There are some things that I have incorporated on my weight-loss journey that have made things so much easier and more enjoyable. That they are local makes me enjoy them even more. Buying and eating Jamaican as much as possible should be our goal. Here are 13 things that I’m crushing on while I’m on my keto journey here in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Presented in no particular order, here they are. I hope you find inspiration and ideas that you can incorporate on your own journey.
Serge Island Heavy Cream
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet is what we call a low-carb, healthy fat diet (LCHF). It encourages the consumption of the good whole fats found in dairy products such as butter, cheese and heavy cream. And to tell you the truth, heavy cream really, really improves the mouth-feel and taste of so many things! Heavy cream in your coffee? Heavy cream in a cup of chai? Heavy cream in mashed cauliflower? Heavy cream in your roux-less cheese sauce smothering those chicken thighs? Yes please! That’s how we roll on keto! I discovered this locally manufactured product, made from Jamaican cow’s milk, in a handy 250mL pack size, priced at half the price of the imported alternative. Hallelujah, Seprod! Buy Jamaican, eat Jamaican!
Grace Fresh & Ready Jamaican Callaloo
As far as I’m concerned, callaloo (called bhagi in the Eastern Caribbean) is the MVP of vegetables on my keto regime! It is exceedingly budget friendly, rich in iron and more versatile than many of us realise. Eschew all thoughts of the typical steamed callaloo for breakfast. Callaloo pairs exceedingly well with cheese (and you know about cheese and keto!) and lends itself to quiches, frittatas and egg muffins and pairs nicely with all kinds of meat and fish. Here are two of my favourite recipes calling for callaloo that I do all the time on this keto diet. You can buy fresh bundles of callaloo that you strip, clean and chop up yourself. Or you can buy already chopped up callaloo that makes meal prep so much quicker and easier. The Grace Fresh & Ready line of pre-cut veggies including callaloo is great!
Reggae Jammin’ or Caribbean Passion Rotisserie Chicken from the Supermarket
I’ve had rotisserie chicken from Publix in Florida, from Boston Market too and let me tell you, none of them come close to either of the two brands that are sold in our local supermarkets. We can get them in spicy jerk, mild jerk and barbecue and also a smoked variant! I don’t buy the barbecue one though since that sauce will typically be sugary…beware hidden carbs at all times.
Rotisserie chicken is fantastic in a salad. They are super affordable and convenient. I buy them and chop ’em up and use them in packed lunches. Make a salad, add some rotisserie chicken, voila! Shred some of the cooked breast, add onions, celery, bell peppers, mayonnaise, mustard and you have chicken salad. Shred up some rotisserie chicken and make a lettuce leaf wrap with veggies, mayo, mustard, pepper sauce and cheese! The smoked variant is my absolute favourite. They also do a very mildly flavoured golden roast which I simple serve with an scallion-ginger-soy dipping sauce that I make. Chinese style chicken in a flash! There are two main brands, one from Jamaica Broilers and one from Caribbean Broilers. They’re both good, and I buy whatever is available at time of purchase.
On the road and stick for lunch? Turn into your nearest supermarket deli and pick up a quarter or half rotisserie chicken. Perfectly low-carb and affordable. Just walk with napkins and wipes so you can clean up easily after.
National single serve packs of peanuts.
Portable, convenient and at 4g carbs per pack, I’m never without these. They have helped stave off hunger and averted straying from the straight and narrow. Occasionally I treat myself to a small pack of their cashews. Cashews are higher in carbs than peanuts so this is a deliberate, occasional treat. The larger packs of peanuts are perfect for those times I want to make peanut butter. Yes, making peanut butter is too easy as all it takes is roasted nuts and my food processor. With no sugar added, I can enjoy a spoon or two as a snack on keto crackers or keto bread or simply by itself. Nut butters keep you full and help quell cravings.
I am happy to purchase National’s brand, one of our leading local brands that is also known for it’s tangible help to fledgling local brands in terms of promotions and access.
Grace Virgin Coconut Oil
This is hands down, one of the best food products to hit the local market in recent times. This virgin coconut oil is cold pressed right here in Jamaica, from nuts produced here as well. Cold pressed means that the product retains all of it’s natural good properties compared to the effects of boiling which is the traditional way of making it. It is a clean, very flavourful product and perfect on the keto diet. On the keto diet, we shun refined vegetable oils and fats (trans-fats which cause inflammation and too many other adverse effects in our bodies), and this product ticks all the boxes of a healthy fat. This is by no means a cheap product, but it is delicious AND good for me. How could I not include this on my list. It’s a staple in my cupboard.
CB Foods Bad Dawg Sausages
This sausage is a 100% pork sausage made with zero fillers, additives or preservatives. It made its debut on the local market as a ready to eat offering from a mobile hot-dog stand when hot-dog stands were new on the Jamaican scene. No, it’s not the typical pink, small, soft Jamaican hot-dog that you may be familiar with. This is a big sausage by any standard, firm and meaty. And delicious. Now they are sold in the supermarkets as a frozen product and keto dieters like myself can indulge. It really is a convenient food to have on hand. They can be used in omelettes, scrambled eggs, stir fried with vegetables or simmered in coconut milk with vegetables. Wrap it in lettuce leaves and add cheese, onions, mustard, mayo and pepper for a filling, delicious keto hot dog! Quick, easy and keto approved. They get my seal of approval. They have a new jerk flavoured variant which adds a great pimento-ey heat in any dish you include it in!
CB Foods Copperwood Pork products
Gone are the days of sporadic pork supply or hard to get cuts of pork so fatty you figure the pig should have been on the keto diet prior to slaughter! Copperwood has raised the bar as far as the supply of clean, fresh, lean cuts of the other white meat are concerned. Products are widely distributed and prominently labelled. What a joy to be able to select from 3 different types of pork chops, to get good sized roasts and juicy ribs!
Look for their distinctive label on the shelves of leading supermarkets, or visit their fabulous Pork Store in the heart of Cross Roads, Kingston.
Cauliflower & other locally grown veggies
All low-carbers understand the importance of cauliflower to our diet! Cauliflower is a stellar stand-in for rice and mashed potatoes. Didn’t know? Subscribe to my blog and get the recipes right in your inbox. It has found its way into pizza crust! It makes a mean faux potato salad or faux mac n cheese, is fantastic roasted in the oven and forms the base for a delicious roasted cauliflower creamy soup. That I can get cauliflower which is grown right here on the rock makes me so happy! Our farmers are now growing zucchinis, red and yellow bell peppers and broccoli, vegetables which we once had to import. The prices are better and the quality is absolutely top notch. That we can get our fresh vegetables literally hours after harvesting is a blessing that we should never take for granted. There’s nothing like fresh veggies prepared keto style. Filling and healing.
Coffee Roasters Jamaican Coffee
Bet you thought I’d say “Blue Mountain Coffee”. The truth is, real Blue Mountain coffee is too expensive for me to enjoy every day. It is a treat that I 100% enjoy every now and then. Nothing compares. But to feed my single cup per day coffee habit, Coffee Roasters Jamaican coffee is perfect. It makes an excellent full bodied brew and is budget friendly. I add heavy cream and salt to my cup and my day is set! Coffee helps curb hunger and allows me to delay my first meal of the day until after noon most days.
Smart Eggs by CB Foods
We go through literally dozens of eggs per week in my household. Eggs are affordable and a great source of high quality protein. They’re easy to prepare and can be enjoyed in many different ways. The great thing about eggs in Jamaica is that we import ZERO eggs! Any egg that you buy is locally produced. Kudos to our egg farmers for meeting demand. I love the Smart Egg brand from CB Foods. The eggs are bigger, the yolks bigger and more orange.
Frozen Burgers from Reggae Jammin, CB Foods & Rainforest
Frozen burgers are essential must-haves in my freezer. It’s too easy to fry up 2 and have as part of a staisfying meal, be it breakfast or dinner or lunch. Wrap in a lettuce with tomato, onions, mayo, mustard and cheese and you’ve got yourself a delicious burger. Cut up and have with a salad. Add bacon and fried eggs too! My person faves are :
- Reggae Jammin original beef
- Reggae Jammin jerked chicken
- Rainforest snapper fish burgers
- CB Foods 100% beef burgers
Appleton VX & Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rums!
“We are rum people”. I am a rum person. Yes, rum is zero carb. And once you have it neat, on the rocks or with a zero carb chaser like diet soda or club soda or water, you’re good to go. HOWEVER… if you are in weight loss mode, it may be best to eschew alcohol. You see, your body is distracted from burning fat once it has alcohol to metabolise. For that reason, my drinking is deliberate, intentional and moderate. I go for weeks at a time without a drink in order to continue losing weight. But when I do drink, I enjoy a good white rum with diet ginger ale, or VX on the rocks.
My Favourite Supermarket Delis
A good supermarket deli is a life-saver for any low-carb or keto dieter. You can build a meal from affordable convenient options or grab something to eat while on the go. My personal faves:
- Lee’s Food Fair Red Hills Road: in my neighbourhood, always adequately stocked with all variants of rotiserrie chicken, in various portion sizes, jerked wings, sausages, etc.
- HiLo Liguanea: great fresh salads with chicken/egg/tuna included
- Loshusan: the best rotiesserie, grilled and chinese style pork in single serve portions
- General Foods Liguanea: I get a good creamy fish salad here
Opportunities for Local Brands
We need a good, locally made flavoured, fizzy water which is zero carb and zero calorie.
A high protein grab and go snack pack which consists of sliced deli meats, cheese and nuts would be great!
What are the local products that have made your own keto journey easier? Share them with us please!