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As far as we’re concerned, the ketogenic diet is all about "addition through subtraction."
Yes, you are drastically removing carbohydrates from your plate, but you’re also adding some impressive benefits to your life. Try an accelerated journey to leaner body weight, sharpened mental clarity, increased energy, improved cholesterol levels, and improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, to name a few.1
But cutting out such a large portion of your standard diet (that is, carbs) can seem super limiting at first. You may find yourself struggling creatively in the kitchen and eating the same foods all the time (though we’ll argue that a majority of us probably tend to eat a lot of the same foods most of the time, anyway). And no matter how effective and beneficial a keto diet is, it’ll be all that harder to stick to if you’re feeling bored by it.
To avoid feeling like your new commitment to the low-carb, high-fat lifestyle is restrictive, we recommend venturing out and trying foods from different cultures. This is easier to do than you think—even when you’re ordering out! Check out a few of these top fat-tastic dining options from around the world.
7 Keto-Friendly Ways to Enjoy Cuisines from Different Cultures
Stay strong and pass on the free bread, but feel free to use the olive oil and Parmesan cheese that comes with it for the top of a salad or as a side to your main meat dish. The Italian antipasto ("before the meal") is also fairly keto-friendly as is, loaded with olives, cured meats, cheeses, and artichoke hearts (although you should pass on the figs, tomatoes, and piquante peppers).
Chicken and beef satay skewers, garlicky snow peas, pork belly, cashew chicken, and kung pao chicken are a few Asian favorites that you may be able to enjoy on a Friday night without kicking yourself out of keto. Unfortunately, you should assume that most of the sauces which come with your "westernized" Chinese food is loaded with sugar and soy. So, skip the sauces, rice, and noodles, and consider swapping in some of your own options (we like coconut aminos and toasted sesame oil).
And of course, let’s not forget a family favorite: "fried rice" made with riced cauliflower, shrimp, scallions, broccoli sprouts, and maybe some other veggies (water chestnuts and bamboo shoots maybe, but go easy—1 cup of each has about 18 grams of carbs or 8 grams of carbs, respectively).
Mexican food is rich with spices and herbs that will take you from mild to hot easily. It’s also super easy to skip or swap out the carb-heavy items to make your meal keto-friendly. For instance, order or make some sizzling fajitas but skip the tortillas, and swap out the rice and beans for a side of veggies. Add an extra dollop of guacamole and full fat sour cream, and you’re good to go!
A word of caution: take it easy on the salsa, which has around 7 grams of carbs per serving—and definitely pass on the chips.
If you’ve ever had naan before (Indian flatbread), you can appreciate how delicious but how non-keto-friendly it is. As usual, skip the rice and bread when eating Indian food and switch in riced cauliflower or even cheese crisps instead.
Indian food is known for its rich flavor, and though original recipes may call for things like brown sugar and honey, these can usually be subbed out for something like Stevia or cinnamon. Try experimenting with homemade chicken korma, butter shrimp, tikka masala, or a curry to add a little spice to your low-carb life.
One word: sashimi. This low-carb sushi option gives you some high quality protein that is easy to pair with some slices of fresh ginger and avocado. You can also add cucumber and seaweed for some low-carb micronutrients (and a bit of an added crunch and texture).
Say no to the edamame, though: this Japanese favorite is a type of young soybean and can quickly pile up your carb content. You can try making your own version with snow peas or green beans flavored with green onions, sesame seeds, and coconut aminos. Yum!
French cuisine has long been heralded as a mysterious boon for heart-healthy people, despite its food high fat content. Common menu items includes things like rich cheeses and French onion soup (hold the croutons).
Eating à la French folks may be a good opportunity for you to enjoy something a bit more carb-heavy than usual provided that you exert the same kind of portion control which the French are known for. For example, a nice glass of Bordeaux pairs well with that roasted leg of lamb and fresh mint, but be sure to measure out an actual serving size so you don’t go overboard on drinking your carbs (there are about 7 grams of carbs in 9 fluid ounces of red wine).
Likewise, if you’re really keen on enjoying the taste of wine but not interested in drinking it, try cooking with it instead: boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin are a few healthy and delicious French-inspired options (you can also switch in red wine vinegar instead).
What goes better with Thai food that coconuts? Add flakes, milk, cream, and oil to your homemade Thai dishes including Tom Kha soup or Yum Nua (Thai beef salad). Like with other meals, Thai dishes can be easily made keto-friendly by swapping out the noodles and rice for veggies and avoiding sauces (especially things like sweet Thai chili).
Got any other favorite foods or recipes from around the world that’ll keep you into and keep your taste buds interested? Let us know about it by sharing in the comments below, and remember to share this article with your fellow keto cooks!
About the Author Nate Arnold
I started this website because it was hard to find trustworthy, evidence-based information about the ketogenic diet. Information that was published and peer reviewed by respected scientific journals. After years of research, I'm sure you'll achieve great results in a healthy way following my advice. I do my best to translate scientific research jargon into plain English. Remember, it's always a good idea to consult a doctor before starting a new diet!