Olives: The Magical Fruit

Most of us who have been on a ketogenic diet know that fruits are to be avoided, with maybe the exception of those “technically” fruits like avocados and tomatoes. However, olives are also one of those magical fruits that can be worked into a keto lifestyle!


Olives are an incredibly versatile food that have been cultivated by humans for 1000s of years. We’re all familiar with the typical “green” and “black” olive varieties, but the olive rabbit hole goes deeper than you may think. First of all, green and black olives aren’t really different varieties of olives; they’re just picked at different stages of ripeness. Black olives are picked at the peak of ripeness, so they usually end up being softer with a more mild flavor. Green olives are picked at various degrees of un-ripeness, meaning they will be more dense and bitter. This time difference, as well as the region the olives are from, and the method for curing them, is what gives olives their diverse flavor profile.

black olives.jpg

Olives can be cured in different solutions to give them different unique tastes. Many olives are soaked in a solution of lye and water to soften them. This process takes a very short time, but unfortunately also removes most of the nutrients of the fruit. Other olives are cured in a bath of brine water, which can take several months, or air-cured, which causes some wrinkling of the olives but preserves the strong flavor and nutrient profile.

In 1910, a process was discovered in order to can black olives, which previously were different to transport because they would discolor. This involved lye-curing green olives in an oxygenated solution to turn them black, then treating them with ferrous gluconate to preserve the color. If possible, avoid buying canned black olives that have been “stabilized” with this substance – they will be almost completely devoid of nutrients! Look for organic brands of olives, as these will more likely be treated using a brine solution instead of lye, and will be much more nutritious.

All of that to say, olives definitely make for a great keto treat. They can be eaten by themselves as a snack, or used to enhance dishes like salads, dips, casseroles, or even some keto friendly pizza! At a small enough serving size, most olive jars will claim “zero” carbs, but all fruits and veggies have a small amount of digestible carbs: one large olive will be about 0.5 grams of fat to 0.2 grams of carbohydrates. With a little planning, these delicious salty fruits can be easily worked into any keto lifestyle.

Check out Carole’s Olive Taste Test Video for a breakdown of the different flavors of olives from all different parts of the globe!

Yes, Heavy Whipping Cream has Carbs

If you want to start a hot debate on an ketogenic diet Facebook group, post a photo of your “zero carb” heavy whipping cream (abbreviated HWC). Many people simply look at the label on their HWC and conclude that it has zero grams of carbs, so they can consume it to their soon-to-be-fat-adapted heart’s content. But slow down, dairy-lover! I have some important news for you: your HWC does have carbs. All HWC has carbs even though the labels says it doesn’t.


Why heavy whipping cream has carbs even though the labels says it has zero.

In the United States (and perhaps elsewhere) there is a labeling loophole (many of them, actually, but we are only talking about HWC for now) regarding carbohydrates. Food manufacturers are allowed to label a food as having zero grams of carbs if it contains 0.5 grams or less per serving. That last part is important – PER SERVING. The serving size for HWC is 1 ounce, or 2 tablespoons. One ounce of HWC actually contains 0.4 grams of carbs. So to most of the population, 0.4 grams of carbs means nothing, so counting it as zero is fine. But to someone working to keep total daily carbs under 20 grams, 0.4 grams is a significant amount. And more importantly, most people following a low carb or ketogenic diet will consume more than one serving of HWC, especially if they think it contains no carbs. So that 0.4 grams of carbs quickly turns into 2, 4, or even 6 grams of carbs. Or more.

No, your HWC is not special. All HWC contains carbs even though your label says it doesn’t.

I often see people arguing online about whether or not HWC contains carbs. People love HWC so much that they really want to be able to consume cups of it without any consequences. They so desperately want to cling to the hope that HWC doesn’t have any carbs that they come up with excuses. The one I see the most often it, “Well, maybe YOUR HWC contains carbs, buy MY HWC doesn’t.” Just because you want it to be true does not make it true. HWC all comes from the same place (cow’s milk) and there is no special cow that makes milk with zero carbs (but perhaps some cow breeder is working on it…). Yes, concentrating the milk into HWC greatly reduces the carb count, but there are still carbs that remain. So no matter if your label says zero carbs, or your food tracking app says zero carbs, or that recipe you saw on Pinterest says zero carbs, all HWC does have 0.4 grams per 1 ounce.

When in doubt, look it up.

When any food label states 0 grams of carbs per serving, I automatically assume that it contains some carbs, unless it is a pure fat, like coconut oil, olive oil, red palm oil, MCT oil, etc. If you see 0 grams of carbs on a label, I encourage you to look it up on cronometer.com or nutritiondata.self.com to check for yourself. While I think My Fitness Pal (MFP) is a very useful and a handy app that works well for most keto dieters, it has limitations on the level of detail for carb counts. A lot of the foods in MFP simply re-state the macros listed on a food label. So if a food label says 0 grams of carbs, MFP is going to tell you that an entire cup of HWC contains zero carbs. But that is a lie.

This is why I recommend that my clients use cronometer.com or nutritiondata.self.com  to look up and track their food intake, because both have robust and highly accurate carb counts on most foods, including HWC. Cronometer, for example, correctly shows that HWC contains 0.41 grams of carbs per 1 ounce.

Or if you don’t want to look it up, assume 0.5 grams per serving. But don’t fool yourself into believing that HWC is carb-free and that you can consume as much as you want.

Where were you surprised to discover hidden carbs?

Share your carb revelations in the comments below.

Adapt Your Life

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Depression and Food Cravings in Winter

I received word yesterday that a friend from long ago had committed suicide. The news hit me hard.


This time of year (February) in the Pacific Northwest can be particularly hard for anyone who experiences depression. We’ve just spent the last 3 months going through the darkest, wettest, and coldest part of the year, and for many it can bring out or intensify depression. So much so, that some people feel like their feelings of despair are beyond their ability to handle them.

I feel sorrowful to know that my friend was one of those people. I feel despondent knowing that another human felt that level of emotional pain.

I can actually identify with what my friend was feeling though, since depression runs in my family. Most winters, my family and I notice a marked increase in depressive feelings around this time of year. In the past, I managed my depression by ensuring I ate adequate protein for blood sugar balance, adding in some targeted amino acids, plus B vitamins, which worked well, but this time of year was still always a struggle.

This year is my first winter since going on a ketogenic diet and I can tell a HUGE difference in my mood. In the past, I often used food to comfort, numb, and dissociate from my winter depressive feelings. While I still feel that familiar depression nipping at my heels right now, it is nothing like I’ve felt in the past. I feel hopeful, happy, calm and peaceful most of the time, whereas in the past I always felt quite despondent this time of year. The change in my mood since going keto also makes it much easier to follow through with the things I know are healthy ways to experience and regulate emotions.

At first I did everything “right” last night as far as healthy ways of handling my dismal mood. I noticed and named my feelings (sad, unhappy, sorrowful, despondent, and so on) and I sought out consolation in friends and family (love you guys), I attempted a mood state change and emotional regulation (watched a comedy movie), and even had a visceral release of my emotions (yay for crying!). And even though all of that felt healthy and appropriate, I still fell into an old habit of seeking out comfort and numbness in food.

Now, I did not “cheat” and go off keto and overeat carbohydrates. But I did overeat some keto-friendly foods when I wasn’t biologically hungry. I knew in the moment that I wasn’t hungry and I was eating because I wanted some comfort, to feel better, to numb the emotional pain.

Turning to food for comfort is not right nor wrong. I mindfully accept what I did without judgment. The issue for me comes down to reducing long-term suffering and being authentic in my keto life. When I turn to food for comfort, in the long run, it increases my suffering because it increases cravings and the likelihood that I will do the same again. It reinforces the habit that I want to let go of. Plus it jeopardizes my ability to remain in ketosis, which is key to maintaining my health right now.

Habits are hard to unlearn. It takes awareness, commitment, and determination. I’ve made a lot of progress in my emotional regulation skills, but I’m not perfect. I’m human.

And Northwest winters are a bitch. And Depression is an asshole.

Please ask for help if you need it.


If you or someone you know is feeling depressed, suicidal, anxious, lonely, having issues with drugs or alcohol, or just needs someone to talk to, call the Crisis Line 24 hours a day:

Call 866-4-CRISIS (1-866-427-4747)

2015 in review

2015 has been a year of transformation in my life and I’ve shared most of it here with you. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. My heart is filled with gratitude for my readers and I’m really excited for even more in 2016!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Keto Thanksgiving Recipes 2015

I’m launching a 90 Day Keto Challenge in January 2016. Would you like to join me? It includes weekly webinars, meal plans and shopping list, a workbook, and private online support group. For more info, click here.


Thanksgiving is only a week a way. Do you have your menu planned out yet? Are you wondering how you will survive Thanksgiving and stay on your low carb, high fat plan? Or perhaps you are tired of experiencing a food coma after the big meal?

While traditional Thanksgiving recipes are loaded with carbs (except the turkey), the good news is that there are loads of keto-fied versions.

Here are a bunch of keto-friendly, low carb, no sugar, grain free, high fat ideas and recipes to fill your belly:


Cheese and Meat Tray

Crudite (raw veggies and dip) cauliflower, broccoli, celery, endive are all low-carb veggies.

Ranch Dip from Ruled Me

Deviled Eggs (most any recipe is already keto-friendly)

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms from Peace Love and Low Carb


For the most part, the turkey is the easiest part of a Thanksgiving meal to make keto friendly. Here are a couple of recipe ideas from Food and Wine to get your mouth watering. One calls for pancetta, a fancy bacon, and the other uses butter. Doesn’t get more keto than that.

Pancetta-Wrapped Roasted Turkey

Pancetta-Wrapped Roasted Turkey

Pancetta-Wrapped Turkey from Food and Wine. Leave out the 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and you’ll have a delicious, impressive bird to serve next Thursday.

Chipotle-Butter Turkey

Chipotle-Butter Turkey

Chipotle-Butter Turkey from Food and Wine. This one is keto ready and it has “butter” in the name, so yes, please!

Side Dishes


Sugar Free Cranberry Sauce

Sugar Free Cranberry Sauce

Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce from All Day I Dream About Food

Plain (sugar free) Cranberry Sauce from All Day I Dream About Food


Keto stuffing is one of the dishes for Thanksgiving that takes a bit more work than the others because you will need to make the low-carb bread for the stuffing first, then make it into stuffing. If you love stuffing, it is well worth the effort and will surely stupefy your guests when you tell them you’ve made it low-carb.

Gourmet Keto Stuffing

Gourmet Keto Stuffing

Gourmet Keto Thanksgiving Stuffing from The Nourished Caveman uses mushrooms, sage, pancetta, and macadamia nuts.

Sausage and Herb Stuffing from Food Network doesn’t use any bread at all, but instead using a hearty helping of sausage, cauliflower, and squash.

Biscuits or Rolls

KFC Style Biscuits from Maria Mind Body

Holy Grail Almond Buns from Caveman Keto

Mashed Faux-tatoes

It may seem that mashed potatoes may be the hardest dish to make keto-friendly, but in walks mashed cauliflower, which can take on the same creamy texture as potatoes when prepared properly. Even family members that hate veggies will ask for second helpings of these dishes.

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower

Easy Mashed Cauliflower with Garlic from Paleo Grubs. I suggest trying bacon grease in place of the ghee for an over the top, dairy-free version.

Loaded Mashed Cauliflower with Bacon and Cheddar from Caveman Keto


Country Style Gravy from Maria Mind Body

Turkey Gravy from Cook Eat Paleo

Green Bean Casserole

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole from Caveman Keto

Low Carb Grean Bean Casserole from Food.com


How can it be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? I’ve included two versions here, one with dairy and one without. Plus a pecan pie for good measure.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake from I Breathe I’m Hungry

Low Carb Paleo Pumpkin Pie from Cooking with Trader Joe’s (dairy-free)

Pecan Pie from Maria Mind Body

What are Your Favorite Family Recipes?

What are your family’s traditional Thanksgiving dishes? What else would you like a keto recipe for?

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