A Guin woman's embrace of the Keto diet has not only helped her lose more than 100 pounds but has also made her a TikTok star.
"The Today Show" recently featured Julie Mitchell's recipe for cheese waffles, or chaffles, in a mid-December piece for Today Food about a surge of Keto-friendly fried pickle recipes on TikTok.
Mitchell, a 47-year-old mother and grandmother of two, shares her recipes on her account,@keto_country, where she has more than 86,000 followers.
"I probably gained 35,000 or 40,000 followers from that one video over a three or four day period," she said of the chaffle video.
Mitchell is also on Instagram (@keto_country) and has a private Facebook group where she shares Keto recipes and tips.
She has several variations on the chaffle, including one that uses hot dogs.
Recent recipes from her accounts include an alternative chicken nugget in which the chicken is covered in melted cheese and air fried (traditional breading is not allowed on Keto) and glazed brussel sprouts.
Mitchell's journey to better health began approximately two years ago when she began experiencing severe nose bleeds.
"My blood pressure was so high and nose bleeds were a way to relieve that pressure to keep me from having a stroke," she said.
Like many others, Mitchell had spent years trying to get her weight under control with yo-yo dieting.
She was introduced to the Keto diet, which is low in carbs, high in fat and moderate in protein, by some of her coworkers.
She started the diet a year and a half ago after giving away any foods in her refrigerator and pantry that were not Keto-friendly.
Mitchell follows a dirty Keto diet, meaning she is allowed to have some processed foods as long as she maintains the correct ratio of fat, protein and carb intake to trigger ketosis, a process in which the body uses fat as its primary source of energy.
The diet, along with regular exercise and moderate weight training, has brought additional health benefits besides weight loss.
"I'm hoping that within the next six months I'll be off blood pressure medicine completely," she said.
In all, Mitchell has lost 102 pounds. She achieved her goal of losing 100 pounds between the last time she saw her son, Corey, who is stationed in Alaska with the U.S. Army, and when he came home recently on leave.
It was Corey who encouraged his mom to share her Keto recipes on TikTok.
He used Keto to drop some weight he needed to lose to get into the Army. Once he got to his duty station in Alaska, he suggested that Mitchell set up a TikTok account so that she could share recipes more easily.
"I thought TikTok was for young kids, and for the most part it is, but you're seeing more and more older people getting on there," she said.
The success of the account has surprised her. She was proud when she reached 100 followers. Now she is closing in on 100,000 and has caught the attention of brands who would like her to promote their Keto-friendly products.
The Keto diet has its champions, including Today co-host Al Roker, who lost 40 pounds after making the switch and is also know for sharing recipes on his Instagram account.
However, most people who are considering the diet are concerned that they won't be able to have their favorite foods like breads and pasta.
Not so, according to Mitchell.
"Usually anything that I'm craving, from a Reese's cup to a country biscuit, I can adapt a recipe and make it Keto-friendly," she said.
The key is substitution. For example, brownies can be made with alternative sweeteners such as Monk fruit or erythritol, and spaghetti can be made from spaghetti squash instead of noodles.
Mitchell also has the following recipe for Keto-friendly "potato" soup.
Saute the following for 5 mins:
1/2c chopped onion
1tsp chopped garlic
16 oz bag of frozen cauliflower
4c chopped fresh radishes
2c chicken stock
Simmer for 10 minutes
8oz shredded cheese
8oz cream cheese
1/2c heavy whipping cream
16 oz cooked sausage or one pack crumbled bacon
1 tsp dill
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 chicken bouillon
Sea Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer above ingredients for 40 min.