keto and Atkins versions of things we regularly enjoyed eating.
One of the easiest tricks I learned for breading everything from chicken breasts to fish fillets is to bread them in grated Parmesan cheese. (Yes, the kind that comes pre-grated in a green shaker. I realize cheese purists may insist that freshly shredded is better, but for this? You want the green shaker.) I beat an egg in one bowl, dip the chicken or fish fillet in it, then dip into a bowl of grated Parmesan cheese. You can add garlic powder, onion powder, or other seasonings to the cheese too. That’s it — dip, “bread,” and pan fry or bake as normal. So easy, and so good!
Another cheat? If you’re missing pasta, chop up cooked cauliflower and drench it with Alfredo sauce and cooked shrimp or chicken. I have never been a fan of cauliflower prior to my low-carb adventure, and I still find it less than palatable when it’s mushy. However, its carb count is very good, so I’ve learned a better way to cook it. I’ve found that if you roast the head of cauliflower first, then chop, it makes the texture of the cauliflower much more pasta-like. (I use this recipe, but I cut the entire head in half so that the inside roasts nicely too.)
Other foods required a bit of a learning curve, especially when working with almond flour and coconut flour. Both are low carb, both are tasty, but both cook somewhat differently than wheat flour. However, I was elated to learn that I could still make cakes, waffles, and cookies that fit my carb limits a bit better than my old eating habits did.
Here are a few links to the Keto-friendly recipes that have made my low-carb eating adventure such a success.
- Crust ingredients: Shredded mozzarella cheese, almond flour, cream cheese
- Stats: 2.5g net carbs and 203 calories per slice. (This is without toppings.)
One night each week was already pizza night in our house, so finding a low-carb pizza recipe was a must. There are a bunch of recipes for Fathead low-carb pizza out there, but this is my favorite version.
In under two minutes, you’ll melt shredded mozzarella cheese, almond flour, and cream cheese together in a bowl in the microwave, and what comes out looks remarkably like a dough ball. Knead, stretch, and bake — then top with whatever pizza toppings you like. It’s so fast and easy to make — it’s really amazing how crust-like it becomes. The crust is made almost entirely of cheese, but it bakes up, looks like, and tastes like dough, and you can hold a slice in your hand without it flopping.
I’ve modified this recipe a tiny bit — the original also calls for an egg, but I rarely use it as it doesn’t change the consistency of the crust. I also up the mozzarella cheese to an entire 8-ounce bag. Lastly, I bake the crust for 7 or 8 minutes before adding toppings. The original recipe says 12 to 15 minutes –in my oven, that gave us a dark brown, over-crispy crust.
I’ve also mixed it up and added garlic powder, oregano, or other Italian seasonings into this dough before baking too — so good!
Cheese taco shells
- Ingredients: Cheese
- Stats: 0 carbs!
While there are low-carb tortillas out there, sometimes you want the satisfying crunch of a crunchy taco shell. Corn shells are not Keto-friendly, but guess what are — cheese shells!
Melt a round pile of cheddar cheese on a Silpat mat silicone mat in the oven at 300 degrees for a few minutes, or just melt the cheese in a very good nonstick frying pan. I use one of those copper “As Seen on TV” frying pans that I got at Menards for $5.99 — it works so well, as you can see above!
Place a wooden spoon or spatula over a bowl. Once the cheese has melted and starts to change color, use a spatula to quickly center your circle of cheese over the handle of the spoon. The sides of the circle will flop down and quickly harden into a taco shell!
- Ingredients: Egg, coconut flour, baking powder, protein powder (I use Jay Robb Whey Protein Powder)
- Stats: 2g net carbs and 105 calories per waffle
Oh, my goodness. Just look at this waffle! I make a double batch of these each week so I can freeze them and pop them in the toaster on busy mornings. They truly taste as good as they look. Unlike many “it’s almost as good” recipes, this one really is just as crunchy and delicious as a traditional waffle.
The first time I made these, my husband looked at me incredulously: “We can eat this?” Yes, sir.
One note: DO use the Jay Robb brand vanilla protein whey powder. I’ve tried using the Bob’s Red Mill in this recipe, and the waffles come out soft, not crisp. There is something magical about the Jay Robb – it’s pricey, but it is delicious and gives exactly the right texture. It’s also the lowest-carb protein powder I’ve found.
- Ingredients: Vanilla protein powder, baking powder, egg, oil
- Stats: 3g net carbs and 179 calories per large pancake (as low as 1 net carb with low-carb protein powder)
You would think you could use the same batter for those tasty Keto waffles above to make pancakes, but it just doesn’t work for some reason. A big part of the fluffiness of the waffle batter comes from whipped egg whites, but on a griddle, that batter turns into to a watery mess that is next to impossible to flip over as a pancake.
My husband and I have tried at least a half dozen different Keto pancake recipes until we found one we found acceptable — acceptable meaning “like regular pancakes,” of course. This recipe uses protein powder as a base and makes wonderful pancakes! I like to butter the griddle or pan to add a little more flavor too. Depending on how low the carb count of your protein powder is, you can bring the carbs even lower. I’ll share more on that in a bit. (I like these with Lakanto maple monkfruit syrup too – just one net carb per two tablespoons of syrup.)
Keto Angel Food Cake
- Ingredients: Eggs, cream of tartar, erythritol (Swerve brand), vanilla extract, whey protein powder (Jay Robb brand)
- Stats: 1g net carb, 54 calories per slice
My husband’s birthday fell about three weeks into our Keto-eating adventure. I really wanted to surprise him with a birthday treat that was as cake-like as possible. After lots of research, I found what looked like the perfect recipe. This recipe does use twelve (twelve!) egg whites mixed with protein powder, though the recipe’s creator mentioned that a specific brand of protein powder must be used: Jay Robb Whey Protein Powder.
The comments under the recipe noted very inconsistent results when people attempted this cake with another brand of powder. (Jay Robb is keto friendly, sweetened with stevia, and honestly, after trying it? If it weren’t so expensive, I’d buy it all the time. It is delicious, smooth, and has no aftertaste.)
Not wanting to screw up my husband’s cake, I bit the bullet and bought a $20 bag of Jay Robb at GNC. It’s the most expensive Keto ingredient I’ve bought to date. I’m so glad I did though, because this cake was so much like a traditional angel food cake that we felt slightly guilty eating it. Our kids ate it too and could not tell the difference between this and one of my homemade angel food cakes. (Plus, we still have plenty of Jay Robb left over for future Keto baking!)
The batter was a little thinner than a flour-based angel food cake, so I put it in a Bundt pan instead of a tube pan just in case it wanted to ooze. However, it cooked up moist and light, just as an angel food cake should.
Also, the original recipe calls for strawberry-flavored Jay Robb and strawberry extract — I went with vanilla Jay Robb and vanilla extract to stick to tradition. Perfection. Don’t forget to invert the pan while the cake cools so the cake doesn’t fall.
Also, before we go to the next recipe, take a quick look at how different protein powders can be carb-wise. Bob’s Red Mill is on the left, and Jay Robb is on the right:
1/3 cup of the Bob’s Red Mill protein powder has 7g of net carbs, but the same amount of Jay Robb has just one net carb. You can make good pancakes with pretty much any protein powder, but if you want to go very, very low carb and make an Angel Food cake, splurge for the Jay Robb. The Jay Robb makes delicious pancakes too..!
Keto Chocolate Sheet Cake
- Ingredients: Almond flour, coconut flour, protein powder, erythritol (Swerve brand), baking powder, butter, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla extract, cream, salt, pecans
- Stats: 2.5g carbs, 182 calories per slice. (Of course, it’s hard to have just one slice..!)
Ever since I was a child, my mom has made a delicious chocolate sheet cake that she called “20 Minute Cake.” It’s a moist, rich cake with a texture not quite as dense as a brownie. About two months into our low-carb life, I was really missing chocolate cake in a big way. I started browsing chocolate sheet cake recipes to see what substitutes I could make to re-create this delicious cake.
Fortunately, another low-carb blogger nailed this cake, from taste to texture. It didn’t last three days in our house, because the kids ate it too and said it tasted “just like Grandma’s,” which is always the best compliment, isn’t it?
This recipe calls for xanthan gum in the chocolate glaze. I left it out because mom’s family recipe didn’t need it, and neither did this version of the cake. Any protein powder that’s low-carb friendly works with this cake too — I used some chocolate as we already had that in the house.
Keto Peanut Butter Cookies
- Ingredients: Natural peanut butter, erythritol (Swerve brand), egg
- Stats: 2g net carbs and 105 calories per cookie
Peanut butter cookies are already simple, 3-ingredient specialties, but swap the sugar for powdered Swerve, and you get a perfect low-carb peanut buttery treat. Remember to get peanut butter with no added sugar — I used Jewel-Osco’s Open Nature brand.
You should also make a double batch, because your children will not care that these are supposed “diet cookies” and will be snapping them up too. I speak from experience.
Keto Chocolate Mug Cake
- Ingredients: Cocoa powder, erythritol (Swerve brand), egg, cream, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt
- Stats: 4g carbs and 173 calories per cake
I’ll wrap this list up with the first Keto dessert I ever made — a mug cake. Just look at this delicious thing — there’s no flour of any kind in there at all! Whipping an egg into a frenzy causes the cake to rise like a traditional chocolate cake — but it’s sized just for one person.
The recipe I use is for a lava cake, but I don’t like runny centers in anything, so I bake mine a little bit longer. The recipe includes microwave directions too, but the texture of the cake baked in the oven is worth the 15 minutes it takes to bake. There’s just enough room in the top of the mug too for a scoop of low-carb ice cream.
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