January is the period most people unwind from the busy holiday season — but  then, Natasha “Tasha” Newton isn’t most people.

The Crossville woman is preparing for a four-city promotional tour starting this weekend in Nashville for the best-selling “Southern Keto: 100+ Traditional Food Favorites for a Low-Carb Lifestyle,” her 304-page paperback book of more than 100 recipes accentuated with tips, pantry supply and grocery lists and her personal trials that led her to a ketogenic lifestyle.

“Mine is the first Southern keto cookbook,” Newton said of the book that was released in November. “I guess it was an instant bestseller.”

That’s an understatement. As of Jan. 7, “Southern Keto” was the second-leading seller in the Amazon.com U.S. Southern Cookbooks Food and Wine genre, behind only HGTV’s Joanna Gaines’ latest offering and outselling veteran foodies like Paula Deen and Trisha Yearwood.

It’s also topping the online retailer’s Health, Fitness and Dieting categories, ranking No. 3 for books for abdominal ailments and No. 10 for low-carb diet and weight loss.

The book is an autobiography, recipe collection and outreach rolled into one for the native Kentuckian. Newton said she scarcely remembers a time when she wasn’t struggling with her weight. In fact, she tried her first diet at age 9.

“I’ve just been on every diet,” she said. “I’ve gained and lost the weight, over and over. I really had given up.”

Among them was Atkins, a 1990s fad that concentrates on protein. While keto is similar, Newton said its focus on low carbs and good fats piqued her interest. 

“The first couple of weeks are really hard,” she admitted.

Then, as she tinkered with recipes and foods, Newton found she had discovered a new passion.

“Keto doesn’t have to be boring,” she said. “There’s just so many flavors, so many things you can have. You still have to have portion control.”

Her KetoIsLife Instagram showcases many of the foods she eats and tries. The magazine-quality photos of cookies, salads, casseroles and other tempting creations have drawn more than 460,000 followers to the account Newton created as a means of accountability and inspiration.

“I’ve made real friends through this,” she said. “It’s been amazing.”

“Southern Keto” is a culmination of that positivity with Newton’s Kentucky and Tennessee roots. Newton’s recipe for drop biscuits is her most popular, while her husband, chiropractor Robert Newton, is partial to gumbo. He joined his wife in the keto lifestyle a year after she began.

The couple’s Christmas menu reflected the Southern keto lifestyle, with a spiral sugar-free ham and coconut cake. Of course, the Kentuckian also had bourbon balls.

“Southern Keto: 100+ Traditional Food Favorites for a Low-Carb Lifestyle,” published by Victory Belt Publishing, is available in both paperback and digital from Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com.

Assistant Editor