While a healthy ketogenic diet limits carbohydrates, it shouldn't limit nutrition. In my book, The Keto Reset Diet, and on my blog, Mark's Daily Apple, I offer a simple and sustainable approach to following keto that provides full nutrition for overall health while keeping you in ketosis — since that is where the metabolic magic happens.
Of course, a nutrient-dense approach to keto doesn't have to sacrifice flavor and ease. For the bulk of what you eat, I recommend focusing on a diverse base of non-starchy vegetables. Then, adding quality meats and other protein sources to maintain muscle mass and provide necessary vitamins and minerals. Finally, you have to eat healthy and varied fats, which will be the lowest in food volume but will comprise the bulk of the calories you eat.
And while most of the food I eat on a keto diet is "fresh" ingredients, I do have a number of keto-friendly staples that enhance my daily choices with their convenience and flavor. These must-haves are two-fold: Some of these products I consider easy snack options while other items offer a way to lend new flavor and interest to the healthy meals I eat every day. Either way, all of these products contribute to my daily nutrition needs and help me maintain my commitment to keto.
1. Primal Kitchen Lemon Turmeric Dressing
Every day is a "Big-Ass Salad" day for me. I love how a single meal can provide the bulk of my daily vegetable intake. And I never tire of it either, given that I vary not only the vegetables, meats and toppings, but the dressings, too. Choosing dressings made with the healthiest, highest quality ingredients is important, since most bottled dressings contain inflammation-promoting industrial seed oils. Thankfully, Primal Kitchen dressings are avocado oil-based.
Avocado oil, like avocado itself, is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, and a 2013 published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, suggests it may facilitate healthy lipid profiles, weight maintenance and metabolic health. Avocado and avocado oil also deliver ample amounts of essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, folate, lutein and others and make other nutrients like carotenoids, more bioavailable.
2. Artisana Coconut Butter
While I don't experience much hunger in between meals while on keto, occasionally, if I crave a small snack, I'll reach for Artisana Coconut Butter. Unlike coconut oil, coconut butter is pureed coconut meat, although it's still about 60-percent fat.
While coconut fat is mostly saturated, it's a medium-chain triglyceride fat that's believed to be more easily metabolized by the liver and less of a risk to arterial health. I enjoy the satiation it provides, the bump of beneficial fiber (something keto dieters often need more of) as well as the creamy texture and a slightly sweet taste.
3. Wild Planet Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4. Thrive Market Organic Kalamata Olives
Kalamata olives are not only another option for a quick and portable snack, but they also make a great salad topping. I love the fruity but slightly smoky taste of these olives. Kalamata olives are low in carbohydrates, rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and have phenolic compounds that offer robust antioxidant powers. It's a nutrient-dense choice to reach for at any time of day. It doesn't get much simpler than this!
5. Primal Kitchen Steak Sauce
The difference between a nutritious meal that is so-so versus one that's fabulous comes down to sauces, seasonings and marinades. Unlike popular steak sauces, Primal Kitchen Steak Sauce is both soy- and sugar-free. That doesn't mean a compromise on taste, though. It's rich and savory thanks to a combination of organic balsamic vinegar, ginger, onion, sage and clove. Another favorite use for it? As a dip for leftover steak strips with roasted bell peppers and red onion slices.
6. Now Foods Dry Roasted Macadamia Nuts
Unlike other nuts, which are high in omega-6 fatty acids (something the typical modern diet already contains too much of), macadamias offer a higher quality fat profile of monounsaturated fats (more in line with avocados and olive oil). And a 2008 study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that they may support healthy lipid ratios and lower cardiovascular risk. Keep a bag of them at work. And they're great with your morning coffee.
7. Kettle Fire Bone Broth
Bone broth has garnered a lot of attention in recent years — and for good reason. Some suggest that the collagen in bone broth can improve joint health, help protect against oxidative stress, enhance gut health and improve skin elasticity and appearance.
Not everyone has the time or inclination to make their own at home, though. Kettle Fire makes it easy with ready-made, high-quality bone broth from pastured, organic sources. They also offer a variety of flavors. Chicken is my favorite to sip as a mid-afternoon or evening drink.
8. Let’s Do Organic Toasted Coconut Flakes, Unsweetened
When I'm in the mood for something crunchy, with a little bit of texture, toasted coconut flakes is my easy, keto-friendly favorite. As with coconut butter, a little goes a long way toward feeling full.
The flakes have a nutty and mildly sweet taste, but nutritionally they offer the healthy fat and fiber of coconut meat. I'll eat a handful out of the bag now and then or sprinkle a mix of flakes and nuts on a salad or over some roasted vegetables. The brand, Let's Do Organic, doesn't include any added oils, sweeteners or preservatives, so I know I'm not eating anything that compromises my commitment to high-quality, real-food nutrition.
9. SeaSnax Organic Roasted Original Seaweed Snack
Roasted seaweed is great when you're craving something salty, but I mainly use them for tuna salad wraps — an excellent keto-friendly snack or even a small lunch that conveniently delivers taste without the carbs.
Of course, there are a lot of seaweed snacks and wrap sheets out there, but I like this brand because they keep it simple. The only ingredients are seaweed (a fantastic source of iodine, which is essential for thyroid health), organic extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
10. Epic Beef Liver Bites
Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, but most people aren't keen on preparing it themselves. Epic Beef Liver Bites, which is a mix of grass-fed beef and grass-fed beef liver, offer a milder-tasting, convenient way to fit in liver's unique nutritional wins without any effort. Just a single serving (six pieces) gives you almost the full RDA for copper, nearly twice the RDA for vitamin B12 and the majority of the RDA for vitamin A — as well as a good dose of protein.
Plus these are easy to throw in a bag for a post-workout protein boost or a travel snack. With the simple, savory flavors of sea salt, cracked pepper, garlic and onion powders, liver has never been so palatable.