All posts by Jeff Fidler

Explore Plant-Based Keto Diets

Pros and Cons of a Plant Based Keto Diet

Two big trends in diets are plant-based or vegan diets, and a low-carb high-fat or keto diet. Both of these have unique benefits for wellbeing and weight loss. So, you might be wondering if there is a way to combine both of these diets into one “super-diet.” In this article we explore the pros and cons of a plant-based keto diet as well as recipes that you can try at home. As with any major change to your diet, we recommend speaking to your doctor first, to see if it’s right for you.

What is a Plant-Based Keto Diet?

One challenge with the keto diet can be an over-emphasis on meats and dairy and not enough emphasis on plants! Low starch vegetables and greens are an essential part of any diet; they are important sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals that your body needs to perform essential functions, regulate digestion, improve fertility and contribute to healthy aging, skin, hair and nails. A plant-based diet can ensure you are getting enough of these micronutrients from whole, unprocessed food sources.

A plant-based keto diet may include aspects of vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian food sources that are low in carbs and high in fats. That can look something like this:

1. A focus on healthy fats (~70% of your diet). Plant-based sources include:

2. Moderate amounts of clean proteins (~20% of your diet):

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy products such as tofu and tempeh
  • Eggs (vegetarian)
  • Salmon and other fatty fish (pescatarian)

3. Small amounts of carbs which can come from low-starch vegetables and low-fructose fruits (<10% of your diet):

  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini
  • Berries
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Grapefruit

Note that although carbs from vegetables and fruits make up the smallest part of a keto diet, it is important to eat enough of them at every meal. Be sure to understand how many grams of each macronutrient you need every day, based on your height, weight and age as the amount of fat, protein and carbs you need to achieve ketosis can vary widely from person to person. For example, one cup of leafy greens may contain just 2g-4g net carbs, while your daily carb intake may be set at 20g – meaning you can pile on the veggies at every meal.

Pros of a Plant-Based Keto Diet

More Micronutrients  

As mentioned before, it is important to get enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in your diet. An animal-based keto diet can lack some of these nutrients, especially if you are eating refined or processed meats and dairy products which can undergo manufacturing practices that strip the foods of their original nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are some of the most abundant sources of these important micronutrients.

More Fibre

Fibre is necessary for healthy digestion, keeping you full and satiated throughout the day, and regulating blood sugar levels. Fibre slows the absorption of food into the bloodstream which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent rapid energy spikes.

Healthier Fats

The keto diet relies on fats as the body’s main energy source. However, not all fats are equally good for you. There are different types of fats, including trans fats, unsaturated fats and saturated fats. A lot of processed meat and dairy products can contain unhealthy trans and saturated fats and should be avoided, as consuming these can lead to inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases.

In contrast, many plant-based foods are great sources of healthy unsaturated and saturated fats. One exception in this category being “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” vegetable oils. The term hydrogenated indicates that these types of fats have undergone artificial processing that converts the fats into trans fats, which can imbalance levels of cholesterol in the body in favour of bad cholesterol. This has been linked to several diseases including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Improved Energy Levels

Eating a plant-based diet has been shown to have positive effects on energy levels. This could be due to the digestive benefits of plant-based foods which mean that your body doesn’t have to use as much energy to digest your food. Also, the absence of artificial sugars and unhealthy fats that can leave you feeling tired or bogged down can play a role in higher energy levels. Finally, plant foods also contain higher levels of nutrients, which support the body in a variety of functions that can keep you moving and your brain sharp throughout the day.

Stable Blood Sugar Levels

A plant-based diet can be a great option for those wanting to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. This is due to the fact that plant-based foods contain more fibre, which regulates digestion and insulin levels. Plant-based diets also allow many people to maintain a healthier weight, which can lower diabetes risk. Finally, foods derived from plants contain higher levels of other beneficial compounds such as antioxidants which can promote insulin sensitivity.

Minimized Exposure to Artificial Toxins

A plant-based diet requires a focus on whole foods, instead of conventional processed non-organic foods. In place of packaged products, you are more likely to be consuming whole, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds which means that you avoid the health complications that come with artificial additives and preservatives. Whether you choose to go the plant-based route or not, always shop for minimally processed foods and organic where possible.

Cons of a Plant-Based Keto Diet

Although a plant-based keto diet has many nutritional benefits, there are still some things to point out before diving in.

Omega 3 Sources

Omega 3s are a necessary type of “good fat” that the body does not produce on its own and must be obtained from the diet. Omega 3s can be found in both plant and animal sources, but in different forms. Plant sources usually contain omega 3 ALA fatty acids, which are necessary in their own right, but we also need EPAs and DHAs which are found in fish and meat. If you don’t want to consume meat, you should be taking an omega 3 supplement to ensure you are getting required levels of EPA and DHA fatty acids.

It is also good to be wary of the higher contents of omega 6s found in nuts and seeds. Your body requires both omega 3s and 6s, and you should aim to consume a larger amount of omega 3s to avoid the inflammatory effects of excess omega 6s.

Protein Sources

One of the main criticisms of a plant-based keto diet is limited sources of proteins. While a traditional vegan diet containing whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy products and vegetables contains adequate and healthy protein levels, a lot of these items are off the table for keto dieters. That said, since proteins make up only about 20% of the keto diet, this shouldn’t be a problem for those wanting to try a plant-based keto diet. One great way to get protein from plant sources is to look for vegan protein powders and make a keto-friendly smoothie with coconut or MCT oil, a handful of low carb fruits and a serving or two of veggies. Soy products such as tofu and tempeh are also great low-carb complete proteins (meaning they contain all essential amino acids, also found in eggs and meat).

Finding the Right Balance  

Plant-based is a loose term that could mean whatever you want it to. For some, this might mean 100% plant-based and for others it could mean focusing on plant sources of foods while still incorporating things like eggs, fish and dairy. Finally, it could also mean that maybe you choose one day of the week to make plant-based meals. Any way to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet is good for you and the environment.

Plant-Based Keto Recipes

If you are having a hard time envisioning what a typical day on a plant-based (vegetarian) keto diet may look, here’s a sample menu you could take inspiration from:

Breakfast: Hot Low Carb Breakfast Cereal topped with a handful of berries.

Snack 1: Vegan protein powder shake with coconut or MCT oil, berries, spinach and nut milk.

Lunch: Scrambled tofu (recipe) with bell peppers, greens, and onions wrapped in a Low Carb Tortilla with a side of avocado.

Snack 2: A handful of nuts or raw veggies with Walden Farms Dips or tahini (sesame seed butter).

Dinner: Cauliflower Crust pizza with vegan or dairy cheese, plant-based sausage, olives and other veggies.

Dessert: Yummy vegan keto chia seed pudding!

We found a few other plant-based keto recipes on the web that we think are worth sharing:

The options really are endless! We encourage you to do your own research online to find easy vegan keto recipes to try – even just once a week. Best of luck!

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If you liked this article or want to share your plant-based keto recipes, visit our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram.

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How to Pickle All Types of Vegetables

DIY Guide to How to Pickle Vegetables at Home

Pickling is one of the oldest methods of preserving foods, and yet is still popular today due to the unique flavours that it produces. We created this guide to teach you how to pickle a wide range of vegetables in the comfort and convenience of your own kitchen. It only requires a few simple ingredients and tools to get started. It is also a great way to experiment with creative flavour combinations, as the pickling ingredients can easily be customized with seasonings and spices. Plus, you can avoid additives that can be found in store bought pickled vegetables. It’s a simple, easy and nutritious way to get your veggies in!

Why Pickle Foods?

Food Preservation

The origins of pickling as a way to preserve food goes back as far as 5000 years, where ancient civilizations used this process to effectively store foods for long periods of time when food was scarce. The brine used in pickling wards off the decay of food, allowing civilizations who relied on agriculture to store food and avoid famine during temporary droughts or poor growing seasons.

Nowadays, with global food trade, we rarely have to worry about our grocery stores running out of food. However, pickling vegetables can be a great way to enjoy seasonal foods throughout the year. Pickled vegetables kept in the refrigerator can last about 5-6 months! So, you can enjoy the delicious flavours of summer vegetables during the winter, too.

Delicious Taste

Pickling gives food an acidic, sour and slightly sweet taste that can complement pretty much any other flavour! Pickled vegetables go great with cooked meats, in salads, on sandwiches, and much more. They are especially great for cutting through fatty foods, which is why they are a great addition to a keto diet. The combination of savoury flavours with the briny taste of pickled vegetables is popular in many different cultures all over the world. Think kimchi and beef stew in Korean culture, sauerkraut and sausages in German culture, pickled onions and falafel in Middle Eastern culture or preserved peppers and olives in Mediterranean cuisine (kimchi and sauerkraut are technically fermented, but the processes are similar)!

Health Benefits 

Pickled vegetables still contain many of the same vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as their raw form. There is no bad way to eat vegetables (deep fried might be the exception)! In addition, the vinegar used in the pickling liquid can promote healthy digestion as well as help reduce blood insulin levels which can be beneficial for those with diabetes.

Types of Foods to Pickle

There are many different types of vegetables that are suitable for pickling. Really, you can pickle just about anything. If you are looking for low carb vegetables to pickle, some good options would be asparagus (2g net carbs per cup), bell peppers (3-5g net carbs per cup depending on colour), cabbage (3g net carbs per cup), cauliflower (3g net carbs per cup), cucumbers (3g net carbs per cup), green beans (4g net carbs per cup), olives (3g net carbs per cup) or zucchini (3g net carbs per cup). Some other tasty options such beets, carrots, parsnips, onions, and turnips can still be enjoyed on a low carb diet in moderation!

Essential Pickling Ingredients and Equipment

Here is what you will need to pickle vegetables at home:

  • Clean, sterile, airtight jars – Mason jars or similar types of airtight glass jars are commonly used for pickling. Make sure they are sterilized (set in boiling water for 15 minutes) prior to use to ensure the longest possible shelf life of your pickled foods.
  • Large pot – Some vegetables can be pickled raw, but there are others that may need to be cooked or blanched first. Beets for example, need to be cooked before they can be pickled. Other types of vegetables, such as green beans or asparagus, are often blanched before pickling to ensure they retain their colour and crunch. Plus, you’ll need a large enough pot to sterilize your jars.

Aside from your vegetable of choice, you’ll also need some essential ingredients to perform the pickling process. Here are the basic ingredients and seasonings you will need for a classic pickling brine:

  • Vinegar – White vinegar is most commonly used for pickling, but you could choose a different type according to your personal preference. Apple cider vinegar, white or red wine vinegar, and rice wine vinegar are also suitable for pickling and can bring different flavours to your homemade brine.
  • Salt – Sea salt is recommended for pickling, as it tends to be a purer form than common table salt. You’ll want to pick a salt that has no additives, so natural sea salt is the best choice.
  • Sugar or sweetener – Many pickling recipes call for sugar, but again it’s up to you if you want your veggies to taste slightly sweet or not. You could substitute traditional white sugar for organic cane sugar, honey, or agave syrup to achieve the same effect. Low carb dieters can use a natural sweetener such as stevia or a monk fruit sweetener. Here is a recipe we found online that uses Swerve Granular Sweetener!
  • Water – Filtered water is best for pickling to remove any “hardness” caused by high mineral content in the water. Clean and pure filtered water will also help the vegetables retain their colours longer.
  • Herbs and Spices – This is another part of the pickling process that is entirely up to you to customize. Some common herbs and spices used in pickling liquids include garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, dill, chili peppers, coriander seeds, celery seeds, fennel seeds, and bay leaves.

Beginner’s Guide for Pickling Vegetables

This is a basic guide for making your own pickled vegetables at home. You can use this as a starting point for creating your own recipe by swapping in different types of vegetables or adding seasonings to give your vegetables more flavour.

Brine

As a general rule of thumb, use the following 1:2:1 ratio for the brine ingredients:

  • 1 cup of vinegar + 2 teaspoons of salt + 1 tablespoon of sugar or sweetener

This makes for a very tangy brining liquid. If you prefer a milder taste, you could substitute ¼ cup – ½ cup of vinegar for water instead.

Seasonings

Opt for a balance of flavours when adding seasonings to your brining liquids. For example, if you add a spicy element, try balancing it with an herb-y or more floral seasoning. Here are some great flavour combinations:

  • Spicy and Earthy – Red pepper flakes, mustard seed, coriander seeds, bay laves
  • Savoury and Herby – Garlic, mustard seeds, dill sprigs
  • Mild Spice – Celery seeds, yellow mustard seeds, white cloves
  • Sweet and Spicy – Star anise, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, cinnamon sticks
  • Bright and Refreshing – Ginger, mustard seed, fennel seed, black peppercorn

Preparation:

  1. Start with a batch of fresh vegetables and cook or blanch them, if necessary.
  2. Chop or slice the vegetables into your desired shape. Cut along the length of the vegetable to make long spear-shapes or slice across the width to create bite-size disks. If you have one, you could also use a crinkle-cutter to give your pickled vegetables slices some visual appeal.
  3. Add the sliced vegetables to your jars and add in your preferred seasonings.
  4. In a bowl or measuring cup combine the ingredients for the brine.
  5. Transfer the brine to a pot and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the brine in to the jars to just cover the tops of the vegetables. Seal the jars and refrigerate.

It usually takes a few days for the flavours of all the ingredients to develop. We recommend keeping your jars in the fridge for about 5 days before using to ensure great tasting pickled vegetables!

Here are some other pickling recipes we found online suitable for low carb diets!

How to Enjoy Your Pickled Vegetables

Now that you’ve got a batch of your own pickled vegetables, you should learn how you can incorporate them into your diet. Here are a few suggestions for tasty low carb meals with pickled vegetables:

We hope that you found this guide to pickling helpful, and that you are inspired to try making your own pickled vegetables at home. Once you taste the difference of fresh, homemade pickles, you’ll be hooked!

Post your Pickling Experiences!

If you liked this article or want to share the results of your homemade pickled vegetables, tag us on Facebook or Instagram!

We also love to stay connected with our Weekly Newsletters for updates on the latest products and sales. And don’t forget to leave a Google Reviewwith your Low Carb Grocery experiences!


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Low Carb Guide to Gut Health

Healthy Gut, Healthy Life.

Gut health is an important part of healthy digestion, and healthy digestion ensures you are actually using the nutrients from your food. It also makes you physically feel light, mobile and energized. So, maintaining healthy gut bacteria is not only good for relieving stomach aches, but it is great for your overall health and can support weight loss.

Read this guide to help understand the causes and symptoms of an unhealthy gut and to make sure you are feeding your gut the right things when on a low carb diet.

What is the Gut Microbiome?

The gut microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria that live inside your gastrointestinal tract. The number and diversity of these bacteria determines whether or not your gut is “healthy” (i.e. having a higher number and greater diversity is considered healthy). These bacteria serve many essential roles related to digestion and immune health. They help produce important chemicals and vitamins, send signals between the gut and brain to regulate hormones, and support the immune system – without these bacteria, it would be difficult to survive! They are one of the keys to maintaining overall good health. In fact, many studies have shown a link between an unhealthy gut and higher risks for certain diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, asthma and autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms of an Unhealthy Gut

The signs of an unhealthy gut are not too hard to spot. These include:

  • Excessive gas and bloating produced by “bad” bacteria (some gas is normal)
  • Frequent upset stomach
  • Heartburn
  • Bad breath
  • Sugar cravings
  • Unintentional weight gain or loss
  • Problems sleeping and constant fatigue
  • Skin inflammation such as acne, eczema and psoriasis
  • Food intolerances (different from allergies, although some research suggests a link to allergies as well)
  • Autoimmune diseases (arthritis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis)
  • Supressed immunity (you get sick frequently)
  • Anxiety and mood disorders

Foods That Upset the Gut Microbiome

If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it could be due to problems with your gut microbiome, such as not having a large number and variety “good” bacteria or having too much “bad” bacteria. You can control the makeup of your gut microbiome through a number of things including diet, exercise and stress management. First, we will cover our diet tips and get into other ways you can manage your gut health later on in this article.

Bad bacteria like to feed on the following foods:

  • High sugar foods
  • Unhealthy fats (trans fats and certain saturated fats from low quality sources)
  • Artificial sweeteners

The good news is that it’s easy to cut sugar out of a low carb diet! That said, be sure you are eating high quality, natural foods in the rest of your diet and avoid artificial compounds that could be found in food advertised as “low carb.” It is always best to opt for whole, unprocessed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, high quality meat/dairy and organic products where possible.

Foods That Nourish the Gut Microbiome

Now that you have an idea of what you shouldn’t eat, let’s dive into what you should eat to improve your gut health!

Good bacteria like a diet rich in the following foods and compounds:

Fibre 

Fibre comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble – and both are essential to your gut health. Most fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains contain both types of fibre. A good tip to get more fibre in your diet is to leave the skins on your produce which are a great source of insoluble fibre that are often peeled away!

Fibre has a prebiotic effect on the body once consumed. Gut microbes in the colon and large intestines essentially feed off of fibre which results in fermentation and the production of short chain fatty acids and gases (if you are not used to a high-fibre diet, you may experience more gas and bloating than usual at first!). Short chain fatty acids provide energy for the cells in your body and are used for many other important functions.

Some high fibre foods carried at The Low Carb Grocery include:

Remember that fibre is best obtained from whole foods, rather than fibre supplements. That’s because the insoluble fibre from vegetables and fruits adds bulk to your stool and helps everything pass through your digestive tract. Fibre supplements that you must drink or swallow in pill form just don’t have the same effect. Plus, you miss out on the other important vitamins and minerals that you can obtain from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids, found in things like fatty fish, nuts, seeds and plant oils (flaxseed, avocado, olive, coconut, soybean, etc.), promote a diverse gut microbiome. Bacterial diversity is important because it allows a more flexible response to changes in your body, including diet, stress and infection. Omega 3 fatty acids also help fight inflammation, which can support the gut bacteria and promote overall health. Be sure to eat a diet higher in omega 3 fatty acids than omega 6 fatty acids, as excessive omega 6s (mainly found in processed vegetable oils and foods high in trans fats) can cause inflammation.

Polyphenols

Polyphenols are chemical compounds found in plant foods that contain high levels of antioxidants. These compounds promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that help process nutrients and defend against pathogens. A polyphenol-rich diet can also reduce inflammation, bad cholesterol levels, blood pressure and oxidative stress (the accumulation of toxins in the body) – all of which can lead to a number of chronic diseases if not managed properly.

Sources of polyphenols include:

  • Dark chocolate (at least 70%), cocoa nibs and cocoa powder
  • Organic green tea and matcha tea powder
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Blueberries, blackberries and other dark coloured berries
  • Broccoli
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Herbs such as clove, thyme and rosemary
  • Soy including tofu and tempeh
  • Coconut

Fermented Foods

You have probably heard that fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha are good for your gut. These foods contain beneficial bacteria that swoop in and support your existing gut microbiome.

Here are some other fermented foods you can eat to support your gut:

Antibacterial and Antifungal Foods

The main benefit of consuming food with antibacterial and antifungal properties is to keep bad gut bacteria under control. These foods protect against foodborne illnesses caused by harmful bacteria.

Here are some antibacterial foods you can eat on a regular basis or when you feel like you want an immune boost:

  • Garlic has a number of antibacterial and antifungal properties and is easy to add to any meal to give it more flavour.
  • Moringa powder is considered a natural antibiotic with the ability to kill bacteria and viruses. This superfood can be added to smoothies, baked goods, hot beverages and savoury recipes.
  • Cinnamon not only adds a wonderful taste and aroma to baked goods, hot beverages, and breakfast foods – but it also has the power to kill bacteria and viruses!
  • Turmeric keeps your insides clean due to its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. You can add it to soups, curries, stews, roasted vegetables and smoothies. Or, try this recipe for a warm and comforting Turmeric Latte (keto-friendly) for an immune boost. Remember to always add a pinch of ground black pepper when using turmeric to activate its immune-boosting properties.
  • Ginger is another food often recommended to help fight cold and flu and that’s because of its antibacterial properties that help fight off viruses and infections. Add it to stir fry, salads, tea or smoothies!

Other Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Gut

  1. Eat a variety of foods.

Eating a variety of foods increases the types of bacteria that exist in your gut to help break down these different foods. The more species of bacteria you have, the more health benefits they can contribute to.

  1. Reduce inflammation caused by diet and stress.

Eliminate foods and drinks from your diet that cause inflammation. These include but are not limited to:

  • Sugars
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Foods high in trans fats
  • Foods high in omega 6s

Stress also causes inflammation in the body. Learn how you can best manage your stress and be sure whether it be through exercise, meditation, yoga, journaling or spending time with loved ones.

  1. Drink plenty of clean water. 

It goes without saying that drinking enough water is vital to overall health. Aim for 2-4L a day and be sure it is coming from a clean source. Opt for purified water or use a water filter in your home.

  1. Sweat out toxins.

Exercising is another great way to promote gut health. Sweating from exercise allows your body to remove toxins that can cause oxidative stress in the body and it produces mood-lifting hormones.

  1. Choose natural sweeteners instead of artificial sweeteners.

If you are trying to cut down sugar in your diet, avoid things like aspartame and sucralose. The Low Carb Grocery carries a number of natural sweeteners, such as monk fruit sweeteners, stevia, erythritol and xylitol. Learn about the best sugar substitutes here.

  1. Try to eat more plant-based meals.

Studies have shown that plant-based diets can benefit the gut microbiome. This is due to the high fibre content of a plant-based diet. In addition, studies have shown that animal-based diets can cause more inflammation, can promote bad gut bacteria, and consuming raw or low-quality meat can put you at a higher risk for disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli. Again, diversity is key so be sure to eat a balanced diet!

Share Your Experience!

If you liked this article, let us know on Facebook or tag us on Instagram with your thoughts! We also love to stay connected with our Weekly Newsletters for updates on the latest products and special sales. And please leave a Google Review with your Low Carb Grocery experiences!


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Where to Buy Monk Fruit Sweeteners

The Best Selling Monk Fruit Sweeteners are Here!

Over the last few years, researchers have shown us that sugar is not necessarily a safe sweetener. It can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, it converts to carbohydrates in the body, which can lead to weight gain, it can cause energy crashes throughout the day, it affects those with diabetes and it can even be a risk factor for heart disease – just to name a few. But if this is the case, then why is sugar in so many products, and why do we fall for its tricks? Well, the truth is, the sugar industry is a lot bigger than you may think. It’s so powerful that it can actually create laws to ban other sweeteners (sugar substitutes and alternatives) from even entering certain countries!

We have to credit early researchers who found issues with sugar and began to find alternative natural sweeteners like erythritol, which comes from fruits and vegetables likes corn and watermelon, Xylitol, which comes from birch bark, and Monk Fruit, which comes from a native plant in Southeast Asia called lo han guo. (See photo below).

With the widespread information of sugar’s bad reputation, it’s no wonder that we Canadians are looking for ways to cut sugar out of our diet – but it’s not so easy when most of our sweet foods and beverages still carry sugar – and we don’t want to give them up! But luckily, there is a wide selection of all-natural sweeteners available in Canada, if you’re looking in the right place. At The Low Carb Grocery (with Canada-wide shipping), we offer a variety of sugar alternatives, and today we want to discuss monk fruit sweetener specifically because it’s one of the best and safest alternatives due to its sugar-like sweetness, zero calories, zero net carbs, low-to-zero glycemic level and no known negative side effects.

You can trust The Low Carb Grocery because we are experts on natural sugar substitutes and have helped customers achieve their health and weight loss goals for years. It’s even in our slogan, “Canada’s Widest Selection of Low-Carb and Sugar-Free Products.” So, let us help you with your hunt for the best natural sweetener, today!


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What is a Monk Fruit Sweetener?

Monk fruit is a small sweet melon native to Southeast Asia, where it is also known as lo han guo. It has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and has recently made its way into Western markets as a natural zero-calorie, low glycemic sugar substitute.

Monk fruit sweeteners are made from the extract of this fruit, which is about 150-200 times sweeter than table sugar. To make it more useable in food and beverages, monk fruit extract is usually combined with other less powerful sugar substitutes, such as erythritol (a natural sweetener made by fermenting the natural sugars in certain fruits and vegetables – commonly corn and sometimes watermelon and/or pairs) or a dietary fibre. This dilutes the sweetness making it more comparable to regular table sugar.

Monk fruit extract has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it has no impact on your blood sugar levels. You’ll get all the sweetness of regular sugar, but it passes through your digestive system with no effect on your body. Plus, it’s not as addictive as sugar because it doesn’t create those spikes in energy that the brain can become reliant upon. This is great news for diabetics and can also be a good option for those looking to lose weight or reduce their risk for diseases related to the consumption of sugar.

At The Low Carb Grocery, we carry a wide variety of monk fruit sweeteners for different uses. Below, we’ve compiled a list with some of our favourite brands.

SugarLike Zero Calorie Sweetener with Monk Fruit

The Canadian food scientists at NutraEx Food Inc. set out to create a natural sweetener that behaved like sugar, but without the negative health effects. The goal was to provide a sugar replacement that could measure like sugar, taste like sugar and behave similarly when cooked or baked. After many years and hundreds of batches of sweeteners, they finally created one that checked all of their boxes. This product is branded and sold as SugarLike Zero Calorie Sweetener with Monk Fruit.

The secret behind SugarLike is the encapsulation technique they used to produce perfect, consistent granules that look and taste just like sugar. This is the only monk fruit sweetener made with this technique that encapsulates each granule of monk fruit extract with an even coating of erythritol. This ensures perfectly consistent sweetness with every spoonful, no dusting or powdering, and a mouthfeel that is indistinguishable from sugar.

SugarLike is a 100% natural sweetener with zero calories and a glycemic index of zero. This is one of the more premium choices that The Low Carb Grocery has to offer, because of its unique and patented formula and quality that speaks for itself. Available in convenient 227g pouches (0.5lbs) and 700g pouches (1.5lbs), which is perfect when using larger quantities in cooking and baking.

Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweeteners

The Lakanto brand celebrates the heritage of monk fruit, rooted in the mountain highlands of East Asia, where a sector of Buddhist monks called the Luohan first discovered this rare fruit. Lakanto is proud to still grow and harvest monk fruit from these areas, following traditional and sustainable methods.

Lakanto’s monk fruit sweeteners are made from a proprietary mixture of high-purity monk fruit extract and non-GMO erythritol. This makes for a zero calorie and non-glycemic blend with delicious sweetness replicating real sugar. Lakanto has created an extensive and innovative line of monk fruit sweeteners – we invite you to explore all of their products here!

Here are some recipes that use Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener:

If you like these or want to try other recipes using Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener, you can browse the recipe page on their website!

Krisda Monk Fruit Sweetener

Krisda has a mission to give the world great tasting, all-natural, sugar-free ingredients that can be used to make food taste sweeter without having negative health effects. They support people who want to lose weight, enjoy physical activity, manage their blood-sugar levels, or simply lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Krista Monk Fruit Sweetener is made with naturally-sourced monk fruit extract and erythritol to make a granular sweetener that measures and tastes like sugar. This sweetener offers many of the same health benefits as the other brands mentioned in this article, including being zero calorie and low glycemic, but it comes with a lower price tag.

Krisda also produces other natural sweeteners, such as Stevia, Organic Erythritol, Xylitol and Sugar-Free Chocolatey Chips! Try this recipe for perfect Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Krisda Monk Fruit Sweetener and Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips (this recipe is keto-friendly)!

Dixie Diner Spoonable Monk Fruit Sugar Replacement

Dixie Diner’s mission is to fulfil your sweet tooth with healthy treats. They support various lifestyle choices, including vegan, low-carb, dairy-free, gluten-free, and diabetic friendly. To contribute to a healthy lifestyle, Dixie Diner offers a unique monk fruit sweetener.

Dixie Diner Spoonable Monk Fruit Sugar Replacement is made with monk fruit extract and vegetable fibre as a carrier. It is made with all-natural ingredients and does not contain any sugar alcohols (such as xylitol and erythritol), which can cause digestive issues for some individuals in excessive amounts or leave an aftertaste for those with sensitive palettes. Plus, the addition of vegetable fibre is a great way to boost the nutrients in your baked goods and even your morning cup of coffee! This sweetener measures just like sugar, making it an easy replacement.

Baking with Monk Fruit

Monk fruit sweeteners are perfect for baking because they are stable at high temperatures. However, it is worth noting that foods made with monk fruit sweetener instead of sugar will differ slightly in texture, appearance and taste. Although monk fruit is sweet like sugar, sometimes it can give a lightly fruity taste. In addition, most monk fruit sweeteners are mixed with erythritol which has a slight “cooling” effect when eaten, due to an endothermic reaction that occurs which absorbs some of the heat from your mouth. This is similar to when you eat a piece of mint-flavoured gum and your mouth instantly feels cold! Keep reading to learn some of our favourite low carb baked goods recipes that incorporate monk fruit!

Coconutty Monk Fruit Brownies

Brownies seem to be the most popular item to bake with monk fruit sweetener. Although we’re still not sure how the monk fruit brownie trend started, we’ve put together what we think is a winning recipe for this low carb favourite!

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with a little bit of coconut oil. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt.
  3. Melt your chocolate chips over a pot of boiling water together with the coconut oil or butter. Let cool for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, monk fruit sweetener and vanilla extract to the melted chocolate mixture.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until a thick batter forms.
  6. Fold in the chopped walnuts and shredded coconut slowly to avoid over mixing the batter.
  7. Pour the brownie mix into the baking pan and spread evenly. Top with leftover chocolate chips and sea salt to taste.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Here are some more sweet recipes we found on the web that use monk fruit sweetener:

 

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Don’t forget to stay connected with our Weekly Newsletters for updates on the latest products and special sales. And please leave us a Google Reviewwith your Low Carb Grocery experiences!


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Great Sugar-Free Summer Drink Ideas

Stay Cool with these Fun Sugar-Free Summertime Drinks!

As the weather starts to warm up, you may be feeling a craving for fruity, refreshing summertime drinks. While we all love to sip on something cool and delicious, it can be hard to find drinks that aren’t loaded with sugars. So, we have come up with a list of recipes and tips for low carb dieters on how to stay quenched during the summer months.

Even if you are not following a low carb diet, sugar-free drinks are a great way to help manage your health and your weight. Avoid drinking your calories and instead enjoy refreshing and naturally sweetened drinks that won’t rot your teeth and your gut! Ditch the soda and sugar-y drink mixes and say hello to a new way to maintain that summer bod.


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Simple and Easy

Infused Water

It’s no secret that the healthiest drink you can choose when you’re thirsty is water. But if you want a bit more flavour, try infusing your water with fresh ingredients for a more satisfying sip. The best part is, infused water is perfectly low carb – fresh fruit and herbs impart a subtle flavour without jacking up the calories and sugars in your water. Here are some great flavour combinations:

  • Cucumber and mint
  • Orange, lemon, and lime
  • Grapefruit, pomegranate and rosemary
  • Strawberry, basil and lemon
  • Blackberries, orange and ginger
  • Pineapple, coconut water and lime

The combinations are truly endless! Get creative with any fresh fruits and herbs you have at home or from the garden.

Sugar Free Sodas from Zevia

This one requires no work at all! For those of us who like something fun and fizzy to sip on in the heat, Zevia makes a wide variety of carbonated sugar-free sodas, mixers, iced teas and energy drinks. Choose from classic soda flavours like root beer, ginger ale, and grape, or try something new with taste sensations like black cherry, cucumber lemon, and mandarin orange.

Check out the full range of Zevia Naturally Flavoured Sugar-Free Drinks available at The Low Carb Grocery.

Caffeine Lovers

Iced Matcha Latte (recipe)

Matcha has been gaining popularity around the world for its fantastic health benefits. Matcha powder is loaded with antioxidants, boosts your metabolism and it can help regulate blood sugar levels. Although the caffeine content is about ¼ that of coffee, the release is slower and more sustained, helping you feel energized for hours without the caffeine crash you get from coffee. This recipe is blended with coconut oil, vanilla bean (you could use vanilla extract instead), and cashew milk – a perfect sip for keto dieters!

Iced Coffee 

For coffee-lovers, iced coffee is the way to go during those hot summer months. There are many ways to make your iced coffee keto-friendly. Just skip the sugar and opt for a sweetener instead, and use a high-fat milk or creamer. You could also blend your coffee with MCT oil for extra healthy fats. Try adding a little flavour with vanilla extract, cinnamon or flavoured liquid stevia. You could also use one of these Keto Coffee Boosters for an added dose of vitamins and minerals to your morning brew!

If you want to practice your barista skills, try this recipe for Cold Brew Coffee or this Keto Coffee Frappuccino.

Fruity and Delicious

Strawberry Lemon Iced Tea (recipe)

Iced tea is pretty much synonymous with summertime and hot weather. This recipe adds some extra fruity flavours to classic iced tea, and it is sweetened with stevia. Plus, it is packed with antioxidants! This recipe uses hot brewed tea that can be chilled afterwards, but you could also cold brew your tea. This takes a little bit longer (steep 2-3 tea bags in a pitcher of water in the fridge overnight) but you get 2-3 times the amount of antioxidants from brewing the tea this way!

Keto Strawberry Colada Milkshake (recipe)

This recipe might just bring you back to childhood memories of chasing down the ice cream truck! Plus, it’s another great way to incorporate fresh strawberries at the peak of their growing season in the summer months. If you like this, there are tons of other keto smoothie and milkshake recipes online. These are a great choice for breakfast or as a snack because you can load them with nutrients and get the right macros for a low carb high fat diet. Blend them with a little ice for a cool and refreshing sip!

Oh, and if you’re not a fan of strawberry milkshakes, try one of these other classic flavours: Chocolate or Vanilla! Or, mix a few ingredients from each for a fantastic Neapolitan milkshake!

Alcoholic Beverages

Low Carb Margarita (recipe)

What drink goes better with a hot summer patio than a tasty, fresh margarita? The only problem is that traditional margarita recipes can contain a lot of sugar – but not this version! It is sweetened with Powdered Swerve Sweetener, which contains zero calories and zero sugars. For a fast and easy margarita alternative, check out Baja Bob’s Sugar Free Margarita Mix to make a great margarita in minutes (plus other fun, sugar-free drink mixes in this product line!).

Sugar-Free Sangria

Sangria is a classic summertime beverage that’s great for sharing with friends. However, most sangrias tend to be overly sweet. All you’ll need to make your own sangria at home is the following simple ingredients:

  • Dry red or white wine
  • Citrus flavoured vodka
  • Tonic water, unsweetened
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Handful of berries (low carb)
  • A few slices of peaches or mangoes for flavour
  • Fresh mint leaves

You could leave it at that, but if you want a little extra sweetness you could add a couple tablespoons of monk fruit sweetener, liquid stevia or a sugar-free syrup.

Functional Beverages

Keto Electrolyte Drink (recipe)

If you follow a keto diet, it is especially important to make sure you are getting enough electrolytes. Ketosis can cause frequent urination that removes a lot of important minerals such as sodium, potassium and magnesium from your body – so always make sure you are getting enough of these in your diet, especially in warmer summer months when we tend to sweat more. This drink is also great if you are active but want to avoid store-bought electrolyte drinks that can be loaded with sugars. Making this drink at home is an easy, health-conscious and cost-effective way to support your body.

Keto Kombucha Alternative

Kombucha is a fruity beverage made from fermented tea. However, sugar is required for the fermentation process to happen so this is often a no-go for keto-dieters! If you tried kombucha before you started a low carb diet and are wondering how to get it back into your daily regimen, try out the recipe below for a beverage alternative that comes very close to kombucha! Plus, you don’t have to grow a scoby, and it still offers many functional benefits.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups of fruit-flavoured tea of your choice, brewed and chilled
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon of grated ginger or 1 tablespoon of juiced ginger root
  • 1 ½ tablespoons monk fruit sweetener
  • ¼ cup of berry puree
  • ½ cup sparkling water, unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice

You could buy berry puree from the store or make it at home to avoid any sugars or other additives. Simply heat ½ cup of fresh or frozen berries on the stove with a bit of lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons of sweetener. Stir and mash the berries until the mixtures becomes like a thick paste. Let it cool and it’s ready to use!

Mix all of the ingredients together in a shaker bottle. Pour through a fine strainer to get rid of any chunks or berry seeds and serve over ice!

For the Kids (and Adults, too!)

Naturally Sweetened Sugar-Free Lemonade (recipe)

What list of summer drinks would be complete without a lemonade recipe? This fantastic version of lemonade that is naturally sweetened with Stevia and contains no added sugars. You could use pure liquid stevia or choose one that’s naturally flavoured to elevate the flavours in your drink. Flavorall carries a wide range of naturally flavoured liquid stevia drops. Here are some options that would work great in your lemonade:

For an even cooler version of this drink, you could blend this recipe with ice and make frosted lemonade! You could also add vodka to a separate batch to make homemade hard lemonade – perfect for backyard barbecues with friends.

Homemade Sugar-Free Kool-Aid (recipe)

This recipe only requires three simple ingredients! It’s a clever blend of fruity teas and flavoured stevia sweeteners that really tastes like Kool-Aid. You can choose from different flavours of liquid stevia to customize this recipe according to your kids’ preferences. You could even freeze the mixture to make popsicles or freezies. Just be sure to make lots of it because this stuff goes fast!

Start Experimenting with New Drink Ideas!

If you tried any of the recipes featured in this article, we’d love to know! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram with your photos and let us know what you liked (and what you didn’t).

We love to stay connected with fellow low carbers with our Weekly Newsletters – sharing updates on the latest products and current specials and sales.

Please leave us a Google Review with your Low Carb Grocery experiences!


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Low Carb, Sugar-Free Snacks You’ll Fall in Love With

Moon Cheese has revolutionized the way we snack, turning a perishable item like cheese into fun, crunchy finger food.

Cheese doesn’t have to be reserved for charcuterie boards or a topping on sandwiches and pizza – it is now available as a light, crunchy snack that won’t go bad in your lunch bag. Moon Cheese was one of the first to do it: turn cheese into a shelf stable crunchy snack that can be enjoyed whenever, wherever. Plus, it is low in carbs and naturally high in protein!


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How is Moon Cheese Different?

Although its concept is similar to other snack foods you may have eaten in the past – cheese puffs and cheesy potato chips – Moon Cheese is not loaded with unhealthy fats, excessive sodium or hidden sugars. Each serving contains 0-1g of net carbs, 5g of protein and 14% of the daily recommended intake of calcium, making it a great choice for low carb or keto dieters. Still, this crunchy cheese snack is just as satisfying and crave-worthy as non-diet foods!

The Story Behind Moon Cheese

Created by NutraDried Food Company, a leader in food innovation committed to providing healthy snack solutions, Moon Cheese was made by experimenting with a new proprietary technology that would help them meet the evolving dietary needs of consumers. Moon Cheese is not baked, fried, or freeze dried and the result is neither a crisp nor an air-filled puff. Instead, you get little chunks of real cheese that have been removed of almost all of their moisture content but still retain their true flavour and nutrients.

Moon Cheese’s texture and flavour doesn’t feel like your typical boring, bland diet snack food. This is because it is crafted through this special process that adds crunchiness and intensifies the naturally delicious flavour of cheese. Plus, it accommodates a variety of allergen and dietary needs because it is made from a single ingredient: cheese!

How Moon Cheese is Made

Moon Cheese is made using a patented dehydrating process that combines radiant heat and vacuum drying technology – which can be best described as “crunchifying”! It works by placing fresh cheese into a large cylinder that slowly rotates and dries the cheese at a low temperature for 90 minutes. During this time, close to 100% of the moisture is removed – this is what makes Moon Cheese shelf stable. Plus, most of the nutrients remain intact, which is what makes Moon Cheese a great source of protein and essential nutrients such as potassium and calcium. Other methods of dehydrating require food to be dried at such a high temperature that the process ends up removing more than half the nutrients while also retaining much more moisture that can cause it to spoil more easily.

As a result of removing the moisture, this process completely changes the texture of the cheese – turning it into something you never imagined cheese could be! Moon Cheese is crunchy and light, and it resembles little pieces of the moon (hence the name). However, you still get the true flavour of the cheese due to the gentle drying process and lack of unnecessary chemical preservatives that can alter the flavour.

Nutrition and Ingredients

Moon Cheese is a nutritious snack that is gluten-free, high in protein and fats and low in carbs.  The only ingredient is 100% natural cheese! There are no additives or preservatives, because they are simply not necessary. The “crunchifying” technique does not require these or any other added chemicals or sugars. Moon Cheese is completely shelf stable on its own and it already tastes great from the natural flavour of cheese. Plus, it is naturally high in a number of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, potassium and calcium. You get all of these benefits and none of the garbage from these delicious, crunchy bite-size pieces!

Moon Cheese is available at The Low Carb Grocery in three classic flavours:

Let us know if you would like to see any of these new flavours at The Low Carb Grocery:

  • White Cheddar and Black Pepper
  • Cheddar Bacon
  • Garlic Parmesan

Other Uses for Moon Cheese

Moon Cheese is not only great on its own, but it can also be incorporated into other dishes to elevate the flavours and textures!

Moon Cheese Breadcrumbs

Moon Cheese makes the perfect breadcrumbs that can be added to pastas, casseroles, meat and anything else you would normally add breadcrumbs to! All you have to do is put Moon Cheese in a sealable plastic bag and break down into crumb-size pieces. You could use them on their own as a breading or add them to a pre-made low carb bread crumb mix!

Here is a recipe for making your own cheese-y low carb breadcrumbs at home with things you might already have on hand.

What you’ll need:

Preparation:

  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all of the dry ingredients and the egg together. You should get a dough-like consistency.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease it with safe cooking oil.
  3. Lay the dough (this might have to be done in 2 batches) onto the baking sheet and cover with another piece of parchment paper.
  4. Roll out the dough underneath the parchment paper until it is very thin.
  5. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and place in the oven to bake at 350˚F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Let the cooked dough rest for 10 minutes before popping it back into the food processor or blender. Blend until you get breadcrumb consistency.

Moon Cheese Croutons

Sprinkle Moon Cheese on top of salads to add a bit more protein, fat and crunchy texture that feels just like a crouton – minus the carbs!

Moon Cheese Party Mix

Moon Cheese is great for sharing with friends and family. Next time you have a get together, put out a bowl of this party mix and watch how quickly it disappears!

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. In a bowl, combine the mixed nuts, coconut chips and pork rinds with the spice seasoning, coconut oil and sweetener. Add salt to taste if desired. Mix everything together until the flavours are evenly distributed.
  2. Lay the mixture on a flat baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake in the oven at 350˚F for 10-15 minutes to lightly roast and let the flavours settle.
  4. Let the mixture cool down for 10 minutes then transfer to a large bowl. Add in 1 package of Moon Cheese and mix everything together.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Here are some other recipes we found on the web that use Moon Cheese or can be made with Moon Cheese:

 

Stay Connected

If you want to share your thoughts on Moon Cheese, let us know on Facebook. Or, if you tried any of the recipes we suggested, tag us in your post 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 experiences!


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