More than anything, I want the recipes on this blog to be successful for you the first-time you try them! I want you to trust me when it comes to flavour, texture, cooking times, cooking temperatures, nutritional information – and all the other bits in-between. Please have a quick read through the info below for BEST SUCCESS and peace-of-mind with all the recipes that I have put together for you here on Fats of Life. If you want to read a little more about the person behind all these recipes, you can visit this page.
Please don’t skip the head notes (recipe intro paragraph). I have kept them very short and to-the-point, and they usually include some very handy information that I couldn’t squeeze into the recipe methods.
Starting the keto lifestyle means weighing ingredients when you cook so that you can keep an eyeball on those carbs. I never use ‘cups’ because I believe in accuracy and precision, and ‘cups’ are… simply put: grossly inaccurate! It is therefore encouraged that you invest in a simple kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients and get your hands on some universal measuring spoons if you do not already have them. You will notice I even weigh my liquids. Its quicker, easier, more accurate – and there is less cleaning up!
Remember to always tare / zero your scale in between weighing ingredients – and always level dry ingredients when using measuring spoons.
Please ensure that you are using the correct oven temperatures for your specific oven. I have displayed them all. This is the biggest issue people have – they tend to not pay attention to the type of oven indicated and they end up over-cooking or under-cooking food. Whether you have a conventional oven, a fan oven, a gas oven, or whether you work in C° or F° – I have shown all versions. If you don’t know whether your oven is a fan oven (like mine is) or not, just look inside after you turn it on: you will either see or hear the fan. However, having stressed all this, it must be said that ovens still differ and are DODGY even at the best of times! In the recipes, I always give a visual indication of what you should be looking for, OR (in the case of chicken), I have given some accurate probe temperatures to keep you safe and out of hospital. Remember that food should only be placed into preheated ovens. Your oven will usually indicate when it has reached temperature (like the light turning off). (Also, sorry, I know this is obvious to most, but you won’t believe some of the queries I get!)
There is a facility on all the recipes to adjust the ingredients quantities if you wish to make a smaller or a larger yield. By increasing or decreasing the yield, all ingredients will automatically adjust relative to the original amounts. It might look a little wonky, going up or down in decimals, but the recipe will still work. Adjusting the serving size will not affect the macro-calculations, which have all been calculated and displayed per serving – assuming the dish is divided into equal serving sizes. Remember, if you increase a yield, you might need to increase cooking time too.
Most recipes feature step-by-step pics (snapped with greasy hands on my iPhone) to allow readers to see and compare the dish in progress. This is especially helpful in some cases where not all cooking terms are understood by the laymen. I realise the addition of these visuals may be patronising for you if you are an experienced cook, but it was done for the benefit of those that do need it. I kept the image resolution of these pics as low as possible, so hopefully they will not affect page download times. The featured pic however, I try and put a little more effort into. I have been collecting props and backdrops for many years – so I quickly set the shoot up on my kitchen floor – minutes before we eat. Haha!
Seasoning and Garnishes
I can’t stress enough how important seasoning a dish is. You will notice in my recipes I refer to seasoning with salt, ground white pepper, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper – and each have their place. When I refer to salt, I mean the regular table salt (fine salt). I mostly use this while cooking. When I refer to sea salt flakes, this is to be used just before serving. The little flakes are lovely little textured bites of saltiness and are ideal when finishing a dish. I started using pink Himalayan salt as well (after I read about all benefits), but to be honest I love sea salt flakes best!
Regarding pepper, I like to use ground white pepper while cooking, and especially in fish dishes. Its light and offers just the right amount of flavour I am after. To finish a dish, however, a good crack of freshly ground black pepper is ideal.
I love to garnish with chopped, fresh herbs! Fresh herbs scattered over before serving offer top notes which can really lift a dish to another level. It could be something as simple as snipped chives or freshly chopped parsley. (Plus, your family will love the effort because it enhances not only the flavour, but the visual appeal too.) Important note: in the cases where a herb features in the title of the recipe, these should not be ignored or omitted as they are an essential flavour element to the overall dish. Unless otherwise indicated, herbs should be fresh. Dried herbs are far more concentrated in flavour and won’t offer the same result, although there are cases when I use them in a dish (like dried oregano in my tomato sauces).
The same goes for citrusy elements. If I suggest finely grated lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon juice over a dish – its because the acidity it brings is hugely beneficial to the end-result.
If Heston taught me one thing, its that SALT and ACIDITY can turn a good dish into a GREAT dish.
Some of the baking ingredients (like almond flour) can be very pricey! Please don’t ‘wing it’ when measuring. I worked hard at measuring the right amounts to achieve best results and I don’t want you to end up with an expensive dud. If you choose to use a different ingredient or leave one out altogether, I cannot guarantee any kind of success. In my recipes, I usually highlight why something is important: please do not skip past this well-meaning advice. I have done enough explaining to my husband why our grocery bill is so high: I have done all the work for you already!
If you are in any doubt regarding an ingredient, or curious to know more about it, drop a comment at the bottom of the recipe. I will get back to you as soon as possible.
I get a lot of the “specialised” ingredients from Amazon. I have my preferred brands. If you are in the UK and want to see the exact products I use, you can scroll to the bottom of the recipe page – there are image ads that will point you directly to my preferred goods.
The rest of the produce we buy from our local supermarkets here in the UK. We are on a budget, just like you are. We shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi (and sometimes the Trose). If I want something super special, I visit my local butcher.
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I am based in the UK and realise I may refer to some common ingredients / equipment in a way that readers from other parts of the world may not immediately recognise. I hope this quick check-list helps:
Aubergine = Eggplant / Brinjal
Bicarbonate of Soda = Baking Soda
Cling film = Plastic Wrap
Coriander = Cilantro
Courgette = Zucchini
Double cream = Heavy Cream
Frying Pan = Skillet
Prawns = Shrimp
Rocket = Arugula
Single Cream = Light Cream
Spring Onion = Scallions / Salad Onions
Minced Beef = Ground Beef
Minced Pork = Ground Pork
When I refer to ground spices – there are the powdered kind, easily available in the herbs & spices aisle. However, sometimes I use whole seeds and grind them myself. This is especially true in the case of crushing coriander seeds manually using a pestle and mortar when I specifically need the texture that store-bought, ground coriander cannot offer me (like in my traditional South African ‘Boerewors‘ and ‘Droe wors‘ recipes). I always highlight these important little tips in my recipes. Regarding black pepper (which I use a lot), whole peppercorns in a pepper grinder which you can freshly grind is best. With ground white pepper, I use the store-bought powder: it’s dirt-cheap.
In some cases, I use extra-fine almond flour, and in other cases regular almond flour. Different brands will also yield different textures. I have noticed that the “flurry” sold at Holland & Barrett here in the UK – and even the “ground almonds” sold at regular supermarkets are a different texture to the kind I buy in bulk online. I much prefer the brand I use, I get consistently good results, and its far cheaper. Because brands and textures differ, I always give a visual aid as to what you should look for and how to correct your mixture if yours is too loose or too dense.
Please note that almond flour and coconut flour are not interchangeable in baking. They yield different texture, flavour and density.
If you see psyllium husk powder featuring in a recipe, please do not omit it. It has essential binding and thickening properties. Do not use the flakes, its the powder that you need. Its not expensive and usually used in very small quantities, so a small bag should last a long time.
The carb counts displayed are the net carbs (the carbs we monitor on keto). Unless otherwise indicated, the servings are calculated assuming the dish is divided into equal-sized serving portions. I realise this is not always accurate: your partner may want a little more cottage pie than you do and its impossible for me to assume all the scenarios. However, the provided macros are an excellent indication to help you keep an eye on portion sizes.
I use an incredibly sophisticated software (that costs me a fortune annually), but its fabulous! The macro and allergen breakdown of the recipes are carefully calculated using the cloud-based software NUTRITICS®. NUTRITICS® is fully approved by the relevant Trading Standards organisations and is EU and FDA-compliant. I have been trained in using this superior software and I am 100% confident in the data I provide. However, these details are offered as a courtesy to you and while the software covers all the known allergens, its important that you are aware of your own allergies as some could still slip through the cracks: always check labels.
The macros are based on the trimmed weight of the ingredients I use while I create the dishes – and I included every item listed in the recipe.
If Erythritol (a sugar polyol) has been used in any of the recipes, it has already been manually excluded from the final carbohydrate count for you. (My favourite brand of Erythritol is Swerve.)
What are NET carbs?
Some countries (like the USA) include dietary fibre in the total carb count on their food labels, which means that people should subtract this fibre to see what the ‘net carbs’ are. Net carbs are what we monitor on keto. Here in the UK, the carbs and dietary fibre are listed separately so the carbs we see ARE the net carbs. Without confusing you further (wherever you are in the world), I kept it simple; the carb counts shown on this website are the NET carbs – and the carbs we should be monitoring. I hope this clears things up for those of you that visit other low carb recipe blogs.
I have started shooting cooking videos (thanks to the ‘Rona lock-down which gave me the ‘gift of time’!). Be sure to check them out on my YouTube channel – although they are embedded at the bottom of recipes where a video features. Its my aim to ensure all the recipes on Fats of Life will have accompanying videos, so please bear with me while I get cracking on that monster project! (All the videos are patiently shot and editing by Funnyman – watch them to the end because the bugger likes to slip in blooper reels which I think may be my claim to fame ahead of my cooking!)
I am starting to do more research on the Carnivore Diet – and while I really like what I am learning – I could not possibly live without vegetables on my plate. Vegetables bring colour, excitement, fibre and interest to my meals. As much as I love my MEAT, there will always be place in my heart for vegetables but that is just my very personal take on it. I have also been doing a lot of reading on the importance of a diverse, healthy microbiome (your gut bacteria) and I am in ‘the camp’ that believes in plenty of soluble fibre in the diet. This is not always easy because most food high in soluble fibre is actually very high in carbs! This is why I love including onions and garlic in my diet and not afraid of the carbs in them at all because I value all their other nutritional benefits. I wrote a quick, tiny article about that.
Do visit the SIDE DISHES page on this site to see how creative I get with low carb vegetable dishes!
Anyway – back to the issue of moderate protein… There are many recipes on this site which are meat or fish only and quite suitable for those on a carnivore diet. However, you will notice that I suggest more controlled protein portion sizes – because moderate protein is what keto suggests. If you are doing carnivore, you will likely want larger meat portions. In those cases, use the carb and fat macros as your guideline and just enjoy the recipes ignoring my suggestion to have a side vegetable dish. For everyone else, remember keto is HIGH (natural) fat, MODERATE protein and LOW carbs.
Three Meals a Day? Unlikely…
I have categorised and cross-categorised all the recipes into many different categories* (breakfast, dinners, snacks etc). This was very presumptuous, but it was done for your convenience to allow you to get to where you want to – as fast as you need to. I understand people may work shifts and many people (like myself) practice intermittent fasting or OMAD (one meal a day), so one person’s snack could be another person’s dinner. Besides, there are no rules to say you can’t have Eggs Benedict for dinner or leftover Lamb Shoulder for breakfast!
It’s also important to bear in mind that with a high-fat, keto lifestyle, it is highly unlikely that you will be eating three meals a day and snacking in-between. In all honesty, if you are still doing this, you are probably not getting enough fat in your diet to satiate you. Doing keto successfully should ultimately result in you rarely ever experiencing true hunger.
*My recipes are also categorised in other ways, not just courses. There are also categories like beef, pork, salads, fish, fathead dough, meals-to-break-a-fast, lazy Sunday cooking, soups, sauces & condiments, lollies etc, etc. You will see them all on the main website menu. However, to make your life a little easier, I created a single, handy page where you can see all the Fats of Life recipes ON ONE PAGE.
Keto vs Low carb
The ketogenic diet is not only a very low carb diet that encourages plenty of natural fat – but it is also a lifestyle that eliminates processed and inflammatory food. You will notice that even though my recipes are very low in carbs, some of them are titled “keto” and others are simply titled “low carb”. This is because the ones titled keto do not include any processed, inflammatory food and those titled low carb do. Inflammatory or processed foods include things like vegetable oils, soy, dextrose, maltose, pepperoni, salami – or store-bought items like reduced-sugar ketchup. I have done this for the benefit of those that have a pretty good idea about “clean keto” vs “dirty keto”. For everyone else, now is a good time to remind you that if you want to enjoy all the health benefits associated with a “clean” keto diet, processed food should be kept to a minimum.
Having said all that, I am not anyone to judge how you choose to live your low carb lifestyle. Living low carb, high (natural) fat is still incredibly beneficial. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy my sashimi dipped in tamari (which is gluten-free soy sauce, but soy is still considered inflammatory) – or reach for delicious slices of chorizo (a processed meat low in carbs but features other nasties) on occasion. We keep clean keto about 85% of the time – and the rest of the time (like holidays, restaurants or visiting a friend’s house) we just carefully monitor carbs. I wrote a great little article on how we managed to stay very low carb on our cruise holiday in the East: click here to have a read if it interests you.
Many people ask me this and I didn’t know where on this page I could fit this in, so I will do it here. A lot of people use an app to track their macros: I have never done this. I can’t imagine anything worse than being a slave to the world of “counting” which I remember with a shudder in the pre-keto days when I was still calorie-counting. Using an app is very helpful to a lot of people and I am not “anti” doing so because you need to do what works for you. However, what I would rather suggest is that educate yourself on understanding which foods to enjoy and which to avoid on keto – until it just comes naturally. Some basic rules:
– Keep an eye on carb intake
– Don’t be afraid of natural fat
– Read labels for hidden sugars
– Reduce inflammatory and processed food
– Eat until you are satiated
– Keep alcohol intake to a minimum (even the zero carb ones)
– Try and get some exercise in if you can
Its really as simple as that!
The decadent dishes on this site are all really low carb and incredible rich. I show the macros to help you along your journey but I personally advise against being a slave to any lifestyle.
I use erythritol (a natural sweetener) in my baking. My favourite brand is Swerve and I only use the confectioner’s (powdered) type in my cooking and baking. The stuff is the BOMB!
We all commonly used olive oil when cooking, but I want to encourage you to rather use one of the more stable fats, like coconut oil, (grass-fed) butter, ghee or lard. I like lard (it’s inexpensive and can be found right there in the butter aisle) but that is my personal choice. Coconut oil is an excellent option, but if the flavour isn’t quite to your taste, unflavoured / odourless coconut oil is also available. Regular coconut oil should be used in the recipes – and not the fractionated liquid kind. In other words, your coconut oil should be solid at room temperature and melted before using. Fractionated liquid coconut oil will simply not work – especially in the baking recipes. Research shows that even heating your best quality olive oil to frying temperatures makes it unstable (some further research on the danger of oxidisation and free radical damage is advised if this interests you). If this is important to you (and it should be), please opt for my suggestion of lard or any other stable fat of your choice and leave the olive oil for finishing dishes or salad dressings. (And since you will be using less olive oil in your home, you may as well invest in an excellent quality one, like Brindisa.) When deep-frying (which we don’t do that often), I like to use ghee.
Also, I am sure by now you are all well aware that the ketogenic lifestyle is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, so vegetable oils like canola oil, sunflower oil etc should be thrown away – and NEVER USED AGAIN. Vegetable oils are also present in store-bought mayonnaise which is why I recommend you make your own.
Eggs, Fish and Meat
Where eggs are featured, I use free-range, large eggs. Sizes differ from store to store, though. If it helps, the whole eggs I used weighed around 57g (2oz) each.
Fish and seafood: opt for wild-caught and sustainable where possible.
Meat, eggs and offal: opt for pasture-raised, free-range and organic where possible
Being a foodie, you probably already have a great quality knife. If not, I can’t stress enough how much more enjoyable your experiences in the kitchen will be if you invested in one. I absolutely love my Robert Welch: it was given to me as a gift many years ago. I sharpen it daily and love it dearly. A good quality, sharp knife is also less dangerous than a poor-quality, blunt one.
Fats of Life® is a blog that I run as a hobby, but did you know that I am also the author of two cookbooks? My first book Keto Kitchen (published by Kyle Books in 2020) is available worldwide (and has remained one of the best-selling low carb cookbooks in the UK). My second book Lazy Keto Kitchen (coming mid-year, 2021) is currently available to pre-order.
DISCLOSURE: Like many blogs, I am part of the Affiliates Program on Amazon. The links to the products I recommend on this page are affiliate links, meaning – at no additional cost to you – I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.