With the current situation with COVID-19, we thought we'd try something different – food that you can create in the safe, socially distanced kitchen of your own home with your family.
We reached out to some foodies and among those who responded was Tanya Balajadia, who definitely fits the bill – though you might call her a "reformed foodie."
"In 2016, I changed my diet based on medical necessity," she says. "Since I adopted the ketogenic lifestyle, I have been able to manage my symptoms without medication, and my body feels and functions better."
For a few years now, she has shared her favorite dishes that she keto-fied. Over the years, she's churned out recipes of her and her family's favorite local foods that she's tweaked to fit a lifestyle of eating very little, if any, carbohydrates.
Gasp! No carbs?!
Yes – and she's not missing them.
What is keto?
For the uninitiated, a ketogenic diet, or "keto" for short, is a term for a low-carb diet (think Atkins on steroids).
The idea, according to WebMD, is to get more calories from protein and fat, and less from carbohydrates – particularly sweets like candy, soda, sweet drinks and pastries – but also processed foods that are often high in carbs and added sugars.
Since she's gone keto, she's whipped up everything from onigiri, which substitutes cauliflower for the rice in this keto-friendly sushi; to japchae, using low-carb konjac noodles and gluten-free soy sauce; to today's featured recipe: latiya.
For those who don't know, latiya is a favorite local dessert. It's basically a custard on top of a sponge cake. You're sure to find a tray or two at most parties or gatherings – which you can't do right now because we're all practicing social distancing, remember? (So, goodie! More for you! You get to make this at home and keep it for yourself!)
Like the other recipes Balajadia has adapted into her keto lifestyle, the latiya uses sugar-free or low-carb substitutes. Instead of sugar, she uses erythritol. And to help bind the ingredients of the sponge cake and give it some shape, she uses psyllium husk, which is soluble fiber (think Metamucil).
While some of her ingredients sound daunting, you can find most at larger supermarkets or health-food stores. You can also order them from online health stores like Vitacost, which she does for many of her items.
Trying a new diet? Check your doctor
Balajadia does want to make sure to note that whenever anyone tries new foods to check with their doctor – "if they have a pre-existing medical condition, they should consult with their doctor first."
She says while the keto diet and in turn her keto recipes have helped her, "There isn't a one-size-fits-all diet because every individual is different."
She adds that her keto-latiya recipe wouldn't be a good fit for anyone with egg, dairy or nut allergies.
Something sweet to eat
When Balajadia embarked on her keto-diet adventure, she was missing much of the foods she grew up with.
"In the first few months, I quickly realized that there weren't a lot of keto dessert options (that tasted good) out in the marketplace," she says. "So, I started creating my own recipes and tweaking others to fill that void."
She says since she started doing that, she's created some all-time favorites. The keto-latiya dish is one of her Top 5, she says.
"I don't feel like I'm missing anything on this diet," she says. "If I crave something, I just make it!"
What's cool about this recipe is it comes down to 26.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbs and 8.3 grams of protein per serving.
Not only is she serving up a dessert she knows falls within the boundaries of her health needs, it's a dessert she and her kids enjoy eating and making together.
"They help me cook and bake all the time," she says. "They both love this rendition of latiya and can't tell the difference between it and the traditional ... recipe."