Today I am officially over the halfway mark in my challenge to go dairy free for a month. It feels good and, honestly, it’s going better than I expected. Last week Milkademia saved my luscious morning coffee from extinction, so this week I turned my attention to finding substitutes for some of my other favorite keto goodies, namely Parmesan cheese crisps. We might have another winner!
Cheese crisps are a wonderful keto alternative for crunchy, savory, salty snacks. They are super easy to make at home (do you own a cookie sheet?) and the whole process warms up the house with that lovely feeling like you are baking cookies. For the first nine months of my keto journey, I was a casual weekend warrior with my crisps, but that all changed when I started coaching with Gail Straker through Lipedema Simplified. (For those who are new to Sturdy Woman, I use a ketogenic way of eating to manage symptoms related to my lipedema and lymphedema.)
Potassium is one of the important electrolytes we need to balance on keto, and I was worried I wasn’t getting enough. I took multi-vitamins and drank extra electrolytes but had recently realized 1) most multi-vitamins don’t contain much, if any, Potassium (rookie mistake there) and 2) the amount in most electrolytes drops/powers isn’t enough. Most people still need to get a good amount from food. Yikes. At that point my diet was at least 75% red meat and heavy cream, so I really needed Gail. (And remember, I’m not a medical professional so reading this post isn’t a substitute for reaching out to your own care team.)
Gail’s first suggestion was avocados, which actually have more potassium than bananas. Adding those creamy, dreamy, green goodies to my diet wasn’t a hardship, but I found myself throwing away as many as I ate. They were often too hard when I brought them home then brown mush when I got back around to eating them. Guacamole was Gail’s solution, and it quickly became a staple of my diet. Once a week I trek to Whole Foods specifically for the fresh guacamole made in-house. Yes, it is priced like liquid gold, but it is clean and delicious, and I’ve never had a tub stick around long enough to spoil. But, Sturdy Women, how much fun is it to eat guacamole with a spoon? Not a lot. Cheese crisps to the rescue! Almost immediately I discovered they were the perfect crunchy, salty, vehicle to get the guacamole in my mouth. This is a big problem for non-dairy January. Guacamole is dairy free so, of course, I can eat it during my challenge but the first day I sat down and shuttled it to my mouth with a spoon… I felt sad about life. And keto does not need to be sad.
Don’t worry! I found a great non-dairy solution.
Last week I rushed to the supermarket between waves of winter weather and found myself stuck in a crowd. The checkout line snaked down the snack food aisle and there I stood close enough to the chocolate dipped almonds and salted caramels that I could smell them through their brightly colored packaging. I stopped having sugar cravings over a year ago, so it was more of an annoyance than a temptation, but I turned my back anyway. Be gone demons! There, on the opposite side of the aisle were pork rinds, nestled unobtrusively and humbly between the carb-laden potato chips and pretzels. They didn’t even have a fancy package, just a clear bag that said, “Here I am.”
Keto friends, I had never eaten a pork rind. Yes, I hesitated.
Pork rinds are curious creatures, simultaneously presenting as fluffy and crispy, so naturally I was curious about them as a child. My mom, however, refused to buy them. “Do you know what that is?” she snapped when I tried to put it in the cart. “Pig skin! You see how dirty pigs are. That is dirty gross food. Put it back.” This stuck with me and even when I went keto and read about people eating pork rinds, I never even considered it… until now. With a shaky hand and a racing heartbeat, I reached across the aisle and grabbed a bag, glancing over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. The woman behind me in line looked up and met my eye. She blinked expressionlessly, uninterested in my culinary adventures, and turned back to her phone.
Here we go.
Wow, Sturdy Women, I have been missing out! Ok, yes, I really grimaced as I held the first one up to my lips, but there was no need because it was crunchy, salty, perfection with none of the pig taste I had expected. I ate a few handfuls then remembered my guacamole. Match made in heaven. Believe it or not, I think I prefer pork rinds to my cheese crisps and probably won’t switch back even if I decide to start eating dairy again. In addition to taste, pork rinds also win out on cost. They are much cheaper than store bought cheese crisps and you don’t have to worry about added carbs, like the almond and cassava flours that often sneak into cheese crisps. Better taste and better price? That’s what I call a winner.
Be sure to subscribe to Sturdy Woman so you won’t miss my next non-dairy update, which might be about dairy free yogurt. Yum?
What’s your favorite crunchy keto snack? Do you like to do something different with your guacamole or another way you get Potassium? Drop me a note in the comments and I’ll give it a try.