These Caramel Pecan Cookies Taste Just Like Your Favorite Pie – and They’re Keto-Friendly

The holidays are fast approaching, and while we all know pumpkin pie holds a special seat at the Thanksgiving table, as well as at many holiday parties, I personally believe pecan pie deserves just as much love during this festive time of year. Who can resist the crunch of roasted pecans bathed in luscious caramel? Not me.

If you're on the keto diet, you might be thinking, "Don't remind me," but the party doesn't have to end after you've eaten all the turkey and low-carb appetizers and sides your stomach can fit. These delicious caramel pecan cookies deliver the same flavor as the classic pie and clock in at just three grams of net carbs.

How can a keto-friendly cookie come close to a regular cookie, let alone a pie? I wondered the same thing, but it all comes down to two secret ingredients: xanthan gum and low-calorie sweetener. The key to a great keto cookie is picking a sweetener that doesn't have a weird aftertaste - I chose monk fruit.

Once the cookies are baked, they're generously coated in a thick caramel that's also keto-friendly and topped with a pecan for a nice crunch. Everyone will want seconds because they're just that yummy. You're not going to want to turn your back on these once they're on the table.

Keto Caramel Pecan Cookies

Original Recipe

Ingredients

  1. Cookies
  2. 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  3. 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 2/3 cup keto-friendly sweetener of choice
  8. 1 egg
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. Caramel
  2. 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  3. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  4. 1 tablespoon sweetener
  1. Toppings
  2. 1/2 cup pecan halves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk almond flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sweetener. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and use a rubber spatula to incorporate. The mixture will seem extremely dry at this point. Slowly pour in the melted butter, mixing it in until a cookie dough consistency forms.
  4. Use a cookie scoop to place the dough on the baking sheet, equally spaced apart.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. While the cookies are baking, prepare the caramel. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and let it brown. This should take two to three minutes. It'll start to darken in color and smell nutty.
  7. Add heavy cream to the butter and bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat to simmer for a minute. Add in sweetener and continue to stir over low heat for three to five minutes, just until it starts to thicken.
  8. Remove the caramel from the heat and pour into a jar.
  9. When the cookies have finished baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Add about a teaspoon or so of caramel on top and garnish with a pecan.

Nutrition

Calories per serving
150

If You Want to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain, Follow This Beachbody Dietitian’s 8 Tips

This time of year is filled with parties, work celebrations, and family get-togethers. And when people gather, there is always food, and lots of it! It's such a wonderful time, so you should definitely take pleasure in all the yumminess this time of year brings. But if you're worried about gaining weight during the holidays, registered dietitian and co-creator of Beachbody's 2B Mindset nutrition program, Ilana Muhlstein, MS, RDN, shares these eight strategies to help you indulge and still have a healthy holiday.

This Is Why “Calories In, Calories Out” Doesn’t Guarantee Weight Loss, According to an Expert

For years, the mantra of "calories in, calories out" has been considered a golden rule for anyone trying to lose weight. The concept of calories in, calories out is pretty simple: the amount of energy, also known as calories, you consume shouldn't exceed the amount of energy, or calories, you expend while sleeping, during everyday activity, and exercise.

To find out if you have to cut calories in order to lose weight, POPSUGAR spoke to obesity medicine physician and scientist Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA. "The idea of calories in, calories out is completely incorrect," Dr. Stanford told POPSUGAR. One of the main reasons this method doesn't work is because everybody responds differently to calories, she explained. In fact, how the body responds to calories is a lot more complicated.

According to Dr. Stanford, the hypothalamus - a small region of the brain that controls important functions like releasing hormones and controlling appetite - "controls how our body processes food and whether it decides to retain caloric value or not."

She then explained that there are two primary pathways our brains can take. The first is called proopiomelanocortin (POMC for short and regulates the hypothalamus and adrenal development) and is the anorexigenic pathway of the brain. "People that signal down the anorexigenic pathway of the brain tend to have signals that often promote decreased hunger and increased sense of satiety or fullness," Dr. Stanford said. These individuals will have high levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF is found in regions of the brain that control eating, drinking, and weight) she explained. Because of this, "They might be able to eat more than other individuals, but when they do it they don't store much." Regardless of their nutrition, this demographic tends to be very lean.

"My patients, ones that have obesity, tend to travel down another pathway in the brain called agouti-related peptide pathway (AGRP stimulates feeding and weight gain and decreases metabolic rate)."

The idea of calories in, calories out is completely incorrect."

She explained that this pathway is orexogenic, "which means that these people - despite what they're eating - tend to store a lot more." Dr. Stanford said to think of this as the gas tank being full, but the brain doesn't realize it's full and "it wants to keep a lot of it on board."

For example, someone who weighs 300 pounds may have an extensive history of weight fluctuation around this metabolic set point. "There are some things that may drive them down temporarily, but the brain has a uncanny way of defending its set point once it's at a certain set point," she said.

According to Dr. Stanford, "This is the frustration that people often experience where they feel like no matter what they do, they always are kind of in whatever weight range they are." She explained that often times, "Simple modifications such as diet, diet quality, and/or physical activity are not enough to overcome how powerful the brain is."

If this is the case, Dr. Stanford will look at other factors such as sleep quality, work schedules (day shifts versus night shifts), and medications like antipsychotics and antidepressants.

"It's so much more complicated than this idea of just what someone takes in and what someones puts out." She concluded with, "If it were that simple, we wouldn't have 40 percent of the adult population with the disease of obesity."

HIIT Is All the Rage, but Have You Heard of HVIT? Trainers Explain Why You Should Do It

If you had to pinpoint the biggest trend in fitness over the last few years, it would be high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. This super-efficient form of exercise is supposed to torch fat, help you build lean muscle, and spike your heart rate to achieve EPOC, or the afterburn effect. This all sounds great, except when you realize many classes and fitness studios that claim to be HIIT actually aren't.

NASM-certified trainer Corey Phelps said many fitness classes that claim they are HIIT are actually HVIT, or high-volume interval training. "A true HIIT workout means training at maximum capacity for 60 seconds and allows for a 180-second recovery," she told POPSUGAR. "This ratio is designed keeping in mind the way the human body's muscles perform at maximum effort and the duration it takes for them to adequately recover before placing a maximum demand upon them again." If you're working yourself at a true max capacity for these intervals, this also means you can get a more effective workout done in less time.

In reality, many classes that claim to be HIIT don't have that 1:3 ratio and don't have you work at your true full capacity for a full 60 seconds. A HVIT class, on the other hand, works at about 60-75 percent maximum effort, and you can sustain it for much longer than you can an all-out exertion like in HIIT, explained personal trainer Hector Bones, ACE, owner of The PrivatGym in Philadelphia. This means you can work for longer periods of time and have shorter rests, unlike the 1:3 ratio of HIIT.

Many popular boutique fitness classes train this way, such as Rumble boxing. Certified personal trainer Kendall Toole, founding trainer at Rumble in LA, said the floor section of class that incorporates weights and bodyweight movements is done HVIT-style. "The three minutes of free-weight and bodyweight movements combined with periods of active recovery between rounds ensures you receive the maximum benefit of strength training, while preventing injury and muscle exhaustion," she told POPSUGAR. "Training with these longer intervals and active recoveries yields some significant results with consistency."

Incorporating HVIT into your fitness plan is a great way to challenge your body and mix up your workouts. Personal trainer Christi Marraccini, NASM, Director of Talent at NEOU, told POPSUGAR that you can do HVIT one to three days a week, depending on your goals. She added that you want to make sure you're not overtraining; high-intensity workouts where you put out max effort should only be done for 20-30 minutes at most.

This Is the Exercise You Should Be Doing If You Want to Learn How to Deadlift

Deadlifts are arguably one of the best exercises to strengthen your core, legs, back, and glutes - hello, booty. A common way to perform a deadlift is with a barbell, but if you're new to strength training, you'll want to start with something a little easier in order to get the form down.

To help you perfect your form, Michael B. Jordan's trainer Corey Calliet showed me a Romanian deadlift variation to teach you the basics.

How to Do a Cable Machine Romanian Deadlift

  • Adjust the carriage so that it's at the bottom of the cable machine. Attach a triceps rope handle to the pulley on the carriage of a cable station. You should be facing the pulley.
  • Next, select the amount of resistance you want - 20 to 30 pounds is a great starting point. As you begin to become more comfortable with the movement, feel free to increase the weight.
  • Facing the pulley, grab the rope, and step approximately three feet away from the machine.
  • With a slight bend in your knees, slowly bend at your hips (this is a hinge movement pattern) as you simultaneously extend your arms forward. Your core should be engaged, and your back should be flat.
  • Then squeeze your glutes to stand back up as you simultaneously pull your elbows back (like you're performing a bent-over row). Pull with power, and continue to squeeze your glutes at the top to get full hip extension. Be sure to keep your core engaged.
  • This counts as one rep. Complete four sets of 12 reps.

Most Beans Are Off-Limits on the Keto Diet, So What About This Thanksgiving Classic?

The countdown to Thanksgiving is officially on, and if you're feeling a little discouraged by everything you can't eat on the keto diet (ahem, your aunt's signature biscuits), here's a bit of good news: green beans get the green light.

While green beans share a name with off-limits legumes like kidney and pinto beans, they are much lower in carbs. "In one cup of green beans, there are about 10 grams of carbohydrates, with four of those coming from fiber," Jaclyn Shusterman, RDN, CD, CNSC, a health coach at Arivale, told POPSUGAR. That's only six grams of net carbs, making green beans about as virtuous as a side of broccoli or brussels sprouts.

When preparing green beans, try sautéing them in oil and topping them with herbs for a flavor-packed bite. (On keto, you can even serve them with bacon or prosciutto.) If you just can't have Thanksgiving without the traditional green bean casserole, there are ways to make that keto-friendly, too - by making the sauce with almond flour, for example.

If You Want to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, a New Study Suggests Going Low-Carb

Carbs seem to be so controversial: some people swear by eating them to boost energy and help them lose weight, while others eschew them almost entirely to get their body into the fat-burning state of ketosis. So which one is best for weight loss?

A study published in the journal BMJ assessed 164 overweight or obese people. The researchers found that those who ate a high-fat, low-carb diet increased their metabolisms compared to the low-fat, high-carb group. In fact, the low-carb group burned about 250 more calories a day compared to the high-carb group after five months.

"This study confirms that, remarkably, diets higher in starch and sugar change the body's burn rate after weight loss, lowering metabolism," Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told The New York Times. "The observed metabolic difference was large, more than enough to explain the yo-yo effect so often experienced by people trying to lose weight."

These new findings suggest that the calories in, calories out (CICO) mentality of weight loss may be outdated. Although it seems like there's a new study every day that proclaims a revolutionary discovery about weight loss, this particular study was one of the largest and most expensive feeding trials, The New York Times reported.

However, not every body is the same; it's best to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to find the best dietary plan for you. That may mean eating more carbs to have more energy or dialing them way back like on the keto diet. Ultimately, a diet only works if you treat it like a lifestyle change and stay on it long-term.

Walking Can Help Burn Belly Fat, but Only If You Follow This Trainer’s Advice

If you think there's no point in exercising if you can't crush it in the gym for an hour, think again. Doing 30 minutes of aerobic activity like walking can help burn belly fat, slimming your waist and preventing conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Numerous studies have supported this, such as a 2007 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, which concluded that aerobic exercise like brisk walking is essential for visceral fat reduction, and a past study published in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine found that women who walked less than 7,500 steps a day had more belly fat than those who met or exceeded that goal.

But while walking can definitely help burn belly fat, it's not quite that simple, Steven Goelzer, a certified personal trainer and metabolic specialist at Life Time Athletic in Laguna Nigel, CA, told POPSUGAR. "Burning fat depends way more on hormones than the type of workout you're doing," Goelzer said. "Low-intensity exercise (like walking) should burn a high percentage of fat, but the volume of training needed does not necessarily fit well in most people's schedules," he added, noting that a person's metabolism also helps determine how much walking they'd need to do to start to burn fat.

Lifestyle plays an even bigger role in belly fat - it's essential that you eat right and work to keep stress at bay, he explained. Of course, walking can help with both of these things, but together they're a factor in how much belly fat you're able to burn. "Too many things contribute to say just one thing will make losing belly fat easier," Goelzer said.

To stay healthy and maximize your fat-burning potential, Goelzer recommends walking six times a week for 30 minutes or more. Regular exercise and a steady adherence to a long-term program - along with a healthy diet and stress management - is your best bet for overall health, he added.

Why Wait Until Jan. 1? Start This Supersimple 6-Step Fat-Loss Plan Today

If you're feeling overwhelmed or confused about how to move forward on your weight-loss journey, here's a simple plan from fat-loss coach Carter Good (@cartergood on Instagram) to help you get started. With colder weather and the holiday season, Carter said it may be hard to muster up the discipline to stay consistent with a weight-loss plan. You may be thinking, "Forget it. I'll just start Jan. 1."

Only you know if now isn't the right time. But what if it was? What if you started today? Imagine waking up on New Year's Day, feeling lighter and stronger, with an arsenal of healthy habits built up? You'll feel "energized and excited to make 2019 the year you build the body and health you've always wanted," Carter wrote. End 2018 on the highest note possible, feeling proud and psyched to keep going.

If you're ready now, Carter's plan is a great place to begin. To follow it, he recommends starting each week with one of these habits; if you already do one, move on to another. He also said you can follow the order he has or pick and choose which ones you want to start with. "There's no right way to do it," he wrote. "All six habits are going to help you stay mindful and consume fewer calories." Let's do this!

The 1 Thing You Should Discuss With Your Doctor If Your Sex Drive Has Suddenly Stalled

Talking to anyone, let alone your doctor, about your sex life can feel awkward, but if your libido seems nonexistent, that's exactly the conversation you should be having. What you shouldn't do? Chalk it up to your birth control. "The majority of women who take hormonal contraception have no libido issues, and for some women, it can actually increase their libido because they're not worried about getting pregnant," said ob-gyn Lauren Streicher, MD, founder and medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Center For Sexual Health and Menopause. However, "there is a small percentage of women that do have a low libido because of the pill, and it's not in their heads."

How Does the Pill Affect Your Sex Drive?

While losing your desire for sex is the exception and not the rule on the pill, it can happen for a number of reasons. "For some people, it can be a cumulative effect," Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn in Los Angeles, told POPSUGAR. "It may not affect you at first, but over a longer period of time, it ends up decreasing your libido." That's because the pill increases levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that attaches itself to the hormone testosterone, quite literally tying up a key player in libido.

"There also seems to be a genetic component that makes testosterone receptors work improperly for some women on the pill," Dr. Streicher explained. "You can get two outcomes from this: a low libido and vaginal dryness." If that's the case, Dr. Streicher suggests going off the pill completely and applying a local testosterone and estrogen cream (prescribed by your doctor) to the opening of the vagina to help reverse the dryness and pain.

Should You Consider Switching Pills?

"It would be nice if the solution was just to change the pill, but we find that's not the case because there are so many things that can cause libido to fluctuate," Dr. Streicher said. If a woman notices that her sex drive has significantly decreased since going on the pill but really wants to stay on it - as opposed to trying another method like the IUD - Dr. Streicher said she may suggest changing formulas. "It seems to be that the third-generation lower-dose [estrogen] pills are more a problem than earlier developed pills," she said.

Switching to a pill with a different level of progestin - the hormone that's responsible for halting ovulation - may also help, but only in a small percentage of women. "Progestin is driving the train regarding side effects, which is why we keep having new generations of pills," Dr. Streicher said, noting that some help with PMS symptoms or skin, for example. Some women are fine on any pill, while others need options, she added.

Dr. Gilberg-Lenz agreed and emphasized just how complex uncovering the cause of low libido can be. In fact, a study in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 40 percent of female participants reported low libido prior to any birth control use, and researchers found no association between any method of birth control and a lack of interest in sex, reaffirming that most women on the pill won't encounter this issue.

Still, if you notice significant changes and side effects from the pill, it's worth mentioning to your doctor. Your ob-gyn can determine if it's your birth control or some other underlying issue. "What we try to stay away from is trying different types of pills to see if the libido comes back, and the whole time the root cause was another factor, like a patient's antidepressant prescription," Dr. Streicher said. "It's important to look at all the factors."