• NZ Booklovers

The Keto for One Cookbook by Dana Carpender

For anyone intrigued by the keto diet, this book will offer a great introduction. I admit to having toyed around the edges. As a diabetic I was familiar with the concept of ketosis which doctors warned me was an unstable state; and one I should avoid at all costs.

Then along came celebrity chef, Pete Evans, a high-profile proponent of the diet. Ignoring the widespread backlash against Evan’s theories, I decided to do my own research. After all, his ideas were similar to – if a little more radical than - those of my own diet ‘guru’ Dr Michael Mosley.

Through his cookbooks and documentaries, I found myself largely converted to Evan’s way of thinking. Watching the work done with ill and impoverished Australian aboriginal communities to radically improve their health was an eye-opener.

I am now largely convinced that a ketogenic diet can contribute to better long-term health for everyone. But – and you were sensing a but, I am sure – I am no scientist. And that’s where the cookbook in question becomes especially interesting.

When nutritionist and author Dana Carpender writes about the science; especially about the evolving science, she has my full attention. This now, supports her change of eating patterns 23 years ago, away the traditional diet based around carbs, and she remains in good health despite their dire warnings.

Back then, at the age of 19, she was inspired by a 1952 cookbook to drop sugar and most grains from her diet which action led to her new career as an author of multiple cookbooks like The New 500 Low Carb recipes. The improvement to her health and well-being was dramatic, and she’s never looked back.

This book is dedicated to the pioneers of thinking and the researchers whose evidence-based research supports the efficacy of the keto diet for diabetics and athletes, among others. In a nutshell, a ketogenic diet cuts carbohydrate – and therefore glucose - to a bare minimum.

Everyone has their own version of what is the best approach to ketogenesis. A keto purist might suggest that it might be better for overall good health to cut artificial sweeteners from the diet. I am in that camp.

And while Carpender does use natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit and erythritol in her recipes; in chapter one she gives some compelling reasons to avoid them – like ‘social embarrassment’ as she quaintly calls it. Read the labels if you want to avoid the urgency that sometimes accompanies a good dose of sugar-substitute Maltitol.

There are some great recipes in this book; and I love that these are designed for those of us who mostly live alone. If I have a grumble, it’s that as a professional chef, Carpender may have forgotten how complex some of her recipes are for the great unwashed. I have no desire to spend ages making a toast substitute; but then I am no purist.

And I’ll happily spend the time I save on that recipe for her recommendations for frozen cauliflower rice. Genius.

Reviewed by Peta Stavelli

Allen and Unwin. $32.99