My sweet tooth remains even though I have been on a Keto diet for nearly a year. So when I find a dessert recipe that is delicious and low carb, I get excited.
The Keto Pumpkin Muffins with cream cheese is a keeper. (Link to recipe page below). With the addition of pumpkin, you will be getting a huge dose of Vitamin A. Mix in some nuts and seeds to boost the goodness.
This recipe is messy. I don’t do much baking these days, and I had one huge mess in my kitchen after making these muffins. I kept thinking, “I hope they are worth it”. And they were!
Anyone would eat these muffins – serve them to your non-keto friends and family
The recipe says to swirl the cream cheese topping with a toothpick, but I put one more spoonful of batter over the cream cheese instead.
The recipe I followed (and changed a little) is on the Gimme Delicious website. Choose the “Jump to Recipe” link at the top to miss some of the many ads and popups on the page. Print the recipe out to read and you won’t be distracted by all the stuff going on on the page. I really hate that about cooking sites.
Most of the muffins from my batch were wrapped up and stored in the freezer. I only eat 1/2 muffin at a time so they will last a while.
Recipe Changes I Made
To sweeten the batter, the recipe calls for Swerve granular sugar. I only have Swerve confectioners sugar, so I used it. The muffins turned out fine.
I chopped some sunflower and pumpkin seeds along with walnuts to mix with the batter.
After plopping the cream cheese mixture on top of the muffins, I added one more small scoop of batter to cover it. I did not swirl the cream cheese in.
To-Do Next Time
Take out butter and cream cheese ahead of time to soften.
Mix ingredients together first before adding to the bowl. Example: mix the eggs, pumpkin and vanilla THEN add to the mixing bowl. Do the same with the dry ingredients.
I would use the entire eight ounce package of cream cheese next time just so I don’t waste that last little bit. The muffins could handle it.
After nine months on the Keto diet, my low carb meals have evolved to become simple and healthy.
Meals don’t have to be difficult and I rarely follow a recipe. Vegetables are at the top of my list when I shop, and they make up the bulk of the food I eat. Often I eat vegetables, with an egg, for my “breakfast”, which I eat at noon.
Many Meals Begin With Homemade Broth, or Stock
One thing I do quite often is make my own broth, or stock. The beef broth is made with bones I buy from the butcher. I bake the bones first to brown them, then add to water in my LeCrueset along with the bones, and fat that leaks out of the bones while they bake. Don’t skim off the fat! This is the good fat we need in our diets!
Chicken stock is made from the carcass of a baked chicken. Vegetable broth is of course made from only using vegetables.
Vegetables such as onion, celery, carrots, peppers, and herbs such as parsley and basil can be included. The vegetables don’t have to be perfect – use up older veggies this way. I usually add bay leaves too. The vegetables I add depends on what is around the house. Nothing has to be added, but the veggies add nutrients and flavor.
Simple Scallops and Green Beans Meal
Seafood is a favorite of mine and this simple meal consists of fresh scallops which cook up quickly in a frying pan. The frozen green beans were boiled in water then topped with butter. That’s it! Serve with a salad if you like.
Ground Turkey, Asparagus and Shallots
Cook ground turkey (or chicken) in a pan. Remove the meat. Add butter and / or oil with pieces of fresh asparagus and sauce until nearly tender, then add sliced onions and return ground turkey to the pan.
Tamari or soy sauce can be added at this point, unless sodium is a problem.
Beef and Cabbage Keto Meal
In a large pot brown ground beef. Add spices and herbs as you like. Remove the beef once it’s cooked and use the same pot to cook the cabbage. Slice a head of cabbage into “noodles” and boil them until tender. Either use water with (sodium free) bullion, or use homemade beef stock if you have it. I cook the cabbage in a small amount of liquid and don’t drain it.
Add the beef back to the pot, and some tomato sauce, or chopped tomatoes. Cook a bit longer (10-15 minutes) for flavors to combine.
Cheeseburger Using Lettuce as “Bun”
Buy lettuce with big leaves and wrap a juicy bacon-cheeseburger inside. I honestly don’t eat much bacon, but this burger was delicious with onions, pickles, cheese and bacon.
To cook this super easy, one pan, Keto dinner all you need is three ingredients. Buy some lean ground beef (1 pound), a can of organic, low sodium, diced tomatoes, two medium size zucchinis, and some chopped onion, which is optional.
Order of Preparation
Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan. While the meat is cooking, dice a zucchini into pieces. The easiest way to do this is to cut off the ends and cut the zucchini in half. Stand each half and make cross-cuts all the way down so the piece is in quarters. Lay it down on a cutting board and slice.
Open a can of diced tomatoes. Chop some onion if you want. I did to add flavor.
When the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside. I put it into a bowl I would be using to eat from to save dishes.
Add a pat of butter and heat the frying pan to cook the zucchini. Stir and cook, with the onions, until it is mostly tender. Dump in the can of tomatoes and add the cooked ground beef. Simmer for a few minutes to heat the tomatoes and blend the flavors.
This delicious and quick meal is now ready to eat! Add salt and pepper as you like.
Any vegetable you like would work in this dish. Some options would be broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant, and peppers. To stretch it, for those who eat carbs, eat it with rice or pasta. Crusty bread would be good too.
I am not a big follower of recipes, but online recipes can give me ideas. Now that I don’t eat pasta, my favorite low-carb, vegetable casserole recipes are Keto and (mostly) kidney friendly.
Before I continue, I am not a medical professional nor am I a dietician. Do not consider this post as a recommendation for any type of diet. Do your own research or ask a medical professional if you have PKD or CKD. I’m still learning how to eat.
Pinterest and Keto diet sites are loaded with food ideas, but many include tons of cheese and too much salt. My advice is to cut down on the cheese and salt that seems to be the basics of many Keto foods, and concentrate on eating more vegetables.
Most Diets Have Nothing Against Vegetables, But…
Usually you are perfectly safe when eating organic, fresh or frozen vegetables. However, some vegetables can be high in carbohydrates (anti-Keto) and high in potassium and phosphorus (anti-kidney).
Balancing a low-carb diet with safe foods for those of us with kidney disease can be tricky, but not impossible. We have to be careful of dairy also, so a little cheese on top of the casserole is better than layering it throughout.
Tomatoes are not kidney friendly due to their high potassium levels, but adding small amounts of sauce with the vegetables, or a few slices of tomato within the layering will add great flavor. Remember, this is a dish that should feed 4-6 people. So, how much tomato (or cheese) would you be eating per serving?
The basics to creating a simple vegetable casserole is to slice, layer and bake. That’s it, and you can choose what vegetables to use.
I enjoy making my own tomato sauce using herbs from my garden, but organic, store bought (low sodium) is fine too. Just don’t go overboard if you have kidney problems.
Favorite Vegetables to Use in One Dish Meals
My favorite casserole uses eggplant, but I can’t always find decent eggplant at the store. My second favorite vegetables are zucchini and summer squash. It’s always best to buy what is in season because it will be the freshest. Spicy and yummy peppers can add great flavor.
I‘ve included some potassium info for those who need to watch it.
Eggplant, peeled or not *I slice it and sprinkle with salt, which is suppose to help with bitterness. The salt is rinsed away! Read here on How to Salt Eggplant.
Summer squash: Zucchini and /or yellow
Peppers add great flavor. Red bell pepper (251 mg.potassium) / Poblano pepper (410 mg. potassium)
Broccoli (288 mg. potassium, 1 cup chopped)
Cauliflower – I prefer a white sauce with this.
Sliced tomatoes (go easy if you have CKD / PKD) *High in Potassium
Mushrooms (cook first)
Spinach *High in Potassium
Herbs, either dried or freshly chopped, add flavor and nutrients
Usually I choose whatever vegetable I have, or use a combination of two. I’m cooking for myself only, so my casseroles need to be smallish. One eggplant will usually fill my baking dish!
Make some tomato sauce or use from a jar.
Shred some of your favorite cheese.
Once the vegetables are sliced (which I do by hand) I begin to layer.
Make the Casserole
Think as if you were making lasagna.
Grease a baking dish – I use Ghee (Ghee is just clarified butter.)
Begin layering with one layer of veggies, a little tomato sauce, meat (if you are using it) and some cheese – or cut down and sprinkle cheese on top only.
Keep going until the dish is nearly full – it will bubble over if too full!
Pour the rest of tomato sauce over, if any is left, and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 until the vegetables are soft – around 30-40 minutes.
This type of casserole can contain pre-cooked meat if you want. I’ve made meatballs and sliced them up for one of the layers. Usually I avoid adding meat because too much red meat / protein is not good for kidneys. I prefer an all-vegetable casserole.
Simple and Healthy Eating
My goal was to help my readers see that recipes are not needed when it comes to baking healthy casseroles loaded with vegetables. And who needs pasta?
Honestly…. I have to eat! It does feel overwhelming while I try to do Keto and keep my kidneys going. I cannot cut every food out of my diet…!
Variety is best, and being aware of personal body needs and limitations should be the guide to creating awesome, guilt-free, vegetable casseroles.