Girls Getaway 101

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Flamingo Beach – Costa Rica (2016)

I take a 4-night trip, every January, with one of my best friends of over 20 years. We go somewhere warm and tropical to escape our New Jersey winter and spend the time doing not much more than eating, reading, drinking cocktails & soaking up the sun. It’s pure heaven. We catch up on all the happenings since our last trip and laugh like little kids.

Plenty of people over the years have asked me how I “get away with” this annual excursion. I simply tell them, “It’s already on the calendar.” Just as I’m sure you plan family vacations, this friend-cation is really no different. Obviously there is a cost involved, but I’d rather drive my old car and color my own hair, than miss this trip! Everyone needs a break from their daily lives & responsibilities – you just have to make it happen.  So how do we do it?  These are the tips I recommend…

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2012 in Puerto Plata

1. Find the right partner(s) in crime. Whether you go with a group or a single companion, traveling with friends can be tricky. You all need to want the same thing from this escape, regarding both destination & activity level.  If one of you wants to lay on the beach all day, and your friend wants to zipline, parasail & tour the countryside, it’s generally not going to be as fun. Compromises can be made of course, and some things can be done individually, but for the most part, it’s easier to stick with the same schedule. My girlfriend & I happen to travel incredibly well together. We’re both up early, we both need our coffee right away, food is of the utmost importance & wine is a necessity. We like to relax, with little regard for schedules or planned activities. Our lives at home revolve around this pick-up or that meeting, which sport or what deadline, so when we’re away it’s nice to just go with the flow. But again, it helps if you’re all on the same page.

2. Timing is essential.  Keeping to the same week or weekend every year, makes it unobjectionable for everyone involved. Spouses, kids and caregivers all know when it’s going to happen and there becomes less & less discussion about it. For us, there seems to be the least amount of activity/commitment/obligation in January, so that’s when we go, but you need to find a time that works best for you. Maybe during the summer is better for your schedule, or one of the holiday weekends. Just pick a date and stick with it! Getting everyone on board that first year is definitely the most difficult, but by the 2nd year, you may only hear, “You’re doing that again?” After that it becomes routine and one of the most looked forward to events on your calendar!

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Our beach in Antigua – 2017

3. Length of Trip.  This one depends on how long you can be away from home, how much you want to spend and how flexible your schedule is. Work, childcare, vacation time, pets, etc., will all play a part, but it’s not impossible. If you’re flying, try to find direct flights and don’t stay too far from the airport – you want to maximize every second of your time. Four nights seems to work the best for us, but I have another friend that I only do one night a year with and that works too! I The key is simply getting away, even if it’s only for 24 hours.

4. The Destination. Beach? Mountains? Wine country? A night in NYC? The options are endless. We prefer long days in the warm sun, but your trip can take you anywhere! I will say, however, that all-inclusives or prepaid packages make everything easier – no splitting checks or trying to figure out who drank more at the bar, lol… your transportation and room fees are all covered, including incidentals like wifi & airport transfers. It’s one less thing to worry about as this trip should be as stress-free as possible.

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If you only knew how long it took and how hard we laughed, making this sign!

So pick your travel mate(s), find a date, and select a destination that you’ve always wanted to visit! We started our annual getaway in 2011, for only 3 nights, at an unfamiliar high-rise in Cancun. We got a good deal and had a blast, despite cooler temps and such a short stay.  We decided right then that this needed to be an annual tradition, and in less than a week, we’ll be leaving for Aruba – our 9th trip! When all’s said and done, it doesn’t matter where you go, how much you can spend or what you eat & drink, it’s a little “escape” that every woman deserves at least once a year!

Here’s a little slideshow of the incredible resorts we’ve visited so far!  We’ve lucked out with amazing beaches, incredible views and great weather (except for that one year in Puerto Plata!). We are very fortunate to have this friendship, and to have kept this tradition alive… Eventually we’ll be the two old ladies at the swim-up, but with so many years of crazy stories to share!

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Can I Eat Out on Keto? Absolutely!

I love eating out. I can’t wait to be handed that menu, and read through the pages like a novel. I truly enjoy the fresh ingredients and those creative combinations, but am just as pleased with the basics. The restaurant doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, although I am easily impressed by a themed setting or unique atmosphere. I appreciate the efforts in the kitchen, and I love that I don’t have to clean up. And nothing has changed since I started following a keto way of eating… you can really eat anywhere – you just have to be a little creative!

From "Toast" in Asbury Park, NJ

Lobster Cobb Salad

The easiest meal to order is a salad, topped with a protein & dressed with olive oil. Cobb Salads are PERFECT (egg, avocado, bacon, tomato), but you can really enjoy any bed of greens with grilled chicken, steak, shrimp or even lobster! Get fancy & go for the Iceberg Wedge, complete with those blue cheese crumbles, or indulge in a Caesar Salad (just skip the croutons). Toppings to avoid: candied nuts, craisins or any dried fruit, carrots, beets, or other higher carb veggies.

There are tons of dining options out there… here are a few of the more popular:

Fine Dining
Go for the steak! Prime rib or other fattier cuts are great. Chicken (any way but fried), pork and almost all seafood are other fine options. The only problem you’ll run into is sides… swap any potatoes, pasta or rice for a salad or keto-friendly vegetable. And keep an eye on the sauces (creamy is usually ok, but “sweet” is not).

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Sauteed Scallops over Spinach

Most chicken or seafood dishes can be made keto by simply having them served them over sauteed spinach instead of pasta. Or splurge on lobster or crab… and dip the meat in that butter for a ketolicious treat!

The Chains
Fridays, Applebees, Chilis… Options are limitless here. Salads, burgers (no bun), other meats (veggies instead of a starch for the sides), there are plenty of choices. You know what else you can have? Chicken Wings! As long as they aren’t battered in any way, chicken wings are keto approved 😉

You’ll need to watch out for sauces here too. Ribs are great, but you’ll need to get the “dry rub” as most BBQ/Teriyaki type sauces are loaded with sugar. Same goes for the wings… stick with regular Buffalo (and dip away in that blue cheese) or the Garlic Parmesan styles. Anything that tastes the least bit sweet, contains carbs.

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“Low Carb” Whopper w/Cheese

Fast Food
Not my favorite option, but I have taken a liking to Burger King if I have to pick one. They offer all of their burgers as “low carb,” which just means it comes in a bowl, rather than on a roll. And at least the “Whopper” includes some veggies (lettuce, tomato, onion). Add the cheese, but skip the ketchup (loaded with sugar)… mustard & mayo (even though it’s not the best mayo) are ok. If you really need to amp up your fats for the day, just throw on some bacon 😉

Obviously you’ll have to pass on the fries & onion rings, that also goes for the chicken nuggets & any kind of fried fish. Grilled chicken sandwiches (without the roll), or fried chicken where you can remove the breading and just eat the meat, are also viable choices.

One other note on the fast food chains… they’re actually great for breakfast! Any bacon/egg/sausage/ham/cheese sandwich can be eaten without the “bread” for a relatively low carb meal.

Other Quick & Convenient Options

img_20190111_160759_655Pizza. Think of the crust as your plate & use a fork to eat the top right off! The more toppings, the better. This is a “before & after” of a recent Cheesesteak Slice I had 😉 Or I’ll get the “Everything” slice, loaded with pepperoni, sausage & all the veggies. Like a white pie?  Load it up with spinach & tomatoes and make sure they don’t skimp on the ricotta! Remember: Cheese is your friend.

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Roast Beef “Bowl”

Subs.  Load up on the meats, cheeses & veggies, and use a fork to eat it out of the roll like a bowl. This “bowl” from Jersey Mike’s is one of my favorites… they also offer the option of ordering any of their subs this way 🙂

See? Not so hard! Just stay away from anything breaded or fried (I have been known to “pick off” the breading from zucchini sticks & calamari… lol), and no fries, rice, quinoa, pasta, couscous & other grains.  You’re also going to have to skip desserts while you’re out, unless you can get a bowl of berries. Save your sweets for at home, where you can bake with low-carb sugar substitutes and make your own whipped cream.

Remember that restaurant meals are usually a little heavier on the calories, so you still have to watch it, but you don’t have to stay home & miss all the fun! Do I miss my nachos & would I love a grilled panini? Of course, but overall, eating out is still a most pleasurable experience for me while following keto. 😋

A few more faves…


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