All posts by Jeff Fidler

low carb burgers

Low Carb Burgers – Meat Blends & Buns

The Complete Low Carb Burger Guide

Whether you’re grilling on a beautiful summer evening or searing on a stovetop in the winter, everyone should be able to enjoy a burger. This includes low carb dieters who often feel as if they need to forego burgers unless they want to eat it without toppings and wrapped in a rather stark leaf of lettuce.

If you know what you’re doing, burgers can fit into most low carbs diets. In fact, they can be just as juicy, satisfying and delicious as a “regular” burger. With only a few minor adjustments, you can enjoy this classic meal often and guilt-free.

Let’s get started so you can begin prepping burgers for tonight’s dinner. We’ll introduce you to what a proper meat blend consists of and which low carb toppings and buns are best. Lastly, we’ll share a beef burger recipe and a chicken burger recipe that you’ll love.

Meat Blends

The basis of a low carb diet is to minimize one’s daily carb intake while increasing the amount of protein and fat consumed. This means that you can enjoy various meats if you’re careful about pairings and diligently choosing which toppings and ingredients to include.

Burgers are traditionally made with a blend of meats to ensure that there is enough fat to deliver the most flavour. The lean-to-fat ratio should be 70/30. This means that 30% of your blend should be dedicated to fat, giving it a better chance to cook to a medium or medium-rare temperature.

If you have a meat grinder, we recommend using one of these cuts of beef:

  • Chuck steak
  • Sirloin
  • Short rib
  • Brisket
  • Hangar steak
  • Skirt steak

You then want to combine the freshly ground beef with a fat like bacon or bacon trimmings.

Tip: For the same effect – simply mix lean or medium ground beef with ground pork. The two balance each other out and it’s a great way to improve the flavour for burgers and anything else you traditionally use ground beef for.

Burger Toppings & Flavouring

Toppings can take a burger from good to great. Luckily, a lot of fun and tasty options happen to be low carb, including:

  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Lettuce including kale and spinach
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes

Onions are also okay as a burger topping but use a small amount because they are higher in carbs than other vegetables.

Additionally, you can enhance your meat blend with a seasoning like one from Mrs. Dash prior to cooking. Their Salt-Free Garlic and Herb Seasoning can enhance a burger’s natural flavour.

Burger Condiments

Even the juiciest patties can be lacking without ketchup or a spicy mustard. The trick is to find delicious low carb condiments that taste better than their less nutritious counterparts.

Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Ketchup is all-natural, deriving its sweetness from Xylitol while still packing that tomato punch. This condiment lets you lower your sugar intake and enjoy burgers without adding too many additional carbs to your meal.

Walden Farms Calorie-Free Ketchup is made from fresh ground herbs and spices and has no calories, sugar, fat, cholesterol or carbs. It’s great to pour onto your burger or to mix with some spice if you want a condiment with a bit more of a kick.

Mr. Spice Low Sodium Honey Mustard is a gourmet condiment that’s healthy, all-natural and features a delightful mix of sweetness and spice. A small amount can elevate your burger to the next level.

Amazin Mayo is a low carb option from Walden Farms that’s rich, creamy and fat-free. Also available in Chipotle, Pomegranate, Honey Mustard and Ranch.

If you’re more of an aioli person, then check out Primal Kitchen Paleo Garlic Aioli. An aioli is an emulsion that’s traditionally made with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and an egg yolk. Primal kitchen’s unique taste comes from avocado oil and cage-free eggs.

Low Carb Burger Buns

Buns are where things can get tricky for low carb burgers. Many low carb burger recipes will have you wrapping the patty in a lettuce leaf or simply ditching the bun altogether. Fortunately, you can have your burger complete with a great tasting bun! Here are some of the most popular and delicious low carb buns worth trying.

Unbun is a great option for hamburgers. In addition to being low carb, it’s gluten and grain-free and keto and paleo-friendly. They are dense enough to hold sauces and toppings without becoming soggy, yet are still soft and delicious. Per 85g, there are 15g of fat, 5.2g of net carbs, 12.2g of fibre and 10g of protein.

Dream Hamburger Buns can hold a hamburger together and has the texture of a freshly baked bun. They contain no preservatives and taste like the best buns at your favourite bakery. Per 56g, there are 3.5g of fat, 1g of net carbs, 17g of fibre and 14g of protein.

No matter what burger bun you choose, one tip to make a good burger in to a great burger is to toast the bun. It helps give the bun a different texture and a subtle ‘crunch’ that adds a gourmet flair without much effort. This is easy, and can be done in a couple of different ways. For the fastest and easiest way to toast a bun, simply throw both halves inner-side down on the top rack of your BBQ for a few seconds before the patties are cooked to warm the buns all the way through and give them a light toasting.

However, for the best toasted burger bun just add a light layer of butter on the inside of each half, and place them butter-side up on a baking sheet in your oven with the broiler on high (or the grill works good too – on high heat).  Watch them closely to ensure they don’t burn, and in just a few minutes, they will become crispy and golden-brown. The butter helps give them an amazing flavour that will really enhance the taste of your burger. Trust us on this one, it makes a huge difference.

Burger Recipes

Here are two low carb burger recipes that we think you’ll love. Please note that we have made some adjustments to either minimize the carb count or to provide an alternative ingredient that can make it even better without impacting nutrition.

Keto Sheet Pan Burgers with Bacon and Jalapeno

This recipe makes tender burgers that are packed with flavour and topped with delectable ingredients.

For the burger patties, you will need 24 oz. of ground beef (a ratio of 80/20 chuck is recommended), 1 tsp. of kosher salt, ¼ tsp. of ground black pepper and ½ tsp. of garlic powder.

For the toppings, you will need six bacon slices, four onion slices, two jalapenos seeded and cut into thick rings and four slices of pepper jack cheese.

To make a creamy sauce with wonderful depth of flavour, you will need ¼ cup of Walden Farms Amazin Mayo, 1 tbsp. of Sriracha hot sauce, ½ tsp. of Worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp. of granulated erythritol sweetener.

Preheat your oven to 425F. In a bowl, hand mix the ground beef, garlic powder, salt and pepper. The next step is to make four patties of equal size and to place them on a baking sheet with ample space between them. Fill these spaces with the bacon, onion rings and jalapenos and bake for 18 minutes.

Make the sauce by mixing Walden Farms Amazin Mayo, Sriracha, Worcestershire sauce and the sweetener until it’s a smooth consistency. Then, refrigerate until it is needed.

Once the burgers are cooked, place a slice of cheese on each patty and turn the oven to broil. Broil for two minutes until the cheese is melted. Now, remove from the oven and start building the burgers. Place some bacon, a slice of onion and the number of jalapenos you want on each patty.

This recipe calls for the patty to be wrapped in lettuce but we have a better idea. True burger fans need a bun, so try one from Unbun. It’s the perfect thickness to hold everything in place without breaking apart.

Healthy Chicken Burgers

For those who aren’t the biggest fans of beef, here is a chicken burger recipe that is tasty, low carb and easy to make.

All you need is 1 lb. of ground chicken, ½ cup of finely diced onion, two garlic cloves minced, ¾ tsp. of sea salt, ¼ tsp. of smoked paprika and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Start by mixing together the chicken, onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Separate the mixture into four equal sections. Then wet your hands so that mixture doesn’t stick to them and form each section into a roughly 1” thick burger patty.

Grease a 12” skillet with olive oil and heat it up on medium-high. Place all four patties in the skillet and cook them for 5 minutes. Flip them over and cook for an additional 5 minutes until the patties reach an internal temperature of 165F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can slice one patty open to make sure the middle isn’t pink.

Place the patty between two buns that have been lightly warmed in the oven. We recommend one from either Unbun or Dream.

Enjoy Burgers Tonight!

With the right knowledge and ingredients, you can treat yourself to a mighty low carb burger topped with the best toppings and condiments and served on a bun.

Don’t forget to shop for all the other low carb products you need to ensure you maintain your diet and enjoy memorable meals.

We also have a few other BBQ related posts you might want to peruse – including the propane vs charcoal BBQ debate, BBQ tools and gadget worth considering, how to clean your BBQ, keto friendly BBQ side dishes and more.

sugar free pancake syrup

Sugar Free Syrups – Great For Pancakes!

Davinci, Joseph’s and Walden Farms Sugar-Free Pancake Syrup

With respect to most low carb diets, it sometimes feels like breakfast is relegated to smoothies or a cold bowl of oatmeal. Remember, just because you’re cutting carbs doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of your favourite breakfast foods like pancakes and waffles.

Making a stack of keto-friendly pancakes is great but only if you pair it with the right toppings. The goal should be to find the best sugar-free syrups so you can enjoy your breakfast guilt-free.

Let’s start by introducing you to the basics of pancake syrup and why it’s become a fixture in most people’s diets. Next, we’ll introduce you to three brands that make a sugar-free version that you should check out. Lastly, we’ll share two pancake recipes and two waffle recipes, all of which are low carb and delicious.

Pancake Syrup

A syrup is a thick liquid that usually consists of a solution made up of dissolved sugar in water. Its consistency is like a slightly looser molasses and it is used to add sweetness to foods that generally lack flavour like pancakes.

Most pancake syrups are made with some combination of high fructose corn syrup, water, salt, artificial flavouring and some form of preservatives like sorbic acid or sodium benzoate.

Popular brands like Aunt Jemima are high carb and loaded with sugar and preservatives. Their lack of nutrition prevents them from participating in most diets including low carb ones. Luckily, there are some sugar-free options that taste amazing and allow you to continue eating pancakes and waffles while you lose weight by restricting carbs.

Davinci Syrups

Davinci is a U.S.-based syrup producer that creates gourmet syrups that are perfect for pancakes, waffles, French toast and other foods. They taste like the classical syrup but unlike many of their competitors they are made only from super high ingredients to ensure the best final product.

They offer a variety of flavours for those feeling more adventurous, many compliment pancakes and waffles or can be included in certain baking recipes. Flavours include blueberry, banana and butterscotch and many others, all of which are sugar-free.

Per 2 tbsp., there are 0 calories, 0g of fat and no carbs.

Joseph’s Syrups

Known for their products specifically made for diabetics and dieters, Joseph’s offers a leading sugar-free syrup alternative to traditional pancake syrup. It’s a delicious sweet syrup that tastes like many of the popular “regular” brands like Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth. Additionally, this product is gluten and kosher-free.

Its list of ingredients is quite short: water, maltitol and all-natural maple flavour. You can even use this product to replace the sauces that you usually enjoy on top of ice cream. Most importantly, its delightful thickness makes it the perfect topping for a stack of low carb hot cakes.

Per ¼ cup, there are 35 calories, 0g of fat, 9g of carbs and 9g of sugar alcohols.

Walden Farms Syrups

Walden Farms has built their business and reputation on producing the most amazing low carb syrups, sauces, dressings, dips and fruits spreads. Their sugar-free pancake syrup is no exception. It’s delicious, thick and elevates pancakes, waffles, ice cream or any other foods that you enjoy with syrup. It’s also available in single serving packets.

Its ingredients include but are not limited to maple flavour, natural flavours, sucralose, salt, caramel and beta carotene.

Per ¼ cup, there are 0 calories, 0g of fat and 0g of carbs.

Low Carb Pancake Recipes

Please note that some adjustments have been made to ensure each recipe is as low carb as possible. If you make further adjustments or additions, you could alter the carb count.

Don’t forget to top these recipes with your favourite sugar-free pancake syrup!

Pancakes with Almond Flour and Coconut Flour

These keto pancakes are fluffy, light, easy to make and only take 20 minutes including prep time.

To make, gather 1 cup of blanched almond flour, ¼ cup of coconut flour, 2-3 tbsp. of erythritol, 1 tsp. of gluten-free baking powder, five large eggs, 1/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk, ¼ cup of avocado oil (feel free to substitute with a neutral tasting oil that is liquid at room temperature), 1 ½ tsp. of vanilla extract and ¼ tsp. of sea salt.

There are only two steps to make these amazing low carb pancakes. First, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until it reaches a smooth consistency. It should look like a typical pancake batter but if it’s too thick you can add a touch more milk. Careful, though, not to add too much as it could turn the finished product soggy.

The second step is heat up an oiled pan on medium-low heat. Spoon the batter into the pan, forming each into circles using a spatula. Cover and cook for about 1.5-2 minutes until you notice that bubbles are forming. Flip and cook for the same amount of time. Repeat until you run out of batter.

Keto Cheese Pancakes

Fans of savoury breakfasts will love this recipe that pairs pancakes with the delightful combo of bacon and eggs. This is a great low carb option for those who don’t like eating something sweet for breakfast.

To make the pancake you will need, three large eggs, ¼ tsp. of cream of tartar or apple cider vinegar, ½ cup of parmesan, 2 tbsp. of coconut flour, 2 tbsp. of chopped chives and your preferred amount of salt and pepper. Additionally, you will need 1-2 eggs per serving, bacon and an avocado.

Start by separating the egg whites from their yolks. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites adding the cream of tartar in the process to form stiff peaks. With a light touch, fold in the egg yolks and then add the grated parmesan. Sift in the coconut flour and add the chives. The last step of this stage is to season with salt and pepper.

Grease a small pan with ghee and heat it over medium heat. As soon as it’s hot, pour in the pancake mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the surface bubble. Next, broil on high for 3-5 minutes until the top is a light golden colour.

Now that the pancake is ready, it’s time to add your favourite savoury items. Fry the egg and crisp the bacon until they reach your desired doneness and slice the avocado. Carefully transfer the pancake to a plate and top with the egg, bacon and avocado. Now all you must do is enjoy!

Low Carb Waffle Recipes

Low Carb Chicken and Waffles

If you love this southern classic that perfectly combines sweet and savoury, then check out this low carb version that doesn’t skimp on flavour.

To make the waffles, you should use ¾ cup of almond flour, 1 tbsp. of coconut flour, 1 tsp. of salt, ½ tsp. of baking soda, three eggs, 3 tbsp. of evaporated milk or a combination of soy milk and olive oil (as heavy cream substitutes), 1 tsp. of vanilla extract and 2 tbsp. of monk fruit.

To make, heat the waffle maker to 350F or the medium setting. Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and monk fruit. To this mixture, add the eggs, evaporated milk or soy milk and olive oil mixture and vanilla extract and stir everything until it fully incorporates. Pour into the maker and cook for roughly one minute.

The ingredients for the chicken tenders are 1 lbs. of chicken breast, 1 cup of almond flour, ½ tbsp. of garlic powder, ½ tbsp. of onion powder, ½ tbsp. of salt, ½ tbsp. of pepper, two eggs, ¼ cup of butter melted and ½ cup of olive oil.

Add olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. Set up a dredging station that includes one bowl of the eggs and melted butter and another of breading consisting of almond flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cut the chicken in 2” wide strips and dip each into the egg followed by the breading. Place the fully coated chicken in the hot oil and cook for 3 minutes per side or until it is fully cooked through.

Protein Waffles

These protein-rich waffles are healthy and as easy to whip up as any pancake recipe.

Gather 23g of protein powder, 1/4 cup of egg whites (diluted with 2-3 tbsp. of water), 1-2 tbsp. of mashed banana or pumpkin purée, ½ tsp. of baking powder, ¼ tsp. of ground cinnamon and ¼ tsp. of pure vanilla extract.

Get your waffle maker nice and hot and spray the top and bottom with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until the batter is completely smooth. You can add water to make the consistency more batter-like (pourable but not too thin). Pour the batter onto the bottom iron and spread it evenly with a spoon.

Once the waffles are ready, plate them and top with your favourite low carb ingredients like strawberries, raspberries or peaches. You can also make a low carb and sugar-free whipped cream if your diet allows for a small amount of heavy cream.

Make a Memorable Breakfast!

Ready to roll out of bed and enjoy some amazing low carb breakfasts? Make sure you have the right sugar-free syrup to elevate your pancakes and waffles.

Intermittent Fasting – Can It Help Weight Loss?

Intermittent Fasting – Is It Worth It?

Are you thinking about trying intermittent fasting? Here’s everything you need to know before you get started.

Intermittent fasting can seem daunting at first, but once your body gets into the rhythm of it, there are a lot of potential benefits. These include higher energy levels, improved brain function, weight management and even reduced sugar cravings – a common experience when starting a ketogenic or low carb diet. Fasting like this can also help regulate insulin levels so it is a good option for diabetics. Let’s go deeper into how intermittent fasting can provide these benefits:

Weight Loss

This is usually the most popular goal when choosing to intermittent fast because it is a simple and effective way to lose some extra weight. When you fast, your body will naturally use up available stored glucose and then transition into burning stores of fat – this is how the weight loss occurs. If you’re looking to burn fat, fasting is one tried and true way to get rid of it. Note that it can be dangerous to fast for too long, but intermittent fasting is the perfect solution that still allows you to get your favourite meals in during the day.

Cellular Detox

The cells in your body naturally accumulate waste, which can interfere with healthy cellular function. Intermittent fasting allows your body more time to remove this waste and you won’t generate any additional waste in the meantime.

Healthy Aging

Intermittent fasting can protect the cardiovascular system and help manage blood sugar levels, which can prevent a number of diseases with later life onsets. Fasting has also been shown to promote tranquility which can reduce the aging effects of stress on the body.

We are not recommending intermittent fasting as a long-term lifestyle, but it can certainly help with specific short-term goals. Intermittent fasting even just once or twice a week has been shown to have significant health benefits.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting (not eating) and periods of eating. This means you consume all of your daily calories within a shortened time window, typically 6-10 hours of the day. It is fairly simple and highly rewarding.

Here is a breakdown of what 24 hours of intermittent fasting might look like:

  1. Stop eating around 8:00pm the night before.
  2. Go to sleep! (Sleep is a natural fasting period.)
  3. Skip breakfast the next day.
  4. Eat your first meal of the day in the early afternoon (12:00-2:00pm).
  5. Eat 1-2 more meals and stop eating at 8:00pm again.
  6. Repeat!

The times above can obviously be adjusted to your lifestyle and how long you can comfortably go without eating.

If you struggle with skipping breakfast, try some of these tips:

  • Exercise when you wake up to kill time and work up an appetite.
  • Drinking an appetite suppressant (make sure it’s zero calories), such as black coffee or tea. You could add cinnamon or nutmeg to your coffee for a little extra flavour, or even a zero-calorie natural sweetener!
  • Drink water. It’s very important to stay hydrated during fasting periods.

The good thing about intermittent fasting is that when you shorten your eating window, you tend to consume less calories in a day than you would if you began eating early in the day because you will need less snacks to keep you satiated between spread-out mealtimes. This is another way that intermittent fasting can help with weight loss.

Not eating in the evening is also essential to this process. It might be hard to resist snacking before bed, but it can actually improve your digestion and sleep quality if you resist eating 1-2 hours before bed.

Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting: Debunked! 

A lot of people on a ketogenic diet may wonder if they can consume bulletproof coffee in the morning if they are intermittent fasting. Let’s go deeper:

What is bulletproof coffee?

Bulletproof coffee is an emulsion of coffee and MCT oil, butter or full fat cream. Therefore, it has a very high fat content and low to no carbs.

Will bulletproof coffee break your fast?

The short answer is yes – drinking bulletproof coffee in the morning will break your fast, which is not a good thing if you are trying to make it until lunchtime. This is because it provides an additional source of fuel for your body, much like eating food. If your goal is weight loss, then having bulletproof coffee is not a good idea. Instead of burning stored fat, your body will use the ketones produced from drinking bulletproof coffee (specifically the MCT oil and cream) as a fuel source instead.

The Role of Caffeine During Intermittent Fasting 

Although bulletproof coffee is a no-go, black coffee has actually been shown to enhance the benefits if intermittent fasting, especially if you are on a keto diet. This is because caffeine has been shown to support the production of ketones and help stabilize blood sugar levels. Try one of these keto-friendly coffee boosters to increase the vitamin content and energy boost from your cup of joe!

Tea Can Improve Your Fasting Experience 

Tea has also been shown to help manage and even make intermittent fasting more enjoyable! Here’s how tea can enhance the benefits of intermittent fasting:

  1. It helps increase satiety

Green tea has been proven to support healthy ghrelin levels – a hormone that is responsible for feelings of hunger. Stabilizing levels of ghrelin can alleviate hunger pangs and other feelings of discomfort that can occur when you first start fasting.

  1. Promotes a state of “calm energy”

The caffeine from tea is unlike that found in coffee. In comparison, tea can promote a more focused awareness and you won’t get the jitters. Tea also provides more sustained energy so you won’t experience a crash that can often occur when you drink coffee. In addition, many teas promote feelings of calmness, tranquility and ease which can help with any hunger-related mood swings.

  1. Supports cell health

Tea is a powerhouse when it comes to antioxidants. The polyphenols in tea help your body fight off free radicals which can in turn leave you feeling energized, support gut health and digestion, improve your mental focus and even make your skin glow! 

So, which types of tea are best for intermittent fasting? Here’s a few that we recommend:

  • Green tea – Packed with potent antioxidants and ghrelin-stabilizing compounds, green tea is a great option for whenever you feel hunger pangs or want an immune boost.
  • Black tea – Did you know black tea leaves are really just fermented green tea leaves? This means it is a prebiotic – great for promoting gut health! Black tea also contains higher levels of caffeine if you need a bigger boost in the morning to get your day started.
  • Ginger tea – Ginger is known for its ability to alleviate nausea and it can also increase satiety. This is a great one to have after dinner to help with digestion and prevent late night snacking!
  • Hibiscus tea – Naturally caffeine-free, hibiscus tea is praised for its skin benefits and vitalizing antioxidant content. It tastes light and fruity so it’s perfect in place of a sweet dessert.

To unlock the full antioxidant benefits of tea, it is recommended to drink a minimum of 3 cups of high-quality tea per day. But be prepared to make an investment in higher quality teas because some of the inexpensive teas often use improper methods of processing that can strip away the original nutrients in the tea leaves, or they’ve been sitting on the grocery aisle shelves for much too long.

Here are some other tips for tea brewing to get the most out of your cup:

  • Don’t use boiling hot water (let it cool after it reaches boiling point) or try cold brewing your tea. This is easier than it sounds – but it takes a little longer since heat normally speeds up the steeping process. The good thing is you can make a big batch that will last you at least a couple of days. A cold brewed cup of tea contains 2 to 3 times the antioxidants of a hot brewed cup! This means you actually have to drink less in order to get the same benefits as 3 hot brewed cups per day.
  • Cover the top of your mug while your tea steeps to make sure all the benefits stay inside your cup and don’t float away with the steam!
  • Use a tea filter for loose leaf teas, some are disposable and biodegradable. Great for making cold brew or tea on the go!

Stay Connected 

If you have tried intermittent fasting, share your experience and tips with us on Facebook or tag us on Instagram. We also love to stay connected with our Weekly Newsletters for updates on the latest products and special sales. Also, please leave us a Google Review with your Low Carb Grocery experiences!

How To Understand Canadian Nutrition Labels

Decoding Food Nutrition Labeling in Canada

Do nutrition facts labels confuse you? Read our guide below for how to read them with a keen eye for what’s good and what’s bad.  

Nutrition labels can be helpful yet cryptic. It is not only useful to know how to read them and what to pay attention to, but also to take the information with a grain of salt. We recommend cross referencing the ingredients list to ensure that the nutrients you see in the nutrition facts label are coming from good sources.

There are good and bad types of almost everything. Here’s our breakdown of good and bad calories, fats and carbohydrates.

Good vs Bad Calories

Calories are not necessarily bad, but they can be an indication of what’s inside the product you’re holding. Certain things will seriously drive up the calorie count in foods:

  • Fats
  • Sugars
  • Starches

In addition, food processing can increase the number of calories in food. This is because the body can break down processed foods more completely (since most of the work is already done). In today’s modern world, calories are not far and few. In fact, we tend to over-eat and under-exercise. So, these extra calories in processed foods are not helpful, especially for weight loss.

Good vs Bad Fats

You probably already know that trans fats are bad, but there are other kinds of fats, too.

Specifically, there are unsaturated (with subtypes monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and saturated fats. While this may sound very confusing, it’s really just describing the chemical structures of these different fat molecules. Some are more reactive or more stable than others, affecting the way they are processed by our bodies.

In simple terms, follow these two rules for fats:

  • Unsaturated fats are healthy and safe to consume.
  • When it comes to saturated fats, it depends on the source. Look for plant-based sources and foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids for your best options.

If you are interested in this topic, we wrote a whole article about the different types of fats and how to distinguish them.

Good vs Bad Carbohydrates

Carbs can be a confusing subject since many different things fall into the category of carbohydrates. For simplicity’s sake, the three main types are sugars, starches and fibre.

If you are counting net carbs, then you can subtract fibre from the total carbohydrates listed on a nutrition facts label. Sugar alcohols are also typically used instead of sugars in keto-friendly foods because they are not absorbed by the bloodstream, so these also do not count towards net carbs.

Whether you are counting your net carb intake or not, it is important to look at the source of the carbohydrates. There are two generally classified types of carbs: complex and simple.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates typically refer to sugars, which have very simple molecular structures. This type of carbohydrate is processed easily by the body and quickly converted into glucose that can be used by the brain, muscles, liver and fat cells.

Simple carbs are like “quick-fix” solutions for energy. Eating a large amount of them can cause major spikes in blood sugar levels throughout the day as they are used up just as quickly as they are converted into energy.

Simple carbs can occur naturally in some foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Milk
  • Milk products (cheese, butter, etc.)

They can also be found in processed and refined foods such as:

  • Candy and chocolates
  • Table sugar
  • Syrups
  • Soda
  • Cereals
  • White bread
  • Bakery items (cookies, donuts, cakes, etc.)

You can probably guess from these lists that you should avoid or limit your intake of simple carbs. Keep an eye out for things like fructose, maltose, sucrose, lactose, dextrose (and other variations of these names) when reading ingredients lists. As a general rule, avoid anything that ends with “-ose” as these will send your blood sugar levels through the roof. Aim to consume mostly complex carbs for more sustained energy throughout the day.

Complex Carbohydrates 

Complex carbohydrates include starches and fibre. They are processed by the body more slowly than simple carbs, meaning that we can use these fuel sources for longer periods of time before needing another boost of energy.

Starches are the way that plants store energy they get from the sun (meaning that they can also carry a lot of calories). Plants produce their own glucose molecules from their energy sources, just like us, and these chains of glucose molecules form starches. The longer the chain, the longer it takes to break down in our digestive systems. Long chain starches can be found in foods such as legumes, root vegetables, cracked wheat, brown rice, barley, quinoa and oats. Note that these are probably the types of carbs you should avoid if you are following a low carb or ketogenic diet, or if you are watching your calorie intake.

When it comes to fibre, there are two types: soluble and insoluble. Both are important to consume, and do not count towards net carbs.

Soluble Fibre

When eaten, soluble fibre attracts water and turns into a gel-like substance that aids digestion. Consuming soluble fibre has also been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels, inflammation and blood pressure, as well as improve heart health.

Sources of soluble fibre include:

  • Oats
  • Flaxseed
  • Beans and peas
  • Potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Citrus fruits
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Avocados
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Turnips

One vegetable that is very high in soluble fibre is okra! You can tell because of its characteristic “slimy” insides, that some people either love or hate. Depending on preparation, you will get varying levels of sliminess and thus soluble fibre. One of the newest products to hit the market, Oh My Okra, is a vacuum fried version of this fibre-rich vegetable. The vacuum frying technique allows for the water content of the slime to be removed but the preservation of over 80% of the original nutrients. Try a bag today – you won’t be able to put it down!

Insoluble Fibre

Insoluble fibre cannot be digested or absorbed by the body. Instead, it helps to move everything else through the digestive tract, which is a very important function. Eating foods rich in insoluble fibre can help with regular bowel movements and keep you feeling full longer (a great way to prevent excessive snacking).

Sources of insoluble fibre include:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Root vegetables
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Cauliflower
  • Fruits with edible seeds (for example, most berries, pomegranates and tomatoes)
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds (flax and chia are good sources)

Insoluble fibre is often found in the skins of many fruits and vegetables. Keep the skins on your eggplants, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers and apples (just make sure to wash them first thoroughly).

As you can see from the two lists above, many foods have both soluble and insoluble fibre. This is good because eating as many fruits and veggies as you can during the day ensures you are getting a good amount of both types of fibre.

Try our favorite high-fibre products from The Low Carb Grocery that top our list of high fibre foods:

KZ Clean Eating Low Carb High Fibre Crispbreads, Chia Flavour


Smart Sweets Stevia-Sweetened Gummies with 28g of Fibre per pouch

Reading Nutrition Labels 

Now that you are well-versed in the different types of calories, fats and carbs, you can start to apply this knowledge to reading nutrition facts labels. Below is an outline for how to read these labels in stages and what to look for at each stage:

1. Serving Size – This is often overlooked, but worth noting. Something could appear great, but you might need to multiply all the nutrition facts by 2 or 3 for the actual amount you plan to eat.

2. % Daily Values ­– although these percentages are based on mainstream dietary recommendations, you should consider these values when it comes to the micronutrients listed on a nutrition facts label (i.e. everything besides fat, carbs and protein). A % daily value of ≤5% is considered a little, while anything above this is considered a significant source of that nutrient.

3. Calories – If something is high in calories, cross reference the ingredients list for possible sources. Does the food include a lot of added sugars, trans fats, simple carbs or starches? If so, the energy sources of these calories are not very high quality.

4. Fats ­– Review what we covered above for the types of carbohydrates to look out for, according to your diet. If you are lucky, you might even get a breakdown of omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Always make sure there is a higher amount of omega-3s relative to the others.

5. Cholesterol – This can get controversial because there are good (LDL) and bad (HDL) types of cholesterol. Again, look to the ingredients list to find the source(s) of cholesterol, if made available in the nutrition facts label.

6. Sodium – % Daily value is important here, but acceptable sodium levels will vary by food type. For example, if the soy sauce you’re using has high sodium – that’s fine (use sparingly). But if the bread, cereal, soups or sauces you eat are high in sodium, it might be time to look for a different brand.

7. Carbohydrates – Review what we covered above for the types of carbohydrates to look out for, according to your diet.

8. Vitamins and Minerals – You will almost never find an excess of these, and the more the better! Unfortunately, this section of nutrition facts labels can vary between products and, in general, it often lacks comprehensiveness. There are a few minerals and vitamins that are almost always listed such as Vitamin D, iron, calcium and potassium. You can search items from the ingredients list online for a better idea of the other nutrients present in your food.

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If you applied any of these suggestions or have any of your own tips for reading nutrition labels, let us know with a comment on Facebook or tag us on Instagram. We also love to stay connected with our Weekly Newsletters for updates on the latest products and special sales. And please leave us a Google Review with your Low Carb Grocery feedback!

Low Carb Potato Substitutes

Pitching the Potatoes – Low Carb Alternatives

That’s mashed cauliflower – who would have thought!?

For centuries, meat and potatoes have been a way of life; a mantra of meal planning so deeply engrained in our collective psyche, that it’s almost a religion. But potatoes are a high glycemic side dish and could bring you out of ketosis very quickly. The answer? We have seven below.

  1. Cauliflower (2g net carbs per cup)

Cauliflower is quickly becoming the superstar of the low carb world, with many people praising it for its similarity to mashed potatoes, rice and even pizza crust when prepared certain ways.

This cruciferous vegetable can imitate more starchy, high carb vegetables due to its similar texture and bland (versatile!) flavour. Other great transformations could include cauliflower breakfast hash, cauliflower grilled cheese, cauliflower mac and cheese, cauliflower fried rice, buffalo cauliflower bites, cauliflower chowder, or even cauliflower eggs benedict. We support getting creative and coming up with your own recipes incorporating cauliflower. The possibilities are endless!

Check out these two innovative products made from cauliflower: Hippie Snacks Cauliflower Crisps and Keto And Co Dry Riced Cauliflower. Available at the Low Carb Grocery in stores and online!

Or, try out this recipe for cauliflower tater tots—you’re welcome!

  1. Cut a head of cauliflower into small chunks
  2. Steam the chunks over boiling water on the stove
  3. Remove from heat and strain the cauliflower, then place it in a bowl and mash.
  4. Mix in 2 beaten eggs, half a cup of parmesan (or dairy-free alternative), and onion or garlic to taste.
  5. Form the mixture into bite size balls and bake at 400° for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Other Benefits of Cauliflower

  • High in fibre for good digestive health
  • High in B vitamins
  • High in antioxidants that can protect against cancer
  • Can improve learning and memory
  • Helps the liver produce detoxifying enzymes (try some cauliflower in the morning, after an “eventful” night)
  • Contains almost as much Vitamin C as oranges
  1. Turnips (4g net carbs per cup) 

A turnip looks similar to a radish that is mostly white with a purple top. Bright colours like this in vegetables and fruits are always a good indicator of a rich nutrient profile! Turnips are related to other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale, but their texture can resemble that of potatoes and other root vegetables.

When buying turnips, make sure to choose ones that are small but heavy for their size. This will ensure they are sweeter and milder in flavour and have a higher water content (drinking water is not the only way to hydrate your body!). Make sure to store them in a cool, low-light area to mimic their natural subterranean environment and maintain their freshness.

Challenge yourself to making classic potato dishes with turnips instead! Some ideas include: oven roasted turnips, turnip gratin, turnip latkes, slow cooker turnips, turnip soup, or mashed turnips with bacon bits.

Other Benefits of Turnips

  • High in fibre which can help relieve intestinal problems
  • Promotes bowel health
  • High in antioxidants that can protect against cancer
  • Contains important minerals such as iron, zinc and folate
  • Promotes healthy bones
  • Can prevent eyesight problems 
  1. Daikon (2g net carbs per cup) 

Daikon is a type of radish that looks like a large white carrot. However, unlike the more common small red radishes that have a characteristic peppery and potent taste, the daikon radish is milder, sweeter and crispier.

Due to its high-water content (85%-95% depending on preparation), daikon is a perfectly crunchy low-carb addition to salads, which will make them feel a lot more satisfying. It can also be added to soups, stews and curries. Warm and comforting dishes like these are especially great because daikon tends to be in season in the wintertime. But unlike a lot of high-carb starchy vegetables we’re used to eating around the holidays – like squash, potatoes, and pumpkin – daikon will not raise your net carb intake drastically.

Other Benefits of Daikon

  • High in B vitamins and Vitamin C
  • High in fibre (helps digestion)
  • Has fat burning properties
  • Boosts immunity (another reason to consume in the wintertime)
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Helps detoxify the body
  • Nourishes skin due to high mineral and water content
  1. Kohlrabi (2 g carbs/27 calories per 100 g)

Here’s a riddle for you…

Q:  Which vegetable looks like a large green or purple turnip, grows above the ground like a cabbage, and tastes similar to broccoli stems?

A: Kohlrabi!

Kohlrabi is not considered a root vegetable, despite its similar appearance to radishes and turnips. It actually falls within the same category as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables that grow above ground. When eaten raw, kohlrabi has a slight crunch and spicy taste similar to a radish or turnip, but it is sweeter and milder. Smaller kohlrabi usually taste sweeter than larger ones, as this vegetable develops a more potent radish-like taste the further it matures. This mysterious vegetable can also be roasted, steamed, baked, stuffed, made into fritters or pureed into a soup. These methods of cooking will bring out more of the sweet, mild flavours of kohlrabi, similar to the beloved potato. But all this talk about sweetness does not mean that it is a high glycemic vegetable – kohlrabi can safely be consumed by those looking to watch their carb intake.

Other Benefits of Kohlrabi

  • Helps to prevents anemia due to its high iron content
  • Improves vision
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Increases the metabolism
  • High in fibre (helps digestion)
  • Has anti-cancer properties
  1. Rutabaga (5g net carbs per cup)

A cross between a cabbage and a turnip, a rutabaga is a sweet and nutritious root vegetable. Similar to the other items on this list, it can be eaten both raw and cooked in a variety of ways.

Try these roasted rutabaga fries to see for yourself:

  1. Peel a rutabaga and cut into long thin strips like fries.
  2. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and whichever other seasonings you like.
  3. Lay the pieces flat on a baking pan with parchment paper.
  4. Place in the oven for 25–35 minutes at 400° or until your desired crispiness is achieved.

You can try adding some flavour with the following Hot Mamas Spice Mixes and Rubs that are zero sodium and sugar free. Adding spice mixes to recipes can transform the same basic, healthy ingredients into a number of different dishes.

Other Benefits of Rutabaga

  • High in vitamins B, C and E
  • High in iron
  • High in antioxidants that may prevent premature aging
  • Can improve eyesight
  • Promotes good bone health
  • Stimulates healthy regeneration of cells throughout the body
  • Has anti-cancer properties
  • High in fibre to promote digestive and bowel health
  1. Celery Root (7g net carbs per cup)

Did you know you can eat the roots of celery, too? Also called celeriac, the celery root grows beneath the ground and is packed with nutrients from the soil. It has a comparable earthy texture and taste similar to a turnip, but also slightly reminiscent of the celery that grows from it.

Try it in a slow cooker to add some hearty nutrients to big-flavour dishes. Or, it could be used in a side dish by cutting or grating it into fine pieces to form a fresh tasting coleslaw or light salad. For something similar but a bit more culinarily challenging, you can search recipes for its classic use in French remoulades.

Other Benefits of Celery Root

  • Boosts the immune system
  • High levels of Vitamin C help heal wounds
  • Vitamin B5 helps keep skin healthy and smooth
  • Other B vitamins can reduce risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Reduces arthritis and inflammation
  • Promotes good bone health
  • High in fibre to promote digestive and bowel health
  1. Zucchini (2g net carbs per cup)

Zucchini is technically a fruit, but it can still be a great replacement for starchy vegetables in various kinds of recipes. Its mild sweetness and floral taste is great in herby recipes. Its earthier flavours come out when its oven roasted, pan fried or grilled.

Zucchini noodles have become increasingly popular in recent years. While this isn’t exactly a potato substitute – it’s a great carb substitute in general and can be paired with delicious meat sauces to make your own homemade zucchini Bolognese or zucchini lasagne!

Other Benefits of Zucchini

  • Can help cure asthma
  • Helps balance thyroid function
  • High levels of important minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium
  • Good for eyesight
  • High in antioxidants (especially in the skin of the zucchini) that can slow down aging and prevent certain cancers
  • High fibre content contributes to healthy digestion
  • High in soluble fibres can promote gut health

Goodbye, Spuds. Hello, Low Carb Goodness!

It may be surprising to learn about the different superfoods that exist out there, especially when you are used to your routine of meat with potatoes. But there are so many other nutritious and tasty veggies out there that won’t leave you missing anything about the high carb vegetables of your past.

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If you try out any new recipes with these potato substitutes, we’d love to know! Share your photos and recipes with us on Facebook or tag us on Instagram. We also love to stay connected with our Weekly Newsletters for updates on the latest products and special sales. And please leave us a Google Review with any and all of your feedback!

Mental Benefits To A Low Carb Diet

What Are the Mental Benefits of a Low Carb Diet? 

Ketogenic and low carb diets have not only been shown to result in weight loss, but they can also provide mental health benefits. Read on to learn how our brains may function better on a low-carb high-fat diet.

Did you know that your mental health is largely influenced by the nutrients you obtain from food? While diet is not the only factor that influences mental health, it is certainly one that deserves a lot of attention. A high carb diet can have very different effects on mental function when compared to a diet based around fats. A lot of recent research has shown the benefits of eating a ketogenic or low carb diet for certain mental disorders such as depression, epilepsy, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Many mental illnesses stem from the same things that cause physical health problems, such as inflammation, oxidative stress and hormonal imbalances. These conditions can be a result of consuming foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, industrial-use oils, artificial preservatives and added hormones. The higher quality your diet is, the better your mental function will be. Feeding your brain the right nutrients has the potential to prevent and even reverse some of the symptoms of mental illnesses.

What Causes Mental Health Disorders?

There are two common causes of mental illness when looked at from a biological standpoint: an imbalance of important brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, or low brain cell energy production. Both of these causes can be controlled or alleviated with proper dietary nutrition.

Neurotransmitter Imbalances

One cause of mental health disorders is an imbalance in the types and levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are released by nerve cells in the brain that send signals to other nerves, organs, muscles or tissues to perform some kind of function. Depending on the type of neurotransmitter, these signals can have different effects on the mind and body that range from inhibitory to stimulating responses. The brain requires a balance of different neurotransmitters to function normally, and if these levels get thrown out of balance for long periods of time, mental illness can result.

Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are said to be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. There are 4 main neurotransmitters that regulate moods: serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and GABA; each producing different effects on our moods and behaviour. The food we eat affects the levels of these chemicals because dietary nutrients are needed to manufacture neurotransmitters. Dietary nutrients come from proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Proteins are the essential building blocks of neurotransmitters, as well as muscle tissue, organs, blood, enzymes and antibodies. Carbohydrates and fat are primarily used as fuel sources, but they can also have an effect on levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Low Brain Cell Energy Levels

Another cause of mental disorders is low energy production in brain cells. Without enough energy, brain cells may slow down or cease to function, which can result in a number of mental illnesses such as depression and Alzheimer’s.

There is a common belief that your brain needs glucose (produced when we eat carbohydrates) to function. While this may be true, glucose is not the only fuel source that the brain can use, and your liver can produce all of the glucose it requires on its own without you having to consume any carbs. When you consume fats, the liver produces ketones, and your brain can use these as a primary fuel source instead. Some research has shown that ketones may be a more efficient fuel for the brain than glucose. This is because ketones can increase the number of mitochondria – the part of the cell responsible for converting nutrients into energy – in brain cells and therefore boost the overall amount of energy produced by these cells.

Reducing Your Carb Intake Could Improve Mental Function

High Carb Diets and Mental Function

If you are not in ketosis, then your brain is using glucose as its main fuel source. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, if you have any mental health concerns, you may consider switching to a low carb high fat diet instead.

Two neurotransmitters that are produced when we consume carbohydrates are serotonin and dopamine, both pleasure-causing chemicals. While this may seem like a good thing, any imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain can have very negative consequences. Having excessive levels of serotonin in the brain can result in anxiety from over-stimulus and depression due to withdrawal. Having too much dopamine has also been known to result in various degrees of psychosis and mania, including binge eating, gambling, bipolar disorders, aggression and schizophrenia.

Low Carb Diets and Mental Function

Being in ketosis – that is, consuming a ketogenic diet that is about 75% healthy fats, 20% high-quality proteins and 5% carbs – can increase the production of the GABA neurotransmitter due to the different nutrients provided by this kind of diet. Having a good balance of GABA in the brain has been shown to increase mental focus and reduce stress, while low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety, depression, poor memory and insomnia.

Other Mental Benefits of a Low Carb Diet

Reduces Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

The ketogenic diet has also been shown to reduce inflammation caused by oxidative stress in the brain. This is why the keto diet is often recommended to those suffering from brain seizures and epilepsy, because of the anti-inflammatory effects of a diet that is rich in omega-3s and essential vitamins and minerals from high quality fats, proteins and vegetables.

The keto diet is naturally anti-inflammatory because it also requires you to cut out inflammation-producing foods such as refined sugars and carbohydrates. But you still need to be sure that you are consuming antioxidant-rich foods daily. Keto-friendly anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower
  • Aronia berry – higher in antioxidants compared to cranberries, blueberries and most other fruits, and low carb.
  • Fatty fish
  • Eggs
  • Healthy oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil
  • Avocados
  • Camu camu – a rainforest berry that contains powerful antioxidants and is loaded with Vitamin C which can help fight inflammation.

Can Reverse Hormonal Imbalances and Adrenal Fatigue

Hormonal imbalances or adrenal fatigue can result in a number of physical conditions that may lead to more serious mental disorders. For example, they can show up as symptoms of tiredness, body aches, problems sleeping and digestive issues but can escalate to anxiety or depression.

Hormonal imbalances may be due to certain developmental changes such as puberty and menopause, but our diets also largely effect our hormonal levels. Some of the foods we eat may cause us to be ingesting inappropriate levels of hormones that can throw our hormonal levels out of balance. This is especially true for low quality animal products because hormones can be added, and when consumed, can seriously disrupt our bodies’ hormonal balance. It is important to eat high-quality protein from both animal and plant sources, even if you are on a fat-based diet. Look for non-GMO grass-fed beef, free range chickens, and sustainably caught wild fish. Tempeh, tofu, edamame, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and nuts and seeds are great low carb plant-based sources of protein as well.

Foods that cause inflammation can also disrupt our hormonal balances. Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands in the kidneys can no longer function properly. The adrenal glands are responsible for the production of vital hormones such as our sex hormones and cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol, if produced in moderation, can help us perform in certain areas of life. However, adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol, resulting in inflammation and not producing enough of the other important hormones. Stress and inflammation can have a number of damaging effects on the body. If you suspect that you may be exposed to high levels of cortisol, you can modify your diet to reduce these effects.

Some foods recommended to reduce hormonal imbalances and adrenal fatigue include high protein foods, dark green and red vegetables and fruits, and unrefined or gluten-free carbohydrates (consuming gluten can cause inflammation in people with mild to severe gluten intolerances). Again, foods you should avoid are refined white sugar and flour, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and highly processed or fast food.

Let’s Make This Easy

The Low Carb Grocery carries a number of low carb, anti-inflammatory, adrenal fatigue-reducing foods that can help you manage your diet for improved mental health:

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If you enjoyed this article, leave us a comment on our Facebook page and stay connected with us on Instagram. We also love to stay in touch with our Weekly Newsletters for updates on the latest products, exclusive promocodes and special sales. And please leave us a Google Review with your feedback!