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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Thinking About Keto for the New Year?

IMG_20180507_212017_216Thinking about jumping on the keto bandwagon, but not really sure what it is or how to begin? Well it’s been just over a year since I started my keto journey, so I’m sharing a few tips. 😉

Following a keto lifestyle essentially means eating a diet high in healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, and a limited amount of carbohydrates, leading your body into a state of “ketosis,” where you burn calories from stored fat, rather than from empty carbs. It gives you more energy, promotes healthy brain function, and satisfies your appetite without leaving you hungry or feeling deprived. You can read article after article on how it works, why it’s the best, why it’s the worst & everything in between. All I know is that it’s been prescribed by doctors since the 1920s & it’s the easiest “diet” I’ve ever followed.  I lost 10lbs in the first 6 months, have kept it off for another 6 months and still going strong!

If you’re seriously considering giving it a try, here are a few things I recommend to get you started…

1.  Download a food tracking app.  I was already a “Map My Run” user, so I stuck with the brand & went with “My Fitness Pal” which worked perfectly for me. You’ll need to set a calorie limit & then adjust your macros to fit a Keto lifestyle (generally 70% healthy fats, 20% protein & 10% carbs).  In the beginning, you’ll need to enter every morsel you put in your mouth to find those “hidden” carbs, and determine what you need to eat to meet your macros each day. To determine your daily calorie allowance, try this calculator or one of the many others you can find online.

2.  Hit the grocery store.  Keto is as much about what you can eat, as it is about what you should avoid. You’re trying to eliminate sugars from your diet, especially those coming directly from carbs, but there are tons of foods you can still enjoy! And you don’t need a fancy grocery store or spend a million dollars…. I find most everything I need at Aldi, and the more specialized items I get right from Amazon.

3.  Make the commitment.  For the first couple of weeks, it’s important not to “cheat.”  It’ll take 3-4 days of following a strict low carb, high fat diet for your body to enter into ketosis and any big dose of carbs will start you all over again, so you’ll need to stay on track. Eventually, a little cheat here & there won’t affect your numbers, but in the beginning, your goal is to get your body into that fat burning state as quickly as possible.

The internet is full of keto-approved food lists, but here are the items I try to keep on hand. I could go on & on with recipes, substitutions, etc, but I wanted to start by keeping it simple. These are my “go tos” plus a few bonuses I’ve discovered along the way…

HEALTHY FATS
Grass-fed butter (Kerrygold)
Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Avocados
Nuts

PROTEINS
Meats (Beef, chicken, turkey, pork)
Try to buy grass-fed & organic when possible, and include fattier cuts like chicken thighs & highly marbled steaks.  When buying meats like cold cuts, pepperoni or bacon, I try to find nitrate-free varieties as a healthier option.

Fish – Tuna & salmon are my staples, but I also splurge on lobster, shrimp & scallops!)
Most all seafood & shellfish are keto-approved.

Eggs – a great source of protein. I do buy organic/cage-free when possible 🙂

Cheese – Full fat, all varieties

Other Dairy – Heavy whipping cream, sour cream & plain greek yogurt

OTHER FOODS
Veggies:  Greens, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Celery, Peppers, Onions, Eggplant, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage

Fruits:  Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries
(Top these with whipped cream for a great dessert!)

Dressings & Condiments:
Salad Dressings/Mayo (Look for olive oil or avocado oil based – I love Primal Kitchen)
Mustard, Salsa, Hot sauce, Vinegars, Sea salt, pepper & all seasonings

For Baking/Cooking:
Almond Flour (for bread doughs, pizza crusts, bagels, cookies
Monkfruit Sweetener (a natural, low glycemic sugar)
Cacao Nibs (use in place of chocolate chips in cookies or add to yogurt)

Snacks:
Pork Rinds (take ’em or leave ’em, but it’s nice to have a crunchy snack & something to use as a “dunker” with your favorite dips & spreads.

Whisps (Baked cheese snacks)
Moon Cheese (Another delicious cheese snack)

Drinks:
Water is essential to making this lifestyle work.  At least half your body weight, in ounces, is recommended, but more never hurts!  Plain water can get a little boring after a while, so I use these 2 products to spruce things up:

Stur: These all-natural, sugar-free, zero calorie sweeteners come in awesome flavors & use stevia instead of  the chemical sweeteners found in MIO & others.
True Orange (& Lemon… & Grapefruit!): Love these little all-natural packets to flavor my water (and also my favorite low carb beer!)

Coffee & tea (unsweetened of course) are also regulars for me.  Coffee prepared with grass-fed butter, MCT oil (or coconut oil) & heavy whipping cream provides a great breakfast alternative & will keep you full right up until lunchtime!  You know I love my coffee and you know my fave… Keto Coffee from It Works 😉

One last word on drinks… Alcohol.  The good news is that Vodka has 0 carbs & is just under 100 calories per 1oz shot.  It’s the mixers you have to watch out for… no fruit juice, no flavored sodas, no syrupy cordials.  But you can have all the club soda & seltzer you want, topped with a squeeze of lemon or lime, so that’s a winner in my book!  Dry wines are also allowed, in limited quantity.  New brands like FitVine Wine, a low carb, lower sugar variety have helped keep me on track. 🙂

So Should You Try It?
I’m not a doctor, a health professional or even a nutritionist, and I don’t think this way of eating is for everyone, but if you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake, need to lose weight, want more energy or are simply trying to eat healthier, it’s worth giving it a try!

Need a little push?  Here are some of my “keto-friendly” meals… I’m definitely not missing anything!

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Follow me on Instagram @tripsandtastes for recipes and more!  And please feel free to post any questions below.  Thanks!

Don’t Forget Facebook!

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I haven’t been neglecting my blog on purpose, I’ve just been finding it easier to post little snippets directly on Facebook lately!  Recipes, articles, travel tips & recommendations can all be found there, when I’m not on here!  So please “Like, Follow & Share” my Facebook page, Trips and Tastes and be sure to check out all my pics on Instagram as well!

Thanks for the love!

Shameless Self-Promotion ;)

moneyThis blog has been neglected lately! I’ve been busy opening an Etsy shop with my photos, joining the company, It Works! as an independent distributor of their amazing health & wellness products, and I’m even working on an article with Under Armour, as they want to feature my “half-marathon” story!  I’ve also designed a new website to keep these adventures in one central location – www.kristinscorer.com.  Add all that to my “day job,” along with my son’s baseball, karate & end of year activities, and you have one busy mama!

IMG_20170613_185542_764But the reason for this post, is not that I’m complaining, I’m actually EXCITED!  I love having all of these opportunities for my personal growth and hopefully, they’ll each become profitable, at some point, in their own way.  It can be a struggle finding the time for all these new “passions” of mine (don’t forget my travel & food obsessions as well!), but I’m squeezing it all in & enjoying the creative process! Thanks to those who have shown great support & encouraging words on each of these start-ups… it means the world to me!

Follow this blog to join me on my journey 🙂

Breakfast Worth the Wait in Asbury Park

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I love going out to breakfast (or any meal really), but there’s something about that late morning meal on a weekend that I especially enjoy. This week I returned to “Toast,” a spot that I had tried a few years ago that was good, but hadn’t really left me ohhhing or ahhhing at the time. Well, I’m happy to report that certainly wasn’t the case yesterday!

screenshot_2016-09-26-10-20-02-1Arriving at prime time on a Sunday morning (around 10am), we were told there would be a 15-20 min wait. Luckily, they take your cell number & text you when your table is ready, so you’re free to roam around Asbury Park while you’re waiting. Once we got our call, we were seated quickly & handed the delicious menu to peruse.

I immediately spotted the Eggs Benedict, of which they offer a few varieties including a Crab Cake version (which I saw pass by several times) and a Smoked Salmon Benedict, which I always adore. Yesterday however, the highlighted “Huevos Rancheros” caught my attention. I love this dish and you just don’t see it very often, so my selection was easily made.

img_20160925_112029The food took a little while to arrive, but we enjoyed the bustling atmosphere and our warm drinks (a tasty Pumpkin Spice Latte for me) while we waited.  And it was worth it…  My two over-easy eggs, covered in Mexican cojita cheese, sat upon a crispy tortilla surrounded by a delicious variety of beans, tomatoes & fresh cilantro. Every bite was a treat. My son devoured a giant Belgian waffle topped with fresh strawberries, and my friend enjoyed her “Bacon & Brie” omelette. Delish!

Toast is only open for breakfast & lunch, but the menu offers a wide variety of options, and all items are available all day. I can’t wait to go back & try the “Lobster Cobb Salad” and I’m sure that the “Smoked Salmon Benedict” will also end up on my plate before too long!

Toast is located at 516 Cookman Ave in Asbury Park, NJ.
Current hours are Wednesday thru Monday, from 7:30am to 3pm.  During the off season, they are closed on Tuesdays.

Visit their site for the full menu (www.toastasburypark.com) and their Facebook Page for daily specials and more!

Check Out My New Facebook Page!

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The new Facebook Page is up & running! Some of the content will certainly cross over both platforms, but Facebook will provide a place for more interaction among readers, as well as fun little perks like “Tuesday’s Travel Tip” & “Wanderlust Wednesday” so be sure to check it out!

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This week’s “Travel Tip” was posted this morning…
Find out the one thing I ALWAYS bring when I travel by visiting the new page at:  www.facebook.com/tripsandtastes

Once on Facebook, please be sure to “Like” and “Share” the page with all your travel & food-loving friends!  Thanks 🙂