Review: The Ketogenic Kitchen

The Ketogenic Kitchen: a cookbook for cancer

The Ketogenic Kitchen is no ordinary cookbook.

Yes, it is bursting with creative recipes and beautiful photographs of delicious dishes, but these recipes are expertly crafted to help people fight cancer.

Most other cookbooks are useless against the Big C . . . unless you drop them directly on top of your tumor from a great height. In fact, most conventional "healthy" cookbooks actually feed cancer cells, because they are based on high-carbohydrate ingredients like grains, beans, fruits, starchy vegetables and juices.

In sharp contrast, nestled between the covers of The Ketogenic Kitchen lies a powerful, science-based, dietary prescription for cancer written by two women who use low carbohydrate diets to support their own recovery from cancer. In addition to culinary inspiration, you will receive guidance, motivation, and hope from women who walk the walk.

Domini Kemp and Patricia Daly: authors you can trust

These are no ordinary women. The Ireland-based authors are Domini Kemp, a professional chef and former food writer for The Irish Times, and Patricia Daly, a Swiss-born nutritionist who specializes in dietary counseling for cancer patients.

"We’ve both had cancer twice, and when we found that conventional nutritional advice failed adequately to support our treatment via the usual means of radiation and chemotherapy, we both independently decided to look elsewhere for answers."[]

Both women generously share their powerful personal stories with you to provide real life inspiration. In Patricia's case, switching to a ketogenic diet tamed her aggressive eye cancer within only a few weeks, reversing vision loss and sparing her from radical eye removal surgery. Her cancer has thankfully been quiet for over five years now.

What is the ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet is a very low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, high-fat diet that reduces blood sugar and insulin to healthy, stable, low levels. This forces the majority of your cells to burn fat (ketones) instead of sugar (glucose). Cancer cells LOVE glucose and most can't make the switch to ketones. Without all that excess glucose around, cancer cells struggle to survive, while your healthy cells thrive.

Fortunately I haven't personally dealt with cancer, but I follow a ketogenic diet myself. It is the only diet I have ever found that easily controls my appetite, weight and blood sugar, all while supporting a positive sense of well-being and providing excellent energy. [You can read more about my experiences with this diet in the posts listed at the end of this article.]

The Ketogenic Kitchen: what's inside

The vast majority of recipes are constructed entirely of whole food ingredients. That alone makes this cookbook a healthy kitchen companion, whether you have cancer or not. I would characterize most dishes in this book as "Paleo plus dairy": free of grains, legumes, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates. There are a few desserts in the book sweetened with yacon syrup, maca powder, or lucuma powder. Every recipe includes a diagram showing you how many fat, protein and carbohydrate grams are in each serving.

The 449-page cookbook is beautifully organized and divided into two halves.

Domini Kemp: low-to-moderate carbohydrate plan

The first half of the book, crafted by chef Domini Kemp, is intended for people who want to eat a healthy lower carbohydrate diet without having to commit to a ketogenic diet. Some recipes are ketogenic, while others are low to moderate in carbohydrate and protein. Carbohydrate content ranges from a few grams to about 40 grams per serving. Protein content ranges from a few grams to about 50 grams per serving.

Her recipes are creative and many have an international flair: lime mint chicken parcels, lamb and prune tagine, green tea poached salmon. She also dedicates an entire chapter to vegetarian main dishes, including aubergine dengaku, and tarts made with cauliflower, almond and goat cheese.

Patricia Daly: the ketogenic plan

The second half was designed by Patricia Daly, whose recipes are strictly ketogenic. Protein content ranges from a few grams to about 25 grams per serving, and most dishes contain fewer than 10 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Many of her recipes rely on seeds, nuts, and high-fat dairy, which is a common pattern for ketogenic cooks, since those foods are often lower in protein and higher in fat than many types of meat, seafood, or poultry.

It can be challenging to make ketogenic recipes exciting, but Patricia has risen to the challenge: prawn-filled avocado, vegetable muffins, lamb pizza, sea bass with celeriac and chorizo puree, chicken with walnut sauce. She organizes her section of the book into weekly meal plans, which busy folks will find incredibly helpful.

Valuable extras

Patricia Daly is an expert among experts. She has been following a ketogenic diet for more than five years, professionally counsels clients with cancer, knows the science of the ketogenic diet inside and out, and has a firm grasp on nutrition research. She includes 30 pages of information about ketogenic diets written in a way that everyone can understand. What does the science say about ketosis and cancer? Which foods are allowed and forbidden? How and when should you test your ketones and blood sugar? What should you do if you're having difficulty transitioning into ketosis? It's all in there.

Kemp and Daly also offer down-to-earth advice about eating a low-carbohydrate diet in the real world, such as cooking for a family and modifying recipes for children.

Wish list

I think this cookbook is a must-have for people with cancer, so I only have a few minor criticisms.

The authors are based in Europe and therefore many of the measurements are metric: grams, milliliters, etc. For my U.S.-based readers, please enjoy this handy one-page conversion table; in PDF form that you can download or print.

As many of you may know, I believe that "post-agricultural" foods (grains, legumes, processed foods and dairy) are best avoided for optimum health. There are only a few recipes in this book that call for beans, soy, quinoa, or rice, and some that call for dairy. Dairy foods can stimulate our hormonal systems, including insulin and growth hormone pathways. This means that dairy products could theoretically support the survival and spread of cancer cells. However, I believe that refined carbohydrates like sugar, flour, and juice are FAR more powerful in this regard.

The Ketogenic Kitchen is actually two cookbooks in one, and I love that Domini Kemp offers options for people who want a less strict approach to a healthier diet. Just keep in mind that, while her section is entitled "The Low-Carb Way", some recipes contain as many as 50 grams of carbohydrate per serving, which I think of as "moderate" in carbohydrate. People with insulin resistance should take care not to partake of those recipes too often.

The bottom line: I highly recommend The Ketogenic Kitchen

You don't have to have cancer to benefit from this beautiful cookbook. The first half of the book is essentially a healthy, lower-carbohydrate, whole foods cookbook. All of us should be eating this way. The second half of the book is an expert guide to the ketogenic diet, which can be used not just to treat cancer but also to treat numerous neuropsychiatric and metabolic diseases, from Alzheimer's disease to heart disease.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and want to know more about the potentially healing power of the ketogenic diet, this book is the only one I know of that can give you everything you need all in one place: scientific theory (explained in a way that is easy to understand), practical advice, gorgeous recipes, hard-earned wisdom, and real life inspiration.

Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of Patricia Daly's pioneering work. I not only enthusiastically agreed to review her new book here, but also contributed to the collection of expert opinions published in the book.

Curious to learn more about ketogenic diets and cancer?

You may also find the following resources useful:

  • Tripping Over The Truth, the very readable story of cancer's true origins. It is your diet, not your DNA, that largely determines your destiny!
  • Nutrition consultant Miriam Kalamian's book Keto for Cancer, which provides practical guidance in the adoption of ketogenic diets as cancer therapy.
  • "What Causes Cancer?" My summary of cancer researcher Professor Thomas Seyfried's groundbreaking book Cancer as a Metabolic Disease. This science-rich book convinced me that most cancer is not caused by genetic defects. Professor Seyfried views cancer as a mitochondrial disease that can be helped by ketogenic diets.
  • Tripping over the Truth book cover
  • Keto for Cancer book cover
  • Cancer as a Metabolic Disease
  • "Ketosis for Cancer": a 6-week detailed account of my attempt to follow Professor Seyfried's dietary recommendations for cancer, including a 3-day fasting jump-start.

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