Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Not to be judgmental, but —

Okay, now, listen. I know people have different tastes. But I’m starting to think that a lot of keto recipes are just terrible and the reason people on the internet claim they are good is:

a) They are trying to rev up their own enthusiasm for recipes they know perfectly well are pretty bad, or

b) They have not had normal food for so long that they have forgotten what it’s like.

I’m kidding, to some extent, but I’m serious too. Here’s a recipe I made last night:

Crispy Chicken Fritters

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 celery stalks

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

13 oz. boneless chicken thighs, skinless

2 large eggs

¾ cup fine coconut flour

1 C oil, for frying

Zap everything but the oil and the coconut flour in a food processor to make a paste. Form into patties or small balls. Dredge in coconut flour. Fry.

Now, there is nothing here that seems awful. Chicken, onion, celery, eggs, all of that should be a fine basis for a recipe. Cumin is one of my favorite things, though I wouldn’t normally combine it with oregano, so maybe that should have made me suspicious.

I made this recipe almost exactly the way it says, and it was terrible. The goop was thin and hard to handle. The texture of the cooked patties was not inviting. Despite the name the fritters were not crisp. The flavors were off, with too much of an onion flavor and, oddly, not a lot of celery. The coconut flour was way too evident in the flavor profile. I like coconut fine in a chicken curry. I hated it here. The cumin was not detectable, and to be fair, neither was the oregano.

I could give you a link to the site where I got this recipe, but honestly, I don’t like to do that after writing the above condemnation. You can google around and find it if you want.

Anyway, I didn’t throw the finished chicken patties away because I was raised not to waste food. I didn’t feel comfortable giving them to the dogs — too much onion, it would probably be okay, but still. Slathered with mustard, the patties were edible.

But what gives? Could anybody really like these chicken fritters? Yes, I know, no need to remind me again that tastes differ. But still, taking the most objective possible look at these chicken patties, they were a total flop and no one should make this recipe.

You know what else aren’t any good? Keto pancakes made with cottage cheese and eggs and no real flour. I swear to God, people who rave about those cannot possibly ever have eaten real pancakes, made properly, with wheat flour and buttermilk. Or for that matter, cornmeal and buttermilk. Or my actual favorite pancakes use a lot of oatmeal and a little flour and regular milk, and my point is, the things that keto recipes pretend are pancakes are not REMOTELY as good as real pancakes and I see absolutely no reason to pretend otherwise. Keto recipes of this kind should be written with a disclaimer: These are terrible, but they sort of look like pancakes and if you drown them in sugar-free syrup you may be able to more or less ignore their awful texture.

I have not actually tried sugar-free syrup and don’t plan to.

While in this thoroughly peeved mood, let me add that I cannot get a cauliflower crust to work properly to save my life. My hands may not be strong enough to squeeze out enough liquid; I don’t know. I just know that this does not even begin to work for me. There are other ways to make fake flatbreads that are semi-acceptable but this is not one of them.

I have to go enter a zillion test questions into the completely obnoxious online test builder now, but before I do, I will provide a much better recipe that is not keto, but is, shall we say, keto-adjacent. It’s from Bon Appetit and makes cookie-esque items that are quite decent.

Trail Mix Cookies

1½ cups assorted raw nuts and seeds — I used walnuts rather than a mix

½ cup (60 g) old-fashioned oats

1 large egg

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup (packed; 50 g) dark brown sugar — I used brown sugar Truvia, which is pretty decent, partly because it contains a little real sugar and molasses.

2 Tbsp. (25 g) granulated sugar — I used white sugar Truvia, which cuts fairly awful erythretol with monk fruit and real sugar, producing a low-sugar substance that’s pretty decent, though not as good as the brown-sugar type.

1½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. kosher salt — I used regular; kosher salt is for finishing, imo, and regular salt is for baking.

½ tsp. baking soda

¾ cup assorted dried fruit (cut into ½” pieces if large) — I used golden raisins, only 1/4 cup, and if I were doing it again I would leave them out; I added 1/4 cup coconut flakes and that was fine.

¾ cup chopped bittersweetchocolate bars or chips or disks

½ cup (63 g) all-purpose flour — I used half spelt and half regular flour, but as you see, this is really a small amount of flour. You’re going to wind up with less than a Tbsp of flour per finished cookie.

For me, based on two years of experiments, oatmeal is less of a problem than wheat flour, rice, or corn. This recipe is using so many nuts that the oats and certainly the flour is fairly minor in comparison.

Anyway, toast the walnuts and oats at 350 degrees for ten or twelve minutes. Cool.

While you’rd doing that, combine the egg, butter, sugars, salt, and baking soda. Let that set while the nuts cool. Toss the chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut flakes, and whatever else you’re using with the walnuts and oats. Stir into the egg mixture. It’ll all fit in there if you’re mildly persistent. Chill for a day or so — I’m not sure what difference this makes, but the recipe said to chill for a couple hours to a couple days, so I did.

Form into 12 large disks. I packed the dough into a third-cup measuring cup, then tipped each fat disk out and pressed it out flatter with the heel of my hand. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or thereabouts and cool on the pans.

One of these cookies is pretty satisfying, seems a lot like a cookie, and is moderately close to keto-acceptable.

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6 Comments Not to be judgmental, but —

  1. Elaine T

    For squeezing liquid out of vegetables have you tried a (large, if you can get it) jelly bag and a rolling pin? That’s how I dry out my spinach for spinach quiche: roll it out. Otherwise it’s awfully soggy.

    My rolling pin is marble, so heavy, which undoubtedly helps.

    I’m not keto, except randomly due to family really liking protein and not much else. What I can’t eat are dishes with real onion (green ok), or sufficient amounts of garlic, apricots, and .. it’s a long list of stuff to either avoid or use minimally. Fodmap is the key word for searches. Decent recipes that don’t call for lots of onion and garlic are hard to come by.

  2. Pete Mack

    That sounds horrible. Who makes chicken fritters anyway, when straight fried chicken is so good? And aromatic base with only celery and onion–no carrot, pepper, or garlic?
    Buttermilk and coconut flakes would surely work. Here’s something similar.
    https://www.trifectanutrition.com/blog/keto-coconut-cashew-chicken-recipe

    Alternatively, this excellent recipe was #1 at NYT cooking last year, and is plaigiarized elsewhere on the web. (I use thighs and remove some of the schmaltz before making the sauce. Not all. It takes a lot of parsley and olives to get enough for 8 pc.)
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020486-vinegar-chicken-with-crushed-olive-dressing
    (Original behind paywall.)

    Is it the grain or the processing that is the problem? Glycemic load of farro is much lower than oatmeal, and it is basically in ground low-gluten wheat.

  3. Mary Beth

    I wonder if those patties could possibly be improved if the chicken were cooked first and shredded, like salmon cakes?

    The trail mix cookies sound really good though! Walnuts and fruit and chocolate, what’s not to like?

  4. Pete Mack

    I read a little about the paleo diet and some of it is gobbledygook. In particular: No legumes and amaranths because of phytic acid. But all nuts have some phytic acid, and almonds have up to 3x more than legumes. And amaranths have far less than beans. Of course paleo uses almond flour in everything.

    Chickpea and buckwheat flour are easier to use and far cheaper. (1/4 the price.)

  5. Rachel

    Thanks for all your comments, Pete! I do use chickpea flour, which I have used for years in various recipes like socca and in Indian cooking. As far as I can tell, if I add a significant amount of legumes to my diet, it prevents me from losing weight, but doesn’t necessarily cause me to gain. I haven’t tried farro, but I do actually have some because I suspect that modern wheat and processing is a problem for me and I’m not sure that older types of wheat are. I have some atta flour too, for making Indian chapatis, and I really need to use that exclusively for a week or two and see if I can draw any conclusions about that kind of flour.

    You are quite right that I should have wondered why the onions and celery weren’t being sauteed. I agree, too, with Mary Beth, that cooking the chicken first might well have improved matters. In retrospect I don’t know what my brain was doing. I guess I still assume that recipes that have been published somewhere can’t be that bad.

    It’s not that I was puzzled for something keto to do with chicken. Plainly there are a million good chicken recipes that would fit the bill. I particularly like chicken with preserved lemon and olives, and since I made a new batch of preserved lemons last month, I should make that with the rest of the chicken thighs. Or if I’m not avoiding beans, which I’m not always, then chicken cassoulet with sausage and giant white beans is wonderful. I just saw these chicken fritters and thought I’d try them. Biiig mistake.

    Elaine, thanks for the suggestion. I have a marble rolling pin, so I should try this method. I can manage to squeeze water out of spinach well enough, but a better, faster, easier way would be welcome, especially if it also works for cauliflower. I sympathize about the onions. Everything does use onion and garlic, so yeah, that would be an annoying limitation.

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