Since 2013, decorated Chef Kelly Courtney has been living a ketogenic, no sugar and anti inflammatory lifestyle. She teaches clients how to eat a primal, ketogenic diet for maximum health. Zevia spoke to Kelly about why she has embraced a ketogenic diet, how it has benefited her health, and the dangers of artificial sweeteners.
1. What is the ketogenic diet and what are its benefits?
I see ketogenic more as a lifestyle choice rather than a diet. The reason I like ketogenic is it is truly a primal lifestyle and focuses on the body depending on proteins for energy rather then carbs. If you were a hunter and gatherer, which in my opinion we were meant to be, you would not be eating tons of sugar and carbs. You might occasionally come across a fruit tree, but mostly berries in terms of fruits.
2. Why, as a chef, did you decide to embrace the ketogenic diet and lifestyle?
I started my ketogenic lifestyle after being diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) which is a inflammatory systemic issue. Because I understand food, it made sense to me to find the root cause of the inflammation rather than just treat symptoms. I want to heal the issue, which I believe is possible. The ketogenic lifestyle is a very anti-inflammatory diet.
3. Now that you're fully keto, have you found the transition to be difficult? Do you ever miss your old diet and lifestyle?
Of course I miss many things I used to eat. I baked in a wood oven most of my career and breads were by far my weakness - and my pastry chef's coconut gelato, which I eat now, but I make it with Swerve. I guess you choose how you want to live and I'm not one to allow anything to control me, so I do not find it hard to do whats right for myself.
4. While Zevia has carbs listed on our label, we have zero net carbs (and zero calories) because the body does not process the naturally sourced erythritol in our product. People sometimes get confused about carbs and net carbs. Can you explain what the difference is, to someone who might not be familiar?
Carbs are gross carbs which most will either be burned by the body or stored into fats. The net is what the body actually takes aboard, whether burnt or stored. The erythritol does not digest. The body doesn't recognize it. It's like a ghost to the digestive system so to speak, and it does nothing to your glycemic levels.
5. Why are artificial sweeteners potentially unhealthy for someone on a ketogenic diet?
They are poisons and they actually cause inflammation as well as weight gain. You can read plenty on the internet about them and how dangerous they are: migraines, cancer, hair falling out, massive GI damage... In this day in age people need to read before they introduce things into their body. No excuse as the internet is right there; if you ingest these things, it's at your own peril.
6. What is your favorite keto cheat meal?
Honey or maple syrup on a plantain pancake.
7. Can you share your favorite keto friendly recipe with us?
- 3 8 oz. packages of organic cream cheese
- 1 cup of swerve sweetener
- 1 teaspoons organic vanilla or scrap a bean
- 1 cup organic sour cream
- 4 pastured eggs
- Zest of one orange
- Preheat oven to 350. Beat cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Combine with sweetener, sour cream and vanilla extract, mixing for about 3 minutes.
- Gently add eggs one at a time. beating until thick and creamy, about one minute after each egg.
- Lightly grease the sides of a 9" springform pan and put the springform on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until puffy and lightly brown around the edges.
- Let cool for about 1-2 hours on wire rack. Cover, chill for at least 4 hours.
Chef Kelly Courtney has ran successful restaurants in LA and Chicago. Kelly won the Best New American Chef Award from Food & Wine Magazine in 2001. After being diagnosed with MS in 2013, she sold her restaurants to focus on her healing journey. Since then, she has been living a ketogenic, no sugar and anti inflammatory lifestyle. She now teaches clients how to eat a primal, ketogenic diet for maximum health.