Pizza, lasagna and bread are normally not found in the Keto diet, but one Guelph business is selling keto-friendly versions of these foods and more.
Alter Eat-o: Foods for KETO, located on 23 Garibaldi St., is a health food store with a focus on keto offering pre-made meals for purchase or wholesale options.
The business is run by two sisters, Leslie Lang and Molly Hutchinson. Since starting out in a rental commercial kitchen in Milton in February 2019, Alter Eat-o now has stores in Guelph, Hamilton, Milton, Oakville, Mississauga and Owen Sound.
“It’s gone quickly, but it’s just been so much fun for us to be in the community,” said Lang about the rapid growth of Alter Eat-o and settling into Guelph. “It was always a dream fo mine and Molly's to operate a food business, we just didn't know what that would be.”
Lang explains she and Hutchinson came up with the idea for their business after both went on the keto diet in 2016. Both avid food-lovers, Lang said they grew up in a household with a lot of cooks and were always trying new recipes.
“Because of my love of cooking, and Molly's love of cooking, I would take some of those family favourite recipes and try to make them keto-friendly and share them with family and friends,” said Lang, “and people we're loving it, and I was loving it, and that's sort of where Alter Eat-o came from."
Now having a commercial kitchen in Guelph for several months, Lang said both her and Hutchinson are excited to be a part of a community that seems passionate about food.
"We love Guelph, it's a very food forward community, so we knew it was the right spot for us."
Having gained notoriety in the past few years, the keto diet is described on the Government of Canada website as a 'low carbohydrate/ high fat diet.'
In a 2020 survey published by Dalhousie University in partnership with Angus Reid, four per cent of Canadians reported following the keto diet with 10 per cent of Canadians considering trying it. In Ontario, five per cent of survey respondents say they currently follow a keto diet. The survey had over 1,500 participants and had a margin error of -3.19 per cent.
Despite more people interested in trying the keto diet, Lang said there are not many places that offer keto-friendly alternatives. At Alter Eat-o, meals can be picked up at their locations or ordered online for pick-up or delivery.
“Four or five years ago, there were not as many options available, and I was very fortunate because I love to cook and I love to experiment with keto options in the kitchen," said Lang.
Through testing different recipes, Alter Eat-o has developed a line of meals and snacks that fit within the keto diet. Within their menu, 80 to 85 per cent of their products are also made with gluten-free ingredients, said Lang.
While they like to put a keto-spin on classic meals, Lang explains they also try to come up new creations into their menu, like the Turkey Dinner Biscuit Pie.
“It’s kind of looking at some of those comfort food items that people love and doing a modern twist or spin on them,” said Lang.
Going forward, Lang said Alter Eat-o is focusing on preparing for the launch of their holiday line, which will happen at the end of next week. The other focus is getting their products into local restaurants, said Lang.
“I would say that is at the top of our focus is how we can make those local connections to restaurants and local cafes, and how we can help them meet the needs of the keto community in Guelph and in other cities,” she said.To learn more about Alter Eat-o: Foods for KETO, go to altereato.ca.