The “ketogenic” diet is high in fat and low in carbs. Now, when I say “high in fat,” I mean healthy fats. Think olive oil, real butter, avocados, salmon, and nuts. The idea is that consuming less carbs forces the body to burn the fat in your body and not the carbs when you exercise. Recipes that match the keto diet can be difficult to find, especially in our carb-obsessed culture. Carbs are found in bread, potatoes, oats, and of course, in sugary treats. However, by favoring lean meats, low-carb veggies, and flavor-infused sauces, sticking to the keto diet is easy and delicious.
A pressure cooker is the ideal method for preparing ketogenic recipes. Meat becomes tender and veggies hold on to nearly 100% of their nutrition, making pressure cooking the healthiest way to prepare just about any ingredient. The following three recipes center around chicken, pork, and beef, and take inspiration from the Mediterranean, especially Italy. I love ingredients like cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, sage, rosemary, garlic, and of course, wine.
Chicken Cacciatore w/ Burst Cherry Tomatoes
Time: About 20-25 minutes
Cacciatore is an Italian dish, meaning “hunter.” It can be made with just about any meat – including rabbit – but for this recipe, we’re using chicken. I love the simplicity of this meal and the bright, fresh flavors. One serving has less than 100 calories and just over 6 carbs.
There’s very little prep involved in this dish. To start, just pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil in your pressure cooker and heat it up. If you’re using an electric cooker, turn to the “browning” setting. When the oil is hot, lay the chicken breasts in the cooker to brown. You’ll want both sides to get a deep, golden color, so prepare to flip the meat after 4 minutes or so.
While you’re waiting, pull the stems off the tomatoes and put them in a regular plastic bag. Loosely tie the handles closed. Using a meat hammer or the bottom of a pot, crush the tomatoes. You just want to burst them, not squish them totally flat.
When the chicken is brown, transfer the breasts to a plate and add the tomatoes into the cooker. Pour any of the juice in too. Add the hot pepper flakes, wine, 1 cup of water, oregano, garlic, and salt. Mix well, making sure to scrape off any burned chicken bits into the sauce. Add the chicken back into the cooker and coat with the tomato mixture. Arrange the chicken so they’re even on the bottom. Close and lock the lid.
For stovetop cookers:
Turn the burner high so the pressure builds up to 15 PSI. When it reaches high
pressure, reduce the heat. Cook for 12 minutes before performing a quick-release.
For electric cookers:
Turn the cooker to the high pressure setting and cook for 13-14 minutes. When time is
up, quick-release the pressure.
Carefully open the lid and stir. Let the dish set uncovered for 5 minutes, so all the flavors get completely blended. Using a large serving spoon, move the chicken and sauce to a casserole dish or other serving platter. Top with the pitted green olives and torn basil leaves. Enjoy!
- 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup pitted, rinsed green olives
- ¼ cup tart red wine
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 sprig torn fresh basil
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- Heat the olive oil in your pressure cooker.
- Add the chicken breasts and brown on all sides.
- Put the cherry tomatoes in a plastic bag and tie a loose knot.
- With something heavy, crush the cherry tomatoes so they burst open, but aren’t flattened.
- Remove the chicken from the cooker.
- Pour in the tomatoes and its juice into the pressure cooker.
- Add the hot pepper, salt, wine, water, oregano, and garlic and mix, deglazing the pot.
- Put the chicken back into the cooker and mix to coat.
- Make sure the chicken is evenly-layered in the cooker before closing the lid.
- If using a stovetop cooker, maintain high pressure for 12 minutes before quick-releasing the pressure. For electric cookers, cook on high pressure for 13-14 minutes. Quick-release.
- Open the pot and stir.
- Wait for 5 minutes for the flavors to blend, stirring a few times.
- To serve, top with green olives and basil.
Nutritional Info (1 ½ pieces):
- Calories: 81.3
- Protein: 4.3
- Carbs: 6.6
- Fat: 6.4
- Fiber: 0
Hasselback Pork Roast w/ Apples, Sage, and Prosciutto
Time: Less than 1 hour
You may have heard of Hasselback potatoes, but what about Hasselback pork? Using the same techniques for the potatoes, you cut slits in the roast and slide in fresh apples and salty prosciutto for a deceivingly-simple dinner that’s good enough for a party! Best of all, each serving is high in protein (51 grams!) and low in carbs (3.4 grams).
You want a pork loin roast that’s between 2 and 3 pounds. Just be sure it will fit into the pressure cooker. While you’re shopping, pick up some bamboo skewers. You will probably have to cut them down so they fit in the pressure cooker, as well. You can use a chef’s knife or shears.
When you have your ingredients, it’s time to truss the roast. Put it on a cutting board and turn it fat-side down. Using a good knife, make a cut every ½-inch and about ¾ of the way deep. You want the meat connected at the base. Slice your apples into rounds and stick on a piece of prosciutto. Slide the apples and prosciutto into the cuts. On the ends of the roast, stick on a piece of prosciutto.
Take your bamboo skewers and poke them all the way through the roast, horizontally. You want the sticks to be towards the middle of the roast, so it’s held firmly together and the filling doesn’t flop out. Tie a piece of kitchen string (horizontally again) around the roast for extra security, tying the string around the skewers. Your roast is now trussed and ready to go!
Get out your pressure cooker and preheat it. When warm, pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the sage leaves. When the leaves start to “crackle” and sizzle, lay the roast in the cooker to brown. You want to brown it all over to a really deep, golden color. When the browning is done, turn off the burner or unplug the cooker.
Pour in ¾ cup of white wine and ¼ cup of water. Lock the pressure cooker lid.
For stovetop cookers:
Turn the burner to high to bring the cooker to pressure. When high pressure is
reached, turn down the burner to maintain pressure for 15 minutes. When time is up,
remove the cooker from the burner and let the pressure come down by itself.
For electric cookers:
Plug your cooker back in and turn it to the “high pressure” setting. Cook for 15
minutes. When the timer beeps, unplug the cooker and wait for the pressure to
When the pressure is all gone and it’s safe to open the cooker, take out the roast and put it on a serving platter. Undo the string and remove the skewers. Pour the cooking liquid over the roast. To serve, cut through the roast along the already-existing cuts and serve with the prosciutto slice on the bottom and apple slice on top.
- 2.5-pound pork loin roast
- 1 big cored and round-sliced apple
- 12 slices of prosciutto
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 small bunch of fresh sage
- ¾ cup white wine
- ¼ cup water
- Turn the roast on a cutting board so the fast-side is facing down.
- Make a cut every ½-inch of the roast, cutting down ¾ of the way down so the roast is still connected.
- Inside each cut, insert a slice of prosciutto and piece of apple.
- On the “bookends” of the roast, stick on two pieces of prosciutto.
- Poke two bamboo skewers through the end of the roast, in the center of the roast round where you put the prosciutto piece, and press horizontally through the roast, so the cuts don’t fly open and the skewers go through all the prosciutto and apples, holding them in place.
- Wrap a piece of kitchen string around the roast horizontally, wrapping around the skewers to hold the string.
- In your pressure cooker, heat the olive oil and sage leaves.
- When the leaves are fragrant and start to sizzle, place the roast in the cooker.
- Brown on both sides.
- When thoroughly-browned, turn off the burner (or unplug the cooker).
- Pour in the wine and water.
- Lock the pressure cooker lid.
- If you’re using a stovetop cooker, turn the burner up until high pressure is reached. Reduce the heat and maintain high pressure for 15 minutes. For electric cookers, turn to high pressure and cook for 15 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, unplug your electric cooker or remove the stovetop cooker from the heat.
- Wait for the pressure to come down naturally.
- When the pressure is reduced, open the cooker.
- Carefully move the roast to a serving plate and take out the skewers and string.
- Pour the cooking liquid with the sage leaves over the roast.
- Slice through the cuts and serve the roast with the piece of apple on one end, and the prosciutto on the other!
Nutritional Info (1 ½ slices):
- Calories: 432.8
- Protein: 51.1
- Carbs: 3.4
- Fat: 21
- Fiber: 0
Italian-Style Boiled Beef w/ Salsa Verde
Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Boiled beef is traditionally a British dish, and one that everyone could enjoy because boiling the beef turned even tough cuts into tender eats. This recipe takes inspiration from Italy, with a salsa verde on the side and lots of fresh herbs. The beef is exceptionally flavorful and practically melts in your mouth. I love the bright salsa verde on the side, too, which is gluten-free and uses hard-boiled egg yolks instead of breadcrumbs. You can make the hard-boiled eggs in advance and keep them refrigerated for up to a week.
When you start this recipe, take out the beef right away. You want it to be room-temperature before you begin cooking it. Begin by cooking the aromatics. Tie all the herb sprigs together and then put them in the pressure cooker, along with the carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf, and salt. Pour in 6 cups of water. Splash some white wine vinegar in there, too. Bring this mixture to a boil, with the lid off.
When it’s boiling, add the beef round. If the meat isn’t completely covered by liquid, add a little more water. Wait till the mixture has reached boiling again, before closing and locking the pressure cooker lid.
For stovetop cookers:
Turn the burner up till high pressure is reached. Then, reduce the heat, and maintain
high pressure for 50 minutes. When time is up, remove the cooker from the burner
and wait for the pressure to reduce naturally.
For electric cookers:
Select the “high pressure” setting and cook for 60 minutes. When the timer beeps,
unplug the cooker and let the pressure come down on its own.
While you wait for the pressure to reduce, prepare the salsa verde. To start, unpeel the hard-boiled eggs and scoop out the yolks. Mash. Pour the white wine vinegar into the mashed egg yolks. Take your other ingredients – the capers, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil – and blend them in a food processor. Add the vinegar/yolk mixture and pulse for 30 seconds. Now, add olive oil until the sauce has the texture you want.
When the pressure has reduced, it’s time to open the cooker. Move the meat to a serving bowl, so the juice doesn’t spill. Turn the cooker back on to reduce the broth for 5 minutes. Strain the stock. If you aren’t planning on eating the roast right away, cool the broth and roast overnight in the fridge, so it’s easy to remove the jelly-like fat. It also makes the roast easier to slice.
Serve a slice of beef roast with a spoonful of broth and salsa verde on top.
- 2 pounds of beef round
- 6 cups water
- 1 big carrot, cut in two
- 1 celery stalk, cut in two
- 1 halved medium-sized onion, w/ skin on
- 3-8 cloves, pressed into the center of the onion
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2-3 thyme sprigs
- 1 sprig sage
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- Dash of white wine vinegar
- Three hard-boiled egg yolks
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 peeled garlic cloves
- 2 bunches of parsley
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Take out the meat from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
- In the meantime, tie all the herb sprigs together with kitchen string.
- Pour 6 cups of water into your pressure cooker and add the tied herbs, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf, vinegar, and salt.
- Keep off the cover and bring the pot to a boil.
- Add the meat, making sure it’s just covered by the liquid.
- Bring to a boil again before closing and locking the lid.
- For a stovetop cooker, cook on high pressure for 50 minutes. For an electric cooker, select “high pressure” and cook for one hour.
- Use the natural release method.
- While the pressure goes down, make the salsa verde.
- Pour vinegar into the three hard-boiled egg yolks.
- Puree the capers, garlic, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a food processor.
- Add the vinegar/yolk mixture and puree for another 30 seconds.
- Add more olive oil until the texture is sauce-like.
- When the pressure is fully reduced from the cooker, move the meat to a platter.
- Reduce the broth on high, with the lid off, for 5 minutes.
- Strain the broth and remove excess fat.
- To serve, slice the meat and pour over some of the broth and salsa verde.
Nutritional Info (½ pound of beef w/ broth and sauce):
- Calories: 589
- Protein: 53
- Carbs: 12
- Fat: 37
- Fiber: 0
There are so many reasons to try the ketogenic diet. Benefits include a lowered risk for heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and acne. It can even slow tumor growth, reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s, and aid recovery after brain injuries. The most studied benefit, however, is how a ketogenic diet dramatically reduces the number of seizures for epileptics. Whether you are concerned about any of those serious conditions, or just want a healthier diet that allows you to eat delicious food, the ketogenic diet is a fantastic option!