If you’re one of the millions of Americans “going keto,” you know that the diet is somewhat strict and difficult to adhere to, especially on holidays like Valentine’s Day that involve copious amounts of chocolate and Champagne. (Quick recap: The keto diet emphasizes cutting out carbohydrates and amping up foods high in fat, so that your body starts to break down fats instead of storing them.) And yet, whether you’re a champion of the low-carb, high-fat diet or just a skeptic who’s in a relationship with one, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day without veering too far from the keto script.
“It just takes a little bit of planning,” say Alex and Lauren Lester, the couple behind Cast Iron Keto, a site dedicated to keto-friendly recipes. Both keto acolytes for just over two years, the couple has become pros at whipping up inventive keto-compliant meals like these delicious fish tacos that make the breadless way of life seem much more doable.
For a romantic keto dinner, Alex and Lauren suggest a cast iron steak with a charred brussels sprout salad, rounded out by their keto white chocolate blondies. True to the site’s name, all of these dishes are meant to be made in a cast-iron skillet, which also cuts down on time spent in the kitchen cleaning up a bunch of pots and pans.
The reality is you don’t have to get too creative when planning a romantic keto dinner for two. A classic baked brie is a perfect, gooey appetizer that doesn’t require any adaptations. Other great options that can be starters or sides are steamed artichokes, Alex’s garlic butter mushrooms, or a light and crunchy cucumber salad. Sick of meat-and-threes? Switch things up with breakfast-for-dinner (or breakfast-in-bed). Egg muffin cups are super easy to customize. Almond flour pancakes and zucchini waffles read indulgent but are still low in carbs.
If pasta is always your thing for Valentine’s (Lady and the Tramp-style), try shirataki noodles instead of spaghetti. Also known as “miracle noodles” (the name of a common shirataki brand), they’re a popular Japanese ingredient made from water and konjac yam. Toss them with an almond butter sauce, use them in a pad thai, or even substitute in a carbonara.
Dessert on keto can be a bit trickier, but there are still recipes that stick to the low-carb, high-fat formula. In addition to white chocolate blondies, the Lesters recommend their keto magic bars, packed with shredded coconut, pecans, and dark chocolate chips. Peanut butter and chocolate truffles are also great, as is a tart lemon bar.
And let’s face it, maybe on Valentine’s Day, it’s okay to break from keto. While Alex and Lauren have both been fairly strict keto acolytes for the last couple years, even they say it’s necessary and in fact healthy to take a break once in awhile.
“We both believe in living your life,” says Alex. “And that includes enjoying time with each other without worrying about macros.”
Related Video: How to Make Keto Shepherd’s Pie
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Header image courtesy of Cast Iron Keto.