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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Too Much Good Food!

I ate well last week.  So well in fact, that I think I even gained a few pounds.  My meals covered a wide culinary spectrum from full-on vegan to a Mexican breakfast, to an Italian meal that brought my family roots right to the surface.  All 3 of these restaurants were new to me, they were all very different, and all worthy of a return visit!

GOOD KARMA CAFE – 17 East Front St, Red Bank, NJ, (732) 450-8344
I am not a vegan. I could live without red meat if I had to, but dairy products (including my beloved cheese) hold a very special place in my heart. That being said, I have several close friends, and even my husband at times, who’ve made this dietary commitment. Unfortunately, if you’re vegan, eating out can be quite challenging. If you’re tired of having to read every detail of every menu or having to explain your entire life story to the server, Good Karma will make your life very simple – everything on the menu is vegan.

Screenshot_2016-04-26-10-20-53-1After sampling the Chimichurri Style Seitan Sticks, the Crispy Baked Tempeh Buffalo Wings & the Loaded Nachos (which were amazing), I decided to play it safe and get the “Pad Thai” for my entrée. I have to say that I enjoyed it more than my usual “Thai” Pad Thai. It wasn’t as spicy as I usually like, but it was loaded with vegetables (carrots, cabbage, celery & broccoli) and the peanut tamarind sauce was delicious. Topped with toasted peanuts & beautiful, fresh sprouts, I tried not to feel too guilty about the huge mound of stir-fried rice noodles I also consumed.

My “vegans” enjoyed their meals as well… oohing and aahing over every bite. The only thing Good Karma could improve upon is the ambiance for a nicer in-house dining experience. It’s quite small, but lacking a “cozy” feel. The take-out business was definitely booming though, so maybe that’s the better way to go.


MEEMOM’S
 – Kmart Plaza, Rt 35, Wall, NJ, (732) 359.8544
What better place to bring your mom to breakfast than a place called Meemom’s? This was actually the 3rd time I’d tried to eat here, apparently always stopping in at their busiest hours (like on Saturday mornings). This visit with my mom was on a Thursday around 10:30am and luckily we got right in without a wait.  It’s popularity must be due to its extensive, home-cooked breakfast menu (there are 22 varieties of French Toast) & its diverse selection of salads, paninis & wraps for lunch.

2016-04-26 10.43.36I had a hard time narrowing it down, but finally decided on the “Pico de Huevos” – a version of the Mexican dish, huevos rancheros, that sounded delicious. The perfectly poached eggs were served on a grilled cornbread muffin & topped with a chipotle hollandaise sauce. Add chorizo, pico de gallo & sliced avocado to create an amazing combination of flavors and textures. And the side of “spuds” were a pure bonus… who doesn’t enjoy a crisp pile of salted chips? Meemom’s is a definite winner, although I have to add that it took over 30 minutes for our food to arrive and like I mentioned, there is oftentimes a substantial wait. Hopefully you can time it right & enjoy this great breakfast & lunch eatery.


CAPITOLINE
639 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, (732) 455.3609
I think I saved my personal favorite for last… Capitoline is the Italian offering in the new “Complex” that has recently branched out from the original Bond Street Bar in Asbury Park. This new, 2 level structure creatively takes up the space of a city block with 3 interconnecting restaurants and 4 bars. Bond Street is still alive & well, serving their delicious burgers & sandwiches in a classic, corner bar atmosphere. Loteria, with its main entrance on Mattison Ave, is a new Mexican taqueria, brought to life with the help of Asbury’s own, well-established Mexican restaurant, Plaza Tapatia.

20160420_095033On this night, however, we were drawn into Capitoline, with its enormous roll-up windows framing the immense wooden door on Cookman Ave.  Inside, an open design, family-style seating & a roaring pizza oven complete the rustic look.  The Italian menu features apps, salads, meatballs and pizza, available in big square slices or full pies.

2016-04-26 10.42.17We started with the Antipasta – a full board of Italian meats, cheeses, bread, olives and roasted peppers. I was in heaven. Next, we went with the “Agrodolce” salad – a delicious blend of baby lettuce, arugula, radicchio, roasted beets & goat cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette – delish. And finally we succumbed to the pizza… the classic Margherita which we jazzed up with some spicy Italian sausage – perfecto!  Add a few beers and the meal was complete – I cannot wait to go back!!!

All 3 restaurants in The Complex offer reasonably priced menu items, which is often hard to find in this downtown strip. The layout is innovative & clever, with doors or halls connecting the separate venues, but with each still embracing its very distinct space & unique theme. The architecture includes salvaged pieces & building materials from many of Asbury’s most historic landmarks, including the Paramount Theater.  “Eat well. Spend little.” is their tag line & it truly fits the bill.  This spot is definitely worth a trip, especially if you can get here before the summer crowds hit!

Always enjoy every bite & sip!!!

 

Gelato… Wine… & Cheese… Oh My!

lolas-inside

So my favorite gelato spot in Asbury Park has just gotten even better!
“Lola’s European Cafe” (formerly Casa di Dolce) on Cookman Ave, is now serving their authentic Italian Gelato along with… wine, cheese, specialty cocktails, whiskeys, coffee, paninis & desserts… all in a beautifully redone, rustic retreat.  Taste buds beware… it’s all amazing!

And it’s gonna be a hot spot this summer, with seating both inside & out.  So get in now before the crowds take over!

HOURS (as of 6/5/15):
Tue & Thurs: 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fri & Sat: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm

And for the whiskey lovers, check out this great event coming up on June 9th!  lolas-event