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Meal Of The Day: Baby Back Ribs, Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole and Salad With Grilled Chicken

Welcome to my first “what we ate” post! I wanted to start doing this because the main question I get when people learn that Matt and I are doing the ketogenic diet and eating one meal a day (called OMAD in keto circles) is, “What do you eat?”

So I thought I’d start answering that question on a regular basis by sharing the meals that I cook for us almost every day. I can’t guarantee that I’ll have a meal worthy of sharing every single day, but I do hope to share often.

And, of course, if you’re not doing one meal a day (OMAD), you can just enjoy smaller portions of the foods I share and spread them out during your preferred eating window each day. But do keep in mind that the whole point of the ketogenic diet is to regulate your insulin and heal your insulin resistance, and that’s hard to do if you’re constantly eating and snacking throughout the day. But again, more on that later.

So let’s get to it. Today’s meal is baby back ribs, cheesy cauliflower casserole, and a salad with grilled chicken.

Here are the details:

Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

This recipe comes from All Recipes, and you can find the link here…

Matt and I absolutely love this recipe! Just be aware that if you don’t like spicy hot food, you might want to omit the cayenne pepper altogether.

But to make it according to the recipe, you’ll need an Instant Pot or similar pressure cooker. This is the one I have.

Changes I made to the recipe:

  • Used sea salt instead of kosher salt, and reduced the amount to 1 tablespoon.
  • Omitted the brown sugar.
  • Used smoked paprika, which I almost always use when a recipe calls for paprika.
  • Used chicken broth instead of beef broth, because that’s what I had on hand.
  • Set the timer on my Instant Pot for 50 minutes instead of 30 minutes.
  • Baked the ribs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, as I don’t like our food touching aluminum.

I’ve made these twice so far. The first time I made them, I set my Instant Pot for 30 minutes, as the recipe says. They were really good, but they were far from “fall off the bone” tender. So the second time, I upped it to 50 minutes, and oh my gosh. They were AMAZING. So unbelievably tender!

Matt and I get all of our meats, including the baby back ribs I used for this recipe, from Butcher Box. It’s a subscription service where you can get free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and heritage pork. We get the large box subscription, and I change up our order every month so we can try different things. This was our first month to try the baby back ribs, and I was really pleased with them, especially on the second try with the longer cooking time.

If you have trouble finding grass-fed beef, heritage pork, and free-range chicken locally, you might want to check it out. And if you use the link just below, you can get two pounds of ground beef free with each monthly box you get for the life of your membership.

Low Carb Barbecue Sauce

You can’t have baby back ribs without some sort of sauce, right? I used this recipe for ours…

Changes I made to the recipe:

  • Used monk fruit sweetener (we buy ours here), and used half the amount that the recipe calls for.
  • Used dijon mustard instead of dry yellow mustard, because that’s what I had on hand.
  • Left out the Liquid Smoke, unfortunately. I didn’t have any, but I’ll be sure to have it the next time I make this.

Matt absolutely loves this sauce. I don’t really like it, but then again, I don’t like barbecue sauce in general. I don’t like anything that makes meat sweet. (Don’t even get me started on honey-baked ham. Just…why? 😀 ) That’s why I used half the amount of sweetener, thinking that I might like it that way. It was fine, but I just can’t love barbecue sauce.

My own version of rib sauce:

The second time I made these ribs, I improvised and made up my own sauce. After I took the ribs out of the Instant Pot, I turned it to the saute setting, and added about one or two tablespoons of the barbecue sauce to the broth and seasonings that had been left behind when I removed the ribs. I let it simmer and reduce until I had the consistency of a thick-ish sauce, and that’s what I used on my ribs. It was incredible — savory instead of sweet, which is just how I like ’em.

Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

If you’ve joined any keto Facebook groups, I’m sure you’ve heard of “keto mashed potatoes,” right? Ugh. It’s basically mashed up cauliflower that pretends to be potatoes. We’ve tried it, and as long as you squeeze every drop of water out of the cauliflower as humanly possible, and then eat it when it’s piping hot, it’s good. As soon as it starts to cool off, there’s just something about the consistency that I don’t like.

And no, it’s not a substitute for mashed potatoes. A potato is a potato, and there’s nothing else like it, so there’s nothing that will take it’s place. Sorry to be the one to break that bad news to you.

So what I’ve learned is that it’s best to just accept keto food for what it is. Why do I need to disguise cauliflower as a potato when I actually really do like cauliflower as cauliflower?

So that revelation is what led me to creating this casserole, which does not taste like potatoes, but does taste like amazingly good cauliflower. Instead of mashing up the cauliflower to pretend that it’s potatoes, we just enjoy the cauliflower as cauliflower, and then dress it up with some yummy cheese, butter and chives. We absolutely love this. Here are the details:

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-size or smaller pieces
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 ounce fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar

Directions:

  • Steam the cauliflower until it’s tender.
  • In a small saucepan, add the butter, sour cream, whipping cream, Parmesan, cream cheese, chives, salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat until everything is melted and mixed really well.
  • Transfer the steamed cauliflower to a mixing bowl, add the mixture from the saucepan, and stir until the cauliflower is thoroughly coated.
  • Pour the cauliflower into a small baking dish, spread it out evenly, and top with the grated cheddar.
  • Set the oven to broil, and broil for about five minutes, or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

This recipe makes 6 servings for us, but it could be 8 smaller servings. This is the nutrition information for the whole casserole, according to Carb Manager, so you can divide the macros by the number of servings that you choose to make it…

Salad With Grilled Chicken

Our salad for this meal came from Whataburger, which made this a ridiculously expensive meal. I generally make our salads at home with organic spring mix and other veggies from the grocery store, but I hadn’t had time to go grocery shopping before cooking, and I was short on time since I really needed to get to Home Depot before lunch.

So I put the ribs into the Instant Pot to cook, headed to Home Depot, and picked up the salads on my way home. When I got home, the ribs were ready to go in the oven, and I made the cheesy cauliflower casserole while the ribs were baking. When the ribs were done, they came out of the oven, the casserole went under the broiler for a few minutes, and then everything was ready.

I really prefer making our own salads, because when you get food from a restaurant, you never know what’s going into the food. I don’t trust the nutrition information that most restaurants provide, and you can pretty much always count on the food having something like MSG on it.

And then there’s the sugar. I don’t taste sugar on Whataburger’s salad with grilled chicken, but I stay away from their dressing and make my own at home. You really do have to be aware that so much restaurant food has sugar in it, even on food where you wouldn’t expect it. I’ll never forget going to one particular chain restaurant years ago, ordering their “veggie platter” because I wanted to eat a healthy meal, and tasting the sweetest green beans I’ve ever had in my life. I asked, and sure enough, they add sugar to their green beans. Ugh. Why? Just…WHY?

So when trying to follow a strict keto diet, I try to steer clear of restaurant food altogether and make everything at home from ingredients I trust. But some days are hectic, my time is short, and exceptions have to be made.

Keto Macros For This Meal

So let’s see how this meal’s macros (i.e., fat to protein to carb ratio) stack up.

I have my Carb Manager app set to allow 1500 calories a day, with a macro ratio of 80% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. That’s the standard keto macro ratio that people talk about, however, I’ve learned that reducing the percentage of fat is ideal since your body will burn dietary fat first, and stored fat second. The goal is to burn stored fat, so reducing dietary fat makes sense.

And if you reduce fat, those calories have to be made up elsewhere. Obviously, we don’t want that to be carbohydrates, so the only other option is protein.

So while my Carb Manager is set up for 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carbs, I generally strive for a ratio that’s more like 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs.

This meal had 18 of 20 allowable grams of net carbs, 95 of 116 allowable grams of fat, and 79 of 93 allowable grams of protein. The calorie count came to 1275.

And here’s a look at the ratios. It has 69% fat, 26% protein, and 6% carbs.

That’s about as close to my goal as I could get!

We loved the meal, and it will definitely go on our regular rotation, but next time I’ll make the salad at home and forgo the expensive Whataburger substitute.

This post contains affiliate links.

Please note that I am not a dietitian, a medical doctor, or a ketogenic diet expert. My goal is to simply share my own journey, and pass along some good food ideas along the way.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah
    March 21, 2019 at 9:08 am

    I am really excited to seeing you post over here. I have popped in a few times waiting to see if there was a post. I like your idea of where to go with the blog. It fits you perfectly. Kinda like Addicted to Decorating, this format is personal to you, not a reproduction of something else that is out there, real (good, bad and ugly pics, recipes, losses and gains…LIFE) and has info that others that share your interest can relate to.
    I look forward to your daily posts about the food you and Matt have eaten. I can count on honest reviews and tested meals and some general inspiration and comradarie….I hate “testing meals” and then they are not worth the time I put into them, so I don’t try much new. I also like hearing what you do when life makes it tough to prepare food at home. Like Mexican or whataburger….Fajitas no shells? Grilled Chicken salad.
    Your meal looks great…yum! I am admittedly finding it hard to cook at home with a very busy schedule these days, and I as much as I want to love the insta pot, the relationship is not going so well. I just can’t find a good reason to use it over the stove/oven/micro and the whole heat up, pressure release required for everything is like a false hope of the “Insta” It looks like it worked really well for these ribs though…yum!

  • Reply
    Sherre
    March 21, 2019 at 10:38 am

    I’ve made that cauliflower recipe before and I love it! If you like cauliflower, this is a pretty decent recipe:
    https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cauliflower-dill-kugel/
    I made it a couple weeks ago and I enjoyed it. It could use a little more seasoning, but the recipe is a great start. I’m not on keto but I THINK everything in this is ok (except the bread crumbs, of course). Hope you find it useful!

  • Reply
    Monique Thomsen
    March 21, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Yum will try the recipes curious what time do you eat and what is your fasting times? No snacks in the eating window other than the one meal? And what do you drink all day just water? No coffee in morning?

    • Reply
      Kristi
      March 21, 2019 at 11:41 am

      I generally strive to have lunch ready around noon or 12:30, which puts our fasting hours from about 2:00pm to noon the next day. I generally don’t eat any snacks at all during those fasting hours (because then it wouldn’t actually be fasting 😀 ), but on rare occasions, I will give into the temptation of a slice of cheese before bedtime. But most days, I’m not tempted to eat a snack because I’m simply not hungry. I’m not a regular coffee drinker, although on occasion, I will enjoy a bulletproof coffee, but I keep it as close to my eating window as possible, and make sure to put it into my Carb Manager so it tracks the fat. The rest of the day, I drink tea (sweetened with stevia) and water. Tea is my drink of choice, so Matt generally has to remind me to drink water. 🙂

  • Reply
    Julie
    March 21, 2019 at 11:19 am

    Kristi what hours are your eating window? I’m doing IF 16 hours with an 8 hour eating window but I also eat 2 meals. I’m working towards OMAD but wondering if I can stop eating mid-day or maybe just need to stretch out my fasting hours until dinner time. Just wondered when you eat and how those hours work for you. Thanks! Glad to see this new blog from you!

    • Reply
      Kristi
      March 21, 2019 at 11:44 am

      Ours is generally between about noon or 12:30 to 2:00. We take our time with our one meal. 🙂 If you do OMAD, you can certainly choose to eat at dinner time, if that fits your schedule better. A mid-day meal fits my schedule better, and I love that it frees up the entire afternoon and evening for me to work on my house projects without interruption. If for no other reason, I’d do OMAD just for the time it frees up the rest of the day! 😀

  • Reply
    Jacquie Z
    March 21, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Thanks for sharing your daily meal with us, we eat OMAD Keto also.

  • Reply
    Patricia
    March 21, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Could Kristi and some of you share what you’ve read about stevia in drinks during fasting ? I think Dr. Berry says that any kind of sweetner negates the fast, even if it’s calorie free. I can drink black coffee in the morning but it really is a bummer. I’d rather have my coffee with stevia and cream, or stevia and coconut cream. Any thoughts?

    • Reply
      Kristi
      March 21, 2019 at 1:16 pm

      Ugh. You might be right. 🙁 I just watched this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSJvIu5jRNw

      I think I’m going to try a few days without tea (which, for me, will be just about as challenging as giving up sugar initially…makes me want to cry), and see if I can tell a difference.

  • Reply
    MissElaineous
    March 21, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    I was thrilled to learn that you were starting a blog about your keto journey! While I’m technically “doing keto,” I’ve had a terrible time finding recipes that aren’t horrendously time-consuming, awful, and/or expensive, so I mentally changed my approach by seeing it as a complete lifestyle change where I cut out as much sugar as humanly possible, eat fresh (non-processed) food whenever possible, and eat only when I’m hungry instead of what time it is. While I’ve only lost a few pounds, I know I’m finally listening to and giving my body what it truly needs–and I can tell a huge difference in mental clarity.

    As an avid follower of you A2D blog, I was hoping you would carry the same style and approach to keto as you do decorating and renovations. I’m thrilled to say YOU DO–the only drawback (LOL!) is that now I have ANOTHER excellent blog to follow! I’m thrilled to join you on this journey, too, because I know you’ll share honest, logical–and often hilarious!–experiences with everything you do. THANK YOU for making your A2K blog one that I can relate to and enjoy!

  • Reply
    janice dinse
    March 21, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    I love this idea of you showing pictures of what you eat daily and the recipes. Great job.

  • Reply
    Jan Brown
    March 22, 2019 at 12:02 am

    Thank you for taking the time to share your keto journey. I started keto made a lot of mistakes at first (was eating too much protein). Finally, lost a few pounds and inches was feeling great, then” life” happened stress, holidays you know the usual distractions. After reading your blog I’m going to try again. Thanks

  • Reply
    Theresa P
    March 27, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Your comments about cauliflower not being a potato crack me up! I feel the same way! I will say that when I did keto for a while I made cauliflower potato salad, using cauliflower instead of potato and then dill relish, hard boiled egg, onion, etc. like potato salad. It didn’t come across as fake potatoes. I just came out like a yummy way to eat cauliflower. My hubs and I liked it so much that we decided we didn’t need real potato salad any more and will eat that instead! So, if you’re into pickles and cauliflower, its a good option.

  • Reply
    BeckyJ
    April 8, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    I’ve been doing lchf since Jan 2018. Strict 20gr total carb and lost 45# in three months. Since then I’ve been less strict and have maintained thru lots of travel including 2 cruises and lots of eating out.. I have about 20 more I’d like to lose so will buckle down and get it done before summer. I keep it pretty simple and don’t try and duplicate high carb food w/low carb ingredients much but I Found that a good substitute for potatoes when cooking a pot roast is to cook radishes with it. They have much the same consistency and don’t taste at all like a radish, more like they absorb the beef broth flavor. There are so many YouTube videos to learn about lchf/keto eating!

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