Keto Fat Bombs, Sweets & Treats | Urvashi Pitre
Keto Fat Bombs, Sweets & Treats
By Urvashi Pitre
Intro: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book podcast with Suzy Chase. She's just a home cook in New York City sitting at her dining room table talking to cookbook authors.
Urvashi Pitre: I'm Urvashi Pitre, and my blog is TwoSleevers.com. My latest book is Keto Fat Bombs, Sweets & Treats.
Suzy Chase: The ketogenic diet has taken America by storm, and you can attest to its effectiveness firsthand. How has it changed your life?
Urvashi Pitre: My husband and I had gastric sleeve surgery about six years ago. Interestingly, the decision to have the surgery was not as difficult as the decision to go keto after that, because you can have surgery, you can do a whole bunch of things, but if you don't eat right, you're going to gain back almost all of the weight. I had to accept that I was going to be on a ketogenic diet for the rest of my life in order to lose weight. My husband and I have both lost a ton of weight and kept it off for six years, which is, I think, the hardest part. My husband lost about 100 pounds, which is a little too much, and I lost about 80 pounds, which is a little too much, so we've had to put back on a little bit of it so we didn't look haggard and old, but it has really-
Suzy Chase: Really?
Urvashi Pitre: Yes. Oh, my God. I'll tell you something interesting. He was lying in bed after a shower one day, and I came in, and I thought he had died because you could see his bones and his ribs. I was like, "This is not good," so I was like, "Dude, you need to eat." You know?
Suzy Chase: Oh, no.
Urvashi Pitre: [crosstalk 00:01:29]-
Suzy Chase: You can be too thin or too rich, I guess.
Urvashi Pitre: I suppose you can. I mean, especially as you get older, I don't think it's that great to be so skinny, at least for me. I don't look that good. I think the thing about keto is that part of it is weight loss but, for a lot of people, it's blood markers. For my husband, Roger, he came off of Metformin. He came off of blood pressure medication. He had health issues that were impacted by his weight and by the way that he was eating. I had a severe insulin resistance, and I had marks on the back of my neck and on my stomach. It's called acanthosis nigricans. You could see that the way that we were eating was not good for our health let alone our weight. I think it's fashionable to talk about keto for weight, but the more fundamental issue is keto for health for many of us.
Suzy Chase: In your new cookbook, you share more than 100 keto recipes that help satisfy cravings for high-carb snacks. Describe the process of developing 100 recipes, and you probably tested way more than 100.
Urvashi Pitre: Oh, yeah. By the way, this is the fourth or fifth book out, so there has been a lot of recipe testing. My whole house has been taken over, and my husband complains that we never get to eat anything more than once. The only times we get to it eat it more than once is if it failed the first time because then I have to make the recipe again. It's challenging in a good way.
I enjoy the process of coming up with something that yes, it's keto, but mainly, it has to be good-tasting food. A surefire way to go off of a particular way of eating is if you just don't enjoy the food, and it's a chore, and it takes forever to make, and you spend half your life in the kitchen. We don't live like that. I'm not a professional chef. This is not what I do full-time. I am a mom, a business owner. I do. I have other priorities in my life other than cooking, and it has to be easy, and it has to be more ... more than anything, it has to be sustainable.
I think people go into keto, sometimes, with a deprivation mindset, and they think about all the things they can't have. I always urge people to focus on the wonderful, tasty things you can have and all the vegetables, the meats, the nuts, the cheeses, the cream cheese, the heavy whipping cream, the wonderful, delightful, tasty things that you can eat. Moreover, you can feed your family the same things because they're going to take that and go, "Wow, this is delicious," not, "What is this diet food you just fed me?" Essentially, what I do is I create a table of contents of things that I know people miss or that I have made and enjoyed. Then I just go through systematically and start cooking from one end and go to the other until I'm done.
Suzy Chase: You have a whole section called Keto Myths. Number one is keto and low-carb are entirely different things. Explain that.
Urvashi Pitre: Yeah. I'll tell you there's a lot of keto policing out in social media. One of the criteria in my group is you're not allowed to say, "That's not keto," or, "You can't have beans," or, "You shouldn't have carrots." I think context matters. The standard American diet is reputed to be 300 grams of carbs a day, and a strict ketogenic diet is 20 carbs a day. My contention is that there's a lot of room between 300 and 20. There's room for all types of eating styles, and people benefit essentially. This is not an all-or-nothing proposition.
Reducing your carbs, many people can be in ketosis at 50 grams. Many people can't be in ketosis unless they're at 20 grams. Many people choose to simply go from 300 to 100 and see health benefits. There are a million different ways of being healthy. There isn't one good way. I feel sometimes that we are so all-or-nothing in our view of how to be healthy that it's not conducive to being supportive of each other and supportive of each other's styles. If you are trying to eat better, and you decide that, "I can't do this 300 grams of carbs and processed carbs, and instead I'm going to go to something that allows me 100 grams, and I'm only going to eat natural, unprocessed foods," I'm hard-pressed to believe how that's not healthier for you and why we should not be supportive of it.
Suzy Chase: I gave up bread, rolls, and bagels for the first 90 days challenge of 2019. The second week in, I thought I had the flu. I had the flu shot, so I was like, "How can I have the flu?" I googled it, and it's called the keto flu.
Urvashi Pitre: Keto flu, yeah.
Suzy Chase: It was-
Urvashi Pitre: Yes, it is. It's a very-
Suzy Chase: ... awful.
Urvashi Pitre: Yeah, it's a very real phenomenon. Yes, it is. Interestingly, it's also on both ends of the spectrum. It's really awful when we first go through it unless you do the things that you should, which is typically drink a lot and replace your electrolytes, so like the potassium, magnesium, et cetera, a loss that you're having. You stop eating carbs. There's a diuretic effect of that, and you're peeing a lot, basically, and you secrete some of the electrolytes that you need. I will tell you, on the flip side, for those of us who have been keto or low-carb for a while, if we decide to fall face-first into a piece of regular cake, you are sicker than a dog for days afterwards.
Suzy Chase: Really?
Urvashi Pitre: Oh, my God. Oh, God. If I eat bread, and I'm not Celiac so, from that perspective, I do not need to be gluten-free, but if I eat carbs, I am so sick afterwards. I can't tell you. Your body-
Suzy Chase: Oh, that's the worst.
Urvashi Pitre: Yes. It takes a while to adjust both ways, I think, but it's ... For many of us, the health benefits are totally worth it.
Suzy Chase: Give us an overview of the four-week plan of easing into keto.
Urvashi Pitre: I am a perfectionist, there's no doubt about it, but I also believe in incremental change. I think that incremental change is easier to adjust for, so what I did in this time was basically allowed you to ease into a keto plan. I say week one and week two, so the first week, you stop eating potatoes, pasta, bread, and limit fruits now. Down the road, you're not going to be able to be in ketosis by eating three bananas a day. Most of us can't do that. However, you're making so many changes that a stair-step approach is not a bad way to go.
Many of the people that I have seen, they're trying to track, they're trying to go into intermittent fasting, they're trying to balance their macros. I think, a lot of times, they're not understanding the science behind ketosis. I say this all the time. Ketosis is a metabolic state. Food is a guideline to help get you there. To say, "That's not keto," is not often accurate.
At the end of this whole process, you will have given up almost all the carbs that you should not be eating. You will have started to drink a lot of water. You will have introduced four hours between your meals, which you really want to do. Some of us may also have introduced a 12 to 16-hour time period between at least two meals. You will have started to track. You will just not have done that all on the first day. I can attest to the fact that there are hundreds of people in my group that have adopted this method, have been successful and have lost 50, 60, 70 pounds, so it works. It's just not as drastic a method as some of the other ones that you see out there.
Suzy Chase: I want to ask you about intermittent fasting, but you mentioned macros before. What are macros, and how do we determine our own macros?
Urvashi Pitre: Macros, basically, just is the grams of protein, fat, and carbs that you ingest. The essence of keto is limiting carbs, so here's my advice. Limit your carbs. Eat all your protein. Eat the fat that you need in order to feel satiated. This belief that keto is nothing but bacon and butter and Bulletproof coffee, it is a little, in my mind, erroneous. You eat fat for satiety. We need fat because it's the one thing that doesn't elevate your blood sugar and doesn't cause you to release insulin. There's a certain sort of a distribution that is recommended. They will say eat less than 20 grams of carbs, eat about, I don't know, .5, .6 grams of protein per pound of body weight, and then the rest of it you fill in with fat.
There are many calculators. I have a calculator on my website, TwoSleevers.com, that will allow you to calculate your macros and figure out what you should do. I think where we run into trouble is that what happens, as a result of ketosis, is that you stop feeling hungry all the time. You're not on this constant eat carbs, crash blood sugar, and then a resulting hunger from it.
Suzy Chase: Tell us about your intermittent fasting regime.
Urvashi Pitre: Yeah. Honestly, as the weight started to come off, the last 10 pounds were just so difficult for me to get off. This is true, anecdotally, for many, many people. I went into intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight, but then when you read about it, you realize that the autophagy and all of the other health benefits are substantial, and there's a ritualistic long history for fasting for religious reasons, for health reasons, for a variety of other things. I think, again, it's very easy to overcomplicate fasting.
For me, what it means is that I try to keep three to four hours between meals. If I get hungry, I drink liquids because, oftentimes, we confuse hunger and thirst. Then, at night, I do try to go either 12 or 16 hours between meals. A lot of times, what I'll do is I'll stop eating at 8:00 and then, the next morning, I don't eat until about 2:30. I find that it's easier for me to keep my weight off. I feel better. You actually feel very energetic, and it's reputed to not lower your metabolism. A hungry organism is in search of food, and you're like you are activated, and you've got a lot of energy when you're fasting.
Like I said, there's a weight benefit, a weight loss, weight maintenance benefit, but there's also a basic health benefit where you allow your body time to do some of the repair functions that it needs to instead of focusing all of its energy on helping digest what you just stuffed in your face again.
Suzy Chase: You go from 8:00 p.m. the night before to 2:30 p.m. the next day?
Urvashi Pitre: I do. I do that quite often. I know it sounds ridiculous, but one of the biggest benefits of keto, like I said, is you're not hungry all the time. There are some days that I'm clock watching. There's no doubt about it. I'm clock watching going, "What time is it? What time is it?" It's because I'm forcing my self to go. Other days, I'm like, "Oh, heck. It's 3:00. I haven't eaten. I better eat something." We all want to slap those people that go, "I forgot to eat," right? But I am now-
Suzy Chase: I hate those people.
Urvashi Pitre: I know. I know, but I will tell you I'm now one of-
Suzy Chase: That's you now?
Urvashi Pitre: Yes, it is. The only way to get to it is to not eat carbs that cause ... for me, to not eat carbs that cause my blood sugar to crash, because that's what makes me hungry.
Suzy Chase: I read an article in Forbes about you entitled This Death-Defying CEO Proves That Life's Rules Are Yours To Mold. How do you toggle two very different careers?
Urvashi Pitre: Very badly some days. I feel like I'm doing such a bad job some days, and then I have to remind myself that I'm hard on myself about this. A lot of it is the team you surround yourself with. I've always surrounded myself with people who are a lot smarter than me. The team I have on both sides is very, very able, but I'm also extremely regimented in my work day. I create a calendar. I wake up every day and decide, "Here are the things that I have to get done today," and then I work until they're done. Some days, many days actually, to be honest, it's a 17-hour work day. You'll make a plan for five things, and three other things you hadn't anticipated will fall on your plate. I just work until those five things are finished, so I live by a calendar. It's not how other people choose to live but, for me, it's very satisfying to set a goal, meet that goal, and move on the the next day.
Suzy Chase: Other than doing your blog, TwoSleevers.com, and writing your cookbooks, what is your other career?
Urvashi Pitre: I have a doctorate in experimental psychology, and I have been working in marketing for about almost 20 years now. I bring data and analytics into the heart of marketing for Fortune 50s, Fortune 100s. If they're looking for customer relationship management driven by data using predicted models to say which of their customers it's going to [inaudible 00:14:26] which then is going to buy a particular product, what's the impact of their media spend? Essentially, bringing math and science into marketing to predict outcomes based on their historical performances, so very geeky, very nerdy stuff. I do have another sideline that we haven't talked about, actually, which is that we now run culinary tours to different countries because I-
Suzy Chase: Oh.
Urvashi Pitre: Yeah, so I feel that food opens doors to many different cultures and that, through experiencing the food and the customs of a country, it creates a curiosity about that country and about how people choose to live in various parts of the world. I run a couple of trips to India as part of the Two Sleevers group. We are doing one to Belize next, and we are doing one to Thailand next. If you had told me I would be the kind of person that would take a tour of people and go on holiday with a bunch of people, I would have laughed at you, but it's actually been extremely rewarding for all of us, and it's led to real-life friendships. It's led to us experiencing cultures in ways that we would not have thought about. That's becoming something that I'm really enjoying doing with other people.
Suzy Chase: In that Forbes article, my favorite quote was, "I stopped judging myself on results and started judging myself on actions." For most of us, it's just getting that idea out of our head into action that's the hardest part.
Urvashi Pitre: Actually, the whole process of weight loss really helped me accept that as well. I can control what I put in my mouth or don't put in my mouth. I cannot control how fast my body chooses to shed the weight. These things about, "I've only loss four pounds. I've only lost six pounds. Everybody around me is losing 12 pounds," I can't control it. Even when I was sick and I was coming back from this, I'm the ... I was ... I am the primary bread-winner for my family, out of choice, and I would wake up terrified that I wasn't going to be able to make a living this way. It's hard enough to start a business once. I was starting it twice. What of that could I control? The only thing I could control is did I wake up in the morning? Did I make my phone calls? Did I do my outreach? Did I contact people that I should? That's the only part I can control, so how can you judge yourself on things that are way outside your control? You just can't. It's a surefire way to drive yourself nuts.
Suzy Chase: Yesterday, I made your recipe for peanut butter cake on page 128. I've been missing toast or banana bread in the morning so much, so even though this is considered cake, I feel like I can do a little slice with some butter on it and some eggs in the morning. Don't you think?
Urvashi Pitre: Yes.
Suzy Chase: Okay, good.
Urvashi Pitre: Yes, you totally can. In fact, sometimes I don't know what to call these things because there are things that I make up, right? I have a blueberry bake recipe. Well, what the heck is it? Is it a cake? Is it bread? I don't know. It's blueberry deliciousness. That should be enough for all of us. You know?
Suzy Chase: Yeah, exactly.
Urvashi Pitre: Right? Yeah. I have some muffin recipes that if you wanted to put a little bit of sweetened cream cheese, have at it. I have a nut and seed bread that I often eat with cheese. All the muffins, the biscuits, put a little bit of a butter on them. I feel like people need to be given permission to customize the food in the way that best suits them, that you only have to eat this a particular way or you only have to cook this a particular way or it's not longer an authentic dish. I get this a lot. People will say, "Hey, I made your recipe for an Indian whatever or a Korean whatever, but I added sesame seeds because I like them. Is that okay?" I'm like, "If you like it, it's okay." Authentic is a fleeting concept, I think, in a lot of cases.
Suzy Chase: Totally, yeah. Now for my segment called My Last Meal. What would you have for your last supper, and would it be keto-friendly?
Urvashi Pitre: My last meal, I have said repeatedly, is going to be chicken biryani. There is something about chicken and rice that is just elemental for many of us. Okay. I just did a video, actually, on YouTube for how to make a keto chicken biryani in 30 minutes, and it's really, really good. However, if this is truly my last meal, I would eat the real thing with rice, and I would follow it up with the peanut butter bars that are on that keto cookbook's front page. You know what I love? I love Reese's peanut butter cups. Oh, my God.
Suzy Chase: I do too.
Urvashi Pitre: I love those things so ... Right? You want to hear a shameful secret? When my kids were little and they went trick-or-treating, when they came back, they would sit down to sort their candy, and they knew that mom got all of the Reese's peanut butter cups.
Suzy Chase: Same here.
Urvashi Pitre: I would steal that stuff from my kids.
Suzy Chase: Yes. The kids don't care.
Urvashi Pitre: I don't care if they care. I'm eating the peanut butter cups, right? The recipe on the front of it is actually a keto version of peanut butter cups. I love that recipe so much, I really do, so I would definitely make myself a huge batch of that and eat the whole dang thing.
Suzy Chase: Where can we find you on the web and social media?
Urvashi Pitre: TwoSleevers.com is the blog. I am on Pinterest. I am on YouTube. I am on Instagram. I have two groups on Facebook. One is an international Instant Pot, air fryer, et cetera recipes, and the other one is a keto recipe group. Depending on whether you're looking to do just regular tasty, easy cooking or keto cooking, you can choose to join one of those groups. We do have certain rules. You're not allowed to tell people what to do. You can't say, "That's not keto." You can use I language so, "What works for me," is acceptable to say but, "You should do that," is not acceptable to say. If people want to abide by those rules and want a supportive community where you can just talk about different cultures, different ways of cooking and eating, and then support for your keto journey, those groups would be good groups for people to join.
Suzy Chase: Thanks for coming on Cookery by the Book podcast.
Urvashi Pitre: Thank you so much. This is so much fun. You and I laughed together a lot. I really enjoyed it.
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