Keto diet? Just trying to be a little more conscious of your carbs?
A major mistake that often gets made on a Keto or low-carb diet is not incorporating enough plant-based nutrition for fear of carbohydrates. Particularly on a diet with a high concentration of acidifying foods like meat and dairy, it is essential that you focus on your micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) intake just as much as you are obsessing over your daily macronutrient values (fat, carbs, and protein).
An overly acidic internal pH is a breeding ground for disease and dysfunction, so in order to go keto in a way that will not be a detriment to you in the long run, you should incorporate as much leafy green nutrition daily as you can without going over your allotted net carbs.
Dark leafy greens not only highly alkalizing (and therefore ideal for promoting a healthy internal pH), they are the most nutrient-dense type of vegetable. They also fall on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to carbohydrates- perfect for keto!
Leafy Greens & Keto
Each leafy green vegetable has its own unique nutrient profile, so the greater the diversity of greens you get into your diet, the better!
Although I call this a kale salad (because kale is life), this recipe uses equal parts spinach. You can also use other low-carb leafy greens like collard greens and/or swiss chard. Experiment and tweak this recipe however you prefer. I’m just weirdly obsessed with kale, so naturally I made it the star of this recipe (Like, literally I’m eating a kale salad while I write this, and I found myself gazing deep into the bowl, affectionately communicating through telekinesis, “You complete me”. Uh, I digress...).
Though it is still a keto-friendly food, kale is actually on the higher end in terms of carbohydrates (5.4 g net carbs per cup) when compared to other leafy green vegetables. However, kale outranks the rest as an especially dense source of essential vitamins A and C!
...So mix it up! Collard greens, for example, have significantly more protein, calcium, and iron than kale does. Swiss chard, spinach, and collards are all lower in carbohydrates than kale. If you’re on a keto diet and are close to going over your allotted net carbs for the day, you may want to make this salad with just spinach (0.8 net carbs per 2 cup serving) or another leafy green. Do you.
Simple Keto-Friendly Kale Salad
NET CARBS: 9.5 g
TOTAL CARBS: 14.5 g
TOTAL FAT: 25.2 g
PROTEIN: 7.4 g
- 1 cup kale (5.4 g net carbs)
- 1 cup spinach (0.4 net carbs)
- Fresh juice of ½ a lemon (1.7 g net carbs)
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (0 g net carbs)
- 1/2 cup avocado (2 g net carbs)
- Sea salt to taste (0 g net carbs)
- Optional: Flavor with fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, or cilantro (they’re carb-free!)
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and massage your mix until it softens up, sweetens up, and turns bright green!
(PS: Sometimes I like to sautée some of my leafy greens in avocado oil with a little salt and then mix them in together with the raw greens. I think it adds dimension and keeps it interesting.)
Room in your day for a few more carbs? Here are a few additional keto-friendly topping suggestions for your salad:
- 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds (1.2 g net carbs)
- 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds (1.4 g net carbs)
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds (1.8 g net carbs)
- 1/2 cup chopped cucumber (1.9 net carbs)
- 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers (2-3 net carbs depending on the color of pepper)
- 1/4 cup blueberries (4.35 g net carbs)