food & drink

Exploring Keto with The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook

November 15, 2017

The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook, the newest cookbook from Megan Flynn Peterson, provides over 150 high fat, low carb recipes that highlight 15 key ingredients with 300 recipe variations. I was so excited to get a copy of the cookbook (now available for preorder here), and have truly enjoyed cooking my way through it.

Recently, I had lunch with a friend of mine (Megan of Freckled Italian). Megan and I spoke about her and her husband’s experience with the Ketogenic diet (or ‘Keto’), the cookbooks she’s written (including her newest cookbook—The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook) and some of our favorite Instagram foodies. I had been intrigued by Keto—which is a high fat, low carb diet—for awhile, but was honestly pretty intimidated by it all and I had some questions. Just how low carb is Keto? What kind of fats am I eating? What the heck is ketosis??

Linda Schneider for The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook

The Ketogenic diet is a high fat, very low carb diet. This diet rejects the Standard American Diet, and fights the antiquated mentality that all fats are bad. The science behind that is our bodies burn the most fat when we are in ‘ketosis’, a state that has our bodies using fat as the main energy source, thus burning fat (traditionally, we burn our stored glucose for energy, which comes from the carbs we eat). By limiting daily carbohydrate intake to about 20-40 grams a day and increasing fat intake, our body is able to burn fat more quickly which some have reported leading to an increase in energy, better moods, better blood sugar levels, and weight loss. In Keto, keep protein moderate.

The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook outlines the fundamentals of Keto and getting into ketosis and features 150+ high fat, low carb diets. The cookbook starts with an informative but concise introduction that fully outlines the ‘why’ behind Keto, what to eat and what to avoid to get into ketosis, and some practical advice, including a sample meal plan, information about water intake (hint: drink lots of water) and a list of Keto pantry must haves. The book is filled with tips and resources to set you up for success on your journey. I also love that Megan is able to share her story with how she found this way of eating. She’s followed a Paleo diet since 2012, and has written two cookbooks on Paleo cooking, which I own and also enjoy: The Big 15 Paleo Cookbook, and The Big 10 Paleo Spiralizer Cookbook.

The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook highlights 15 key ingredients for Keto cooking, including avocado, cauliflower, zucchini, dairy, and bacon (drool). Each of the recipes in the cookbook are simple and easy to follow and won’t have you on a hunt for crazy ingredients.  Many of the recipes can be cooked in 30 minutes or less (as they are in Megan’s other cookbooks), and she’s marked these recipes in order to find them quickly. Each recipe also has two variations, and many recipes will have some suggestions to make the dish Paleo-friendly. I found this extremely helpful as I was making decisions about what to substitute. The dishes in the book that do not contain gluten, dairy, and nuts are also clearly pointed out.

Linda Schneider for The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook

I’ve loved the food that I’ve made in all of Megan’s cookbooks, but I absolutely love how easy and accessible she’s made Keto, which was really important for me as I’ve been kind of intimidated by it for quite some time. The recipes are also really easy to throw together for a full meal, or you can use a side in the book on it’s own for a meal you’re already cooking. A lot of recipes have recommendations of what other dish in the book to pair them with, but you can also make your own pairings.

My favorite meal from the cookbook to date came from three separate recipes: the Soy-Lime Flank Steak, the Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, and the Mashed Cauliflower (I used coconut cream instead of dairy, which was the suggested substitution in the cookbook). I also love the Easy Marinated Chicken Thighs—these could go with literally any other side recipe in the cookbook, but I enjoyed mine with some cauliflower rice and kale. I also really enjoyed the Fat Balls—they are a perfect source of fat between meals. 

I also have a running list of recipes I can’t wait to try, including the Santa Fe Frittata, the Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocados, Almond Sesame Crackers, and the Bacon Wrapped Cheese Bites (again, drool). That’s really only a small taste of what is in the cookbook,. I’m also really intrigued by something called ‘Marinated Cheese’, and through finding Keto I’ve been experimenting with how I tolerate dairy in this low carb capacity (and if all goes well, I have plans to try the Buffalo Chicken Dip, Keto Jalepeno Poppers, and Cheesy Zucchini Gratin). And I can’t forget about my dessert lovers: this cookbook has something for you too, whether it’s the Chocolate Avocado Pudding, Keto Peanut Butter Fudge, Keto Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust, and Lemon Bars with Cashew Crust.

Linda Schneider for The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook

The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook is currently available for pre-order and will be released December 5th. The Big 15 Paleo Cookbook and The Big 10 Paleo Spiralizer Cookbook can both be ordered now, while you wait. I highly recommend these cookbooks for home cooks at all levels, whether you cook all your meals from home and are just looking for some more Keto/Paleo ideas or if you are just intrigued by Keto/Paleo but have no idea where to start.

In celebration of the launch of The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook, I’ve partnered with Megan for a GIVEAWAY copy of her new cookbook! Head to Instagram to enter, and while you’re here let me know in the comments below why you’re excited to try her cookbook (for two extra entries)!

To learn more about Megan, her cookbooks, and her blog:

The Freckled Italian Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

While I received all three cookbooks for review, the views are my own. This post contains affiliate links.


PLAYLIST: November [2017]

November 1, 2017

Happy November! I know I am not the only one who is completely shocked with how quickly this year has gone by. I also know that many of you are counting down the days until 2017 is over, holding on to the hope of what 2018 *could* bring.

If this is your thinking, I hear you but I want to challenge you to not look too far forward. Try to enjoy the moment, and enjoy this season for what it is. I always see November as the last true month of fall; a month before “hibernation”, if you will.

November 2017 starts with a Full Moon in Taurus in its first week, and this moon is said to help us feel more emotional and intuitive, and is a great time to welcome new fortune and relationships—but only if you keep an open mind, with a positive outlook. It’s tough to really reap the benefits of the season if you’re looking to what comes after. So meditate an set some intentions this Full Moon.

The middle of the month (around the 11th) is a great time for self-actualization – put those intentions you set to good use, and be confident in what you want from the universe. To assist in this season, I’ve created my very first playlist specifically for Julie Laufer Official. These playlists will go live monthly, and will be the perfect start to every month.

November’s playlist features upbeat songs with soft vocals and dreamy instrumentals to celebrate the last of fall before winter comes.

Perfect to listen to driving, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, or finally putting away your summer clothes for good. Listen below and follow along!

Follow on Spotify


12 Health and Wellness Podcasts to Help You Live Your Best Life

October 21, 2017

Podcasts have quickly become one of my favorite ways to consume media. I started to listen to more podcasts during the previous election, listening to various news outlets and political commentary shows from NPR and stations like it. As I have become more and more passionate about the health and wellness world, I started to look for podcasts that aligned with these views and would teach me and inspire me. The other night, a friend and I were comparing podcasts and recommending our favorite newsy/political pods to each other, and I realized that the amount of health and wellness shows I listen to has multiplied over the past few months (and now take up more space than those news and politics podcasts). While this particular friend wasn’t interested in my health/wellness podcasts, I have a feeling some of you might be.

Below is a list of my favorite podcasts in the health and wellness realm, touching on food, nutrition, fitness, mental health, spirituality, and holistic health.


Whole30 Survival Guide: Tips for Success

September 17, 2017
whole30 food

The Whole30 is a nutritional reset/elimination diet that aims to remove inflammatory foods from our diets for 30 days while changing our relationship with food. The Whole30 challenges participants to eat nothing but real, nutrient dense food for 30 days while removing grains (including quinoa and corn), dairy, legumes (including peanuts, soy, and peas), sugars and sweeteners (including honey and agave), and alcohol (yes, even if its just used to cook). The program also challenges participants to change the relationship they have to food by the next two program rules: no weighing yourself, and no recreating dessert-like foods (no pancakes, no cookies, no 3pm sugar bomb. No smoothies either, because it’s important to eat your food and not drink it). Those who have successfully completed the program have seen many benefits, including a reduction in inflammation, better sleep and energy, better performance at the gym, clearer skin, heightened focus, a loss of old cravings. 99% of successful program participants will lose weight.

I am currently in the middle of my third Whole30. I decided to try out the program back in August of 2016, after contemplating going on the program for about 6 months. Over the past year, I have learned a lot—not only about food and how my body reacts to certain foods, but about myself and my discipline in general. I always considered myself a not-very-disciplined person before Whole30, but as it turns out I actually really excel when there are a lot of rules to follow. I acknowledge this isn’t the perfect program, and may not work for everyone, but because I have really enjoyed this program and have gotten so many questions about the program, I wanted to share my tips for success with you all.


Giveaway: A Few of My Favorite Things

July 31, 2017
coconut butter cordecyps rx bar four sigmatic collagen reishi chaga artisana organics

Hello! This month has flown by FAST, and I can’t believe the blog is a month old. It feels so natural to be doing this, and I know launching Julie Laufer Official was the right move. I hope that you’ve started learning a bit from me this past month, and I’m so excited for this opportunity to share a little bit more with you all.

In honor of Julie Laufer Official launching one month ago, I’m bringing you a giveaway of some of my favorite things. I’m really excited about all of the awesome brands I’ve been fortunate enough to have teamed up with. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share with you some of my favorite products. I have already received an overwhelming amount of support from you all, and I thought a giveaway would be the perfect way to continue to share my favorite brands with you while saying THANK YOU for this first month of support. I wanted to share why I think these brands are great and why I chose them for this giveaway. These products have, in some way, been integral to my health and wellness journey and I’m so excited to share them with you all. Make sure to read to the end to score some extra entries :).


Find Your Soul: The Many Lessons I’ve Learned at SoulCycle

July 24, 2017
soul SMTO

If you have been following me on the internet these past 2 months (or IRL), you may have noticed my increased presence at SoulCycle (you know, that popular indoor cycle studio frequented by Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga). This past weekend marked my 10th SoulCycle class. I took my first class two months ago, when Bay Area blogger/total babe GOFITJO hosted a free ride at the Palo Alto studio. I’m not one to say no to free, and I had to know what all the hype was about. I had been hearing about these classes for years and and I had made a commitment this year to try more new things, especially related to fitness.

I didn’t know what to expect, and if I’m being completely honest there’s a part of me that really didn’t think I was going to like it (but more on that below). But I tried something new and went to class and I was hooked immediately. I have learned a lot since that first SoulCycle class two months ago. In only 10 sessions, I’ve already learned a lot about myself, about my strength, and about life in general.

food & drink

Date and Coconut Butter Bites

July 3, 2017
coconut butter

While my cravings usually lie on the salty and savory side of things, I also have a sweet tooth that shows up every now and then. We rarely keep many sweets in the house—mostly because Devlin and I both prefer savory foods, but also because I have learned that I feel best when I don’t eat sugar. It makes me tired, sluggish, bloated, and break out. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat sweets though (that’s a life I don’t want any part of).  I don’t like to ignore a craving because I believe it’s our bodies telling us exactly what they want! I also don’t want to load up on sugar and other inflammatory foods every time I’m in the mood for something sweet. My go-to is some in season fruit or a smoothie, but sometimes I want something a bit more decadent. That’s where these Date and Coconut Butter Bites come in.

food & drink

Pantry Essentials

June 26, 2017

As I’ve been planning different posts and recipes for the blog, I’ve realized that many of these include a lot of the same pantry items. Rather than repeating myself in every post, I wanted to outline some of my pantry essentials to reference. This way, I’m not talking about the benefits of coconut oil in every post but I’ll have a place to go if you need a reminder or if it’s your first time here.

I also plan on adding to this list as time goes on as I learn more about nutrition and have new favorite pantry essentials.

food & drink

Frothy Bulletproof Matcha Latte

June 22, 2017
bulletproof matcha latte wight tea co vital proteins collagen peptides moon juice shop

About a month ago, I decided to switch up my morning caffeine source. I had wanted to make my own matcha latte for a while but was honestly overwhelmed when it came to buying the matcha powder itself—I had so many questions! How much do I need to spend for ‘good’ matcha? What should it look like? What is the difference between cafe grade and ceremonial? These uncertainties made me put off buying my own matcha for months. I finally took to Facebook for some answers and Brittany of Wight Tea Co. agreed to do make a video that explained all things matcha. My questions were answered, and I realized a lot of people had similar uncertainties to mine!

Matcha is a wonderful alternative to coffee or tea. When you’re drinking matcha, you’re drinking the entire tea leaf and so you’re able to benefit from those nutrients. Matcha is packed with antioxidants and has been known to calm the body and mind, even thought it has almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee


That Obligatory ‘First Post’

June 18, 2017
julie laufer official

All new blogs need that first post. You know the post I’m talking about. That first post that introduces the blog, why it’s being created, the intention of its work going forward, what you can expect. The one that starts as an ‘about’ page but then all of a sudden it’s 5 paragraphs long.

Yep. That’s this post. I tried to get away with not writing it, but I . So here it is—that obligatory first post.

Hi, I’m Julie. Julie Laufer Official is my official take on (get it?), well, pretty much whatever I want, but with a focus on health and wellness.