Almond brown butter Brussels sprouts – a New Years introduction

This is a family Thanksgiving classic that my aunt used to serve to “introduce” us to Brussels sprouts. It worked. They are still a favorite vegetable of mine.

Butter doesn’t have a whole lot of room for improvement, but browning it really does launch it to the next level. Then you add almond slices to that? Kapow. That’s what makes this an “intro” dish, you barely notice the Brussels sprouts they are so busy being a base for a spectacular sauce.

So why am I sharing what seems like such a decadent dish on New Year’s Day? When we are all supposed to start with the health resolutions? Fear not, it’s all part of the plan. I like to go all out in December and do a correction in January to make up for it. For the past few months, I’ve been hearing a lot about the wonders of the Keto Diet.

I’ve tried just about every lifestyle “eating program” under the sun. I’ve been vegan, paleo, completed a few Whole30s, and they are all great in their own ways and also can be hard to be social with. For most of the year, I settle in on traditional cooking methods, daily exercise, and paying attention to my carb intake to maintain my weight. But coming into January this year, I’d like to lose about ten pounds before I go some place warm and beachy in February (hello, black bikini that’s been in the back of my drawer).

So I’ve decided to give Keto the month of January and just see what it’s all about. Although, I made my beau a promise that if this makes me as cranky as the Whole30 did, I will quit early.

What’s Keto? From what I’ve read it’s about being “metabolically flexible” so you can more readily digest fat. Apparently, the body digests things according to its storability. Which means alcohol gets digested first, carbs second, protein third and fat last, because fat is much easier for your body to store. While anecdotally this makes sense, I’m not a food scientist so don’t quote me on any of this. The point of Keto, is to reduce the amounts of those other things, so your body focuses on digesting fats (including stored fats).

This pretty much sounds too good to be true to me and it’s contrary to what I’ve ingrained in my mind about food rules my whole life. But I have noticed as I have experimented with eating more fat, I get less hangry and have more energy. So I’m willing to give this a try. I’m not planning on making this a full blown lifestyle or measuring my ketones or anything too strict like that. But I can count macros for a month and see what it does for me.

What do I mean by macro counting? Macronutrients are the three main food groups your body needs. They are carbohydrates, fat and protein. The Keto Diet seeks a ratio of 5-10% carbohydrates, 15-25% protein, and 65-75% fat. Which in a way is the trickiest part, that makes following this unique to each individual. For myself, I’ll be shooting for 1800 calories a day and 10% of my calories from carbs because I like vegetables and don’t really have a reason to restrict my carbs lower than that. Since carbs and protein each have 4 calories per gram and fat has 9, my macro counting goals are as such:

  • 45 grams net carbohydrates (180 calories or 10%)
  • 112.5 grams protein (450 calories or 25%)
  • 130 grams fat (1170 calories or 65%)

It definitely looks odd on paper. In my experiments with tracking in early December (before I started holiday eating), I ate more like 135 grams of net carbohydrates, 60 grams of fat and 95 grams of protein. So this will be a shift for sure. Net carbs are total carbs minus the fiber.

So what makes this Brussels sprouts recipe Keto (or Keto friendly)? First, it’s a low carb vegetable with a good amount of fat and some protein from the almonds. Second, it doesn’t have the refined stuff you really want to avoid. Last it’s 6 g net carbs, 6 g protein and 29 g fat per generous 1 cup serving.

Almond Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts:

  • 4 cups raw halved Brussels sprouts
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Place the sprouts in a steaming basket or colander over boiling water with a lid. Begin heating the butter on medium and slowly let it brown and become fragrant. Note: you cannot brown salted butter, food science. Add the almonds to the brown butter and mix well. Add the fully cooked steamed Brussels sprouts to the mix and stir well. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

I’ll be reporting back on the Keto stuff soon.

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