Ahi Tuna Poke Towers
I feel in love with Ahi Tuna Poke on several trips to Hawaii.
Back when I was unconscious about carbs I would go out for sushi several times a week. I thought I was eating healthy and could never understand why eating so well I could never lose any weight. I’m kind of a sushi freak and when I find a place that is focused on great, fresh sushi I become the duke, a super-fan and frequent the establishment often.
Currently, I am the duke (yelp) with no one even close to 2nd place at an unassuming local hot spot in Avon, CT called Liki Sushi
This Japanese oasis is not distracted by hibachi like so many others in the area. This is reflected in the quality and freshness of the fish and the attention to detail my personal sushi chefs, Andy and company execute so well. They have great lunch specials and if you sit at the bar you may also get free app like the one below.
The trick to going low-carb is the shift I made to sashimi (hold the rice) several years ago. I do not miss the rice and I do not feel the need for nap after lunch anymore. Those balls of rice are clearly no friend to anyone attempting to get into shape. Another option is to get rolls made without the rice which many on-trend sushi spots will accommodate. Sauce on the side is not a bad idea either. If it tastes too sweet, it probably is, and you should use sparingly or avoid altogether.
When it comes to raw tuna at home however, I prefer this simple preparation of Ahi Sushi Poke. I hope you enjoy my take on Ahi Sushi Poke and I assure you it will be a big hit at your next get together with low-carb friends or a romantic evening starter with the one you love.
- 1 pound sashimi grade ahi tuna
- 1.5 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp. chilli powder
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. good quality olive oil
- 1 tbsp. ponzu dressing (kikkoman or other)
- fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seed
- 1 ripe avocado 1/4 inch dice
- 1/8 tsp. coriander
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 ground pepper
- 1/3 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp. Black caviar or tobiko for garnish
- 1 tbsp olive oil for garnish
- Tuna chopped into 1/4 inch dice.
- Shallot, scallion, corriander, chilli powder.
- Add olive and sesame oils and toss evenly coat.
- Just before serving add toasted sesame seed and mix.
- Avocado, coriander, salt, ground pepper and lime juice.
- Use a 4" mini-spring form pan (or similar - tin can open at both ends)
- With a spoon, pack tuna then avocado - reverse if forming with a tin can.
- Place avocado side down then remove pan.
- Drizzle olive oil
- Top with black Tobiko.
- Makes 2 towers
Keto Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict
Everyday is a hollandaise when you are in ketosis!
One of my favorite breakfasts is any kind of eggs benedict. I search far and wide for the most creative variations in my area and love finding new spots that can pull this off with precision and not disappoint. There is a lot of timing and attention to detail when making a good eggs bene – so much can go wrong. The recipe below you may want to file under “weekend breakfasts” as it is a bit involved, will make a mess of the kitchen but be sooooo worth it in the end.
Locally, there are a few hot spots that have their act together on this front. My absolute favorite is in Granby CT, a place called Dave’s Restaurant that makes their own corned-beef hash bene – “Renee’s Choice”, that will satisfy you until diner time. If I am visiting Dave’s I am clearly planning to go off the Keto-rails for the day as the home fries are crisp and I’m not gonna pass up this once in a while treat and make any edits to Dave’s breakfast masterpiece.
This is one of the challenges with my new keto-lifestyle as my only option for eggs benedict when eating breakfast out is to lay low on the potatoes and don’t eat the english muffin that most all eggs benedicts consist of. I have done it but it’s not usually the best way to go.
I had always thought is it was the decadent hollandaise on my breakfast of choice that was keeping me fat all those years.
Come to find out it was the muffin and potatoes keeping my waist at max density all along!
Every once in a while you can find an amazing crab-cake eggs benedict that needs no muffin as the base. Problem solved! This breakfast will rival any you find out and about – will impress your crew any weekend morning at home and you won’t need a nap afterwards. Be sure to plan some activities afterwards as this is a hearty meal that you will want to work off with all that extra energy you will have.
- 1 pound lump crab meat - I like North Coast Seafoods - Culinary Reserve
- 3 green onions or 1 shallot - finely chopped
- 1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper - finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup Almond flour for dusting
- 1 tbsp Avocado oil
- 6 large eggs for poaching
- 1 stick of grass fed butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 shot of tabasco
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and oil.
- Shape into patties and dust with almond flour.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Carefully place crab cakes, in batches in pan and fry until browned about 5 minutes each side.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Stir water to create a vortex.
- Add eggs one at a time to circulating water.
- Cover and turn off the heat.
- Set timer for 4 minutes.
- Melt butter and set aside - keep warm.
- In a small pan combine all other ingredients and wisk together over med heat.
- Slowly drizzle in melted butter while wisking until thickened.
- Top each crab cake with a poached egg.
- Drizzle hollandaise over eggs.
- Serve hot.
- Timing is key for success - keep the crab cakes plated and warm in the oven as you make the eggs and hollandaise at the same time.
My first Zucchini Carbonara was a huge hit.
One of the great surprises for me of this ketogenic lifestyle is the complete reversal of things, that in the past were clearly bad for you, now with a few tweaks becoming health foods. Zucchini Carbonara is one of those happy surprises.
In the past Carbonara was a decadent dish you could only order a few times a year and only at special locations that perfected the dish and only if you had a strong heart.
Carbone’s in Bloomfield is our favorite spot for to-die-for Carbonara – my daughter Brynn’s favorite dish. She’s 12 and weighs in at about 75 lbs. soaking wet so there is always extra bites of Carbonara that my wife and I sample until we are both off the keto rails. See exibit A!
As a stocking stuffer I received my first veggie-spiral-slicer for making zucchini noodles and other veggie / pasta like substitutions. After blowing out of ketosis on our last visit to Carbone’s I decided to give the spiral slicer a go – I mean everything else in the dish is keto-friendly so why not add this to our weekly possibility of menu items. Pair this with a glass of Tuscan red wine and you will be transported to another land.
- 3 large zucchini - spiral sliced as noodles - use the larger size spiral
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta - sliced 1/4 inch thick then 1/4 inch diced
- 1 large shallot - finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove - finely chopped
- 1 large portobello mushroom top - sliced 1/8 inch and halved
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano - grated
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano - grated
- 3 large egg yolks
- Fresh ground salt and pepper
- 2 tbs coarsely chopped parsley
- Put a large pot of salted water on and bring to a boil.
- In a large skillet heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over med heat until most of the fat is rendered, 7 minutes or so.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Cook the zucchini noodles in the boiling water for 4 minutes.
- Add the cream and simmer over med heat until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Add the hot noodles to the skillet and stir to coat. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the cheeses - reserve some for later.
- Stir in the egg yolks.
- Sprinkle with parsley and fresh ground pepper.
- Serve with reserved cheese for the table.
- If you need more liquid in the sauce you can add a little of the pasta (zucchini) water.
- You can also add 1 sweet italian sausage patty when you are rendering the pancetta if you want to kick this up a notch!
The Best Fast Food Restaurants for a Keto Lifestyle
The Best Fast Food Restaurants for a Keto Lifestyle has been a study of mine for some time.
I’m busy… I work from home… I’m on the go… I’m running errands… I’m food shopping and I don’t always have time to sit for a longer lunch at the sushi (sashimi for me) bar. Still, I’m not eating just any fast food and the low carb choices out there are few and far between.
So I have compiled a short list of quick Keto options that really satisfy even the most refined taste buds on the go.
One of my first choices is a new comer to the scene but they seem to be expanding so if you can find one in your area it’s a keeper. BurgerFi is a higher end, pro-environment, fast food burger spot that does things right. No cans in the kitchen – they source from local farms, and they make things fresh daily – a trend that any new breed, fast food restaurant that’s on that ball has shifted to. BurgerFi was started in a gourmet kitchen by gourmet chefs. This spot also serves local craft-brews on tap and wine – definitely a few steps up from 5 Guys!
I used to go here in my pre-keto days mostly for the chocolate custard milk shake that they make with half-n-half topped with whipped cream – this shake is no joke and is one of the reasons, in my opinion, that the TCBY right next door went out of business after having 2 years of major success.
Whenever I would drive by the BurgerFi plaza my car would tend to veer towards this spot. I would scheme with myself on what kind of lighter lunch I could have somewhere to be able justify the 880 calories I would consume if I allowed myself this chocolaty-wasted indulgence.
If I actually ate lunch there – complete food debauchery could ensue, as I would get “The Twenty-Eight”, A dry aged double brisket cheese burger with swiss and blue cheese. I thought… “I just won’t get the hand-cut fries” and that would make this 1530 calorie lunch plausible.
Nap please! Ahhh… the good ole days when I was fat!
But I digress… Now that I am living la-keto-loca I do not physically crave those sugary things and therefore can make better choices. I still get “The Twenty-Eight” at BurgerFi but I get it “Garden Style” so it is wrapped in lettuce bringing the calories down to a respectable 550 and the net carbs to less than 10. The thing I notice most as I leave is that I am full of energy and I feel satiated but not stuffed like I used to. Many decent burger places today offer “Garden Style”. If what is in between the buns was any good to start with – you won’t miss the bun. And the BurgerFi sauce is made in-store daily and has only 2 carbs and most of the calories from fat! So BurgerFi me! It’s good to be Keto!
I added a fried egg to this one. Amazing!
Next up on the list of The Best Fast Food Restaurants for a Keto-Lifestyle is Chipotle.
They even have a new calculator on their site so you can zero-in on what you are really eating nutrition wise. I’ll save you some time.
There is only 1 thing on the menu that can be considered low-carb and depending on how you order it makes all the difference.
Start with a Salad. Add the fajita veggies, your protein – chicken and carnitas are the best choice at 0 carbs. Then add a little of each of the 3 tomato salsas – If you do not want spicy stay away from the green one. Don’t be shy as this will be the dressing for your salad. Add some cheese and if you really want to add some fat and go more keto add the Guacamole which I understand is made in-store, fresh daily and is pretty dam tasty!
Without Guac. -calories: 375 Net carbs: 14
With Guac. – calories: 605 Net carbs: 16
Stay away from the beans, rice, corn salsa and from that vinaigrette dressing as it adds 18 grams of carbs and 270 calories all by itself to your lunch.
Last on my list, I don’t recommend if you’re new to keto, as this is not a safe place for you if your carb-craving is not totally under control. It’s Panera Bread! Surprisingly, it appears that Panera is cleaning house and tweaking all of their recipes looking at every ingredient so nothing artificial or questionable remains. Most are still loaded with carbs but I have uncovered a few items worth stopping by for. There are 3 salads on the menu that are great if you’re in hurry. Just be sure to offer the apple or the french bread that comes with, to a friend or non-keto loved one. The Greek is my favorite. Lunch anyone?
Greek Salad with Chicken Calories: 500 Net carbs: 9 grams
Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado Calories: 660 Net carbs: 7 grams
Power Kale Ceasar Salad with Chicken Calories: 600 Net carbs: 8 grams
Don’t bother doing a soup and a salad combo. As yummy as those soups are the lowest carb bowl of soup has 15 net grams of carbs – Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto. The much-loved Broccoli Cheddar has 20 net grams per bowl. While they were revisiting their soup recipes they should have worked on lowering the carbs… maybe next time.
Fabiola’s Fabulous Keto Friendly Lunch Salad
The perfect keto friendly lunch at Fabiola’s
Finding safe places for a Keto Friendly Lunch while out and about tends to be one of the bigger challenges I have found on my Keto journey. There really are only a handful of places that I tend to frequent as I know already what I plan on ordering before I decide where to go. This ensures I won’t be surprised by the lack of options and be tempted to stray from my program. If you are not from around here do your own local recon and create a safe-list of go-to lunch spots so when you are meeting friends for lunch or just out doing errands you can say – YES to… lets do lunch, and keep true to your lighter life.
Even if it is only one item on the menu that you love, it adds another spot on your list so you don’t have to eat sashimi for lunch all the time to stay low-carb!
My latest addition to my list is from Fabiola’s Bistro in Avon CT, a small hole-in-the-wall, lunch-only spot that has really great creative, home-cooked, unique options. There are only a few items on the menu that would be considered or tweaked to be a Keto Friendly Lunch but as I mentioned you only need one truly great one that will keep me coming back and Fabiola’s has got me hooked.
The Park Street Caesar Salad sans croutons. By now you should know I am a fan of the Caesar but this one is off-beat and special. It has dripping buffalo chicken, avocado, a few tomatoes, asiago cheese, avocado and bacon – a keto trifecta of sorts.
Before my lighter days I would visit this spot when I craved something different for lunch and was fond of this unique take on a Caesar. Little did I know at the time it would become a regular Keto Friendly Lunch option that while keeping me 30lbs down be such a satisfying meal. Sometimes, I can even add a cup of soup if I hit the daily specials right.
The Park Street Caesar is named after the street, Jennifer the long-time manager of almost 2 decades, lived on as a kid. This fun trivia revealed to me at the Old Well Tavern one night after bumping into Jennifer. She greeted me with…. “Park Street Caesar – hold the croutons, right?”. Clearly, my lifestyle precedes me.
The Thanksgiving Pie Affair
It’s been a tough week around here for ketosis fans – yours truly – not withstanding. Last weekend was my 49th birthday and I woke up at my lowest weight in 25 years – down 30lbs. Lisa successfully executed a well-planned surprise getaway for my birthday weekend to Ludlow Vermont. Our favorite cousins greeted us at the hot spot – Downtown Grocery for one of the best meals I have had out in ages.
I even managed to order a lower carb entree without any trouble. So far so good. Then dessert adorned with a candle came at the end of the meal and all bets were off!
Lisa’s choice was also amazing and lower carb.
The rest off the weekend went pretty much the same – good choices followed by exceptions on account it was my birthday weekend after all. An appreciated great weekend away overall – thanks Lisa my love.
On our way out of town we stopped at the famous Apple Pie Place to pick up some pies for Thanksgiving only a few days away. Lisa was on pies this year and thought, what a great time saver, to buy some amazing pies from VT rather than make them herself. She can bake but her time is valuable and so I was on board – 4 pies and $130 later we were on the road home with our Thanksgiving duties checked off. Wtf – these had better be some amazing freakin pies I thought as I came to and we drove off – an apple crisp, a regular apple, a blueberry and a pecan.
Monday through wednesday I managed to get back on track and back into ketosis with my favorite keto-shortcut. Then Turkey Day came with all the exceptional carbs in their best dressed glory. What I love about this lifestyle is that for me it is not due to an allergy or a belief but rather a simple choice.
A choice that enables me to feel healthier and live lighter most of the time so that I can have the freedom to eat whatever I want some of the time.
Game on – It’s Bird day – one smoked and one traditional – both evolved after years of practice. Left plenty of room for pie – after a short nap of course! Excited to see what a $33 VT pie tasted like – went for the blueberry first with vanilla ice cream and then waited till the apple was warm 30 minutes later and repeat. They were as good as advertised and Thanksgiving felt complete if not overdone. As per usual Lisa was not the only relative on pies so in another tradition on my wife’s side of the family – way too many leftovers! So.. we took home a variety selection of about 2 whole pies. We figured, someone would eat them.
Day after Thanksgiving and good to get back on my program after the day of gluttony… or so I thought. It was an unseasonal 70 degree day here in CT so I texted my buddy Craig to play some tennis outdoors. We usually get in 2 sets over 1.5 hours on any good day. We split sets and as we were wrapping up I convinced Craig to play a 3rd.
You see – my mind was thinking about Thanksgiving pie even though I had eaten low carb all day. So this 3rd set was my license for more pie. I mean I still had $65 worth of the best freakin pies I have tasted in years just sittin’ in my fridge. What are you wiling to do to make you feel OK about having more pie? After dinner Lisa made some fresh whipped cream and I went for the blueberry then the apple and then I had a few bites of her pecan. Clearly off the reservation now 2 days in row but my pie fix was now fulfilled.
Hey – Life happens, Birthdays happen, Turkey day happens, Happy hour happens, and yes, Pie happens.
So great to go into the holiday season 30 lbs. lighter this year and to know that a few days off the rails is just that and recovery, not gonna be a big issue. If you eat low carb or keto-friendly most of the time you will get to your best weight and still get to enjoy life as it happens.
Sashimi for lunch?
I used to think I was eating a healthy light lunch when I headed out for sushi. Little did I know the rice content of my amazing hand rolls and the multiple pieces I’d eat where keeping me fat. The raw fish was healthy – loaded with Omegas and healthy fats, but the rice… loaded with carbs. We have some pretty decent Japanese restaurants around us and they all have lunch specials that make a sushi lunch an affordable option.
When I started this lifestyle I was not sure how or if I would be able to give up sushi. As far as I am concerned, It is one of the major food groups!
When you work from home as I do it is important to get out for lunch every once in a while, lest you go stir crazy. Sometimes with a friend or for business but for sure when I am out doing errands you will often catch me at Feng or Mikado for some Tuna, Yellow Tail, and my favorite, Salmon. Only nowadays I order Sashimi instead of Sushi. For those of you not familiar, Sushi means “on rice” while Sashimi is just pure raw fish, sans rice.
The above shot is actually a sushi dinner portion taken one night at Feng, a local favorite. In stead of the rice sashimi comes on shredded daikon – a white asian radish of sorts that adds a nice fresh crunch and spicy dimension to to the raw fish. Here is a nice lunch presentation from Yume in Unionville, CT.
If you need some variation you can always head to Ginza in Bloomfield for their inspired special rolls of the day. The key is to pick one without a sweet sauce (mango, etc) and if your not sure ask them to put it on the side. Also ask for the special roll to made without rice. This one below was delicious. Toro, Baby Yellow Tail, King Crab, Tobiko, in a green cilantro sauce – This Regal Roll was just that, and a great start for my first rice-less roll experience.
Am I missing out on the rice? Not a chance! There are 44 grams of carbs in 1 cup of cooked sushi rice. Even if you order Brown rice on your sushi thinking you are eating healthier, you are still getting 44 grams of carbs.
It has been a great shift for me that I can easily live with and a very low carb lunch option while out and about.
Some other things safe to eat while your out to lunch for Japanese: An average cup of Miso soup has only 3-5 grams of carbs. The average egg drop soup has 3-5 grams of carbs as well. Not all are created equal however – PF.Chang for instance has 8 grams in their egg drop. As a general rule, If it tastes sweet then it probably is so try to avoid that soup in the future. Be sure to also steer clear on any asian soup that has noodles, udon or other.
Not in the mood for raw fish? Here is another great option at Feng. The Spice Crusted Strip Steak ordered without potatoes and extra veggies. This steak was delicious and a nice value too at $23.00 for dinner. Stay tuned for more keto-friendly restaurant suggestions and reviews.
Tuesday Night Out
Tonight my daughter and I headed out for dinner – just the two of us. Great to get some one-on-one time with my oldest. The where-do-you-want-to-eat negotiations in the car are always fun – she always wants sushi and I am looking for something more Keto-friendly and different. Having had sashimi already this week we headed to one of our favorite local spots, Da Capo in Avon CT.
When you are headed out for dinner you need to have a idea in your mind of how keto-friendly the chosen restaurant will be or you may find yourself at a spot with little or no options that will keep you on your plan.
Some restaurants have their act together and do not mind substitutions and are geared up to accommodate various dietary preferences. Some… not so much.
Da Capo is one of those spots that is ready to please and I have had several great lower carb meals there. Tonight I tried a new menu item and a childhood favorite – Chicken Cacciatore. Now mind you, I don’t have complete carb counts for this meal but when I asked how this was served I was told penne pasta was involved. I simply asked the server to leave out the pasta. She then offered a substitution, “perhaps a veggie?” I asked for Broccoli Rabe… done!
Ordered a salad and had 1 glass of red wine… I was happy camper. I missed the candied walnuts on the salad when I ordered so I gave those to my daughter. Now to be clear, not really losing any weight on a Tuesday night with this meal but I ate light earlier in the day and at 28lbs down I allow myself some liberties. The best part is how you feel leaving the restaurant. Not stuffed like I used to…. but truly satisfied having had an amazing guilt-free lower carb meal.
On another night at Da Capo I swapped out mashed potatoes for brussel sprouts on this veal chop special. I prefer to drink my carbs thanks! Pick restaurants that will support your lifestyle and keep your waistline in check.
So our server brought us a free dessert – their famous chocolate mousse pie. I know, there are 2 forks… I had a bite… ok 2 bites, but hey, 28lbs lighter right? Weeknight splurge… $70 – A few extra carbs… worth it – A night out with Alexa… Priceless.