This is it. You've made the decision to move forward with your low-carb lifestyle and with it, you take the plunge to clean out your kitchen and re-stock with sugar-free, clean eating options.
Where do you start?
What do you get?
How many stores do you need to go to in order to get the essentials?
AND the level up products?
As an advocate for the last 3+ years, I've made a point of scoping out stores and linking arms with natural food providers. My favourite, by far, is the local chain - Natural Food Pantry. With multiple locations across the city, they have anchored themselves to be one of the leading total wellness AND niche lifestyle stores.
Not to mention, I host regular keto talks at their Barrhaven location. So I got to thinking - if I were new to keto, what are some items that I would like to know about and where to find them in-store?
And with that, I have put together a few quick snapshots of my keto go-tos, including a few supplements, from the Natural Food Pantry in Barrhaven. Remember, there are a plethora of options beyond these, so go on in and explore!
Let's begin the list with your essential fats for cooking and your morning brew plus top quality coffee.
MCT (medium chain triglycerides) // Your optimal fat source!
Brands galore, but remember quality sourcing of your MCTs is important. Check the label to ensure the carbon strains stem from COCONUT, not palm kernels.
Bulletproof - Brain Octane (3 strains of MCT), XCT oil
Nutiva - MCT powder
St Francis - Canadian Company, Liquid Coconut Oil, MCT OR (my fav) Ghee + MCT combined
COFFEE // Caffeine boost to amplify ketone delivery!
Coffee is not the enemy, contrary to some perpetuated myths. And with keto, it can serve as an ideal means to augment ketone delivery through the body & brain. Coffee is also considered a superfood - lowers blood pressure, reduced risk of heart & neurological diseases, increases adenosine & triggers dopamine responses.
Bulletproof - Upgraded Coffee Beans
Kicking Horse (my favourite tasting blend!)
OneCoffee Biodegradable Organic Fairtrade Coffee
SPARKLING WATER // Your keto water alternatives!
Water - a critical component to your success to keep your body replenished and electrolytes balanced, but sometimes we get bored of the same ol' plain H2O. Do you opt for a little artificial squirt or flavour OR take the natural sparkling route?
La Croix - the American brand came to Canada and my world changed forever! With almost 20 flavours, and a moderate fizz, its a great means to get in your water intake or mix it up with a splash of clear liquor on a hot summer day (hey, we are human!)
Zevia - If you enjoy your POP, then this is for you. A bolder flavour akin to your favourite soda and fruity flavours but sweetened with Stevia to keep it keto
BAKING FLOURS // When you need your bread, pancake, muffin fix!
LOVE MY BUNS - this is the ultimate go-to in my books, seeing that magical blend is ideal for everything from pizza crusts to pastries AND it's locally made (the wife of Chef Enloe from NFP Cafe)
-- Not pictured --
Coconut Flour & Almond Flour - staples in the keto baking world, lots of brands and even alternative sources of NUT flours if almond isn't your jam.
PREMADE KETO BREAD //
Speaking of the Love My Buns mix, Natural Food Pantry has taken out the legwork for you by baking a massive loaf of foccacia bread as well as pliable (important) keto wraps to fit your lifestyle and schedule.
Find them in the refrigerated section of the store.
NATURAL SWEETENERS // Sugar ain't got nothing on this!
It's widely know n that your sweet tooth can diminish over time and cravings abolished with keto, but for those times when you do want to infuse a little sweetness into your diet, this is your go-to guide!
Better Stevia - liquid sweetener is all the rage, and the Better Stevia has many flavours for all your baking or even your hot beverage needs. No bitter aftertaste either!
Stevia, Erythritol, Monk Fruit - three of my favourite keto sweeteners from natural sources that won't spike insulin and have varying levels of sweetness. Monk Fruit is also anti inflammatory~
Xylitol - beware if you have pets in the house as this one is great for keto BUT deadly to dogs (I avoid altogether as I don't want to risk it with my fur babies)
PREMADE GOODIES //
Okay, I'd like to address that whole food sources are typially ideal for any lifestyle, but if you are in a pinch and craving a little something on the go, here are a few that can satisfy the urge to cheat!
Lily's Stevia sweetened chocolate bars- traditional dark chocolate, almond, coconut, there are so many opitons with this chocolate goodness and you only need a few squares
Love Good Fats Bars - yes, there are a few ingredients that borderline low-carb versus full keto including the sourcing of fibre and one of the sweeteners, but as I noted, it's a go-to if you are in a pinch or on the road and want that quick little fix without having to make a fat bomb
Ross Chocolates - one of the newer additions to the market, they are slim and actually have few ingredients which makes them one of the cleanest of the keto bar options available
Smart Sweets - do you miss gummy bears and swedish berries? This line of high fibre treats are meant to help with that, but do be aware that they have been known to cause slight gastro disruption and sometimes a spike in insulin. Make this choice for yourself if you wish to stay strict or have a little deviation once in a while.
KETO CRACKERS // That aren't vegetables!
You didn't think you'd be stuck with celery stalks as dippers forever, did you?
Pantry Fresh aka Natural Food Pantry brand keto crackers are made with seeds and coconut oil, serving up a delicious and nutritious arrays of crispers to pair with your favourite dips.
LOCAL KETO PROVIDERS // Comfort foods at your fingertips
Did you know that Natural Food Pantry carries local brand of premade keto meals that can help you stay on track when you don't feel like cooking?
Carb Smart Express - zucchini cheddar scones, chocolate pecan muffins, pizza crusts, soft buns
Miss Keto - cookies, bagels, bread and more
The Keto Oven - pizzas that you heat up and go!
SoooKetolicious - more pizza crusts ready for consumption once you add your own toppings!
MISC // Condiments, Pasta Alternatives, Granola & Baking Chips!
So perhaps it's not fair to lump all of these in a category but it's a little bit of a misc category, hodge podge of keto goodies.
Salad Dressing - Primal Kitchen: Dressings these days are unfortunately saturated with added fillers and sugars, but there is a line of clean dressings called Primal Kitchen that are mostly made with avocado oil and natural additives for flavour like herbs and real cheese
Zeroodle, Konjac Noodles & Nupasta - craving a little pasta but without the carbs? Konjac/shiritaki are a fibrous, keto alternative that gives you the same texture and density as pasta
Pro Granola - eek this is a new find that is a staple in our household that EVERYONE (even non keto) will adore. Why? The crunchy texture akin to morning cereal, minus the carbage will leave you feeling full, and with 3 incredible flavours you can mix and match anytime
Chocolate Chips - this one could have gone under the baking category but I'm doing as a standalone as I often add my chips to greek yogurt or smoothies, and of course in chewy chocolate chip cookies - Krisda & Lily's are sweetened naturally
I am a firm believer that many of our vitamins and minerals can be replenished through nutrition alone, but there are a few natural additives that have been beneficial for body function, especially on keto.
DIGESTIVE ENZYMES with OX BILE - helping to support your liver and the production of important enzymes to breakdown fats and boost absorption is paramount to your success and will lessen inflammation. Opt for SUPER ENZYMES by NOW or Digest-Aid Trophic enzymes for the all critical ox bile inclusion
Magnesium Glycinate - did you know it takes 54mg of magnesium to breakfdown 1g of sugar? This means that even while we limit sugar on keto, we are often already deficient in this vital micronutrient. This supplement is great for muscle function and reducing cramps, better sleep and helping with more fluid bowel movements.
L-Theanine - do you have trouble sleeping? Or getting to sleep? Ever think that perhaps it's about mental rest disruption versus body relaxation? Melatonin supplementation can cause dependency and decrease natural production over time. L-Theanine promotes relaxation of the MIND, therefore slowly calming the thoughts and lessening anxiety, for a faster and more restful sleep.
From xantham gum to macadamia nuts, coconut milk to sauerkraut - there are many other keto items available at Natural Food Pantry to get you started or keep you on your journey.
And when you are passing through don't forget to hit up The Natural Cafe located inside the store for fresh, keto daily wraps, broths, desserts and even fatty fueled beverages.
Did you know that I have conducted over 45 seminars, workshops, talks, meetups and cooking classes - many of which happened right at the Natural Food Pantry?
Make sure to follow me at @keto.goddess on Instagram, or sign up for newsletters with Keto Better Life to ensure never to miss an event near you!
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xoxo Gen, Keto Goddess