REVIEW: The Keto Guido Cookbook
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
A few months ago when Jersey Shore stare Vinny Guadagnino announced he was publishing a book about his ketogenic diet, I was very skeptical and even voiced my concerns on social media.
I used it as an example of how the keto diet was going mainstream (which in theory isn't a bad thing) but the focus seemed to be solely on macronutrients and not quality of ingredients or nutrient-density. We have been seeing a lot of "keto food" with very processed ingredients and/or inflammatory vegetable and seed oils. Keto only works if you distinguish between healthy fats and processed fats and oil. We call this "dirty keto".
I was very skeptical this was going to be another dirty keto book, based off the fact we only saw Vinny eat the toppings off pizza and drink hard liquor on his reality show. This irritated me because I thought he was setting a bad example for the keto diet.
I was wrong and judgmental. Vinny has since explained that he was on vacation, and he was doing the best he could to maintain his diet while filming a show and have a social life. While I don't recommend a diet of pizza toppings and hard liquor, I am all for owning your choices and finding a way to make your healthy lifestyle sustainable.
So I find myself eating crow because I bought a copy of The Keto Guido Cookbook and it is actually very good! I highly recommend it.
The information is very much in line with my nutritional therapy practice and the recipes are simple and easy, yet nutrient dense with healthy ingredients. They remind me of the Italian comfort food I ate growing up. You don't even necessarily need to be on a keto diet to enjoy this cookbook. Anyone who wants to make simple, classic Italian food without the refined carbs, grains, and sugars would get a lot out of this book.
Vinny does not recommend highly processed vegetable or seed oils like canola oil which is something you often see in more mainstream keto books. The diet Vinny eats and outlines in his book falls more in line with a high-fat/low-carb primal diet. There are sometimes modifications to make recipes dairy-free (Vinny suggests limiting dairy). There's even a recipe for liver and onions!
Vinny even addresses dirty keto. Vinny doesn't recommend eating a pound of bacon, but a balanced of fat, protein, and vegetables. Sure a few slices of bacon...along with some eggs and arugula. He's not a macro-counting zealot, either, which was also a pleasant surprise. While macro counting and measuring ketones is important if you are on the keto diet for medical reasons, I think it can often take away the focus from ingredients and nutrients (as we sometimes see in diets like If It Fits Your Macros aka IIFYM, or Renaissance Periodization).
There is not a ton of super heavy science in this book. I am ok with that. It has just want you need to know, and nothing that you don't. There are plenty of books out there where you can get that nuanced information. It's actually kind of refreshing to see a keto book keep it simple and not come across as preachy. Vinny is not trying to convince you to eat keto. He is just showing you how and why he does.
The book includes a meal plan and grocery list. The recipes include breakfast, appetizers, and desserts, and there are some vegetarian recipes in addition to meat and fish-based entrees.
The desserts do call for a monk fruit sweetener; in my experience it's really hard to find one that does not contain erythritol. Even though it's an ingredient that has become a staple in almost all low-carb and keto (and even paleo) communities, I recommend avoiding erythritol. It's a sugar alcohol that has been associated with gut permeability. You can use pure stevia if you can't find plain monkfruit (though some stevia also contains erythritol or other processed sweeteners) to keep it keto. But like myself Vinnie mentions in the section on sweeteners that he will use a small amount of honey or maple syrup since it's the most natural and least processed sweetener. While I'd like to have a deep conversation with him on smoke points, his nutrition advice aligns with what I practice and recommend.
The recipes are classic, simple, and clean. All easy, findable ingredients and straightfoward instructions, which are the kind of recipes like. I can't wait to try the chicken cacciatore and tiramisu!
I still maintain the dirty keto is a problem, but at least Vinny is doing it right!